Monday, 20 March 2017

Swords Of Cerebus Vol 3: Cerebus #9

Swords Of Cerebus Vol 3 (1981)
Art by Dave Sim

Published between 1981 and 1984, Dave's six Swords of Cerebus volumes were his first attempt to collect the book in a more permanent form. He gave each story included in these volumes a prose introduction, explaining where the book stood when he’d been working on that particular issue and how he was thinking of its prospects at the time. This is the first of the five intros from Swords volume 3.

It's worth pointing out that the Kim Thompson comment Dave quotes here came in the context of a very positive review. Looking at Cerebus issues 1-12, Thompson calls the book "a true heir to Carl Barks' duck stories", and credits Dave with better storytelling skills than John Byrne, Paul Gulacy, Jim Starlin and the Buscema brothers. Where he does quibble, it's with relatively minor issues such as a speech balloon which seems to come from the wrong direction.

Thompson mentions Barry Smith's habit of filling every Conan panel with elaborate decoration, and then adds: "Sim, aware that this more often than not diverts the eye from the basic flow of the action, frequently draws page after page set against backgrounds composed of very simple designs – mostly simple pen strokes – after establishing the d├ęcor in the opening shot. Despite some goofs that crop up here too (the "marble patterns" during the fight with the Panrovian in #9 are coarse and distracting, for instance) this technique serves Sim, who can indicate a persistent rainstorm merely by filling the page with vertical lines, very well indeed."

"The tonal pattern I had selected did not work at all," says Dave.

Next week: The unhealthy origins of Red Sonja.


Travis Pelkie said...

Yowza, that's a neat looking Swords cover!

Unknown said...

Travis - Well thank you. It would have been interesting if it had been done properly. This is me, again, using undiluted tube watercolours as if they were acrylics...

(I had no idea of the differences in paint. I thought it was pretty much "oil" which seemed to me to never dry and I was too impatient for that and watercolour which did dry relatively quickly. I had SEEN acrylic paintings in Harry Kremer's art collection: Gold Key cover paintings and just figured it was a different way of using watercolours.)

I definitely had the right idea: flat AREAS of colour with darker versions of that colour laid on top. I was just using the wrong materials.

Never did get around to trying acrylics! Oh, well, too late now. :)

Unknown said...

The three-panel sequence is me trying to use the interlocking stone Letratone sheet again. Just too coarse for the density I was inking at. But, "You know what this COST? I'll just have to find some places I can use it."

"Sim, aware that this more often than not diverts the eye from the basic flow of the action..." is an interesting example of something that I don't agree with that played in my favour. A common situation with favourable reviews. I would have said something along the lines of "Sim, limited as he is in his ability to replicate BWS's technical achievements, makes do with simple pen strokes in his backgrounds in the hopes of buying himself time to figure out how those BWS figures are put together. He appears to making progress in this."

Dave Kopperman said...

Watercolors: The weird thing about this Swords cover (the earliest first print Cerebus item I have in my collection, I think?) is that I was in my freshman year at RISD at the time and had JUST started to use gouache. I was so certain this cover was gouache up until this moment - I wasn't that far off, considering gouache is opaque watercolor, but still.

LOVE the Sophia figure, here. Her hair is perfect.

Paul Slade said...

Rather than interlocking stones, that background tone always looked like a leaded window to me.

Jeff Seiler said...

Yeah, Paul, me too! Like stained glass. I think Dave was (is) being too hard on himself.

Jimmy Gownley said...

Just wanted to state again that several years a go Dave generously donated the original for this cover to an art auction I ran benefitting Disabled American Vets. The original was amazing to behold. The only other time I so desperately wanted to just , y'know, STEAL something was when I saw a tiny Linus watercolor sitting in a tupperware bin in Charles Schulz's home studio.

Thanks again, Dave!

Anonymous said...

Dave Kopperman's mention of RISD made me think of the RISD library and it's collection of Cerebus. They had a hardcover of Guys. When I first saw it, I was excited and then confused, being certain that no such edition existed. I opened it up to find that inside there was the paperback cover. The hardback binding was library binding, added to patch up a well worn copy.

Also, as of 2009, they had all of the books but The Last Day. I wonder if they ever got around to getting a copy?

-Benjamin Hobbs

Unknown said...

I wish I would have thought of the stained glass angle at the time. I could have just put patches of 10%, 20% and 30% dot tone on top of the stained glass tone.

Okay, we're all right and Kim Thompson is wrong: this is a BRILLIANT use of stained glass tone.

Steve said...

Oddly enough, I've always pictured those panels as stained glass, or perhaps simply glass fragments as making plate glass wasn't feasible yet.

I envisioned the glass windows being the light source for the scene.