Saturday 7 November 2015

Gerhard: The View From Here...

Gerhard & Shelley (2015)

It's been an interesting year (as in the 'may you live in interesting times' curse).

The bulk of the year had me occupied with looking after my 84 year old diabetic mother with Alzheimer's. She is now in a home that will look after her much better than she or I can. It should bankrupt her in about two years and then it's my turn, I guess.

I regularly check out AMOC but I have very limited Internet access. We live out in the country; have no land-line phone connection, satellite or cable; we have a Rogers Rocket Stick, if we exceed our 6-gig-a-month limit, the rate 'rockets' and they 'stick' you with the bill, therefore no movies or You Tube.

Other than the boat -- which is my one extravagance -- we live a pretty austere life style. Our electric bills are about $65 a month; total heating oil bill for ALL of last winter was $200. We only run the furnace first thing in the morning until I get a fire going (our landlord supplies us with wood that he cleans up from the bush, I have to split it and stack it; it is wet and a mix of crap wood and hardwood but it's free).

We live in a tiny, leaky, drafty attic apartment in an old farmhouse surrounded by cornfields and trees. That's our choice and we love it. And it's cheap.

Shel's been writing columns for local free newspapers (so you know how much that pays) which led to her writing a biography for a local "icon". Last year I made less selling prints and doing commissions than my mother made on her meagre pension. I would have made more but it took six months to get paid for the Knickerbocker job.

Still... we get to work from home. Our commute is from the bedroom to the living room and I can't tell you how many times I've been overjoyed at the thought of not having to face traffic or the weather. I bought a 2004 Hyundai Accent 4 years ago for as little as possible and it's still going strong (knock on wood). Our store of choice is Value Village, a second hand store where you can buy anything from computer speakers for 5 bucks to suitcases for 10 bucks a piece and Shel gets all excited when she finds two new outfits for $20.

I share all of this with you not out of any sense of anxiety or desperation, whatsoever; just the opposite. We have no debt and want for nothing... and we don't have to run the rat race or work at McDonald's... at least not yet. We're enjoying our 'starving artist' lifestyle. As someone once said: I am the baker, and my life is the bread; how am I doing? Just fine, thanks.

I've started doing conventions again thanks to the generosity of Charles Costas who used his frequent flyer miles to fly us out to California to attend the Big Wow show. He is also directly responsible for getting us invited to Baltimore and Motor City. Dean Reeves was instrumental in getting us invited to Calgary. We wouldn't be able to afford to attend these shows unless invited as a guest. I would like to thank Charles and Dean and the organizers of these shows and the folks at Wizard World for their generosity and support.

All of the shows have been great. The St. Louis show in particular was amazing. I had a taste of real comic book stardom signing those Walking Dead books. It reminded me of the good old days when Dave and I would have line-ups at the table. The deal was that Wizard World had me sign 200 of each the colour and b&w for them and I got 200 of each to sell at the table. They gave away unsigned colour copies to the attendees while supplies lasted. The VIP attendees got the b&w as well. I was signing and selling books all weekend long. Wizard bought the original art and Skybound, the publisher, also paid me for using it on the cover. It was a very lucrative and generous offer. Everybody thought it was way cool that I had put St. Louis on the cover. Plus we sold a whole bunch of Cerebus prints.

During 2015 Gerhard attended comic conventions in:
 Calgary, Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, Ohio and Austin.
Hit the links above for Gerhard's photo-essay on each convention.

All of the people we've met at these conventions admire the WORK. They don't give a hoot about Dave's opinions. The older folks are nostalgic about the book, and a lot of them now have some disposable income to feed that nostalgia.

There's a segment of younger readers that have discovered the book only in TPBs and know nothing of Dave's rants and essays. They like the story and the art... a lot. A young girl (in her early teens? It’s so hard to tell these days) brought up a copy of Church & State vol. One clenched in both hands, shook it for emphasis and said, "This is the best book EVER!" You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Some people when asked if they've heard of Cerebus are not sure but as they leaf through the display portfolio and come across a prominent image of the aardvark, they exclaim, "Oh yeah! That guy!" Even people who don’t know Cerebus, know OF Cerebus.

A rare Cerebus drawing by Gerhard, based on a Dave Sim sketch for an unused Box Set design.

