Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Dave Sim's Notebooks: Touch Not The Priestess

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.

This week we're looking at issue #83, and in specific, pages 8 to 10 or if you're following along in the phonebook, CHURCH & STATE II page 642 to 644. Dave first sketched out some layouts for page 8 and 9 on page 28 of the notebook and added the punch line from page 9 (though it isn't per verbatim yet):

Notebook 6, page 28

We then skip a head to page 32 of notebook 6 for the dialogue for the pages. The notebook pages between page 28 and page 32 have some dialogue for the earlier pages in the issue, a blank notebook page, and a "Got Live If You Want It Tour '86" poster sketch. Perhaps just unused slogan for the UK Tour that happened in 1986?

Starting at the top of page 32 the dialogue for page 8 goes across for two lines of the Countess' dialogue, and the it goes down to the line at which time Dave starts numbering the bits of Michelle's soliloquy by which panel they appear in. He also crossed off some bits that didn't make the cut.

Notebook 6, page 32

It looks like Dave revised the dialogue at least three times that I can see. The first 'revision' was the addition of the words 'frankly' and 'I mean' in front of two pieces of the Countess' dialogue. Those pieces appear on the finished page just like they do in the notebook.

Then we can see some blue pencil crossing off dialogue and adding new dialogue. For example, the bit labeled '2' was "Of course I never ASKED. I didn't even know who he was until the end of my first year....". Dave crossed off 'Of course' and replaced it with "at the same time." The marked up text is the line that is in the finished art, page 644 of CHURCH & STATE.

There are a couple lines that weren't used "He never explained why I was an exception to the rule" and "The next day he told me that one day a woman would stand against him that her will (?) would ultimately prevail."

Was this unused dialogue from Weisshaupt about the United Feldwar States' defeat to the Cirinist forces? The revolution which happens while Cerebus is on the moon, from which he returns to a Cirinist held Iest. Or was he talking about Michelle, how she was the exception to his male only University? Yet he keeps her in an apartment with a job of which he controls the wages. Even then, she still helped him in the end, giving Cerebus his message.

Margaret Liss is The Cerebus Fan Girl and maintains the Cerebus Wiki.


Birdsong said...

"Got Live If You Want It" is the name of a Rolling Stones album. I can totally see Dave using that title for a UK tour at the time.

Anonymous said...

Please keep these coming.
They are fantastic!