Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Dave Gibbons

(Photograph: Harry Borden)

DAVE SIM:
(from a letter to Dave Gibbons dated March 2004 - Reprinted in Dave Sim's Collected Letters 2004)

Dear Dave,

Thanks for your letter and "Cerebus Archive testimonial" of 5 March. Coincidentally, they arrived the same day that issue 300 of Cerebus was hitting the stores.

I can't think of a better way to have celebrated the (at least) physical conclusion of the series than with such fulsome praise from the brilliant artist of Watchmen. In my own eyes, you have flattered me out of all proportion - both because of your own well-deserved prominence in the field (I remember a retailer telling me a while ago of Paul Levitz gob-smacked astonishment at a DC retailer meeting - and this years ago! - when it became obvious that yet another printing of Watchmen was required to meet the unrelenting demand almost two decades after the initial success story: 'Who are you guys selling these things to?') and because of my own modest and marginal standing in this field.

It was very generous of you and meant more to me than I can ever express.

Thank you again

Monday, 2 March 2015

Cerebus #20: Mind Game

Cerebus #20 (September 1980)
Cover Preliminary Sketch and Final Cover
Art by Dave Sim

Cerebus #20: Assembled Mind Game Montage
(click image to enlarge)

THE GLASS WALKING-STICK BLOG:
(from Reading Comics The Hard Way article, posted 20 August 2014)
...Cerebus has been drugged by the Cirinists ( an all-female cult whose apparent purpose is "to wipe out fun in our lifetime" ) and finds himself, or his consciousness, floating in the mystical realm of the Seventh Sphere, also the hangout of Illusionist guru and 182-year old hippie Suenteus Po. The aardvark plays the two cults off against each other in attempt to return to reality  -  although by the end of the issue he doesn't seem to have succeeded. This was all a fine introduction to Dave Sim's cantankerous, controversial character for me, and to Sim's mastery of witty dialogue and expressive cartooning. But ( there's always a "but", isn't there? ) the experimental storytelling caught me by surprise. The Seventh Sphere (which is the background for every scene ) is depicted as a black void with areas of "shimmering grey" and the only character visible throughout the story is Cerebus, manipulating the unseen cultists as he wanders through the darkness. The grey areas are actually a portrait of Cerebus, chopped up and spread throughout the 20 pages of story, with the smaller images of the aardvark pasted on top...

Dave Sim with the assembled Mind Game montage
Aardvarks Over UK Tour '93
DAVE SIM:
(from Swords Of Cerebus Vol 4, 1983)
...The idea was inspired by Neal Adams' "hidden head" trick which (as far as I know)  he only did twice: once on a BEN CASEY Sunday page and once in a Deadman story in STRANGE ADVENTURES. The principle of the idea was that unrelated background and foreground elements make up the giant head. It's an exercise in the thinking side of drawing, since the initial layout has to be conformed to, and the composing elements must retain enough individual identity to still communicate the scene in each individual panel.

The very idea that someone who is basically just employed to communicate story elements in sequential pictures would walk that extra mile for the sake of artistic integrity impresses the hell out of me.

It also induces great guilt, which should not be discounted out of hand as a motivating factor.

Here I am, freed of all artistic constraints, my income being directly tied to the sales of the book I draw, and I haven't come up with a single idea like the "hidden-head page". That was when I decided to take it a step further and do a hidden full figure, life-size of Cerebus... Any way, Cerebus' mental acrobatics seemed like the best way to kick off the endless complications and intrigues to come. The Illusionists versus the Cirinists in Togith. Pictures within pictures illustrating the story within the story.

The title "Mind Game" was freely swiped from John Lennon's "Mind games" and is respectfully dedicated to his memory.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Susan Alston: CBLDF Podcast



COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: 
(Podcast #10, 17 February 2015)
In this episode, CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein talks to former CBLDF Executive Director Susan Alston about the early days of the Fund! Topics discussed include: Mike Diana, Paul Mavrides, social media, the Supreme Court, and much more.

Susan Alston was Dave Sim's last girlfriend. She was the CBLDF's first Executive Director (1993-1997) and former board member (1997-1999), and is currently a development, marketing, and communications professional based in western Massachusetts, USA. Alston began her career as Assistant Director of Marketing at Bank of Boston, then as Director of Administration at Tundra Publishing, owned by Kevin Eastman. In 1993, Tundra merged into Kitchen Sink Press, whereupon Denis Kitchen offered her a part-time position overseeing CBLDF administration. Shortly thereafter, with the onset of the Mike Diana case and a large donation from Dave Sim, the position was moved to fulltime. After leaving CBLDF in 1999, Alston took her interest in fundraising, marketing, and communications and honed them at positions with Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, VNA HealthCare, and Center for Human Development. In 2012, Alston earned her Master’s degree in Strategic Fundraising and Philanthropy from Bay Path College. Alston rejoined the CBLDF in 2013 serving on its newly formed Advisory Board together with Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Jim Lee, Matt Groening, Mike Richardson, Chip Kidd, Louise Nemchoff and Frenchy Lunning.

Neil Gaiman: My Credo

Neil Gaiman: My Credo (14 February 2015)

Neil Gaiman's 'My Credo' is a response to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris on 7 January 2015 and the subsequent attacks in Copenhagen, Demark on 14 February 2015.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Cerebus Archive Number Three: Bonus Prints 24 & 25

BP #25: Photorealism Phantasy

BP #24: 'CATCH!'
Cerebus 29 Cover Recreation

Previously Announced First Release Bonus Prints For Cerebus Archive Number Three:

About The Kickstarter Bonus Prints:
The Bonus Prints are ONLY available as an "ADD-ON" to a portfolio pledge for an additional CAD $9 per bonus print. The above 'First Release' prints are now available as Kickstarter pledge rewards for Cerebus Archive Number Three. 'Second Release' bonus prints #1-21 from Cerebus Archive Number Two are also still available. Once the total pledge amount has passed the $20,000 mark, you may add 12 Bonus Prints from the First Release and/or Second Release BP lists. If total pledges exceed the total raised from the previous Kickstarter campaign (CAD $42,028) all 31 bonus prints will become available.

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015) RIP

Spock & Cerebus... and Wolverine too! (1981)
Art by Dave Sim

PIERS MARCHANT:
(from a letter to Cerebus The Newsletter #5, 1982)
...please find enclosed two drawings Mr. Sim did for me at Creation Con in Rochester. Fans will remember Rochester as being "Cold as a bitch and dead as a doornail". Well, whatever. I got the first drawing on the Saturday of the Con. Mr. Sim seemed very nice, intelligent and humorous. However, on day 2 (Sunday), something happened. He was clearly cranky, tired and washed-out. (Fans who have read Swords Of Cerebus #2 know what he did Saturday night.) As well as this second drawing I bought an original page from #21, and Mr Sim told me I could have the drawing as well as the page for a mere $25 if only I would please get him some coffee and aspirin. Of course I agreed and hurriedly ran to get him the articles he asked for. I only found out recently exactly what happened (hee-hee).

Anyway, so here they are. Share them with the fans if you please. Sim was very happy with the results of "Spock and Cerebus" (oh, yes, and Wolverine, too)

Gerhard: Manhattan On Mars

Manhattan On Mars (2015)
Art by Dave Gibbons & Gerhard

GERHARD:
(from Gerz Blog, 24 February 2015)
Charles had Dave Gibbons do this little Dr. Manhattan. Then he commissioned me to draw the "crystalline clockwork ship" and Martian landscape as seen in "Watchmen". I don't own a copy of "Watchmen" (I don't know why I don't) but I found this image for reference. Charles requested that the "ship" be more exposed, rising up out of the soil... [Read the full article at Gerz Blog]

DAVE GIBBONS:
(from the comments at Gerz Blog, 24 February 2015)
Nice job, Gerhard! If only I'd had such a good background man back in the day ; )

Friday, 27 February 2015

Weekly Update #72: Sticking My Foot In It

Cerebus Archive Number Three
Signed Limited Edition Prints From 'Church & State I'
Kickstarter Ends Saturday 21st March 2015

DAVE SIM:
Hello, everyone!

Well, when I stick my foot in it, I really stick my foot in it:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
1.  Sincere and abject apologies to all of our U.K. and European pledge partners who missed out on the TRAUMA ONE and TRAUMA TWO pages on Wednesday.  No excuses.

2. Sincere and abject apologies to the owners of the original pages who made them available for restoration.  You should have been asked for permission to use your page whether you perceive it to be "your page" or Your! Page!  Your Page: your perception.

3.  Off-White House Copies have been moved from the basement to Camp David and two work stations are being developed for processing them

4.  Scanning of the Cerebus Archive original pages hits a -- hopefully - temporary wall but has now been accomplished up through page 3 of issue 142

1.  To be honest, I thought, if anything, we'd be facing the opposite problem:  a backlash because of the price point on the TRAUMA ONE and TRAUMA TWO pages.  I was really bending my mental slide rule almost double in response to a fax from Sean explaining why the hourly rate for scanning had ballooned over the previous week and asking if something could be done about his and Mara's hourly rate on those pages.  It seemed to me a "shortest distance between two points" situation:  if we could get sponsorship for TRAUMA pages, we wouldn't have to recalculate the CHURCH & STATE package deal (which should be covered with the remaining funds from CANT or -- at worst -- a dip into the CAN3 funds).  

Then Funkmaster brought up the "economies of scale" problem -- another sharp bend in the slide rule -- having to do single prints is more time-consuming for him.  All his calculations are based on 10 pages/roughly 300 copies.  The Bonus Prints -- once they get down around 20 or so as with the Barack Obama Zombie Cover -- is really pushing his numbers the wrong way.

By the time we had crunched the numbers, I thought "This is going to be Sticker Shock Squared" and I assumed that would hold for -- however long -- a few days?  A week?  Worst case scenario:  the end of this Kickstarter.  In which case we would just roll the TRAUMA pages over into the next campaign.

Funkmaster faxed me at 12:30 am and I was already asleep so I didn't get the fax until 4:30 am when I got up.

"Oh, boy."  Well, in one sense it was GREAT news:  sold out in 90 minutes!  In the other it was TERRIBLE news: unfilled demand.  So that was what I attempted to solve:  could we contact the people who had purchased the 1/1 prints and see if any -- or all -- of them would agree to have TRAUMA ONE and TRAUMA TWO FUNDRAISER prints done?  Clearly separate from what they had, with them getting "remarqued" Cerebus drawings on their 1/1's and the #1/20 of the subordinate prints for their trouble.

This isn't completely "off the table" but it ran afoul of another problem:


2.  This runs into a Wave vs. Particle angle of perception.

Wave Perception of CEREBUS original pages is that the person who bought the original page owns that page and has absolute control over it and its use.

Particle Perception is that Dave Sim owns the artwork in any meaningful sense.  It isn't possible for Dave Sim to steal or misappropriate CEREBUS artwork.

There's no right answer. Either answer is right for the people who hold that answer to be right.

So, if you have a Wave Perception then please let me know what compensation you would like for my theft of your personal property. I'll be happy to work it out with you in complete privacy. Likewise if you don't want your -- or "your" -- original art used in any way besides restoration purposes.  I can't close the door on the TRAUMA ONE and TRAUMA TWO pages already offered, but I can create a firewall wherever you want it created.

I don't think anyone would just -- perversely -- hold Wave Perception. For them, it's sincerely arrived at and intellectually honest.  I am not prepared to argue Particle Perception with that for one second.

If you have a Particle Perception, as I say, the idea of making a subordinate batch of prints available for the UK and European pledge partners is not "off the table". But it is getting there.  :)

I'm not saying that in that sense that I Own Your Artwork and I'll Do What I Want.  I'm saying that in the sense that the reason that we did this was to try to raise money to take pressure off of Sean and Mara on the TRAUMA pages so they don't have to rush through them and to take pressure off of the Kickstarter funds so we don't get these "bulges" in the budget.

The Particle Perception is really two different Particle Perceptions as well:  the person who owns the actual page and the person who bought the 1/1 BEFORE and AFTER TRAUMA prints.

My first instinct in the aftermath is just to -- as I've done -- apologize sincerely and abjectly to all concerned and Just Leave Bad Enough Alone.

There is always pressure in crowd-source funding to keep coming up with new pledge items.  That's what everyone who is successful at it recommends.  I don't know if that's true, but I also get a certain amount of static from people who are saying "You're SCREWING UP, Dude!  Follow up with MORE STUFF!" and then citing what other people who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars are doing.

Again, there's no easy answer.

But, I am sorry that this turned into such a fiasco...and such a pressure cooker for Sean.

In future, we'll try to introduce the idea of pledge items at least a week ahead of time and if there's ANY static in any way from anyone, to just back off.  "We'll try again with something else and we'll only do pledge items that cause ZERO STATIC."

3.  Dave Fisher and Rolly S. got a lot of work done on Tuesday getting ALL of the Off-White House Inventory out of the basement and into Camp David.

I have to admit that it's a little disorienting now that I'm down to sorting of the last few items still downstairs.  A big plus there was the discovery of a cache of Letratone I didn't know I had -- including several full sheets of LT3 and LT10.  If I'd have known they were down there, Dede Gardner and Brad Pitt wouldn't be getting albino and cross-hatched aardvarks respectively! :)

I've made up a FedEx box for Sean of all the specialty tones (textures, mostly -- great relief for Sean that he knows he has vintage Thrunk tone on the way).  Different sizes of scraps.  The idea being that the actual physical sheet of tone -- no matter how fragmentary -- is going to be better than any scan that we could shoot of it here.  And he's going to be the best judge of what is going to work the best by scanning it himself and then comparing the different sheets for discolouration, fading and other things that aren't going to be readily apparent to the naked eye.  There's a large chunk of LT 936 and then multiple pages of scraps.  It could turn out that one 1" by 1/2" piece could have all the best original elements, clarity, lack of discolouration, etc.

I'm sure Sean will be posting some of the tone for you to look at as he sorts through it.

There are also mechanical tones in the microscopic range that Gerhard used prolifically on GOING HOME which -- hey! If you're patching those pages, that's what you're going to need.

Disorienting though.

I thought: well I can just throw away the Letraset, the transfer lettering itself.  Then I thought, Well I have no idea where we used some of it.  These are the sharpest clearest copies we have of the letters.

Ooops interruption.  Going to post this and then hopefully continue.

Back shortly I hope!

=============================

Okay. That hasn't happened before.  I didn't know if I was going to lose all my typing so I published it and now I'm back -- so if you want to read the start of this Update, you'll have to scroll down.  TimW, I'm sure will fix it when he gets home from work.  Sorry, Tim!

[Now fixed! ~ Tim. W]

Where was I?

Oh, right -- getting the last few things out of the basement preparatory to the complete basement "redo" -- God willing -- starting in the Spring.

Moral questions:  I have a long box of PUMA BLUES and a long box of JOURNEY back issues.  We haven't checked them for grading.  I THINK I'm okay offering them for sale.  I did publish them at one time.  Should I autograph them?  As the publisher?  I can autograph the last issue of THE PUMA BLUES that A-V One did:  I did a pin-up in that one.  But, what about the others?  At least there was no question about moving them back to Camp David.

Should I offer them to Stephen and Michael and Bill Loebs?  Should I autograph them and make them into Off-White House copies before I send them?  Does anyone know where I would send them?  I'll make give Stephen a phone call.  Weird stuff.  Like the giant pile of "Michael and Stephen" photo PUMA BLUES posters.  I asked their editor at Dover if he wants them to promote the forthcoming book collection.  "I mean, if you don't, don't say you do.  They weigh a ton and they're going to be expensive to package, so it's really pointless to be polite about it if you're just going to throw them out.  Think about, 'Well, okay, what can WE do with them?'"

I seem to spend a lot of my life in these kinds of situations.  No idea what to do and no one I talk to about it knows what to do.  And they've all heard these horror stories about Dave Sim.  DON'T UPSET HIM! HE'S CRAZY, YOU KNOW!!

LOL. Well,  no. I'm not upset and I'm not crazy.  I've just got all these we're unsolvable problems.  At least soon none of them will be in my basement anymore!

I can't really say that about the three boxes of letters and weird little gifts, cheques, stickers, etc. that I got from Neil Gaiman's fans when I offered to send a free copy of an issue of the SANDMAN parody autographed to anyone who wrote me a physical letter.

Uh.  Do I REALLY want to hang onto these?  I mean, it was definitely a TRIP at the time and it certainly dwarfed by quantum levels of magnitude the response to, say, issue 300 coming out (so at least I got the one-time experience of literally getting boxes of mail).

They're a little bulky, but yes, I think I do want to hang onto them.  Even if no one ever actually looks at them, they'd probably make a nice free-form sculpture "Letters and gifts from Neil's Fans: 2004".

And then one of the last boxes that was sitting there, I opened up and it was a box of issue 164, second printing, which was the last one I had sent up from Leamington after I had already mailed out, I think, all of the 165's and 164 first printings and a box of 164 second printings. Hundreds of free comic books.  And then the letters dropped off to nothing.  Although I still get the occasional letter from people who are reading Neil's "back issues" and wonder if the offer is still good.  So, for those of you with higher numbers on Kickstarter, the odds are pretty good that you WILL get a #164 second printing Off-White House copy.

I forget what number I was on but...

Spoke to Tim L at Diamond the other day and the VERY good news is that they got orders for 850 of the signed and numbered 30th ANNIVERSARY GOLD LOGO SIGNED AND NUMBERED EDITION of HIGH SOCIETY.  That's about three times what I thought we'd sell after re-listing and cancelling and re-listing three times. So thank you to all the stores that kept ordering those books and all the CEREBUS fans who have booked them.  Sean is all ready to head up to Valencia to supervise the printing as soon as we have our final price quote.

We've been here so many times before I'm not sure even "God willing" is a good idea to bring up...but, God willing we should have the books on their way to the Star System warehouse in Mississippi before the end of March.

As I told Tim, after this many years of the book being out of print, I feel as if I should bake it a cake!

Nothing much to report on CEREBUS: FRACTURED DESTINY, but then I didn't think there would be for a Long, Long, Long While.  "TT" reports that he's "terribly excited" but that HAS to be tempered with "How AM I going to do this?"  That is, approaching Dede Gardner. What do you say?

Oliver is being very kind and saying that the drawings will be an "honour"  (er -- "honor").  But, man, I don't know.  LOL. Speaking as someone who does really detailed scratchy ink line drawings 12 hours a day, they don't really...register...with people. At All.  They're from a completely different planet from computer animation which is really all the average person sees these days that would be called "cartooning".  I mean, literally, maybe one in ten people coming to the house will say "You're a cartoonist?"  with the SDOAR pages there on the wall.  Nine out of ten, I can see by looking at them, it just doesn't fit their radar screen which is cellphone-sized and computer-sized and television-sized.  But pieces of white cardboard (which is what they would see) are obviously not cellphones or computers or televisions, so they don't register as VISUAL ANYTHING. "This guy has white cardboard on his wall for some reason.  Well, okay, the office knows where I am if it's something Really Weird.  He doesn't look scary or anything.  Just old."

People used to "register artwork", way, way back in the early 90s.

I mean, it doesn't bother me.  The same way it doesn't bother me that I'm almost 60 and not 40 anymore.  Here and now is here and now.  Back then is back then.  I really like what I'm doing.  I didn't like it back in the 90s because it registered with people and I don't NOT like it now because it doesn't register with people.  It's more a rhetorical question I won't get any kind of answer to: "What are they going to see when they look at this?"  I could as fruitfully ask, What would Martians think if they could see me?  It's one of the reasons that I thought the pieces should be framed.  "Oh, okay. A FRAME! This must be ART of some kind."

Okay.  Sorry for the inopportune break and the fractured Executive Summary.

Hope to see all of you next week.

And THANK YOU to all of the pledge partners who have made CAN3 so successful so far despite my bungling!

Have to finish answer the mail on hand and then go and get groceries and more mail and drop off a few things at the accountants' office.  Tax time, you know!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Gold Coin?

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.

Another notebook that we haven't looked at yet: notebook #11. Dave Sim covers Cerebus #113 through #117 in this one, with only 66 pages that were scanned and 8 blank pages out of what was an eighty page notebook.

Page 9 of issue 115 (if you're following along in the phonebook for Jaka's Story it is page 39) is where Pud meets Cerebus, who is asking to buy an ale. A rough layout on page 46 starts us off (yes, I cropped the bit off the top of the page that wasn't relevant, but hey, you're getting 3.5 pages this week instead of the usual 3):

Notebook #11 page 46, bottom half
If you compare the above, to the finish page, you can see the resemblance. On the next page in the notebook, Dave plots out some dialogue between Pud and Cerebus and then between Pud and Jaka:

Notebook #11 page 47
It also shows the reunion of Jaka and Cerebus - the look on Cerebus' face as he hears Jaka's voice is not the same as the one on the finished page. The one in the notebook is more of that happy surprised Cerebus face as opposed to the intrigued face we see on the finished page - though perhaps the finished page look allowed Dave to place Jaka's word balloon right in Cerebus left ear, which was also tilted down a bit. If it was his 'happy surprised face' both ears would probably be tilted up or both back, and as he not had yet heard Jaka's voice, how could he be happy and surprised? As we see him, he is just intrigued at why Pud is shouting.

Page 48 and 49 are young Jaka notes, and on page 50 we see the layouts for the next two pages, page 10 and 11:

Notebook #11 page 50
On page 11's fourth panel you can still see Cerebus has that 'surprised' look on his face. The word balloon that would be Jaka's is position just above and to the right of his head, not the same as the finished page.

Then on page 53 we have three pages of layouts, pages 8, 9 and 12 of issue 115:

Notebook #11 page 53
I don't know why Dave put just those three pages together. As if he was happy with what he what he had for pages 10 and 11 and didn't need to redo them.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Dave Sim Bulletin: Church & State TRAUMA ONE, TRAUMA TWO-- Cerebus Under The Knife


DAVE SIM:



While there are standard things we do to prepare every page of CEREBUS original art for print, some pages have sustained much more serious damage than the average page. Whether it's exposure to light, the effects of age, or just hard living, these pages have seen rough times, causing their tone to shrink, peel, rip, and buckle. The larger the toned area, and the more complex the tone, the more damage there is for us to repair.
Here are three suffering Church & State originals, in need of immediate medical intervention--




These pages need much more attention than the standard twenty minute checkup afforded the average CEREBUS page.

But with the proper medical care, and some major tone surgery, these pages have a good prognosis for recovery. Here are two before and after example from our recent surgical work on High Society.

Below: the white lines are exposed paper where the tone has shrunk and ripped. This much damage across a whole page can turn a clean, coherent design into a visual mess.


Every sponsored page will be sent directly to Dr. Mara for immediate tone surgery. Besides up to half an hour of work from myself, TRAUMA TWO pages will spend approximately one hour on Dr. Mara's operating table, and TRAUMA ONE pages a minimum of two hours. Once the procedures are safely completed, two beautiful before and after plates, signed by Dave and numbered "No. 1 out of 1", will be sent directly to you, and you will be thanked by name in the newly restored Church & State I book, in perpetuity, your name associated with that particular page.



Dr. Mara Operates, or, Cerebus Under the Knife.


Below you'll find a chart with the available pages. Please visit the Church and State I Kickstarter page to sponsor a page. We'll update the graphic as pages have been claimed. (Note: this reward will be added sometime in the next twenty-four hours. Visit soon, and visit often!)

Thanks everyone for your time, and all of your help in keeping this project moving forward!

Update:

Just received word from John re: the best way to make sure you get the page you want--

1) Post a comment claiming the one they want. First come, first served at AMOC, then
2) adjust their pledge AND send me a KS message confirming their pledge and the one they are sponsoring.


Thanks everyone!

Update Two:

Wow-- that was amazingly fast! Thank you so much for your support, everyone. We can't wait to get these pages restored and in your hands.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Cerebus Archive Number Three: Bookplates

Cerebus Trade Paperback Personalised Bookplate
Art by Dave Sim, Tone by George Peter Gatsis
'Unsigned', 'Signed' & 'Your Name Hand-Lettered By Dave Sim' Options Available
Kickstarter Ends Saturday 21st March

DAVE SIM:
(from Cerebus Archive Number One Kickstarter Update #6, 21 May 2014)
...The gag actually goes back almost 50 years now, back, back, into the Vanished Mists of Ancient Times to when men used to wear…hats! See, when you went indoors, you took off your hat. As deference to what were then known as "Ladies". I still do this compulsively in the winter even when I'm only going indoors for five minutes. Anyplace that had a cloak room also had a shelf for hats. And a lot of hats looked alike. So gentlemen tended to put an identifying label in the inside of the brim with their name on it. So it was not unknown for you to pick up a hat and check inside to see if it was yours. So, my Dad got this joke label from someone that said "The HELL it's yours. Put it back. This hat belongs to…" and then he wrote Ken Sim in it. His hat would often get a good workout with guys laughing and then pretty much having to show it to other guys to explain, you know, what EXACTLY did you find particularly funny about someone else's hat? As soon as I needed a gag for an identifying label -- well, what could be more a more Cerebus-like sentiment regarding YOUR personal property?)...

Cerebus Archive Number Three: Bookplate Options
 CAN1 Tone by Sean Michael Robinson (left); CAN2 Tone by George Peter Gatsis (right)
(Click image to enlarge)

Monday, 23 February 2015

Cerebus Archive Number Three: Headsketches

Cerebus Achive Number Three: Headsketches
Fully Inked CAN$150 or Ballpoint CAN$69

Still available are the previous Headsketch styles from CAN1 (right) and CAN2 (left):

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Cerebus Archive Number Three: Bonus Prints Now Available!

Bonus Print #22: Showdown 186



Bonus Print #23: Ultimate Cerebus

The above 'First Release' prints are now available as Kickstarter pledge rewards for Cerebus Archive Number Three at just CAN$9 per print. 'Second Release' bonus prints #1-21 from Cerebus Archive Number Two are also still available.


Pledge: $9 per bonus plate


Bonus Print (BP) Availability Schedule - Funding has passed the $12,000 mark, therefore you may add 7 Bonus Prints. Once $20,000 in funding has been reached, you may pledge for 12 Bonus Prints from the First Release and/or Second Release BP lists.



Saturday, 21 February 2015

Bill Sienkiewicz's Cerebus

Cerebus (2015)
Art by THE Bill Sienkiewicz!

(via Margaret Liss, The Cerebus Fan Girl!)

Friday, 20 February 2015

A Post About Posters

FunkMasterJohn here, attempting his first blog post and trying to navigate his way without messing up anybody else's work! Most of the content below is from Dave with my commentary added in [brackets].

DAVE SIM:
With the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER THREE Kickstarter, theoretically, starting today, I've definitely gotten inquiries about posters. CEREBUS posters are a very difficult subject, so instead of posting these to the Kickstarter site, I'm getting John Funk to post them here with his own comments and soliciting comments from Pledge Partners and potential Pledge Partners. 

That is, none of these is available YET on Kickstarter.  Depending on how the discussion goes, we could see one or more of them up and available before CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER THREE ships a couple of months from now.   

Basically, John and I are in agreement that this whole operation runs a lot more smoothly if we stick to 11x17 prints and Bonus Prints, so anything having to do with actual posters is definitely adding to John's workload and would have to be compensated separately, as a kind of mini-Kickstarter fulfillment -- involving not only additional packaging and additional postage but additional labour as well. 
[FMJ - it's a bit more work in planning, organising and matching, but I think we've overcome the hardest part of the learning curve on the first two Archives]
The alternative, of course, is just to do the posters as Bonus Prints, reducing them to roughly 11x17 size (with room for signing and FIRST RELEASE gold seals).  That we would be able to do, keeping the price point to $9 + $1 same as any other Bonus Print.  

Here's the status with the posters that are currently in the Cerebus Archive:

Read 'Minds' poster:
Promoting the exhibition of all of the artwork to the MINDS trade paperback at Kevin Eastman's WORDS & PICTURES MUSEUM in Northampton, MA.



Only a handful of these are in the Cerebus Archive, so the questions on this one are: 1)  should Sean attempt to do an accurate reconstruction of it 2) should it be printed this size? (I've put it next to one of the CEREBUS ROOFTOP posters to show the relative size) options: 2a) reduce it to the size of a Bonus Print and make it a bonus print; 2b) figure out how much it would cost to produce them this size with modern printing technology without going fuzzy as oversized prints for civilians who don't know the difference in printing tend to do  3) how much of a premium price would you be willing to pay so that Sean gets paid for his reconstruction, the printer gets paid to do accurate sharp oversized printing on an extremely limited run and John gets compensated for packaging these individually -- either flat or in mailing tubes?  I'm guessing a ballpark figure of $150 with a head sketch and another $50 or so for printing a really short run 100% accurately and mailing them individually.

THE FIRST HALF poster:
Original printing. Roughly 18" by 24".  There is enough of a supply of these in the Cerebus Archive that we would be able to offer them as part of CAN3.  I haven't counted them exactly but I think the Cerebus Archive could spare 20 and offer them with a Cerebus head sketch, personalized, for $100 each.  There will be a premium price on the shipping and handling because they can't be packed with the folios themselves, so it's pure additional labour for Funkmaster and Rolly.



THE THIRD QUARTER poster:
Original printing,  Roughly 18" by 24".  Same deal as THE FIRST HALF poster. I'm not entirely certain how many of them there are. I don't really want to UNpack them to count them and then have to REpack them, but I'm guessing that the Cerebus Archive can spare 20 of them and offer them with a Cerebus head sketch for $80 (since there's less room for a head sketch than on the FIRST HALF poster)




FOUR MORE YEARS poster:
Definitely down to the last few of the original posters so this one won't be offered in its original form, but same basic question: do you want this reconstructed at the 17" by 22" size by Sean and are you willing to pay a premium $150+ for it or would you be okay with a reduced version of it as a Bonus Print for $9 + $1 postage?
 [FMJ - if Sean is already reconstructing the size, then you might as well make it as large as you like and not limit it to 17x22. Once you cross the size gap into 'large format' you're at a new cost plateau for printing and shipping, and, for example, 24x36 is not that much more costly than 17x22 or 18x24]



CEREBUS ROOFTOP poster:
My idea was to do a poster of the CREATORS of CEREBUS rather than the comic's fantasy subject matter for comic stores -- basically a reverse of Meatloaf's BAT OUT OF HELL poster (by Richard Corben) which stood out in record stores for the opposite reason: fantasy subject matter instead of the creator of the music.  





There are a lot of these in the Cerebus Archive but they are all folded down to 81/2x11.  So I have no problem with offering them as Pledge Items for the standard $9 each (autographed and personalized to a first name: no room for a head sketch).  The question that remains is: how much does John Funk want to charge for packaging these with the folios, given that we've abandoned the idea of doing mini-prints because of the labour- intensive nature of packaging smaller items with the 11x17 folios?  Make John an offer and he'll tell you if he can live with it!

I've signed this one in red marker as my recommendation of what works best, comparing that to…




…where I've signed it in black with the same thickness of marker. It tends to blend in and not really look as if it's signed: more as if the signature was printed on the poster.  Likewise with signing inside the photograph area on…




I've actually had to enlarge it so that you can see that the signature is actually there. 

In terms of Gerhard signing these:  I've basically instructed Sean with anything that he reconstructs and/or restores that he supplies Gerhard with digital files so that Gerhard can print (or reconstruct in a different way if he doesn't like what Sean's done) his own versions of anything that has his work on it.  

If he wants to make his signature a pledge item as part of any of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Kickstarters, he's more than welcome to do that.  He and John Funk both went to the same high school, so I'm sure John would be happy to drop off and pick up any material Gerhard is interested in signing for whatever fee they agree upon between themselves and then I would pay Gerhard whatever the agreed-upon amount was after he's signed everything. 
[FMJ - Yes, I'm in on that! Funny story.....neither Gerhard nor I knew each other in high school, other than the fact that I remembered a 'guy by the name of Gerhard' who could draw really well, but I didn't make the connection. Yet, every time I saw his photo in some CEREBUS ARCHIVE material, or on the web, I would tell Dave that he looked so familiar, but I couldn't place it. Anyway, to make a long story short, the clue was when I read Sean's interview of Gerhard that he gave a few years ago, where Gerhard mentions a name of someone that he was friends with in high school. CLICK. I remembered that name and mentioned it as an 'oh, by the way...' to Dave in one of our faxes and then Dave confirmed that it was the same high school name and after digging up an old copy of my yearbook, I made the connection! Small world, eh?]
As far as I know Gerhard only signs CEREBUS material that he worked on, so it would be limited, for the moment, to these posters.

Weekly Update #71: Cerebus Archive Number Three

Cerebus Archive Number Three
Signed Limited Edition Prints From 'Church & State I'
Kickstarter Ends Saturday 21st March 2015

DAVE SIM:
Hi, everyone!

Okay, the clock is counting down to the start of our latest CEREBUS ARCHIVE Kickstarter -- CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER THREE, the ten earliest CHURCH & STATE pages in the Cerebus Archive.  Funkmaster John's got everything ready, Dave Fisher delivered the fully edited video (thank you, David!) and we're still tweaking a few things, but...with pre-approval from Jamie at Kickstarter...it looks as if we'll be going LIVE at around 1500 hours!  Roughly one hour from now!

After I'm done posting this, the Funkmaster is going to post a "Visual Discussion" regarding the CEREBUS posters (which I get asked about A LOT).  So that will actually serve as a lead-in since it will go above this one in the pecking order.  It really involves expanding what John is already doing -- it's not that complicated on my end: autographs and head sketches -- so it's not going to be a matter of just making them another $9 Bonus Item, I'm afraid.  Please give us your input on these if you get a chance.  We might not be doing them with THIS Kickstarter,  but maybe the NEXT Kickstarter.

As you can see, this week is pretty much ALL Kickstarter Updates!

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
1.  Canadian dollar -- after plummeting earlier in the month -- seems to have levelled off at 80 cents U.S.  Good CAN3 news for our U.S. pledge partners!

2.  Funkmaster John's GRAPHIC EDGE PRINT SOLUTIONS will be sponsoring a "Sermon On The Chimney" bookmark I hope to have drawn next week -- one free to each pledge partner as well as producing a CEREBUS wall-cling for selected participants.

3.  All of the Kickstarter expenses are posted by John to the Kickstarter site. We both encourage ALL of the pledge partners to audit us.  Anything doesn't add up or anywhere you see that we could be generating savings, let us know.  It's YOUR money, after all!

4.  Upgrades to shipping are now an on-going policy.  If you pledge a large amount of money (in the most recent case over SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS! Seriously!!) and you've checked SEA shipping to an International destination, we will automatically upgrade you to AIR shipping. At our expense.

5.  We have confirmation that MELMOTH, JAKA'S STORY, LATTER DAYS and THE LAST DAY have all arrived at the Star System warehouse in Mississippi and are now available for retailer order.

6.  Still waiting on final numbers for the HIGH SOCIETY SIGNED AND NUMBERED GOLD LOGO 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION but we're still projecting a "March or early April" delivery. 

Progress IS being made on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, the scanning of the CHURCH & STATE I artwork, prepping for the big move of all the CEREBUS inventory from Leamington to Kitchener.

1.  I got 21 cents on the dollar when I cashed my STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND cheque at the CIBC today.  A couple of weeks back it was up around 24 cents on the dollar.  It does mean I can't really recommend either pledging early or pledging late on this (I think Kickstarter bills you at the time of pledging but I could be wrong about that) because it depends on which way the dollar goes and when.  But, it's definitely looking like a minimum 20% off sale for our USA! USA! pledge partners.  John and I will try to keep you posted if there are any sudden and unusual fluctuations.

If the Canadian dollar hits another "air pocket" and drops a few hundred feet overnight, we'll probably recommend that all of our USA! USA! pledge partners cancel their previous pledge and re-pledge at the more favourable rate. 


2.  I haven't mentioned the wall-cling previous to this.  It's a relatively new technology which Funkmaster John has adopted for GRAPHIC EDGE PRINT SOLUTIONS.  Basically it's a textured poster material that comes on a backing paper on which you can print in colour or black and white.  The "new" aspect of it is that you can stick it to the wall and it will hold just as if it was super-glued there.  But you can peel it off just as easily as you can peel a light adhesive label.  And then stick it to the wall again.  And peel it off again.  THEORETICALLY -- the company that makes the stuff promises -- dozens, if not hundreds of times, with no loss of adhesiveness.

I ended up sending a "Cerebus Berserker" sample wall cling to a couple of people for their comments.

It does seem to be a non-comic fan kind of thing.  As soon as you take it off the backing material, it's no longer in mint, right?  But, that's the thing.  TECHNICALLY it IS, if you can place it and replace it with no loss of its inherent adhesive nature.  True, you couldn't get it back onto the original backing paper, but I'm pretty sure an oversized sheet of wax paper would serve the same purpose.

So we have yet to work out what the actual "distribution" is going to be on this: but it seems to me like a "win-win" for the pledge partners.  Either it's the FIRST EVER (i.e. of many) CEREBUS WALL CLING and rare for that reason or -- if we really can't get a substantial enough level of interest -- it's the ONLY CEREBUS WALL  CLING and rare for that reason.

Anyway, much appreciated that Funkmaster John is always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing in printing and is willing to try it out as a Kickstarter pledge item!

 The bookmark will be on the wall-cling material and the original artwork for the "Sermon on the Chimney" piece will be our "end of campaign" art auction this time around!


3.  I just wanted to repeat -- and emphasize -- that we're being as completely honest and up-front with the pledge partners as we can be:  posting all of the expenses for each Kickstarter campaign and always looking for cost savings (the latest was Funkmaster wondering aloud if there wasn't a cheaper place to get the gold seals used on the FIRST RELEASE BONUS PRINTS -- I checked the U-Line catalogue and found out that they were probably 50% less in U-Line quantities than they were from the office supply place we were using. Good call, Funkmaster!).  It's 2015 and every penny counts around here (as I'm sure it does around your own place).


4.  We're definitely trying to take a "Common Sense" approach to all of the various aspects of the Kickstarter campaigns.  Upgrading shipping is a good example.

The other one that we'll be trying for the first time with THIS Kickstarter is "referral rewards".

Basically, we've been hearing from CEREBUS fans who are just now finding out about CEREBUS ARCHIVE.

We don't know HOW common this is, but it seems not to be, let's say, completely exceptional.

So, in the hopes that we can get some links to those people who have been cut off from CEREBUS for a while now, we'll be offering a FREE Bonus Print, PERSONALIZED to ANY new Kickstarter Pledge Partner AND a FREE Bonus Print, PERSONALIZED to the person who served as a "link" -- even if you're not a Kickstarter Pledge Partner, yourself.  Likewise with the "Five-Copy Retailer Package" -- serve as a link to a new Retailer Pledge Partner and both you AND the retailer will get your choice of a FREE Bonus Print each, personalized to you. 


5.  Boy, that was a STEEP LEARNING CURVE shipping books for the first time directly to Diamond's Mississippi Star System warehouse instead of going through Lebonfon! The order came in in the middle of December and finally made it there in late January.  It's always the same story with self-publishing:  there are always problems that need fixing, but once they're fixed they tend to stay fixed.

Anyway, the good news is that MELMOTH, JAKA'S STORY, LATTER DAYS and THE LAST DAY are finally available to stores again for the first time in years.

