Monday 29 September 2014

Happy 63rd Birthday, Deni Loubert!

Deni Loubert
Art by Dave Sim
(Glamourpuss #20, July 2011)
Original "before I met her" photograph featured in Cerebus Archive #13, April 2011

Deni Loubert was Aardvark-Vanaheim's publisher for the first 70 issues of Cerebus. Deni and Dave Sim were married between 1978 and 1983. After their divorce, Deni moved to Los Angeles to start her own comics publishing company, Renegade Press, which closed its doors in 1989. She was inducted into the Joe Shuster Hall of Fame in 2010.

Glamourpuss Art Auction: Alex Raymond & Hal Foster

Glamourpuss #6, pages 14-15 (March, 2009)
Dave Sim tracing paper work-sheets
featuring Alex Raymond, Hal Foster &... The Grim Reaper!

Set of three tracing paper drawings that make up a two-page spread:
  1. Alex Raymond and Hal Foster portraits in the photorealism style. It's a Two-for-One with the world turned on it's side. When one portrait is viewed vertically, the other is horizontal (sideways, etc.).
  2. Re-creation of Alex Raymond's "The Back Seat Driver," an illustration from the cover of Saturday Home Magazine from Dec 7, 1935. This "Grim Reaper" motif will become more pronounced as the Strange Death of Alex Raymond develops.
  3. Re-creation of a Hal Foster "Prince Valiant" panel.

Cerebus Action Figure Update: Halfway

For more videos and information check out the Cerebus Downloads website.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Kickstarter: Cerebus Bookplates

Cerebus Trade Paperback Bookplate

(from Cerebus Archive Number One Kickstarter Update #6, 21 May 2014)
...Thanks to Alexander Hoffman of Toronto for sending me two Avery labels to sign for him to put in a couple of his CEREBUS trades. I had a bit of time so I sketched Cerebus on each and had him saying "Like HELL it's yours, put it back. This Cerebus trade belongs to Alexander Hoffman". 

Hmm, I thought. I had been looking for what I hoped would be a more generally affordable pledge item.

(The gag actually goes back almost 50 years now, back, back, into the Vanished Mists of Ancient Times to when men used to wear…hats! See, when you went indoors, you took off your hat. As deference to what were then known as "Ladies". I still do this compulsively in the winter even when I'm only going indoors for five minutes. Anyplace that had a cloak room also had a shelf for hats. And a lot of hats looked alike. So gentlemen tended to put an identifying label in the inside of the brim with their name on it. So it was not unknown for you to pick up a hat and check inside to see if it was yours. So, my Dad got this joke label from someone that said "The HELL it's yours. Put it back. This hat belongs to…" and then he wrote Ken Sim in it. His hat would often get a good workout with guys laughing and then pretty much having to show it to other guys to explain, you know, what EXACTLY did you find particularly funny about someone else's hat? As soon as I needed a gag for an identifying label -- well, what could be more a more Cerebus-like sentiment regarding YOUR personal property?)...

Saturday 27 September 2014

Kickstarter: Bonus Prints #1-4

Every Friday, beginning with the launch of CANT, we'll be unveiling four additional Bonus Prints that you can add to your Portfolio Package... Each successive goal will be established depending on how quickly (or how slowly) it takes to reach the next goal. We'll update the schedule below each time a new threshold has been achieved:
PLEDGE AMOUNT: ADD $9 ($8 + $1 to cover additional shipping costs) to your portfolio pledge for EACH Bonus Print UP TO the maximum number of Bonus Prints allowed (see above table). 
Now that we're down to the final week of the campaign, we recommend that you pledge for all of the bonus prints that you want, up to the maximum (currently 7). This will help move the pledge total closer to the next target of $33k! When we reach that, 10 bonus prints will be allowed. At the end of the funding period, I'll ask the necessary questions in the survey, so that you can let me know exactly which ones you selected for yourself.
Bonus Print #1: Cerebus #1 Splash Page Reimagined (2010)
Bonus Print #2: Cerebus: 'Climbing' Commission (2010)
Bonus Print #3: Glamourpuss: Backpage Print On Demand Ad
Bonus Print #4: Cerebus & Lady Gaga (2011)

Cerebus Archive Number Two Bonus Prints:
1-4 | 5-8 | 9-12 | 13-18

Friday 26 September 2014

From The Archive: F. Paul Wilson

Treausres From The Cerebus Archive: I'm not sure if he's STILL a CEREBUS fan, but F. Paul Wilson was kind enough to send me autographed copies of two of his best-selling books, THE KEEP and THE TOMB, both of which I enjoyed very much. The first was autographed "To Cerebus' Dad, Pleasant Dreams, F. Paul Wilson" and the second was autographed "To Dave Sim Guard Your Karma, F. Paul Wilson". I've BEEN watching and my karma seems to be okay to me but I appreciate the warning.

Cerebus Action Figure Update: 1 Leg... 1 Arm... 1 Torso...

The latest update from George Peter Gatsis on the Cerebus action figure:
For more videos and information check out the Cerebus Downloads website.

Weekly Update #50: Cerebus Archive Number Two -- Launches Today!


Hello, everyone!

Back before I found out that Chester Brown thought I was a misogynist, we used to talk about Harold Gray (and it IS Gray, isn't it?) quite a bit.  I remember one of the things that I wondered about was What did Harold Gray make of Little Annie Fanny?  If I'm not mistaken the strip debuted in 1962 when Gray had (if I'm also not mistaken) six years to live.  Did he find it disheartening?  Typical of the "sort of people" on the opposite side of the political fence from himself (which -- this was the 60s -- was pretty much EVERYONE except, maybe, Steve Ditko).  Did he want to sue?  Did he take a "the dogs howl but the caravan rolls on" attitude?

These are the sorts of "internal musings" -- "am I the only one who wonders about this stuff?" -- that eventually led to THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.

I would guess that Harold Gray wouldn't have thought it inappropriate to have a black child as Little Orphan Annie but only because Little Orphan Annie is -- and always has been -- white.

I'm not sure how many people would agree with him and how many people know that they better not
DISAGREE WITH HIM.  OR ELSE!!   Which is a very different thing, I think. Even though I know I'm not SUPPOSED TO THINK THAT'S A VERY DIFFERENT THING.  You can only get thrown out of society once.

  1. CEREBUS COVERS GALLERY is an unsolvable problem that I think IDW has done its best to solve.  It's their money on the table, so it's their call. I think they made -- are making -- a good one.
  2. The two- to four-week mail answer delay is over for the time being.  ALL replies that I had finished on 9/12 when my copier was DOA have been copied and will be mailed today.
  3. October 7: final orders for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE the unsigned unnumbered edition.  October 27: final orders for the re-release of CEREBUS VOLUME ONE REMASTERED.
  4. THE BIG NEWS THIS WEEK!  CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO (God willing) launches today on Kickstarter at or near to 6 pm ET.
  5. End-of-Life Lease on Life for the Off-White House:  The Cerebus Trust
  6. Entertainment Content for Kickstarter coming your way "Multi-page Surreal CEREBUS strip" being done for our Mr. $10K Retail Patron!  

1.  Just reading the comments this week on CEREBUS COVERS GALLERY suggests to me what a Mission Impossible it was to conceive of the book.  Once you start including EVERYTHING you really get outside of all sensible proportions.  VERY late in the initial discussion, I suggested to Ted that he consider a 300 page book.  Basically the David Banks model. On the assumption that that would satisfy the largest number of people.  It's all 300 covers.  Some original art, some scans from printed copies, some Dave Sim file copies.  Some recreations.  I think they took that into account and came up with a Goldilocks Spot closer to the 300 covers concept than anything dramatically expansive.

432 pages means an average of one and a third pages per cover.  So it's not STRICTLY the covers and it's not the Exhaustive Overkill I was preparing myself to do if they couldn't decide.  Basically, here's EVERYTHING I have to say about the covers and whatever you don't use I'll give to Tim for AMOC.

I'm glad I didn't "muck in" on the discussion.  Scott Dunbier already had the unenviable task of distilling a massive amount of visual material down to an unspecified number of pages.  That's hard enough to do without thinking you've got a massive reworking on the way that you have to negotiate mentally after already having "DONE" a 432 page book.

I'm assuming I'll get 12 pounds of proofs (and Gerhard as well) at some point and I'll just correct any factual errors and try to write some pithy aphorisms if I think of any.

IDEALLY IDW is going to want to do a book that stores want to stock on an on-going basis.  Right now the stores only want CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY but CEREBUS COVERS GALLERY might make "the cut" as a way of representing that this WAS a 300-issue series and -- as it stands now -- none of Gerhard's 20+ years of work is seen on virtually any comic store shelves. It would be nice if stores saw this as a valid way to let Gerhard be represented.

Might have to wait for the softcover for that.  Which is going to be tough if the hardcover only sells once and only in a specific quantity.

Long-term project, in other words.

2.  I'm hoping that I can get back to keeping up with the mail but that may have to be sacrificed to trying to keep SDOAR and CEREBUS ARCHIVE on a semi-reasonable schedule and continue to do these updates AND supply AMOC content.  Something, presumably, is going to have to give, but it might just be that ALL of the schedules become semi-regular.  CEREBUS ARCHIVE is looking like it's going to be three times a year, at best, right now.

3.  Major signposts up ahead: October 7 and October 27.  I talked with Matt Demory, my Diamond Brand Manager and he said that's when I can expect to get Purchase Orders for a) CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE and b) CEREBUS VOLUME ONE REMASTERED.  This is important because it's going to tell me how viable we are in the Direct Market generally and PREVIEWS specifically.  Matt pointed out that he retailers wait pretty much to the last minute when they know how much cash they have on hand (or will have on hand).  So, as always, a lot depends on whether Image or DC or Marvel has a Major Hit that is just spewing cash into the stores at the same time that the retailers are getting down to crunch time.  Nothing new in this.  As much as everyone deplored THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN overreaction in 1993, that spewed out a LOT of cash that retailers used to buy other things.  Don't want to bite the hand that is literally feeding us. Or pretending that there ISN'T such a hand.

How the CEREBUS trade is doing its first time through PREVIEWS since it was REMASTERED is going to colour a lot of Diamond's thinking about HIGH SOCIETY.  And it's quite possible that HIGH SOCIETY will be going to the printer at or around October 27 -- so you see the problem.  They aren't going to know until then how many of the new printing they've sold and won't be able to commit to a HIGH SOCIETY new printing until they do.  While, obviously, WE would like to have HIGH SOCIETY in stores for Christmas.

Compounding the complexity, Diamond has roughly 270 copies of CHURCH & STATE volume one and 700 copies of CHURCH & STATE volume two (mainly because the current printing of volume two was done just before Lebonfon decided not to store books anymore).  So, we're definitely talking about "How do you sell 500 copies of volume two?"  We're going to be discussing a lot of possibilities but the leading candidate looks like "signed bookplates"  (the ones available from Kickstarter) actually stuck in volume two.  My question was:  "Do you want bookplates for volume one and volume two and make it a package deal, blowing out the last 270 volume one and meaning volume one won't be available for -- what? -- a year?  Two years? Or do we just LEAN ON volume two."  I've agreed to sign as many bookplates as they want.  So they're mulling that one over right now.

4.  As Funkmaster John enthused by fax:  "We are AUTOMATICALLY APPROVED FOR LAUNCH ON KICKSTARTER!"  That is, there will be NO assessment delay.  They trust us that we know what we're doing!  As Funkmaster also faxed:  "How COOL is THAT?  Kickstarter Street Cred!"  I'm wondering if we get All Access backstage lanyard passes!  Or Tour jackets or something!

Funkmaster's counting on pushing the button around 6 pm Eastern Standard Time, so everyone can be watching for that!

We're just tweaking the final details on the Bonus Prints (the newest new thing this time).  I faxed both Funkmaster and Sean in the "wee small hours of..." this morning answering their suggestions.  Sean has reviewed the digital files and is MAXING the reproduction (as only SMR can do with his "restoration Kung Fu" as George Gatsis calls it: you KNOW he's the best at what he does!).  He's suggested that some of them are going to better as "mini-prints" in terms of sharpness.  So we're going to have two ends of the scale:  the double-page "Cerebus at the wheel of his Porsche" (glamourpuss No.5) which is two pieces of 11x17 art will count as TWO Bonus prints.  But the mini prints will count as HALF a Bonus Print.  And we might be offering the mini-prints as stickers as well.  For, you know, STICKER people.

The Bonus Prints will be $8 each and an extra $1 for shipping (which is average across US, Canada and International).

Speaking of which, a Big Shout-Out to the Aussies and Kiwis who are STILL waiting for their CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONEs.  We DID offer FedEx, but the rate is absolutely outrageous, so that really just left surface mail with NO tracking (even if we HAD tracking, Canada Post won't consider an international package "missing" for Six. Weeks.  And, yes, virtually ALL packages will arrive in six weeks so...THAT's why we're having this Big Shout-Out to the Aussies and Kiwis! Because that's, like, really ALL we can do from here!  HELLOOO AUSSIES!  HELLOOOO KIWIS!)

Seriously, though.  Six weeks puts it at the beginning of November.  So if you haven't gotten your package or your package has arrived damaged let Funkmaster know then.  By November 7 and we'll start getting replacements together.  From May to November -- that gives you an idea of what it's going to take for us to get All The Way Through this first round and do a final assessment -- and improve on it.

5.  End of Life Issues Update:  I just found out that my lawyer, Wilf's, retirement -- which seemed so long off in the future -- is coming up November 30th. YIKES!  And, as he explained, once he retires he is forbidden to practice law.  DOUBLE YIKES.  And he also pointed out that his "I can barely afford these rates" rates are actually between twelve and fifteen years out of date and gave me a ballpark figure of what I can expect to pay with the law firm that's inheriting me.  TRIPLE YIKES.

Fortunately, we had a fruitful half-hour discussion on the phone where I pitched him on the plan I've been developing for preserving the Off-White House -- which is basically to fold Aardvark-Vanaheim Inc. on paper ahead of time (A-V is the beneficiary of my life insurance) so that CEREBUS goes into the public domain and the insurance money provides a pool of cash as The Cerebus Trust that will just keep paying the bills on the house.  It's just that no one will live there.  Which should REALLY slash the old grocery bills, I think.  Laundry!  Dead people don't NEED No STEENKEEN' LAUNDRY done, MON!

But, seriously, the idea is that the keys to the house will be in one place, the security codes for the alarm system will be in another place (and changed frequently by the security firm).  If someone wants to visit the house, they make arrangements through The Cerebus Trust and pay the hourly rate for a security guard to let them in.  Where they can look at whatever they want as long as they don't break it and put it back where it came from if they take it out.

There might only be one visitor every eight months for two or three hours.

But that seemed to me to be the best thing to do with all of the Debris of Dave Sim's Life. Just leave it all in one place so that people who think that was (and IS) important can have access to it.

The problem with trying to do it LEGALLY -- rather than as a FINANCIAL thing -- is that a Legal thing has to be "bulletproof" -- or the lawyer is culpable for any metaphorical "bullet wounds".  It won't be "bulletproof" but it should be viable for however-long and that's really all I can ask.

It definitely favours people with money who can afford to hire a security guard and it does limit what can be done with the house after I'm gone.  But hopefully, that can be "worked on" by CEREBUS fans  "of good will" which, in my experience, virtually all CEREBUS fans are.

The next thing I have to find out is if I can make The Cerebus Fund "donate-able" so that anyone who wants to contribute a few bucks (or if Bill and Melinda Gates want to drop $1M into the kitty), that means my life insurance just provides the "base" and it gets built from there.

I'll keep you posted on developments, but this is really the first time in twenty years that I've been working on this that it's looking "do-able".

6.  Still trying to figure out how to say THANK YOU loudly enough to Our $10K Retailer Patron, TF. I had pulled out some CEREBUS tracing paper drawings used in the production of the issues and figured I'd do some "display lettering" on them.  THANK YOU TF WHO SAVED THE EARTH PIG'S BACON (THAT kind of thing:  as in, nyuck nyuck nyuck.)  (Parlez vous, nyuck nyuck nyuck?  Oui?  C'est tres bon vivant!)  That led to turning these pages with all of the images turned this way and that into pencilled comic pages, tightening up some of the drawing.  Surreal doesn't half sum it up.  I ran across a Zootanapuss pencilled tracing paper page.  "How the heck did that get in with the CEREBUS tracing paper?"  Hmmm.  This would be FUN to tighten up.  So, that's now page three.

