Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Cerebus in Hell Contest--the Handbook of Hell?

Sean Michael Robinson:


After a long Friday and Monday morning doing prepress for the first issue of You Don't Know Jack! (details coming next week...), I spent the first chunk of my Tuesday morning work time putting together a road map and monthly schedule for the next issues of Cerebus In Hell?

As I've mentioned before, although the online strip ended its run at the end of March, Dave never stopped producing strips, and that constant production of between seven and ten strips a week has meant that we continue to gain lead time for the series. In fact, there's currently material enough to project out as far as May of 2019. That's right, that sequence of "Cerebus Woman" you got a peek at on Friday will be published nineteen months from now, and not a day sooner.

That being said, the need for new material continues, and we continue to look for different books, and even different formats, to try on for size.

Which brings us to the current contest—

The Handbook of Hell?

The much-loved and equally maligned Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe was first published in 1983. The massive undertaking was initiated by Jim Shooter, who claimed baseball card stats as his inspiration—but I think a more obvious inspiration would be the current exploding popularity of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and other table-top role-playing and adventure games. Stats were everywhere.

And inside OFOTMU, it's definitely the minutiae that dominate.

The majority of the writing was done by the incredibly disciplined and long-suffering Mark Gruenwald, who managed to make semi-coherent narratives out of several decades of scattershot monthly storytelling.

Entries fall into a few broad categories.

Take it away, Wikipedia--
The OHOTMU detailed the more significant characters, items and locations in the Marvel Universe, itemizing them into individual entries. Individual entries usually consisted of:
  • A frontal full-body view of the character.
  • Prose text describing the character's origin, powers, and other abilities and unique traits, as well as "statistics" such as place of birth, former aliases, height, weight, hair and eye color and so forth. The original edition opted only to describe the "origins" of characters (how they acquired their powers), instead focusing heavily on detailed explanations for how those powers functioned. In the Book of the Dead supplement, however, the handbook provided entire "histories" for the deceased characters, a trend which was then adopted for the main body of the Deluxe Edition, allowing the entire life and career of the characters to be covered. Major important pieces of equipment were also given technical illustrations with breakdowns of their functions and features.
  • Example images of the character in action, taken directly from the comics themselves.

And in a move that must have delighted me as a prepubescent but I now find mostly hilarious, individual entries are also reserved for, ahem, important weapons, locations, vehicles, pretty much anything that can be viewed in a neato exploded view with lots of tech speak jutting out from it.

So, yes, the plan is to write a Handbook of Hell? , twenty (or so!) entries about assorted random characters/background characters/locations/objects/groups of people/etc. These will be primarily funny, NOT really long recitations of their lives as depicted in Cerebus in Hell? unless you're a comic genius who can make such a thing funny. Deviating from the normal course of things, in addition to the normal Dore Inferno illustrations, we'll also (most likely) be illustrating the technical objects with original drawings by myself or Benjamin (or, hey, stolen from somewhere and doctored up a bit). Just to give you an idea of where we are on this, the currently-written "object" entries include "The Whore of Babylon's Waffle Maker", lovingly labeled with the least technical language ever committed to paper. 

Want to participate? Write your entry and email it to cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com. Make me laugh (yes, this is Dave's criteria for acceptance--that it makes me laugh...) and we'll slot it into the issue! You'll receive a by-line in the issue and a cool $25.00 for your trouble.

For instance—see a random background Inferno figure who clearly has a story to tell? Give 'em an entry!

Like, say... that guy!

No, no, THAT guy!

I hope that some of the regular AMOC readers who also happen to be very fine writers will take a crack at putting together a few entries. This could end up being the strangest issue of the book yet, and let me tell you, as one of the three people who's read every single strip, that's saying a lot.

Any questions about the contest? Hit me up in the comments! And good luck!

Special thanks to Cerebus fan David Branning for the copious OHOTMU scans! It's much appreciated!


For entries about individual characters or organizations, i.e. the really text-dense ones, I'd recommend a length of somewhere between 900 and no more than 1,200 words. For the other types of entries, take a look at the samples above for some idea of what we're looking for!

Edit Number Dos:

Can anyone name the (pretty significant) tie that OHOTMU has to Cerebus? Hint--the answer is on the credits page above! 


Gary Boyarski said...

Is it safe to assume that Dave will be doing a few entries as well? Are there any citizens of Hell? That would be considered "off limits, Dave's called dibs on" etc.? I'm willing to give it a go. I'll have to look up the online strips for reference though, living in Hell's Backyard means I don't get out often enough to get the print comics.

Travis Pelkie said...

OOh, yeah, I will be looking at this over the next week. Sounds like fun. So much fun that I won't call y'all out on your Marvel bias and tacit dissing of the DC Who's Who volumes ;)

Travis Pelkie said...

Holy crap, in the time it took me to go to a different window on my computer, I forgot the thing I was going to make a note about for this. ARGH!

Sean R said...

Hey Gary!

