Thursday, 5 January 2017

Breakfast Sandwiches Instead of Shooting Lessons

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 #32 only twice before back in February 2016 in A Movie Review: Julia and Hunting Lodge Thespians, both showed pages one through three of the notebook. The notebook covers only issue #255 and only 18 of the 32 pages were scanned.

The cover is actually different and not a Hilroy:

Notebook 32, front and back covers
The majority of the notebook, all but the first and last page, is dialogue for Mary Ernestway's recollection of the safari. Page 7 of the notebook appears to have a lot of this dialogue crossed out:

Notebook 32, page 7
The first bits of dialogue along the top of the page correspond with issue #256, page 13 (yes, I said this notebook was issue #255 previously, but that was based off a post-it note left by Dave, and at the time of scanning, I really didn't have the chance to dig into what issues were covered in a particular notebook. I figured it was the same for Dave, who probably didn't have the time when shipping them to me to dig too much into it either. But I digress.) or Form & Void page 499 if you're following along in the phonebooks.

Even those first bits of dialogue are ever so slightly changed on the finished page. The parts that are crossed out made it in Form & Void, but only in the notes To Ham & Ham Not on page 721 and 723.

The bit you see below it - the Papa's breakfast sandwiches - did make it in. That breakfast sandwich sounds like it'd give me heartburn. Mustard pickles? They can't be as bad as Branston Pickle, but still don't sound like something I'd have for breakfast.


eric fennessey said...

I don't know about in an exotic combination, but a bit of Branson pickle in a cheese sandwich is lovely!

Dave Sim said...

Thanks, Margaret. I was very fortunate that Mary Hemingway's word rhythms lent themselves to very terse, concise captions. I basically just copied out everything that was usable and then played "house of cards" with them: how many of these can I take out and still have a viable "house of cards" narrative?

The storyline eventually spilled over the space I had allocated for it, but it's still my favourite CEREBUS story because of the pressure I was under to digest everything and make it work "on the fly".