Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Cerebus Feels So Good

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.

It was October 2015, in "Boys! Dinner!", when we last looked at Dave Sim's notebook #6, which covers Cerebus #80 through 86 and only 118 pages were scanned.

Today we'll look at some unused material that look like it would've appeared in Cerebus #85, around page 13 - or Church & State II page 687 if you're following along in the phonebooks. Issue #85 is when Cerebus meets Prince Keef and drinks a special blend of whiskey.

On page 74 of the notebook we see some sketches for the UK Tour '86 poster. We also see, in the top right hand corner, the dialogue from page 13 of Cerebus #13 after Cerebus has thrown up for a second time. And instead of going on about how "Cerebus NEVER feels really good" we see "Why, the last time Cerebus felt this good - you know when that was?"

Notebook 6, page 74
Cerebus then rambles on about playing a game called chestnuts. This continues onto page 75:

Notebook 6, page 75
Down at the bottom of page 75 appears to be the continuation of the last time Cerebus felt that good - as Cerebus had just sidetracked himself for such a rambling narration about a game of chestnuts. I looked through issue 85 and a bit of the next issue. As far as I can see, the chestnut story wasn't included and Cerebus had his line changed from the last time he felt that good to never having felt that good.


Travis Pelkie said...

That rambling story reminds me of in Form and Void where he's going on and on to Ham and Ham tells him...well, y'all know!

I'm also amused by the first page bit with the tour notes, about (presumably) getting copies of the interviews and such for the archive. Videotapes, cassettes, and newspapers. I hope he also got copies on 8-track, flexidisc, and scroll....heh.

ChrisW said...

Hurm, this is one of the biggest strengths and weaknesses of "Cerebus," that Dave obviously put a lot of thought into his characters (specifically Cerebus, but also Jaka, Astoria, Weishaupt, Ham, Whatsit Oh Really?, etc.) but it almost never showed up on the page. Nothing about this chestnut story ever showed up ever again or was even alluded to, but it's something Dave wrote/learned about his character, and went into Dave's further creative decisions.

It's possible that Dave even intended this to become relevant later, with Cerebus going into boring detail about some anecdote that nobody else could possibly care about, 'that old chestnut.' But that's not where the story went, and Dave was the first person to discover how little information can be communicated in a few comic book pages.

Tony Dunlop said...

Off topic, but I just saw the headline that the great Jack Davis has passed. An AMOC moment of silence, followed by a hearty "HOOOOO - HAH!"

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...


Could we see page one of notebook one?


Matt Dow

Unknown said...

Travis - I'm pretty sure flexidiscs came MUCH later than that. I DO have the original OPERATION CRAZED FERET I was sent with the ANIMATED CEREBUS "animation" on it. And Gerhard's back-up discs from the early 1990s have a definite Steampunk look to them.

ChrisW - Actually, that was an actual playground game when I was in public school ca. 1962. I have to give my mother points for going out with me to find a chestnut tree and my father for boring holes in them and tying them onto a shoelace. I never had a "rock" myself but I remember seeing a couple. I ended up not using it because it just wasn't funny enough compared to the Glimmer Twins. It would have been like having George Burns reminisce onstage for a while when Gracie is standing right there. No, just say "Which brother was this, Gracie?" flick your cigar from time to time and collect your paycheque.

Matt Dow - No, you can't.

Unknown said...

Sorry, Matt - What I meant was: unless I'm misremembering, Albatross One doesn't have a front cover or a first page. Long gone.

Coincidentally, we're seriously considering making a digital copy of Albatross One available as a pledge item on the CAN5 Kickstarter starting (God willing) next Friday.

Unknown said...

Sorry to hear of Jack Davis' passing. Comics' diehard Confederate Rebel! The cover of CHURCH & STATE I definitely owes more to him than to Mort Drucker even though I was TRYING to "do" Drucker. I think my favourite piece of his was the PLAYBOY cartoon with the paunchy old saloon owner answering the phone. "Sherwood Forest. Robin Hood speakin'"

Another guy who was heavily influenced by him was Bernie Wrightson. I'm thinking of "King of the Mountain, Man" and Bernie's "Change for a Dollar" print. Captain Stern.

It would be great to see a book of his movie posters and TV GUIDE covers from way back when.

Margaret said...

Matt. You heard the man. No page one for you.

However, it does have a cover - dark green, "Albatross One" written on it in what appears to be thick black sharpie marker. Page one - or at least what I entitled page one when I scanned it in, probably is not the true page one as the notebook starts with Cerebus #20. Though before there were notebooks, there were just various pages. . .

Sounds like a good idea for next week's installment. . .

Tony again said...

I remember my very first thought when I saw the C&S crowd scenes was "Cool - Dave digs Jack Davis."

Travis Pelkie said...

My joke above was actually an attempt at naming other now virtually obsolete technologies that also could be archived with videotapes, audio cassettes, and newspapers. I think some hipsters might press flexidiscs, but they're not a technology that's in every home right now.

Nexus #2 or 3 had a flexidisc, as did an issue of Critters, so I believe those would both predate this notebook.

Kit said...

Flexidiscs were invented in the 1960s - I believe there have only been two manufacturers worldwide for the last 20 years or so. Fun fact: in Soviet Russia, much state-banned material was bootlegged on flexis made from discarded X-rays.

(Dave seems to be thinking of either 3.5" computer disks, or possibly ZIP disks, from his steampunk comments, though. Flexidiscs are usually 7" square flexible vinyl phonograph records attached to, or bound inside, magazines or books. Another comics-specific example was glue-bound in the 1980s Bloom County collection BILLY AND THE BOINGERS BOOTLEG, with two songs including U Stink (But I Love U) by Mucky Pup.)

Anyone know if there were different colours of the Alan Moore / Ty Templeton flexi in Critters? I found a copy with the flexi intact the other day, and was surprised that it was red - I recalled my old copy being black.

Quack. Quack quack.