Wednesday, 17 January 2018

World's Finite Cerebus: Two Weeks Left

Sean Michael Robinson:

Howdy folks!

Going to deviate from the program again this week to plug the most recent Cerebus in Hell? one-shots, soon to be available for order from your Local Friendly Comic-Book Store... 

World's Finite Cerebus #1

"Can Batvark, Homophobe, be coerced into have a boy sidekick on the cover? Spoiler Warning: No. Features Super-Cerebus, Batvark and...Vark-Mite? (or whatever the kid's name is); Trick or Treat; Psychosomatic (1863); Cerebus' Self-Help Book; Cyclothymia (1923); Product Placement; Maxwell and Mortimer's Covers Band; "The Cerebus Foundation" and more!"

This is an interesting cover for me, because a) I wasn't familiar with the source material, and b) I happen to think the original cover is funnier than the parody. Which is, ah, really something else.

Definitely strikes me as one of those all-too-common times that someone without any art skills or pre-visualization abilities has what they think is a rad concept, and the poor artist has to do his best to make it so, despite knowing what a terrible idea it is.

Or, I dunno, someone doodled Superman and Batman and Robin on a parade float and then changed it so they wouldn't have to draw a crowd?

Either way... that cover. Sheesh.

This issue is a milestone in a few (mostly invisible) ways. It'll be the last cover from the initial burst of covers/issues after Dave and Sandeep's initial one-shot parody concept took flight. It's the last cover and issue with cover and layout mostly by Sandeep. And, for me, it's the last issue where the reprints of the online strip are really still finding their footing. The longer the strip ran, the more the concepts and gigs and characters could build upon themselves.

And next month? Something a little different...

Speaking of next month...

I'm sad? relieved? both? to let you all know that, barring any dramatic changes, I'll only be writing two more of these weekly restoration updates before turning the whole shebang over to Benjamin Hobbs, CIH? letterer, Photoshop and cover guy, sometime-writer, and all-around great guy.

I'll still be working on the restorations as the need arises for individual books, but I'm attempting to wrap up most of the other day-to-day Aardvark/Vanaheim work so as to get back to my long-deferred freelance illustration work.

So! Two weeks left. It's request time! What exactly would you like me to write about/show/excerpt/film/whatever for the next two weeks? I defer to you, the patient audience, and I will entertain any and all suggestions, the more interesting, the better.

Want a bunch of closeups of pre-Cerebus Dave originals? Some peeks at scans of convention sketches and other rarities? Weird ephemera written on the tops of various pages? My wife Rachel's killer lemon raspberry muffin recipe? You let me know!

Next week: You decide!

Sean Michael Robinson is a writer, artist, and musician. See more at

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Cerebus' 40th at Hyperallergic

Hi, Everybody!

So your pal and mine, Sean Robinson, sent a big ol' batch of links to, And I'm gonna be running them as I want.

Like today!

Now everybody say, "Thanks Sean!" and enjoy:
The review does not go well...

Cerebus the Aardvark turns 40 years old this month. He is not among the ranks of widely known comic book characters like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, or any other superhero you can think of. He doesn’t even have the mainstream crossover appeal of characters from successful non-superhero comics like the works of Alan Moore, The Sandman, or Saga. Yet his namesake series is as important to the medium of comics as those of any characters from the former category, and the characters from the latter would not exist without him. The influence of Cerebus runs deep through comic book art, business, and fandom, though it’s mainly dedicated fans of the medium who are familiar with it, and relatively few of them have actually read it.
It's an overview/postmortem  of the series. I assume aimed at readers unfamiliar with it. It's not the worst, though I do find numerous passages troublesome:
  • "A devoted marijuana and LSD user for many years, Sim sought to stretch comics storytelling to its breaking point, and then past it." The first part is technically true, though I believe a tad misleading, and unnecessary. 
  •  "Writing in general is not Sim’s strength. His idea of parodying the iconic fantasy character Elric is having him talk and act like Foghorn Leghorn. His dialog is often blandly functional, too easily taken over by expositional speeches and exchanges. And there is, quite frankly, not enough story to fill 300 issues, with many pointless diversions and episodes that can’t even justify themselves as entertaining." Oy. Writing is not Dave's strength? Yet McFarlane tapped him for the Spawn guest writers gig because Dave was considered one of the best in the industry. The Elrod complaint I'd grant, if not for Dave having no familiarity with Elric (I believe Dave says so in one of the Cerebus Archive portfolio commentaries. But I'm too lazy to go look. What? I'm a busy guy...) so his parody isn't "on" because he doesn't know what Elric "sounds" like. And the last complaint about there not being enough story for 300 issues? Uh...what? Dave had/has said that Cerebus is the story of a life. "Pointless diversions," pretty sums up a couple years of my life.
I dunno. Your results may vary, but for a guy familiar enough with the series/character/creator to run a blog devoted to it/him/him, I find it just insulting enough to dismiss.

