Saturday 18 February 2012

Cerebus The Newsletter

A Moment of Cerebus is most definitely "standing on the shoulders" of several Cerebus enthusiasts and scholars. Most notable amongst them is Cerebus Fan Girl, Margaret Liss. Between maintaining her indispensable Cerebus Fan Girl web-site, blog, Cerebus-Wiki, and the co-moderating of the Cerebus Yahoo Group, Margaret also finds the time to edit and publish Cerebus The Newsletter. Our thanks to Margaret for kindly agreeing (and finding the time!) to answer a few questions about Cerebus The Newsletter, its history and her future plans for it.
A Moment Of Cerebus:
So Margaret, if somebody sends you $12 (plus p&p) for Cerebus The Newsletter #14-21, what can they expect to read, and looking back, what have been the highlights for you as editor/publisher?

Margaret Liss:
They can always expect a newsletter which is 24 pages filled with art, articles and essays about Cerebus created by Cerebus readers for other Cerebus readers. Some of those are comics which deal with the stories that Dave didn't tell - about Sir Gerrick's linage in Conspiracy by Jeff Tundis, Jaka's death in Laid to Rest by Paul Sloboda, an elderly Cerebus dreaming about his old life in Cerebus Reflection by Brian John Mitchell and Jason Young, et al. The essays range from Cerebus fans talking about how they came to read Cerebus and why they like the series so intensely to write an essay on it - these always fascinate me as every Cerebus reader comes to Cerebus with a different set of experiences and knowledge so every essay is unique and usually presents me with a fresh perspective on Cerebus - to articles on different themes or issues in the series itself to the different Cerebus  collectibles.

The highlight for me is receiving all these materials in and being able to see them before publication.

You weren't the first editor of Cerebus The Newsletter. Can you tell us a little about its history and how you became involved with it?

The first incarnation of Cerebus the Newsletter happened when Fred Patten answered the call published in Aardvark Comment in Cerebus #14: Aardvark-Vanaheim couldn't do it, so a Cerebus reader who had the time could start it themselves. Fred published the newsletter for just over a year with issues #1 (early 1981) to #5 (early 1982). Steve Hendricks was set to be the next editor/publisher and had issue #6 about ready to go when  Deni Loubert sent Steve a letter telling him that she was concerned about the financial strain the newsletter would entail on him. So Aardvark-Vanaheim published issues #6 through 13, when Dave ended it in October 1985.
In 2008 there was discussion on the Cerebus Yahoo! Group about having in depth discussions of different Cerebus items which would then be edited together for Following Cerebus. As the last issue of Following Cerebus had been published in November 2007 and at the time there was no confirmation from Craig Miller that our efforts would be published in an issue (he later stated that he would be inclined to publish it) - when I was asked what I thought of it in October 2008, I stated "I say we just do our own fanzine." In email discussions off the list later in 2008 with Jeff Tundis and Lenny Cooper, the other two moderators of the Cerebus Yahoo! Group, we discussed the possibility of getting some items together for such a fanzine to bring with us to the group's annual gathering at the SPACE (Small Press and Alternative Comics) convention in Columbus, Ohio in early 2009. Jeff suggested using the Cerebus the Newsletter name from the Friends of Cerebus fan club days. I contacted Fred Patten and Dave Sim and asked permission from both to use the name for our fanzine. Jeff Tundis created a bunch of items, from a comic to the cover to an article on "Collecting Cerebus". I also did some work for it, put it together and then published Cerebus the Newsletter #14 in April 2009, just in time for the SPACE convention.

You have a team of contributors working on Cerebus The Newsletter. Can you tell us a little about them and how you all got together on the project?

I asked for contributions via the Cerebus Yahoo! Group, on the Cerebus Facebook group and on my blog. Some of them have done mini-press / independent comics work and some are just fellow Cerebus readers - they all have one thing in common: they have been inspired by the series to create a piece of art or write an essay about it. I've only solicited a couple people for artwork - commissions of Cerebus that I've requested for my personal collection and decided to share with other Cerebus readers via the newsletter.

