Wednesday, 30 November 2016

CAN5 Thank-you reminder- last chance!

Sean Michael Robinson:

Howdy folks!

If you supported Cerebus Archive Number Five on Kickstarter, now is your last chance to be thanked in the credits of the new Cerebus Volume One! If you'd like your name included, please write to cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com and let us know how you'd like it spelled (or what you'd like it to say!) The window to get in the book will only stay open until we get the purchase order for the new printing, so please write as soon as you're able.

And now, heeeeeere's ME!

Cerebus: Restore What? And why?

Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings past and future Cerebus patrons—

There are currently ten days left on the Cerebus Archive Number Six Kickstarter, ten days left to support the ongoing efforts to restore and remaster every book of Cerebus from the best available materials, keeping them in print volume by volume, and creating digital masters that, upon Cerebus' entry into the public domain, will be available to anyone who wants them.

But what exactly is it we're restoring? And why?

This seems to come up every few months, right around each campaign. And I think it's a failure on my part to explain to people who aren't doing direct comparisons, holding two "before and after" books with them as they're considering pledging. I write these updates every week, focusing on some small aspect of what I'm doing in the hopes of making it interesting of relevant or at least engaging to some portion of the Cerebus fans that might happen to see it. But I haven't really spent every post reiterating the basic situation. 

So here we are! 


Why the Restoration? 

When Cerebus was being produced as a monthly comic book, the print industry was a very different world than it is now. Full-service printers like Preney Print + Litho received the artwork from their clients, and then had their cameramen shoot at-sized photo negatives of the pages, which were then stripped in to carrier film (with any other elements— page numbers, headers, PMTs, etc) and ganged up on a flat. These flats were used to create both blue-line proofs (using special photo-sensitive paper) and, after those proofs were approved by the client, they were used to create the printing plates that were used to print the monthly book. When the large book collections came about, they were re-stripped onto different sized flats, and the same process began again.

This type of printing — Negative to Plate technology — doesn't exist anymore, at least not in a visible way. For commercial purposes, it's been almost completely replaced with CTP — Computer to Plate printing. CTP has a lot of advantages over NTP, many of them aesthetic, but most of them economic, which explains the rush to change, that overtook the industry in the early 2000s. 

What this means from a practical standpoint, is that visual books from a previous era are stranded in pre-digital form, and must be digitized in some way in order to be printed again.

And you can guess how many publishers would deal with a situation like that. The most economical solution — grab a previous printed copy of the book, sever the spine, and get your unpaid interns to work scanning it, pronto.

Yes, this really happens. All of the time. It happened at huge publishers who are no longer in business (looking at you, Tokyopop) and it even happens at currently existing publishers known for their image quality, when the anticipated sales or regard for the material don't justify the time investment in tracking down the original materials and scanning them properly.

Conventional wisdom is, image quality doesn't matter. Readers are readers — as long as they can read the text, they're just happy to have a book to fondle, even better if it's a hardcover.

Of course, this is a self-defeating pronouncement. The more degraded the typical  publication is, the more likely audiences continue to vanish, or slip over to the digital side.

Anyway.

Here's a scan of page 879 of Church & State, a very visually arresting sequence (and partial tribute to Ditko-era Spiderman?). I've scanned it directly from my May 2004 printing of the book as a 1200 ppi bitmap, using pre-bitmap levels commands to shore up the blacks and knock out the paper color, This is the so-called "copydot" method, used to digitize print materials and negatives alike with a minimum of intervention (i.e. work) required.



And here's the same portion of the page, scanned adjusted and cleaned by me and Mara Sedlins for the Church & State II restoration last year.




Because you're viewing this on a screen, an extremely low-resolution surface compared to the miracle of single-color offset printing on good paper, here's a few closeups so you can appreciate what's happening here.



Keep in mind, the bottom image is scanned from the same negative that was used to produce the plates that printed the top image. So the source is the same. Why then the dramatic difference?

The majority of the difference comes from dot gain, the tendency of ink to spread on a surface. The more porous the paper, the faster the printing process, the more gain is present in an image. The original Cerebus volumes were printed on very porous newsprint, and with very rich black, both which contributed to fill-in, which is most obvious in dark areas and fine areas of an image. The darker the hatching or tone, and the finer the pitch of the line or dot, the more gain was present.

But a lot of it also has to do with the techniques I use to treat the negatives after the scan. By writing careful sharpening routines, I've been able to avoid the softening (and thus filling in of detail) that's present every time you're asking an optical system to resolve fine information. In essence, the sharpening routine is capturing information that didn't get transferred to the plate before.

 Lastly, by scanning the printed copy directly to bitmap (the so-called "copydot" process), I burned off additional fine information through the same softening process.

Here's another closeup of the same page to give you a better look.




 As dramatic as these differences are (from a randomly selected page I had a negative for, no less), the differences when we have access to original art can be even more dramatic.(the original art for this page, for instance, would likely have the fine lines that aren't quite present in the above image, burned away in the original photography)

CAN be, that is, because sometimes the negatives are just fine. But they're inevitably one generation down from the original art, and depending on the page, that one generation can make a very subtle difference or a very dramatic one.

Here's an example of the second category, from Jaka's Story, which I'm currently working my way through.


Here's a lovely three panels of Jaka about to vomit, visually reminiscent of Dragon's Lair-era Don Bluth collaborating with the rendering chops of  Franklin Booth.

 But what's happening in that first panel?



Here's the same slice, directly from the original artwork —


There are smaller or larger instances of generational loss on virtually every page, but what it boils down to is this — from a purely aesthetic perspective, the original artwork is always the best choice. But from an economic standpoint, it's the worst choice. In addition to just needing more adjustment than the negatives — for instance, individually adjusting aged photocopies or PMTs or replacing lost elements on the page, or even the digital equivalent of "stripping" and cleaning the blacks of the page — the mechanical tone on these pages has shrunk and migrated over time. And so, the older the page,  and the bigger the chunk of tone, the more adjustment must be done to keep the tone where it was placed originally on the art board.

Here's an example, also from Jaka's Story. A classic silent double-page spread that says everything that needs to be said at this point in the book.



And the original for this page? Take a look at your print copy of Jaka's Story for a real comparison.






In addition to the incredible amounts of detail you can see that never made it to the page originally, you can also see that the very large piece of scribble tone has shrunk over time, and that the tear in the original sheet (which looks like just a fine line in the original printing) is now a fissure, as the two pieces of tone continue to shrink away from each other. All of these shrinkages have to be repaired for this page to look as finished and polished as it originally did. Sure, we could use the negative (which we are fortunate to have for this book) to work from instead, but we would lose all of that fantastic detail that was never captured in the first place.

I hope you can tell from this post that this is long, involved work. Sorting through the materials. Scanning. Restoring. Laying out the book, composing any back matter. All of this work is up-front before any printing can happen. 

The only reason any of this is happening, the reason I've restored more than 2,000 pages at this point, is because of you all. Because of your contributions, your support. 

Please consider pledging. If you can't pledge now, please consider asking your local comic shop to order you a copy of Going Home, a book I'm immensely proud of. Sit down with your older and newer copy of Going Home and take a look at the differences between the two.

Our goal is to give you a bookshelf full of those differences. With your help, we'll make it happen.

The Cerebus-Ending Crisis: Can We Keep Going? - Part 13

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6
A Portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints with Exclusive Commentary by Dave Sim
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel 


HI! DAVE SIM HERE! ANNOUNCING THAT KICKSTARTER CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6 (CAN6) HAS LAUNCHED! CLICK HERE TO LINK TO IT! AND PLEASE JOIN ME HERE EVERY DAY AS I DISCUSS, WITH CEREBUS FANS, THE "CEREBUS-ENDING CRISIS" WE'VE BEEN IN SINCE JULY OF THIS YEAR:

CAN WE KEEP GOING? THE TMI ANSWER!
PART THIRTEEN OF FOURTEEN

More responses to the survey question "Do you have any suggestions for future Kickstarter campaigns?".
Thomas B West Monroe LA :
When done with the regular CEREBUS ARCHIVES, maybe an Archive with some of the CEREBUS JAM material and/or the "Young Cerebus" stuff from Epic Comics would be nice.
That's one of the problems with the CEREBUS ARCHIVE PORTFOLIO Project is that there's no "done" to it. It's going to take roughly three years -- IF we can hit five of them a year, which is a Big If -- to "cycle through" the trade paperbacks once: ten pages each. The smallest trades are 250 pages. I'll be long dead -- and so will you -- before we get even halfway through CEREBUS in toto.

It's a recurring conversation we have around here. Sandeep suggests interrupting the sequence at some point to do an "all-covers" CEREBUS ARCHIVE Portfolio. But, I don't think we want to do that. "Go for what you know". This is working and there's no way of telling if an "all-covers" Portfolio would work. And if it doesn't work, we might not get a chance to "switch back". WHICH covers? How many covers?

I like the format that we have because it means that I'm "getting somewhere" even if it's just ten pages at a time. "There. I'll never have to look at or talk about the first ten pages of JAKA'S STORY again!" That counts for a lot with me.

If I was going to experiment, it would be with THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND once I have Carson's bridging material and the first 20 pages are "carved in stone".

But (central point to this) we have no idea where "saturation" is for Dave Sim ARTIST'S EDITIONS Portfolios.

Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.

Al R Halfmoon NY :
Bonus Prints - Cerebus Statue - Phone Book Cover posters

Hi, Al! All these are covered earlier in this series. 1) Maybe later and probably just one 2) a vinyl figure is the only thing being work on and 3) not possible with the fixed size of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Portfolio mailer.

Thanks for your input, though, and for being a "regular" here on AMOC.

Shaun P Hove UNITED KINGDOM:
cerebus plushies

James S Midland Park NJ:
The Cerebus Plush. :-D

This would really hinge on someone being enthusiastic enough to DO -- design, manufacture and ship -- plush toys because the CEREBUS market is so small, you'd really have to service the demand one at a time.

Way back when Sally Hitchens did the first one, I could see up close what a headache it was: non-stop stitching little ears and little arms and little legs and a white eyeball and eyes onto the thing.

It has a certain "nesting" quality to it that appeals to some women and that appealed to Sally -- making little, CUTE things for people. But, seriously: how many hours can you push a curved needle through thick faux fur before those cute little "arms" and "legs" become, self-evidently, just WAY TOO Labour-Intensive a repetitive action for what people are willing to pay and how CUTE the finished product is going to be starts slipping down your personal hit parade?

I mean, if you know anyone who is interested and they want to send me a CEREBUS plush and tell me what it would cost to make them, I'll be happy to see if I can make the numbers work. Probably by saying that Aardvark-Vanaheim will forego its royalty. But that definitely moves it out of Top priority because there's virtually no profit margin.

THANKS FOR JOINING US! MY DISCUSSION OF THE "CEREBUS- ENDING CRISIS" CONTINUES TOMORROW ON A MOMENT OF CEREBUS:


CAN WE KEEP GOING? THE TMI ANSWER!
CONCLUDES TOMORROW!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Cerebus-Ending Crisis: Can We Keep Going? - Part 12

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6
A Portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints with Exclusive Commentary by Dave Sim
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel 


HI! DAVE SIM HERE! ANNOUNCING THAT KICKSTARTER CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6 (CAN6) HAS LAUNCHED! CLICK HERE TO LINK TO IT! AND PLEASE JOIN ME HERE EVERY DAY AS I DISCUSS, WITH CEREBUS FANS, THE "CEREBUS-ENDING CRISIS" WE'VE BEEN IN SINCE JULY OF THIS YEAR:

CAN WE KEEP GOING? THE TMI ANSWER!
PART TWELVE OF FOURTEEN

More responses to the survey question "Do you have any suggestions for future Kickstarter campaigns?".

