Sunday, 27 March 2016

On Sale 21 Years Ago: Cerebus #192

Cerebus #192 (March 1995)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard


Travis Pelkie said...

This is the issue after (I think) the issue that may be my favorite of the series, where we see Cerebus injured by the knife, Cerebus taken to the wizard by his dad ("he's my BOY"), and...Cerebus wetting himself in church, too? Did all that happen in 191?

As to this cover, oooh! Were the originals of these covers (with the World Tour side bars) bigger or smaller or cropped significantly? If so, they'd probably make sweet TCOP images.

And those side comics are all decent. Poison Elves wasn't my thing, from what I've read of it, but it was well done. Roberta Gregory does good stuff. A story with Mike Dringenberg, who did both Sandman and, iirc, Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters. Favorite of this bunch would be Bughouse, collected in 3 volumes and most likely still available from Top Shelf Comix. I got those books from them when they were still doing their sweet web sales, which are alas no more!

Travis Pelkie said...

Another bit about that duck that we were talking about the other day (which I wrote some more about on that post):

Interesting story about how editor Tom Brevoort was told the "crossover" (that Tim talked about) would go, and how he felt betrayed by Gerber. And how current HTD writer (and Canadian!) Chip Zdarsky is writing HTD as if he's a clone of the original.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Thanks for the link, Travis. I didn't know about that last part -- interesting! The tagline "Trapped in a world he's grown accustomed to" lets us know not to expect the sense of absurd outrage that was Gerber's strength.

Comparisons between HTD and Cerebus are sometimes overblown; it seems people can get hung up on the presence in both of anthropomorphic animals. But certainly the latter wouldn't exist without the former. Gerber labelled Howard as the first "serious animal" (as opposed to "funny animal") in comics, and Cerebus (eventually) echoed that.

But one of the saddest points of comparison involves Dave's oft-mentioned championing of creator-ownership and -control. Howard without Gerber is but a pale imitation -- a clone indeed; I think subsequent writers showed that he really is Gerber's duck, not Marvel's duck. In a just world, we'd be celebrating 40 years of HTD continuously written by his creator.

-- Damian

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

It also occurs to me to commend Dave for putting his money where his mouth was for the self-publishing "movement" that briefly flowered. Dave not only devoted part of his covers to other self-published comics, he put his "The War Room" briefs before the actual comics pages of his book.

-- Damian

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard whether there's a stable ETA for the Cerebus Covers collection? It's been in the works, hovering on the edge of release, for over a year now...

Dave Sim said...

Saint Godard - Your guess is as good as mine. There's supposed to be another proof of the book on its way but no sign of it yet. They might have sent it to the post office box. No matter how many times I tell them to use the street address they usually use the post office box.

I think Amazon "jumped the gun" saying that the Covers Book was coming out soon and that got taken as "Holy Writ" just because it's Amazon.

Sandeep and I finished the corrections on the last proof in November and I got a fax from Justin Eisinger a couple of weeks ago saying they decided not to make several changes I suggested.

If IDW had announced it would be "Soon" -- which I started hearing way back in January -- I would assume they would have waited until after THIS proof had been approved.

It's really IDW's book. I agreed to let them do it because I knew I was never going to do it and it was one of those things that EVERYONE was suggesting.

After the DR. WHO experience, I pretty much have learned to expect ANYTHING from IDW. I've trained myself to just go "Oh, that's interesting" and then go back to whatever I was doing.

I'll post something here if the next proof shows up and when I finish my part on it, as I did in November.

Apart from that: you really need to ask IDW.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Damian! I think the HTD situation is one of those multi-levelled Comic Art Metaphysics things.

If you sell your character, you sell your character. The same thing would have happened -- or would happen -- if I had sold -- or did sell -- Cerebus to someone. Even if I had gotten 6,000 pages done (VERY UNLIKELY) they wouldn't have been the 6,000 pages I did get done.

A comics character is either under your control or it's under someone else's control: if you sell it to Marvel, then it's under the control of whomever Marvel delegates to the task, editor first, then writer, then penciller. The writer writes what he HOPES will be the story, but it doesn't BECOME the story unless and until the editor SAYS it is. And whatever the editor says the story is, that's what it is, even if it completely changes the entire direction the writer was going in. And when that editor is replaced -- as he or she always is -- that's the person who then decides whether anything of the previous incarnation should remain and what the story is NOW.

Apples and oranges compared to Cerebus.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Damian! Intention is a major component in Comic Art Metaphysics: WHAT you chose to do and WHEN you chose to do it and (particularly) WHY you chose to do it. Speaking as someone who invested quite a bit of time and energy into the FOOG (Friends of Ol' Gerber) portfolio, the first I found out that Steve had settled out of court with Marvel was from the fanzines. That's a Bad Metaphysics act in the first place: someone raised money by getting other creators to do pictures so you could fight Marvel in court. The LEAST you owe those people is notification. "Here's what I'm doing. Sorry."

But, having signed for whatever "blood money" you got, I really think that trying to STILL get the Duck back in a Microcosmic Metaphysical sense -- you're really asking for trouble.

