Wednesday, 22 November 2017

What I want to tell Cerebus

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 will be taking one  week off from Mick and Keef, and will return next week to the duo who married the Buttock sisters so their father the king would make bail for them. This week is a bit something different. Other than pages from the notebook, how about some pictures of the notebooks themselves? When I started scanning them in 2005 my camera was a . . .potato? I can't remember, all I know is I took only a few pictures of the notebooks themselves, instead just focusing on scanning all those pages.

First up is a picture of notebook 3, albatross 4 and albatross 5:

Three Notebooks
Dave would often send a couple notebooks at a time, just in case something happened to them while in transit, only a couple would be . . .damaged or . . .lost.

Notebook 20
On the top is a small post-it on which Dave would write down which issues he thought the notebook had info on. Most of the time he was correct. Sometimes however, there was a little bit of overlap. I'd get 10 pages into the notebook and find some info on an issue that was in a previous notebook. Or twenty pages before the end of a notebook, there'd be a page or two on an issue that was to be in the next notebook.

Notebooks 23 to 25
The above picture has a bit better resolution in the potato I was previously using to take pictures.  The small post-it notes that Dave put on each notebook cover are easier to see in the above picture.
I also took a couple of pictures of the pages of the notebooks, as it just fascinated me how these pages were full with almost completed comic book pages - add some Gerhard backgrounds and presto:

Interior pages: page 6 and 7 of Notebook #29 (click picture for a larger view)
Notebook #29's page six was already featured in an installment, Fall and the River. One of the few times I just opened the notebook pages and stared in wonder at it. I was like: no way! I had to get the actual issues and compare them.

Interior page: page 201 of Notebook #29
And the last notebooks which Dave sent to me:

The Last Notebooks I Received
Those notebooks are: Notebook #30 "Mind Rehearsal" or "What I want to tell Cerebus" (small green), notebook #31 (small red), notebook #32 and notebook #33 (school notebooks). For some reason that escapes me (and my quick search through our correspondence), Dave sent those notebooks to me last, instead of the actual last notebook, notebook #36.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

What amazes me about some of these notebooks is how close to the finished, published, art they obtain. I mean, what level of diligence, obsession, down-the-rabbit-hole, do you have to get to where you're willing to, essentially, draw and ink each page *twice*?

Of course, knowing Dave (as I have come to know him over the last 13 or so years), I realize that he has a penchant for being diligent and obsessive (at least, when it comes to Cerebus), and he has no fear, whatsoever, of rabbit holes.

Still, did repeating a large percentage of Cerebus drawings contribute to his wrist problem (and deprive us of more brilliant art?) Inquiring minds wish to know...