Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Destruction of Iest

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.

So we've looked at Dave Sim's notebook #26 three times before: They Give Us Those Nice Bright Colors, Fall and the River, and Form & Void Shooting Script. It covers issues #240 to 250, and while the cover says the notebook had 300 pages, only 150 were scanned. There were a total of 134 blank pages and only 11 missing pages.

On page 96 of the notebook it looks like Dave was writing some notes for Gerhard - for the post ascension Iest. The dolly shot that Dave is talking about starts on page 349 of Going Home, or page 3 of Cerebus #249. The dialogue at the bottom of the notebook page is on page 356 of Going Home.
Notebook #26, page 96
"Cirinist Touristas" - I think they made their way to Cape Cod this summer.

Next is the only page from a notebook I printed out. It never made it into the story line - two guys discussing F. Stop's Fall and the River. When I need a laugh I read it - who hasn't felt like Pat Veteran before?

Notebook #26, page 156
Click to enlarge the page and read the tiny type


Travis Pelkie said...

Wasn't Dave attempting to write full scripts for this section (or all) of Fall and the River? I seem to remember that from the Chasing Scott notes (which were great). I don't remember that any of this part of the description of the great pan shot issue was in the notes, but some of the description was.

And I swear that this "Pat Veteran" story, or at least part of it, made it in the notes as well. It's Dave doing a pastiche of the FSF "Pat Hobby" stories from near the end of his life (for Esquire, maybe?), iirc. The "Wile E. Coyote" description is so vivid, I know I've read it before.

And before Dave comments for the day, might I ask a question out of morbid curiosity? Has there been an accounting yet of how much Dave spent on the trip to Illinois for the MRI, etc, and...well, is that amount about the same as the amount of the printing bill of C&S 1 that wasn't taken into account ahead of time? My point being, if those amounts are similar, and the medical treatment for the wrist was comparable to care he would have gotten in Canada that would have been covered by the taxes he pays...well, I might take that as a sign. (ie, if Dave had stuck to the Canadian medical system, he still would have had the money in the account to cover the printing bill without having to go into doom mode here.)

I do plan on kicking in for the Kickstarter. I've just got to figure out what I can afford and see how many of the prints I want/can afford. Because I want to see the best comic around continue in print for years to come. Anything further than that regarding what Dave thinks/wants his legacy to be...well, I guess that's for posterity to decide.

Unknown said...

THANK YOU, MARGARET! Far too rueful to laugh about it, but definitely "There but for the grace of God self-publishing and CEREBUS fans go I". Always important to remind myself of the dismal alternative.

Hi Travis!
A damned if you do, damned if you don't...I knew that I couldn't just say "I'm going to wait and see if the hand gets better" because the fans supporting the restoration believe in medical science. Which is why I went to physiotherapy. Even though I was pretty sure it wasn't that kind of thing. Which it turned out it wasn't.

I didn't want ONE opinion about my wrist and I wanted the BEST information I could get. 3T MRI. In Canada you take what you get. Don't ask questions. Your doctor finds a specialist, the specialist DEIGNS to see you. The specialist tells you what he thinks you have and tells you what he's going to do about it. Freeze it. Look the other way. Snip. All done. (as Greg Hyland -- and thanks again, Greg for the help in Leamington! -- described the operation on his LEFT hand. The result of which was that there was no way he was having it done on his drawing hand.)

I concur: move 'em in, move 'em out is fine with my bowel. Heck, I'd have had surgery in HAVANA without thinking about it the way I felt in mid-March. But not with my drawing hand.

Just to give you an idea of how complicated it's getting, Dr. Troy is incredulous that they gave me a cortisone shot BEFORE the MRI because it shows up as fluid with no way of knowing if it's the cortisone or something IN the wrist. Had I just gone to one doctor, I would have assumed that what it needed was cortisone and I was now "all better". Which has turned out not to be the case. And might necessitate another MRI.

Dr. Troy requested that I send him the "Radiologist's Reading" which -- having no idea what that was -- I called the MRI place and asked them if they knew what it was and Oh Sure they did and where did I want it sent? I had it faxed to me.

Turns out it's the radiologist's assessment of what's on the MRI. So, I'm not sending that to Dr. Troy because it would defeat the purpose of what I'm doing: getting independent assessments of what's wrong.

Dr. Troy has the MRI so he can give that to the two wrist specialists in Texas (one of whom is a Canadian) and find out what THEY see in it. When I have THEIR diagnoses -- which might involved a trip to Texas -- then I can translate them, word-by-word from medical jargon into English and decide if the two or three diagnoses are the same. If they're not, then I assume this is outside of the realm of medical science and is, instead, medical "science" and just an excuse to get a scalpel deep into my drawing hand.

See you tomorrow!

iestyn said...

I have a question for Sean.

Given the current known timescales that the previous books have taken, and using these as a maximum time variable, how long will it take (work hours) to complete the whole of Cerebus?

At current rates, including paying for the artwork and negative scans, how much will it all cost?

It would be interesting to know - so don't consider it a requirement to answer that question. But to me it's an interesting thought as to how much the costs for restoration will be for the whole of Cerebus.

