Thursday 31 July 2014

Lebonfon Update: Binding Cerebus!

(via email, Monday, 28 July 2014)
Hi Tim, Here's a few pics of Cerebus on the binding line. The job will be shipping out today.

[Sorry for the delay in getting these images posted everyone ~ Tim]

Restoration Update-- the Cerebus Dragnet Continues!


Friends... the hunt for Cerebus original art continues!

We've had some success so far, with eight original art owners contacting us so far, resulting in a total of twenty-seven pages as of yet. As the art hunt continues, I'll be sharing some images as they come in.

I'm continually surprised how much information never made it to the original printings. A lot of what was lost was due to the photography, especially in the first 60 or so issues, but a lot of it was the (at the time) necessary generational loss between the artwork and the printing. Seeing these one-step-removed scans is a revelation.

Of course, some of the appeal of it is a little more... surface. It's always interesting to me to get a chance to see the pages as objects as well, to imagine their stories, how they've fared out in the world since they left Kitchener.

The pages we're seeing today all come from the collection of illustrator Dean Reeves, of Graphic Language. Dean has collected some incredible pages, with a definite eye for the graphic and the iconic.

Here's a page that, Dean notes, was damaged in a fire at the house of its prior owner.

And here's an interesting page from High Society, giving some insight into the mechanical process behind the work. The page on the right would have been shot separately from the main page, inverted, and then placed as an overlay atop the artwork. White on black is notoriously difficult to create with white inks, so this was an effective solution to that problem. (Notice the registration marks on the bottom of the page, meant for aligning the created overlay)

Lastly, here's a slice of a page from another iconic moment, and one of my personal favorite pages from early in the book. You can see some of the damage this one has sustained in the tone, which has ripped as it shrunk. Tone rips like this seem more common when the tone was burnished really well on application-- the less carefully burnished tone seems to just shrink in place, fairly evenly around the center.

Thanks to Scott McCloud, Tim Hodler of, Neil Gaiman, and everyone else who has shared links to the dragnet so far. Special thanks to our sixth donor, Gregory Kessler, who supplied us with a whopping 13 pages. Thanks again Gregory!

Any and all leads can be mailed to us at: CerebusArtHunt [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Dave Sim's Notebooks: The Making Of A Cover - Cerebus #60

A few years ago I scanned all of Dave Sim's notebooks. He had filled 36 notebooks during the years he created the monthly Cerebus series, covering issues #20 to 300, plus the other side items -- like the Epic stories, posters and prints, convention speeches etc. A total of 3,281 notebook pages detailing his creative process. I never really got the time to study the notebooks when I had them. Just did a quick look, scanned them in and sent them back to Dave as soon as possible. So this regular column is a chance for me to look through those scans and highlight some of the more interesting pages.

After seeing the recent entry The Making Of A Cover: Following Cerebus #4, I thought to myself, I know I've seen several sketches of different covers in Dave's notebooks.

Then when I was going though notebook #4 which covers issues 59 to 69, I found several different names for the issue and a couple different sketches for the cover of issue #60. On page 19 the different names for the issue starts with "Seeing Things and Other Reads", then on page 25 "Soliloquies" and finally on page 27 "Monologue".

Along with the name "Monologue" on page 27, we see the first sketch of the cover for issue #60. It resembles the cover for #59 with the wallpaper like border around the picture.

Notebook 4, page 27 closeup

The next sketch we see is on page 29. The different female characters who make an appearance in the issue show up:
Notebook 4, page 29 closeup

Red Sophia, Henrot-Gutch, and Astoria show up in their individual boxes. Another similarity to the previous issues - where a character was in a box on the cover with the "wallpaper" like border.

Then on page 38 we have the last sketch of the cover:
Notebook 4, page 38 closeup

It resembles the final cover, but it isn't still the finished layout. This sketch has the order a bit different, from left to right: Astoria, Henrot-Gutch, Theresa, Red Sophia and Elf up top. On the final cover, it is from left to right: Red Sophia, Henrot-Gutch, Theresa and Astoria. My guess for the rearrangement? Red Sophia's amble bosom. It is a bit... distracting. Catches the eye first, then leads one around the rest of the heads via the elf's trail and then up to the elf.

Cerebus #60 (March 1984)
Art by Dave Sim
Margaret Liss is The Cerebus Fan Girl and maintains the Cerebus Wiki.

Monday 28 July 2014

From The Archive: Bob Burden's Flaming Carrot

Treasures From The Archive -- Bob Burden is comics' greatest cartoonist/flea market dealer. He obviously ran across this edition of THE HARLOTS HOUSE AND OTHER POEMS (1929) by Oscar Wilde either in the book stacks somewhere in his house or at a flea market or rummage sale and said "HRRRMMPPPHH. Dave's doing an Oscar Wilde character right now. I should send this to him." Which he did, while also adding a great picture of the Flaming Carrot to one one of the (many) blank white pages. I'm willing to bet this is a one-of-a-kind item. Unless Bob found a dozen of them and used them as Christmas presents that year. In which case forget I said anything.

Sunday 27 July 2014

From The Archive: Neil Gaiman's Good Omens

Treasures of the Cerebus Archive -- I'm pretty sure this is a copy of the first printing of GOOD OMENS which Neil personalized:
"To Dave and Ger - The end of the world is nigh. Bring sandwiches."

Saturday 26 July 2014

The Making Of A Cover: Following Cerebus #4

The cover of FOLLOWING CEREBUS No.4 (May 2005):
  1. For some weird reason, I told Gerhard that I wanted to do the foreground building. Then, while I was working on it, I realized that I was doing my best Will Eisner imitation. No idea that Will would die in hospital shortly and that this would be the Will Eisner Tribute issue;
  2. Gerhard, as usual, does all the difficult stuff on tracing paper, having outlined my contributions;
  3. the finished black and white cover;
  4. the printed colour cover.

Friday 25 July 2014

From The Archive: Zulli & Byrne Draw Cerebus

A couple of favourites from the "Other People's Cerebuses" section of the Cerebus Archive:

Michael Zulli:
Oscar Wilde and Cerebus
"The future is what artists are" pen and ink on craft-tint illustration paper "to Dave 12/3/89".
(Click image to enlarge)

John Byrne:
Cerebus and Wolverine
John drew this for me at the 1979 Atlanta Fantasy Fair.

Weekly Update #41: Club 261

Executive Summary
  1. On track for shipping of the Remastered CEREBUS Volume One trade. Today. Retailers being enlisted to notify AMOC when they (re) enter Diamond's Star System.
  2. Sean Robinson preparing his "guided tour" of his four remastered signatures which will appear here at A Moment of Cerebus as soon as the first copies reach comic stores.
  3. George Peter Gatsis will be doing his own "guided tour" of the balance of the CEREBUS Volume One trade.
  4. Sean and Mara's CEREBUS ART DRAGNET finds 10 of the Most Wanted already!
  5. CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE Artist's Edition. All that remains to be done is:
    a) sign the "Club 261" membership cards (see illustration)
    b) U.S. domestic packages will ship from Menachem Luchins' ESCAPE POD COMICS.
  6. Scanning for the next Kickstarter: CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO (The ten earliest HIGH SOCIETY pages in the Cerebus Archive) begins Monday.

1.  So far as we know there have been no last-minute glitches in the printing and binding of CEREBUS volume one's 16th printing which means they should be on their way to Diamond even as you're reading this.

We're requesting that our regular retailer readers -- Menachem Luchins and Trent Rogers (hi, guys!) -- make use of the "COMMENTS" section of this post to let everyone know WHEN the CEREBUS trade becomes available for order by retailers from the Star System.  (so far as I know it's listed as out of stock right now and will be listed as such until the books are received and entered into Diamond's Star System).  If you're a fan and want to get a copy, the Star System order code is STAR00070. Tell your retailer but WAIT until we have confirmation that we are "live".

The consensus is that this is definitely, hands down, the best version of the CEREBUS trade ever produced.  Of course, me, George and Sean are perfectionists so...

2. Sean Robinson is, at my request, hard at work on his self-critique of the four signatures that he restored.  We were actually getting into pretty in-depth stuff when I suggested that we needed to "hold that thought" until all of you CEREBUS fans who were interested had a copy of the 16th printing so you can look at it and follow along and (for those of you replacing an earlier "dog-eared, read to death" printing) to be able to compare what has been the status quo for the last twenty years, what our team has managed to fix and what we see as still being left to do.

I wouldn't say we're exactly "full speed ahead" in one sense but we are in another:  basically, Sean was offering to slow down on sending the invoices for the work he and Mara are doing.  I appreciated the offer, but my business theory has always been to pay invoices ASAP -- i.e. when they come in -- in order to have the clearest idea of how viable your business is.  If you hold off on payment, you can LOOK as if you're doing fine (money in the bank) and be much farther down the line than you think you are.  Sean's latest invoice was for $1515 and represented two weeks' worth of work.

It isn't really a predictable thing: i.e. budget $750 a week.  A lot of the work Sean is doing right now could best be described as R&D -- Research and Development -- HOW we're going to restore the pages.  Which means he can work two days on a problem without coming up with a finished digital file.  BUT!  If the two days result in a proven method of recovering line work on negatives or scans of original artwork, then it's money well invested.

And, as I mentioned before, we're coming to a fork in the road where Sean's going to have to allocate his time while doing three things at once: 1) continuing to refine the CEREBUS Volume digital files 2) beginning to refine the HIGH SOCIETY digital files and 3) beginning to establish procedures where we have both scans of the negatives and the original artwork (which only starts to happen with volume one of CHURCH & STATE).  You can see why postponing invoices wouldn't be a particularly good idea at that point  :).  Right now we've used up about two thirds of the Kickstarter money (expenses, taxes, paying for the aborted HIGH SOCIETY, etc.) but there will be more revenue coming in on the CEREBUS trade sometime in September and HOPEFULLY we maintain our Club 261 list of people financing all this through CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO.  The money is here now and for the foreseeable future, so I don't see telling Sean and Mara to "hang fire" AT LEAST through August and September.  That can change.  It doesn't mean that we're BEATEN -- it just means we have to go slower than the steady forward speed we have right now.

Lots of possibilities.

3.  George Peter Gatsis, who did the original restorations on the CEREBUS trade, will also be weighing in with his views on the 16th printing.  As with Sean, the order of the day will be self-critique and critique of the other's work.  Everyone's putting their ego in a box and off to one side.  We're all learning as we go so there's no need for anyone to take anything personally.  We'll all be looking at the same book.

We're also fortunate that Lou Copeland who did the EXTENSIVE computer work on JUDENHASS will be offering his opinions.  Lebonfon has his address and will be shipping him a copy hot off the presses.

