Sunday 31 January 2016

The Toronto Summit

The Toronto Summit.
L to R: Peter Laird, Michael Zulli, John Totleben, Dave Sim, Steve Bissette, Stephen Murphy, Kevin Eastman. 
Photo by Helen Finlay

Saturday 30 January 2016

Page 45: The Restored "Church & State I"

Cerebus Vol 3: Church & State I
by Dave Sim & Gerhard

PAGE 45:
(from a review by Stephen Holland at Page, January 2016)
The original art has been reshot then reprinted on such fine paper stock that the book's already considerable girth has almost doubled. 

"Anything Done For The First Time Unleashes A Demon."

Around this time there was a CEREBUS cover whose only visual element was the hand-lettering of the sentence above, white letters on black. No picture at all. I don’t recall that being done before or any time since. As both a brave and successful attention-grabbing visual device and as a Truth, it has stuck with me ever since to the extent that I typed the sentence from memory rather than sought out my own issue.

It's now that we start using the word 'genius'. Not because I am drunk but because the writing and art have both ascended to the point of inspired precision.

Every look, every line has a weight to it. They're so well refined and targeted, and amongst the targets are melodramatic superheroes in the form of Chris Claremont's Wolverine, and organised religion. Not faith – that’s a very different thing. Which is fortunate, for Sim would go on to embrace God with a passion.

Prime Minister Cerebus is persuaded to enter the Church, to vie for the role of Pope which for Cerebus involves throwing babies off roofs to prove a point about obeisance and being careful what you wish for.

Please don't think that Cerebus has been converted. He hasn't. The most famous CEREBUS t-shirt has him dressed as Pope declaring, "He doesn't love you. He just wants all your money." Specifically, he wants gold.

But Cerebus achieves his status through an assassination out of his hands, and for the first time he observes that "Something fell!" It won't be the last. It will ripple through time and, when uttered in the future, will become a catalyst for destruction.

This is where the subplot – hiding in the wings but very much in evidence for those who’ve either been looking for it or reading in retrospect – really kicks in. There is something evidently rather singular about our Aardvark. Also something of a duality. Things happen around him. There are the Mind Games, the Strange White Glowing Thing, and the gold evidently wants him as much as he wants it...

Did I mention he gets married? If the first book begins as a parody of CONAN, you won’t be surprised at the inclusion of a character called Red Sophia based on female barbarian Red Sonja. What would perhaps surprise you is that Red Sophia’s mother is an extended homage to British cartoonist Giles. It's brilliantly done, too.

More Mind Games, more chess pieces, more Jaka. Oh, yes, more Marx Brothers!

For more on CEREBUS – an overview or its story and an assessment of its structure, its art, its invention and its place in comicbook history – please see my reviews of every single one of its sixteen component parts making up 300 monthly issues written and drawn over twenty-three years.

Unusually I wrote them back to back just before Page 45’s website launched because a) most of the collected editions were published long before we wrote reviews so we had none, and b) CEREBUS is such a landmark series in the history of comic art and industry that I would not countenance a Page 45 website launching without every single edition being assessed to one extent or another.

Because I wrote them back to back, they constitute one complete and hopefully coherent review dealing with different elements like the lettering and art rather than repeating myself each time as an introduction. Begin at the beginning?

Stephen Holland is the co-founder (with Mark Simpson) of one the UK's leading comic stores - Page 45.

Friday 29 January 2016

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Hello, everyone out there in AMOC land! Per a joint decision by Dave Sim and myself, I would like to humbly request feedback on the following question:
Would you rather see these weekly posts of Dave Sim letters in chronological order (as they more or less have been posted so far), or would you rather see random posts from any place throughout the 11-year correspondence?
Argument for chronological:  It gives a glimpse into the evolution of a long-term relationship as it unfolded over time, and it is posted as that evolution occurred--sequentially.

Argument for random:  Randomness keeps things hopping and we don't have to wait it out through three or four weeks of posts of letters that are all about the same thing/s.

So, please, everyone who could give the hindquarters of a rodent, please vote here in the comments section to this post -- vote early and vote often. Once a week's worth of votes are in, I'll let Dave know. We now returned you to your regularly scheduled programming...

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. Now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I'll be running interesting excerpts from those letters each week.

Today’s letter is from Dave to me is dated 12 April, 2005. It does not have a postmark or stamp on the envelope because Dave delivered it by hand, along with some others he also delivered by hand to other Cerebites, at the S.P.A.C.E convention in Columbus, Ohio, in late April that year. It was my first year of attending S.P.A.C.E. If memory serves, that was also the year that I witnessed him handing off several of his notebooks to Margaret for scanning, some pages of which you have seen and more of which you will continue to see every Thursday, here at AMOC. Okay, on to the letter:

12 April 05

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for your letter and enclosures of March 27. I’m afraid I’m a little “under the weather” and trying to stay pasted together long enough to make it through the S.P.A.C.E weekend, so this is going to be less thorough than I would’ve liked.

The Sally Quinn column [Ed: a clipping I sent him]

Yes, it seems to me just basic embarrassment at how the whole thing is hatching out. It seems to me that it is one of the givens of gender relations that we’ll just have to suck it up and not make a big deal about the waste of thirty-five years of human civilization (or however many years it takes) while we all tried to glue together this complete feminist misapprehension. It also seems to me a bad sign the she refers to men as “poor devils”. The feminists are completely wrong [she writes], that doesn’t mean they’re going to give up without a fight. Exactly the opposite. The profound level of feminist chauvinism means at least another ten or fifteen years of exactly this pendulum swing from resignation to harpy-like defiance and back again. Whenever we finally do get clear of this, it is going to be one of the most thoroughly documented and least appealing chapters in human history.

That’s the way the cookie crumbles: Science marches on [another clipping, all of these are from the Dallas Morning News]

Good light-hearted piece. It always astonishes me the things that people anguish over.

Visit Dallas Central Mosque, and you’ll find tolerance and faith [clipping]
“Do we condone hate or extremism in our mosque? Absolutely not. Nor do we think in terms of ‘killing the infidels’ or ‘avoiding friendship with Christians or Jews’ as some ignorant writers suggest based on out-of-context interpretations of the Quran.”
I would take issue with Nabil Sadoun here because I don’t think there is a context to the Quran, per se. I see it as a twin monologue conducted by God and YHWH and there’s no doubt in my mind that YHWH is in fine form with his/her/its Jew hating. I see the Koran (my preferred spelling) as a litmus test, actually. Who do you think is talking here? God or YHWH or, as they’re called in the Koran, Allah or Eblis/Satan? There are some borderline instances, but there are also glaringly obvious YHWH assertions: malign, hard-hearted and mean-spirited. A portion of the Muslim world seems to be coming around to a recognition that it is not only impossible but evil to institute every aspect of the Koran as divine law. I assume that’s the point of the debate. WIll Muslims ultimately follow the malign, hard-hearted and mean-spirited verses or the enlightened ones, like ‘you to your religion and me to mine’? I’m sure God is betting that they’ll all ultimately come around to the enlightened view and Eblis is betting they’ll destroy the world trying to fulfill the Eblis inspired verses.

Out of bounds [clipping]

Yes, the unhappy result of the largely optimistic decision to create the United Nations. Democracy doesn’t work among nations, largely (I suspect) because of the Arab and African Bloc voting. Marxism hadn’t fully hatched out by 1945 and will be flourishing in those two blocs for some time to come, as well as infecting countries like Canada that should know better but don’t seem to. It’s the primary conundrum. A free country is free to choose to become Marxist but a Marxist country isn’t free to choose to become free except in extremis (witness: Ukraine). It’s only because of the United States that there is light at the end of that tunnel, so all eyes are on the land of the free and home of the brave to get us out of the mess we’re in.

[End of responses to clippings.]

You are certainly free to post our correspondence to the Newsgroup. Legally, I can’t do that with all of the correspondents, so it seems unethical to pick and choose, but if you want to post the whole thing and scan in my answers, you’re certainly free to do so. At this point, it looks as if we would have two full volume of Collected Letters ready to go. Depending on the reaction to the first we might do the second through one of the on-line print-to-order houses just to keep our own printing obligations to a reasonable seventeen volumes. I say this so you have an option--my responses will see print up ahead, but if you want the correspondence posted you are welcome to do so. I’m sure Margaret will be glad to include them at

I suspect the propensity for “off topic” can be attributed to the fact that everyone is still responding reflexively to discussions of feminism by the tried and true feminist method: changing the subject. I’m also a little suspicious of your survey because it asks people to assess themselves and I’m not sure--post 9-11--how accurate most self-perceptions are. I think most liberals see themselves as something in between liberal and conservative. In my own case, I see myself as liberal but realistic, whereas most other people would see me as extreme right wing. Although I think it was valuable as a piece of information where there had previously been a void, my own view it that the critical importance--and only “way forward” remains ideas and the free and open discussion of those ideas. Labelling tends to be evasive of ideas. If I point out that standards need to be skewed in order to achieve numerical parity between the genders, it’s easy to avoid the core idea presented by labelling me as a misogynist or asking me if I consider myself to be a cynic. What someone calls me or what I call myself is irrelevant in the realm of ideas. Let’s stick to perceiving reality accurately and skip what we call aspects of it in favour of examining the ideas.

My ideas are definitely in the “this is a hard saying and who can hear it?” category. I suspect that your brother agrees with me far more than he lets on. Otherwise, where’s the girlfriend? Where’s the fiancee? Where’s the wife? You can drink heavily and curse the name of Dave Sim and the star he was born under, but if you’re living in his construct--marriage as constituted is untenable--then it rings more than a little false. Prove me wrong. Go out and marry someone.

Personally, I’m very much at peace with the way things are hatching out since all of the linked entities which are not based upon reality--Marxism, feminism, academe, the United Nations, et. al.--are suddenly falling on hard times. They represent a temporarily effective series of basic tricks, but the problem with basic tricks--like fundamental evasiveness, labelling and changing of the subject--is that once they’ve been identified they quickly become useless. As long as those of us opposing the malignancies can stay on topic and continue to ask the same basic questions about the forces which continue to dominate our society, they really aren’t long for this world--whether that’s in a human frame or reference of another decade or so or a societal frame of reference of another century or two. In either case, I consider it worthwhile (and a privilege!) to have been an early proponent of accurate perception and have no regrets whether I live to see the dawning of a new age of accurate perception or whether it arrives fifty years after I’m dead.

Thanks as always for writing.


Thursday 28 January 2016

Weekly Update #119: A Phone Call From Bill Sienkiewicz

Dave gets a phone call from Bill Sienkiewicz! He also gets one from a Czech company trying to reprint Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Also, an update on Cerebus Archive Number Four.

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Jaka the Dancer

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.

We've seen a bit of Notebook #10 before, most recently last August in "Notebook #10 Bits", but also in "Vacation Time: San Jose", "Jaka's Story" and "Jaka's Story (II)". Notebook #10 had 100 pages to begin with, and had 80 pages scanned. There were 6 total blank pages. It was labeled by Dave as issues 112/113, but also has some tidbits on Jaka's Story - him getting ready for it.

Like on page 29 where he has a listing of the different chapters in Jaka's Story and which issues will be a part of them. He also lists the characters in the story - Jaka, Rick, Cerebus, Oscar and Dan? Dan? Perhaps that is Pud before he was renamed Pud Withers.

