Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Worm Merchant or Grand Lord of Palnu?

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.

This week we are  looking at notebook #15 which Dave used for issues #136 to #141 of Cerebus. The cover of the notebook said there were 80 pages in it at one point, and 64 pages were scanned, 8 pages were blank, and page 73/74 was torn  out, but a  small corner still remained. I also noted that the edges of the pages when viewed together, appeared blue, as if someone had colored them when the notebook was closed.

Lord Julius was always one of my favorite characters, and the Like-A-Looks provided even more humor for the already funny character. Good ole Aunt Victoria showed up in issue #125, and again in the in-between issue #137 and here on page 27:

Notebook #15, page 27
Along with Aunt Victoria, and a few other sketches of Like-A-Looks (or perhaps the real Lord Julius?) we see a rough sketch of the grounds crew member taking a drink and then throwing away his bottle. I can't tell what the other tiny thumbnail sketch is off,  something from issue #137? #138? I couldn't find it in those issues.

Next we go to page #32 where we see a sketch of the small bit of road to the upper citty where Dino's Cafe and the Hotel D'Alsace are located,  and a quick sketch of the cover to Cerebus #139.

Notebook #15, page 32
Then on page 35 we see a more complete sketch of the cover to issue #139:

Notebook #15, page 35
We also get a list of characters in the Melmoth phonebook. We never meet Dino's mother - and she is crossed out, and Elrod doesn't make an appearance - though a Like-A-Look in issue #138 does look suspiciously like Elrod.


Malcolm X said...

#139...first issue I ever bought! What was yours?

Tony Dunlop said...


Bill Ritter said...


JLH said...

I got the full run of Cerebus Biweeklys on eBay about 10 years back, so I sadly came in too late to have started with a particular issue.

Anonymous said...


The like-a-look part is one of my favourite bits in the whole series. The timing is so good. Wish he had done more stuff like this.

- Reginald P.

Steve said...

I think my first issue was in the mid teens to early 20's. If memory serves, cat yronwode (she prefers this) was talking up Cerebus in the pages of The Comics Buyer's Guide and perhaps the Silverspoon pages were running then too.

Like nothing ever done (at least that I'm familiar with) in the medium: laugh out loud antics, dialogue several orders of magnitude better than anything Marvel / DC could hope to achieve, tremendously innovative art / layout / lettering, a hopping letters column.


Sure do miss it.

Beanbag Amerika said...

If I'm recalling correctly, #139 was actually my first issue too! I had seen Cerebus on the shelves in comics shops but had dismissed it as a parody comic until I picked up the High Society phonebook sometime in early 1991, then dove in to the monthly book with the start of Melmoth.