I'm hoping Sandeep Atwal -- who did most of the initial scanning of HIGH SOCIETY before the negatives were destroyed in the tragic fire at his place (and did all of the GREAT computer work on glamourpuss) -- will also join in.  Sandeep! Drop by and pick up a copy of the CEREBUS trade or, better yet, get Lebonfon to send you one!  He and his buddy Craig have a new place in downtown Waterloo, so, less than two years after getting out of his place with ONLY his wallet and the clothes on his back, he's back in business! You CAN'T keep a good man down.

4.  Sean's definitely come around to the view that the original artwork is a Best Resource for restoration (despite inherent problems like tone discolouration and shrinkage), so as you read right here, he's initiated a CEREBUS Art Dragnet (Da da dunh dunh).  As I told him, it's interesting you would call it that because one of the next things I have to do is to recreate one of Mel Keefer's DRAGNET photorealism strips.  And, of course, as soon as I realized that, I remembered that Sgt. Joe Friday's badge number (the badge was the "outro"graphic on the old TV show) was 714.  And, here we are, in 7/14.  Comic art metaphysics. It's everywhere!

Anyway with MANY thanks to Neil Gaiman for re-tweeting the link and to "Dean R" who has already contacted Sean about the "Ten Most Wanted" pages he owns, we're off to a great start!

In addition to be willing to finance "de-framing" and "re-framing" of original pages, let me also say that for those Major Art Collectors and Dealers who keep their most valuable pieces in insured storage and are worried about the insurance consequences of moving them for scanning, we are willing to help finance that as well.  Just give us a contact name at your insurance company and we'll be glad to pay for bonded, secure transportation -- armoured car, whatever it takes.  Or arrange for a security guard to accompany someone with a portable scanner to the vault where your artwork is stored and to scan it there.  There are mechanisms to work around these problems.  Any CEREBUS page is "chump change" compared to a Van Gogh and they move those around all the time!

I'm also going to be creating a certificate, (verifying BOTH the person whose possession the page was in when it was located and scanned and anyone who LOCATED that person) featuring a small reproduction of the digital scan, the "7/14" Dragnet badge (I'VE GOT TO DO ONE NOW!) and illustration of Cerebus as Sgt. Joe Friday.  This will be sent to BOTH individuals as soon as we receive a set of digital scans.

And, each of the CEREBUS trades will feature a list in perpetuity of those individuals.

So, if you have a page...or Agent Sean or Agent Mara (Da Da dunh dunh) and become a part of CEREBUS history.

5.  We're definitely down to the last couple of things that need to be printed and signed on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE (and thank you all for waiting so patiently for us to get with the learning curve on Kickstarter!):

a) basically the membership card for Club 261.  As I mentioned elsewhere, I do want to keep track of this: how many people were there in May 2014 when we had no idea if it was possible to finance the restoration of the CEREBUS trades?  AND: does that number go down?  Does it go down dramatically? Does it go up?  With the 35 copies ordered by our seven retailer partners (and I can't thank you guys -- and Mimi -- enough!), we come out to just about exactly 300, so that's what they'll actually be numbered out of.  But it's 261 people who made it happen. Surprise Bonus!  I contacted Lebonfon and had them trim the signature #1's signed and numbered from TAKE ONE of HIGH SOCIETY and ship them to John at the Print Cave.  So, in addition to the 261 membership card, you'll also get the aborted HIGH SOCIETY signed and numbered signature # that corresponds to your CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE number!

b) the Lower Labels have been signed for the regular signed and numbered edition.  But I still have to sign the unique Lower Labels that will be included on those CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONEs where the pledge partner committed for a fully-inked Cerebus head and the ones that will be included on the CANOs where the pledge partner committed for a blue ballpoint ink Cerebus head.  There are 26 of the former and 4 of the latter.  So, if your number is say, 125, your label will say "Signed and Numbered First Edition This is No.125 out of 300" and also "This is Also No. ___ of 26 with a fully inked Cerebus head by Dave Sim".  And on the ballpoint pen ones, "This is Also No. ___ of 4" with head sketch of Cerebus by Dave Sim done in ballpoint pen" (wording is not exact).

c)  I will ALSO be lettering the names of the comic stores on their dedicated CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONEs.  Here, again, the CANO will be part of the 300-copy edition, so the label will specify that:  which number these five are out of 300.  But it will also say, below the label, hand-lettered by me "ESCAPE POD COMICS No.1 out of 5" "ESCAPE POD COMICS No.2 out of 5" etc.  Retailers won't be getting 5 sequential numbers, in most cases, but they will be getting 5 "out of 300" numbers.

d)  Many thanks to Menachem Luchins for agreeing to forward the US domestic packages (which we will be bulk shipping to him as a way of saving money -- Canada to US postal rates are OUTRAGEOUS!).  The mailing label will have the Escape Pod Comics return address.  If you have ANY problems or complaints about your order, you only have to return it to Menachem, he'll return it to us, we'll destroy it and send you a replacement.

We've shipped a test package from Kitchener to Eddie Khanna in Vancouver and had him mail it back.  I'm pleased to report that the bubble mailer it shipped in is not longer quite in mint, but the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE came through with flying colours.  We don't anticipate many -- if any -- damages.  Again, full return, full replacement policy in effect.  No worries.

6.  Scanning for the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO (the ten earliest HIGH SOCIETY pages in the Cerebus Archive) will be done (God willing) on Monday and forwarded to Sean for high tech sharpening.  I'll also be writing the commentaries on them, hopefully in the next couple of weeks, then doing the new video for Kickstarter and then we should be off to the races!

Bad news on the "I don't believe Dave Sim is a misogynist" petition front. Mitch Grady signed yesterday. Nick Wyche signed two weeks ago. And before that we had a month-long dry spell. 560 people and pretty much flat-lined.

No problem, by me.  I've always been more than happy to let people make up their own minds about these things.  But it does make a big promotional tour for STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND distinctly unlikely.  Potential fallback position?  Exhibit of the artwork in San Diego at an off-site location during Comiccon of (whatever year) and reception elsewhere where I'll be glad to meet and greet any petition signatories.  Seems fair to me.  You want to see the artwork?  There it is.  You want to meet Dave Sim?  Well, if you think he's a misogynist, I'm afraid he doesn't want to meet you.

Would you want to meet someone who thought you were a misogynist?

From the comments section last week: I'll certainly consider making reproductions of the CEREBUS trades available through Kickstarter but that would involve a lengthy process of reassessment. One of the core concepts of CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE (and forward) is that the packages are all the same size. We're going to add in some features as we go, but always on the basis of 11x17 or smaller. Which wouldn't be the best use of the trade paperback covers in my opinion. We want to get GOOD at this format before we start messing around with things we don't know how to do.

The point was made that Sergio is selling GROO posters for $60. I'd caution that there's often a difference between offering a poster for $60 and selling a poster for $60. I want to avoid -- with the VERY limited time I have -- "test marketing" prints and copies by spending all of the money involved to print them and then finding out it's one of those "Margaret and eight other people" things.  :)

JP Pollard on the Series 7 brush. Literally as I was walking out the door, Tim's package with the two brushes came in. Yes, we are definitely talked about the WINSOR & NEWTON SERIES 7 number 2 STANDARD brush [available from and], not the MINIATURE brush. Many thanks to Tim. I'll be able to tell you next Friday when I go to pick up the mail if any others have come in. Couldn't have come at a better time: I now don't need to S!AV!E! my one unopened brush. And the next thing I have to ink is a Jose Luis Salinas CISCO KID panel. If ANYTHING calls for a brand new brush, THAT does!

David Groenewegen on his suggestion that I buy the Xacto 41 sharpener replacement blades instead of a whole new sharpener. That's an interesting idea. Can you check online and see what the difference in price between a sharpener and replacement blades would be? I tend to think that the blades would be a substantial part of the cost since that's really all that an electric pencil sharpener consists of. But, I've been wrong before about these things.

Okay, have to write an update for the Patreon people.

See you all next week (God willing).

Wednesday 23 July 2014

WANTED: The Cerebus Art Dragnet Begins

WANTED: Have You Seen These Aardvarks???

The hunt is on!

Aardvark-Vanaheim is currently seeking high resolution scans of Cerebus original art, to replaced aged, destroyed, or otherwise inadequate negatives. These scans will be used to produce new, digitally restored versions of Cerebus volumes, “Legacy” editions that will honor and illuminate the innovative art that garnered the long-running series its reputation.

Greetings! My name is Sean Michael Robinson, and I'm heading the current Cerebus digital restoration.

Although it's rarely been used to full effect, the past decade's revolution in CTP (Computer to Plate) technology has made it possible for printing to be more faithful to original line art than ever before. Because of this, new editions of books sourced from original artwork can have more detail present than any previous printings.

In the case of the early volumes of Cerebus, the difference isn't subtle, not even on a screen.

Below, left: scans of existing print sources.
Below, right: scans from original art, adjusted for the Cerebus Archive restoration project

If you personally have access to any Cerebus original art, with special emphasis on the first 80 issues, we're looking for you! Or more specifically, 600 ppi color scans of your Cerebus artwork. 1200 ppi scans are even better, if your scanner is capable. If you don't have a scanner with a large enough bed, most office stores with print facilities should be able to help you.

Aardvark-Vanaheim will happily reimburse you for any expenses incurred during the scanning, including de-framing. In addition, every scanning contributor will be thanked by name in the resulting Cerebus Legacy Edition printings.

If you have scans for us, or any leads, please contact Sean and Mara at –

We're happy to announce that we'll be assisted in this dragnet by Heritage Auctions' Managing Director of Comics Lon Allen, who has agreed to supply us with high-resolution scans of any future pages that come through their auction house. Special thanks also to our most recent contributor, Calum Johnston, owner of Strange Adventures Comix & Curiosities, who was kind enough to take a page down off display to be scanned at a local office store.

Lastly, you can help us by spreading this banner image, and links to this article, far and wide. Help us in the hunt to make the best Cerebus volumes possible!

Update, day one, 7/24: 

Special thanks to illustrator Dean Reeves, our first day donor! He's brought a whopping ten pages to the table. Many, many thanks to Dean, and all of you that linked, and please keep them coming!

Update, 7/25:

And we have our second donor! This time it's Trent Rogers, owner of Future Pastimes, a Cerebus-friendly comic store in Sarnia, Ontaria, Canada. Trent says, "The page hangs in my shop where I can proudly show everyone a piece of my favourite comic series." Thanks so much Trent!

Update, 7/26:

And today we have contact with donors 3,4, and 5! Special thanks to TK, the first person to actually deliver files, of a wonderful-looking three pages! TK also had this to say: "Best of luck in reassembling that shattered vase." Thanks! Will do :)

Update, 7/30:

Our sixth donor is Gregory Kessler, who has sent us a record-breaking 13 pages! We now have a total of 25 high-res original art scans, with 4 more on the way. Keep spreading the word!