Notebook #10, page 29
He also has a blurb on Jaka's Story:
Jaka is a single-minded dancer. She wants to be the center of attention. She was so close to being the absolute center as part of to Uncle Julius' family. Front row seat at the pageant. But she didn't want front row. She wanted to be in the pageant. And gradually the center of the pageant. And when she was seven there was no pageant. She became the pageant. At last there was the darkened Theatre of Palnu. Somehow there was a light that just shone on her. A circle of white large enough just to contain her and Magic, her horse. She wouldn't see the people but their applause was deafening. Like the first pageant she had attended when after the final prancing drill of a team of horses the thunderclap of the ovation had startled her. Thrilled her. Made her cry. When nurse had asked her what was wrong she had been unable to reply.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Cerebus: In My Life - Anthony Phillips

Cerebus #36: The Night Before (March 1982)
Art by Dave Sim
I read Cerebus when I was a teen.  It was probably the deepest comic I'd read yet.  This was just around the time the term "graphic novel" was becoming popular, but men like Sim, Moore, and others had been doing this for a while.

Cerebus taught me that this art form was depthless.  Longer page counts than any novel, and filled with art - comic form was WORTHY... as any other medium.  It had paid its dues.  I started to be proud of what I'd read.

And Cerebus had scenes of such breathtaking beauty and sadness.  Single pages that stood striking and stark.  Jaka returning the sword is one scene that really got to me.  I love seeing these sorts of frozen moments now. 

Monday 25 January 2016

This Is Going To Sting A Bit...

Cerebus #224 (November 1997)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

Sunday 24 January 2016

Neal Adams, Niagra Falls & Other Forces Of Nature

Josh Adams, Marilyn Adams, Neal Adams & Dave Sim, 2006

Saturday 23 January 2016

Character Assassination, Lies, Gossip & Innuendo

The Comics Journal #253 (June 2003) published (at Dave Sim's request) two letters from Cerebus fans, Jack Baney and Allen Rubenstein, which had originally been intended for publication in Aardvark Comments letters page within Cerebus, but were omitted due to space limitations. Dave Sim's detailed response (over 15,000 words!)  was published in The Comics Journal #255 (September 2003) and #258 (February 2004). What follows is just a short extract from that reply.

...Well, I have to disagree with you there. I did get isolated because I spoke out. People believe that being an anti-feminist is the same thing as being a misogynist or a racist. No, a misogynist hates women because they are women. A racist hates black people because they are black. What I have is a political disagreement with what I believe to be a wrong political direction that my society has adopted and a wrong political choice that the majority of women have made their own. It appears that my actions are, as you assert, "engineered to alienate as many people as possible" only because virtually everyone else thinks that there is a sound basis to Marxist-feminism and believe that disagreeing with Marxist-feminism is a sign of bigotry. I disagree. I think Marxist-feminism is bigotry itself, which maintains itself, as Mao's Cultural Revolution did, by ostracizing those people who are basically saying, "Dude, the experiment isn't working."

Ostracizing Dave Sim, ignoring and disparaging his work, while refusing to enunciate where you believe that the [15] Impossible Things To Believe Before Breakfast are not only not Impossible, are not only Possible, but are, in fact, Shining Truths of How to Conduct Our Glorious Society is very reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution. Your experiment isn't working. It is working less well as we go along. The enemy isn't the person who is trying to tell you that. The enemy is your own persistence in a misapprehension that doesn't suit the nature of free and democratic people. I can't rule out the possibility that God picked me for this job for the basic reason that He knew I would build a very small impregnable fortress.

I wouldn't have a publisher or an editor who could lean on me. I wouldn't have any advertisers who could be leaned on. I wouldn't have a wife who could threaten me or children that I had to worry about "having an evil misogynist dad." I wouldn't have any female friends that I wasn't completely prepared to lose out of my life (all of whom I have lost out of my life, willingly and happily) if it came to a question of appeasing them or sticking with what I believe to be the truth.

I would be working with distributors and retailers who have learned by hard experience that freedom of the press is meaningless unless you're willing to make work available that other people want to read, no matter what you think of it personally. I would have a business partner who would accept that -- in terms of written content -- it is my book. I have offered twice to include and/or write on Gerhard's behalf any disclaimer Gerhard wanted to run in the book, disavowing his having anything to do with the written content. The first time he said that he was pretty sure that no one would believe that he agreed with what I was writing. The second time he simply said that it wouldn't be necessary. So that is where and how things stood and stand here in the small impregnable (so far, God willing) fortress.

That left only the "mob" and a flat-out Marxist-feminist "Enemy of the People and the Glorious Revolution" "hanging in effigy" on the Internet, character assassination, lies, gossip and innuendo as the only means available of attempting to destroy me. If I had a nickel for every time I've been called insane since #186 came out, I would be a very wealthy man. A lot of people are convinced that I must be suicidal, doing without friends as I do. On the contrary, given how those people responded to a simple minority viewpoint, I count myself to be very lucky to have found out who and what they are so that I didn't have to waste any more of my time on or with them. I'm not insane. I am a perfectly sane individual living a very coherent and simple life, a large part of which involves metaphorically staring down virtually every other person in the comic-book field who is, to my own great amusement, waiting for me to flinch.

Folks, I'm not going to flinch. I have nothing to flinch about. You will flinch (you, in fact, have flinched, and are flinching) because you can't answer my argument. You can't even address my argument. All you can do is indulge in mob behavior, character assassination, lies, gossip, innuendo, calling me insane and hoping that that will drive me insane, believing that I'm suicidal in the fervent hope that I will kill myself and that (in the brand of logic peculiar to Marxist-feminists) that my argument will therefore die with me. I haven't indulged in a single one of those unbecoming approaches to societal discourse with any one of the people that I am metaphorically staring down. I don't have to, because -- until a female member of your ranks can present a coherent counter-argument to Tangent and the [15] Impossible Things To Believe Before Breakfast -- I am the one who is in the right and you are the ones who are in the wrong. You were wrong to ignore my argument, you were wrong to engage in character assassination, lies, gossip  and innuendo when you had no answer to my argument, you were wrong when one of you claimed to have threatened me with physical violence, you were wrong to indulge in character assassination, lies and innuendo when I answered that claim of a threat of violence in a like fashion. Under your own Marxist-feminist standards (however degraded they may be) I am right and you are wrong.

Sorry to hurt your collective feeling like, but, you know, there you go...

Friday 22 January 2016

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. Now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I'll be running interesting excerpts from those letters each week.

23 February, 2005

Dear Jeff:

I'm typing this as part of my February answers to the [Cerebus] Newsgroup, so you might want to post your letter and indicate that that’s what this is about. [Ed: If anyone wants to see my letter, let me know, I’ll try to find it. This is not an exact science, keeping letters for decades. Although, Dave has done a pretty good job of it, with his archive.]

I think it’s a good idea to try for some level of political identification in the Newsgroup for exactly the reasons you outline. I’d be very curious as to what a survey would turn up if you asked everyone to identify themselves as Liberal, Conservative, or Something In Between as a good starting point for the discussion. I also think that you make a good point about finding the monthly answers more conveniently. I have been honestly trying in recent weeks to make an effort to get to the library and check the occasional website on the Internet if someone specifically asks me to--previously I just ignored all such requests--and I just have no patience with it. What am I supposed to “click on”? How do I “turn the page?” “Where did everything go?” With a book, I can check the index, then find the page number, flip to that page, and see if it’s what I’m looking for. On the Internet, I have to find what I think is a pertinent reference (and never is), click on that, scroll through it until I give up, go back to the home page, click on something else. Given a hundred years of evolution it might achieve the efficiency of a book with an index, but I’m not holding my breath.

And I do think that Cerebus would be better served by Conservative interests and that a Foundation would be a good idea eventually. Ger and I are mutually insured through the company through the company, so he would be getting a pretty good sum of money at my passing, but that’s his money. I’d certainly recommend forming a Cerebus Foundation and dovetailing it with Cerebus Legacy, but that will be his decision to make--I can’t tie his hands ahead of time in good conscience. And, as I said before, I think that the possibility of a [metaphorical feeding] trough should be resisted in the early planning for Cerebus Legacy because, otherwise, you attract the wrong kind of people. If you accomplish as many tasks as you can just structurally and then apply specific amounts of money to specific problems--like memory for Margaret’s, etc.--then you’re going to be making better choices. If you start talking about salaried positions, then you have a vested interest in someone continuing to draw the salary and you have a perhaps terminal drain on resources if Cerebus stays the size that it is and a cesspool of corruption if it gets much or even a little larger. But, definitely, if I had to pick a good early course direction to take, it would be giving a disproportionately larger voice to those who identify themselves as Conservative. Trying to avoid creating a Foundation with salaried positions and keeping money as far as possible from the day-to-day running of Cerebus Legacy is a Conservative approach. I can’t see the problems that exist as having any chance of being solved by having money thrown at them and you’re going to need a strong Conservative hand on the tiller--and Conservative voices willing to speak up and be heard--to keep that from happening.

On the subject of replacing the “originals” [Ed: the original readers/fans of Cerebus], I think as long as an honest dialogue is taking place that that won’t be necessary. How many honest dialogues do you know of? I think they’re: a) pretty rare, and b) pretty attractive in no small part because they’re pretty rare. I didn’t want to make you all self-conscious about your ages--or, more relevantly, about your pertinence to Cerebus--but I’m definitely aware of the condition you describe. My own view is that you will become Cerebus celebrities in your own right directly relative to the level of celebrity attached to the book as the years go by. The fewer there are of you, the more important you’re going to be seen as being. The fact that--I assume--the poll will indicate the vast majority of the Newsgroup identifies themselves as Liberal will--again, I assume--prove to be a genuine credential in the years to come. You stuck it out with a viewpoint that you deplored. Well, that’s genuine Liberalism, inclusive rather than exclusive. It will get tested every time there’s another societal convulsion that doesn’t favour the book and it will get tested every time there’s another societal convulsion that does favour the book. If I’ve done my work properly, that should go on pretty much indefinitely. As an “original”, I wouldn’t worry about “successors” too much. When we all start to lose it, they’ll be very nice about edging us out of the way and trying to live up to what we’ve laid down as the original groundwork. They’ll either improve it or wreck it or maintain it but by that we’ll all be drooling in our oatmeal or be six feet under. The key thing is to do what we can now while we’re still “all here” in every sense of the term.

You raise another good point when you mention the cover art. I would definitely never want the covers reprinted inside the trade paperbacks. They are supposed to be graphic novels and that purpose is defeated if there’s another comic-book cover every twenty pages. If the covers are reprinted [Ed: They now are.], my preference would be a separate volume. I could grudgingly allow for them being reprinted in the back of each trade--very grudgingly--but having the covers interleaved into the books, no, to me that’s in the same category as computer colour.

Thanks for writing, Jeff.

Thursday 21 January 2016

Weekly Update #118: From Brooklyn With Love

Dave gets a couple of phone calls from some fans... including his one and only stalker, Mark from Brooklyn.
You know what a lightsaber is, right?

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Naming Church & State

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.

A while back iestyn had asked for pages with Dave's text pieces on them. While looking through notebook #5 for last week's entry, I found the original text for the Note From The President for Cerebus #72 on page 31, written in 1985:
"Church and State"
You guys have been asking me what this part of the Cerebus story-line is called. I did "High Society" with the intention of addressing myself to what I felt were the central elements issues of politics.
"Church and State" addresses itself to people in the late 1990's. Before the year One  Thousand there was a great deal of turmoil as regards a second coming or coming Second Coming. If you're so disposed (or a First Coming if your particular faith feels the first one was largely so much smoke and mirrors, but I digress.). We are now only half-way (I'm writing this February 6,) is between January 18, 1970 and January 1, 2000. With the kind of communications we have in this day and age, we will have time to all flock behind our personal Messiah and change our minds dozens of times before the ball drops on Times Square (only that isn't going to happen anymore, is it?) Janua December 31, 1999.
So I just moved the whole attitude into Cerebus world. For the pigts 1414 is a wonderfully scared year. The Year Cerebus Returns.
And the original page itself:

Notebook #5, page 31
Quite a bit different from the note that was published in Cerebus #72:
You know, it's not really true that there's nothing to say in this space. I mean this would be a great spot to clear up a lot of the confusing plots and sub-plots and sub-sub-plots.
I mean, I could tell you when Jaka is coming back, then, couldn't I? Wouldn't that make sitting down and filling all this empty space worth while? Well that depends.
There are people in the world who don't want to know what changes are going to take place. There are other people who soak up previews like a sponge soaks up water. Unfortunately, I'm one of the former rather than latter individuals. I watched STAR TREK II on television the other night up until the last half hour when Spock stands up and goes out to die. I had known that was what he was going to do so why extend the eyestrain?
What I can tell you is that this section of the Cerebus story-line now has a name.
"Church and State."
Like it? Well who cares. That's what it's called.
I've had a few comments in the last while that time isn't passing as quickly in the story-line as, say, in issue 27. This is largely a reaction on my part to the cramming I had to do in the "High Society" storyline. If the overall reaction to "High Society's" conclusion had been "Shit, Dave, that was a long way to go for nothing", I probably would have made a more concerted effort to provide a series of sixty and eighty page stories with a lot of "Three days later..." and "After a series of misadventures..." captions strewn throughout.
Quite the contrary, the reaction (particularly from those people who started reading the book in the last two years and have read "High Society" in one sitting) has been in favour of the extended story-line.
To pull the curtain aside ever-so-slightly, "Church and State" is largely concerned with Cerebus' personal identity crisis set in motion in issue 5 when he discovers the Pigts (and vice versa). Is he Cerebus, The Great Cerebus, Most Holy, a combination of all three? If a combination of all three, in what percentage does each dictate his thoughts and actions?
Now the only way to illustrate this effectively in my opinion (and as me Dad used to say "Who else's Opinion counts around here?") is to show you the little bastard bouncing off his mental walls in great detail over a couple of days and take an ungodly number of issues to do it.
Consider the implications of selecting one of those identities given his present circumstances. Pick an identity. Any identity.
Okay get your noses out from behind my curtain and start reading.
See you next issue.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Dave Sim & Gerhard: Store Signing

Dave Sim & Gerhard store signing at Tony's Camelot A.D. in North Bay, Ontario

Monday 18 January 2016

Comic Book Greats #5: Bill Sienkiewicz

Art by Dave Sim
(Glamourpuss #9, September 2009)

(from 100 Internet Tour at Comic Book Resources, Febuary 2008)
...when I brought up Bill Sienkiewicz's STRAY TOASTERS at lunch the one time and you'd think I'd shot somebody's dog from the way Seth, Chester and Joe reacted. I reread STRAY TOASTERS at least once a year. It's confusing as heck but, for me it has some amazing moments... but then I like the illustration schools represented in there and what Bill is trying to do (or what I think Bill is trying to do). The use of flat colour in the lettering and the caption boxes which puts everything on TOP of the actual art. That's pretty breathtaking for me as an artist who is known as an innovative letterer. I take my hat off to anybody who can introduce a whole new way of doing work. Dave McKean came out of that. Thematically the SANDMAN covers are Sienkiewicz. Even if it's not your cup of tea, it's nothing to act as if liking it is the same as shooting someone's dog. GASOLINE ALLEY has very, very little to offer me, but I would never call it s--t...

Sunday 17 January 2016

Jeff Lafferty: Inspiration From Dave Sim

Jeff Lafferty is an artist from Boulder, Colorado, USA, who publishes a weekly video artcast.

Dave Sim's Notes From The President were collected in to the Cerebus Guide To Self-Publishing,
currently available as a $10 download.

Saturday 16 January 2016

Chad Vee: A Cerebus Movie-Pitch Idea

Backcover detail from Cerebus Vol 9: Reads (1995)
Art by Gerhard
(from Cerebus Facebook Group, 16 January 2016)
I think, I believe, I have the absolute perfect synopsis / treatment for a Dave Sim / Cerebus movie that Hollywood would absolutely eat up since apparently his "shopping around" last year to Brad Pitt didn't work out... yet.

Think "American Splendor", mixed with "Birdman", with dash of "Crumb".

A thought-provoking and inventive exploration of artistry, women and dysfunctional relationships and society and the difference between power, popularity, and prestige. A biopic spotlighting Dave Sim the artist / writer / self publishing pioneer and all his ideals and notoriety and the conflict it has caused in his life (drama, conflict, fun, struggle, relationships and betrayal, dabble in craziness and drug use (very minor, just maybe for laughs and a little "coolness" for the audience), fame and how it raised him up to the proportions it did and, ultimately his downfall. A biopic, suedo documentary if you will, his relationship with Deni, his controversies, life experiences etc. Basically show his "cool jet setting" days first, his rise, and eventual fall. Anyone would be a fool to think that Dave's notoriety and Cerebus (especially into the late 80s / 90s wasn't, at least to some degree, directly linked to one another) -- ala "what will Dave say next" to piss everyone one off this month so to speak.

But here's the thing / catch, it'd be interspersed with showing the Cerebus storyline as Dave's writing Cerebus in the early days (traditional animation, cgi, alf? Lol idk, possibly even that cool comic book panel look camera pan over the panels with minor animation/movement only because I'm not sure any type of animation could capture the beauty of his and Gerhard's panels, drawing or layout) also keeping within a small budget that highlights the Cerebus storyline slowly as the movie would go on telling Dave's life it would also show key scenes in Cerebus story / life leaving off at crucial moments so the audience is like, NO, get back to Cerebus thus raising the tension and anticipation of the viewer and also, later in Dave's life Cerebus "speaking" to Dave throughout HIS (Dave's) life. And also as the story draws on, the end of Cerebus' life and eventual death (last 20 minutes of movie), as we also see Dave's down fall and ostracization  even tho he was right and the audience knows it but we also knows he was fighting a losing battle but he fought it none the less. Although we leave that up to the audience to decide but that's the direction -- ala Birdman

Especially now, when feminism is at its highest, this type of movie would cause debate, anger, hate, how we more or less live in a matriarchal society that he foretold of more than 30 years ago, more controversy, interviews, politics, talk, piss people off etc but over all it would EXPLODE off the screen and set the media and social media networks on fire in anger against it. Garner attention and talk and debates about today's society. Get people talking and, IF DONE RIGHT would be Oscar worthy in its thought provokedness if you will. It would raise attention for the books, increase sales AND, while it will most assuredly piss off feminists it WOULD open the eyes of so many intelligent THINKERS, men and women alike to what Dave was actually trying to say and gain awareness of. And yes Dave was right. Brad Pitt eats this stuff up for the type of movies that he likes to endorse and make / produce.

They could have Dave's old associates/friends: Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Jeff Smith etc, even tiny cameos and his conflict with some of them etc, as cameos or what have you -- a nod to comic book fans, they love that stuff lol! -- showing respect to Dave as basically the grandfather to their work which I don't think anyone will argue against except for perhaps Will Eisner. The time is ripe, snatch the fruit off the tree while its ripe, as Hollywood is comic book crazy and looking for new and different treatments. Again, ala Birdman, Crumb, etc

Again avant-garde

Shop that around Hollywood or Brad Pitt and see what happens lol and remember, both "American Splendor" / Harvey Pekar's story and "Birdman" were heralded by critics for what they brought to the screen. Low budget, within constraints. Very minor special effects. Etc Maybe even a little "Crumb" thrown in there too. The coolness / dysfunctional / crazy side to writing the longest American graphic novel in history.

Suedo documentary style (Splendor, Crumb, Birdman) kinda sad and depressing but uplifting and thought provoking. Laughs interspersed so it's not too heavy. It would raise up Dave and give him the respect he so richly deserves.

Oh and beside cool cameos of actual writers and artists kind of like "Man In The Moon" or "Private Parts" where everybody else plays their own selves except the lead, in this case Dave -- but here's the thing though -- who would voice Cerebus???? Who could even do it? Dave Sim of course! This is Hollywood magic!

And yes, I would want credited and paid if this ever does happen or something like it. Lol!

Lastly, this is obviously a rough of a rough of a rough idea. It would need rewriting and rethinking and obviously just writing this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg as to my idea but I truly think this can work.

Friday 15 January 2016

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. Now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I'll be running interesting excerpts from those letters each week.

13 November, 2004

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for your letter of October 24.

I would be glad to do an interview with Ethan Nahte [Ed: an employee at Titan Comics in Dallas and who was at the time working on a documentary about Robert E. Howard] but it does seem unlikely given his budget restraints[sic] and the geography problem, so I guess it will probably be better to leave it at that for the time being and just see what (if anything) changes as we go along. Very good news about Jeremy Shorr and Titan Comics. If you’re talking to him, tell him that Ger and I appreciate a great deal his keeping all of the trades in stock. Likewise with Lone Star [Comics]. I know that they are primarily a mainstream store and Buddy and I have had our differences over the years so it’s nice to know that they’re still “on board”. Did you know that Craig Miller [Ed: RIP] of Following Cerebus used to work there? I had completely forgotten about it until I ran across a copy of Lone Star Express that he used to edit where he interviewed me on the ‘82 Tour. Time flies.

I don’t think that the page Jeremy has is from Reads, but rather from “Reads”, the short story from early in Church & State. Glad he’s hung on to it all this time. [Ed: Jeremy, at my request, did send a scan of that page to Sean and Mara for the remastering of Church & State I.]

I’m not really sure if I pioneered the sequential reprinting. That honour probably goes to Russ Cochrane with his E.C. Library when he decided to reprint the entire runs of the E.C. titles, including colour covers. I think if you look at most collections of reprints, they include the covers and sometimes the advertisements. I was driving at something else, modeled more on the completed serialization that used to be done in Dickens’ and Dostoevsky’s time where the completed serialization was collected into book form. In fact, I’ve taken a lot of flack [sic] over the years for not reprinting the Cerebus covers in the trades. Just another example of me swimming upstream against the tide. To me, if you call them graphic novels, they should read sequentially from front to back with no outside material. In fact, I worked very hard to get to the point where it would be difficult if not impossible to tell where one issue ended and another began in the reprintings. That’s the exact opposite from the effect created by reprinting the covers.

I wonder myself at what the city council members think of me. They had a special tent set up in front of City Hall during the Oktoberfest opening ceremonies and, as a promotion, the Council members were all dishing up sauerkraut and wiener-schnitzel. Councillor Geoff Lorentz saw me walking by and yelled, “Hey, you should be in here doing this with us.” Which would seem to indicate a “we consider you part of the family” gesture, which was nice. I try to maintain a distance because I see myself as monitoring what’s going on rather than as a participant and I think it’s very easy to get seduced into taking their side rather than keeping an adversarial frame of mind, which seems necessary if only because I’m about the only person who’s there every week. Whenever there’s an award ceremony before the Council meeting, Mayor Zehr always tells the people who are there for the ceremony, “You’re welcome to stay for the rest of the council meeting…”. This invariably gets a big laugh. “As if!” Disheartening, for obvious reasons.