But everybody thank Sean for the link anyway. "Thanks Sean!"

Next time: Pictures of Supermodels? Pictures of supermodels...

Monday, 15 January 2018

For Auction: Wait somebody had THAT?!?

Hi, Everybody!

So back when Dave was auctioning his IDW covers I set up an alert from Heritage Auctions for any "Dave Sim" stuff they had.

Here's today's catch:
Dang man...just dang.
Mike Zeck and Gerhard "Make My Day!" Punisher Illustration Original Art (c. 1990s). Mike Zeck on the Punisher, and Gerhard on the backgrounds... the best of both worlds! Zeck made the Punisher a household word and Gerhard quickly became a fan-favorite for his amazing and highly intricate backgrounds in Dave Sim's long-running Cerebus series. This is a prime example of both men's work and in top-form. Created in ink and watercolor on 20" x 32" illustration board. Signed by both in the lower margin. In Excellent condition.
 It doesn't go up for auction for another 17 days, but dang that looks neat.

And then there's this:
Wait, ALL twenty-two pages! Howdafuq???
Back in August 2008 they had ALL twenty-two pages of issue 6? Did...did Dave know about this? Did Sean get scans? Can Sean get scans? Are they in the latest edition of the first phonebook? How? What? Who?

Next time: ALL twenty-two? How much weed did Dave get for that? What? How? Who?

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The time has come, the Walrus: review of Cerebus

Hi, Everybody!

So your pal and mine, Sean Robinson, sent a big ol' batch of links to, And I'm gonna be running them as I want.

Like today!

Now everybody say, "Thanks Sean!" and enjoy:

ACTUALLY, Glen sent this link first...but we won't quibble.

It's a "fun" little review of Cerebus. (I mostly like the series of Cerebus/Dave Sim/Gerhard links in the article. (Although I question this: "Issue 186—as notorious a number to Sim’s fans as 237 is to Stephen King’s—horrified the comic world." Um...237 is from the Kubrick film. It's room 217 in the novel. And I don''t know any King fan who is haunted by it.))

Anyway, Blurb time!:
In december 1977, the first issue of Cerebus, a comic about an aardvark barbarian, appeared in black and white. Written and illustrated by Dave Sim, a cartoonist who lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Cerebus would persist for nearly three decades, expiring in the twenty-first century. At its peak, back when comics had pesky material needs such as ink and distribution, Sim’s book enjoyed a print run of 36,000—a feat for a self-published series.
So, everybody say, "Thanks Glen! and Sean, we guess..."

Thanks Guys!!!

Image courtesy CerebusDownloads, most images from the series come our way from CerebusDownloads

Next time: Shark Tank secrets to getting rich FAST!!!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Spawn in Matt's Life part the th...WAIT A MINUTE!!!

Hi, Everybody!

HOLY CRAP! Are we STILL talking about Spawn?

Yes, Matt, yes we are...

So, I faxed to Dave, and asked if he still had the Spawn #10 script in the Archive.

And he responded:
I'll see what I have in the Archive on SPAWN #10. Not much. The original script was auctioned to benefit the CBLDF -- and went for a few hundred dollars, as I recall -- so It's out there somewhere. WHERE is another question. 
I then asked if he put in the script whose arms were whose, and explained that we couldn't figure it out. He said:
Oh, I see what you're driving at. I did a sketch of Spawn with the prison bars in the foreground and super-hero arms sticking through. I think I would have done Batman's scalloped gloves and maybe Thor, the Thing? and then just generic gloves and gauntlets as a shorthand for Todd: "These are or can be actual characters' arms". What's Todd's level of interest in what I'm saying in the story? The more they're actual characters' arms, the sharper the political point that's being made. The less they're actual characters' arms, the less sharp the political point that's being made. 

