Saturday, 30 September 2017

Diamond Preview Picks: October 2017

Here a selection of good looking comics heading in to your local comic store in December (or there abouts) as listed in the Diamond Previews Catalog for October. As always, I'm keen to know what other comics Cerebus readers enjoy, so let us know what you're currently reading in the comments section below. Thanks.



Vark Knight Returns #1
by Dave Sim & Sandeep Atwal
Aardvark Vanaheim, $4.00
In Stores: 27 December 2017
Diamond Order Code: OCT171028

The publisher says:
Batvark Invictus; three-part (sorry!) Batvark's Wedding Vows; Batvark tweets Johnny Depp; also reprints online strips from September 2016:  Cerebus goes to see Suicide Squad; King Solomon, rap artist; Cerebus the Party Hat; Xavier Cugat and conga-line snakes; Siamese Twin Girl-Boy and The Aardvarkian League of Justice;  building the Poet Laureate Pyramid & The Granite-Slab Freestyle Slalom; "Ode to Beatrice's JLo Heinie"; Snake Comics; Aardvark-Vanaheim Civil War: Cerebus vs. The Renegade Super-Poets and more!


The Collected Arn Saba's Neil The Horse
by Katherine Collins
Conundrum Press, $25.00
In Stores: 29 November 2017
Diamond Order Code: OCT171411

The publisher says:
Neil the Horse ran 15 issues in the 1980s. With its tagline, "Making the World Safe for Musical Comedy" it is a totally original hybrid influenced more by Carl Barks and Fred Astaire than by the underground comics of the time. Originally produced under the name Arn Saba, Neil's creator transitioned to Katherine Collins after the last issue. Introduction by Trina Robbins.

Trina Robbins says:
...In the midst of the [1980s] hysteria of the black-and-white boom, along came Neil the Horse, tap dancing his way into the hearts of America. (Well, mine, anyway, and enough others to keep the comic going for fifteen issues.) Five parts Donald Duck artist Carl Barks, five parts Fred Astaire, and a hundred percent Arn Saba, the banana-chomping, rubber-legged equine’s comics were a refreshing change from the dark, grim and gritty, ultraviolent mainstream comics that seemed almost de rigueur during the eighties...


Faceache: The First 100 Scrunges
by Ken Reid
Rebellion, $18.99
In Stores: 20 December 2017
Diamond Order Code: OCT171757

The publisher says:
Hilarious face-changing adventures by one of the greats of British comics! Ken Reid is consistently name-checked by the greats of comics - from Alan Moore to Kevin O'Neill, John Wagner to Pat Mills - for his unique art that is matched only by his enduring sense of humor. In a hardcover edition befitting his status as one of the all-too-forgotten greats of British comics, we present his timeless Faceache - the humorous adventures of Ricky Rubberneck, the boy with a "bendable bonce" whose skin stretches like rubber. At will, he could scrunge his face into anything, whether it's mimicking others or turning into grotesque creatures, but always coming a cropper! This is the first collection of this long lost classic from the hugely popular and long running Buster comic. Introduction by Alan Moore.

Rebellion, publishers of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, have announced full details of their first new collections featuring all-time classics of British comics from the 1970s and ‘80s. And what a terrific selection from their recently-expanded cache of characters it is, too, including collections of One-Eyed Jack, Marney the Fox, The Leopard of Lime Street – and the legendary Ken Reid’s much-loved Faceache. 2000AD and Rebellion Publishing acquired the Fleetway and IPC Youth group archive from Egmont UK last year, which includes hundreds of much-loved comic characters and strips. The first titles in company’s new Treasury of British Comics line have now been announced  – and they reflect the huge range of material Rebellion now own. “These are the comics that forged the childhood memories of millions and imbued many of us with a life-long love of the comics medium,” enthuses company spokesperson Michael Molcher. “It’s both a pleasure and a privilege to be bringing them back into the light after decades on the shelf.” Ben Smith, head of books and comic books at Rebellion Publishing, which owns 2000AD, describes the new line as a chance to restore “a vital but largely overlooked piece of British cultural history”.


Inside Moebius: Part 1
by Moebius
Dark Horse, $49.99
In Stores: 7 February 2018
Diamond Order Code: OCT170050

The publisher says:
Working closely with Moebius Production in France, Dark Horse presents Inside Moebius Part 1, the next volume in the Moebius Library. As he explores  a beautiful, expansive desert that represents his mind, Moebius draws himself encountering his favorite characters-creations like Blueberry, Arzak, and Major Grubert-and also meets a younger version of himself! A six-part study, Inside Moebius Part 1 collects the first two chapters in this fantastic exploration of a creator meeting his own creations to discuss his artistic process and the real world issues that encroach into his thoughts. Moebius's final long-form work - now available in English!


Monsieur Jean: It Don't Come Easy
by Philippe Dupuy & Charles Berberian
Drawn & Quarterly, $22.95
In Stores: 27 December 2017
Diamond Order Code: OCT171538

The publisher says:
Since the character of Monsieur Jean first walked onto the page in 1998, he has endeared himself to readers, maturing with each frantic, surreal, heart-warming episode. Beginning as a young Parisian bachelor, defeatist writer, and urban bon vivant, Jean has reluctantly transitioned into a family man of forty, learning how to live with, and ultimately love those around him unconditionally. Constantly surrounded by a group of childhood classmates, an unbearably idealistic live-in friend Felix and his adopted son, Eugene, as well as his sweet daughter Julie, Jean questions life and those of others in an honest and endearing way; his unmistakable joie de vivre always undermined by a palpable sense of cynicism. The joy of these award-winning cartoons stems from that fact that Jean's weaknesses are our own; his doubts about life, universal; his relentless quest for happiness understood.

