Monday, June 28, 2010

A Better Beginning: Reprinting VIDEO WATCHDOG #1

Publisher/art director Donna Lucas restoring the images accompanying a discussion of HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN in VW's first issue.

While VIDEO WATCHDOG magazine has been marking its 20th anniversary, VW publisher Donna Lucas has been quietly engaged in one of the greatest restoration projects in the magazine's decades-long history. No, it's not the ultimate exposé of how CATACLYSM became part of THE NIGHTMARE NEVER ENDS, nor is it a meticulous comparison of five different versions of Jess Franco's LA COMTESSE PERVERSE... it's Donna's own painstaking digital recreation of VIDEO WATCHDOG #1.

When we decided to reprint our premiere issue, Donna's first idea was to scan the contents of a surviving copy and turn it over to our printer. Simple, right? However, the realities proved more complex. First of all, the original paste-up boards used to create the issue -- with PMT (photo mechanical transfer) illustrations affixed with spray adhesive to windows cut into each laserjet-printed page -- were long missing. Secondly, the original print job was so clumsily executed that a straightforward scan yielded typographic results that were somewhere south of acceptable. Fortunately, a thorough search of the attic at Chez Watchdog yielded a box of considerable value, containing not only the original layout boards but also most of the original illustrations and drawings that Donna used to create this landmark issue back in 1990.

Original artwork by Stephen R. Bissette and yours truly awaits its chance to be rescanned.
The discovery of the original artwork, as well as some photographic material, proved to be a real godsend to this undertaking, as the scanning of the PMT images, whether from a printed copy or from the original PMT's, tended to throw up some nasty moiré patterns. However, by meticulously rescanning each layout page in high definition from the original sheets, and inserting completely fresh digital scans of the issue's stills and original art from the original materials whenever possible, Donna has ensured that the 20th Anniversary edition of VIDEO WATCHDOG #1 will be much more than just a reprint.
"If you were to ask me what percentage of the pictures are now in better quality, I'd have to say 100% of them!" Donna explains. "Even when I didn't have access to the originals, I removed specks and dots and flaws from what I had to work with. Some pictures that were badly cropped in the original, like the center spread from SUCCUBUS, will be seen in this new printing as they were meant to look the first time. Likewise, some pictures that were too dark in the original issue, like some of the shots from CUT AND RUN, have been brightened, so you can now see the actors' expressions and can tell what's going on in them. We are also printing this new edition on paper that's consistent with the way VIDEO WATCHDOG is printed now, so it will be light and flexible in ways the original wasn't."
The text in the issue has not been changed. The only variation that has been made to the issue in terms of content is its back cover. Whereas the original edition showed an image from the Jess Franco film THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF, the reprint edition offers a scan of the same back cover image taken from Donna's and my own personal copy, inscribed to us in gold by Franco and his wife and longtime associate Lina Romay.

"I've always felt that our first issue stood apart from every other issue we did, in terms of quality control -- or the lack of it," Donna says. "When our readers receive this new, improved version of #1, I think they're going to feel like their collection is complete for the first time!"
Orders for the 20th Anniversary edition of VIDEO WATCHDOG #1 (at the printer) are now being accepted here and at our toll-free number, 1-800-275-8395.


  1. is this issue going out to newsstands and stores?

  2. No, it's a very limited edition and is being sold only through our website.

  3. Richard Harland Smith4:06 PM

    Am I the only one who likes the unbendable first issue as it is?! I get a special thrill every time I handle it.

  4. Grabbing VW#1 was one of the great eBay coups for me, along with finding the ever elusive #26 in a used record store Sweden, no less ! I think the Original #1 looks great - I expected a punk rock style scissors n' glue production so I was pleasantly surprised when I finally got my hands on it ! Of all the magazines in my collection Video Watchdog looks the best, the style, size and design of the mag holds an enormous and mysterious fetishishtic power ! My favourite cover remains #13, the Manhunter cover. Its never been beaten !

  5. VW #1 has its own charm, Richard, that's for sure. But if you compare it with the restored version, you'll see what our original intent was. Truth is, you need both!

  6. Anonymous4:18 AM

    it will be nice for the people of who don't have #1, but 'improving' it is a bit george lucas... isn't it?

  7. I dunno... did George ever really improve anything digitally? But it's definitely a bit Donna Lucas! : )

  8. Anonymous12:48 PM

    I dunno... did George ever really improve anything digitally?

    lol, that's why i put 'improving' in quotation marks

  9. Congratulations, Tim and Donna. I have #1 (in mint condition) and the first 50. How many copies of the premiere issue were printed, do you estimate?

    Off topic, do you know if the version of Bad Lieutenant playing on IFC is a re-edited or cut version?

  10. I think the first issue was an edition of 5,000 copies, more or less.

    Not sure about BAD LIEUTENANT on IFC. Perhaps someone else will chime in.


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