Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Good and Bad of Comics in the Early 90s pt 2

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.

In last week's column I showed the first three pages of some writing by Dave Sim on the comics market in the early 1990s from notebook #17, pages 18 through 20. I thought this was going to be a two part column, but it there are actually 9 pages all in a row that Dave has notes about the comics industry at the time. So I'll show the middle three pages for this week, and finish it up with the last three pages next week.

Page 21 sounds like Dave is writing a speech for comics retailers, but if it exists online, I can't find it.

Notebook #17, page 21
The idea that some comics creators don't deliver their work on time being a problem is one that Dave repeats in his Note From the President series on self-publishing (issue #177, December 1993, so these notebook entries are a year or so ahead of it).

Dave continues with his speech on the next page. Saying how the retailers need the creators and vice versa. Down near the bottom he says that "(s)elling the Cerebus reprint volumes, the phone books, by telephone order was the most lucrative mistake I ever made. It has given me more money then I have ever seen in one place or ever dreamed I would see in one place."

Notebook #17, page 22
Dave doesn't finish that thought on the next page, but continues with a request that the retailers give a couple years to comics creators who are publishing a single project of their own, increasing their orders with each subsequent issue. I can only imagine how hard that would be in the early 1990s with the black and white comics boom that was happening at the time.

Notebook #17, page 23
Next week I'll wrap it up with pages 24 through 26.


Anonymous said...

The b&w glut was actually around 1987. The early '90s was the multiple-covers glut that collapsed the industry into a slump it still hasn't fully recovered from.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, nme

Max West said...

Sim definitely saw the handwriting on the wall when he talks about the inflated values of comics which led to the collapse in the mid-90s.