Scanning Around With Gene: The End of a Personal Journey

Next week marks the tenth anniversary of my column here at CreativePro, and I’ve decided to make that edition my last installment of Scanning Around With Gene. I think I’ll miss the weekly routine, and I know I’ll miss the thoughtful comments people have been so kind to post over the years. But whether it’s thanks to good therapy, or just the effects of aging, I’ve become less compulsive about collecting old magazines, brochures, pamphlets and other ephemera. After 316 installments and over 10,000 scans, I’m running dangerously low on material, and I don’t want to repeat myself (though that’s exactly what I’m about to do).

In trying to decide how best to take a self-indulgent look back, I realized that I’ve been a bit schizophrenic over the years, regularly shifting between columns that were primarily personal in nature, and those that revolved around specific image themes or subject matter. This week I’m reviewing the more personal side of things, and next week I’ll highlight some of my favorite subject-matter images over the years, which tend to stand on their own better. Many of today’s images, on the other hand, are only interesting in context, and then probably only to me. Click on any image for a larger version, but be warned that some images only survive in low-resolution, so the larger version is a machine-generated blow-up. I’ve linked back to a few of my favorite columns – you can find a complete list here if you’re interested.

I began this column as an attempt to chronicle the set up of a vintage letterpress print shop in my garage – a “gift” my wife Patty bought me on eBay and for which I had high hopes. Here’s a picture of the Russian Orthodox priest who owned the shop before me, and a couple of views of my garage set-up, which made for good pictures, but not much in the way of actual printing.

I did, just before giving up entirely on the project and admitting defeat, manage to print one limited-edition poster for Patty, a tribute to the Ramones. Her car now sits where the presses were, and all I have to show for those years are a couple of metal stock-art cuts and some chipped bricks that I ran over with a forklift while moving in one of the presses.

I was lucky throughout most of those early years, to share the print-shop experience with a number of pets, which I wrote about and featured even when the news was sad.

The headaches actually began pretty soon after I started writing the column, as Patty and I took charge of our teen-age nephew Marc (shown below with his brothers John and Luc). Marc was a handful and I probably wrote too much about the trials and tribulations of being a parent over the years, but it was what was happening at the time.

I really wanted to be the one who saved Marc, and I had great fantasies that I’d be the one person who was able to get through to him and connect on a meaningful level.

Once the print shop was dead, my column shifted to, well, just about anything I could think of to talk about where there might be a few images to show. Naturally the topic turned to my dad on a number of occasions – I actually think I’ve written more about him than anything else.

Posted on: February 1, 2013

Gene Gable

Gene Gable has spent a lifetime in publishing, editing and the graphic arts and is currently a technology consultant and writer. He has spoken at events around the world and has written extensively on graphic design, intellectual-property rights, and publishing production in books and for magazines such as Print, U&lc, ID, Macworld, Graphic Exchange, AGI, and The Seybold Report. Gene's interest in graphic design history and letterpress printing resulted in his popular columns "Heavy Metal Madness" and "Scanning Around with Gene" here on

53 Comments on Scanning Around With Gene: The End of a Personal Journey

  1. …greatly, and I hope it comes back someday.

    By the way, splendid orange cat. And we’re all grateful that you survived the 1960 Corvair.

  2. Despite the implication of my subject line, I can understand and accept your decision to end the column. Life is change and nothing goes on forever. But still, I was very sad to read the news and will greatly miss your column which has been a favorite of mine since first discovering it (sometime around 2005 give or take). I love the things you find, always interesting, and I love your writing, casual and humorous, sometimes personal, but always something that resonates, and often very insightful and deep. I hope the columns will remain available for a long time to come and I wish you the best with whatever you have going on in the future. Thank you for all your great columns. PETER WETHERBEE.

  3. i will miss your columns dearly. that’s all i can really say. thank you for 10 amazing, inspiring, and at time tear-inducing years.

  4. Gene, you have always been my favorite part of I’ll miss your commentary and inventive images equally.

    Terri Stone

  5. Like the other folks have stated, far more eloquently than I can, I will truly miss the column, even rereading them over time is great. I completely understand the wanting to change. I’ve always felt a certain kinship, as we seem to have similar collections, far outreaching my house now. However, I never did get a letterpress, the closest thing that I have is a huge process camera! Which has never been installed at my house.

    Thanks for all the great memories brought up and best of luck in whatever path you continue on.
    Ken Miller, Virginia

  6. You’re still my personal hero, Gene. Thanks for all the great memories, many of which I share with you.

  7. awe man 🙁

  8. I always enjoy your column and read every word, not just the pictures and I enjoy the personal aspect as well. I too have been doing this stuff since the days of waxers and stat machines and burnishing rub-on type. Best wishes to you in your new endeavors.

  9. Hi Gene – I’ve enjoyed your columns over the years and found a synchronicity of cats, Corvairs, SoCal and 40 years of producing graphic art. I wish you the best for all things future. Friday’s aren’t going to be the same without you my friend! Cheers! Rich O’Rielly

  10. Gene: Although I’ve not pestered you with comments, I’m perhaps one of your biggest fans. I suspect we are contemporaries (I’m 76) and I thoroughly enjoy your weekly missives. If you need encouragement to keep it up, I hope mine will help. In fact, I’ve been cleaning out more than 50 years of graphic arts detrius, and I had been wondering if you would be interested in some of it. I hope you’ll reconsider. Dennis Mason (

  11. Truly! I salute you Gene!! Your column has been a personal favorite for years now… many downloads of vintage clip art and always interesting to relive the paste up years and the crazy transitions from “hot” to “cold” type and the computer age… all from a fellow graphic arts pack rat… where to go now for my nostalgia fix?!?!?!?

  12. It will be so sad to lose these wonderful articles…they’ve been the highlight of my week sometimes

  13. Your columns/images have provided nostalgic comfort, each week. (I’ve bookmarked the list, and will revisit.) Maybe, like the Hollywood stars do, you can provide a new “special” column, periodically.

    Jerry in SC

    PS I, for one, have always read your commentary among the images.

  14. You’ve carried me and countless others with you on this journey and you will be greatly missed. Is there more writing on another theme in the future?

  15. Gene, thank you for sharing the past with us. Your column was fun, introspective and very informative. It always seemed to give another glance at years gone by and allowed us to reminisce our childhood. Thank you so much!

  16. Oh Gene ~ Say it is not so! (sigh) Okay, I understand your desire to put something down to pick up something new ~ but I do not like it at all! Your columns were the only ones not blatantly selling graphic products and services. Yours were the only ones I faithfully read. Once you are gone, I will unsubscribe from CreativePro, believe me. My own generation was of the psychedelic persuasion of the 1960s and 1970s and I loved your occasional offerings from that time. But moreover, I deeply appreciated your thoughtful perusals into fond memories and experiences of my parents and others. You did very well indeed, I will miss your column very much. ): Good luck in all you do.

  17. Not many people remember that your column was originally called “Heavy Metal Madness,” so called because of the letterpress print shop angle… What a ride it’s been for you and your readers. Dang, I’ll miss reading — and seeing — your wit.

    With love, Pamela P.

  18. your column has been a favorite of mine for the past years, so thanks for all the memories. good luck with your future endeavors. keep us posted! =) helen

  19. Thank you for writing and scanning all these years, I’ve always appreciated the sharing of your discoveries and memories.

  20. Gene,

    Thanks for providing insight into the history of what we do. Your humor and take on all things old and new will be missed.


  21. Gene ~ I heartily reccomend that you put together a book of your perusals into the trivia and memorabilia you so lovingly presented in your columns. You may find new inspiration~ ~ delphyne woods

  22. I have been reading your column for many years. I’m sad to see stop as I’ve found so much to enjoy.

    Letterpress printing is something I, and many others love. Maybe the column can shift to letterpress? There are huge communities of people who would probably find it interesting!

