Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Norman Kingsley Mailer (1923-2007)

Kingsley (Cerebus #207, June 1996)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

The author Norman Mailer (1923-2007) makes a cameo appearance in Cerebus #207 as Kingsley, drawn by Dave Sim using an Al Hirschfeld illustration style. Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003) was an American caricaturist best known for his black and white portraits of celebrities and Broadway stars. Hirschfeld is known for hiding the name of his daughter, Nina, in most of the drawings he produced since her birth in 1945. The name would appear in a sleeve, in a hairdo, or somewhere in the background. Sometimes 'Nina' would show up more than once and Hirschfeld would helpfully add a number next to his signature, to let people know how many times her name would appear.

(from the letters page in Cerebus #225, December 1997)
If you check your Guys volume, pages 139 (top panel) and 140 (second panel), you will see two 'Ninas' in the former picture - one at the bottom of Kingsley's right sideburn and one upside down in his hairline - and one 'Nina' in the latter picture - again in Kingsley's right sideburn.

(from a letter to Norman Mailer dated 18 March 2004, reprinted in Dave Sim's Collected Letters Vol 1, 2005)
The tipping point is that I am finally done with my epic-length work, so I can rest easy at least that I am not sending [Reads, Guys, Form & Void and selected essays] to you for your endorsement. While the work was still in progress that might very well have been a motivation that I was hiding from myself (an existential self-doubt, to use a Mailerism). Now, that isn't the case. Now, I can be, at least reasonably sure that if, heretofore, I have had the bad literary manners to dedicate a book [Reads] to someone without asking his permission first (which I suspect is the real world protocol) and compounded that breach of good etiquette by not sending the dedicated book to him for nine years after is publication I am, at least, equally and reasonably sure that my motives would not be so transparently suspect as they might have been nine years ago when I was only a couple of hundred pages past Cerebus' projected halfway point. I wanted to make it to the end on my own. Then I wanted to acknowledge your... unimaginably large... contribution to my own life and work once I was past the finish line.

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