Sean Michael Robinson:
The Kickstarter for Cerebus Archive Number Six, Melmoth, is now live! In honor of this, and in the hopes you'll consider contributing, here are some image excerpts from the portfolio.
Here's the first page of the portfolio, the establishing shot for the entire book.
Taken individually, these have a romanticized postcard aspect to them. "COME to DINO'S! SEE! PICTURESQUE VIEWS OF THE LOWER CITY!" The "white-out" effect of the fuzziness of the edges of the images will recur both later in Melmoth and, most prominently, in The Last Day. In this case it seems the tone has been sanded away at the edges -- an eraser? Electric eraser? Sand paper? I've brought up the cyan channel in the image so you can see the blue-line pencil a little clearer. Notice how Gerhard has established perspective construction lines even for an image with such chaotic and non-linear housing layout.
We can see the anatomy of the city a bit better here, even how the bridge up wraps around the ripples/layers of the tower.
It's interesting to think of non-fictional analogues to the lower city/higher city. In Napoli, where my wife Rachel and I busked for many weeks in 2012 and 2013, we found that it was next to useless to play in the lower city, even the times we were playing for affluent people — people were too on guard in the sprawling, wild city to want to stop and hang out and throw you a few Euro. (And who can blame them. We saw virtually anything you can imagine there, while we were playing. Let me tell you, it's no picnic to be singing harmony and playing an instrument while little children are plotting to steal your money and grown men are hustling tourists to buy his socks out of a giant handbag!) But take the funicolare up to the "upper city" — Vomero — and everything changed. And even that simple barrier of a few Euro (before we figured out how to ride the funicolare for free, that is) was enough to let people relax. The attitude of the place was completely different, despite only a change in elevation.
This whole sequence always kills me. Everything from the "look both ways" first tier to the "clearly apoplectic but actually whispering" dialogue. It's pitch-perfect impotent rage in a containing social situation.
How mad is he? So mad that the bridge of his glasses have been swallowed by the furrow of his brow.
Later in the sequence (and the portfolio), after the confrontation with the waitress and the Cirinist, he looks cautiously to see that the coast is really clear.
The acting in this whole segment is right up there with the best in the series. I love the wobbly mouth in the first panel, the submissive peak of the brow rippling in agitation.
The first shot of the Cirinist in retreat has an interesting example of the rare visible re-do. See the blue construction lines for the tower and the white-out bulge of what's presumably the lower city, shoulder-level. I'm guessing the cleanliness of just presenting the sky (as well as the lowered viewpoint — she appears to be viewed from a seated perspective) won out over a desire to do "fill stuff in."
And looking at the lower tier, that was clearly the right choice overall.
Want what is sure to be much more interesting and insightful commentary, 12,000 words from Dave on the making of these pages? Then pledge now to the CAN6 Kickstarter, and your pledge will help keep the restoration efforts going.
Please? Pretty pleaaaaase?