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Dave Sim's Notebooks: Touch Not The Priestess

A few years ago I scanned all of Dave Sim's notebooks. He had filled 36 notebooks during the years he created the monthly Cerebus series, covering issues #20 to 300, plus the other side items -- like the Epic stories, posters and prints, convention speeches etc. A total of 3,281 notebook pages detailing his creative process. I never really got the time to study the notebooks when I had them. Just did a quick look, scanned them in and sent them back to Dave as soon as possible. So this regular column is a chance for me to look through those scans and highlight some of the more interesting pages.

This week we're looking at issue #83, and in specific, pages 8 to 10 or if you're following along in the phonebook, CHURCH & STATE II page 642 to 644. Dave first sketched out some layouts for page 8 and 9 on page 28 of the notebook and added the punch line from page 9 (though it isn't per verbatim yet):

Notebook 6, page 28

We then skip a head to page 32 of notebook 6 for the dialogue for the pages. The notebook pages between page 28 and page 32 have some dialogue for the earlier pages in the issue, a blank notebook page, and a "Got Live If You Want It Tour '86" poster sketch. Perhaps just unused slogan for the UK Tour that happened in 1986?

Starting at the top of page 32 the dialogue for page 8 goes across for two lines of the Countess' dialogue, and the it goes down to the line at which time Dave starts numbering the bits of Michelle's soliloquy by which panel they appear in. He also crossed off some bits that didn't make the cut.

Notebook 6, page 32

It looks like Dave revised the dialogue at least three times that I can see. The first 'revision' was the addition of the words 'frankly' and 'I mean' in front of two pieces of the Countess' dialogue. Those pieces appear on the finished page just like they do in the notebook.

Then we can see some blue pencil crossing off dialogue and adding new dialogue. For example, the bit labeled '2' was "Of course I never ASKED. I didn't even know who he was until the end of my first year....". Dave crossed off 'Of course' and replaced it with "at the same time." The marked up text is the line that is in the finished art, page 644 of CHURCH & STATE.

There are a couple lines that weren't used "He never explained why I was an exception to the rule" and "The next day he told me that one day a woman would stand against him that her will (?) would ultimately prevail."

Was this unused dialogue from Weisshaupt about the United Feldwar States' defeat to the Cirinist forces? The revolution which happens while Cerebus is on the moon, from which he returns to a Cirinist held Iest. Or was he talking about Michelle, how she was the exception to his male only University? Yet he keeps her in an apartment with a job of which he controls the wages. Even then, she still helped him in the end, giving Cerebus his message.

Margaret Liss is The Cerebus Fan Girl and maintains the Cerebus Wiki.

Monday 21 July 2014

It Looked Good On Paper!

One of those "It Looked Good On Paper" things -- literally! Mimi Cruz and Alan Carroll of Night Flight Comics had sent us this incredibly cool photo of the Salt Lake City Library: worm's eye view of the superstructure for our 2006 signing. I did my part: a worm's eye view of "old Cerebus" with "Torah Cerebus" in behind and then in behind him was going to be "bartender Cerebus". Then Gerhard traced the photo and -- as soon as you looked at it -- it was definitely "What in the HECK am I looking at?"

So we went to Plan B instead.

It was when we got back from Salt Lake City that Gerhard announced that he had had enough.

Sunday 20 July 2014

Eddie Khanna: Action Comics #563

Action Comics #593 (DC Comics, January 1985)
by Robert Loren Fleming & Keith Giffen
Dave, there it goes again.

I had this comic out for some reason. I had been reading it a few years ago because of the Ambush Bug story and I guess I never put it away. So I saw it was still out, flipped it open and boom, right on the front page is a picture of Cerebus on a wall behind Ambush Bug.

Just when I thought that it couldn’t get any stranger, I looked over at the advertisement on the inside front cover for model cars.

Is it just me, or is that Stan Drake’s infamous convertible that someone has drawn to sell these things in the comic book medium (available as a t-shirt)?

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any stranger than THAT, Fisher's post the very next day on AMOC was about the model car you used to draw Stan Drake's convertible, along with the photos of it.

That was why I asked him if he knew the brand of the model car you used. I’m pretty sure it’s not Monogram Plastic Model Kits, but you never know. Just curious. Also curious about who the artist who did the original drawing used in the ad was.


Leaving a restaurant a few days ago, and what appeared to be the exact same car pulled up at the stoplight as I was crossing the street. These cars aren't really common around here.

In answer to your question, Eddie, no the model in Dave Fisher's photo was an all metal (with plastic detailing) model I found in a downtown Kitchener junk shop back in the glamourpuss days. Very weird day: they had a model Corvette and facing it they also had a jigsaw puzzle of an SL 300 gull-wing Mercedes like the one that Alex Raymond owned.

"Oh, well, it's a 1957 Corvette.  Not a 1956.  If it had been a 1956,  THAT would have been a coincidence."

When I opened your envelope and saw the ACTION COMICS cover, "Oh no. NOW what?"

That's a pretty good one, I have to admit: a little picture of Cerebus directly facing the inside front cover with the 1956 Corvette.

See, I think that's Comic Art Metaphysics.  The issue of ACTION COMICS came out in late 1984 which was just after Judith Bradford had come to my attention.  As I look at it now, God saying, "I didn't give you the talent I gave you so you could use it to get yourself a teenager for a girlfriend."
Which, to me, is basically what God was saying to Stan Drake in September of 1956.  So it seems like a metaphysical version of "Oh, no. Here we go again with the teenaged girlfriend."

