Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Aardvark Comment: Adam Beechen Part the one from the end of last month...

Hi, Everybody!

If you need some CGCed Cerebus, well, buddy, David Birdsong is your Huckleberry:
CEREBUS #100 (1987) Dave Sim Aardvark-Vanaheim CGC 9.6

CEREBUS #25 by Dave Sim CGC 9.2

CEREBUS #106 by Dave Sim CGC 9.0

I saw someone on the facebook page mention they were looking for a copy of 100. Sorry, can't remember the name.
Spawn #10 Kickstarter, has ended. But, much like the Remastered Cerebus #1, AND You Don't Know Jack, there's a second chance IndieGoGo. (But the last day will be Friday, November 27.)

Order the new Cerebus in Hell?s: CEREBUS IN HELL? PREVIEW 2021 and The "Censored-For-Grandma" variant Batvark XXXXX SECOND PRINTING (Word on the street, is that Final Order Cut-off is tomorrow.)

End of the month, the 25th, pick up Spider-Whore. I'm not going to, because my 15 "contributor" copies showed up in the mail. (I had nothing to do with this issue, but my name is on the cover.) I got issues #175-189 out of 2414. I'm signing and sending Dave five issues of his pick of numbers, but then I'ma offer the rest to the fine folks willing to give me money, kinda like I am with: copies of Vark Wars: Walt's Empire Strikes Back (Signed by Dave, Signed by Dave and me, Signed by me after I scribble out Dave's name, Pretty much available Signed only...)
Check out the new Cerebus masks and whatnots. PENIS and XXXXX added. And there's a sale:

Your entire store will be on sale:
Nov 17 – 20 
Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales will be running:
Nov 26 – 27
Nov 29 – 30
Tell your fans! Remind them that everything will be up to 35% off! That means $13 tees, $20 phone cases, $30 hoodies, and way more.
Ya done been told fans!

As you all know, Wilf Jenkins was the Aardvark/Vanaheim lawyer for years, and during that time he was on the comp list. Wilf saved all his copies. Dave and Wilf have signed them, and there's a certificate of authenticity. The books will be available from Looking For Heroes, for $10 (CAD) plus $4 dollars shipping to Canada and $5 dollars shipping to the USA. All the money goes to the Food Bank of the Waterloo Region
And now:
Mail there, or just Fax: 519 576 0955. Or email me at momentofcerebus@gmail.com and I'll take care of it.

This time:

ADAM BEECHEN­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­                                                                          
Los Angeles, CA
October 27, 2020

Hi Dave:

I’m a little mortified to see that it’s been more than two months since my last letter to you… I’ve been busy, but not THAT busy. I guess it’s just easy to let things slide in the Coronavirus Era.

Relatively soon after receiving your last letter, my copy of SDOAR arrived in the mail. I was stunned by it and can’t tell you how impressed I am with yours and Carson’s work. I had to force myself not to flip ahead. I was so eager to see more of the artwork. It’s really stunning stuff.

And thank you for the very nice inscription. It means a lot to me.

I was also mesmerized by the professional and biographical material about the cartoonists on whom you focused. I know many of the names of these artists, but only from interviews where they’ve been cited as influences, or from their late period work that I happened to see once I started reading comics. SDOAR has fired my interest in exploring the works of these masters, and so lately I’ve acquired books and publications like The Comic Art of Frank Frazetta, The Lou Fine Reader, Silver Age: The Second Generation of Comic Book Artists, and The Best of Witzend, among others. After so many years reading and participating in the medium, it’s a lot of fun to feel like there are still doors to open that are new to me.

On receiving SDOAR, I asked Eddie if the Glamourpuss material would ever be reprinted, perhaps down the road as supplementary material in an expanded or complete SDOAR volume. His response was to the effect that the Glamourpuss material was essentially a “scratch of the surface” of information you’ve subsequently gathered. Interested as I am in creative process, I’ve gone back and re-acquired a bunch of the Glamourpuss issues, intending to compare and contrast at some point. Should be interesting.

You asked me a few tough questions in your last letter about my experiences in animation, specifically about how much of my work I hope appears on screen in the manner in which I intend it compares to what I actually end up seeing. I’ll do my best to answer here.

I’ve never created my own animated series. So I’ve always known that at the end of the day, I’m working on someone else’s property, and they have the final say in how it’s going to look on screen. I have developed animated series, which is as close as I think I can get to having final say on something I didn’t create or own, in that I’ve been hired to come up with the content, characters, stories and overall feel of a series. Being in that position allows me to have some authority over how everything turns out, but even then… I don’t draw, so I can’t expect it to turn out the way I picture it in my head. I don’t direct, so I can’t expect the timing of each moment to match what I have in my head. And I don’t own the network, so I can’t expect the episodes to totally retain my voice when they’re finally ready to broadcast.

Part of the fun of my job is that I don’t really want to have that kind of total control. It’s a collaborative medium, I’m working with talented, qualified professionals, and I’d be foolish not to want them to put their own stamps on the products. Ideally, we get to a point where we closely share the same vision for the property, and our combined work reflects what we’re all picturing and hearing in our heads. Doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s a great feeling. Sometimes you get close, sometimes you fall well short and feel disappointed, and sometimes you get something back that goes way beyond what you ever envisioned.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, when I’m working on someone else’s property, or collaborating with other creatives bringing their own sensibilities to the material, I try not to have expectations. And the truth is, so much time passes between finishing a script and seeing the completed product that I’ve often forgotten what I was expecting or hoping for by the time I actually see it.

