Friday, 15 February 2013

"The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond" Update - February 2013

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (April 2008 to July 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.

(from the Kickstarter Update #141, 14 February 2013)
Okay, I'm making some progress on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND but there will be a period of time where HIGH SOCIETY and CEREBUS being brought back into print will be taking precedence.  George [Gatsis] is finished his months-long meticulous tweaking of the digital files and everything is up to snuff. Now we have to coordinate with the printer and get an idea of how many copies Diamond wants (that I will be signing and numbering). If you're interested, you should mention it to your local store owner and tell her or him to watch for word from Diamond when the books are all actually printed and ready to ship (I'm guessing the beginning of April at the earliest -- but it's hard to tell). Gold Logo HIGH SOCIETY, Gold Logo CEREBUS -- the signed and numbered ones.

I appreciate the donations to the Dave Sim Fund -- $1, $5 or $10, it all helps. It all tends to come in right after one of these updates, so I'm trying to figure out how to do more frequent updates. :)

The bottom line on this Kickstarter campaign is that we are about $3K in the red (the total tax bill came to about $10K and there was $7K left). So, at some point John and I are going to have a serious discussion about whether it's really possible to do Kickstarter. With this first one, all of the money basically paid me to do all the pledge items for three months and then pay to ship all of them, get the HIGH SOCIETY pages scanned and... that was it. Of course a lot went wrong. Learning experience.

So -- right NOW -- I'm trying to get really basic and just do regular covers and variant covers for IDW (which is actually quite a bit of fun) and then auction the original art through Heritage Auctions, so I should have a good idea of how viable that is as an economic model as we go along here in 2013.
Glamourpuss #15 (September 2010)
Art by Dave Sim
Still no idea how LONG THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND is. Every time I read it through from the beginning, it's a lot better than I tend to think it is, which is a good sign.  Lots of research materials from Eddie Khanna. He seems to have an unnaturally good eye for what it is that I'm looking for. I'm being really thorough since it's my full-time -- 12 hours a day -- job. As an example I read a 186-page book yesterday from about 3 pm to midnight and got maybe three or four captions out of it. But, that's a luxury that YOU'RE helping to pay for. So far, I'm not having to say "Um, the bank account is dropping like a stone -- have to figure out something to make money at."  It's dropping, but not like a stone. So, I can just go item by item in my head. "I need to find out about...THIS". Like the Grace Kelly material Eddie I had a dialogue about in the last few issues of glamourpuss. Okay, I have to fit this into the actual narrative. Which means reading the "state of the art" biography which varies a lot from Wikipedia and movie sites. Wikipedia is good, but anything that I read that I'm going to use, I want to check with actual BOOKS. Check a Wikipedia listing and LITERALLY go, "You're s--ting me!" (and I don't usually swear). Find another state of the art biography. Read the relevant section. Uh, yeah, seems it really DID happen. Read all the stuff around it. Seriously creeped out. Put the book back and go home. Sitting there going, You can't just get creeped out. You have to read ALL of it. Which I did. 15 or 20 captions out of 500 pages. So that's been a couple of 500-page books just in the last month. But, that's really only two days each because it's my full-time job. And I read VERY fast when I'm working. That hooked up with a movie. So, I borrow that at the library. I'll just sit back and watch it. And I'm pausing it every 45 seconds and sitting there going. WHAAT? Did I really just hear that? Yes, yes I did. Which led to another movie. Again, only a dozen or so captions out of each, but WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN first. Then mull it over. Clear image of the structure in my mind:

THESE parts go in the narrative, THESE parts go in the annotations at the back (literally thinking of calling it TMI [Too Much Information] -- don't get in the way of the forward momentum, the jaw-dropping stuff, but if you're someone who likes MORE jaw-dropper after the original jaw-dropper, well, here you go).

I can't emphasize enough how much of a luxury this is, as a writer.
Glamourpuss #15 (September 2010)
Art by Dave Sim

I dread Eddie's packages coming in in a way because I'm always thinking: what if this just drives a Mac truck through my thesis? So far, exactly the opposite. As an example, the "Unnamed Section" is still the "unnamed section" and I was leaning in the direction of just dropping it. "It's kind of grafted on, it's going to be controversial. I'll make it another book if need be." I mean, Eddie wouldn't even Google it on his work computer. Not really. But he is thinking -- as Arsenio Hall used to say -- "Things that make you go HMMMMM." And just in the last week while I'm hooking everything up, boom, there's a reference to it, boom, there's another reference to it. As another example I was thinking "Okay, I read something about this years ago, what was that book called?" Buried in a biography. I know it's there if I SEE the book title. I read it in the early 90s. Turns out that there was now A WHOLE BOOK on the subject. I thought it was a real stretch. "Here, here's my proof:  this paragraph in one book on this person that no one else has previously referred to." Turns out everyone was just waiting for the subject of the book to pass on and then they started leaking like sieves.

It's been that kind of experience.

Eddie and I keep freaking each other out: "You couldn't make this stuff up." At least I couldn't and I think we'd all agree I'm not an unimaginative person.
Glamourpuss #15 (September 2010)
Art by Dave Sim

I'm still in the situation of getting by on the IDW covers money and your donations, but I have contacted Ted Adams about IDW possibly doing THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND as a monthly comic and, yes, he's up for it. Should we have a phone conversation? he faxes back. No, I'm still writing it. It's WAY off in the future. To do it as a monthly title I need to have the whole thing finished up to...I don't know what page. Covers, text stuff at the back, letters, etc. Because monthly you're talking about Running Ahead of the Freight Train. And "RAFT" when you're 57 is a world of different from when you're 47 which is the last time I did it.  How much of a head start do I need to have on the freight train to keep from just getting chewed up in the wheels six months down the road? NO ONE is going to sit still for me saying "Um, the freight train has caught me, so no monthly comics until I get an even longer head start." Everybody be getting serious whiplash. YOU CAN'T JUST LEAVE US HANGING LIKE THIS! As you all peer in at the Dave Sim hamburger whirling around in the freight train wheels, waiting for the hamburger to reassure you in some way.


But, the point is:
This is what you're helping pay for. 12-hour days to get me into the on-deck circle. I really, really appreciate it. Okay, I'll be back in a month (or earlier, maybe, I don't know).


Adam Ell said...

G-d bless you, Mr. Sim. And I'd totally buy it as a monthly.

Dear MoC, Has there been any updates to the Cerebus covers book?

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Hi Adam,
I've not heard anything from IDW about the Cerebus Cover book as yet. IDW Editor Scott Dunbier previously promised to send along details as soon as he had anything concrete to announce, so I assume IDW are still hard at work putting it together. I'll be sure to post details as/when I get them.