Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Carson Grubaugh's Re-Read Challenge: Flight

(from Carson's Re-Read Blog, August 2016)
...The Mothers and Daughters storyline is at its most basic level an examination of matriarchy and womanhood. One of the major plot devices during these volumes is the telepathic group-mind powers exhibited by the new matriarchs, the Cirinists. Sim himself has long drawn a connection between Marxism/Socialism and Feminism and believes that a matriarchal society would be socialist in nature. It is no surprise then, that during this time period Sim follows suit and engages in projects that are wrapped up in collective action and inclusion... [Read the full review here...]

Cerebus Vol 8: Women
Cerebus Vol 9: Reads
Cerebus Vol 10: Minds
Cerebus Vol 11: Guys
Cerebus Vol 12: Rick's Story
Cerebus Vol 13: Going Home
Cerebus Vol 14: Form & Void
Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days
Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day


adampasz said...

You posted some interesting panels! My interpretation is that, on some level, Dave was getting a bored with traditional story-telling, and started using each page as an excuse to pursue audacious experiments. Some don't work as well as others (i.e. the Vulva page!) and they start to interfere with the narrative. Perhaps Dave was becoming bored with the story itself, and was looking for ways to make it more interesting. Perhaps Dave was frustrated with Cerebus's stubbornness, which was not so charming anymore. (A stubborn 2-year-old can be charming, but a stubborn 12-year-old not so much.)

Barry Deutsch said...

I think you're overstating things, Adam.

Your comment is like someone saying "I think that carpenter is looking for excuses to use his power drill because he's bored with his hammer and nails. It's interfering with the furniture-building."

I suspect it's more that, different jobs call for different tools. Some sequences are best told with a standard grid, and there are a lot of places Dave uses the standard grid throughout Cerebus. But there are other sequences that need a different toolset. I really like "the vulva page," and I think the unique approach and layout makes it more effective than a standard grid would have been.

That said, I do think you're probably right that Dave would have gotten bored if he had to do nothing but standard grid layouts for all of Cerebus. I'm projecting, of course - maybe I'm wrong, and maybe Dave will weigh in - but Cerebus reads as if Dave is always saying "okay, that worked okay. But now I want to think of some new approach that'll work with the next thing."

One thing I enjoy in Cerebus is how large and varied Dave's metaphorical toolbox is compared to most cartoonists. Dave comes across as being very impatient with repeating himself very much, and that shows both in the wide variety of layout techniques he uses, and also in the wide variety of genres contained within Cerebus. I don't think that impatience is detrimental to Cerebus; on the contrary, if Cerebus wasn't so varied, I think it wouldn't be nearly as appealing to read 6000 or so friggin' pages of it.

Barry Deutsch said...

Oh, and Carson, another excellent post! Thanks for continuing this series, I'm enjoying it.

Jeff Seiler said...

IIRC correctly, Tour '92 was the first time I "met" Dave, at the Kansas City (Missouri) stop, at Clint's Books and Comics. I was not yet collecting the phonebooks, just the monthlies, so I didn't have anything to get a sketch on/in. I was in utterly embarassing, full-on fanboy mode, with the new girlfriend in tow (she was utterly uncomprehending of what was going on). When I got up to Dave, I just lost it and uttered gibberish, to which he politely responded and quickly signed the one monthly I had put in front of him. Leaving, I noticed the Walgreens across the street, told the girlfriend to wait a minute, went over and bought a six-pack of Boulevard, the then-only-local, now national beer and took it back into Clint's. I quickly deposited the 6-pack at Dave's side telling him it was local and very good, then thanked him again and rushed off.

Complete fan-boy-ness.

Thank God S.P.A.C.E came along in the next decade, allowing me to get to know Dave a whole lot better, not to mention our post-Cerebus correspondence.

Come to think of it, did this all happen on the Spirits of Independence Tour, a few years later?

(Sigh...) I'm getting sooo old.

So, how'd'ja like the beer I gave ya, Dave? Back then, I mean, whenever "back then" was?

Cory Foster said...

I'm falling behind and becoming obsolete.

Dave Sim said...

adampasz & Barry Deutsch! Hi guys! The biggest thing with FLIGHT was to justify all the time I had Cerebus sitting in one place through MELMOTH.

Looking at the pages Carson has selected, I think I'm more than a little stiff with the action sequences -- which is going to happen after a largely stationary year in front of Dino's Cafe. It's apparent to me now, looking at the Cerebus figures. In my mind they look like (and at the time looked like) the figures in the big Cirin/Cerebus dust-up in READS.

But, by then, I was used to moving him around quite a bit more.

On the two-page spread heading up Carson's post, I'm trying for a whip-like movement, Cerebus stopping and then pivoting a) left and b) up. His hair in the second panel should be flowing straight back in the direction he's coming from, not rippling, the speed lines through the shadow and vest flowing along a curve. Or Gerhard should have drawn the wall at different angles to establish it isn't one continuous movement. We were both a little "stiff", I think.

It's a nice-looking two-page spread for all of that. My Cirinist telepathy lettering I think was pretty innovative and expressive and reflected what it's like to be "leaned on" by a Cirinist.

Dave Sim said...

Barry - You're certainly closer to it with the toolbox idea. The question was always: what's going on in this sequence and what can I do to emphasize that? A lot of movement so you want the panel borders to look as if they're being carried along by the action, lots of different angles and abrupt transitions. I never really got BORED with the different looks on the book because I always had a clear mental picture of ABOUT how long the book had to look that way. JAKA'S STORY was going to be 500 pages of "picket fence" compositions and full-page illustrations. Make it as interesting for yourself as you can because you've got a LOT of it ahead of you. You can't change your mind 300 pages in without undercutting everything you just built. "There's THOUSANDS of pages left to go." That helped a lot. What look is needed for which book? It's always in service to the story. What can I do in terms of the composition, putting the border tapes on, doing the lettering and doing the rendering to kick the IDEA of the book over the goal-line consistently? I tried to make every page of FLIGHT look as much like it was flying as possible. And then re-thought everything when it was time to do WOMEN.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Jeff! Yes, that was the '92 Tour. Rick Jarvis was the store owner who, sadly, died not long after the signing. I'm pretty sure I would have just given the beer to Rick after everyone had left. My "self-image" in '92 wasn't of someone who would carry a six-pack of beer around with him, and it certainly was not something I would carry into my hotel.

Beer is fattening and I was already having "weight issues" by '92.

If I was going to drink beer (and I drank a lot of it) it would be in a bar or a nightclub looking at pretty girls. I never drank at home and seldom in my hotel room. The only time I can remember actually accepting alcohol from a fan and trying it was when someone gave me a little bottle of "white lightning" somewhere in the South. THAT I wanted to try. Having tried it, I left the bottle in the hotel room.

I always accepted any gift enthusiastically -- it's only good manners -- but I always knew if it was actually going home with me or if I was just saying it was.