The Comics Journal said:
...the Monsieur Jean comics remind me of Kim Thompson’s 13-year-old plea that “more crap is what we need.” What Thompson meant is that comics would benefit from more middle-of-the-road and “safe” material for general audiences that is nonetheless created with care and skill. Dupuy and Berberian’s stories about a writer who has to deal with aging, career, relationships, and (eventually) children are breezy, fun, and relentlessly clever. Neither artist is someone I’d put the same category as Joann Sfar, David B, or Lewis Trondheim in terms of being an innovator or forward thinker. Instead, they are both superior craftsmen who are well-schooled in the clear-line tradition of Franco-Belgian comics and possessed of a certain illustrative flair. With this edition’s duo-tone blue wash, the end result is a slick and attractive package that nonetheless is remarkable for its genuine warmth and affection for its characters...



Portugal
by Cyril Pedrosa
NBM, $39.99
In Stores: 27 December 2017
Diamond Order Code: OCT171705

The publisher says:
This is the story of rebirth, through the rediscovery of a childhood place, shrouded in the haze of memory. French comic book artist Simon Muchat has reached one of life's dead ends. He drifts through his uneventful day-to-day existence, which has become devoid of color and flavor, and severely lacking in inspiration. He has no plans, no desires, no projects, and is slowly stagnating in his job as a school art teacher. He seems indifferent to his girlfriend's reproaches as she tries to shake him from his torpor. Simon is invited to spend a few days in Portugal for a comic book festival. The invitation strikes a chord with him, as his family is originally from there, and he hasn't been back since his childhood. Perhaps this will at long last lead him out of the maze, and towards a new life of color and feeling and the senses.  [View the 'Portugal' video trailer here...]

Comics & Cola said:
Translation wishlist: Portugal is Pedrosa's 2011, 261 page, Angouleme award-winning book and his most notable work to date. The plot sounds like something semi-autobiographical: a cartoonist is disenchanted with his job as a teacher, and slowly becoming disengaged in other areas of life, also, much to the frustration of his girlfriend. So when he's invited to spend a few days in Portugal, where his family is from and where he has not been since childhood (again, like Pedrosa), he views the opportunity as something that may rejuvenate him, and kick his mind and life back into gear...


Chosen People
by Drew Friedman
Fantagraphics Books, $19.99
In Stores: 31 January 2018
Diamond Order Code: OCT171591

The publisher says:
Featuring over 100 of Drew Friedman's portraits of artists, cartoonists, comedians, musicians, actors, politicians, the famous and the infamous, rendered by the man Boing Boing calls "The greatest living portrait artist." No one is spared the loving Friedman treatment, including Drew Friedman himself!  


Forging The Past: Seth & The Art Of Memory
by Daniel Marrone
PYR Books, $30.00
In Stores: 13 December 2017
Diamond Order Code: OCT172068

The publisher says:
At once familiar and hard to place, the work of acclaimed Canadian cartoonist Seth evokes a world that no longer exists - and perhaps never existed, except in the panels of long-forgotten comics. Seth's distinctive drawing style strikingly recalls a bygone era of cartooning, an apt vehicle for melancholy, gently ironic narratives that depict the grip of the past on the present. Even when he appears to look to the past, however, Seth (born Gregory Gallant) is constantly pushing the medium of comics forward with sophisticated work that often incorporates metafiction, parody, and formal experimentation.


Sparring With Gil Kane: 
Debating The History & Aesthetics Of Comics
edited by Gary Groth
Fantagraphics Books, $22.99
In Stores: 31 January 2018
Diamond Order Code: OCT171589

The publisher says:
Along with drawing every major comic book character during his 50-year career and conceiving independent "graphic novels" before the term had any meaning, Gil Kane was also a fascinating conversationalist, engaging with other artists about the subjects he was most passionate about. Included are interviews Hal Foster, Walt Kelly, Noel Sickles, Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Everett, Denny O'Neil, Howard Chaykin, Walt Simonson, Robert Crumb, Jack Jackson and Donald Phelps. On full display is Kane's critical acuity, wit and eagerness to engage in opinions contrary to his own. Sparring With Gil Kane is a Master Class on the comics form.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Ivan Kocmarek's "Heroes Of The Home Front" Kickstarter!

OFF-WHITE HOUSE BULLETIN 2:30 PM  28 Sept 17




DAVE SIM:
While attending an intimate gathering yesterday at the studio-home of Gerry and Setsuko Lazare on the occasion of his 90th birthday (Jerry Lazare was the name he worked under during World War II - so far as we know he's the last surviving creator of the Canadian Whites and has been a prominent Canadian gallery painter since the 1970s) I was made aware that Ivan Kocmarek's Kickstarter campaign for the book he's been working on for years, HEROES OF THE HOME FRONT: BELL FEATURES ARTISTS OF WWII looks like it's coming up short of the $25K needed to kick it over the goal-line. He's at about $18K with a week to go; the way Kickstarter works if he doesn't pass the $25K mark he gets nothing.

Dave Sim and Gerry Lazare

A bit of a "Hail Mary" pass but I've offered Ivan access to our "overages" for the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER FIVE an CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER SIX Artists Editions portfolios at $100 Canadian each (roughly $80 U.S,) and will sign the front of each portfolio personally to any of Ivan's pledge partners interested in pledging for one (or more -- makes the Ideal Christmas gift) of them. Ivan sent me an advance copy of the book and I critiqued it and made a few suggestions. I think it makes a really valuable contribution the the History of Canadian Comics and I'd hate to see it die on the vine. Hope some AMOC viewers can help. 