Had to make the tough call to forge ahead with restorations on CHURCH & STATE I (which is SORT of "in print" with Diamond having 100 or so copies in inventory) rather than READS (which is completely out of print).  My gut instinct is that it's better to have the earliest volumes available in sequence so that retailers can get new readers "up to speed" on CEREBUS.

Which leads to point 6:


6.  I don't think I'm being particularly morbid or fatalistic in keeping my focus on "end of life" issues.  The fact is that there's a LOT that needs to be done before I die and I'm aware of how dramatically I'm slowly down in my late fifties.  It takes me about 70 to 80 hours a week to do what I used to do in 40 hours a week.

I really have no problem with working 70 to 80 hours a week, because I'm determined to get everything done.  If I end up having a few years AFTER everything's done where I DON'T have to work 70 to 80 hours a week, I'll consider that a bonus.

The fact that Kickstarter -- so far -- is able to supply reliable revenues to move all of these various projects to completion is a major plus.  I really don't worry obsessively about money, I just keep in my mind the next thing and the next thing and the next thing and the next thing.  I always knows what I'm doing next.  I'm able to do about ten pages of THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND in any seven-week period...

[and my focus has changed. Now that I know I'm not going to be bowling anyone over with my productivity, I get determined that "if this is the last page I ever do" that it's "wall-to-wall eye candy"]

...while keeping up with all of my Kickstarter obligations, scanning the original artwork for Sean's restorations, planning the preservation of the Archive itself, the disposition of the Off-White House Copies and the Uncirculated CEREBUS back issues.  Just since the last campaign ended, CEREBUS Volume One has been brought back into print, HIGH SOCIETY has been fully restored and prepped for being printed, CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE has been made available  through Diamond, half the foundation on the Off-White House has been reinforced to 21st century building standards, we've got a clearer picture of what moving the entire inventory from Leamington to Kitchener is going to involve...

All thanks to fewer than 300 devoted CEREBUS fans.

Okay, roughly one hour to the launch of the next Kickstarter!

Here we go!    

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Jaka's Sweet old Aunt Victoria

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.

Here is a notebook that we haven't looked at yet: #13. It covers Cerebus #122 to 125, though it has plot summaries up to at least issue #130. Clocking in at 80 pages on the cover, I only had to scan in 67 pages, and there were 7 blank pages. I even made a note that "page #049 has a piece of tape on the bottom left corner." Now that I look at the scan - I can't see a tear, and the piece of tape is about the size of a dime.

On page 46 of the notebook, the entire page is taken up with some insight into 'why would Jaka marry Rick'. At first it almost sounds like a page from the story, but then Dave addresses the Cerebus readers directly. Perhaps a Note From the President or a response to a Aardvark Comment letter? This writing doesn't really sound familiar at all:

Notebook #13 page 46
On page 45 there is what appears to be a photocopy of the artwork for the cover to issue #124 and on page 47 is a rough outline of that issue ("1  2  3  Jaka's cleavage 4 5 6 7 - Am I ugly? I feel ugly can I have a drink 7 basketball" ). So perhaps the writing on page 46 is just an unfinished and unused Note From the President.

Then on page 56 and 57 we get some drawings of Jaka in different outfits. Around the outfit on page 56 Dave wrote some dialogue between "Jaka's sweet old Aunt Victoria" and Oscar from issue 125.

Notebook #13 page 56
On page 57 we get the final bits of dialogue between the two and a Pud and Oscar talking about the guffin.

Notebook #13 page 57

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Gerhard and Cerebus: His First Month(s)



Sean Michael Robinson:

As I mentioned last week, I've started into the restoration work on Church and State I, beginning with Dave's new scans of all of the original artwork in the Cerebus Archive. Seeing all of this original artwork, I'm struck by how much different the experience can be viewing the work in color, all of the mechanical process exposed, rather than the more familiar experience of line art reproduction on newsprint. It mostly brought to mind my interview with Gerhard, only a few years ago now. The mammoth interview, which focused on pen and ink technique and the evolving craft in Cerebus, originally ran at TCJ.com, but now lives at the Hooded Utilitarian. I thought it might be interesting to run a few excerpts here, with the original newsprint scans replaced with color scans of the original artwork under discussion. I hope you enjoy!




Gerhard's first page of the monthly book.

Robinson: In the first 300 pages you worked on in Church and State, it’s amazing the amount of techniques you’re adding through that time — and subtracting too.

Gerhard: Right, yeah. Get rid of what doesn’t work, keep what does work, and you slowly build up a bag of tricks. Like when something worked, you kept that. “OK, remember how you did that.” And when something didn’t work, it was like, “Don’t do that again.”

Robinson: It’s interesting to me to look at the very first issue. You seemed to avoid contour lines a lot for the backgrounds and more focused on the value relationships, but you almost immediately ditched that.

Gerhard: That’s the problem with learning on the job — all these thousands of people get to see all of your mistakes. And luckily I managed to muddle through that. It was a learning process for both Dave and I. He has this incredible ability to mimic almost any drawing style. And when he got stuck, when he had a page where he’s thinking “How should this look? How should I present this? What is the effect I want here?” — all he had to do was to pull out a Bernie Wrightson book or Jeff Jones or whoever, and he could emulate that. He tried to get me to do the same sort of thing. And I would look at those references, but ultimately it would always work out best if I just drew the way that I drew. Not trying to fight it. I would try to make it look a little more like that, but I would still have to do it the way I do it. That was just the way it worked best. And it usually involved a whole lot of little lines. [Laughing.]

...

Robinson: To take that up, how much back-reading of Cerebus did you do before you actually worked on the Epic stories, or the series? Did you actually sit down and read all of the issues?

Gerhard: At the time before I started on Cerebus, I was working at the local art supply store, which was appropriately named The Art Store. And I was doing some commercial jobs on the side, trying to make some money and trying to build up a portfolio of published, or at least printed, work. So a lot of it was commercial work. I would have to draw snow tires and meat pies. One assignment was to draw a frozen beef pie using pointillism and “make it look delicious.” [Laughter.]

Robinson: Is that possible?

Gerhard: Well, I gave it my best shot. But this was the sort of thing that I was doing at the time. I was also working at the art supply store and doing the deliveries. And Dave was on my route. I would drop off the Letratone that made Cerebus gray. And that’s how I met Dave. Also Deni, his wife at the time, is a sister of a friend of mine. So we met at parties and stuff too. At the time I had done a whole bunch of pen-and-ink pieces and colored them with watercolor wash on top of the pen and ink, and framed all of those up to try to do a show, and that met with, let’s call it limited success? Because it takes a long time to put all those pieces together, costs a lot of money to frame them up and takes a long time to sell them and get your money back. So I had a whole bunch of unsold pieces hanging up in the apartment. I had a party and Dave and Deni came. I was aware he was doing a comic at the time, but I wasn’t into comics at all. I had seen an issue here or there, and thought, “That’s pretty cool,” but I hadn’t got into the story or anything. And then when Dave saw these colored pieces that I had done, he mentioned that Archie Goodwin at Epic had approached him about doing some color pieces, and Dave was never big into doing color. And so he asked if he laid out the pages and inked the characters and the word balloons, would I be able to do backgrounds like this behind it? So I said, “Let’s give it a shot.” 


