Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Naming Church & State

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.

A while back iestyn had asked for pages with Dave's text pieces on them. While looking through notebook #5 for last week's entry, I found the original text for the Note From The President for Cerebus #72 on page 31, written in 1985:
"Church and State"
You guys have been asking me what this part of the Cerebus story-line is called. I did "High Society" with the intention of addressing myself to what I felt were the central elements issues of politics.
"Church and State" addresses itself to people in the late 1990's. Before the year One  Thousand there was a great deal of turmoil as regards a second coming or coming Second Coming. If you're so disposed (or a First Coming if your particular faith feels the first one was largely so much smoke and mirrors, but I digress.). We are now only half-way (I'm writing this February 6,) is between January 18, 1970 and January 1, 2000. With the kind of communications we have in this day and age, we will have time to all flock behind our personal Messiah and change our minds dozens of times before the ball drops on Times Square (only that isn't going to happen anymore, is it?) Janua December 31, 1999.
So I just moved the whole attitude into Cerebus world. For the pigts 1414 is a wonderfully scared year. The Year Cerebus Returns.
And the original page itself:

Notebook #5, page 31
Quite a bit different from the note that was published in Cerebus #72:
You know, it's not really true that there's nothing to say in this space. I mean this would be a great spot to clear up a lot of the confusing plots and sub-plots and sub-sub-plots.
I mean, I could tell you when Jaka is coming back, then, couldn't I? Wouldn't that make sitting down and filling all this empty space worth while? Well that depends.
There are people in the world who don't want to know what changes are going to take place. There are other people who soak up previews like a sponge soaks up water. Unfortunately, I'm one of the former rather than latter individuals. I watched STAR TREK II on television the other night up until the last half hour when Spock stands up and goes out to die. I had known that was what he was going to do so why extend the eyestrain?
What I can tell you is that this section of the Cerebus story-line now has a name.
"Church and State."
Like it? Well who cares. That's what it's called.
I've had a few comments in the last while that time isn't passing as quickly in the story-line as, say, in issue 27. This is largely a reaction on my part to the cramming I had to do in the "High Society" storyline. If the overall reaction to "High Society's" conclusion had been "Shit, Dave, that was a long way to go for nothing", I probably would have made a more concerted effort to provide a series of sixty and eighty page stories with a lot of "Three days later..." and "After a series of misadventures..." captions strewn throughout.
Quite the contrary, the reaction (particularly from those people who started reading the book in the last two years and have read "High Society" in one sitting) has been in favour of the extended story-line.
To pull the curtain aside ever-so-slightly, "Church and State" is largely concerned with Cerebus' personal identity crisis set in motion in issue 5 when he discovers the Pigts (and vice versa). Is he Cerebus, The Great Cerebus, Most Holy, a combination of all three? If a combination of all three, in what percentage does each dictate his thoughts and actions?
Now the only way to illustrate this effectively in my opinion (and as me Dad used to say "Who else's Opinion counts around here?") is to show you the little bastard bouncing off his mental walls in great detail over a couple of days and take an ungodly number of issues to do it.
Consider the implications of selecting one of those identities given his present circumstances. Pick an identity. Any identity.
Okay get your noses out from behind my curtain and start reading.
See you next issue.


Travis Pelkie said...

Just a note on your transcription, Margaret (and thanks as usual for showing us this stuff): the next to last line (even the penultimate line, heh) does read, in Dave's writing, "wonderfully sacred year", not scared.

But that's a really interesting note. Was someone listening to a lot of Prince? ;)

iestyn said...

Thanx Margaret - that was well worth it!! Fascinating to see how MUCH they digress yet cover the same basic purpose - telling people this is High Society.

First one seemed to be much more 'pulling back the curtain' I wonder if Dave can remember why he left the curtain much more closed in the final note (I think I've pushed THAT analogy way too far...)

Malcolm X said...

Thanks Margaret!!!

Unknown said...

This was really cool. I love behind-the-scenes stuff.