Monday 30 March 2015

Off-White House Bullettin


One week after release from hospital and time to change the dressings on my four incisions.  This is what's left of my navel. Pleased to report there was no smelly discharge on the wound or on the gauze pad covering it. I cleaned up as much of the dried blood as I could with cotton balls and hydrogen peroxide (recommended by the local pharmacist). Minor bruising around the site but nothing unexpected.

Unless I'm missing something as a "front row civilian" -- in which case Calling Dr. Troy in Texas! Calling Dr. Troy in Texas!

See you, God willing, for my next update on Friday.

Icing Down the Wrist

Eric Hoffman's "Cerebus The Barbarian Messiah"

Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah (2012)
Edited by Eric Hoffman 

(from the Motion Pictures Comics blog, 14 April 2014)
Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah: Essays on the Epic Graphic Satire of Dave Sim and Gerhard is exactly what the book’s title promises.  It's a collection of essays by different authors, attempting to take a serious, scholarly look at various aspects of Cerebus, Dave Sim & Gerhard’s 300-issue independent comic book masterpiece. I found myself occasionally rolling my eyes at some of the overly verbose scholar-speak in the essays, but mostly I was delighted by this serious look at an important (albeit controversial) comic book work, and I found it a thrill to dive back into the deep, crazy waters of Cerebus.

For the uninitiated, Cerebus is a 300-issue-long black-and-white self-published comic book. At first the series was written and drawn by Dave Sim by himself, but eventually he was joined by Gerhard as his partner on the art.  What began as a silly parody of Marvel Comics' Conan series (illustrated at the time by Barry Windsor-Smith) evolved into an incredibly complex saga that dealt with politics and religion and male-female relationships.  If one were to sit down to read 300 consecutive issues of, say, Spider-Man or Batman or Superman, it would become quickly obvious that the stories, while having some continuity, couldn’t possibly represent events that could actually happen to a real character.  There might be the illusion of change, but ultimately all of these characters have to remain in a perpetual status quo.  Sim set out to do something completely different, to tell the story of the life a character -- the titular Cerebus -- in 300 issues, with the 300th issue chronicling the character's death.  Over the course of twenty-six years, Sim and Gerhard did exactly that.

That alone would make Cerebus a jaw-dropping achievement. I am hard-pressed to think of any example of long-form story-telling that can come close to matching this sisyphian effort of telling the story of Cerebus in monthly twenty-page installments over twenty-six years.  But there’s far more to Cerebus than just Sim and Gerhard’s endurance. The story is at points hilarious and thrilling and infuriating.  It can shift from juvenile humor (when Cerebus is funny, it is VERY VERY funny) to incredible action-adventure to painfully sharp observations of marital discord. The series features a wealth of fascinating characters and settings.  Cerebus is one of the most complex, fascinating examples of fantasy world-building ever made, rivaling J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Isaac Asimon's Foundation, and George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones.

The series also pushed the boundaries of comic book art farther than any other series I can think of. Sim and Gerhard experimented gloriously with page-layout, with different approaches to the combination of words and pictures and the use of large blocks of prose (sometimes without any accompanying illustrations at all).  Mr. Sim's sharp ear for dialect and accent resulted in extraordinarily wonderful, distinct dialogue for his different characters.  And I stand firm in my assessment that the lettering in Cerebus -- particularly in the final hundred-or-so issues -- is the finest achievement in comic book lettering ever created.  Mr. Sim's extraordinarily expressive word-balloons and lettering brought his characters' subtlest inflections and inner thoughts to gorgeously realized life.

Cerebus is also a profoundly frustrating, confounding piece of work in that, in the series’ final third, the tone and focus of the story shifted dramatically into areas many readers found unsettling and/or disappointing.  I have read the experience of reading Cerebus in its entirety described as an opportunity to watch its creator Dave Sim go slowly insane, and I think there is much evidence in support of that theory.  In the three decades of producing the comic, Dave Sim came to possess some extraordinarily unusual opinions about women and religion that earned him the label of misogynist in the pages of The Comics Journal and that lost him a great many readers. (I am not sure that misygonist label is fair, but there's no question that I find many of the opinions Sim came to possess about women to be deeply distasteful.)  I tend to be able to separate an artist's personal life and beliefs from his/her work, but there's no question that Sim's weird ideas crept into the Cerebus narrative in a way that unfavorably, for me, color its concluding volumes. The infamous text-only issue #186 consists almost entirely of an anti-woman rant that is difficult to stomach, and the six issues spent late in the series in a bizarre, loony analysis of the first several chapters of the Torah (a sequence nicknamed "Cerebexegesis" by readers) is -- while funny at times and fascinating at others -- such a far cry from what fans like me used to know and love about the series as to be difficult to fathom.  (Dave Sim has stated that those six issues represent his actual thinking about the Torah, which makes the experience of reading them like staring deeply into the mind of a very crazy person.)

Sim also held firmly to his desire to make Cerebus like real life in that, in real life, there isn't usually a big dramatic climax right before one's death. An influential person might have several years of being able to effect events on the world stage, but then in old age they gradually fade away. Sim held firmly to that conviction, and so while there are many joys to be found in Cerebus' final hundred issues, there is also a lot of frustration as readers clamored for resolution to many of the characters and story-arcs that had once been so central to the series.  That resolution would never come.  This is a fascinating approach to take, and one that I respect intellectually while feeling an emotional frustration at the absence of the sort of resolution I would generally expect from this sort of long-form story-telling.

Because of the general dissatisfaction with the final third of the Cerebus epic, I find that the series does not generally receive the acclaim it deserves.  It’s been over ten years since the conclusion of Cerebus, and in some ways the series has been forgotten, something I consider to be absolutely crazy.  Though deeply flawed, Cerebus remains a remarkable achievement in comic book story-telling, and one worthy of great praise and critical analysis.

Clearly Eric Hoffman agrees, as he has edited together this book, Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah, in an attempt to bring Sim and Gerhard's lengthy work back into the spotlight.  This book is not a gushing praise-fest.  Many of the essays deal directly with some of the series' most controversial aspects.  But what the essays have in common is a great respect for the achievement of the work, and I found that  invigorating.

The essays cover many different aspects of the Cerebus narrative. Several deal head-on with the series’ approach to issues of gender and feminism/anti-feminism. The essay "Seeing Sound" is a terrific and well-deserved look at Dave Sim's incredible achievements in lettering (that I mentioned earlier).  I particularly enjoyed the book's closing essay: "YHWH's Story, or, How to Laugh While Reading 'Chasing YHWH' and Still Have Enough Stamina for The Last Day."  ("Chasing YHWH" is the afore-mentioned six issues of "Cerebexigesis", while The Last Day is the title of the comic's final story-line, chronicling the day of Cerebus' death.)  The essay is an admirable attempt to defend the digression into Cerebus (and Sim)'s loopy analysis of Genesis as a story-line that can indeed connect to and feel of a piece with the series' previous story-lines.  I'm not sure I agree, but I love this line of thinking.

Probably my favorite aspect of the book is actually the lengthy introduction, by Mr. Hoffman, that provides a detailed summary of the comic book’s creation and its successes and challenges over the course of almost thirty years of monthly publication.  It's a fascinating look back at the incredible trials that Dave Sim had to overcome to bring Cerebus to life and to bring the story to its conclusion with issue #300.  There is a reason no one else in the comic book world has even come close to matching this feat.  Whatever one might think of Mr. Sim himself or of the effectiveness of the series' latter issues, that Mr. Sim succeeded in self-publishing his 300-issue story all the way to its planned conclusion is a singular achievement.

Reading this book, I felt renewed appreciation for Mr. Sim's accomplishment, and for the Cerebus series as a whole.  I find myself filled with a renewed desire to go back and re-read the series from the beginning.  I have several other planned comic-book re-reading projects to occupy my next several months, but I have no doubt that I will return to the Cerebus story many times in the future.  While I share in the dissatisfaction that many readers felt with the series' final third -- and I agree that the weaknesses of those issues ultimately weakens the over-all power and success of the story as a whole -- that does not diminish all that the series achieved, or all that I still love it for.  Would that there were lots more comic books like Cerebus being published today, and lots more creators with the creativity, ingenuity, and long-term drive of Dave Sim.

