Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The "Unavailable" Remastered READS

DAVE SIM:
Got a phone message from Jeff Seiler that he tried to purchase the digitally remastered READS at Minneapolis' venerable COLLEGE OF COMIC BOOK KNOWLEDGE and they told him that their Diamond rep had told them the book was "unavailable".

Left a phone message this morning with Matt D., my Diamond rep, telling him what had happened.  I'm sure it can be worked out by Diamond internally.  I'll let you know what I hear.

I'll do a post any time I hear about an "unavailable" CEREBUS trade and follow up with Matt the next time I need to talk to him about something.  So, if ANYONE has that happen with ANY CEREBUS trade, leave a phone message at 519-576-0610 telling me the name of the store and what book they couldn't get and I'll get right on it for you.

Thanks. And now heeeeeere's SEAN!

Reproduction, Preservation, and the Sandpaper of Time, with Special Guest Star Orson Welles



Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings all!

Special notice to everyone reading today — if you're not already, please consider becoming a patron of the Cerebus Archive restoration project by donating to or purchasing Cerebus Archive Number Five (CAN5), featuring the first ten pages of Jaka's Story, as well as a 11,000 word commentary on the book by Dave Sim. If you haven't read one of these commentaries yet, suffice it to say they're exhaustive examinations on the art, the story, and observations of his life around the time of their creation. 

More importantly, to me, than the already amazing CAN package and reproductions, is these Kickstarter projects are what allow us to continue doing the meticulous work we're doing. I think it's truly remarkable that just a few hundred people have been able to support and finance a mammoth undertaking such as this, the most thorough (and, from my perspective, the most deserving) comics restoration project in the short history of comics. Today, I'm asking you to join your fellow fans in supporting this project.



Cerebus is unique in so many ways—I suspect this isn't a controversial statement—but one of those many ways is Dave's approach to ownership and commitment to the public domain. When Dave is dead (may it be five decades from now!) the entirety of Cerebus will pass to you, the reader, to do what you wish with it. Print a new edition on llama skin? Translate it into Japanese? White out the aardvark guy and clip in photos of yourself and your girlfriend? Or whatever presidential candidate is currently annoying you? Adapt it into a live-action movie starring only the descendants of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? All these and more will be yours to enjoy.

But one thing I learned from my time in the Orson Welles fan community — having no clear estate (or a fractured estate) means materials fall into disrepair. Even Orson's almost-completed films (Other Side of the Wind is a fine example) have been scattered to the winds, some negative here, some negative there, a work print under someone's sofa. A raft of notes in an archive somewhere. And each of these materials subject to the whims of the current "owner" of that material. 

His public domain radio materials, removed in time by a few more decades, are a whole other matter... which I happened to write about, in this space, almost two years ago now. Why don't we let 2014 Sean take it from here?




As many of you probably know, Orson Welles was possibly the greatest radio director who ever lived, a fact made all the more remarkable by his young age-- the radio plays on which that reputation rest were made when he was in his early twenties. And like many prolific artists, Welles was a shark, always moving, only infrequently looking back on what he had created, with eyes squarely on the next project, the next story, the next thing to devote himself to.

Dave and Orson Welles. I've made the comparison before, in an article/addendum to an interview I conducted with Gerhard for The Comics Journal in 2011. Here's the relevant bit--

In the world of film, at least the technicians and artists behind each of the specialized tasks have names, have credits. And yet it doesn’t seem to have done much good, at least in the way that people tend to view the “authorship” of a movie. To take a ready example- it’s still routine to read analyses of Citizen Kane that mention Gregg Toland, the film’s cinematographer, in passing only. I find this example particularly apt, as it seems clear that Toland and [Orson] Welles created the visual look of Kane as equal partners, that in fact Welles was as eager to work with Toland as Toland was to work with him.


The Welles/Toland comparison seems even more relevant when you consider that although Welles was undoubtedly the central figure, the “author” and architect of Citizen Kane, the film relied very heavily on the visual innovations of Toland, and that Toland had himself been developing many of these innovations for years. In a certain way it could be argued that many of Welles’ chief visual contributions to Kane involved knowing when to collaborate, and when to leave Toland to his own devices.

Despite their obvious differences, there are actually lots of similarities between Dave's work and Welles' work. Innovative, pioneering storytelling methods, so inventive that they could/would be mined by lesser talents for whole careers. Uneasy and shifting relationships with mainstream success. Both working in unusual narration-heavy "essay" forms in their later work, works which rely on their personalities and ideas rather than pure narrative interest. (This is an invitation for someone to write a comparison of glamourpuss and F For Fake.)

Anyway, I'm getting off track here. Back to the Radio Archives set.

These are fascinating to listen to, and hearing them for the first time was one of the most visceral aesthetic experiences I've ever had. Bracing. It's not just the command of narrative, the break-neck pace of the story telling or the compelling acting or the gorgeous music by Bernard Hermann. It's also that they sound so damn good!

You see, for the most part, Welles' mighty work in radio is currently represented by who-knows-how-many generations of audio. Someone taped a re-broadcast on their reel-to-reel, transferred it to cassette later, then made a dupe for someone else, who made a low-resolution MP3 of the whole thing and THEN applied some terrible noise reduction.


Welles himself didn't think much about preservation. His secretaries kept files, sure, he had dupes of transcription discs made so he could review the shows later, improve things. But he moved offices, he lost staff, he moved countries. Nothing stayed with him. And certainly, at the end of his life, he was more interested in raising money to complete his current projects than spending time and resources on holding on to what was, in essence, his juvenilia.

But that Radio Archives set makes it clear how outstanding the work he did in radio truly was, in a way completely different from hearing those tenth-generation copies I was talking about before. On Dracula, the Mercury Theatre's very first broadcast, you hear ghostly howls, wind, murmuring of crowds, shrieks, the eerie mechanical sound of Welles' Dracula voice, all details that couldn't possibly have been heard even at the original point of broadcast. And all of these thing were captured by the transcription discs, recorded because of various broadcast regulations and then stuffed in a closet, only to re-emerge, decades later.

So why even bother creating that amount of detail when it would have, in all likelihood, be lost in the terrible-sounding A.M. radio signal, broadcast once and then never again?

Because it's better that way. Because that's what artist's do, even when they have an eye for broadcast (or reproduction), even considering all of the states that their work might go through before it reaches an audience.

It would be impossible to assemble a definitive collection of Welles' radio work at this point. Too many of the materials are gone, destroyed, or in private collections, hanging on someone's wall, never to see the light of day. The irony of this is, unlike his film work, which is owned by the many fractured pieces of his estate, much of Welles' radio work is squarely in the public domain. And yet, access to it, in a listenable form that gives full respect to the source, is mostly impossible.

Dave is in a unique position in that, though the work is now historic, the window for restoration has yet to close. There are still active collectors out there who are willing to help assemble the materials, there's still funding out there to help us make progress on the tremendous amount of work required per book. It seems likely that attempting a project like this a decade from now would be impossible.
There's a lot more to say here, about the public domain, about how estates do or don't manage the legacies of their creators. Rather than contribute any more words of my own, I'd appreciate any thoughts you all might have about these issues.

I'll leave you with a relevant Gerhard quote--

It’s amazing to see the difference between the printed book and the original artwork. If you ever see a copy of the Winsor McCay book, look at the difference between the illustration on the cover, which is a giant multi-layered, multi-winged multi-engined airship, and then it’s reproduced much smaller on the title page, and all that delicate line work is filled in to solid black. And that’s sometimes the difference between the original art and the printed version. I look at that and I think, “I’m not going to do all that crosshatching when it’s just going to fill in to solid black anyway.

But, of course, we all know they both did it anyway...


Cerebus In Love!

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5
A Portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from 'Jaka's Story'
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel
Kickstarter ends 3 September. Pledge now!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Madman's Creator-Owned Party!