Decisions Decisions

We've only looked at Dave Sim's notebook #4 two times: once in August of 2016's Albatross Four and again in Wuffa Wuffa this past March. The notebook covers Cerebus issues #41 to 45 with 99 pages out of 108 pages scanned.

If you have the Cerebus Cover Art Treasury book, then you've seen notebook #4's page 12 as it has a preliminary of the cover to Cerebus #41:

Cerebus #41 cover
The page they show doesn't look too much like the finished cover, but you can see a bit of it there. On page 13 there is another preliminary sketch of the cover that is closer to the finished cover. However, the movement on the cover of both Elf and Cerebus changes to the finished cover.

Notebook #4, page 13



Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Death of Cerebus in Hell? #1-- Eternal Infernal Absurdity, the Last Wednesday of Every Month!

Order at your Local Comics Shop now! Diamond Order Code: SEP171028

Paper to Pixel to Paper Again, Addendum A: Sample Photoshop Actions

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15
16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29

A guide to creating the best looking line art in print in the new digital print world

Addendum A:
Sample Photoshop Actions
Greetings!

This is the twenty-ninth and final regular installment of Paper to Pixel to Paper Again, a series that explains (in an overly thorough manner) the how-to's of preparing line art for print.


And as always, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!

***

Oh, hey, after twenty-nine mostly-weekly installments, the series is over! What's that sound? Is it birdsong? The sweet bells of freedom? Oh, no, it's the sound of... 

A Bunch of Useful Photoshop Actions

Here's a link to a sampling of Photoshop Actions for you to download, dissect, and generally play around with.

Each of these Actions was used at one point or another to produce a book or comic for Aardvark/Vanaheim, and although most of them wouldn't be useful to you as-is—unless you're using the same scanner for the same purposes!—it's my hope that, coupled with the series itself, they'll be useful in developing your skills in prepress for line art.

Let's take a quick look at them. Notice these are in no particular order—


A. sample "color original to line art" script

This is an example of the process one might use to take a 600 ppi color scan and end up with a line art original. In this case, this is the script I used for Gerhard's scans of his Jaka's Story originals, scanned on an Epson 10000XL. Nothing remains after this but cleaning up the page and saving it into the correct folder, where it will eventually be bitmap-converted.

The only real oddity in this example is the bit of blurring at the top of the script. This is to counteract the hint of sharpening had been applied during the scanning stage. (Better to just not sharpen until you've upscaled, as we've discussed many times in the series!)

B. sample dotgain reversal script

This is an example script of how to uniformly shrink a clogged print scan. I use this script pretty often during Cerebus in Hell? print production, as well as for the Cerebus Volume One January 2017 restoration (though with different Levels values on each page, depending on the source material)

C. sample newsprint script pt 1 and 2

I've worked with newsprint scans so many different ways at this point, but this is the latest, used for the few Jaka's Story pages sourced (partially or wholly) from newsprint. Straighten the page, run the first script, then make your levels adjustments to darken the blacks and run the second script. Then selectively sharpen and Levels adjust to completion. 

Newsprint printings (and thus scans of newsprint printings) have so much variety from page to page and even from panel to panel that I found it a waste of time to script the work. These are really just minimal scripts that do the setup required and let you have maximum flexibility for the final stages.

D. noise grabber

This is a trick Lou Copeland taught me that's very helpful in cleaning up newsprint. Use the Magic Wand tool to select a large area—say, the outside area of a page or some blacks—and then run this script, which expands a certain amount, and then contracts slightly less. In effect it swallows up low-level noise into your selection and then allows you to clean with a lot more freedom. Give it a whirl.

E. sample "flatten to bitmap" script

This is an example of a very simple script saving you boatloads of time. Make one like this in order to update your bitmaps when you make corrections for your book.

F. sample COLOR output sharpening script

This is the script I used to output files for Tim's all-color-original Cerebus hard covers. Simple output sharpening combined with some levels adjustments.

G. density test

If you'd like to find out what the density of the screen tone is on a page you're working on, run this script, and then bring up the eyedropper (E) tool and wave it over the area of tone in question. The density should appear in the Info box. After, Undo twice (Ctrl-Shift-Z twice).

H. convert 2400 1-bit to 300 ppi 8-bit

This script makes ideal on-screen versions of high-res line art, using a special procedure involving gaussian blur prior to downsampling.

Hope you enjoy!

Next: Another addendum on...color art with high-res line art? Something else entirely?

Sean Michael Robinson is a writer, artist, and musician. See more at LivingtheLine.com.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Cory Forster's Cerebus Re-Read Challenge

Cerebus
Vol 11: Guys & Vol 12: Rick's Story
by Dave Sim & Gerhard

CORY FOSTER:
(from a review of Cerebus Vol 11: Guys)
After the major events and revelations of the Mothers & Daughters storyline, Guys is a definite breather. It’s a relaxing, fun read that’s hard to put down, but is also full of insight and relationships that ring very true in the real world—at least to this reviewer. It’s also the funniest that Cerebus has been in many volumes. With no action to speak of, the book is carried handily by Dave’s fine-tuned comedic timing and storytelling (although there’s not even much of a story until the last third). Because of its humor, this volume consistently makes it into longtime fans’ top 3, and I think it’s there for me, too... [Read the full review here...]

