Sunday 19 January 2014

Dave Sim: The BBC & Corporate Metaphysics II

In the first instalment of The BBC & Corporate Metaphysics Dave Sim explained why the BBC-inspired changes to his artwork for the IDW comic series Doctor Who: Prisoners Of Time was acceptable within the 'work-made-for-hire' parameters under which it was created. Below, Dave responds to comments made to that original article by Prisoners Of Time writer, Scott Tipton and IDW colourist, Charlie Kirchoff.
For what it's worth, I absolutely loved all the covers Dave did for my book, issues 8, 9 and 10 especially! My only complaint is that I keep getting outbid on the originals! 

As the colorist on these, I was the one they asked to edit them. I cringed every time I got an email saying the BBC won't approve this, can you changed this, this, and this. I did my best to keep it looking Sim-esque, but I couldn't help but feel as if I was an accomplice to destroying a true treasure. I think #8 was the hardest. I felt he nailed that one and I had great fun coloring the original, then I was forced to edit the cover using some Photoshop trickery.

I understand that the BBC wanted to establish a certain brand consistency to the line, and I can respect that. But on the other hand, this is Dave Sim! These covers potentially could bring Doctor Who a new audience, so why not let Dave Sim be Dave Sim!

So, I want to extend my apologies to Mr. Sim for my role in editing these gorgeous covers. If it were up to me, I wouldn't have changed a line. 
Doctor Who: Prisoners Of Time #12 (IDW, 2013)
Art by Dave Sim: Original art (Left) and printed version (Right)
(Click image to enlarge)
A belated thanks to Scott Tipton and Charlie Kirchoff for their comments on the DOCTOR WHO cover situation. I thought Charlie did a great job with the covers. He's definitely neck and neck with Jay Fotos as the best computer colourist I've seen. I just got digital files of Jay's colouring on STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND #1. Just gorgeous. I had a couple of LITTLE suggestions, but that's all.

It's really like being a private in the army (I keep trying to find a way to explain this). I did what I did and turned it in. The BBC told IDW what they wanted done and IDW asked Charlie to do it. And Charlie did it. There's actually a real relief to work-made-for-hire (in limited doses). As a self-publisher, I was always in situations where something was happening and I had to have two or three options in mind depending on what someone was asking me to do or pressuring me to do or whatever. The buck stops here. In work-made-for-hire, you get told what's going to happen, so you really don't have to think about it. The BBC holds trump. If the BBC was happy with what Charlie did, then that's the bottom line. Good going, Charlie. That's what we're all here for: to keep the people paying the bills happy.

I did wonder to myself, what would I have done if Chris or Ted had called and said, uh, we've got a problem with the cover. The BBC wants it changed. I THINK (I HOPE) I would have said, Okay, what do they want changed? You know, I'm new at this. Live and learn. This is why old original covers have a lot of paste-ups on them. Draw the new thing and shoot a stat, drop it on and try to blend it in. I used to have a SUPERBOY cover by Irv Novick (I think it was). [Superboy #154, March 1969]. Superboy blind, selling pencils. The Superboy was a paste-up stat of a Neal Adams piece. I think that's the way I would have looked at it. I'm Irv and Mort isn't happy with my cover so now I'm Neal and I'm fixing it. Do my own stat on my photocopier with glossy paper. I intentionally got the paper that looks like an old stat. When I'm pasting up the lettering on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, the Kubert font, it looks like stats that used to cost four or five dollars each and instead they're like 5 cents a sheet.  Now THAT's progress.

But you can't really do that. I'm not in the bullpen at IDW and I don't have Internet access. Whatever I might have done would only have slowed things down. So I definitely think of that, too. Don't be the guy who's in the way of IDW getting done what they need to get done.

I do have a call in to Heritage Auctions (actually a fax) asking them to check the coverage here on AMOC. I've got the last five DOCTOR WHO covers and can they (how do I put this? I thought) give me some suggested wording for an auction? Specifically saying, I don't want them to make it sound as if there was something wrong with the covers. But I also didn't want it to sound as there was anything wrong with the BBC or IDW. I mean, I'm riding coattails here. I get to associate with DOCTOR WHO, something that has a much higher profile than I do. IDW gave me the covers to do because I asked if I could do some covers. I think I might have the Heritage guys flummoxed.

I mean what ARE the covers now? Are they unpublished covers? Well, no, most of them or part of them was published. Are they semi-published covers?

Mike Kitchen and I were talking about it when I was visiting him and Erika and the kids over the holidays and the closest we got was "I don't have the right to reproduce these covers, so whoever gets the original art has the only example of the cover as I did it."

But that still sounds funny for an art auction.  Huh? What are you saying here?

No rush. I'll let you know what we're going to do when I know.

Okay, back to STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND No.4 page 11.      

Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by making a monthly donation at Patreon or a one-off Paypal donation.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (April 2008 to July 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.


Anonymous said...

I'd suggest "preliminary cover", "first proposed cover", "early version", “earliest version”, or "original submission" to describe the original submitted covers.

I believe that would sidestep the problems Dave mentioned.

-Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

I'd second "original submission".

-- Damian T. Lloyd, art

Birdsong said...

"This here be my Doctor Who art, y'all wanna buy it?"

Anonymous said...

Seconding Dave Birdsong.

-Wesley Smith

Eddie said...

Dave Sim's Pregeneration Dr. Who Covers?
Dave Sim's Pre-Op Dr. Who Covers?
Dave Sim's Paging Dr. Who Covers?