Friday, 27 June 2014

Weekly Update #37: "You Know, It Don't Come Easy"


  1. Remarkable progress evident in CEREBUS Restorations. Our $10,000 Retailer Patron declares himself "in".
  2. The primary levels of preservation include a) restoring the trade paperbacks and keeping them in print b) maintaining the Off-White House and contents (hopefully) in perpetuity c) completing THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND hopefully in a few years d) doing a continent-wide promotion tour to support THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND and e) keeping everyone updated on progress -- or lack of same -- in all areas.
  3. So far so good in "getting 'er done" on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE.

1.  As you can see from Sean's "Living the Line" update, we appear to be making a lot of progress.  I say "appear" because we've been here before and found out later that we were in the wrong part of town. But I am cautiously optimistic.  As is our $10,000 retailer beneficiary with whom I had a one- hour phone conversation earlier in the week.  There are still a lot of complexities, but CEREBUS Restoration is very much one of those things where money is of great advantage in a number of areas and "TF" assures me that he's on board and fully committed to financing Sean's work.

A long-winded example of one complexity:

One of the potential problems -- which will move towards resolution, God willing, before the end of July -- is the distinction between printing out individual copies and printing actual books.  That will be a major test of the methods that Sean has been developing over the last couple of weeks.  It's something that I've had to confront head-on a few times.  You don't want to waste money printing entire books that then need to be pulped...

(which it seems will be the case with the current unfinished printing of HIGH SOCIETY -- with the exception of the signed and numbered first signatures of which I'm thinking of salvaging the first 300 and including them with the corresponding individual signed and numbered CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONEs)

...but you're going to arrive at -- and we have arrived at -- the point where you need to see what the actual printing looks like. Particularly in this case with Sean and Dr. Mara's new methods.  Do his revised signatures print the way that Sean thought they would?

If not, that presents two possibilities:  Lebonfon just doesn't know what they're doing as a printer (which would definitely put Sean and George on the same team) OR the methods only work on a computer screen and in "one-off" printer copies.

Logic, unfortunately, then points in the direction of paying for the printing (I've already got an agreement with Lebonfon that if the new printing doesn't pass muster with me and George and Sean, I'll just pay for the original printing, they'll "comp" A-V the four revised signatures and we'll be on our merry way)

"Our merry way" being, logic, again would dictate: going to a printer of Sean's choosing -- my own recommendation being the printer in Virginia that Image is using for Colleen's A DISTANT SOIL:  going there has the advantage of saying "This is a book like the A DISTANT SOIL books you printed, it requires the same level of sharpness you got on the 40% dot screens".

The danger I see in using a printer without a comparable work with which to compare CEREBUS is running into what I see as the systemic Lebonfon problem:  all graphic novels are the same.  You take digital scans, make printing plates, hit start and you get graphic novels.  George's experience and now Sean's experience is that Lebonfon doesn't really seem to "get" what he's talking about.  They didn't automatically flag the obvious problems with CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY, didn't recognize that 300 dpi "proofs" just aren't adequate for something as detailed as CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY, etc.

I daresay most printers are that way in this digital age.

There is such a dearth of detailed illustration these days (gum gum gum) that there is no longer any need for a printer to perceive detail in a graphic novel  beyond a surface cartoon level.  "Some lines are missing.  They're very tiny lines. So what? It's a comic book. Who cares?"  On a pure here-we-are-today level, hard to argue with.

But, bottom line -- in terms of money -- that could involve paying for a complete printing of HIGH SOCIETY from the new printer as A-V just paid for a complete printing of HIGH SOCIETY from Lebonfon and then having to pay for a complete printing of HIGH SOCIETY from the new printer picked by Sean and in both cases pulping the results.

That's Worst Case Scenario, but as the guy calling the shots, that's where my mind needs to go long before we actually get there.

What if? What if Sean is wrong and his methods only work on computer screen and on one-off printer copies?

In that case, A-V's fallback position (I have it on good authority from the company president) is: we do strictly CEREBUS ARCHIVE EDITIONS until some method of printing books makes itself apparent that matches what Sean sees on his computer screen and in one-off printer copies.  And we do it $20,000+ poorer in Kickstarter funds.  And revenues from CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE through Diamond.  And revenues from what COULD be The Last CEREBUS Trade EVER.

But a good example, I could cite for our Retailer Patron: this COULD happen and this is where your money would have gone.  Getting hard answers calls for hard cash in this case, even if the answers are POTENTIALLY not happy ones.

He understood.  God bless 'im.

2.  In answer to Damian Lloyd, as Ringo sang, You Know, It Don't Come Easy.  :)
I'm having to balance being the artist and writer on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND -- which is certainly uppermost in my OWN mind -- and being the custodian of CEREBUS.

It's really not an "either/or" to my way of thinking. I'm responsible for both so I have to do the best I can for both.

As I've explained it to others, James Joyce is very important to Dublin but he wasn't always.  I think even he would be surprised at the level of importance attached to his work this long after his death and particularly the level of importance attached to him IN Dublin.  It tends to be particularly true about Controversial Figures -- people deemed, like Joyce, to be completely outside the realm of Polite Discussion when they were alive and working (and I think it would be hard to refute that that's Dave Sim to a "t" in 2014).  Only to discover that there's rather more about them that's worthy of discussion in the decades after their death than can be found in those with the Enduring Popularity of a Jim Morrison (let us say).  I won't live to see it if there is a change in my status, but I think it's my responsibility to PLAN for it -- which I've been doing for about twenty years now.  Worst Case Scenario: my insurance money is exhausted sometime in the 22nd century and, now, even further outside the realm of polite discourse, all traces of Dave Sim are eradicated by the City of Kitchener and, basically, no one notices or cares.  "Ashes to ashes..."

There's certainly a temptation on my part to go "all in" on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.  No more Weekly Updates, no CEREBUS trade paperbacks, no phone calls, no answering letters, no CEREBUS ARCHIVE artists editions, no preserving the house and contents, just cash in all the cash value in my life insurance (and I have gone so far as to establish a Doomsday Scenario line of credit based on it and a book of cheques that I can write up into the low six figures -- it cost me $676 just to set that up!) and just write and draw THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND until it's done.

I think that's a recipe for arriving at the end of the book to Complete Desolation and Wreckage.  And probably a Damian Lloyd or two going "Well, who CARES? The guy's been gone for five years! Turned himself into a complete hermit! All he'll EVER be known for is CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY and where are they? Out of print!  And now he wants us to read this wild theorizing of his and take it seriously? The man is pathetic! I wouldn't walk across the street to throw rocks at him!" And everyone else standing around, shuffling their feet and not saying anything and, so, effectively endorsing the viewpoint.

The CEREBUS ARCHIVE ARTISTS EDITIONS were arrived at after a two-year long process of trying to assess what was the "most bang for the buck" -- something the remaining CEREBUS fans could get behind and derive satisfaction from that would also provide revenue which would make the maintenance of the intellectual property, the actual work, more possible.

I'll be honest with you: May and June were brutal.  Consistently being dragged into the CEREBUS world from the STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND world.  But, it's the first time out for the ARTISTS EDITIONS. It's a steep learning curve.  The three-hour block of time between my noon and 3 pm prayers has been taken up with it for two solid months.  And I haven't even started signing the prints yet or lettering all of the bookplates.

But it has to be done.  As, in my view, the disposition of the house and contents needs to be done. As the STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND needs to be done.  As does a continent-wide publicity tour when SDOAR is finished need to be done.

So they are all that I do or plan to do.  In that sense, I AM "all in".

Logically, there isn't TIME for anything else.  I get up in the morning and I work for 12 to 14 hours and then I go to bed.  I have several years of that ahead of me.

