Sunday, 25 December 2016

SDOAR: Pencils and Mock-Ups

Here are the last two pages of 'pencils' completed for the first batch of mock-ups Dave sent me. Technically these are the first page of the issue #1 -#2 bridge, and the last page of the issue #2-#3, respetively. I got my parents to pose for the fender-bender scene but played YooHoo and had Mom pretend like she had been driving Dad's truck and Dad pretend that he was driving my car ; )

Apparently there were some mysterious technical hiccups that led to me not getting the mock-ups for the next two sequences right away, even though Sandeep and Dave swear they were sent twice. So, a delay of a couple of days, which was fine by me since I was still struggling to get over a nasty and persistent bout of the common cold. But, all is well. The cold has passed and the mock-ups are in my hands.

Some of that spare time was spent testing out brushes Dave was kind enough to send my way. The idea was to play with how small can I really get these lines since that is something central to SDOAR. The following should give you an idea of how microscopically small you really can get with a brush.

This head was drawn about 2" x 3", so this is already an enlargement.

Here, you can see how small some the lines really must be. All you see when you are drawing is that things are getting darker but no one line stands out as a perceptible line to the eye.

Here I was testing out an idea for how to subordinate the head behind the walking figure as well as playing with line size. The dimensions of the head are the same as above.

A close up on the eye, again, shows how thin of a line Dave is talking about when he says that the Windsor Newton Series 7 #2 brush lets you go razor thin if used correctly. REALLY THIN!

In his re-workings of my narrative and layouts Dave continues to school me in story construction and page design. I had a very set narrative structure in mind when I took the photos, and was trying to elicit specific expressions from Jack. Many of the shots we got I considered wrong. Dave has been able to use all of those stray expressions and make the general narrative structure I proposed 100X stronger, as well as wildly funny.

Here are the first four pages from the second set of mock-ups, as re-assembled by me in Photoshop for my tracing purposes:

I am really glad this next page is going to be in black and white. In color it makes for sickening Op-Art.

I have also learned that if you brag to Dave Sim, "Oh yeah, photostatting. Pshh. I will just draw all of that stuff over and over. I mean, I painted that crazy painting of YooHoo. LIKE, TWICE! This should be cake," he will send you pages upon pages with large amounts of statted images for pretty much the rest of forever. "Here you go tough guy, lets see how long before you cave and just photostat the damned things." Ha-ha. We shall see.
Per Dave, the majority of SDOAR updates will be moved to his Patreon site, where for as little as $1 a month you will have access to all of the work that goes into these pages as it happens. I will still post here at AMOC on a weekly basis to share some of the materials from each week, but on Patreon will share all of my progress as it happens. As soon as a page is traced, it goes up. As soon as it is penciled it goes up. Etc. I will also post all of Dave's mock-ups over the next few days, along with my Photoshop recreations. In the final transition sequence there are a lot of interesting pyrotechnics in Dave's work that are not in my Photoshop versions.

Also, I am considering filming some of the work. If you are all interested.And, if Dave is okay with it, I will post those to both locations.


Travis Pelkie said...

A stop motion look at a drawing and/or a full, uninterrupted look at a drawing, would be something I'd be interested in seeing a video of. Either seeing an image of the drawing every x amount of time, or just a camera aimed at the drawing board for however long it takes to finish an image would be interesting to me.

Especially with these tiny lines!

Dave Kopperman said...

Carson: your linework is vaguely reminiscent of Yanick Paquette. This is a good thing.

Mike Battaglia said...

So are these pages that will eventually appear in SDOAR? How is it going to be credited in the book? Will it be Dave as writer, Carson as illustrator, etc.?

Bill Ritter said...

For what it is worth:
I love AMOC and make my way here several times during the day.

But, for these "behind the scenes" things on SDOAR, I much prefer everything but the rudimentary details or general progress reports to be on Patreon. I'd love for Patreon to be more frequently updated.

The only other creator I'm patroning (? a word?...patronizing? no, that's wrong... :) is Bill Willingham. I think how he is approaching it is fantastic. Something maybe for Dave to model his own patreon on???

(yeah yeah, I know...yet ANOTHER endeavor)

Eddie said...

Hi Bill!