CORY FOSTER:
(from a review of Cerebus Vol 12: Rick's Story)
You remember Rick, right? Jaka’s husband? Well, he’s old and fat now, but it seems he’s had quite a life so far. As this volume opens, he and Cerebus are shooting the shit while Cerebus tends bar. It seems Rick is writing a book about his own life, called (you guessed it) “Rick’s Story.” While reading to Cerebus of his sexual exploits, both are having a great time and laughing their asses off, but  we start to see cracks in Rick’s sanity. He hallucinates Cerebus as some kind of demon. He views Cerebus as a fallen pope, one who, on a spiritual level, seems to be trying to distract Rick from writing his story. That is, until Thatcher stops by on one of her routine supply dropoffs... [Read the full review here...]


CORY FOSTER'S
CEREBUS RE-READ CHALLENGE:
Cerebus Vol 13: Going Home
Cerebus Vol 14: Form & Void
Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days
Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day

The Cerebus Re-Read Challenge! How far will you get?
Send in your review links to: momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com

Monday, 25 September 2017

Cory Foster's Cerebus Re-Read Challenge

Cerebus
Vol 9: Reads & Vol 10: Minds
by Dave Sim & Gerhard

CORY FOSTER:
(from a review of Cerebus Vol 9: Reads)
Dave contends that this is the most controversial graphic novel of all time, and I have to say that if it’s not #1, it’s gotta be in the top 10. One point of controversy is that the book is split down the middle between the continuation of the events in the comic, and large chunks of straight text, which was a bit much for monthly readers at the time. You might remember the concept of “reads” themselves from Church & State. In that storyline, Weisshaupt was able to “convince” Cerebus to stay married to Sophia after an all-night bender, reassume the title of Prime Minister, and have these schlocky paperbacks ghostwritten for him. Dave takes advantage of the “reads” concept by using it in the comic as a bit of a platform for his opinions on comic publishing and on women and relationships. That second topic is what most people think of with regards to the polarized opinions surrounding this book. I’ll get to that in a bit... [Read the full review here...]

CORY FOSTER:
(from a review of Cerebus Vol 10: Minds)
This volume has a particular resonance for me because I was just old enough to jump on the Cerebus train right toward the end of it. I remember flipping through it on the racks and thinking of how cool Cirin looked. Little did I know at the time (I was still getting through the first few phonebooks) that this section was perhaps the most important part of the entire story, and also the de facto conclusion of it. More on that later... [Read the full review here...]

CORY FOSTER'S
CEREBUS RE-READ CHALLENGE:
Cerebus Vol 11: Guys
Cerebus Vol 12: Rick's Story
Cerebus Vol 13: Going Home
Cerebus Vol 14: Form & Void
Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days
Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day


The Cerebus Re-Read Challenge! How far will you get?
Send in your review links to: momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Dave Sim: The Silence Of Your Friends

"Dave Sim: Misogynist Guru Of Self-Publishers"
The Comics Journal #174 (February 1995) 
Art by Bill Willingham

10 December 07

Hi Rick [Sharer]:

Well, you know, if you’ll forgive me for saying so, at least so far with your columns you're really not much different from anyone else who has written about "foolish Dave Sim the evil misogynist" since 1994.

You're documenting READS (sort of) – but you're also carefully pulling out the most provocative quotes which is pretty much guaranteed to get everyone riled up again (the opposite of getting them to think about what is being said) and you’re also, so far, being scrupulously careful not to offer your own opinions on whether you agree with anything that you’re quoting. So, the net effect tends to be an appearance of: not only not defending Dave Sim and his opinions but with the added detriment that you’re quoting me out of context to no good purpose. I mean, you deplore that no Comics Name has stood up and defended me publicly. Well, what would you think if some Comics Name suddenly started doing a bi-weekly column where they quoted all of the most provocative parts of READS but without actually saying, "This I agree with, this I disagree with."?

Particularly the really tough stuff where it takes guts to say, "I'll probably get everyone furious with me for saying this, but I think this stuff is self-evidently true and we’ve just blinded ourselves to it because our society, far from being misogynistic is actually misandrist. Our society hates men. Just ask any Dad who has had to go through the family law courts." If you really want to help the situation, I’d suggest that you cite some of your own examples and experiences instead of just quoting mine.

Yes, I think it was certainly true that EVERYONE in the field turned against me after issue 186 (which is a much, much larger group than the "mega-load of Marxist-feminists" of your description in your cover note). Certainly on the COMICS JOURNAL message boards -- as, I am told, it is to this day -- I was called every extreme name that they could think of, Gary Groth held his Star Chamber/Stalinist Show Trial of me at San Diego (or was it Wondercon?) without notifying me he was doing so and got massive ovations assassinating my character in a public venue, presumably, with the wholesale and enthusiastic endorsement of the convention organizers. Have you ever heard anyone attached to the Con where he did so speak out against the Con being used as a venue for criminal libel without even offering the subject of that criminal libel a chance to defend himself?

Bill Willingham finally phoned (the only one who did phone) to ask if I knew just how bad the attacks were getting, that this was completely unprecedented. Of course he didn't call until weeks into the cybernetic tarring and feathering and he certainly didn’t "stand up" on the COMICS JOURNAL message boards and say, "Listen, I think this is getting a little out of hand, here. We’re supposed to believe in freedom of speech in the comics field."

As Martin Luther King said (I’ll have to paraphrase here, I can’t find the quote) It isn't the venom of your enemies, it's the silence of your friends that gets you the most.