[most particularly because -- to whatever extent you were naive when you sold the Duck in that MAN-THING script -- you can't hide behind naivete by the time you're settling out of court for whatever you settled for. You KNOW the ins and outs of intellectual properties top to bottom. So, in a real sense, you're not only "breaking the law" (violating the spirit of your confidential agreement with Marvel) and breaking the law (violating the letter of the law as outlined in your agreement), you're Breaking The Law (violating every declaration of your system of beliefs and your innermost understanding of what You Agreed To, macrocosmically and microcosmically]

And I think Steve got it.

In spades.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Dave: Thank you for the response. I am especially interested in this matter, as HTD was one of my favourite characters -- a fusion of creator and character so sympatico that neither was ever as good alone. And it's one of my favourite (saddest) examples of the perils of lack of creator ownership and control.

As you know, I am not a believer in Comics Metaphysics Theology. I look upon it as you look upon paganism: a fundamentally incorrect way of describing reality (or Reality). It's a bit early to say, as you've only teased out bits of your larger theology; I infer you will put forward a larger explication in Strange Death, and I look forward to reading that work if and when you are able to complete it to your satisfaction in some manner. (As always, best wishes for your health issues.) I do wish to be clear: I think your arguments are wrong; I don't think they are uninteresting.

I agree that the when and why are important. For why: As you once said about Claremont and Cockrum's new X-Men, it made as much sense at the time for Gerber to create Howard as it did for him to do anything else. The comics industry (I love the metaphor of interchangeable machine-operators) at that time did not offer any other opportunities. Hobson's choice! If your only choice is a bad choice, that doesn't make your choice a good one.

And for when: At the time Gerber created Howard, the copyright laws had not been re-written to enshrine the "work made for hire" concept. I understand this point formed part of his case -- that he had not in fact signed away his rights to the character.

And I understand that his motives for settling the lawsuit were partly (mostly?) selfish: The suit was costing him money he didn't have, and Marvel offered to pay him to shut up and go away (and agreed to acknowledge him as Howard's creator -- the only Marvel hired-hand to enjoy that credit). But he also said that he was afraid that a judgement against him would become a precedent for future creator's-rights cases -- harming their chances -- and thought it was better not to have that ruling at all. (I do think that it is nothing but rude not to inform people who volunteered their time and talent -- and risked the real possibility of retribution from Marvel -- before announcing the settlement in the media.)

But it is erroneous to say that Gerber then tried to renege on the deal. His stated position was that Marvel's actions after the settlement violated the agreement they had made, so he then tried to steal his Duck. Your last paragraph above presents the matter in a more one-sided and less-accurate manner.

I fear the best we can hope today is that people learn from the example: if you pour your heart and soul into a corporate-owned character, it's no longer your heart and soul; it's theirs. This is where it's useful to compare HTD and Cerebus. Create, own, and control your characters!

And I think Gerber's death from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis can be attributed less to the actions of an illusory Comics Metaphysics Theology than to his lifelong cigarette-smoking habit.

-- Damian

Anonymous said...

I want to verify what Dave said based on an experience around 1986 -- 1987. Chris Claremont, then at the top of his field as writer of the Uncanny X-Men, did a signing at a comic book store on Long Island. Some friends and I attended. When I handed him some comics for autographs, the latest edition of the X-Men was on the top of the pile.

"Is that the new one?" he asked. It was a tremendous moment: Realizing you're with a creator at the moment he first sees his work in final form.

He flipped it open and began going page by page, panel by panel, pointing out the editorial changes made to his script. Much of it seemed to be captions and dialogue added to explain the characters to new readers.

I was stunned. It never occurred to me that a creator, let alone one of Claremont's stature, would have so little control over his work. This was right around the time I came onboard as a Cerebus reader (No. 90), and the contrast with Dave's total control over his work could not have been more pronounced.

--Claude Flowers

Travis Pelkie said...

Based off Claude's story --

I was at a con in the last...5 years, I think, where Jim Shooter appeared. I hung around his table for a bit, chatting with him and listening to him tell some stories.

One story he told (and I'm paraphrasing heavily, so forgive me) was that as part of his "every issue is someone's first" notions, he wanted a caption box with a quick explanation of characters and their powers. The terming of Storm as "mutant weather witch" was the example he used. Claremont wasn't thrilled with this, so Shooter said, well, figure out something to use. Claremont went off, Shooter said, and eventually came back and said he couldn't think of anything better.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Claude, I must quibble with your statement that "the contrast with Dave's total control over his work could not have been more pronounced." By your own admission, you did not realize the extent of Marvel's editorial meddling until Claremont pointed it out to you, so the contrast was obviously not pronounced -- or even perceptible -- at all.

That's one of the very things that I object to about editorial meddling: the fact that it happens behind the scenes, and we'll never know. When I buy a Steve Gerber comic, or a Dave Sim comic, or (god help me) a Chris Claremont comic, I want to read a comic by Gerber, Dave, or Claremont -- not Claremont as filtered through Shooter.

Creator ownership and control is the only thing that assures us that we're getting what was advertised. Even if Dave hired an editor to review his work pre-publication and give him notes, that editor would be working for Dave, not the other way around, and we would know that any suggestions Dave incorporated would be his decision.

-- Damian