Thursday, 30 June 2016

Even More In 1984 or When He Was 27

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.

Dave Sim's notebook #4 covers Cerebus #59 to 70 and with 160 scanned pages, there is plenty of things to cover. We last looked at in last July in A Plan for Church & State I. Instead of looking at Dave's plan for C&S I, we'll be seeing all of his plans for Aardvark-Vanaheim in August 1984.

On page 106 we see a list of comics that Dave is working on. It is quite the list. We also see a list of Aardvark-Vanaheim comics for 1985. A cover sketch for Cerebus "Jam" (or perhaps it was that advertisement that showed up with an actual picture of a small thing of Jam. I can't find it right now. First person to find it, take a picture of it and link to it in the comments will get a Cerebus #0 from me) plus a logo for the same.

Notebook #4, page 106
August looks like it was quite the busy time - working on Cerebus #66 which had a cover date of September 1984. Three pages a day? Yoinks. . .And yes, August 18 and 19 were the weekend, so only one page each on those days. August 25  and 26 were also the weekend, but this time, no pages were scheduled as Cerebus #66  was done in eight days. Not including the day for the cover and the day for the letters page. A full comic in less than two weeks. Oh to be young. . .

On the next page we see an updated calendar for August 1984. The schedule hasn't changed much - with just the Swords intros being removed from August 22 and the rest of the schedule  moved up by one day.

Notebook #4, page 107
We also see that on August 29 Murphy Anderson was replaced with "Gerhard 1,2". Murphy was bumped up to the weekend that was previously crossed off, August 25 and 26. And while the 31st wasn't a weekend, it had been previously crossed off. Instead we see more pages on that day.

Busy indeed.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Cerebus Restoration Milestones- Second Birthdays

Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings, Friends of Cerebus!

It's been a while since I've updated AMOC, or indeed, anyone but Dave and Sandeep, on the state of the Cerebus restoration. It's now been a little over two years since I started on this project, which has so far restored 2,300 or so pages and has taken literally thousands of wo/man hours.

As the time between updates increases, I have more and more to write about, which makes the actual writing more and more difficult. So forgive me the brief summary I'm about to indulge in.

What's Been Happening/What's the Status of My Favorite Cerebus Book?

READS- status: Complete

The work on Reads, including my long and involved end notes/essay, is done! The book is in production as I type this, mid-job at Marquis, our new printer. They've been fantastic to work with so far, very thorough and detail-oriented. As a for instance—it's not every prepress department that will kick back a cover because the writer's names aren't centered on the spine to the millimeter. Reads will be completed on the 5th, and will be shipping to Diamond shortly after. This will in all likelihood be the best-looking Cerebus trade yet.

Church & State II- status: Restoration Complete, awaiting essay and back matter

Of all of the books I've worked on so far, this one and Volume One (see below) will have benefited the most from the work we've done. Part of it is the sheer range of techniques that Dave and Gerhard tried in the book, and how much better those techniques can translate now to the printed page. The snowstorm. The moon. The stars and other celestial events. The Scuwws. All textures dependent on tiny flecks of texture or dense dark areas that easily fill in on photography and when printed on porous paper. When this book sees print (i.e. when there's demand for another printing!) it's going to blow some minds.

I haven't finished the back matter for this book yet as what shows up there is somewhat dependent on paper roll size, i.e. the size of the signatures we can get for the book. We're printing Reads with Marquis, an Ontario printer, on a paper that's not typical for them, that they have to special order for our jobs. Because of this, it's expensive for them to have a variety of paper roll sizes. Reads was printed with large 32-page signatures only. Since the current size of C & S II is 640 pages (20 x 32 pg signatures), this means that any pages we add will have to be a new complete signature. 16 pages of back matter, on another size paper roll they have to special order? 8 pages, and have them hack off half the signature and pay for it as waste? I'm not sure of the right decision for this, and it'll likely change over time as the paper availability and use does or doesn't change. Hence, not yet finishing the back matter yet, since it might need to get cut for publication. I do, however, have a draft of the essay.

Going Home- status: restoration begun, halfway through cleanup

Surprise! Going Home ended up being the next book we'll be printing. I'll have several posts dedicated to this starting next week, so let's skip forward for a moment to-

Cerebus Volume One- status: Restoration Complete, awaiting revisions, layout and essay

Those of you who have been following along for the two years of this restoration project will remember that it began when Dave was having problems with the sixteenth printing of Cerebus Volume One, and the eleventh printing of High Society. Unbound copies of the book had been printed but had mysterious moire across the images, and the line art seemed soft and indistinct. This dispute—what had happened and whether the printer was responsible—went on for almost a year before I ungraciously butted in, getting into a protracted online discussion of prepress and print techniques that finally turned into a general agreement for me and my colleague Mara to produce four replacement signatures for the Cerebus volume, restoring the pages to the best of our abilities at the time and replacing the pages most effected by the moire.

Ever since then, each book we've worked on, the plan was to one day return to the first volume, and complete the work we started.

And now it's done! It has been without a doubt one of the most labor-intensive projects I've ever completed. I say this as someone who's co-written and illustrated a book, written engineered and produced a half-dozen albums from the ground up, and is currently raising a small child.

Why so intensive? And why did this work have to be done in the first place?

Well, it turns out, there has never been an edition of Cerebus Volume One printed from the original negative.

