Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Dino's Cafe

A few years ago I scanned all of Dave Sim's notebooks. He had filled 36 notebooks during the years he created the monthly Cerebus series, covering issues #20 to 300, plus the other side items -- like the Epic stories, posters and prints, convention speeches etc. A total of 3,281 notebook pages detailing his creative process. I never really got the time to study the notebooks when I had them. Just did a quick look, scanned them in and sent them back to Dave as soon as possible. So this regular column is a chance for me to look through those scans and highlight some of the more interesting pages.

We've looked at Dave Sim's notebook #18 twice before, in The Frustrations of normalroach and Worm Merchant or Grand Lord of Palnu?. It covers Cerebus #136 and #141 of Cerebus and had 64 pages scanned. And similarly to the covers of the other notebooks we've seen  recently, this one is also a Hilroy.

Notebook #18, front cover
One page 45 we see a sketch of Prince Mick and Reggie.

Notebook #18, page 45
Faintly from the other side of page 45 a sketch of Melmoth can be seen. That is page 46 coming through:

Notebook #18, page 46
Notice on page 45 there is more of the Melmoth sketch showing through, that we cannot see on page 46. Nor can see any of the Prince Mick sketch that falls under the cover to Cerebus #139 sketch. We can, however, see the sketch of Reggie under the sketch of Melmoth.

Looking back at page 45 none of the cover sketch of #139 can be seen. Usually with odd stuff I'd make a note when I was scanning the notebook. For example, for page 62 of this notebook I had written " Page 062 is a piece of paper with the cover art, and it is just glued to the notebook page." I didn't make any such notes about page 46, but I'd be willing to hazard a guess that this sketch was drawn in a different notebook, cut out and glued to this one.

For the curious, the sketch is pretty close to the original cover, but there are differences:

Cerebus #139 cover


Travis Pelkie said...

That's...really weird. Because you can kind of see some of the hidden Melmoth and Keef sketches at the top of that cover sketch on 46, and the not-exactly-drawn-with-a-straight-edge borders of the cover sketch can be seen through on 45. And from the scan, it doesn't appear that there are any paper edges, but I could be wrong. Neat.

Travis Pelkie said...

In other comics related to Cerebus sorta kinda news:

On March 1, the third Omnibus of Master of Kung Fu should be released by Marvel. As it covers issues 71-101, it stops just before Gene Day took over on pencils, but he inks the issues prior to that (and hopefully there is a fourth Omnibus coming that will have the Gene Day penciled stuff).

SEP161119 for the Diamond code, for those interested, and here's a link for the Diamond listing:

And in the current Previews catalog, as part of Image's 25th anniversary celebration, there's the Splitting Image 80 page giant, reprinting that 2 issue parody of the Image founders by Don Simpson. But also included is the normalman/Megaton Man Special, which includes a Cerebus cameo.

Code is FEB170579, and you should let your local comic shop purveyor know ASAP. Listing is:

Dave Sim said...

I think what we're looking at is a reduced photocopy of one of my early pencil drawings of normalroach, stripped into a cover logo/cover template and then "inked" with a fine point pen. That is, I would have done the MELMOTH logo and then pasted up how it was supposed to look on the covers and then started figuring out how much space normalroach would take up on the cover based on Gerhard's street design (which he was working on at the same time that I was designing normalroach).

The proportions are wrong. Normalroach wouldn't fit through the door, so this is a good way of figuring that out. Gerhard's Dino's Cafe and street scene are the "fixed commodity".

This might be even earlier than that: me showing Gerhard what Dino's Cafe is supposed to look like (while leaving the place next door up to him). I say that because you can see that he's actually worked out the logistics of how the Cafe would have to work: he's built up the patio and put in steps. You really need to pass it back and forth like this: it makes more sense for me to fit normalroach into Gerhard's background than to draw normalroach and force Gerhard to draw everything proportional to that...

...particularly since I had already decided to make the first few covers fit together as a pan shot. I had a mental image of Dino's Cafe and I wanted Oscar's hotel to be the actual Hotel d'Alsace. Everything else (including how to make them fit together) was up to Gerhard.

It still doesn't Work -- the railing is way too close to the tables and chairs -- but that was part of my point: the cafe was badly designed and, consequently, wasn't very successful.

Dave Sim said...

There's a "lack of consideration" on normalroach's part, as well. Big guy like that, you don't sit in such a way that you're completely blocking any access to the next table. Sit over in the corner. Nope, not normalroach.