Last week I was in Sussex, Wisconsin for the press check of our first quarter, 2011 issue of Alert Diver. While I've been involved as a contributing photographer to dive publications for 30 years, it is only since I started as publisher of Alert Diver for the Divers Alert Network that I became involved with design, prepress, and ultimately the on-press process necessary to produce a magazine. To my surprise, I love the press runs, not because I'm a mascochist and like sleep deprivation in the frigid Midwest in the heart of winter. But to get the precise color fidelity the high quality photos that we run in Alert Diver deserve; it is necessary to be on press, as the magazine is printed, in a color-corrected viewing booth on the floor looking at pages with a talented printing professional who can translate subjective color tweaks to the physical realities high speed web press.
We now print Alert Diver at Quad Graphics, in a beautifully modern plant more than 1.7 million square feet under roof. The bindery is here as well, and then the magazines get shipped to another Quad facility for mailing. The infrastructure is quite impressive, but what pleases me the most is the expertise and eagerness to achieve printing perfection that we receive from the pressmen. This plant runs 24/7, so in the course of printing a 100-page magazine we'll meet people from every shift, and I can honestly say it didn't matter whether the magazine is running day or night, there was always a crew in place to listen to our concerns and make the correction to assure each page was the best it could be. Here's a quick backstage of the print experience.
We arrived at Quad Graphics on a gray and snowy day in January for this press run. Luckily, the -12 degree weather they had the week before missed us, and we had a balmy 20 degrees.
Brian Harper, our Medical Editor, was on hand to help out on this press run. As it was his first time on press the Quad staff showed him around the facility. That bottom shot is not any press we would use today, but memorabilia from the Quadracci family that founded Quad press and built an impressive printing empire. See http://www.qg.com/aboutus/qg_story/timeline.asp for a bit of their history.
Maura Dunphy, our sales rep, joined us for a tour around the plant. It is all about ink and paper, and the big machines that put one on the other. In a plant like Quad there are many magazines being run simultaneously. Vogue was there when we were there, but even so, I didn't feel obliged to dress up for those 3:00 AM press calls!
Here are some miscellaneous shots of various pieces of the production process. The cover is by David Doubilet, an over/under of lemon sharks at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas. This issue of Alert Diver should begin arriving member mailboxes the first week of February.