Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Brian Coppola: Cerebus Art Dragnet

Cerebus Art Dragnet (2014)
by Dave Sim
(Click image to enlarge)
(from Comic Art Fans, 14 November 2014)
There is a digitization project underway (2014) to gather original art pages that are "out in the wild" (e.g., the 200 or so pages that I possess) and get high-res scans of them for future digital versions of the Cerebus books (as opposed to trying to scan the crappy printing done on newsprint, of the printed books). The restoration project, being run by Sean Michael Robinson, has been dubbed "The Cerebus Art Dragnet". The original art for the "badge" logo and an illustration of Jack Webb (Dragnet!) as a Aardvark, above a couple of 2014 head shots of Cerebus, was auctioned. For my inscription, I asked Dave to be creative with the classic noir intro narrative motif used in the Dragnet series: "This is the city... we wear badges..." This is what came back. Pretty cool. 

(from Costly Continuing Contributions, 19 November 2014)
The Cerebus Original Art Dragnet suffered a pretty serious blow this week when we heard definitively from a prominent art collector who owns several hundred (!) originals. No, he would not be contributing scans of any of his originals to the art hunt, nor will he be selling any of these pages in the foreseeable future. This was particularly hard news as this person's collection represents a significant chunk of "in the wild" Cerebus art pages, pages that will now never be scanned for this project, will now forever be represented in print by second, third, or fourth-generation images rather than the pristine reproduction possible when sourcing from the original art...


Anonymous said...

I mean, at the very least it's cruelly ironic.

- Reginald P.

Damin J. Toell, Esq. said...

The very same day, too.

As a collector (of other things - comic art is typically out of my price range), I'd be proud to experience the day when that which I collect could actually be utilized in a positive manner for the world at large. I guess that's just me.

Travis Pelkie said...

I hope Sean got a digital scan of the original before this got mailed out, then....

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

"The very same day, too."
My fault. I incorrectly dated Sean's post. That should have been 19th November.

Steve said...

Hasn't this topic been slashed and burned enough already?

Anonymous said...

"Hasn't this topic been slashed and burned enough already?"

Nope, not even close.

Anonymous said...

add a little more salt to the wound.

Tony Dunlop said...

OK, I'm confused. Is this Mr. Coppola the one whom everyone assumes is not letting his collection be scanned? And he also had the winning bid for the original art for the dragnet promo?

Well, the rich aren't like the rest of us…Tarim loves them, which is why they have all the money…

Jake Capps said...

There is no assumption it's him, and this post is brilliant.

Tony again said...

So he's not the guy? I just don't want to think bad thoughts about someone who is innocent...

Jeff Seiler said...

He's the guy.


We once had some nice exchanges on the Cerebus Yahoo Group chatty-pagey-thingy.


I just say out loud, every time I read about this and I remind myself that I am positive that it can't be anyone else but you:

"What a complete dick."

Anonymous said...

While it wasn't certain that dredging this topic up again with the person's name attached would lead to name-calling, neither was it unforeseeable.

And ultimately, it is regrettable. The artwork's owner never asked for this. When he bought the art, there was no way of knowing that it would one day come to pass that Caesar Augustus would decree that all the pages should be enrolled.

He never agreed to participate in any future project that would involve the pages - he just bought them.

Judging him requires a sense of entitlement that I would argue is wholly inappropriate, but there it is.

I have said it before - knowing those pages are out there, pages that would clearly make the restoration process easier and better, is agonizingly enticing to anyone interested in seeing this project be what it can be. And knowing that a real fan of the book won't participate is a tough pill for any onlooker.

But he made a choice, and the reasons are his own. Whether people agree or disagree, I do wish they had the decency to avoid vilifying him by name publicly. He was never part of this process, and dragging his name into it simply because he declined to participate is unfair and inappropriate.

--Bill Kremer

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Hi Bill,
I would have left this topic alone after the first outing it had on AMOC, but Brian's comment at Comic Art Fans invited a response of some kind, since it implied that he had participated in the Cerebus Art Dragnet when that would appear not to be the case.

