Sunday, 24 July 2016

Cerebus Reread Challenge: Carson Grubaugh

(from Carson Grubaugh's Cerebus Reread Review: Volume 1, July 2016)
...Being near the end of my entire re-read as I type this I can now state for sure what interests me when looking back over the work as a whole. As I said last time Cory Foster does a great job of providing synopses and analyses of the story. I am primarily interested in Dave Sim’s development as a formal master of the comics medium. I intend to track that development over the course of the books, with lots and lots of pictures.

The other thing that interests me to no end is the development of Dave Sim as a thinker. I refuse to treat the book like an autobiography, or to pin any one character as being a manifestation of Dave Sim. Cerebus the Aardvark is not Dave Sim, but Cerebus the book, from what I can tell, is one of the most open, honest, and vulnerable portrayals of the development of an artist/thinker we have on record.

If you read the book with all of the original back-matter in place there are very interesting correlations between the themes of each volume and how Sim portrays himself and his activities in the back-matter. It often appears as if he is trying on different selves and different ways of engaging with the world that he feels will help him gain a better understanding of whatever topic he is writing about at the time. He says things to this effect much later on in the run, which I will point out when we get there.

This approach to life and art is one I hold in the highest regard. It is brave, selfish, and totally fascinating to see on fully display. This aspect of Cerebus is why I consider it the greatest work in comics, even if some of the parts of that whole are damn near impossible to consume.

I am trying to use an image heavy-format, and so am doing most of my commentary from here on out in captions over top of the art (Sim is obviously infecting me at this point). I will try to do a better job of proofreading the captions next time around. Some of those that follow are embarrassing. I will also size the art to fit the height next time around. I thought the images were smaller than they are... [continue reading at Carson Grubaugh's blog...]


Paul Slade said...

You've got some very interesting analysis there, Carson, and I think you've hit on just the right format to convey it. Even though Dave's art was relatively crude at this stage, your close scrutiny pays real dividends. More, please!

Sandeep Atwal said...

Great format, looking forward to seeing more!

Bill RItter said...

Carson, this is tremendous work and great reading. Love what you're attempting, and anxiously await future installments.

Tony Dunlop said...

Just chiming in to say how much I, a person with absolutely no artistic ability (I can't even draw a stick figure) or background, but who loves comics, enjoy reading Dave's, and now Carson's, dissections of this medium I've grown up with. Thanks, guys. Much, much appreciated.

Dave Sim said...

My first thought looking at the splash page and comparing it to the more recent piece I did for Heritage Auctions is how right Neal Adams was that there's a quality to cruder earlier work that's more lively than what you do when you have more drawing knowledge. I think it's because you're physically whaling on the page, not really knowing what you're doing but doing it VERY enthusiastically.

Things like having the cross-hatching going in all different directions.

[old Dave] "Well, no -- if it's just a background grey colour, you want the cross-hatching to be consistent: all going in the same direction."

[young Dave] "Well, no, this is getting closer to Al Williamson and Bill Payne (in my head, anyway). So I just want to finish them as fast as I can and sit back and admire them. All that matters is the density."

I didn't even finish an area in the upper middle -- it's just hatched, not cross-hatched. Why? "I don't know. It looks cool like that". As I used to say to Gerhard, "If it's done, don't finish it."