Monday, 9 December 2013

The Three Wise Fellows

Cerebus #270 (September 2001)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Notes On Latter Days, Cerebus Vol 15, 2003)
I made the decision a long, long time ago (relatively speaking) that The Three Stooges were going to be the link between Rick and Cerebus and the "coming to fruition" of the religious text first developed in Rick's Story, basing them loosely on the "Wise Men" of Matthew's Gospel (2:1-1:12)... Anyway, I remember coming in from a night of drinking late Friday (which is to say, early Saturday) and Channel 29, the Fox outlet out of Buffalo was running the latest Three Stooges syndicated package (their packaging has always been horrible and the new one hit a new low), so I just hit record and went to bed. When I got up the next morning and went through them, I thought, Whoa, boy. This is not going to be easy. I put the tape away on the top shelf of my linen closet and thought, I really don't envy me two years or so from now.

Well, I was right...

...It was tough. It was the toughest drawing and writing job that I had ever attempted, so it became a kind of multi-layered house-of-mirrors joke. It's hard to describe what I mean by that, but let me give it a try: what I had chosen to do was a grinding, arduous task knowing that virtually everyone would look down on the result. Sweating bullets for days and weeks on end to get it right and I knew that virtually everyone's reaction would be, "Oh, the Three Stooges, they're stupid." But, then, my work had been completely ignored since the notorious issue 186, so it became very funny to do two "highbrow" graphic novels, Going Home and Form & Void, about "highbrow" subjects, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, knowing that they would both just be ignored and then to have the Three Stooges as the apex of the pyramid.

And they were. They were several magnitudes of difficulty above Fitzgerald and Hemingway. At that point from an artistic credibility standpoint, it didn't make any difference. Artistic credibility? What artistic credibility? All I hear are crickets chirping. Seth relayed word through Chester [Brown] that I had done an amazing job capturing their body language (Chester had only vaguest idea who the Three Stooges were) and Bruce Costa, a columnist for Comics Retailer thanked me for doing right by his beloved Stooges (I sent him several Stooges tracing paper drawings as a sincere thank you).


Anonymous said...

I have yet to read the Stooge parody issues of Cerebus, but what little I've seen of it online is pretty godamn spectacular. The cadence of their speech, their mannerisms- incredible.

It always weirds me out when I find out someone doesn't know about or care for The Three Stooges- it's like saying "I don't like being happy" or "Bugs Bunny, who's that?"

David Birdsong said...

The Stooges were a highlight for me. He did right by them for sure and managed to also humanize them so that they became more real to me than they ever had. It's comedy gold, but I'm sure someone can find something to complain about. No names, no names at all...

Jeff Seiler said...

What I think is amazing is that Dave got the timing juuuuust right, even though he has them talking in "Bible speak".