Thursday, 23 October 2014

Kickstarter: Bonus Prints #19-21

DAVE SIM:
Every Friday, beginning with the launch of CANT, we'll be unveiling four additional Bonus Prints that you can add to your Portfolio Package... Each successive goal will be established depending on how quickly (or how slowly) it takes to reach the next goal. We'll update the schedule below each time a new threshold has been achieved:
PLEDGE AMOUNT: ADD $9 ($8 + $1 to cover additional shipping costs) to your portfolio pledge for EACH Bonus Print UP TO the maximum number of Bonus Prints allowed (see above table). 
JOHN FUNK:
Now that we're down to the final week of the campaign, we recommend that you pledge for all of the bonus prints that you want, up to the maximum (currently 7). This will help move the pledge total closer to the next target of $33k! When we reach that, 10 bonus prints will be allowed. At the end of the funding period, I'll ask the necessary questions in the survey, so that you can let me know exactly which ones you selected for yourself.

BP #19 - Cerebus Lightning
BP #20 - Roach Dark Night
BP #21 - Spider Ham 

Cerebus Archive Number Two Bonus Prints:
1-4 | 5-8 | 9-12 | 13-18

Dave Sim: WOW!

DAVE SIM:
(from Kickstarter Update #5, 21 October 2014)


The Trial

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.

Last week we covered issue 94, "So", when Cerebus interrogates Astoria in her cell. Today we'll look at Dave's notebook #8 which covers issues 96 to 102. The trial starts in issue #98 and on pages six and seven - or pages 942 & 943 if you are following along in the phonebook - there is a double page spread of Cerebus and Bishop Powers meeting in the throne room:

Compare that to page 51 from notebook #8:

Notebook #8 page 51

Looks pretty much the same doesn't it? Well, other than missing Gerhard's awesome backgrounds. Even the text along the pages, the placement of the word balloons. There was only two changes that I  could see and both dealt with the text. In the notebook Powers says "The harlot sorceress now before you has. . .", but on the finish page he just says "This vile harlot is. . ." before being interrupted by Cerebus. Then further down Cerebus says "Apologize and then shut up until Most Holy tells you to speak." On the finished page however Cerebus only says "Most Holy wants an apology, Powers."

Instead of Cerebus' telling Powers to shut up until told to speak, Cerebus rubs his power in Powers' face by going on with what he wants for an apology. Much funnier.

Page 52 is a small sketch of Astoria and the guard. Then on page 53 we see the layouts and dialogue for the next couple of pages in issue #98: pages eight and nine. I broke page 53 into the two halves, mostly so you could make it bigger and see Dave's pencils under the inks:

Notebook #8 page 53, left side
Other then Astoria facing the right instead of the left as she does on the finished page, the above is the same as page eight. Well, yes, other then it also missing Gerhard's backgrounds. The other half of page 53 of the notebook has a couple differences from the finished page:
  
Notebook #8 page 53, right side
Cerebus text in panel 5 in the notebook is "Perhaps you can tell us what course we should follow", but in the actual issue it is "Most Holy would like to know how this trial should begin." Also, you'll notice that in panel 3, Posey is standing straight up, but on the finished page he is slightly tilted over. . . .cowering in fear as he is known to do.  This trend of Posey not cowering in fear in the final four panels in the notebook continues, but in the finished page he bends over so far he falls over.


We can also see a repeat of text from the previous page: "the pond scum that I am." Uttered by Bishop Powers as part of his "apology" to Cerebus. It was also written on the other side of page 53 of the notebook, but here appears more like it does in the final page. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dave Sim: Off-White House Bulletin

DAVE SIM:
Work on reconstructing the foundation of the Off-White House began at 0900 hours today!

Started with a "gag photo" of me behind the wheel of the excavator. "Why am I paying Scott all this money? This is actually pretty easy."  Photo by Tom H (a neighbour) (photo will be posted by Funkmaster John at the Kickstarter site as the clock is ticking down on CANT CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO) (end of plug)

It was supposed to be pretty easy: a lot of Big League Scooping of dirt and then down to business.  But the excavator would stop every few minutes and I'd get up from the drawing board to go and see what was going on.  "There's a lot of crap down here," said Scott.  And indeed there was.  Roots, branches, Big stones.  Bricks.  Most of it having to be worked around with a shovel (Scott's right-hand-man, Adam) (and then Scott his own self) (and then Tom H -- an underemployed union guy)

The foundation of the house, which was built in 1882, is fitted stones and, as we were worried about, a lot of those stones are, sort of, moving around.  Which you prefer the stones in the foundation of your house not to do.

And then there was water.  A LOT of water.  So that most of the dirt that was being excavated at the midpoint of the north side of the house was, like, MUD.  "Uh, that's right under where my 'kitchenette' sink is. You think it could be coming from there?"  I volunteered to go inside and put the water on full blast (while changing my shoes to have a 'look-see').  PLEASE, let it not be some broken pipe.

Well, it wasn't.  No sudden Three Stooges gush of water.

Turns out it was a buried water tank from -- no idea how far back in time.  It was framed with wood, though.

That was PART of what was really slowing things down.  The excavator was basically taking the tank apart a bit at a time.

The tank also proved to be the problem with the back left corner of the house -- WHY the foundation was just rotting there but was reasonably solid elsewhere:  it was basically serving as its own water table, holding rain water in stasis.  You have rainwater for a 100 years or so sloshing against fitted stones...

"Well, the water's gone now," said Adam.  He added that you could practically hear it seeping down.

So, the bottom line is increased labour charges for having to a) babysit the back left corner of the Off-White House to an unexpected degree b) put concrete in between and around all of those fitted stones flying in loose formation c) basically build the foundation from scratch (as Scott found with his own place next door, if you dig down to the foundation...there is none.  It's just sitting on sand.  They didn't call this place Sand Hills Creek for nothing).

Anyway, Scott took a couple of shots of me down in the trench taking a hands-on look at part of the Off-White House I'll (hopefully) never see again.

When they rebuilt the REAL White House during the Truman Administration, I figured they should have gotten at least one picture of the President down in the trench with a shovel.

I'm wearing my United States CGA Coast Guard Academy t-shirt sent to me by a CEREBUS fan when he was attending the CGA.  He later wrote and asked that his name be deleted from the Blog & Mail -- which I did.

But, the t-shirt?  No, the t-shirt you'll have to pry out of my cold, dead fingers.

Thanks to all you CEREBUS fans who have made the rebuild possible!

Semantic Processing and Scattershot Impressions


Mara Sedlins:

Greetings! Dr. Mara here. For the last four months I've been assisting Sean with the restoration project, first with scanning and organization, and increasingly with the image restoration itself, cleaning up noise, fixing shrunk tone, etc. 

My background is in mathematics and psychology (the doctorate is in social and cognitive psychology), and I have a special appreciation for detail-oriented projects that makes the type of work I'm doing on Cerebus especially fun for me. (Like Sean, I've had dreams about the cleanup work - but I don't consider them nightmares!)

I worked as a teaching assistant during most of graduate school, so given an audience, I can't resist giving a quick cognitive psych lesson (which I will then relate to my experience working on High Society):

When you encounter verbal information (e.g., dialogue on a page of High Society), there are three different types of cognitive processing that can happen:

1) You can notice the visual appearance of the words, e.g. whether the letters are capitalized or lower case, the style of font (in psych lingo, this is called "structural processing").

2) You can notice the way the words sound ("phonemic processing").

3) You can understand the meaning of the words, how they relate to each other, and how they relate to previously encountered information (e.g., the plot of High Society; this is called "semantic processing").

The third type is considered a deeper level of processing than the first two and leads to better retention in long-term memory (Craik & Lockhart, 1972.) For instance, if you're trying to memorize something, focusing on the meaning of the words will lead to better long-term memory than merely repeating them over and over again. This is why mnemonic devices work!

This "levels of processing" model of memory was first developed (in Ontario, as it happens) with words as the information to be remembered. However, the same principle can be considered with pictorial information. When viewing an image, you can focus on its physical appearance (color, texture, shape, etc.) or its meaning (a character's identity, facial expression, the action taking place).





Intriguingly, visual memory is actually better when people are attuned to the physical details of images, as opposed to their semantic meaning -- the opposite of what occurs with verbal memory (Intraub & Nicklos, 1985)

In light of the ways humans process and remember information, the restoration work for High Society has been a very odd way to encounter this work for the first time. My normal experience of a novel (graphic or otherwise) is of course to focus on the semantic information: the characters, plot developments, etc. However, doing cleanup work has required an intense focus on the surface-level details, often to the exclusion of deeper information processing.







The upshot: although I've scrutinized hundreds of pages of High Society, I have basically no idea what's going on with the story!

Ok, that's not entirely true. Some scatter-shot impressions: there's an election; the election is for prime minister; Cerebus is running for prime minister; lots of maps; bribery, some shady characters; a politically savvy but illiterate soldier; threats of invasion; a sparkly woman who may or may not be imaginary but seems hilarious; lots of formal wear; love triangles: Astoria vs. Jaka?, Cerebus vs. the Moon Roach; the Moon Roach is cold; something about a goat.

Given the levels-of-processing effect on visual memory, I suspect that what I (mis?)remember and (mis?)understand of the plot so far is weighted toward the visual elements of the pages I've seen, as opposed to the text.

This week I'm excited to actually read the story as I help Sean proofread our cleaned-up version. In working on this project, I've been continually impressed by the devotion and generosity it's inspired in Dave's fans, so as a newcomer to the Cerebus oeuvre I know I'm in for a treat! :)

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

InkTober: Alex Robinson


Every October, artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month. I created InkTober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year. Anyone can do InkTober, just pick up a pen and start drawing ~ Jake Parker

ALEX ROBINSON'S INKTOBER

Alex Robinson has written and illustrated several graphic novels, including Too Cool To Be Forgotten, Box Office Poison and Tricked, all published by Top Shelf Productions. He and his work have won several industry awards, including the prestigious Eisner Award and prize for best debut in Angouleme, France. He lives in New York City with his wife and their pets, and hopes to have another book out soon.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Comic Book Lettering

Cerebus Vol 12: Rick Story 
(Collects #220-231, 1997-1998)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
RICHARD STARKINGS:
(from Bleeding Cool, 27 December 2013)
As far as awards for lettering are concerned, I do think there’s some suspicion about work created with fonts in a studio, and that can never really be dispelled. I think it’s a testament to the quality of our fonts when letterers who have bought them — and use them well — are nominated for awards for Best Lettering. All too often, letterers — and colourists — are nominated for an award when they have worked on a title that has collected all the other available awards, for best series, best writing, best art and so forth, so sometimes you win by association I think. What does bother me is that great creators like Dave Sim and Chris Ware are awarded the Eisners and Harveys for Best Lettering — their work is so much more than the lettering, but perhaps it’s the only part of the work that judges can identify as significant, so it’s kind of like a consolation prize.

I’m also of the opinion that the best lettering is really the lettering that is so much a part of the artwork that you don’t really notice it; kinda like not noticing that the sound editing on a film is really good… we only really notice sound editing, foley work or music in a film when it’s really bad — or absent perhaps — not when it feels like it’s a part of the whole experience. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Richard Starkings is the co-founder of Comicraft, Purveyors of Unique Design and Fine Lettering since 1992. The award-winning Comicraft studio is best known for pioneering the use of the computer in the art of comic book lettering.

Glamourpuss Art Auction: Alex Raymond & Linda Evangelista

Glamourpuss #6 Pages 18-19 (July 2009)
Tracing-Paper Art by Dave Sim

DESCRIPTION:
Pencil drawings on tracing paper by Dave Sim for two-page spread of Glamourpuss No. 6 (July 2009) pages 18-19. Two tracing paper drawings with reference material. 

DIMENSIONS: 
  1. Page 18 features Lyndsay, rated No. 1 in the parody Top Ten of Blonde MENSA Supermodels. She looks a lot like Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista. Pencil drawing measures 11.5 x 14-inches on 14 x 17-inch tracing paper. Drawing is folded in half w/ crease.
  2. Page 19 is the tracing paper that interests me most -- a "staged publicity photo" of Alex Raymond "from 1949 for national syndication encouraging people to listen to baseball games while they work." This portrait (page 19) measures 10 x 7.5-inches on 11.75 x 9-inch tracing paper. It has a single crease line that does not touch drawing.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Warren Ellis: Black & White Comics

WARREN ELLIS:
(from Orbital Operations Newsletter, September 2014)
...But, often, in the last week, I've just been laying there unable to do much of anything but think, and not even able to do that well because I was just wanting food that wasn't going to shred my throat or make me cough a lung up into someone's lap. fucked up enough that it took me most of the week to read a long interview with Marina Abramovic which had several unusually pleasing moments in it, including the point where she states quite plainly that the artist is the servant of their society, which I enjoyed immensely, and anyway the actual point of this was that in the middle of this fugue I seriously found myself wondering about doing a black-and-white comics series, a long and largely structureless one, just for the sheer hell of it. Even digitally. I mean, you'd never get an artist for it, because what I laid there imagining was basically all my worst tendencies (from a commercial perspective) as a writer rolled into one endless shapeless thing.

Or, put another way; Dave Sim was what, forty-eight years old when he completed his massive shapeless nonsense distillation of all his fascinations and neuroses and philosophies? I'm forty-six and laying there in a medicated trance thinking about starting mine.

And, yes, when I invoke Dave Sim, there's a shitload of extra baggage there that I am well aware of. All respect to Sim the technical maestro -- and CEREBUS should be something you study if you have an inch of interest in the medium, there was a point where his level of control on the page was supernatural -- but Sim the creative intellect is one of those awful object lessons about staying in comics full-time for too long. I know all about that. That said: consider the notion of a six-thousand-page container for pretty much everything that guy was interested in for twenty-seven years. It may be a monument to insanity, but it is, regardless, a fucking monument. You can't take it away from him that he did that thing.

And it'd have to be black-and-white. Black-and-white is part of the grammar of large rambling graphic novels, in my head - FROM HELL, CEREBUS, THE LAST KINGDOM, add your own here. Also, it's the grammar of literary graphic novels -- MAUS, PERSEPOLIS, etc etc. So I could fool myself, as all pulp writers who finally give up on plot and just drop their bowels in public do, that I am being all literary and clever. Black-and-white always had the mad things in. Now that I reflect on it, I think most of my fondest memories of comics come from b/w books: 2000AD, WARRIOR, LUTHER ARKWRIGHT, ESCAPE, the undergrounds, the independents, the early Anglophone graphic novels...

Crazy. You all better hope that I heal up soon.

Warren Ellis is the author of many critically acclaimed comics, including Transmetropolitan and The Authority.

Cerebus Archive: Itoya Art Profolio

Also available at
MICHAEL RAGIEL:
Dave's Weekly Update #53: A Pound Of Cure mentioned me about contacting AMOC to post my photos and any other information I can provide to fellow Cerebus fans who might be interested in what I had done with my Cerebus Archive #1 and future Cerebus Archives. Whew! I am willing to answer any questions that anybody might come up with.

The Art Profolio is from Itoya. Itoya of America, Ltd is located Rancho Dominquez, CA 90220. Their website is Itoya.com. I paid $40.05 for the profolio and for 250 photo corners. Everything for me is still a work in progress, but I love having the prints to be showcased. I did add "Cerebus Archive: Earliest pages in the Cerebus Archive" to the spine insert. I still want to add something to the cover making it look somewhat more professional booklike.

Enclosed are some photos. I mailed Dave actual real life photos and emailed John photos.

I know it's not that much information, but it's a start. Any questions regarding my unique portfolio, you can email me at pignardvark [at] rcn [dot] com or I can answer in the comments to this post.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Kickstarter: Bonus Prints #13-18

DAVE SIM:
Every Friday, beginning with the launch of CANT, we'll be unveiling four additional Bonus Prints that you can add to your Portfolio Package... Each successive goal will be established depending on how quickly (or how slowly) it takes to reach the next goal. We'll update the schedule below each time a new threshold has been achieved:
PLEDGE AMOUNT: ADD $9 ($8 + $1 to cover additional shipping costs) to your portfolio pledge for EACH Bonus Print UP TO the maximum number of Bonus Prints allowed (see above table). 
JOHN FUNK:
Now that we're down to the final week of the campaign, we recommend that you pledge for all of the bonus prints that you want, up to the maximum (currently 7). This will help move the pledge total closer to the next target of $33k! When we reach that, 10 bonus prints will be allowed. At the end of the funding period, I'll ask the necessary questions in the survey, so that you can let me know exactly which ones you selected for yourself.
 Bonus Print #13: Cerebus Archive #1 (Zombie Variant cover)
 Bonus Print #14: Roach Commission
 Bonus Print #15: Marital Bliss
 Bonus Print #16: Death Of Captain America
 Bonus Print #17: 'Whale Tail' Porsche Carrera (Front Half)

Bonus Print #18: 'Whale Tail' Porsche Carrera (Back Half)

Cerebus Archive Number Two Bonus Prints:
1-4 | 5-8 | 9-12 | 13-18 

IDW Update: "High Society DVD" & "Cerebus: The Covers"


Previews World: Cerebus Remastered & Restored

Cerebus Vol 1: Remastered & Restored
By Dave Sim
PREVIEWS WORLD:
(from Latest News, Previews World, October 2014))
Ever been to Estarcion? If not, you may want to see if your visa is in good standing, as a flight is leaving soon for Aardvark-Vanaheim's Cerebus Volume 1, now back in print and digitally remastered!