"I'm CAR-RAZY" is a good way of putting it.  

Eddie and me are LOUSY with examples of this at this point. As soon as I've got the Stan Drake section completely refurbished on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, we'll start sharing a few more of them with you here.

We'll STILL have enough left over for a couple of good sequels if SDOAR sells.

Saturday 19 July 2014

Estate Of Craig Miller: Original Art For Sale

Cerebus #80 (November 1985)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(Click image to enlarge)
(Father / Administrator of the Craig Miller Estate)
The original art from Cerebus #80 pages 8 & 9 will be on display for accepting bids and sale at the San Diego Comic Con in the Anthony Snider Booth.

This is part of the Estate of Craig Miller building a trust fund for Craig Miller's 10 year old daughter, Jennifer Miller. Craig (1959-2012) was a writer, artist, publisher and massive collector of all comic related items. He co-authored 12 issues of the Following Cerebus magazine with Dave Sim. Anyone interested in obtaining copies of any of those issues can contact me at the following address:

Howard Miller
2525 Ohio Drive, #3107
Plano, TX 75093

Friday 18 July 2014

The Countess & The Aardvark

Cerebus #53 (August 1983)
Art by Dave Sim
(from the Cerebus Wiki)
The Countess, visually, was based on Karen McKiel, the Aardvark-Vanaheim secretary from 1982 to 1988 (?). She was an interesting character and very much a first generation feminist in the strong, independent woman mold. Nothing particularly new or interesting then or now. It was really at one step remove from the situation (being a married man at the time) that I began to remark upon the societal change that was taking place with most girls/women having jobs and either taking it as a given that that was always going to be the case or that the job could be the lifestyle choice while they tracked down a husband whereupon they would either chuck it in (the vast minority) in favour of marriage and children or (the vast majority) put it on hold until the marriage and the children had been accomplished, whereupon it would be resumed in earnest. Boyfriends and husbands would be expected to fit themselves in and around the margins of the career wherever they could find a spot (cooking dinner, cleaning the apartment, doing laundry and shopping for groceries seeming like some valuable places they could occupy in their largely orbital existence around their strong, independent woman).

Karen was kind of interesting in that she had a predilection for other women's boyfriends and husbands. She liked to test the bonds of other people's matrimony and usually found it wanting. Which seemed to both satisfy and frustrate her since she was also in search of a husband of her own. In her own terms, she liked to "cause shit". She was a big fan of the TV show Dynasty (the Prince song - "Kiss"? - with the line "You don't have to watch Dynasty/to have an attitude" was certainly bang-on for the time period) where causing shit seemed to be a major female preoccupation. I didn't really interest her for the longest time because I was in an open marriage. Having sex with someone you were allowed to have sex with was no challenge and, therefore, no fun. There needed to be the possibility of fireworks not only in bed but in the resulting soap opera.

This many years later on, I can see in reading the Countess' dialogue my attempt to sort of wed Karen McKiel to that Dynasty brand of high-stakes relationship power fantasies that she liked. But, in a literary sense, it really just rings false. Even contriving Weisshaupt's overblown infatuation with Michelle which blinded him to who she actually was and compelled him to try and make her into someone she could never be (and, in rereading these sections that does seem to be my subtext: Pygmalion gone seriously awry at any number of levels. Not the least of which is that My Fair Lady was concerned with turning a flower girl/guttersnipe into a lady, not turning an average girl into Donald Trump) just seems a transparent literary device to cover for the implausibility of the plot point, the tip of the playing card is showing between my fingers when it's supposed to have vanished.

I started having an affair that was off-again, on-again through the ensuing year with Karen about five months after Deni and I officially split up, having an affair with your boss' ex-husband having an illicit tinge that having sex with your girlfriend's open-marriage husband just didn't have. My dedication in Church & State Vol. 1 to Jessica - Karen's own euphemism for her vagina - and that "somewhere it is always January 23, 1984" (the night we first had sex) certainly indicates that it was worth waiting for. Ultimately, of course, I ran afoul of the Holiday Rule which is a centerpiece of most women's on-again, off-again relationships. As a guy, if you want to stay in the game, you had better time your "on-again's" to coincide with Christmas, Thanksgiving and her birthday and, in this case, agree to drive home to New Brunswick with her sister and brother-in-law for Christmas. I declined and she came back with news of her new boyfriend that she had met while down there.

That really wasn't the end of things. She stayed the secretary for a couple of more years until the Bank of Montreal called asking for me and she tearfully showed up at the studio door to tell me that she knew what it was about: she had been paying her personal Mastercard from the company's account we had opened for depositing our Mastercard phone orders. I guess she had figured since it was all one big happy Mastercard family, no one would notice. If it wasn't quite a Dynasty flourish worthy of whatever-her-name-was-who-was-the-Queen-Bitch-on-Dynasty, it wasn't through lack of effort on Karen's part. To add insult to injury, several years later we had to pay tax penalties on her clothing purchases on her company Visa (evidently it was important to me that she look good in the office, thus justifying a clothing allowance of several thousand dollars) when the charges were, naturally, disqualified.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Weekly Update #40: The Presses Are Rolling!

Lebonfon President, Alain Roberge, checking printed signatures of CEREBUS coming off press.

