Monday, 20 February 2012

The Synchronicity Triptych

The Synchronicity Triptych: Original art for Cerebus covers #74-76 (May-July 1985)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
Sold at auction for $10,100

(from The Synchronicity Triptych Essay, 2003)
The covers of issues 74, 75 and 76 - the Synchronicity covers - was the first time that I realized the extent to which Gerhard's backgrounds really "ground" the book, giving it a solidity and a "look" all its own and keeping my (infrequent at these extremes, anyway) experimentation less jarring, less "over the top" looking. The three covers get progressively more stylized and experimental as they go along. The picture of Jaka in the background of the yellow cover is flat, a series of geometric shapes (the bottom of her skirt is virtually horizontal). I thought that was as far out to the "design" edge from the "illustrative" school as I could go without falling off. Once Gerhard had put in the background, his solid room, done with accurate perspective (except for the arm of the sofa, where he’s trying to get the perspective to compensate for the horizontal bottom of Jaka’s skirt: I drive him nuts with things like that) and put the flat yellow over top, highlighting the darker areas with a sepia tone and adding white highlights with paint, it just looks like a traditional illustrative Cerebus cover. Since I was trying to be very "cutting edge," I bore that in mind when it came time to do the next cover. The picture of President Weisshaupt on the cover of issue 76 is, consequently, the most "un" illustrative picture I've ever done in or on Cerebus, where I really allowed myself to go completely over the edge, not giving a moment’s thought to anatomy, but instead going for a completely dessicated, virtually inhuman picture which was all emotional content. All feel and no think. "Here" I was (in effect) saying to Ger: "Try making this one look normal." At which point even Gerhard got into the "out on the edge, Bill Sienkiewicz" spirit of the thing, not even trying to create the illusion of curvature on the spines of the books on the bookshelf, just drawing and colouring them as a stack of rectangles. Although the door is done with his usual exacting precision. As soon as the cover to issue 76 was separated, I had the three covers matted and framed together as a triptych, which is how I had conceived of them in the first place, even using Bill's distinctive "initials signature" (modifying the "B" into a "D"). 

No comments: