Wednesday 30 November 2011

Barry Windsor-Smith

Front-cover to Swords of Cerebus Vol 5 (reprinting Cerebus #17-20, 1983)
Art by Barry Windsor-Smith

(from the inside front-cover)
Dave Sim has created a totally believable scenario and peopled it perfectly; The mark of a very fine story-teller. In my opinion, the best in the field today.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

I Fixed It So I Can't Be Wrong!

A cameo appearance by Dave Sim in Bacchus #3 (1995)
Art by Eddie Campbell

Monday 28 November 2011

Alexa & Dave

(A transcript of a segment from Cerebus TV, Season 3 Episode 4, 25 November 2011)

DAVE SIM [voice-over]:
She’s like the dream grand-child that I thought I’d never have... now that I’m at the age to have a grand-daughter the age of Alexa. Huge Glamourpuss fan... and never read Cerebus The Aardvark. As far as I was concerned, our discussions were just getting really interesting when she interviewed me in Toronto in July...

So I read a book [Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women & The Rise Of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy] on a similar topic and essentially it was about how women like to act like men and throttle up on power to further themselves in their careers or just through everyday life, not necessarily taking the marriage route, but making something of themselves. And at the end of the book, the conclusion talked a lot about how women are not necessarily mirroring men in their actions to become powerful and move forward in their career, but actually modelling themselves after strippers and hookers and women who have been sexually abused or have had some kind of sexually dramatic experience... and so they were essentially saying, this writer, that women are modelling themselves, ourselves, after a generation of women who are sex workers.

DAVE SIM [voice over]:
..."Wow!" I thought. I couldn’t have believed that I would live long enough... that I would see the day when a young woman would be willing to listen to that, let alone discuss it with a man, let alone come up with it on her own. Certainly no woman I could think of in my generation, certainly no woman I could think of in my mother’s generation...

In my view, Alexa had definitely come half way, in fact far more than half way in the battle of the sexes (on the losing end of which I had been since I was 14 years old). She was the only female journalist to have taken even a remote interest in Glamourpuss in the three years that the book had existed. If I wasn’t going to meet Alexa half-way, who was I going to meet half-way? And if I wasn’t going to do it at the age of 55, just shy of becoming a senior citizen, when was I going to do it?

So I basically made a deal with this girl-woman, women-girl, my grand-daughters age... I’d help her with copy editing and help her put together an article on Glamourpuss she could (talk about a Hail Mary pass) try flogging to various fashion magazines. She could submit the article and just by-the-way just mention the [Alexa & Dave] blogspot which would hopefully increase her slim chances of making a sale. “Anything you want to include from Alexa & Dave, Ms Fashion Magazine Editor, hey, go nuts.” See, and I can just tell you all this because one thing that’s completely certain, no fashion magazine editor worth her salt would be caught dead watching an internet television show about comic books. So hopefully by the time you’re watching this at the end of November there’ll be something up there to read. I don’t know how often it’ll get updated. You can see, Alexa’s pretty busy, and I’m pretty busy, but I think it might turn out to be a pretty interesting discussion.

The Alexa & Dave Blogspot has been online since 30 October 2011. Alexa's Glamourpuss interview with Dave on is available to read online at Comic Book Daily. Back issues of Glamourpuss are always available from ComiXpress.

Fifteen Impossible Things To Believe Before Breakfast

(updated from the original Tangent essay published in Cerebus #265, April 2001)

Fifteen Impossible Things To Believe Before Breakfast That Make You A Good Feminist:
  1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.
  2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.
  3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.
  4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.
  5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.
  6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.
  7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.
  8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.
  9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.
  10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.
  11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.
  12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.
  13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.
  14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.
  15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.

Sunday 27 November 2011

They... I Say... They Spelled My Name Wrong!

Elrod (1983), in the inside front-cover of Elric, The Dreaming City, Marvel Comics
Sketch by Dave Sim, with signatures of artists Michael T. Gilbert & P. Craig Russell

God, this thing has been on my bookshelf for years & years. I was at the now defunct Dallas Fantasy Fair, and was running out of things for Dave Sim to sign, so I already had this signed by P. Craig Russell from the day before and thought it would be cool since Elric was the inspiration for Elrod. He thought it was cool too, and drew this Elrod ragging on them spelling his name wrong. Classic Dave.

New Book Announcement: Cerebus The Barbarian Messiah

Cerebus The Barbarian Messiah
Essays On The Epic Graphic Satire Of Dave Sim & Gerhard
Edited by Eric Hoffman

Publishing Date:
Spring/Summer 2012

Book Description:
In December 1977, struggling Canadian comic book artist Dave Sim self-published the first issue of Cerebus the Aardvark, a Conan the Barbarian satire featuring a foul-tempered, sword-wielding creature trapped in a human world. Over the next 26 years, Sim, and later collaborator Gerhard, produced an epic 6,000-page graphic novel, the longest-running English language comic series by a single creative team. They revolutionized the comics medium by showing other artists that they too could forgo major publishers, paving the way for such successes as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bone. This in-depth work, the first collection of critical essays on Cerebus, provides a multifaceted approach to Sim and Gerhard’s complex and entertaining oevre, including their innovative use of the comic medium, storytelling and satiric techniques, technical and visual sophistication, and Sim’s use of the comic as commentary on gender and religion.

Saturday 26 November 2011

The Craft Behind Cerebus: An Interview With Gerhard

Cerebus #80 (1985)
Art by Gerhard (with Dave Sim)

(From the introduction to an online interview at The Comics Journal, December 2010)
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
He's soft spoken, self-effacing. Thoughtful. He worked on almost 5,000 pages over 20 years, but in the past seven years has struggled to draw at all. His former partner is one of the most well-documented figures working in comics, and yet he himself has given only a handful of interviews.

For 20 years, Canadian artist Gerhard worked as a background artist and environmental designer on Cerebus, one of the most sprawling pieces of visual fiction ever created. His designs and meticulously crafted drawings served to ground even the most fantastic of events, or drastic of stylistic shifts. Sim and Gerhard worked in a way that to many may seem unimaginable - Sim penciling and inking his characters in vast fields of white, and handing them off to his collaborator sometimes with the barest of instructions. A pencil line for a table, a hastily written note reading "door." And yet the resulting work almost always seem unified, of a piece. It’s a remarkable tribute to Gerhard that no matter what was happening in the foreground of the books, the characters always seemed grounded in a reality, capable of exploring and interacting with their richly textured world.

Gerhard and I spoke to each other over the course of a few hours on Boxing Day, December 26, 2010. On each end of our respective phone lines we both had an intimidating stack of books - the almost five thousand pages that Sim and Gerhard created together over the course of those 20 years. We flipped through the books chronologically, with the idea of discussing the evolution of Gerhard’s process and techniques, focusing on his development as an artist and a craftsman. I find that when cartoonists get together to talk, they almost inevitably end up circling around issues of craft, grilling each other on the "how to" and the "what for." I consider Gerhard a master draftsman, and one of the greatest pen and ink renderers of the last 50 years, and so I thought that such a conversation with him would be compelling for pen and ink enthusiasts, for Cerebus admirers, or for or those curious about a job whose quality depends on its invisibility. He did not disappoint.  

Read the full interview with Gerhard online: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Friday 25 November 2011

A Gerhard Background

Cerebus #206 (May 1996)
Art by Gerhard

(from an interview in The Comics Journal #184, 1996)
It's another thing on the palette. I get to throw a Gerhard background in here. If I'm trying to get across, as I'm doing here, working on #206, a change of seasons. It's now Fall. Well, you can start the issue off with "It's now Fall." Or you have a bunch of ducks fly off the pond, heading south for winter, lots of leaves flying, very bare trees, very stark sort of sky, continuing across a two-page spread with the shadows going across the building... that's great. Once I've got that thinking done, how I want this to come across, or what I want these pages to say with the background, then I can just hand it to Gerhard. And then he creates from the sense that the pages have creates for him. He sits down and analyses. We don't discuss them very much. He just takes... tomorrow he's coming in and doing pages two and three of #205, and he'll just put them on the drawing board and stare at them for like half an hour, until he sees what it is that he wants to put in there. He can read the page, all the letterings there, he can see the characters, he's got his own repertoire, his own palette...

Thursday 24 November 2011

Cerebus The Barbarian

Cerebus The Barbarian (November 1997)
Art by Dave Sim
A very dynamic drawing by the "godfather" of independent comics. This very large (20" x 22" image area) drawing of Cerebus in his barbarian garb was obtained in a charity auction in late 1997. I've been a Cerebus and Dave Sim fan for a long time and winning this auction was the highlight of 1997. This piece has to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

A Close-Up Look At Cerebus

The Comics Journal #184 (Fantagraphics Books, February 1996)

Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard, design by Pat Moriarty

(from the interview introduction in The Comics Journal #184, February 1996)
Dave Sim is an inescapable presence in the comics field: his monthly comic, Cerebus, recently celebrated its 200th issue. The massive collections, or "phonebooks" as they're known to Cerebus fans, are steady sellers for both the reorder divisions of the major distributors and Aardvark-Vanaheim's (Sim's self-publishing company name) own mail order service. Sim is an outspoken critic of industry practices and a proponent of self-publishing - both in the pages of his own comic and at industry events. He's also a figure of controversy, both for the hard line he takes on industry issues and the content of his comics work.

What often gets lost is Dave Sim the creator. In making the transition to a monthly publication with Cerebus #13, Sim decided to take on weightier, more meaningful, and more artistically ambitious material. The end result was reconceiving the comic as a 300-issue, 6000 page graphic novel, with huge 500+ page chapters dealing with such issues as politics (High Society), religion (Church & State) and dying (Melmoth). The larger work built from these component works, which Sim refers to as simply Cerebus, is a cohesive whole exploring the life and times of his lead character. The structure of the work-in-progress supports his claim: chapters can be grouped together as greater more cohesive wholes or explored as oppositional thematic poles; certain themes and subtexts build as the chapters progress.

Due in part to his massive, time-intensive undertaking, Sim is also one of the greatest technicians working in comics. He considers himself more in league with illustrators like Barry Windsor-Smith and Mike Kaluta than with most artists undertaking longer, ambitious work. He's developed a score of unique, innovative narrative techniques and craft solutions in the 4000-pages he's done to date. With his studio mate, Gerhard, working primarily on backgrounds, Cerebus is one of the most lushly realised books out on the market in any given month.

The following interview concentrates solely on Dave Sim as a comics creator. It was conducted in early February 1996. I found Dave to be as charming, helpful and forthright as his reputation claimed. He's also quite thoughtful about his work, and works from a set of artistic beliefs as refined as any comics creator's. A second portion of this interview, covering his most recent work and his views on criticism (including this magazine), will be published soon [in The Comics Journal #192]. It's all too good to leave on the cutting room floor.

Tom Spurgeon can now be found at The Comics Reporter.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Cerebus Jam #1

Cerebus Jam #1 (April 1985)
Art by Bill Sienkiewicz

Cerebus Jam #1 was the only issue published of a proposed series featuring Cerebus short stories created by Dave Sim and Gerhard in collaboration with other comics artists. Issue 1 featured stories created with Will Eisner (The Spirit, A Contract With God), Terry Austin (X-Men), Scott & Bo Hampton (Batman), and Murphy Anderson (Superman). These stories have never been reprinted, with the exception of  Cerebus vs The Spirit with Will Eisner which has appeared in The Spirit Archives Vol 26 and Following Cerebus #4.

Monday 21 November 2011


Glamourpuss #22, variant cover (November 2011)
Art by Dave Sim, digital production Sandeep S. Atwal

Extract from an interview at Comic Book Daily (12 July 2011): 

What can we expect from upcoming issues of Glamourpuss?

Thank you for asking, you’re the first comics reporter who has ever asked me about Glamourpuss and I was convinced it must be a scam - Toronto and a girl?

We have Glamourpuss 22 coming out and you’ll notice that instead of it being the fourth annual swimsuit issue, it’s not the fourth annual swimsuit issue and that’s because I’ve decided to go off in a completely different direction. I’m doing a Zatanna parody, Zootanapuss.

There’s also a Glamourpuss 22 incentive cover and this is probably very destructive of the comic book field, but we’re all just trying to keep ourselves alive. So, for the Zootanapuss number one cover you gotta buy four of the regular ones to even get the number one cover. Now is that absolutely evil or is that absolutely evil?

More details available at the Zootanapuss website.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Fearsome Heroes With Facial Furniture

Growing my own 'Mo' for Movember has inspired me to create some new comic art. The wonderful Starr Amazing and I got to kicking ideas around, and generally giggling, at the idea that many heroes secret identities would be compromised if they joined the MoBrotherhood and grew a Mo while still patrolling the streets.  This of course lead to the topic of which hero would sport which ‘tache type? Hilarity ensued. (you had to be there).

Thus inspired I took pencil and pen to hand and created some art where four of comicdoms most famous are sporting a moustache while scowling at the viewer. I didn’t want to use any more than one hero from any one publisher, wanted iconic images and only needed four. The tip of the hat went to Judge ‘stoic’ Dredd, Captain ‘patriotic’ America, ‘grim’ Batman, and ‘unhinged’ Cerberus. I also took into account what kind of Mo these Bros would sport. Something surreal and Dali-esque for Dredd, a playboys pencil moustache for Bruce, ginger and bushy for Cerberus and, to confound convention, a 'che' for Cap. This is what I came up with...

I hope that you like it. Its made me smile to make. Of course being a charity event I’m hoping that my art can raise a few more pounds for the excellent Movember men's health and cancer support charity. Therefore I am planning on auctioning the original black and white, hand drawn artwork on ebay, framed, to try and get a few more quid in the kitty. The plan to date is to add it to ebay on Friday and keep it up for a week and I will let you know more here, on on my social networking sites, nearer the time.

This is how the framed up artwork looks. I hope you like it.

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in the UK and around the world. The aim of which is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. On Movember 1st, guys register at with a clean-shave face and then for the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Mo Sistas are the women who register to support the men in their lives, raising funds by seeking sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts. Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November and through their actions and words raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health. At the end of the month, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas celebrate their gallantry and valor by either throwing their own Movember party or attending one of the infamous Gala Part├ęs held around the world by Movember, for Movember.

