Wednesday, 31 October 2012

High Society Digital #05 - Out Today!

High Society Digital #05 (Cerebus #30, September 1981)
Available from Cerebus Downloads
Out Now! Only 99¢

"When Cerebus really wants something -- in this case, to get Holland M. Hadden to forgive Iest's financial debt to him -- he can run a scam on you like NOBODY'S business. Hadden's gold-PLATED street lamps project? Nay, Cerebus wants to go for SOLID gold streetlamps! You'd pass whisky through your nose, too! I'm Dave Sim, co-creator of comics' only 6,000 page graphic novel and I like to make YOU laugh."

People everywhere agree that HIGH SOCIETY is Award-Winning (Eisner; Harvey; Shuster, Ignatz, Wizard) graphic novelist Dave Sim's greatest and most hilarious work. It regularly gets a 5-star rating on lists of the Greatest Graphic Novels of All Time. In addition to the 20 pages of art and story, you also get everything that was in the original comic book -- Deni's Note from the Publisher, the original ads, the original letters pages, the original back cover and inside back cover.

BONUS! Original documents from the time period from Dave Sim's Cerebus Archive as well as pages from Dave Sim's original Notebooks (where he plotted and designed each issue) accompanied by Sim's own annotations.

Terminal Drift: 'High Society Audio/Digital' Review

TERMINAL DRIFT:
(from the review by Taylor Ramsey posted on Terminal Drift, 22 October 2012)
...The digital presentation is everything a fan of the story would hope. The regular digital comic is fine; with sharp clean scans of the black and white art. There are a few panels where the lettering in white on a black background is a little hard to read, but from a visual standpoint, that is my ONLY gripe. The real discussion point here is the audio portion and extras. This entire collection, of which there are currently 3 issues available for download here, is recorded with Sim doing all the characters voices and narration himself, with music and sound effects. While not 100% successful, the presentation works well. I can’t say Sim is a great performer, but he makes it work. These are his creations and this mostly works well. You know that this is how it sounds in his head. These characters are now as close to what Dave envisioned as possible, and that is a neat feeling. There is an odd novelty to the whole thing that may wear off, but this is cool. The music is far from perfect as it sometimes is a bit much, but it quickly becomes a more seamless and enjoyable part of the book.  The guided viewing experience is dynamic and extremely effective. You move with the characters at times and the feeling of being taken through the story rather than reading like normal can be a bit trippy, but very fun.

The extras are exhaustive and amazing. It is clear that the DVD extras concept is what they are going for here and there is most everything you could have ever hoped to see, turning a 20 page comic into a 60+ page digital DL for .99 cents. Every page, letter, note, sketchbook or notebook page even business correspondence is included. Some of it is just an odd curiosity, but most of it is really interesting, and out of print since the original issues or never seen at all. Having completely forgotten the experience of reading the individual issues years ago (I now have all the phone books and sold my originals ages ago) this was all an unexpected treat.

For the new reader to Cerebus, this is the perfect intro and offers up everything you would need to enter the story. As a long time reader the new digital presentation is something even more special.  There is so much more here in the per issue package than in any other modern comic DL, that I would be hard pressed to believe that the big boys will even try to step up, putting this in a class by itself.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Gerhard's Photos: Coventry

GERHARD:
Jeff Tundis had posted a bunch of my old photos and I included some little captions on his Art of Gerhard website quite a while ago. I've just started going through my old photos and here are a few that aren't on his website. These are from a trip to Coventry, England, in 1989 to attend a convention. I think.

FA #115 cover & photo:
Coventry Cathedral. This photo, of all the ones that I took that trip, was the one that I really wanted to try to draw. The Fantasy Advertiser comics magazine did an interview while we were there and wanted a cover. I was only too happy to oblige. I like how Dave re-interpreted himself and added Cerebus the Tourist. The composition made me think of the angel and devil you often see depicted on people's shoulders but in this case the angel went over and kicked butt.
(Click Image To Enlarge)
Dave On Stairs, Coventry Cathedral:
This photo was taken with a flash in near darkness, the little patch of light from a slit in the wall was the only illumination. I thought it would make for a cool composition but I thought that I'd end up with more of the ambient light and not so much flash. It wasn't until I got the film developed that I noticed Dave's name written on the wall over his shoulder. Spooky.

Jaka's Story, Coventry:
These buildings were my basis for some of the buildings in Jaka's Story. There was a sign nearby that read: Oldest Pub in England. I'm kinda thrilled. "Hey, cool!" Unimpressed, our local guide says, "Oh, every town's got one".

Gerhard provided background art to Dave Sim’s cast of Cerebus characters between issue #65 (August 1984) and #300 (March 2004) - contributing to over 4,700 pages of comic art, as well as numerous Cerebus covers and illustrations. Keep up to date on all of Gerhard’s current projects at his blog and website, including details of his new book, The Wish.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #35

Okay. Here we are at the end of the Virtual Tour (October 13th where I am), ready to link to the last question. Firstly, let me say thank you to the sponsoring websites who hosted the HARDtalk Virtual Tour: BLEEDING COOL, MILLAR WORLD, THE BEAT, MINDLESS ONES, TERMINAL DRIFT and CANADIAN COMICS ARCHIVE.

However, since we're still only at 400+ names on the iPetition, the only conclusion to draw is that 99.97% of the comics community still believes that I shouldn't go out in public and that I am, indeed, a misogynist. For some reason the petition now has a heading at the top saying that the "goal" is 500 names. I don't know whose idea that was or why they didn't ask me before putting it on there but...

Well, no.

I've said for some time that if we get 2,000 names on the petition, I would revisit the question of my going out in public. That doesn't mean that I would automatically start going out in public again.  Far from it. I think the threshold is getting higher instead of lower and that view was certainly reinforced rather than refuted by all of the unpleasantness at the COMICS JOURNAL website. And, again, with the fact that virtually no one took issue with people explicitly stating that I'm a misogynist. I would be giving far too much weight to 2,000 names (1,600 of them, at this point, entirely hypothetical with no evidence to support the hypothesis).  It does not bode well and is certainly nothing that I think I'll have to reconsider -- at the rate we're going -- for many, many, many years. I assume that everyone is in complete agreement that the only sensible course of action for me is to live the rest of my life in complete isolation from any and all people who haven't said, specifically and publicly, that they don't believe I'm a misogynist.

And I assume we're all 100% comfortable with that.

I know I am.

Looking on the bright side, we did get 30 or so new names on the iPetition (no Big Names in comics, but I didn't really expect that, given the "political climate" we're all inhabiting) which constituted a year's worth of new signatories up until the last month or so.
Okay. The last HARDtalk Tour question goes to Carola Quick at BLEEDING COOL:
Dear Dave. First of all, thank you for all the good laughs and stories you've brought over the years. Now for my question. Do you really belive that the content of issues 289/290 constitutes a scientific theory (which as I recall one of your letters, and one of your introductions seems to suggest)? If so, how? There is little if anything that to me suggests any form of hard scientific evidence. At best I see it as theology. What is your view on science and evidence (in this or other cases)?

Hit the link to BLEEDING COOL for the answer to that question...

...and that will do it for the HARDtalk Virtual Tour. Now -- having accepted that the verdict on me, that as a non-feminist I shouldn't be going out in public hasn't changed appreciably from four years ago -- I'm headed back to my solitary confinement with strict limitations on my contact with people. I still have to make a living. I still have to buy groceries. I try to keep it to that.

Now, I've got my sunset prayer time coming up.

Ciao!

[All the Cerebus head-sketches used to illustrate the HARDtalk Virtual Tour posts were taken from John Scrudder's excellent web-site Behind The Panels. Thanks John!]

Saturday, 27 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #34

Ludwig Van Aardvark
Sweet Cheezus at BLEEDING COOL asks:
Aloha Dave, As with all who are responding to your invite, I'm a long time fan of the Earth Pig born. Both art and story have kept my interest right to the end.It is the satire that I love the most and your ability to use this as a device to comment on what interests you, i.e. High Society and Church and State as a satire of government, Reads a comment on the Comics industry, Hemmingway, Fitzgerald et al. As not only an Atheist but an Anti-theist I particullarly enjoyed your views on Christianity and Judaism; I'm quite inclined to tossing babies of off porches and and kicking cripples of roofs. That being said, I'm curious; was it your self imposed limit of 300 issues that did not allow you time to comment, via satire, on Islam ? Or, as Islam seems to be your personal preference on the Imaginary Friend theme, did you not satirize it out of respect for the Prophet (so called ), a fear of being be-headed or just plain hypocrisy? Thanks for your time and for THE best comicbook series I have ever read.

...and Bunnuelista, also at BLEEDING COOL, asks:
This may sound like a rehash of Old Angel’s question, but there, I felt that you replied to a question about what *you think* with an answer about what *God knows*. I think I speak for a lot of comics fans when I say that I think you’re a great cartoonist, I would hate to see you leave the profession, and I’d love to sign the petition if I could.

The problem is that I’m not convinced that you’re not a misogynist. I’m also not convinced that you *are* a misogynist, and I would like to believe that you’re not, but there’s some strong evidence to the contrary.
That evidence has nothing to do with birth rates in North America, feminism’s intellectual foundations, or with the false choice between feminism and misogyny. It has to do with statements like these:

"a gender which has no ethics, no scruples, no sense of right and wrong"

"No one wants to be a woman"
"This is part and parcel of women being the silver medallists in the human race"
"Considering how dramatically limited the female intellect is"

Perhaps you have some kind of contextual justification for each of these statements, but, taken together with a lot of other statements like them, they certainly raise enough reasonable doubt that I can’t bring myself to sign the petition.
Are you willing to repudiate the following inference (inaccurate though you may deem it to be) from your writings about feminism: that you consider women incapable of rational thought, devoid of ethics, intellectually limited, inherently inferior to men (silver medalists), and unclean in their bodies?

Hit the link to BLEEDING COOL for the answers to those questions... and be here tomorrow for the very last HARDtalk installment.

Friday, 26 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #33

Winters Spawn has a question for me over at MINDLESS ONES:
Hi Dave. How come Collected Letters 2, comes in the smaller book-format and not in the phonebook-format? It looks really dwarfed and kinda ugly next to the other volumes. Stay cool!

...and Mint City Comics at BLEEDING COOL asks:
Hi Dave, This is a question about the innate artistic spark. Do you believe that all artists contain a "finite" spark of creativity? In other words, there is only so much greatness in each individual to create "transcendent" works. I remember studying literature in college and several professors commenting that many American authors seemed to create their greatest work at a very early stage in their careers; they quickly flamed out in regards to high artistic quality. Hemingway was one of those authors mentioned. How do you see this concept? Thank you, sir.

...Cory Foster at BLEEDING COOL asks a follow-up question:
If I might be permitted a second question (you needn't send another comic for an answer, I'm just curious as an artist): Was there any conscious impetus toward the evolution of Cerebus' design as a character? The transition over the years from an aardvarkian elongated head and snout to a more circular and pig-like design is one of the more interesting in the comic. Was this just a natural evolution, or did you find drawing his head as a circle to be easier and less time consuming (important for a 6,000 work)?

...and its Gabriel McCann again (!) over at MILLAR WORLD with multiple questions for me on religion:
Politics tends to bore me after a while as I'm sure it does you but religion I find more interesting as it asks big questions as opposed to how is our party going to get re-elected and how can we slag off the opposition to the utmost without ever bothering to let people know what we actually stand for.

You've probably answered this before somewhere else but Did you have a Road to Damascus moment and if so can you describe it in any great detail? or point to wherever you've already answered this question before.

How do you react to Richard Dawkins and all the other Atheism as the new religion viewpoint? (ie. God doesn't exist. It's bloody obvious and anyone who doesn't get that is just an idiot so I'm going to express this as much as possible to get a reaction and piss off anybody with any sort of religious beliefs).

