Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Jaka and Missy

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.

We've only look at Dave Sim's notebook #11 once before, in an entry entitled "A Gold Coin?" It covers the start of Jaka's Story, and at the beginning of the notebook we see Dave starting to jot down ideas for young Jaka's story.

Notebook #11, page 1
At the top of page one is a thumbnail sketch for page 28 of Jaka's Story, or issue #114 page 18 if you're following along in the monthlies. The dialogue is almost the same - minus the 'hon's and he doesn't mention the market in the finished page. Nor do we see Jaka holding Missy. Instead we get a full page shot of Missy with some text from young Jaka's story and then a page of Jaka looking at Missy thinking about her life with Rick.

I like the line at the bottom of Dave's list of things about young Jaka, Missy and nurse, whom she got on the same day, her mother's funeral: "...make Nurse's continued employment incumbent on no one noticing Jaka is there."

The bit that confuses me is the bit beside this line "victim of palace intrigues after Lord Julius' brother and his wife (her mother) was accidently killed" where it says 'committed suicide'. So was her father accidently killed and then her mother committed suicide?

On page two of the notebook Dave continues his notes. Crossing out some words, points, adding stuff on the margins. A few more pages in the notebook look like this one - and rehash the same bullet points. As if Dave is working the ideas out on the notebook page until he gets what he wants.

Notebook #11, page 2
The line crossed out is "Missy's winter dress and summer dress were Nurse's only outward displays of what could even remotely described as whimsy 'time for Missy to change to her summer dress.' Whimsy from Nurse and a change of outfit for Missy is something we do not see in the series.

A line that gives us a glimpse into Jaka: "Unlike her own mother, Jaka was always there for Missy. Always."


Travis Pelkie said...

And yet in the end, it was just "Missy wants gin! Missy wants gin!"

Sad, really.


Great stuff as always. Good to see in practice what Dave talked about at times of how to really study a writer, you need to see what that writer did on the way to what got onto the final page (the Chasing Scott notes, I think mentioned stuff about that).

Maybe with the suicide bit, Dave wasn't sure if he wanted to have both of Jaka's parents killed in an accident, or as you say, her father accidentally killed and the mother a suicide? It seems palace intrigues might occur more in the wake of a suicide rather than accidental death, but who knows?

Jeff Seiler said...

I would imagine that Lord Julius was involved in many nefarious palace intrigues LONG before we met him...

Tony Dunlop said...

At least now we know a tiny bit about why Jaka was in the care of her uncle…no clue was ever given, unless I've missed something in my dozen-or-more readings of the saga…please correct me if I'm mistaken.