So, that's what I'm going to be working on in the work time I had allocated for doing THE CEREBUS COVERS book in microcosm over -- what?  The next week?  Two weeks?  So, no idea how long the strip is going to be.  But one thing I can promise:  it won't make a Blind Bit of Sense as a coherent narrative.  Complete Comedy Improv.

I'll be scanning the pages as I get them done and feeding them to Funkmaster to post on the Kickstarter site.  God willing.

Thanks to everyone planning to help us out with CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO!

Don't watch the skies!  Watch the clock!  Six PM!  Funkmaster! Has! Spoken!

See you all NEXT Friday, God willing!

Thursday 25 September 2014

CANT Kickstarter Preview

Dear Cerebus Fans, Backers, Patrons,

In Dave's weekly AMOC post of today, he reports among many other things, that CANT is very close to launching! I faxed him late last night that my target was 6 pm EDT, and that's like 2 hrs and 45 minutes away. So the pressure's on....

I had a critical errand to run today, and on my way back I'm thinking, hey Funkmaster John, why don't you send the backer community a sneak preview of CANT? That way, they get a 'heads-up' on everyone else and can watch the way cool video and as they keep refreshing the page, they can see the progress I'm making. Sounded like a good idea to me, so let's let 'er rip as they say. I embedded a URL in "sneak preview" in the previous sentence and here it is again just to make sure:

Just a few quick notes and then back to slogging away at the details, details, details......

Please watch the entire video first (yeah, 7+ minutes, but Dave's entertaining project overview is very thorough. Then read as much of the Storyline content as you can - some URL's seem to be active and some aren't - you'll figure out which ones are.

Then, if you have something profound (or even mundane) to chip in on, please write your comments and send them in. (I probably won't be able to answer any because I'll be busy finishing up the project, but if you see something blatantly missing or totally confusing, please, please tell me in large UPPER CASE letters - I'll skim through your comments before launching.

Feel free to let us know what you like and don't like.

Finally, we're offering something new: Bonus Prints. Read about it in the Preview! We're also trying to simplify the portfolio pledge process while at the same time allowing you to pick and choose many, many options. Those are contradictory processes in themselves, and this is what's taking a bit longer - I need to set up (and explain) and capture EXACTLY what you want added to your portfolio (headsketch, bookplates, phone call, etc) AND which shipping method AND now the bonus plates. Kickstarter doesn't have a nice, drop-down 'pick-em' type menu, so I'm having to figure out with charts, tables and "Kindergarten Kickstarter Helper Tools" (still to be created in the remaining 2.5 hours....) ways to make this easy for you to figure out and pledge. And then clear enough for me to figure out what you ordered...

Ok, that's all the time I have for this, so have fun with the video.

Oh, right, one last thing....I had to watch the video, then work on it, and then a while later I watched the video again. Amazing how much more I noticed after the second viewing. I really recommend that you do the same.

Bye for now,

John Funk

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Thesbian Tavern Tramp Drunk

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.

Some of my favorite bits of humor in Cerebus are in Guys. One such case is with Cerebus' inner dialogue in issue #217 as he is taking with Joanne: it makes me laugh out loud. That Cerebus confuses lesbian with thesbian. a misspelling of thespian. His whole self-doubt and assumptions he makes about what Joanne has been doing. Gets me every time. 

In notebook #22 Dave writes out some of the dialogue for the conversation between Cerebus and Joanne, as seen on page 36:

Notebook #22 page 36
The top left hand corner is a sketch of the top panel of page 359 of Guys (issue #217 page 11). The bottom right hand corner of the page has the dialogue for page 360 of Guys. This first draft of the dialogue has lesbian instead of thesbian and instead of Louise the name of Joanne's friend is Gerta. So far it is just the dialogue, no word balloons. 

On the next page of the notebook, there are some notes on issue #218 and the Starchild tavern. On page 38 of the notebook we see the same dialogue again but it has been updated from lesbian to thesbian and put into word balloons:

Notebook #22 page 38
On page 39 Dave continues with the thesbian tavern tramp dialogue with some more colorful language. 

Notebook #22 page 39
Well, kind of colorful language. Using what I thought was a pretty neat trick with the 'no swearing' in front of the cuss words. Interesting to see Dave playing around in his notebook with what he is going to do with the lettering and word balloons as well as the layouts and dialogue.

Restoration Bulletin: Master of Kung Fu, Cerebus OCD Club

SEAN MICHAEL ROBINSON: This weekend I sent a package to Dave with some enlarged printouts of demonstrations of Mara's cleanup work. Dave requested "minimal", "normal", "detailed" and "OCD" examples of the type of cleanup possible, along with notes from Mara describing what she's been doing, and how long different elements take.

This just in from Dave-- his response to the cleanup test, and some thoughts on Gene Day.

Document the Document

Hello everyone!

This'll be brief, as I am in for a long day of High Society as it is. I'm currently 62 pages away from finishing the main stage of work on the book. The end to the major work is in sight. Assuming I complete the work today, next week I'll join Mara in cleanup of the remaining pages, and then we'll move to revisions, layout, addressing changes as Dave indicates whether we're on the right track with our cleanup currently. 

Meanwhile, this weekend I supplied IDW with some replacement artwork for the packaging of High Society Digital. It was a good reminder of how far things have come. Here's a peek at two of the panels I replaced, with the restored panels to the right and below the originals.

None of this was achieved with access to original art-- both of these pages were sourced from negative scans. This is a pretty powerful reminder for me of how flexible those photographic elements are, especially when compared to newsprint scans, which give you much more limited maneuverability.