Courtesy of the collection of Dean Reeves.

Gerhard: And that’s how the Epic pieces came about. Then when he asked me if I wanted to do the backgrounds on the monthly book, I sat down with issue 1 and read all the way up to the current one, and sort of dove in from there. I read the whole thing pretty much in one sitting.

Robinson: What was your impression at the time?

Gerhard: I remember going into the studio the next day after reading them and I just started gushing. Just “I love this part, I love that part, this is great, that’s great, when he does this, when he does that …” and Dave’s just sort of rolling his eyes like “Oh, God, he’s turned into a fawning fan.” What he wanted was a collaborator. “No, no, it’s OK. I’m just saying, I’m really blown away, I’m really excited about working on this stuff.”

And he was like, “Well, let’s get to work.” [Laughter.] And of course the first few pages were just brutal. Here I am — I figure basically all I’m doing is ruining Dave’s pages. [Laughter.]

Robinson: Did that feeling last a long time?

Gerhard: Let’s see here. We’re in Church and State 1. Here we go. Looking back on this stuff is just …

Robinson: I’m sorry to do this to you.

Gerhard: Well, I knew it was going to happen. [Laughter.] No, especially the first few issues …. the thing too is Dave was using a crow-quill pen [Long sigh.] I’d been using mostly technical pens. So not only was I trying to learn technique and whatnot, I was using a completely new medium… oh, God, I can’t look at this, that’s just awful. [Much laughter.]

Robinson: What page?


Original art courtesy of the collection of Gregory Kessler.

Gerhard: Church and State page 282. Booba’s at the desk writing and there’s all these horrible bricks in the background. [Laughter.] But again, I was learning on the job. I remember saying to Dave at this point, “I’m drawing individual bricks. What I have to draw is a wall.” Learn how to draw a wall instead of a bunch of bricks.










Two issues later. Gerhard is clearly on his way to drawing a wall, while still staying "on model" to the previously established look of the environment.


Robinson: That’s a great way to say that. I was noticing on … 233 was the first monthly page you were on, right?

Gerhard: Let’s see … [hums] Yes.

Robinson: There’s some techniques in those first few pages that you don’t really come back to. Is that stippling on 275?


The dreaded white dot tone.

Gerhard: What happened there was I inked it as a contour and though it was too distracting, too stark, so what I ended up doing was putting a sheet of white Letratone on that breaks up the black line. The other stuff on the page is a sheet of stipple Letratone. I wanted a gray value in there, but I didn’t have the confidence, especially with a new pen, to do it with crosshatching, so I did it with the stipple tone instead.

Robinson: Had you used much of that before?

Gerhard: Not to that extent. I was familiar with it. Now that I’m flipping through the pages, I see that I abandoned it pretty quickly. It’s not like I used it on very many pages directly after that.


It's likely Dave still had some white dot tone laying around the studio, left over from Theresa's blouse in the previous issue.

Robinson: And when you did bring it back it was on top of some of your crosshatching.

Gerhard: That’s the thing. Sometimes I would put all the layers of crosshatching down and decide there wasn’t enough contrast, so, rather than trying to add another layer of crosshatching, I would just put the stipple tone on top.

...

Gerhard: OK, we’re very early on here. We’re — What? — four or five pages into this. In the Epic stories, all the background stuff was very much in the background, and, other than the bottle he was drinking from, there wasn’t anything that the characters were directly interacting with. So when she picks up that chair all the sudden it still looks like it’s too much of a background chair, it’s not enough of a foreground chair. So I did my best at the time. But even looking at it then I’m going,“That’s not right. I have to do it differently than that. Not sure how yet, but differently.” So there was a distinction. A few pages later on Cerebus is in the courtyard playing cards, and the chair he’s sitting on there looks more like a foreground chair, not a background chair....

So I had to learn that distinction. The stuff that the characters are directly interacting with needs to be more cartoony, more contour line, and as things go further in the background, I could break up the contour line, use more value, or whatever.

Robinson: When you came back to those locations, sometimes a couple of hundred pages later, did you feel kind of stuck with the design that you had instigated?

Gerhard: In a lot of ways, yeah. That was one thing that I was probably overly concerned with, was trying to keep things looking consistent. At the same time I didn’t want to go back and make this thing exactly the same as before. I knew this was all one big long continuing story, and I knew it was going to be looked at in that way, especially when it would be reprinted in the phone books. I didn’t want any jarring stylistic change from one issue to the next, one page to the next. It was a bit of a struggle to not repeat the same mistakes I made before. It was a balancing act — make it look like it did before, but better.

Robinson: When we hit 305, is this some type of splatter on top of a Letratone?


This looks wildly different in print than in color reproduction. Take a peek.

Gerhard: Nope, again it’s the stipple tone. I would use two layers of it. The lighter gray is one layer, and I would put another layer of the stipple tone on top of it. If you look at the original pages it looks really good. If you look at this page reduced and printed on newsprint, it’s like “Ugh, that looks muddy. Don’t do that again!” That was the other thing learning to draw for reproduction. Most of the stuff I had done up till then was for framing, not reduced and reproduced. I would do the pages and I wouldn’t actually see how it turned out until the printed book came in. And I would look at it and go “Oh, that didn’t work; that did. Do that again; don’t do that again!” These issues were pretty much done without the knowledge of what it was going to look like in the final book.

...

Robinson: How much adjustment do you think Dave was doing at this point knowing what you were going to be coming up with?

Gerhard: Well, when he was working, he was starting on a blank piece of paper. I think initially anyway his drawing style didn’t change too much. Did you notice on 331 the top right panel there’s no turn on Cerebus’ arm? [Laughter.] That was my job too — I took over the toning responsibilities, and I just completely forgot to tone his arm on that one. Anyway, this was sort of our philosophy too. No matter how good the original art looks, whatever it looks like printed is the important thing, because that’s what everybody’s going to see. Not the original art. So if it worked on the original art and it didn’t work in print, then I had to change that. It was a learning curve for the both of us as we got the printed book back. We both sort of adjusted our styles and techniques down until we sort of met in the middle and finally gelled and it looked like one cohesive … I wonder when that started happening.