For readers curious to give Cerebus a try, skip the first collection of the series' early stand-along issues, and start reading with the second installment, High Society.  It's a brilliant political satire and extremely funny.  I guarantee you'll quickly be sucked into the world of Cerebus.

Sunday 29 March 2015

Elrod & Sophia: Costume Parade

Illustration for Comic Art Convention Program (1979)
by Dave Sim

Saturday 28 March 2015

Reviewed: 'High Society' Digital Audio/Visual Experience

High Society: Digital Audio/Visual Experience
by Dave Sim, with George Peter Gatsis
(8 DVD Box Set, IDW, March 2015)
(from a review by Mike Favila, 23 March 2015)
...While the first run of issues on Cerebus were a fun parody of the old Conan archetype, High Society is really where the storytelling develops. Everybody talks about how important Cerebus as a work of art is. While the longevity of Sim's independent run is part of why the legend exists, it's easy to forget that Cerebus is just an excellent read. Even without being told, you know this is art.

As soon as I start up the Cerebus: High Society Audio/Digital Experience, I'm immediately struck by Dave Sim's rendition of Cerebus. While this was not exactly the voice that I imagined, it soon grew on me. Maybe it was a matter of convenience, but it was very interesting that Dave Sim decided to do all the voices. I was a little worried that Cerebus: High Society Audio/Digital Experience was going to be a really lame motion comic, but it definitely gave a new angle to material I was already familiar with. Eventually, the listening experience felt more like reading with narration, which worked a lot better for me...

...As for the content itself, the video isn't always easy to read at times, but eventually I got used to just watching the art instead of trying to read along in pace. I thought it was cool that Sim did not start over or re-record whenever he maked a mistake during the reading. The editorial and reader comments complete the whole package. The editorials are read by the original publisher Deni, Dave Sims' girlfriend at the time. Her readings were a nice break from the narration.  I could have probably done without the comments and the letters page but kudos for the complete package. 

Overall, it provides a complete glimpse into what plotlines and details were interesting to Cerebus' readers at the time of publishing. The packaging for Cerebus: High Society Audio/Digital Experience is gorgeous, and comes in a gatefold folder, with 4 sturdy panels containing the 8 discs. With an MSRP of $40, the set is a pretty affordable package and totally worth it for any diehard.
Obviously, Cerebus: High Society Audio/Digital Experience is geared towards true fans. That being said, High Society is one of the more well-known arcs in Cerebus, so if anything would cross over, this would be the storyline to interpret first...

Gerhard: Dino's Cafe

(Click image to enlarge)
(from Gerz Blog, 18/27 March 2015)
This one is rather large at 20" x 30" and, if I don't screw it up, should be quite a show stopper. (For Cerebus fans, anyaway.)... This one turned out well. This is just a photo, I'll be getting it scanned soon. I will be making prints available and will announce sizes/pricing here soon.

Speaking of Cerebus fans, it's been really nice to see the outpouring of good wishes and prayers for Dave during his time in the hospital. I would like to add my own best wishes for his full and speedy recovery.

Glamourpuss: Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Glamourpuss #12 (March 2010)
by Dave Sim

(from Glamourpuss #12, March 2010)
Not being a Brit, I had no idea who Sophie Ellis-Bextor is and, in fact, didn't see her name in the fine print when I selected this one, definitely for those eyes! Which brings up one of those built in peculiarities of doing glamourpuss in that it raises the question: do her eyes actually look like that? Welcome to the Age of Photoshop and tinted contact lenses. Combine that with the amazing innovations in lighting that fashion photographers are making use of (flattering geometric shapes created by reflectors and centered in the pupil: in this case a flattened rectangle surmounted by a corona/tiara shape) and it's hard to tell if it's Ms. Ellis-Bextor or sheer photoartistry giving me palpitations.

Friday 27 March 2015

Weekly Update #75: Dave's Back!

In which Dave Sim discusses: his recovery after surgery, the first physio session for his right hand, and the new Off-White House logo. See below for bonus logo and photos!