 That being said, nothing beats the original artwork for accuracy, so please help us keep up the hunt! We've gotten leads on a few more High Society pages this week, but nothing concrete so far. Time is running out to contribute to this book, so please help us get the word out!

Please send any pages/scans/leads to cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com.

Meanwhile, the finder's prize continues to develop...

LASTLY, before I fling myself back into the work-- our amazing human being/High Society restoration patron T.F. has requested that Mara and I make a sort of public service announcement/restoration documentary to document some of this process in a way that would be useful to other people facing similar reproduction issues. I'd like to hear from you. If there was a restoration documentary, what specifically would you like to see? What would you like to hear? What information would be most critical, useful, or interesting? Would it be an illustrated article? A video? A combination of all three?

Any thoughts appreciated!

Sean Michael Robinson can be found at

Monday 22 September 2014

Visiting Lenny & Dawn: Part 2

a true life Dave Sim adventure

[Continued from Part 1...] This was the reason that Lenny had invited me over: FRENCH & SAUNDERS UK or FSUK. They were touring for the first time in ten years. I suspect that part of Lenny's motivation was "Dawn liked Dave. I'm in the doghouse with Dawn so maybe I can get out of the doghouse by asking Dave to come over." Probably not the best of moves since it was on the trip he had been returning home from when I met him that the cheating incident took place.

The event program was VERY funny: a send-up of HELLO magazine with Dawn and Jennifer Saunders pretending to be a famous lesbian couple adopting their first child: TINY SISSY TEARS. Dusting around the house while wearing an opera gown and tiara. That kind of thing. VERY droll bits, like Dawn with her finger sticking in the doll's eye. Reading between the lines, you realize that the reason they've adopted a child is publicity -- like a world exclusive in HELLO magazine. I'm sure HELLO magazine wasn't terribly amused. I actually "liberated" a copy of HELLO magazine from the guest flat so I could explain the joke to North Americans.

Dawn said to me, "You should have been here last night. SURE was here." Who? She had to repeat it a few times. Oh, CHER! Wow. I was impressed. Here I was breathing the same air that Cher had been breathing the night before!

I got the program signed by both of them backstage. When I was introduced to Jennifer Saunders she said, "Oh, yes. You're Lenny's hero." Which, obviously, had something more of an edge to it than it had when I had been there for his 40th birthday party two years before.

My VIP backstage lanyard. Never having been backstage before, I didn't know what to expect. We basically sat around and ate stuff and watched television. What did we watch on television? Whatever Jennifer Saunders' kids WANTED to watch on television. Lenny and I chatted about this and that, but there was no question that it was a bit awkward. "I'm With Lenny" wasn't the best credential to have backstage at a French & Saunders show in November of 2000. I mean, I was also there because of Dawn. I was glad she signed the program "Your chum".

I did take the two of them out for dinner one night. It didn't seem strained (to me), but then they're actor and actress -- part of their job is acting one way when they're actually feeling another way. I remember saying to them at one point, "I wish you could see how people react to you. People just light up when they see it's you. Just by walking past them you've given them a memorable moment." Obviously a double-edged sword and I didn't "get" how sharp the other edge can be.

a) The playbill for Jerry Hall who was playing in THE GRADUATE just around the corner from Lenny and Dawn's guest flat in Soho where I was staying. b) Me doing my best Mick Jagger impression for Dawn French at Lenny's 40th birthday party and...

I guess b) was on her mind when Dawn said to me, early in the 2000 visit, "Do you want me to fix you up with Jerry Hall while you're over here? She isn't seeing anyone right now." This tied in weirdly with Lenny saying to me at one point when I first got there, "But! You're like a rock star!" I don't even remember the context. All I could do was laugh. "I'm glad I had YOU fooled. I was never a rock star. I may have had more than my share of girlfriends and one-night stands, but… that's all over now." I had just fasted in Ramadan for the second time. Having "split hairs" over fornication and adultery in RICK'S STORY, I had decided they were in the same general box and needed to be kicked out to my personal curb.

It was weird, because I thought, "Actually it would be fun to have dinner with a beautiful Texas woman in London and talk about Texas. Who ELSE is going to talk to her about Texas in the UK?"

But. When a woman asks if you want to be "fixed up" with another woman when both you and the woman in question are there temporarily, that's not usually what she's talking about. I pictured Jerry Hall saying "I thought you said this guy was FUN! All he wanted to do was to talk about God and Texas -- in that order!"

This, to me, was the best thing about the flat in Soho -- it was just down the street from St. Patrick's Church. Which was open all day. I mean, you could just walk in and pray whenever you wanted to. You can't do that in Canada for the most part. Our churches are locked up tight as a drum except for a few hours on Sunday. I thought all churches were like that, worldwide!

Once I got over the sense that I was "getting away with something" going into a church and praying without -- you know -- "clearing" my prayer with whomever was in charge, I noticed they had a brochure about West End Catholic Churches. So I picked one up and then entertained myself by going out and finding them all and praying in each one. Sort of like the reverse of all the landmarks Gull goes to in FROM HELL. Maybe they describe a lop-sided triangle or half a Star of David or something.

Glamourpuss Art Auction: Wally Wood

Glamourpuss #6, Pages 4-5 (March, 2009)
featuring Wally Wood

Tracing papers that comprise two-page spread introducing the reader to the concept of "TRACING" in photo-realism comics, or rather STAN DRAKE's admitting that he traced, with an illustration of WALLY WOOD and the "Wally Wood Credo." Also discusses the "Art-O-Graph" and LARRY HAMA. Two (2) separate tracing paper drawings:

1) Wally Wood 9x7-inches on 14x17-inch tracing paper.
2) Larry Hama 10x7-inches on 14x17-inch tracing paper.

