Thursday, 26 May 2016

Odd Transformations... 4 part 2

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.

So last week we looked at a page from Dave's notebook #7 that showed the thumbnails for Cerebus #95, pages 12 through 15.  This week we look pages pages 16 through 19, which are several more double page spreads.

Notebook 7,  page 110
And the pages from the finished issue:

Cerebus #95, page 16 and 17

Cerebus #95, page 18 and 19 
In the comments from last week Dave said this about the pages:

These are Hawaii pages. Rose had come to visit Gerhard and he was taking the week off to spend time with her -- staying at her hotel just off Waikiki Beach while I was in the condo at the Marina -- so I was left to try to figure out a way to keep everything moving forward while actually running up ahead on my own. And that seemed to be the best way to do it: thumbnail the backgrounds in my notebook and then finish my part of the page. I had to get far enough ahead so that I wouldn't need my notebook if he needed it for reference. I didn't LIKE to thumbnail backgrounds because that tended to confine Gerhard to a predetermined "his side" of the page. And I knew from experience he always came up with better things if they were HIS from the git-go. 

They're really nice pages -- but they needed to be relatively quick pages for Gerhard if he was going to make up the week where he fell behind me. And that was never predictable. We see -- and saw -- differently. Trying to "do" MY background usually slowed him down and diminished the results. That happened here. I hoped that I could thumbnail "this is pretty much all solid black": "here's where you put in some detail" in a way that made sense to him. Sort of. But not really.

The next page on the notebook has a thumbnail for the final page of the issue, though I don't see where the dialogue was used - though since much of it is crossed out, perhaps it was decided not to put it in the issue.

Notebook 7,  page 111
The title of the next issue "An Anchor That's Going Place" was used over the "Just Listen".

Wednesday, 25 May 2016


Glamourpuss #7 (May 2009)
Art by Dave Sim
(continued from Robin Snyder's The Comics Part 1...)
Hi Robin!  I just saw your note on the front of this issue: "There's a grumbler in here".

Well put.  Just a grumbler.  Nothing I'd take personally.

MS.A in glamorpuss #7 wasn't really intended as a backhanded tribute to Steve Ditko so much as it was intended as a multi-levelled parody.  Let's bear in mind that the battles fought by (particularly) Harvey Kurtzman over the Right To Parody were won a number of years ago.  On one level, I was making fun of the "legalistic" impulse towards female characters (if you don't create and publish She-Hulk then you are leaving open the possibility of someone else doing it, legally).  It's the sort of "make work" for lawyers things our society has had as a thorn in its side (in my view) for too many years.

Taking to its ludicrous extreme, all you would have to do is go through the DC and Marvel "stables" and look for any character who HASN'T had a female incarnation done and -- on the basis of their own "legalism" you would own it.  Do the Spectre with breasts and call it She-Spectre.  The possibilities are limitless.  If DC tried to sue, you could just use Superman/Supergirl as the basis for refuting the charge. If you don't protect it, you don't own it.

Do I OWN Ms.A?

I suppose so.  But then I've never protected anything I've created.  I've always said that if you see a raw material in my work that you want for your own creative work, go for it!  You would know that better than I would.

If Ms.A is a misogynistic, it's a very weird kind of misogyny, since Ms.A is the first transgendered super-hero(ine).

It just seemed serendipitous:  I had purchased Paris VOGUE looking for parody ideas and there: full blown on the page was a transgendered model with a big A on his/her leotard.  I mean, I knew it was a transgendered model because of the jawline.  Men have a very specific jawline which is different from a woman's jawline.  You can do all the other surgery but unless you're going to really, really mess with the mandible (and a mandible is an easy thing to make a mess of, surgically) even a civilian is going to know "something's up".

I thought it was funny to make the world's first transgendered superhero(ine) the world's biggest Steve Ditko fan.  I mean, with an encyclopedic knowledge of EVERYTHING having to do with Steve
Ditko.  And trained to an absolute BATMAN level of superhuman, but human, capabilities.

What would Steve Ditko think of Ms.A is she actually existed and was a government agent in France?
Whatever he thought of her, it wouldn't make any difference to Ms.A.  I thought THAT was funny.  That huge a fan of Steve Ditko to the point where Steve Ditko and his opinions are "beside the point" for her.

I sent the Ms.A parody and every other Steve Ditko parody I had ever done TO Steve Ditko, the first time I contacted him in 2009.  I didn't want there to be any false pretences/two-facedness on my part: here are my parodies, here's an enthusiastic letter about your work, someone gave me your phone number, I'm phoning you on [the date of Barack Obama's visit to Canada in 2009: see cover of  CEREBUS ARCHIVE #2: Feb 19? I'm guessing] at x time.  If you don't want to talk to me, don't pick up.  Well, he picked up ("I pay my phone bill, why wouldn't I answer my phone?") and we talked for an hour or so and then began a lengthy correspondence.

