Compression & Brickwalling Examples

Following the previous entry.

Before I move onto other things—although music mastering & quality is something I might like to return to periodically—here’s a few more musical waveforms for comparison, with comments.

KATE BUSH—RUNNING UP THAT HILL (1985)

The top image is the original 1985 mastering. It has a dynamic range of 11dB. Below it is the 1997 remastering (not by Kate herself)—the dynamic range (DR) is 7dB.

Kate Bush Running 1985

Kate Bush Running 1997

You’ll note on the top one, Kate herself does make use of the full soundscape and sometimes clips the very peaks of the sound for effect (which is perfectly fine & valid!). On the ’97, there is lot of peak-clipping (the tops of the waveforms being cut off) and compression, which results in a loss of 4dB of DR. Kate’s own 2018 remaster of Hounds of Love, which I’ve yet to hear, has the same dynamic range as the 1985 release.

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Brickwalling Music

As mentioned in the previous post… I thought I’d talk a bit more about the dreaded Loudness Wars™ and the brickwalling of a lot of modern music. I’m not a full-on audiophile and not a sound engineer, or any kind of expert, but I do know what I like and I have a reasonable grasp on this stuff…

The dynamic range of a piece of music (or any audio) is the difference in dBs (decibels) between the quietest sound and the loudest. It hardly need be said that a wider range of difference creates a more dynamic soundscape. Whether or not this is desirable depends on the intent. For a classical symphony, for instance, you’d definitely want a big contrast between the quieter sections and the parts that boom out dramatically… whereas with heavy metal, a big fat wall of noise is pretty much the goal. (Even then, maybe it’s possible to go too far; more on that in a bit.) But with most music, I think most people would agree that something in-between would generally work quite well.

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David Bowie’s Toy Finally Gets A Release

You might remember I was discussing Bowie’s Toy a while back—my speculative cover design for his unreleased 2001 album.

And now it’s finally getting an official release! Both as part of the newest big Bowie boxset in November (which I couldn’t possibly justify buying even if it was affordable!), and more sensibly as a standalone Toy:Box (snigger, very witty) in January 2022, the month of DB’s 75th birthday.

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Kirby Art Inside Amazing Fantasy #15

Of course, everyone knows that Jack Kirby designed the original version of Spider-Man, which never got used. We know, also, that Kirby pencilled the cover to Spidey’s first appearance, in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)—because the original cover Ditko drew was rejected by Stan Lee.

But how about Kirby artwork inside this landmark comic? Well, surely, the iconic origin story is fully-pencilled & inked by Mr Ditko. But there’s one aspect I never paid much attention to before—the teeny-tiny Spidey figure at the top right of the opening splash page…

AF15 pg1

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Conan by Alex Toth

The third in an apparent “Conan by” series! (Following this and this.)

This one is from Savage Sword of Conan #64 (1981)—a tremendous issue that carries a 42-page lead story drawn by Big John, a “Chane” backup strip by Gil Kane, and… eight Conan pinup pages by the great Alex Toth, of which this is one.

Savage Sword 64 pinup

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Betty & Veronica: The Kiss

Another compare & contrast, this time with something all-new vs a 2016 original…

Both pieces were done for my friend, Nigel. It was his request & his concept… and I believe this “mythical kiss” might have actually been done for-real in an Archie comic in recent years. Not sure—I pay almost no attention to this stuff!

Anyhow, the composition I came up with in 2016 was A-OK—quite strong—but, my goodness, the execution & rendering was, IMO, absolutely appalling!! Even at the time I felt it was missing the mark, but my problems with it have grown exponentially with the passage of time.

So I deciced to redo it. Nigel deserved better.

Here’s the all-new 2021 version…

Nigel Betty-Veronica 2021

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Conan by Gil Kane

Featuring: The Unimaginable Menace of… THE TANGENT!!

Following up the last post, here is a really rather nice Conan pinup by Gil Kane from Savage Sword of Conan #67 (1981). What’s interesting, and unusual, about this piece is the way Gil has rendered the large demons… it’s a very stark chiaroscuro not dissimilar to the technique Frank Miller used a decade later on Sin City. As far as I know, Gil never really did anything else like this… unless anyone can point out other examples?

Anyhow, it’s a strong image.

Savage Sword 67 pinup

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Gene Colan: Ten Years On

Perhaps this was more appropriately posted back in June (the month of his passing), but as September marks his 95th birthday, that’s fine.

It’s hard to believe the great Gene Colan has been gone for ten years. And what a different (but not in the least bit better) world it is today compared to even back then.


Late ’70s Colan cover to DAREDEVIL #154, nicely inked by Steve Leialoha.

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On My Artwork

Quick post—I originally wrote this as a footnote to the previous post, but I thought I’d make it a separate entry instead, as it has some personal aspects that go on a bit of a tangent…

I’ve had a very spasmodic learning curve in terms of my artwork—and since the mid-’90s, I’ve mostly considered myself to be a writer who can draw a little.

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Club Vamporama Covers

Continuing this theme on the 15th anniversary of Club Vamporama (and the year of its demise!!), and following the Marie comparison, here’s two versions of a CV comic-book-that-never-happened cover.

Directly below is the most-recent version, from my moderately productive 2019 period. I’m still fairly happy with this. I don’t think it’s as cool or effective as the 2019 Marie portrait, but it’s OK.

Halloween Comix Cvr

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Club Vamporama’s Marie

Following up the Club Vamporama, RIP posting, with deference to the strip’s 15th anniversary, here is a reposting of some older arwork that is amongst the best CV visuals (IMO). It’s a portrait of Marie, showcasing her shapeshifting abilities—her hands look large and somewhat reptilian!—from 2019.

I was quite satisfied with this. Hey, I still am…

Marie Portrait

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