Sunday 21 September 2014

Visiting Lenny & Dawn: Part 1

a true life Dave Sim adventure

"I Followed Him To School One Day". Lenny Henry couldn't believe that I actually wanted to spend his entire working day with him. TV taping IS boring, but only if you never get to see it. This is really the only taping part that I got to see: the titles sequence for his BBC special LENNY HENRY: IN PIECES. This is the very rough storyboard they were working from. Lenny's basically interacting with an old-fashioned countdown clock and here he's trying to "escape" by running to the back of the frame and attempting to break out.

I had purchased a disposable camera for the occasion. This is Lenny, having rehearsed the shot a few times, ready for the "squashing his face up against the screen" shot. They had this whole rig with a giant sheet of acetate that two guys were going to hold as Lenny ran full tilt into it, the camera on the other side of the acetate. He was NOT HAPPY (as you can see) that someone was breaching his creative space. Until he saw it was me. And then he had to pretend it was okay because, you know, he's a CEREBUS fan!

[on the right: this is how we started the day: in the costume department where Lenny was getting fitted with his Little Orphan Annie wig. One of the skits was about Lenny, making use of Affirmative Action, demanding that he be allowed to play the lead in ANNIE. I'd like to have seen that one!]

That's the director of LENNY HENRY: IN PIECES on the right there. This is while they were still working on the shot, so he was a little tense. I have to admit that I couldn't understand why Lenny kept doing it. They had the shot, why not move on? Then he did a take and while we were watching it everyone was laughing. Lenny came back to have a look at that one. As he watched it, HE laughed. That's the shot he was waiting for.

One of the nights I was there, Lenny took me to see JOOLS HOLLAND not too far from his and Dawn's place in Reading. I'm not really a jazz fan, per se, but it was certainly much better jazz than I was used to hearing. It was only later that I found out that he was, you know, JOOLS HOLLAND! We went backstage at the intermission and I got this "All Access" badge to wear (Lenny didn't need one: he was one of the reasons that us ordinary folks want backstage passes: "And guess who I saw back there? LENNY HENRY!") (There's a downside to that: Lenny was -- apart from Jools Holland -- the only famous person back there, so we did a quick sweep, said hello to Jools Holland -- and then went back to our seats). I stuck my AAA backstage pass onto the back of one of my theatre tickets to keep it in "mint".

The sad part of all this was that when I arrived and the cab driver picking me up at Heathrow asked "You're over from America are you? Visiting relatives?" I decided to show off and said actually I was visiting a friend, Lenny Henry. And he said with a voice dripping malice "Your friend Lenny has been a Very. Naughty. Boy." This was the first I heard of the News of the World scandal -- Lenny caught cheating on Dawn French. YI! And I was walking into the middle of this? [Continued in Part 2...]

Cerebus Cover Gallery

Cerebus Covers Gallery
by Dave Sim & Gerhard
IDW, $75.00
In Stores: 7 January 2015
Diamond Order Code: OCT140536

If you were around in the early days of the Direct Market you were thrilled to be able to order and expect to receive your DC, Marvel and Archie comics. There really wasn’t anything considered indie or alternative comic unless you counted the underground comix. We then started seeing creators with their own vision influenced by the Rip Off Press, Print Mint, and others use the new Direct Market to bring their stories to comic shops.

Two books that were early hits were Elfquest by Richard and Wendy Pini and Cerebus the Aardvark by Dave Sim. While Wendy and Richard had a solid story right at the start, Dave took a little while to get his magnum opus underway. While Dave's stories took shape, his art continued to improve and the later addition of Gerhard helped place Cerebus among the top illustrated books.

With IDW Publishing's Cerebus: The Covers we can see the path Dave's artwork took over the course of the amazing 300 issues he produced. In addition to the artwork that was scanned from his originals, Dave has also provided additional artwork and sketches that help add to the historical relevance of this series in the history of comics.

From its start as a parody of Roy Thomas and Barry Smith's Conan, and later on Wolverine, Moon Knight, and then into a unique look at history, philosophy, feminism and finally old age and death, Cerebus constantly grew beyond its expectations. This book is a must have for your shelves to go next to your copies of High Society, Church & State, Jaka’s Story, and the rest of the 16 volumes in the series as well as the new remastered edition of Cerebus Volume 1 offered this month under Aardvark-Vanaheim.

"Why Dave Sim Is Wrong About His Next Comic Book"

(from Bleeding Cool, posted by Rich Johnston, 20 September 2014)
...[Dave Sim] also talked about [in Weekly Update #48] his upcoming project first seen in the pages of glamourpuss, an examination of what Sim sees as the suspicious death of cartoonist Alex Raymond, told using a photorealistic style inspired by Raymond's work. I thoroughly enjoyed what I read so far. But Dave is rather worried.
...I’m just REALLY concerned about [IDW Publisher Ted Adams'] ambition to get this book on the New York Times Bestseller List. That’s a LOT of coin to lose betting that a 100% CLOSED-minded society is a remotely OPEN-minded society. Don’t get me wrong, Ted is more than welcome to lose as much of his money as he wants — and he’s pretty adamant that it’s his money and that he plans to back SDOAR to the hilt. Personally, I’ll just be more comfortable when Bleeding Cool is the only site that even mentions it and it tanks completely if we have that fallback position. We can sell 100 of these to major marginalized art buyers....
...Here's the thing. The Strange Death of Alex Raymond is a wonderful comic about comics, comic strips, cartoonists and opening a cold case, alleging foul play in the supposed accidental death of the superstar cartoonist of his day. It is a newsworthy comic that is experimental in its storytelling, rewarding in its experience and has a story in its construction of one master of the form learning to draw like another master of his form in order to tell his story.

