Sunday 30 November 2014

Gerhard: High Society Revisited

Commission: High Society cover recreation (2014)
by Gerhard
(from Gerz Blog, 29 November 2014)
Last year I had the opportunity to burn the Regency to the ground for the Low Society cover. This time Dean has commissioned me to recreate the High Society cover at the same size that I drew the original. I cropped off some stairs at the bottom. I resized and repositioned the Cerebus figure and thought I would add some clouds... I soon realized that I was not about to redraw all of the things that have bugged me all these years. I used this opportunity to fix some of the perspective mistakes and structural anomalies. You can see I abandoned the cloud idea and went for a "fading into the distance" effect in an effort to give the Regency more of a sense of scale and depth.

Prints anyone?

Contact me:
gerzmail [at] yahoo [dot] ca

The original High Society cover (1986)
by Gerhard
(via Comic Art Fans, 29 November 2014)
I have loved this cover since the first time I saw it back in the '86, when Dave was taking orders for the collected High Society story arc, Gerhard's illustration is amazing and it truly brought the Regency to life. And when I received my phone books from Aardvark-Vanaheim I was lucky enough to get a poster of the cover which I immediately got dry mounted and framed. It is stunning.

Now, almost 30 years later I was thinking to myself that I sure would love to get a commission from Gerhard. I picked up the hand coloured prints he offered last year (and if you missed out on those then you really missed out, they are gorgeous), as well as the World Without Cerebus pieces he offered as a set of prints. But I kept thinking I would love to get one of his cross-hatched Cerebus environments. Something spectacular, and one day I saw a photo of Dave Sim in front of the framed original cover for the High Society phone book that hangs in the Off White House and I thought - THAT’S IT!

To my great surprise Gerhard was okay with the idea. I was worried he would not want to repeat himself but he said YES!


So a few emails back and forth with Gerhard (the NICEST GUY IN THE WORLD, by the way), and voila! I am now the proud owner of an amazing Gerhard cover recreation of the Cerebus High Society Trade paperback/phone book. He was even okay with recreating it to the exact same size, and on the exact same material that he used on the original cover artwork (Bainbridge 172).

He made some adjustments, fixed a few things that bugged him about the original cover, brought Cerebus up a few steps which allowed the whole image to be shifted down and also allowed him to illustrate the top of the Regency.

He is contemplating creating a run of prints so check out his process on his blog and let him know if you would buy a print if they were available. I think if there is enough interest (which I am sure there will be) he will do it. Maybe he'll even hand colour them... who knows. Gerhard created an animated GIF of the inking process and I have to say that I have already watched it about 30 or 40 times.

Saturday 29 November 2014

Judenhass: "It Made Neil Gaiman Cry..."

Judenhass (2008)
by Dave Sim, with technical assistance by Lou Copeland
Free download at (PDF and CBZ) and (iPad App)
(Click image to enlarge)
(from The Beat, 26 November 2014)
Holiday Reading -- Okay not maybe the most chipper reading, but you’ll be thankful for life after you read it. Dave Sim's Judenhass (literally "Jew hate") a harrowing, sensitive look at anti-Semitism and its horrific result in the Holocaust is now being offered for free at the website and via the Sequential app for iPad. Sim may be one of our more controversial comic masters, but no one has ever denied that he's a comics master, or that he's a master of emotion and composition, both evident in Judenhass, along with his historical research... 

(from the Panel Works! blog, 28 November 2014)
...Dave Sim's Judenhass, a short comic about the Nazi Holocaust, and the history of the hatred of the Jews leading up to it, has been released, for free. You can get it as a PDF from the link above, or for free from Sequential's app for Apple devices. Judenhass is a remarkable work, and packs a powerful punch. It made Neil Gaiman cry, apparently, and I did too. I urge you to read it, and have a hanky to hand.

The remarkable thing about Judenhass is that it places the events of the Holocaust (or, to use the Hebrew term he prefers, the Shoah) in historical context, with many quotes from a range of public figures in and around the time of the Shoah, painting an absolutely clear picture of the ambivalence and tacit support of the majority for the Nazi persecution of the Jews, and the indifference to the plight of the refugees. He also traces the roots back further, to Martin Luther and others, and there's a good set of notes at the back discussing which quotes were and weren't chosen. (Interestingly, Shakespeare, author of "The Merchant of Venice", doesn't get a mention in the comic or the notes.)

As a good illustration of "evil", this is superbly done, and important. The evil of the Shoah was not carried in isolation by a separate group of Nazis, while we looked on in horror, but was carried by many, many small evils - apathy, unwillingness, indifference - by all of us.

Sim is careful in his use of words. He rejects "Holocaust" for "Shoah", and "anti-semitism" for "Jew Hatred" (the "Judenhass" of the book's title). This clarity is vital in dispelling the many little evils around the events of the Shoah, just as it is now, in the half-truths about immigration, trickle-down of wealth, etc. etc. that permeate the news today. And he uses the comic form splendidly to reinforce his point, letting the streams of words and pictures rub up against each other uncomfortably, with the words (and a few "foreground" portraits) being overlaid over images of the prisoners in the camps, often panning out in a gruesome tease, such as the hands grasped around an instrument being revealed to be calipers dragging an emaciated body by the head towards a furnace. In themselves, the images are shocking (I'm crying again now as I type) - set against the words and portraits of the great and good, the effect is incredible... [Read the full article here...]

Glamourpuss Tracing Paper Auction: Alex Raymond & Bunny

Glamourpuss #15 Page 14 (September 2010)
Tracing paper work-sheet 'practice tees'
by Dave Sim 

Composite set of four pencil & ink illustrations on four separate tracing papers comprising ONE full page (Glamourpuss Issue 15, page 14). Composite set (page) measures 11x17-inches. The four illustrations are layered & affixed with masking tape to acid-free mounting board measuring 14x21 inches. Page shows Alex Raymond arriving at Stan Drake's office and seeing "Bunny" on the fateful day.

Friday 28 November 2014


Dave Sim contributed to all 32 issues of CANAR (Comic Art News And Reviews) published between September 1972 and April 1976 by John Balgé (1954-2014). Balgé had got to know the sixteen year old Dave Sim through Harry Kremer’s Now & Then Books comic shop in Kitchener, Ontario. Balgé, Sim and Kremer travelled together to comics conventions in the US and Canada interviewing many prominent comic creators of the day, making the back issues of CANAR a treasure trove of interviews with the likes of Will Eisner, Russ Heath, Harvey Kurtzman, Barry Windsor-Smith, Mike Kaluta, Gil Kane, Berni Wrightson, Howard Chaykin and others.

CANAR #20, April 1974
'Fan' by Dave Sim
All contents of CANAR © John Balgé Estate.

Weekly Update #59: A Fractured Destiny

Howdy, everybody!

Actually, I found out about the Taylor Swift song the same way that I did Avril Lavigne's HELLO KITTY -- in the NATIONAL POST "Arts & Life" section where they'll run a still and the lyrics for a song and then comment on it.  The natural impulse is to think Taylor Swift is an airhead because she's at least a "9'" if not a "10" (depending on your personal tastes).  No, anyone who has the music business figured out THAT thoroughly (and selling platinum regularly in 2014 is about as clear evidence as you could find of figuring out the broken shards of the music business) is no airhead.  I read a quote from her a while ago about creative/business focus when she switched from country to pop:  "If you chase two rabbits you don't catch either of them."  That's really good.


1.  CEREBUS: THE MOVIE arrives in raw form and is under review.

1.  From Oliver Simonsen, Director of CEREBUS: THE MOVIE in his cover letter:
I foresee problems in fitting that onto your average Cineplex multi-theatre listing.  :) Although I LOVED the graphic for it in the titles which reminded me of A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
Various things need tweaking here and there -- the rough version is made up of non-rendered pieces, low resolution test-render pieces, etc. Will have a real Editor and Sound Engineer go over the final rendered film.  

Cerebus' props (his helmet, vest, medallions and sword) are still missing in some parts.  They play a key role as the film is based on the revelation in issue 196 of how Cerebus fractured his destiny when he traded his helmet for a merchant vest to fit in.  Otherwise, it follows very faithfully issues 1, 4, 5 and 13 with a little bit of some other issues.  

A good chunk of the first 20 minutes is new stuff spent on exposition, populace and dynamics of the town -- this is what is retained from when I tried filling the entire script with just the first issue.  This remainder serves to show how people can be like sheep as they hero-worship and then equally turn against the outsider, Cerebus, on a dime.

The investors say they are still on board.  If that doesn't pan out, for whatever reason, we'll still be able to finish the film, one way or another.

I guess that's pretty much it...needless to say, I hope you approve of the film  :)
Okay, the film is better than I thought it would be.  For those unaware of my deal with Oliver: I'm committed to not actively impeding/actively not impeding Oliver in making his CEREBUS film.  Oliver's consortium of Hollywood investors are aware that it's 99% certain that the finished film WON'T be sanctioned and that nothing can be done with it without my explicit consent...and they're STILL willing to backstop Oliver's remaining production costs.

Strikes me as a very strong vote of confidence in the material.

If I reject the movie, ultimately (again, 99% guaranteed -- maybe 95%, now) there are potential compromises, one of which I've suggested:  that the Unsanctioned, Unofficial film tour a series of "off-site" movie theatres in association with major comic-book conventions.


This wouldn't include me, needless to say, unless 1400 signatures suddenly appear on the petition out of nowhere.

The idea is that Oliver would tell me how much money the investors are "in" for and we set up something that can reasonably be expected to recoup their investment (without interest: pun intended) by selling tickets to THE FINAL TOUR showing(s) in each city as well as a certain amount of "off the leash" merchandising for a fixed period of time.  Including copies of the film. 

Oliver and volunteer animators who worked on the movie (local to the convention in question) as well as the voice actors and actresses would agree to do an on-site panel in exchange for their travel expenses and accomodations being covered.

I don't want to see anyone LOSE money on Oliver's pie-in-the-sky CEREBUS dream, least of all Oliver.

Everyone is volunteering on this one:  none of the animators or voice actors have been paid.  It's strictly a labour of love.

Coincidentally, I had planned to tell Oliver to work backward to the Hollywood method:  basically, "let's do the trailer as the first completely finished thing and THEN finish the film" -- but I didn't get around to it.   So I had to laugh when I got to the end of the film and Oliver had a music video under the credits.  Of course!  Going in reverse order, the "music video with clips from the movie" comes even BEFORE the trailer.  So, in writing to Oliver, I basically tweaked the music video -- "use THESE clips instead of these other clips" -- and said I'd tell him what I think we're going to do with the music video after he sends me a copy that's been fixed.  (And I'll tell all of you after I tell Oliver).

I'm not sure WHEN it came in the development of SEINFELD but either Larry David or Jerry Seinfeld said "This show needs some estrogen".  The Elaine character.

I had the same reaction to the movie, except in my case:  "This movie needs a MASSIVE INJECTION of estrogen".  Fortunately, I had already been thinking along those lines when I knew that Oliver was doing #1, #4, #5 and #13 (four issues that are "off-the-dial" when it comes to non-estrogen).

Where's the girl?

Top Hollywood question.

