|Cerebus vs The Marx Brothers (2009)|
Art by Dave Sim
(from a letter to James Stewart Smith, July 2010)
In answer to the Harpo question: because Harpo worked exclusively in pantomime, there was no way of doing him accurately without eating up too many pages. He can act out a whole sentence on the screen with the whistling and the facial expressions and the gestures and it eats up roughly the same amount of footage as actually talking would. On the comics page, each whistle, facial expression and gesture would need its own panel. If you tried to overlap them it would look frenetic and Harpo wasn't frenetic, he was completely serene and angelic. If I did use up, say four pages on a pantomime, getting him right, then the Groucho and Chico pacing would look wrong.
Up until the last two months, I intended to have a pan up from the last shot of Cerebus disappearing into the light and a series of shots of Harpo plucking the last two strings on his harp and then looking angelically upward. Had it in mind for a good fifteen years. And then I went, "No, they'll just say -- 'What? Harpo Marx is God?'" When you're dealing with a literal-minded, hate-filled audience you just can't be that artistic at the end, that playful, that interesting.
(via Cerebus Fan Girl on Twitter. Thanks!)