I never mentioned any of the parodies and he never referred to them either.

Make of that what you will.

Coming in part III:  What about the Steve Ditko letters in the Cerebus Archive?

Oh, and Tim, if you've got a copy of #7, feel free to run the entire Ms.A parody here on AMOC.    

Impossible Thing #14

What I'm alluding to here is the Feminist Theocracy's impulse towards "the one right way to think."  The Impossible Things are far too intricate for that:  there are just too many ways of thinking about the various subjects to rule anything "out of order" (I think) -- let alone ruling EVERYTHING out of order that doesn't conform to Feminist Theocracy thinking.

And, yes, in our society, thinking that way makes me a misogynist.  Which is why I don't go out in public.  

On Sale 20 Years Ago: Cerebus #206

Cerebus #206 (May 1996)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Puma Blues: AV Club Review

The Puma Blues (Dover Books, 2015)
by Stephen Murphy & Michael Zulli, with Alan Moore
Forward by Dave Sim, afterword by Steve Bissette

"Without it, any well-stocked comics library should be considered incomplete."

(from a review by Tim O'Neil at AV Club, 26 January 2016)
While it is no longer accurate to call The Puma Blues a truly lost work in the same manner as, say, Alan Moore’s Big Numbers, it certainly came uncomfortably close to a similar oblivion. Miraculously complete it returned, however, at the tail end of 2015, a strange artifact from another era. Now that it's back, a bit of explanation is in order.

In 1986 nobody had ever heard of Michael Zulli or Stephen Murphy. Dave Sim (of Cerebus fame) knew the moment he saw Zulli's work that Zulli would be a star, and so resolved to become his first publisher. Up to that point Zulli and Murphy were just two New England comics fans, but the moment the first issue of The Puma Blues saw print in 1986, it was obvious that both men would go on to have long and prolific careers in the world of comics. And that's what happened, even if The Puma Blues itself fell by the wayside.

The original run of The Puma Blues lasted from 1986 to 1989. Sim published the first 19 issues, even after the series fell victim to an ongoing dispute between Sim and his distributor. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's Mirage Studios picked up the reins after that for a few issues, but the series ended three issues shy of its projected conclusion. Zulli went on to illustrate issue #13 of The Sandman -- that's the first one with William Shakespeare -- among other things. Murphy went to work on Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both as a creator on multiple iterations of the TMNT comic book and later behind the scenes involved in creative and marketing at Mirage. The Puma Blues receded further into the background, a cult object that looked most likely to remain forever unfinished.

Now The Puma Blues has finally been completed, and compiled between two covers by the new MVP of archival comics presentation, Dover Publications. It seems almost lazy to call the work sui generis, but nothing really serves to adequately summarize such a surpassingly odd but also supremely affecting work. While the work begins as a near-future sci-fi story -- set in the far-flung future of 1997! -- it eventually grows to encompass pseudo-autobiography, New Age mysticism, conspiracy literature, UFO-logy, and natural history. More than anything else, the book is an environmental fable, and even though some of the ecological particulars have changed in the ensuing 30 years, the overall attitude of planetary urgency, tinged with anti-government paranoia, remains an all-too current sensation.

The Puma Blues is one of those books that could only exist in comics, a highly personal tour de force by two artists still too young to understand the preposterousness of such a doggedly uncommercial enterprise. It's gorgeous. Dover's hardcover edition, weighing in at 560 pages and four-and-a-half pounds, is an intimidating package. There’s an extended introduction by Sim, an extended afterward by Stephen Bissette, and a rare four-page story by Alan Moore. Plus, of course, the brand new 40-page conclusion by Murphy and Zulli. Now that it’s done The Puma Blues can take its rightful place alongside the period’s other great monuments, such as Moore and Campbell's From Hell and Gaiman's Sandman. Without it, any well-stocked comics library should be considered incomplete. 

Monday, 23 May 2016

Gerhard Commissions: Jaka's Story

Click image to enlarge.

(from Gerz Blog, 20 May 2016)
Another "Scenes From Cerebus" commissioned by Dean; he also brought us the High Society cover recreation of the Regency; the Church & State courtyard & cannons scene; and the Melmoth street... Soon to be available as a print in My Store.

Gerhard's 2016 Convention Itinerary:
March 18-20: Comicon Toronto, ON
April 8-10: Wizard World Madison, WI
June 17-19: Wizard World Sacramento, CA
July-August: Gone Sailing Georgian Bay, ON
September 8-10: Wizard World Nashville, TN
November 4-6: Wizard World Pittsburgh, PA

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Calling All Raymond/Williamson Photorealists!