The answer is:  framing device.  So, I'm going to become one of Oliver's unpaid workers and write a framing device which involves the unnamed editrix/publisher of FRIENDS OF YOOWHO (from the end of LATTER DAYS) interviewing Cerebus about the events in #1, #4, #5 and #13.  This is going to be a MINOR, MINOR, MINOR part of my workload.  Just to give you an idea, I picked up the mail about 10 am last week and didn't put the DVD in until 10 pm when I had already been up for about 20 hours -- and I figure that will be my "Movie Spot" from now (the last two hours before I crash on my non-fasting day every other Friday).
Cerebus #288 (March 2003)
art by Dave Sim, assisted by Chris Verhoeven
You have to remember that I'm a completely NON-movie person.  I read reviews of movies and that's about all I can see as being worth my time, movie-wise.  What Chris Knight and -- particularly -- Nathalie Atkinson and Katherine Monk think -- of whatever movie they're talking about in POST MOVIES every Friday.  A zeitgeist thing.  Across virtually every political and cultural fence imaginable.  "Wow. You really DO think that way, don't you?" I'll ask my newspaper on a regular basis.

FAR more important to me is THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, CEREBUS ARCHIVE and getting everything ready for after I'm dead.

Fortunately, the framing stuff is really going to be a "no-brainer".  I had the first scene written by the time I was fast-forwarding through the film (for pacing) the second time.

Let's call her "Yoowho" really carries the film (in our feminist age, nothing else would make sense), so we're going to need a Really Good Actress to play her.  And -- because a) I'm not a movie person and, consequently, am going to do everything completely differently from how movies are made and b) I really don't want to devote a lot of time to this  --  what I'm looking for is not only an actress, but an actress/director/cinematographer.  Basically, whoever plays Yoowhoo will be directly herself and filming herself and then sending the footage to me and Oliver.  I have no time to MAKE HER INTO Yoowhoo, I only have time for her to make herself into Yoowhoo or (more likely) BE Yoowhoo.  Oliver will just do whatever they call the modern version of "rotoscoping" in our digital age from that footage.  We might have one voice actress and one performing, physical actress or we might have two-in-one.  We'll see.

One big advantage is that the character wasn't established as being a particular age in LATTER DAYS.  She could be anywhere from her early twenties to a really well-preserved 40 or 40+.  Or somewhere in between.  

I haven't got anything on paper yet, but the "screen test" would be pages 430 to 434 of LATTER DAYS (it's a nice spectrum of moods/attitudes she goes through) (originally in issue 288).  Doesn't matter who she gets to feed her the Cerebus lines (although I can't rule out finding a different Cerebus voice actor), it would just be her on the screen.  If she can do all five pages the way I picture it in my head, we will have found our Yoowhoo.

You can send actress DVDs and contact info to Box 1674 Stn. C Kitchener, Ontario Canada N2G 4R2 and I'll look at them in order every other Friday after I've been awake for 20 hours.

One of the priorities that I have is that I don't want this to be a fanzine movie.  To me, the only comic-book adaptation movies that AREN'T fanzine movies are the first SUPERMAN film and the first SPIDER-MAN film (although Mike Kitchen has promised to show me THE AVENGERS on my Christmas visit to his and Erika's place which he says qualifies). Tim Burton's 1989 BATMAN was a really good fanzine movie.  It wasn't BATMAN, it was Tim Burton's fanzine.  I wouldn't -- and WON'T -- do that.

If I look at the finished movie and I don't think it IS CEREBUS, then I can't justify it being generally released.  "This is Oliver Simonsen's CEREBUS fanzine movie."  It would be slapping all the CEREBUS fans in the face.  It has to ADD something to the 300 issues not just be "Oh, that was SORT of like issue 4".  The movie, as entertainment, as an expression of the intellectual property, has to GO TO the CEREBUS fan, not require the CEREBUS fan GO TO the movie (except physically).

It's also possible that it won't be a film.  I'm not ruling out this as being a 90-minute pilot for a GAME OF THRONES style cable show through Netflix or HBO or somebody -- where it would have the advantage of being thematically linked to other content "It's like A GAME OF THRONES -- but funny!"  That kind of thing.

Okay, I've eaten up all my time this week.  NEXT week back to CEREBUS ARCHIVE and CEREBUS ARCHIVE FIRST RELEASE where things are evolving a lot more quickly than I thought they were going to.

See you then, God willing!   

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Talking With Your Creator

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.

In Minds, Cerebus talks with Dave. We also get to see some Zulli art. Well, Dave "doing" Zulli art. From page 142 / 143 of the Minds phonebook, issue 193 page 16 / 17:

In notebook #19, Dave Sim starts sketching Jaka and Lord Julius for that double page spread:

Notebook #19 page 37
You can also see some of the dialogue between Dave and Cerebus from that same issue. A quote from a police song "It's a big enough umbrella but it's always me that ends up getting wet', the baker and the bread analogy from page 127 of Minds, a crossed out name: Barry Lessman-Smith. It appears as if Dave returned many different times to that same page of snippets of dialogue.

On page 41 of the notebook he would return to the Jaka and Lord Julius sketches.

Notebook #19 page 41
It also appears as if he wrote done a bunch of dialogue - the starting dialogue that he says to Cerebus, beginning on page 127 again. Where Dave talks about being Cerebus' creator, but not a god. It starts off with some similar themes, but in the notebook, it is a different from the final page.

Noise, Cleanup, and a Second Helping of Pumpkin Pie

Mara Sedlins:
Production for the Graphic Designer, 1974

Although I missed the trip to Bang Printing (stuck at home with a cold), I got to see the test prints yesterday and they look fantastic! Adjusting the water levels allowed for very fine-grained variations in the quality of the ink, several of which looked like excellent candidates to me. At one point, Sean used the word "classy" to describe the aesthetic effect we're going for in the choice of paper and ink settings, and that struck me as just right. And a side-by-side comparison with the original print editions is like watching something come into focus. Magic. Classy magic :)

But, like many endeavors that give the impression of being almost magically effortless, the sheer amount of time that goes into cleaning up the pages (especially those sourced from newsprint) still catches me by surprise. Over the weekend I combed through the 11 x 17 printouts, following up on any remaining issues that Sean had flagged or that I'd caught during my read-through. Even though the amount of work left on any given page was minimal (erase two dots of noise here, fix a little bit of tone there), there are five hundred and freaking four pages! No matter how enjoyable and satisfying it can be to "perfect" a given page, going through the whole thing adds up to a lot of man hours… errr.. woman hours… umm.. doctor hours. This is why it will be so helpful to get some volunteers on board to do the rounds.

This week I'll be putting together a brief how-to manual for our Cerebus Cleanup Campaign members, and then get them (you, perhaps?) working on a few pages. I sincerely hope it ends up being as fun for them as it has been for me. But even if it does cause you break a bit of a sweat, how cool will it be to know that page X was your baby? That’s the kind of stuff you tell your grandkids right after your second helping of pumpkin pie.

In my curiosity about why this tedious work seems satisfying and beneficial, I came across this New Yorker article about the benefits of daydreaming (original research here). It turns out that doing a task that allows your mind wander leads to improved creative problem solving afterwards. So: sign up to help and not only will you be providing much-needed assistance with the Cerebus restoration project, but your own creative work may benefit as well!

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Judenhass: Free Download Now Available

by Dave Sim, with technical assistance by Lou Copeland
Free download at, Sellfy and

Monday 24 November 2014

How's Your Beaver #2

How's Your Beaver (1976)
by Dave Sim
(Click image to enlarge)
(from Cerebus Archive #1, April 2009)
...I was off to the races or so I thought until I did the second strip. All that cross-hatching made it look like something out of Charles Dickens' Bleak House... instead of a typical Canadian suburban home. It was a hard lesson in comic strip design... the "look" needs to be versatile enough to convey a range of settings. My choice of dip pen -- a C-6 Speedball nib -- was okay for lettering but not enough for "doing" Aislin or Roy Peterson. The strip went way onto my mental back burner.

Barbara Frum (1937-1992) CBC radio host of "As It Happens", a Canadian institution at the time... uber liberal (like most Canadians). Her son is David Frum. a conservative commentator who severed briefly in the George W. Bush White House and reportedly was the one who coined the term "Axis of Evil" to describe Iran, Iraq and North Korea in the President's first State of the Union Address.

Ironic, eh?

Sunday 23 November 2014

Tribute Art: Cerebus #1-200

Cerebus #1-200
(Click image to enlarge)

Saturday 22 November 2014

S.R. Bissette: Advice To Self-Publishers

Spider-Baby Comix #1 (December 1996)
by Steve Bissette
(from the Spider Trax letters page, Spider-Baby Comix #1, December 1996)
Dear Mr. Bissette: I would like to ask if you could offer any suggestions or tips on self-publishing comic-books. Many thanks! Sincerely, Jesse Landrum
I get letters like yours every month: a one-sentence question on a loaded topic worth 20 pages or more, Jesse -- which alas, I never have time to reply to.

I hope this reaches some of you who've written asking the same question.

First, Jesse, do the work. Write and draw your comic. One issue, two issues, ten issues -- whatever leads you believe you're ready to move to print.

Okay. That's the fun and easy part.

Secondly, evaluate its relative "worth" as a marketable item. Be honest with yourself. Determine which format best serves your creation. Is a photocopied mini-comic format (inexpensive, easy to handle, cheap to mail) the best option right now? Are you ready to jump to full-blown offset printing, saddle-stitched with four-colour covers?

Third, determine the most effective and appropriate means of distribution open to your comic: trade, mail-order, convention sales, or the direct-sales-marketplace distributors? If you chose the latter, be aware of the consequences if the distributor(s) do(es) not choose to carry your creation -- and be creative in determining what options remain open to you.

Finally how are you going to market your creation? You have to let people know it exists and how to get their hands on it. Internet, paid ads, trading ads with other titles, classifieds in the fan and trade zines? There're no easy answers. Guerrilla marketing and ingenuity go a long way. Good luck!

Time, skill, the perceived 'quality' of your product (don't fool yourself -- your precious brain child is merely product in the marketplace), hard work, luck, and money will determine much. Be honest with yourself before jumping in too deep -- and best of luck. The market place is a pretty ruthless arbitrator these days.

Dave Sim wrote a useful series of "How To" articles in Cerebus, which he plans to collect into a single volume (along with transcripts of all his relevant speeches about the topic). Given the current state of the market and how readily the prominent self-publishers of two years ago jumped under the perceived "safety" of various company umbrellas, Dave may have shelved those plans for the time being.

Of course, there are larger issue to consider.

Some people work fine under publishers. You might be one of them. Assess your needs and goals. If seeing print and earning a page rate are your goals, find a publisher. Good luck.

If your goal is establishing long-term control over your own work in the comics medium, in my opinion self-publishing remains the only viable alternative to working under the auspices of a publisher.

If you're out to collaborate with other creators, publish other people's work, or build an empire to make your character a pop-cultural icon visible in every home in America, self-publishing may provide a short-term vehicle to attracting larger media interests, but don't waste my time asking for advice. If other people end up writing and drawing your character, you're a publisher, not a self-publisher. Again, good luck, but go away.

Dave Sim maintains "it's not a movement, I'm not a leader," but, by the power of his example, he has proven the long-term viability of self-publishing. For me and my generation, Dave was the model, staying true to his course while others -- the Pinis, Eastman & Laird, the Image coalition -- strayed into proprietary work-for-hire studio-driven production-line publishing.

Of late, we've turned a significant corner in comics history, as a generation of self-publishers have emerged without Dave as their role model. Paul Pope, Dave Lapham, and other embraced self-publishing as their most direct route to their respective goals -- period. That they feel no debt or allegiance to Dave only reinforces the validity of self-publishing as a vehicle without proprietary interests, save those of the individual self-publisher.

