Monday, 13 February 2017

Swords Of Cerebus Part 7: Cerebus #5

Published between 1981 and 1984, Dave's six Swords of Cerebus volumes were his first attempt to collect the book in a more permanent form. He gave each story included in these volumes a prose introduction, explaining where the book stood when he'd been working on that particular issue and how he was thinking of its prospects at the time. We're currently covering the intros from Swords volume 2.

"I was trying to get an idea of how to do a little less and still get away with it," says Dave.

Next week: Cerebus meets Jaka.


Ray Cornwall said...

Two questions:

1. Do Dave still feel that way about this issue?
2. How much did the origin change from this point? Was Cerebus's hermaphroditic gender still known at this point?

Dave Sim said...

Hi Ray -

1. I don't really "feel" about my work.

Re-reading the introduction, I THINK I was being more than a little hard on myself and (I would infer) for Phil Seuling's benefit. Phil had been adamant that I needed to keep all of the early issues in print (as the Pinis were doing with ELFQUEST and as had been traditional for the more successful underground comix). Deni wasn't always but was frequently "on me" to be nice to Phil (i.e. do what he wants us to do because he's our biggest distributor) and having definitely decided to do collections rather than reprint individual issues I suspect this was me trying to appease Deni and Phil at the same time (BAD Dave! BAD comics writer/artist) (GOOD Phil!).

Calum at STRANGE ADVENTURES in Halifax had the original artwork for page 1 of issue 5 when I was there in 2010 for "The Last Signing" and I remember thinking about it -- seeing it for the first time since the late 1970s -- that it was a lot better than I remembered it being. That's also true of Sean's REMASTERING of Volume One. There's a lot more in there than there had been in the actual comic books and in SWORDS. (Thanks for that, Sean!)

2. The origin never really changed, it just became a LOT more complicated to explain when it came time to do so in MINDS. The hermaphrodite thing was VERY early as was the "aardvarks as anecdotal mutations" thing.

The fact that a good chunk of Oliver's CEREBUS MOVIE is a pretty faithful adaptation of issue 5 has also given me a different perspective on it. How bad can it be if an animation producer is devoting a good chunk of his life to doing a faithful adaptation of it? In retrospect, I might have done a few more "foregrounding" shots of marsh grasses on a few of the pages but, hey, it's the Red Marches. It's pretty stark as landscapes go. Especially in the pouring rain.