Wednesday, 16 November 2016

A Conversation With a Southerner That Couldn't Actually Have Taken Place, But Evidently Did

Sean Michael Robinson:

A quick update on the mammoth Cerebus Volume One corrections task that I wrote about two weeks ago... it's complete! I finished up last week, with a few exceptions — items that I thought Dave would be the only real arbiter of. (See the earlier post, "Fidelity to Forty Year Letter Forms," for more info)

The past two weeks I've been working half an hour or so each day on revising and illustrating a novel that I first drafted a little over three years ago now, and that process has kept me thinking about revision that's faithful to intent, and all of the ways actual revision (what I'm doing on my novel) is different from the kind of adjustments we're making to Cerebus Volume One, which are exclusively focused on aesthetics and readability. But the last few decisions that I passed on to Dave struck me as borderline cases, things in which the asked-for "correction" seemed to be intruding on the meaning, even if on an extremely minor level.

It's my argument that the "meanings" of certain kinds of works are really the result of an accumulation of these micro-level decisions on the part of the author. That even supposed background details, or even single word choices or rendering decisions can affect the reader's perception of the page, and if enough of these were to be changed, the meaning overall is changed as well. 

Anyway, I sent off my list of unresolved elements—

Hey Davel  
Okay. I finished! Man o man.  
There are a few last decisions to make, detailed below.  
Jeff flagged instances of Cerebus addressing himself as "I". I have included two of them below, but there are two more of them as well. I have not changed these yet, as it seemed a bit too much like rewriting to me. If you want me to "fix" them please let me know and I will.  
Similarity, he notes (correctly) that "y'all" is typically meant to address multiple people, but Elrod uses it to address Cerebus alone. l've left this alone as well as there's not really an easy fix other than replacing it with "you," which would basically eliminate all of the "y'all"s. I haven't done anything with these. Let me know If you want something different.  
Same with the German listed below. 
pg 87-- Elrod uses "Y'all" when he's addressing C only. for actual southerners of my acquaintance, this is a not plural.It's a contraction of "You all"
p 132-- 3rd p insert CEREBUS WOULD for "I'D" ?
p 155 Y'ALL not plural
189-- p3  I'm instead of "CEREBUS"--change?
p 233 panel 2-- "GRABLEM" SB "GRAB 'EM"? mumbling so....
p 371-378-- Jeff wants to "fix" your phoenetic German accent, by making all of the W words consistently Vs, instead of inconsistently, as they currently are. Do you want this? This seems a bit too close to rewriting for me. 
And the next day I received this very interesting fax from Dave:

p.87 - Leave it "y'all".  Not really sure why but it needs to be there. 
p.132 - No, this is Jaka and Cerebus imitating each other's first/third person conversational tics. Needs to be there. Cerebus TRIES to remember to say "I" any time he gets near civilization as he is here (in lest).  
p.155 - Well, actually, I DO know why: it's because Squeaky Subversive once told me a story about visiting Southern friends or relatives and them leaving to go somewhere and saying to her "Are y'all coming?" And she said "Yeah, I'm all coming." And I remember thinking, "Well, no that's wrong. It's funny, but it's wrong. They must have addressed it to you and someone else or other people that you were with." But, I didn't say that because then I thought, "Well, if that was the case THEY (or he or she) would have said something about it: 'No, I meant, "y'all you and your mother," or, "No , I meant y'all you and your family. '' 11 Particularly since she was making a joke about it. And then I thought, Well, why DIDN'T they? Clearly, Coral (Squeaky's real name and she told me the story in pre-Squeaky days) believed that they had addressed it to her as an individual or (presumably) she wouldn't have still been telling it as a funny story about the Southern use of "y'all". So, knowing that Elrod didn't actually exist, I thought it would be a way of emphasizing the (of course, I didn't have a term for it back then) Comic Art Metaphysics of his creation: that part of him originated in a conversation with a Southerner that couldn't actually have taken place, but evidently did. 
p.189 No, this is Cerebus reacting to the city. As soon as he scales the wall and is looking into the city, ne unconsciously uses the pronoun "I".  
p • 2 3 3 No, it's supposed to be a JOKE: " Grab 'em" + "mumble'' = "GRABLEM"
(I know, I know: "Ha. Ha.")  
p.371 - I agree. Just leave them.
And with that, the book is put to bed, awaiting word from Diamond that they're ready for the next printing. It won't be long now — watch this space for some announcements. Up next? One or two corrections on Cerebus In Hell? #1, then Jaka's Story hits the front burner.

Here are a few screenshots to tide you over.

 A nice detail from a snow-flecked page (produced with a toothbrush, the diy airbrush!)

Above: a scan from the eighth printing of Cerebus V1. Below, restored for the 17th. Another tooth-brush assisted panel. Judging by the borders, these involved some serious masking.


Paul Slade said...

That poor guy in the snow has stuck in my mind ever since I first read that page over 30 years ago. To this day, whenever I'm bundling up for particularly cold weather, I find myself mentally remarking that "I'm anot want to be colt" and reassuring myself that "Lower Felda, she's awarm as atoast".

Jim Sheridan said...

Lol, it's a great "Father Guido Sarducci" accent.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Jeez, look at those details that we've just never seen before in the printed editions! I'm not bitter that we didn't see this at the time, as all comics' printing was pretty dire back then; I'm rejoicing that we can see the work in a much better reproduction. Thanks for the work.

-- Damian

Dave Sim said...

Paul Slade - That's always VERY cool to hear: that something you've written is triggered by a recurrent situation. I appreciate it!

Jim Sheridan - Probably couldn't do "Father Guido Sarducci" today. Cultural insensitivity AND cultural appropriation. Double whammy. That doesn't seem like progress, to me.

Damian T. Lloyd - The news is even better than that! Sean's been shopping around for printers (at my suggestion) and he's found a place in Western Canada that has just delivered him The. Best. Press. Test. EVER! Virtually zero dot gain: which means you're going to be getting even MORE detail than we got on CHURCH & STATE I, READS and GOING HOME. The finished printing should be looking exactly like what you're seeing here.

Dave Sim said...

Sean - Yes, a lot of serious masking. One of the things that I used to do was to mask off the area with ordinary paper and then use the excess areas on the Letratone sheets (borders and masthead) to actually tape it down. Because it was a much lighter adhesive than actual masking tape or regular tape, it was less likely to pull up any of the drawing when it came off.

Anonymous said...

Quasi-Southerner here, born and raised in Texas. "Y'all" is the singular form. Yes, really. "All Y'all" is the plural.

Tony Dunlop said...

Father Guido Sarducci isn't cultural appropriation - Don Novello (sp?), the comedian who invented Fr. Sarducci, is an Italian-American.

Jim Sheridan said...

Agreed. Despite some of the debates regarding the limits of humor, a quick look at recent comedy from the likes of Dave Chappell, Sarah Silverman, South Park, Daniel Tosh....the list goes on - comedians still poke at race, gender, class, regionalism, ethnicity etc from all angles.

South Park alone should be the first example considered by those who fear that comedy has been de-fanged by the PC police.

Sean R said...

Anonymous- must be a regional variation. I grew up in Florida (also quasi-southern) and never heard it that way. Not that I recall anyway. So,

Jeff Seiler said...

I agree with Anon. Having lived six years in Texas, I learned the difference between "y'all" and "all y'all". I almost corrected Elrod that way on one occasion, IIRC.

Travis Pelkie said...

Well, waitaminnit Jeff, if you agree with Anon above, why did you flag the Elrod things as Sean details here? Am I misunderstanding?

Tony again said...

I've lived all my life so far above the Mason-Dixon line that I'd get nosebleeds if my blood weren't frozen - but it's always been my understanding that "Southerners" and Texans alike don't really consider Texas "the South." It really is its own thing (or thang?). Am I very wrong?

Dave Sim said...

Tony - It's cultural appropriation if Don Novello wasn't a devout Catholic, isn't it? :)

Tony again said...

Interesting point, actually - one that pokes at the intertwining of religion and ethnicity. For example, Larry David, long before "Seinfeld," was on a short-lived but delightful "Saturday Night Live" rip-off called "Friday's," and played a recurring character who was kind of a "Kung fu rabbi." Hilarious. But I'm quite confident Mr. David is not a believer in God (or YooHoo), even though he is definitely a Jew. So was that character "cultural appropriation?"

Jeff Seiler said...

Travis--I can't answer your question without going back and looking at my notes. When I am proofing, I nearly always put the note out of my mind (or, more accurately, into my sub-conscious mind--I have had many cases of seeing a mistake on, say, page 152 and thinking, waitaminnut, I missed that mistake about twenty pages back and then having to backtrack and hunt it down). If I don't move each note to my subconscious, then it becomes waaaay to easy to get bogged down in "is it, really, or isn't it wrong?" discussions with myself, which can *really* run up the billing hours, which wouldn't be fair to Dave/A-V, Inc. I'm not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV.

I'm sure I did debate with myself about the usage on "y'all" and whether or not to correct it; I just don't remember what we (I and I) said.

Does that make sense?

Jeff Seiler said...

Tony--Yeah, there's a reason they call it The Republic of Texas.

Travis Pelkie said...

Well, Jeff, what I'm saying is that right here in this post, Sean is pointing out a couple notes where you flagged "y'all" as not being singular (as Elrod is addressing Cerebus by himself) (and why does the spell check do a squiggly line under Cerebus but not Elrod?)(ahem), but here in the comments you're agreeing with anon and saying that "y'all" IS singular.

So what Sean is pointing out were corrections that you made that apparently you shouldn't have made in the first place.

If I'm understanding this all correctly.

I haven't been south of...Philly, I guess, that I can remember, but I've only ever heard, to my recollection, "y'all" being used singularly OR as a plural.

And then there's Mitch Hedberg's bit on "y'all". "They take out the "ou", so when I'm in the south, I like to talk like that. Can I get some chicken noodle s-p?"

Dave Sim said...

Tony - With a very interesting grey borderline. What if you're a Catholic priest who is very much in the Father Guido Sarducci tradition -- we ALL smoke! we ALL drink! -- and just see it as a playful exaggeration? You're apt to have a different take on it from a Vatican insider as to the extent of the appropriation and its legitimacy.

Which gets into why you can't REALISTICALLY police cultural appropriation. "No, what was your REAL MOTIVE for doing this?" Uh. Why do I have to account to YOU -- or ANYONE -- about MY motives?"

And do you even KNOW what your REAL motives are?

Jeff Seiler said...

Well, Dave, all I can say is, "proofreading brain-fart". I do vaguely recall, however, debating this for a while with myself.

But, bottom line, sometimes I screw up. Sorry. That's why you, by rights, get the last say.

And thanks to Sean for parsing these things out and getting them to Dave.

When it comes to the proofreading aspect of the remasters, the three of us (plus Mara, in the early going) are motivated simply by trying to make it as "perfect" and readable as possible.

Jeff Seiler said...

Oops! Meant to address that comment above to Travis. Sorry!