Sunday, 2 June 2013

A Metaphysical History Of Comics Photorealism


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.

DAVE SIM:
(from Kickstarter Update #160, 30 May 2013)
...On THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, I'm still working on the first issue. You'll remember last time I was at page 10-11 and that they were new pages. My plan (ten days ago) was to splice in comics pages and smooth out the narrative. Which worked fine up until pages 10-11, but when I looked at the subsequent pages, it just wasn't working.  You can't turn what is, in effect, an illustrated essay into a comic book story by splicing in comics pages. So, essentially, I stopped work on the first issue to rewrite the whole thing as a comic-book story. Which required some major, major cuts to the text.  Basically "What am I trying to say here and how would you say it in comic-book pacing word balloons and captions?" So I've got all of the new word balloons and captions pasted up in rough form (for some reason, my MacBook won't "hold" boldface Joe Kubert lettering -- as soon as I shut it down, it defaults to either regular or italic -- so there's no point in putting the boldface text in until I'm at the finishing stage). I then went back to doing the first issue and -- with the now "comic-book-ized" intermediary pages in place -- I'm (I THINK) on page 21 of 22.  I have to read it all the way through when I'm done in its new "comic-book pacing" incarnation. The plus is that, at the time, I had just been spouting everything that I had been thinking about comics photorealism for years with no real intention of doing a traditional narrative. More just getting it off my chest and having fun doing photorealism pictures and tracing RIP KIRBY panels. Now, I not only know where I was actually going but I know where the emphasis is. So, it's going to be an interesting process of seeing what makes the cut in the new "comic-book-ized" narrative.

In terms of the schedule, yes, it's not too bad. But it's really ALL that I've been doing in the month of May (besides Kickstarter stuff and answering the mail) and that isn't possible on an on-going basis.  I HAVE to do OTHER things just to keep everything from collapsing.

So, thanks to all of you who have been donating $1, $5 or $10 at cerebusdownloads.com At least for the foreseeable future this IS viable with your help...
Glamourpuss #2 (July 2008)
Art by Dave Sim (after Alex Raymond)
But, as I say, in terms of schedule, that's not too bad.  I had told [IDW publisher] Ted [Adams] and [IDW Editor-In-Chief] Chris [Ryall] that I'd be posting what I had done in May on the 27th. But now, it's the first issue of a comic book, so it has what I hope is a first-issue ending on it that people will like and bring them back for a second issue, so there's really no point in showing it to IDW until I have the ending done (pages 21-22) because it's, um, DIFFERENT. And I wouldn't want to just spring DIFFERENT on them as an afterthought. Oh, BTW, here's my 90-degree angle I didn't tell you about.  It might be TOO different, which is one of the things I'll be asked Ted and Chris about.  If it's TOO different, I can make it more comic-book normal. I actually like that that I have two completely (I assume) shell-shocked veterans of 21st century comics publishing to give me an honest reaction. They'll just be reading it like comic fans reading the first issue of a comic book. Is it okay? Does it work?

...Of course, when I was "comic-book-izing" all of the pages, I originally thought I would just rewrite them and mock them up from the scans and get IDW to merge the two based on my mock-ups.  And then, I thought, well, that's really just asking for trouble and causing a lot of work for someone besides me on my book. Why not do it on the original artwork? Which I was a little hesitant about because it was, say, page 8 of glamourpuss #1 or whatever.  But for the sake of clarity and ease it seemed like the way to go.  So, to do that I had to go retrieve all of the glamourpuss artwork and then sit and literally do a glamourpuss-ectomy on it. Glamourpuss pages here, STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND pages there.  So, starting with #2, I can literally just line up all of the pages next in the narrative and write comic book pages around them and on them. The book is subtitled A METAPHYSICAL HISTORY OF COMICS PHOTOREALISM which could end up being the world's biggest understatement. And I figured, Well, if they really want to read the original glamourpuss issues, they can get them from ComiXpress. And right after I thought that, ComiXpress went out of business. So I might have to find another POD place. It would make an interesting essay question: compare and contrast the original illustrated thesis HISTORY OF PHOTOREALISM with the comic-book-ized STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. Some day. If I get there. God willing.

1 comment:

Tony Dunlop said...

Does anyone else find it more than a little bit jarring to hear Dave Sim wondering aloud what an outside publisher will think of his work?