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

1 comment:

CerebusTV said...

Always considered The Beavers some of Dave's best work, ever since shopping it to newspapers back in the mid seventies. Unfortunately, the limited market was just too small to support it.

What about a Beavers Kickstarter to publish the entire run between two covers?

With celebrity back cover endorsements from featured
famous dead Canadians of the era, such as curmudgeon Gordon Sinclair or hapless PM John Diefenbaker?