Thursday, 10 January 2019

The Artist and the Princess


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.

The last time we saw Dave Sim's notebook #22 was way back in July of 2017 in Drunk Attic. The notebook covers Cerebus #186 to #201, and of the 71 pages of it scanned, it is mainly walls of text. Like page 43:

Notebook #22, page 43
Yes, there is a little Cerebus head looking up, but the text? That is a discussion between Jaka and Mr Zulli from Cerebus #193, page 14:

The text  from Minds, page 140
Dave has varied the text slightly from the finished text in the notebook. The text in the notebook continues for several more pages, and continues the discussion between the princess and the artist.


Slumbering Agartha said...

I love the way Dave shaped and developed Lord Julius by allowing us to see him through the eyes and thoughts of other characters (in this case, Jaka), yielding someone far more in-depth, nuanced and layered than a mere Groucho parody.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

That’s some friggin erudite characters right there.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...


Tony Dunlop said...

It's been a while since I've read "Minds," but how sure can we be that this is actual, verbatim dialogue and not some character's (including Dave Sim, of course, who became a character in the storyline while simultaneously remaining its creator) recollection, reconstruction, or "inspired by actual events" fictionalization of this encounter?

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...


"Unreliable Narrators" that's on the list of "motifs" for my re-read for 2019.


Sean R said...

Yes, but I have the same question (leading question maybe) about this text sequence as I do about the C + S II narrative of the ascension. WHO is the narrator? (And yes, I think there's an answer to both, and it may be the same answer).

Tony again said...

And don't forget the narrator at the beginning of "Flight..."

Hmm, I may need to dig out my longbox with the "Cerebi" in them as Matt "slow-blogs" his re-read.

Slumbering Agartha said...

Tony said: "including Dave Sim, of course, who became a character in the storyline..."

I searched Amoc and was surprised to see that there has not been a post regarding Dave the character.

al roney said...

The fact that Dave became an actual character in the book was worse (for me) than 186 as far as radical turns went in Cerebus.

When Dave made those appearances in his own book, his comment in the letter pages a few years (months?) earlier about Brian Bolland's covers for Animal Man made complete sense.

Paraphrasing: Dave said how he wanted/wished/hoped/regretted Brian Bolland's (magnificent) covers for Animal Man. To me this indicated that he was familiar with the book, and likely with the story contained therein...

The BIG problem? Dave had the idea to break the fourth wall and appear in his own comic for a long, long time...

...but Grant Morrison beat him the punch in Animal Man. Ugh.

I couldn't help but think during the "Cerebus meets Dave" sequence, "Great idea! But I've seen this before..."

I've no doubt that Dave had the idea/plan/script in his head and plotted long before Animal Man, but that book hit the stands first.

If ya didn't read Animal Man at the time, or prior, I'm sure Dave's appearance in Cerebus made a bigger, badder impact (or at least made more for a more deeply head-scratching moment).

I just felt bad for Dave when I read Animal Man - knowing he had the idea in his pocket for awhile, and it appeared first in a lesser book a good one nonetheless - Animal's first 25 issues are a "MUST READ"!).

Ah, it goes.

Slumbering Agartha said...


Wow. Food for thought, eh?

I had no idea that Animal Man even existed, but then Cerebus was the only comic I truly invested in. I would occasionally buy some Drawn and Quarterly titles (thanks to Dave mentioning Seth, Chester Brown and Joe Matt in his various notes and letters) if I saw something interesting (loved Peepshow) while going to pick up my copy of Cerebus. At any rate, I didn't realize that Grant Morrison was held in such high regard as a writer (I googled him after reading your comment), so I'm eager to check him out now. That said, from what I've read (I was able to find the full exchanged between fourth-wall Grant and Animal Man), I will agree with you that Animal Man is the "lesser book", and I think the intrigue Dave created with his own fourth wall excursions was palpable, enough so that the release date is, in my opinion, a non issue. Even if Dave flat-out was inspired by Grant's idea, it would be more like the Beatles being inspired by 40's and 50's blues and rock; it's the same chords, but the lyrics and voices add up to something far greater than the sum of influences. At any rate, it would be interesting to know more about this; if Grant and Dave were aware of each other doing this; what the true sources were; what kinds of dialogues they shared, if any, on the subject.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

O you gotta know Grant Morrison. His Doom Patrol run is one of my favorite comics ever, chock-full of great surreal ideas.