The Off-White House Logo (Draft)

Back To Work: Dave Sim with Dave Fisher

Back To Work: Dave Sim with Sandeep Atwal

Cerebus The Barbarian

Cerebus The Barbarian (2006)
by Dave Sim
Sold At Auction: $425 plus 19.5% Buyers Premium (August 2008)
The Earth-Pig rides supreme in this expressive illustration by his creator, Dave Sim. Rendered in ink and watercolor, the art has an image area measuring 8" x 12.5".

Thursday 26 March 2015

The Good and Bad of Comics in the Early 90s

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.

Dave Sim's notebook #17, which I covered once before (see "Po's Monologue About Bran"), covers the phonebook Flight and the time frame of late 1990 to late 1992. In the notebook along with the notes on Flight, is some talk on the comics industry. This will be a two part column, as there are at least 6 pages I want to show, but I'm on a self-imposed limit of three notebook pages per week maximum.

So let's get started.

Dave starts on page 18 with Jeff Smith's name and phone number at the top of the page. I've cropped it out just in case it is still Jeff's number. Dave then goes on to write down some things he considers 'bad' and 'good'.

"Good: EXPANSION creates choices, options, begging stores 1980 carried all DC, Marvel, ground level comics fanzines. there were fewer than a hundred different products INCLUDING all Marvel, DC Charlton."

BAD: Biggest problem in comics business is creators not producing their books on time.

Notebook #17, page 18
The next page is Dave writing some thoughts on the collectible market.

Notebook #17, page 19
Now that he has done some 'collectible' covers with a $15 price tag on them, I wonder how his thoughts on the matter have changed.

On the next page he talks about how it is good that comics can 'hide in plain sight' so that the comics market has "more room to maneuver than does the White House, Wall Street or City Hall."

Notebook #17, page 20
While the big two have made a lot of money with their superheroes in movies and their subsequent commercialization, the comics medium as a whole still lies on the outskirts of culture, a shell of its former self.

Part two can be found here.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Silverfast Negatives

Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings everyone,

Up until this week, all of the work on the Church & State I restoration project has been on the original art still in possession of the Cerebus archive-- a few hundred pages, all told. But the past two weeks we've started into the next stage of the work, namely, scanning and adjusting the several hundred pages represented by photographic elements.

These are at-size negatives, shot from the original artwork while the monthly books were being produced, and ganged up eight to a flat for use in creating the plates for printing the book. 

When I was contacting prepress professionals of my acquaintance at the start of this project, several people tried to warn me off from scanning the negatives at all. Too difficult, they told me, not worth the pain. One person actually suggested finding a facility that could make oversized Iris prints from the negs, and then scan those prints! 

Why are these materials such a pain?

Well, anyone who's ever tried to scan conventional film format negs or positives knows that shooting light through them with a scanner is simply not the same as shooting light through them on a projector for development. Trying to recreate a natural exposure level, having your light source so close to the carrier film. And unlike dark room projectors, most scanners don't have the same kind of physical separation between the light source and the "projected image."

Here's a scan of a Church & State neg on a conventional flatbed scanner.

Do you see the sort of "shadow" under the tone and near the border of the blacks? Here's a close-up.

Several months ago I was referring to this as a "negative shadow", but if you see it in reverse, how the negative actually appears, it might make a little more sense what's happening. I suppose it's more of a negative halo.

So what's happening here? 

This is one of the hazards of working with materials I'm not scanning myself-- I'm not totally sure what it is that causes the phenomenon. But my prior darkroom experience tells me that it's most likely this-- the scanner is picking up the halo of the light escaping through the edge of the emulsion. In other words, the light passing through the carrier (clear) portion of the negative is bleeding through the edge of the emulsion (black) portions of the negative, causing a halo around every element. 

As you might be able to imagine, this is a tremendous pain to deal with, and causes a lot of additional work and guesswork to make the image reproduce accurately. Want to shave off the halo with a curves adjustment? Careful you don't shear off any of your fine detail! Want to use sharpening to bring out a maximum amount of detail? Careful the sharpening doesn't grab the neg halo! Pain, pain, pain....

