Monday, 21 November 2016

The Cerebus-Ending Crisis: Can We Keep Going? - Part 7

A Portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints with Exclusive Commentary by Dave Sim
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel 



The plain answer to: Okay, so why NOT stay in bed 24/7 apart from prayer times and eating?

It was CEREBUS that got me here, which means it's CEREBUS fans who got me here and I'm definitely not unmindful of that. Quite the contrary. It's a lifelong debt I'll never be able to repay. I look at CEREBUS, personally, in that sense, as a metaphorical booster rocket that I shed in 2004. It got me out here to where I am. But, now, personally, I don't need it anymore.

I would, however, I think, be doing a disservice to the hardcore CEREBUS fans if I treated the intellectual property that way: CEREBUS as a species of detritus in my life. So that's a big part of Where We Are: me trying to be supportive of CEREBUS and of CEREBUS fans, of CEREBUS as an intellectual property and of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE on an on-going basis for those people for whom CEREBUS is important while avoiding letting CEREBUS drag me back into a life I managed to escape OR letting CEREBUS bankrupt me trying to keep it on life-support.

We're steadily plodding in the direction, I hope, of CEREBUS fans taking over the basic maintenance involved. A time where I'll be less the hands-on 24/7 President of Aardvark-Vanaheim...

[Which is the present Reality as constituted: President of Aardvark-Vanaheim as the bottom-line description of my physical context in that, as far as I'm concerned, I don't have any personal possessions. Everything of a physically-incarnated nature associated with me belongs TO Aardvark-Vanaheim and IN the Off-White House in perpetuity.]

[It would be nice if -- ten years from now when I'm 70 or fifteen years from now when I'm 75 -- I could just walk away and get a room somewhere with a bed and a chair and a lamp and a mini-fridge and a washroom, one or two changes of clothes and a prayer robe where I could just sleep and read and pray and fast and listen to the Qur'an 24/7. Confident that the Off-White House exists -- that I've done everything possible to preserve CEREBUS for present and future CEREBUS fans and that everything is in there and secure, scanned and restored -- but, to finally be able to say goodbye to the CEREBUS "booster rocket", and to remove myself physically from that context.]

...than CEREBUS' Former First Custodian who finally waved goodbye:

"Everything is in place. Hope some of you get a chance to visit the Off-White House and see everything but I've crossed all the t's I intend to cross and dotted all the i's I intend to dot."

So, that's what I'm working towards. There's a LOT that needs to be done before I can get there and the odds are not good that I will ever get there. But, not being a feminist in the devouring context of the worldwide Feminist Theocracy there aren't any viable lifestyle options alternative to this one, that I can see (and I've examined all possibilities pretty thoroughly) so I might as well -- WE might as well -- persevere in the only avenue open to us as long as we're able to do so.

A lengthy answer, but I hope -- Greg G of Los Angeles CA -- one that clarifies the extent of my personal engagement with CEREBUS. Where that begins and ends in 2016 and for the foreseeable future. I'll get -- WE'll get -- as far as we get with the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Portfolio Project, 10 pages at a time. In order. And that's as far as we're going to get.

Less lengthy Q&A's with our Pledge Partners tomorrow:




Erick said...

why not just become a cloistered monk? That seems to be what you are describing. Now, i am not sure how that works in the Muslim community, although you do not self describe as Muslim if i am not mistaken. I would bet anything that there are communities of like minded individuals who simply want to be left alone to be able to pray and enjoy their life in commune with the Lord or God or Supreme being or however you want to name the infinite.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Interesting to start getting some meat on the bones, aside from the mandatory gratuitous shot at Feminism. A correspondent asked me recently why, if Dave gets nothing from working on Cerebus and if it's costing him money he'll need for his dotage, he doesn't just pack it in.

Reason One is practical: If Dave makes a few bucks from Cerebus then he can support himself and won't have to work a day job or go on the dole (and a 60-year-old, disabled, curmudgeonly, former cartoonist with no real-world job skills is unlikely to be in high demand in the job market). Dave doesn't seem to be a particularly expensive individual to keep, so he doesn't need much of a stipend. And that's good: it's easier to cobble together a smaller amount than a larger amount.

Reason Two is creative: Dave feels he must be a good custodian of the work. In the past he has suggested a debt he owes to the work itself; he believes that Cerebus is a worthwhile work of Literature. Here he puts it as a debt to the readers who supported and support him with our time, attention, and dollars.

Although Dave says that he doesn't need Cerebus any more, I suggest that he does -- for Reason One alone. Borrowing against resources he's going to need is not a good position to be in; it's not as bad as putting the mortgage money on the table, but it's leaning that way. Dave recognizes that this is not sustainable.

A question arises, that perhaps Dave will address in future "TMI" installments: Is this a temporary unsustainable situation? Remastering the work is a significant cost, but it's a one-time cost; remastering new pages in from the wild will be smaller expense on an as-and-when basis. When that job is done, will the money from sales of the phonebooks be sufficient to cover that cost, pay for new printings when needed, and give Dave a livable pension?

There are things I could say about Reason Two, but they slop over into non-"Can We Keep Going?" matters, so I shall reserve comment.

-- Damian

Dave Sim said...

Erick - It says in the Koran, "As to the monastic life, they invented it themselves." That the only instruction was pleasing God "which they observed not as it ought to have been observed". Christian monasticism was really just "coming into its own" in the 7th century, so I tend to see Islam as a "corrective" of that: too much monasticism is like too much feminism. Your replacement birth rate starts to plummet.

Hi Erick! In order to be a monk, you pretty much have to "let go" of Islam. Which is universal in monotheism, in my experience: pick one. Well, I really can't: to me, it's three parts of the same story, beginning, middle and end.

I read somewhere that there does exist a term for people who consider themselves Jews, Christians AND Muslims (besides "crazy people", I mean :)). I'm always willing to discuss monotheism but it's a lot the same thing as feminism. People take anything besides conformity with THEIR views REALLY personally.

Dave Sim said...

Damian - Well, those are all things that we don't know.

Has CEREBUS bottomed-out saleswise (i.e. did we hit bottom already and now we're levelling off or going back up?) or are we still headed for "the bottom"? It's definitely true that the restoration costs are one-time costs but it's an unknown length of time involved. Five years? Ten years? And the periodicity is VERY unpredictable. The CEREBUS volume was tracking down in inventory at Diamond in such a way that it looked as if we could get out of 2016 without another printing but I got a call from Matt today saying they're down to their last 2. It looks as if MINDS is going to be next, so Sandeep's started scanning the artwork from that one and will move on to the negs for the pages we're missing. Ballpark printing bill on CEREBUS and MINDS is around $35K together. As long as Diamond is okay with buying whole print runs -- and so far they're okay with that -- we can keep restoring and keep printing. But I do keep getting to these points where I'm having to keep the price of a new car in the bank account -- intact -- while waiting for a green light from Diamond.

It doesn't make sense in a conventional way: why would you do that at age 60?

Well, that's what I'm trying to explain in this 14-part series.

CEREBUS exists, in my mind, between me and the core CEREBUS fans. If, between us, we can keep going, we'll keep going. If we can't, we can't.

But it is WE. I can't do it completely on my own.

Dave Sim said...

Damian II - Well, I don't FEEL that -- I THINK that. I THINK you have a duty to your creative work to be a good custodian of it if you haven't sold it outright to someone else. Which I haven't done and don't intend to do. You have to own it to have a chance of controlling what happens with it. No guarantees. That's a big part of the challenge: what choices are there and what choices do you have to make in order to maintain control of the intellectual property and allow it to keep going and stay available to the public in the here and now, in the foreseeable future and after you're dead?

It's a smorgasbord of choices in both cases and I've had them in front of me since 1977. Nearly forty years later -- so far, so good.

But, it isn't getting easier.

And there's far more of a sense of "one wrong move..." and "that's all she wrote". Which is why I spend a lot of time explaining my decision-making here on AMOC. People get VERY resentful that you don't do what THEY want you to do and they can "ditch" as a result of that. So, I try to explain why something that they think is just going to have me rolling in my money is (in my view) in the "one wrong move..." category. "He was doing find up until Year 39 and then he decided to do hardcovers..." BAM. Gone in six months.

Michael A Battaglia said...

@ Dave -- Regarding the sales of Cerebus:

I recently watched an interview with you (conducted by Bruce Steel in 1994), and one of the questions posed was (paraphrasing) "why don't you cash in on Cerebus? Why won't you take that meeting with George Lucas?", and your response was that you felt you wouldn't have enough time to work on the comic because you'd be too busy meeting with attorneys and agents, etc. I'm wondering if that same answer would still apply today (given that you remain active as a cartoonist), or if there would be an entirely different answer?

Michael A Battaglia said...

@ Dave -- you answered my question (in your letter to Damian) while I was typing it.

Dave Sim said...

Michael - WAAAAYYY down the line, it's nice to IMAGINE that I'll have everything restored and scanned that needs to be restored and scanned and I'll be all done researching and scripting and mocking up SDOAR and Carson and Karl Stevens will be busily drawing Volume Two or Volume Three and then I can take Oliver's CEREBUS MOVIE and tweak the whole thing.

That would definitely be a "cherry" on top of my career: a CEREBUS movie made completely by volunteer help all sharing equally in the "take" where we all did exactly what we wanted to do and didn't have to "bend" or "break" before the business interests.

But, selling the RIGHTS to do a CEREBUS movie? No, that was never a serious possibility.

Michael A Battaglia said...

Dave - Let me say that I have such deep respect and admiration for your integrity. It is second to none. Truly. You are such an inspiration. Just to know you exist on earth fills me with a sense that God is good.

Regarding SDOAR and--in particular--Ted's ambition to see the book on the NY Time's best seller list--I really do think it stands a chance to be (at least) a critical success (which, in the literary world, can lead to a big increase in numbers). I think it stands a good chance (based on what little I've seen) to attract an entirely new audience. So it's not about whether it's "Dave Sim Ha Ha" material, as it will stand as its own thing entirely. It'll be about the work, not about the contrast to previous work, in other words. It's a very sophisticated piece of literature, at least conceptually, and it's quite unique, and you have to give Ted SOME credit for his instinct, as it seems to have served him fairly well thus far. That all said, I can't help but wonder if you're just trying to quell expectations (being 'realistic' by rounding down instead of projecting up). Instinct aside... the art that I've seen from the project is just breathtaking--really, really phenomenal. With art like that, you could just tell a story about a chair leg or a door knob and it would still be wonderful--so the fact that the story is hugely compelling (again, from what little I've seen) is a great thing. I just can't imagine SDOAR NOT taking off in a huge way. I can see movie rights... someone wins an academy award for best adapted screenplay... etc. I can see that with a fierce clarity.

Michael A Battaglia said...

(I realize I'm contradicting my praise for your integrity with my suggestion that SDOAR could become a film. What I meant was, I can 'see' it as a film. I can't possibly see Cerebus as a film, because your imaginative prowess is far too great a thing to 'adapt', frankly. Also, Cerebus came entirely from within you, where SDOAR has definitive external roots, so it wouldn't seem like a compromise (at least not from my humble (and possibly very ignorant) vantage) to allow it to be adapted for the big screen or even theater).

Dave Sim said...

Michael - I think I owe it to Oliver and the (LITERALLY!) hundreds of volunteer animators to try and make something viable out of what they've done/are doing. Even if "viable" just turns out to be an interesting failed experiment that Oliver & Friends can shlep around to various film festivals.

SDOAR as a film. No, I really don't think so. I think you'll see why when you read it (or, at least, Our Story Thus Far). There will be a core audience for it who will get hooked on the mysteries that I'm addressing. Not a HUGE audience I don't think, but for the people it snags there will be more than enough supplementary material. Just on the 1950 "Return of The Mangler" RIP KIRBY storyline, I must have written a good 200 pages in my RIP KIRBY Commentaries. The problem is, you really need to read RIP KIRBY as a comic strip first and then read what I think Ward Greene was doing with it (pretty much unbeknownst, I think, to Alex Raymond). And RIP KIRBY is just not the sort of thing that people READ in 2016. LOOK at, yes. But it they're going to LOOK at Raymond, they're (99%) going to LOOK at FLASH GORDON. Not RIP KIRBY.

[That's one of the things that I modified from Carson's layouts: the store manager played by Jack knows FLASH GORDON -- she read the IDW collection -- but didn't recognize Alex Raymond's name as the same guy who did FLASH GORDON. I think that has happened/happens/will happen a lot.]

If you like SDOAR, you're going to want to read RIP KIRBY and Eddie is going to post my Commentaries to the Internet. So, you want to know how DEEP this goes? DEEP, we have for you!

MOST people won't react that way. If anything TWIN EARTHS is probably going to get the biggest boost because it's the Feminist Theocracy 20 years before the Feminist Theocracy showed up. Which is good. Any photorealism strip getting attention is better than no photorealistic strip getting attention.

Jeff Seiler said...

Well, Dave, Ah think y'all, Ah say, Ah think y'all *owe* it to me, too, for having done the Elrod voice-over for that movin' pitcher, way back in 20...erm...11(?).

I mean, I attention when Ah'm talkin' atcha, son...Ah say, Ah practiced for a good twenty minutes for that studio recordin'. Record, that is.