Sunday, 24 September 2017

Dave Sim: The Silence Of Your Friends

"Dave Sim: Misogynist Guru Of Self-Publishers"
The Comics Journal #174 (February 1995) 
Art by Bill Willingham

10 December 07

Hi Rick [Sharer]:

Well, you know, if you’ll forgive me for saying so, at least so far with your columns you're really not much different from anyone else who has written about "foolish Dave Sim the evil misogynist" since 1994.

You're documenting READS (sort of) – but you're also carefully pulling out the most provocative quotes which is pretty much guaranteed to get everyone riled up again (the opposite of getting them to think about what is being said) and you’re also, so far, being scrupulously careful not to offer your own opinions on whether you agree with anything that you’re quoting. So, the net effect tends to be an appearance of: not only not defending Dave Sim and his opinions but with the added detriment that you’re quoting me out of context to no good purpose. I mean, you deplore that no Comics Name has stood up and defended me publicly. Well, what would you think if some Comics Name suddenly started doing a bi-weekly column where they quoted all of the most provocative parts of READS but without actually saying, "This I agree with, this I disagree with."?

Particularly the really tough stuff where it takes guts to say, "I'll probably get everyone furious with me for saying this, but I think this stuff is self-evidently true and we’ve just blinded ourselves to it because our society, far from being misogynistic is actually misandrist. Our society hates men. Just ask any Dad who has had to go through the family law courts." If you really want to help the situation, I’d suggest that you cite some of your own examples and experiences instead of just quoting mine.

Yes, I think it was certainly true that EVERYONE in the field turned against me after issue 186 (which is a much, much larger group than the "mega-load of Marxist-feminists" of your description in your cover note). Certainly on the COMICS JOURNAL message boards -- as, I am told, it is to this day -- I was called every extreme name that they could think of, Gary Groth held his Star Chamber/Stalinist Show Trial of me at San Diego (or was it Wondercon?) without notifying me he was doing so and got massive ovations assassinating my character in a public venue, presumably, with the wholesale and enthusiastic endorsement of the convention organizers. Have you ever heard anyone attached to the Con where he did so speak out against the Con being used as a venue for criminal libel without even offering the subject of that criminal libel a chance to defend himself?

Bill Willingham finally phoned (the only one who did phone) to ask if I knew just how bad the attacks were getting, that this was completely unprecedented. Of course he didn't call until weeks into the cybernetic tarring and feathering and he certainly didn’t "stand up" on the COMICS JOURNAL message boards and say, "Listen, I think this is getting a little out of hand, here. We’re supposed to believe in freedom of speech in the comics field."

As Martin Luther King said (I’ll have to paraphrase here, I can’t find the quote) It isn't the venom of your enemies, it's the silence of your friends that gets you the most.

I accepted the inescapable conclusion (at the time and to this day) – that I didn’t have any friends – with reluctance but without regret. If the people I had considered friends to that point could stand by and do absolutely nothing for years on end while this was being done to me, what sort of friends were they?

The mistake they made and continue to make, of course, is in thinking that if you don't agree with Dave Sim publicly, if you shun him and damn him with faint praise that this will somehow appease the misandrist Marxist-feminist juggernaut devouring our society. It doesn't. All it does is show that males will take whatever females dish out no matter how bad it gets because men have chosen to be deathly afraid of women.

Affirmative action now means that 60% of all college admissions are women, 40% men. And men don't say anything about it, but just meekly submit to institutionalized gender imbalance as the "new normal". What does the ratio have to get to before men say something, or at least start to say something? 80-20? 90-10? 95-5?

Kowtowing to a bully is never – and will never be – the way to stop bullying.

I've never regretted taking a stand over the last thirteen years. On the contrary, knowing that I will be seen by history as one of the few willing to stand up for reality and that I was doing so for a good decade before anyone else, well it’s very satisfying. That and not having to pretend that I agree with Marxist-feminist b.s. on a daily basis. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

I’ll be visiting www.comicsvillage.com early in February to promote my new title.

Dave

From "Dave Sim's Collected Letters 2007", a Cerebus Archive Kickstarter reward.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Life & The Work Of Gene Day

Gene Day
13 August 1951 - 23 September 1982

by Dave Sim
(first published in The Comics Journal #77, November 1982)


The life and the work of Gene Day. To me, to most people, the two were interchangeable. It is very painful for me to write this now that the life and work are at an end. I have lost a mentor, a supporter, a cherished friend and my sanctuary from things that go bump in the artistic night.

Gene worked for hours at a time, pausing infrequently to eat and even more infrequently to sleep. He desired perfection in all that he did. It is hard to believe that I won’t someday read his Shadow book for Fantagraphics, see the definitive Gene Day Batman, thumb through a new Gene Day Indiana Jones book. I’ll never be able to listen, enraptured, to his album of synthesiser music he intended to publish in the spring.

If he had lived to be a hundred, though, there would have been countless unfinished Gene Day projects. Gene wasn’t happy if he didn’t have at least a half-dozen projects underway. A couple of weeks before his death, we talked for almost two hours on the phone; me cross-hatching a background for the cover of Cerebus #43 and Gene inking small background figures. I would often save such "one-handed" work for these times, as did Gene. He spoke of the future, of his upcoming tasks as he always did – enthusiastically, unafraid – filled with that untiring desire for perfection. We had made tentative plans to work on a Batman story together now that he was at DC, talked of recording some additional synthesiser background music for Cerebus the Radio Show.

Gene never slowed down, never paused to catch his breath before plunging into his next work. Had he found a publisher who would have doubled his wage, he would have seen it as an opportunity to increase his output, plowing the extra money into another publishing venture, a portfolio, a revived Dark Fantasy, an underground comic. He would have found it inconceivable to cut back his production and take some time off.

He was relentless, Gene was, a consummate entertainer and, in a field so often known for its whiners, its prima donnas, its buck-passers, the consummate professional.

Sadly, like so many other who were privileged to call him friend, I thought he was superhuman.

He had told me many times that he wanted to die at the drawing board, pursuing the perfection he always felt to be far from his grasp, the perfection he could never see in himself, but which was always there in my eyes. His life was a testament to his will, lived in the manner he chose, and no one deflected him from the path once chosen. I feel sorry for the people who never met Gene. I feel sorry for the people who knew him only briefly or who only met him in a convention art room or comics shop. To see Gene in the house he loved, with those he loved, Gale and Danny, hunched over the drawing board he had hammered together in his early teens out of scrap wood, and seated in the old kitchen chair on the worn cushion (the only place he could truly, comfortably draw), surrounded by model airplanes, comic book figurines, magazines, photo references, stacks or artwork and works in progress; to see him there was to know him as the Lord of the Manor, the King of All he Surveyed, the Master of his Craft, the Enthusiastic Student, the Ardent Practitioner. The beacon of creativity.

The beacon is, sadly for us – for all of us – gone now. The light remains; the resolute spirit, the gentle humor, the awesome dedication, the voluminous output.

If you wish to honor his memory, do good work. If you would follow in his footsteps, do your best work. If you wish, one day, to reach the same lofty plateau of excellence and individuality that he showed us all, never be satisfied with what you have done and always look forward to your next task, resolving to do better.

I miss him more than I can say. My heart goes out to everyone who feels the loss, everyone who was touched by his work, by his personality, by his creativity.

We’ve lost a publisher, a patron, an editor, a writer, a penciller, an inker, an illustrator, a colourist, a designer, a collector, a fan, a reader, a friend, and an inspiration.

If you feel the loss, now, wherever you are – create something. Write a story, draw a picture, create a costume, design a character, paste up an ad, sketch an outline.

If you can’t do that, encourage a struggling amateur, applaud a professional, buy a fanzine, or just write an enthusiastic letter to an editor of a comic book that you enjoy.

It’s the only tribute that would have mattered to him.

Goodbye Gene.


"Master Of Kung-Fu" illustration by Dave Sim (Marvel Fanfare #25, March 1986)
 

Howard Eugene Day (1951-1982) was the Canadian comic book artist best known for Marvel Comics' Master of Kung Fu and Star Wars series. Dave Sim credits Gene as his earliest and most influential mentor, and the inspiration for his own self-publishing efforts. In February 2009, the Shuster Awards received permission from Gene Day's widow, Gale, and brothers to name the annual Gene Day Award For Self-Publishing in his memory. Gene was inducted into the Shuster Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Unorthodox. Economic. Revenge.

MARGARET LISS:
A few years ago I scanned all of Dave Sim's notebooks. He had filled 36 notebooks during the years he created the monthly Cerebus series, covering issues #20 to 300, plus the other side items -- like the Epic stories, posters and prints, convention speeches etc. A total of 3,281 notebook pages detailing his creative process. I never really got the time to study the notebooks when I had them. Just did a quick look, scanned them in and sent them back to Dave as soon as possible. So this regular column is a chance for me to look through those scans and highlight some of the more interesting pages.

We've looked at Albatross #2, aka Dave Sim's notebook #2, which covers Cerebus #28 to 37, three times so far.  Most recently this past March in Does Cerebus Really Need To Go to PetuniaCon? It had 198 pages out of 200 pages scanned.

On page 83 there is a page by page summary for Cerebus #31:

Notebook #2, page 83
It looks like the crossed off item for page 15 is "Empty. Back to his own room" and it was replaced with 'Empty. Cerebus was suckered".

Viewing this outline against the finished issue, it appears that Dave inserted an extra page to go along with page 6's "take the costume. I should've burned it. Won't cause you any more problems."

The outline has page 9 as "and is promptly crushed by and two and one half tons of crescent-carved stone. Unorthodox. Economic. Revenge. Complicate matters, M'Lord. Cerebus wouldn't be a bit surprised?" Which is page 10 of Cerebus #31, or page 118 of High Society, to a tee.

High Society, page 118



Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Confectionary Wrap-up-- Books, One-off Books, and Floppy Books


Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings all!

With Paper to Pixel to Paper Again done (excepting a few addendum single-topic posts), I'll be returning to more round-up-style posts, addressing whatever's on my desk at the moment, or any thoughts or topics at the top of mind at the time of writing.

This is going to be one of the former, as there's a lot to get caught up on!

Jaka's Story, and the Other Un-Printed (But Restored) Books

Despite what you might infer from the August Previews catalogue listing, the restored Jaka's Story has not been printed, and will not be printed until all of the existing stock is exhausted. There was some confusion about this, by at least two people, if my email inbox can be believed, due to the way that Jaka's Story was listed.

The very short version—each month Diamond chooses two back-catalog books by each publisher to spotlight in Previews. For whatever reason, the last time that Jaka's Story was printed (way back in 2008 or 2009 or so by Lebonfon), someone at Diamond appended the words "New Printing" to the name of the title in the Diamond ordering system. Now that we're updating the books, that obviously could leave to some confusion.

Yes, the major restoration work on Jaka's Story is completed, but no, it won't go to print until the existing copies are sold. If you want to purchase copies for your store, or for some of your friends, or even for your local libraries, I hope you will! But it won't be the restored volume, at least not for a while.

The same goes for Minds, and for Church and State II, both of which are also restored and could be a week away from delivering to a printer when we get the word go. But when these titles are actually ready for a new printing, you'll hear about it here first, not in Previews.

I'll be putting together a graphic for AMOC sometime in the next week to help keep things straight. If in doubt, you can always check with me at cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com.

Cerebus the Hardcover!



Well, sort of...

We're very close to the finish line now for the very first official Aardvark/Vanaheim Cerebus hardcovers... with a print-run of one.

Readers with long memories will recall that at the tail end of last year, long-time Super Patron and aardvark enthusiast Tim F helped A/V out tremendously with a $20,000 donation that enabled A/V to, among other things, cover the massive printing bill for the new printing of Cerebus Volume One. In exchange for this, Dave offered, how about your favorite two Cerebus books, in hardcover, original art-wise?


And, slowly, that's what we've done!


The legwork for this has been accomplished in baby steps. Just finding a printer in San Diego that will deal with such short runs, and can follow basic instructions, was quite the challenge, to say the least. Even with the printer I ended up with, I had to go through three rounds of proofs before they would do what I asked from them in the first place: don't downsample the files, and use your tightest screen possible. 

But, as they say, third time's the charm, and now they're ready for the finished files for the interior. I've finished the layout, so save a few pages that will need some de-screening to keep the tiny little tone from creating moire, we're ready to go.

As you can see from the above, I also did some experimenting with how to approach the layout/bleed and gutter in Indesign this time around, as the job has some peculiar quirks. The printer won't be doing the binding--that will be handled by an outside bindery, which has specific needs as to the gutter area of the printing (needing at least .75" of space on the interior margin in order to get the binding nice and tight). This, along with the borders present (or not present) in the scans themselves, has led to some rather limited choices on my part in terms of cropping etc. 

While the layout work is fairly tedious, the design aspect is a nice diversion. Last week, I spent some time putting together some really rough cover "sketches" for different dust jacket options, to get a basis of discussion with Tim on what he's looking for in a dust jacket. No surprise, Chip Kidd was a big touchstone in our previous discussion, so I spent some time looking for images to "Chip Kidd-ify" for each book, that would still represent the interior fairly well.

As I said, these are extremely rough, but hopefully communicate some of the possibilities and are at least a jumping off point for further discussion. Hard to not get caught up in all the myriad possibilities when things are so open-ended--almost better to arbitrarily pick and image or set of criteria and then start working from there to arrive at the finished design, as the "polish" portion can really change things aesthetically.

Note that the below images are the full dust-jacket, spine, flaps, FC, BC, and all.





So, will there be more of these one-off hardcovers? It depends! Are you interested in one of your own, for your own favorite Cerebus book? Would you also like to be a mega-patron? Then contact Dave via phone (519/576-7820) or fax (519/576-0955) and let him know.

This entire process of restoring the books one by one, and keeping them in print, has been an extremely difficult one, one that involves lots of up-front work (and therefore upfront money) with much longer tails on the payouts. It's people like Tim F, and the Kickstarter supporters, who have made this work happen, week after week, month after month, and in return we're trying to give you all what it is you want, some value and some paper for your money. 

A deep thank-you to all of you who continue to make this happen.

Cerebus in Hell?

If you haven't noticed from the post above this, The Death of Cerebus in Hell? is now available for preorder from your local comic store! Get it now while the Hell? is hot!

Speaking of Cerebus in Hell?...


Are you currently looking at the above poster and thinking, "Gosh, that would make a SWELL Cerebus in Hell? cover!" Then we need your brain! We're putting together a very special CIHell? and we need your help/jokes/cover gag! Send any and all ideas to cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com or post them in the comments, and we'll take a look at all we receive in a future post.

Lastly, also related to Cerebus in Hell... do you have a beat-up copy of any issues of the original Official Marvel Handbook? Do you have a scanner? Oh goodie! I'm looking for 300 ppi at-size color scans of, say, ten random pages of your Official Marvel Handbook. Anyone up for it? For the first two people who come through, we'll work your name into the resulting issue.

More (much more) next week...

The Death of Cerebus in Hell? #1-- Demon Hordes Way Below Blue Book, the Last Wednesday of Every Month!

Order at your Local Comics Shop now! Diamond Order Code: SEP171028

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Prepare To Breathe Your Last... Duck!

Cerebus Meets Howard the Duck
(BEM #34, 1981)
by Dave Sim

RUSSELL WILLIS:
(from the From Under The Stairs blog, 23 November 2012)
BEM has some great interior illustrations, but there's no time to show them all... but how about this one by Dave Sim? Love it! By 1981 Howard the Duck had become my favourite comic (I was still filling in gaps in my collection as many of them weren’t distributed in the UK). HTD #24 was a comic I read and re-read, and I would imagine would be my choice for my favourite Marvel comic ever. Steve Gerber became the first comics writer whose comics I’d buy on the name alone. In fact, I think he was the first writer, other than Stan Lee, to have his name splashed on a Marvel cover as a purchasing incentive (Omega the Unknown #9). I'd seen Cerebus but it was expensive and although I loved the artwork, I didn't get into it at the time (I now have a whole shelf with all the "telephone books"). But it was great to see this illustration in BEM #34 from 1981. Hope you like it too!

Russell Willis's interview with BEM Editor, Martin Lock, in 2012:

Monday, 18 September 2017

On Sale 35 Years Ago: Cerebus #42

Cerebus #42
Art by Dave Sim

DAVE SIM:
This, I think, is a good cover. All of the individual elements work (except the free-pour physics) and add up to a strong overall image.

Diamond Order Code: OCT140536

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Pressed Aardvark #3: 1991 to 1995

PAUL SLADE:
I love researching bizarre stories from America’s past, so a few years ago I treated myself to a subscription to newspapers.com. This gives me access to a huge searchable database of old US newspapers – the oldest dating back to the 1700s. On a whim the other night, I plugged the word “Cerebus” into the site’s excellent search engine, selected the years 1978-2017, and started rootling through everything that came up. I’m pulling out only the most noteworthy items here, of course. This time round, we’ll be covering the years 1991 to 1995, a period which saw the publication of Cerebus 142–201. In terms of the phone books, that’s Melmoth, Flight, Women and Reads.

The Observer (England), January 13, 1991.

Cerebus is given a paragraph in the “What to Read” round-up running alongside this piece, but it’s the article’s headline I found most striking.

Even in a decade of truly awful headlines on comics articles – mostly of the “Zap! Pow! Comics aren’t just for kids any more!” variety – this one manages to distinguish itself. Pretty clearly, the sub-editor responsible found he’d filled only two of the three decks required, and opted to fix this problem simply by adding “Aarrgh!” at the end.

I don’t know why we don’t see this technique deployed by other headline writers, really. Here’s just a few of the opportunities they’ve missed:

*****

St Louis Post-Dispatch, April 5, 1992.

Dave and Gerhard were doing an American tour in 1992, and this piece represents the many city papers which gave them a story as they roamed round the country. Each one gives its readers the usual Cerebus 101 information, which it would be tedious to repeat here. But many also included a few quotes from Dave, and you’ll find my selection of the most interesting ones below.

The pics I’ve added after these quotes come from June 4’s Star Tribune and July 7’s Indianapolis Star respectively.

Dave on refusing to deal with corporate publishers:
“If you can do something exactly the way you want, you’re gonna have more fun.” – Star Tribune, June 4, 1992.

“One of the problems with co-operating with a corporation is that new pressures are brought in. They want changes in the characters.” – Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1992.

“I basically don’t want to deal with those people.” – St Louis Post-Dispatch, April 5, 1992.

“With any contract, I would only get 10 per cent of the money. Gerhard and I make much more doing it this way than we could at any large company. Here, once our expenses are covered, the rest is ours.” – Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1992.

Dave on Cerebus himself:
“Loathsome, reprehensible, self-absorbed, self-centred, greedy and a raging alcoholic.” – Indianapolis Star, July 7, 1992.

“I think everybody knows someone like Cerebus. Someone who you wish wasn’t your friend, who makes you so mad, you swear you’ll never speak to him again, and then he does something unexpectedly nice and you can’t help liking him.” – St Louis Post-Dispatch, April 5, 1992.

Dave on his audience:
“With our small, dedicated audience, we can take chances. In fact, they demand it. It’s much more artistically satisfying.” – Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1992.

“I’m comfortable having a specific audience to write to. I like the idea that my audience doesn’t see what I do as controversial. […] Most of them are people who gave up on comics.” – South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 3, 1992.

“Most of them started reading it when they were 17 or 18, and a lot of them are in their late 20s or early 30s by this point.” – Indianapolis Star, July 7, 1992.

Dave on the importance of ambiguity:
“Wilde said, ‘An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable manner of style’. You quickly get to the point where all your characters are two-dimensional, good or bad.” – Star Tribune, June 4, 1992.

“There are a lot of different interpretations of the story. Not everyone sees the same characters as good or bad, rulers or followers. I meant it to be that way. I find life to be universally ambiguous.” – Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1992.

Dave on resisting the temptations of merchandising:
“I want the book to stand on its own for the art and writing, not as a trinket. […] As soon as you go into merchandising, everyone nods sagely and says ‘Ah, now we know why you are doing it’.” – South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 3, 1992.

