Monday, May 11, 2009

Map For "The Shadow Out Of Time"

One of the things that still frustrates me about the "At the Mountains of Madness" project is that I wasn't able to figure out a way to produce a reasonably priced map of Antarctica. I ran off a few copies of the retouched Bartholomew map for my own use, but at $20 a pop for printing there just wasn't enough demand to justify the cost. I experimented with producing my own map in Illustrator, intending to make it available for printing on an 11 x 17 sheet of paper, but at the time my skills weren't up to the task.

Now I'm facing a similar problem with "The Shadow Out of Time". I've already placed orders for the items based on the expedition's logo, but I'd like to offer a selection of ephemera to go along with them. I've already started working on a few specific items that are mentioned in the story, like the letter and photographs that inspire the expedition and the newspaper clippings describing Peaslee's unfortunate condition. Creating those props is relatively easy thanks to, surprisingly enough, Ebay. The global fraternity of stamp collectors regularly posts detailed pictures of period postmarks and stamps from Australia and gigabytes of old newspaper scans are available on CD for a pittance. Producing those at a reasonable price won't be a problem at all.

Even better, I think I've figured out a way to produce a high quality expedition map without having to charge an arm and a leg for it. One of the ways period expeditions kept their maps intact while on the ground was to cut them up and then reassemble them using cloth tape. That way the wear and tear of constantly folding and unfolding the map would be born by the tougher fabric of the tape and not the delicate paper of the map. I was aware of the technique before, but I didn't think of using it until a discussion of the prop map in Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" on the RPF set off a lightbulb over my head.

While short-run large format printing is prohibitively expensive, small scale color printing is cheap and easy. Dividing a map into smaller panels and then cloth taping them together not only makes large-scale, high quality maps affordable, but it has the additional advantage of being a period accurate practice. And there just happens to be a perfect map to use as a template-

It's possible that this map could be cleaned up and used as-is, but I'm going to try recreating it in vector format so it can be printed at multiple sizes. How long that's going to take is still up in the air.


Marrock said...

Let me know if someone ever gets around to making the Metropolis map, I'd definitely be interested in a couple of those.

I had seen a map in a museum somewhere in Indiana (it was quite some time ago) that was squares of what amounted to card stock which had been glued to a piece of cloth.

Propnomicon said...

I think there may have been a delay in the Metropolis map project for people to get high res stills from the film. If and when it goes through I'll be sure to post something.