Enclosed is the latest service and return with Mr. Jeffrey. It took a lot of rewriting to keep my response calm, cool and collected.

I enjoyed your John Kerry anecdote from The Dr. Phil Show. I still find it hard to believe that there’s an interviewer named “Dr. Phil”, let alone the rest of the story. I really do wonder if the momentum is towards or away from Senator Kerry and the Ketchup Lady. Three million votes is not a huge margin of victory for an incumbent President, so a lot of folks must’ve looked at the Democrat and approved of what they saw. That is, not even being able to give a straight answer on whether he and his wife have a favourite between their two daughters--obviously that and the number of other instances of indecisiveness didn’t meet with any serious level of disapproval by a good half of the voting American public. It certainly raises questions about whether Hillary Clinton will run in 2008, whether she will get the nomination and what the Democrats and “swing” Republicans are going to of her. Revenge of the Ketchup Lady.

I intended the accusation of sophistry in the exact way, I think, that you and Billy did vis-a-vis my original viewpoint: “You can’t be serious.” Although, it seems obvious to me that we are each of us serious about our own viewpoint and incredulous about the opposing viewpoint. The reaction was more to your reaction in saying that my viewpoint on Luke 17:35 made you doubt that I was a serious thinker. I don’t think a counter-accusation of sophistry is a disproportionate response in that instance. You left it up to me to choose the extent to which you considered me an “un-serious” thinker, I left it up to you to decide which definition of sophistry and Pharisaical argument you thought I might’ve intended. In my mind, I was responding to a warning shot across my bow with a warning shot across your bow. And we’ve now arrived at a “let sleeping dogs lie” situation, which I think is only sensible. Although I’m sure we’ll be getting last words after last words “in” at each other as Billy and I did up until our most recent exchange of letters. That’s how those things tend to go, in my experience.

Well, I’ll take your word for it that you’re a supporter, even though--and I mean no offense by this--it isn’t going to affect “Dave Sim going forward”. There has been an interesting shift of viewpoint at the margins of my mail from “I think you’re wrong, but I defend your right to say what you’re saying” to “I’ve agreed with you all along, I just wasn’t aware that you were being drawn-and-quartered on the messages boards”. It’s a welcome shift but, since I’m not on the Internet, it’s just something (again) I have to take as face value on a here-and-now basis. “Nice letter” being the way I would sum up my reaction. I’ve been assured for many, many years that everything is getting better and, at this point, it’s just not in my nature to change the way I conduct my life in response to that. I think there’s probably a real chance that much of the Cerebus readership that was offended by [issue #] 186 and “Tangent”, having had time for both of them to sink in and having the inescapable face of insatiable feminism always before them, that some of them might very well be “coming around”. But agreeing with me in a letter to me is very different from vocally advancing a viewpoint. There is no question that if you speak up you will become a pariah. It’s been ten years for me and there’s no end in sight. After ten years of “holding the fort” on my own, it just isn’t sensible to stake any hope whatsoever on that changing any time soon. My assumption is that I will be the one guy “holding the fort” up until the day that I die. If something happens that will make it otherwise, fine and dandy. But I think it’s just one of the inevitabilities that become attached to deciding that this is an “until the day I die” circumstance. Once you make that decision, wishful thinking and looking on the bright side go out the window. It has to, in my opinion, The hard realism of “the rest of my life” and meaning it just won’t allow for any ifs, ands or buts.

On the subject of the gift, I do tend to react to the constant strain that I’m under at inopportune moments. Your gift, unfortunately, came in as part of a seeming wave of gifts, all of which had to be assessed on their respective merits and potential for problem-causing. Billy [Beach] sending me the issue of Watchtower being a good example. This is difficult enough, holding down a solitary position for ten years. I get multi-page letters that I reply to as best and as thoroughly as I can. It ain’t easy a lot of the time, although it is certainly easier than writing and drawing a monthly comic book. What I indicated through the gift-giving phase was that I thought that was taking unfair advantage in a general sense and I was more addressing myself to the malign spirits that I saw as the motivation behind it of which I always assume my correspondents are ignorant. I didn’t think you were sending me the book of prayer as a test, but that didn’t rule out some djinn or other suggesting it to you. So, I was drawing the line: attempting to frame a distinction that I didn’t think publications were legitimate in the context of the everyone-pile-on-Dave format, unless it was that person’s own publication. Otherwise, what would prevent someone from sending me unlimited piles of outside publications and then declaring a win because I didn’t catch something on page 98 of the twelfth one? Drawing the line in the last letter I wrote to you actually worked quite well--the outside publications dried up and I’m back to responding to letters, clippings, questions, and ideas. David W. Johnson and I discussed the Kingdom Interlinear Translation in several letters and he sent me excerpts from it--copied out by hand: he wouldn’t hear of me sending him money to photocopy the material--and when I expressed greater interest he sent me the whole thing and wrote a while ago to tell me that I can keep it. To me that’s a very different thing from just sending a book. Had you described the [Robert Louis] Stephenson book to me, I probably would’ve just passed over that part of your letter--it would’ve sounded “borderline” to me. Had you sent me a photocopied page, I probably would’ve thanked you for it and said, sorry, not really my kind of thing. The postcard, well a postcard is a postcard. It’s like a clipping. You keep it or you don’t. I think you’ve sent several clippings that I haven’t commented on when writing back. It just doesn’t apply. A book--particularly a hardcover book--is a different kind of thing. Had I just politely thanked you for it and lied and said I had found it interesting, the odds are that you would do it again or you would be apt to ask in the next letter if I had gotten the book. One way or the other, it needed to be dealt with which is, again, to me, comparable to the Watchtower situation I dealt with. Please don’t send me these. And Billy was perfectly amenable. It was an extension of the Imprimis situation as well, no question about it, which was another reason that I drew the line. Imprimis is just political commentary and it’s a periodical. I can read it in about ten minutes. Thank you. That was great. The Stephenson book of prayers was in another direction so, it seemed to me that what the malign spirit behind it was saying was “You accepted a gift, so now I get to test where your boundaries are when it comes to gifts. Here is something that may be Christian or may be pagan or it may be a little of both.” That’s very different from reading political commentary and I assume that whatever would’ve come next would’ve been worse, a little further across the borderline. All unbeknownst to you, in my opinion. THis a very unpleasant part of my job: having to explain these things at excruciating length.

What I did with the book was to put it in with the other religious texts that I keep in the bookcase in my room on the shelf below the Koran, the Torah and the Gospels. The reason that I did that was to indicate to the malign spirit that I would give the whole thing the benefit of the doubt. . .THIS TIME. Having drawn a line in the sand, I can’t see any reason to be completely ungracious and to not give a benefit of the doubt where it might be warranted. The situation is apt to be different if I start getting a wave of gifts again, but as long as the status quo has returned, I am at peace with the decision that I have made.

Thanks for the clipping from the Dallas Morning News. Yes, that was a strange one. She just phone out of clear, blue sky, told me that she was a Cerebus reader and she wanted to write about Cerebus coming to an end and wondered if I would do an interview. It was such an unusual request that I said, sure, fire away. I answered her questions for about forty minutes or so and then the last two questions were about my views on feminism and my religious beliefs. Which is usually a bad sign. It usually means that they’re softening you up and then they want the quote that they want for the smear piece. So, I was pleasantly surprised that that wasn’t the case. The quotes certainly don’t sound like me, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t accurate. When all you’re doing is pulling three sentences out of forty minutes of conversation, “out of context” is pretty much a given. I was particularly surprised that there is absolutely no reference to anti-feminism apart from the description of parts of the book containing anti-feminist treatises. I have no idea what the motivation might’ve been behind the piece being done or how the editor could have authorized it--presumably it was old news in any newspaper frame of reference--but it was definitely a “one-off”, so it didn’t bear with thinking about. Yeah, the charity thing doesn’t get mentioned much because it just doesn’t fit the profile of the raving, lunatic misogynist. People who go insane aren’t usually big contributors to charities, so that part usually just gets edited out while they’re creating their version of Dave Sim. The recurrent motif is “the edge of madness”, “the brink of madness”, I suspect to avoid possible libel actions. I’ve been considering spreading the word that I have no intention of ever suing anyone for libel as a matter of principle, so all the folks who have been holding back can really let fly. It seems to comfort them.

The article on the ranked system of voting was interesting in a way. I don’t believe it will help anything, personally. All it really does is allow a lot of minority parties to start up and get on the ballot, which essentially takes lobbyists from the influence-peddling game and puts them in the driver’s seat: “coalition building” is, to me, a discrete euphemism for influence peddling. It’s taken Italy, to cite one example, years to climb out of the pit of having too many political parties--Berlusconi is the longest-serving leader they’ve had since the Second World War. I don’t think they’re eager to go back to the days when they would have two or three governments fall within a year. First-past-the-post is still the best system, to me, and I say that as someone whose political views are nowhere represented in his country. If Canada wants Marxist-feminism, you are better off enduring eleven or fifteen or twenty years of Marxist-feminism rather than inventing a system which neutralizes Marxist-feminism by creating dozens of political ducks that can nibble it to death. Political ducks just nibble governments to death and that doesn’t get you anywhere. I’d prefer to just see more fundamental loyalty of the kind you see on the right. Republicans don’t pour out into the streets to protest something a Democratic President is doing. He got elected, he runs the show for four years. Show some loyalty.

I appreciated the [now retired four-star general of the U.S. Army] Tommy Franks article a great deal. Very calm, very matter-of-fact. Just goes to show that the War on Terror is not that complicated, it’s just very time-consuming and very expensive to do properly.

The VeriChip [Ed: a chip inserted under the skin of human beings that would contain their entire medical history and more, an idea which has just recently regained momentum] article was interesting in a vague and distant sort of way. I think I’d be the last one to actually undergo it, because of my rock-solid conviction that all health concerns are in the hand of God. I don’t know of any good medical stories [Ed: He does now]. Gene Day had a checkup and was given a clean bill of health the week before he died of a heart attack at the age of 31. I tend not to read any medical stories because of my belief that good health is a matter of taking as good care of yourself as you can and accepting that only God knows when your “best before” date is. There’s a part of the Koran which describes the ambivalence about going to war--those poor fellows who would be alive today if they hadn’t gone to war. This is sharply corrected by the observation that if they had chosen to stay at home they would’ve walked to where they are lying right now because it was God’s will that that was where they were going to die. Sounds like fatalism or predestination, but that’s my view of life. When you number is up, your number is up.

Thanks for writing.


P.S.: See, this is where I start running into problems. David Carrington has written me, I believe, two or three letters at the most, all of which I have answered. He is certainly not turning to me with “every spiritual dilemma” and I tell him the same thing I tell everyone else if they come to me for an answer: submit yourself to the will of God, acknowledge God’s sovereignty, pray and fast and pay the stated alms. I wouldn’t know what to advise beyond that. As I wrote to Billy [Beach], I think it highly unlikely that anyone would be a follower or “follower” of mine, per se. I am just too much at variance with my society for it to be possible that someone would believe what I was saying within a year of first publication. Later? Maybe. But, as I say, I’ve been out here on my own for a long time, so I think I know the difference. There are people who credit me with helping them through what I’ve written. That, I assume, is not unheard of. Norman Mailer gave me an enormous amount of help through his writing but I’d hardly describe myself as one of Mailer’s followers or even “followers”. There are a number of people who are very enthusiastic about what I have to say and credit me with breaking them out of the feminist mindset. Whether that’s actually the case, there’s no way for me, as a human being, to know. Only God knows what is actually inside of those people. I answer my mail as honestly as I can. I answer David Carrington’s letters and your letters and Billy’s letters. I’m interested in ideas and exchanges of viewpoint and I don’t trust anyone any further [sic] than I can throw them--except for God.