Dave on the early days of Cerebus:
“I tried to do Cerebus so it looked like the whole issue was drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith except Cerebus, who I wanted to look like he was drawn by Chuck Jones. Because I thought that hadn’t been played with. When they were doing Howard The Duck, Howard was always rendered with the same kind of texture as everybody else.” - St Louis Post-Dispatch, April 5, 1992.

Dave on what he’ll do after completing Cerebus:
“You shouldn’t ask a prisoner halfway through a 26-year prison term what he plans to do when he gets out.” – St Louis Post-Dispatch, April 5, 1992.

“I will continue to do comic books. I’ll just do stories as they occur to me. Basically I’m still 16 years old at heart. I mean, this is how I used to spend my summer vacations.” – Indianapolis Star, July 7, 1992.

Dave on the numbers:
No direct quotes here, but Dave was presumably the source for each paper’s estimate of Cerebus’s circulation. The Indianapolis Star and the Star Tribune both put this figure at 20,000 copies a month, while the South Florida Sun Sentinel opts for 18,000-19,000. The Star Tribune adds that he was then getting 400 to 500 readers’ letters per month, about 20% of them from women. 

 

*****

Lansing State Journal (Michigan), May 4, 1992.

Another “not just for kids anymore” article, and another god-awful headline to go with it. The picture shows Michigan State University librarian Randall Scott with a few selections from the library’s collection of 70,000 comics.

Also quoted is an MSU graduate student called Peter Coogan, who planned to write his thesis on superhero comics. “Every time a new medium comes about, people frequently think it’s bad for other people,” he points out. “Novels, films and jazz all started out as disreputable art forms. Comics did the same thing. Gradually, they all get accepted and are now being studied academically.”

Naming Cerebus as “the best comic being produced”, Coogan continues: “It’s basically for adults and quite serious. It deals with big issues – religion, politics, rape.”

*****

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 9, 1995.

The occasion here was Dave’s Pittsburgh stop in 1995’s Spirits of Independence tour, where he and Gerhard appeared with fellow self-publishers Don Simpson, Steve Bissette, Jim Valentino, Paul Pope and David Lapham.

Comparing the tour (a little optimistically) to Lollapalooza, the Post-Gazette calls it “a travelling circus of today’s hottest and most relevant self-publishing cartoonists”. Dave, it adds, “is believed to be a very wealthy man after nearly two decades of doing things his way”.

Pausing only to note a hollow laugh from the direction of Kitchener, we come to the story’s direct quotes. “It’s taken a while for the idea to sink in with the creative community,” Dave says of self publishing. “Certainly the publishers work hard to make comic publishing look like brain surgery. But if you can balance a checkbook, you can publish your own comics. It isn’t that much different.

“As long as you’re not stupid or greedy and keep your expectations modest, it’s pretty much risk-free at this point. […] Here’s the solicitation. You send it to the distributor who puts it in his catalog. Retailers order this many. The distributor sends you a purchase order. You tell the printer that many. You send the comics to the distributor. Thirty days later he pays you. You pay the printer and you do it again. Simple.”

How much of that model would still work today I have no idea. Back in 1995, though, Steve Bissette was just as keen to promote the idea. “When I worked on Swamp Thing for DC, at its peak it sold 65,000,” he says. “But when you’re working for a company like DC or Marvel, the money you earn is paying for editors, lawyers, book keepers and the leather covers on the seat of the helicopter owned by the executives. The barest amount of money is trickling down to you.

“ But I don’t resent it anymore. That’s the ecology of business. I learned their jobs; they can never learn my job. They can never produce a comic book. So who’s at a disadvantage?”

*****

South Florida Sun Sentinel, December 7, 1995.

An extract here from a column listing the day’s upcoming events online – don’t ask me – and an amusingly inaccurate description of Dave. I do hope some eager parent logged on with little Johnny in her lap and that both were suitably baffled by the result.

*****

 
Observer (England), December 24, 1995.

The Observer got a lot of letters responding to its December 10 “100 Women Who Shook The World” article. Sean Goldithorpe’s contribution was this balancing list of equally remarkable men .

Ranked at number 63, he places one “Dave Sim (creator of graphic book Cerebus)”. This puts our hero just 58 places behind Jesus Christ and only 40 behind William Shakespeare. Among those left eating Dave’s dust, we find Henry Ford (73), Ernest Hemingway (84) and all three Marx Brothers (sharing number 99).


For more of Paul Slade’s writing – including a history of Reg Smythe’s Andy Capp strip and a look back at some notable comic book lawsuits – visit PlanetSlade.com.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Diamond Preview Picks: September 2017

Here a selection of good looking comics heading in to your local comic store in November (or there abouts) as listed in the Diamond Previews Catalog for September. As always, I'm keen to know what other comics Cerebus readers enjoy, so let us know what you're currently reading in the comments section below. Thanks.


Smile Of The Absent Cat
by Grant Morrison & Gerhard
Heavy Metal, $14.99
In Stores: 8 November 2017
Diamond Order Code: SEP171696

The publisher says:
The story is about about Louis Wain, an Edwardian artist known for being the first to do "cat cartoons." As he died penniless and insane, a state that Morrison assumes all creators strive for, the graphic novel focuses on what happens to the world Wain made ("Catland") without its creator and how it will reflect the real events in his life. The main character is a detective who recently returned from the first World War. 

Gerhard says:
I came across that listing myself [on Amazon.com]. I asked the editor at Heavy Metal how that book was going to come out in November when I have only received the script for the first two chapters. He said the listing was news to him, too. I see they still haven't taken it down. If and when I ever do get the whole script, it will be the complete 48 page story that is published. It'll have to get a lot colder in hell first, I guess. I JUST got the 8 page script for chapter 3. If Dave and I had kept this pace, Cerebus would have taken 300 YEARS.


The Death Of Cerebus In Hell? #1
by Dave Sim & Sandeep Atwal
Aardvark-Vanaheim, $4.00
In Stores: 29 November 2017
Diamond Order Code: SEP171028

The publisher says:
Epic-length four-part DEATH OF CEREBUS IN HELL? Wrap your copy in a black plastic bag for even greater collectibility! Also reprints online strips from August 2016: Cerebus buys a demon horde; Cerebus in Wonderland; Canadian Hell; Lucifer runs for Ruler of Hell; Cerebus reads Black Panther; Super-Cerebus hurled back in time; Chester Brown and the Whore of Babylon; Giant Jabberwocky Uncle Sam with Bat-wings and a Dragon Tail; The Legion of Miniaturized Super-Cerebus Robots; Bolgiaflix;Jaka the Aardvark; unauthorized Cerebus the Barbarian GPS wireless tracking system bicycle helmet headsets; Squirrel Girl and more!


Shadows On The Grave
by Richard Corben
Dark Horse, $19.99
In Stores: 17 January 2018
Diamond Order Code: SEP170040

The publisher says:
Richard Corben follows up 2014's Spirits of the Dead with a new collection of original short stories, ranging from gothic tales worthy of Poe, to Twilight Zone-style encounters with the weird, to a full-length fantasy epic featuring a barbarian reminiscent of Corben's most notorious creation, Den, immortalized in the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal. Collects Shadows on the Grave #1-#8.  




Magritte: This Is Not A Biography
by Vincent Zabus & Thomas Campi
SelfMadeHero, $14.99
In Stores: 8 November 2017
Diamond Order Code: SEP171871

The publisher says:
Intoxicated by the promise of a promotion, Charles Singular for once allows himself a small extravagance: he buys a bowler hat. But there's a problem: this is no ordinary hat. This one once belonged to the surrealist painter René Magritte, and by donning it Charles has unwittingly stepped into the artist's off-kilter world. What's more, he can't escape. At least, not until he has illuminated the secrets behind Magritte's work. What follows is a hallucinatory journey through Magritte's imaginative landscape, a place where facial features mutate, the crescent moon appears in unexpected places, and answers prove frustratingly elusive. 


Stardust Nation
by Deborah Levy & Andrzej Klimowski
SelfMadeHero, $19.99
In Stores: 8 November 2017
Diamond Order Code: SEP171873

The publisher says:
For the high-flying, heavy-drinking advertising boss Tom Banbury, the art of persuasion relies on an infiltration of the consumer's mind. In the case of his colleague and confidante Nikos Gazidis, the overdeveloped sense of empathy that makes him so well suited to the business has resulted in a strange psychiatric condition. Nick has unwittingly crashed into the consciousness of his boss. While Tom drinks to forget the troubles of his life, Nick is forced to confront a past that is not his own: a childhood scarred by the small wars waged by an abusive father - and by the events that brought these battles to a close. When Nick enters the panicked silence of the Abbey, a fortress for the rich and unstable, his sister guards him from the visiting Tom Banbury. But can this peculiar bond be broken? Or has Nikos Gazidis taken an empathetic leap too far?


The Smell Of Starving Boys
by Loo Hui Phang & Frederik Peeters
SelfMadeHero, $29.99
In Stores: 8 November 2017
Diamond Order Code: SEP171872

The publisher says:
Texas, 1872. With the Civil War over, exploration has resumed in the territories to the west of the Mississippi, and the geologist Stingley is looking to capitalize. Together with photographer Oscar Forrest, who catalogues the terrain, and their young assistant, Milton, Stingley strikes out into territory that might one day support a new civilization. But this is no virgin land. As the frontiersmen move west, it becomes clear that the expedition won't go unchallenged. Stingley has led them into a hostile region: the native Comanches' last bastion of resistance. The Smell of Starving Boys is an intense Western about the clash of two worlds: one old, one new; one defined by rationality and technology, the other by shamanism and nature. 


The Comics Of Joe Sacco: Journalism In A Visual World
Edited by Daniel Worden
PYR Books, $30.00
In Stores: 29 November 2017
Diamond Order Code: SEP172186

The publisher says:
Now in softcover, this book-length study of the artist who brought journalistic reportage to comics The Comics of Joe Sacco addresses the range of his work from his early comics stories as well as Palestine, Safe Area to Goražde, Footnotes in Gaza, and The Great War, a graphic history of World War I. 





The Expanding Art Of Comics: Ten Modern Masterpieces
by Thierry Gronesteen
PYR Books, $65.00
In Stores: 29 November 2017
Diamond Order Code: SEP172188

The publisher says:
In The Expanding Art of Comics: Ten Modern Masterpieces prominent scholar Thierry Groensteen offers a distinct perspective on important evolutions in comics since the 1960s through close readings of ten seminal works. He covers over half a century of comics production, sampling a single work from the sixties (Ballad of the Salt Sea by Hugo Pratt), seventies (The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius by Moebius), eighties (Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons), and nineties (Epileptic by David B.). Then this remarkable critic, scholar, and author of The System of Comics and Comics and Narration delves into recent masterpieces, such as Building Stories by Chris Ware. 


Why Comics? From Underground To Everywhere
by Hillary Chute
Harper Collins, $40.00
In Stores: 6 December 2017
Diamond Order Code: SEP172194

The publisher says:
As comics as an art form continue to gain in popularity and critical acclaim, comics expert Hillary Chute reveals what exactly it is that makes comics so unique. What is it that makes comics so special? What can this unique art form do that others can't? Chute reveals the history of comics, underground comics (or comix), and graphic novels, through deep thematic analysis, and fascinating portraits of the fearless men and women behind them. Chute has created an indispensable guide to comics for those new to the genre, or those who want to understand more about what lies behind their favorite works. Foreword by Gary Panter and cover by Jaime Hernandez.


Inside The Mind Of Jamie Hewlett
by Julius Wiedemann & Jamie Hewlett
Taschen, $59.99
In Stores: 29 November 2017
Diamond Order Code: SEP172175

The publisher says:
From the legendary Tank Girl to live-action animations with art-pop noisemakers Gorillaz, dabblings with Chinese contemporary opera to an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, artist Jamie Hewlett is one of the most energetic figures of contemporary pop culture. Hewlett emerged in the mid 1990s as cocreator of the zeitgeist-defining Tank Girl comic. With then-roommate, Blur frontman Damon Albarn, he went on to create the unique cartoon band Gorillaz, a virtual pop group of animated characters, which recorded four studio albums and mounted breathtaking live spectacles. This new TASCHEN edition, Hewlett's first major monograph, illustrates this thrilling creative journey with over 400 artworks. Through stories, characters, strips, and sketches, we trace Hewlett's exceptional capacity for invention and celebrate a polymath artist who refuses to rest on his laurels, or to be pigeonholed into a particular practice. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Melmoth Thumbnails Part 2

MARGARET LISS:
A few years ago I scanned all of Dave Sim's notebooks. He had filled 36 notebooks during the years he created the monthly Cerebus series, covering issues #20 to 300, plus the other side items -- like the Epic stories, posters and prints, convention speeches etc. A total of 3,281 notebook pages detailing his creative process. I never really got the time to study the notebooks when I had them. Just did a quick look, scanned them in and sent them back to Dave as soon as possible. So this regular column is a chance for me to look through those scans and highlight some of the more interesting pages.

So in last week's Melmoth Thumbnails Part 1 we looked at Dave's nineteenth Cerebus notebook. More specifically we looked at page 35 which had the thumbnails for three pages of Melmoth. Here now is page 36.

So on the page you can see a couple of the thumbnails from the previous page. As you can see, they are much larger than the thumbnails on this page. A couple pages were skipped as well.


Notebook 19, page 36
The thumbnails start with page 120 of Melmoth, or page 12 of issue #144.  And this is where the major difference between the thumbnails and the finished pages is located. Panel two of page 12 in the thumbnails shows someone with their hands above their head - I'm thinking Astoria in chains.  But the finished page shows the tower coming apart and lifting off:


Melmoth pages 120 through 122
The rest of the pages are pretty close to the finish pages, without Gerhard's awesome backgrounds. Nor can you see how Gerhard's backgrounds are not complete at the edges. Like Cerebus is not yet cognizant of his surroundings, being half wake.

The Death of Cerebus in Hell? #1-- Tots Sincere Elegies, the Last Wednesday of Every Month!

Order at your Local Comics Shop now! Diamond Order Code: SEP171028

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Paper to Pixel to Paper Again: Part 29

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A guide to creating the best looking line art in print in the new digital print world

Part 29
Archiving, and Making it Work On-Screen
Greetings!

This is the twenty-ninth and final regular installment of Paper to Pixel to Paper Again, a series that explains (in an overly thorough manner) the how-to's of preparing line art for print.


And as always, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!

***
Last week we sent our (rhetorical) books off to the printer and spent a bit of time ruminating on the nature of mistakes.

What to do after your book comes back?

Hopefully it's a time of celebration, of salesmanship, of showing off to your friends and potential readers. Sending out review copies, soliciting interest, planning publication number two and three and...

And...

When all of that's done?

Correcting Any Mistakes

Don't drive yourself bananas with this or anything, but if there are obvious, glaring mistakes in your book—say, a misspelling, missing words, or even (gasp) moire or visible stair-stepping resulting from downsampling or any other obvious errors that you wouldn't want in a future edition of the book, then take the time to correct them now. 

Why? Well, for one, it might help assuage any hard feelings you have for missing the mistake in the first place. For two, it's good general life-efficiency policy to "touch once"—that is, if you go and get your mail, deal with it on first contact rather than sticking it in a stack and thus having to deal with it a second time later. Presumably you've already taken the time to sit down and go over the book. Might as well enact any obvious corrections now rather than having to remember to do so at a later date.