Anyone can contribute artwork and essays to me for inclusion in the newsletter. I can only offer my thanks and five comp copies to them in return as the newsletter is sold almost at cost.
Nothing can replace the thrill of receiving a package of ‘hardcopy’ magazines in the post. However, in this age of internet and instant blogs, what motivates you to invest your time and energy into publishing/editing a physical magazine?

While there are other online venues for myself and other Cerebus readers to publish their work, nothing beats holding your creation in your hands. And while the internet would appear to have no likelihood of disappearing anytime soon, websites do vanish and the "Wayback Machine" can't keep everything in the same original format. Also no special device is required for reading a hardcopy other then eyes and perhaps corrective lenses of some sort.

What plans do you have for Cerebus The Newsletter in 2012 and / or for you personally?

Hopefully more issues. At one point I was thinking of reprinting the first thirteen issues in a small volume via a POD publisher - as finding the issues are difficult and costly. As with the newsletters, I wouldn't do it for profit, but to widen the availability of the issues to those that couldn't get them the first time around and find them hard and expensive to collect now. Perhaps if I get some feedback on a reprint volume, I'll continue to pursue it.

How did you first discover Cerebus and at what point did you go beyond just being a casual reader to a more serious supporter, ultimately leading to your Cerebus-related web-site, blog and wiki?

I discovered Cerebus with issue #114, the cover of which drew me in and the story and art hooked me. For personal reasons I gave up Cerebus for a time in the Mothers & Daughters storyline, only to come back during Guys. At that time I had given up on the mainstream comics I had read since a kid, and in Cerebus I saw something more mature and meaningful then the X-Men and JLA comics I had read. A reread of the early issues confirmed that even while I had read some of those issue already, there was another level on which Cerebus could be read.

I was looking online for a checklist of Cerebus related items, and couldn't find one. All the Cerebus  websites I found were either not updated in a while or didn't have the information I was looking for. So I created a Cerebus checklist from other sources and what I had in my collection and what I could find on eBay and in comic stores. I added a links page to connect all the Cerebus websites I could find and organize them so one could find what they were looking for quickly. The site just grew from there either due to me not finding something on the internet and adding it to the site or another Cerebus  reader didn't have the time to keep up with their Cerebus website allowing me to bring it into the CFG site - for example, the owner of the original Dave Sim Notes From the President Memorial Archive, Barry Deutsch, allowed me to take over the DSNFPMA when that area of his site went offline. I kept adding to it and Dave and Ger saw fit to allow me to reprint different texts from the series on the website.

Do you know if Dave Sim has seen or read The Newsletter? Have you received any feedback from him, and how supportive is he of all your on-line efforts?

Dave is very supportive and I can't thank him enough for all that he has given to me - both knowledge wise and materials wise. Gerhard and Dave both have given permission for me to reprint the stories you see on the site and the likes of the Notes From The President among other essays by Dave. I have sent copies of every issue of the Newsletter to Dave and the feedback is positive. He also has mentioned the newsletter and myself on CerebusTV several times - nothing makes me get a bit fangirlish than to see this:
And finally, what comics are you reading at the moment and would recommend to a Cerebus fan?

I'm picking up Dave's Glamourpuss and Cerebus Archive. Cerebus Archive is a detailed look at the creation of Cerebus - not much actual Cerebus in it during the first year, but Dave is showing us what led up his self publishing Cerebus. He just got to his meeting with Deni Loubert and the creation of the logo for the ill-fated fanzine, Cerebus the Fanzine.

I'm currently reading Terry Moore's Rachel Rising and really enjoyed his recent series Echo as well. Which now that I think about it, Glamourpuss and Batwoman are the only ongoing series that I make a point of picking up when I remember to swing by a comic store. Most of the time I'm picking up trade paperbacks online: Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, Chiaroscuro by Troy Little and Life With Mr. Dangerous by Paul Hornschemeier are a few that jump to mind.

You can read more about the history behind Cerebus The Newsletter at Friends Of Cerebus and be sure to order your copies of Cerebus The Newsletter #14-21 from Margaret.

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