The Fix reviews Shimmer, Vol 2, Issue 4, “The Art Issue”

This is Shimmer’s first review at The Fix and so far I’m pleased. It’s nice to have another short fiction review venue, especially one that doesn’t pull punches.

Save for the first story, which was written based on the cover illustration, the art and the stories they inspired are printed together. Unfortunately, this means the art is printed in black and white on plain paper stock, often resized to accommodate text on the same page and apparently printed with a standard printer. Given the detailed linework that features in so many of the pieces, this isn’t the best approach. Images are blurred and details are lost, and while this is likely the result of budget constraints, when the art is the purpose of the publication, it can’t help but have a negative impact. Only the illustration on the cover, “Penny’s Grave” by John Picacio, is printed on heavier paper stock, sized so that the details are fully visible.

Ow. I have two reactions to that, one is that we used our regular printer, which I believe is offset. And two, that the reviewer is right. Some of the images are not as crisp as I would like. This has been a problem in previous issues, but one that I thought only bothered me or at least, no one else seems to notice it. And that, is the value of a good negative review when they say something that can make you acknowledge a flaw.

Now, there are also things in there that just make me giggle. Like the reviewer wishing that Chrissy Ellsworth artwork had been printed in color. It’s funny because the original image is black and white. Only one was created in color and that’s Carie Ann Baade’s beautiful artwork in Kuzhali Manickavel’s story. Nor did I resize anything to accommodate the text. The half page images were horizontals, so they don’t fill a full page when their width is the same as a vertical. But, the point is taken that it would be nice for our next art issue to have bigger pictures and to really talk to our printer about the importance of clean images.

Fortunately, the reviewer loves our fiction. Here’s the last line of the review.

Despite the formatting problems with the featured art, this is a solid example of good fantastical short fiction, and an issue of Shimmer well worth acquiring.

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3 Responses

  1. Joe Sherry

    Mary,

    Before you check with the printer on the images, double check that you’re sending high resolution files. If you’re sending low res files…then, well, garbage / garbage out. If you (Shimmer) are sending good files, then it is a printer issue. If you’re just printing in black and white, it may be an issue of what piece of equipment they are running the job on. A older / cheaper offset press may not be able to give you a quality image compared to a better piece of equipment. But then you’d pay for that, too, so it’s a balancing act.

    Sorry, I work in a print shop. 🙂