Red Hook wrote:
I like the main gist of this article:
People learn paper conservation in a variety of ways, but anyone who intends to pursue it seriously should make formal full-time education in an academic setting the main component of their preparation. The reason for this is made clear by the impressive list of subjects that paper conservators are expected to master nowadays. Certain of these subjects cannot be satisfactorily learned on the job, or by reading, or by attending occasional weekend workshops--except perhaps by rare geniuses.
Unfortunately, most of the "training" being done today is on the level of the "home experiment". Here's a link to the whole article ...http://cool.conservation-us.org/byorg/abbey/an/an07/an07-2a/an07-a202.html
How much formal, full-time educational training does Susan Cicconi have? The answer will probably surprise you - she is largely self-taught. She is more artist than paper scientist, as she will readily admit. The artistic aspect of her restoration is very good, but she still uses manual piece fill for large areas of loss and her knowledge of the science of paper conservation (i.e., the chemistry) is fairly basic.
The one person who restores comics who has a formal educational background in paper conservation (Tracy Heft) is nowhere near the best in the business right now, not in terms of structural repair, restoring lost artwork, or removal of stains. I have heard several people say that he claims to have been leaf casting comic books for 20 years, but my recollection of when I sent him a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 to restore in 2004, is that he was just starting to learn the process and had not dialed it in to the point where he was comfortable trying it on my book yet. He spent a year telling me that he was experimenting and that his results were getting better and that he could eventually work miracles with my book. After a year of waiting, I asked for the book back. He returned it untouched. OK, so leaf casting was a new technique then. Ask any of his customers now if his work is as good as Kenny Sanderson's. Or ask Tracy himself and see what he says. If he says it is, he's BS'ing you.
When Tracy pressed several of my books at around that same time, he split the spine on one of them and warped several others. I had to fix them myself with a dry mount press that I purchased soon thereafter. He paid me for the split spine book, but come on. That never should have happened in the first place if he had pressed it properly. So much for an extensive educational background being necessary to restoring or conserving comic books at a professional level.
The person who is the best at structural repair of comic books right now is Kenny Sanderson, bar none. His stain removal might be the best as well. He may be "self taught" also, but he also lives minutes away from the Indiana Historical Society, which has a state-of-the-art conservation lab and several paper scientists, with whom he collaborates on a regular basis. I have shown his work to a local paper conservator who is one of the best in the SF bay area and she was so impressed that she asked me for his contact information so that she could invite him to speak at an AIC event that she was co-hosting. If anyone has any doubt about Kenny being the best at structural repair, just ask anyone who has sent him a thrashed book and had it come back looking like new.
I am not sure why you feel the need to throw rocks at Kenny. He used to be your friend and he never did anything to you to deserve the way you treat him. Ever since he started working for Matt Nelson, you have acted like he is the devil incarnate. He's not. He's great at what he does and has become so in a very short time because he is a perfectionist, he always wants to add to his skill set, and he has great resources nearby (plus Matt Nelson) to bounce ideas off of. But most of all, he has put a tremendous amount of energy into pushing the envelope to bring cutting edge conservation techniques to the comic book field. He should be applauded for that, not treated like a hack simply because he didn't spend four years in college studying paper conservation.