Executive Summary
  1. First pages of the CEREBUS volume were rolling off the presses at Lebonfon today. You should be able to order a copy at your local comic store the first week in August
  2. We're counting on the CEREBUS fans who order a copy of volume one to help us move, a step at a time, towards the Legacy Edition
  3. CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE is getting pretty close to being done. I signed Plates 5 through 9 earlier this week, so right now I only have the front of the folders to sign and Plate 10
  4. Operation Sable Airlift is on hold until I get the "miniature" and "standard" brushes that Tim sent me and can determine if they're the same as what I'm using.

1.  Sorry, I'm late getting here. No caffeine for Dave during Ramadan and that means mail-answering Friday is just a regular 12-hour day instead of the 21-hour day I've gotten used to. Good news is I'm all caught up on the mail!

Got a fax first thing this morning from Dean McCoy letting me know that pages were rolling off the presses at Lebonfon. He said that they got a couple of pictures of Alain Roberge, the company president, looking over the first few pages and e-mailed them to Tim. So, Tim I'm guessing is just waiting for me to post this stuff so he can plug the photos in. It's going to be WAY past Tim's bedtime by the time I'm done here, but we're all pretty happy that we're this close to having finished books after a couple of years of hard work. We're also all pretty confident that this is going to be the BEST version of the CEREBUS trade to date.

Lebonfon President, Alain Roberge, checking printed signatures of CEREBUS coming off press.
2.  As you've read in Sean's update from this week, our first major concern when we all have printed books is going to be: what is the best way to improve on what we've accomplished so far?

George has already composed a list of "clone tone" pages:  pages where the tone had shrunk on the original artwork or where there is smudging or I just didn't trim it properly.

 It raises the interesting question:  if I didn't trim it properly 35 years ago, isn't that an idiosyncratic trait of the artist that should be retained where possible?  I don't think so:  if I had been able to just snap my fingers and have the tone exactly where I wanted it and not where I didn't want it, all of the cutting would be 100% accurate.  So it has more to do with intention than ability.

George has also flagged a couple of panels that he thinks could develop the dreaded moires in the finished printing.

The big plus with this edition is that it's going to have Sean's solutions and George's solutions side-by-side.  So we should be able to have a "guided tour" by both of them when we have the finished books.  All of us.  Including those of you who are going to order one.  And then we can ask the most intelligent questions:  which of these solutions works the best in YOUR opinion?  What matters to you as a reader and what doesn't?  

How important is 100% accuracy?

These are the areas we're going to get into: this is what it looks like NOW on the 16th printing.  Is this what we're happy with it looking like from now on?  The obvious answer is "no" from mine and George and Sean's perspective.  We're going to want to improve things and we're going to want to develop a policy on how to do that.  And that gets into financing.

Sean and I exchanged faxes on the subject with him pitching the idea of "adopt a page".  If we agree that we want all of the tone to be 100% accurate, Sean will be able to give us a ballpark figure on what it's going to cost to do that.  Some pages are going to be more complicated than others, depending on what interference there is between the tone and the artwork under it.  More complicated means more hours and that means more expensive.  So "adopt a page" seems to make sense:  here are the pages that Sean is going to be working on in the near term, a list at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.

So, how many people are willing to adopt a page and pay the amount needed?

Well, we'll see. If you have a copy of the book and you're looking at the page(s) we're talking about and you can't really see any difference, the odds are you aren't going to want to adopt too many pages :).  Which doesn't mean that we don't do the restoration, it just means that we have to slow down to what is affordable on an on-going basis with basic revenues.

Of course, there's a bright light on that horizon, too:

Right now, we definitely have our Patron Retailer, "TF", on board for a $10K donation...

(even more interesting was "TF"s suggestion that Sean and Mara shoot footage of themselves restoring the work and that we make a documentary about Restoring Comic Art.  Which seems like a GREAT idea.  And also solved one of the problems I was facing: not wanting to have the $10K as income because A-V would have to pay tax on it and I'm already having to guess if the CEREBUS ARCHIVE KICKSTARTERS are going to maintain the current income level, how many we will end up doing before the end of the year, etc.  So I suggested that "TF" become the producer of the film and pay Sean for filming it.  Coincidentally, for the same amount of money that Sean would charge for his restoration work.  And that Sean would "comp" A-V his restoration work in exchange for permission to film my work without paying any fee for the rights), as I see it, we're going to be able to see "adopt a page" in theory before we see in it practice.  Sean will be posting a list of pages along with the charge for the restoration and we can see how fast that eats up "TF"s $10K.  Which SHOULD tell us if we just keep going along steadily or how much "start and stop" we're going to need to do as we wait for the money to replenish.

And, as I say, we're going to want your input as involved CEREBUS fans.  I'm guessing you will be less obsessive than me and George and Sean but probably more obsessive than, say, the average comics retailer.

The Cerebus press sheets on skids wait to be bound.
3.  We were in the process of developing "Kickstarter Helper" and just today John informs me that there's a Kickstarter being done for that.  Basically software that will let us do more things more quickly and efficiently in order to cut down on the "execution time" on each Kickstarter.  A lot of it is just "routing" problems:  As soon as the campaign is done, I should have a list of all the people who are getting stuff personalized to them.  Kickstarter isn't really set up for that, so we need to graft the ability onto the information.   But, as I've said before, we want to be all the way through the process of packaging and fulfillment before making any hard decisions about CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO -- which I should be starting on soon.

The Cerebus press sheet samples heading out to Dave, Sean & George.
4. MANY thanks to all of the people who are out tracking down Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2 brushes for me.  A GREAT relief to find out that the idea that the sable is an endangered species didn't originate in England -- home of Winsor & Newton -- in which case I would figure the worldwide supply was down to single digits.

