Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Dave Sim's Notebooks: "On Governing"

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.

So the last few weeks we've been looking at Dave's layouts - a whole lot of drawing. So this week, let's look at Cerebus' book "On Governing".

Cerebus starts writing "On Governing" while in a tavern. In issue #52 page 2 (in the Church and State phonebook it is page 14) Cerebus starts writing:

Notebook #3 page #8
The layouts for page 1 are seen, and a sketch for panel 1 of page 2. The majority of the page are Cerebus first six rules for governing, which are word for word the same as on the finished page. Notice the handwriting on the finish page - the same as in the notebook. 

Part two of "On Governing" is a couple pages later - on page 11 of the notebook and on page 9 of issue 52. 

Notebook #3 page 11
The scribbled out line is "If we had an election and I won, why so why are they always telling me I'm going to" which was replaced with "Why don't they just do what they're told?"  The former doesn't seem very Cerebus like, but the latter of Cerebus wondering why people can't just do what they told? That is so very Cerebus like.

Comparing this hand writing to the handwriting on the finished page - once again it is Dave's writing, so he didn't ask anyone else to write it for him. If you look closely behind the text? It is a ballpoint drawing of Silverspoon and one of his cohorts coming through page 12. It continues to amaze me how much of the finished pages we see in the notebooks - as if they aren't just for sketching out quick ideas,but for laying out complete templates for each page.


Tony Dunlop said...

I liked the part about the butler.

BTW I've always seen the bit after Cerebus becomes Pope - where Bran shows him all the documents from around Iest that are in Cerebus' handwriting - as a little joke on Dave's part, as it's all Dave's handwriting.

Anonymous said...

Love the Church & State stuff. My favourite book of the series.

Would have liked to see the ballpoint drawing of Silverspoon and the cohort as well.

- Reginald P.

Jeff Seiler said...

I don't mean to brag, but...

Ok, no, I'm gonna brag here.


Many years ago, back when Dave and I were exchanging handwritten letters (before I started typing on the electronic interconnected qwerty thingy and he began writing on his old 1930s second-hand sportswriter's Royal typewriter (which he also used for upper-torso exercise, as it weighs a ton)), Dave once began a letter to me with the sentence:

"Thank you for your letter, which was written in very... (italics on the next word--Jeff)...distinctive handwriting.

It turns out, purely by some freaky odds (or, as he and I believe, God), we both use the same handwriting, a mix of cursive and printing, if you're old enough to know those terms.

No, I did not copy his style, nor did he mine. Just God moving across the firmament in mysterious ways.

Right, Dave?

Tony again said...

Yes, and I especially love the short-vignette structure of the early C&S issues. Some laugh-out-loud moments, fer sher.

"I paid for it - my magic."

Margaret said...

Reginald - Here you go: Notebook #3 page 12.

Though now that I look at it, it appears to be Lord Silverspoon's two companions - Gwayne and Trystrim.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Thanks Margaret!

Tony: Yes, the short vignettes are great and much of the dialogue is very memorable. "I told you Cerebus' pants were too tight" or "Sophia never brought home her little playmates to meet me." And Mind Games IV is one of my favourite issues. Totally trippy.

- Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to Thank You for bringing these notebooks to AMOC
for all of us to see.

Margaret said...

You're welcome Steve - though part of the thanks should go to Dave as well, as he allowed me to share these glimpses into the notebooks with everyone. :)

Will Collier said...

The "five guys in the woods" bit has popped up in my memory more than once over the last six-odd years, and not just because #52 was my first issue of Cerebus. The little grey bastard isn't the only politician who thinks like that...