Cerebus was a chronically ill-tempered aardvark originally conceived as a parody of such popular comic book characters as Conan, and Red Sonja. But it wasn't long before the "funny animal" comic from creator Dave Sim evolved into something entirely different, with Cerebus constantly supported by an ensemble of supporting figures all the way until the series ended with issue #300!

"I have been advocating for some time that publishers of classic comic strips should be updating each successive printing of their collections with high quality scans from original artwork," Sim has commented. The creator then came to the conclusion that he needed to practice what he preached.

Sim has further elaborated that "depending on the page, the reproduction has been modified digitally to provide for greater or lesser contrast and brightness. None of the actual drawings have been in any way modified, but purely mechanical flaws have been corrected."

The end result is Cerebus Volume 1 Remastered Edition TP (OCT140946), which you'll find in the Comics section of the October PREVIEWS catalog. Check it out, before this edition is gone, too!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Weekly Update #53: A Pound Of Cure





Bleeding Cool: "When Dave Sim Lettered My Name 17 Times"

RICH JOHNSTON:
(from Bleeding Cool, posted on 16 October 2014)
...Cerebus Archive Volume One. The first ten pages of original art in Dave Sim’s personal collection, recreated in card form as close to the original boards as possible. All signed. Also with a personal sketch and inscription on the front. Let’s take a closer look.

Well that was me pretty much blown away. It’s true, we had been pushing and promoting the Cerebus Archive funding scheme through Kickstarter, but the reality of what we’d get for our $80 was still overwhelming. (There are nine days to go on Cerebus Archive Number Two by the way.)

So yes, there was the recreated art, from the first twenty-odd issues, the only remaining art from that period still in Sim’s possession. And even in that short time, you can see the progression. And Sim is on hand to point it out… With a two page article printed at the same size analysing each page, pointing out all his flaws, his hopes and his dreams. It’s wonderful...

Anything more? Yes actually. Leftover pages from the 13th printing of High Society one, it seems, the first unbound pages of that most amazing volume, still the easiest one to say to someone “hey, do you like Groucho Marx and/or The Thick Of It? Then read this.”

Is that all? Please. What blew me away even more were these. Stickers for your Cerebus volumes asserting your ownership printed, and then your name individually hand lettered on each one in full Dave Sim glory, varying the lettering on each iteration.

As well as a masterful storyteller in comic book form, Dave Sim is also the best letterer in the history of the comic book form. And he just lettered by name 16 times.

So, yes, after recovering I eventually got to the rest of the post. Eventually.

Thank you Dave.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

So. . .You already said that.

We had a request last week from Reginald P "I'd like to see sketchbook pages for the "So" issues -- Cerebus' interrogation of Astoria." So issue #94 it is. Issue #94 can be found in notebook #7, which covers issues #87 to 95. The only cover to a notebook that has been shown so far (as far as I can recall) is the first notebook, albatross #1. So here is the cover for notebook #7:

Cover to notebook #7
As you can see, this notebook appears to have been handled quite a bit. Of the 200 pages in this particular notebook, there were only 115 pages to scan. Dave had put notes on it for me when I scanned them in (I scanned the covers, inside and out of all the notebooks, this cover I scanned twice, once with Dave's notes, and once without). His note by the lipstick kiss is "lipstick print of Kallin the stewardess I went out with for a few weeks. I was seeing her off at the Valhalla Inn in town (they ran an airporter service out of the lobby) and she wanted to leave me a forget-me-not of some kind." 

But I digress.

Dave drew a sketch of Astoria's cell on page 85 of the notebook:

Notebook #7 page 85
He did some different sketches of Astoria with her hands in chains. The sketch at the bottom of the page with the large SO is a sketch for page 1 of the issue, page 857 of Church & State II.

Then on page 91 of the notebook we see a thumbnail of page 5, page 861 of Church & State II. 

Notebook #7 page 91
The finished page has only 5 panels while the thumbnail has 6: Dave removed the final one of Cerebus (panel 6) and then switched a couple panels. The dialogue around it is the dialogue to the page and the next couple of pages, though it went through another edit before it hit the final page.

Down the left hand corner of the bottom of the page is a quick outline of the next couple of issues coming up, including the one for issue #94: "You're not Tarim on.  Cerebus falling asleep after raping Astoria." All the way up to issue #100 - which he didn't have a short outline of, but perhaps just wanted to have the number down on the page.