The original images of Queneau’s écritures were sent to me as digital scans, probably taken from some poor quality photocopy of the first published images back in the 1980’s . The main pages were heavily pixellated and the cover scans even showed up the halftone screen of the original pint:
I first toyed with the idea of a faithful, unedited reproduction that some would consider more authentic and possibly sympathetic to the originals. Tim and I decided that it would be better to tidy up the images for this new publication, to give them new life in a more intimate presentation. A great deal of cleaning up was required of the covers, which would have been originally printed on a buff/manilla card, but had been copied and scanned to make an irregular ‘rash’ of background noise.
I was careful to maintain the integrity of the printed design as well as the writing at the top of the front and on the back. Because of the variable quality of our originals, this was not something that could not be achieved with automatic ‘clean up’ tools in PhotoShop – all this was still done digitally of course, but was edited a section at a time, to ensure that we stayed faithful to the details.
The first page was originally drawn upon graph paper, which had merged with some of the drawn lines and disappeared in other places. Again, section by section, I erased all the background lines (which were visually distracting) being careful not to compromise Queneau’s originals but retaining the immediacy of the the pen lines. I also chose to leave in any ink sports and marks that were more likely to be a by-product of the pen work and not part of the background noise:
Each detail was carefully observed before erasing any information. Where there were small bumps on an otherwise smooth line, I overlayed a scaled graph paper template to check whether the bumps corresponded with an intersection on the grid. Where this occurred I made small amendments to remove them and return the line to what is more likely to have been its original state. Where it was unclear whether the bumps were deliberate or not, I applied my own judgement based upon the rest of each drawing and the surrounding ones. This took several rounds of edits, prints, comparisons and re-edits to ensure that I had only removed what was was necessary.
Each page went through the same treatment to get to a cleaner, but still faithful edit of the originals:
There were 9 pages in total, along with the back and front covers, which were printed onto a rough manilla card stock inside our chapbook, to emulate the feel of the original.