I suggested to Dave to get Carson to start posting his SDOAR work up there, just so that at the least there would be more eye candy and excitement for the patrons to look at other regarding the “front end of the book” rather than the monthly “this is where we are with the research” back end, which I’ve been posting once a month. I’m always worried that I’m going to post a MAJOR reveal or something that Dave’s saving for a real “knock-out punch” in SDOAR, so also tend to err on the side of caution. Almost to the point of paranoia, I guess.

Carson’s said he’s going to be posting more regularly up there as he works on the pages, and given that much of SDOAR is to do with comic drawing techniques and methods, based on what we’ve seen so far, I think it’s going to be pretty fascinating to see the artwork progress.

Just out of curiosity, what does Bill Willingham do on his Patreon page? (yes, it's always the time factor, which is probably the most precious commodity these days!)

Bill Ritter said...

He has multiple levels of support.
$1/month you get short stories and at least 1 new short story post each month

$3/month you get $1 level and novels, with at least 1 chapter per month (draft versions) - essentially a first reader (and he's taking feedback, questions, critiques)

$5/month you get the prior levels, and essays, notes, and thoughts on writing (and business of writing). Plus, interestingly, story ideas he's had that he's likely not going to get around to doing anything with.

$7.50/month is gaming stuff (Willingham had his early work in games/RPGs, etc)

$10/month you get behind the scenes, manuscripts, research stuff, sketchbook pages, etc. - he has limited this level to 100 people.

Willingham has tailored his patreon to $10 or less. He's discouraging higher pledges.

Eddie said...

Willingham sounds a bit complicated. You got any Willinglamb? (I kid, I kid).

It’s interesting he’s trying to discourage pledges over $10. I know Dave wanted the Patreon page to be mostly SDOR centered, and given where we are right now on it, I don’t think tier levels would work (as opposed to say, the Cerebus Kickstarters or if there was ever a SDOAR Kickstarter), partly due to a KISS model needed to keep everything going. It might be more feasible once the book comes out and there’s more behind the scenes stuff that can be shown, but it might add a layer of complexity and time to everything as well. Especially as SDOAR will still be a work in progress even after the first book (God Willing) comes out. Again, this is all just my first impression / opinion, and might have no bearing on how anything actually plays out.

Carson Grubaugh said...

Travis: Good to know. That is what I was thinking people might like to see. I love watching videos of people ink!

Dave K. : Thank you. I love Paquette's work. It is a really smart combination of Kevin Nowlan and Adam Hughes.

Mike: Yes these pages will be published in SDOAR as bridging sequences between what were originally intended to be released as single issues. I assume I would be credited as the illustrator and Dave as the writer? It is a unique way of writing and designing pages, like if the Marvel Style had Stan re-designing and expanding upon the layouts after the artist fleshed out Stan's story synopsis in rough thumbnails. I love it! Maybe we innovated a new scripting style?

Eddie/Bill: It makes sense to me. A lot of content was being given away for free while people were paying for exclusives on exactly this content. My goal it to update the Patrons any day I have completed the next stage of any given page. So, every day or two.

Dave Sim said...

Travis! Great idea on the video of Carson working. Best part: I don't have to do anything!

Mike! I haven't really come up with how Carson's work is going to be credited. As he says, I think we've come up with a previously untried means of doing photorealistic comic art and we are now facing what (in a different context) Stan Lee went through with Steve Ditko.

Ditko wasn't just the artist, he was creating the narrative in a real sense, so crediting him as "artist" diminishes what he did. This case is even more complicated because I did a rough mock-up of the bridging material first, which Carson read as part of the SDOAR completed to date and then created his own intro based on that. Then, I told Carson to create his own bridging narratives based on what he saw me do -- using the photos of Jack -- and send me all of the photos that he thought were useable.

So, I "read" his narrative which was really just a series of photos and explanatory notes (roughly what Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby would write in the margins for Stan Lee) and went "Okay, that's pretty close, but let's get a little trickier with it." And then went "Okay, let's get a LOT trickier with it."

Dave Sim said...

Mike II - So, I don't know how you would describe that.

