Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Dave Sim's Notebooks: "Fall and the River"

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.

A couple weeks ago we saw the pretty complete layouts in notebook #18 for a couple pages from issue #174. Except those were done in ball point ink. In notebook 26 Dave used pencils to do a layout, and then finished it up with ink. Starting on page 3, he started with page 169 of Going Home. Though page 1 is a crossed out sketch of Cerebus sitting, and then the text:

Book Two
Fall and the River

With an arrow pointed towards it and the remaining text "Footlight light italic" and "footlight light". Page two is then the two quotes, both from Groucho Marx on F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Notebook #26 page 6
Above is the nearly completed page for issue #240 page 6 (or page 172 in Going Home if you're following along there).  You can see some very light pencil marks - mostly for the panels and the page borders. Other than missing Gerhard's background and the dialogue being moved away from F. Stop's hand in the final panel, this page is pretty much how it appears in the issue.

Issue #240 page 6
Dave did these finished drawings for pages 3 to 15, with page 15 being only half completed - it gives us a look at the  pencils that Dave did first before inking:

Notebook #26 page 15
Other than Cerebus saying 'uh-huh' instead of the 'aye' that made the final cut, the text is pretty much the same as page 15 of issue #240 (page 181 of the phonebook). Panel one and two in the notebook are roughly the same - F. Stop sitting by himself at the table, and then a close up on something from the ship. However, in the final page, the first panel is smaller and instead of the life preserver, it is the bottom half of a porthole. But even in the pencils you can see the motion of the chair as F. Stop pulls it out for Jaka, the ice in Jaka's 'Thank you.' and the motion in F. Stop's head as Cerebus clears his throat waiting for F. Stop to pull out Cerebus' chair.

Issue #240 page 15
From tiny little roughs to polished roughs in ball point ink, to these pretty much finished pages - sans Gerhard's backgrounds and on notebook paper rather than Bristol board - we've seen Dave use them all.

1 comment:

jlroberson said...

I love "Fall and the River," even if I'm very up and down(mostly down) about the book otherwise post-MINDS. And I have a lovely little artifact of it: a tracing paper work sketch of F. Stop and Jaka he sent me. Right here: