Thursday, 28 April 2016

STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND UPDATE


DAVE SIM:
What Sandeep was talking about in the comments sections is "the work thus far" -- the 180-or-so-pages that are done in sequence from A to B.

THEORETICALLY, these are two volumes that IDW intends to publish.  But, then, we're in Year Four of "Waiting for the Covers Book" so THEORETICALLY sums it up.

There is bridging material that's required from when SDOAR was going to be individual comic books and there were individual covers and inside front covers.   The story was designed to start on the Inside Front Cover with credits and the IDW indicia incorporated.  Ted Adams decided late in the day that it should be a trade paperback instead.  Well, you can't take four individual comic books and print them AS a trade paperback without raising questions.  Did these comic books ever come out? No.  Why are they drawn this way if it's a graphic novel?

So,  to cover for that, I came up with two- and three-page bridging sequences between the "issues".  Basically the idea was that I would go down to Toronto with mock-ups of SDOAR #1 and take pictures of Pete Dixon at PARADISE COMICS working late at night.  And he looks down and sees SDOAR #1 next to his computer and picks it up and looks at it and then that segues into the SDOAR #1 cover.

Only, my hand went south, so when Karl Stevens sent me some of his books, I thought, "Okay, this could be the guy who will be able to draw the rest of the book when I'm done writing it (if I am ever able to draw again there's about a 5% chance that it would be at the photorealism level required -- as opposed to CEREBUS, let's say -- I would probably just noodle away at it and leave the heavy lifting to Karl).  At the very least, he can draw the bridging material for the in-between 'issues' stuff."  So, I sent him a print-out of the 180 pages with mock-ups of the bridging material in between (photos of me standing in for Pete Dixon, downtown Kitchener for downtown Toronto and the defunct Now & Then Books for Paradise Comics) and asked him to give it a try.  Basically: Karl, can you do Al Williamson?

And, of course, changing the comic store and comic store owner from Pete Dixon at Paradise Comics in Toronto to Tony at Million-Year-Picnic in Boston -- since Karl is in Boston -- and using Dave Sim at Now & Then Books in Kitchener as a template.

I just got Karl's first page-and-a-half in today and the initial, short answer is: No, he can't do Al Williamson.  Not yet, anyway, although he is studying downloaded Williamson artwork from Heritage Auctions (peak SECRET AGENT X-9) and I did send him four Winsor-Newton Series Seven Number  2 brushes and he's pretty good with them.

But, no, we're going to have to Let Karl Be Karl while trying to incorporate elements of Williamson.

We talked for about half and hour and basically I'm going to do the "Joe Orlando trip" (which is part of the Bernie Wrightson legend) where Joe would put tracing paper over a page and indicate where things could be improved.  I'm going to pay Karl for the page the rate I agreed to pay him and then I'm going to pay him the same page rate again after he incorporates my suggestions.  And, very likely, pay him again when he does a third version.  When we're both happy with the first page, we'll move on from there.  There are about a dozen "bridging" pages in raw, mocked-up form so it could take a while but when those pages are done...

...THEORETICALLY we have two volumes of about 90 pages each.

But that only takes the story as far as the initial creation of THE HEART OF JULIET JONES.

It's quite possible because of copyright considerations that STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND is legally unpublishable.  IDW will have to figure out if they want to fight uphill for the material because it is going to be an uphill fight.

My best guess is that it's legally unpublishable but still worth doing (which is why I'm working 12 hours a day six days a week on the research and probably will continue to do so for a number of years before I can start mocking up pages for Karl to finish).  Given the Deafening Radio Silence that greeted Judenhass and glamourpuss, I long ago gave up any idea of Needing to Publish.  I'd have been far better off, I think, just doing the Judenhass and glamourpuss pages for my own gratification and putting them on the shelf in my office and forgetting about them. And that's really the way that I've thought of SDOAR from the beginning.  "I probably won't live to finish this, but so what?  I'M enjoying working on it and that's all that matters."

I'm working on fundraising ideas so that I can reimburse IDW for their $30K -- and counting -- investment and then make it a strictly creative, non-commercial thing to noodle away at for the rest of my life.  "Hope someone enjoys this in the 22nd century" kind of thing!  :)

Seems another good reason for the CEREBUS ARCHIVE to exist as a place to house this legally unpublishable graphic novel, in the hopes that sometime after I'm dead, interest in the material will supersede the legal considerations.

I'm guessing centuries rather than decades...

[Continued in Dave Sim's Weekly Update #132...]


Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by donating at Patreon.com.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (2008 to 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.

13 comments:

Jeff Seiler said...

Well, at least the fourth (?) go around on proofreading "Reads" seems to have stuck.

Let's see how long that lasts, eh?

Travis Pelkie said...

Well, IDW had some notion of what SDOAR would be when they asked to publish it, right? I doubt if they truly thought it was "unpublishable" they would have paid $30K for an advance/payment.

I hope SDOAR is published, and I hope it's through IDW. I hope it's published to praise, but I also know that's less realistic ;) But whatever form it's in, I wanna read it!!!

MichaelVP said...

There is no comic book that I am looking more forward to than 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond'. I will buy one for me and then buy at least 4 more to pass out as gifts. I will save it for as long as I can stand to savor the inevitable reading. I'll probably read it on a trip, a plane perhaps, or by a pool somewhere far away. Then a few years later I'll read it again, then probably buy a few more to give as gifts to new friends. There is no comic book that I am looking more forward to than 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond'

Sandeep Atwal said...

Update on SDOAR coming tomorrow....

Jake Capps said...

I'm sure there is a better word to use than sad but this makes me sad.

Ethan Burns said...

Damn this is kind of depressing, he practices for a few years to be able to draw in a photo-realistic style and when he's finally gotten it to the level he wants his hand craps out.

CerebusTV said...

Having developed an incredible talent to its fullest, the momentum thus generated in favor of success requires concomitant expertise and commitment in order to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

al roney said...

As far as fundraising goes, why the radio silence on the Oversized Project?

You guys hit it hard and then - poof - no more talk of it at all.

Things like that need to be continually pushed out, broadcast, spread - and in various ways, especially now, when the infrastructure is in place and it's an easy way to pull in some cash. Marketing 101.

My guess is most of the people interested in those downloads don't even know they're even available.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Travis. It wasn't really an advance payment, it was per page as the pages were completed. The last I heard from Ted Adams, which was last year, was that he thought SDOAR to still be worth publishing even if it's in incomplete form -- i.e. just the 180 or so pages that are done so far. But, that was last year. I think they were hoping I'd be able to draw again so they'd just wait until that happened. That isn't going to happen, I don't think.

I'm working on alternative scenarios to try to bring in some money so I can keep going. SDOAR is what I'm doing pretty much exclusively. One possibility is getting a few "deep pockets" Dave Sim art collectors to help me pay IDW back for what they've invested so far and compensate them with "one-off" Artists Editions of the pages so far and pages as they're completed. And the research as I'm finishing it: copies of the RIP KIRBY COMMENTARIES, personalized to them, tracing paper preliminaries from the glamourpuss days. That kind of thing.

Dave Sim said...

MichaelVP - THANKS for the vote of confidence! If it's really just you and four or five other people who are interested, we could maybe get the "deep pockets" investors to "adopt" "shallow pockets" guys and give them digital files or one of the print-outs like I'm holding up in the update. It's one of those "How big a problem is this?" things, maybe. A dozen people who need to be accommodated, IDW needs to be paid back. Then it's just a matter of preserving SDOAR in the Cerebus Archive and waiting for a more favourable climate after I'm dead.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Jake and Ethan! Well, my entire history is pretty sad if you want to look at it that way. Ignored, forgotten. I don't, personally. :) I got to finish CEREBUS. I got to draw photorealistic pages for a few years. The last few pages I did are the best that I EVER did, I think. My work either exists permanently or temporarily. YOU got to read it and own it. I'm able to work on comics full-time. I've been a pariah for 20 years so I'm REALLY REALLY used to it. I think it's more sad to be a FAN of mine than to be me. Wish there was something I could do about that, but there really isn't. Cheer UP! These are all First World "problems"!!

Dave Sim said...

al roney - It's not really a major profit centre. It's like CEREBUS DOWNLOADS. It does bring in money but not enough to be a "front burner" consideration. We tried to do an AMOC-centred promotion but the AMOC audience is...fuzzy...when it comes to actually making money. ITCOP is there in our minds if we come up with something else we want to try and I'm sure we will, but...we've moved on to other ideas.

It's definitely a problem that very few people hear about anything having to do with CEREBUS. You can't really "market" CEREBUS. Something is either Kickstarter or it's Plan B, Plan C, Plan D

It was a good month for CEREBUS DOWNLOADS: $1,500. THANK YOU EVERYONE!! But that barely covers what I'm paying Sandeep on nuts and bolts things like the page scanning. He got a good chunk of JAKA's STORY done this week. So we are making progress. But, we're really working on Plan D for the end of July THE FRIDAY PROJECT. Stay tuned.

Fasting 24 hours today as promised for the Eastern Orthodox Good Friday. Sunset prayer in 22 minutes. Gotta run!

Michael Grabowski said...

Hi, Dave,

I hope you consider your Patreon supporters as part of a slightly-larger-than-four-or-five people who are interested in seeing SDOAR. I don't need any personal recognition for what I've contributed both through Paypal and Patreon in the last three or more years but I'd sure like to think I've earned an opportunity to buy a copy somehow of whatever you ultimately produce for it rather than have it stay in the archive or rely on the largesse of your "deep pocket" supporters to allow me to have a digital copy.