An interesting question would be "How much of a point did Todd make of it with Steve Oliff as his colourist?" Drawing the arms is one thing but, unless you have the right colours on there, the point is going to be lost. Was Todd engaged enough to say "Steve, let me know if you need me to identify colours for you on any of these"? Try looking at the arms both ways: who they could be in black and white and who they could be in colour. 
So, checking what Margaret has said about it.  There weren't any sketches there.

But in Spawn #9, there is a sketch:
Copyright...Todd McFarlane? Neal can't claim to own this, can he?
It looks like a Todd sketch, not a Dave sketch, but I'm no expert. Anybody know better?

So here's the guesses as they stand:

#6: Electro in colour, Human Torch (flamed on Jeff...F.F.S.) in black and white
This whole Spawn thing is turning into a dangerous rabbit-hole for me. Each new answer raises more questions: Erebus, the level of Hell Spawn goes to in #10 gets mentioned in #8. That sketch appears in #9. Did Dave get his script in before Moore and Gaiman? Did he get copies of their scripts? Did Tom Orzechowski (the letterer and editor of Spawn) put Erebus in #8? Were all four guest scripts written and turned in before Todd started drawing? When will this ever end?

Next time: Great Googley-moogely there's GONNA be a next time isn't there?

Friday, 12 January 2018

Jordan Peterson: A Professor Against Political Correctness

Maps Of Meaning: The Architecture Of Belief


Carson -- Please post your 9 January fax to AMOC with this reply. It will either start a discussion that might lead somewhere or will at least mean I only have to address the on-going Jordan Peterson question this once.

Carson Grubagh;
My original letter was typed directly into the FaxZero website I use to communicate with Dave so I do not have a copy of what I sent. Dave has been informed of this, but has not sent me scans of the fax, so I will summarize what was said:

During a phone conversation I pointed out to Dave that he would probably enjoy listening to Jordan Peterson. Apparently Dave hears this a lot. Dave commented that he should probably send Dr. Peterson a letter. The more I thought about it the better the idea sounded. It strikes me that Peterson, with his interest in archetypal meta-narratives would really enjoy Cerebus. It also seems that he would be impressed that Dave was twenty years or so ahead of the curve on the battles Peterson himself is now fighting.

I outlined the kind of viewership and Patreon support Peterson receives, the fact that he often interviews other figures who have been ground down by the SJW war-machine, and proposed that a conversation between Dave and Peterson would probably be very interesting and could lead to a strong uptick in sales of Cerebus through

It wouldn't be right to just ask the man for publicity, so I suggested Dave watch Peterson's interviews with Dave Rubin and Camille Paglia to get an overview of where he stands now, as well as read Maps of Meaning to get a more robust understanding of his central theses, then write Peterson a thoughtful letter on the works and send along a complimentary set of Cerebus GNs to initiate a discussion.

Doing this asap struck me as prudent, given the typical time span of internet celebrity.

Hi Carson: 

I was kidding about contacting Jordan Peterson. 

Kid. Ding. 

Short answer: Canada doesn't work like that. In Canada, particularly in Toronto, particularly at the University of Toronto, I would be seen as a high-school dropout first of all. Even acknowledging that a high-school dropout exists and should be acknowledged for some reason would severely hurt Peterson's Canadian "higher-ed cred" and gain him nothing. "Has everything eroded in the General Trumpian Malaise to the point where we're actually listening to high-school dropouts now? That kind of thing. 

Second of all, in Canadian frames of reference, I wouldn't be seen as a writer or an artist. To be considered a writer or an artist in Canada, you have to get Canada Council Grants and/or be a member of the Order of Canada (which consists only of liberals and Liberals for the most part) or be "tapped into" the clique that has always controlled arts in Canada. No one Jordan Peterson knows and/or respects would have any idea who or what Dave Sim is. And if they did, they would pretend that they didn't because, in Canada, Dave Sim is "not on". 

The fact that I run my own publishing company would register as a) "vanity press" (you publish yourself because the handful of elite Canadian publishers who decide who is and who isn't a writer or an artist in this country don't consider you good enough to publish) and b) vulgar. Publishing is a tainting necessity in Canada which no real writer or artist would, themselves, participate in except insofar as signing a book contract and having an agent. 