    Wishing you well. You will be missed.

  23. I’m really going to miss your weekly columns. I was heavily involved in the digital print industry for a lot of my career and visited many print shops that were a mix of old and new. Your insights to the print industry and it’s development have always been enlightening and some of the astounding art work you have shown lifted my spirits.
    My best wishes for the future whatever you may choose.

    Are you really sure about this? 🙂

  24. I always enjoyed your column and often shared it with my students to connect them to the great history you often addressed in your writing. I’m hoping that it remains archived as it is a great resource. All the best to you in the future!

  25. I was just reading your cat column (I too like cats and Macs!) and saw Aptos Post mentioned. I worked there for 5 years. And then I saw you mention Fractal Design where I also worked for 4 years and experienced MetaTools coming in and screwing the pooch (I suspect Kai & Co. didn’t like cats). A sad, sad story indeed! Gene, we’re kindred spirits, or possibly brothers separated at birth! More cheers! Rich

  26. …and I hope the archive will remain online as an image resource. Sorry to see you go, Gene!

  27. I have always looked each time you published. It was rewarding to see what you would come out with.

  28. Well, as Peter says, I understand. But I wish it wasn’t so. I have always enjoyed your columns, whether dealing with familiar subjects or something wildly new to me. Please tell me they’ll still be archived here!
    By the way, the picture of the Compugraphic Editwriter brought me to tears. We got one a couple of months after I started the 13 beat years of my life, working full time as a graphic artist . I grew to love calligraphy and typography the most, in that time, and your columns have always helped to keep that alive for me.
    So — happy trails — do good work — keep in touch.
    -Kathy Martello
    New Orleans

  29. I’m sorry to see you retire the column, Gene, but I’ve really enjoyed all your great finds over the years. Best wishes for whatever you’re planning next!

  30. I’ve been a member longer than you have been here., and have enjoyed your columns from the beginning.
    One thing I know is that I’ll miss you, and wish you could keep on, but I understand. I was one who always read the text, and enjoyed the context.
    I am going to miss you dearly. Thanks for all of the great reads. They have meant a lot over these many years.
    I hope you will consider guest columns, and perhaps compile a book of all you have written, with the wonderful images on a DVD!
    Anyhow, you will be missed, more than you know.

  31. I understand your reasons, but wish it wasn’t so. I’m not a printer or graphic designer, or an artist. But you almost made me think I was. I’ve learned so much from your columns. Good luck in whatever you do next. We shall all miss you hugely.

  32. Your column has always been my favorite. I’ll be sorry to see you go, and interested to see where you land.

  33. Gene – I treasure your columns for their wonderful balance of personal insight, honesty, nostalgia, curiosity and whimsy. I salute you sir.

  34. There goes my weekly entertainment!

  35. Say it ain’t so Gene! You’re the only reason I click on CreativeProse!
    This ranks up there with Gary Larson discontinuing Far Side!
    I’ll miss you,

  36. Gene,

    I’ve always enjoyed your columns and looked forward to it each week. I’ve passed along many of them. You’ll be missed.

    Best of luck, and thanks for all your work!!
    Clint Funk

  37. Sad, but of course I understand things just can’t go on forever. This column has been a treasure to read, always fun and informative. Please publish a book as many others have suggested! You will be missed, feels like loosing a good friend. Best of luck for your future plans! Robert Palm, Switzerland

  38. Thank you for all of the sharing and the stirring of memories! Over the years I have truly enjoyed your column and been inspired by it. Cheers to you, Trace

  39. A have often found myself spending time perusing your articles when I should have been working. A tribute to your content. I love my job.

  40. Gene, any thoughts about putting your columns in a print/ebook format? I am an independent publisher and would love to help you do that. Email me at if you are interested. I have enjoyed your column over the years and I’m sorry you’re not going to be publishing anymore. The older I get the harder it is for me to accept change. I guess we must!