In fact, the majority of the Swords editions were also printed from negative "dupes" of the original photography, most likely made from printed copies of the original issues. 

How do I know? From studying the original monthly issues.

There are three major types of source material used for the Cerebus Volume One restoration. The first, and most frequent in appearance, are the original monthly books, specifically, the Dave Sim File Copies sent to me by Peter Dixon of Paradise Comics. 

Below is an image from my recent restoration work, scanned from the DSFC of the original monthly issue #4. Next to it is a scan of my 6th printing copy of the book. As near as I can tell, this issue was only printed once from the original negative—when it was originally published. Every other time has been from a replacement negative made from a print copy of the book. Of the 25 issues in the first volume, only 8 retained their negatives through the Swords of Cerebus and Cerebus Volume One printings. 








Even if you have an original printing of issue #4, you'll find that the page in question appears much more filled-in and dense than the artwork above. That's because, during the course of the work on this volume, I figured out a technique of reversing dot gain, that is, shrinking every area of a finished page uniformly in order to reverse the amount that the ink had spread during the printing process originally. 

This might sound a bit crazy. It certainly would take a crazy amount of time to explain it and explain how I tested it to make sure it really works the way I thought it works. The very short version—dot gain is the amount of spread that, inevitably, occurs when you print. Depending on the surface (substrate) you're printing on, the print process, the ink formula, etc, you get more or less of this spread. On a web press it's not even uniform—different parts of the form, and even sometimes across each impression, have varying amounts of dot gain. But mostly, per page, it's fairly uniform, and when it's not uniform, it's usually visible. 

The visual effect of this spread isn't linear—i.e., areas that appear dark/dense fill in quicker, because the ink is welling in from all sides. But the actual process, i.e. if you measure the amount of spread of the ink, is linear. So, if you had some way of shrinking all areas of black on your page uniformly, and you had a definitive metric that you could use to calibrate your correction, like, let's say, a thirty percent dot tone on every page, then you could conceivably reverse dot gain and still preserve all of your detail.

And so that's what I did. The trick only works because I'm working in an outrageously high resolution space—2400 ppi. I finished each page, restored and made the most pristine copy/capture of every detail in the original printing, cleaned up all noise in the newsprint, and then flattened it to bitmap. And then applied a very low radius gaussian blur to the entire image. Brought up the levels command, lowered the mids/exposure until the tone I was using to calibrate reached the desired density, then after the levels adjustment, sharpened the entire thing at the same radius that the blur was at initially. The result? All areas of black uniformly shrunk, all detail preserved. In a case where there was variation in visible gain across the page, and that gain happened to line up with the tiers/panels of the page, I adjusted the tiers separately to the same end.

The end result is the reversal of any dot gain in the original printing that didn't completely fill in an area of darkness. The result is, frankly, better than the original printings, despite now being one more generation removed. And the resulting book is going to blow the earlier printings of the collected volume out of the water.

(There are other ways to open up line work, but I've been reluctant to use any of these "spot-applied" methods, as it changes the overall tonal balance of the page. As a pen and ink illustrator, I'm sensitized to tone in black and white work, how those tones and textures interact with each other. If you "open up" one area of dense crosshatching from, say, 70 percent to 40 percent but leaving surrounding tones alone, what have you done to the balance of that area of the page? If you "open up" the clogged tone of a figure but leave the remainder of the page filled-in, how have you affected the balance? Therefore, I've restricted myself in this work to linear processes that act evenly across an entire selection. It's not enough that every line drawn remains, but that they remain the same size in relation to the surrounding lines and tones as well).

The second major source of artwork was a combination of these file copies with the only digital scans ever made from the original negative, made way back in 2004 (?) or so by Lebonfon. This neg scan was a copydot scan, and had a host of problems of its own, and it's rather deserving of its own post how I was able to wrangle it to work with print copies. What follows is the short version.

The copydot scans are 1-bit direct-to-bitmap scans of the original negative (or, when the negative had been replaced, the dupe negative). The exposure had been dramatically spiked when they were scanned, which caused much of the fine-line information, fine tone, and gray brush strokes to blow out, and made each page much lighter than it was originally drawn. These are the scans that were the basis of most of the sixteenth printing work. But, being direct scans of the original negative, the dot tone was pristine, with none of the junkiness of tone you see from dot tone printed on pulpy newsprint. It also had information in the dark areas that had filled in in the initial printings. So if only there was some way to combine these scans with print copy restorations to get the best of each type, without having a mismatch in exposure...

Well, with the "de-dot-gaining" technique I discussed above, I could do just that. Converting the bitmap to grayscale and bringing it to the right resolution, a very very narrow radius gaussian blur, and then I could re-expose the page using the tone as reference, bringing it to where it had been previously. Then completely restoring the Dave Sim File Copy version of the page, "de-dot-gaining" it to the same exposure, and placing the two together via Auto-Align Layers function in Photoshop. And finally, figuring out which one had the most information I want to keep, and erasing or otherwise eliminating the rest.

Here's a peep at one of the pages restored using this technique. Above is the blown-out scan from the negative, and below is the combined page, restored from a combination of the negative and newsprint. 



Labor-intensive? Check. A little crazy? Check. Pretty? Check.

The last source of artwork?

Of the 538 (?) pages of art in the book, a full 94 pages of those are now sourced from direct scans of original artwork—almost double that over the previous printing. It's been very slow lately, but the Art Dragnet is still pulling in pages. 

As always, the original artwork is in a class by itself. Even though the tone is a wreck on virtually every page I've seen, the amount of detail that can be found is really a revelation, almost to a page, as detail that would have previously been too fine to be captured by stat camera or would have gained up and filled in after being printed is able to be revealed for the first time. (Including, sometimes, unintentional "detail" that needs to be drawn out—most frequently, razor blade white lines from the edge of where the tone was cut.)





If the image above doesn't say it loudly enough, let me be more explicit—We need your original art scans! We need your friend's original art scans! We need your local comic shop's original art scans! We need your wacky neighbor who has hoarded two hundred pages in his closet and forgotten about them's original art scans! Seriously, where are these pages? I know they're out there somewhere... Any leads? Email me at cerebusarthunt at gmail.

So, that's the state of Volume One. With a book this long and a process this, uh, complex, there are bound to be revisions once I've had a bit of time away from it, and had a chance to make oversized prints of the work so far. (In fact, I'm seeing a bit of additional cleanup just putting together this demonstration here...) But for the most part, the labor is done.

Now it's time for your part.

What, exactly, would constitute for you, Cerebus Reader, as the Best Possible Version of Cerebus Volume One? We're already enlarging the image area (104 percent of previous volumes), and presenting better paper/printing and Smythsewn binding so that the book opens flat. But is there anything else that should be done to this volume when it finally goes to print? 

Dave and I had discussed the possibility of adding the Swords of Cerebus intros back into the book, but at the rear this time, as annotations, so that they don't interfere with the readability of the book a a whole. Does this seem like a good idea? Bad idea? Keep the banners? Keep the layout? Any other changes you can recommend?

If you've made it this far, I commend you for your endurance. I look forward to your comment.


Gerhard: Back From Sacramento (Part 2)



Gerhard's 2016 Convention Itinerary:
March 18-20: Comicon Toronto, ON
April 8-10: Wizard World Madison, WI
May 6-8: Wizard World Minneapolis, MN
June 2-6: Wizard World Philadelphia, PA
June 17-19: Wizard World Sacramento, CA
July-August: Gone Sailing Georgian Bay, ON
September 8-10: Wizard World Nashville, TN
November 4-6: Wizard World Pittsburgh, PA

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Gerhard: Back From Sacramento... (Part 1)


GERHARD:
We just got back from Wizard World Sacramento and I thought I'd share some of the Gerebuses from the show. The set of three are on Hero Initiative coasters. They have the Hero Initiative logo on one side, room for sketches on the other and measure 3.5" square. I have donated these to Hero and they will probably be putting them on Ebay. Or if anyone is interested they could probably contact Hero directly at: christina [at] heroinitiative [dot] org
 
Here's wishing everyone a happy and healthy summer!
 

 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Cerebus Reread Challenge: Carson Grubaugh




Why A Re-Read?

Somewhere around the beginning of April 2016 I set out to re-read Dave Sim’s comic-book masterpiece, Cerebus. In the months prior I had been getting a hankering to take a second look at the work. I suspect this was due to the fact that I was in the middle of reading the other insanely lengthy Canadian comics masterwork, Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse, which is in many ways the antithesis of Cerebus (and quite possibly a longer work).

A post from a friend on Facebook sealed the deal. She shared a photograph of a stack of comics she had just purchased. Poking out from the bottom of the stack was an issue of Cerebus. I took this as a sign that I was supposed to finally start re-reading Cerebus. I committed to restraining myself to one issue a day.

Why write about a re-read?

Beginning the re-read got me curious about what ever  happened to Sim’s Strange Death of Alex Raymond, the comics-photorealism history work begun in Glamourpuss. The artwork he produced in Glamourpuss had helped me refine my own approach to drawing. He had silently taught me many lessons about how to utilize line to represent contour and form,  lessons I now frequently verbalize in my profession as a professor of drawing and painting.

Searching around for news on the project lead me to A Moment Of Cerebus a fan-run blog devoted to Sim’s work. Sim himself is a frequent contributor to the site and participant in discussions, making him one of the most accessible creators, probably ever. I have always had a fascination with Sim’s singular viewpoint. The site is a treasure trove of that. In browsing through the archive of posts I saw a challenge had been issued to re-read Cerebus and post about your experience as you went (so far only one contributor, Cory Foster has taken up the challenge).  It sounded fun, but I was resigned to an issue a day, and figured any commentary would be best left until I had the scope of the whole story back in my mind.

I have been working hard on some sample pages, actively and shamelessly trying to convince Sim to let me take over the art duties on SDOAR, since his drawing hand is injured. I really want to be able to buy the damned book and think I have the chops to produce the bookend sequences he needs to complete the work. Point being, I have been spending more and more time at the site getting sucked back into the SiMindset.

Then, all of the sudden, Sim announces that he is going to do what no one ever expected, start producing NEW CEREBUS COMICS! Well, that sped my schedule of re-reading right the hell up. Now my goal is to complete my re-read and all of my commentaries before Cerebus in Hell? #0 hits the shelves in October 2016. Thankfully being an educator means I have some summer months free to spend on shit like this gives a good answer for the other obvious question: Why would I not only re-read the book, but also chose to spend time commenting on it as if I actually thought anyone cares what I have to say about it? Because I can, I have an Internet connection. I feel like it for some odd reason.