Self-publishing is hard work, but I wouldn't trade this hard-earned independence for the coziest of umbrellas. If self-publishers choose to co-opt autonomy with employees, assistants, exclusivity deals, or what-have-you, that's their business. They choose to muddy their pond, but that doesn't mean the water table is sullied: it doesn't invalidate the strength and clarity of true self-publishing.

I've traded a certain level of productivity for autonomy. I do everything at SpiderBaby. I pack the boxes, I do the bookkeeping. I haven't any partners or assistants. My output is slow, but it's a pace I can maintain, and it does earn a decent living. Even with this year's series of financial crunches and disasters, I've had more options (including the comic you hold in your hands), more freedom to move and solve my problems, and more pleasure in my creative life than I ever had in the twenty years of working for (or, as they like to put it, "with") other publishers. I've broken many cardinal rules -- my publishing schedule is erratic, I'm not a dependable presence on the racks -- but Tyrant is alive and thriving. I for one am thankful for the years Sim poured into convincing me by his example that the option to self-publish was the best option for me. Three years into it, I've no regrets. It remains the clearest path -- for me.

Despite the rumours, self-publishing is not dead. It's just been co-opted and/or abandoned by a certain few.

These decisions and defections must be scrutinised on a case-by-case basis. Some simply could not continue to finance their creations amid financial crisis after crisis, precipitated by the collapse of retailers and distributors and the subsequent unpaid bills. Others feared the mere possibility of such a situation, and preemptively sought shelter. Doing so, they argued preserved their self-interests by trading true autonomy for the perceived "safety" of umbrella publishers. I wish them luck. Unfortunately, a few distorted the genuine issues by taking cheap shots at self-publishing per se, downplaying their own responsibility for their respective situations and inflating the perceived "safety" of the respective umbrella publisher of choice. (We'll see how things go in the coming months for those who signed on with the various Image partners and imprints, as the coalition continues to unravel.)

The"independent publishers" have been even more insidious in their undermining of industry and fan perception of self-publishing, disparaging its virtues even as they competitively fish its waters for the prize trout and bass.

Some of these publishers passively foul the waters by promoting their respective operations as 'self-publishing".

Make no mistake, when a publisher maintains a propriety interest in a creative concept by mobilising freelance talent or studio operations to perpetuate and expand upon said publisher's creative properties, this is tried-and-true publishing, in the grand comics' industry tradition.

Other publishers use their various public ventures to mount more overt attacks on self-publishing as a vehicle of self-expression. Their motives should be transparent: if self-publishing is a viable alternative, who needs the perceived security of an Image, Homage, Caliber, Antarctic, or Fantagraphics? Again, Sim has been the target of choice, and it's been a pretty sorry spectacle in what feebly passes for "journalism" in the current environment.

The lack of any genuine responsible journalism in our field is another factor in the equation, and one with far-reaching consequences. Responsible journalism has become as even more remote ideal in today's monopolised environment.

The current marketplace can be pretty fucking discouraging. The direct-sales market continues to implode, its distribution system dangerously consolidated. Presently, we're down to one major distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., effectively monopolising the only marketplace still conducive to self-publishing (self-publishing is decidedly problematic in a returnable market).

We're approaching a bottleneck comparable to that which existed  back in 1962-63. DC Comics (at that time, National Periodicals) effectively controlled and restricted comic-book distribution for many of its competitors, including up-and-coming Marvel Comics. Marvel flourished only after breaking out of the DC-controlled distribution.

Currently, the content and presentation of Diamond's catalogue is effectively controlled by DC, Image, and Dark Horse, who call the shots as Diamond's power-house exclusive accounts. Who will end up at the top pf that three-party pig pile is anyone's guess, but the Time Warner subsidiary certainly has an edge. As a result, the non-exclusive "independents" and self-publishers find themselves in dire need of new distribution and retail opportunities which, as yet, do not exist.

Increasing efforts by Diamond and its partners to (a) further ghettoize and financially compromise true self-publishers producing viable product and (b) thus "force" those self-pubs popularly perceived as "the cream of the crop" into partnerships with "umbrella" publishers (some of whose prior exclusivity relations with Diamond played a decisive role in the current state of direct-sale marketplace) can (c) only be reasonably perceived as an ongoing pattern of restraint of trade, extortion, and collusion.

Other than that, Jesse, it's a piece of cake.

Stephen R. Bissette is best known for his collaboration with Alan Moore on Saga of the Swamp Thing from 1983-87, and for his self-published Tyrant comic, the portrait of a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the late Cretaceous. He also edited the ground-breaking horror comics anthology Taboo, which launched From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. He co-authored the books Comic Book Rebels and The Monster Book: Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and his novella Aliens: Tribes, illustrated by Dave Dorman, won a Bram Stoker Award in 1993. More recently his articles on horror films have been collected in the Blur series published by Black Coat Press and Steve currently serves on the faculty of The Center For Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.

A Not-Quite Live BULLETIN From Valencia, CA

Sean Michael Robinson:

Hello everyone!

We were not quite able to make the "simulcast" thing happen yesterday, mainly because there were about a million things happening at once and I had my hands full talking (shouting) "DOT GAIN" over the roar of the Bang Printing operation.

I drove up from San Diego with my wife Rachel, and we snagged my brother Justin from Los Angeles on the way. Arriving at Valencia about an hour early, we sat around the table at a local fast food joint and took turns drawing "printing presses"-- sight unseen, mind you-- on a napkin, with a stolen pen. Here's my brother's rendition. Notice the tree-sawing machine feeding the press.

We were escorted into the massive (and meticulously clean) press area by Alex, the business manager at the plant. Marcell the pressman was finishing a run as we were coming in, and we were soon joined by many other people, including Josh, one of the press technicians. We ran the signature a few times, with several different ink densities, using a densiometer and their gain calibration charts, hidden in the to-be-trimmed area of the signature, to take a look at the amount of gain each of the different settings were generating.

