Sunday, 11 December 2016

Cerebus Cover Art Treasury: Behind The Scenes - Part 2

by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(IDW, 2016)


The only "comic-book sized" copy of CEREBUS No.1


Page 6 the CEREBUS No.1 cover This part got EXTREMELY complicated to explain to Justin -- and far too complicated to explain IN the book:

The CEREBUS No.1 cover in the IDW proof is a scan of the only copy of No.1 cut to comic-book size and is a) badly smudged and b) extensively photoshopped. I feel really bad about pointing this out because someone, not knowing what it was a scan OF, has obviously put a LOT of hours in trying to "restore" the cover.

This is what the interior pages of CEREBUS No.1 would have looked like
had the book been trimmed to comic-book size.

The interiors of No.1 were printed, accidentally, magazine-size by Fairway Press and the covers were printed comic-book size by Moir Press (who farmed out the interiors part of the job to Fairway Press). It really wasn't a big enough job for either printer to redo everything for the few hundred dollars we were paying them.

When he saw the mistake, Geoff Moir put together TWO copies of CEREBUS No.1 for me, both with "scrapped" covers (which is why the cover is badly smudged: it's a reject) both with a clean copy of a Fairway Press magazine-sized interior to show me what my two "fix" options were.

On the first copy, he trimmed it to comic-book size to show me that IF we trimmed all 2,000 copies THIS way, this is how much of the interior pages would be cut off.

As it turned out: to within 1/16 of the artwork on the right-hand side of the odd-numbered pages and to within 1/16" of the artwork on the left hand side of the even-numbered pages. The front and back covers would look the way I had intended them.

On the other copy, he "rolled" the cover to the right so -- with the excess paper available to us on the back cover that was going to be trimmed off anyway -- the cover would be wide enough to cover ALL of the magazine-sized interiors. This option allowed us to have a standard page border on the right-hand side of the odd-numbered pages and the left-hand side of the even-numbered pages equal to the page border at the top of each page.

That left a page border on the "gutter" or "fold" side of each page that was huge but that wasn't AS noticeable because you tend not to open a comic book ALL the way (especially if you're a comic-book fan and you're concerned about keeping it in mint), just enough so you can read and look at everything on the page.

"Rolling" the cover that far to the right, however, left a ragged edge on the back cover where I had just stopped inking because that's where the cover was going to be trimmed. It also pulled the register mark (the "bullseye" crosshair/circle used to register where the red colour would go on the black and white cover) ONTO the back cover.

What Geoff was proposing to do was to run all the covers through the press again, adding a strip of black to the back cover to cover the now exposed white paper, ragged edge and register mark.

What I decided was that it was better to have the cover look a little "off" (because if you didn't know what it was supposed to look like the "fix" wasn't as noticeable) than to have the ALL of the interior pages look downright weird while you were flipping through the book in a comic shop or trying to read the story.

So that's why I went for FIX OPTION #2, which is why CEREBUS No.1 has a ragged "double black" seam in the middle of the back cover and a register mark still visible through the black ink "fix".

Cerebus #1: The massively photoshopped version of it in the IDW proof

Obviously, almost forty years later, I was not especially keen on CEREBUS No.1 being represented in the IDW CEREBUS COVER ART TREASURY book with a badly smudged discarded reject copy Geoff Moir had picked up at random to show me the two possible fixes.

What I suggested to Justin was either:

a) Make the CGC 9.4 CEREBUS No.1 the LARGE image on this page and have an "un-photoshopped" scan of the comic-book-sized copy as the inset image with this caption:

Owing to a miscommunication with Fairway Press/Moir Press, this is the only copy of Cerebus No.1 trimmed to comic-book size. You can see that the composition was more balanced in my original design than on the printed cover

But then I also pointed out to Justin that this would raise more questions than it would answer. WHY is this the only copy cut to comic-book size? WHY is it badly smudged? WHY is CEREBUS No.1 magazine sized? And as you can see, there's no SHORT answer for that. So, the "or" was:

b) Just make an exception to the "CGC Dave Sim File copy" -- Justin told me that IDW didn't like the look of full-page CGC scans -- and fill JUST this page with the 9.4 CEREBUS No.1: make that the exception that proves the IDW rule.

I would opt for b). Just as I would opt for more CGC file copy images and larger CGC file copy images. But, I understand that IDW prefers otherwise, so the best I could hope for is -- as the creator of CEREBUS -- that I could get IDW to make an exception to the "no full-page CGC Dave Sim File copies" rule with the 9.4 No.1.


Jeff Seiler said...

While this is fascinating, I have to ask:

Does this all make anyone else's head spin, or is it just me?