Before your converison (whatever you like to call it) how did you think of yourself from a religious point of view? Were you an atheist, and agnostic, didn't really think about it. Did you have any sort of religious upbringing or were you raised liberally.

Is religion all that imporant and is it really worth bothering trying to convert or ever explain your point of view on the subject to people out there who clearly aren't all that intersted in spiritual development, mysticism or whatever  you like to think of as What is the meaning of life and how can we think about it from a non-scientfic point of view.

Hit the links to MINDLESS ONES, BLEEDING COOL and MILLAR WORLD for the answers to those questions, and I'll be back tomorrow to answer more of your HARDtalk questions.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #32

TT at THE BEAT has some questions for me:
Hi Dave. I’m sorry to hear that finances doesn’t look very good. And I’ve got a HARDtalk question for you along those lines. I know that you are very pro self publishing. And that you have expressed doubts at for example TMNT franchising, and for example said no to the possibility of a cerebus action figure connected with the crossover back in the days. Is there anything that you regret concerning letting other companies use the cerebus trademark?

Do you now think a little more laxed view might have been good for your trademark and financially gainful. Or are you as adamant now as ever?

Also, in your thoughts about getting an other job. Is a drawing-kind-of-work out of the question? Do you view all your artistic work the same way, or might we one day meet Dave Sim corporate logo designer or advertisement creator? All the best to you.

...and Glen at CANADIAN COMICS ARCHIVE asks:
I remember one of you “Notes from the President” stating you might like to write a play after Cerebus was finished. Did you ever accomplish that goal? Also have you ever submitted a column and/or article to the National Post? They might be receptive to your take on current events here in Canada and around the world.

...and Illusionator at MINDLESS ONES asks:
What was the original motivation to do the “Mind Games” issues? They were a startling idea at the time.

Hit the links to THE BEAT, CANADIAN COMICS ARCHIVE and MINDLESS ONES for the answers to those questions, and be here tomorrow for more HARDtalk.

Gerhard Reimagines Cerebus #29

World Without Cerebus: Collateral Damage
Art by Gerhard
(Click Image To Enlarge)
GERHARD:
Brian Coppola, long time Cerebus fan, collector of original comics pages, patron of the arts and all round great guy, came up with a simple and elegant idea: "...to feature Gerhard drawings that bring to the foreground the settings, circumstances, episodes and ideas that live in the background of the original series." The characters have taken their bows and left the building. The scene is now quiet and left for further interpretation. 

BRIAN COPPOLA:
Cerebus #29 is a personal favorite of mine. Page 20, where Cerebus is playing wickets with the Regency Elf, integrates some magnificent dialogue on the strategic use of insanity in negotiations against the backdrop of a casually played game. In the last panel, Cerebus whacks the Elf's wicket ball and it flies over the walls of the Regency, down into the lower city. 
Cerebus #29 by Dave Sim 
The digital download of Cerebus #29 is available right now from CerebusDownloads.com.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #31

M. Keener has a question for me at BLEEDING COOL:
Any chance of a digital edition of the SELF-PUBLISHING GUIDE (say, via Amazon Kindle)? I'd imagine it would be a lot less involved, as far as digital pre-press goes, and it would surely be helpful to new cartoonists.  

James Waley at TERMINAL DRIFT posted the news of Blair Kitchen's liver transplant:
Posted on FB today by Blair’s wife Rochelle, thought you’d like to know …

...and John Mosher at THE BEAT asks:
Dave, In our never ending quest to heap work upon you, allow me to ask about the item I would like to see most. Is there any chance we could see a coffee table book - 11 x 14 or so - on high quality slick paper showcasing all 300 covers? I would shell out $150 for that…..

Hit the links to BLEEDING COOL, TERMINAL DRIFT and THE BEAT for the answers to those questions, and I'll be back here tomorrow for more of your HARDtalk questions.

High Society Digital #04 - Out Now!

High Society Digital #04 (Cerebus #29, August 1981)
Available from Cerebus Downloads
Out Now! Only 99¢

"If you thought that last issue's trip to the Eighth Sphere was a curveball, think fast because here comes another one: The Regency Elf! Isn't she a supposed to be, you know, a MYTH? If she is, she's the only sparkly, flying myth that chug-a-lugs whisky! I'm Dave Sim, co-creator of comics' only 6,000-page graphic novel. I'd LOVE to let you get yourself oriented here, but we've got 420 pages to go and a LOT of ground to cover! Hustle! Hustle! Hustle!"

People everywhere agree that HIGH SOCIETY is Award-Winning (Eisner; Harvey; Shuster, Ignatz, Wizard) graphic novelist Dave Sim's greatest and most hilarious work. It regularly gets a 5-star rating on lists of the Greatest Graphic Novels of All Time. In addition to the 20 pages of art and story, you also get everything that was in the original comic book -- Deni's Note from the Publisher, the original ads, the original letters pages, the original back cover and inside back cover.

BONUS! Original documents from the time period from Dave Sim's Cerebus Archive as well as pages from Dave Sim's original Notebooks (where he plotted and designed each issue) accompanied by Sim's own annotations.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #30

We're now entering the home-straight on the HARDtalk Virtual Tour (which will end at #35). Dave Sim has answered all the questions put to him by the 'HARDtalk Home Team', so now is a good opportunity to say a huge thank you to our guest interviewers: Stephen Holland (co-founder of the UK-based comics store Page 45), Eric Hoffman (editor of collected essays Cerebus The Barbarian Messiah) and Dominick Grace (co-editor with Eric of the up-coming Dave Sim: Conversations from the University Press of Mississippi) ...and for the last week of the HARDtalk Tour, Dave will answer as many questions as he can from those posted at the HARDtalk Tour's sponsoring websites. Back to Dave...
First, let's take a few questions from Silber Spy at BLEEDING COOL:
If there was enough money coming in to justify it, how many people would work at Aardvark-Vanaheim & what would their jobs be?