ORDERING BOOKS
Erik B J Honolulu HI:
I really liked the option of additional prints. I would like to know if adding the option to purchase whichever book is being reprinted is possible.

Hi, Erik! I'm afraid not. At least for the foreseeable future, Aardvark-Vanaheim isn't in the business of selling CEREBUS trades directly to fans. 1) It's just too labour-intensive and costly for the $$ return (by the time that we charge you what it costs to package a book and mail it to you, the cost is prohibitive compared with you going to your LCS and asking them to order you a copy); 2) it would require expanding the warehousing side of the business (our storage costs TRIPLED when the warehouse in Leamington closed and we moved the books up here. It's taken a whole year to get the storage costs down to DOUBLE what they were in 2015).

It also runs afoul of the "bare bones" approach. It's taken six Kickstarters to get to the core of How To Do This, but a central element is: whatever we offer has to fit in the shipping box designed to hold One Portfolio. The shipping box is the primary "given". A book won't fit in there with the One Portfolio, therefore it isn't "doable".

Wish I had better news for you!

WRITER NOTES
John O Austin TX:
Writer notes? Include a paragraph or two about the panel/art that only KS backers will get?

I intended to do NOTES about the writing, John, but, the way the NOTES have evolved on the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Portfolios I know what it is I have to talk about as soon as I look at one of the pages. Sometimes it's about the writing. Sometimes it's about what was going on at the time (the CHURCH & STATE II Notes HAD to be about the stay at the Gainesville Hilton), sometimes it's about how I told the story. Sometimes it's about Gerhard's backgrounds. I don't know until I get there and then that's what it consists of. If I committed to "writer notes" and then looked at the page and had nothing to say about the writing of it...

…there's too much "sitting and staring" associated with the NOTES as it is as I get "sucked back" to whatever year it was! Thanks for the suggestion, though.
Eric B Muncie IN:
I really liked the access to the notebooks.

Glad to hear it, Eric! More on the way, this time (as you can see!)
 Marc L HATFIELD UNITED KINGDOM:
a reprint of THE ANIMATED CEREBUS Portfolio & diamondback cards.

Anthony K Welland ON:
Reprint the Diamondback Card set

Carl H Mendon MA:
Make the unsigned bookplates available

Jay O Boise ID:
The Spawn print
Having lost $16,000 on THE ANIMATED CEREBUS Portfolio back in the early 1980s (when you could still buy most of a house for that much money), I'm really gun-shy about going anywhere near it in terms of printing. There is a restored version of it in digital form that Lou Copeland, my production guy on JUDENHASS, did. 45 plates is just way too many plates to deal with comfortably in pretty much any form.

We do have some Diamondback decks available. We tried incorporating them into Kickstarter, but they were just too small to ship with the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Portfolio without getting damaged (likewise the unsigned bookplates, Carl, and the SPAWN Print, Jay). I keep trying to think of a way around that: like putting them in a plastic bag and then taping the bag shut and taping the bag to the bag holding the Portfolio. But, there you get into "labour intensive" again as well as the unlikelihood that everyone is going to want a Diamondback deck as part of their Pledge. Also, removing the tape from the plastic bag holding the Portfolio is apt to make the plastic bag "pucker" which you'll then have to live with. I don't think anyone would want that.

I'm definitely open to anyone's brainstorm on how to get around the problem of small items rattling around loose in the mailer.

THANKS FOR JOINING US! MY DISCUSSION OF THE "CEREBUS- ENDING CRISIS" CONTINUES TOMORROW ON A MOMENT OF CEREBUS:


CAN WE KEEP GOING? THE TMI ANSWER!
PART THIRTEEN

Monday, 28 November 2016

Hello, ChrisW

Thanks for your phone message about the Italian publisher for my NON-FEMINIST writings. Hope you or I hear from them.

I was going to suggest that you, as a veteran blogger, annotate the material extensively. And include some CEREBUS sequences.  THE NON-FEMINIST CEREBUS & DAVE SIM by ChrisW.  Your off-the-cuff writing is always interesting  and I think I'm safe in saying that although you probably wouldn't qualify AS a feminist to, say, Hillary Clinton, you're more of a feminist than I am.  But not as much of a feminist as, say, the CEREBUS THE BARBARIAN MESSIAH essayists.

At one level or another, that's really what it's all about, at this point, I think:  What is TOO politically correct and what ISN'T politically correct ENOUGH? And since no one has a clear answer to that (if they did, the recent U.S. election would have turned out a lot differently), it seems fruitful to start tackling it as close to the borderline as each individual writer thinks is sensible.

Big plus for you, that you have a creative work, CEREBUS, and a creator, me, to point at from across the fence.  Am I Way Over Here?  Or are you Way Over There?

Thanks again!  

The Cerebus-Ending Crisis: Can We Keep Going? - Part 11

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6
A Portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints with Exclusive Commentary by Dave Sim
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel 


HI! DAVE SIM HERE! ANNOUNCING THAT KICKSTARTER CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6 (CAN6) HAS LAUNCHED! CLICK HERE TO LINK TO IT! AND PLEASE JOIN ME HERE EVERY DAY AS I DISCUSS, WITH CEREBUS FANS, THE "CEREBUS-ENDING CRISIS" WE'VE BEEN IN SINCE JULY OF THIS YEAR:

CAN WE KEEP GOING? THE TMI ANSWER!
PART ELEVEN OF FOURTEEN

More responses to the survey question "Do you have any suggestions for future Kickstarter campaigns?". Hot Topic #3 was definitely original artwork/sketches:

ORIGINAL ARTWORK
Kent K Saskatoon SK:
Obviously original art or drawings from Dave Sim is the best (but understandable if it can't be included)

David B Corning NY:
I would love the opportunity for some Cerebus original art!