PHOTOS & ILLUSTRATIONS by Carson Grubaugh TEXT by Dave Sim

That diminishes my part in it --I did more than just the text -- but not to any troubling degree. Anything you list me as having done visually -- LAYOUT, COMPOSITION, NARRATIVE -- is going to diminish what Carson's doing. And on the parts that I did solo -- the five "issues" of SDOAR -- I already have my credits hand-lettered as part of the inside front cover and first couple of pages.

My preference is to print the credits on the stuff that Carson and I do together the same way they were done in the Warren magazines: as a typed line under the first page or splash page.

But, we're still a ways away from those kinds of decisions.

Dave Sim said...

Bill Ritter - With all due deference to Bill Willingham -- arguably the biggest name to sign the "I Don't Believe Dave Sim Is a Mosogynist" petition (WAY at the beginning and thank you, Bill!) -- we're really in completely different situations. Bill doesn't have a 6,000-page graphic novel to figure out how to finance being restored and kept in print while also trying to figure out how to keep a creative work he has no idea how long it is moving forward "seven years in".

According to Tim W's numbers/chart that he posted after the latest Kickstarter, we've already raised close to $200,000. That's the good news. The bad news is, a) all that money's gone and b) we're only halfway through the restoration.

My way of saying, I'm ENCOURAGING higher pledges! High as you can get them!

Once CEREBUS is completely restored and in print and SDOAR is done, I'll be glad to focus on tailoring the Patreon site to smaller pledges.

And thanks for patronizing me! In the nice way!

Dave Sim said...

Eddie makes a good point: if you want to avoid having SDOAR "spoiled" for you, you're probably better off not reading anything that either of us is posting to Patreon or talking about here. I'm really not concerned about "spoiler warnings" -- if a story's worth reading, it's worth reading -- and Eddie isn't privy to what might be a central SHOCK SURPRISE so it's good that as a surrogate reader for "you all" that he's being paranoid about it.

Eddie, maybe a good rule of thumb is to post interesting primary source materials -- that is copies of actual period letters. I thought the correspondence between the Alumni Head at Suwannee University, Ward Greene and Walt Disney Studios about maybe having a premiere of LADY AND THE TRAMP at the University when it came out is pretty interesting. I mean, it's oblique: Ward Greene wrote RIP KIRBY and was partly responsible for LADY AND THE TRAMP (a loooonnnnggg story). But, do we have to get into that?

"Here, this is interesting".

But...but...where does it fit in?

It's Dave Sim's Patreon site. What did you expect?

Dave Sim said...

Carson - Typical Off-White House stuff: I had two post-it notes with Alex Raymond RIP KIRBY strips with brush cross-hatching on them and one of the post-it notes disappeared.

The one I've got is:

2/18/55 - Honey Dorian's top is brush; the shadow on the pillow is brush-and-pen cross-hatching (i.e. pen in one direction, brush in the other)

1-13-56 - brush cross-hatching on the ship's timbers in the background.

Mike Battaglia said...

Hi Dave (hi Carson),

If I may make a suggestion, re creative credits for Carson: I would think a simple "note on the process" -- totally detailing Carson's input -- would suffice(?). Given that it's an interesting dynamic and new form of scripting, it would seem to almost warrant that detailing, and it would make for an engaging read to boot. It kills multiple birds, because it absolutely defines the process for the reader without having to alter the already laid-out interior cover credits, and it credits Carson for his hard work while maintaining that it's a Dave Sim-wrought vehicle.

Whatever happens, history shows that you (Dave) are fair if not outright generous in your dealings with other artists, but it's very interesting to get a glimpse as to how this will unfold, given it's relatively uncharted stuff.

Carson Grubaugh said...

Hi Dave,

I will give thise dates a close study. Thank you!

Hi Mike,

I think, hope, I have been overly detailed about the whole thing here on AMOC. You can go back and compare my initial layouts and notes to what Dave is now sending me.

As I have said a few times, it is so much better working with someone who is a killer artist as well as a writer than it is with a pure writer. Dave is a blast to collaborate with. He gave me a ton of latitude so I am sure to have fun and feel some ownership/pride in the product, then made everything really easy, more exciting, as well by filling in all of the depth. I crack up multiple times when I get his layouts and dialouge.

Dave Sim said...

Carson - What we have to hope now -- as Sandeep and I had to hope between January and June of this year with CEREBUS IN HELL? -- is that it isn't just the two of us sharing a psychological pathology in thinking this stuff is funny. My life really hasn't changed a bit in that way in decades now. You won't, I can pretty much guarantee you, get any reassurance on that score. Travis' is still the only online review of CEREBUS IN HELL? #0. If people thought it was, you know, funny, wouldn't they say so?

As they used to say in the old Westerns, "Maybe TOO quiet."

Dave Sim said...

Mike III - Actually, SDOAR Volume One is just going to be SDOAR Volume One. There won't even be annotations in the back. Ted Adams and I had several long discussions about that. To annotate Volume One properly would require adding at least 50% more pages. Adding 50% more pages would push us into a page count that would make a $19.95 price point unfeasible.

I've been persuaded by Ted that the possibility of the book being successful hinges on keeping within those fixed parameters. 100 or so pages and either people "get it" or they don't. For those who "get it", we (that is, Eddie) would post the annotations online.


I think the fact that no one besides Travis has reviewed CEREBUS IN HELL #0 reinforces my perception of the political context we all inhabit. Dave Sim and his work will get the universal Silent Treatment for the rest of his life. Which is fine by me. All I can do is try to hold onto however few number of fans I have.

As long as I can, I keep working.

Explaining how Carson and I worked on the bridging material would be in the same category. It takes too much space to explain properly and if you don't explain it properly all you're going to do is confuse people. And really, there are just a handful of people all staring intently at me and not saying anything and that's been the case since the mid-90s. I don't think that's going to change.

Dave Sim said...

Mike IV - That's why I explain as much as I can here at AMOC. After I'm dead and after Carson is dead, someone is going to have to explain the methodology that Carson and I came up with. Which, I'm afraid is going to end up being the job of all you nice folks Staring At Me, because you are, have been and will be the only ones interested.

Everyone else takes it as a given that because Dave Sim isn't a feminist nothing he has done, is doing or ever will do has any value. Those Political Context people don't revisit questions like that. They make you not exist and expect everyone to toe the line. Which, all anecdotal exceptions duly noted, everyone does, has done and will do.

I don't think there's a scrap of evidence that refutes that model of reality. Be nice if there was, but there isn't.

Dave Sim said...

I also need to mention that my one regret out of what I did with Carson's photos was that I didn't find a way to use the photo where Jack is supposed to be looking angry and is trying not to laugh instead.

Carson! Count yourself lucky. That expression would have been a B**TCH to capture on paper.

Mike Battaglia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Travis Pelkie said...

Uh, I think one reason people aren't reviewing CIH? 0 is also that most comics site reviewers get their comics via PDF from the publishers. Most of them aren't like me, who would have bought the issue regardless and also happened to have a platform to review it.

So I'd suggest if you get time (HAHAHA!), you should look for the sites that posted about CIH? before it came out (Heidi McDonald at the Beat, for one), and see if there is some email to send review copies to at that site. If I get a chance tomorrow, I'll send your helper Sandwall TooDeep an email (that's his name, right? ;) ) and pass along a couple of email addresses of possibly interested people that you might send preview/review copies to.

Mike Battaglia said...

Travis, I like your response much more than mine! I haven't been involved in the comic industry or community as a fan or otherwise since 2004, so I'm totally out of the loop. Probably should just keep my mouth shut and not waste space and time with guess-work.

Carson Grubaugh said...

I think I know exactly which shot you are talking about. It is a profile shot that is trying to mimic that iconic Nightingale brush-stroke test image, right?

That was near the end of the shoot, everyone was getting tired, Jack was running late for a concert she wanted to check out (her fault for leaving the outfit at home, I say!), and in those pics, if you read the lips carefully, you can see she was shouting "F**K Dave Sim." We all started cracking up.

Jim Sheridan said...

I think the reason people aren't reviewing Cerebus In Hell is that it's not what they want to read.

Fumetti is not popular.

Short comic strips seem to be a dying medium.

People expect wonderful new drawing and clever storytelling from Dave Sim. Cerebus In Hell does not offer those.

This reminds me of the silence that ensued when Eddie Vedder, singer of Pearl Jam, released his solo ukulele album. It was utterly ignored. It was not an electric rock album. When it was mentioned at all, it was a punch line.

Dave Sim said...

Jim Sheridan - Gee, thanks, Jim! :)

Jim Sheridan said...

