Friday, 29 August 2014

Weekly Update #46: 'End Of Life' Issues

Howdy, folks!

Checking the comments posted over the last week:

Thanks to Damian for an extremely pertinent comment on the Series 7 #2 Brush Situation.  I do tend to go by hearsay -- in this case, Wyndham Art Supply telling me about the ban on sable brushes.  Why would you make up something like that?  That was probably their experience, though:  a large order coming in from the UK getting stopped by Customs and "having a chat" when they went down to bail out their Winsor & Newton "refugees".  Customs was, very likely, just telling them what the current situation was -- with no assurance that this was what the situation was going to be.

Anyway!  MANY, MANY thanks to David Birdsong, Margaret Liss, Paul Slade and our genial host Tim W for making my Series 7 #2 Brush Blues a thing of the past.  I'm up over 20 brushes, now! (and, yes, David -- that means you should hang onto the 3 you ordered and use them yourself: you'll love them I think. They're well suited to your style).  The brushes are all sequestered according to CEREBUS fan of origin and I will be updating you on how they're working.  M-2, Margaret's second brush is still the champ.  But T-3 (Tim W) worked really well on the hair on the SKYLARK poster.  Not M-2 or T-1 level, but more than suited to working in Really Really tiny.

Wes Smith:  Anecdotally, I would have to say that the most common experience is that CEREBUS fans got to an age where the ol' DC and Marvel Razzle Dazzle just wasn't working for them. They didn't KNOW that, yet.  But, they would pick up an issue of CEREBUS, have NO idea what was going on and...gravitate to that.  They WANTED to not know what was going on instead of being spoon-fed.  When I was at Mike and Erika's place last Christmas, Mike's daughters asked me, at the dinner table, "How did our Dad find out about your work?"  Well, Mike and I had just been talking about that, so I started explaining about issue 130 and how he saw the cover with the door splintering inward and...and...I was losing them. Had lost them.  I realized they were more just unfamiliar with the idea that my work is, like, for SALE in places their Dad shopped in before they were born.  I'm just this wrinkled-up old guy who shows up twice a year and always gets referred to by his full name.  Which is just Mike doing the "I can't call him 'Dave' that sounds too familiar and I can't call him 'Mr. Sim' because I know him better than that." Zack, who is 3 now, wanted me to keep telling him my name.  I think he was digging on the "full name" syndrome.  While I'm trying to watch a movie.  "Zach. Dave Sim. I think we've established that. Dave Sim.  Dave Sim. Dave Sim."  

The TURTLES and SPAWN thing did generate a larger audience, I think.  But the residual effect of that was just that it was a natural for signings and conventions (which I don't do and am not likely to do with us stuck at 561 names for three weeks).  "Dave Sim is going to be there. BOOM. Get him to sign my SPAWN 10."  Even Pete Dixon at PARADISE COMICS the last time I was there.  "Can you sign these SPAWN 10's?"  Found a cache of them in some long box.  Told me that they're actually harder to find in 9.8 than most Image Comics because the back cover is black so, in a stack of them, the black smudges the white front cover of the one behind it.  And he had, like, a pile of 40 or so smudged ones and 8 good ones to prove it.  "Uh, you want any of these?" I had to admit, uh, no, not really.  Anyone I gave them to would just say "Is the cover smudged?"

Jeff Seiler starting with the Wolverroach issues (glad you're feeling better Jeff -- I saw the photo you posted and didn't read any response by you to the comments and I thought, "Wow, that's CRUEL! At least tell them what happened!").  I made the point to Batton Lash way back when I didn't know he thought I was a misogynist: "What was your first issue?"  And he said "31."  And I said, "Okay, what issue number is WOLFF & BYRD on?"  And he said, (I think) "24" (at that time).  "Well, there you go, Batton. You haven't even gotten to the point on YOUR book where you started reading MY book. That explains why you really need Unbelievably Frequent and Reliable Publication as a Given, not an Option in Indy Comics.  Getting to issue 31 or 54 just gets you a 'tryout'."

Scary, eh, Indy creators?

Tony Dunlop:  I want to clarify (because I do comment on it in a post coming up that isn't going to make too many people very happy) that I think REINVENTING COMICS was a valuable work, well worth reading.  Although I think it's more "Here's what colour the sky is in Scott's world" than he would care to admit.  It's less Rosetta Stone-ish than UNDERSTANDING COMICS in that way. But, then, UNDERSTANDING COMICS sets a very high watermark in the Rosetta Stone Sweepstakes.  Here's, Structurally, What Comics Are is very different from "Here's the definitive contextual analysis of the comics history we all just went through in the last couple of years and here's where we're going" is quite a bit to bite off, let alone chew, let alone swallow.  It would be interesting to know what the Web Comics Generation -- that grew up with it and have never known a time when it didn't exist -- think of REINVENTING COMICS, generally.

Jason/Paul/Mike: on the Facelift Tipping Point in CEREBUS restorations:  I think this might be attributable in a lot of ways to Mike being an aspiring Indy creator who is heavily influenced by CEREBUS.  His comment that a big part of CEREBUS, for him, is the progress that I made in a very short time...that's a very common creator comment (speaking anecdotally: here's what people tend to tell me).  Actually a meeting place of creators and retailers.  Retailers have an easier job selling a book that gets better as the creator(s) go along, so readily apparent progress counts for a lot with them. The same way that "dogging it" -- suddenly doing what appears to them as hackwork when you had been doing primo "eye candy" -- has the opposite extreme effect on retailers.  It's, like, DON'T DO THIS TO ME!  DON'T DO THIS TO MY CUSTOMERS!

We might be looking at a situation where Sean would SAVE what he's done right now --  as Mike says, we're all on the same page that he's doing an AMAZING salvage job -- and that we have, maybe, Legacy One and Legacy Two.  We're pretty much AT Mike Kitchen's Legacy One.  Sort of abide by those rules -- clean-up outside the panel, fix obvious "schmutz" -- but don't SHARPEN EVERYTHING to what Dave Sim was TRYING to do (by Dave Sim's own admission).  But (the current suggestion on the table) George "batting clean-up" is maybe a different thing.  Come in, one trade paperback behind and patch the tone, clean up the gutters, get rid of the schmutz, SAVE and then do a separate treatment on each page which is right "over the top" in clean-up.  And then warn everyone up ahead of time. "If you like the original texture, buy the CEREBUS trade NOW."  If you want everything vacuum-packed and sharp as a tack, you want, um. The 18th printing. Or the 19th printing.  We'll tell you ahead of time.  This is the one.

Just an idea.

1.  Canada signals "Thumbs up!" on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE!  EU and Australia and New Zealand copies shipped as of yesterday!  USA! USA! On Their Way!

2. CEREBUS ACTION FIGURE "Looking good, Apollo!"  Plan to "Scaffold" the project is taking shape.

3.  HIGH SOCIETY sample signature in three forms: NORMAL, DARK and VERY DARK.  Sean Robinson is appointed Restoration and Printing spokesman to Lebonfon.

4.  "End of Life" issues continue the "mail answering" and "phone message" -- and Patreon update -- moratorium at least through this weekend.  SINCERE apologies!

1.  John's keeping me posted on the feedback -- which is extremely positive! -- on the packaging and contents of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE Artists Edition.  Conrad F. says: Packaging: perfect!  Archive itself: Outstanding!...Overall the entire package was nicer than I had hoped it would be.  Wow. I am already looking forward to ARCHIVE TWO! Keep 'em coming!      

I had to laugh at Dean R.'s comment about the mailing package: "These things were super-glued using some kind of Kryptonian technology or something."  That was part of the tweaking we did last week.  John was basically compensating for the decision to not use staples.  If you don't use staples, you want to secure the package in some way to replace the staples.  So:  big bottles of glue.  And then putting weight on the package to hold the pieces HARD together while the glue dried.  And I'm looking at him demonstrating this and my...comic-book fan sense is tingling.  But Good!


Comic-book fans really don't like this kind of thing where you have to Tear It Apart To Get At It.  We're, you know, ANAL (er -- in a nice way).  I didn't say it, but thought it. And Real World John is just, staring at me.

We want it 100% secure, but we want it to be in pristine mint after we open it.

 Even if it's just the mailing package.

 And John's looking at me and wondering why I'm not "GETTING" his Mission Control "double redundancy security" concept.  Not SAYING anything but, you know: "You spend all this time telling me, MINT MINT MINT, it has to be perfect.  Well, the whole thing glued together, there's no danger of slippage. None."  Fortunately, at that point David Marsh showed up to pick up his copy.  So I just explained where we were in the discussion and, David, you know, being as ANAL as the rest of us, goes: "Yeah, you'd want the box to be in mint too if that's possible."  Or, at least, mutters in the right way to signal to John.  And also (being also from the Real World) you could see him thinking, Actually, that's more than a little weird of us.  Who but comic fans would even think about the box it came in?

John's getting used to us, I think.  Or, he's at least learning not to use Real World Common Sense anytime I get my "Oooh. Oooh. The fans aren't going to like that" face on.

Very broad-minded of him, you know?  Not expecting us to make good conventional sense?

Thanks, John.

He's even promised to send an empty replacement box to anyone who got one with the Kryptonian glue technology. So he's definitely "in touch" with his inner psychotic comic-book fan (or, at least, becoming aware of where our 'bright lights and loud noises' thresholds are). If you got a Kryptonian glue technology box, e-mail him and get on the list.  But ONLY if you got the Kryptonian glue technology box.  PLEASE don't be sufficiently psychotic a comic-book fan to go: "Can I get an extra empty box, anyway?" You KNOW who you are. Don't make me come over there.

 Everybody in the EU, Australia, New Zealand and USA! USA! PLEASE remain calm.  ONLY Canadian orders were Kryptonian super-glued.  REPEAT! ONLY Canadian orders were Kryptonian super-glued.  Breathe! (if you still let yourself)

2.  Very impressed with what I've see of the CEREBUS ACTION FIGURE.  That's a lot of points of articulation.  Of course, I won't be able to make the actual call until I can actually hold a prototype of the figure and check everything out here in "meatspace".  George's and my concept is to "scaffold" the project, starting with the first prototype, George's original computer drawings and my modified sketches -- putting them up for auction through Heritage Auctions.  The only question right now is how high up the scaffold do we go before we do an auction?  i.e. Just the first prototype and drawings or do we wait until I have time to do a rough of the actual box art (which I picture doing on a standard white U-Line box -- unfolded -- so, yes the winning bidder will be able to frame it.  We even promise to ship it in a container that you can open and still have it be in mint, even though it's just a shipping container)?

The idea is that we use the proceeds from the auction -- whatever it works out to -- to kick the whole thing up a notch or several notches.  "We can't really afford to do...THIS...right now with a budget of zero", but if we can do a prototype and auction that or maybe, say, 5 prototypes, signed and numbered with a sketch of the ACTION FIGURE itself, how much money does that give us?  Well, okay, cool!  What things can we design and add in as we go along now that we HAVE a budget of x number of dollars?  We're talking a WAAAYYYS down the road, of course. I've got a LOT of stuff on my plate as it is.  But -- speaking frankly -- doing the box design for a 9" tall CEREBUS ACTION FIGURE is definitely on my creative bucket list (picturing the painted illustration I remember on my ca. 1964 GI JOE) (and, let's face it, that's our target market: sixty-year old men who -- sad to say -- still have one mental foot back in that decade and those toy packaging boxes) (that they definitely want IN MINT).

"Actually, I hate action figures, can I just buy the box?"

Hey, I don't see why not. (I'm one of you -- you can't throw me with a question like that)

"If you paint it on an actual U-Line box, some of it is going to be upside down. When you flatten it out, I mean.  I think you see where I'm going with this."

You mean: Can I actually paint the box so everything is right-side up in the auction piece?  And then just put everything upside down digitally where it needs to be? Even though that is unremittingly stupid?

"Uh, yeah."

And can I do copies of the painted box mock-up signed and numbered with everything right-side up?

"Uh, yeah."

Will that make you pay more?

"Oh, yeah. Definitely."

WAY more?


I think you just answered your own question.

3.  Having spent the better part of a week studying the NORMAL, DARK and VERY DARK versions of the HIGH SOCIETY sample signature, I'd have to say that I agree with Sean that the Lebonfon NEW NORMAL is a definite improvement and their "Aardvark Initiative" a great success.  I'm leaving Sean to discuss the ins and outs and intricacies of the "way forward" -- we have committed to making Sean our spokesman on these things -- but, my best suggestion is that the Goldilocks Spot is somewhere between NORMAL and DARK:  that it would be best for the Lebonfon pressman (or press person as the case may be) to have both versions in hand and to target an ink coverage and line density in between the two.  NORMAL is just a bit too light and DARK is just a bit too dark.

I'm hoping that looking back and forth between the two and targeting a point between them will give us an ideal calibration.  Probably give the press person a migraine but -- hey -- it's all about priorities, right?

Seriously, many thanks to Josee and Dean for picking their game up several notches on the big board! You came through BIG TIME with all of the CEREBUS world's eyes on you!   

4.  Having spent four days getting all of my CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO "ducks in a row" last week, I was tempted to go back to the status quo in time for my non-fasting day today.  Answer the mail and return phone messages.  Instead, I decided to forge ahead with something that's been on my desk for a good two decades.  Literally.  What happens with CEREBUS and A-V when I die?  After issue 300 came out, I fixed the easy stuff: arranging my own funeral and pre-paying for it.  Very tough to be in the "floor model" room and picking out a coffin for a "loved one".  I don't want to be cheap, here.  When it's for you?  This cardboard box will be fine.  In fact, have you got one that isn't in mint?  With Kryptonian glue technology? I'll take anything VG or better.

Well,  no just kidding.

But I didn't go too much fancier than the particle board cheapie-cheapie model.  It's for ME.  Same reason I buy my jeans at Wal-Mart.  I'm not really concerned with people not being dazzled by my 60-year-old self's choice in denim.  NO ONE is going to say, "Hey! check out the cool designer jeans on that wrinkled-up old man!"

What happens with A-V and CEREBUS and the Off-White House and contents when I go? is a MUCH bigger and more complicated ball of wax.  So, for the last week, during my 12:30 to 1:30 daily "priority communications" period, I just worked on The Letter that outlines all of it.  Which is something where the novelty wears off.  In a hurry.

Where did I leave off? (looking at the letter in the typewriter):  "IMMEDIATELY after my death..."  I mean, an entire week of IMMEDIATELY AFTER MY DEATH...  as soon as possible AFTER MY tend to find yourself going, "Right. Mouthwash. Forgot to buy mouthwash. Must go out and get..."  NO! Come on, you're stalling.  No one's going "That wrinkled up old man. Did you notice how white his teeth were and how minty-fresh his breath was?"

(funny story about that:  My visit with Mike and Erika and the kids earlier this month was a non-fasting day.  And it was just about time for Mike to pick me up and I thought YIKES! I didn't shower today!  "No one's going to get within smelling distance of a wrinkled up old man (gum gum gum)".  Um. Actually, Dave, you're going to house with seven people in it and three of them are of a gender (which shall be nameless) that can pick out trace amounts of stench measured in the micro-millionths at a distance of twenty yards.  So Mike shows up and I go, "Mike, I've never asked a guy this before. Do I smell bad?  I didn't have time to shower today."  And Mike's going "I'm...a bad person to ask. I just got off work. I've got my own sheen that I can feel."  So.  At dinner, I've got to say it:  If I Smell Bad, Blame It On Mike. I Asked Him.)

(Which got even funnier when Blair showed up and was sitting next to me and I told him the story.  And then a few minutes later he gets up and moves one chair over and has to go "IT'S NOT YOU."  I forget what it was.  But, I thought that was funny. )

Anyway, I've got the After I Die thing worked out as much as I can get it worked out.  I'm doing an Update for my lawyer Wilf every August.  So far last year and this year.  So, even if everything isn't carved in legal stone, he has instructions to post the -- 20-plus pages at this point -- here at A Moment of Cerebus as soon as he hears that I've...joined the Choir Celestial, pushing up daisies, PINEeen for the fjords!...

Seiler knows where to find Wilf now because he had to update his "End of life" contact info (having two giant holes drilled in the bottom of his face serving as a kind of metaphysical post-it note, I guess).  So, Jeff.  If you hear that I've snuffed it, I'm counting on you to e-mail Wilf and say "Remember -- Dave wants ALL of that info posted."

Okay. Now I'm walking out to Waterloo to pick up my mail -- which I'm going to READ but not ANSWER and get groceries.

God willing, see you all next week!


Graphic Edge Print Solutions said...

UPDATE: I guess Dave was at the coffee shop just as I was faxing him my update. ALL of the FedEx Ground shipments are packaged up as a bulk shipment and by E.O.D. today will be on their way to Menachem at Escape Pod Comics. This includes the three portfolio's in which the backer took up the 'pick-up at Escape Pod Comics at get a 15% discount on everything in the store' offer (you'll find another surprise in your package from Dave, in addition to the signed bookplates), as well as the packages going out to the retail comic stores.

Barring any import delays, the bulk packed boxes should arrive at Escape Pod mid-week and then Menachem has kindly agreed to drop off the individual packages at his nearest FedEx depot. We'll be doing the same thing with the USPS service portfolio's and as soon as I finish this update, I'll be going back into the 'Ship & Click' software and try to figure out how it works so that I can prepare the shipping labels here, just like on the FedEx ones. That way, Menachem just unpacks the larger boxes and drops them off at the post office.

Since the USPS volume is the largest (about 1/3 of all portfolios) I'm planning to send out one box (of four) each day for the next four days. That way we can get some going sooner than others. I'm sorry if you're one of the ones that ship out last. It's just random at this point, so hang in there with us please.