I accepted the inescapable conclusion (at the time and to this day) – that I didn’t have any friends – with reluctance but without regret. If the people I had considered friends to that point could stand by and do absolutely nothing for years on end while this was being done to me, what sort of friends were they?

The mistake they made and continue to make, of course, is in thinking that if you don't agree with Dave Sim publicly, if you shun him and damn him with faint praise that this will somehow appease the misandrist Marxist-feminist juggernaut devouring our society. It doesn't. All it does is show that males will take whatever females dish out no matter how bad it gets because men have chosen to be deathly afraid of women.

Affirmative action now means that 60% of all college admissions are women, 40% men. And men don't say anything about it, but just meekly submit to institutionalized gender imbalance as the "new normal". What does the ratio have to get to before men say something, or at least start to say something? 80-20? 90-10? 95-5?

Kowtowing to a bully is never – and will never be – the way to stop bullying.

I've never regretted taking a stand over the last thirteen years. On the contrary, knowing that I will be seen by history as one of the few willing to stand up for reality and that I was doing so for a good decade before anyone else, well it’s very satisfying. That and not having to pretend that I agree with Marxist-feminist b.s. on a daily basis. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

I’ll be visiting www.comicsvillage.com early in February to promote my new title.

Dave

From "Dave Sim's Collected Letters 2007", a Cerebus Archive Kickstarter reward.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Life & The Work Of Gene Day

Gene Day
13 August 1951 - 23 September 1982

by Dave Sim
(first published in The Comics Journal #77, November 1982)


The life and the work of Gene Day. To me, to most people, the two were interchangeable. It is very painful for me to write this now that the life and work are at an end. I have lost a mentor, a supporter, a cherished friend and my sanctuary from things that go bump in the artistic night.

Gene worked for hours at a time, pausing infrequently to eat and even more infrequently to sleep. He desired perfection in all that he did. It is hard to believe that I won’t someday read his Shadow book for Fantagraphics, see the definitive Gene Day Batman, thumb through a new Gene Day Indiana Jones book. I’ll never be able to listen, enraptured, to his album of synthesiser music he intended to publish in the spring.

If he had lived to be a hundred, though, there would have been countless unfinished Gene Day projects. Gene wasn’t happy if he didn’t have at least a half-dozen projects underway. A couple of weeks before his death, we talked for almost two hours on the phone; me cross-hatching a background for the cover of Cerebus #43 and Gene inking small background figures. I would often save such "one-handed" work for these times, as did Gene. He spoke of the future, of his upcoming tasks as he always did – enthusiastically, unafraid – filled with that untiring desire for perfection. We had made tentative plans to work on a Batman story together now that he was at DC, talked of recording some additional synthesiser background music for Cerebus the Radio Show.

Gene never slowed down, never paused to catch his breath before plunging into his next work. Had he found a publisher who would have doubled his wage, he would have seen it as an opportunity to increase his output, plowing the extra money into another publishing venture, a portfolio, a revived Dark Fantasy, an underground comic. He would have found it inconceivable to cut back his production and take some time off.

He was relentless, Gene was, a consummate entertainer and, in a field so often known for its whiners, its prima donnas, its buck-passers, the consummate professional.

Sadly, like so many other who were privileged to call him friend, I thought he was superhuman.

He had told me many times that he wanted to die at the drawing board, pursuing the perfection he always felt to be far from his grasp, the perfection he could never see in himself, but which was always there in my eyes. His life was a testament to his will, lived in the manner he chose, and no one deflected him from the path once chosen. I feel sorry for the people who never met Gene. I feel sorry for the people who knew him only briefly or who only met him in a convention art room or comics shop. To see Gene in the house he loved, with those he loved, Gale and Danny, hunched over the drawing board he had hammered together in his early teens out of scrap wood, and seated in the old kitchen chair on the worn cushion (the only place he could truly, comfortably draw), surrounded by model airplanes, comic book figurines, magazines, photo references, stacks or artwork and works in progress; to see him there was to know him as the Lord of the Manor, the King of All he Surveyed, the Master of his Craft, the Enthusiastic Student, the Ardent Practitioner. The beacon of creativity.

The beacon is, sadly for us – for all of us – gone now. The light remains; the resolute spirit, the gentle humor, the awesome dedication, the voluminous output.

If you wish to honor his memory, do good work. If you would follow in his footsteps, do your best work. If you wish, one day, to reach the same lofty plateau of excellence and individuality that he showed us all, never be satisfied with what you have done and always look forward to your next task, resolving to do better.

I miss him more than I can say. My heart goes out to everyone who feels the loss, everyone who was touched by his work, by his personality, by his creativity.

We’ve lost a publisher, a patron, an editor, a writer, a penciller, an inker, an illustrator, a colourist, a designer, a collector, a fan, a reader, a friend, and an inspiration.

If you feel the loss, now, wherever you are – create something. Write a story, draw a picture, create a costume, design a character, paste up an ad, sketch an outline.

If you can’t do that, encourage a struggling amateur, applaud a professional, buy a fanzine, or just write an enthusiastic letter to an editor of a comic book that you enjoy.

It’s the only tribute that would have mattered to him.

Goodbye Gene.


"Master Of Kung-Fu" illustration by Dave Sim (Marvel Fanfare #25, March 1986)
 

Howard Eugene Day (1951-1982) was the Canadian comic book artist best known for Marvel Comics' Master of Kung Fu and Star Wars series. Dave Sim credits Gene as his earliest and most influential mentor, and the inspiration for his own self-publishing efforts. In February 2009, the Shuster Awards received permission from Gene Day's widow, Gale, and brothers to name the annual Gene Day Award For Self-Publishing in his memory. Gene was inducted into the Shuster Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Unorthodox. Economic. Revenge.