Thanks to Carson G. for the FedEx package of photorealism samples!  BEAUTIFUL STUFF!

I would agree that you will probably find the shift to strict Raymond/Williamson school photorealism RELATIVELY easy.  But I'd offer the cautionary note that the style LOOKS deceptively easy but is actually quite difficult...and that tends to vary depending on the day.  Some days it's "Oh, right, I GET this."  and the next day it's "Oh, right. I SORT OF get this". Speaking as someone who spent seven years at it, I think I'm safe in saying that it's "built in".

I've often wondered if Raymond and Williamson experienced the same thing and to what extent.

I'm going to suggest that you -- and anyone else interesting in "trying out" for SDOAR -- do a Raymond/Williamson combination comic page and "pin-up" from time to time and post the results here.
We'll obviously be able to use the best examples in the books themselves and, presumably, there will be the potential to auction the original on Ebay to justify the time you put in on it.

A great deal of SDOAR consists and will consist of traced RIP KIRBY panels and juxtaposing that with "what was going on" in Raymond's -- and particularly Ward Greene's -- life at the time.  It seems to me that there's a lot of potential just using the basic elements:  September 1956, a white Corvette with red interiors, Raymond, Drake, RIP KIRBY, HEART OF JULIET JONES.

 You can download excellent scans of RIP KIRBY originals from the period at Heritage Auctions'  The style is quite different from what you get from the IDW reprints (except the handful of strips shot from the original artwork).  Put your own words on the piece in ComicCraft's Joe Kubert font:  "Here's what I have to say, visually, about Raymond's accident."


Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. Now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I'll be running interesting excerpts from those letters each week.

Returning to our regularly scheduled programming after about a month off, we now get a letter from Dave in which he addresses a cogent suggestion from Jeremy Schorr, owner of Titan Comics in Dallas, regarding footnoting the Cerebus phonebooks; the old Yahoo Cerebus Chat Group and the goings-on there; possible or real demonic possession; and his public Bible readings, among other things:

26 July, 2006

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for your letter of June 20.

As to Jeremy's suggestion, I think you might want to set something up along the Wikipedia model where you would have pages 1 to 6,000 [Ed: It's actually more than 6,000, but who's quibbling?] with breaks between the novels marked and just have people fill it up with whatever I've written about any given page. I don't think it’s really necessary for me to check it. If I wrote it, I wrote it. "To the best of my recollection...". As it starts to fill up if people find contradictory entries, I'll be happy to define the difference or pick one over the other. Certainly, I've been running out of patience with answering the same questions over and over again while recognizing that every time someone asks a question, it's the first time it occurred to them. As to the short shrift of the religious material, I think that will speak volumes on its own. Just imagine: 60 pages on Cerebus No. 1 and three lines on Latter Days. It would be nice if it could be completely separate from the Yahoo socializing -- I meant that was what I was sort of pushing for when I asked if the answers to the five questions [Ed: IIRC, that was when Dave suggested that he would answer five questions for anyone who posed them about Cerebus. It may have been a bit more complicated than that, or maybe not for everyone. Hey, it's been ten years ago, dude.] couldn't be posted somewhere on the site so that Cerebus readers "tuning in" to find out more about the book could find what I have to say in and around the "Who went to see Superman Returns?" stuff -- to which as I recall, I got no answer.

I appreciate you standing up for me against the group, but I think it's probably a lost cause. Still, if anyone can draw distinctions between personal beliefs and psychiatric conditions, you're the one. [Ed: Back at the Yahoo Cerebus Group, trolls and just misinformed posters used to regularly start a string where the only topic was something along the lines of we know Dave Sim is crazy, but how crazy is he? I would regularly chime in with my psychological expertise and debunk it.] Stick it out for as long as you can is my best advice, but I think the Yahoo Group is probably getting ready to "Go Comics Journal message board" vis-a-vis Dave Sim and, at that point, there really isn't much to say, as someone explained to me. It's just mob rule and everyone throwing the worst invective they can think of. Which should be interesting. What exactly is this website supposed to be about if you think Dave Sim is crazy? What are you all doing here? [Ed: That is pretty close to what it turned into. Amazingly, there are still posts put up at that site, though nowadays they are back to being about Cerebus, from what I can tell.]

I'm not sure if I have anything to say to them apart from maybe:

You know, demonically possessed people don't KNOW that they're demonically possessed. But they do tend to blow a gasket when you point it out even as a possibility. And, I've always wondered, why is that? Well, that's not true. I think I KNOW why that is. But, from the secular humanist side of the ledger, if you don't believe in demonic possession, why do you go ballistic when someone suggests that you might be demonically possessed?

I've cleaned up my act a good deal, as you said in one of your responses, Jeff, and one of the things that happens is that you just tend to see things clearly that were (in my view, demonically) obscured prior to that. As an example, I was a firm believer in the "Power corrupts and Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely" adage, but it wasn't until I had been reading the Bible for, I think, five years that the next time I ran across the phrase, I thought, "Hang on. That’s an indictment of God. That's saying that God is absolutely corrupt." Never occurred to me prior to that because my mind never got up that high. "Absolute Power -- yeah, like Nixon." See? Richard Nixon was nowhere near Absolute Power but, because I never thought above that mundane level, it never occurred to me that I was cursing God in using the phrase. That seems like a really basic form of demonic possession. Give the phrase to some glib smart-mouthed teenager (like I was) and get him to say it out loud a few times and he's very possibly taken a metaphorical meat cleaver to his own soul without having the slightest idea that's what he's done. It seems to me that the mail is mostly an ongoing contest to see if I can be made to agree with something I don't agree with or to let an observation go that I should refute.

Let me put it another way. Doesn't it seem a little odd that this obscure cartoonist no one has ever heard of and who everyone agrees is crazy is still getting ten- and fifteen-page letters in the mail two years after he finished his book? [Ed: He may have been mostly referring to me, but I’m pretty sure there were others.] Even after he has made it pretty clear that his only advice is to submit yourself to the will of God, pray five times a day, pay the stated alms and fast in Ramadan? [Ed: All of which Dave has done steadfastly since at least 1999.]

I don't think that will go over any better than my answers did but, having finally Googled my own name a while back, I don't think there are many worse things that can be said about me than the category I'm already in.

I've finished the first four Bible readings and booked the next four. [Ed: This refers to the period of time when Dave believed that God wanted him to publicly read, out loud, the King James version of the Bible and Dave went out and rented, at his own expense, a public venue for doing so. All donations went to the local food bank, IIRC.] Our peak attendance so far was five, our lowest two. It's had its amusing qualities. The first week, there was a seniors couple there who left after about twenty minutes. I mean, the crowd is dropping from seven to five, you notice those things and I wondered a lot about that. Why would you come all the way out, stay for twenty minutes and leave? It's a Bible reading. The guy is reading the Bible. What would cause such a profound level of disappointment? Then, the second week, a woman phones the night before (the number is in the newspaper listing). The only person who ever phoned because of the listing. Asks about a hundred questions and at one point asks if I need someone to "spell" me -- she'd love to read some Psalms. Okay, straightforward YHWH stuff, but I deflect it. No, it's just me reading and I'm going in order. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus... God willing, through the Gospels and through the entire Koran. Mention of the Koran should scare her away but doesn't. She has no money, she uses the Food Bank herself. No problem, she's more than welcome. She's a diabetic, so she'll have to have something to eat. One of the girls at Williams gave me a couple of free muffins Saturday night, so I bring one for her. The bus is dropping her off from church. So, I figure I better have money because she's going to start complaining about how is she going to get home, so I'll spring for a cab. She shows up. I give her the muffin and she's delighted. Wolfs it down. She goes to the charismatic church down on Charles Street. She just loves to get up and sing and dance and Praise the Lord. I smile. She gripes at the Food Bank rep that they should have special food hampers for diabetics, that she can't eat half of the stuff they give her. Katharine, the Food Bank rep, is gracious. Bible reading starts and, twenty minutes in, she gets up and leaves. So, okay, that explains the couple from week one. The whole point of this is to get me wondering and discourage me. But what a lack of imagination! Two walk-outs within twenty minutes and both with women involved.

Well, since then it's just been funny. Sandeep, Trevor (who's filming the readings), Greg, me and the Food Bank rep (Christopher, except for the one week for Katharine). Last week, I gave Greg the DVDs that Trevor has been pressing and told him it was for his "perfect attendance record". So, hey, it's just the guys and the Bible. As long as my personal bank account holds out, I'll keep doing it even if I have to read to an empty theatre. As I said to Sandeep, what am I going to do, blame my material? Blame my delivery?

Now, it seems to me that the issue is one of: has anyone ever done this before? I mean has anyone ever read the Torah in an English translation aloud? Even all of the wacky stuff in Exodus about how you put the sanctuary together and (next week's crowd-pleaser) YHWH’s favourite bar-b-que recipes and how to tell leprosy from not leprosy? And then, Israel makes her big move against Lebanon. Is that connected in some way? If my reading the Pentateuch out loud is somehow facilitating the wiping out of Hezbollah and Hamas, well, I'll happily go into debt to see that accomplished.

