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.
Last week in Hunting Lodge Thespians we had our first look at Dave Sim's notebook #29, which said it was for Cerebus #255, and we saw pages #2 and 3. Well, what about page #1? Was it blank? No, it wasn't blank, but I couldn't make heads or tails of it. It looked like Dave was writing a letter to someone.
|Notebook #29, page 1|
As an example, if you are Lillian Hellman I see no reason why you should not write a story about a writer and give her a brave friend name Julia and write your story about a writer and her brave friend Julia so that it is inspirational and makes people say "Bravo" and perhaps try to be a little brave themselves. To me, however it is quite another thing to tell people that you are the writer you are writing about and to make yourself as brave as your made up Julia in your story. A story about a made-up Julia which is inspiring and makes people say "Bravo" and perhaps be a little brave themselves is a very good thing. I think, to do. A story you make up about being brave yourself when the bravest thing you ever did was to be around Dashiell Hammett when he was very, very drunk because you needed him to fix your amateurish writing anonymously is a very, very bad thing, I think, to do.
So issue #255 was dated March 2000, so this notebook entry could've been written in the late 1990s. I had to google the names as they didn't ring any bells.
Lillian Hellman was a writer, who died in 1984 at the age of 79. She had written a book entitled Pentimento: A book of Portraits published in 1973 which one of the stories was turned into a movie, Julia, starring Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave. It was nominated 11 Academy Awards and won three, but it turned out there was a controversy regarding the veracity of Lillian's story.
Perhaps Dave was thinking of it because Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway's third wife, had just passed away in early 1998? Or perhaps he had come across some mention of Hellman and Hemingway's dinner to raise money for anti-Nazi activists? Or perhaps he just read about Gellhorn's opinion's on Hellman?
It looks as if Dave didn't care about if the basis for Julia was made up or not, but he didn't care for Lillian making up stories about herself.