It would be even more interesting to know what that equates to in terms of Archives and/ or Book sales.

But then I'm bleak like that...


Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight: Dave is going to withhold information from a medical practitioner, who he will then ask for a diagnosis. Dave will then translate specialist terminology word-by-word with a dictionary, and if he feels that his translations are sufficiently similar, he might seek treatment for his career-ending injury. That depends on whether he decides to believe in science, because sometime he believes in science and sometimes he doesn't and that makes it so, when if there's one thing Cerebus 289/290 proves it's that Dave doesn't know what science is.

I've worked my way through a six-month backlog of posts and comments here, and I fear Dave is doing himself no favours in his recent commenting campaign. His paranoia is on one of its periodic upswings, and as always his well-debunked self-martyrdom is well in evidence. There is not and never was any conspiracy to suppress Dave or Cerebus; people decided they didn't like his comic or his "thinking" so they stopped buying and reading it -- capitalism in action. To Dave that can't be the reason, because he's so obviously right. But he wasn't kicked out of comics; he left.

If Dave took the effort from his pointless "Museum of Me" that he imagines will become a religious shrine after his death, and redirected it into restoring Cerebus, he might stand a chance of having a legacy, 'cause his smooshing together of the Abrahamic religions' texts ain't gonna be it. Dave will be remembered for Cerebus the work, or he won't be remembered. And, even after everything, that would be a shame, for (to once again quote Allen Rubinstein), "Cerebus contains some of the best comics I've ever read in my life. It also contains some of the worst comics I've ever read in my life."

-- Damian

Dean Reeves said...

I would have to agree with the feminist comments. I don't think it will help in the long run. To quote Steve Ditko: “When I do a job, it's not my personality that I'm offering the readers but my artwork. It's not what I'm like that counts; it's what I did and how well it was done.... I produce a product, a comic art story. Steve Ditko is the brand name”.

The martyrdom comments are chipping away at the brand.

Dean Reeves said...

By the way, I mean to say I agree with Damian regarding the potential damage that may result from the feminist comments. I don't agree with the feminist comments.

Drew Woodworth said...

I enjoy Dave's comments, immensely. Even if I don't agree with all of his opinions, they are always interesting and well thought out. I am able to separate people from their opinions and artists from their art. I think if more people could do this, Dave would not feel so ostracized. However, I don't completely understand why Dave feels the way he does, but I wish I could make him feel better.

Malcolm X said...

Damian, your comment says far more about you, and your perception of Dave, than it does about Dave. Your opinion is, I think, rife with your own projections about what Dave is or isn't doing and what he should or shouldn't do and what he is and isn't like. It doesn't actually say anything about Dave, but it certainly says something about you. You're certainly entitled to your opinion but it's grossly inaccurate in general. For example:

a) "If Dave took the effort from his pointless "Museum of Me" that he imagines will become a religious shrine after his death..."

a) What is this "Museum of Me"? A religious shrine after his death?? What in the hell are you talking about??? Do you mean Dave's goal to preserve his legacy of creating one of the longest works of fiction in the English language by preserving as much of the original artwork and archival material as possible in the way that some people wish that Alex Raymond, Milt Caniff, Will Eisner, Wally Wood and others had done? Um, why not? And, exactly, how much "effort" is going into it? Why do you think it's too much? How much effort "should" he put into it? (That's a rhetorical question.) AFAIK, he has had one meeting with the lawyers about it, and they gave him a financial road map. Do you consider that too much "effort"? Ah, but of course none of that actually matters, so much better to engage in libel: "Did you hear about the Museum of Me that Dave Sim's building? What an asshole! I heard he wants to turn it into a religious shrine after his death!" What complete and utter nonsense.

b) "...and redirected it into restoring Cerebus he might stand a chance of having a legacy..."

I absolutely HAVE to tell Dave he needs to spend EVEN MORE TIME AND MONEY THAN HE ALREADY DOES digitzing, restoring, and preserving Cerebus. Oh man, that's a good one. That's a peach. "Hey Dave, get off your ass and spend some time and effort into restoring Cerebus! Have you ever thought of doing that???" Oh man, we will laugh.

In short, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to point this out as respectfully as possible: the Kickstarter campaign has virtually stalled this last week, pretty much coinciding with the commencement of Dave's daily posts.

I think, with all due respect, that Sean and Mara were doing a good job of promoting the restoration with a very positive message pointing to the significant improvements in reproduction with each volume.

CAN4 should probably be doing better than it is right now. Church & State I & II were both popular as I understand it.

Without suggesting that Dave is anything less than a comic book pariah, I still think that there is goodwill left over for his early work. Although Dave might dismiss this as anecdotal, Neil Gaiman now contributes to Dave's Patreon page and refused to take back any of the positive things he has said about Dave's work, even in the face of pressure to do so.

There is an interesting story in how all of this has happened, and that story might help sell the book.

- Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

No Damian is right on the money.

There's a total detachment from reality and self awareness here. If hardly anyone traveled to meet Dave to get free books, how does it make sense that people will pay a security guard to see dead Dave's old house?

And what does "longest works of fiction in the English language" mean if half of it is unreadable? "Length" is not a virtue. (Insert penis joke here). And the work should speak for itself. It not enough people are buying/reading to the point where we are asked to send unsolicited emails to friends and family to ask for money for a guy and his comic, then something is amiss. Or to contact religious groups? Or men's rights activists and say, "Hey here's a guy that doesn't like feminism either - now read his giant book. Which is about a barbarian aardvark... and then about some other stuff at the end."

Cerebus right now is kind of like Star Wars. The first half was amazing, and the second half (the prequels) was alienating due to the excesses of a creator who lost touch with real people. Except in Dave's case it's would be like if George Lucas spent the rest of his life bitter and ranting about how he was effed over and that Phantom Menace is a brilliant intelligent movie actually, and send money so that we can treasure it for all eternity, all the while spending half of his day talking to the ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi. Lucas might be old and out of touch, but at least he doesn't see the world through a fax machine. Not only does Dave constantly ask for a lot, he sets up a ton of arbitrary hoops for his few supporters (or doctors, or whoever) to jump through because he refuses to be a part of the 21st Century. The very idea that Dave will only see this if someone else goes to the trouble of cutting and pasting it and faxing it to him his kind of chilling. How long until Sandeep has to cut up Dave's food and feed it to him?

Cerebus represents some of the best and some of the most alienating/indulgent comics ever made - and as such definitely deserves to be remembered, read and studied. But it's going to live or die on its own merits. You know, like everything else...


Anthony Kuchar said...

I just want to point out that I was the one who speculated about Dave's house becoming a pilgrimage shrine. Blame that one on me.


I think that as much as Dave feels obligated to his patrons and supporters to continue to try and fix his hand, we should acknowledge that at the end of thee day, it's Dave's life and he has to make decisions that are right for him. We, as his supporters can't and shouldn't force him to do any he doesn't want to do. I think it's very admirable of Dave to take it this far considering his misgivings about medical science. Even though he doesn't have much faith in it he's still going through with this because he feels he owes it to us.

As far as the self martyrdom is concerned: Allan Moore is in something of a similar boat. Alan has made it very clear in past interviews that he doesn't associate with certain past collaborators (Alan Davis, Dave Gibbons, Stephen R. Bissette, Karen Berger) due to animosity over money and royalties. Allan has publically decried DC and Marvel and slams modern superhero comics all the time. And yet he is still considered a genius (I do as well) and is very well respected by people.

Is Allan Moore a self serving martyr?

What's the difference?

Malcolm X said...

"The very idea that Dave will only see this if someone else goes to the trouble of cutting and pasting it and faxing it to him his kind of chilling."

Ba ha ha ha ha!!!! Man, you couldn't make this shit up! Other people's perception of Dave is insane. I mean, you're obviously just making this shit up off the top of your head, with absolutely nothing to back it up. As a result, it's no surprise that you also have no idea what you're talking about. I mean, if that's your perception of Dave, that's YOUR perception of Dave, but don't pretend it's got anything to do with how thing actually are. "Cut and paste and fax it to him." You couldn't make it up!

Anthony, very good point about Moore. Moore, whose work I deeply admire and respect, can decide to worship an ancient Roman snake god and declare himself a warlock, and it's all good. Lovecraft can be a disgusting racist but couldn't be more popular. However, Dave will remain the real world equivalent of Lex Luthor. Everything HE does is stupid and insane and he should do this and he should do that and why doesn't he just do this other thing? The dogs bark but the caravan rolls on.

Michael said...

Milton Caniff has a pretty extensive collection at The Ohio State University.

"During 1977, the Milton Caniff Collection of papers and original art became the foundation for what is known presently as the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Covering 696 cubic feet (19.7 m3), the collection fills 526 boxes, plus 12,153 art originals and 59 oversized items. In addition to the original artwork, the collection includes Caniff's personal and business papers, correspondence, research files, photographs, memorabilia, merchandise, realia, awards, audio/visual material and scrapbooks."

Maybe Dave could look into this type of environment which would provide greater long term security and preservation of his legacy after he is gone, releasing him from the burden of future proofing his current domicile.

Glen said...


I suggested to Dave a couple of years ago to donate the Cerebus Archives to one of the 2 universities in Kitchener :the University of Waterloo or Wilfred Laurier University. Or the to leave his work at the "Libraries and Archives of Canada" like many Canadian writers and artists have done. His answer was as long as we live in a feminist theocracy he didn't trust his work at a university or a government archive.

By the way did Dave tell the doctors before he received his cortisone shot that he was also to have an MRI in the US in the coming days?(weeks?)
I'm Canadian and was diagnosed with cancer about 5 years ago. All my doctors (oncologist, radiologist, family doctor, and surgeon) were all kept informed of all my treatments and surgeries. For example if I was to receive 6 weeks of chemotherapy my surgeon knew she (SHE) couldn't operate on me until I had recovered from that treatment.

Anonymous said...

But Moore has charisma. And Moore is still compelling.