Thursday, 19 March 2015

Fat Elvis Period

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.

I've covered Dave Sim's notebook #6 in this column once before ("Touch Not the Priestess", July 23, 2014). Notebook #6 covers issues #80 to 86 and the cover says 200 pages, but it only had 135 pages by the time I went to scan it, and only 118 pages were scanned as the rest were blank. It covers what some might call Dave & Gerhard's rock and roll lifestyle period. When Dave was getting offers from DC Comics for the rights to Cerebus, and Dave on page 114 covered what he would want from such a contract if it were to happen:

Notebook #6, page 114
It would've been interesting to see what Frank Miller and John Byrne would've done with the covers. The crossed out text after that? "If someone were to offer me a million dollars to urinate on a Cerebus comic". I wonder what the answer to that question would be - a million dollars is a lot of money.

Then on page 131 Dave writes something that perhaps ended up as a Note From the President? It is one that I can't remember. He discusses Gerhard's state of happiness and Dave's "manic-depressive hobbyist".

Notebook #6, page 131
That bit of writing on  page 131 is all we see of the Peter Pan Syndrome talk, as page 132 is blank, page 133 is some writing on an actress name Constance who "absorbed personalities like a sponge", page 134 just says "There is a difference between license and freedom but it is largely subjective."

Then on page 135 we get another instance of some writing that sounds like a Note From the President, but it isn't one that I'm familiar with. Dave talking about the two months he spent in Florida. He talks a bit about his normal workday back in Kitchener, which consisted of an hour of office work with Karen followed by going to the studio for five to six hours and doing two (!)  pages.

Notebook #6, page 135
And that is the last page of notebook #6.


Travis Pelkie said...

Huh, I don't remember if I'd ever read about the DC negotiations involving color reprints. That's interesting. I mean, it makes sense -- up until the Batman Black and White mini in '96, I don't think they'd ever published anything in B&W (I think...)

That, to me, is one of the best things about Dave's reprint policy on Cerebus -- he's never gone ahead with a "colorization" that really is unnecessary (and probably unwise, given that he made sure to draw for the medium he worked in, ie, B&W comics). I still want a collection of all the color stuff, but I don't need the old stuff colorized.

I do remember a Note that had a bit of that last page -- the part about juggling the fantasy of Cerebus with "reality". Maybe even in the Guide to S-P, with the "get a life" section.

Anonymous said...

So this DC negotiation is subsequent to their "six-figure offer" that led Dave to publish High Society? I didn't know they continued to be interested. Y'learn sumthin' new every day.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, ddt

Max West said...

While things are better for creators nowadays, I'm scared of relinquishing any sort of control to a publisher or editor. I don't like the look of some guy looking over my shoulder and saying "no, you can't draw that".

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...


I'm not 100% positive, but the was probably the same time.

The notebook makes it sound as if this was early in the process of Church & State. Around when High Society collected would have begun to be planned.

Matt Dow