Also, when I was “coming up,” before actually having work produced, I was repeatedly told that, as a freelancer, if even a relatively low percentage of what I’ve written makes it into the final product, I should be pretty happy. So I’ve kept that in mind, even as I’ve been a story editor and producer (The same applies in prime-time, live-action writing, too. When I wrote an episode of MacGyver a couple-three years ago, about 20% of my last draft made it into the completed episode, and everyone assured me that was a pretty good score for a first-time freelancer on a series).

All that said, the closest I’ve come to seeing on the screen what I saw in my head when I was writing was when I produced a pre-school show for Hasbro called The Adventures of Chuck and Friends. I’d developed the series for television with Hasbro’s approval, so the production team was largely executing my vision. The animation studio for the project was in Toronto, so I wasn’t there every day and didn’t have moment-to-moment communication with the animators and directors and editors, and so the show was about 85% of what I saw in my head. Which I think is amazingly close.

The other “closest” I’ve come was in producing Transformers: Robots in Disguise, also for Hasbro. I didn’t develop that series, but I came aboard early enough to have a strong voice in shaping the characters and feel of the show. The actual animation was done overseas, but the board artists, directors and most crucially, the editors were all nearby in Burbank, so I was able to spend time with them, get to know their senses of timing and humor and vice versa. Over time, synergy developed to the extent that we all had the same definition of what would make a good episode. I’d say our success rate on that series was between 85 and 90%, which is also pretty amazing.

On the comics side, particularly at DC, things were more hit-and-miss, usually because I wouldn’t know for sure who would be drawing a given script I’d write. I’d just write a full script, do my best to communicate what I hoped to see, and then waited to see how it would turn out. If it was with an artist with whom I had an extended run, like Freddie Williams or the late Norm Breyfogle, the percentage would rise over time. If it was a single-issue engagement, I’d get what I’d get. I was extremely happy with my collaborations with a vast majority of the artists with whom I worked at DC.

(Side note: A couple times I got really lucky. Asked to write short stories for Justice Society and Wonder Woman books, I was actually asked for input on artists I thought might be good for the stories I planned to write. I requested Howard Chaykin (for a World War II-era story) and Jose-Luis Garcia-Lopez (my favorite Wonder Woman artist) respectively because, well, why not? Both my editors laughed at me, but each was able to secure the artist I’d suggested. Even though I’d never worked with either man, those were the easiest scripts I’d ever written because I was so familiar with their work and so sure of the quality art we’d get back. In neither case was I remotely disappointed.)

With Hench, because Manny Bello and I co-created the graphic novel and because we were working with a publisher that had promised not to make any editorial changes (AiT/PlaNetLar), I felt like I personally had a lot of control over the finished product. Manny wasn’t the most experienced artist, but what may have been missing in terms of the visual realism in which I envisioned the book, Manny more than made up for with the mood he brought to the pages. That first chapter wound up around %80 of what I hoped it would be. For the second chapter, I funded and published the project myself, hiring artist Ethen Beavers and letterer Ryan Yount, both of whom I’d worked with before. Because the money was mine, I was able to request art changes, supervise balloon placement, and everything else. Consequently, that second chapter wound up close to %90 of what I envisioned.

Now some questions for you, as a non-artist speaking to an artist. Having read SDOAR, and having listened to an old podcast or two with you in which you spoke extensively of working with a brush versus working with a pen, I confess I still don’t really understand the qualitative difference of one implement as opposed to the other. What, to your mind, makes a thin or thick line drawn by one superior to the other? How do you feel they differ in the kind of mood or atmosphere they deliver to an illustration? Is it the way the art is reproduced? What makes one and not the other the right choice for a book, or a panel, or a part of a panel, in your eyes? Is it all personal preference as to which implement an artist favors? Were/are there artists among those considered “great” who work exclusively with one implement and not the other?


Adam Beechen's Hench is available from Amazon.
(Which is were his website sends you.)

Dave Sim is the creator of Cerebus the Aardvark, Judenhass, glamourpuss, Cerebus Archive, The Strange Death of Alex Raymond, You Don't Know Jack, but he's BEST known for creating the book How's Your Beaver? Or, he should be...

Next Time: Hobbs. Spawn. Variance. 


Dan E said...

Thanks, AMOC, for preserving Dave's words.

And I really liked yesterday's What a 3-Year Old Can Do.

Michael Grabowski said...

Thanks to Adam and Dave and Matt for making this exchange public. Good reading from both participants.

Jeff said...

Work-Life? Zero balance.

Life-Work? Near zero.

Twenty-three and one-half to twenty-four hours a day inside, alone.

Being retired and comfortably wealthy makes it possible to do the above. But, rewatching and rewatching old MCU movies doesn't make up for communing with friends. Especially aged friends. I miss "Paulie Walnuts" at "The Unofficial".

I am tired and exasperated. It is only this adolescent asshole cat, fucking around with my stuff, that gets me out of bed every day. "What're'ya'doin'?"

Yay, dipshit!!! Keepin' me alive.