That having been said, there's no reason that any CEREBUS fan who thinks a prominent blen pensee individual like Jordan Peterson should be alerted to the fact that Dave Sim was addressing all this stuff 20 years ago can't take the bull by the horns and alert him. I mean, you can trying wagging your own academic credentials at him, but, in Canada, that's just going to tar you with the same brush, I think. "You have a (whatever degree from whatever legitimate American college/ university) and you're listening to what a high-school dropout is saying? How very ... American ... of you," is my guess as to what Jordan Peterson's default setting would be/will be. 

It's happened before, behind the scenes, where, at the urging of a CEREBUS fan I have sent Person X an autographed copy of my book or "Tangent" issue. I have never heard back from anyone in that situation. I don't "register" with anyone, so I spend-my time trying to figure out how to keep the whole lurching juggernaut going on a shoestring budget (to shoestring budget) (to shoestring budget) and how to form a succession which will be impervious to the worsening politically correct currents in our society. That doesn't work well but it works a lot better than expecting help from outside comics and inside comics celebrities. 

I agree with you that if Jordan Peterson wanted to help save CEREBUS, he could probably drive some traffic to But that would require swimming very hard upstream against what I assume are his own presuppositions about high-school dropouts, unknown-to-the-Canadian-elite Canadian writers and artists, people who taint themselves by engaging in "vanity press" and Dave Sim, generally, being "not on" in Canada. 

Call it the HORTON HEARS A WHO Conundrum. "WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE!" Find out Jordan Peterson's contact information — whatever his e-mail address is at the University of Toronto — and deluge him with requests to interview Dave Sim and try to get more people buying CEREBUS trade paperbacks and 6,000 page digital collections. And tell him how well-educated you are, particularly if you went to school he would have heard of.

a) I can't picture CEREBUS fans doing that b) I can't picture Jordan Peterson giving me a second thought. He would just consider it weird Spam, I think.

So, what do we do folks? Do we campaign for Dave or do we let Dave have his peace and quiet out of the public eye? My guess is that if the contact does not come from Dave himself it will be even easier to ignore. I am sure Peterson receives WAY TOO MUCH MAIL. The only option to guarantee contact is dropping $200 to Peterson's Patreon which would buy a 45 min conversation.
 ~ Carson

More Tales From The Wedding Present (Dave's Weekly Update #217)

Hi, Everybody!

Heeeeeere's Dave:

Our very own Lee Thacker says:
Just in case you missed any of that (or need some links to copy and paste into your browsers)...

To contact The Wedding Present/Cinerama: 
Facebook: TheWeddingPresentOfficial
Twitter: @weddingpresent

To buy Wedding Present stuff (including Tales From The Wedding Present comics):

For other work by Lee Thacker:

AND, you guys and gals might wanna hit up humble bundle in the next eleven days to get a metric @$$load of comics for ridiculously cheap.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Seemingly Lead a Charmed Life

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 only seen Dave Sim's notebook #30 once before here at AMoC in November 2014: Minds Rehearsal. Notebook #30 is just that, what Dave would say to Cerebus in the Minds phonebook. The notebook is the smallest notebook at 5" x 3" and only had 73 pages scanned in and 25 missing pages.

I scanned this notebook in two pages at a time as it was so tiny. So the front inside cover was scanned in along with page one:

Notebook 30, page 1
Notebook 30 pages 2 & 3
Notebook 30 pages 4 & 5
The only bit used from those first five pages was a paraphrasing of "I am your creator, but I'm not your god" on page 127 of Minds (issue #193, page 1):

Minds, page 127

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Watchvark! Watchvark! Get 'em While They're Here!

Sean Michael Robinson:

Howdy folks!
Hilarious cover by Sandeep Atwal.

Just a quick note to remind you that Watchvark #1 hit stores (surprise!) last Wednesday, and we have every reason to believe it'll be a quick sell-out.

Why? Because the orders for its follow-up, Amazing Cerebus #1 are in, and they've increased by more than ten percent. For an ongoing title (even that, ahem, has a different title every month) this is usually the sign of a correction. That is, stores may be experiencing a 100 percent sell-through and thus upping their orders ever-so-slightly to compensate.

Or the "different one-shot every month" strategy is working and people really digs them some Spiderman parody.

I suppose we'll find out soon enough!

In the meanwhile, go find yourself a copy. Or twelve!

More Jaka's Story next week...

Monday, 8 January 2018

Other People's Aardvarks: Chris Samnee

Hi, Everybody!

So your pal and mine, Sean Robinson, sent a big ol' batch of links to, And I'm gonna be running them as I want.

Like today!

Now everybody say, "Thanks Sean!" and enjoy:

Cerebus The Last Supper by Chris Samnee

Look at that beauty. It's belongs to Edd Walker. And he says:
Well, this is the completed piece I have been waiting on from Chris for a while.I don't know what to say. It's the nicest piece I own.His art seems to be getting better & better with each passing month. I'm sure we will all be seeing more from him as he is picking up more high profile jobs. I would like to thank Chris for his time & patience with me & my obsession with getting this. He is by far the nicest & most sincere comic professional I have met. VIVA CHRIS SAMNEE!!
 Edd has other Cerebus pieces if you clicky the link. Some by Dave and Gerhard.

Alright that's enough of that, everybody thank Sean (and Edd (and Chris)).

Next time: I dunno, you guys wanna read, or just stare at purty pictures?

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Reading Cerebus #5

Hey look kids! It's "READING CEREBUS" time!
Kevin Kimmes:
Welcome back to “Reading Cerebus”, a new weekly column here at A Moment of Cerebus. The goal of this column is to bring a fresh perspective to the 300-issue saga of Cerebus as I read through the series for the first time and give my insights into the longest running independent comic book series of all time. Think of this as part book club, part lit-crit, and part pop culture musing. Oh, and they told me Dave Sim himself may be reading this, so I hope I don’t screw this up. Let’s continue.

Issue #5: “Bran Mak Mufin”

Since last we left our Earth-Pig Born:

“After leaving Serrea, Cerebus drifts west into The Red Marches where he enters the employ of Turan Genn, a mercenary captain! The summer rains are at their peak and the Earth-Pig executes his tasks amid much grumbling about sub-tropical rainfall…”
I gotta admit, I love making Kevin's text superfluous with images from CerebusDownloads...
Thanks, Dave!

“It Stinks!”

This issue has one joke built off of the “summer rains” mentioned above: Cerebus stinks when he gets wet! Much like the smell of Sex Panther in the original “Anchorman” film, the smell of a wet Earth-Pig “stings the nostrils” and is described by Bran Mak Mufin and his followers as:
  • “The plains dwellers must be burning their ceremonial skunks again…”
  • “…the smell of a thousand dung worms mating in the noon sun…”
  • “Smells like someone’s loin-cloth is on fire…”
  • “I would guess that the cesspool is draining into the air vents again.”
  • “Smells like someone brought a dead goat with them…”

Pulp Fiction

Yes, this weeks title character, Bran Mak Mufin, is again a play on another of Robert E. Howard’s pulp creations, Bran Mak Morn, last king of the Picts. Unlike his Conan stories, Bran Mak Morn was more grounded in the history of Europe, with some exceptions taken for story’s sake.

For Cerebus, Dave has taken the Picts and changed them to the Pigts and has changed their leader’s name to that of healthy breakfast fare. Discovered by a small group of Pigts, Cerebus is hastily asked to accompany them back to their camp. But something seems afoot…their initial reaction to Cerebus is that of shock!

Upon arrival at their lair, Cerebus is introduced to their leader, who is quick to deal out questions for the Earth-Pig Born, most notably, “How old are you?”


“You’re twenty-six, aren’t you?”


“I Am a Golden God!”
Image of later importance to the series from CerebusDownloads

Well, clay really, but that “Almost Famous” reference was too good to pass up. Unable to sleep and playing off of instinct and intuition, Cerebus follows a “bump in the night” which quickly becomes the chanting of the Pigts. You see, Bran has them energized with prophecy:

“…time we have awaited is at hand. Our redeemer walks among us… “in his twenty-sixth year he shall come to us…” For a thousand years, the Pigts have been without their god-king. Now, he has been restored. Now, empires will be trampled beneath our feet. Now, we need no longer content ourselves with an idol in his image! All hail!”

Idol? Yup! And like Billy, this thing is all “Ready, Steady, Go!”

To Cerebus bewilderment, there in front of him stands a fifteen-foot-high idol in the image of…well…Cerebus! So, that explains why Mak Mufin was so interested in him, he’s convinced that Cerebus is the reincarnation of some Pigtish god-king from days past.

Kill Your Idols

With the Pigts now gone and the auditorium empty, Cerebus is presented with a decision to make: To portray the Pigts’ redeemer, or not. Deliberating over the opportunities that this ruse could afford him, in the end Cerebus decides that this is not his destiny and begins demolishing the soft material that makes up the idol. He is no Pigt…he is unique…HE IS CEREBUS!
More Later relevance from CerebusDownloads 

Emerging from the Pigts’ lair, Cerebus begins to march toward Iest, feeling once again drawn to the city.

Join me back here next week as we look at Issue 6: “The Secret”.

Currently Listening To: “Generation X” by Generation X

Kevin Kimmes is a lifelong comic book reader, sometime comic book artist, and recent Cerebus convert. He can be found slinging comics at the center of the Multiverse, aka House of Heroes in Oshkosh, WI.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Cerebus in Matt's life: Part the Second

Hi, Everybody!

We now continue the examination of how mild mannered Interim Editor Matt Dow came to accept Cerebus the Aardvark into his life...

When last we left Matt, his was getting his Spider-Man on! (Thwwipp thwwipp!)

Around 1988, an actual comic book store opened in the next town over from where Matt was living. At first just a bunch of tables with longboxes outside a storefront at the mall, Powerhouse Comics soon became the place Matt wanted to go anytime he had money.

Cut to May 1993, Clinton was President, Mulroney was Prime Minister, and Matt was thirteen years old. And buying as much Spider-Man as he could get his hands on (which is how I got Dan Slott's first Spider-Man story,). That same month, Matt's friend Kevin (remember Kevin? Here's some columns by Kevin...) told him that Spider-Man's hand showed up in Spawn #10. 
First person to correctly name all those hands wins. What? I have NO idea...

How could that be? Surely Marvel was gonna sue Todd's ass off for this
BLATANT misuse of  Spider-Man's right hand? Matt had to own what was sure to be a rare and collectible piece of comic's history.

Reading the story, Matt encountered that little grey guy again.
In the 90s, you could still smoke in comics...
Who was that guy? 

What was his deal?

And why did he hang out at Peter's Place?

Unfortunately, those questions would have to wait a few more years...

Next time: The Comic Book Man cometh...

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Remember. . .jobs?

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

Dave Sim's notebook #24 has been shown here seven times, most recently last July in The Tavern at the Wall of T'si. It covers Cerebus #192 through 211 and had 138 pages scanned in.

On page 102 of the notebook there is a sketch of the cover for Cerebus #211:

Notebook 24, page 102
The basic concept of Cerebus and Bear lying on a river bank is there, but the finished cover is a bit different.

Cerebus #211 cover
There is a panel of Bear with the dialogue he has. The next page of notebook has a 15? 12? panel grid with some more dialogue. Just a lot of laughter.

Notebook 24, page 103

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Jaka's Story--Text Choices, Typography, and More

Sean Michael Robinson:

Happy New Year, Cerebus readers!

Seeing as this is my first post of the year, it seems a fitting time to update you all on the state of the restoration project.

As many of you know, the bulk of the work on Jaka's Story was completed sometime last year, with the final stages left for...whenever the previous printing was close enough to sold out status to get us a new purchase order from Diamond.

Well, when it rains, it pours... and boy howdy is it pouring now. 

We currently have an order for a small run of Jaka's Story copies, a solicitation for the Minds remastering, and, surprise bulletin, Form and Void as well.

Minds is ready to go. The essay's been written, the book's layout is complete, the pages have all been copy edited by Jeff Seiler and corrections sorted through and implemented by myself. So all that's waiting on Minds is the actual solicitation, which will be in the February Previews.

Jaka's Story, on the other hand, is still in need of a few things, which are pretty time-consuming.

Firstly, I'm going through the entire book and reformatting the text. Unlike some of the other books with long chunks of formatted text—say, Going Home—the text in Jaka's Story is not the most legible text in the world, owing to the multiple generations used in the production. However it was originally typeset, it was afterwards shrunk on a photocopier and pasted on the art board, and then shot on the stat camera. With such tiny text all of those generations really made a difference, bloating and losing a great deal of crispness in the process.

So I've gone through and identified all of the original typefaces used in the original book—no mean feat in itself—and have been slowly working my way through the book, reformatting the text from scratch, trying to hew as closely to the original as possible in the general aesthetics and the really unique usages of text (Pud's pages of ever-shrinking ever-more-internal monologues, a few very subtle areas of tilted or non-horizontal text) while bringing a new level of sharpness and readability to the text and formatting itself.

