From time to time we get feedback along the lines of “I saw a book you had printed for Creator X at Comic-con and it was gorgeous, so why didn’t the book you printed for me look that good?” There’s a lot of potential answers to that question, but the best explanation is simply “Your Mileage May Vary.”
Yeah, we know that’s the old used car salesman’s dodge and while the last thing we want to do is make excuses we do believe there’s a relevant point to be made here. EVERY order is unique. It’s not really fair to compare the look of one book to another. There are just too many factors that could account for the difference. Firstly, no one draws, inks, or colors exactly the same as anyone else. There are hundreds of different scanners and thousands of different scanner settings and settings combinations, numerous different techniques for cleaning up artwork, different ways of producing finished artwork, different styles of finished artwork, plus no one’s monitor is calibrated exactly the same as anyone else’s (or even calibrated with a moderate degree of accuracy as we find far too often). Any of these things could account for a notable difference between any two given jobs in print. And of course our presses simply don’t always print exactly the same from day to day. Some days for some inexplicable reason the contrast is sharper, the blacks are richer, or the brights are brighter. Sure, we can make adjustments, but some days the adjustments work better than others and that’s something that we just can’t control. Each manufacturer builds in certain tolerance levels and so as long as the machine is operating with certain parameters then it is operating properly. Colors may vary slightly, print quality may vary slightly. Again, minor random variance is something we have little to no control over.
That’s not to say there’s never a problem. Sometimes things don’t print the way they should have. We try to stay on top of that, but every once in a while something slips past us. Quality control is very important to us and when of course when there’s clearly a print quality issue — when the machine is not performing within acceptable tolerance — then we bring in the service techs and put them to work (we have techs in the offices 2-3 times per week, btw). As a matter of fact we’re waiting on a service call as I type this. It’s Thursday morning and this will be our third service call this week.