Joe G Saugus MA:
Some way of getting sketches or original art as rewards would be great.

Andreas K Berlin GERMANY:
I would have like to pledge extra for a Jaka headsketch or drawing

Adrian D Niddrie VIC AUSTRALIA:
I would love to see sketches avaliable again if/when Dave is able to do them again. Otherwise, I'd like to see an option for one higher quality print (Lithograph/Giclee or similar) maybe once or twice a year at a higher price ($50 to $100).

Murray R Brooklin ON:
Sim commissions (when his hand allows him to draw again!)

John W Mechanicsburg PA:
Keep it up and keep it simple. A top tier that allows you to select an original art page from the subject phonebook would be amazing.

The situation is that the right wrist is "not good". I'm still hopeful that by resting it, somewhere up ahead, I'll be able to do SOME of the artwork on STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND while letting Karl Stevens and Carson Grubaugh do most of the heavy lifting. In this case, "somewhere up ahead" is measured in YEARS and I have no idea HOW MANY years. I'm about four years into the research/writing side and I'd be surprised if I'm much past the halfway point. So, even at the most optimistic it will be 2021 or 2022 before I can even EXPERIMENT with drawing again. If I AM able to draw, that's where I'm going to be doing ALL of my drawing.

In practical terms? Dave Sim the CEREBUS Artist is dead. Which means however many CEREBUS pages and drawings exist, it is now a finite amount.

Which means, as the sole custodian of the Cerebus Archive -- to whatever extent I would have considered selling artwork before February 2015 -- I have no intention of letting ANY part of my finite "stake" in CEREBUS original artwork go. If I do, it will be because Aardvark-Vanaheim was no longer viable as a business, in which case I would just trickle the artwork out through Heritage Auctions for the sake of simplicity.

Bottom line: no Dave Sim or CEREBUS artwork is going to be made publicly available except through Heritage Auctions.

Hot Topic #4 was definitely hardcovers:

HARDCOVERS
Bill R Uniontown OH:
Hardcover S/N Limited Edition of the CAN book!

Tom P Ridgewood NJ:
Hardcover books. :) I think they will do better than expected.

Florian S Weil am Rhein GERMANY:
Cerebus Hardcover with good paper. Notebooks and Letters as printed books.

Jim M Seminole FL:
Glamorpuss Hard Cover Collection

Just on a whim, I contacted our Retailer Patron, Tim F, and asked him what he would be willing to pay for colour CEREBUS ARCHIVE-style copies of all the pages from GUYS and MINDS (his two favourite books) in the Cerebus Archive bound as hardcovers and he came back with an offer of $20,000 US. So, that's the Gold Standard right now when it comes to hardcovers. The downside is that I can't really offer the same thing to anyone else for substantially less without "ripping Tim F off".

This is definitely a TOP priority because $20K pays a lot of bills. Our printer who does the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Portfolios is in touch with Tim F and will be offering him a spectrum of paper choices suited to his own preferences as an Artists Editions collector. We'll also fine-tune the exposure/greyness to suit his personal preferences. Anyone else with deep pockets like that, feel free to contact us about your own personalized, custom-tailored hardcovers.

In terms of general hardcovers being made available of my work, there's a post for July 6, 2016 here on AMOC that covers all of the questions I would have for anyone who was proposing to do hardcovers of any of the CEREBUS trades. I've memorized the date because it's a recurring question, so I covered all of the concerns that I would have -- and explained why -- all in one semi-lengthy post. And I haven't heard back from anyone I've referred to that post. Nor do I expect to. It would be nice if CEREBUS was popular enough to be reprinted in hardcover, but it isn't. We're just about (I hope) big enough to keep going on the "bare bones" basis I've outlined. Hardcovers really aren't in the "bare bones" category, unfortunately!

But, if you read the July 6, 2016 posting and can see something there that I'm missing, I'm always happy to be proven wrong!

THANKS FOR JOINING US! MY DISCUSSION OF THE "CEREBUS- ENDING CRISIS" CONTINUES TOMORROW ON A MOMENT OF CEREBUS:


CAN WE KEEP GOING? THE TMI ANSWER!
PART TWELVE

Sunday, 27 November 2016

SDOAR - Dave's Mock-Ups: Part 1

CARSON GRUBAUGH:
Happy to report that my photographs and basic story structure were to Dave's liking. As far as I can tell he has been inspired by the batch of two-hundred-fifty'ish images I sent him. Sandeep sent over Dave's versions of ten pages already. Check them out.

Hi Carson!

Here are my "tweaked" versions of your layouts. You can post them to AMOC: just make sure you delete all of the Joe Kubert text! [I figured Dave's 'script' notes would be of interest to everyone as well as the images. I have edited out any comments that seemed spoilery. Carson.]

Notes:

PAGE 1

panel 1 - Decided to exaggerate the BANG a la CEREBUS MINDS. The way I've done it is to do a 2D version and then print out a copy and shoot a photo of the printed out copy at an oblique angle and then print out that photo and trace (saved as DSC00930) from it.

I tried doing it on computer -- EDIT/TRANSFORMATIONS -- which basically plays with the vanishing point but the result just looks "computer-y" when you turn them into a drawing. So, I'd recommend doing the same thing any time there's a 3D distortion effect needed: print the 2D image out, photograph it at an angle, print that image out and trace from that.

It allows you to do more subtle effects because you really have to move the camera and 2D panel around a lot to get exactly the 3D angle you're looking for. Working on computer you don't get that because there's no contextual reality (i.e. no ACTUAL horizon and no ACTUAL vanishing point).


PAGE 2

panel 3 - I think this works better with the "work outfit" so no need to bother Jack for another outfit.

The way I'm picturing this one, the nude figure and the tiny figure are the most realistic elements. The large figure on the left and my "toreador girl" should be blended: the way you've got "toreador girl" -- as a kind of superimposed ghost image on the bedsheets -- but both of them rendered that way: the two of them looking as if they're two fused images in the same "hands on hips" position. Which I've tried to convey by putting white blouse lines through a photocopy of your photo.

The intermediary figure, should be the "cosmic" silhouette effect from the last panel on page 76


PAGE 3

panel 1 - I think this needs to look just as if there are six Jacks walking around inside Local Heroes. (Which was my intention, so I was happy to hear Dave reiterate it. Carson)


PAGE 4

panel 5 - I took your photo of Jack holding the the #2 cover ("Carson-92.jpg.") and did a "mash-up" with the "Carson-241.jpg". It seems to be exactly the facial expression I was looking for.


24 November 6

Hi Carson!

Okay. 6-page bridge between 2 and 3: designated Carson 5 through Carson 10.

Decided not to go with Jack modelling the various Schools-as-motif (although it would definitely have allowed for Higher Sales Cheesecake shots). For one thing it would eat up four pages minimum and it's just too "little girl" a thing for a woman Jack's age to be doing.

Instead I decided to go with the more likely scenario: as a comic-BOOK store manager Jack would probably have read or flipped through the COLLECTED FLASH GORDON but probably would never hear of RIP KIRBY. And, as a modern tattooed woman (make sure you keep those tats visible!) all she would have taken away from FLASH GORDON is "Kick-Ass Princesses".

To the actual pages:

Carson 5 - I stuck with your layout.

Something you might want to consider playing with a bit is the subscription files behind her. It's got a sort of science-fiction space ship quality to it (I was happy Dave saw this too. It was one of my favorite things about the photographs!Carson)-- computer backdrops ca. 2001 and STAR TREK the TV show -- just in the way that the shelves are spaced differently (depending on how big a file the person has), but the Avery label with the person's name roughly lines up, as do the stacks of comics. Which means you can really play with the vertical and horizontal perspectives for dramatic emphasis while still being photorealistic and not really "telegraphing" that that's what you're doing.


Carson 6-7 - The two-page Princesses sequence. I'd suggest starting out with a normal starfield on 6 and then "streak" it near the right side of 7. Possibility: the Princess at the bottom of page 6 having her hand between Jack's legs. A little unconscious Sapphic quality? That's what it looked like to me on your smallpage 11, so I foregrounded the arm on mine. (This was initially just a, possibly Freudian, accident of me slapping some Raymond drawings into a layout so I could ask Jack, hey, do you have some photos of yourself in poses kind of like this, or can you take some? I wasn't going to worry too much about composition until I saw what photos I was working with. Now that we are sticking with actual Raymond drawings, and Dave has spotted my subconscious at work, I love the insinuation and plan to keep it. Carson.) You'll probably want to do this on one large piece of illustration paper so I'd suggest a) adding quite a bit of extra background to make sure it bleeds properly b) keeping important information out of the spine/gutter area. The scans Sandeep sends you is the best I have available, so you're really going to need to develop your "FG Raymond chops" here.

page 7 inset panel should be the streaky cosmic overlay thing


Carson 8 - panel 1 is the streaky cosmic overlay thing. She shouldn't be holding the comic book, but this is, to me, the right posture. So, use this photo but delete the right arm and comic book.

You CAN draw each panel individually. It would certainly make for an awesome piece of original artwork but -- seriously -- do you really want to draw that same picture 12 times. (I actually probably will re-draw the picture in each panel because I am dumb enough to do that to myself for the sake of the original. So dumb. Carson)


Carson 9 - I realize I've got you drawing the #3 cover a few times here. I think you can get away with doing one oversized one for panel 5 on this page and the foreground image on 10 and then adding in the computer, iPad and Comic Book Guy details for this page. But, again, there's the coolness (and art sales/commercial) factor of having an original page that actually looks like this.


Carson 10 - You should really be able to "go to town" on the subscription file perspective thing with the vanishing point down below the bottom left panel.

Good luck!

Dave

The unique back-and-forth collaborative approach that Dave is taking for these pages has made this the most fun I have ever had working on a comic with another person. One of the reasons I chose to not pursue a career in the industry was that I HATED getting and reading scripts. There was always a sinking feeling in my stomach that accompanied realizing I had to figure out how to draw all the impossible things non-artists always wind up asking for. When the writer is one of the best artists, designers, etc. in the business it sure makes things easier, although daunting.

It is an absolute thrill, and a lesson in writing and design, to see sequences I initiated taken to the next level by Dave. He takes the idea I embedded into each page/sequence and improves it ten-fold. I was careful to create resonance with the main body of SDOAR. Dave takes that to a whole other level all while making everything way funnier than I though possible. I had at least two legit LOL's in these ten pages. Maybe three.

I got a Wacom Intuous Pro Large graphics tablet today. This thing is going to speed up the tracing aspect of my process by up to three or four times. Previously I was using the smallest of the lowest end Wacom tablets, the Bamboo. It was so small that any little shake in the hand would translate into a large error on the screen. It also made my hand and shoulders crap up very badly from the exactitude needed. This new tablet lets me draw at the speed of my eyes, which is how good drawing should happen.

The only thing that is going to keep me from devoting the entire Christmas vacation month to SDOAR is a Figure Drawing class that I still have some minor preparation to do for. But, overall, this bad-boy is now legitimately on its way to completion.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Jeff Seiler: Gerhard & Me

JEFF SEILER:
On November 11, I purchased Heavy Metal # 283, which includes an eight-page story written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Gerhard. That evening, I called Ger to tell him how much I liked it and he sent me an email response that started the following short exchanges between him and me:


Hi Jeff, 
We don’t have long distance calling to the States as part of our phone plan. So this is the best way to communicate. Thanks for the kind words about the cat story. Kinda cool that you were there when it all started, eh? Still waiting for the rest of the script. Have no idea when the other 40 pages will get done. Don’t think it’ll be serialized in the magazine but supposed to be released as a graphic novel (Well... short story, really.) Hope you’re doing well.
Best wishes,
Ger (and Shel)

P.S. Best of luck with your new President.


Hi Ger
Yeah, I just thought that you might like to hear what I had to say about the HM story in my own voice. When it all started? Do you mean my commission [for a drawing of my cat] was a jumping-off point for you doing this story? That WOULD be cool. Or, maybe you mean that I had already been buying Cerebus for over a year when your first issues (the Epics and then #65) came out. Regardless; cool. Let me know, wouldja, about how the rest of the story is to be released, when you find out, please?
Yeah, good luck. At least it wasn’t/isn’t Hillary.
Hope you both are well and all set for your long winter’s nap.
My very best to you both.
Jeff


Jeff,
I meant that you were there when Jeff Krelitz came up to my table [at the Minneapolis Wizard World Con this past summer] looking for someone to draw Grant’s story. You said, “Hmmm... I’m not going to be able to sit next to you anymore.” How much beer were you drinkin’?  :)
Ger


Ger,
Says the guy who can really put it away! ;) Wow! I totally forgot about that! Hey, that IS really cool. I remember now, eavesdropping, and thinking, “it’s about time somebody got Ger onto another big project.” So, you can get Grant to autograph my copy, right? ;) BTW, am I right that he’s kind of writing an homage to “Chinatown”, the movie? Okay, off to the next thing.
Take care.
Jeff

Jeff,
Grant wanted it “film noir-ish” and Chinatown definitely qualifies as that. But the story is based on, and a tribute to, Louis Wain.
-G

[As per Wikipedia, if you don’t want to look it up your own selves, Louis Wain was an illustrator who worked in the late 1800s and the first couple of decades of the 1900s who specialized in drawing anthropomorphized cats. He made a good living at it, but was hospitalized late in his life with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, which most scholars believe was a misdiagnosis. Regardless, as he aged, his drawings became more and more abstract, to where some of his latest drawings only vaguely looked like cats, even though they were meant to. Check out the Wikipedia entry. Very informative and, hopefully, true. I’ve seen some of those drawings by Wain, probably in psychology textbooks. Shoulda remembered them.]

Friday, 25 November 2016

Weekly Update #158: Colin Upton's Kicking At The Darkness


Dave takes a look at Colin Upton's new comic Kicking At The Darkness, and gets a phone message from  Kapow! Comics store owner Matthew Dykes about the "I Don't Believe Dave Sim Is A Misogynist" iPetition.


COLIN UPTON:
(from Colin's Facebook page, 16 October 2016)
Well, today was the release of my new comic book, "Kicking at the Darkness" [PDF preview here]. My brother Leslie attended along with my high school history teacher. Mr.Kreiger, who's daughter Nina runs the VHEC! There were also a couple retired history professors from UBC who were colleagues of my father. It's a bit unusual as the comic was paid for and printed by the Vancouver Holocuast Education Centre. It's not intended for distribution but as a tie-in with an exhibit on the Canadian Army in World War Two to be given to student groups. If you really need a copy you can contact me as I have a limited number of copies or you can contact the VHEC about getting a copy but it is not their intention to sell lots of them to the public. They're asking for a donation of $5 for the comic.

The Cerebus-Ending Crisis: Can We Keep Going? - Part 10

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6
A Portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints with Exclusive Commentary by Dave Sim
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel 


HI! DAVE SIM HERE! ANNOUNCING THAT KICKSTARTER CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6 (CAN6) HAS LAUNCHED! CLICK HERE TO LINK TO IT! AND PLEASE JOIN ME HERE EVERY DAY AS I DISCUSS, WITH CEREBUS FANS, THE "CEREBUS-ENDING CRISIS" WE'VE BEEN IN SINCE JULY OF THIS YEAR:

CAN WE KEEP GOING? THE TMI ANSWER!
PART TEN OF FOURTEEN

More responses to the survey question "Do you have any suggestions for future Kickstarter campaigns?":
Alan S UNITED KINGDOM:
Better plan of stretch goals/bonus prints.
We're definitely working on having a better plan of our stretch goals -- having the digital rewards as stretch goals REALLY didn't work and sincere apologies to everyone who thought they got "burned" on that -- and bonus prints, Alan. And Step One in that is keeping everything 100% simple for the next two or three Kickstarters before we attempt anything else. We have to learn to walk before we try running.

BONUS PRINT KICKSTARTER
Stephen L Newark DE:
Since the bonus prints have been retired, perhaps a "bonus print only" Kickstarter, so I can obtain some of the ones I missed and had hoped to get with future KS campaigns.

Jennifer D New York NY:
It would be nice to be able to get the handful of prints I wasn't able to get last time

Sandeep and I are definitely having a lot of conversations about how to deal with the situation. As I indicated to Alan (above) having "bare bones" as the TOP priority lets out having anything to do with the Bonus Prints for the foreseeable future. However:

I guess my biggest question for ALL of the Pledge Partners would be: how much of a problem is this?

1) are there Bonus Prints that you would have purchased if we had continued to make them available?
2) How many Bonus Prints are you "missing"?
3) Which ones are they?
4) Would you be willing to pay a premium price -- say $25-$40 each -- for the ones you're "missing"?

The reason that I pose it that way, Stephen and Jennifer, is that it would involve a substantial amount of labour and -- because of the microscopic quantities involved -- really drive up the production costs. At the same time, I can understand that it's a major "loose end" to the Bonus Prints program for…a lot?…some?…many?…most? Just you two? Pledge partners. And if there's a way to "wrap it up" that benefits both sides of the partnership and can be instituted with a minimum amount of fuss, we'll see what we can do.

The Bonus Prints were definitely Hot Topic #1 this time around:

BONUS PRINTS
Morten E NORWAY:
Can we include cover prints in the rewards?

John C Lake Charles LA:
I LOVE the Bonus Prints, and hope to see more of them in the future.

Cerdic G London UNITED KINGDOM:
Would like to see the bonus prints again some time!

MICHAEL HUNT Chicago IL:
I really do like the bonus prints but their absence won't keep me from continuing to support future CAs.

Simon C H UNITED KINGDOM:
Please reintroduce bonus prints if possible. Thanks

David R Margate UNITED KINGDOM:
Bonus Prints! Even if it's only a few per CAN

Richard P Coldfield UNITED KINGDOM:
If you reinstate the bonus prints I would like to see some selected colour covers of individual issues.

John D Overland Park KS:
I would love to see more bonus prints... Maybe, considering the possible complications of continuing them, just the option of 2 or 3 per campaign. I love the cover art. It would be neat to see a cover available each time, possibly one from the time period of the particular campaign?

Andrew L North Chelmsford MA:
The Return of the Bonus Print!

Lee T Birmingham UNITED KINGDOM:
Bring back the bonus prints!

Matthew Barber Edinburgh UNITED KINGDOM:
I know they are hard work but I do like the bonus prints.

This isn't really the BEST time to be discussing the Bonus Prints -- with "bare bones" as our Top priority for the foreseeable future -- but our best thinking at the moment is that if we DID do the Bonus Prints at some point, it would have to be a mandatory, rather than optional, part of the package.

As an example that we explored: What if we made four of the MELMOTH covers the stretch goals? If we hit the $$ thresholds, you could order this cover and that cover -- as John D says, just 2 or 3 per campaign.

The problem is, for someone who can BARELY AFFORD the Portfolio as is, suddenly finding out that they're "on the hook" for 2 or 3 covers they don't particularly want -- or not enough to pay another 20 or 30 dollars on top of what they're already paying… Well, that's isn't going to fly. Likewise someone who just wants ONE of the covers. As soon as you introduce any element of "have it your way" into the equation, you IMMEDIATELY make both the execution and the ordering more difficult.

Which runs afoul of Hot Topic #2 -- people DEFINITELY liked the all-around simpler structure with CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER FIVE!:

KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Chris S Saint Cloud MN:
Keep it simple. Even this one is too complex.

Giorgio S High Wycombe UNITED KINGDOM:
No - you are doing great! I like the simplicity of this one.

Travis P Vestal NY:
I do like the bonus prints, but let's see what happens with this campaign! Otherwise, I dunno. Man, this was an easy survey!

Chris D Chicago IL:
I appreciated the simpler number of options and the digital rewards.

Scott L Gunnison CO:
No. I do like the simpler process this time.

Ari K Tampere FINLAND:
Keep it simple

William H Patterson CA:
This was better, more simplified. Keep it as simple as possible I feel.
If this was CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER EIGHT (let's say), and we were past the "bare bones" phase, I think we would start with the simplest form of Bonus Print possible: One. "The price has gone up by [fill in the blank] but in addition to the first ten pages of MELMOTH in the CEREBUS ARCHIVE, you're also getting a print of CEREBUS COVER No. ??". And then we would make that a Survey question: 1) would you prefer we go back to "bare bones" 2) does one Bonus Cover still fit your budget? and 3) do you want us to "double down" and do two Bonus Covers next time?

Just letting you know where we're headed well ahead of time.

THANKS FOR JOINING US! MY DISCUSSION OF THE "CEREBUS-ENDING CRISIS" CONTINUES NEXT WEEK ON A MOMENT OF CEREBUS:


CAN WE KEEP GOING? THE TMI ANSWER!
PART ELEVEN

Cerebus In Hell? - Week 22

  CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
  CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
  CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
  CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
  CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
  CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
  CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com
  CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at CerebusDownloads.com

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Soul and Substance

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's notebook #13 three times before, most recently in this past April's The Waiting Dancer. Notebook #13 covers Cerebus #122 to 125  and had 67 pages scanned.

And with all the Bruins games and the season ticket holder event this past weekend that is all I had typed up as of this morning. I had already picked out two pages that I thought were interesting from notebook #13. The first was page 65 with a picture of either an old Oscar or a Sebastian Melmoth. What I thought was interesting was the listing of the phonebooks in the upper left hand corner and their corresponding themes.

Notebook #13, page 65
The dialogue along the side is also interesting - I picture Cerebus talking with Melmoth, something that never happened:

"A guy told Cerebus he would die alone, unmourned and ::blank:: forgotten. He was a judge"

"They are all judges after a fashion, my friend. That is the soul and substance."

The next page is one I picked out because I think it sums up Cerebus - he thinks he'll be happy when he is in Jaka's arms. Sorry to break it to you kiddo, but you can get what you want and still not be very happy. You'd think he'd learn his lesson.

Notebook #13, page 31



The Cerebus-Ending Crisis: Can We Keep Going? - Part 9

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6
A Portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints with Exclusive Commentary by Dave Sim
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel 


HI! DAVE SIM HERE! ANNOUNCING THAT KICKSTARTER CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6 (CAN6) HAS LAUNCHED! CLICK HERE TO LINK TO IT! AND PLEASE JOIN ME HERE EVERY DAY AS I DISCUSS, WITH CEREBUS FANS, THE "CEREBUS-ENDING CRISIS" WE'VE BEEN IN SINCE JULY OF THIS YEAR:

CAN WE KEEP GOING? THE TMI ANSWER!
PART NINE OF FOURTEEN

More responses to the survey question "Do you have any suggestions for future Kickstarter campaigns?":
Robert R Van Nuys C:
Digital or print collection of all the CEREBUS ARCHIVE comic books. Thank you!

