Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Finale: 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.

For the last two weeks we've looked at six pages total from Dave's notebook #17: pages 17 through 23 - here is part one and here is part two. Dave talked about what he saw good and bad, the collector's market, the expansion of the industry, how he saw comics in the early 1990s. We finish up the look at Dave's thoughts on the comics industry in early 1990s on pages 24 though 26.

Last week we saw Dave was writing a speech to comics retailers. On page 24 he goes back to listing what he sees as good - a distributer making 1 million dollars in 1979 to a comic book store making 1 million dollars in 1991 , the expansion of the market being more choices, et al:

Notebook #17, page 24
 On the next page Dave tells the media what he thinks is a good hook. Not what a number one issue will go for now, but that it is a long story, a story with a commitment. The biggest hook of Cerebus hooking to early 1990s Dave? Is that Cerebus "document(s) a war between feminists and the matriarchy."

Notebook #17, page 25
Dave lets the retailers know that he is in their corner, that Cerebus only sells in their stores. That he has said no to Lucasfilm, Time Warner, and Surge Licensing. He continues saying he doesn't want Cerebus in Walmart, Sears, Waldenbooks, Toys R Us or 7-11s. Dave shows us his fierce loyalty to comic stores, something that continues to this day.

The 1992 US Tour is mentioned on the next page along with a line that we'll see again in Reads "Are we having fun yet."

Notebook #17, page 26


Travis Pelkie said...

I think it's just Dave's handwriting at the end, but it looks like "RAO Schwartz", which I assume was the toy store on Krypton before it closed... hyuk hyuk hyuk!

In other news, I got a copy of the High Society DAVE version today at my local shop! Sweet looking package, but I haven't gotten a chance to pop it into a DVD player yet and take a look. I hope to over the weekend.

Will Collier said...

Brings back a lot of memories. Only time I ever met Dave in person was when I drove up to the stop the '92 tour in Killeen, TX (seems amazing now that there wasn't an appearance in Austin). Martin Wagner and I got to be drinking buddies not long after that.

Max West said...

Dave's commentary on merchandising and media tie-ins doesn't surprise me too much - he did make similar arguments in his guide to self-publishing.

Dave is definitely an artist in a true sense of the world as he can't/won't compromise his artwork for fame, money, etc. Many out there would kill for a movie deal, TV series or even home video. And merchandising deals for the mass market can make one rich beyond wildest dreams. I even tried to that for awhile with an earlier comics property I developed.