Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Dave Sim's Notebooks: Alone. Unmourned. And Unloved.

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.

One of the most famous phases in Cerebus is from Church & State II (page 1212 if you're following along in the phonebook, issue 111 page 12 if you prefer the individual issues). It is the Judge's response to Cerebus unvoiced question which the Judge paraphrases as 'How?'

"You die alone. Unmourned. And unloved."

In notebook #9, Dave does a first draft of the Judge's response on page 46:

Dave Sim's Notebook #9 page 46
It is almost the same as the final response, but now the Judge thought "very little will go right with the rest of your life and you'll die miserable." That really wouldn't make for a very interesting 189 remaining issues.

After many pages of rough cut of the Judge describing the creation of the universe and Po's many adventures, we come to the next draft of the Judge's response to Cerebus question.

Dave Sim's Notebook #9 page 82
With this draft we also see Dave's script for panel layouts. Other then the sphere taking Cerebus back to Estarcion, these aren't that close at all to the finish product. At least Cerebus isn't just going to die miserably in this draft.

Dave Sim's Notebook #9 page 132
Many more pages later we see the next draft of the Judge's response. This response goes into more detail with the Judge telling Cerebus that his first girlfriend, Michelle, died in childbirth. The Judge continues saying Cerebus ends up "living with Jaka and her husband in the most uncomfortable of situations as dictated by Weisshaupt." He continues with something close to the famous line "You eventually die un-loved and un-mourned."

While Jaka's Story does show us the uncomfortable - at least for Cerebus - situation of him living with Jaka and Rick ("I know, she's great, isn't she?") Nash - it doesn't tell us that Cerebus will die alone.

Then on page 139 out of 141 we get a bit closer - the three main pieces are there, just out of order:

Dave Sim's Notebook #9 page 139
"...You die un-mourned, un-loved. And Alone."

Dave has crossed off "You will never have any  children", I guess Dave wanted to leave that door open just in case - good thing for Shep Shep.

Since notebook 10 has notes for the double issue #112/113 and Jaka's Story, this is the last rough draft of the text in the notebook. Cerebus goes from dying miserably to dying un-loved and un-mourned to dying un-mourned, unloved and alone. Close to the final quote, but with the words rearranged. Why were they rearranged? Added emphasis? To show that the Judge thought that being unloved was the worst thing possible? Sounds like the Judge, who is working in tandem with the BRGWST,  as noted on page 139 of the notebooks  as the glowing sphere that encompasses Cerebus. It has been said that the BRGWST is an extension of Yoohwhoo, who through the Judge is trying to move the chess piece that is Cerebus with this speech.


whc03grady said...

"...as dictated by Weisshaupt"? Did Weisshaupt at some point allude to Cerebus' 'Jaka's Story'-era living arrangements?


Tony Dunlop said...

Well, the Judge was wrong about a lot of stuff - "you live only a few more years" being the most obvious.

Travis Pelkie said...

Well, it's a few more years in George's cosmic sense....

ChrisW said...

Michelle died in childbirth? NOOOOOOOO!!! DAMN YOU, TARIM!