Wednesday, 4 May 2016

An Edge In His Voice So Sharp He Could Plotz

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.

We've looked at Dave Sim's notebook #7 a couple times before, most recently in November 2015 in "Out With The In Crowd". Notebook #7 covers Cerebus issues 87 to 95 with 115 pages scanned.

On page 34 Dave has a list of things relating Cerebus to the comic book market with regards to why he wanted to create the phonebooks and sell them through Aardvark-Vanaheim.

Notebook #7, page 34
#1 being "To see my first full novel under one cover in print in case I got hit by a bus tomorrow" and #2 being "to make enough money off one project so I could tell DC I wasn't interested in selling all rights to Cerebus for $100,000."

Then on page 35 he sounds more like he is writing an editorial why Aardvark-Vanaheim is selling the phonebook directly instead of going through distributors.

 Notebook #7, page 35


Jeff Seiler said...

Now, what was I.A.D.D., again? Was that some other appellation for Diamond?

Tony Dunlop said...

Would it be tacky to point out how many times the Dave Sim of 1987-88(?) writes about how he feels about various circumstances?
Yes, it would. Never mind.

Max West said...

Sadly, there's some truth to Dave Sim's words today. In spite of more "biodiversity" in the direct market and comics & graphic novels expansion into libraries/bookstores, there's still a lot of bias to the big name companies like Marvel and DC. As a small press creator/owner/operator, I still get hostility from comic shops on carrying my work ranging from "no" to "HELL NO!!"

Sim is really onto something. Anyone out there wanting to get into comics is better off going it alone than dealing with picky publishers & retailers.

Jeff Seiler said...

Hey, Tony, ya gonna go see Ger and Shel this weekend?

Tony again said...

Oy! Thanks for the reminder, Jeff! Yes, and I'm bringing money for some eye-popping prints!

David Branstetter said...

Did collecting the books improve his monthly sales?

Anonymous said...

David, my recollection of 1986 - 1987 is that many exciting events followed one after the other, generating publicity and sales. The Cerebus/TMNT crossover served as a strong introduction to both books, offering just enough of a taste to make readers want to try the comics themselves.

The phonebooks, beginning with High Society, generated press in the Comics Buyers Guide and other periodicals serving the hobby, and were affordable means of getting caught up with the storyline.

Right around this time Dave and Ger stepped up the pace to biweekly installments of what we now know as Church & State Vol. 2 (the comics in the early-to mid 90's, I want to say from about No. 92 to 98 or 99). This was done to get the book back on schedule to hit No. 300 as planned. Again, the increased pace generated attention and gratified readers, pulling us in to the tense storyline of Cerebus interrogating Jaka.

Sales spiked around No. 100 (to be expected, as milestone editions of comics tend to be valuable on the resale market), but the lead-up to 100 saw readership step up.

Dave wrote an excellent essay in No. 90, arguing in favor of retailers taking note of the dedication of Cerebus readers, and asking stores to order the comics in greater numbers because new fans liked to buy back-issues.

--Claude Flowers

David Branstetter said...

Awesome! Thanks Claude