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.
Cerebus #174 is the last issue in the phonebook WOMEN, and to set up these notebook pages, the final pages of issue 174 is where Astoria makes a guard go away with a poit reminiscence of Cerebus telling Astoria to go away in CHURCH & STATE II, Cerebus flies (!) and a figure dressed as death walks through the street. Eventually Astoria, Cerebus and Suenteus Po make their journeys through Upper Iest to all meet up outside the Papal throne room.
Halfway through notebook #18, there are some full page layouts with tighten pencils for pages #12 - 20 of issue 174, here is page 13 via page 102 of the notebook:
|Notebook 18, page 102|
You can follow along with WOMEN page 239. On the finished page, the top panel is just one instead of the three panels pushing in on Astoria. Also missing - the final text of "That was so cute." "He's precious." with regards to Cerebus landing. Other than those couple of items, that is the finished page - well, minus Gerhard's spectacular backgrounds.
|Notebook 18, page 103|
WOMEN page 240 is on page 103 of the notebook
Other then moving the bottom panel with Astoria between the two bottom panels of Cerebus charging forward to kill Astoria, this page is pretty much the same. There are little changes, the G is missing from the first panel so we just have AAAA, but the shadow falling on Cirin's gown to Astoria looking over at Cerebus' sword, this page is pretty close to the printed page.
|Notebook 18, page 104|
WOMEN page 241 is on page 104 of the notebook
Of the three pages shown above, page 104 of the notebook is the most like its printed counterpart, page 241 of WOMEN. Cerebus stopped in his tracks by Po to Cirin throwing the assassin across the room landing with a 'crak' and an 'unh'.
But look closely at the above page, and then look at the finished page, one big difference - in the notebook page, Astoria's right arm is in a sling, while in the phonebook it is Astoria's left arm that is in a sling.
I don't know why Dave made that mistake - he isn't mirroring the pages, as these tight layouts are the same as the printed pages. There are no other sketches of Astoria with her broken arm other than these layouts. Perhaps he was so focused on the content of the pages that the small continuity items like this slipped by? While it may have slipped by in the notebooks, it sure didn't slip by on the finished page.
Margaret Liss is The Cerebus Fan Girl and maintains the Cerebus Wiki.