MICHAEL FIFFE:
(from Michael Fiffe's Blog, 28 November 2011)
...I recently got the chance to collaborate with one of my childhood comics heroes, Mike Allred, creator of Madman. I did a pencil drawing, Mike inked it and his wife Laura colored it! As if that wasn’t cool enough, the piece was slated to go into the Madman 20th Anniversary Monster (in stores mid-December).

The pin up was to depict a large cast of creator owned characters, all in celebration of the medium’s independent spirit. The idea originally sprung from Allred and Dean Haspiel (who vouched for me and my masochistic streak love of drawing crowd scenes). The piece would have an accompanying essay written by Adam McGovern, so all four of us began thinking up a master list of potential characters to feature. It started at 20 or so, then easily over 40. I held off on drawing anything until a definitive list was hammered out.

I had started with the basic information: a big ass party. It wasn’t to be a group action shot, but a bunch of folks hanging out instead. I made sure to draw the room in proportion to the space needed for the growing list of characters (70 at that point). I wanted to channel Yves Chaland in a way, but my main source of inspiration was Joost Swarte...

The ultimate list of characters still had to be finalized. Between the four of us, a lot of characters were added, cut, suggested, added again, and dug up until that master list was actually completed. It ended up being a head count of over a hundred. All I had to do was make them coexist on a single page. I wanted to convey every character’s personality at least in the smallest way. I had to reduce each one to a single, tiny movement. A bunch of little stories going on at once. I penciled as cleanly as possible and sent it off to Mike and Laura to complete it.

I still couldn’t believe Mike Allred was gonna ink this...

...Imagine my surprise when this came in. I was floored when I saw it. Leave it to Mike to take my cluttered mess and make it sing. He even added a few heads here and there. Given the sheer amount of creator owned characters, this single snapshot feels like we barely touched the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other great characters that weren’t squeezed in that I’m compelled to draw the other half of the room. Hmmm...

Monday, 29 August 2016

Carson Grubaugh's Re-Read Challenge: Melmoth

CARSON GRUBAUGH: 
(from Carson's Re-Read Blog, August 2016)
...I find it hard to say much about Melmoth, probably because it was my favorite volume of the re-read. The first time I read Cerebus it was all of the heady outer-space philosophy and theology that attracted me. This time around the humbler volumes are the ones that speak to me and Melmoth is the most touching of them all. It is a deeply introspective and focused volume. The book speaks for itself. Issue #150 marks the middle of the series and the turning point in what Sim has called the Masculine and Feminine halves of the story. So this volume, with it's focus on death, functions much like the Death card in the tarot, as a transition period... [Read the full review here...]

CARSON GRUBAUGH'S
CEREBUS RE-READ CHALLENGE:
Cerebus Vol 7: Flight
Cerebus Vol 8: Women
Cerebus Vol 9: Reads
Cerebus Vol 10: Minds
Cerebus Vol 11: Guys
Cerebus Vol 12: Rick's Story
Cerebus Vol 13: Going Home
Cerebus Vol 14: Form & Void
Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days
Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Jaka's Story #16

Cerebus #129 (December 1989)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5:
A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Jaka


CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5:
A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Many Origins of Jaka (Part 4)


CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5:
A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel

Cerebus In Hell? - Week 9

CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Cerebus Archive Number 5: Update #2

Hello everyone! A very sincere THANK YOU to everyone who has supported this campaign so far. We've surpassed our initial goal and are now past the halfway mark for the campaign. To help generate more contributions to help fund the restoration of Cerebus, we're pleased to announce our stretch goals for Cerebus Archive #5!

STRETCH GOAL #1 - $20,000 - NOTEBOOK TWO
If we raise $20,000, every individual who has ordered at least one of the Jaka's Story portfolios, will ALSO receive a digital version of NOTEBOOK TWO! This 199-page notebook features dozens of never-before-seen images by Dave Sim as well as copious notes that went into the development of Cerebus. This notebook is also being offered as an individual reward for $20.

STRETCH GOAL #2 - $25,000 - COLLECTED LETTERS 2006
If we raise $25,000, every individual who has ordered at least one of the Jaka's Story portfolios, will ALSO receive a digital version of COLLECTED LETTERS 2006 (as well as previous stretch goal rewards). This 384 page collection includes letters written by Dave Sim after the completion of Cerebus, including letters to Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr, Neil Gaiman, Joe Matt, Seth, Chester Brown and many, many, many more! This collection of letters is also being offered as an individual reward for $20.

STRETCH GOAL #3 - $30,000 - NOTEBOOK THREE
If we raise $30,000, every individual who has ordered at least one of the Jaka's Story portfolios, will ALSO receive a digital version of NOTEBOOK THREE (as well as previous stretch goal rewards). This 79-page notebook also features dozens of never-before-seen images by Dave Sim and more notes that went into the development of Cerebus. This notebook is also being offered as an individual reward for $20.

STRETCH GOAL #4 - $35,000 - COLLECTED LETTERS 2007
If we raise $35,000, every individual who has ordered at least one of the Jaka's Story portfolios, will ALSO receive a digital version of COLLECTED LETTERS 2007 (as well as previous stretch goal rewards). This 253-page collection includes hundreds of letters written by Dave Sim after the completion of Cerebus, including letters to Gerhard, Chester Brown, Neil Gaiman, Gary Groth, and many, many more! This collection of letters is also being offered as an individual reward for $20.

STRETCH GOAL #5 - $40,000 - NOTEBOOK FOUR
If we raise $40,000, every individual who has ordered at least one of the Jaka's Story portfolios, will ALSO receive a digital version of NOTEBOOK FOUR (as well as previous stretch goal rewards). This 160-page notebook also features dozens of never-before-seen images by Dave Sim and more notes that went into the development of Cerebus. This notebook is also being offered as an individual reward for $20.

Hopefully, these stretch rewards will generate some more contributions. Be sure to tell your friends, families, enemies and strangers about Cerebus Archive #5! Stay tuned for more updates!

Albatross Four

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

So we've looked at Dave Sim's first three notebooks, which he called Albatross: Albatross One (Cerebus issues #20 to 28), Albatross, too (#28 to 37), and Albatross 3 (though it was unnamed by Dave, this is where it fits: #37 to 41). This week it is Albatross Four:

Cover to Albatross Four
Albatross Four covers Cerebus issues #41 to 45 with 99 pages out of 108 pages scanned. A couple of the pages dealt with a never published title called Cerebus Collector. There is a contents listing on page 14:

Albatross Four, page 14
Then on page 20 we see a sketch for the front and back cover. I've rotated the notebook page by 90 degrees to make it easier to view:

Albatross Four, page 20


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Jaka's Story #13

Cerebus #126 (September 1989)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5:
A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel

Avoiding the Dreaded Moire-- Press Tests and Adventures in Modern Printing




Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings all!

Last week our new printer Marquis put a test form of Going Home pages on the press in preparation for the new fully-restored edition that will be going to press as soon as they can schedule us.

As I've mentioned a few times before, wet proofs (in the previous era of printing, otherwise known as "proofs") are the only real way to know, with any amount of reliability, what your print product will actually look like on press. So-called "proofs" these days are actually output on a laser printer or plotter, and don't reflect the resolution or the gain you'll experience actually on-press. So getting a wet proof is the only real way to get an idea of what your book will actually look like.

In this case, my mission was two-fold. One — get an idea of how much gain we could expect on-press, as a trade-off with the blacks density. This was a pretty minor consideration this time, as I now have a pretty good idea of the type of results they're capable of on their web presses with our selected paper (Rolland Enviro Satin)

Which leaves us with the main goal — to ensure there's no moire.

I've written about moire here before. In a basic way, moire is the third unintended visual pattern that appears when you sample one repeating pattern with another. Take a look out your screen door. Everything you see through the screen is filtered through those perfectly repeating boxes. Because the boxes are mechanically predictable, you most likely don't notice you're looking through a screen at all. But now imagine that, instead of gazing out at your backyard through the screen door, you were looking at another piece of screen, pressed up against the first one. Unless that second piece of screen were to be perfectly aligned with the first, what you would see would be a third pattern, unrelated except through math, that would change with every movement of the second piece of screen.