It was just that it was cut up and hidden within the pages of glamourpuss when initially released, a parody of fashion magazines from a man who few people wanted to hear that from.

But The Strange Case Of Alex Raymond has the potential to be Dave Sim's From Hell. Ted Adams of IDW can see this. I can too. And New York Times bestseller lists, especially for graphic novels, are not that hard to get to the top of with the right project. And this is the right project.

Dave Sim might realise this too eventually, but only after publication. I just hope his negativity doesn’t harm the project in any way.

Because that really would be a car crash...

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

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

Saturday 20 September 2014

My Kickstarter Rewards: David Birdsong!

The Cerebus Archive Number One package arrived with a few dings, but intact. It took a hit, but nothing inside was effected. The contents arrived in excellent shape and everything is accounted for.

If memory serves I only asked for "David B" on the book plates, but I could be wrong. However I ordered it Dave, as usual, went above and beyond and it looks like he had a blast lettering my name sixteen times. I couldn't be more pleased and humbled at how generous Dave is with his talents and his time. I just had to share and I don't know if I can bring myself to peel the stickers off and actually put them in the books. Perhaps when the ultimate editions are done...

And then there is the Cerebus head. Wow.

Looking very forward to Cerebus Archive Two.

(Click bookplate images to enlarge)

...With regards to the personalisation, yeah, Dave sure went to a lot of creative effort on those. I really enjoyed looking at them after he was through with them. You should have seen the one he did for Rich Johnson of Bleeding Cool. Now I regret not scanning those in for our own project 'archive'. It just wasn't forefront on my mind, not when I was staring at a pile of 300 porfolios and a box of bookplates, all needing packaging and shipping.

BTW, I was curious about whether I missed the "David B." personalisation request, but I didn't see anything like that from you. However, that's the way Dave originally intended to do it, but I think he forgot and went all out! But he did mention one time that they took a long time to do.

Ok, back to catching up on things and clearing up my in-box so that I can get CANT (Cerebus Archive Number Two) up and running.

Share your Cerebus Archive Number One  Kickstarter rewards with other Cerebus fans. Send in your head-sketch and bookplate scans and get them featured here on AMOC. Contact: MomentOfCerebus [at] gmail [dot] com. Many thanks ~ Tim

Friday 19 September 2014

From The Archive: Rick Veitch's The One

Treasuares From The Cerebus Archive: I still laugh when I read Rick Veitch's dedication on the 20th Anniversary Edition of THE ONE: "M-Must Get…(knees hurt!)…Twentieth Anniversary…(Elbows hurt!)…Edition of THE ONE…(neck hurts!)…self-published! (back hurts!) To Dave from Rick (fingers hurt!)"

Cerebus Action Figure: The Bottom Half

The latest update from George Peter Gatsis:
"For scale... The partially built action figure is standing on a letter size paper."
For more videos and information check out the Cerebus Downloads website.

Weekly Update #49: The Puma Blues Returns!

Fax capability has been restored:  519-576-0955

Not really sure what is going on, but I got the same "Not connected to the Internet" notice this week at the coffee shop and have now moved to An Undisclosed WIFI Location where -- with a certain amount of "futzing around" -- I have managed to get connected to the Internet!

  1. We are definitely now in "soon" mode for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO.  "Soon" meaning: before next week's Update unless John posts a STANDBY notice before then
  2. Dr. Mara to provide restoration "clean-up" options for me to view.
  3. I'll be doing an introduction for the collected PUMA BLUES from Dover Books.
  4. Final approval given of the box artwork for HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL

1.  I'm actually more psyched about CEREBUS ARCHIVE than I thought I was going to be. It is a very nice package and I still haven't put the four Cerebus Archive copies away even a few weeks after John gave them to me.  Which is a very good sign -- still have a POSITIVE response to seeing them "right over yonder" in the office.

John and I talked on the phone about the Major Variable this time out with which we have no previous experience: the Bonus Prints.  I sketched in a "point of greatest reduction" option on it: basically everyone who signs up gets an option to buy either one or two of the bonus prints for $8 each.  And then if we can hit the same $34K summit we did on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE, everyone would have an option to purchase an unlimited number of prints for -- something less than $8.  HOW much less, we haven't really determined.

I pointed out to John that the Bonus Prints really complicate his job a lot more than they do mine.  For me it's just more prints to sign.  For him, it's going to be a lot to keep track of:  who ordered which prints and, consequently, which prints go in which folder?  So, that was why I was pitching it to him as a "point of greatest reduction" option:  if the one or two prints are an option for each individual, all he has to do is to "crunch" one or two extra items at a fixed price.  Basically, two pledge options that you can check off when you're signing up.

And then if we have an unlimited number of prints at the $34K threshold, then the volume of work that John will have to do -- and be compensated for -- should justify the complexity.

Of course, John "got it" right away and said that, no, he didn't think a "greatest reduction" option was going to work:  it's just too big a jump from "one or two for anyone signing up" to "as many as you want if we hit $34K".  There needs to be a series of plateaus "getting there".  So, that's what I'm leaving up to him:  to "crunch" his own numbers.  "This is the volume of business I would need to do in order to justify two or three extra layers of complexity".

So, if "soon" turns out not to be before the next Weekly Update, that's probably what will be in back of it.  And John will let you know what his progress is.

