Friday, 5 September 2014

Weekly Update #47: Everything Is Delayed

Hello, everyone!

Comments from last week (sorry, I was informed that I'm "not on the Internet" and couldn't access comments beyond a certain point so if there's an important question from last week's "Comments" section, please post it again this week and I'll answer it next week, God willing):

I did get as far as David Birdsong and Jeff Seiler asking about HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO/DIGITAL.  I'm as surprised as you are.  I was thinking of phoning Ted Adams and asking how it had sold at Comicon (my assumption being that with August shipping they would have had it in preview at Comicon) (in fact, I had briefly considered phoning and volunteering to send them a box of CEREBUS which had come out just before the Comicon weekend to sell as a package deal) (and then thought, "You really don't want to phone ANY comics publisher about ANYTHING just before the Comicon weekend unless you're telling them that you're shipping them something that they NEED").

Anyway, just this week I got a fax from the Senior Editor of their Books division asking me to approve the chapter titles they were putting on the disks.  Which I did -- a couple of corrections like "Summit Enchanted Evening" which is also called "A Night in Iest".  I'm supposed to be getting the finished artwork shortly to approve as well.  Nothing so far.

I think everyone's going through the same thing: time is just going by WAY too fast and, despite the best of intentions to do things on time, everything is delayed.  We INTENDED to do four CEREBUS ARCHIVES a year and -- despite working quite hard at it -- it now looks as if three times a year is going to be optimistic.

For our part, we'll be updating information in what we consider a reasonable fashion which ties in with point #1:

1.  CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE has now cleared customs in the USA!  We will be updating the shipping to the U.S. pledge partners as more information becomes available.

2. CEREBUS COVERS BOOK(S) completely stalled for the moment CEREBUS HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL is still in the final stages of development

3.  Official Off-White House News Leak:  The first page of George Gatsis tone-mask cutting "looks fantastic" says Sean

4. CEREBUS action figure to be 12" instead of 9" tall.
1. Thanks to everyone for the continued feedback on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE.  The next big test will be the Australian and New Zealand copies where we had to cut down the packaging by about a half-inch all the way around -- that was literally the difference between costing $18 to ship and $45 to ship.  This is one of the reasons John has been asking for photos of the packaging when it comes in.  As long as any dents or damage only go in "so far", we'll be fine.  Further than "so far" and we might be replacing $18 Aussie copies with $45 Aussie copies.  We're already "over budget" on the shipping, but not to any crisis point. Not YET, anyway.

I see this as tying in with the IDW HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL delay:  as I said a while back, I took flack on the first Kickstarter for doing too many updates and am now taking flack for not updating often enough.

It seems to me that the sensible thing is to say:  we'll let you know when your order ships.  So you're not watching your mailbox for something that isn't yet on its way.

Until then, all we can say is that we're doing what we can but there have been delays.  John and I have talked about it and I think we have some procedures that will help next time.  But -- I'm quite serious about this -- something WEIRD is happening with time itself, so I think the best thing I can recommend is:  Don't believe Amazon when they say they have something and don't go by the release dates that have been announced (and I'd appreciate it, Tim, if you would take them down on any projects that I'm doing).  Those are based on the assumption that time is behaving the way it used to and it isn't, so everything is delayed or will be delayed.

I don't think IDW has "dropped the ball" on HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL.  I think it's worth pointing out that this is the first audiobook that they've done, so it's not as if they're just plugging into the same system that they have with the books and comics side of things, which is all done through the same South Korean printer.  This is going to be a Steep, Steep Learning Curve for them, so PLEASE be a little more patient than "It said August, it's now September".

As with CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE:  you have to get ALL THE WAY THROUGH the process the first time to know where the bottlenecks are and "un-bottleneck" them.  And there are usually a few new variables that come up in the course of doing something the second or third time, which we anticipate happening here as well. On a related note:

2.  The CEREBUS COVERS BOOK(s) is/are stalled because IDW is waiting for direction from me. I plan to give direction to them, but right now CEREBUS ARCHIVE, the restorations and STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND are occupying MORE than all of my time.  What I have to do is to mock up the CEREBUS COVERS BOOK a few pages at a time...

[basically what I'm doing with THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND: posting 10 pages when I have 10 pages done.  "Here's the next 10 pages."  with a subtext of "You let me know a) if there's any problem b) when you see a i) first book or ii) second book here".  And that addressed to anyone at IDW who has a strongly-held opinion on the subject.  Which, for the moment, I don't think they do.  They just like what they see.  A LOT!  The four individual issues looked like the first book, I think, until they read what I have done so far on "The issue 5 that never ends".  The more you read, the better it reads.  But the more you read, the bigger a first book you have and -- possibly -- a tougher "sell"]

Chris Ryall sent me a fax a couple of Fridays ago asking about the COVERS books:  could I send him a fax describing the project and they would just circulate the fax worldwide instead of doing a standard press release.  Well, I'd LIKE to, but what it really comes down to is:  I want to make sure that the CEREBUS COVERS BOOK is exhaustive.  I'm 60 years old and partly absorbed in "end of life" issues.  I don't want to do a COVERS book and then have to do another metric tonne of COVERS commentary when I'm in my 70s or 80s.  WHEN I do it, I want it to be the last word on the subject.

And I'm pretty sure Gerhard is the same way.

But is an exhaustive book of the CEREBUS COVERS marketable?  I have no idea.  That's why I want to do an exhaustive treatment -- a few pages at a time -- and "feed it" to Chris and Ted and Scott Dunbier.  YOU guys tell ME.  They'll have a comfort level of however many pages and they'll be looking at an exhaustive treatment and they'll have to decide how much of the latter fits into how much of the former.  But they need to have the exhaustive treatment first.  And, the way I do things, I can only do that in order.  And I can only do that when I have time to do it.

I might have to stop doing these Updates for a period of time.  It takes Way Too Much Time to explain what I'm doing and definitely cuts into a 60-year-old man's time of actually doing what he's doing.  I'm having to explain what I'm doing AND explain how I want things done after I'm dead AND write and draw the most labour intensive graphic novel I've ever done AND do CEREBUS ARCHIVE.

The bottom line, I think, is that people generally don't want me to explain what's going on, they want me to say that the CEREBUS COVERS BOOKS -- Four of them -- will be in stores for Christmas.  And WHICH Christmas.  Well, I can do that, but that just means another false publication date over there to your right.  "Christmas 2016" or whatever.

I mean, let's be honest:  a LOT depends on how HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL does once it's out there. If it's a huge success, then, definitely IDW will want to get the CEREBUS COVERS BOOKS going. But if HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL doesn't sell, they'll be just as happy to save the money. We're still just entering The Rapids of "where we are now": which is (quite possibly) Completely Dead In The Water and CEREBUS ARCHIVE Is It -- ALL THAT IS COMMERCIALLY VIABLE ABOUT DAVE SIM AND CEREBUS. I'll have a pretty good idea when I seen the orders from Diamond for the unsigned CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE.  IDW will know about sixty days after they ship HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL. Is there any market for this stuff? But, until then, all any of us would be doing is guessing. And we all have too much work to do to be guessing about anything.

SO, please, let's not talk about people "dropping the ball":  let's just get out of the habit of trying to figure out when things are going to ship when we're always wrong when we say when they're going to ship.

Everyone at IDW is very busy.  And things that sell a lot of copies are always going to take priority.  They're more than happy to work with me and have bent over backwards to accommodate me all down the line. That's MORE than I could hope for from any other publisher.  They've got my back and I've got theirs.  

Mocking up the COVERS BOOKS will be one of my afternoon things -- between 12:30 and 1:30 or 12:30 and 3 pm.  I'm gradually making my way down that list:  initiating the "end of life" material that has to go to my next of kin, two financial advisors, my accountant and my lawyer.  That took a while.  Big thick package.  The next thing is the certificate for the CEREBUS DRAGNET people.  Then answering the mail and the phone messages that have been backing up.  THEN:  (God willing) mocking up the COVERS books.  Unless (as I'm guessing will happen) everyone who is "in the loop" on my "end of life" stuff now needs to meet with me to discuss it all. 

3.  Definitely the best news around here comes from Sean:  "George's first page of tone mask cutting looks fantastic.  He did the whole page (seven figures) in three hours, which beats my test figure (at 35 minutes) by a significant amount of time.  And his looks better than mine, to boot! The very worst pages number about 8 so far -- the slightly better but still bad pages around 10.  I'll keep feeding him the worst pages until we run out, or he runs out of steam!  Anyway it looks great, and I'm very grateful to him for the hard work.  Reminded him that if the originals turn up for these pages, the work would be replaced..."

It's worth, I think, interrupting here to say:  THINK of that! -- working for THREE HOURS on a single page of CEREBUS to make sure the mask where the replacement tone is going is PERFECT -- and, at any moment, that page could suddenly show up in the "Dragnet" and mean that you've just wasted three hours of your life for nothing:

" which he replied:  "HEY! We are doing this to make the best Cerebus Books ever...or come up with a recipe for the best cheese burger and sweet potato fries...whichever comes first." 

MMM.  Cheese burger and sweet potato fries.  Sorry -- it's a "fasting" Friday and I'm in a coffee shop over lunch hour. 

4.  George and I are also in ongoing discussions about the Cerebus Action Figure, which George has announced is going to be 12" tall instead of 9" tall.  The World's Tallest Action Figure?  Somebody check the Guinness Book!

One of the suggestions I made last week -- after faxing George as many "weapons encrusted" Barry Windsor-Smith CONAN pictures as I could find -- was of finding a taxidermist to put short grey fur on the Action Figure and to get someone who does miniature replicas of medieval weaponry out of actual metal and leather and stuff to do those for the action figure.  Real fur, real metal studs.

George doesn't want control of the figure to get away from him -- he's better equipped to do everything with plastic.  But, that's one of the centrepieces of CEREBUS and always has been:  decentralization.  George can do everything he wants to do.  But someone who does miniature weaponry can be a separate source for accoutrements.  You're fine with plastic?  Okay, all part of George's package.  You want real metal and leather and fur?  This guy over here is selling all of those at his website.  Just click on "CEREBUS Bits" when you get there 'til you drop!  It costs five times as much as the plastic!  For several of you, that's a "yeah? So?"

George said something about bags of gold and I suggested doing actual miniature gold coloured coins. In little plastic leather pouches or actual little leather bags.  Sell them by the pound.  Let YOUR CEREBUS Action Figure stand ankle deep in gold coins!  

The fax wouldn't go through but I even suggested Disney might want to steal the idea:  doing a four-inch Uncle Scrooge figure and a three cubic foot Money Bin full of tiny gold and silver coins that he can "dive through like a porpoise..."  (and however the rest of that goes).

Okay. I HAVE to do an Update for the Patreon people -- it's been too many weeks.

See you all next week, God willing!


Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

(this is David P. in Atl)

While I personally am teething to see the complete run of covers in one place at one time, your satisfaction with the concept of the collection should be paramount.

As a sales point-- the dread phrase "value added" --the question would seem to be Is commentary a desired part of the package? My readiest comparison for consideration would be McKean & Gaiman's collected Sandman covers. I know they both viewed the project as a summation of a particular phase of their lives yet they didn't treat it as a monument, ergo anecdotes are kept to a minimum, the overall tone is whimsy & banter. That seems a suitable approach, in my mind, as I've read remarks to the effect that you & Ger weren't altogether comfortable or consistently confident with the results. You're both fairly self-deprecating when it comes to analyzing your output, so perhaps the better question is Do you think remarking on the art is necessary?

As a fan I believe the covers can stand on their own with a minimum of analysis. Technical details about the overall process when it came to creating cover 'arcs', the media involved (the tarot collages, your typography & Ger's photography), the brainstorming & concept-honing behind certain series of covers-- that's the meat of what interests me.

YMMV, as the kids say. Though why they can't open their lips & enunciate I sha'n't speculate.

Jeff Seiler said...

Dave--Much as I always knew that my late father was always 40 years older than me (give or take a few months), I have known for many years that you are 6 years older than me (minus 17 days).

Ergo, my question to you is: Why have you taken to referring to yourself as a "60-year-old man"?

You know that I am 52, since you asked me that over the phone earlier this year and then told me that your Prime Minister and I (and my evil twin) share the same date of birth.

My math tells me that that means you the two)


Do we need to redact your more recent Notes from the President?

Tony Dunlop said...

When you're that old, a couple of years is just insignificant roundoff...

David Birdsong said...

Oh my, what have I said? Well, I said it and it is on the internet now so there is no going back so I'll try to clarify. I only meant that IDW "dropped the ball" when they didn't take the time to let anyone know that the HIGH SOCIETY DVD would be late.

I am also willing to admit that I am an American and when impatient I fall into the "I-want-it-now-and-if-not-then-tell-me-when-I-can-have-it" category. I find that to be marginally better than the generation after me, you know, the "It's-mine!!-give-it-to-me-now!!-I'm-alive-so-I-deserve-it!!" generation, but both are somewhat shameful.

I agree that time is flowing in a strange way at the moment. I have barely slept a wink I the last few weeks so I'll use that excuse for being a dee eye cee kay.

Sorry, carry on...

Patiently waiting...

Coleman Summers said...

Just a small question here for anyone in the know. Will there be a version of the Cerebus Archive besides the Kickstarter? I don't mean different innards only will I, a man very late to the Cerebus Bandwagon, be able to procure a copy without the need to scour ebay for a severely overpriced one. I thought I saw that there wasn't but this weeks update referred to a "unsigned Diamond" version. And if that isn't just a crazy pipe dream what would be the cost and release date?

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Hi Coleman,
The unsigned Diamond edition will be available in comic store in November and retails for $89. The Diamond Previews listing can be found here.

jim sheridan said...

I would love for Dave to back off on the updates and explanations, so he can focus on the work that he simply delays by giving such thorough updates and explanations. They are fascinating, and I look forward to them, but they are secondary.

Adam Ell said...

Now it's a one third scale Cerebus? Oh my.

...and my opinion don't matter none but I would've put out the Covers book before the High Society A/V. It seems a little "niche-y" where the Covers book, as an art book with commentary, might be able to bring new people in.

Michael Grabowski said...

Hi, Dave,

I'd like to echo David P. in Atl. that my preference as a longtime Cerebus fan and reader of Dave Sim's comics & stories is for a mainly covers-only Covers volume or volumes. Limited commentary from you and Gerhard, and a limited number of process images for particularly interesting covers. Otherwise, I'm imagining 2000 words times 300 covers and this project in danger of becoming The Last Cerebus Visions. Gargantuan in scope, impractical if not impossible to complete, and a big distraction to you if your artistic desire is instead to draw something else now rather than talk about stuff you drew 10 to 40 years before.

I suppose you could go the Mark Twain route and have someone record your oral commentary on each cover, which could then be turned into an A/V edition--though that too would take quite some time to create.

Best of success to you whichever direction you take this!

Ray Cornwall said...

I'm for any commentary that explains the process of coming up with the covers. The covers book to me is a critical project, much more so than HS AV. The covers have never been reproduced other than the original printings. As much fun as Dave's anecdotes are, I'd focus commentary on materials used, methodology, thought processes, etc.