Given that you had an amount of sales that income flow was no longer a significant consideration, how do you think that would effect your work? 

It seems there's all this concern about the continuation of glamourpuss, but will there eventually be the issue of CEREBUS ARCHIVE about making that very issue of CEREBUS ARCHIVE?

And then Gabriel McCann at THE BEAT has three questions:
The obvious and easy question that no one seems to have asked you is “Is there one question that nobody has ever asked you that you’d like to answer?” In other words What is one thing (or several) things you’d like to tell people that has never been asked of you or in other words suppose you had a split personality what would Dave #2 ask Dave #1 that nobody else has ever asked.

Quoting from an answer you made to one of my previous questions “If you didn’t make money at it, you’d really have to describe that as psychotic behaviour.” In that case what do you think of outsiders artists such as Henry Darger? 

You seem to read the Bible and other original material (The Koran?) but are you also reading later interpretations of religion such as William James The Varieties of Religious Experiences? Have you ever read SF author Philip K Dick (eg VALIS or The Transmigration of Timothy Archer). If so what did you think of their writings? 

Hit the links to BLEEDING COOL and THE BEAT for the answers to those questions... and I'll be answering more of your HARDtalk questions tomorrow.

Monday, 22 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #29

What are your top 10 favourite comics ever?

In no particular order -- and these aren't necessarily periodicals, just comics stories -- Vaughn Bode's The Man, a textbook example of a very simply, self-contained single issue that you can read and re-read without tiring of it. Barry Windsor-Smith's (with Roy Thomas) Red Nails for the perfecting of his black and white style, BWS's The Beguiling as the consummate allegory, Berni Wrightson's The Black Cat adaptation as the perfection of his black and white style, Neal Adams A View from Without for sheer inventiveness, Richard Corben's Rowlf -- same deal as The Man, it's self-contained, charming and immensely re-readable -- Spider-Man #32-33 by Lee and Ditko ('nuff said), the "Grady Worlock" story in The Heart Of Juliet Jones by Eliot Caplin and Stan Drake. I think that's ten.
And now a question from Menachem Luchins at Escape Pod Comics:

Dave, You've made it quite clear that your belief in G-d means that you see and meaning and a cause behind everything, a moral cause and effect kind of thing. That being the case, what do you think the moral "cause" of the Fire that is delaying the Cerebus Digital launch and harrowing the life of your assistant/archivist?

I'll have to post the answer to his question here since Menachem hasn't got his web-site up and running yet, and I should also point out with readers unfamiliar with Menachem's faith that he's a devout Orthodox Jew and so doesn't spell the full name of G-d. In deference to his faith, I do the same when corresponding with him. Anyway:

A lot of possibilities there as to (I duly note your reference) "cause" (or cause or Cause), depending on what chessboard the fire, "fire" or (I duly note your reference) Fire either happened or "happened" or Happened.

It certainly does have at least he appearance of a threat, doesn't it? "You could be next, Sim". Well, yes, but then I COULD be next all the way back to 1994, at least.

Things were definitely going "wonky" BEFORE the fire and then go wonkier AFTER the fire (not to mention DURING the fire: I got a long phone message just after three o'clock that day and when I played it, it just sounded like rushing water. Like someone washing the dishes or running a bath. I listened to it all the way through just in case someone, you know, SAID something. Nope. Hit *69 after it ended and it turned out to be Sandeep's number. Didn't call him back, figured he just auto-dialled by accident.

Well, turns out that was when the place was going up in smoke. Uh. Coincidence. Right. His iPhone defaulted to redial while it  was melting and just happened to leave that on my voice mail. Happens all the time. Thinking anything else is just...crazy...right?

It seems to me there are two likely scenarios: a) G-d or someone delegated by Him to the task was testing my resolve and courage and paranoia levels. Do I follow the HIGH SOCIETY negatives' example and, you know, just melt down?

Well, no. My reaction in any crisis situation skews in the Muslim direction of my tripartite faith.  "Allahu Akhbar". G-d is Great. That is, don't even flinch, mentally, in the direction of "G-d! How Could You DO This To Me? No, crisis situation is autopilot: G-d is Great. Didn't miss a prayer time, continued to read Scripture aloud, kept fasting sunrise to sunset.

My attitude is reflected in that of Ishmael's (or Isaac's, depending on your interpretation of the verse) when his father, Abraham, informs him that he has had a dream that he's supposed to sacrifice him (Sura 37 "The Ranks"): "My father, do what thou art bidden: of the patient if G-d please, shalt thou find me." End of story. Nothing happens without G-d's permission so if it happened, it's because G-d saw a need for it to happen.

God's will be done.

The other scenario that I suspect might pertain is b) the Job Rule is always in effect: G-d basically telling His adversary to put his/her/its money where his/her/its mouth is: Pick a test to prove Dave Sim is bats--t insane or a coward or whatever else it is that you keep trumpeting. Dave Sim, my obedient servant, will pass with flying colours. Which I hope I did and always will.

Likewise if I have exceeded my boundaries and run out of rope, G-d will know that far better than I will. Conversely, if someone on some chessboard...(let's say) overreached?... G-d will know that, too, and his repercussions will be perfectly measured and appropriate. "G-d will not wrong you so much as the husk of a date stone."

(Just after I finished writing all that in my notebook, 1-800 GOT JUNK showed up [see Dave's essay The End?]. Someone using my name had called them and arranged for them to come over and pick up some "comic book stuff". Like I say, since the fire things have gone pretty wonky around here. If you've ever employed them, as I have on a couple of occasions, the 1-800-GOT-JUNK guys work very hard, so whatever "ha-ha" practical joke might have been there, was somewhat diminished in my eyes, to say the least, by the fact that it was at the expense of two working stiffs.  I also noted what I assume was the intention to weird me out along the lines of "We Know Where You Live". Again, G-d's will be done. If it's my time to go, it's my time to go. After the last 18 years and particularly the last three weeks? I'd consider it a promotion. Oy. Shalom, Menachem).

I'll see you tomorrow for more HARDtalk right here on A Moment Of Cerebus.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Recommended: Mort Drucker

MAD's Greatest Artists: Mort Drucker
(Running Press, 2012)
DAVE SIM:
(from 'Dave Sim On Parody & Copyright', Following Cerebus #3, February 2005)
I remember the first few times having lunch with Seth, Chester Brown, and Joe Matt, and trying to find common areas of interest. I'd always think they were kidding when they would all be enthusing about some cartoonist I just don't rate very highly, like John Stanley or Harold Gray, and then I'd bring up something like Sienkiewicz's Stray Toasters and they'd think I was the one who was kidding. One time I mentioned Mort Drucker, and that was very strange, because we all ranked Mort Drucker very highly. I think he's still the only cartoonist in that category. We all remembered the first Star Trek parody that he did. I reread it a while ago, and it still holds up very well.
Original Art for Star Blecch (MAD #115, 1967) by Mort Drucker
(Sadly not included in 'MAD's Greatest Artists: Mort Drucker')

John Linton Roberson: 'High Society Digital' Review

JOHN LINTON ROBERSON:
(from the I Didn't Write That Blog, 10 October 2012)
Dave Sim's Digital High Society has come and you can watch/listen and even download here! I bought my copy of the audio/video of #27 (Dave Sim reads it aloud and it's FUN), so you do the same. It's only a measly buck and they take Paypal. Also, you get the comic in PDF, Epub and CBZ versions -- which include a massive amount of unseen archive material, like rare sketches, the notebooks, letters and more!

And for those who might be tempted to put these on BitTorrent or the like, and steal the bread from Dave's (and all the Kickstarter donors') mouth: please don't be such an asshole. Save that for Marvel or DC, who don't need the dough. Just buy it. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #28

I’ve really enjoyed your published conversations with other comics professionals (eg Alan Moore, Chester Brown, Steve Bissette etc). Is this something you would like to continue and who else would you like to converse with?

It was interesting to me as an issue of FOLLOWING CEREBUS, united by the theme of graphic novelists editing their graphic novels. That was really what interested me - the variety of different attitudes the guys had towards it and documenting that. For obvious reasons, I like things that point to there not being One Right Way to do something and exploring the different ways there are to think. I would definitely have liked to have explored it further into "WHY do you think that way?" That is, what is it about the various choices that leads you in the direction of the one that you've chosen? I think that can be helpful to a new generation of cartoonists who are being raised to believe that there's only One Right Way to think, leading them to examine the various options and reasons given and to say, This is the one that most closely matches how I look at that subject.

In terms of continuing it, well, that gets into the Dave the Pariah areas. Bill Willingham signed the petition and told me that he would like to have a discussion of religion in the form of a dialogue with me. Great! So he sent me his overture, I sent him back a response and that was it. That tends to be what happens. Several times I had to hunt Chester Brown down to finish the dialogue on LOUIS RIEL in the last few issues of CEREBUS. Having to hunt people down to do something tends to take the fun out of it, to say the least. If you DON'T want to do it, by all means, just say, "I don't want to do that." Don't tell me that you do and then become completely unavailable in mid-stream.

Kevin Eastman has signed the iPetition and I told him if I have the cash next November is the 25th anniversary of the Creator's Bill of Rights and I asked if he was interested in meeting me at the Hotel Northampton on the anniversary. We could just hang out in the lobby and talk. I was asking about Steve Bissette as well -- because there was some bad blood between them at one time. Would Kevin be okay with Steve getting invited? That would make an interesting conversation, I think, to record and preserve.

Really, I'd be very interested in talking to Kevin about as many things that have gone on in his life since back then. How did the marriage to Julie Strain come to an end? I mean, not the gory details. Or the gory details if he wants to get into it. We've had a couple of conversations on the phone and it's very nice because he's, you know, he's still Kevin. He's still a huge fan of my work and actually makes a point of talking about me in public. "Dave, your ears must have been burning during Dragoncon, because I was telling everyone what a huge influence you were on me." Why is Kevin like that and virtually no one else is? THAT would make an interesting conversation. Why does HE think it's that way? Does he have any theories?

Loren Visser at BLEEDING COOL has a question for us now. Loren?

Mr. Sim, we know you're a fan of Al Williamson and Mort Drucker, but what are your feelings about the work of some of the other EC artists, specifically Jack Davis, Johnny Craig and apparently nobody's favorite but mine, Jack Kamen? Thank you. 

Hit the to BLEEDING COOL for the anwer to that question... and I'll be back on Monday for more HARDtalk.

Progressive Ruin: 'High Society Digital' Review

PROGRESSIVE RUIN:
(From a blog post by Mike Sterling at Progressive Ruin, 18 October 2012)
Just a quick note to mention that I tried out CerebusDownloads.com a few days ago. Once a week a new issue is uploaded, you pay about a buck, and you get a download (in a variety of formats) of a full issue of Cerebus from what is arguably the best and most reader-friendly segment of the series, “High Society.” Includes big ol’ scans of the art, all the ads and letters pages/text pieces, plus sketches and production work and much more. Also, you get a bit of video business, where Cerebus creator Dave Sim reads through the entire issue for you, doing voices for all the characters, and there’s music and sound effects, too. Oddly compelling, certainly fun, and I think I’m totally down with having Uncle Dave read me a Cerebus story once a week.

(The Video Cerebus reminds me a bit of the old proto-Nickelodeon TV show “Video Comics,” mentioned before on this site, where, just like the Cerebus thing, a variety of comics would be presented panel-by-panel, with voice actors, narration, and sound effects. If you’re old enough to remember that show, you know what the Cerebus thing is like.)

There’s a free sample you can try out, featuring Cerebus #26 (the first chapter of “High Society”). 

It’s worth a look, I think.

Friday, 19 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #27

What was the secret of maintaining (the longest running?) creative partnership in comics with Gerhard and would you recommend other cartoonists to collaborate (even on sorter projects). If so, what are the potential benefits?

I'm not sure there was any one particular secret to maintaining the partnership. We were dependant on each other so, as guys, you tend to be supremely conscious of that. You can sense a problem area coming up, so you just taper off and forget it. Once something is said it can't be unsaid, so you have a lot of things that you don't say. If there's tension, you really have to assess, is there ACTUAL tension here or am I just being paranoid? If there IS tension, what is causing the tension? Did I do or say something wrong? For me, that's always been the way with people in general. Whatever pleasure I get from the company of people, I'm always aware that there's this level of tension there that seems always on the verge of them going berserk and saying "THAT'S IT!"

Gerhard wasn't just a person, Gerhard was also an idea -- the idea of someone working on this book and what was the fair way to treat him? Only it isn't theoretical, it's an actual person. So, I always tried to make sure he was compensated well, that he had the things that were important to him. You know, I didn't want a brand new car or a sailboat, but he did, so that becomes something that has to be important to me BECAUSE they're important to him. I pay him piecework rates until he proves he's reliable and then I pay him a salary and then ultimately give him 40% of the company. His contribution is so huge, you can't make it remotely work-made-for-hire.

I don't really recommend too much these days. I had a  very long conversation with Steve McNiven at The Last Signing. Very nice guy, definitely reminded me of Gerhard at that age. And he was thinking of starting a studio and since I had run a studio did I have any advice for him? He wanted to hire a friend who was an inker and go into business together. Only the guy had a regular paying gig already at a University -- but definitely seemed like he would like to make the leap into comics.

It's just him and me, so I said, "Is he married?" And he said, yes, he was married. And I said, if you're going to talk to him about it, you better talk to both of them because she's going to have a very big effect no matter what happens. It's a surreal conversation for me, because I'm basically talking to Dave who reminds me of Gerhard and giving him advice on how to deal with a potential Gerhard.

Comic-book guys are married to their work. They sort of have to be because it takes way too many hours to do a competent job and way more hours than that to get better at it. You're running ahead of the freight train. The pages need to get done. So you have one marriage competing with another marriage in a lot of ways.

It's not easy, because work is not at all like a real marriage. It IS just work. A guy knows the difference between work and relationship. Working on CEREBUS had nothing to do with my relationship with Susan. Working on CEREBUS had nothing to do with Gerhard's relationship with Rose. But for women it's a matter of seeing where the attention and time is going. There's going to be an emotional reaction to that.  And women don't want to be that way. So when they get that way, you have a double irritant:  how she doesn't want to be and how she's being.

The potential benefits are good work. Two guys who are determined to get better at what they do will provoke each other to get better without consciously intending to do it. We were at an insane level of fine pen line by the end there. He'd go fine so I'd go fine to match him, then he'd go finer to match me and I'd go finer to match him.

There tends to be an awful human toll. Most guys don't look at it that way because of the inner drive to get better and then the urge to keep getting better. But a lot of very human things go out the window.
Now let's head over to the MINDLESS ONES for a very long question from Igmus. Here's the short version(!):

I want to know why most current comics creators have personalities that are so similar to one another, and similar to their audience as well. 

Hit the link to the MINDLESS ONES for the answer... and be here tomorrow for more HARDtalk.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #26

What is Gerhard's second name? Why is it/has it been a secret? Is he embarrassed by it or something?

Yes, it's a funny sort of name. It was my suggestion that he just leave it off and just go by Gerhard and he was pretty relieved to do so, having lived with it for as long as he had to that point. Everyone has things that they're embarrassed by. I find that the older I get the less embarrassed I get.  I'm a decrepit old man, pretty much indistinguishable from the derelicts that populate most of downtown Kitchener.

I remember walking into the Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto when I was staying there and I had gotten a message that I had a fax. So I went up to the desk and said "Room -- whatever -- I had a message that I had a fax?"  And they wanted photo ID. The Metropolitan is in a dodgy area of downtown TO... lots of shootings, junkies, street people. And the thing was I wasn't even embarrassed, I just gave them my passport and got my fax. This is what I look like. I'm not going to suddenly look better someday, I'm going to look worse. I get my head shaved because it means I can go a month without a haircut. No one looks at old men if they can help it. With good reason. Old men don't look very good. They look like old men.

I'm hoping Gerhard is getting to the point where he isn't embarrassed about his last name, but in case he is, I'm certainly not going to tell you what it is. And I'm telling you that not being embarrassed by things is one of the big pluses of getting old. I used to get really stressed about my appearance, how I seemed to people. People are usually so concerned about how THEY appear that they don't even register what someone else looks like or if they have a tiny stain on their jacket or something.
Okay. There's quite a back-log building up of your questions at the HARDtalk Tour's sponsor websites, so let's take a couple of those today.

First up is James L. Sarandis at MILLAR WORLD:
What comics are you reading right now?

And then Matt Tauber at BLEEDING COOL has a couple of questions:
Dave, what's the best way to contact you for commissions? 
Will you do any more headshot auctions via Ebay?  

Hit the links to MILLAR WORLD and BLEEDING COOL for the answers to those questions... and I'll be back tomorrow for more HARDtalk.

CBR: 'High Society Digital' Review

COMIC BOOK RESOURCES:
(from Everything Old Is New Again, Again by Graeme McMillan, CBR, 16 October 2012)
...Comic book history is littered with series that have fallen before their time... Almost all of these series have some element of fanbase still out there, and still active; could the creators - or whoever controls the rights - for these titles and characters bring them back digitally, and in the process, either complete unfinished stories or release unseen material from that period to offer added value to that which did appear the first time around?

The current Cerebus: High Society digital release is an example of that second idea, of course; not only does the digital release offer the complete content of the print issue, but it has all manner of background material from invoices to sketches from the era, making the digital issue a must-read for even the most ardent of Cerebus fan. It's the DVD extra idea, transferred to comics, but it's the kind of idea that makes me wonder whether or not it could bring a second life to all manner of books that had disappeared long before their time...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #25

Excluding Cerebus, are there any other classic comics that you’d like to see reprinted in an archival format by Fantagraphics or another publisher, that aren’t already in the works?

You know, I doubt that there's a classic strip that isn't being reprinted or discussed.  The only one I can think of off the top of my head is DAVID CRANE during the Creig Flessel years.  I used to read it in the KITCHENER WATERLOO RECORD and thought it was pretty good.  Then someone sent me a couple of issues of CARTOONISTS PROFILES with Stan Drake material in them and one of the other strips they covered was DAVID CRANE and they had a couple of good examples of Flessel's work that made me think I'd really like to have at least a couple of volumes on my bookshelf.

Flessel had one of the longest careers in comics. He did a lot of the early pre-Batman DETECTIVE COMICS covers and some of them are miles beyond anything else being done at the time.  He later became one of the Johnstone and Cushing artists. So he always had his hand in. He did the logo for Robin Snyder's THE COMICS just a few years before he died.
Now, we're off to MILLAR WORLD for another question from James L. Sarandis. My arch-nemesis! Actually, that's not true.  I just like the sound of "arch nemesis". Hi James. What's your question?

Comics have gone through quite a few changes over the years in style, tone, and technology. What do you think are the best and worst things to happen to comics over the years?

Hit the link to MILLAR WORLD for the answer to that question... and I'll see you back here tomorrow for more HARDtalk.

High Society Digital #03 - Out Now!

High Society Digital #03 (Cerebus #28, July 1981)
Available from Cerebus Downloads
Out Now! Only 99¢

"Just when you think you know where I'm going with all this, it's time for Cerebus to pay a surreal visit to the Eighth Sphere and to resume his discussions with Suenteus Po! Hi, I'm Dave Sim and this is one of my favourite issues of HIGH SOCIETY. It's ALL Cerebus, ALL layout and storytelling experimentation from beginning to end and chock full of the political and philosophical intrigue and humour the book would become known for! I guarantee, you've never read a single issue like it!"

People everywhere agree that HIGH SOCIETY is Award-Winning (Eisner; Harvey; Shuster, Ignatz, Wizard) graphic novelist Dave Sim's greatest and most hilarious work. It regularly gets a 5-star rating on lists of the Greatest Graphic Novels of All Time. In addition to the 20 pages of art and story, you also get everything that was in the original comic book -- Deni's Note from the Publisher, the original ads, the original letters pages, the original back cover and inside back cover.

BONUS! Original documents from the time period from Dave Sim's Cerebus Archive as well as pages from Dave Sim's original Notebooks (where he plotted and designed each issue) accompanied by Sim's own annotations.

GARY GROTH -- EDITOR, THE COMICS JOURNAL:
(from the Cerebus Archive supplement to High Society Digital #03 - Cerebus #28, July 1981)
...I continue to enjoy Cerebus. Your "Mind Games" story stands out in my memory as one of your most successful efforts. It should put the lie to impoverished hacks and unimaginative comics fans who claim that comics must be filled with pyrotechnical visual flummery to work as comic art. I consider "Mind Games" one of the finest examples of a talking-heads comic I've ever seen. The problem of static was overcome by a keen sense of design and continuity, clever dialogue, and an involving storyline. Keep up the first rate work.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #24

There have been opinions expressed that Cerebus was a product of its time (ie the blossoming direct-market) and that 300 issues of a self-published comic couldn’t happen now in today’s market-place. Do you think that is true, or is it more due to a lack of ambition by today’s cartoonists?

I don't know. We'd have to wait and see if it started to happen and see how the market reacted to it.  I assume I've poisoned that well to a large degree.  The comic-book field is bitterly disappointed in me over how CEREBUS turned out, so I think that would definitely be a Sword of Damocles hanging over anyone making the attempt:  certainly anyone announcing it.  "Oh, great.  Another guy who's going to go bat-s--t insane in twenty years.  No thanks.  I'll save my money this time."  In terms of the marketplace, itself, no I think that's a separate thing.  If you do something like THE WALKING DEAD, that catches fire in that way and you're able to produce it regularly and it's self-published?  People will buy it, people will tell other people, stores will over-order.  Self-published or otherwise.

I don't think you can call not wanting to do a 6,000 page graphic novel over 26 years a lack of ambition.  It's like saying the only reason to not climb Mount Everest is sheer bone laziness.  There are a lot more good reasons NOT to climb Mount Everest than there are reasons TO climb Mount Everest. Common sense for one.  People die on Mount Everest.  Why do something that you really don't have a good reason to do that people die doing?  Obviously, Neil Gaiman looked at it and said, mmmm, maybe 75 issues instead of 300.  Is that a lack of ambition on Neil's part?  You have to experience creating something on a regular schedule and sticking to that schedule and looking at what it takes out of you and do the mental trigonometry implied.  How long do I want to do this?  How much of myself am I going to allow to be eaten up by this, given that THIS much of me gets eaten up when I do THAT many pages or that many issues.

I think, in a general sense, that as a society we aren't facing the extent to which computers eat lives in the same way, so that militates against it happening again.  Just having e-mail and a Facebook page and you are probably talking about eating up 10 to 15% of your working time right there.  If you aren't someone who can "transition" from cyberspace to writing and drawing comic books smoothly or easily -- which I suspect most people can't:  they answer their e-mail, play a video game, watch some porn, watch some YouTube, that is, they're cyberspace junkies in denial -- then that's going to severely limit the body of work you end up producing.  Particularly the "denial" part.  You MEAN to just look something up with Google -- 10 minutes -- and the next time you look at the clock it's an hour later.  Well, you might get a few mini-series done in the average decade, but that's going to be it.
Right! Everyone head on over to TERMINAL DRIFT for this question from David Birdsong:

High Society was never my favorite Cerebus novel and I don’t believe it is yours either. If I am wrong then please disregard this question. What I would like to know is what is you favorite of the sixteen Cerebus novels? When I say favorite I don’t mean which one you think is the best, but that does bring up a second part to my question, actually several additional parts – Which one is the best in terms of art or writing or lettering. I think everyone has their own opinion in each of those categories, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say what part of Cerebus is your best work. I do recall that you were very fond of the Africa sequence in Form & Void, but that is about all I can remember. Let me see if I can state it a little better… What is your favorite Cerebus novel and where in all sixteen volumes do you think you see your best writing, your best art, your best lettering.