Point taken on the name calling though. Let's keep it civil everybody and give Brian positive reasons to participate.


Jeff Seiler said...

Okay, then, I take it back.

Change that personal remark to:

"What a completely innocuous individual!"

Tony Dunlop said...

Agreed, nobody who owns original art has any moral obligation to let it bew scanned for posterity. But basic, minimal human decency suggests that, if you are not assisting in the restoration of a work, you should just…leave it alone, you know? By bidding on, buying, and then POSTING ABOUT the original art for the Art Dragnet, while refusing to help out with it…well, one has dragged oneself into the mire, shall we say.

Anonymous said...

Tony -
I can see how people perceive that to be the case - it is obviously a topic about which the people who frequent this page are passionate, and to them, this is a guy standing in the way of important progress.

But it is also possible that such a perception leads to coloring any action this person takes in a way that might have a specific bias. Several people, for instance, have commented on how it rankles that he purchased and displays the Art Dragnet piece.

But really, that's just him doing what he has done all along. He buys art, stashes it away, and posts it online. He has done that for many years, since long before this project existed. His gallery of Cerebus art, on a website separate from Comic Art Fans, has been a trove for years. And he posted a blog for a long period in which he consistently shared his art acquisitions, comic and otherwise. Why should the recent piece be any different? He bought it, under the same terms by which he got the rest - it was offered for sale, and he put up the most money.

Why should he care that it is tied to a process in which he doesn't choose to participate? He owns it legitimately, and like the other 200+ Cerebus pieces in his collection, now controls its physical fate.

It also bears mentioning again - while he is ambivalent to the restoration process, he still plays a positive role in the upkeep of A-V. High bid for the piece he got means he paid Dave more than anyone else stepped forward to pay for the piece, and that money helps a project that is apparently continually cash-strapped.

Ultimately, I'm with the perception that the best outcome would be if the owner allowed his pieces to be included in the restoration. That would be just great. But at the same time, I don't believe he has done a single thing wrong in this process, and am against the negativity that has been directed toward a person who has poured his time and money into the book for years, and whose only sin here has been a failure to participate in something to which he had zero obligation.

I'd much rather see people figure out how to get the guy on board than waste time throwing shade in his general direction.

-- Bill Kremer

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Here's a thought for you: An act of omission can be morally wrong.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree at all.

As far as judging his actions/inactions goes, I don't begrudge anyone doing so. It is an unusual, and naturally tense, situation, and will lead people where it will.

To me, where people have gone wrong is not in holding a belief, but in begrudging the owner his inalienable right to hold a different one.

Hate him for it if you will, but don't turn the guy into an online punching bag by name for nothing more than not participating in a project that was never his in the first place. He has a choice - exercising it should not carry that sort of penalty.

-- Bill Kremer

A Moment Of Cerebus said...


"Hate him for it if you will..."
I certainly don't "hate" Brian. Not sure where you got that from. I'm more perplexed by his inaction and I'd love understand his reasoning given the previous character reference given by Max at Cerebus TV ("one of the nicest guys I know, and extraordinarily beyond just normally generous").

"online punching bag"
That's a little melodramatic. Two AMOC posts does not a punch bag make!


Anonymous said...

I didn't suggest anything specific to you. I'm suggesting that, globally speaking, anyone's judgment of this person's inaction is their own business.

This site is the closest thing to an official gathering place for Cerebus fans as exists. That this site would out the person by name represents a choice to invite discussion of his - specifically his - behavior within the confines of that central meeting place. The number of posts is not a metric of how transgressive the behavior might be.

This is no longer a discussion of right and wrong in abstract - it is now offered as a discussion of him. And so he is called names, accused of lacking basic human decency, and just three posts ago, is implied to be committing a moral wrong.

Yeah, I'll stick with "punching bag."

-- Bill Kremer

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

With his post at Comic Art Fans, Brian invited the discussion on himself (which has generally been very civil). I'm not sure why you think he is guaranteed a right of anonymity.