Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Varying Reasons of Assorted Depths

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.

Notebook #5 covers Cerebus issues #70 to 79. It contained 100 pages at the start, but only 86 pages to scan, with page 83/84 being blank. Starting with page 58 there is material for issue #76, the issue in which Cerebus tells Weisshaupt to go to hell. There are a total of seven pages for the issue, starting on page 56. However, on page 58 is when it starts to get interesting:

Notebook #5 page 58
The page layouts for page 6 through 9, pages 498 though 501 of the Church & State I phonebook, follow the layout of the finished pages with one exception: on page 8 the middle panel (panel #5) shows Cerebus to the far right with the two word balloons are in front of him but on the finished page the layout is reversed: Cerebus is to the far left and the two word balloons are behind him. The dialogue is also pretty much the same, just changing out 'the long night' with 'the eternal night'.

The next page is mostly dialogue, the top of the page starts with the text from page 10 (phonebook page 502).

Notebook #5 page 59
The first bit is the first panel of page 10, but the stuff beside it - is a first draft of the dialogue on pages 14 and 15, page 506 and 507. It has the basics of the discussion about "The President's Uncle", but not per verbatim. There is dialogue along the bottom of the page which is crossed out - about losing track of that Elrod chap, "a mouth without a brain attached" according to Weisshaupt. Or like exhaling without inhaling. . .

It also looks like Weisshaupt thinks that "living without hallucinations is like breathing through one nostril." (used on page 14, C&S I p. 506)

Skip to page 61, where we see Weisshaupt telling Cerebus about the other aardvarks in Estarcion, which starts on page 10 (C&S I p. 502)

Notebook #5 page 61
Dave didn't use much of this dialogue - just the bit about the two other aardvarks. Nothing about them being more human in appearance or them envying Cerebus' purity of form. The other dialogue along the bottom left hand corner - about the end of the world. That doesn't make the final cut.

Though the 'Go to hell'. That does.

Hat tip to Reginald P for the request.


Anonymous said...

Thanks! Interesting stuff.

I don't know why but I always get curious about the stuff that can be half seen through the page. It looks like there is a drawing of a rejected cover for issue 76 and some drawings that might be Jaka with a hairstyle that was never used.

Okay, how about a bit of a different request? Is there anything from High Society or Church & State that is completely different from the final product or that wasn't used at all? I find the most interesting stuff is what wasn't used.

- Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

Good question, Reg; seconded. Stuff that wasn't used gives insight into Dave's creative process -- exploring creative avenues that turned out be dead ends, or suggested shorter or better routes that he actually followed in the work.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, pfc

iestyn said...

Maybe push that further and include notes for NON Cerebus stuff if there is any.

I'd find it fascinating to see if Dave did any sketches of the Ninja Turtles for their crossover.

Or if there are drafts of he creator's bill of rights in his notebooks.

One last one - any notes for text pieces - things like the notes from the president or any of the essays?

Iestyn Pettigrew

Jeff Seiler said...

Yeah, I would be very interested in any notes and/or research for the Islam, My Islam 7-part essay.

Also, Mama's Boy.

Margaret said...

Reggie - Yeah, the stuff on the other page is a tease isn't it? Makes me nervous that over time the ink will continue to leach through and the actual notebooks won't be legible. As for stuff from HS & C&S that doesn't maket he cut? I'll keep an eye out for it. Usually it is bits and pieces, a small sketch here, some crossed out dialogue here - like what we see on page 59 above.

iestyn - Not much non-Cerebus related stuff, about the only thing I can think of is the few notes on he Torah / Bible and different tour related things - like some speeches he gave on the '92 tour. As for the Creators' Bill of Rights, I'll take a look - the CBoR was dated Nov 1988, same time as issue #116, which is notebook #11, which is issues #111 to 117 time frame, so lets look at notebook #12. Umm page 98 has the Note From the President in #122, but that is it. Don't see anything in notebook #13 either. Though there are other text pieces - NFTP, speeches and other various text pieces that ran in the front / back of Cerebus. I'll see if there are any other text pieces that might deal with creator freedom in other notebooks.

Jeff - Mama's Boy. Heh. I'll keep a look out for that and Islam, My Islan notes - if I find them, they'll make a future edition of this column.

Thanks everyone for what you'd like to see!