Nope. Evidently Winsor & Newton still makes the brush and sells it on their website.

Do they just not ship it to North America?  Is it North America or just Canada?  Sean said as far as he knew there weren't any Series 7 #2's in California.  I plan to take a day when Tim's brushes come in to compare them to the two best I have right now.  And then compare those to the sable/nylon blend and nylon versions I got from Wyndham's.  Sean suggested that the nylon brushes don't work as well or last as long but -- at $8 each instead of $36 each -- you can afford to blow through them a lot faster.

I'm inclined to think that the actual problem is my hesitancy in having too much money tied up in brushes -- when the right way to think about it is: the more brushes I've got, the better the odds that I have the ones that I need.  The two best ones I've got for sharpness of line and flexibility are quantum levels better than the other four.  Stands to reason that if I can get in even, say, 20 or 30 of them that those odds are going to go up.  I might even find one that makes dog meat out of the best two that I have right now!

This is on my mind because I've just run across largely the same problem with pencil sharpeners and ink.

I keep refilling the same ink bottle from a larger ink bottle and getting used to the texture of the ink.  Which is thick and then needs to be thinned.  Well, this week I ordered a small ink bottle of Speedball Superblack.  Which seems counterintuitive:  why would you order a dinky little 2 ounce bottle of ink that you have a 30 ounce bottle of?  But it made a world of difference.  I've come to the conclusion that the Speedball Superblack is the perfect consistency when you get it, but it dies pretty quickly.  And diluting it and doctoring it is the equivalent of putting electrodes on a dead horse and then running juice through it so the muscles twitch and saying "It's ALIVE!"  No, it's dead. Put it to one side and start over with a new horse -- er, little bottle.  Like, once a month, or every time I order new artboard.  EAT the $5 charge or whatever it is.  You're making your life a lot easier.

Same conclusion that I came to with the electric pencil sharpener.  The Xacto one that I've got works beautifully.  Needle sharp pencil points which is what I need.  Needle sharp for about a month and then it doesn't really sharpen like it used to.  The blades have worn down.  Now, it seems completely Looney Tunes to buy a new electric pencil sharpener every month.  But, how does the expense compare to the 20 minutes it's taking me to sharpen pencils for the really tiny, detailed -- under the magnifier lamp -- faces I'm doing?  First in the pencil sharpener, then with an Xacto knife, THEN on coarse sandpaper?

I know these things and then I have to relearn them.  DON'T "Make Do" -- do what you need to have optimum materials and keep them that way.

Maybe I can sign my electric pencil sharpeners and sell them on eBay with Cerebus head sketches on them or something.

See you all next week!

Cerebus Restoration Update: 'Proving' Proofs

Things are mostly quiet on the restoration front, as we wait to see the results of the Lebonfon Cerebus 16th edition replacement signatures.

Because of a few delays, I ended up traveling on the day that the proofs were supposed to arrive, but thanks to a Fedex redirect, I was able to pick them up in Seattle when I got off the plane. It's always disorienting to see “proofs,” these days, as most printers use what are generally referred to as “soft proofs” – either screen proofs that are worse than useless, or laser printer proofs that aren't fundamentally different than what you might generate by yourself using a desktop laser printer. 

The proofs looks just about as expected, and I spent most of my time looking them over making a mental checklist of possible “Legacy edition” style edits and tweaks to the pages, mostly involving tone cloning to shore up any areas of tone shrinkage from pages sourced from aged original art. These are the type of time-consuming fixes that Dave and I had talked about but that for the most part I restrained myself from executing, only fixing what seemed to me to be the worst instances, and making sure I demonstrated all of these potential techniques in a few places for demonstration purposes

The only other real news this week is that I took an hour or so to page through the source material available for High Society, and I think we are going to be in much better shape. I separated out the material by source and resolution, and spent a little time adjusting my automated formula, and then pointed Photoshop's batch action command at the whole folder of negatives and said “go.” Two days later, the three hundred or so pages were done being processed. Right before we headed out to the airport I flipped through the folder and took a look at a dozen or so pages. They looked perfect.

Why the difference from the Cerebus material to High Society? I'll go into more depth later, but the short reason is that my automated process relies on several steps of different types of sharpening, and that this sharpening is prone to bringing out the noise in newsprint scans. I dealt with this a few different ways in the Cerebus pages, but there's not really one solution to the problem. You either use some kind of noise reduction and then have to compensate by bringing back any lost line detail by sharpening by hand, or you can use more mild noise reduction and have to spend time solidifying your blacks afterwards. (“Noise” in the case of newsprint is just whatever the computer sees and brings out that your eye doesn't perceive as signal – pulpy colored portions of the paper, gaps in the blacks that create the “dusky” solid black look, anything undesirable that's there, but that under normal circumstances your brain is capable of filtering out. Take all those things and sharpen and contrast-adjust them, and all of the sudden they're much more visually prominent than they were before.)

None of these things are problems at all if you're sourcing your material from negatives, which, if properly scanned, have almost no “noise” to bring up. You can nuke them with sharpening, layer upon layer of the most aggressive sharpening you have, and they just look sharper.

I'll have step-by-step pictures for this when the book comes back from Lebonfon.

But for now, the future – for the next book, things are looking up. But no more real work until we get the results from the Lebonfon printing. And when that happens, I'll give everyone a walk through the process of the replacement signatures, and talk about some of the challenges they presented, and what those challenges say about the eventual Cerebus Legacy edition.

Sean Michael Robinson can be found online at Living The Line.