The amount of time it's taken to make the packaging, assemble and pack everything, then get on the shipping software (3 different systems, none of which have proven to be efficient for this volume - something I'll be investigating before Number Two ships out.....) has been far more involved than I had estimated. Shipping 3 items is no big deal. Shipping 30 is a bit of a pain and gets repetitious. Shipping 300 is a really big job! So I just need to figure out better and more efficient ways to do this.

I'm really looking for feedback on any packaging damage, especially from the Australia and the EU countries (both the air and sea shipments). The folks getting their by sea shipment will notice that I had to trim down each package to conform to the maximum dimensions (else there would have been a cost penalty of $25 to $30 on each one!). So that means that the cardboard side protection strips are half the width that the Canada, US and any air shipments are. So if all of those arrive without damage, then we'll know that the reduced packaging survived the most distant ship points and we can standard everyone's to that size for the Number Two.


John Funk

Tim said...

Just wondering when uk sea shipment could be expected to arrive


M Kitchen said...

Got a good number of chuckles out of that one.

Graphic Edge Print Solutions said...


Canada Post estimates 4-6 weeks for surface (sea) shipments to the UK.
There is also no tracking available on this service, unfortunately.


John Funk

Jeff Seiler said...

Oops! I still was playing my C or D-level game when I posted that photo. What happened, as Dave knows from our conversation, was that, right after I had an abscessed tooth pulled, a horrible infection blew up. It went right down my right jaw and across my chin, against my throat, to the point where I could not swallow food. Thought I couldn't breathe freely, too, though it turned out I could breathe.

Anyway, I went to the hospital, had no food except sips of soup and bits of applesauce for 5 days, had surgery to drain the pus, and had those tubes installed to drain the remaining pus.

Now, 3 weeks on (?), I still have lumps (but, hey, who amongst us doesn't?), but no drainage, and two hole-like indentations under my chin.

So, they ya go. Story to go with the picture.

Jeff Seiler said...

Funny story about calling Wilf. I forgot to update contact info with him, for when Dave gets hit by a bus. We were too busy talking about the other matter. Guess I need to call him back.

Graphic Edge Print Solutions said...


I know that Dave asked you to post the explanation, but now I'm thinking that maybe we didn't need to have all the information on that one, LOL! :-)

Re: "....when Dave gets hit by a bus...." Yeah, and as luck goes, it would be the bus that has his drawing of Schweitzers plumbers butt crack in an ad on the back of the bus (from Dave's posting of "The No Butt Crack Guarantee" of a few months ago)".

I've been on the lookout for that bus ever since, and I haven't seen it yet. Darn it!


Jeff Seiler said...

Hey, I just do what Dave tells me to do. Which segues to my question: I wonder how many "current" fans, here at AMOC, know about The Committee? You know, the what if Dave gets hit by a bus committee.

David Philpott said...

Is this the steering committee or the get out and push committee ?

David Birdsong said...

The Committee? Let's have it. All the TMI you want to share...

Margaret said...

I know how Jeff can be - teases out a morsel or two, leaves you always wanting more (he should really work in teevee, it's why we all love him so. Well, that and his awesome stories, I miss our Cerebite get togethers. . .). . .if you really want to know more here is a linky link to the start of the conversation on the Cerebus Yahoo!Group. Don't say I didn't warn you though, as you'll lose a couple hours of your life reading all of this. Good luck we're all counting on you.

Lee Thacker said...

"Hey! check out the cool designer jeans on that wrinkled-up old man!" That made me laugh out loud LOL). There should also be a new comic collectors acronym for mint-in-box-in-box too (MIBIB). Really enjoyed reading this post.

Jeff Seiler said...

Well, M, it was way more than 2 hours, but I re-read every post except several by Rick. It just reminded me of how far afield those threads could go if no one thought to change the subject line.

But it didn't quite explain my reference to The Committee. Basically, as you saw if you read the thread, Billy Beach, Sandy Atwall, and I agreed to Dave's terms for making Healthcare decisions on his behalf, should he become Incapacitated.

Some time afterwards, tiring of writing long phrases to refer to our trio, I asked Dave if we could call it The Committee. He replied, "Good a name as any."

Years later, while I was driving him from his house to Toronto, I asked him whether the arrangement still stood, with the same 3 guys. He said, "Yes, as far as I know."

Of course, he will outlive all 3 of us. . .

Lee Thacker said...

Thought I'd add my 'thumbs up' on the Cerebus Archive front. Mine arrived (in the UK) in pristine condition. Very nice indeed with an unexpected freebie thrown in. Looking forward to Cerebus Archive 2.