PPS: No, I don’t believe I’m a prophet of God. Five times a day I acknowledge my belief that Muhammad was God’s Last Messenger and Seal of Prophets. I’m just someone who thinks it makes more sense to believe that 2 out of every 100 people are going to get a passing grade on Judgment Day. I just happen to live in a time and a society where most people believe that either: a) there isn’t going to be a Judgment Day or, b) if there is a Judgment Day, it’ll be enough that you flossed after every meal to allow you to “make the cut”. I’m “reading into the record” because I assume at some point in the distant future society will begin to take Judgment Day as seriously as I do and that it will be useful to have a record of what someone who took Judgment Day seriously [today] had to say. If that resonates with anyone in the next twenty or thirty years or however long it takes for the “penny to drop”, well, hey, bonus. But to say that I don’t anticipate that to be the case seriously understates my viewpoint. I do figure that a lot of people are going to claim to agree with me, but I assume that will mostly be a tactical means of trying to distract me and get the subjects under discussion off track. That’s one of the reasons behind Collected Letter 2004: “This is what I’m saying. This is 580 pages of what I am saying. You can disagree with it if you want or you can change it if you want by paraphrasing it or misrepresenting it, but this is what I’m actually saying.” Thanks, Jeff.

Thursday 14 January 2016

Weekly Update #117: The! Most! Controversial! Graphic! Novel! Of! All! Time!

Coming soon... the restored version of The Most Controversial Graphic Novel Of All Time, Volume 9 of Cerebus: "Reads".

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Sane As It Ever Was

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.

We've looked at Dave Sim's notebook #5 a couple times before, it covers issues 70 to 79 of Cerebus. Dave had a lot going on back then as is witness on page 23 of the notebook, with his "calendar" for the later part of December and then January. I'm thinking it was December 1984 and January 1985, as Cerebus #71 has an inside cover date of February 1985.

Notebook 5, page 23
Looking at that calendar - he doesn't start the issue until the middle of the month, doing 2 pages a day, minus the weekends which are crossed off. The 'art prints' as far as I can guess are the First Fifth portfolio prints.

The 'Sane As It Ever Was' tagline was the cover  of issue #70 - which you can barely see a small thumbnail of on the back side of this notebook page. Looking at the calendar on page 23, Dave was "scheduled" to do the cover for issue #70 on December 28, having just finished pages 19 and 20 the day before.

Skip a few pages ahead in the notebook, to page 28, and we see another version of the calendar for January 1985:

Notebook 5, page 28
It looks like Dave managed to move up his schedule. So instead of finishing pages 9 and 10 on January 22, his schedule now has him doing those pages on January 18. Dave kept the cover due on January 30th, but then gave himself a couple of extra days off at the end of the month. It makes me wonder if he worked through weekends or if he managed to complete more than three pages per day.  Quite the pace.

Tuesday 12 January 2016

All Careers End In Failure

Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Suggested For Mature Readers, 30 November 2015)
...This isn’t a good time to be putting the boot in to Dave Sim. Aged 60, he's in an increasingly desperate situation. Cerebus has gone out of print leaving him with no income from his life's work. He's remastering and reprinting that, volume by volume with the help of Kickstarters, but it's a costly process and the costs are all upfront. He's also preparing for his death by packaging his house, his original art, his notebooks and all the rest of his archives up as a trust, so it can be open to the public after he's gone. And he was continuing to work on SDOAR, which IDW were publishing as a OGN. That's on the rational side. But he's injured his hand so can no longer draw or even sign his name cutting off his only remaining income stream, and rather than accept medical opinion about how to fix it he's had an MRI scan and is crowdsourcing opinion about what to do next. Through a mix of misfortune, principled decisions and irrational, harmful decisions, he's in big trouble. The Strange Death of Alex Raymond, a story about wealthy, successful comic-strip illustrators with their big houses and sports cars and younger wives, may never be finished. Much of Cerebus could become unavailable, perhaps permanently. The idiosyncratic story of a comic-book artist who broke all the rules, who pioneered a model of publishing that arguably changed and saved the industry, could end like all the other stories of comic book artists. Life imprisonment at hard labour in solitary confinement, as Wally Wood called it, ending with your work being forgotten and your money all gone. I'd perhaps heard of Alex Raymond because of Flash Gordon, before I read Glamourpuss, but none of the others were familiar until I realised Al Williamson was the inker on the superb Ann Nocenti-John Romita Jr Daredevil run. He was in his 60s at the time, and that run was printed on toilet paper and largely remains uncollected. All political careers end in failure, they say, and really all careers end in failure but the failure at the end of careers in comics is more acute than most...

The above is a short excerpt from a longer review of Dave Sim's Glamourpuss. Full article here...

Monday 11 January 2016

Comic Book Greats #4: Neal Adams

Art by Dave Sim
(from Glamourpuss #1, April 2008)

(from Following Cerebus #9, August 2006)
...He had been a guest at the first comic book convention I had attended in 1972, Cosmicon in Toronto. I had had no problem talking to Jim Steranko or Joe Kubert or Gary Morrow when the opportunities had presented themselves -- as if I had known them for years -- but at one point Neal Adams had been walking through the Dealers' Room, unattended and at a leisurely pace, and I had just watched dumbfounded -- I'm sure with my mouth agape -- as he walked past me. The convention had been held at Winters College on the campus of York University, and part of the set-up had featured six classrooms upstairs dedicated to displays of original artwork by the attending artist guests. Neal Adams' room was literally wallpapered with the original artwork to "No Evil Shall Escape My Sight" (Green Lantern / Green Arrow 76), "What Can One Man Do?" (Green Lantern / Green Arrow 87), "Night Of The Reaper" (Batman 237) and a couple of other stories and as-yet unpublished covers. I could feel my brain detaching from my body and doing backflips just standing in there looking at those pages. I literally had to leave to recover my equilibrium. That's really the point where I knew I wanted to draw comic books for a living. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that that was when I knew I wanted to be Neal Adams when I grew up, but the one ambition eventually eroded into the other one once I had come to my senses...

Sunday 10 January 2016

The JFK Gargoyle

Kevin Eastman & Dave Sim (1991)
Examining the “JFK Gargoyle” (plaster figurine with a big hole in the head I insisted had to be part of the purchase price of the Off-White House) Camp David. The figurine was found smashed to bits one morning, years later.

Saturday 9 January 2016

Dave Sim: CAN4 Kickstarter Q&A

The following (edited and reordered) Q&A with Dave Sim originally appeared in the final hours of the Cerebus Archive Number Four Kickstarter campaign in November 2015.


Barry Deutsch:
Did you ever meet Mort Drucker?

Dave Sim: 

No, I never did.

Before they decided not to sign the petition, Mort Drucker was one of the only cartoonists that Seth and Chester and Joe and I agreed on as Toppermost of the Poppermost. And his best work the first STAR TREK parody. "Meaning -- it's no whip and chill but it does have a very nice flavor"

Barry Deutsch:
Heh, I wish HV was a NYT best-seller. I suspect it wouldn't change my life very much - a day spent drawing is much the same for every cartoonist. But it might be nice to be less broke, and have more readers. (Although maybe if my work was more noticed, that would be a pain in the neck, because of added responsibilities or more business stuff to deal with.)

Mo' money, mo' problems. But, as Sandeep said, "It would be nice to have SOME money and SOME problems." There's always a bright side. Being a Comic Book Pariah I don't get bugged as much as a Comic Book Superstar does. We live in North America. All of our problems are, at best, "problems".


Stuart Martin:
Hi Dave. I'm confused about the problem wrist - what's the current plan? Are you just waiting for some medical expert to chance upon on the MRI results hosted at AMOC? If you don't have much faith in medical expertise, why would you pay attention to e.g. surgery suggested by such a person? If however, you would be swayed by such suggestions, why not seek out medical advice straight away? Get it fixed! We just want the best artist in comics to resume work, dammit! (and not just headsketches :-)

I'm waiting for Dr. Troy to set something up in Texas with two specialists and/or for those specialists to offer a diagnosis on the current MRI. Dr. Troy is theoretically going to find me a neurologist to check on the possible Parkinson's Disease. I'm not sure what I'll decide but a lot is going to depend on whether the diagnoses and proposed treatments agree with each other. In the meantime, just resting it and -- occasionally -- two-handed typing to see how that part is coming along.

Michael Ragiel:
Lately everything about your health has been focused around your drawing hand, but it seems people have forgotten about the your other scare earlier in the year... your twisted and blocked bowel. I'm sure it has improved since there has been no recent posts. Has it improved? Have you adopted new eating habits?

That seems to be fine. I'm still fasting a lot of the time but I'm now eating bulkier food and varieties of food when I'm NOT fasting. I sort of adjust my diet to keep my face and neck from looking gaunt. More fats when I'm looking skinny. I also do 6 minutes of "ab crunches" -- sit-ups without actually sitting up -- after 4 of my 5 prayer times to keep the weight off my waistline. And I'm concentrating on my posture your more. I have to consciously "lean back" 20 degrees in my mind in order to appear upright. A lifetime of "hunching over" my mutant bowel, I suspect.


Michael Ragiel:
I know Gerhard won't sign the petition, but his work carried such a significant weight on Cerebus. He mentioned to me "all Dave has to do is ask". Would you ask Gerhard to contribute to future Kickstarter campaigns or for something else?

I think Gerhard's business is Gerhard's business -- He and John Funk both went to the same high school and I know John would be happy to drop off and pick up prints if Gerhard was interested in signing them. But that would have to be a separate pledge item -- Gerhard signature -- and he would have to decide what he wanted to charge. Too late for this one, but maybe the next one.

Barry Deutsch:
Hey, I have a boring "how'd you do this?" question for you, Dave, if you feel like answering it. Seeing the top graphic every time I look at this page has made me wonder about the "whudda fren' we 'ave in derrrrk-asss!" panel. Did Gerhard draw the bottles that the characters are holding? If so, did you pass the page back and forth - you do pencils, Gerhard pencils the bottles, you ink the figures, Gerhard inks the bottles - or did you do all your inks first and then Gerhard worked in the blank spaces you left for the bottles?

In the new Hereville book, I had a collaborator, my friend Adrian Wallace, who drew all the environments. (For pay and credit, obviously.) It was interesting (and I think the book looks great). Several cartoonists who heard about the arrangement independently said "oh, so you have a Gerhard now?"

The bottles the McGrew Brothers are holding, those are definitely Gerhard pen lines. The cockroach emblem on Dirty Drew's costume as seen through the bottle, I'm pretty sure those are my pen lines. It's a nebulous area that really came down to: Did I have time to do that? Because it's a creatively satisfying thing to ink with a Hunt 102, but it takes time. Gerhard is more than CAPABLE of doing it, so it becomes a self-indulgence if I do it: better I should put my time in on the things Gerhard DOESN'T do.

Lookit me, Ma! I'm Berni Wrightson!

That kind of thing.


