- The CEREBUS volume is in Lebonfon's hands now!
- CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE signed and numbered on track for August delivery!
- Winsor Newton Series 7 #2 Brush Crisis threatens completion THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND!
- George Peter Gatsis offers free digital copy of THE CEREBUS GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING at cerebusdownloads.com with any purchase of a Cerebus Book Club Package.
- Paul Slade's suggestion of "Pick and Choose" CEREBUS ARCHIVE packages and THEMED PACKAGES don't seem viable.
Wow! This was getting pretty exciting while I was going crazy keeping a bunch of other things going.
Thanks to Sean and Dr. Mara for documenting things so thoroughly. The earliest history of CEREBUS is pretty sketchy so Sean's theory that Preney shot the #1 negatives from a printed copy is very possible. The interiors of #1 were printed by Fairway Press while Moir Press did the covers. I like to think that I was sophisticated enough at the time -- I soon was, anyway! -- to know that I needed those negatives! The general printing policy was that printers owned the negatives unless otherwise specified. They recycled them for $ as I recall.
I'd forgotten what solicitation time with Diamond is like.
Having turned in the ad a week ahead of time, I figure, "Okay I'm done". That works until the ACTUAL DEADLINE day arrives which was yesterday. Matt needs a barcode (BARCODE! EVERYTHING NEEDS A BARCODE NOW! I FORGOT!). Matt needs a shot of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE cover! Right! Right! Matt also wants to know if the CEREBUS volume is on track because they're getting ready to issue a Purchase Order. So I had to POTENTIALLY lie and say, "Lebonfon has the digital files as of today".
Not knowing if Sean had actually turned them in. I figured he had, but yesterday being the deadline, I didn't want to fax him. The last thing you want on Drop Deadline Day is an "Are you done?" question. It's like that scene in JAWS where Richard Dreyfuss is tying off the flotation drums and Quint's going, "Mr. Hooper" while he's aiming at the shark. And Dreyfuss goes "DON'T WAIT FOR ME!"
What do you know? This time Richard Dreyfuss comes through! Way to go, Sean and Dr. Mara!
Next step is proofs, then, then approvals and then, God willing, onto the press.
Pretty exciting indeed.
2. I spent most of the week on CEREBUS ARCHIVE. I've already been paid for those, so in my mind, that shifts the focus. You do the stuff you've gotten paid for and put the stuff you won't get paid for until they're done to one side.
So, all of the bookplates that needed to be signed have been signed and all of the signed bookplates that needed names hand-lettered onto them have been hand-lettered onto them. That was certainly a weird day. How many ways can YOU find to letter "Nathaniel Oberstein" into a space roughly an inch by two inches? I used 05, 03, 01 and 005 Archival pens, so a lot of shifting gears.
All of the fully inked Cerebus heads are done (more on this in a moment) as are the ballpoint pen Cerebus heads. All the ones that needed to be personalized have been personalized.
The membership card is done. Colour on the front: Basically the first panel of "Dead Cerebus" from #300 -- with no white light in his eye and the number "261" in red. 254 single orders and 7 retailers. On the back "This card certifies that this person is one of the two hundred and sixty-one people keeping a dead aardvark on life support in May of 2014" and room for your name and my signature. Should look pretty good with the UV coating.
John delivered the first plate -- CEREBUS THE BERZERKER -- which I signed last night. About six of them had little red speckles on them so those are being rerun. According to John's schedule, I should have all of the plates by the 24th. It takes about an hour to sign 300, so that's the most non-intrusive thing right now. Just put my head down and go.
3. THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND suffered a couple of blows this week.
First: the CEREBUS ARCHIVE material needing to be done. So a lot of jumping on and jumping off. I barely got a page done.
Second: I finally got around to ordering Alex Raymond's -- and my -- favourite brushes: Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2. This was partly prompted by my decision to ink the heads on the front of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE's with one of my #2's (I've got six of them, one unopened). It was the one that was in the worst shape, but it was still a viable #2.
Well, now it isn't.
Cerebus brush strokes at that size, you have to get way too much ink on the brush to do them properly. And that kills the brush. Mind you, the ink goes on like a dream (and people were paying good money for single heads), which is why I decided to sacrifice one of them: the inked drawings look really good. I think all 26 people who pledged for them will be very happy.
The other reason is that I have to get away, mentally, from babying the two best brushes and have more than one back-up. I always wonder, "How many of these did Alex Raymond have at one time?" I'm willing to bet dozens. Just because: some of them are better than others and you don't know until you're using it if it is or it isn't. And if you only buy one, you're always going, "Um, no this is fine." Because you just paid $36 for it, right? Even if it's quirky in some way or just not as smooth as it can be. I mean, they're meant for watercolours. Cartoonists are the only people stupid enough to use sable brushes for india ink. We're lucky that ANY of them last longer than a day or so. I've got one -- marked with masking tape on the back end so I know which one it is -- that is an absolute dream and has been for a few months now.
So I (big spender) ordered two from Wyndham's. And Chris faxes me back and says, "I don't know if you're aware that sable brushes can no longer be imported into North America. They've declared the sable an endangered species (which I don't agree with)."
No. No, I didn't know that.
So Chris sent me what he had: a nylon #2 and a nylon/sable blend #2. Which I haven't tried out yet.
But, they were, like, $8. So I'm not expecting much.
If you want to help out and are near an art store that sells painting supplies, can you see if they have a Winsor Newton Series 7 #2 brush? [available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk] You should be able to see through the little plastic case over the bristles if it comes to a point. If there are little hairs sticking out of it, it's not worth taking a chance. But if it comes to a point it's APT to be (no guarantee) functional. If you want to donate it into the cause of Finishing the Graphic Novel that never ends, you can just send it to Box 1674 Station C Kitchener ON Canada N2G 4R2 and I'll trade you a CEREBUS comic with a good head sketch or something else (within reason). Or if you just want to be reimbursed, send the receipt and I'll send you a cheque in US funds or Canadian funds. Or if you want to be reimbursed AND get a CEREBUS comic with head sketch -- let me know if there's a specific issue you want. #0 Gold? Done -- our operator (me) is standing by.
It's apt to be seriously wasteful: as I say, you never know if it's a good brush or a so-so brush or a no- good brush until you're using it for a while. But, considering I just raised $30,000 so I could pay $10,000 for a substandard printing job, I have to get a better perspective on this. Paying out a few thousand dollars for 100 brushes and getting 10 really good brushes out of it, makes a lot of sense. Particularly if this "sable crisis" has spread to...or originated...in England, the home of Winsor & Newton and soon there won't be ANY Series 7 #2's anywhere for love or money.
It doesn't SOUND as if it makes sense, but it does.
This is one of those instances where I'm not going to be able to find a comparable brush, I'm pretty sure, as eco-friendly as I like to be. It seems every time I turn around I'm being offered something not quite as good with the implied sense that I'm Obligated to agree that there's no difference. Because it's 2014 and We're Fixing Everything That's Wrong.
Alex Raymond used the Winsor Newton Series Seven #2, for me, ends the discussion.
4. George Peter Gatsis -- MANY thanks to George, by the way, for doing yeoman's work on cerebusdownloads.com: which has been generating an average of $200 a week (up until this week when we flatlined, anyway -- maybe it's the World Cup) -- is offering a free digital copy of THE CEREBUS GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING to anyone ordering one of the Cerebus Book Club Packages (basically anything more than a single volume) all this month. Thanks to Steve N. who prompted this by offering $50 for a copy and then actually paying $50 (THANK YOU, Steven!) -- which prompted George to go digging through his Lebonfon digital files where he found the latest incarnation from 2010. THE CEREBUS GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING all this month at cerebusdownloads.com. Thanks, George! Hope your movie is coming along good!
5. On the idea of "pick and choose" or "themed" CEREBUS ARCHIVE packages. I'd have to say no. This gets into personalizing the packages which is fine if everyone wants the same thing, but everyone wants different things. The idea is to have a simple package that can be offered for sale on Kickstarter and then through Diamond that John can produce individually as needed. The package took me two years to come up with and I went through every possible mental permutation before arriving at the one that I did. It's RELATIVELY simple but that means it's also RELATIVELY complicated. What I'm finding out right now is how long it takes John and I to actually execute the package. This week was really taken up with CEREBUS ARCHIVE which is fine every once in a while but if it becomes steady, then THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND is going to become a pipe dream.
I COMPLETELY understand if you don't want the early material. There IS a danger that we won't MAKE IT to, say, JAKA'S STORY if the drop-off is too severe between NUMBERS. What I'm hoping is that 250 people is a reasonably solid number and that we can afford to drop down to 100 and still be viable. My gut instinct tells me that there is a core number who can a) afford these b) want to have them c) will order them and that "chasing orders" by offering WAY TOO MUCH variety is a recipe for disaster. A lot of people tend to complain but that doesn't mean that they would order if I did it their way: a lot of people just like to find fault and suggest what they consider a better way -- but purely as an intellectual exercise. They don't actually order things, they just, you know, intend to. :)
The idea of CEREBUS ARCHIVE is: "Here's what I THINK I can do. Here's what I'm PRETTY SURE I can do...AND do THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND." The jury's still out on whether that's true. But the impetus is going to be in the direction of: how do I further simplify the CEREBUS ARCHIVE program so it isn't eating SDOAR time, not "how can I add a number of new wrinkles to the CEREBUS ARCHIVE program so NO ONE has any complaints about it?"
It really is an either/or. I don't have a work/life balance. I have a work/work/work balance. There are three different kinds of work that I do and it's just a question of what I'm doing 12 hours a day six days a week. I'm coming up on two hours of typing this and I still have a ways to go.
I appreciate ChrisW picking up on that (still enjoying your book, Chris -- you are a WILD MAN!).
If you want to be reading THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND someday and you'd rather that was 2017 than 2020, then I'm afraid this is Monty Python's Scotch Tape Store. You can buy CEREBUS ARCHIVE or you can buy CEREBUS ARCHIVE. And we have some lovely CEREBUS ARCHIVE on Kickstarter. Or you can have CEREBUS ARCHIVE. It's far more a fund raiser for restoring CEREBUS than it is anything else. If you can afford $79 and postage costs to help us restore CEREBUS, many many sincere thanks. Here's what we can offer you as a reward.
Coincidentally I am thinking along the lines that Mike Kitchen is talking about: bonus prints. If you buy the CEREBUS ARCHIVE package, you have an option to purchase an additional print -- one, per campaign -- and we'd have maybe a dozen to pick from. But I still have to mull that one over. It's adding a step to John's process and introducing a variable that is apt to cause trouble. "This isn't the bonus print that I ordered." Now we have to mail something separately to you. The bonus prints would have to be pre-printed (that's part of the potential attraction -- you could have them pre-printed: but that gets into the problem of how many of them are you going to have and how many are you going to pre-print? If you have 20 options and you print 50 of each, that's 1,000 prints that need to be stored -- and dug through -- any time someone orders one).
Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
Okay, I have to put some time in on the Patreon site which has been skipped the last couple of weeks before my 5:30 prayer and then HOPEFULLY actually get back to THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND for the 6 pm to 11 pm stretch. Unless a bunch of faxes and phone messages came in while I was here.
See you next week!
So, for the moment, we are sticking with the CEREBUS ARCHIVE program as constituted. I think we would have to see two or three NUMBERS go out of here smoothly and on-time before we add any more buzzsaws to our juggling act. :)