SDOAR is the next thing I need to provide for so that's what Dave Fisher and I will be working on: getting the glamourpuss art auctions together, so money will come in that I can say, "Okay, THIS money pays me to work on SDOAR" which is distinct from the Kickstarter money which supports getting the CEREBUS trades back into print or finding out that that isn't possible with today's technology, which is distinct from my life insurance which will finance the preservation of the house and contents.

Each compartment needs to be developed and maximized WHILE I'm working and WHILE I'm getting older. In my opinion.

The glamourpuss art auctions, as an example, involve actually printing a catalogue of pieces and making that available to Heritage Auctions' top art buyers.  Which Dave Fisher will be helping develop and we'll finance that, Dave's time and attention -- God willing -- with auctions of glamourpuss tracing paper.  Which we'll announce here.  It's a long process and it takes time.  We appear to just be starting to solve the trade paperback printing problems and we've been working on that for a year, as the company bank account evaporated.

Believe me: I'm pulling back in the direction of THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND every step of the way.  So far, I've been able to keep the blocks of time from 10 am to Noon and 5 pm to 11 pm strictly for writing and drawing (and, it needs to be added, I think, while I'm eating dinner after fasting from 4 am to 11 pm) from 11 pm to 12:30 am reading Eddie Khanna's research materials -- at the moment a thick binder of clippings on The Strange Death of Margaret Mitchell from the ATLANTA JOURNAL and ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.  Sometimes three and four days in a row JUST reading the same five or six clippings.  There's something in here, but I'm not getting it quite yet. I had that happen with five or six clippings on Stan Drake, as well.  Completely forget over the ensuing 24 hours.  Wait, why am I reading these AGAIN?  Then read them.  Oh, right. This.  It takes as long as it takes.

The pages I'm drawing right now are extremely complicated and are taking an average of four and five days to do.  I'm pretty set in that, however.  Again, this takes as long as it takes.  What do I want this page to look like?  I want it to look like THIS!  Well, that's going to take a few days.  So, it takes a few days.  This is probably my last time "up the mountain".  Let's get it right, Dave, eh?

I appreciate your STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND-centredness.  At essence, I share it. But there are, I'm pretty sure, severe Comic Art Metaphysical consequences just waiting for me if I try just ditching my other custodial responsibilities and making a dash for the finish line.  You're supposed to UNTIE to Gordian Knot, not just CUT it, yes?

So that's what I'm trying to do.

But I do appreciate your input, as I appreciate everyone's input.  There are, at least, a few people Here and Now who are interested in my various responsibilities, which -- even when they're hectoring me about them -- is still better then working in a complete vacuum.

3.  CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE is progressing.  I have approved the second prototype after rejecting the first one, corrected all the text, pencilled and inked all of the Cerebus fully-inked head shots (25) and done the ballpoint pen sketch ones (4).  I've also signed all of the bookplates that are to be signed and personalized -- but haven't personalized them yet.  This is one of the "systems" things John and I will be working on: that personalizations show up on a list of drawings that I'm doing (the person's name and what they pledged for) and can be relayed to me in the first batch of info.

It's going much more smoothly this time than the 2012 Kickstarter.  I'm sure we still have a number of "bumps in the road" to deal with.  BUT!  Hopefully everything gets smoothed out as we go along and by the time, say, CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER THREE is in the works, I can limit my involvement to the Noon to 3 pm block of time and spend the rest of my time on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.

See you next week!

Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by donating at or via Paypal.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (2008 to 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.


Birdsong said...

Great Damian T. Lloyd impression.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Damian said anything like what Dave suggests, at least not in the post that is linked to. Damian's point was that he is interested in reading Dave's new work, but not in visiting his house, and that probably most Cerebus fans would agree. There's no contempt or suggestion that Dave is irrelevant in any of that.

But as I say, I think telling Dave how he should direct his energies is a waste of time. A part of the success of his work is that it is his uncompromising vision.

- Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

Aw, David, such an impression hardly taxes Dave's talents; too many semi-colons, a few typos, and you're there.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, moo

Birdsong said...