Wait. Yeah, I know.

It's *always* just me.


Dave Sim said...

Hi Jeff! Well, exactly: try explaining to someone who has just spent a lot of time fixing an image WHY the image shouldn't be fixed?

And it had to be done: the way IDW had it, the mangled No.1 was the REAL one and the relatively pristine one was the counterfeit. Imagine what that would do when the books hit the stores.

"Oh, so the GOOD-LOOKING copies are the COUNTERFEITS!"

Gary Boyarski said...

Wow, my head is spinning. But in a good way. I've always been curious as to why the first issue of Cerebus was printed at a bigger size. It's a nice feeling to finally find out the story of how that came about. It's too bad, but on the positive side it probably led to the increase in value of the book. Black covers are notoriously difficult to keep in mint condition, never mind an odd size that wouldn't find protection in a comic box with the rest of the run....

Now there's an idea for the 40th Anniversary.

Dave, have you ever given any thought to reprinting the first issue a standard comic book size? I can understand not wanting to dilute the value of the original. But justifiably, that's already been done with the counterfeit copy which is sought by collectors who can't afford the genuine thing in their collections. You could also differentiate this reprint edition, by using the original uncoloured art as the cover image and make it a kind of "Artist Edition" cover. Something that is quite popular in the collecting community right now. Sign a few copies to send to CGC and sell them on eBay. I think it would be a great addition to the 40th Anniversary plans.

Michael Grabowski said...

Pretty sure Cerebus Bi-Weekly #1 took care of that.

Dave Sim said...

Gary - I think that's one of those things that a very select group of CEREBUS collectors would be interested in. Remember that most CEREBUS collectors today are trade paperback collectors with a small percentage of those supporting the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Portfolios.

We're far more focussed on the CEREBUS IN HELL? mini-series, trying to read any auguries into the information as we get it, sales having dropped from 8,000 to 6,300 between #0 and #1.

[Good news! #1 is now in the on-deck circle at Marquis so it looks as if -- God willing -- it's actually going to come out in January.]

Everything that we do has to be with an eye towards profitability because there's just too much at stake with the massive restoration and publishing program ahead of us.

I just don't see a facsimile of No.1 as being in that category.

Michael - Yes, that's definitely another aspect of it that I think limits the potential market: is CEREBUS BI-WEEKLY #1 an adequate version of CEREBUS No.1? "Um, sure!" I think is a non-collector response in the sense that it doesn't look like No. 1. It's a completely different cover format. But, for non-collectors, yes it is: it has all the same content and a little reproduction of the cover, inset. But definitely pointing in the direction that there wouldn't be much of a market for a facsimile of No.1.

Although it would be a "cool" 40th anniversary item.

Gary Boyarski said...

It would be a cool 40th Anniversary item wouldn't it?

I totally understand that the small amount of people that would actually be excited to have something like that probably doesn't make it feasible to do a large print run, but... (and you can tell I'm not ready to give up on the possibility of getting this made) what if you did a Cerebus #1 reissue as a print on demand book? You could even take pre-orders of it through Kickstarter and only produce as many as you've sold. I'm not sure what's out there for POD services currently, but I've been using RA Comics Direct and have been very satisfied with the quality of my Jack Grimm: Harbinger of Death comics that they have printed for me. The only downside to this route is the cost per book is quite high, but you could offset this by setting the price per issue at around 10 dollars considering that it's a limited collectors item, and still double your money on each copy sold.

Jeff Seiler said...

Dave, I think that Gary may be on to something here. My only caveat is that it would need to be as authentic a reproduction as possible, with the same kind of newsprint paper and the same ink (that would stain your fingers), the same size, the same mistakes (Ps that look like Ds,etc.), the same colored staples. And so on.

So the major problem would be finding a printer who would be able and willing to do all of that...

But hey, it'll soon be Christmas. A boy can dream, can't he?

Jeff Seiler said...

Besides, Dave, what else are ya gonna do between prayer times?

(He says, while ducking)

Dave Sim said...

Hi Gary! I think you'd still have the problem of the books getting into the LCS environment and causing headaches. A lot of stores don't buy ANYTHING from the back of PREVIEWS and those are the kind of stores that would only be aware that a CEREBUS No.1 is valuable.

One of the biggest collector chains in the U.S. asked Pete Dixon to get me to sign a CEREBUS collection they had purchased. No problem. The problem came in when the No.1 turned out to be a counterfeit. "I don't sign the counterfeits". Turned out that the dealer in question had paid several thousand dollars for the book. So, I have to be very wary of those situations. I've finally got the information out there in the CEREBUS COVERS book in full colour. I'd hate to undermine that by having the general market say "Sim's counterfeiting his No.1 himself, this time!"