As for selecting the typefaces themselves, it can actually be a pretty tricky thing. Many "new" fonts are actually based on/scans of/ever-so-slight reworkings of historical typefaces in the public domain. So in at least one case I'm definitely working with a knockoff typeface instead of a digital version of the original face. But the character/styles/etc can be matched close enough to not make a difference.

For your edification, all of you typographic nerds out there—

The main Jaka's Story serialized excerpts are in Bookman Old Style, 7 pt with an 8.2 leading. Bookman derives from the work of Alexander Phemister and, no surprise, was popularized for use with tiny font sizes, mostly in trade publications, according to Wikipedia. Hilariously, an advertising journal once described it as follows: "simple, masculine and leaves the impression of reliability without heaviness". In the original publications, each paragraph break in the early "reads" excerpts was indicated by both an indent and a partial line offset, and the later excerpts had only the line offset. I've eliminated the indent throughout for consistency.

The first line of each of these excerpts is in all-caps "University Roman", designed by Mike Daines at Letraset and based on a Speedball lettering guide. Lots of knock-offs of this one floating about. And for good reason! It's a really handsome display face. (It's also used for the sign-offs on Oscar's letters). You can buy a digital version of the original here.

Pud's monologues are set in Cheltenham, another late 1800s typeface. The size varies from page to page and sometimes from line to line. "Jaka"s lines are all set in bold. These pages are a lot speedier than the others as there's no majuscules to work around.

Oscar's correspondence is set in ...some commonly-copied face I've been unable to find the original of. Thames Serial is a new-ish knock-off that comes close enough to use with some adjustment, so that's what I've settled on rather than continuing to beat my head against the wall looking.

And now, back at it! Watch this space next week for further updates...

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Happy anniversary Cerebus!

Hi, Everybody!

So back in 2012, I got the idea to do a Jam tribute for the thirty-fifth anniversary of Cerebus.


It did NOT go well.

I got three images, and one of them was mine.

But hey, 2017 was the fortieth anniversary of Cerebus.

So here's the "Completed" Jam:
It was a callback to Cerebus VS Iguana VS Beer #1, which I'll get to eventually in the "Cerebus in Matt's life" series
Here's the individual contributions:
The Cerebus film project's own Oliver Simonsen's Captain Zap and A-1

E. Ann Bardawill's Sketch for Dave Sim aka David Slim aka DVS
And my two idiots, Iguana and Beer with a dead aadvark
So there you go.

Happy Varkaversary (good gravy that's a terrible term...)!

Next time: I dunno...the cards I sent Dave for his birthday?

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year (again.)

Hi, Everybody!

Welcome to Two Thousand and Eighteen!
You din't party responsibly did you?

Boy-howdy do we have some neat stuff for you planned for this year.

So Neat.

So planned.

Next: Some neat stuff. So so neat. So so planned... (yeah, I got nothing...)

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Reading Cerebus #4

Hey look kids! It's "READING CEREBUS" time!
Kevin Kimmes:

Welcome back to “Reading Cerebus”, a new weekly column here at A Moment of Cerebus. The goal of this column is to bring a fresh perspective to the 300-issue saga of Cerebus as I read through the series for the first time and give my insights into the longest running independent comic book series of all time. Think of this as part book club, part lit-crit, and part pop culture musing. Oh, and they told me Dave Sim himself may be reading this, so I hope I don’t screw this up. Let’s continue.

Issue #4: “Death’s Dark Tread”
Issue #4: "Death's Dark Tread" 

Since last we left our Earth-Pig Born:

“Using Henrot’s gold, Cerebus bribes his way onto a merchant vessel on the Sofim river. A week later, he is within the Sepran Empire’s boundaries, posing as a trader in textiles! At Serrea, the informal capital of the loosely-knit and militant empire, the Earth-Pig sees his chance for a much-needed vacation! He loses himself amid the bustling crowds and, with the last of his Borealan gold, sets about the serious business of drinking, eating and gambling…”
Image courtesy of Cerebus Downloads, Apricot Brandy courtesy of Henrot's gold...
Thanks, Dave!

In what is a rather simple plot, Cerebus discovers a shiny gem only to suddenly become the object of Death’s attention. See, Death want’s the gem to add to his collection (he has a dozen, but clearly is in search of a baker’s dozen) and will use anything in his power to get it. And by anything, I mean Lovecraftian beasts from the dawn of creation, and a Foghorn Leghorn talking parody of Michael Moorcock’s Elric! What, you say, what? Well good reader, you are in for a treat.