Make that second piece of screen a different pitch (smaller or larger apetures) or a different shape, and the resulting pattern would be even more wildly different.

This is in essence what moire is. And this is the struggle that has kept many classic comics techniques from cleanly making the leap to digital printing. 

Pixels are the unit of sampling for all visual digital data. A square unit. Mechanical tone (zip-a-tone, Letratone, whatever you'd like to call it), staple of 20th Century cartooning, is composed completely of mechanically-produced perfectly-distributed circles. Sampling circles with squares leaves you a lot of room for error. 

A by no means comprehensive list of Things That Can Cause Moire —

1. Scanning at a resolution that doesn't adequately capture the dot tone (even worse- having your inadequate-resolution scan sharpened automatically by your scan software before you upscale or do anything else to the file!)
2. Working in a resolution space too small to accommodate the pitch of the dot tone
3. Half-toning line art with dots (which is why line art should always be submitted to a printer as a 1-bit TIFF file, along with instructions not to half-tone the images)
4. Resizing or rotating 1-bit TIFF files
5. Resizing or rotating at-size files that are already really sharpened or have little to no ambiguous edges left
6. Resizing or rotating tone many times, especially in small increments

You'll notice the lack of precision in this. This MIGHT. That MAY. You really don't know until your book is on press. You just have to do your best to avoid the things that increase the likelihood of moire, and then cross those proverbial fingers.

All of the above made it easy to pick the pages for the test signature.  Each had to meet some of the following criteria —

a) tone with a high lpi rating (lines per inch, i.e. tiny-dotted tone)

The greater the dot pitch (i.e. the smaller the tone), the greater the risk of moire, as the circles (dots in the dot tone) are being sampled by a smaller number of squares (pixels). (This fact is the rationale behind my decision to work in the resolution space (2400 ppi) that we're using for this entire project, despite that resolution being double the res used by most professional line art print projects. Conveniently, it also enables me to be a lot more flexible with the files — including shrink them uniformly, and resize them to a much greater degree than would otherwise be possible)

b) tone that was exposed, meaning, large areas of it across the page, unbroken by other visual elements

The eye is more forgiving of any visual anomalies that are broken up with other visual elements. Thus, moire, or dirtiness of tone caused by slur in the print stage or overly-fibrous paper, are much more visible when it's a big old hunk of tone uninterrupted by other drawing elements. Additionally, picking tone that had the same density across the page enabled me to better parse how much dot gain was happening across the page.

c) pages with similar or identical tone that were digitally processed differently, or from different sources

Since there are so many ways to screw up (see the above!), it was important to me to make sure that I selected pages from each different source of page (original artwork vs. photo negative made during the monthly production of the book), as well as from each scanner (original artwork having been scanned by both Sandeep and Gerhard, with the same type of scanner, but with slightly different settings and treated slightly differently on my end). The pages that have been problems in the past have been flukes of the media or the scan — some difference in the scanner or scanning procedure that, when treated similarly to other pages of the same type, ended up in moire-ville. (Not a pleasant place to live — everything is plaid.) So covering my bases this time meant each type of scan being represented, a much easier task now that almost all of the book is original art scanned by only two people on almost identical scanners!

d) pages with any other unusual considerations

There are a few pages that had the unfortunate combination of fine-pitched dot tone and the photocopier, i.e. had tone elements photocopied to produce the finished artwork. I wanted to make sure that these elements wouldn't be too dirty-looking on press. I also added a few pages with very dark (40 percent or greater) tone, to better judge dot gain and slur (fine dark tone more easily reveals limitations of press and paper, as the dots of the tone are oriented so tightly together that they easily run into each other, causing visible noise in the tone. Check out pages 352-355 in the previous editions of Going Home to see a good example.)

Lucky for me, Marquis currently only has Rolland Enviro Satin in larger rolls, which means that the test form would be 32 pages long. I sent the following pages —

107, 121, 135, 172, 173, 182-185, 196-197, 202, 256, 285-286, 291-292, 325, 336-339, 351, 353, 355-356, 360, 363-367

The results? Damn good! And thanks to my paranoid working methods, not a lick of moire this time.

The (minor) downside first — no matter how good the printing is, there are limitations to web offset printing, specifically, variation in the impression across a given form. I.e. each page has a different amount of gain and blacks density depending on where it was located on the form. This is unavoidable when printing on a web press, and although it can be minimized by maintenance and condition of the press, there will always be some amount of variation. (If you've ever seen a press in action, you'll know what a marvel it is it works at all! All that paper, moving at that speed... sheesh.)

That being said, there is a minimal amount of dot gain present, and the impression is very clean, even on the areas with dense and dark tone. Compared to the original printings, we are worlds away. Here are some side by side comparisons.

In the multi-page pan shot towards the end of the book there's a tight dot tone that grades from a dark 40 percent to a lighter 20 percent over the course of the seven page sequence. Here's the top panel of page 356, from the middle of that sequence. These are raw scans from my second-printing trade (above) and the press test (below).


And here's a one-to-one comparison. At top, the file that was sent to Marquis, at size (1 to 1 pixels). The tone reads 37 percent at this particular portion of the image. (Was it a graded tone?)

Below is a closeup of the exact same area of the actual press test. The tone has expanded only fractionally, to 39 percent. You can see the bit of slur present in the way the dots are slightly deformed.

And below that is the same area from my second edition printing. The tone clocks in here at 60 percent, and as you can see, there's a ton of dirtiness in the impression.

As I said, this is the extreme — what just happens to be the worst-printed page of the sequence in both the original printing and the press test. But I think it's a fair representation overall of how different this book will look from previous printings.





Which is to say, the march forward continues. This'll be the slickest volume yet.

....and meanwhile, I've managed to go way over on time here, lost in the weeds. Be sure to check this space over the next few weeks for more Going Home before and after comparisons, and if you have any questions for me, I'll see you in the comments!

(Special parenthetical-- also taking suggestions for the image/enlargement for the last page of the book, i.e. the Aardvark-Vanaheim address page. Have a favorite image from Going Home that has thematic resonance for the volume, and would look good large? Let me know in the comments!)










Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Jaka's Story #11

Cerebus #124 (July 1989)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5:
A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel

Monday, 22 August 2016

OFF-WHITE HOUSE BULLETIN 1700 hrs 22 AUG 16

DAVE SIM:
I spoke on the phone with Tim L. at DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTORS about an hour ago and he informed me that the REMASTERED version of READS is in transit, but should be at DIAMOND UK later this week or early next week.  Anyone interested in buying a copy of READS should "try again" with their UK LCS in the next few days and the book should "show" as being available very, very shortly.

Thanks to our UK READS WANNABE BUYERS for their patience!

 He also said that he called his counterpart at DIAMOND UK about HIGH SOCIETY, RICK'S STORY and FORM & VOID being "unavailable" and was told that the only CEREBUS trade paperback not available from DIAMOND UK at the moment is GOING HOME.*  Which, of course, is in production right now.

Although my DIAMOND U.S. numbers are a couple of weeks out of date, they've got 1,123 copies of HIGH SOCIETY REMASTERED (please make sure that you're using the REMASTERED order code which is different from the previous HIGH SOCIETY order code!) 576 copies of RICK'S STORY and 254 FORM & VOID, so there should be no problem getting any of those titles through DIAMOND UK.

Hopefully, our OFFICIAL WORLDWIDE DISTRIBUTOR of individual copies of CEREBUS trades, PAGE 45, will be able to stock up soon.  Many thanks to DIAMOND UK for "reaching out" to them (according to Tim L.)

* Tim L. also said that DIAMOND is fine with a $40 cover price on GOING HOME and that DIAMOND still has 149 copies of the CEREBUS trade (my last figure was 381, so GOOD VELOCITY there!)

So -- it's OFFICIAL! -- GOING HOME, the $40 REMASTERED EDITION will be the next CEREBUS trade paperback printed. SeanR has approved the test signature for GOING HOME -- watch for his update coming soon! -- so now we're just waiting for a spot on MARQUIS' printing schedule and we should have a tentative ship date for all of you very shortly!  

Jaka's Story #10

Cerebus #123 (June 1989)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5:
A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Carson Grubaugh's Re-Read Challenge: Jaka's Story

CARSON GRUBAUGH: 
(from Carson's Re-Read Blog, August 2016)
...I suspect some readers will now accuse me of ignoring all of the text pieces that make up the fictional "Jaka's Story" that exists within the narrative; that I am leaving out everything to do with how Jaka become Jaka, the coming of age stuff, etc. That is merely surface fluff for the penultimate act of the book which is about finding one's artistic voice, one's inspiration. As a child Jaka finds her voice in dance, this is suppressed by the society she lives in and it takes her removing herself from that society to be able to do what she loves. But, remember. that story is being written by Oscar, who has been struggling to finish his book and is grappling with his own creativity. Any theme you see in "Jaka's Story" has to be filtered through this layer of understanding.

Ultimately, Oscar has to see Jaka dance to gain his final burst of inspiration and in doing so gives us the clearest picture that Dave Sim can formulate of what an artist is, as summed up in this page from issue #128.

Artists are those who stare into the void (with all the significance that holds in the world of Cerebus) and have the balls not to look away. Not only do they not look away, they summon the courage to assert themselves within the void. By making such public declarations they become vulnerable to the world.

Oscar, in "Jaka's Story," writes a character that found her art in childhood, debt fee to any apparent predecessor other than nature itself. Oscar seems to feel the weight of not, himself, being inspired by such a primal source. He needs Rick telling him stories about Jaka's life. He needs to see Jaka dance because his imagination is not enough to conjure the words.

But, the ultimate point is, as much as we want to think of artists as gods capable of filling blank slates with primal bursts of creativity from within perfectly introspective voids they would be lost without the influences they encounter when they step away from the void. Sim, especially, makes it a central aspect of his creativity to always take his first steps into the void wearing the shoes of others. His frequent mimicry of other artists' rendering styles and writers' voices, use of  parodied characters, and, as I am arguing, the willingness to take on different public persona, bears this out. He feels no shame, and there is none to be felt, in acknowledging that his work does not in fact exist inside of a void. It is indebted to the efforts of all those who influenced him and the giants that preceded him.

It is to Sim's credit that he has a strong enough sense of self that all of this mask-wearing never comes off as desperate grasps for a place to fit in or an identity. His self-confidence is strong enough to allow itself to occupy the stance of others. It is curious to understand what they understand. If this process leads to drastic changes in who Dave Sim is, that is fine, because the core of the self-confident seeker is still there. On the other hand, if that core rejects a position it can say it has done so not because of ignorance but due to the process of living in the opposing shoes and finding that they rubbed blisters into the heels.

Any self obviously has immutable properties, preset assumptions and existing prejudices that will affect how well it plays whatever role it takes on but it is a rare self that even tries. I value those that try... [Read the full review here...]

CARSON GRUBAUGH'S
CEREBUS RE-READ CHALLENGE:
Cerebus Vol 6: Melmoth
Cerebus Vol 7: Flight
Cerebus Vol 8: Women
Cerebus Vol 9: Reads
Cerebus Vol 10: Minds
Cerebus Vol 11: Guys
Cerebus Vol 12: Rick's Story
Cerebus Vol 13: Going Home
Cerebus Vol 14: Form & Void
Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days
Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Jaka Ex Libris

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5:
A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel

Friday, 19 August 2016

The Many Origins Of Jaka (Part 3)


CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5:
A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel

CAN5 KICKSTARTER UPDATE


CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5:
A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel

DAVE SIM:
Still not able to get into the Kickstarter site and in fact couldn't access the Internet at all yesterday and most of today. Sorry about that, folks!