(The above is assuming everything is mostly hunky dory. If there are borderline issues, probably best to leave it alone for now, as you might find that the fine distinctions disappear or are softened over time, and you might not care quite as much a few months or years from now, when you're ready to reprint ).

And then...

Archiving Your Work

As we've talked about periodically in this series, you should keep a thorough backup of all of your work for the book. I'd recommend the following—

-A directory with the name of the book and author
-Separate sub-directories for
     -all of the raw scans for the project
     -all of the PSD (or layered TIFF) files you used for adjustments and cleanup etc
     -all of the flattened 1-bit TIFFs
     -the layout documents and exported PDFs (dated. yes, keep all of these!)
     -any text documents or other "raw material" type stuff

All of these extras are designed for maximum efficiency should you need to do anything different to this book in the future. Need to swap out a page? Need a blowup of an original? Need to publish a color art book of your line work? Need to access publishable documents two decades from now when your Indesign-running desktop has long-since been bricked? This is what you need.

Take this master directory and put it in redundant storage. I.e. redundantly backed up to a cloud service you trust (Backblaze, for instance) and/or backed up on your fireproof and waterproof external hard drive or RAID enclosure. Remember, with digital, if it's not at least two places in two physically removed locations, it's not really a sure thing.

Once you've got that set up, what's left?

Screen Editions

It would take a much longer post to do justice to this topic—and such a post will likely appear here in the next few months!—but I want to touch on the very basics of this now.

What looks good in print (1-bit TIFFs) looks decidedly crappy on a screen. Screens, even 4K monitors, don't really have that high of a resolution when compared to one-color printing on smooth surfaces, so you need to take advantage of the screen's color/gray capabilities. And that means converting your image files to lower-res grayscale images, and introducing anti-aliasing.

This is pretty easy to do. In the main directory for your book, make a new folder, and name it something along the lines of Book_Screen-resolution_Images. Then fire up the ol' Photoshop and we'll make a script to turn your high-res 1-bit bitmaps into something a little more palatable for on-screen consumption.

Let's take a look at a single-panel from Death of Cerebus in Hell? #1 (available for ordering at your local comic shop now—how's that for product placement??)

First, let's take a look at the panel at-size--that is, 1-to-1 pixels, exactly as it is in the file I sent to Marquis—



Maybe it's obvious from the above, but this is way, way too large for screen viewing. 

Can we just shrink our 1-bit bitmap down to size? Say, same size, but change the resolution to 300 ppi?

Here's what that looks like, at-size. (one to one pixel ratio).

So, pretty horrid. Without the benefits of anti-aliasing (i.e. gray pixels giving us the illusion of smoothness) this looks broken and jagged, and the tiny-toned figures have turned to a horrible eye-melting moire pattern.

So! Before we downsample, we're going to do a few things—

1. Go to Image-> Mode-> Grayscale to convert your bitmap to a grayscale image.

2. We're going to eliminate the finest details, the ones that will be below the threshold of the downsample anyway, as a means of warding off moire in our image. We'll do this through blurring. Take your source resolution (in my case, 2400), divide it by your target resolution (in my case, 300), then multiply the resulting number by .5 pixels. This is the amount of pixels Radius you should use to gaussian blur your image by prior to downsampling. This is essentially an anti-aliasing filter, eliminating fine-edged information that wouldn't appear in the final screen image anyway.

In my case, this results in 4 pixels. I'll bring up the Gaussian blur from the effects menu and run it at that Radius.



NOW I'm going to--

3. Downsample my image (Ctrl-Alt-I) to 300 ppi using Bicubic resampling.

4. Next, we'll (what else?) sharpen our image just a bit with a high Threshold, so we can reclaim a bit of detail while not bringing back any of the potentially "moire-ey" details. Here's what I ended up with--



5. Lastly, we need to assign a color profile to the image so different viewers consistently apply the same kind of file handling to the image. Go to Convert to Profile and select Epson Gray Gamma 2.2.

And now we're done!

Here's the resulting image one-to-one--
And here it is reduced by half so I can fit the whole thing onto AMOC's Blogger image profile-- 

Quite an improvement from the above!
From here, it's very easy to make a screen-res version of your book. Just run Photoshop's Image Processor and use your new script, copying the results to the new directory you made earlier. Then open up your layout file, Save-As as "SOandSoBookScreenRes", and then, in the Links panel, Relink the entire book to the new folder. Export as PDF and viola, a nice-looking screen-res version of your book.

The End of This Series

And with that, we end the regular appearance of Paper to Pixel to Paper Again. But I will follow up soon with some addenda posts, specifically--

--a post linking to scripts I use on a regular basis and other practical goodies (coming very soon!)
--avoiding moire (mostly a regurgitation of previous posts on the topic)
--working with color and line art simultaneously
--any other suggestions?

Thanks for reading, and thanks for linking. Now that this series has (mostly) wrapped up, now would be a good time to spread the word. Do you know someone who might enjoy this series or benefit from some of the information? Pass it on!

Next: Vacation? More Historically Significant Robot Genital Misprint Cards?

Sean Michael Robinson is a writer, artist, and musician. See more at LivingtheLine.com.