Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Pleasure's Simple Life

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.

Another look of Dave Sim's notebook #22 - as requested by Jeff S - which we covered a couple weeks ago in Only Demons Lie. Notebook #22 covers issues #213 to 241 with 160 pages, only 96 pages scanned, 12 blank pages and 62 pages missing. This week we look at some pages used for a single page in Cerebus #240, page #4 or page 170 in the Going Home phonebook.

If you want a preview, check out the front inside cover to Cerebus #240. Dave - or someone - copied bits from the pages of Dave's notebook shown below along with a copy of a different page from F. Stop Kennedy's Pleasure's Simple Life (page 10, while the notebook pages all deal with page #2, though the bit of page 10 shown is what is on page 176 of the phonebook, but on the inside front cover it isn't covered by F. Stop's head).

If you've been reading this column, you'll know I've spoken of Dave's re-writes of dialogue that I've seen. Some go on for pages, others just a page. This time the rewrite goes on for 15 pages in this tiny notebook - while it is 160 pages in total, the physical size is 7 3/4" x 5". We'll only look at the pages for the first two paragraphs of page 2 of Pleasure's Simple Life.

The rewrite had a few more pages, but for brevity's sake, below is seven pages of the re-write plus the final page.

Notebook 22, page 86 and 87
Notebook 22, page 88 and 89
Notebook 22, page 90 and 91
Notebook 22, page 92 and 95
Not shown above are pages 93 and 94 which have a couple different layouts of Pleasure's Simple Life page 2 similar to page 95 of the notebook above. Pages 96 through 100 are rewrites of the next few paragraphs of Pleasure's Simple Life page 2.

While Dave tended to rewrite some material in his notebooks, this is at the extreme end of amount of pages. I found the answer why in Dave's notes on "fall and the river", Chasing Scott, for page 170:

All of the writing on this text piece is my own, and the finished piece is, I believe, "take twelve." I tried to imitate Scott Fitzgerald's own tendency to overwrite and rewrite extensively, which is a very perilous business, writing-wise. The trick is to try to put a fine polish on every phrase without losing the original sense and spontaneity of expression. In the early going, I only worked on the text pieces on Saturdays when I was severely hung over from alcoholic overindulgence on my Friday night "sprees." I assume that Scott wrote most of his stuff hung over, so I thought I'd give it a try in the interests of authenticity. It was not a lot of fun.

If you  go back to page 86, the first page shown on the left of the first composite  picture above, you'll see at the top several names written down. Dave had this to say about them in the Chasing Scott notes for page 170:

F. Stop Kennedy's fictionalized name, Jay Anthony Diver, is a mixing of three Fitzgerald male "leads" from his novels: Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby), Anthony Patch (The Beautiful and Damned), and Dick Diver (Tender is the Night).

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