Friday, 15 August 2014

Weekly Update #44: A Cerebus Facelift


Howdy folks!

Answering questions from last week: no, there won't be annotations or the SWORDS INTROS in future printings of the CEREBUS trade.  For the same reason there isn't a new cover, because, personally, I always hated that:  having to buy something I already have to get something that I want and then finding out that I have to buy it again.

Also, the book is large enough as it is.  It was already a tough decision to add in the SILVERSPOON pages a few years back.  Once you start down that road, then there's always "Oh, HEY! What about adding THIS in?"  I suspect it's a not uncommon problem in the field. Matt Demory at Diamond, when I called to tell him we were on track for the promised ship date asked very pointed questions about this being the SAME book.  The price didn't go up?  It wasn't different from the CEREBUS trade they have always sold?  You have to be consistent or you generate hostility where you are Very Far from the centre of the universe.  It's important here at AMOC -- and thank you, all -- but elsewhere it's just "You aren't doing something just to GOUGE PEOPLE again, are you?"

  1. CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE begins shipping.  Assume that John Funk is doing it as fast as he can and that he'll post to AMOC or the Kickstarter site or both to let you know if there's an unavoidable delay of any kind.
  2. I'm not a facelift kind of person, so the restoration work is going to stop short of what I would consider a CEREBUS "facelift".
  3. 30+ years + adhesive = authentic yellow stains on original artwork: just like the Golden Age!
  4. Getting on top of the artists materials situation: thanks to Tim W and Margaret Liss for the Winsor-Newton Series 7 number 2 brushes ("M-2" edges ahead of "T-1" for current fave); new pencil eating sharpener makes points needle sharp.
  5. Thanks for a great start to Dave Fisher's glamourpuss art auctions! We're both sincerely gob-smacked!
  6. R.I.P. Robin Williams.

1.  CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE is all finished on my end. John Funk will, I'm sure, keep you all updated on the progress of the shipping.  As with any other business where A-V stuff is only part of what he does, it depends on what else is going on.  We're both anticipating that things are going to go a lot more smoothly on NUMBER TWO because we aren't doing everything for the first time.

This is going to be an abbreviated Update for the reason that I'm starting CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO today.  So, John's looking at that, too.  I've assured him that we're keeping things as much the same as we did last time as possible.  It seems silly with 261 people to pretend to SURPRISE you with the same stuff.  No, here it is.  If there's something you didn't get last time and you want to get it this time, here you go.  The only major difference is going to be the BONUS ITEMS which we're going to introduce, like, two or three (or four or five) per week.  And a real variety of material.  The idea being to keep the pledges up as close to what they were last time this time.  I don't want to be accused of fishing anyone in.  This is like a PBS pledge drive.  You know -- donate $79 and you get this token of our appreciation.  You don't get something that screams $79 at you.  It's charity, pure and simple.

We have no way of paying for the restorations just out of general revenues so it comes down to: How many CEREBUS fans are there who are willing to donate to keep the work moving forward?  That's how fast we're going to be able to go.  You've heard the term "cash flow"?  The way we're doing things what we have is "cash rip tide".  At any minute we might have to move everything WAY UP the beach to the tree-line because the beach might not, you know, BE there.

We're keeping you posted every step of the way for the exact reason that you're the ones financing it.

And thank you, thank you, thank you!

2.  There are interesting questions about the restoration.  A while ago, Sean asked me if he had been too aggressive or not aggressive enough in squaring the corners in the book.  It's no small question.  I'm doing the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO Notes on issue 28, pages 6, 7 and 8 (and have been since 1:30 this morning).  My intention with those pages was to do very sharp "in-line" white borders and very sharp panel borders.  And everything is pretty ragged because I've never been in that ultra-sharp Steranko graphics category.  It can all be fixed in Photoshop.  Or "fixed".  I realized looking at the pages today, it's the same (to me) as contemplating a facelift.  I'm not a facelift kind of person.  A facelift looks like a facelift unless it's a happy accident for a person with unusual features that lend themselves to it.  Even then, it still looks like a facelift.  It just looks like a GOOD facelift.

I can't even picture doing that to myself, so I tend to look at the artwork the same way.

This is what it looks like.  In a lot of ways, this IS idiosyncratically IT.  Everything needs to be on a case by case basis.  That's what I'm looking at in the new printing of the CEREBUS trade.  And looking at and looking at and looking at. I get a very good feeling every time I pick it up.

What do I think needs fixing?  I saw one example where the top of Cerebus' head the tone was running in one direction and on his neck it was running in another direction.  It called attention to itself.  But the longer I looked at it, the more I thought, But, does it need FIXING?  Is it BROKEN?  Or is it just what it is?  On that one I'm leaning in the direction of saying, "If you have to look at it that long, it probably DOES need fixing." So that's what I'm preparing myself for the next time I'm going through the entire book page by page.  Use that mental reaction as a template and see how many of them there are.  Then give Sean a list or give George a list and just make it a "Hey, when you get a few minutes..." thing.

And that would also give Sean and Mara a guideline to what sort of things I think need to be fixed and what things don't trigger that mental reaction in me. I always remember the anecdote in May Peng's LOVING JOHN about John Lennon recording Mick Jagger and putting reverb on his vocal. And Jagger specifically said, "Don't."  There are a lot of Lennon songs that wouldn't be Lennon songs without reverb ("Starting Over" comes to mind).  But I can't think of any Mick Jagger ones.

I just have to figure out what I consider inappropriate reverb. And tell my "producers".

3.  It's very interesting to have lived long enough to see adhesive on the pages turn yellow.  I used to think the Golden Age guys were just, you know, messy.  No, when you have adhesive that's 30 or more years old, odds are this is what it's going to look like.  Same as I never thought I would live long enough for CEREBUS back issues to smell like Golden Age books.  It's just the mould that's inherent in newsprint with any amount of moisture (times x number of years).  CEREBUS No.1 is now as old as FAMOUS FUNNIES No.1 was when CEREBUS No.1 came out.  As Sugar Kane said in SOME LIKE IT HOT, "Makes a girl think."

4.  Thanks to Tim W and Margaret Liss for the Winsor & Newton Series 7 number 2 brushes!  I'm working my way through them and labelling them.  So far "T-1" and "T-2" and "M-1" and "M-2". "M-1" I thought I was onto something because it was FRACTIONALLY longer than the others -- which was something that only happened with my favourite glamourpuss brush -- this time, it turned out to be in the "phantom bristle" category.  Not only was it longer, but there was, like a single bristle, that I can't see but which lands on the page before anything else does and throws me off.  I've got it in the "brush infirmary" contemplating whether to amputate.  I did that with one of them once. Very weird experience with the scissors under a magnifying lamp going "Okay, I can't see it, but it's ROUGHLY right here.  So this is ROUGHLY where I want to cut."  Like combing a microbe's hair or something.

"M-2" is the best so far -- when I was inking a "not much bigger than a postage stamp" Salinas CISCO KID strip I had traced -- I had already resolved to do the hatching on the Kid's trousers with a Gillott 290 or a fresh 102.  Whichever was working that day.  But, I went, "Oh, no, I can do this with this brush."  WHAAAT?  But, when you can, you can.  So I'm saving the "M-2" for fine detail.  Although my hand goes automatically to it.  Like Homer Simpson with donuts. "Ohhhhhhh.  'M-2'."

 But "T-1" is a very close competitor.

Very weird that they got through if there's supposed to be a ban on them in North America. Tim even wrote on the customs declaration "artists brushes". So, if nothing else, we can say definitively that Canadian Border Services is short right now on "sable sniffing dogs".

Seriously, it's a great luxury to have brand new brushes. They come with some sort of light adhesive on the bristles that you have to wash off before you use them. The texture was amazing. Mmm. Right. Sable. This is why they make coats out of these things.

Also bought two new pencil sharpeners which are a) HUGE and b) have no automatic "shut off".  You can literally just keep pushing the pencil in until the pencil is gone (assuming that's your idea of a good time).  But the points are needle sharp and if they aren't, a couple of swipes on the sandpaper and they are.  So I need to buy several boxes of pencils.  But I am getting on top of the "materials" situation. FRESH materials. That's the ticket!

5.  Also Dave Fisher and I were both jazzed by the results of the first glamourpuss art auction which exceeded our expectations. Thanks to everyone who participated.  Fisher isn't QUITE ready to quit driving a cab just yet, but if this keeps up, we have high hopes for him being able to devote more time to working, one step at a time, towards the major Heritage Auctions glamourpuss original art auction.

I have to admit, most of my reaction has been "Ted Adams likes THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND...A LOT! And that's all that really matters right now.  Get ten pages done, make them as good as I can make them and as long as Ted likes them and cuts a cheque -- hey, Fat City."

CEREBUS is the focus.  CEREBUS is the bread and butter.  WINGS is not THE BEATLES.  The PLASTIC ONO BAND is not THE BEATLES.

But, like any artist, I'm far more interested in what I'm doing now than in what I did 30 years ago.

So, for all -- however many of you -- who have followed me out into the woods here on my quirky new interest and (to whatever degree) share that interest: MANY thanks!

6.  R.I.P. Robin Williams.  I forget the sequence of events EXACTLY, but Brian Hibbs, of COMIX EXPERIENCE told me that Robin Williams was a customer of his (about which Brian was very classy -- never made an issue of it or a fuss: let the man shop for his funnybooks in peace) and...was buying CEREBUS?  Had bought CEREBUS?  Anyway, I said, the next time he's in, ask him if he'd like to be on the comp list. Brian phoned a couple of weeks later and said he had been in and, yes, he would like to be on the comp list.  And give me a post office box address in San Francisco.

I never heard from him, but it was like when Deni and I used to send John Lennon CEREBUS at the Dakota Building address.  Hey, at least it never came back "Return to Sender".  Only this was better because he definitely said he was interested in being on the comp list.

I think the only time I wrote to him was when I had been to Lenny Henry's 40th birthday party in 1998 (I think Tim has a link to my posting about that) and they had had a bunch of video tributes and one of them was from Robin Williams.  He definitely "closed out the show".  So I dropped him a note basically telling him that and enclosing some copies of the photos Dawn French had sent me.  Never heard from again, but then I didn't really expect to.  I'm not and never was a famous person. That was the only time I ever visited that world.

It was a weird week.

I started thinking very intensively about that party and my subsequent visit in 2000.  One of the people I had met at the party was Alexei Sayle.  And the next day THE NATIONAL POST printed Alexei Sayle's tribute to Robin Williams from THE DAILY TELEGRAPH.  Which was brilliant. His analysis of Robin Williams' technique as a stand-up comic.

A weird week buck grist for a week's worth of AMOC posts, so consider this a teaser.

The best quote I've read so far was Jon Lovitz talking about meeting Mr. Williams in college and saying to him, "Do people say to you, Why are you never serious?"  And Mr. Williams said, "Yes."  And Jon Lovitz said, "Me too. What should I say to them?"  And Mr. Williams answered "Why are you never funny?"


See you next week, God willling.


Jeff Seiler said...

Dave, these updates make my week. Your conversational style of writing, along with the insight and anecdotes, remind me very much of our phone conversations; always very pleasant and illuminating. I'm leaving just now for the College of Comic Book Knowledge to pick up the Cerebus book. I'll call you with feedback. And thanks again for calling to check on me during my illness. R

Anonymous said...

If and when it gets to that point, would it be a good idea to correct the part in Guys where Cerebus's mutilated ear is on the wrong side of his reflection? Readers might go scurrying for an explanation, but Dave admitted that he simply made a mistake there. Or does that fall into "that's the way it is" territory?

-- Damian T. Lloyd, fms

Eddie said...

My Robin Williams comic shop story:
Many years I went to my LCS in one of those "WOO HOO NEW COMICS!" head space. Headed straight to the new comics rack to scope out the new arrivals, completely oblivious of anything else in the environment (there's probably a good chance a new Cerebus had come out) and only vaguely aware some guy standing next to me doing the same thing (I recall he was wearing a hat).

After I grabbed my weekly purchases and headed to the counter, the guy that had been standing next to me had just finished paying and left. As I put down my purchases to be rung through, the clerk showed me the visa slip (this was back when people still used carbon visa slips) and said, "Look! Famous autograph!" Looking at the scribble across it, I asked him who's it was. He replied (looking a at me a bit strangely), "Robin Williams."
"Oh, Robin Williams was in here? When? He's in town?"
"That was him that just left! He was in front of you paying for stuff"
"That was Robin Williams?"
"You didn't notice? You were standing right next to him for like 5 minutes."

(Of course I had done the same thing when Dave was on tour and was informed that he would be arriving at the LCS and walked into the store right past him to go ask the clerk when he would be arriving ("See that guy you just walked past?"). I guess I just get some kind of tunnel vision when it comes to comics).

R.I.P. Robin Williams

Birdsong said...

Dave, I can see why you don't want to add any more to the trade. At this point they are stuffed pretty full. I think I just like the idea of having all the supplemental material from the period included the way it was in High Society Audio/Digital, but even that doesn't have everything from that era. I think the easiest solution is to have a 17th volume that includes as much of "everything else" as possible, Swords of Cerebus introductions and bonus stories (eliminates any need to reprint the World Tour book, the issues in Cerebus 0, crossover appearances, the AAaaaarg (or however you spell that) story, pinups, oddities and what ever else you can squeeze in. Obviously this is pretty far down the road, but it is perfect for a Kickstarter campaign and once the series is completely restored and the covers book comes out from IDW and, God willing, we all have our coveted copies of The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond in our hands it will be time to start demanding such a book because I would rather see it from you than some yahoo putting it out after you pass from this earth.

Damian, that panel would be easy enough to fix, but I don't see it happening.

Tony Dunlop said...

OK, so this question probably isn't appropriate for this venue but I'll ask it anyway since John Lennon was mentioned twice today. I've always wondered why, when the Beatles finally showed up in Cerebus, they were represented by George and Ringo. That would be like having Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman stand in for the Stones. Nothing against Charlie and Bill.
Honestly I was surprised any Beatles showed up at all, so when they were not represented by J&P I assumed it was because those two were just TOO "iconic," or something; even the great satirist Dave Sim wasn't going to take them on.

Sean R said...


I think you might get a nice surprise in the next week or two... :)


Tony Dunlop said...

There's one today (Tuesday), interestingly enough.

Travis Pelkie said...

re: the Beatles

Does it maybe tie in with that joke about the next Pope (at that time) was going to be Pope George Ringo (since we had at that time in the real world Pope John Paul II), and the Cerebus comic already had plenty of pope action going on? ;)