The solution?

Here's a scan of the same neg, using the Epson V700 and Silverfast, an amazing little piece of software from LaserSoft Imaging.


So, where did that halo go?

It's hard to believe it, but the majority of the above difference is due solely to the software.

Simply put, Silverfast enables you to select the type of material you're trying to scan, and then applies a predetermined density curve at the point of capture, adjusting the exposure to adjust for the optical density of the film.

As I'm typing this, John is scanning negs using Silverfast and sending them via Google Drive to my desktop, while Dave Fisher and John's nephew Rolly cut new negs off of the flats and store them in folders for safe-keeping. It's an amazing mixture of high-tech and low-tech, of multiple generations, and an exciting time to be on a project like this.

So, TLDR-- I would never think of scanning a negative without Silverfast! Thank you, LaserSoft Imaging, for such an incredible product. We might have done it without you, but it would have been a heck of a lot more painful.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Dave Sim Recovery Update #3

On Monday, 16 March 2015 Dave Sim admitted himself into the Emergency Ward of Grand River Hospital in Kitchener having suffered from severe stomach pains during the weekend before. In a matter of days he underwent surgery to remove a section of twisted/blocked colon. Dave remained in hospital during that week while recovering from the proceedure. Now read on...

(via email)
Just got off the phone with Dave [Monday]. He is home and well. We talked for upwards of an hour.

The good news, well, beyond the above, is that his diet will change for the better, including broccoli, but the bad news is that the cork has not quite yet popped. He listed a bunch of foods he has been told to eat, all or most of which are supposed to be easy on his recuperating system, besides broccoli, and he said he will eat them.

We discussed various upcoming projects, and his changes to his work regimen, including some work he is thinking about handing off. I had trouble keeping up with all of the name dropping he kept doing. I know regular, or even casual conversants with Dave, know what I'm talking about, with the name dropping. He was in very good spirits, making jokes, none of which come back to me now, it being late. If I remember them, I'll post them.

As usual, I just listened, for the most part. I learned to do that, back in 2011, when we were sitting by the window in the Kitchener Courthouse Cafe. I was going on and on about something, and he said, "Jeff, SHUT UP!". I then immediately apologized, and then he proceeded to tell me the important information he wanted me to know, as his prayer time was coming up shortly. Tonight, I don't think his prayer time was approaching, but bedtime certainly was. Nevertheless, he stayed on the phone for a while longer and did not rush off, like he normally does.

To echo (I believe it was Eddie's sentiments), it was nice to have, for once in a long time (set aside the heavily-medicated versions) a nice, long, 90% "whatcha up to" chat and 10% "this is what we're going to try to do, business talk". So, business comes later.

Now, it's just nice that they're sending the old man home, in one piece.

I told him that he was my very most favorite person (and I meant that, all the naysayers and snarkers be damned), and he responded that I was (Ed: somewhere on his list).

After the love-fest, such as it was, Dave talked bidness for a while and we negotiated what my pennies could help with. The bottom line was that we will have to wait and see.

He also told me, when I asked about his wrist, that he is planning to set up time for seeing a physiotherapist the next time he goes back to the hospital for a followup visit. Dunno when that will be.

He has to pop that cork, first.

BTW, Eddie, Sandeep, Mike, Dave F., and several others, who all helped out in this Crisis On Southern Ontario World, were favorably mentioned. Or, favourabley mentioned. I dunno. You guys spell it.

Regardless of our border language wars, I think we can all rejoice that the one-and-only Dave Sim (not Sims) is (relatively) healthy.

Related Posts:
Dave Sim Checks Into Grand River Hospital (17 March)
Dave Sim Recovering After Surgery (18 March)
Dave Sim Recovery Update #2 (20 March)
Dave Sim Recovery Update #3 (24 March)

Tribute Art Round-Up #9

"Despite the bad week Dave has been having, so much positive energy
has come from those of us who love the man... here's to Dave!"

Jill Creations:
"Made mostly of soft fleece and is 13 inches high. My friend commissioned him from me =]"

 Miss Grim Gravy:
"A little something-something I painted. I bought Cerebus Vol. 1 the other day."