Dave, no insult intended. To clarify:

the CIH strips don't offer your remarkable drawing skills. You set the bar very high with your drawing in Cerebus, as well as the innovative page structures. CIH has some fun visual arrangements but doesn't compare.

Cerebus had very thoughtful storytelling. Even the very short pieces in Epic Magazine were notable for their successful silent narratives. The CIH strips are mini gags, some very witty, but they are not about visual storytelling or character development or thoughtful exploration of theme.

I realize that these strips are not MEANT to be those other things. However, I think you're in that "Eddie Vedder with a ukulele" position here.

Mike Battaglia said...

That Batvark™ codpiece, though...

Dave Sim said...

Hi Jim! - Well, for no insult intended, you're being pointedly insulting. :)

We put a lot of time and energy into the CEREBUS IN HELL? strips. We are definitely getting very little feedback on them so, obviously, by making it sound as if they're as completely or near-to-completely valueless as you are (compelled inference) opens the possibility that that's what's going on. So, it isn't "I don't like them" and here's why it's "No one likes them" -- or perhaps "No one SHOULD like them" -- and here's why.

I'm sure you'll have a certain amount of success advancing that viewpoint. An unknown percentage of the AMOC audience is really just looking for (with apologies to Neil Gaiman) "300 Good Reasons to Resent Dave Sim". I'm not sure why "resentment of Dave Sim" is considered the best possible default setting in all circumstances (from Neil Gaiman on down) but, well, there it is.

But, obviously, Sandeep and I hope you don't have TOO much success with it.

Dave Sim said...

Mike - I appreciate it. That was one of those times, where I was chuckling to myself as soon as I got the first little Batvark stuck on the front of Super-Cerebus.

There's another two Batvark codpiece strips coming up this month! Just for you!

Jeff Seiler said...

FWIW, here's another review of Cerebus In Hell?#0, by my brother after I bought him a copy while I was visiting him in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he resides:

"It's very wordy."

Mike Battaglia said...

Dave -

While on the subject of CiH: is there any chance that it's (on some level) a continuation of the comic? As in, we go from Cerebus screaming "the light has got Cerebus... help!" to what we now see in CiH? The reason I ask is I just went back and read all of them to get a feel for how they read in long-form, and I started noticing something that I hadn't when just reading them a few at a time each week: a strange undertow or 'vibe' (for lack of a better word) that permeates throughout and is hitting me like a very, very subtle narrative. I'm 90 percent sure that I'm imagining it, but... I guess I'm hoping that the 10 percent chance I'm onto something might have some legs under it. I picked up on some other things too... I need more time to digest.

Jim Sheridan said...


Note that I didn't say that I think CIH is bad. I also don't think Eddie Vedder's ukulele album is bad, and yes, I do own it.

My point was that when someone has achieved true excellence in one area, and really remarkable, one-of-a-kind excellence, sometimes that person's shift to something completely different just doesn't register with the public.

I love Bob Dylan, but I wasn't surprised that his album of classic Christmas songs a few years back was met with bemusement and indifference. Bob Dylan is famous for writing his own lyrics and constructing his own melodies.

I think if ANY great cartoonist or writer from long-form comics decided to switch to fumetti, it would not garner much interest. Maybe someone who frequently uses short form / gag strips would have an easier time. Maybe not. When's the last time that fumetti by ANYONE got much attention?

I love Steve Gerber's writing and have for decades. He tried doing a Howard the Duck daily strip back when Howard was still very hot. It didnt work, and hardly anyone knows about that daily strip now.

I don't disparage your work as an artist; quite the opposite. You're a great cartoonist. I also praise your scripting of Cerebus to the moon and back.

I do maintain that fumetti is not a popular art form. I do maintain that the CIH strips don't offer new examples of your drawing skills. I do maintain that CIH doesn't offer the kind of extended narrative development that made you famous. Those are 3 things I'd find it hard to disprove before breakfast.

None of that changes the excellence of Cerebus or the skill shown in Glamourpuss, just as Dylan's Christmas album doesn't negate The Basement Tapes or Blood on the Tracks. I didn't hear Dylan express any surprise that his Christmas album disappeared; I'm just surprised that you see surprised that a fumetti strip is not getting much attention.