Friday, 14 September 2012

Seeing Sound #8: Pleasure & The Dreaming

There's just no end to the inventivity I find in Cerebus, and it always baffles that I discovered it a finished object while it's original readership received it as it came along - as a... stream I guess. For me it's like discovering a whole continent, it's there, it's a block. And there is many ways to go around it. The fact that it represents in terms of work my own age - 25 years this year really challenges me with the way I will spend the next two decades!

I realize that though raised on a fairly diet of Tintin (which incidentally shows the role of comics, I learned to read with BD) my parents also owned two extra-large copies of Nemo in Slumberland... what Winsor McCay dared to do visually, it's almost as if Dave Sim just found himself challenged to do this with the lettering: unleash imagination on it. I mean...
Cerebus #208 (July 1996)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
Just look at that wave of sound (and pleasure) from Guys: it's a ribbon, an oscillation, a dialog and quite an extreme mix of water and flames, contrasting with the very simple, unmovable "don't move". And it's always both funny and serious... both imaginative and somehow high-fidelity rendering of what it sounds like. The phonetical translation of everything as "avrithin'" reminds me of the days I took my poor english reading skills unto Lovecraft short stories and stumbling unto whole paragraphs spoken by characters with terrible backcountry accents : at one point one just has to just "play the sound" on the page on its mental vocalization instrument and somehow we get it. I certainly would be more able to describe these things in French, but what impresses me also, is the ability to constantly both emphasizes and break the traditional rules of comics.
Cerebus #204 (March 1996)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
In this example, the character is on the verge of saying "the Dreaming", and the speech interrupts... (because he hesitates his voice breaks) and then is thoughts are wholly rendered as pictured and ideograms :
  • the fraction of a DC logo and a Sandman coverpage's title (we reconstruct from a fragment - what a demonstration of what the reading eye does);
  • then the scale bearing both a small piglet and the enormous plate of copyright and big money;
  • said scale bursting simply hanging out of the frame of the thought balloon (where have I ever seen something bleeding on the frame of a speech/thought balloon? These thing are supposed to be airtight!) as the characters breaks the fourth wall, fearing the legal pursuit that only the author ought to take in account - fair use and parody sometimes weights low in any issue of intellectual property.
So much happens on every single page - the sweaty skull as a pure pictogram and the exclamation and interrogation mark in their utmost typographical  existence, emphasizing themselves. This is the most admirable stamp of a brainfuck - but then that's not seeing sound, it's drawing thoughts... mental process and states.

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


Kit said...

It's a piggy bank, not a live piglet.

Anonymous said...

It's also worth noticing that the 3 linked thought balloons of images have an outline suggestive of *another* trademark, one owned by a notoriously litigious corporation.