The Zoologist:
"Aardvarks. Just.... aardvarks. There are quite a few of them, aren't there?"
The Aardvark belongs to DePatie-Freleng Industries
Cyril Sneer belongs to the Canadian Broadcasting Company
Arthur the Aardvark belongs to Marc Brown and PBS
Cerebus the Aardvark belongs to Dave Sim

Sunday 22 March 2015

Kickstarted: Cerebus Archive Number Three!

Congratulations to Dave Sim and John Funk on another successful Kickstarter campaign for Cerebus Archive Number Three. Due to Dave's recent surgery, understandably there was no 'Last 4 Hours' Q&A session, but why not revisit the Q&As from the previous Cerebus Archive fund raisers:

(from Kickstarter Update #11, 22 March 2015)
...On behalf of Dave Sim, I want to thank each and everyone of our faithful pledge partners (backers) for their strong financial support once again. It's particularly significant in that this campaign was only about one week old when word came out, first on the news of Dave's pain in his wrist and that he could not draw, write or type with it, and then on the emergency surgery he underwent last week.

A lessor group of pledge partners would have ran for the hills and bailed out where such news and risk to the fulfillment of the rewards was concerned. But not this group. Not you guys. Not Dave's "faithful 230", who backed this with all of their collective faith, to the tune of $39,633; this "faithful 230" stood up for Dave and offered their (your) support to the tune of $172 average per pledge partner, which compares with CANO at $119 and CANT at $166. So, thank you once again and know that both your support, both financial and well wishes for his health are very much felt and appreciated by Dave... Read the full update here...

Source: Kicktraq
(Click image to enlarge)

Saturday 21 March 2015

CAN3 Kickstarter Ends Today!

Cerebus Archive Number Three
A Portfolio of 10 Limited Edition Signed Prints from 'Church & State I'
Add-On Extras: Bonus Prints, Head Sketches, Bookplates, Birthday Cards, Diamondback Decks and more!
Kickstarter Ends Today! Pledge Now!
10pm GMT - 6pm EDT - 3pm PDT

All 10 'First Release' Bonus Prints:

All 21 'Second Release' Bonus Prints:
Cerebus Archive Number Three

About The Kickstarter Bonus Prints:
The Bonus Prints are ONLY available as an "ADD-ON" to a portfolio pledge for an additional CAD $9 per bonus print. As the total pledge amount has now passed the $34,000 mark you may add 15 Bonus Prints to your Kickstarter Rewards. If total pledges exceed the total raised from the previous Kickstarter campaign (CAD $42,028) all 31 bonus prints will become available.

Friday 20 March 2015

Dave Sim Recovery Update #2

Understandably there is no 'Weekly Update' from Dave Sim this week - in case you missed the news, he's been in hospital and undergone surgery. Instead, here's an update on his situation posted over at the Cerebus Archive Number Three Kickstarter site, by campaign coordinator Funkmaster John...

(from Kickstarter Update #10, 20 March 2015)
...I wanted to give you a brief report on my visit with Dave at the hospital yesterday [Thursday].

Dave is in great spirits and says he feels very good after the surgery. That twisted and blocked bowel must have been bothering him and causing more minor, less noticeable issues for a long time, he said, because he can really feel the improvement now. He was up on his feet the day after surgery and started walking (with his IV stand/cart) around the ring of his 6th floor ward. He said the nurses were calling out to him to 'slow down, take it easy', but he felt strong from all the walking and stair climbing he does (he climbs 10 flights of stairs daily, at our nearby city hall building). When the surgeon checked on him the next day, she tongue-in-cheek 'chided' him with  'you're wearing a groove in the floor' jest. So that's pretty good news. 

I really enjoyed spending 90% of the time just 'chewing the fat' as they say and only 10% on business. Normally, on those very rare occasions where we actually talk by telephone or in person, it's 90% business and 10% 'how are you doing?'. So that was really enjoyable for me and Dave seemed to respond in the same way.

He did want me to let everyone know that he really, really appreciates the support from everyone, whether it be in the form of well wishes, cards, faxes (no doubt his machine will be overflowing), phone calls, flowers and all of the funding, including this Kickstarter campaign. He says that his top priority is to "pass" the tests demonstrating "discharge" so that he can be discharged. But he figured that the doctor is going to be pretty careful before letting someone who lives by themselves go home to take care of themselves. So he admits that his number one (no, not a pun....well, ok, sort of....) priority will be to take care of his health and recover. I think that's a good plan... Read the full Update here...


I just spoke to Dave on Friday, 6:00 PM Kitchener time, for about 45 minutes. He's in great spirits, and says he's never felt better in his entire life.

It seems like the operation has caused tremendous relief of both short-term and long-term (possibly life-long?) physical pains. Dave said the head surgeon (not the actual surgeon who did the operation) explained to him before they operated that his "Quasimodo gut" has most likely been "flopping" between unfavorable and more normal orientations. The times of the worst pain would be when it had been in the unfavorable position. The doctor explained that it would be a much simpler procedure to open it up and "flop" it back into a more normal orientation, but that it would more likely just flop back at a later date. Since Dave is otherwise in good physical condition, they both thought it would be better to excise that portion of the gut, an operation that would be much more difficult to do as Dave progresses in age.

Describing his gut, viewed for the first time via ultrasound: "If we were all walking around on the beach and we were transparent from the front, people would be walking up to me going, what IS that?"

Dave said it was "hard to describe" the sense of relief he's been having to people who have never experienced something like this before, just as it has always been hard before to describe the pain he's felt in his gut. "Before I was a monotheist, I thought I must have been stabbed to death in a past life. That's how bad it was."

Dave mentioned that he's not only felt a tremendous sense of relief, his mind has been working on a potential essay about all of the different ways in which his work suggests this ailment, including, as mentioned before, the "Trevor and the kitchen knife" incident with young Cerebus.

Speaking for myself, it's quite the relief to call someone who's just had incredibly difficult surgery the day before, and find them so full of life and energy, joking around, making plans, asking questions about the ongoing work.

We talked a little bit about his hand. Dave says he's "probably going to see a physiotherapist" when he gets out, and  he seemed really impressed with the hospital and the level of care. "They've really got this stuff figured out." He also mentioned that this is probably the only thing that could have stopped him from working for this long, and that for God, all things are easy. Including getting Dave Sim to stop working.

Related Posts:
Dave Sim Checks Into Grand River Hospital (17 March)
Dave Sim Recovering After Surgery (18 March)
Dave Sim Recovery Update #2 (20 March)
Dave Sim Recovery Update #3 (24 March)

He Doesn't Love You. He Just Wants All Your Money!

Cerebus Archive Number Three
A Portfolio of 10 Limited Edition Signed Prints from 'Church & State I'
Add-On Extras: Bonus Prints, Head Sketches, Bookplates, Birthday Cards, Diamondback Decks and more!

Thursday 19 March 2015

Kickstarter Bonus Prints #30 & 31 Revealed!

Bonus Print #30:
The Last Signing

Bonus Print #31:
Cerebus '93

All the 'First Release' Bonus Prints For Cerebus Archive Number Three are:

About The Kickstarter Bonus Prints:
The Bonus Prints are ONLY available as an "ADD-ON" to a portfolio pledge for an additional CAD $9 per bonus print. The above 'First Release' prints are now available as Kickstarter pledge rewards for Cerebus Archive Number Three together with the 'Second Release' bonus prints #1-21 from Cerebus Archive Number Two. Once the total pledge amount has passed the $34,000 mark, you may add 15 Bonus Prints from the First Release and/or Second Release BP lists. If total pledges exceed the total raised from the previous Kickstarter campaign (CAD $42,028) all 31 bonus prints will become available.

Fat Elvis Period

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.