Death’s first attempt at retrieving the gem is to sick a Lovecraftian horror (a Crawler) on Cerebus. This thing is straight up nightmare fodder: all tentacles, mouths and eyeballs! Death explains that the Crawler is, “A creature from the dawn of time, a creature of sorcery…” It is also no match for Cerebus, as he makes quick work of the beast.

Another Pulp Icon: H. P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips (H. P.) Lovecraft is the second major pulp author that Dave borrows from in Cerebus. Lovecraft, best known for his Cthulhu Mythos, was a contemporary of Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan and Red Sonja (see last week’s column for the twisty tale of Sonja’s genesis). Drawing heavily on gothic horror, Lovecraft created his own version of both terrestrial and cosmic horror, taking influence from author’s such as Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, and Arthur Machen.

Two things stand out in the exchange between Cerebus and the Crawler that play into the over-arching themes of Lovecraft: Death’s description of the creature and the idea of “sanity”.

As mentioned above, Death refers to the crawler as “A creature from the dawn of time, a creature of sorcery…”, making it wholly possible that this is a Lovecraftian hell-beast of some sort. In much of Lovecraft’s work, cultists and those versed in the black arts attempt to awaken the slumbering “Elder Gods” of the universe. With this description, it is not hard to suppose that what we see here is some sort of lesser deity.

Additionally, upon initially besting the beast, Cerebus quips, “And to think that Cerebus came south to seek sanity…!” Sanity is another reoccurring theme in Lovecraft’s work, with many a protagonist losing their minds at the exposure to these creatures from beyond time and space. Not Cerebus though, his mental fortitude is about to be tested in new and wholly tortuous ways by Death’s next trap: Elrod The Albino!

A Third Pulp Icon: Michael Moorcock

Borrowing from the pulp/horror/sword and sorcery pantheon of authors is now clearly a running theme in these early stories as the introduction of Elrod further proves. Based on the albino swordsman, Elric of Melnibone, who first appeared in the 1961 novella, "The Dreaming City", Elrod gets a tweak from another famous pantheon: Loony Tunes, specifically the cartoons featuring Foghorn Leghorn!

To paraphrase Bob Dylan’s “Outlaw Blues”: “Well, I might look like Johnny Winter, but I feel just like a’ Foghorn Leghorn, I say boy, I say!”
Image, I say image courtesy of Cerebus Downloads. Dotcom, that is...
Yes, Elrod has all of the vocal mannerisms of that loveable rooster, including a penchant to never shut up. This, quickly becomes an issue as Elrod bounces from referring to Cerebus as a kid in a “bunny suit”, to mistaking Cerebus’ lack of interest for insult, resulting in a challenge to sword fight (where have we seen this before *wink, wink*).

Elrod’s black sword, Seersucker (a joke five-thousand years in the making and a parody of Elric’s sword, Stormbringer) proves no match for Cerebus as it shatters on impact with Cerebus’ own steel. As Cerebus notes, the black color was a byproduct of an abundant rust buildup, thus making the sword as frail as it’s wielder.

Losing the fight, Elrod continues to follow Cerebus, all the while letting his big mouth run. It’s not long before this again leads to conflict, this time with the city garrison, resulting in both Cerebus and Elrod being thrown in prison, after Elrod’s might in battle is again proven to be, I say be, a bunch of hot air.

Chained to the wall with “Chatty Cathy”, Cerebus turns his full attention to trying to break his bonds despite the protestation of Elrod. Eventually snapping both manacles, Cerebus leaves his fast-talking companion to rot in the dungeon and goes in search of someone capable of removing what remains of his bonds.

But, there is one nagging thing that must be done first: Get rid of that cursed bad luck gem!

Cerebus opts to chuck it down a well (good riddance to bad rubbish), as it has brought him nothing but problems since he found it. In the end, no one wins with Cerebus none-the-richer, and Death still baker’s dozenless on the gem front.
This image is courtesy DC Comics. J/K, it's another Cerebus Downloads one.
Join me back here next week as we look at Issue 5 as Cerebus faces the terror of “Bran Mak Mufin”.

Currently Listening To: Garcia Live Volume 9: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders August 11th, 1974 Keystone Berkeley

Kevin Kimmes is a lifelong comic book reader, sometime comic book artist, and recent Cerebus convert. He can be found slinging comics at the center of the Multiverse, aka House of Heroes in Oshkosh, WI.