The Relationship So Far

Any re-exploration of a work is bound to start with an acknowledgment of what the reviewer’s relationship with the work has been up to the point that the re-read commences. A work like Cerebus demands to be treated as something you have an ongoing relationship with. Mine goes back twenty years.

I am absolutely a product of the Image Comics boom, the 90’s being my junior high and high school years. It is no surprise that I remember first hearing about Cerebus in Wizard Magazine. A quick search online leads me to believe it must have been Wizard #58 from June of 1996. I suspect at the time I was just pretty excited that there were going to be photographs of Pamela Anderson as Barb-Wire somewhere in the issue!  Cerebus 207 was also released in June 1996, so I assume the article must have been in celebration of Sim having passed the two-hundred issues mark in his plan to produce thee-hundred issues of Cerebus. "Sneaky Wizard! Woo me in with the promise of a leather clad Pam Anderson and sell me on a cranky, naked, gray, aardvark. Typical shell-game, sleight-of-hand magic. You sir are no wizard."

At fourteen years old the idea of someone doing three hundred issues of a comic was beyond the scope of anything I could imagine. I liked the art shown in the article but more importantly will never forget Sim talking about the possibility that he might die before the series concluded. He said something along the lines of, “I have left instructions for the book to be printed up to the very last thing I put down on paper because I figure that is the point where God finally decided that I had crossed the line. People should study what those last panels were as a warning sign of the kinds of things you should not say in public.” That statement of absolute commitment and resolution to forge one’s own path with their art blew my mind.

At 14, with illegal downloading about ten years in the future, it did not seem practical to me to start reading a series that was two-thirds of the way done and which I could not afford to catch up with. I filed the title of the book into my one-day-when-it-is-all-done-and-I-actually-have-the-money-to-buy-the-whole-damn-thing mental folder.

A couple of years later, now proudly employed at Cinnabon, I purchased one issue just to see what it was. I have vague memories of being totally lost but still intrigued. I have very vivid memories of a panel of a man dressed in drag, thigh high stockings and a garter belt, running along the top of a brick wall, and being slightly disturbed by it. I look forward to finding this panel in the re-read and seeing how well my memory serves me.

I was raised in a conservative, Evangelical Christian household, and remember thinking I was exposing myself to something Jesus wouldn’t approve of. I stuffed Cerebus back into the mental file, now tagged with, “When the book is all done, you have even more money, and The Parents can’t find a copy lying around.”

In 2003, with the series closing in on its conclusion, I began picking up the graphic novels (fuck all-ya’ll who still call them “phonebooks”), starting with the very first collection and moving forward sequentially through the story (I can’t imagine doing it any other way). Eight years of having nebulous, but high, expectations for a comic book sets a hell of a standard to live up to but I absolutely LOVED the book. By that point I had developed a taste for anything that pushed the boundaries of the form and was a singular-minded enough person of my own to know that my true heroes had to have just as much, or more, integrity with their visions as I do with mine. Sim obviously had this quality locked down. (The only two “artists” I hold next to him in terms of integrity-to-vision, in my pantheon of influences, are Alan Moore  and musician Mike Patton. All three are innovators, ruthless experimenters, and singularly committed to doing things their way. Out of the three of these Sim is by far the most stalwart. I respect that more than can be stated.)

I was able to purchase a few more of the collections before I got married, in late 2004. Being both newlywed and in college shut down my comic purchasing habits right-quick. In 2005 or 2006 I was exposed to the practice of illegally downloading comics through torrent sites. I resorted to stealing the entirety of the work at that point. (Thankfully, Sim has since state that he has no problem with people doing this. I still feel a little bit bad about it.) One benefit of this, however, is that the scans I downloaded were of single issues rather than of the trades and included all of the front and back matter. I quickly realized that having access to this material made reading Cerebus and even richer experience. It illuminated how personal the book was, how it wasn’t just a story, but a record of a man evolving his thoughts, month by month, across the span of twenty-seven years. There are very few works of art, if any, that can lay claim to making their creator as vulnerable to the public as Cerebus made Sim.

The aforementioned For Better or For Worse is a fantastic measure for Cerebus in this regards. Both works were completed over roughly the same amount of time, and during roughly the same years:  Cerebus from December 1977 to March 2004, FBOFW from September 1979 – August 2008). Both were produced with astonishing consistency. I am not sure that Canadianness has anything to do with anything, but it is also a factor that both works share in common.

Lynn Johnston often used her strip to present political viewpoints and frequently turned to her real life for inspiration but the work remains committed to the sentiment proclaimed in its title, families sticking together and people treating one another with love and respect; values that are difficult to take issue with. Johnston’s political stances remain consistent throughout the run. The fact that she had been divorced prior to starting the strip and had suffered abusive relationships with her mother and first husband never have any real effect on the strip. Instead of causing a change of perspective in the work, her second divorce, in 2007, quite clearly leads to Johnston bring everything to a close. In all fairness, it would have been pretty difficult to undermine the very title of the strip with a change in outlook.

Sim on the other hand uses his book to undertake such a ruthless search for truth that by the end of Cerebus he has gone from being a staunch atheist to a devout monotheist. He never bats an eye as the evolution of his personal philosophy causes his readership to dwindle and leads the general comics-public to develop a grotesque caricature of him as a bug-fuck- crazy misogynist. It is exactly that principles-over-protocol attitude that causes me to hold Sim in high esteem, no matter which of his opinions I agree or disagree with.

It is rare, amongst even the greatest philosophers, to find someone so devoted to finding Truth that they are willing to completely switch their positions over the course of their life. Plato evolved a bit, maybe. Foucault did a couple pretty good about-faces. Wittgenstein and Heidegger are both commonly broken into early and late periods of conflicting work. I can’t think of any others. That puts Sim in pretty rarefied air in terms of willingness-to-change (I am not claiming he is a philosopher anywhere near their import or ability). I am baffled by how many people take the man to be irrationally entrenched in his points of view. He seems firmly entrenched, only because he has spent so much of his life earnestly digging for the truth, but still willing to dig deeper if you give him good reasons to. If the history of philosophy teaches us anything it is that people can hold all kinds of absolutely oppositional ideas for all kinds carefully considered reasons.

My interest in Sim as a thinker has caused me to deviate from the driving narrative of my relationship to the work, though. Back to it!

In early 2007 my wife chose to end our marriage. I spent the rest of the year focusing on finishing my schooling, earning Bachelor’s Degrees in both Fine Art and Philosophy from U.C. Berkeley ( I know how far from an expert this makes me, but I am not a total shmoe when it comes to this stuff either). Following graduation I returned to my parent’s home to substitute-teach and prepare applications to attend graduate school for painting.

This finally left me time to dig in and finish reading Cerebus. I started over from the beginning, with my stolen digital scans, taking in all of the front and back-matter this time. My fresh emotional wounds from the divorce made the story hit much closer on a personal level. Watching Sim deal with his troubled relationships in full view of the reading public was extremely cathartic.

The other big take away looking back on that first full-length read-through was how much I enjoyed what is probably the worst received chunk of Cerebus, the biblical commentary. As I mentioned above I was raised in a conservative Evangelical environment. Being of a curious philosophical mind had made the Evangelical world view untenable for me by 2007. Alan Moore’s Promethea had already had a massive influence on me, exposing me to the Quaballah which meshed well with the likes of Baruch Spinoza and a lot of things I was reading about the Philosophy of Information.

I, like Sim, had developed an entirely personal take of Christianity, but still considered it valid. It was a pleasure to read another person’s closely considered, if a bit peculiar, take on the whole thing. I have to admit that I was sold on the interpretation for a good way in, given its gnostic flavor. I don’t remember where exactly I thought, “Well, your reading doesn’t work as smoothly here as it has up until now,” but I did eventually have that moment. It is one of the things I look forward to trying to spot during my re-read.

I suspect that this time I will just think, “Well, if you would give up on theism altogether this would all be a lot easier,” because as the years continue to pass, and I am as relentless in my own pursuit of truth, I have gone in the opposite direction of Sim. I now see no reason to assume any need for a Deity. I am pretty well entrenched myself, but in the Philosophy of Information, believing that existence is explained away pretty easily with quantum computation. Not a Matrix like simulation, just a self-computing body of quantum information. However, like Sim appears to still be, I am always excited to hear new viewpoints, and stand staunchly behind my own until a really good argument breaks through.

One Last Story

In 2009 I was finally accepted into graduate school at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where I went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Painting (Yay, Me! Back-pat. Back-pat.) If Sim has found it hard to deal with far-left feminism remotely through the mail and Internet I would love to see what would happen were he forced to share studio space with the extreme of the movement for two years. The only place you can find more extreme feminism than graduate-level art programs would be graduate-level gender studies programs, and at least in the gender studies programs the people would actually be experts in the field.

Anyway, even though I had great relationships with almost all of the women in my program the content of some of my paintings, familiarity with, and distaste for, the philosophical positions that gave rise to contemporary feminist rhetoric, and my inability to not argue for what I see as reasonable, lead to a number of dust-ups. At some point I was accused of being a chauvinist and a misogynist. At that point, knowing full well that it would only piss everybody off even more, I gleefully printed out a copy of Sim’s infamous Tangent and left it lying around on the table in the common-area kitchen.

Surprisingly I never really took much guff after that. The few people who never bothered to get to know me in the first place continued to be silently hacked-off but realized that I wasn’t intimidated or budging. Everyone else continued to get to know each other better and formed bonds of long-lasting friendship and respect that have plenty of room for variety of opinion.

The Plan

I have just started Jaka’s Story. I plan to blow through the rest of the work pretty fast. Once it is all read I will go back and comment on each book separately, but using the scans I downloaded of single issues since I often find the relationship between the back-matter and the story to be compelling.

I also want to spend time looking at how Sim develops as an artist, since Cory Foster focuses primarily on issues relating to the story.

Hopefully I can get this all done before Cerebus in Hell? #0 drops. Depends on how free my summer actually is.

I can’t imagine why anyone would read this, much less why I am actually doing it, but if you have read, thank you for your time.  Your turn now!

On Sale 37 Years Ago: Cerebus #10

Cerebus #10 (June 1979)
Art by Dave Sim

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Photorealist Tryout: Carson Grubaugh



...continued from Carson Grubaugh's Photorealist Tryout Part 1 and Part 2

CARSON GRUBAUGH:
Here are the "pencils" for the intro pages that Dave had laid out. If we could post them and get any feedback he has or changes he thinks need to be made before I ink-ink them that would be fantastic.