MARGARET LISS:
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 Albatross #2, aka Dave Sim's notebook #2, which covers Cerebus #28 to 37, three times so far.  Most recently this past March in Does Cerebus Really Need To Go to PetuniaCon? It had 198 pages out of 200 pages scanned.

On page 83 there is a page by page summary for Cerebus #31:

Notebook #2, page 83
It looks like the crossed off item for page 15 is "Empty. Back to his own room" and it was replaced with 'Empty. Cerebus was suckered".

Viewing this outline against the finished issue, it appears that Dave inserted an extra page to go along with page 6's "take the costume. I should've burned it. Won't cause you any more problems."

The outline has page 9 as "and is promptly crushed by and two and one half tons of crescent-carved stone. Unorthodox. Economic. Revenge. Complicate matters, M'Lord. Cerebus wouldn't be a bit surprised?" Which is page 10 of Cerebus #31, or page 118 of High Society, to a tee.

High Society, page 118



Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Confectionary Wrap-up-- Books, One-off Books, and Floppy Books


Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings all!

With Paper to Pixel to Paper Again done (excepting a few addendum single-topic posts), I'll be returning to more round-up-style posts, addressing whatever's on my desk at the moment, or any thoughts or topics at the top of mind at the time of writing.

This is going to be one of the former, as there's a lot to get caught up on!

Jaka's Story, and the Other Un-Printed (But Restored) Books

Despite what you might infer from the August Previews catalogue listing, the restored Jaka's Story has not been printed, and will not be printed until all of the existing stock is exhausted. There was some confusion about this, by at least two people, if my email inbox can be believed, due to the way that Jaka's Story was listed.

The very short version—each month Diamond chooses two back-catalog books by each publisher to spotlight in Previews. For whatever reason, the last time that Jaka's Story was printed (way back in 2008 or 2009 or so by Lebonfon), someone at Diamond appended the words "New Printing" to the name of the title in the Diamond ordering system. Now that we're updating the books, that obviously could leave to some confusion.

Yes, the major restoration work on Jaka's Story is completed, but no, it won't go to print until the existing copies are sold. If you want to purchase copies for your store, or for some of your friends, or even for your local libraries, I hope you will! But it won't be the restored volume, at least not for a while.

The same goes for Minds, and for Church and State II, both of which are also restored and could be a week away from delivering to a printer when we get the word go. But when these titles are actually ready for a new printing, you'll hear about it here first, not in Previews.

I'll be putting together a graphic for AMOC sometime in the next week to help keep things straight. If in doubt, you can always check with me at cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com.

Cerebus the Hardcover!




Well, sort of...

We're very close to the finish line now for the very first official Aardvark/Vanaheim Cerebus hardcovers... with a print-run of one.

Readers with long memories will recall that at the tail end of last year, long-time Super Patron and aardvark enthusiast Tim F helped A/V out tremendously with a $20,000 donation that enabled A/V to, among other things, cover the massive printing bill for the new printing of Cerebus Volume One. In exchange for this, Dave offered, how about your favorite two Cerebus books, in hardcover, original art-wise?


And, slowly, that's what we've done!


The legwork for this has been accomplished in baby steps. Just finding a printer in San Diego that will deal with such short runs, and can follow basic instructions, was quite the challenge, to say the least. Even with the printer I ended up with, I had to go through three rounds of proofs before they would do what I asked from them in the first place: don't downsample the files, and use your tightest screen possible. 

But, as they say, third time's the charm, and now they're ready for the finished files for the interior. I've finished the layout, so save a few pages that will need some de-screening to keep the tiny little tone from creating moire, we're ready to go.

As you can see from the above, I also did some experimenting with how to approach the layout/bleed and gutter in Indesign this time around, as the job has some peculiar quirks. The printer won't be doing the binding--that will be handled by an outside bindery, which has specific needs as to the gutter area of the printing (needing at least .75" of space on the interior margin in order to get the binding nice and tight). This, along with the borders present (or not present) in the scans themselves, has led to some rather limited choices on my part in terms of cropping etc. 

While the layout work is fairly tedious, the design aspect is a nice diversion. Last week, I spent some time putting together some really rough cover "sketches" for different dust jacket options, to get a basis of discussion with Tim on what he's looking for in a dust jacket. No surprise, Chip Kidd was a big touchstone in our previous discussion, so I spent some time looking for images to "Chip Kidd-ify" for each book, that would still represent the interior fairly well.

As I said, these are extremely rough, but hopefully communicate some of the possibilities and are at least a jumping off point for further discussion. Hard to not get caught up in all the myriad possibilities when things are so open-ended--almost better to arbitrarily pick and image or set of criteria and then start working from there to arrive at the finished design, as the "polish" portion can really change things aesthetically.

Note that the below images are the full dust-jacket, spine, flaps, FC, BC, and all.





So, will there be more of these one-off hardcovers? It depends! Are you interested in one of your own, for your own favorite Cerebus book? Would you also like to be a mega-patron? Then contact Dave via phone (519/576-0610) or fax (519/576-0955) and let him know.

This entire process of restoring the books one by one, and keeping them in print, has been an extremely difficult one, one that involves lots of up-front work (and therefore upfront money) with much longer tails on the payouts. It's people like Tim F, and the Kickstarter supporters, who have made this work happen, week after week, month after month, and in return we're trying to give you all what it is you want, some value and some paper for your money. 