Saturday 19 November 2011

New Book Announcement: Dave Sim's Last Girlfriend

Dave Sim's Last Girlfriend
by Dave Sim & Susan Alston
Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date:
On or around 7 August 2012

Book Description:
No figure in comics has been as polarizing as Dave Sim. His long-running series, Cerebus the Aardvark, is seen as one of the singular accomplishments in the history of the form. He has been a champion of self-publishing and of creator rights. But his unorthodox world views on religion and feminism, oft-espoused within the pages of his comics, are seen as regressive by many and have alienated a large swath of his audience. In these pages, you'll see direct reproductions of the faxes and letters exchanged between Dave and his last and final girlfriend. From the sweet, tender moments to the painful throes of breaking up, these unfiltered, unedited letters will give you a seat on the roller coaster this couple rode right off the tracks.

More details at Bleeding Cool.

Friday 18 November 2011

Unorthodox Economic Revenge

Cerebus #31 (October 1981)
Art by Dave Sim

Cerebus Guide To Self-Publishing

Cerebus Guide To Self-Publishing (Expanded Edition, 2010)
Art by Dave Sim

Out of print for years, this is the self-publishing guide everyone swears by. Light on technical specifics but heavy on what it really takes to be a successful self-publishing cartoonist, the co-creator of the world's longest graphic novel brings his 30-plus years of experience to a step-by-step guide to what you need to do and what work habits you require to hope for a chance at success in today's ultra-competitive direct market. Updated with new material assessing the pros and cons of the computer revolution that continues to rock the comics publishing world from top to bottom.

(from The Blog & Mail, 18 November 2006)
Just to head anyone off at the pass, I can't picture ever doing an Understanding Comics [by Scott McCloud] or a Comics and Sequential Art [by Will Eisner] or a Create Your Own Graphic Novel [by Mike Chinn & Chris McLoughlin] book of my own. I consider those to be just Too Large As Subjects to tackle definitively but I certainly think all three are potentially very helpful to what we are all, presumably, trying to do here. The closest I came was The Guide to Self-Publishing which I will be theoretically revising and republishing somewhere up ahead and that I only tackled because in the course of 1992/93 with the US Tour I had been asked the same questions enough times that I had a clear idea of how to compose a primer that would take care of most of the immediate self-publishing entry-level questions. How I wrote and drew comics myself is, to me, Too Large A Subject for a book. Usually all I can picture is looking at someone else's comic book and critiquing it on the basis of my own creator prejudices and hopefully giving them a different perspective or a helping hand. Sometimes the lettering is the biggest problem, sometimes it's the inking, sometimes it's the layout, so if I can just do some suggestions on tracing paper, sometimes I can help and sometimes I can't. Sometimes the honest answer is: stop looking at my stuff and start looking at Chester Gould or someone who's more stylized. Sometimes they just have to go through a few years of wrong turns before they get there.

Thursday 17 November 2011

What Is Cerebus The Aardvark?

Cerebus #1 (December 1977)
Art by Dave Sim

(from the introduction to Cerebus #0)
Easily the most common (and difficult) question I'm asked about Cerebus is to describe what the book is about. In an age when most movies, novels and television shows can be distilled to a sound byte (High Noon In Outer Space, West World Done With Dinosaurs), a description of Cerebus becomes an ever-more daunting task.

Put as simply as possible, Cerebus is my attempt to document a life for twenty-six years and three hundred issues. Cerebus began in December 1977 and concludes in March 2004 at issue 300, with the death of the title character. It is my attempt to by-pass one of the major faults of comic books (and strips, for that matter); the fact that the characters never age or change and that most attempts at change can be summed up as gimmicks and temporary modifications introduced for the purposes of boosting sales.

Sometimes the Cerebus story-line is funny. Sometimes it is sad. Sometimes it crawls along month to month with very little happening and sometimes it flies by at breath-taking speed with everything happening at once.

I create the book consciously this way because this is the way I see life; my life and the lives of those people that I know. In some story-lines, Cerebus is a central figure and a driving force behind the events taking place. At other times he is a secondary figure, observing rather than participating. Again, this is very much like my own life and the lives I see around me.

...Cerebus is a six thousand page story-line, documenting the ups and downs of a single character's life (as well as those around him). Cerebus, like Howard the Duck, is a funny animal in the world of humans. Everyone, whoever they are, feel themselves to be unique and, more often than not in the last half of the twentieth century, feel themselves to be out of place where ever they are. Documenting that, to the best of my abilities, seemed (and still seems) a worthwhile use of twenty-six years of my life. Cerebus is not a hero, a villain, an anti-hero, or an everyman. He is capable of being each of those and he is most often none of those.

He's Cerebus. An aardvark in the world of humans.