Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Melmoth Kickstarter Continues. The Vulgar Roach Edition.

Sean Michael Robinson:

The Kickstarter for Cerebus Archive Number Six, Melmoth, is now live! In honor of this, and in the hopes you'll consider contributing, here are some image excerpts from the portfolio.

Here's the first page of the portfolio, the establishing shot for the entire book.

Taken individually, these have a romanticized postcard aspect to them. "COME to DINO'S! SEE! PICTURESQUE VIEWS OF THE LOWER CITY!" The "white-out" effect of the fuzziness of the edges of the images will recur both later in Melmoth and, most prominently, in The Last Day. In this case it seems the tone has been sanded away at the edges -- an eraser? Electric eraser? Sand paper? I've brought up the cyan channel in the image so you can see the blue-line pencil a little clearer. Notice how Gerhard has established perspective construction lines even for an image with such chaotic and non-linear housing layout.

We can see the anatomy of the city a bit better here, even how the bridge up wraps around the ripples/layers of the tower.

It's interesting to think of non-fictional analogues to the lower city/higher city. In Napoli, where my wife Rachel and I busked for many weeks in 2012 and 2013, we found that it was next to useless to play in the lower city, even the times we were playing for affluent people — people were too on guard in the sprawling, wild city to want to stop and hang out and throw you a few Euro. (And who can blame them. We saw virtually anything you can imagine there, while we were playing. Let me tell you, it's no picnic to be singing harmony and playing an instrument while little children are plotting to steal your money and grown men are hustling tourists to buy his socks out of a giant handbag!) But take the funicolare up to the "upper city" — Vomero — and everything changed. And even that simple barrier of a few Euro (before we figured out how to ride the funicolare for free, that is) was enough to let people relax. The attitude of the place was completely different, despite only a change in elevation.


This whole sequence always kills me. Everything from the "look both ways" first tier to the "clearly apoplectic but actually whispering" dialogue. It's pitch-perfect impotent rage in a containing social situation.

How mad is he? So mad that the bridge of his glasses have been swallowed by the furrow of his brow. 

Later in the sequence (and the portfolio), after the confrontation with the waitress and the Cirinist, he looks cautiously to see that the coast is really clear.

The acting in this whole segment is right up there with the best in the series. I love the wobbly mouth in the first panel, the submissive peak of the brow rippling in agitation.

The first shot of the Cirinist in retreat has an interesting example of the rare visible re-do. See the blue construction lines for the tower and the white-out bulge of what's presumably the lower city, shoulder-level. I'm guessing the cleanliness of just presenting the sky (as well as the lowered viewpoint — she appears to be viewed from a seated perspective) won out over a desire to do "fill stuff in."

And looking at the lower tier, that was clearly the right choice overall.

Want what is sure to be much more interesting and insightful commentary, 12,000 words from Dave on the making of these pages? Then pledge now to the CAN6 Kickstarter, and your pledge will help keep the restoration efforts going. 

Please? Pretty pleaaaaase?


Tony Dunlop said...

Question for Dave: I'd always assumed the staircase seen in the opening sequence was the same one on which Cerebus first meets the McGrew brothers. Confirm/deny/equivocate?

Carson Grubaugh said...

I nerd out so hard on these panel enlargements.

Dave Sim said...

Tony - All three. It COULD be, but not necessarily. One of those "whatever works" things that happens with applied engineering. "Oh, hey, this kind of staircase works! Anywhere you have a situation like this, this is the staircase you want to use."

The Upper City/Lower City is also a Hamilton, Ontario thing. It's the Niagara Escarpment, but in Hamilton it's called The Mountain. You live Up The Mountain or Down The Mountain. So, I always had a mountain in my mind as a kid as where my paternal aunt and uncle lived (as an "Up The Mountain" example) as opposed to my maternal grandparents ("Down The Mountain").

Carson - And nobody does panel enlargements like Sean Robinson! Nice segue:

When you've got a few of the bridging material SDOAR pages done, you should get together with Sean somewhere between Modesto and San Diego and hand off to him. It's definitely going to help him to have the ACTUAL originals in front of him when he's doing the pre-press. Or FedEx them to him, but I think you'll sleep a lot better if you hand them to him.

I'm pretty close to having three pages done for the issue2/issue 3 bridge. I think it's going to be 6 pages instead of 4 pages to let the sequence "breathe" a bit. But, I'm still sticking pretty close to what you've done. The "metaphysical asteroid" was a big help!

Dave Sim said...

Carson II - Please let Jack know: much appreciated, but we won't need pictures of her in other outfits. Jeez. She's done WAY more than enough already. The photos you took and the photos you sent are an embarrassment of riches. If I can't write the bridging sequences with these, I'm in the wrong line of work!

Dave Sim said...

Sean - The "fuzzing" on the end of the tone was done with an eraser, I'm pretty sure. Not an electric eraser. We never got those for the studio because I was told that they just shred the surface layer on illustration board.

I wonder if that's true?

Carson Grubaugh said...


Awesome. I will let her know. Most of my notes were based on the fact that she said she already has a lot of other photos of herself that would be good for those scens. As she hasn't sent any of them yet I am very happy to leave it at, "Thank you a millions times over, now go ahead and quit worrying about us," because I agree she has already been beyond a blessing.

Unless there is any pressing reason to get the pages to Sean in batches I would prefer to just get them to him when they are all done. That said, I am over the moon to know that Sean is going to be doing the pre-press on SDOAR. His pre-press work is out of this world.

Dave Sim said...

Carson - The biggest reason for the "batches" is that I'm not 100% certain where IDW plans on splitting the material to date: one volume or two volumes. If it's two volumes and volume two ends at the end of #3, then we're going to want the four-page intro, the four-page #1 to #2 bridge and the four-page #2 to #3 page before we need the rest of it.

The second batch -- the bridge between #2 and #3 -- IS 6 pages. I've just left the mock-ups and FLASH GORDON Bad-Ass Princess images out back at Camp David for Sandeep to scan.

I think this is going to work really well!

Carson Grubaugh said...



Happy to hear that this is working out to your liking!

I just ordered a much better/larger graphics tablet. It should get here on Saturday. Hopefully that will help me speed up and not get cramped hands when tracing the images on the computer so keep the images coming!

Dave Sim said...

Carson - I've skipped to the end -- the bridge between issues 4 and 5 -- and am adjusting the brightness and contrast on the photos, "desaturating" them (making them black and white) and then marking the print-outs after printing out the ones that I'm going to use with their "Carson numbers".

It's a real "method-acting" boon, the way you and Jack did it. They're pretty much covering the floor in the office and I've already got one page just absolutely NAILED by doing it this way. Which is always a good experience. Reading and re-reading and re-re-reading the pages interpolated between the "issues" and the issues themselves, I think my instinct was correct: The further along we go, the more Jack pages I can do without it interfering with the story itself, which means I can do MELMOTH style pacing: letting everything breathe.

Unless I'm missing something unforeseen, I should have all of the bridging pages to you (through Sandeep) in a couple of weeks at the latest. I'm eager to get back to my Commentaries: The Mangler is (spoiler warning!) just about to shoot Rip Kirby!

Carson Grubaugh said...


That is why I composed the narrative framework for myself and tried to use almost exclusively poses/compositions out of SDOAR. It gave me something to method-act around. If I had just showed up and taken a bunch of pictures it would have been a lot of, "I dunno, just pose like a model. Look sexy, or something. What do you do when you close up shop?" Glad my intuition on that worked out.

Oh no! How will Rip get out of this one?! Ha-ha.