Benjamin Hobbs:
What are your thoughts on The Guide to Self Publishing and/or Cerebus being used as primary texts in a college level course discussing comics or making comics? I taught a class dealing with making comics last spring and was considering using the Guide to Self Publishing as one of the texts for the class, but couldn't figure out where it could be purchased (or if it was still in print.) However, I still managed to work Cerebus into almost every lecture I gave, showing examples from the comic, and referencing the notebook pages that have been posted on AMOC.

I'm fine with anything of mine being used for educational purposes or pretty much any purposes. It's the individual's karma at stake. At essence it comes down to your own motivation. If your motivation is educating others, I think that's unimpeachable. In other words: Get thee hence unto a torrents site and be well-minded as you download Dave Sim's work.


Daniel Callahan:
Hello. I'd like to buy the collected letters as a complete set. If you're looking for a way to sell these without up-front costs, consider Lulu can be used to sell any book that's in PDF format. Speaking of which, if there's an option to buy the phonebooks online, please let me know. Thanks!

I'm going to be taking a closer look at my "old docs" to see how far along I answered the mail on computer before going back to my typewriter and to offer those, digitally, on the next Kickstarter as COLLECTED LETTERS Volume Four and then also offer Volume One and Two if I can find the digital files for those. There really is a LOT of material stored on this little laptop, I'm just not sure how interesting most of it is in a "marketable" sense.

Benjamin Hobbs:
Just wondering if it would be ok to take the PDF of the collected letters volume three and have a single copy printed for my collection. (Printed using print on demand, or similar)
I received the PDF yesterday and am excited to read it, but I'm not excited to stare at my computer monitor while doing so. I was excited to see that the digital reward was sent out so quickly!

GO NUTS! Whoever thought computers were going to eliminate paper never tried to read anything on a computer. I also have a theory that computers are eating our pens. You notice how you can't find a pen ANYWHERE these days? The computers are jealous and eat them when we're not looking.


Drew Woodworth:
Any plans to put the rest of Cerebus on Comixology with all the back matter (letters, essays, etc)? If not, why? Thanks!

Actually, I was just going through a file and found a self-addressed FedEx manifest from Shari Tischler at COMIXOLOGY with their phone number. I phoned and, no, she doesn't work there. So I explained my name was Dave Sim and I had signed with them for HIGH SOCIETY a few years ago and have never gotten paid and did they ever sell any HIGH SOCIETY? She told me she would connect me with someone. I got someone's voicemail and left a message saying all of that over again. That was Friday. And that's my story with COMIXOLOGY to date and, in fact, all "outside digital entities" to date. Thanks for your support!


Jason Trimmer:
Can you believe it's been twenty years since the Spirits tour? I chaired a panel discussion at SPACE this year discussing the tour with Bob Corby, Steve Peters, Michael Neno, Max Ink, and Steve Snyder. I owe you a letter about it...

It would be helpful, I think, if you could post the COLUMBUS SPIRITS panel stuff to AMOC. It's the weird confluence in my life going on since I'm doing my BONE Commentaries as part of THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. And I'm just at the part where Jeff is backing out of the COLUMBUS stop.

He definitely never wanted to associate with amateur and semi-pro cartoonists which always dumbfounded me. "Jeff, you were down to less than 1,000 orders on BONE No.4 when YOU came to ME for help..."

I'm not sure what the lesson is. I understand he's trying to get an event going in Columbus along the lines of his own sensibility: ELITE cartoonists.

Maybe if I'd have been like that, I would have become a millionaire. He's a millionaire isn't he?

Daryl Davis:
I've been a fan of your work for almost 40 years now. Getting old sucks, by the way... I still remember meeting you on Staten Island at a signing in 1992, where I complained about my back hurting after standing in the long line to meet you. My back still hurts, Dave, but Cerebus still brings a smile (and I still have that sketch from that signing, now hanging on my wall above a Jaka sketch from the 2012 Kickstarter...).

Staten Island '92. That would have been one of the JIM HANLEY'S UNIVERSEs I'm guessing. I always loved Jim's business card. "JIM HANLEY UNIVERSE Jim Hanley, Figurehead". I'm pretty sure the Manhattan signing was the one where someone followed me outside for my smoke break and then asked me to sign the butt for him when I was done. Which I did. That was a "first and only".

Michael Canich:
long-winded dave sim story: in the late 80s/early 90s i used to send dave my crappy little zines. he was always seemingly enthusiastic about receiving them, was always supportive and had nice things to say. dave even printed me twice in cerebus, once as a single page, and went even so far to print 18 pages of my 24 hour comic. he always responded to my letters, even when i probably had no idea what i was talking about, or nothing particularly interesting to say. 

anyway, at some point (early 90s?) dave was on one of the tours, he stopped off at dave's comics in royal oak, MI and i stood in line for 2 hours to meet him. when i eventually approached the table, i introduced myself and he remembered me (i think i had stopped doing the zines at this point). i said, "dave, i don't want anything from you, i just want to shake your hand." dave seemed confused by this, since i waited in line, and insisted that i walk away with something. he drew a cerebus head in one of the comics and wrote: TO THE CANICH UNIT - PUBLISH OR PERISH!

i can't think of a more generous comic professional that i've encountered than dave sim. i don't think any of that work i sent dave was very good, but dave's insistent "never give up!" cheerleading kept me going for awhile. i stopped drawing for many years, and have only recently started getting stuff printed again. 

not a particularly cohesive tale there, i know. but i just wanted to throw it out there.
Oh, hey! Michael! Hi! See, they were never "crappy little zines" to me. I can picture your work clearly because you were really prolific. Everyone who sent me their work, it was always extremely idiosyncratic, interesting stuff. More about THEM and THEIR worldview than really polished, packaged corporate stuff could ever hope to be. I'd turn out to be their "audience of one". Even better.
My favourite story from the Dave's Comics signing was a guy who worked behind the counter who was taking a break and sat on a chair slightly behind me, staring at this long line of guys going straight through the shop and out the front door.

"Yeah, I'm really just in comics for the chicks" he sighed.

I couldn't stop laughing.

Bill Ritter:
"i can't think of a more generous comic professional that i've encountered than dave sim." I'll second that.

True story: Back in earlish/mid-2k there was a NY City Yahoo/Cerebus club meet up. Ended up being, maybe 10 or so folks. Dinner and chat was suggested, so we walked to close by diner/burger joint. 1 of the group didn't order, and when pressed admitted as doing the NY con on-the-cheap and didn't really want to spend the $15 or so bucks. Dave forced him to order and picked up his tab. Did so real subtle - I only was aware because I was next to the kid and heard the conversation.

The couple other times I've met Dave, at conventions in the 90s, he was generous with every fan. Conversation, sketches, hand shakes... And obviously he has supported the medium's creators in a seemingly endless number of ways.

Yeah it's another one of those aspects which make my life much easier than a Famous Person's. Back when I used to go out in public, I would come up with things like proposing a meet-up with the Yahoos in the NYC hotel lobby (the old Penn Station Hotel: Pennsylvania 6-5000). Absolutely NO danger of more than five people showing up. Make it the LOBBY just to be sure but... okay, here's my entire NYC fan base: garcon! Table for five. Even calling that "famous" is a stretch.

Jay O'Leary:
I first saw the aardvark in I wanna say a spawn and the whole comic was black and white. I was so amazed and stoked my mind was blown. I don't know why it stayed in my memory so much and I hope it is real. I saw the last kick starter and it all flooded back to me, all the memories I had as a teen. now I am taking a crack at the whole comic book art thing and man Dave this stuff is harder than it looks. I take my hat off to you and am honored to have the last project and this one and hopefully more to come. 

I think PART of SPAWN 10 was in black and white. I still have to give Todd major points for having the guts to tell Dave Sim, "You can write WHATEVER you want. Twenty pages of Spawny sittin' on the toilet, if you want, and I'll draw it."

Larry MUST have warned him that if ANYone would take him literally, I would.

Good luck with your tattoos and your comix. You're right! They sure don't draw themselves, do they?

Michael Hunt:
In the pre-kickstarter days when you were offering Cerebus and Jaka (!) head sketches on ebay I was fortunate enough to acquire a few. As I am sure you remember they were ball-point pen sketches on A-V stationary. All of them were done with so much more care and detail than I had expected they would be, but two of them particularity stand out. 

The Jaka sketch is simply beautiful, with her eyes just peering out from under her almost-too-long bangs and her long hair spilling over the shoulders of her flower-print blouse. Just beautiful. Thank you for that.

The other is Cerebus as Cerberus. When I requested it I did mention that I thought it might well count as three Cerebus head sketches and therefore outside the parameters of what was then being offered and so explained that anything you wanted to sketch would be fine by me if that was indeed the case. What I received was Cerebus as Cerberus as I had requested with the addition of the three heads being Cerebus as each of the Three Wise Fellows, with Loshie, Moshie, and Koshie saying, "Cerebus as Cerebus! What a cheesy way to get three head sketches for the price of but one. Nyuck nyuck nyuck!" I really would have been pleased with anything, but that was extraordinarily generous of you. Thank you. So, to my question: Has anyone else asked for Cerebus as Cerberus?

Not as far as I remember. But then I just had the embarrassing situation in Leamington of someone finding a double cover CEREBUS issue and me telling them it was the first one I had seen. And then Glenn Storrie -- who was there -- telling me that he had one. And I had signed it for him. Twice.


Jason Trimmer:
Congratulations on another successful Kickstarter campaign. I'm looking forward to reading your commentaries on these pages. For CAN 1 and 2, your notes were focused on analyzing the artwork, and you could be a little rough on your younger self. For these pages, are you finding more to appreciate in the artwork, or is there always something to critique? Either way, I enjoy reading them and think they are quite valuable to other aspiring (and professional) comic artists. 

To be honest, I look at the pages and just write about what I actually remember. So THIS time, that was Ger and I staying at the Hilton Hotel in Gainesville, Florida for a month. That was the predominant memory so that was what I talked about. It's a pretty mentally arduous process -- basically re-living January 1986 -- because I live alone and without outside stimuli. I zone out for however many hours it takes to write it and I'm 30 and zone back in and I'm 60. Whether I'm talking about the art or my personal life.

Jay O'Leary:
Well I just wanted to thank you again for a huge memory I get to own a piece of the art that made it and taking the time to talk with us. as an artist it means alot to see that people I look up to and would only dream of achieving what they have are still human. thank you for letting me help archive your work for others to enjoy for years to come. or as long as they still print things on paper. I'm old school no computers for me but every one in the industry gives me a bad time for that but I think it gives character. good luck and see ya in a couple months for the fifth archive sad I missed the first two.

Diamond definitely has all of the UNsigned CEREBUS ARCHIVES in stock. One of the things I have to get organized is including the "back issues" in the next PREVIEWS ad, with the order codes. The plan is to keep them always in print because we've had a LOT of late arrival CEREBUS fans wanting to get caught up. It just doesn't LOOK like an "always in print" item.

Good luck with your own campaign. If I knew how this worked, I'd pledge for yours as well -- and I hope some folks here will take up the slack for me.

Larry Wooten:
I wanted to ask if you were planning to release the other pages of Selling Insurance as future bonus prints?

We're sort of at the mercy of what's available based on what people have given Sean for the CEREBUS ART DRAGNET. The only complete EPIC story in the Cerebus Archive is "The Girl Next Door". I'm hesitant to put a complete story up because people then have to decide whether to make a 3-print pledge. That seems even more "fan-cruel" than the Bonus Prints themselves.

Andrew Lohmann:
I was thinking about using my head sketch balance to get the head sketch for this Archive, but am just realizing that it is not available. Are the head sketches nixed for the remainder of the Archives?