Right now, Sandeep is spending pretty much all of his time prepping COLLECTED LETTERS 2006.  The idea being that the logistics of HOW to get it to everyone really takes second place to getting it ready, so I'm sure he'll answer the HOW do we get this questions once it's ready to go. We are determined to e-mail it to everyone who pledges for it before the end of the campaign, this time. Which is what was supposed to happen last time.

It's a very basic but HUGE amount of work: going through 400-odd (some very odd) pages and taking phone numbers and things like that out, making sure that we don't end a page just on the recipients' name, etc.  There are inexplicable things -- like numbered lists that should be 1) 2) and 3) and are actually 8) 9) 10).  I just happened to be back at Camp David talking about something else and I suggested, well, do a footnote.  Just "don't know why this is is this way but this is the way it is". Well, that adds time.  There isn't really time to read all 400-pages.

It isn't a publication (publication is STRICTLY getting the 16 volumes into print and producing CEREBUS ARCHIVE: that's a FULL PLATE, I'm afraid!): it's raw research material.  What we're really doing is building Proxy Archives by making the material available. Everyone pledging for all of the Kickstarter stuff, if we do this properly, will end up having their own CEREBUS ARCHIVE that they'll be able to donate to any institution they want when they pass on.

Someone might get interested in doing a definitive HISTORY OF CEREBUS 2006 in which case they've certainly got A-list, first generation research materials with all the letters from that year.

Hard lesson being learned as we speak: don't offer something until you find out how difficult it is to put together.

Sandeep will answer all your questions as soon as he has answers.  Soon!

Gotta say! We're both ready for Funny Friday, this week!

Thank you ALL for your amazing support. I'm pretty sure this is the fastest we've gotten to $18K!

Cerebus In Hell? - Week 8

CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 ships 28th September 2016
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Notebook 2a, aka Albatross Three

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 seen some of the earlier notebooks, but not all of them. For the next couple weeks, I'll be going through these and sharing some of their pages here. Last week it was Albatross, Too and the week before that was Albatross One.

When I started scanning in the notebooks Dave sent me, I just numbered them sequentially, as that is how I was getting them. Then I got the plain blue notebook that didn't have any Albatross name on the front, just a really crushed spiral wire at the bottom of it:

Cover to Notebook 2a
In a letter from Dave to me dated August 17, 2005, Dave had this to say:
I'm not sure what I was up to with the numbering on the notebooks. As you can see from the enclosed package, these are (self-declared) Albatrosses Four and Five and an unnumbered one which seem to cover the same stretch of High Society. I think I might've mislaid one of them and bought an interim notebook to use until the actual one turned up. It definitely sounds like me. I remember this from trying to put the Notebooks in order at various points - they go a little wonky chronologically at various points. 
Looking through the notebook, it's 78 pages (out of a possible 80 pages) contained the notes for issues 37 to 40. It didn't have an 'albatross' designation on the front cover, so I just labeled it Notebook 2a, as it fit between Albatross, Too (issues 28 to 37) and Albatross Four (issues 41 to 45). 

Going back through my notes on the notebooks, there is no Albatross Three. Perhaps this notebook should've been labeled Albatross Three, but it wasn't at the time.

As you can see, the bottom of the spiral was just crushed. I remember being nervous that the pages would be ripped if I had tried to open the notebook while the binding was like that, and that I wouldn't be able to get a good scan of the full page. So I used a pair of needle nose pliers to undo the damage to the spiral wiring: 

Close-up of the cover to Notebook 2a
After I let Dave know about what I had done to the notebook in a letter to him, he wrote back in a letter to me dated February 11, 2006:
The odds are that what was stacked on top of the notebook causing the spiral binding to be a bit flatten was me. Those notebooks took a lot of abuse since they went everywhere with me. By all means anything you need to do to fix them so you can get a better scan, feel free. The blue notebook looks the best it has in years, I'm sure.
And we can't leave without seeing at least one page from the notebook. Here is page 10, with a list of what issues #37 to 50 were to be about. 

Notebook #2a, Page 10
It looks like were to originally have four issues with two days and nights of PetuniaCon, but only got two issues for the two day convention.