Slumbering Agartha said...

Eolake - thanks for the recommendation. Surreal ideas are the best kind. Definitely checking it out.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

By synchronicity, I’m just watching the move Split, and now I’m wondering if it was inspired by Doom Patrol. One of Morrison’s best characters there is Crazy Jane, who was molested as child and has many personalities, each of which have their own superpower. (I so wish it was me who came up with that.)

Jane, on a mission, walks through a plate glass window into a Starbucks, and Robotman follows her and explains to the nervous public: “It’s OK, she’s a superhero”.

JLH said...


Interestingly, I was watching Split the other day and it occurred to me that if it starred the Roach, that would be an amusing parody.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

LOL. “Wolveroach and Punisherroach are talking about me all the time, they think I’m stupid...”

al roney said...


Part of the thing was that this was the first time (at least that I could remember) when a writer/artist (Grant/Dave) revealed themselves to their characters and played an active role in the storyline.

It was if God himself showed up and said "Okay, puppets - I'm the one who is messing with ya and you really don't have any control at all - and, by the way, you're not REAL".

But yeah, for me, Dave's reveal was disappointing because I had seen it before in Animal Man. More disappointing was that I didn't see it in Cerebus first - a book I had MUCH more investment in.

Had Morrison done the same thing AFTER Dave I would have screamed "Rip Off!", but Dave, at least at the time, had things plotted pretty far in advance and I don't think his Animal Man reference was just a comment about Bolland's covers.

Although, thinking on it some more - maybe Dave was planting a clue by referencing Animal Man as sort of a "wait until you see what happens in Cerebus, when I show up."

Hmm, maybe I'll ask him someday (although the last, first and only time I spoke to Dave (briefly) was during the '92 tour.

Maybe Jeff S. can ask him? LOL.

Jeff said...

Al, I know you were making fun of me, but I think it would be a good discussion item for "Please Hold For Dave Sim". Matt?

Sean R said...

For the (as far as I can tease out) origins of Dave's self-insertion, see my essay in the restored MINDS. Hint: you're hunting in the wrong decade!

al roney said...

@Jeff - Why would you think I'm making fun of you? You obviously have (much) more contact with Dave than I do, or ever will.

Sheesh, I ain't Damian dude.

And yes, it would be good to hear what Dave has to say about it on a "Please Hold For Dave Sim" segment.

@Sean - Have not read it yet, but my guess is/was that Dave was planning his, um, insertion, long before Morrison did it with/to Animal Man.

I also don't go to comic shops, so I can never find the remastered Cerebi anywhere...ugh.

Jeff said...

Al, I thought you were making fun of me because of the "lol" that followed your comment about me. I'm starting to vaguely learn that people (especially women) use "lol" in a variety of ways. Which, frankly, annoys me. But, I'm old and cranky.

As to getting the remastered volumes, you could go online to several different excellent comic book shops and order the book/s to be shipped to you. I recommend Escape Pod Comics, in Huntington, New York. (As an aside, they have impeccable service. I once ordered a remastered volume and it arrived damaged by the P.O. I called to order another copy and the owner sent me a replacement that he personally packaged in nuclear bomb-proof packaging, free gratis, and, when I told him I would send back the damaged copy, he told me to keep it.)

Escape Pod

Can't get much better.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Here in UK, I use Page 45. (Actually I learned about them from Cerebus, I think.)

Some folks use LOL as “Lots of Love”... I just learned that from the excellent and funny series Alpha House on Prime. Warmly recommended. (Written by Gary Trudeau, of Doonesbury.)

Tony again said...

"I also don't go to comic shops, so I can never find the remastered Cerebi anywhere...ugh."

I got mine by using the link in the right margin of this very Web site: