Monday, 30 June 2014

The Late, Lamented Moondance Comics

DAVE SIM:
The late, lamented Moondance Comics -- the first time I ever saw a comic-book store in an upscale shopping mall and I was doing a signing there! How cool is that? It was also where I first met Kevin Eastman (see photo: Kevin faked me out, I thought he was going for his gun) and where Michael Zulli and Stephen Murphy showed me a few sample pages from a comic book they were working on to be called THE PUMA BLUES.

You know, Dave. It's a SHOPPING MALL. Middle of the day. It's really not that SUNNY in here.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Ass-Kissing Overture Letters From Journalists


The following letter (taken from Dave Sim's Collected Letters 2004) was written by Dave Sim in response to Chris Shulgan's article in the Saturday Night magazine in November 2003.

9 February 04

Hi Chris:

I'm finally getting around to answering my mail now that Cerebus is done, having plowed through 2001 and 2002, I’m now about halfway through 2003, and here's your fax making the original inquiry about doing an interview for the Saturday Night piece and reminding me that I intended to write to you when the piece came out, win, lose or draw.

It was interesting. I’m really starting to think that there would be some value in posting on the Internet the ass-kissing overture letters I get from journalists and contrasting them with the smear pieces that end up in print. I know I’m not alone in this and it isn’t just Canadian journalism that’s at fault. I think journalists have sort of moved their scales of justice away from their finished pieces and now weigh things from the initial overture (i.e. having kissed his ass shamelessly to get the interview, in order to be balanced, I now have to kick his ass as hard as I can). It was amazing to me that you never asked me about the Astoria-based-on-Deni hallucination, just as the fact-checker (make that fact "checker") never asked either. It would have been very simple to straighten out. Likewise when the fact checker mentioned that I had gotten a good deal from my dealer on the acid. And I said, No, I didn't have a dealer – the acid was a birthday present from my brother-in-law, Deni's brother, Michael. The article comes out and it's turned into "an acquaintance". My brother-in-law is an acquaintance? I already mentioned in 298 that Cerebus was never a recipient of the wide acclaim that you attached to the publication of High Society. Hardly. The publication of High Society, because I sold them direct to fans, made me the most hated person in comics at the time. The exact opposite of wide-acclaim.

The first time that I knew I was in trouble was when you were here doing your interview and I kept wondering when you were going to ask me anything about my faith. I mean, I understood the appeal – particularly to Canadian Marxists – of disparaging me as a drug-addled misogynist. I wouldn’t expect anything more from a Canadian journalist. But, the first question you had to ask in your fax was about the “phases” in my life and, as I told you, there are only two: pre-Bible and Koran and post-Bible and Koran. Anyway, at one point you asked me about praying five times a day and asked me about the prayer. Had I written it myself? I said, Yes, I had. Then I said, it runs about ten minutes, would you like to hear it? And you said, No. I really didn’t know whether to laugh or not, but I sure felt like laughing. Oh, this is going to be a really balanced article, I thought to myself. This is going to be a gem.

Well, as I say, you lived down to my worst impressions of my fellow citizens and, so far, your article stands as the last Canadian word on Cerebus. Certainly it is, as history will now record the only Canadian word on Cerebus in a major Canadian publication prior to the actual completion of the work.

I’ve also been typing letters in response to readers for the last two weeks. I think yours is only the second Canadian letter I’ve had to answer.

So, hey. Good for your team, eh?

No hard feelings.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream



Winsor McCay was perhaps the greatest cartoonist of all time, and the Sunday newspaper strip Little Nemo in Slumberland was his most enduring creation. Locust Moon Press has spent the last two years assembling the LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM anthology, in which many of the world's finest cartoonists will pay tribute to the master and his masterpiece by creating new Little Nemo strips, following their own voices down paths lit by McCay. Taking on the same giant, broadsheet newspaper-sized canvas as McCay, artists such as Michael Allred, Paul Pope, Yuko Shimizu, J.H. Williams III, Charles Vess, David Mack, J.G. Jones, Craig Thompson, Paolo Rivera, Carla Speed McNeil, Bill Sienkiewicz, P. Craig Russell, Ronald Wimberly, Denis Kitchen, Jill Thompson, Stephen R. Bissette, Gabriel Bá & Fábio Moon, Farel Dalrymple, John Cassaday, Cliff Chiang, and over a hundred more have all done some of the very best work of their illustrious careers.

Gerhard with his finished page for 'Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream' (April 2014)
Gerz Blog details how this page came about.

No Riders

No Riders (Cerebus #168, March 1993)
Art by Dave Sim & Brad W. Foster

Friday, 27 June 2014

Weekly Update #37: "You Know, It Don't Come Easy"

DAVE SIM:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  1. Remarkable progress evident in CEREBUS Restorations. Our $10,000 Retailer Patron declares himself "in".
  2. The primary levels of preservation include a) restoring the trade paperbacks and keeping them in print b) maintaining the Off-White House and contents (hopefully) in perpetuity c) completing THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND hopefully in a few years d) doing a continent-wide promotion tour to support THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND and e) keeping everyone updated on progress -- or lack of same -- in all areas.
  3. So far so good in "getting 'er done" on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE.

1.  As you can see from Sean's "Living the Line" update, we appear to be making a lot of progress.  I say "appear" because we've been here before and found out later that we were in the wrong part of town. But I am cautiously optimistic.  As is our $10,000 retailer beneficiary with whom I had a one- hour phone conversation earlier in the week.  There are still a lot of complexities, but CEREBUS Restoration is very much one of those things where money is of great advantage in a number of areas and "TF" assures me that he's on board and fully committed to financing Sean's work.

A long-winded example of one complexity:

One of the potential problems -- which will move towards resolution, God willing, before the end of July -- is the distinction between printing out individual copies and printing actual books.  That will be a major test of the methods that Sean has been developing over the last couple of weeks.  It's something that I've had to confront head-on a few times.  You don't want to waste money printing entire books that then need to be pulped...

(which it seems will be the case with the current unfinished printing of HIGH SOCIETY -- with the exception of the signed and numbered first signatures of which I'm thinking of salvaging the first 300 and including them with the corresponding individual signed and numbered CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONEs)

...but you're going to arrive at -- and we have arrived at -- the point where you need to see what the actual printing looks like. Particularly in this case with Sean and Dr. Mara's new methods.  Do his revised signatures print the way that Sean thought they would?

If not, that presents two possibilities:  Lebonfon just doesn't know what they're doing as a printer (which would definitely put Sean and George on the same team) OR the methods only work on a computer screen and in "one-off" printer copies.

Logic, unfortunately, then points in the direction of paying for the printing (I've already got an agreement with Lebonfon that if the new printing doesn't pass muster with me and George and Sean, I'll just pay for the original printing, they'll "comp" A-V the four revised signatures and we'll be on our merry way)

"Our merry way" being, logic, again would dictate: going to a printer of Sean's choosing -- my own recommendation being the printer in Virginia that Image is using for Colleen's A DISTANT SOIL:  going there has the advantage of saying "This is a book like the A DISTANT SOIL books you printed, it requires the same level of sharpness you got on the 40% dot screens".

