Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Odds and Ends

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.

Way back on October 16 of last year I looked at some of Dave Sim's notebook entries for issue #94 of Cerebus. They came from notebook #7 and you can see the cover there. Notice on the cover that it says "with 2 pocket folder". Well, the pocket was  still with it:

Notebook #7 "pocket" There was nothing in it.
As you can see it is Dave's schedule for issues  #93 through 98 while he was out in Honolulu in January through March 1987. Talk about a compressed schedule. take issue #95 for example, starting on February 2nd, he does two pages and does two pages a day except the 7th and 8th (Saturday and Sunday) and finishing with the cover and letters on February 13th - the following Friday! Less than two weeks to do a full issue. Though I don't know if it was actually accomplished, I remembered they were late during that time period and needed to play catch up at some point, but can't remember exactly when that happened.

On page 13 of notebook 7 you can find Dave's outline for the end of Church & State.

Notebook #7 page 113
Looks like he had it going to issue #115, which turns out to be issue #2 of Jaka's Story. Issue #112 has the note "Bye now" and issue 113 has the note "trip back", neither of which we really see.

Notebook #7, while it encompasses issues #87 to 95, has the first appearance of what would later become Cirin:

Notebook #7 page 92
Not much snout there, but big bossums as my mother would say. The back side of that page is page #91 and you can see it in the entry from Oct 16 linked above.


Anonymous said...

This was a good one for unexplored directions. Thank you!

"The guard who held me, can you make him speak the truth?": This was something Astoria was going to say at the trial?

And "Cerebus Dreams" in 101 was cut, perhaps because we already had Cerebus dreaming in issue 95?

"Crystal broadcast". "Television of the result". "Turning her over to the Cirinists" and "Holds onto Astoria at the last minute." This maybe suggests that Cerebus was somehow going to communicate with the Cirinists through a "crystal broadcast", offer to give the Cirinists Astoria, and then change his mind.

Was there supposed to be a "fight" in 104 at the beginning of the final ascension?

108: "I'm Tarim by" - Was the original plan for Cerebus to actually meet Tarim?

And when Cerebus returns, he returns to people greeting him and he has to fire Cannons to get their attention.

Neat stuff. Thanks again!

- Reginald P.

Tony Dunlop said...

I don't recall exactly how many months behind "real time" the cover dates had gotten - it was more than 2 or 3, I'm sure - but I vividly remember a new issue coming out every 3 weeks until they were caught up. Whew!

Anonymous said...

@ Tony

I remember that too. I'm pretty sure they were doing that at the end of Church & State, like around issues 105 to 113. The double issue 112/113 was supposed to save time as there would only be one cover, letters page, note from the president, etc.

- Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

I always thought the "double issues" were a cheat, and I've joked that Cerebus is a 298-issue series. If I were a retailer, and three months in advance I'd ordered 500 copies of 112 and 500 copies of 113, and then I got 1,000 copies of a "double issue", I'd be annoyed. How many readers bought two copies just 'cause they were numbered twice?

Dave's had a couple of wise marketing thoughts. Regular publication is one of them. If you pledge a new issue every month, and then you miss a month, you're asking for people to forget about you.

Another good point was the idea that the upper third of the cover is the most important space, as it's all a customer will see on a typical waterfall rack.

These notebook pages are always interesting for the "backstage" look they provide. Thanks again to Margaret for scanning and posting them. I'd love to see all the notebooks available someday.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, ilm

Jeff Seiler said...

Damion, weren't there 3 double-issues? The first was 112/113 and the last was 189/190 (in which, significantly, Dave was covering for Ger, who had terrible stomach ulcers and couldn't keep up the pace and who was seriously talking about quitting the book).

But, I think there was another one, the issue numbers of which I don't recall...the like-a-looks issue/s.


Unknown said...

Um, that was really a matter of me slowing down because I was getting ahead of Gerhard and then Gerhard slowing down because he wasn't really getting much further behind. And me slowing down because I was STILL this much further ahead than Gerhard. And before you knew it, we were a couple of months off schedule. Hard lesson: I had to go at my own pace and not pay attention to where Gerhard was. If I filled up the wall with pages and he was still on page 3, start the next issue and have "Orphans of the Floor". If that means Gerhard gets an issue done and the page instantly fills up with 15 pages, well, that's Realistic. It's a monthly book. If you're two months behind, you have to make that up over a LONG stretch. If you pick up a single week per issue (an arduous pace) it's going to take you eight weeks to make up the two months.

Definitely, a HARD lesson.

Tony Dunlop said...

289/290 was a double. I know this because, during a recent reread, I came across 289, which was followed by 291 in the long-box, and I thought, "SHIT! Did I really miss an issue? How is that possible?" Then I looked at the back cover of 289, and it said 290, and I remembered...

Jeff Seiler said...

Yeah, duh! I hope you all knew I *meant* 289/290.

Geez! How stupid can I be?

Tune in next week for the latest answer to that question...