I've covered Dave Sim's notebook #6 in this column once before ("Touch Not the Priestess", July 23, 2014). Notebook #6 covers issues #80 to 86 and the cover says 200 pages, but it only had 135 pages by the time I went to scan it, and only 118 pages were scanned as the rest were blank. It covers what some might call Dave & Gerhard's rock and roll lifestyle period. When Dave was getting offers from DC Comics for the rights to Cerebus, and Dave on page 114 covered what he would want from such a contract if it were to happen:

Notebook #6, page 114
It would've been interesting to see what Frank Miller and John Byrne would've done with the covers. The crossed out text after that? "If someone were to offer me a million dollars to urinate on a Cerebus comic". I wonder what the answer to that question would be - a million dollars is a lot of money.

Then on page 131 Dave writes something that perhaps ended up as a Note From the President? It is one that I can't remember. He discusses Gerhard's state of happiness and Dave's "manic-depressive hobbyist".

Notebook #6, page 131
That bit of writing on  page 131 is all we see of the Peter Pan Syndrome talk, as page 132 is blank, page 133 is some writing on an actress name Constance who "absorbed personalities like a sponge", page 134 just says "There is a difference between license and freedom but it is largely subjective."

Then on page 135 we get another instance of some writing that sounds like a Note From the President, but it isn't one that I'm familiar with. Dave talking about the two months he spent in Florida. He talks a bit about his normal workday back in Kitchener, which consisted of an hour of office work with Karen followed by going to the studio for five to six hours and doing two (!)  pages.

Notebook #6, page 135
And that is the last page of notebook #6.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Dave Sim Recovering After Surgery

(via email)
I visited Sim today [Wednesday]. The surgery seemed to be a success. He was on an epidural. He seemed in good spirits and humour. He came out of surgery with a dream hallucination about waking up in a hockey arena and being asked to carry a stack of Quebec Nordiques jerseys up stairs and saying he felt too weak to carry them. He'll have to elaborate more later. He hasn't eaten since Sunday and he's not sure how long his stay will be. I will report back when I know more. Enjoy the pics...

Sandeep Atwal said...
I swung by Grand River Hospital to see Dave today [Wednesday], and he seems like he's doing very well. He was up and about and joking with the nurses. From what I could tell, he seemed quite healthy for someone who just underwent surgery. We chatted for a couple of hours and, again, as far as I could tell he's doing just fine. Even with an epidural he was just as sharp mentally as always and all that walking he does has meant that he's back on his feet with no problems the day after the operation. I offered to get him a book or something but he was fine just watching the goings on around him. For someone who spends most of his time alone, this was like a little adventure. (He's in a room with four other patients separated by curtains, which just inspired him to write a story called "Curtains" with word balloons coming from behind the screens.) If all continues to go well, he should be leaving on Friday at the earliest, no doubt back to an overflowing fax machine and lots of phone messages. It is, of course, nice to see the concern from so many people, I know Dave appreciates it. I'll probably swing by again tomorrow. I'll let you know how he's doing!

Sandeep Atwal said...
I saw Dave today [Thursday], he's doing very well. He won't be getting out tomorrow, but everything is going well. He's up and about and doing fine. They removed the epidural and convinced him to take two(!) Tylenols. Of course, because he's Dave Sim, we ended up talking about work and the future of how to run things at Aardvark-Vanaheim in light of recent events. (It's almost as though he's got something inside him that is just constantly saying, "Get back to WORK!!) Needless to say, Dave has LOTS of ideas! But he's probably going to just take a look at his own responsibilities to that which absolutely must be done by him and him alone and delegate a little bit more. Sounds like a good idea to me. So, things are looking good, I'll keep you posted.

Related Posts:
Dave Sim Checks Into Grand River Hospital (17 March)
Dave Sim Recovering After Surgery (18 March)
Dave Sim Recovery Update #2 (20 March)
Dave Sim Recovery Update #3 (24 March)

Get Well Soon

Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings everyone,

There's been a lot happening on the restoration front, but that's naturally eclipsed by news of Dave's sickness, operation and recovery.

For me, these are the kinds of times that make the mundane feel a little silly. Realizing, for instance, that when Dave finally gets back to his work space, he'll find a two-page fax from me, nattering away about paper types and dot gain, written and sent while he was in immense pain.

Dave, I wish you the speediest and most thorough of recoveries. Take care of yourself, you hear? We're all rooting for you.

From the supporters of the Cerebus Restoration project, past and future.