Saturday, March 1, 2008

Enter the Ditto

I have this blog and I'm neglecting it. It must feel lonely.

my original plan was to use it to relate some of my adventures as an artguy. I feel that I want it to have some sort of theme. I have another online journal where diary what I'm doing (when I get around to it). I have a couple other places where I write on various topics. I even once tried maintaining a blog to record the role-playing game I was then running.

Last time, lo these many months ago, I talked about mimeographs. It's time, I suppose to mention the next step in my technological evolution: the Ditto Master.

Anyone who went to school in the '70s is probably familiar with the lavender ink and distinctive smell of the Ditto. The stencil consisted of a piece of paper on top of a second sheet coated with a tacky purple ink. When typed on, the ink transferred to the back of the top sheet, making the stencil. The hand-cranked Ditto machine used alcohol transfer to put the ink on the paper, which gave the freshly-printed sheets an unmistakable odor.

Unlike the Mimeograph, the Ditto did not require a special stylus. You could draw on the stencil with an ordinary ballpoint pen; in fact, the ballpoint was the idea instrument for this. But it was an unforgiving medium. You could not make corrections, unless you tried scraping the ink off the back of the stencil with a razor blade. Even then, as like as not, you'd wind up with an ugly purple smudge.

When I was in the third grade, our teacher made a monthly class newsletter that the class contributed to. I came up with the name, "The Third Grade Super Goop" and drew the masthead. I was rather proud that I came up with original art for it every month. Sort of like Will Eisner and The Spirit, I suppose.

But I was not to become a Master of the Ditto Master until junior high...

(to be continued...)