I do, however, keep "ending up" back at POD on a number of fronts: trying to make the original CEREBUS ARCHIVE comic books available for those who didn't get the last few issues and doing a trade paperback version of the same series. "Not enough hours in the day" being, usually, the biggest impediment.

The latest instance was with FOLLOWING CEREBUS, where Craig's Dad has 100s of copies of, I think, eight of the issues. Definitely no #4's. Which made me think: well, what if we did a POD version of #4 and then package those with the original copies. That way you get a complete set of the magazines. We're still working on it. Buddy Saunders has agreed to do the packaging in Dallas (which will save us a lot in shipping costs) and we're going to, hopefully, solicit for them through Diamond as boxed set "warehouse finds" with a (ballpark) $19.95 price point for the 12 issues. We're "on the same page" that we don't want to see the magazines pulped and we'd like to find a way to turn them into cash for Craig's daughter when she comes of age.

Still looking forward to JACK GRIMM No.3!!

Travis Pelkie said...

Well, the actual 40th anniversary is next December, right, so even if the cover date was ahead, you've still got 6 months or so to figure it all out.

I think a facsimile edition of 1 would be interesting, but I'm not sure if it's something that would sell enough to be worth it.

Unless you went Treasury size....heh.

Gary Boyarski said...

I disagree with Jeff on the "as close to the original as possible" version of an eventual reissue. I would see this as something special and unique. I'd have the 40th Anniversary Logo on the cover and use the raw original art for the cover. The guts of the book should be the remastered pages on nice paper and use this as a way to promote the remastered editions . Hey! What about Free Comic Book Day? Who wants to throw away some money printing free comics.... no... maybe not. Either way, if it is something you ever decide to do, I'm almost 100 percent sure you could recoup a good portion of you investment selling Signed CGCd copies online. Certified Dave Sim signatures are a rarity don't cha know? There are certain advantages to being a reclusive comic book creator. And yes... issue 3 of Jack Grimm is still coming. Don't put away issues 1 & 2 just yet.

Travis Pelkie said...

I think FCBD is all scheduled, anyway (I think they've gotten stricter in who can participate and how in the last few years), even if Dave had cash to throw away.

So, Gary, how about a link or something so the rest of us can check out Jack Grimm?

Dave Sim said...

Travis - Good idea on the JACK GRIMM link! Treasury size on anything is the kiss of death and has been for a number of years, I'm pretty sure.

Gary - I'm still thinking about it. There is the advantage that the back cover has "beaucoup de black space" so it's possible that some text could be put in there that doesn't detract from the authentic facsimile look of the comic book but which makes it clear: this was printed in 2017, this is not the original CEREBUS No.1.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of carpet between "facsimile" and "whole 'nother thing" and a lot of different opinions of the Right Way to do it. i.e. If I don't do the Artist's Edition-style cover, you aren't going to be as happy as if I did.

Travis Pelkie said...

Well, IDW has put out a number of "Treasury Size" books in the last several years. I own several -- there's a Judge Dredd one, Starstruck, a Steve Niles/Bernie Wrightson one (the Ghoul, maybe?), a Joe Hill one. That's just the ones I own, off the top of my head.

And Marvel has put a couple out -- there's one that included the first 3 issues of the newer Spidey comic, with "Untold Tales of Spider-Man" type stories, and the first 2 issues of the latest Miles Morales book (these were reprints in the Treasury size that came out not long after the original issues did). There was also one that I think just came out with Women of Marvel issues (the new Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, maybe Squirrel Girl, I don't remember what all was in it). And I sort of think there was another one offered.

I don't know how the sales are on such a thing, certainly, but I doubt Marvel would keep doing them if they didn't sell. I liked the Spidey one because the artist Nick Bradshaw is a really good Art Adams style guy, but I was annoyed that they stuck the other Spider-Man issues in, as that was not how it was solicited.

Ahem. Enough ranting. Suffice to say, Treasury Size is still a thing, and it'd be cool to see some Cerebus issues printed that size, but that's certainly something that if you had no interest, I wouldn't be sad it wasn't done.

Dave Sim said...

Travis - Part of me would definitely like to see a Treasury-sized CEREBUS IN HELL? if only because of the amazing detail on the Dore prints -- and many thanks again to Paul & Sean for making that possible -- that doesn't all come out in comic-book size.

Travis Pelkie said...


Jeff Seiler said...

Continuing my comparison of Dave's final suggested corrections to the finished book:

6) As far as I can tell from my deciphering of Dave's post, IDW did what Dave wanted on this.