Notes:
Snow will be added on top of the final inked pages. I plan on having no border around the panels, so any white will bleed into the gutters. I have the gutters set at 1/8 inch but can modify them to make them consistent with the rest of the book if you are using a different size.

This stage was drawn with Mircons so I can scan them, print them in blue-line, and ink on top of the print. This will save on erasing and keep the ink lines darker. The final inking will be done with the Series 7 # 2, a Hunt 102 and maybe the Gillott 290/1 so all of the lines will be much thinner and more carefully applied.

Thanks to Jack VanDyke, the manager at Local Heroes in Norfolk, VA, for letting me into the shop and posing for all of the pictures. Perfect model. Great shop. Anyone in the Hampton Roads area of VA should check it out.

I am moving from VA to CA at the end of the week. When I get settled in I will have the rest of the summer to work on inking these, if Dave thinks it is worth going ahead with.

Thanks!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

OFF WHITE HOUSE BULLETIN 25 June 16

Don't ordinarily do a bulletin on Saturday, but I have a fax from John Funk that came in Friday night saying that ALL -- repeat, ALL -- of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER FOUR portfolios are now on their way to our Pledge Partners.

Sincere apologies -- and extreme gratitude -- for the superhuman patience this has required on the part of our Pledge Partners.

Monday, we'll be brainstorming CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER FIVE and "Timely shipping" -- i.e. within a month of the Kickstarter campaign closing -- will definitely be "Job One".

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

JEFF SEILER:
Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. Now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I'll be running interesting excerpts from those letters each week.

Today’s entry sort of sums up a period of a month or maybe six weeks in 2008, during which time Dave and I were conversing about the launch of glamourpuss, as well as his falling out with Jeff T., who was, at the time, running the pre-launch glamourpuss website. The falling out had to do with Dave also trying to launch what became the “I don’t believe Dave Sim is a misogynist” ipetition and Jeff T. wanting to set it up with qualifiers and Dave wanting it to be just the one declarative sentence, as well as Jeff T. not being willing to sign it without qualifiers in place. It was a pretty big contretemps at the time. So, to paraphrase one of Dave’s favorite authors, it was a most exciting time and a decidedly less exciting time. The date of this letter from Dave is 2 May, 2008, sent by fax:

Hi Jeff:

The URL for glamourpuss [Ed: the website] was registered by Julie E., so I’m sure she’ll let me know when it is up for renewal or will probably just renew it herself. The website was more of a promotion for the new title than an ongoing concern. I’ll talk to Sandeep about the correspondence [Ed: regarding the website which, IIRC, had solicited letters to the book, according to Jeff T., in handing it off], if there is any. [Sandeep] usually just e-mails back that this isn’t Dave Sim’s e-mail address and then mentions it to me if he thinks of it.

I’d just leave Jeff [Ed: T.] alone for a while until he cools off. He has the second batch of tracing-paper sketches [Ed: that Jeff T. was putting up for auction on Ebay on Dave’s behalf] but that’s no emergency either. If he hasn’t voluntarily done anything with them before the end of the summer, say, then you might send him an e-mail about sending them to whoever might be willing to handle posting them for an on-line [sic] auction and then mailing them out...and who was willing to get paid in tracing paper sketches.

#3 was great. [Ed: Here, Dave was referring to my question as to how did he like Cerebus Readers In Crisis #3, which I had published earlier in the year. I had been “freely admitting to boldly fishing for a compliment”.] I hope you’re able to keep going with it. If that’s too small a compliment, feel free to throw it back and keep fishing.

[Ed: At this point, a little backstory is necessary. At S.P.A.C.E. that year, when Dave and we Cerebites were gathered together on Saturday evening (as was our wont, annually), I had kidded Dave about his needing a proofreader. I “reminded” him in my letter of May 1st, that I got a kick out of his comeback, “And you’re just someone who wants to be a writer.” So, here’s how he ends his May 2nd letter by fax:]

What I actually said, as I recall, was “I write books and you wish you could.”

Best,

Dave

Friday, 24 June 2016

Celebrating Cerebus

"Cerebus In Hell?" Retailer Exclusives

Okay, Sandeep here, we're almost done "Cerebus In Hell?" day! In addition to posting a preview of the strips here, and sharing them on Facebook and Twitter, I've been emailing a number of retailers  and comic news sites all day. The following all received their own personalized strips to promote "Cerebus In Hell?". If any retailers or comics news sites are reading this, leave a comment and let us know if you'd like a "Cerebus In Hell?" strip for your store. Special thanks to Steve Bissette for visiting A Moment of Cerebus. Come back anytime!

Remember, new strips will be posted every day at cerebusdownloads.com starting tomorrow. Feel free to share!

Comic Shops:
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"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #12

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"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #11

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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #11 -
Actually, this is a good example of what used to be described as The Golden Mean: that it is the obligation of each Christian to find the exact Godly balance between profligacy and miserliness and to hew to the 50-yard line as closely as possible…in no small part because the fate of your immortal soul is at stake if you guess wrong.

It's my guess that the Infernal Realms are probably chock-a-block full of Golden Mean dichotomies being unhappily misconstrued -- and unhappily enacted -- and unhappily reenacted -- as alternating polar opposite extremes. And then dismissed as examples of "S--t happens." 