Some will sheepishly admit that they only got so far through the story. Everybody has their own drop off point. Everybody has their own favourite part. All of the people who have made it all the way through wear it like a badge of honour and accomplishment.

All of the other pros at the cons (nyuck) are respectful and kind of oddly humbled. Shel asked one fellow we were sitting beside if he knew of Cerebus and me. He very wryly said, "Of course... I'm not an idiot."

Most of the people haven't even heard of Dave's petition. When I tell them what it says they get the same confused look that I had when I first heard about it.

People ask me for a Cerebus sketch. I remind them that Dave drew the characters. They don't care; they want a sketch of Cerebus. I start doing my version which I call 'Gerebus'. Turns out they are fun to do and people love them. They're thrilled. It's the character they care about; it's the work they admire.

The irony is not lost on me that I'm now the one out there doing drawings of the aardvark.

For your own iconic ironic 'Gerebus' sketch you can contact me at: gerzmail [at] yahoo [dot] ca

Gerhard can be found online at Gerhard Art and Gerz Blog...
...along with details of Gerhard's prints for sale.


Sandeep Atwal said...

Awesome!!! Yeah, what else can you say? It's all about the work....

Travis Pelkie said...

Wait, so there's a con exclusive Walking Dead cover by Gerhard out there? Neat. Thanks to Charles Costas and Dean Reeves for getting Gerhard to cons, and I hope someone will get him to a con that I'll be able to get to someday.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Gerhard's Walking Dead cover was featured here:

Travis Pelkie said...

Man, I totally saw that too, and just blanked. Thanks for sticking the link in, Tim.

Anthony Kuchar said...

It's funny Ger's story about a teenage girl with a copy of Church and State. There was girl friend (not girlfriend) of mine in University who also liked comics so we sat down and where sharing comics and I showed her the book of 24-Hour comics All-Stars. It had Dave's 24 Hours story in there and she thought it was the best favorite (not knowing who Dave was or anything about him).

Glen said...

Does Gerhard receive any royalties from the sale of Cerebus TBPs?

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember reading an interview or something where Dave said he still sends Gerhard payments for his work on the book, but I could be wrong. However, if he doesn't get a cut, that would be shocking since Dave has been very outspoken about how everyone deserves to be compensated for their work.

jonbly said...

My understanding is that at some point Dave set it up so that Ger owned 40% of Cerebus (so Ger would have gotten 40% of the royalties... or royalties less costs, perhaps). Ger then asked to be bought out, and Dave has endeavoured to do so. So I'd expect that Dave gets all of the royalties these days... but I don't know if the 40% is fully paid off yet, or not.


Is the Melmoth Street Scene available to order yet?

iestyn said...

It's good to know Gerhard reads AMOC because I know he'll get to read this.

Your artwork, your use of light and reflection; your amazing way with hatching is an inspiration to me. A HUGE inspiration. Your work on Cerebus is some of the most amazing work ever on a comics page.

I hope, by getting out onto the con scene, that you get to realise just how amazing and admired your work is.

Cerebus would not be Cerebus without out you.

Iestyn Pettigrew

iestyn said...

I wonder if Gerhard's had a chance to see the scanning and the difference that it has made in the books?

I'd love to hear what he has to say

Bill Ritter said...

I just loved reading this. Thank you so much for sharing all of this, Ger. Thank you!

Jeff Seiler said...

My understanding, based on something Dave told me (I think), is that Ger still gets royalties from A-V, Inc, but he didn't say how much. They're just few and far between.

Pretty sure the Melmoth Street scene is for sale as an oversized print. You can order it at the address he lists above.

Anonymous said...

The story reminds me of the BBC show The Good Life.
Good wishes Paul M

Unknown said...

Sandeep: Thanks!

Travis: Where do you live? I'll see if I can get close.

Glen: I do get a 'courtesy royalty' on the TPBs but as Dave points out, sales on those are way down.

jonbly: I do have some prints of the Melmoth Street and will be officially offering them very soon.

iestyn: Thank you! And I'm looking forward to seeing my copy of the new & improved C&S I.

Bill Ritter: It was actually your comments in previous posts that got me to write something for AMOC that might give a little balance to the daily doom and gloom we've seen lately.

Jeff: Yes, that's right. On both counts.


Drew Woodworth said...

Great to hear from Gerhard and and even better to hear about his positive experiences!

Unknown said...