The danger I see in using a printer without a comparable work with which to compare CEREBUS is running into what I see as the systemic Lebonfon problem:  all graphic novels are the same.  You take digital scans, make printing plates, hit start and you get graphic novels.  George's experience and now Sean's experience is that Lebonfon doesn't really seem to "get" what he's talking about.  They didn't automatically flag the obvious problems with CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY, didn't recognize that 300 dpi "proofs" just aren't adequate for something as detailed as CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY, etc.

I daresay most printers are that way in this digital age.

There is such a dearth of detailed illustration these days (gum gum gum) that there is no longer any need for a printer to perceive detail in a graphic novel  beyond a surface cartoon level.  "Some lines are missing.  They're very tiny lines. So what? It's a comic book. Who cares?"  On a pure here-we-are-today level, hard to argue with.

But, bottom line -- in terms of money -- that could involve paying for a complete printing of HIGH SOCIETY from the new printer as A-V just paid for a complete printing of HIGH SOCIETY from Lebonfon and then having to pay for a complete printing of HIGH SOCIETY from the new printer picked by Sean and in both cases pulping the results.

That's Worst Case Scenario, but as the guy calling the shots, that's where my mind needs to go long before we actually get there.

What if? What if Sean is wrong and his methods only work on computer screen and on one-off printer copies?

In that case, A-V's fallback position (I have it on good authority from the company president) is: we do strictly CEREBUS ARCHIVE EDITIONS until some method of printing books makes itself apparent that matches what Sean sees on his computer screen and in one-off printer copies.  And we do it $20,000+ poorer in Kickstarter funds.  And revenues from CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE through Diamond.  And revenues from what COULD be The Last CEREBUS Trade EVER.

But a good example, I could cite for our Retailer Patron: this COULD happen and this is where your money would have gone.  Getting hard answers calls for hard cash in this case, even if the answers are POTENTIALLY not happy ones.

He understood.  God bless 'im.

2.  In answer to Damian Lloyd, as Ringo sang, You Know, It Don't Come Easy.  :)
  
I'm having to balance being the artist and writer on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND -- which is certainly uppermost in my OWN mind -- and being the custodian of CEREBUS.

It's really not an "either/or" to my way of thinking. I'm responsible for both so I have to do the best I can for both.

As I've explained it to others, James Joyce is very important to Dublin but he wasn't always.  I think even he would be surprised at the level of importance attached to his work this long after his death and particularly the level of importance attached to him IN Dublin.  It tends to be particularly true about Controversial Figures -- people deemed, like Joyce, to be completely outside the realm of Polite Discussion when they were alive and working (and I think it would be hard to refute that that's Dave Sim to a "t" in 2014).  Only to discover that there's rather more about them that's worthy of discussion in the decades after their death than can be found in those with the Enduring Popularity of a Jim Morrison (let us say).  I won't live to see it if there is a change in my status, but I think it's my responsibility to PLAN for it -- which I've been doing for about twenty years now.  Worst Case Scenario: my insurance money is exhausted sometime in the 22nd century and, now, even further outside the realm of polite discourse, all traces of Dave Sim are eradicated by the City of Kitchener and, basically, no one notices or cares.  "Ashes to ashes..."

There's certainly a temptation on my part to go "all in" on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.  No more Weekly Updates, no CEREBUS trade paperbacks, no phone calls, no answering letters, no CEREBUS ARCHIVE artists editions, no preserving the house and contents, just cash in all the cash value in my life insurance (and I have gone so far as to establish a Doomsday Scenario line of credit based on it and a book of cheques that I can write up into the low six figures -- it cost me $676 just to set that up!) and just write and draw THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND until it's done.

I think that's a recipe for arriving at the end of the book to Complete Desolation and Wreckage.  And probably a Damian Lloyd or two going "Well, who CARES? The guy's been gone for five years! Turned himself into a complete hermit! All he'll EVER be known for is CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY and where are they? Out of print!  And now he wants us to read this wild theorizing of his and take it seriously? The man is pathetic! I wouldn't walk across the street to throw rocks at him!" And everyone else standing around, shuffling their feet and not saying anything and, so, effectively endorsing the viewpoint.

The CEREBUS ARCHIVE ARTISTS EDITIONS were arrived at after a two-year long process of trying to assess what was the "most bang for the buck" -- something the remaining CEREBUS fans could get behind and derive satisfaction from that would also provide revenue which would make the maintenance of the intellectual property, the actual work, more possible.

I'll be honest with you: May and June were brutal.  Consistently being dragged into the CEREBUS world from the STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND world.  But, it's the first time out for the ARTISTS EDITIONS. It's a steep learning curve.  The three-hour block of time between my noon and 3 pm prayers has been taken up with it for two solid months.  And I haven't even started signing the prints yet or lettering all of the bookplates.

But it has to be done.  As, in my view, the disposition of the house and contents needs to be done. As the STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND needs to be done.  As does a continent-wide publicity tour when SDOAR is finished need to be done.

So they are all that I do or plan to do.  In that sense, I AM "all in".

Logically, there isn't TIME for anything else.  I get up in the morning and I work for 12 to 14 hours and then I go to bed.  I have several years of that ahead of me.

SDOAR is the next thing I need to provide for so that's what Dave Fisher and I will be working on: getting the glamourpuss art auctions together, so money will come in that I can say, "Okay, THIS money pays me to work on SDOAR" which is distinct from the Kickstarter money which supports getting the CEREBUS trades back into print or finding out that that isn't possible with today's technology, which is distinct from my life insurance which will finance the preservation of the house and contents.

Each compartment needs to be developed and maximized WHILE I'm working and WHILE I'm getting older. In my opinion.

The glamourpuss art auctions, as an example, involve actually printing a catalogue of pieces and making that available to Heritage Auctions' top art buyers.  Which Dave Fisher will be helping develop and we'll finance that, Dave's time and attention -- God willing -- with auctions of glamourpuss tracing paper.  Which we'll announce here.  It's a long process and it takes time.  We appear to just be starting to solve the trade paperback printing problems and we've been working on that for a year, as the company bank account evaporated.

Believe me: I'm pulling back in the direction of THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND every step of the way.  So far, I've been able to keep the blocks of time from 10 am to Noon and 5 pm to 11 pm strictly for writing and drawing (and, it needs to be added, I think, while I'm eating dinner after fasting from 4 am to 11 pm) from 11 pm to 12:30 am reading Eddie Khanna's research materials -- at the moment a thick binder of clippings on The Strange Death of Margaret Mitchell from the ATLANTA JOURNAL and ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.  Sometimes three and four days in a row JUST reading the same five or six clippings.  There's something in here, but I'm not getting it quite yet. I had that happen with five or six clippings on Stan Drake, as well.  Completely forget over the ensuing 24 hours.  Wait, why am I reading these AGAIN?  Then read them.  Oh, right. This.  It takes as long as it takes.

The pages I'm drawing right now are extremely complicated and are taking an average of four and five days to do.  I'm pretty set in that, however.  Again, this takes as long as it takes.  What do I want this page to look like?  I want it to look like THIS!  Well, that's going to take a few days.  So, it takes a few days.  This is probably my last time "up the mountain".  Let's get it right, Dave, eh?

I appreciate your STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND-centredness.  At essence, I share it. But there are, I'm pretty sure, severe Comic Art Metaphysical consequences just waiting for me if I try just ditching my other custodial responsibilities and making a dash for the finish line.  You're supposed to UNTIE to Gordian Knot, not just CUT it, yes?

So that's what I'm trying to do.

But I do appreciate your input, as I appreciate everyone's input.  There are, at least, a few people Here and Now who are interested in my various responsibilities, which -- even when they're hectoring me about them -- is still better then working in a complete vacuum.

3.  CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE is progressing.  I have approved the second prototype after rejecting the first one, corrected all the text, pencilled and inked all of the Cerebus fully-inked head shots (25) and done the ballpoint pen sketch ones (4).  I've also signed all of the bookplates that are to be signed and personalized -- but haven't personalized them yet.  This is one of the "systems" things John and I will be working on: that personalizations show up on a list of drawings that I'm doing (the person's name and what they pledged for) and can be relayed to me in the first batch of info.

It's going much more smoothly this time than the 2012 Kickstarter.  I'm sure we still have a number of "bumps in the road" to deal with.  BUT!  Hopefully everything gets smoothed out as we go along and by the time, say, CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER THREE is in the works, I can limit my involvement to the Noon to 3 pm block of time and spend the rest of my time on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.

See you next week!

Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by donating at Patreon.com or via Paypal.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (2008 to 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Restoration Update #1: No Lines Left Behind

SEAN MICHAEL ROBINSON:

Greetings AMOCers, Cerebus restoration backers, aficionados of print esoterica,

Dave and Tim both thought it might be a good idea for me to make a weekly post on the Cerebus restoration work, to give everyone an idea of what's happening with the work, why it's necessary in the first place, and, in the case of the backers, give them an idea of what exactly it is their money is going to.

This is even more timely, on account of the very generous offer/inquiry that Dave received last week from a retailer, who asked, what would $10,000 buy in the restoration effort?

The short answer –

Time. Lots of time for myself and my associate Dr. Mara. Time for scanning source material, time for scanning original artwork in Kitchener, time for file adjustment, time to systematically work through the various reproduction problems involved and get the best method possible for going forward.

I will be able to estimate better after this week's worth of work is done, but as things stand now, $10,000 of time would get us through Cerebus, through High Society, and would start us into Church and State. How far into C + S? Very difficult to say, as things change by the day. Just last week I had three separate incredibly positive breakthroughs that significantly reduced the workload involved for completing the two books. Of course, each of these breakthroughs is in response to set-backs. (A solution to a problem, after all, still involves a problem).

So, what would $10,000 buy us? My current guess – the best versions of Cerebus and High Society ever available. The (not to abuse the word) legacy editions of each of these titles.

Last week I officially started into the restoration work. I began by making a survey of the available materials for High Society and Cerebus both, making evaluations of the condition of the materials, and comparing them with the other alternative materials available to me.

Because the negatives for Cerebus and High Society no longer exist, this is a strange comparison to make, as for the most part I'm comparing inferior versions of superior materials (lower-res or otherwise imperfect scans of the negative) to superior versions of inferior materials (optimized scans from printed material).

When I'd done this first survey, I took some time to prep a few pages from a few different sources, and did some comparisons, both in-file (on the screen) and through "soft proofs" (one-off prints from my laser printer).

This first week's worth of work was almost completely evaluative, and research, attempting to refine a method that's as close as possible to a "one button solution" for prepping pages from different sources of scans. In other words, what I spent my time doing is working up a repeatable, reliable methodology for prepping the pages.

As Dave mentioned on Friday, I've had significant success with this, more than I had imagined would have been possible in such a short period of time.

I've been doing all of my testing with my best Charles Dana Gibson book, mainly because his work has some of the finest linework I've ever seen, the kind of lines that break up very easily without the right treatment – and because the samples I've been working with have radiating lines, another thing that makes any flaws in the scanning or the output very obvious.



Here's a raw 1200 ppi grayscale scan from the book. This represents a 1 inch by 1 inch area of printed material, probably 3rd generation, at best. You can see a little line breakup has happened at some step in the journey to printed material, possibly due to bad exposure when shooting the original artwork, or bad exposure shooting this particular book, or possibly the lines were gray-ish and watery in the original, and this is the printed consequence.

Regardless, our goal is to get this to look exactly like itself in print, and to output a 1-bit bitmap file that captures all of the information that is currently present on the page.

So why exactly isn't there a "make into line art" button?



This extreme closeup might make it clearer. Look at the edge of each of these "lines". You can see the gray pixels that make up each of the edges here. Even though your brain is perfectly capable of interpreting these as lines, the computer doesn't know the difference between those gray pixels and any other gray pixels of the same density. This includes gray pixels in areas that are totally inconsequential to us, including "noise" on the paper. In other words, if you just straight convert the file now, the edges of the lines (and many of the lines themselves) would simply disappear.

Here's what that would look like.



So that's obviously not going to work. This is the point where many people prepping files reach for the burn and dodge tools. In other words, they're going to "darken" (thicken) the thin lines and "lighten" (thin-en (?) ( ^_^ ) the dense/dark areas to avoid this problem.

But to me, this is unacceptable. There has to be a way to preserve the line densities of the original artwork and not have line breakup.

And indeed there is.

Step one, in the case of really fine lines, is to work in a higher resolution space. Step two? Sharpening.

Conventional wisdom on this involves Photoshop's Unsharp Mask, but Smart Sharpen involves a much wider range of control of the adjustment, which is especially necessary with such fine lines, and when the material being scanned is on paper so close in contrast to the ink darkness.

After several hours of testing and printing last week, using a variety of different filters and different source materials, I now have what I consider to be as close to a one-click solution as possible. I have worked up a recipe of settings using Photoshop's Smart Sharpen filter that are, along with levels adjustments and a final threshold adjustment, are giving me in-file results that are identical with the printed source.



Over the next few days I'll be using this method to start prepping the pages for the replacement signatures for the Cerebus book. Once I'm confident with the method and I have it down to a formula, I'll be joined by my colleague Dr. Mara, who will be batch scanning more source material for some pages, and then working with me to prep the pages. The files will be delivered to Lebonfon by July 11th, and printed later that week.

After that? It depends on where we are in terms of the Kickstarter funds.

The majority of those funds will be going towards printing bills and fulfilment of pledges, but the remainder will be used to finance this work. I billed Aardvark-Vanaheim $506 for last week's work, and will continue to bill weekly until Dave lets me know that we're close to the funds being out.

I'm doing my best to make this work economical, and this inevitably means that the costs are upfront to ensure the best and most economical result in the end. Better for me to work 20 hours to produce a replicable formula then charge in head-long into work that will need to be redone. All of us here are in for the long haul here. The best reproduction possible. Or, to take a page from my previous vocation, No Lines Left Behind.

Next week I'll try not to be so dry. I'll share some direct comparisons between different methods of reproducing a single panel of Cerebus artwork.

And in the meantime, if anyone feels like contributing to the effort, let Dave know! Or keep your eye out for the next Kickstarter... 

Sean Michael Robinson can be found online at Living The Line.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Dave Sim's Notebooks: Jaka's Story

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.

Jaka's Story opens up with a page of text of young Jaka and Nurse, and Nurse's riiiiiiiiise. And shine, Jaka. Rise and shine, Jaka. And while Dave's notebooks have a few hand written pages of him finalizing that first page, it isn't the first thing he wrote about Jaka's Story. In the same notebook as sketches for the WAP cover, the AARGH! short story and what appear to be sketches done on vacation is this first page on Jaka's Story:

Notebook 10, page 14
Jaka's Story
Leaving aside the character (for the moment) let's examine what it is that we wish to say through this particular novel. Since this is the Love Story (as opposed to the previous Political Story and Religious Story) it makes sense that this novel should bind together the central elements from of the previous two volumes in much the way that love binds two previously desperate forces and/in entities into a single force or entity/force and/or entity. We'll also be examining We must also bear in mind that love is sewn sown and sewn with the seeds of its own destruction (well maybe not necessarily, but let's say that the occurrence is altogether commonplace; for more the rule than the exception).

It is conceded at the outset that this phenomenon (the sowing and sewing) is more common in our day and age. As Cerebus loses hi its grip on the theoretical fourteenth century and strays amicability from Victorian times to Edwardian to Mutated and Unrecognizable except as Estarcion, it behooves me to attempt a slightly more realistic look at Relationships five hundred years ago bearing in mind that what I'm saying I hope will have some large measure of impact in the area of audience identification. 
I'm not sure who Dave is writing to - as this isn't in the introduction to Jaka's Story. Perhaps it is a press release? Or is he writing to someone from the future, someone almost 25 years in the future...

The next page is a couple pieces of dialogue from the phonebook, and the next pages has the issue numbers all the way up to #150 drawn out just as they appear on the cover. The next page - the outline for Jaka's Story with some storyline elements and dialogue:

Notebook 10, page 17

At this point Snatcher Ms Thatcher hadn't been created yet, with Cirin herself standing in the role of inquisitor. The concept of Jaka and Pud exchanging the three copper bits in their closed economy system is shown. And the breakdown of Jaka's Story into the individual books is right down to the issue number with even the story names being the same.

The overarching idea, then the smaller concepts and then the fleshing out of the story appears to be how this phonebook is coming to be in Dave's notebook. Next week - a look at fleshing out of Pogrom's Progress. 

Margaret Liss is The Cerebus Fan Girl and maintains the Cerebus Wiki

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Cerebus Has Never Heard Of You Either!

PAUL SLADE:
I bought this Cerebus Campaign ’93 T-shirt from one of the comics shops here in London, where I live. The speech balloons read:
OH, YEAH?!
WELL, CEREBUS HAS NEVER HEARD OF YOU EITHER!
The shirt’s remained in my wardrobe rotation for over 20 years now. It’s a tatty old thing these days, faded from a thousand wash cycles and ripped in both the collar and the left armpit, but I’ve no intention of ever retiring it - let alone throwing it away. Perhaps its most memorable outing came in June 1995, when I visited Chicago.

I was wearing it there on the night I went out to the legendary comedy club Second City. I took my seat in the second or third row, and immediately heard a squeal of surprise and delight from a girl in the row behind me. She grabbed my arm, got me to turn round so she could check what she’d seen, and explained that she was a big Cerebus fan too. A few seconds later, the lights went down and we never had a chance to speak again.

This remains the only encounter I’ve ever had with another Cerebus reader out in the real world - by which I mean anywhere outside the very artificial surroundings of a comics convention. Cerebus was at about issue 195 at the time of my Chicago visit and the encounter’s stuck in my mind because it brought home the extent to which reading Cerebus then felt like belonging to a global secret society. Thinly spread, I’ll grant you: but global all the same.

And speaking of global...

Two years later, in July 1997, I was visiting Sydney in Australia, when I realised the new Cerebus was due out (219 perhaps? 220?). I found a comics shop in the city, snapped up the only copy on its shelves and read it immediately in a sunny park nearby. In those pre-internet days, it felt quite miraculous to be able to so casually find the latest copy of a small independent comic book in a strange city half a planet away from both my own home town and the country its creator lived in. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Matt Dow, SOOTHSAYER!


...Mom's not home tonight
So we can roll around, have a pillow fight
Like a major rager OMFG


Let's all slumber party
Like a fat kid on a pack of Smarties
Someone chuck a cupcake at me


It's time for spin the bottle
Not gonna talk about it tomorrow
Keep it just between you and me


Let's play truth or dare now
We can roll around in our underwear how
Every silly kitty should be...

DAVE SIM:
Boy, I've gone back and forth on this one. You don't want to set Matt off but...

A couple of weeks back in the NATIONAL POST, they had an article about this new video by Avril Lavigne -- "Hello Kitty" -- which people were saying was racist. And then saying it was creepy because she's almost thirty and here she is talking about having really...REALLY... cozy sleepovers.  And I thought, uh, well, yeah in a sense I can see that.  What's the "Hello Kitty" age for girls?  AL is almost thirty. Got it. Sort of.

And then I thought, Holy smoke. It's Matt Dow's -- and my -- "Adventures of Bi-curious Avril Lavigne". Which if you recall glamourpuss #25, I said that wouldn't be criminally actionable. "The Bi-curious Adventures of Avril Lavigne" would be. But the other way, you can say it's just a character.  Which is really what they're doing with the song.  She isn't 30 years old in the song, she's "Hello Kitty" age. She's that character.
Glamourpuss #25 (May 2012)
Art by Dave Sim
I HAD to watch the video. I AM a fan. But THAT seemed creepy.

But, it's, like...like...Avril Lavigne LOOKS like a tween. I think she always will.

And as a piece of pop culture, I'm fascinated by it. I mean "Are You Big In Japan?" And her husband who is a real music industry type, wrote the song (right?) or wrote it with her. So here's a husband writing his wife as a bi-curious, interracial tween.