  41. …for all the nostalgic trips and humorous detours. And the personal glimpses into your life were touching. I will miss the weekly smiles you brought my way. Good luck going forward and stay in touch.

    -Jennifer Wills

  42. A loyal follower of your column since the Heavy Metal Madness days, the absence of SAWG will leave a hole in my week which will be difficult to fill. I wish you the best on your future endeavors, and hope to see you back for guest spots as frequently as possible.

    Count me among those who read your body copy, too.

  43. Mr. Gene Gable, I don’t know if I can take this much dissapointment in one week – first that pitiful last drive of the 49ers, then you wise up and start thinking about your own well being. Really? How selfish is that!? And I’m sorry for giving one of your awesome stories a 1-star rating, but under the circumstances…

    Take care, many blessings and at least YOU’RE happy 😉
    Terry in Sacramento

  44. Thanks for the column and all the great images!
    You will be missed.

    As a graphic designer working from a Mac in my kitchen with 4 cats, who adopted my family last year, in various places around my house I had to click on “when the news was sad.” sniff sniff wipe wipe

    I’ll look forward to you guest appearances.

  45. It was always comforting to know others fondly remembered “those days” as much as I did; so enjoyed your comments, wit and knowledge over the years; reading column was like having coffee with old friends.

    Thanks for the memories! Enjoy whatever lies ahead.
    Liz Petzak

  46. Thank you for your wit, wiz, and wow over years. I hope CP keeps the archives alive so I can continue to read regularly whilst you are off doing other things. Love the letterpress story and the family summations today.

  47. When I saw the black and blue CompuGraphic EditWriter 4 it brought back memories! I still have mine! Serial number in the low 200s, it was one of the first three shipped to California. I heard that CG ended up making something like 15,000 of them. I think it cost over $20,000. It soon became the oldest in the state (the other two were shipped back because they were just flat awful). I have hundreds of the 8″ floppy disks it used to store files, and dozens of font strips. I hope it isn’t full of mouse nests.

  48. I also have been following your column since the HMM days. There was nothing else like it then or now. I guess I’ll just have to settle for retro pages on Facebook for my nostalgia fix but they don’t have your insights or wit.

  49. Sad to see you closing shop, Gene. Over the years, your column was the one that I most looked forward to. While other authors (and editors and columns) came and went, you were the one thing that stayed constant.

    But, as you said, it can’t last forever. So, thanks for the great scans and stories. I’ll miss seeing and reading new ones in the future, but I can look back and reminisce about the old ones, at least. 🙂

  50. Your weekly installments are something I’ve looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed for so long that I can’t imagine them ever ending. Getting to peek inside your life and your personality, and enjoying cool scanned stuff with you, is what has kept me a creativepro member for 10 years and It is so sad to know that its ending. I will miss you tremendously. Thank you so much for all the wonderful columns you’ve done and for sharing yourself with us. Its been a privilege.
    Jennifer, Oregon

  51. It’s a sad Friday to see your articles coming to a close. All the best, Gene. I hope you enjoy and maybe (selfish thought of mine) you’ll come back somewhere and resume writing. I came up in graphics and writing through the print industry and have particularly loved your historical (I date myself) musings on the graphic arts industry. It’s brought laughs and tears to remember those days of shooting X-acto knives into ceiling tiles with rubber bands when the supervisor wasn’t around. And the thrill of getting a purchase order through for new set of colored markers to create comps. You’ve covered the human condition throughout your ramblings. Thank you. D Murphy

  52. I’m going to miss this feature a lot. I love all this stuff you found. It’s not only entertaining but historically important too. Great job.
    Let us all know when you have found a publisher to produce the Gene Compendium! Can we place our orders now?

  53. Gene,
    I will truly miss your column! It always made me laugh or say “I remember that!”. I looked forward to having some down time on Fridays to read it. May your Rapidographs never clog and your X-Acto blades always stay sharp!

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