Nolan R Los Angeles CA:
A digital collection of CEREBUS ARCHIVE comicbook (all the Dave pre-Cerebus stuff)

I'm still wrestling with how to treat the CEREBUS ARCHIVE comic books. It seems to me that there are three problems: 1) the people who weren't able to order the last few issues before ComiXpress went out of business and, consequently, want to get copies of those individual comic books 2) the people who are interested, but came late and want a trade paperback collecting all of the material and 3) people who are interested in the material but aren't going to be willing to pay a premium price for individual comic books or a trade paperback but would be happy with a digital version so they can at least SEE the pre-history of CEREBUS.

I suspect that the three solutions are 1) individual comic books through the KA-BLAM print-on-demand comics site and 2) a trade paperback collection through the KA BLAM print-on-demand comics site and 3) a digital version at cerebusdownloads.com.

The problem is preparation time. If we were guaranteed that there would be a substantial revenue stream then we could justify investing in the prep time getting all of the material ready as a TOP priority. The track record wasn't good (as in, miserable) with ComiXpress so that puts this one on the "back burner". Only so many hours in the day, only so many days in the week.

TOP priority goes to things that will generate immediate, large cash returns to feed the insatiable maw of the CEREBUS scanning, restoration and preservation work.

Mikael S Stockholm:
Posters with some of the covers would be nice.

Hi, Mikael! Posters in terms of "bigger than 11x17" and "we print them and ship them to you" are out of the question because of the EXTREMELY SMALL VOLUMES we're dealing with. We attempted to deal with the problem with THE CEREBUS OVERSIZED PROJECT which allows CEREBUS fans to download high-rez oversized images and get their own posters done -- as big as you want!

Some people liked it, but it pretty much flatlined after the first week or so. Which, again, moves it out of the TOP priority category and (in this case) to "no incentive to revisit it": it's just more trouble than it's worth.

There are SOME covers available there so I hope you can find at least one that you want and get a poster of it printed, Mikael!

Had the project been successful we could have added to it, but, as I say, it flatlined.

As long as everything is kept to the 11x17 size and every Kickstarter package is the same, we can turn enough of a profit to keep the doors open and the lights on. Even keeping the structure "bare bones" simple, as we did this time, the $30,000 pledged drops to $27,000 after Amazon takes their cut and out of that we have roughly $10,000 in shipping and printing costs and $2,000 in labour costs. So, if we can do one of them every three months that means revenue of $5,000 a month. That's GOOD MONEY for an individual person but not-so-good for a business. A business "gross" always looks good. It's when you compare it to the "net" that you realize almost all business revenues come in and go right back out in expenses.

We're going to stay at "bare bones" until we make sure that we can hit the "three months" mark and that as many of our Pledge Partners can afford to keep up. Both open questions right now. But, as you'll see, a cover Bonus Print is a tentative option somewhere out in the future.

THANKS FOR JOINING US! MY DISCUSSION OF THE "CEREBUS- ENDING CRISIS" CONTINUES TOMORROW ON A MOMENT OF CEREBUS:


CAN WE KEEP GOING? THE TMI ANSWER!
PART TEN

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Melmoth Kickstarter Continues. The Vulgar Roach Edition.


Sean Michael Robinson:

The Kickstarter for Cerebus Archive Number Six, Melmoth, is now live! In honor of this, and in the hopes you'll consider contributing, here are some image excerpts from the portfolio.

Here's the first page of the portfolio, the establishing shot for the entire book.




Taken individually, these have a romanticized postcard aspect to them. "COME to DINO'S! SEE! PICTURESQUE VIEWS OF THE LOWER CITY!" The "white-out" effect of the fuzziness of the edges of the images will recur both later in Melmoth and, most prominently, in The Last Day. In this case it seems the tone has been sanded away at the edges -- an eraser? Electric eraser? Sand paper? I've brought up the cyan channel in the image so you can see the blue-line pencil a little clearer. Notice how Gerhard has established perspective construction lines even for an image with such chaotic and non-linear housing layout.



We can see the anatomy of the city a bit better here, even how the bridge up wraps around the ripples/layers of the tower.

It's interesting to think of non-fictional analogues to the lower city/higher city. In Napoli, where my wife Rachel and I busked for many weeks in 2012 and 2013, we found that it was next to useless to play in the lower city, even the times we were playing for affluent people — people were too on guard in the sprawling, wild city to want to stop and hang out and throw you a few Euro. (And who can blame them. We saw virtually anything you can imagine there, while we were playing. Let me tell you, it's no picnic to be singing harmony and playing an instrument while little children are plotting to steal your money and grown men are hustling tourists to buy his socks out of a giant handbag!) But take the funicolare up to the "upper city" — Vomero — and everything changed. And even that simple barrier of a few Euro (before we figured out how to ride the funicolare for free, that is) was enough to let people relax. The attitude of the place was completely different, despite only a change in elevation.

Anyway.


This whole sequence always kills me. Everything from the "look both ways" first tier to the "clearly apoplectic but actually whispering" dialogue. It's pitch-perfect impotent rage in a containing social situation.




How mad is he? So mad that the bridge of his glasses have been swallowed by the furrow of his brow. 

Later in the sequence (and the portfolio), after the confrontation with the waitress and the Cirinist, he looks cautiously to see that the coast is really clear.



The acting in this whole segment is right up there with the best in the series. I love the wobbly mouth in the first panel, the submissive peak of the brow rippling in agitation.

The first shot of the Cirinist in retreat has an interesting example of the rare visible re-do. See the blue construction lines for the tower and the white-out bulge of what's presumably the lower city, shoulder-level. I'm guessing the cleanliness of just presenting the sky (as well as the lowered viewpoint — she appears to be viewed from a seated perspective) won out over a desire to do "fill stuff in."




And looking at the lower tier, that was clearly the right choice overall.

Want what is sure to be much more interesting and insightful commentary, 12,000 words from Dave on the making of these pages? Then pledge now to the CAN6 Kickstarter, and your pledge will help keep the restoration efforts going. 

Please? Pretty pleaaaaase?