Gerhard gets a "courtesy royalty" of 4% on any Diamond cheque and 25% of anything from Cerebus Downloads. Neither implies ownership or co-ownership. The latter is larger than the former because it doesn't cost A-V anything apart from maintenance costs. He also gets 600 dpi scans from Sean for all of his work that gets scanned even though he makes no financial contribution to the restoration and preservation and is more than welcome to sell them any way he wants. He doesn't pay me or A-V a nickel on any of the CEREBUS prints he sells.

I would encourage those interested in my postings here to read my actual comments in the comments section(s) of each daily post rather than the "headlined" excerpts which appear tailored to skew my message -- which is that a LOT of money is needed to keep this whole thing going -- in the direction of BOO! DAVE THE EVIL CRAZY MISOGYNIST WHO'S ALL OVER THE MAP!! -- that is, SOP.

I don't think this is working -- as I expected, it's only UNworking: detrimental to the goal which is trying to generate more revenue -- but I intend to persist through the current Kickstarter, regardless. And then -- if it turns out that my presence is detrimental to what we're trying to do here -- to de-Dave Sim CEREBUS as much as possible to try to generate revenue to keep this whole thing going.

Bottom line: it seems to me the evidence suggests that we have exactly the people that we have here, some of whom are interested in helping -- and ARE helping, and thank you very much -- and some of whom are adopting as many versions of "Crazy Dave Sim" as they can balance on the end of a pin. And that Gerhard's is just a variation on that: The Feminist Theocracy's: "Dave Sim is very highly regarded in the comic-book field. Move along in an orderly fashion. Nothing to see here." He heard it from an ACTUAL girl at an ACTUAL Wizard Show. End of story. Crazy Dave Sim.

Unknown said...

So, I don't think this is working. I reiterate: if there is an untapped vein of comic stores you think would be interested in buying the multi-portfolio packs or a bunch of CEREBUS fans I'm missing in your local store, I have no shame whatever in "trading" on my "Highly Regarded" nature, trying to preserve CEREBUS.

Trying to figure out something that MIGHT work: long-term -- probably in the "after I'm dead" category -- I think we're going to need translations of the CEREBUS books at Sandeep and I have discussed this and he showed me how fast and accurate the online translations are becoming. He experimented by typing something in English, translating it into French and then re-typing the French and translating it into English. Seemed to work.

It's a long shot. The French, Spanish and Italian translations just died on the vine, but those are all romance languages, so there's always a possibility that CEREBUS might appeal to OTHER cultures. And there would seem to at least be a raw material for those three languages. But Sandeep is working 8 hours a day and I'm working 12 hours a day on what we're working on. There isn't a lot of room to "add on" other tasks.

But translations does seem to me to be worth a shot. It's still a lot of work, requiring a "Dave Sim font", an illustrator for the really design-y lettering and titles and someone with the Photoshopping "chops" to put the whole thing together. Presumably we would want to use Sean's restored scans of the pages.

I mean: bottom line to me is that we get one person a week on average who thinks I'm not a misogynist and signs the petition, we seem to be completely limited in the amount of revenue we can generate and there seems to me to be no alternative avenues.

I appreciate what Sandeep is doing and as long as there's enough money coming in at (minus Gerhard's 25%) to keep paying him, I have no problem coming up with ideas and crossing them off the list. One of which is "Why not try COMMUNICATING with everyone THROUGHOUT a Kickstarter campaign?"

I'll be, God willing, closing out the campaign a week from Saturday with the "all-day discussion" I wasn't able to do last time because I was in the hospital and I'm pretty sure we'll ALL have the answer to that one by then.

CerebusTV said...

Thanks for making this article available, Tim. It can only serve to generate wider enthusiasm for the body of work and consequent sales, accruing to the benefit of all. Barnum's credited with saying there's only good publicity, but this is even better.

Anonymous said...

I am posting as anonymous because I do not have a facebook or google account - not sure what those other options are, but my name is Erick.

Dave and Gerhard,
Thank you.
If you disregard everything else this comment touches on, please accept my deepest thanks for providing such a fantastic entertainment for such a long time.