Anyway, thanks for forwarding all of this.

The dogs howl but the caravan rolls on.



Friday, 20 May 2016

Now, just hold on a minute, there! UPDATE intro:

While I admire Sandeep's optimism, this IS John Funk that we're talking about here.  I've definitely signed everything but let's remember that John's previous "drop dead" target date for getting everything done was April 18 and it was me who asked him to make up a schedule of financial penalties if he missed the April 18 target and we're now at May 20th and it's a long weekend in Canada.  I will be perfectly astonished if anything gets shipped to anyone before the end of this month.  :)

Except for the postcards which I did mail.

And now have a very bad (apologies to Jeff Smith) "gitchy feeling" about, because of the amount of printed type at the bottom of the postcard, under the mailing address.  You're really not supposed to do that because the sorting computers look at the "bottom line" literally.

So everyone that I mentioned in the Weekly Update this week, your postcards should arrive in one week and one day (the U.S.), so including the long weekend, we're looking at May 30 as the ETA.  If you haven't gotten your postcard by then, please post a comment here.  We might be looking at reprinting them with the type at the top of the postcard this time.

Or maybe they'll arrive no problem.

I can dream can't I?

Weekly Update #135: Cerebus Archive #4 On Its Way!

Cerebus Archive #4 has now finished printing and is on its way to Cerebus fans! 
Some of them even have special stamps. Now that is, by definition, special.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Odd Transformations... 4

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.

The last time we looked at Dave Sim's notebook #7 it was in November of 2015 in Out With the In Crowd. The 115 pages scanned covers Cerebus issues 87 to 95. We've looked at several times before: "Lord Julius", "So...You already said that.", "Odds and Ends", and "Assassin".

This week starts a two part look at the dream sequence in issue 95, Odd Transformation 4. On page 109 of the notebook we see Dave's sketches for the double page spread of pages 12 and 13 (pages 888 & 889 of the phonebook Church & State II) and the double page spread 14 and 15:

Notebook 7,  page 109
And the one from the finished issue:

Cerebus #95, page 12 and 13 
Cerebus #95, page 14 and 15
There are a few noticeable differences between Dave and Ger's versions, and we'll see the next couple of pages next week.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016


I'm doing this in the form of an open letter to you, Robin, in answer to your request to reprint some of STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND in THE COMICS!  (Robin is one of the few people to own all 180-odd pages of Our Story Thus Far which I thought he was MORE than entitled to -- #1 on the list -- since the TWIN EARTHS stuff wouldn't have been in there if he hadn't sent me his personal collection of TWIN EARTHS reprints, including a #1 personalized to him by the great Alden McWilliams with whom he was a close personal friend. I can, literally, never repay him for that extraordinary consideration)

I said the last time that I sent you something and you asked to reprint it that my policy has always been that anyone is more than welcome to print anything that I send them.  This tends to happen a lot.  While I can appreciate that most people don't share my views, I do consider it a problem to be asked for permission after explaining my position.  I've even had publishers insist on my permission in writing.

I hope you can appreciate that I can't keep doing that without, effectively, undermining my own carefully considered position by setting a contrary and contradictory precedent.  "SEE?  Sim signed this written permission so he obviously believes it's necessary" "SEE? Sim gave express consent so he obviously thinks he needed to."

This spills over into the letter from Tom Peirce in your -- wonderful! -- June issue, Vol. 27 No.6 and my letter that you printed in that same issue, which I'll be discussing next Wednesday.

Enjoyed your (along the same lines) "Recording, Revising, Rebranding History" lead-in in the same issue.

I also like Steve Ditko's new logo for THE COMICS!, although I miss the CLASSIC logo by the (equally) legendary Creig Flessel.  

THE COMICS! always recommended $30 US $37 foreign for 12 issues. Robin Snyder 3745 Canterbury Lane #81, Bellingham, WA, 98225-1186.

Impossible Thing #13

Impossible Thing To Believe Before Breakfast #13:
A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself. 

It's hard to explain these things concisely because so many things are upside down in our society.

The problem is divorce has gone from a religious thing to a societal thing, so The State is now in control.  Where The State intervenes in human affairs, it needs (presumably) to do so on the basis of Equality.  Everyone has to be Equal before The Law.  Which is not what we're doing.  A baseball player's ex-wife is worth $3 million dollars, the clerk's ex-wife is worth $40K (or whatever).

What we are doing is incentivizing whoredom and whore-mongering: gold-digging by women and women-as-chattal by men.  If, instead, we had a fixed settlement rate for EVERYONE based on jurisdiction (as a 24/7 wife and mother this is what it costs to keep you alive in this jurisdiction, so this is what you get in the event of divorce)  we'd be removing those corruptions as a core reality in our society and getting back to something sensible: marrying for love, security, compatability.