We've talked about dot gain here before. What you basically have to know is this-- as ink strikes a substrate, it expands on the surface. The amount of this expansion depends on the "range" of that area-- dot gain is worst in the 40-60 percent region-- and the type of substrate. For instance, uncoated web-press sheets like we're using for High Society exhibit much more dot gain than coated paper, like was used on glamourpuss.

Me, with a Preney copy of Going Home and a Lebonfon Cerebus.

Modern pressed attempt to deal with gain in very different ways than in the past. Since most work these days is continuous tone (i.e. grayscale), printers have their platesetters equipped with calibration curves that adjust tonal values to output the values as they'll most likely appear on that particular press. So, you send your photo embedded in your PDF layout, and the printer's curves adjust all of your, say, 50 percent values to 35 percent prior to printing, so that, post gain, your 50 percent value remains 50 percent optically.

Of course, with line art, there's no half-toning, so you can't use correction curves like this at all, which is a big struggle in web-offset, when the issue comes up. So you want your blacks darker? You have to balance that against the inevitable increase in dot gain, which, on the High Society material, manifests itself as fill-in in dense cross-hatching, as well as, of course, Cerebus's dot tone value. And, as I said before, there's no "grabbing the lighten button" to adjust, as these are non-linear processes, and are different from press to press.

So we spent about an hour and a half running different densities and examining the differences. Meanwhile, I'm sweating the minute variations, trying to balance (my perception of) Dave's desires for rich black with my desires for minimal gain. At one point the pressman Marcell (I'm sorry if I misheard your name, Marcell! It was extremely loud :)  ) suggested we stay on the lower density but drop the water level of the press. At that setting, we hit on what seemed to me like a happy medium between rich black and gain, and we were done for the day.

The press sheets will be off to Dave for review, via Fedex later today, and then once we have the orders from Diamond in January, it's off to the presses!

Friday 21 November 2014

Sketches: Cerebus & Prince Violent

Cerebus & Prince Violent (1979)
by Dave Sim
(via Comic Art Fans)

Weekly Update #58: Shake It Off

Executive Summary

BULLETIN! 21 November 14 Sean Robinson on his way to Bang Printing in Valencia, California for a "press test" of a HIGH SOCIETY SIGNATURE!  Yes! We might be printing in USA! USA! at least on HIGH SOCIETY.  In no small part because Bang is a three-hour car ride for Sean and he can micro-manage every step of the process.  Sean has promised to give us as close to "real time" updates (as long as it doesn't interfere with his actual supervisory work) here starting later today.  The press test begins SHARP at 1500 hours Western Daylight Savings Time, 1800 hours Eastern Standard Time.
1.  Lou Copeland announces that JUDENHASS will be available for free download at the website (in PDF and CBZ formats). Hoping that some volunteers will post JUDENHASS to as many Print on Demand and other websites as possible.

2.  Sean Robinson bounces back from the TOTAL LOSS of hundreds of CEREBUS scans.  The NEXT DAY faxing that "All of this crap with ____ got me really fired up to make the newsprint sourced pages as good as they can possibly be".  Attaboy, Sean!  "All Hands On Deck" call for CEREBUS OCD CLUB members!  We're NOT going to let this slow us down!

3.  Unconfirmed report from Eddie Khanna that someone has donated $500 a month to our Patreon site.  Many thanks to the unnamed individual (if true).  Please contact me for suitable STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND rewards or -- if you just want to remain anonymous, We are ALL cool with that!  Many, many, many thanks if true.

1.  Fax from Lou Copeland dated November 19 saying he's "on track" for getting JUDENHASS, now in the public domain, into downloadable form at the website as of November 25th, just in time for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.  It was a good eight to ten hours work for Lou getting everything ready and I offered to pay him for his time but he wrote:
On top of all the work I put into the project over the course of two years plus, I estimate I ended up putting a grand of my own money into JUDENHASS in the form of postage fees, office supplies, fax service (there was no free option back in '07) and more, more, more.  So while I really appreciate your offer to pay me for the hours I worked this weekend, I long ago decided this was a project I wouldn't take any money for.  Thanks for the offer, though.  Way I figure it, surely donating that kinda money to such a good cause will get me fast tracked into heaven when I die, right?
Uh. I'm a bad person to ask, seeing as how I give equal weight to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  If you were to take a straw poll, I'm sure 99% of the members of all three faiths would tell you I am DEFINITELY headed for the Lake of Fire (do not pass Go, do not collect $200) :)

Lou also notes:
The actual full resolution printer's files are way too large to host on the website. We both have a copy of these files burned to a disc.  Anyone that's seriously interested in the files should contact either you or me for a disc copy.  
Lou's e-mail address is transmit [at] phantomprojector [dot] com.  I don't like to sound paranoid, but the odds of getting a useable disc from me are remote.  Most recent example being the CANAR files which I gave to Dave Fisher and he relayed to Tim W. by mail -- and which were missing two or three issues in the middle.  "But -- but -- that's not POSSIBLE!"  I agree! I barely have enough knowledge to click on the CANAR folder and put it INTO the window and push "Burn".  I couldn't NOT download files to save my life.  But that's what happens with anything having "computer" and "Dave Sim" in the same sentence. So, Lou's the guy you should contact.

And, please note the "SERIOUSLY interested".  I -- and I'm sure Lou -- really don't care WHERE you put the full resolution files if you SERIOUSLY think there's a chance that someone might download JUDENHASS or print a bunch of copies and distribute them.  I'm trying to be a diplomatic Luddite here. Yes! The AMAZING INTERNET is capable of getting BILLIONS OF COPIES into people's hands practically in an eyeblink.  You couldn't COUNT the number of places you could place the full resolution files that have LITERALLY BILLIONS of cybernetic walk-in customers just ACHING to

...uh....blah blah blah.

I think Lou and I have done our bit.  Thanks, Lou and good luck at the new job!

2.  Not only did Sean announce his own program of "newsprint restoration" techniques November 18, he also let me know that he already has three CEREBUS OCD CLUB members signed up to assist on newsprint clean-up.  Thank you, all!

No pressure on anyone.  If you want to try it and you find that you just don't have the time and/or it's just not "your thing", just let Sean know.  No harm, no foul.  Sean will just give "your" page to someone else. It can be weirdly therapeutic as I can attest from my limited experience "restoring" BEAVERS strips for the short-lived CEREBUS ARCHIVE.  It really depends on how much of an "inner" Obsessive Compulsive you have.

OR how jazzed you would be to have your name attached to that particular page IN PERPETUITY (or until the next technological advance makes itself known)!!

We're quite serious about this.  Sean's working on back-up pages for the HIGH SOCIETY 30th ANNIVERSARY GOLD LOGO SIGNED AND NUMBERED edition which will include credits for everyone who has donated scans of pages AND all of the participants in the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE Kickstarter AND everyone who has helped with the technical side in any way.  The credits will be included in each printing of the books and will be part of the digital files when the books go into the public domain after I'm dead.  There's not many of us left, but we are going to be the Second Generation of CEREBUS Custodians who stuck around even ten years after the book came to an end.

Anyway, Sean gets my nomination for the TAYLOR SWIFT "SHAKE IT OFF" AWARD for November 2014.  You want to know the primary job skill for being a Dave Sim and/or CEREBUS fan? SHAKE IT OFF!!

3.  I feel really bad that I haven't been posting Updates to the Patreon site, but I find that there is definitely a "Wall" of what I can take doing this online stuff and doing the Weekly Update is pretty much it.

As a way of compensating for that, however, I've authorized Eddie Khanna to post some of the STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND artwork INTERMITTENTLY to the Patreon site -- without the Joe Kubert lettering.  This is an experiment and I'm anticipating a backlash which I'm asking Eddie to watch for.

Thanks to Tim W. for posting the material FOR Eddie and me.  Eddie reported things "going wonky" with all of his computers and ipod(s?) when he posted the material himself.  Yes, I know that sounds paranoid, but that was Eddie's experience. We're both getting used to that.  "You know what happened to me today?"

I'm trying not to talk about THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND too much here at AMOC.  People are REALLY, REALLY sensitive these days and I infer that that manifests itself in people ONLY wanting CEREBUS to be discussed here.  Could be wrong about that and -- as you can see, I did discuss JUDENHASS, but only in a "finality" sense.  We wanted to preserve it, but not get in anyone's face about it. Or to have anyone infer that we were getting in their face about it.

Bottom line right now (and you can skip this paragraph if THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND offends you conceptually): the slower that I get on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, the more thorough I get -- which makes me slower which makes me more thorough, a real feedback loop.  Still learning and re-learning lessons, mostly of a technical nature.  Photorealism is incredibly accurate and there are areas where accuracy is just "beyond me".  Composition and anatomy foremost among them.  So, I'm using really meticulous techniques to try to get around that, like "building pictures" by doing each element separately on separate sheets of tracing paper.  Do the face and then try it at different angles and then do the torso on a separate sheet of paper, then each forearm and hand on separate sheets of tracing paper and just keep moving them around and adjusting them until the figure/panel looks right.  I spent most of yesterday COMPOSING one panel.  It boggles my mind that guys like Raymond, Drake, Williamson and Adams were -- or in Neal's case ARE -- able to do that just off the top of their heads.  Doing six dailies a week (and a Sunday for some of them) they didn't have any other choice.  Leonard Starr remarked about John Prentice using tracing paper when he took over RIP KIRBY and Starr saying he wouldn't have time for that. Which he didn't.  So he had to just LEARN how to do it as second nature.

I'm never going to be in that class, but I'm determined to "fake" my way in just by sheer, hard work.

4.  John's had a few delays getting rolling on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO, but that's going to happen with a printing business.  A big job -- or two big jobs -- take up time.  Again, we hope that no one gets offended at this.  John will be posting his progress -- or lack of progress -- and, I think, over time we're going to find out what is possible.  As you all know, the original plan was to make the CEREBUS ARCHIVE FOLIOS quarterly and right now we're at three times a year.  By NUMBER SIX, I think we'll know what we can do and what we can't do...but not until then (I'm guessing).

I've asked John to give me an invoice for ALL of his work on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO by mid-December (based on costs on CANO).  This was the result of a meeting with my accountant where I expressed concern about CANT "straddling" 2014-2015: all the money coming in in 2014 but no expenses on record until next year.  As long as I have an invoice, the charge comes off in calendar year 2014 (I'm going to be getting Sean to invoice for a good chunk of CHURCH & STATE I for the same reason, hoping to cut the Aardvark-Vanaheim tax bill by a few thousand dollars (which seems "do-able").  So, glad I asked!  I'm definitely working to make sure that all of your generous contributions go as far as I can make them go.

For the record, my biggest personal splurge so far out of the $38K is four pillowcases ($5.95 marked down from $12.95 at Budd's "up to 80% off sale" downtown) and a $6 toque (eh?).  My experience has been that if I have $38K in the bank, God has $38K worth of problems in my immediate future. Could be wrong, but, at least for right now, I'm not taking any chances.

Okay.  Gotta run. I still have to pick up the mail, do some banking and buy groceries.

See you next week, God willing!

And now -- HEEEERE's Sean!  (God willing)!

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Vacation Time: San Jose

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.

Well, not quite yet. I'm heading to San Jose (yes, I know the way) in a couple of weeks to watch the Boston Bruins take on the San Jose Sharks. Way back in the late 1980s Dave and Gerhard went to San Jose. Dave took notebook #10, which I have notebook #10 listed as issue #112/113.  There is also some scripting for the Roach tale from AARGH #1 and some ideas for the upcoming Jaka's Story.

And also some "vacation sketches" by Dave.

Notebook #10 page 57: "Sid Vicious Lives", small text "Your name here

Notebook #10 page 58: "San Jose Chic"

Notebook #10 page 57: People relaxing - probably at the hotel pool.
Any requests for any other phonebooks, non-phonebook stories or items from the notebooks you'd like to see? Leave a comment with your request, thanks!

Costly Continuing Contributions

Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings all,

The Cerebus Original Art Dragnet suffered a pretty serious blow this week when we heard definitively from a prominent art collector who owns several hundred (!) originals. No, he would not be contributing scans of any of his originals to the art hunt, nor will he be selling any of these pages in the foreseeable future.

This was particularly hard news as this person's collection represents a significant chunk of "in the wild" Cerebus art pages, pages that will now never be scanned for this project, will now forever be represented in print by second, third, or fourth-generation images rather than the pristine reproduction possible when sourcing from the original art.

I'm trying to be sanguine about this, but it's hard to be so while still finishing up work on High Society, a book that would benefit tremendously from any original art Cerebus fans supply us with. As most of you know, for both Cerebus and High Society, none of the negatives exist. In the case of High Society, a good 3/5ths of them were scanned by Sandeep Atwal before his tragic apartment fire, but the remainder of those pages can only be sourced by newsprint scans. And even the negatives are less than ideal, in many cases having been underexposed during initial photography. I've learned several tricks to correct for this, but, as I've said many times before, in many different ways, you can beat your head against the wall trying to make something look better through clever manipulation, but it will ALWAYS be better to fix it at the source. In other words, you could conceivably spend three hours on every page of High Society sourced from newsprint, and it still wouldn't look as good as if someone who currently owns the page drove to their local copy center and sent us a scan.

It's a depressing thought. Every page of High Society that we have original art, or even negatives, will soon look better in print than it ever has before. Every page sourced from newsprint, at best, will look almost as good as it did before, and only after tremendous amounts of work to make it so.

But I'm still hopeful. Mostly, because of people like Greg Kessler and Dean Reeves, who not only have contributed their own collections of scans, but continue to send us leads of auctions as they see them. People like Alan Kleinberger, who just this weekend sent us a scan of a great page you see above, that he just sold on ebay. People like Larry Wooten, who emailed Alan to let him know about the art hunt, and who has in fact continued to email people for the past few months hoping to net us pages. People like Dagon James, who sent us almost a dozen scans of pages he doesn't even own anymore, who scanned them for his own pleasure, but was willing to share with us what he had saved. Jason Crosby at ComicLink, who has twice now taken time out of his incredibly busy schedule to scan pages they have up for auction, for no reason other than it being the right thing to do.

And really, what better way to bring utility to a collection than the actual preservation of art that you care about? Not just in some abstract, locked-in-a-vault way of preservation, but active in the world, duplicated, helping to represent in print one of the singular achievements in comics?

The full list -- so far! -- of Cerebus Art Dragnet contributors-

Dean Reeves
Trent Rogers
Kevin Bonawitz
Thomas K.
Rodney Ascher
Greg Kessler
Dan Parker
Steve Hendricks
Oystein Sorensen
Jason Crosby
Matt Levin
Nat Gertler
Conrad Felber
Jean-Paul Gabilliet
Jeffrey Laurenz
Dagon James
Alan Kleinberger
Larry Wooten
Brian Stockton
Glen McFerren

And our other heroes, the Cerebus Scan Brigade, flying in the face of spine-bends since July of 2014-

Margaret Liss
Lee Thacker
Daniel Elven
Paul Slade
Carl Hommel
Eddie Khanna
David Birdsong

Lots of news coming up the pipeline, so keep the eyes peeled and the ears large and mobile!

Monday 17 November 2014

How's Your Beaver #1

How's Your Beaver (1976)
by Dave Sim
(Click image to enlarge)
(from Cerebus Archive #1, April 2009)
...Okay, here's something I never thought I would admit to publicly. Highway Bookshop in Cobalt, Ontario had a Northern Ontario cult hit with a cartoon book called Outhouses Of The North... mostly variations on the crescent moon in the door. It was in its twentieth printing or something. Lonely... quiet... place, Northern Ontario. Anyway, they were looking for a follow-up hit and commissioned me to do a cartoon book [How's Your Beaver] for $125, the most I'd ever been paid for anything. So I got a template shot of my beaver character done at Kwik Kopy and did the whole thing in about three days. The good news? I made $40 a day. The bad news? The monstrosity now existed and had my name on it.

Couple of hard lesson: Never "write down" to the level of a book called Outhouses Of The North and remember that once it's in print... someone is going to see a copy somewhere, someday. And if you have an ounce of integrity decades later you'll have to make your mea culpas in public. Mea Culpa. Mea Maxima Culpa.

I don't think it occurred to me how "over the top" the double entendre was... I was a huge Lenny Bruce fan and figured the more like Lenny we could all be, the better off we'd all be. How to talk dirty and influence people. I was hard at work on the sequel: Son Of How's Your Beaver and determined to pick up the quality. So here I am really  striving to pick up my game a few hundred notches. I was going back to the "Aislen Solution" -- lots of little pen lines for a realistic background and then cartoon-y characters in the foreground. I was using a dip pen and felt tips... It's the Cerebus solution "in vitro" as well: using 30% tone on Red's shirt (there were now two beavers: Red and Whitey, the colours of the Canadian flag).

After Highway pulled the plug on Son Of I thought the next logical way to go was a newspaper strip. Yonge St. in Toronto was Canada's answer to Times Square in the 1970s. It's since been cleaned up so it's almost as nice as, well, Time Square.
CANAR #25/26/27 Triple Issue
December 1974