The work stands alone as a monumental achievement. I started reading Cerebus back in either '82 or '83. It was the cover with wolveroach on it. Of course back then I was am Xmen fan, and grabbed anything X related. Once I picked up Cerebus however, I was instantly hooked. I went back and bought as many back issues as i could find and I bought the phone books as well.
A few years later Dave came to my local comic book store on a tour and i mentioned to him how i started reading Cerebus, and far from being upset that it was due to Wolveroach on the cover he graciously said something to the affect 'it does not matter how you came to read it but that you stayed'. I stayed. to the very end. It was a bittersweet ending.
Alone and unloved. Just as Dave always said it would be.
Reading Cerebus and the letters pages for so long, one could not help but think that we were given a privileged view of the mind of artist as his creation unfolded before him and us.
I do not mean to to imply (the speaker implies the listener infers - I will never forget that, thanks Dave!) that we knew Dave's mind from what we read in Cerebus. I do not think anyone no matter how talented can distill the entirety of their thought processes on paper. But we inferred. We also read contemporaneous inferences from reviewers as well as fans. I/we then had to make two judgement calls: Do we need to separate the man from the work? Can we separate the man from the work?

I chose no to both questions.
I disagree with a lot of what Dave has said and still says regarding women. No point hashing it out here. He has his views, I have mine.
But at no time did I ever believe that his views would be harmful.
Hurtful to some? Undoubtedly. Enraging to some? Undoubtedly. Disturbing even to me? Absolutely. But without conflict there can be no growth. There can be no honing of ones opinion other than to say 'i don't like that' but being unable to articulate why.
Dave provided the why as well as providing the entertainment as well.
was Cerebus always entertaining? Heck no. There were consecutive years that passed by that strained all of the goodwill of the fans except the most hardcore. And i am not talking about anti feminist rants either, just plain bad storytelling and art. But talent will out. And I stuck around until that talent reasserted itself. And it was worth it.
Cerebus can not be separated from its creator.

iestyn said...

Hey Erick

Love the comment.

That's a 'like' and a 'plus 1' from me

Anonymous said...

Thanks iestyn!

I should have also said 'Conflict builds character!'
I love the roach and dirty fleegle (sp?) and dirty drew! I have rarely laughed as hard as when i read any of his adventures.
I am going to re-read all of the roach stories this weekend.

There was a line about 'bruising his knuckles purty bad on ma kidneys' that to this day lays me out!

It has been about 7 or 8 years since I last read those early stories. Definitely time to get reacquainted

Tony Dunlop said...

Hi Erick,
Just select "Name/URL" from the menu below, then you can enter your name/pseudonym.

Barry Deutsch said...

Have you (you = Sandeep or whomever is helping Dave with internet things) reached out to Breitbart to ask them to do an article about how eeevvvviiiiillll feminists are refusing to support Dave's Kickstarter?

I'm not entirely joking; more-or-less that approach worked really well for Cassie Jaye. And that's certainly not a crowd who will be bothered by feminist disapproval (quite the opposite).

CerebusTV said...

John Scrudder's girlfriend thought Dave lived in "a cabin in the woods" while it's Ger and Shel who almost really do! It was the scene of their CerebusTV interview about their illustrated children's book, The Wish, and we can attest that it's a cozy nest this time of year, having slept next to the wood stove. They've also got a friendly tortoise shell cat, Elsa, who came in out of the cold.

Travis Pelkie said...

Wow, Gerhard name checked me! I live in upstate NY, and get to Ithaca's comic show, for one. There's one in Elmira where I ought to contact the people involved in putting that together and see if they'd be interested in getting Ger there. And I'd definitely make the trip to Boston next August if that was on your itinerary! Cool!

I didn't see what Ger said about the young girl at the show excited about how good C&S as... whatever it is you think it indicates, Dave, but as a sign that there's a market for the book that actually is untapped so far. A young girl who may have still been in diapers when the book ended has found it now, somehow, thinks it's great, and presumably wants me, that's the audience to cultivate. Admittedly, I have no idea how to do so, but the comment about that part of Ger's post seems to completely dismiss that.

However, one of the reasons I continue to back Dave is that even though from a business sense, Dave has no sort of obligation to pay Ger any money at this point (as I understand it), he still thinks it ethically proper to give him a courtesy royalty. That's the Dave whom I highly respect and am glad to give money to.

Perhaps the Kickstarter might bring in more money from Dave's comments if he kept them more in the Stan Lee huckster mode (hey kids, help preserve Cerebus and get some cool stuff) rather than the comments about the Feminist Theocracy which, to me, do nothing to steer people to giving money to the Archive.