A deep thank-you to all of you who continue to make this happen.

Cerebus in Hell?

If you haven't noticed from the post above this, The Death of Cerebus in Hell? is now available for preorder from your local comic store! Get it now while the Hell? is hot!

Speaking of Cerebus in Hell?...



Are you currently looking at the above poster and thinking, "Gosh, that would make a SWELL Cerebus in Hell? cover!" Then we need your brain! We're putting together a very special CIHell? and we need your help/jokes/cover gag! Send any and all ideas to cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com or post them in the comments, and we'll take a look at all we receive in a future post.

Lastly, also related to Cerebus in Hell... do you have a beat-up copy of any issues of the original Official Marvel Handbook? Do you have a scanner? Oh goodie! I'm looking for 300 ppi at-size color scans of, say, ten random pages of your Official Marvel Handbook. Anyone up for it? For the first two people who come through, we'll work your name into the resulting issue.

More (much more) next week...

The Death of Cerebus in Hell? #1-- Demon Hordes Way Below Blue Book, the Last Wednesday of Every Month!

Order at your Local Comics Shop now! Diamond Order Code: SEP171028

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Prepare To Breathe Your Last... Duck!

Cerebus Meets Howard the Duck
(BEM #34, 1981)
by Dave Sim

RUSSELL WILLIS:
(from the From Under The Stairs blog, 23 November 2012)
BEM has some great interior illustrations, but there's no time to show them all... but how about this one by Dave Sim? Love it! By 1981 Howard the Duck had become my favourite comic (I was still filling in gaps in my collection as many of them weren’t distributed in the UK). HTD #24 was a comic I read and re-read, and I would imagine would be my choice for my favourite Marvel comic ever. Steve Gerber became the first comics writer whose comics I’d buy on the name alone. In fact, I think he was the first writer, other than Stan Lee, to have his name splashed on a Marvel cover as a purchasing incentive (Omega the Unknown #9). I'd seen Cerebus but it was expensive and although I loved the artwork, I didn't get into it at the time (I now have a whole shelf with all the "telephone books"). But it was great to see this illustration in BEM #34 from 1981. Hope you like it too!

Russell Willis's interview with BEM Editor, Martin Lock, in 2012:

Monday, 18 September 2017

On Sale 35 Years Ago: Cerebus #42

Cerebus #42
Art by Dave Sim

DAVE SIM:
This, I think, is a good cover. All of the individual elements work (except the free-pour physics) and add up to a strong overall image.

Diamond Order Code: OCT140536

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Pressed Aardvark #3: 1991 to 1995

1980-83 | 1984-90 | 1991-95 | 1996-97 | 2005-09

PAUL SLADE:
I love researching bizarre stories from America’s past, so a few years ago I treated myself to a subscription to newspapers.com. This gives me access to a huge searchable database of old US newspapers – the oldest dating back to the 1700s. On a whim the other night, I plugged the word “Cerebus” into the site’s excellent search engine, selected the years 1978-2017, and started rootling through everything that came up. I’m pulling out only the most noteworthy items here, of course. This time round, we’ll be covering the years 1991 to 1995, a period which saw the publication of Cerebus 142–201. In terms of the phone books, that’s Melmoth, Flight, Women and Reads.

The Observer (England), January 13, 1991.

Cerebus is given a paragraph in the “What to Read” round-up running alongside this piece, but it’s the article’s headline I found most striking.

Even in a decade of truly awful headlines on comics articles – mostly of the “Zap! Pow! Comics aren’t just for kids any more!” variety – this one manages to distinguish itself. Pretty clearly, the sub-editor responsible found he’d filled only two of the three decks required, and opted to fix this problem simply by adding “Aarrgh!” at the end.

I don’t know why we don’t see this technique deployed by other headline writers, really. Here’s just a few of the opportunities they’ve missed:

*****

St Louis Post-Dispatch, April 5, 1992.

Dave and Gerhard were doing an American tour in 1992, and this piece represents the many city papers which gave them a story as they roamed round the country. Each one gives its readers the usual Cerebus 101 information, which it would be tedious to repeat here. But many also included a few quotes from Dave, and you’ll find my selection of the most interesting ones below.

The pics I’ve added after these quotes come from June 4’s Star Tribune and July 7’s Indianapolis Star respectively.

Dave on refusing to deal with corporate publishers:
“If you can do something exactly the way you want, you’re gonna have more fun.” – Star Tribune, June 4, 1992.

“One of the problems with co-operating with a corporation is that new pressures are brought in. They want changes in the characters.” – Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1992.

“I basically don’t want to deal with those people.” – St Louis Post-Dispatch, April 5, 1992.

“With any contract, I would only get 10 per cent of the money. Gerhard and I make much more doing it this way than we could at any large company. Here, once our expenses are covered, the rest is ours.” – Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1992.

Dave on Cerebus himself:
“Loathsome, reprehensible, self-absorbed, self-centred, greedy and a raging alcoholic.” – Indianapolis Star, July 7, 1992.

“I think everybody knows someone like Cerebus. Someone who you wish wasn’t your friend, who makes you so mad, you swear you’ll never speak to him again, and then he does something unexpectedly nice and you can’t help liking him.” – St Louis Post-Dispatch, April 5, 1992.

Dave on his audience:
“With our small, dedicated audience, we can take chances. In fact, they demand it. It’s much more artistically satisfying.” – Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1992.