But, you know, Japan is very different about... that stuff... than we are. That makes it okay, right?

Either her husband or "her people" also made a case that she's one of the most famous people on the planet, their criteria being how much Internet coverage there is of her in How. Many. Languages. And it's this staggering number. She's THE MOST FAMOUS Canadian by a wide, wide margin, from what they were saying. Justin Bieber is MUCH bigger in the English speaking world but he doesn't have her Pan Global stature.

So THAT makes it okay.

Right?

She's completely entitled to be as Japanese as she culturally wants to portray herself because she IS "Big In Japan". She's BIG EVERYWHERE.

Anyway, Matt, I'm impressed that you "got that" two years ahead of time.

Pretty good Comic Book Metaphysics for a first-timer.

Great shooting, kid.

Don't get cocky.    

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Opinion: Preserving The Cerebus Archive - Why?


DAMIAN T. LLOYD:
Dave says he is "determined to preserving the house and the Cerebus Archive", but (in the spirit of "everything on the table"), why?

Dave isn't the kind of celebrity that fans will make pilgrimmages his house after he's dead to see "This is where he worked, and this is where he slept, and this is where he brushed his teeth ..." He's not Jim Morrison.

Likewise the artefacts themselves. I know some fans get great pleasure from looking at the Cerebus original pages on the wall, and good for them, but for most fans (and, Dave has said, more importantly) readers, it's the content that matters. Cerebus's legacy, whatever it turns out to be, is better served by having the material available to an audience -- which today, probably means scanning everything (first, the work itself; second, supplementary material) and putting it on the Web (until they can figure out a way to beam Cerebus pages directly into our brains).

Then all the original material could be sold to interested fans who like that sort of thing -- perhaps with a registry of some kind in case new developments in technology merit re-scanning (as long as it's not the kind of contractual obligation Marvel famously stuck in its Jack Kirby artwork-return release). That'll raise a few extra bucks for Dave to work on his own stuff in the here and now.

Dave has pinned his hopes on posterity, hoping that Cerebus will receive the acclaim after he's dead that he feels it should have earned during his lifetime. Only Dave can answer the question, but I'd be interested to see what other readers think: Is the reward worth the investment? Is the slim chance of Cerebus being "rediscovered" as a lost classic and inspiring pilgrims to visit Kitchener) worth the commitment of finite resources to Dave's "Museum of Me", when those resources could allow Dave to work today without the spectre of poverty hovering over his door?

Cerebus is done; it's finished. Dave has very little to add to that (the exception -- of interest to a minority of readers -- being the Cerebus Archive material that lets us infer Dave's creative approaches to the material).

But new Dave Sim comics are a limited resource; Dave's got another 20 years (hopefully more) to live. Here's a fellow who always maintained that the quality of the work should be paramount, not the brand name; here's a fellow who has had over three decades of experience writing and drawing the story he wanted to tell without interference. If (as Dave has implied) creativity is like muscle, growing stronger as you exercise it, then I'm interested to see what that fellow can create.

Dave once asked, "What's the good of owning all your original pages for your first three issues but not being able to afford to print your fourth?"

So what's the point of preserving a house at the cost of an incomplete Strange Death of Alex Raymond?


Send in your Cerebus-related thoughts to 'Aardvark Comment'. Email:  momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Jaka & Rick's Apartment

Interior of Jaka & Rick’s apartment (Cerebus #114, September 1988)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard.


From Gerhard's solo interview in Amazing Heroes #201 (May 1992):

AMAZING HEROES:
Have you designed the houses and the rooms in the book, or do both of you do that?

GERHARD:
That varies from time to time. The room that Melmoth died in, Dave designed that. In Jaka's Story, I designed the little community there. But Jaka's apartment was Dave and Deni's first apartment they had together here in Kitchener. It had been torn down, so he just gave me a verbal description of it. I tried to re-create it as best I could.

(Submitted by Paul Slade. Thanks!)

Friday, 20 June 2014

Weekly Update #36 Supplement: The Firewall

DAVE SIM:
See, I have SUCH a firewall between CEREBUS and SDOAR (how much of a firewall do you have between CEREBUS and SDOAR?) I have SUCH A FIREWALL between CEREBUS and SDOAR that I actually forgot to talk about SDOAR in my post.

Basically Dave Fisher and I will be going one step at a time on my new assumption that now that I am really, really slow and getting slower on SDOAR and I can't rely on what IDW is paying me to cover my bills.  CEREBUS I hope is covered with the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Kickstarters, but what I'm planning to do is to raise money selling glamourpuss artwork.  But it's going to take a WHILE for Dave to get the artwork inventoried because it's already been split into Alex Raymond pages and glamourpuss parody pages.  And then further divided into pages that I think will sell for a lot of money and pages that I think won't.  That was at the time when I pictured that I would have time to inventory the artwork myself and do as much promotion as I can through (and hopefully with) Heritage Auctions.

12 hours a day six days a week and a chunk of that time taken up with CEREBUS ARCHIVE right now, and presumably every three months to keep the scanning and restoration going.  I still think of myself as being fast and even doing something basic like the inked Cerebus heads. I can do four a day so that's six days right there.  And I haven't even started signing the stuff.  I'm going to have to limit what I do to doing a "glamourpuss goes to Heritage Auctions" piece that will hopefully cover all the auctions. And I have to start (as I'm doing) months before the actual auctions.

And that's the problem with the firewall and the necessity of the firewall.  I can't raise money to restore CEREBUS and then spend it writing and drawing SDOAR.

So, that was when I pitched Dave Fisher on reading all of glamourpuss so he knew what pages were what.  And he's in the middle of doing that. But he's got a lot of his own stuff to do.  So that was when I thought, Okay get him to do the tracing paper first so that will pay him some money while he's doing the inventory and writing Heritage style descriptions.  So that's how it will start with him talking about the tracing paper here at AMOC and doing weekly auctions.  Or bi-weekly auctions. How many is too many?  We don't know.

Somewhere up ahead I want to do a mini-catalogue through Heritage, because the glamourpuss stuff isn't KNOWN.  It isn't CEREBUS.  It has to be "I don't know how long it's going to take me to do THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND" and I can't keep stopping every three months and going "Okay, NOW how am I going to make money?"

That's the advance game that I used to give the mainstream guys grief about. You're getting paid to do THIS stuff and you only make enough to get through that and then you have to make money committing to doing something else.  And it takes all your time to do THAT thing. That's nuts!  You're never going to be able to do the thing you know you SHOULD be doing.

And now here I am basically in a variation on that.  Which serves me right, I think.

IDEALLY, if -- having gotten CEREBUS (I hope) covered -- I can work to get SDOAR (I hope) covered so all I have to do is sit down and write and draw the book, well, GREAT!  But it's not going to happen on its own and it's going to take a while to set up even theoretically.  There might be, you know, five glamourpuss fans and once they each have a tracing paper drawing, that will be it.  And then I have to stop again and go "Okay, NOW what?"

I'm not really complaining although I know it sounds as if I am.

I'm determined to preserve the house and the Cerebus Archive so that means leaving my life insurance policy alone.  That's where the preservation will come in after I'm gone.  Which means only using cash on hand which means having to make cash on hand in sufficient quantity to convert 6000 pages to digital AND pay me to do a third of a page a day -- at best -- for however long it takes which is now going to take a lot longer because of how much time it will take to keep CEREBUS "covered".  How much longer I have no idea -- I didn't know before, but I don't have even as much of an idea now.

But, I do want to assure everyone: the Kickstarter money you pledged to get CEREBUS restored will go for that. I KNOW CEREBUS is more important to most people than STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.  I only have the chance to do STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND because of CEREBUS.  I really do think I can get through this.  I'm perfectly happy working 12 hours a day six days a week.  I really don't fit in society so there's really not much to do besides work and I prefer working and, I think, always have.

There's a lot needs to be done.  Dave Fisher called yesterday at 4 pm and left a message saying "Do you have those items for A Moment of Cerebus? I'm coming by at 5 pm."  Okay, well how long does it take to do three posts?  I got them done in time.  Good to know. I can do those in an hour.

I'm back here in the coffee shop because I have some SDOAR stuff I have to look up online.  So, I thought I would post this at the same time and do another AMOC item, because as everyone tells me. you have to promote yourself.

Well, okay.

So far, so good.

Stay tuned (please.)

Weekly Update #36: What Would You Do With $10,000?

Cerebus #47 (February 1983)
Art by Dave Sim
DAVE SIM:
Executive Summary
  1. Sean finds a way to scan at 1200 dpi and output at 2400 dpi with 2400 dpi results.  Cuts scanning time and cost of Kickstarter funds by an estimated 25%.
  2. Reason I'm giving Sean benefit of the doubt: "Tested it on my Charles Dana Gibson book".
  3. Firm "carved in stone" (God willing, of course) July 25 ship date on the CEREBUS trade.
  4. Retailer wants to know what I would do with $10,000 US if he decides to throw it into the "kitty".
  5. Kickstarter Blowback or When Retailers Clash FYI lest we're getting complacent here.
  6. Michael R suggest wanting to find plastic sleeves for the CEREBUS ARCHIVE prints.  Local Art Store: a display portfolio with interior ring binder that you can plastic sheet protectors to. It would probably hold CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE through FIVE.  Or you could get them bound into books.

Hello everyone!

Lots to report this week.

1. What's really interesting about this development is that Sean had previously "given up on it because of the erratic results". And "I already knew it had something to do with sharpening.  Basically to do this trick the scan edges have to be soft. That's how it works -- all that softness and ambiguity upscales well and then you use sharpening and threshold/contrast adjustment to turn it into line art afterwards. Well, what I didn't realize was this -- Epson scanning software applies some kind of low-level sharpening no matter what settings you use.  They don't tell you they're doing this, they just do.

"It's as simple as that. I used a different program to drive the scanner and the problem went away."

I had hinted that my gut told me a while back that there was probably already a way of doing this that existed but there just wasn't enough call for it for it to be readily identified.  Since MOST people are scanning to upload to the Internet, the trend is in the other direction: LOW resolution to speed everything up and "As long as it looks good on TV, it's ALL good." I even suggested to Sean that there probably wasn't one in a hundred people at Epson who even knew about this -- or could come up with a good reason to have it if you told them about it.

2. Charles Dana Gibson is a very influential illustrator -- he certainly influenced Alex Raymond and worked in a combination of pen and brush and the pen that he used was Very Fine Pen.  So, if -- like Sean and me -- you're a fan of that, you know which books you have that have good repro and which books you have that are "enh" or "so-so".  If he tested it on HIS Charles Dana Gibson book (and I'm willing to bet on Very Specific Flawless Repro Pages).  We are cooking with gas.  Likewise when he said that one of his students brought him a book of -- and I didn't bring Sean's fax but meant to -- and Sean looked at it and got, you know, severely depressed because it was so badly reproduced.  And the student was Seriously Jazzed about owning the book.  What do you say?

3.  But, back at our good news, we also have a firm schedule from Lebonfon for the CEREBUS trade. The files are due July 10th, Proofs go out to me and Sean and George July 11th with approval July 15 and shipping slated for July 25, well ahead of Diamond's August 7 request to have the books in their warehouse.  In answer to Michael R (from whom I just got a letter), No, this is not the Legacy Edition of the CEREBUS trade.  What it will be is the Best Version of the CEREBUS trade to date.  We really need to see it printed to go any further and to answer a couple of fundamental questions (foremost among them being "Can Lebonfon deliver the goods?"  The answer until we see the books at the end of July, is that it's their game to lose.  Sean will be making the call based on the four signatures that he will be Polishing to a High Finish between now and July 10.  George will also be offering his assessment -- AFTER the fact -- as will I.  The post-game show.  But the game -- which is Lebonfon's to lose -- will take place and be over July 25.

If the verdict is, no this isn't good enough for a Legacy Edition on the four signatures, then that will be it for Lebonfon.  Then Sean will pick the printer that we're going to to do the NEXT edition of the CEREBUS trade which could be a year from now, two years from now -- it depends on how long it takes this print run to sell.  The book has been Off The Market for over two years. Fortunately for me, it is the One Thing Dave Sim has done that most retailers want to have.  That and HIGH SOCIETY. The books should go pretty quickly. And in the meantime, Sean will be working on the Legacy Edition half of the time and HIGH SOCIETY the other half of the time.

4.  This leads to another question I got from a retailer:
"Money can make things happen faster, sometimes, and I'd like to do more than support AV's electricity bill" (he's one of my Patreon Patrons and -- believe me -- when you live in Ontario where the government has mortgaged our energy future to the Samsung corporation, paying the electricity bill is no small thing)  :)  "Skipping Paypal fees and such, can I mail you a check for ten thousand American dollars?  If that would be helpful, could you drop me a short note explaining what it would be used for? I know you have help re-mastering CEREBUS so maybe this would be to buy a bigger scanner, or turn an unpaid volunteer into a paid employee, or purchase back-up hard drives, or run off test prints.  It's fine if you choose to divert some of this to SDOAR, though I'm a tad more interested in helping 'fix' CEREBUS. But it's your call."
Well, first of all T*H*A*N*K Y*O*U! EVEN FOR THE THOUGHT (YES!! ALL CAPS!!) WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU USE ALL CAPS FOR??!!  

Second of all, I wouldn't do that. I'm trying to keep a firewall between CEREBUS and SDOAR. For the simple reason that you're really talking about two audiences that overlap (with, arguably, Eddie Khanna as the Most Insane Advocate of both -- AND THANK YOU, EDDIE!). I THINK -- I HOPE -- that with CEREBUS ARCHIVE signed and numbered Kickstarter, unsigned through Diamond and sales on the CEREBUS trade when it's back online, I won't have turned my dead aardvark into a trust fund baby, but hopefully we can move the ball downfield and stay current with the bills that are -- well, hey, YOU live in 2014 same as I do: it's nuts.

We have to get all the way through the fulfillment portion and see how long the money lasted and how far down the field we got the ball.  I'm asking Sean to bill A-V weekly so I can "pull the plug" if I can see we're about to hit the wall and say, "Okay, this is further than I thought we were going to get the ball downfield" (and it already IS, unquestionably), "Now let's measure the distance to the next Kickstarter." Is it a few weeks? A couple of months? We won't know 'til we get there.  It occurred to me the other day that the quote from Funkmaster John doesn't include Ontario sales tax of 13%. That's a big chunk of change to Oops I Forgot. But, Oops I Forgot.

So, if CEREBUS is your preference, what I would do is lateral to Sean: Sean? How would you budget $10,000 US?  My preference would be that we keep going the same direction on twin tracks: CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY -- pointing towards the Legacy Edition on both. You pitch the roadmap here and if our retailer friend likes what he sees, as far as I'm concerned, the money could go direct to you.  No point in my having to declare it as revenue since you're doing this as "outside labour" not as an employee.  You might want to look into forming your own business if you haven't already got one.  Cerebus Restorations or something like that.  It would be nice if George could get a consulting fee.  Sean is my starting quarterback now, but that just means instead of him responding to George's work, George is going to respond to Sean's work.  Without George I wouldn't be getting 600 dpi proofs which Lebonfon has agreed to (which was VERY VERY nice of them). The Legacy Edition could be two or three printings away or it could be in our laps. If it's the former, we could be starting to scale the Sheer Rock Face that is CHURCH & STATE I towards the end of the year, or we might not even be starting a base camp until 2018.  But, definitely, $10,000 budgeted by Sean and with lots of back and forth, we can't help but be further down the field.  He said, in the middle of his severely mixed metaphor.

5. Three retailers, each of whom bought the five-copy package of CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE excerpted from their e-mail exchanges
Retailer #1:  I want to tell you how much I loathe Kickstarter. I have found that KS seriously sucks the sales life right out of almost every project.  By the time retailers receive KS project, the most dedicated and excited fans have already taken part in supporting the project, leaving little to no business for me as a retailer. I feel burned by KS and have unsold books to show for it.

Retailer #2: I have spoken to countless retailers with the same experience and feeling toward Kickstarter as you -- and you're not wrong...your attitude is fully appreciated and understood... Shipping is FREE for retailers, for no other reason than Dave "gets it" far better than most comic creators/Kickstarters.

Retailer #3: I took a chance knowing Dave would never short change the retailer...Dave is loyal to all comic stores even if they don't support him, but I think more do support his work than he knows and I hope we can get a few more on board before this event is over.

Retailer #1: You are right that Dave Sim has always had the backs of retailers. I really don't have any illusions that I'll make my money back from this project but when bright and passionate people approach me in good faith to help make things better for an artist and visionary who has been through most of the history of the direct market, then I have to vote with my heart and hope something good will come of it.  I hate KS. I hate Amazon even more.  But I love the comics market and the people who helped built it so there you have it.

Retailer #3: [my business partner] and I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments about KS and Amazon. Side note: week ago Tuesday a man walked into the store and asked if we had DOCTOR WHO/STAR TREK hardcover.  We did and when we put it in his hands, he rudely exclaimed he could buy it cheaper on Amazon. (about $6 or $7 maybe). Handed the book back to us, he said he had questions about what was happening in X-MEN.  [my business partner] politely suggested he ask Amazon.
[BIG LAUGH of Dave's day.  I know [business partner] very well and can picture him doing so.  A wit as dry as dust.]

Unlike me [my business partner] has a gentle approach and the man did not take offense. (sigh) I do not think it is a problem that is never going to go away.
A couple of thoughts I'd like to add:

a) I hope that retailers will only participate in the 5-copy dead on Kickstarter if they're pretty confident they can sell the five.  Retailer #2 was the only one who originally expressed an interest and I was the one who suggested he beat the bushes to see if anyone else was interested -- and gave him the phone number of Retailer #3 and Retailer #3 contacted #1.  Honestly, I just wanted to avoid the "Hey! Nobody told ME about this."

I've already been thinking about doing a "Lonely Cerebus Outpost" print for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO.  Basically a sign saying "Lonely CEREBUS Outpost #___:  population: 2:"  So if you're a store where it's really only you and "Crazy Lew" who would walk across the street to throw rocks at CEREBUS and Dave Sim, you could get a print of Cerebus WAAAAAY out in the boonies and a sign with your two names on it.  Or if it's just the store owner, I could letter his name and then the name of the only other CEREBUS fan crossed out saying "moved away".

b)  Retailer #2 was pushing for a 35% "U" discount as he can get from Diamond, so when I was talking to Tim Lenaghan at Diamond, I said, basically, "If I give Diamond 60% off, can I get the retailers the 'U' discount".  And Tim said (and I quote) "If you're giving us 60% off, we can give the retailers the [I forget the letter) discount: 45%."

For a minute I thought, "BACKPEDAL -- tell him you're only giving Diamond 50% off."  And then I said, Naw, Merry Christmas for the retailers.  I know they haven't been getting normal sized discounts on Artists Editions, so if all they can sell is 2 (one to themselves and one to Crazy Lew), let them do it at 45% off.

c)  The CEREBUS ARCHIVE package has been put together in such a way that -- of the unsigned edition -- we will keep them in print in perpetuity.  You want 2 NUMBER TWOS AND 1 NUMBER FOUR and 1 NUMBER FIVE?  You got 'em.  At 45%.

The Real DAVE HATERS out there -- and there are a LOT of them, will find something DAVE SIM EVIL in that, but, well. There's nothing I can do about that.

6.  As I say, local art supply store for a display portfolio with ring binder inset.

It's almost three o'clock and I GOTTA GO!


Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by donating at Patreon.com or via Paypal.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (2008 to 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.

Gerhard Draws Cerebus!

Cerebus & Red Sophia (2014)
Art by Gerhard
See the coloured version here.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Dave Sim's Notebooks: Hunters & Gatherers

Albatross One
"I began using notebooks to plot Cerebus beginning with issue 20. I called the notebook my 'albatross'
since it was always with me, a constant reminder of work I had to do." ~ Dave Sim

MARGARET LISS:
A few years ago (10? 8? I can't remember for sure) I scanned all of Dave's notebooks in for the Cerebus Archive. My original intent was just to preserve Dave's notebooks, files, etc digitally for future generations.

There are 36 notebooks in total, which cover from issue #20 to 300, plus the other side items -- like the Epic stories, posters and prints sometimes had prelim sketches, convention speeches were sometimes written out. A total of 3,281 pages were scanned -- plus covers, front & back, inside and out, so that brings the total to 3,425 scans. Oh, and there were 8 loose pages - so 3,433.  113 GB total of data.

At the time, the idea came up of putting it online as a resource. However, after scanning them all in, the project lost steam, as I couldn't easily get those files down to a reasonable size to put online -- I scanned them in at 600 dpi 24 bit color png files. Also the database work for such a program was beyond me.

I never really got the time to look at the notebooks in depth when I had them. Just did a quick look, scanned them in and sent them back as soon as possible -- having them in my possession made me nervous that something bad would happen to them. So this new weekly (?) column is a chance for me to look through those scans and highlight some interesting pages which detail his thought process in creating the monthly Cerebus comic.

Notebook 4, page 86 (issues 59 to 69)
Some background for this page - Early in Church & State I Bishop Powers and Weisshaupt are jousting for supremacy in Iest, with the poor selection of Eastern Pontiffs, whom are being constantly being assassinated, Weisshaupt has control of the city-state. In the issue immediately preceding this one, Powers has a revelation and thinks he can nominate a new candidate for Pontiff. One of whom, even if he couldn't control, would be someone who would diminish Weisshaupt's hold on Iest.

Dave has a mock up of the first page - a full page spread - from issue #64. The actual page stayed pretty close to this sketch, but it didn't have the building facade with windows above it, just the archway. Though it did have a more detailed foreground, with Dave adding the walkway up to the arch.

The text beside it is the text that is on that first page, but some of it has been left off the actual page - Bishop Powers doesn't mention the Lion of Serrea - as this power struggle is to remain between the two foes. Nor does Powers state "I gather that you have objections." Instead he says "Why wouldn't I be?"

I think Dave changed it because it shows that Powers is leading Weisshaupt right into his trap to swing power in his direction. Powers calculated that Weisshaupt doesn't want Cerebus as Pontiff of the Eastern Church, and then Weisshaupt proves him right by coming over to see Powers in person to voice his dislike of the nomination. Powers thinks Weisshaupt would love to prove him wrong, so he gives him the opportunity to do that. Rather than state "I gather that you have objections" to which would show Power's hand to Weisshaupt, he leads him on.

So after Weisshaupt lists the reasons why Cerebus shouldn't be Pontiff, Powers moves his other chess piece. All of which happens on subsequent pages in the issue, but the start of the dialogue is shown on this notebook page - along with a preliminary sketch of page two.

Margaret Liss is The Cerebus Fan Girl and maintains the Cerebus Wiki.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Dave Sim: "I Did Everything Stoned"

Dave Sim & Gerhard, as pictured in Saturday Night magazine (2003)
Photo by Lorne Bridgman
CHRISTOPHER SHULGAN:
(from Toronto's Saturday Night magazine, November 2003)
One day, shortly after Sim had been invited to appear at a comics convention in the eastern United States, an acquaintance gave him for or five hits of LSD. As a heavy marijuana smoker, Sim was not uncomfortable with drug use. "I had always done Cerebus stoned," he recalled, years later. "I did everything stoned." Curious about how the acid would affect his work and anxious for a release from the anxiety brought on by the impending public appearance, Sim took the drug. He liked the perspective it gave him. His work seemed effortless. When the acid's effect faded, he swallowed another tab.

That first day on LSD turned into two, then three. His behaviour began to alarm his wife. With the comics convention only weeks away, Loubert heard Sim speaking to people who didn't exist. After days cycling through moods of apoplectic rage and off passivity, Sim found himself in the psychiatric ward of Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital. (It was Loubert who had him hospitalised).

Sim came to realise he had experienced a breakdown brought on by a combination of stress and LSD. When he realised the hospital couldn't hold him against his will, he left. Soon after, the ideas and inspiration generated during the acid trip coalesced into a creative epiphany that spawned his life's work: he would use Cerebus to tell the story of a life.... The story of Cerebus would last 300 issues, he said. And it would finish in March 2004.

(Submitted by Paul Slade. Thanks!)

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Cerebus In My Life: Matt Dow

Matt Dow & Dave Sim
2004 Small Press Alternative Comics Expo (S.P.A.C.E.)
photo by Gerhard
MATT DOW:
As Cerebus entered it's last year of publication, Dave referred to his upcoming retirement numerous times. After reading one of them, I got the idea that it would be funny to buy him a gold watch and give it to him when he and Gerhard appeared at S.P.A.C.E. 2004. (Somehow I got it in my head that the Fantagraphics crowd would also send Dave a watch for his retirement. Sort of a "Well Dave, you said you were retiring, here's your watch, don't let the door hit you on your way out..." kind of thing.)

So, I drove to Ohio, and with my good friend Derrick (whom I introduced to Cerebus) got in line to give Dave his watch and get a bunch of stuff signed. The box in front of me in the photo had every Cerebus item I had that I hadn't had Dave and Gerhard sign at the Graham Cracker Comics signing in it. I also had brought Melmoth, Flight, Women, Reads and Minds which I was going to surprise Derrick with... right as we got to the front of the line.

As we got to the front of the line, I asked Derrick to hold the phonebooks. And as he was handing them to Dave to have Dave sign them to me, I said, "Surprise! They're yours!"

Dave and Ger signed them, and then I handed Dave the watch and said, "You kept saying in Cerebus that you were retiring, here's your gold watch, thanks for all the hard work!"

Dave thanked me profusely, and had Ger take a couple of photos, and then signed everything I had in the box.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Images Of A Distant Soil

Images Of A Distant Soil
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
COLLEEN DORAN:
(from Images Of A Distant Soil #1, Image Comics, February 1997)
Cerebus is the first, the best, and the longest self-publishing comic ever. First published by Dave way back in 1977, Gerhard came aboard as background artist / inker / partner in the mid-eighties.

After over 200 issues (making Cerebus the longest run by a creator in comic book history, they're still at work, plugging along toward their goal of 300 issues with zeal and uncompromising vision.

For all the people that think I'm nuts for chugging at A Distant Soil all these years, ladies and gentlemen, I present Dave Sim and Gerhard.

When they faxed me this piece of Aeren and Jessica in a tender moment as seen by little Liana, I took one look at it and laughed so hard I spewed milk out of my nose. Good job boys.


Colleen Doran's A Distant Soil was a frontrunner of the '80s indie comics scene. The sci-fi/adventure series originally broke several barriers: Colleen was one of the first women in the indie comics scene to write and draw creator-owned comics and A Distant Soil broke ground by featuring openly gay characters as series stars. After a recent hiatus, Colleen returned to complete A Distant Soil (with publisher Image Comics/Shadowline) and A Distant Soil #39 appeared in April 2013. The series is scheduled to conclude at #50.The restored collections A Distant Soil Vol 1: The Gathering and Vol 2: The Ascendant are available directly from Colleen Doran.