Hit the link to TERMINAL DRIFT for the answer to that question... and be back tomorrow for more HARDtalk. Same time. Same channel.

Monday, 15 October 2012

A.V. Club: 'High Society Audio/Digital' Review

A.V. CLUB:
(Review by Noel Murray at A.V. Club, 15 October 2012)
Finally, after a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign (followed by over 100 increasingly confusing Kickstarter updates), the rollout of the digital version of Dave Sim's classic graphic novel Cerebus Volume 2: High Society has finally begun. The first issue is available for free here, with additional issues coming weekly for 99 cents each. The digital files are available in multiple e-reader-friendly formats (including PDF, CBZ, and ePUB), and also available as a Quicktime movie, featuring close-ups of the panels and pages that the camera scans while Sim reads the text himself, doing all the voices. The result is halfway between an audiobook and a motion comic, with sound effects and music enhancing Sim’s spirited reading. The downside to the audio/video version is that by the time of High Society - which began in issue #26, a little over four years after Cerebus debuted - Sim’s pages had become so graphically complex that they don't lend themselves easily to being read aloud. The upside is that Sim has always been undervalued as a writer, and even though some of his best jokes don’t land without the rhythm of a comics page to put them across, his rich description of life in the bureaucracy-choked city-state of Iest (and how the arrival of one barbaric aardvark changes the political dynamic) sounds as good as it reads. The strange directions Sim eventually took Cerebus over the course of its 300 issues have led to the series and Sim himself often being excluded from the larger comics canon, but make no mistake: Warts and all, Cerebus is a must for fans of the medium, and High Society is pretty much flawless from start to finish (give or take the occasional dated superhero parody). Anyone who's never read the comic should feel comfortable starting here, and should expect some pleasurable reading - and listening(?) - in the weeks to come.

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #23

Was working with Gerhard always a smooth process in terms of getting the page completed?

ALWAYS. It stressed him out incredibly but on my side there were just minor adjustments necessary. When we fell behind and went to Hawaii to get caught up, it was because he was slowing down and I was looking at the pages on the wall and going, "Well, I'm fine. I'm five pages ahead. I'll wait 'til he starts getting caught up and then I'll do some more pages."  Well, no, then he just slows down and goes "Well at least he isn't putting any more pages up on the wall, so I've got time to do these." Then I'd have to do more pages faster because the end of the month was coming up. So, then I just worked at my own pace. Get an issue done in three weeks.  Period.  No excuses. Complete blinders on. Danny Thomas gave his daughter Marlo blinders as a present one time with a card "Run your own race." I never forgot that.

Twenty nails on the wall with twenty buffalo clips and the pages go up and Gerhard finishes them. I fill the twenty hooks in three weeks. Then when we moved the operation to the Off-White House, we each had a room with twenty nails on the wall and twenty buffalo clips. So I'd fill up my wall and then he'd take them down and finish them. If I go ahead, I'd put the next issue's pages on his wall, so he can see that the other wall is full and now his wall is filling up. Not subtle, but very Real. And then I'd even get to the point where I had my "orphans of the floor". Both walls are filled up and I'm three pages into the third one and the pages are next to my drawing board leaning against my table. He gets the issue done, moves the pages off his wall onto my wall and puts my orphans onto his wall.

Did you ever ask him to change something he had drawn (or wanted to, but bit your tongue)?

No. It would never have occurred to me. He was a much better technical artist than I could ever hope to be. It's a Gerhard page. It blows anything else in comics out of the water. It wasn't until WAY late, the second or third last year -- 2002, 2003 -- when the stress was really getting to him and I said, "If you want, I'll just fix anything I don't like." Anything I think I can add, I'll just put it in. And yes, that was a great relief to him. Because he thought I was chewing my tongue to ribbons. For me, it was fun. Are you kidding? A finished Gerhard page and I can go -- you know, a few 102 pen strokes here would really make it look like Wrightson. But it was always COMPLETELY unnecessary. But I would get this sense of relief from him when I would do it. His stomach might be in much better shape today if I had said that in 1990, say. But, it was COMPLETELY unnecessary. Why would I think to say it?  
We're now off to MILLAR WORLD, where James L. Sarandis has a few questions, but the one that caught my eye was this one:

Pretty much the same question as Dave Vai above but with Eastman and Laird's TMNT. Also What was your favorite collaboration?

Hit the link to MILLAR WORLD for the answer to that question... and be here tomorrow for more HARDtalk.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Comics Bulletin's Reassessment

COMICS BULLETIN:
(from The Second Coming Of Dave Sim? by Geoffrey D Wessel, Comics Bulletin, 13 October 2012)
...So maybe Dave Sim WAS at the end of his rope when he ended glamourpuss, and announced The Strange Death of Alex Raymond. Maybe Judenhass didn’t exactly set the graphic novel world on fire. Maybe Sim has some repulsive negative views of the world and the people who live in it. None of which belies that Sim is still fully capable of producing beautifully drawn, thought provoking work. 

Maybe this is the perfect time for Dave Sim to change his mind about his endgame. He's already admitted that the Kickstarter money for High Society Digital would help keep him in, for a little while. I’m sure IDW's contribution and assistance will extend that even more. 

And maybe, just maybe, we can all take the time to properly reassess Sim, Cerebus, Judenhass, and glamourpuss, for the works, and for the art. Warts and all. Just in time for The Strange Death of Alex Raymond, at that.

Because in the end, as much as Dave Sim makes us scratch our heads sometimes with his comments, comics in general would be much, much poorer without his contributions to the artform.