Saturday, 5 October 2019

Steve Peters Week II: Cerebus in Steve Peters Life

Hi, Everybody!

Please Hold For Dave Sim is taking a bit longer to load than I thought, so you'll get it tomorrow.

In it's place, we continue Steve Peters Week II:

Friend to the Blog: Steve Peters is running a new KickStarter to fund his latest project: Parallel Comicverses #1, which has a new story in it, WRITTEN BY DAVE SIM! And to celebrate, I'm doing STEVE PETERS WEEK II!

This time, Cerebus in Steve Peters Life

1. How did you discover Cerebus and how long did you read it?

I seem to recall seeing it at my local comic shop in the early '80's, and maybe I leafed through it but decided I couldn't figure out what was going on. Incidentally, I also remember seeing Beanworld #1, a book that Dave strongly supported, and thinking it was stupid and too simplistically drawn. But my best friend David, who eventually wound up creating Rabbit Hell comics with me, bought a copy and lent it to me, and I was immediately hooked. I went back and bought Beanworld #1 and never missed an issue from then on.

Getting back to Cerebus, I didn't start reading it 'til I was working at another comic shop in the summer of 1987. I had become aware of the phone book reprints, so I figured I could afford to buy 10 or 12 back issues to get a sense of the story, and if I liked it I could buy the phone books. This was during the time of Church and State II, fun stuff, and I liked it right away. I remember reading them on the train ride home. I got to Astoria's rape scene, and I was so shocked and appalled that I strongly felt the urge to stop reading the book right there and then. But I was too intrigued at that point.

By the time I bought the phone books I was very much hooked. When Dave spoke as himself to the audience in Reads, and he was entering some very uncharted waters at that point, I wrote him a postcard cheering him on, saying that I was "one audience member who would not leave his seat 'til the show was over!". That quote ended up in Reads, as the "Dave" character hears snippets of what the audience members are saying/writing to him. I stayed true to my word and stuck with Cerebus. And even now, with Cerebus In Hell?, though the humor in most issues eludes me.

2. How has your own creativity/comics reading been influenced by Cerebus?

So many ways it's hard to think of them all. Certainly comics reading-wise, I was willing to try out anything that Dave recommended. Bone being the most successful example---I picked up the first 6 issues or so after the Cerebus preview, and stuck with it for the whole run. And others like Rob Walton, Gary Spencer Millidge, and Patty Breen who wrote Kiss and Tell, which I ended up illustrating parts of after becoming aware of it through Cerebus. Some of my occasional comics collaborators are "good and faithful Cerebites"---such as Max Ink, Lee Thacker, and Brian Payne.

My first published comic book page was in Cerebus (issue 146); it was intended as a "Single Page", which Dave had been running in his bi-weekly Cerebus reprints. Dave wrote me saying his bi-weeklies were booked solid, but since I put Cerebus in it and he thought his readers would enjoy it, would I mind if he ran it in Cerebus instead for no pay (he had been offering $100 dollars for every Single Page published)? You're going to put me in Cerebus? Was I about to say no to that, even if my joke didn't really make sense because it was all about being in the back of a reprint book? So my first published page was sandwiched between Sim and Gerhard art in the front and a Richard Corben preview in the back. Not too shabby! And of course being published in Cerebus gave me the inspiration and momentum to keep moving forward and produce more comics. It wouldn't be long before I was cranking out Rabbit Hell comics with my friend David.

I was always impressed by the way Dave would endlessly experiment with lettering and page and panel design. I suppose if you're turning out hundreds and hundreds of pages, you need to keep trying different things just to keep it fresh. Dave tried so many different things that I think artists will be able to keep going back to the Cerebus well for years to come for ideas on layout and design and inking and expressive lettering and so many other little details.
Dave and Ger's formal experiments with storytelling are also fascinating. An issue might cover a few second's time or many years. Years might pass between issues.

3. What is your favorite scene or sequence from Cerebus?

I think I'd prefer to talk about a couple of moments that were memorable for me. I'd become a regular Cerebus reader and was picking it up every month and bringing them back to my college apartment to read. Cerebus had been on the Moon for a few issues, and the Judge had been blathering away on a wide range of subjects that were somewhat interesting, but I was becoming slightly less bored than Cerebus, waiting for something to happen. After a few months of this, it seemed pretty obvious that nothing WAS going to happen. For whatever reason, I had failed to notice I was reading the final issue of Church and State II (in those days Dave used to announce what issues corresponded to each book, sometimes a few books in advance). For all I knew, all this yammering from the Judge was going to go on for several more issues. I came to end of the story and the Judge abruptly finished his monologue and Cerebus was dumped back in Iest, completely alone. I was lying on my bed alone in my college apartment, feeling much like Cerebus, confused and bewildered that it had all come to an end so abruptly, and where did everybody in Iest go?

The other was the breaking-down-the-door scene in Jaka's Story. I was seeing my first-ever girlfriend who I'd gotten together with in 1988. We had a lot of things in common, but comics wasn't one of them (though she was a big fan of Roy Lichtenstein). I had taken a train to see her (we were doing the semi-long distance thing after college ended), and had brought some new comics to read while on the train and while waiting for her to come pick me up. I'd just finished the issue with the door-breaking-down scene. I felt like someone had just punched me in the chest and knocked the air out of me. Once again, confused and bewildered. My girlfriend picked me up right after I finished it, and I was still in shock. I tried to tell her that a comic I had just read had really thrown me for a loop, but couldn't figure out how to explain HOW. Comics wasn't a language that we shared, so I just kept silent.

4. Would you recommend others to read Cerebus, and if so why?

For creative people, I would recommend it for the reasons I outlined in #2. There is so much to learn from and be inspired by.

I recommend it for comics historians who have a good knowledge of the time period during which it came out (or people who read comics avidly during that time), because Dave was constantly lampooning the comics of the day. I worry that those jokes haven't aged well for younger folks who aren't as familiar.

It's hard to recommend it to folks who don't fall into those two categories because it's a big commitment. I know that the entire series is available digitally for $99 or something like that, but I can't recommend digital because I feel like we still don't have enough data on the health effects of staring at screens your whole life. As with Lone Wolf and Cub, another herculean accomplishment, it's going to cost you a bit to get them all.

I would recommend someone interested in Cerebus ask folks who've already read it what book they should start with that suits their personality. I once read Dave say that Guys was a good introductory book for drinkers, and damned if that wasn't true with an alcoholic friend of mine. He borrowed Guys, then started devouring the rest of the series. Some say you should start with the first book and read them in order, but Dave got much better later on. Some love the book but get turned off after two thirds or half of it. Dave is not a controversial figure for no reason, so expect that you may well reach a point at which you feel you can't go any further. Here there be dragons!

Thanks Steve!
So, when  I talked to Dave  mentioned a couple of things I gotta Rigmarole:

Form & Void is OUT OF PRINT (and apparently going for a hundred bucks on Amazon...) BUT, Diamond has supposedly found some copies in the warehouse, so if you want it, tell your LCS you want it.

I don't have exact numbers (as Diamond won't let Dave tell me them,) but the Cerebus in Hell? issues that are ALMOST Sold Out are:
Sim City: That Issue After
Iron Manticore

And then the issues that are Low Stock and will soon be Almost Sold Out:
Fornicators Inc.
Canadian Vark
And then the rest of the Rigamarole:
Rob Walton is doing a Ragmop Kickstarter too. (Where's HIS week here on AMOC?!?)
Vark Wars T-Shirt. Vark Wars T-shirt. Vark Wars T-shirt.
Vark Thing.

Next Time: Please Hold, I swear...

No comments: