Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Dave Sim's Notebooks: The Making Of A Cover - Cerebus #60

A few years ago I scanned all of Dave Sim's notebooks. He had filled 36 notebooks during the years he created the monthly Cerebus series, covering issues #20 to 300, plus the other side items -- like the Epic stories, posters and prints, convention speeches etc. A total of 3,281 notebook pages detailing his creative process. I never really got the time to study the notebooks when I had them. Just did a quick look, scanned them in and sent them back to Dave as soon as possible. So this regular column is a chance for me to look through those scans and highlight some of the more interesting pages.

After seeing the recent entry The Making Of A Cover: Following Cerebus #4, I thought to myself, I know I've seen several sketches of different covers in Dave's notebooks.

Then when I was going though notebook #4 which covers issues 59 to 69, I found several different names for the issue and a couple different sketches for the cover of issue #60. On page 19 the different names for the issue starts with "Seeing Things and Other Reads", then on page 25 "Soliloquies" and finally on page 27 "Monologue".

Along with the name "Monologue" on page 27, we see the first sketch of the cover for issue #60. It resembles the cover for #59 with the wallpaper like border around the picture.

Notebook 4, page 27 closeup

The next sketch we see is on page 29. The different female characters who make an appearance in the issue show up:
Notebook 4, page 29 closeup

Red Sophia, Henrot-Gutch, and Astoria show up in their individual boxes. Another similarity to the previous issues - where a character was in a box on the cover with the "wallpaper" like border.

Then on page 38 we have the last sketch of the cover:
Notebook 4, page 38 closeup

It resembles the final cover, but it isn't still the finished layout. This sketch has the order a bit different, from left to right: Astoria, Henrot-Gutch, Theresa, Red Sophia and Elf up top. On the final cover, it is from left to right: Red Sophia, Henrot-Gutch, Theresa and Astoria. My guess for the rearrangement? Red Sophia's amble bosom. It is a bit... distracting. Catches the eye first, then leads one around the rest of the heads via the elf's trail and then up to the elf.

Cerebus #60 (March 1984)
Art by Dave Sim
Margaret Liss is The Cerebus Fan Girl and maintains the Cerebus Wiki.


Anonymous said...

High Society! Good stuff.

- Reginald P.

David Birdsong said...

So in the collected covers book will finally see the red hair? At long last can we see the red hair? Eh?

ChrisW said...

Margaret, how much of Dave's notebooks [in terms of the overall "Cerebus" series] do you have? And what percentage would you say you've scanned so far?

I realize it would take twenty-six years and four months to complete the project(roughly) but I'm just curious how much material you have overall, and how far along you are in giving anybody who follows you a guide to follow.

As an example, Dave had been leading up to the "Your turn" part of "Minds" for fifteen years. Do you have all the notebooks between his acid breakdown and the finalization of the end of "Mothers and Daughters" and, if they were scanned in properly, could someone follow Dave's development of the original idea up through the finished pages?

Or Shep-Shep, which Dave said in the "Last Day" endnotes that he'd long ago worked out every beat and detail, do you have the notebooks that would help someone follow that line of thought?

In theory, a Cerebus fan should be able to Google Shep-Shep and find a "Dave Sim Cerebus Notebook Chronology" site that leads us to a notebook draft from "Church and State" which includes a corner note "possible use in #300?" and leads us to further links, a la Wikipedia.

Basically, has Dave given you all the notebooks covering #1-#300? If not, he's doing a disservice to you as Cerebusfangirl/historian. If so, how far would you say you've progressed?

Personally, if he'd given the notebooks to me, I'd just sit in front of a photocopier for a week, slamming pages down, then find the nearest digital scanner and worry about the rest later. But maybe Dave has different ideas for his legacy. ;)

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Hi Chris,
Margaret details the scope and scale of Dave's notebooks in the first installment of this feature back in June: