Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Albatross One, page one

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.

Albatross one. Dave Sim's first notebook. We've never looked at it before here at A Moment of Cerebus, but it was requested by Matt "Iguana and Beer" Dow in the comments to last week's column, Cerebus Feels So Good. It originally contained 200 pages, but there were only 194 pages to scan, and it covered Cerebus #20 to 28.

The cover shows that it was well used, with marks on the right edge from either carrying it around or opening up the pages (or both).

Albatross One cover
Back in July 2004 Dave answered a question about  High Society and concurrently answered the question of why he called his notebook's Albatross:

Q2: Why can an Albatross be used to reunite the Eastern and Western churches?
DAVE: Because it is the most formidable power object in the known universe: a wildly improbable plot device. Like the Maltese Falcon only more politically formidable. In a Real World context, I called my notebooks my Albatrosses because I was as saddled with them much like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner. So I was declaring in a way—by making the albatross statue that significant in High Society—that I was ambitious enough to want to do something of remarkable significance with all the half-witted notions and half-baked philosophies I was sketching out and jotting down in my own “albatrosses”. “Invoke often,” is the first rule of the sort of mysticism that one finds in used paperbacks in 5 for a dollar bins. Unless one is in a New Age bookstore, in which case one can pay 50 dollars to be told the same thing between hemp-derived hard covers.

And here is page one of Albatross One:

Albatross One, page one
Yes, that is what is labeled page one of Albatross One in the notebook archive - Cerebus #20 (Sept 1980) "Mind Game". What about issues #1 through 19? Where is that notebook? It doesn't exist.

Instead, Dave used whatever paper was around. Here from Steve H is a scan of the front and back of a sheet of COMICgraphics stationary with notes for Cerebus #14 on it:

Cerebus #14 notes, front and back
I only had 8 loose pages to scan in when I was scanning the notebooks - well, not counting for the page or two that was loose, but contained in a notebook. Those pages were not for Cerebus #1 to 19. Hopefully most of those pages are in a file cabinet in the Off White House.


Travis Pelkie said...

That New Age bookstore comment is a sick burn!

Um, I think that's what the kids would call it. Probably?

Nice one, in other words....

Travis Pelkie said...

In other news....

jonbly said...

Does it come with wafers?

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

I recall Dave saying that, before the "Albatrosses", he just used pieces of scrap paper and threw them away when he was done. That suggests that few of his planning for the early issues survives. Pity; that would be very interesting to compare and contrast with his latter-days (ha!) work.

-- Damian

Unknown said...

There were a few different things that I did. For the Palnu Trilogy I did storyboard like designs on oversized sheets of cartridge paper. I also did "thumbnails" -- half-sized pencils of each page. And those still exist. That's all in the manilla envelope closet which is much later in the day after ALL of the off-site "6,000 page graphic novel" pages have been scanned. Which is still "full-speed ahead" even though the U.S. and Canadian bank accounts both went below "0" last month. Which is why CAN5 is costing all of the Pledge Partners a chunk more.

I ANTICIPATED "Cash Flow Riptides" but not to "below '0"". So I'm cashing in RRSPs and using the insurance money account. How long do I have to do that before the "Riptides" come back in? Looks like for about a month. Which I can't do ALL THE TIME but I can do for a while.

It won't just be CAN5. I'm in discussions with Diamond about boosting the cover price on GOING HOME from $30 to EITHER $35 or $40. It was the first book I charged $30 for even though it wasn't 500 pages (like JAKA'S STORY or HIGH SOCIETY). I didn't LIKE to do that, but everything costs more. And now we're at a point where GOING HOME has been $30 since 2000. You know anything else that costs today what it did in 2000?

Diamond's financing the restoration and buying the whole print run so, to me, it's their call. If they think $40 is going to slow the sales and they want $35 instead, no problem. If they can live with $40, hey, that will definitely help the Riptides situation.

Keep your seatbelts fastened. Things are getting "choppy". :)

Jeff Seiler said...

Hey, Dave, if you want to, you can just blame the higher cost on having to pay the exorbitant proofreader rates...

Travis Pelkie said...

Oh, man, you're paying Jeff? Right there's your problem...


j/k, guys!

Jeff Seiler said...

Chortle on, Mr. P, chuckle on.