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.
Last week we saw the nearly finished pages - albeit in his notebook - for issue #174 in Notebook #18, this week we'll look at the opposite end of the spectrum - MELMOTH and tiny thumbnails.
Dave started sketching the outline of MELMOTH and some of the first couple issues in Notebook #15, but it is notebook #16 that contains most the majority of notes about the shortest phonebook.
In issue #143 we don't see Cerebus as much as we hear him eating. Dino speaks to Janice, the very uncooperative hostile "waitress", about what Cerebus had eaten so far: five plates of deep-fried noodles, six raw potatoes and twenty-nine hard-boiled eggs.
As you can see on page 28 of Notebook 16, Dave has some very tiny thumbnails of the first 4 pages of issue #143 (pages 89 - 92 of the phonebook):
|Notebook 16, page 28|
Along with the small thumbnails is the text that will go on mostly page 91 of the phonebook - Janice's response to Dino's inquiry about what Cerebus is eating. Except instead of twenty-nine hard-boiled eggs, the notebook has it as "twenty eight devilled eggs".
The close up shots of Dino and Janice, the 6 panel layout and the word balloons on the top of the panels remained the same in the finished pages. With basically just the ordering of who is in what panel having been changed since Dave sketched out these small thumbnails.
The next page of the notebook has most of the same dialogue from the previous page, and different roughs of Oscar and Robbie from page 101 of the phonebook. Included is the line printed on the page as well.
|Notebook 16, page 29|
The final page with material for issue #143 is on page 30. We have three very tiny thumbnails of page 11, 12 and 13 (pages 99 though 101 in the phonebook) along with the text printed on the finished pages. Even though the thumbnails are very tiny, the layouts are the same as the printed page.
|Notebook 16, page 30|
Margaret Liss is The Cerebus Fan Girl and maintains the Cerebus Wiki.