Thursday, 22 January 2015

To Ham & Ham Not

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.

Notebook #28 covers issues 256 to 265, a large chunk of Form & Void, and issue #256 starts with Mary Ernestway telling her story of the time Ham and her went on safari. On page 6 Dave lays out what page from Mary's autobiography "How It Was" he was referencing, a sequence description for what it was and how many pages or panels he thought it would take in comic form:

Notebook #28 page 6
While I don't have a copy of "How It Was", nor the time to read it if I did have it, but lucky for us, Dave has written notes, To Ham & Ham Not, which he placed in the back of the phonebook. On page 721 we see that pages 499 - 500 (issue 256, pages 13 & 14) are for the Kimana Swamp, which we see comes from page 439 - 440 of "How It Was" with this description from Dave "Gerhard BGS w/voice-over" for 4 pages. Compare the two for yourself to see how they stack up.

Dave continues his outline on the next page:

Notebook #28 page 7
These two pages are the only pages that outline "How It Was" and how many pages for it  To me it doesn't look like much of it was used, as his To Ham & Ham Not notes mostly reference Mary's East Africa Journal that Dave got from the JFK Library. On page 718 in Dave's note we see the reason for this - he only had "How It Was" when starting with pages #488 & 489 of Form & Void.


Travis Pelkie said...

I read the Africa sequence over and over when the issues came out (didn't have a lot of my other comics with me, they were mostly in storage), and as my circumstances sucked at the time, the book really helped keep me sane (yes, I am too sane!). I was absolutely fascinated some time later to re-read that sequence and found that the whole thing only took about 2 1/2 issues, where I would have sworn it was much longer. So thanks to Dave for saving my sanity with this!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how Dave got from "suspecting" that there was a hand-written copy of Mary's diary, to "proving" that there was such a copy?

-- Damian T. Lloyd, lib

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...

Damian, Dave found a photograph of Mary Hemingway writing in a journal on the safari.

Matt Dow

Anonymous said...

Ah, thanks! That alone doesn't prove Dave's claim, but I'd be interested in following up. Do you know where one might view this photo?

-- Damian T. Lloyd, ptb

Margaret said...

Damian - Dave published the picture in To Ham & Ham Not, page 722 of Form & Void. copy the link to see the picture.