Whoever it was who explained the concept of "Existential Quandaries" to Cerebus didn't do him any favours, I don't think. 

"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #10

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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #10 - 

One of the foundational rules of CEREBUS IN HELL? was "NO continued strips": each "daily" needed to be self-contained. We found out that that lasted about as long as it took to get a Really Good Premise where as soon as you get the first one done, the second one is just begging to be written and put together -- and sometimes a third and a fourth (our current record is six). In the case of this one, it was picturing the bat-wing'd demons waving the three-dimensional flying Cerebus in Virgil's face.

"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #9

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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #9 -
One of us pointed out to the other that it was much funnier if the two-dimensional cardboard cut-out of Cerebus was suspended upside down rather than right-side up. Which turned out to be true.  


Comedy may not be rocket science but it's still pretty mysterious and exacting.

"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #8

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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #8 - 
This one was prompted by our -- quite late -- discovery of the fact that there is an amputated arm climbing up the front of Dante's cassock in Gustave Dore's print of the scene. 

An oversight attributable, we think, to the wise old adage "The infernal shades of 'decapitees' waving their severed heads attract disproportionate attention to themselves". 

Had we -- as a society -- not allowed that wise old aphorism to fall into popular disuse in recent years, arguably, we might have been spared all/most of/a good deal of Donald Trump's largely-inexplicable-but-altogether-riveting campaign for President. 


Oh, well. Too late now. 

"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #7

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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #7 -
It's our working theory (one of them, anyway) that there are no actual comic books in Hell or Purgatory or Limbo (or wherever Cerebus now is) but that there are a lot of really pointless and overly elaborate discussions ABOUT comic books and, in fact, about all forms of pop culture.

Pointless and overly elaborate discussions about cultural ephemera being as much a part of Hell's blacktop as good intentions.


Either that or pointless and overly elaborate discussions ABOUT comic books are the key to The Final Reward In The Great Bye-and-Bye, in which case we're in a lot of trouble. 

"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #6

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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #6 -

Cerebus being far too self-conscious to actually admit that he’s slowly going insane, he’s just going to keep this to himself. If he’s talking to a Minotaur one minute and King Minos the next, that’s just fine. No problem. Besides, it’s not like a permanent condition, it sort of comes and goes. At exactly the wrong time. Hey, if you were wandering around with Virgil and Dante, surrounded by a legion of demons torturing the damned for all eternity, it might mess with your sense of reality as well. Oh hey, Asmodeus, where did you come from?

"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #5

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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #5 -

While definitely a Gustave DorĂ© number, this isn’t technically one of the plates from Dante’s Inferno. But it could be. Yes it could! So what if it isn’t? No, it’s not a big deal! We didn’t make any promises, did we? Oh, so you want to make a big deal out of it, do you? Breach of contract?! The nerve! Fine, if that’s how you want it, then that’s how you’re going to get it! This is now a matter for the courts! Cerebus, take a letter to my lawyer!

"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #4

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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #4 -
I got the idea for this one when my neighbour was in the middle of selling his rental property triplex next door. This is a good example of what I think Hell is actually like: a continuing series of brief, unlikely dream-like premises that a) seem real and b) need to be dealt with on their own terms just before c) turning themselves into completely different premises that also need to be dealt with on THEIR own terms.

Which is a) incredibly difficult to manage and b) gets you absolutely nowhere. 

That is to say, remarkably similar to daily life in any G7 country in the 21st century. 


Hell, like Rome, wasn't built in a day. 

"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #3

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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #3 -

The Hunter S. Thompson of philosophy makes a special guest appearance! Sadly, all of Gustave DorĂ©’s fine linework is lost on the man who thinks that it’s easy to eat all of Tasmania in a single sitting and that the rings of Saturn are autobiographical. While it’s still up for debate as to whether or not Nietzsche’s writings actually comprise a formal philosophical system per se, there can be no doubt that he’s a very funny writer and that goes a long way in our books.

"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #2

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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #2 -
Why have only ONE A Moment of Cerebus insider reference when you can have two?:

Jeff Seiler's Carmen Miranda costume that he wears/used to wear to Jimmy Buffet concerts (and once wore onstage, by invitation WITH Jimmy Buffet) (that is, they were on stage together, not both wearing the Carmen Miranda costume) is a guaranteed cheap laugh-getter here on AMOC as well as a Jimmy Buffet inside joke. Combining that with the fact that "Margaritaville" is the name of the official Jimmy Buffet website means only three people in North America (oddly enough, all living in the Midwest) will "get" this one. 


Okay, that will do it for the INSIDE jokes.  

"Cerebus In Hell?" - Comic Strip #1


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CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #1:

It's gratifying to know that the COMICS JOURNAL -- now celebrating THEIR 40th anniversary -- unbeknownst to them is a part of this historic moment (the moment, I mean. I think they're aware that it's their 40th anniversary): CEREBUS IN HELL? strip #1. 

Although we wander in a different wilderness from Gary Groth and Co., forty years is forty years. May we all find our Comic-Book Promised Land and not have it turn out to be the shock-surprise EC twist ending of the century!


"Damian T. Lloyd" is an "A Moment of Cerebus" insider reference. We figured we needed one of those if we were going to launch CEREBUS IN HELL? here in Tim W.'s virtual living room without telling him ahead of time. Tim! We're going to need more ice!