The head sketches ARE nixed for the foreseeable future. If I can get my right wrist in shape for ANY kind of drawing -- either through treatment or surgery or just letting it rest and heal for a year or two -- that drawing is going to be done on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. Sorry about that -- and thanks for your support!

Michael Ragiel:
I liked the business size card that came as a surprise added bonus in the CAN1 with " This card has been issued to one of the two hundred and sixty-one people helping keep a dead aardvark on life support in May of 2014". There was no mention in the last two CAN's and this current one, but any chance of resurrecting the business like card? I can't remember if it was just for only the first Kickstarter campaign.

I had forgotten that! That's actually a good idea. Another YOU ARE HERE for the folks still standing. HERE'S HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN YOUR CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER FOUR vicinity. With the card getting darker or lighter depending on how many more or fewer people there are.

Michael Grabowski:
Greetings, Dave. Best of success to you today in communicating with us and, God willing, seeing the backer total and pledged amount rise. I wish I could participate more but I'm saving pennies for CAN5. In the meantime, I wonder if a good digital reward to offer in the future would be pdf editions of just your commentaries on the prints? I would love to read up on that history even if I generally cannot afford the portfolios.

I appreciate your good wishes. I'm really trying to avoid duplicating any of the material on these Kickstarters. That would just open the door to THE COLLECTED CEREBUS ARCHIVE MAMMOTH HARDCOVER book. Of course there's nothing to prevent a generous CEREBUS fan from scanning the commentary and sending it to you. Everyone is at different stages in their financial well-being as we go along. If you haven't got the bucks and you can find a way to get the material for free in the meantime I have no problem with that.

Matt Dow:
Question, How much would it cost to get a digital copy of a specific page from the Archive? Meaning, how much to have Sandeep scan, and Sean and the Good Doctor to "fix" a page from much later in the series? Or is this a "can of worms too far"?

Not out of the range of possibilities but WAY DOWN THE LINE when everything has been scanned and inventoried and WILDLY EXPENSIVE because of the aggravation for all concerned. The Feel-Bad Hit Movie of 2015! A CAN OF WORMS TOO FAR!

Michael Hunt:
Have you seen any of the Pen & Ink series from BOOM Studios? They are oversize (11 x 17) reprints of original black and white art from issues of selected series. They have heavy stock covers, the interior art is smaller than 11 x 17 to make room for commentary from the artist(s) along the bottom of the pages, run 48 pages, and retail at $14.99. Image also recently published a 32-page black and white 17 x 11 reprint of Black Science #1. At $19.99 retail it was not quite as nice a package as the BOOM Studio stuff, but still very very pretty to look at. I mention them as a possible revenue stream for you going forward. I know I would pay $19.99 for a artist edition of any single issue of Cerebus. With IDW's experience publishing artists editions it seems like a natural fit. If you would like to "test drive" one then let me know and I'll send one to you.

No, I haven't seen them. My gut instinct tells me to stick with this CEREBUS ARCHIVE Kickstarter format -- and branch out into GoFundMe with "always available" digital material to finance the scanning side the the restoration process. Just as there's "only one taxpayer", there's only one CEREBUS fan and I'm trying very, very hard not to tax their CEREBUS budgets too heavily -- while keeping all of the necessary "End of Life" preparations moving forward. The biggest problem would be shipping -- either selling them individually or selling them through IDW or another publisher. CEREBUS ARCHIVE seems to be the Goldilocks spot, triangulating the size of the audience, average budget and real-world realities of how much it costs to move stuff around in 2015. That could change.

Michael Hunt:
I also am fortunate enough to have the original unpublished art of JFK and Caroline you did for Glamourpuss. Would like to offer this as a bonus print? Please let me know and I will scan it and get the file to you.

Not sure if it would be a good bonus print, but from a "completist" standpoint, it would be nice to have in the Cerebus Archive. So, yes, THANK YOU! You can send it to Sean at the CEREBUS ART DRAGNET address!

Al Roney:
Super Happy to back CAN4 and best of luck with the restoration project, your hand and everything else going on. Anyway, during one of your vids I noticed the framed cover of Church and State Volume 1 in the background. Is there a chance that it, or any of the other phone-book covers, will be available as a Bonus print, standalone - anything? They'd look spectacular on the walls of my Man Cave!

All of the oversized -- larger than 11x17 -- pieces WHEN they're offered, will be offered as MegaDigital Prints. We called them Macro Prints here, but Mega is a better descriptor because of the megabytes size of them. Using your example of the JAKA'S STORY 114 or trade paperback cover. Scanned at 600 dpi, you don't have to limit yourself to "size as". How big is your wall? You could probably get it printed 2 ft by 3 ft at FedEx Kinko's on particle board for about $50.

See, that's what I mean. If we were to get them done at Kinko's here and then package them and mail them it would probably be a base cost of $175 - $200. With only a TINY FRACTION of that going to profit/restoration money. Bad use of YOUR limited funds. With a digital print, there's no overhead. You can order it, e-mail it to FedEx Kinko's in your town and they'll probably turn it around overnight or in an hour or two if they aren't busy.

We're looking at the two-page spreads, trade paperback covers, SIX DEADLY SINS plates, Silverspoon CBG pages. My HOWARD THE DUCK inside front cover.

Exhaustive selection and no overhead. As Lord Julius said, "You have to admit, it's an attractive combination."


Benjamin Hobbs:
Just caught up on this weeks youtube/AMOC update. Several years ago I was one of those rare individuals that owned a Cerebus shirt. (He doesn't love you, he just wants all your money) [still available from Graphitti Designs] I wore it until there were holes in it. I considered buying a new one, but I found the shirt resulted in WAY too many conversations with stoned Best Buy employees about "that guy who was in Spawn."

Which brings me to another point. There's an untapped audience to target for future campaigns. Stoners-who-work-in-retail-who-remember-Cerebus-from-that-one-time-he-was-in-Spawn. The tagline could be "Help restore the Spawn spin-off series that was SO ahead of it's time that it premiered 15 years before Spawn!" I think it would work. But it MIGHT be too much of a niche audience.

It's really more of a joke in that way. I could picture doing a joke t-shirt: a little SPAWN 10 cover inset with DUDE! OVER 20 YEARS AGO! YOU'RE SCARING ME! Or you could do an OLD CEREBUS with "OLD FART" written over him. But who is going to buy and/or wear it? Wouldn't it be scary if Jay O'Leary is the ACTUAL GUY you were talking about? The seriously weird confluences that are going on, it wouldn't surprise me in the least!

Drew Woodworth:
I had one of those Cerebus T-shirts, as well. I miss it, but would totally buy a new Cerebus t-shirt if one was available. Crazy idea and probably a logistical nightmare, but what if dedicated Cerebus fans set up as Aardvark-Vanaheim at local cons and sold tpb's, merchandise, etc? The con scene seems to be thriving.

You know, I think with all the weird confluences going on you might have hit on one of the vectors that seems to be taking shape now that Wes Hagen of THE COMIC BOOK WAREHOUSE here in town has agreed to take the entire Recker Distribution inventory off A-Vs hands. The "CEREBUS Underground Railroad" for real.

What's the BASE COST for a "long box" of "one of each"? The comics are free but what does it cost to bag and board them and the long box itself? Wes is guessing around $30. Well, okay what can we charge CEREBUS fans for a signed and numbered decorated, shrink-wrapped long box that Wes takes to a convention he's already going to in his van? $50?

All YOU have to do is go to the Con and pick up your CEREBOX.

My mind is a playground.

Barry Deutsch:
In my experience, it's difficult to make money selling comics at comic-cons nowadays. I can sell about 50 graphic novels at a convention, and that's pretty good for a cartoonist at my level - but even so, it's often not enough to cover the cost of (table at con + travel expenses + lodging). Plus, there are the inevitable "what the hell happened" conventions at which sales are low for no discernible reason, so that's a loss you have to cover. And airlines charge for checked baggage nowadays, so getting materials to and from the con costs more than it used to. Plus, Cerebus fans tabling at cons won't have Dave as a draw.

The people making money at cons today are mostly there, not to sell comics, but to sell prints. Prints cost very little to make or to transport compared to comic books, and the successful print makers do very well at cons. But it's a highly competitive field - I went to ComiKaze in LA, and there were many dozens of people there tabling with their prints (And relatively few people there with their own comic books). The printmakers who do best generally specialize in prints of the currently popular TV and movie characters are.

Of course, it's much easier to make money going to a local con, since then you don't have to pay for airfare or lodgings.

Duly noted.

I was up half the night last night designing the FREE CEREBUS colour flier for Wes which will be discussed in next week's Update. I'm picturing local CEREBUS volunteers pitching the FREE COMIC BOOKS! angle using the flier at conventions. That is, not being set up THEMSELVES, but basically just directing people (waiting in line to get in?) to the FREE COMIC BOOKS! at the COMIC BOOK WAREHOUSE booth. CEREBUS THE WORLD'S LONGEST GRAPHIC NOVEL being a secondary consideration behind FREE COMIC BOOKS! And handing out free comic books. Free BAGGED AND BOARDED comic books.

If you've got 40,000 FREE COMIC BOOKS, you can afford to throw them around a bit. And, at the show, you'd only have, say, 500 free comic books. When they're gone, they're gone. But, presumably they're going home with 50 or 60 people who never heard of them.

Still working on it, mentally. As we all are. Wes is dropping by Leamington on his way back from the Windsor comic show next week to see EXACTLY what this entails.

Barry Deutsch:
Actually, if it's free comic books, then many cons have a table for things people are giving away for free. You don't have to pay anything to use it, and given the obvious high quality of Cerebus compared to most of what's out there, I'm sure people would pick up copies. So if the idea is to give comics away and find new readers, that might be a fruitful approach to experiment with.

Yes, but we're trying to TRIANGULATE -- to get people TO the COMIC BOOK WAREHOUSE booth, not just to the "free stuff" table. The same as I don't think we want the fliers ON the "free stuff" table. We want people -- CEREBUS enthusiasts, preferably -- handing people FREE COMIC BOOKS fliers (and a free comic book) and pointing out the COMIC BOOK WAREHOUSE booth. RIGHT THERE! "Greatest comic ever done in my opinion -- FREE! Right at that booth!"

One of the questions is "what do we insert behind the backing board" that promotes the CEREBUS trades, and Wes' retail warehouse outlet?


Lee Thacker:
No questions from me, but I wanted to wish you all the best for a hopeful full recovery of your drawing arm, the completion of TSDOAR, the continuation of Cerebus Archive editions and the restoration of (for my money) the best comic book series of all time. Ooh - I just thought of a question (although I think it's been asked before) Any plans to put all of the Cerebus stories not published in the comic into a handy 'gatherum' book? Oh, and EVEN numbers are WAY better than ODD numbers!!

Another Celebrity Cartoonist! I always find it reassuring when you send me TALES FROM THE WEDDING PRESENT [Lee does the official comic book for the band of that name in the UK] material because it always seems that the band is at the same level in music that I am in comics. Just famous enough to be called "famous" but always just "hanging on by their fingernails". How IS the band doing and how is your relationship with the band these days?

The only real plan right now is to get the 6,000 pages scanned and restored and try to keep everything in print. When you're juggling 16 chainsaws the last thing you should be thinking about is how to get another chainsaw in the air. :)

Lee Thacker:
Good point regarding the chainsaws metaphor. To answer your questions, the band have been very busy this year, playing 25 gigs (so far), appearing on Radio 6, releasing a well received album and two comic books! They're not exactly 'hanging on by their fingernails' but are certainly not in the same 'fame bracket' as, say, The Rolling Stones! I'm six pages away (just need to get the inking done) from completing issue 9 - available mid December all being well. I've managed to continue to get three issues completed each year and I'll send you the next batch of three as soon as issue 9 is completed.

How old are the members of WEDDING PRESENT getting to be? What's that like -- getting to that age and NOT having the Rolling Stones money?

Lee Thacker:
David Gedge is the only remaining member of the original band and he's now 55 years old. He's always written all of the songs and retains the rights to all of the recordings. He now runs a 'cottage industry' style set up, selling records and merchandise at gigs and on a website. They don't have the wealth of The Rolling Stones but I think they're doing okay financially. I've never discussed money with David - he tends to 'pay' me with new records, putting me on guest list for gigs (plus 1 for Kirstie!) and merchandise. They still have a dedicated fan base all over the world, mostly made up of balding forty-somethings and their wives, although a lot of their teenage children are also Wedding Present fans! The line-up has changed many times over the past 30 years and the other members are considerably younger than David.

This will probably only be of interest to Dave and Jason, but I thought I should clarify how David Gedge ‘pays’ me for my comics work. As I said, I can request any of The Wedding Present records/merchandise and David puts me on the guest list for any shows I want to attend. However, all profits from the comics are split three ways: David, me and Terry (who co-writes the stories and came up with the idea). There’s no written contract. The whole venture is based on friendship and trust and David is a very trustworthy fellow, completely removed from your regular ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ star. He chats to fans before and after gigs too. We currently print 250 copies of each comic and we each get paid when ALL of the comics are sold out. So far, only issue 1 has sold out (we did a print run of 500 for that one) so at some point I should get a modest sum for the rest of the issues. David pays the printing costs and schleps them around the world to sell at gigs. I’ve also designed a few t-shirts for the band and created the artwork for their most recent album (under the name of David’s ‘other’ band ‘Cinerama’).

It's a very interesting way of doing a comic book promoting a rock band. It would seem to me worth documenting how you and David Gedge have this set up and how you arrived at that way of doing it -- pitfalls/what works/what doesn't -- and making it available to other cartoonists and bands as a template. Eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel. Virtually ALL bands are heavily reliant on the "merch" to keep going these days.

I think you should also do well out of my "Hail and Farewell, Mary" pass to try to help self-publishers. An AUTOMATIC WINNOWING system that separates the wheat from the chaff. You're on schedule and have been for three years. That puts you head and shoulders above just about every self-publisher.

Lee Thacker:
Very simply, David Gedge asked me if I’d be interested in doing it. I’d contributed to a fanzine the band published in the late 80s/early 90s called ‘Invasion of The Wedding Present’. The other two main contributors to the ‘Invasion of The Wedding Present’ fanzine (who were WAY better cartoonists than I was at the time) were also approached about illustrating some stories for TFTWP in 2011 with the idea being that the comic would be illustrated by a range of different artists. I think only one of them managed to turn in a story in the time it took me to illustrate three or four so it became clear pretty quickly that I was going to be the sole illustrator of the comic. I thought we’d just publish one issue and that would be it, but I’m currently working on the tenth issue!! 

‘One For Sorrow’ (my 800 page magnum opus) was something I worked on in complete obscurity/isolation for four years. Self promotion time! ‘One For Sorrow’ is still available here. I was in my early thirties and somehow managed to produce 200 pages of comics, record two albums’ worth of my own musical compositions, hold down a full time job, party every weekend and stay in a serious relationship (22 years and counting) with my beloved Kirstie Wilson. Every year for the four years it took to complete, I followed much of the ‘Cerebus Guide to Self Publishing’ advice, mostly the discipline of using a calendar to record my daily output of finished pages. I even put completed pages up on my bedroom/studio wall as they were completed. I still use this 'timeline template' for creating comics.

Now I’m in my late forties and it’s as much as I can do to complete 60 pages of comics a year, although ‘Tales From The Wedding Present’ has a lot more panels per page and is more challenging in terms of drawing ‘real’ people and locations. I also have to scan the artwork, create the covers, do the digital lettering, pdfs and other boring mechanical stuff myself. I annually set a self-imposed deadline for myself for each issue, giving myself 4 months to complete each issue and I’ve been trying (and succeeding so far!) to stick to April, August and December releases. 

I’m fortunate enough to a) get 13 weeks of holiday time a year (I’m a primary school teacher) b) have a very supportive girlfriend and c) no children (‘that I’m aware of’ – one of my favourite Dave Sim quotes).

Yes, even as I was urging you to consider a more general "how to cartoon for a rock band" thing, it seems to me that it's a pretty unique circumstance in a lot of ways: most particularly your productivity. It's really true that clocks and calendars work the best of all. I really didn't make any headway until I started writing what I got done that day in the little square on my calendar. 

Something that definitely works is doing a panel a day. I mean, how hopeless as a cartoonist are you if you can't do ONE. PANEL. a day. Steve Peters did a bunch of work that way, marking the date in the corner of each panel to make SURE he stuck with it -- or, at least, had numerical evidence when he "missed".

I'm definitely thinking of doing that with SDOAR IF I'm ever able to draw again.

The fanzine you're talking about was modelled on the old EC covers (or at least #1 was). Did David Gedge KNOW what EC was? Was he an actual comics fan or did a comic book just seem to him like a good, general, pop cultural idea to associate with the band?

It sounds as if Kirstie is a big part of making it work as well. You have to SHARE a cartoonist with his work to a far greater extent than most wives/girlfriends have to SHARE their husbands/boyfriends with "outside entities". Jack Kirby is Jack Kirby in a lot of ways because he spent virtually all of his marriage at the drawing board -- with Roz's blessing.

Oh, and I still consider ONE FOR SORROW to be THE best "first-time" semi-pro graphic novel EVER!

Lee Thacker:
I definitely consider Kirstie to be my own 'Roz', although I'm NOWHERE near as talented/prolific as Jack Kirby (obviously!) 

David Gedge has always been a comic book fan as far as I know. I don't know if he was into the EC comics (I discovered them quite late in life myself too, but the IDW Wally Wood Artist's Edition is one of my most prized possessions. I'm determined to draw a page for one of TFTWP issue based on his '22 panels that always work') , but he was definitely a devout follower of the Lee/Ditko era Spider-Man and the Lee/Kirby FF, as well as DC superhero comics from around the same time. 

Thank you so much for your kind comments (and your support when it was first released back when the earth was still cooling) about 'One For Sorrow'. 200+ copies sold and counting... :)


John Scrudder:
...What is YOUR paradise after the curtains fall? 

I really, really don't think about Paradise, John. I think it exists but that we're such simplistic beings, trying to explain Paradise or show it to us would be as difficult as explaining to a caterpillar what a butterfly is or what it would be like to be one.

Also, I would speculate that it's a long, long ways away. Even if you're one of the "2 out of 100" neutrinos/souls that manages to escape the hydrogen/helium duality of physical incarnation and head back to the site of the Big Bang -- "from God we came out and to God we are returning" as it says in the Koran -- just imagine the number of solar systems/stars/planets between here and there "as the crow flies". And even travelling faster than the speed of light, each of them is millions of light years away. Your neutrino journey is still going to take you millions of years to travel and you will see The Next Star right up ahead for a good chunk of those millions of years.

Do you do a fly-past?

Or do you make a pit stop? Essentially having millions of years to choose: giving up your hard-won neutrino state and physically incarnating again and taking the risk of being trapped by bad decision-making into the hydrogen/helium duality all over again. With no guarantee you'll come back out.
The original Koine Greek specifically identifies the Johannine Jesus as "the one who IS COMING into the world" -- a very different meaning from the usual translation "HAS COME into the world". I wondered if that's who Jesus was: a very, very advanced neutrino presence from a different solar system who elected to make a pit stop here and incarnated as the Son of God, or son of God (depending on your system of belief) at God's behest. And that the physical incarnation of "immigrant" neutrinos is on a more exalted plane than those of us who just "hatch out" from the souls that were "on board" the earth when we got all the way out here.

I've got enough on my plate praying five times a day, fasting, reading scripture aloud and working 12 hours a day. If it leads somewhere, great! If all I can do is atone for the first 40 years of my life with the next 40 (20 so far and counting), break even and really not have much to show for it. Well, God's will be done!

John Scrudder:
What is your position on the Syrian refugees and this whole terrorist attack on Paris...

Re: the Paris attacks. They believe that they're doing the will of God. I'm not God so I couldn't tell you if they are or not. I don't listen to music or drink myself and I advocate not doing so but that's all I do. For all I know that's being "wimpy" in the defence of God.

I do think that everyone who went to the Eagles of Death Metal concert to prove just how HARD. CORE. they are got a major lesson in what REAL. HARD. CORE. is. Eagles of death metal? I've got your eagles of death metal right here. Sorry if that's insensitive. How sensitive is Death Metal?

Re: the refugee thing, I don't know. Our new prime minister is admitting 25,000 before the end of the year. It reminded me of Chester Brown after 9/11 saying that he thought we should wait and see if they do something like that again instead of overreacting. We have to accept that there are people who think that's a logical way forward. If the West DOESN'T do anything about it, in a way it's very...Christian. Turn the other cheek. Which would be the Most Christian thing the society formerly known as Christendom has done in a long while.

All of the G7 leaders except for Cameron are pacifists by nature, I think.

John Scrudder:
What do you think the short term affect and long term affect would be if we found out religion (all of it) were completely false. What if we didn't have these people 'fighting for the cause' What if we didn't have nations that have been warring for thousands of years because of religious beliefs. I feel, in a way, that perhaps we would all be better off without religion. The questions of the great unknown would remain the same. So what's the problem? Would you stop trying to be a better person if you no longer believed in God. I'm trying to be a better person and I'm not putting my faith in the hands of a deity in the great beyond. What a F----d up world we live in.

We're only partway through. God, I think, created all this to allow us to explore ALL of the possibilities. I think we're the rebel spirits that couldn't get away from God fast enough because we were convinced we could do SOOOOOOO much better than He could and he engineered a way -- the Big Bang -- to get us all the way out here and prove to ourselves that we're wrong.

He was and is right, I think.

We miss the point that we don't know what happens when we die. God does know. For all we know those people who died in Paris are ecstatic with their reward because they died Making A Point that He knew needed to be made. "In my Father's house are many mansions."

Just consider the world that he created for you as an atheist KNOWING you would be an atheist. All the pleasures he's given you to enjoy knowing you would turn your back on him. The word in Koine Greek for "God's grace" translates more directly as "undeserved kindness".

As it says in the Koran, "God will not wrong you so much as the husk on a dates stone."

God allows things like Paris to happen as a warning, I think -- "Better this, now, then what would come later if this DIDN'T happen." If Paris is the "soft option" then things are getting Really. Hard.

I'd say have a little sympathy for an Omnipotent Being who knows He's right and still has to watch His creations suffer AT THEIR OWN HANDS because they just won't TRUST Him. Nothing He can do.


"Thus endeth the experiment in going out in public".

I think we need to have honest exchanges of viewpoint and I don't see that in society. Too much isn't working to keep acting as if doing everything the same way IS going to work.

But, I was thrown out of society so anything I say is completely beside the point.

That's a wrap! Drive safely everyone! 

Dave Sim's previous Kickstarter Q&As can be found here: CAN1 and CAN2.