If you only got the same "going-away presents" whether you were a baseball player's ex-wife or a clerk's wife, there would be no reason to have "going-away presents" as even an unconscious motivation in marrying and women would, I think, make better choices.  It would also mean marriages would endure longer because being a GOOD wife would be more -- literally! -- rewarding than being an EX-wife.

Likewise if you only got "going-away presents" if you were a 24/7 wife and mother.  Our concern as a society is -- or should be -- "providing for the provider" with 24/7 wives and mothers as the top priority.  As distinct from "nanny enablers", part-time mother-hobbyists, the wives of househusbands, and "opposite sex roommates".  Equal Before The Law suggests that everyone is expected to fend for him and/or her self.  The State intervening in that should ALWAYS be exceptional and should ALWAYS be "blind justice".  Anything else is institutionalized Inequality.

On Sale 26 Years Ago: Cerebus #134

Cerebus #134 (May 1990)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Happy 60th Birthday, Dave Sim!

The Comics Journal #130 (July 1989)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

Monday, 16 May 2016

Some Day, All Comics Will Be Drawn This Way!

Dave Sim, Hawaii, 1987
From backcover of Cerebus #98 (May 1987)

Sunday, 15 May 2016

R.I.P. Darwyn Cooke (1962 - 2016)

Dave and Darwyn at The Last Signing in Halifax 2010
Images courtesy of Stoo Metz and Margaret Liss
From Almost Darwyn Cooke's blog:

We regret to inform you that Darwyn lost his battle with cancer early this morning at 1:30 AM ET. We read all of your messages of support to him throughout the day yesterday. He was filled with your love and surrounded by friends and family at his home in Florida.

Donations can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society and Hero Initiative.

Please continue to respect our privacy as we go through this very difficult time.

A longer statement will come later today.

"Then we shall not be weary. Then we shall prevail." -- John F. Kennedy's New Frontier speech

Cerebus Re-Read Challenge: Cory Foster

Cerebus Vol 7 - Flight: 
...Flight is great because it's a terrific release after a couple years of very little Cerebus, less humor, and almost no action. The book is extremely frenetic, and it's the most edge-of-one's-seat action not only since the first volume, but in the whole series thus far. Dave's paneling becomes a huge asset again as he's able to push the action forward much more dynamically and fluidly than a lot of other artists at the time. His increasingly strong partnership with Gerhard also facilitates this, as it gives the characters something solid to work against, and a lot of depth to work within. It's a very cathartic section of the story, and I often wonder if parallels can be drawn between the enthusiasm of Cerebus' supporters and supporters of Cerebus at the time... [Read the full review here...]

Cerebus Vol 8 - Women: 
...Dave finally makes good on a part of the story on which he's been slowly shedding light since about 1979. Most readers probably thought to themselves many a time over the years, "what the hell is a 'Cirinist'," and somewhat fewer times, "what the hell is a 'Kevillist'." You have to hand it to Dave, he was never particularly entranced by the concept of world-building -- a valuable tool in the writer's arsenal, to be sure, but absolutely one that gets overused by sci-fi and fantasy writers to cover the fact that they don’t have much of a plot. Dave's priority was telling a story, first and foremost, with the more obscure points of Estarcion's politics being reserved for a wonderful little payoff called Women... [Read the full review here...]

Cerebus Vol 9: Reads
Cerebus Vol 10: Minds
Cerebus Vol 11: Guys
Cerebus Vol 12: Rick's Story
Cerebus Vol 13: Going Home
Cerebus Vol 14: Form & Void
Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days
Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day
Cerebus #0 (#51 Exodus, #112/113 Square One, #137/138 Like-A-Looks)
Cerebus World Tour Book 1995 (Swords Of Cerebus Back-Up Stories) 

The Cerebus Re-Read Challenge! How far will you get?
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Saturday, 14 May 2016

Jeff Seiler: Gerhard & Me

On May 4th, Gerhard sent me an email about the Minneapolis Comic Con that was upcoming on the 6th, 7th and 8th at the Minneapolis Convention Center. I was still recovering from flying home from Panama City Beach, Florida, after my three-week vacation. Ger wanted to know if I were going to be at the ComicCon and even if not, would I like to join him and Shelley for dinner or a drink at some point.

I responded that, yes, I thought I had already registered and I would be there. I told him I would very much enjoy going out to dinner with them and on what evening would they like to do that? Ger said that they had agreed to meet up for dinner with some of the vendors that they see on the circuit because they had begged off at the last show, which I believe was Madison, Wisconsin. But, he didn't know what night. So, I said I would play it by ear. As it turned out, they wanted to go to dinner on Sunday evening, as they were all not flying out until Monday. So, Ger and Shelley and I were good to go for dinner on Friday evening.

I devised a plan based on the location of the Convention Center, which is three blocks from my residence. After the show ended at 8 p.m., we would walk to my residence building and I would show them my cat. After all, I had commissioned Ger to draw my cat last year, so he might as well meet him. My cat, Pud (as in, I tawt I taw a puddy tat), and Shel hit it off just great and Ger liked him, too.

After that, we crossed the street to the brew pub that is located diagonally across from my apartment building. We each had a Belgian beer and then we went to the SuperAmerica convenience store just down the street so that they could buy some smokes. I waited outside and they were back out in seconds. Too many people in line, Ger said -- they would wait. So, then, it was down to the corner and then one block to the restaurant, Ichiban, located directly across from the Hyatt Regency, where they were staying. Ichiban is a Japanese steakhouse, where they cook your dinner at your table. Neither Ger nor Shel had ever been to one before, so they enjoyed the show. Shel was particularly impressed. After a great meal, we repaired to the hotel bar and had a nightcap, chatting all the while. The next day, Ger told me that he had had no idea that we called it quits at 1:30 a.m.

All told, we did all of the above in a 1 square block area, just two blocks from the Convention Center. Gotta love downtown Minneapolis!

Earlier in the day, I opened up my satchel at Ger's table at the Con, and took out all of what I thought were all of the Following Cerebus issues on which he had worked (cover art). As it turned out, even though he was credited, there were a couple of covers on which he did not work, including the Neal Adams issue. "Oh, I thought you drew the waterfall," says I. "No, that was all Dave," says Ger.

And, then, Ger added, "Why don't you take it down to Neal's table and have him sign it?"

What!?! "Yeah, he’s right down there," Ger said, pointing to a table about three stops down the row.

Now, I swear, I had no idea that THE Neal Adams was going to be there. The Wizard World site had no mention of him, and I would have noticed it if they had had notice.

So, I waited a little bit and then told Ger that I had worked up the nerve to go get Neal's autograph on my Following Cerebus issue. I waited in line for a bit and then had my chance. That was when I saw that it was $30 dollars for an autograph. Yeah!

But, in for a penny, in for a pound. I paid my fee, he signed my book, and then I started talking with him about the interview and the experience that he and Dave Sim had shared at Niagara Falls. Neal didn't know or had forgotten that the issue was square-bound and he remarked on that. We exchanged a few comments about THE Dave Sim and that seemed to be about it. I was getting ready to go when Neal reached out his hand and said, "Let me see that for a minute."

He leafed through the Following Cerebus and found the pages on which Dave had reproduced some old Ben Casey newspaper comic strips on which Neal had worked. Neal thought for a moment and then said, "We're putting together a book of Ben Casey strips and we're always looking for original art. Do you think Dave would have any?"

I replied that I didn't know, but that I could give Dave a call. Neal said, "Would you mind?" No, no, of course not, glad to help. So, I called Dave, left a message explaining what had transpired and would Dave get back to me with a response as soon as possible.

I went back to Gerhard's table and told him about what had gone down. Ger said that he thought it was very unlikely that Dave would have any Ben Casey strips, but I said, "you never know and anyway, it’s worth a try." And, then, later, we had our evening out. It wasn't until I got home that I found that Dave had called me back and left a message shortly before the show ended earlier that day.

The gist of the message from Dave to me was, "Hi, Jeff, I think that the best thing is for me to leave a message for Neal on your phone, so when you see him tomorrow at the con, you can hand him your phone and ask him to listen." Followed, of course, by the message for Neal.

Sooooo, the next day, I waited until Neal's table didn’t have very many people to approach him. I had already told Ger about the phone message and said, "How do you think that's going to go over with Neal?" "Good luck," says Ger, giving me a look. "Yeah," I responded, "Neal seemed a little... curmudgeonly, yesterday." "Yeah, a little," says Ger.

But, doing my duty, I approached Neal. I don't know if he honestly didn't remember me from the day before or if he was pretending not to, but he was smiling. I told him that I had gotten a response from Dave. Would you mind if I step around the side of the table and explain? Nope, says he, and pulled up a chair.

I sat down next to THE Neal Adams and said, "Well, as is often the case with Dave, he made this a little difficult, but he also really delivered." Neal sort of just nodded, knowingly. So, I told Neal about the listening to the phone message part, but I added that, if he wanted, I could just transcribe the message onto paper for him, focusing on the pertinent parts. Neal seemed to think I said something about it being a burden on me and said, "Well, not if it's going to be a burden." NO, NO!, says I, "I said, 'the pertinent parts'" Oh, yeah, well, then, yeah, transcribe, if you don't mind.

So, I went back over to Ger’s table, sat down, got paper and pen from Shelley and, an hour later, had it transcribed almost word for word. I asked Ger if he wanted to read it and he said that, no, he was trying to finish the drawing in my copy of The Last Day before the end of the show that day. BTW, three of the four drawings that he did for me in my phonebooks are visible on the right side of the blog entry for the Minneapolis Comic Con at his website,

So, I read it to Ger. He agreed that Dave really does always deliver above and beyond.

Now, bear in mind that Dave could easily just have left a message for me on my voicemail to tell Neal that, no, Dave didn't have any original art from the Ben Casey strips. End of story. But, no...

The message for and to Neal, that I transcribed, said that Dave knew of a guy, Yoram Mapzkin, wife's name Mary Ann, who lived in Woodbridge, Ontario at that time, who knew a guy in Texas who supposedly, at least at the time that Dave became aware of Yoram, has the largest collection of original Ben Casey strip art of anyone he knew of. Dave left Yoram's last phone number in the phone message to Neal. And, then, Dave went on to add that he knew that Yoram, at one time, had a week of Neal Adams dailies that Neal had done ghosting for Al Williamson on Secret Agent X-9.

And, then, Dave added on the phone message to Neal that the only other thing that Dave was aware of was that Syracuse State University, the Bird Library, has the Stan Drake papers, including a week of dailies from The Heart of Juliet Jones that Neal had ghosted for Stan Drake, in, "I'm pretty sure, like nearly 100% sure, that it was the third week of October, 1966. So, at the very least, you could contact the Bird Library at Syracuse State University and they could scan the month of October, 1966, for you. As I say, I'm pretty sure that it is the third week of October. I know Stan Drake's art and I know Neal Adams' art and I'm close to 100% sure that it’s the third week of October, 1966."

Dave closed the phone message to THE Neal Adams (on my phone!!!) by saying thanks to me for helping and wished his best to Neal's wife Marilyn and the kids, "as always."

So, on Saturday evening, a half hour before closing time, I took the transcription over to Neal and asked him if he wanted to read it. He did so, as I stood nearby. He looked up at me and softly said, "Thank you," and offered his hand to shake. I told him I was more than glad to help and that it was my pleasure. On Sunday, I went back by Neal's table, told him that it was a pleasure to meet him and that I hoped that the info I got for him would help. He told me that he was sure that it would and then said, "When the book comes out, you will have a credit."

That night, Ger and Shelley stayed in at their hotel and I went to the Wizard World after party that was held at a bar with which I am quite familiar in downtown Minneapolis. Earlier in the day, a Wizard World rep had given me a badge that was for VIP's, so I got into the private VIP area at the bar and got to sit on a leather couch that overlooked the stage area, for the second of two bands. I sat at a table on the floor for the first band, a country band that played before the official start time of the after party. Both good bands. And, I got free drinks in the VIP area for the latter part of the evening. Got home around 2 a.m., so I wasn't up 'til around noon on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon, I chilled with Ger and Shelley, got one last drawing from Ger, bought some prints. Ger was working on a sketch of Gerebus as pope and got up at one point towards the end of the day and handed it to me and said for me to ink it. So, I got to ink the loose and tight pencils of Ger (on a throwaway sketch that I didn't throw away). A couple of other artists added some of the inks, Ger finished it, and then was the dinner out with their colleagues. I was allowed to join. Nobody knew where they wanted to go, so I suggested a good seafood restaurant. There were originally eight of us, but a couple of guys really had their hearts set on BBQ, so they left.

The rest of the evening was spent telling stories. Ger set everybody up to spoof me at one point when I went to the restroom: I came back and just as I approached the table, Ger said, loudly, "So, that became Cerebus Readers in Crisis!" and everybody laughed really loudly. It turned out to be choreographed by Ger, and he hadn't told the story, so then everybody wanted the backstory. Fun evening.

So, that’s about all I remember from Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con 2016. There is no better person with whom to hang out at a con than Ger. Trust me. And his lovely wife, Shelley, is equally nice, pleasant, and funny. It was well worth the two (count 'em, two) admissions I paid. Check out the photos at

Gerhard's 2016 Convention Itinerary:
March 18-20: Comicon Toronto, ON
April 8-10: Wizard World Madison, WI
June 17-19: Wizard World Sacramento, CA
July-August: Gone Sailing Georgian Bay, ON
September 8-10: Wizard World Nashville, TN
November 4-6: Wizard World Pittsburgh, PA