The only entries already "dibs"ed are the Whore of Babylon's Waffle Maker and the "Frozen in Ice" guy. All else is fair game. Though I'd recommend if you take one of the major characters that you a. take a unique tack with it and b. keep in mind other people might be submitting for the same one :)

I'll run an update every few weeks to let everyone know how it's going, if this proves to be popular! At the moment no one's banging down the door :)


I never read many DC comics with the exception of a random sampling of George Perez, John Byrne, some classic Swan Superman Jimmy Olson reprint collections and some random Kirby (4TH World, Komandi). So the fault's all mine! Were the Who's Who better/worse/more entertaining than their Marvel counterparts?

Sean R said...

Just added this to the body of the text:

For entries about individual characters or organizations, i.e. the really text-dense ones, I'd recommend a length of somewhere between 900 and no more than 1,200 words. For the other types of entries, take a look at the samples above for some idea of what we're looking for!

Tony Dunlop said...

"Can anyone name the (pretty significant) tie that OHOTMU has to Cerebus? Hint--the answer is on the credits page above!"

Not unless it's Joe Rubinstein, credited as "inker/embellisher." Does that mean he inked every drawing in that series? As we say here on the interwebs: wow just wow. Mr. Rubinstein, of course, inked one of the "Swords" back-up stories, but that seems borderline tangential, not "pretty significant," so I'm thinking that's not it.

Sean R said...

It's it :)

Travis Pelkie said...

Ah, I missed out on beating Tony to the punch!

Sean, it's obvious you didn't read much DC. It's Jimmy Olsen, and Kamandi. I sneer at your misspellings! ;) jk

Well, my pal at the Atomic Junk Shop, John Trumbull, posted a page from Who's Who when Len Wein died (scroll down some here: http://atomicjunkshop.com/in-memory-of-len-wein-1948-2017/ ), and pointed out that the Arkham Asylum entry was a stream-of-consciousness story that Wein came up with, that was later the basis for the Morrison/McKean Arkham Asylum GN. I think it's a decent representation of the series.

And this cover of the recent Image series Sex also apes the DC version (more than the Marvel Handbook, I think): https://www.comics.org/issue/1464277/cover/4/

But I think they were probably essentially the same.

Sean R said...

"Significant" all being relative. Joe R was one of four artists not named Dave Sim to actually draw Cerebus for a canon Cerebus story. Albeit over dave's roughs.

Hm. Five artists?

Feel free to name these as well :) more no-prizes await!

And yes, Joe R did the entire series with a few minor exceptions! What s feat!

Anonymous said...

Dave Sim, Gerhard S., Joe Rubinstein, Marshall Rodgers, Barry Windsor Smith, with help from Deni Loubert and Karen McKiel.

My understanding is that Ms. Loubert helped Mr. Rodgers a lot.


Travis Pelkie said...

Well, did Ger actually draw Cerebus the character? Which is what I think Sean is saying?

Did Eisner draw Cerebus at all in the Jam story?

Sean R said...

Jeff is 3/5 :) Travis- no and no!

Lee Thacker said...

I'm thinking BWS (not really a 'canon' Cerebus story though0, Frank Thorne (although it was a cover and not a story), Joe Rubenstein and Gene Day? Oh, I give up!

Cerebus Restoration said...

Lee-- Gene Day is #4! Nice work. BTW, IIRC Dave considers(ed?) BWS's story to be canon (his prerogative!) I wouldn't consider the Thorne cover since it's a cover (and pin-up in the second issue...) and not a story.

The debatable #5 depends on your definition of "canon" and how much of a literalist you are. It's not literally canon as it's not literally Cerebus in the story, but it looks and talks like him, and Dave designated the story as "high iconic" in the Yahoo discussion boards more then a decade back... It's probably, by sales, the second (?) most-popular Cerebus appearance ever...

Lee Thacker said...

Of course! The 'Toddmeister' (Mr McFarlane, that is)...

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Colleen Doran also co-drew a "Cerebus Jam" story, albeit not published in Cerebus Jam.

One thing that always irked me about the Marvel handbook was that it didn't include the information about who created the characters. If I recall correctly, the DC handbook did do that.

-- Damian

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Is the Will Eisner "Cerebus Jam" story not canon?

-- Damian

Sean R said...

Hey Damian! In both those jam pieces Dave drew and inked the Cerebus figures. :)

Sean R said...

Imho the only two really credible non-Dave Cerebi are Gene Day's and the ... cartoonist who's name is scaling me who drew two "tryout " pages reworking two pages from issue two, back a few years ago. Those were fantastic! And of course abWS's Cerebus is great great great, but it's very BWS and not really connected to Dave's rendition, no matter how much of the rendering style Dave stole later :) All IMHO of course!

Hm. Now who was that other mysterious cartoonist? I believe he'd done some work for Fanta...

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Sean R.: Ah, it seems I missed your criterion of the challenge; Travis P. above was correct. Was the Anything Goes story canon?

-- Damian

Tony again said...

Was that the story with Harlan Ellison in a bathrobe? Or was that one in Epic?

Travis Pelkie said...

IIRC, the Anything Goes story (which was Harlan Ellison in a bathrobe, I do believe) was drawn by Dave but the cover was Cerebus by Neal Adams.