To truly appreciate and understand The TMNT #1 Production Negatives, there’s quite a bit of printing industry information that first needs to be conveyed. So, the next few articles are designed to provide you the key terms, methods, and concepts used in (comic book) publishing and printing. Ultimately, this information is crucial and provides the foundation needed to properly tell the entire story of The TMNT #1 Production Negatives.
As you discovered in Part 02: Inside the Orange Box, the negatives aren’t arranged sequentially by TMNT #1 page numbers (i.e., #1-40). At first glance, you might think their arrangement is just random (or maybe even wrong, given that some of them are upside down). However, as it turns out, there’s absolutely nothing random about their placement OR arrangement. In fact, the positioning of each and every one of these negatives (as well as their assignment to a specific goldenrod flat) was done on purpose – the result of a meticulous and very carefully thought-out process used in the printing industry called imposition. That’s simply the arrangement and orientation of pages so that, after the printed sheets are assembled, folded, and cut they are in the correct reading order (Page 1, 2, 3, etc.). The specific pages that get printed on the front and back of every sheet is determined through the imposition process. More specifically though, every TMNT #1 negative is arranged using the head-to-head imposition concept on the goldenrod flats; the top of each negative on one goldenrod flat (regardless of its orientation on the goldenrod flat) aligns with the top of the opposite-positioned negative on its “partner” goldenrod flat.
To wrap your head around imposition (specifically the head-to-head imposition concept), it’s easiest to visualize the makeup of a comic book. Comic books always have an even amount of pages that must be divisible by four (e.g., 24, 32). This is because comic books are ultimately just collections of sheets of paper that each contain four different pages of the comic book; two pages printed on the front of the sheet and two on the back. When you divide a comic book’s page count by four, you get the quantity of paper sheets inside the book. TMNT #1 contains forty body pages. Divide by four and you get ten printed sheets that make up the entirety of TMNT #1 (minus the cover). If the page count were not divisible by four, some pages of the book would have nothing on the back side of the printed sheet, thus creating blank pages once the book is fully assembled. Ever notice how many ads there are in modern comic books? Sometimes these ads are simply “fillers” to ensure the comic book’s page count is even AND divisible by four; ultimately eliminating the appearance of blank pages to the reader.
If you start at the front cover of a 32-page comic book and open it up, the first body page you see is Page 1, which is printed on the BACK side of the first printed sheet (i.e., the bottom printed sheet). Turn the page and Page 2 is on the same printed sheet but instead on the FRONT, directly opposite of Page 1. Now, skip to the last page (Page 32). You’ll find that Page 32 is printed on the BACK side of the first printed sheet, positioned next to Page 1. And, just as it was with Page 2, Page 31 is on the same printed sheet, but on the FRONT directly opposite Page 32. If you were to now disassemble the comic book and remove the first printed sheet (the bottom printed sheet), you’d find the following: the front side contains Page 2 and Page 31 side-by-side respectively; the back side contains Page 32 and Page 1, also side-by-side respectively. Take this same head-to-head imposition concept through every printed sheet within the book and you’ll find the page-sets continue this exact same pattern all the way through the final printed sheet. Interestingly, that final (or top) printed sheet is the only one that will contain four page numbers in a row – although their layout is only sequential on the FRONT side of the sheet – which just happens to be the very middle of the book (e.g., FRONT – Page 16 & Page 17 respectively; BACK – Page 18 & Page 15 respectively).
That’s head-to-head imposition. Not a difficult concept in theory but, in practice, it can be a bit difficult to wrap your head around, especially if you’ve never really thought about it before. Ultimately, head-to-head imposition explains the seemingly odd layout of The TMNT #1 Production Negatives and provides the basis needed for now seeing this concept applied to the goldenrod flats as a whole.
Sources: - PrintWiki - The Free Encyclopedia of Print