Thursday, 6 September 2012

Seeing Sound #3: Authority & Volume

Cerebus #69 (December 1984)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from 'Seeing Sound' in Cerebus The Barbarian Messiah, 2012)
As an example of the variations in lettering possible, we can consider a moment near the end of Church & State I: Archbishop Powers is attempting to unify the Eastern and Western churches, and Cerebus is one of two people who stand in his way. His characterization is confident throughout, with a distinctive square balloon shape authorizing his pronouncements: dark lines, size of text and underlining all convey Archbishop Powers' authority and volume, in contrast to those around him... At a key moment, however, President Weisshaupt, who is planning to create a political buffer between himself and the religious schism, suffers a heart attack, during a standoff with Cerebus (who has invoked divine wrath on those who do not give him their gold). Now the iconic nature of the imagery in this climatic scene is using a vocabulary established elsewhere in the volume. Both of these conventions are invoked at the critical moment, when Weisshaupt's shouts, evoking the square balloon of Archbishop Powers, give way to silence and collapse, as his ambitions dissolve into the tiny puff in the final black balloon. Weisshaupt's authority is removed, but the reader understands his voice is slowly fading (visual metaphors are already part of our language) while pain of frustration and broken dreams comes through in the dark lines.
Cerebus #69 (December 1984)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
Do you have a favourite example of Dave Sim's innovative lettering in Cerebus that you'd like to see featured here on A Moment Of Cerebus? Send in your selection (the issue and page number will do), together with a brief explanation of its appeal/impact on you, to: momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com


Cory Foster said...

These are terrific samples. I'll be picking up this book with the next paycheck!

John Platt said...

I'd have to double-check, but I think issue 69 was my very first Cerebus, and the innovative and incredible lettering remains with me to this day!