“I’m comfortable having a specific audience to write to. I like the idea that my audience doesn’t see what I do as controversial. […] Most of them are people who gave up on comics.” – South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 3, 1992.

“Most of them started reading it when they were 17 or 18, and a lot of them are in their late 20s or early 30s by this point.” – Indianapolis Star, July 7, 1992.

Dave on the importance of ambiguity:
“Wilde said, ‘An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable manner of style’. You quickly get to the point where all your characters are two-dimensional, good or bad.” – Star Tribune, June 4, 1992.

“There are a lot of different interpretations of the story. Not everyone sees the same characters as good or bad, rulers or followers. I meant it to be that way. I find life to be universally ambiguous.” – Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1992.

Dave on resisting the temptations of merchandising:
“I want the book to stand on its own for the art and writing, not as a trinket. […] As soon as you go into merchandising, everyone nods sagely and says ‘Ah, now we know why you are doing it’.” – South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 3, 1992.

Dave on the early days of Cerebus:
“I tried to do Cerebus so it looked like the whole issue was drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith except Cerebus, who I wanted to look like he was drawn by Chuck Jones. Because I thought that hadn’t been played with. When they were doing Howard The Duck, Howard was always rendered with the same kind of texture as everybody else.” - St Louis Post-Dispatch, April 5, 1992.

Dave on what he’ll do after completing Cerebus:
“You shouldn’t ask a prisoner halfway through a 26-year prison term what he plans to do when he gets out.” – St Louis Post-Dispatch, April 5, 1992.

“I will continue to do comic books. I’ll just do stories as they occur to me. Basically I’m still 16 years old at heart. I mean, this is how I used to spend my summer vacations.” – Indianapolis Star, July 7, 1992.

Dave on the numbers:
No direct quotes here, but Dave was presumably the source for each paper’s estimate of Cerebus’s circulation. The Indianapolis Star and the Star Tribune both put this figure at 20,000 copies a month, while the South Florida Sun Sentinel opts for 18,000-19,000. The Star Tribune adds that he was then getting 400 to 500 readers’ letters per month, about 20% of them from women. 

 

*****

Lansing State Journal (Michigan), May 4, 1992.

Another “not just for kids anymore” article, and another god-awful headline to go with it. The picture shows Michigan State University librarian Randall Scott with a few selections from the library’s collection of 70,000 comics.

Also quoted is an MSU graduate student called Peter Coogan, who planned to write his thesis on superhero comics. “Every time a new medium comes about, people frequently think it’s bad for other people,” he points out. “Novels, films and jazz all started out as disreputable art forms. Comics did the same thing. Gradually, they all get accepted and are now being studied academically.”

Naming Cerebus as “the best comic being produced”, Coogan continues: “It’s basically for adults and quite serious. It deals with big issues – religion, politics, rape.”

*****

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 9, 1995.

The occasion here was Dave’s Pittsburgh stop in 1995’s Spirits of Independence tour, where he and Gerhard appeared with fellow self-publishers Don Simpson, Steve Bissette, Jim Valentino, Paul Pope and David Lapham.

Comparing the tour (a little optimistically) to Lollapalooza, the Post-Gazette calls it “a travelling circus of today’s hottest and most relevant self-publishing cartoonists”. Dave, it adds, “is believed to be a very wealthy man after nearly two decades of doing things his way”.

Pausing only to note a hollow laugh from the direction of Kitchener, we come to the story’s direct quotes. “It’s taken a while for the idea to sink in with the creative community,” Dave says of self publishing. “Certainly the publishers work hard to make comic publishing look like brain surgery. But if you can balance a checkbook, you can publish your own comics. It isn’t that much different.

“As long as you’re not stupid or greedy and keep your expectations modest, it’s pretty much risk-free at this point. […] Here’s the solicitation. You send it to the distributor who puts it in his catalog. Retailers order this many. The distributor sends you a purchase order. You tell the printer that many. You send the comics to the distributor. Thirty days later he pays you. You pay the printer and you do it again. Simple.”

How much of that model would still work today I have no idea. Back in 1995, though, Steve Bissette was just as keen to promote the idea. “When I worked on Swamp Thing for DC, at its peak it sold 65,000,” he says. “But when you’re working for a company like DC or Marvel, the money you earn is paying for editors, lawyers, book keepers and the leather covers on the seat of the helicopter owned by the executives. The barest amount of money is trickling down to you.

“ But I don’t resent it anymore. That’s the ecology of business. I learned their jobs; they can never learn my job. They can never produce a comic book. So who’s at a disadvantage?”

*****

South Florida Sun Sentinel, December 7, 1995.

An extract here from a column listing the day’s upcoming events online – don’t ask me – and an amusingly inaccurate description of Dave. I do hope some eager parent logged on with little Johnny in her lap and that both were suitably baffled by the result.

*****

 
Observer (England), December 24, 1995.

The Observer got a lot of letters responding to its December 10 “100 Women Who Shook The World” article. Sean Goldithorpe’s contribution was this balancing list of equally remarkable men .

Ranked at number 63, he places one “Dave Sim (creator of graphic book Cerebus)”. This puts our hero just 58 places behind Jesus Christ and only 40 behind William Shakespeare. Among those left eating Dave’s dust, we find Henry Ford (73), Ernest Hemingway (84) and all three Marx Brothers (sharing number 99).


For more of Paul Slade’s writing – including a history of Reg Smythe’s Andy Capp strip and a look back at some notable comic book lawsuits – visit PlanetSlade.com.