Cerebus In Hell? #1-4 Covers


Aardvark-Vanaheim "Cerebus In Hell?" Press Release





Cerebus In Hell? #0




Weekly Update #140: Is Cerebus In Hell?


IS CEREBUS IN HELL? the video. (2016)
Randy Bowen's one-of-a-kind MELMOTH CEREBUS sculpted figure (a commissioned gift from Diana Schutz in 1993) starring "in" a 1911 Italian silent film adaptation of DANTE'S INFERNO. The wiggling legs of Cassius Longinus in the mouth of Lucifer and their subsequent transition to Lucifer Chew Toy are worth the price of admission. Written and directed by Dave Sim. (2016, 8 mins.)

"An instant classic!" 

                  genericblurbsforsale.com 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Fred Hammer Wins the Jakirbee Cup

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 Dave Sim's notebook #33, the final Cerebus notebook, twice with the last time being in November of 2015 in Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk. The first time we look at it was The Final Notebook. It covers issues Cerebus #265 though 300.

Cerebus #267, If Five-Bar Gate Be My Destiny, is Cerebus' time as a Five-Bar gate player who, much like the Toronto Maple Leafs, had a long losing streak, but unlike the Leafs, Cerebus broke his streak.

Fred Hammer


There are a couple pages in notebook #33 that have notes for issue #267. None have any sketches, just text. It was the text on page 6 that made me pause.

Notebook #33, page 6
The bit that caught my eye starts near the bottom - after "Paul and 'Coffee' Anan fell over dead". In the comic Cerebus' opponent, Paul "Coffee" Annan collapse and the guy with the Laura Concord Sweets & Swine apron came out (Mr Van Hellemond, the Chief Medical Officer). Moosehat Gardens was very silent until Paul "Coffee" Annan was pronounced dead from old age. Cerebus left Moosehat Gardens (whose real life counterpart, Maple Leaf Gardens, is now a Loblaws grocery store, with a red dot on the store floor where center ice once was) to a chorus of boos.

But on page six shown above, you see that Paul "Coffee" Annan's wife stands up and started screaming at Cerebus "How old are you" "Who are you". "What are you". Then as he started to blank out again "it occurred to Cerebus that Jaka was probably eighty years old by now."

Instead of that gut punch, we get a left hook with Cerebus heading south to get the Cirinists to kill him.


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Breaking News: Cerebus In Hell!

CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016 (Order Code: JUL161105)
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CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
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CEREBUS IN HELL? #0
by Dave Sim & Others
Aardvark Vanaheim
Price: $4.00
In Shops: 28 September 2016
The first new Cerebus comic since 2004! Where has Cerebus been since he died twelve years ago? Is he in hell? Purgatory? Limbo? Some strange 1980 disco with links to Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Henry Kissinger? Some ancient Greek disco with links to Plato, Socrates, Aristotle? Some 1990s disco with links to The Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, and Oasis? Is he stuck inside his own Cerebus Online Disco Twitter-feed? Well, wherever he is, he deserves it, so feel free to laugh at his misfortune! This one shot leads into the Cerebus In Hell? 4-issue mini-series in 2017 celebrating Cerebus‘ 40th-anniversary!
Diamond Order Code: JUL161105

Previews: The Dave Sim Interview

BLEEDING COOL:
(from Bleeding Cool, 22 June 2016)
Bloody hell. News I wasn’t expecting to be writing.

Cerebus, the 6000 page satirical epic that represents a high point of the use of the comic book medium to tell stories, that ran for three hundred issues from the seventies into the noughties, the peak of self-publishing success in the comic book form, and that was never going to return – is going to return.

When we last saw Cerebus, old, unmourned and unloved, it was being dragged kicking and screaming into hell.

Now we get to see what happened next. And not in some jokey Cerebus #301 metacommentary.

This is Cerebus In Hell #0. By Dave Sim and friends, out in September from Aardvark-Vanaheim. And to be followed by a new four issue Cerebus In Hell series next year for the character’s 30th anniversary.

Oh, and because this is Dave Sim, he’s ripping off a painting of hell by Hieronymus Bosch for the cover -and crediting him as well.

THE BEAT:
(from The Beat, 22 June 2016)
Cerebus, the controversial comics masterpiece by Dave Sim, is returning in a one shot that, perhaps inspired by Mike Mignola’s latest Hellboy saga, shows us how the earth pig will be doing in Hell. The issue goes on sale in September and if successful will be followed by a four issue mini-series.

Cerebus died in issue #300 of his long running series, which was published in 2004.

Unfortunately, ongoing wrist problem have rendered Sim unabel to draw, so the comic will be something of a Wondermark-inspired collage, made with the help of longtime Cerebus webmaster Sandeep Atwal, according to an interview in Diamond’s Previews, where the one-shot was announced. IN the meantime, Sim and Atwal will present an online Cerebus comic strip, as you can see from this sample.

The cover of the one-shot is a similar collage with Hieronymous Bosch.

According to the interview, The strip will be a four-panel “poor man’s Garfield”: “Sandeep and I have the same reaction: Cerebus is so hilariously pathetic that the strips pretty much write themselves. Cerebus and the Manticore. Cerebus and the Minotaur. Cerebus and the Unconsecrated Dead. Cerebus and the Suicides. Cerebus and the Ttians. Cerebus and Lucifer. If you can’t write four funny panels on that, you’re in the wrong line of work.”