Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Sketching the Countess

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.

Covering Cerebus issues #52 to 59, Dave Sim's notebook #6 (previously titled #3 due to the Albatross named notebooks) had 158 pages scanned of which we've seen twelve pages already in five different entries. We've never seen the front cover because there wasn't one. It must've been that well used.

This week we'll take a look at three pages that fall near the end of the notebook and contain sketches of the Countess Michelle:

We really don't see the Countess lounging around like this:

Notebook 6, page 140
Notebook 6, page 141
Notebook 6, page 143
I like the sketch of the Countess taking a nap, looks like it was sketched from a live model.


Steve said...

If nothing else these sketches show Dave's perceptive fashion eye is already fully developed, decades before Glamourpuss.

And what I love about any of these early sketch pages is simply how delightful Dave's drawings are.


Jeff Seiler said...

Dave has always had an eye (and talent) for drawing the extraordinary in the everyday ordinary.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Interesting thought, Jeff. Can you think of any particular examples from the books themselves that best exemplify that?

-- Damian

Unknown said...

The Countess was Karen McKiel, so this is a mix of Countess drawings and Karen McKiel drawings. "I don't know why I feel ugly today" that's Karen. Patched blue jeans, work boots and long sleeved sweater -- the stripes were rust brown - with a dress shirt under it. The rest of them are pure Countess fantasy. She was definitely a "size O" made-for- fashion type.

"Hi-eee" That's her "being cute" at her desk on the 6th floor of 47 King West.

Deni had the larger office through the connecting door. One of Karen's jobs was picking up the mail at the post office and sorting the "A-V letters" from the "Dave letters". She would then leave the "Dave letters" on a chair on the other side of her desk. So I'd pick the mail off of the chair and then sit down and sort through it and she'd tell me if anything was "up" that I needed to know about while I opened my mail.

This time I came in and she was lying down on her desk like this. Didn't move when I came in. So, I picked up my mail, sat down and started sorting through it. Finally, I gave in and looked over at her. And she goes "Hi-eeee".

"Being cute" but also being insubordinate just to see if she could get away with it. Which she could.

Jeff Seiler said...


So, we're married *and* working together, and we decide to hire a *very* cute, flirtatious assistant, with whom we will have daily (and, later, nightly) contact.

What could go wrong?

As I say to my male friends, I am "blissfully single".

Tony Dunlop said...

Hmm…a case of "caus(ing) sh*t," eh? "Avoyd Fornication" indeed.

Unknown said...

Jeff and Tony - The GLIB answer in retrospect would be, "If you unconsciously want to break up your marriage, find yourself a seriously capable homewrecker and draw her into your comic book until you're properly obsessed with her."

The "To Jessica" dedication in one of the books is to Karen's genitals. Her genitals were "Jessica" and my genitals were "Geo". It was interesting when I was pulling out clothing fliers coming up on GOING HOME to find People's Princess outfits for Jaka. Pulled them at random (I thought) and they all turned out to be "Jessica" (Sears' brand, I think?) We did the dirty deed for the first time January 23, 1984. 33rd anniversary coming up.

Any further questions? Or can we stamp this one "TMI" and kick it to the curb?

Unknown said...

Seriously. Let me know. It's all just an hour of typing to me.

Karen and her older sister Darlene -- freshly arrived from New Brunswick -- moved in down the hall from Deni and I at the Conestoga Towers. We were in 1401 and they were in 1404. Late 1970s. We hired Karen when we got back from the '82 U.S. Tour. It was actually Darlene I was first attracted to. Didn't find out until years later that Karen had slept with Darlene's boyfriend? Fiance? VERY serious relationship, anyway. So after Karen and I had run our on-again off-again course, Darlene (married at the time) turned up one night at Peter's Place (she knew where to find me) to tell me she had decided we should have an affair. Which I'm pretty sure had more to do with bugging Karen/paying Karen back than having anything to do with me, personally. At the time, my theory was "Well, you would know that better than I would." And when an "in a relationship" neighbour of Karen's (with whom Karen eventually bought a house) got wind of this, SHE decided that she and I should have an affair.

I scuttled both affairs in the very early going. As Marilyn Monroe famously remarked, "I feel...passed around." The reason you feel that way is because you're passing YOURSELF around.

Avoyd fornication AND avoyd adulterie.

19th anniversary of avoyding both coming up February 15th.

Jeff Seiler said...

Hmm. I've always thought it was 1999 when you foreswore doing the nasty. Learn something new every day.

You have been remarkably revealing, even for you, lately. Interesting, in that "let's go back and check out that crash site" sort of way.

Is it TMI? Dunno, although I could probably have lived out my life peacefully without knowing what "Jessica" and "Geo" were/are.

Thanks much for that one, Dave.

BTW, mine is Marmaduke. Because it's a great


This comment has been ended, in the interest of common decency.

Jeff Seiler said...

I'm thinking Geo, short for George, short for George Washington.

'Cause you're the first president. Right?


Now you went and got me obsessed with your junk.

Thanks, Dave.

Thanks a lot.


Unknown said...

You'd have to ask Karen where she got Jessica and Geo from. She came up with the names.

February 15 or 16, 1998. Whatever the Sunday was that weekend.

Plotting a trajectory backwards from there (with co-equivalent time elapsed), I'm now back to February 1979 which was around the time of the end of my pre-marital/marital affair with Sarah Hitchens: my second sexual partner. So, I have roughly repented OF and atoned FOR all of my fornications and adulteries dating back to Deni and Sarah. Six or seven months from now, I'll be down to just repenting OF and atoning FOR my fornication with Deni.

I doubt that repentance and atonement work in quite that "cut-and-dried" a fashion. But, there is a definite sense of accomplishment there.

Jeff Seiler said...

I occasionally count them up, too, even though I think that it is bordering on hubris or gloating, or some such.

But, I'm not sure how you do penance for or repent of an involvement (sex) with any woman. I mean, yes, you can say, "Sorry, God", but that doesn't wipe it away.

Well, spiritually, psychologically, it could, but not really.

I learned a long time ago that sex is the one thing that binds people together forever.

Think about your first one. Does anyone here not remember their first one? Or their fifth; their thirteenth?


Great kudos to those of you who remember their first and only.

To get back to the issue of Dave repenting, I have no idea whether Dave is just (just?) apologizing to God, or if he is actually apologizing to the women.

And, I would imagine that most of those women would be dumbstruck if he did.

But, I wouldn't put it past him.

I have many women to apologize to, if they think I should.

I don't particularly think that they think I should.


God probably has a thing to say about that.

Repentance, historically, is complicated. There's scourging (ugh), isolation, suicide...

I seriously doubt, have no doubt, that Dave even considered the above, but.


Calling back all of them, mentally, and asking forgiveness.

Although, I understand you're asking forgiveness from God, not the individual women.

That's, actually, theoretically, easier.

Steve said...

Remember my first one?

Of course I do.

My wife is the only person I've ever kissed, let alone shared intercourse with.

And I did not get married until I was 34.


Jeff Seiler said...

To be clear, I didn't mean that I think that Dave has contemplated committing suicide.

Steve? Good on yer, man.