I also think it's going to be BONUS ITEMS as opposed to Bonus Prints, including signed copies of IDW variant covers that I did.  $8 or so seeming like a good "ballpark" figure for a signed variant where the increased cost of shipping shouldn't be a factor:  I'll just bag and board the comic books and John will tape the bagged comic or comics onto the cardboard mailer (which is getting rave reviews, by the way).  I expect the X-FILES and LOCK & KEY covers to be particularly popular.

Anyway, we should have a wide variety of items on offer which will -- hopefully -- keep bringing everyone back for future Kickstarter Campaigns. 

2.  I'm sure we all appreciate Sean Robinson keeping us all posted on the restorations process.  It's certainly interesting for Low Tech People like myself and I imagine it's quite a kick for the High Tech People among us as well.

The latest development is with Dr. Mara's clean-up work.  Sean wanted to know if I wanted to see, say, the first 60 pages.  I thought it made more sense to do a "Goldilocks" test, where Dr. Mara would do various stages of clean-up on the scans, starting from what she would consider "Adequate" up through "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" level and print out copies of, say, two or three pages where she hit each threshold.  And then mail them to me along with her own comments on where she thinks the "Goldilocks" spot is and why she thinks that's "Goldilocks" spot.

As we've seen with the CEREBUS trade, it's going to be hard not to revisit these questions as both Sean and Dr. Mara get better at what they're doing.  Time and distance are going to apply to the CEREBUS trade, as well, I think: give the two of them a year away from it and they're apt to see it differently -- and some obvious fixes.  That's where all of you come in as supporters of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Kickstarter Campaigns.  It's not as if we won't have MANY ways to spend the money -- from training more clean-up people, revisiting earlier work, developing more intricate processes.  Those "curves" on the graph aren't going to stay stable.  OVERALL: they've managed to refine what they're doing down to around 20 minutes per page.  That's the primary "curve" and it's coming down.  But there are plenty of variables.

Still sticking with a Zero Deadline approach:  the secret hope is that we're going to be able to get close to or AT the Legacy Edition with this printing of HIGH SOCIETY.  We're watching our retailer patron, TF's, $10K contribution as it erodes.  I have SOME cash reserves (STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND money and a few thousand dollars from the Diamond cheque that paid for the CEREBUS trade) (which is now OFFICIALLY available, the Diamond order code unchanged, although it is called the REMASTERED CEREBUS VOLUME ONE).  I'll be talking to Tim at Diamond as we get closer to the printing time period to find out

a) how the CEREBUS trade is doing

b) if it's doing good enough to justify Diamond taking the same quantity of HIGH SOCIETY

c) if there are enough orders for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE (the unsigned edition) to pay for the full page ad we did for it and generate a profit and a purchase order

A lot hinges on having hard numbers to base their decisions on and hard numbers require leaving time to for them to accumulate and time is what we tend not to have in abundant quantities.

Stay tuned.

3)  Got a phone message "out of the blue" (nyuck nyuck nyuck) from Dover Publishing saying that Michael Zulli and Stephen Murphy have gotten together to finish THE PUMA BLUES (they were within pages of being done when they ended up going separate directions) and they wanted to know if I would write an introduction.  Which I said I would.  It's really pushing the boundary of "going out in public" vis-a-vis me being popularly believed to be a misogynist...

(By the way, thanks to Dave O'Connell and Michael Cohen who signed a week ago and two weeks ago respectively, bringing us to 563 signatures on the I Don't Believe Dave Sim Is A Misogynist iPetition.  One signature a week being WAY WAY above our average lately)

...but, if there was something I would make an exception for, it would be THE PUMA BLUES.

I've spoken to their editor a couple of times on the phone and had a nice half-hour chat with Stephen the other day, so we're all "on the same page" as to what it is that I'll be doing.

Realizing that they would be going through the same restoration headaches (actually more -- I don't know if you remember that Michael was using duo-shade artboard on MANY of the pages: so even if they can find the original art -- which has been scattered hither and yon -- that duo-shade tends to die over the period of time since publication) that we're going through, I referred their editor to ANYTHING SEAN ROBINSON HAS POSTED AND WILL POST TO A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.  I also said that I was sure that Tim W would be more than amenable to let AMOC be used to promote the project as it goes along.

I also told their editor that I still have a stack of 17x22 PUMA BLUES posters that we did back in the late 1980s that's basically just a photo of Michael and Stephen on a mostly black field -- there must be at least 300 of them -- and he was more than welcome to them if he was willing to have Packaging Too build a RELAY BOX and a SHIPPING BOX for them (the idea being I would ship them to Stephen and Stephen would sign them and then ship them to Michael and Michael would sign them).  He was pretty sure the "higher ups" would be fine with that and that it would make a good retailer incentive when they get to the actual solicitation process (next year? Mid-next year? Late next year?)

Anyway, they're paying me a VERY generous fee for the introduction (which they've also agreed to make the introduction RECIPROCALLY OWNED by Michael and Stephen -- that is, EITHER Michael or Stephen can use it whatever way they want if they go their separate ways at some point -- as opposed to JOINTLY OWNED.  I'm hoping that Michael and Stephen would see THE PUMA BLUES the same way, but that's up to them) so it should be a number of pages long -- it will be nice to read the Entire Book in one sitting and to be one of the first to do so! 

4) Just on my way down here, the FedEx truck pulled up with print-outs of the final artwork for HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL.  It's a VERY nice looking package.

I faxed Justin at IDW and asked if he wouldn't mind posting the images here and doing a Q&A will all of us (well, except me -- I'll "bat clean-up" the following Friday).

No promises. He's a very busy guy. But, I do have to say that -- for folks going through their first time putting together an Audio Digital Book -- they've really batted this one out of the park.

Okay, I want to do a quick Patreon update and then it's back to THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND!

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

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