Monday 17 July 2023

TL:DW: The Bizarre Autopsy of The Strange Death of Alex Raymond: What went wrong, AND HOW! (The July 2020 Please Hold For Dave Sim) TRANSCRIPT

Hi, Everybody!

Well we found out who this broad is dressed as:

Craig Johnson said:
The cosplay is from Seraph of the End, character is Krul Tepes, a female vampire.


What do I win?
Google turned up:

I faxed this and Craig's comment/question to Dave and got an answer:
So, there ya go Craig. You're a winner, get Dave your address, or give it to me and I'LL get it to Dave...

Over on the Faceybookees, I had this turn up as a memory:

Pretty sure if we polled today, I'd get two & half votes. (Beer will only give me half a vote until I pay him. The wife and kids won't vote for me.)

Anyway, speaking of Cerebus Superfan Jesse Lee Herndon, he's also a MULTIPLE Special Friend to the Blog for transcribing the Please Hold videos. Let's run another one...
Here's where I'm at (blue link means it's been posted):
1/2020 2/2020 3/2020 4/2020 5/2020 6/2020 7/2020 8/2020 9/2020 10/2020 11/2020 12/2020
1/2021 2/2021 3/2021 4/2021 5/2021 6/2021 7/2021 8/2021 9/2021 10/2021 11/2021 12/2021
1/2022 2/2022 3/2022 4/2022 5/2022 6/2022 7/2022 8/2022 9/2022 10/2022 11/2022 12/2022 
1/2023 2/2023 3/2023 4/2023 5/2023 6/2023 7/2023

The Bizarre Autopsy of The Strange Death of Alex Raymond: What went wrong, AND HOW! (The July 2020 Please Hold For Dave Sim)
Junior Edition:

The blood on the sword always gets me...

Matt: …to do her bit. So we’re gonna quick do her, and then we’ll pick where we left off with numbering.
Dave: Hi Janis!
Janis: Hi!
Matt: Okay. Ask your questions.
Janis: We don’t have questions.
Matt: What do you mean, you don’t have questions?! You wanted to talk to Dave, you have to have a question, that’s how this works.
Janis: I just wanted to tell you that I read the first book of Cerebus.
Dave: Well! That’s great! That’s great. Did you like it?
Janis: Yeah!
Matt: Are you gonna read more?
Janis: Yeah.
Dave: Ask your Dad which ones you can read, cause, you’re too young to read most of them.
Matt: Well, I can show her the “Amelia Rules” crossover!
Dave: [laughs] I don’t know, do you wanna scare her to death?
Matt: I’ll show it to ya later, you’ll understand when you see it, kid.
Janis: Okay.
Dave: Are you having a good summer, Janis Pearl?
Janis: Yeah.
Dave: Are ya? Is the weather good?
Janis: Yeah.
Dave: What was your friend’s name that was with ya last time?
Janis: Alayna.
Dave: Alayna. Are you still having fun with Alayna this summer?
Janis: Um, she’s in Florida with her Dad but I’ve been calling her and we’ve been talking.
Dave: Oh, good! Good.
Janis: Mm-hmm.
Dave: So is she having a good time in Florida?
Janis: Yeah.
Dave: I’ll betcha. Maybe you’ll go to the Florida someday.
Janis: We are, maybe. It depends.
Matt: Christmas is the tentative as long as the world doesn’t end.
Dave: [laughs] We will see. We will see. Very nice to talk to you, Janis. Can you do the “Please Hold for Dave Sim” so your Dad can dub that in at the beginning?
Matt: Just say, “Please Hold for Dave Sim”.
Janis: Please hold for Dave Sim.
Dave: Beautiful!
Matt: Alright. You got everything?
Janis: Yes.
Matt: There’s nothing you can think of. You’re gonna run away now?
Janis: Yes.
Matt: Alright.
Janis: Goodbye!
Dave: Goodbye! Talk to you again.
Janis: Talk to you. Bye!
Matt: And we return… so, speaking of numbering, when I got the “Walt’s Empire” in, I opened the box, I’m like, okay, yeah they’re numbered. I’m startin’ to pull them out, I’m like, wait a minute, they’re not sequential, it’s just kinda random. And I’m like, no, they are sequential, but it’s one of these “Dave signed 10, set them aside. Dave signed 10, set them side.” So then I spent 20 minutes puttin’ all of them in order, and writin’ down what numbers I had, so that when I did the blog post about it, I could say, “these are the numbers I have, if you want your CAN number and I have it, I will give you that number.” And Larry Wooten was one of the first guys to respond of, “yes, I want one and my CAN number is 11” and I don’t have 11. But I had 110, so I signed it to him and circled the number and wrote on the back, “you just gotta subtract 99”.
Dave: There you go. There you go. Yes, count your blessings.
Matt: And then, there was somebody else, they wanted… uhh… si…
What the hell was I thinking when I colored this?

Dave: Okay. Could you autograph a few of the “Walt’s Empire” and mail them back to the Archive?
Matt: Sure!
Dave: Alright.
Matt: Uh, hold on a sec. Janis! She really wants to do ‘Please Hold for Dave Sim Junior’ cause I made her read Cerebus #1.
Janis: Yeah?
Matt: It’s time!
Janis: I’m not ready yet.
Matt: Well, you gotta get ready, kid!
Janis: I’m almost!
Dave: [laughs]
Dave: [laughs]
Matt: Alright, well, I will hold for time. I made her draw Cerebus and write “Please Hold for Dave Sim Junior”. She’s finishing the drawing. I mean, we can get started without her, I guess, and she can come in later.
Dave: That would be a very weird “Please Hold for Dave Sim” though, that you’re already talking to Dave Sim, and that’s when she says, “Please Hold for Dave Sim”.
Matt: [laughs] Well, yeah, but I can edit it.
Dave: Well, this is true. This is true. Okay, I will… have you started recording?
Matt: Yeah.
Dave: Okay.
Matt: I wrote an intro for this one, so let’s see if I can get it to work.
Dave: Okay.
Matt: Hello, and welcome to this July 2020 “Please Hold for Dave Sim”, which this month we’re calling, [Peter Lorre voice] “The Bizarre Autopsy of ‘the Strange Death of Alex Raymond’: What went wrong and how!” I’m A Moment of a Cerebus interim editor ‘Manly’ Matt Dow and with me again is Dave Sim!
Dave: That was a pretty good Peter Lorre impersonation you did there.
Matt: Over the years I’ve worked on it, to where it’s fairly decent.
Dave: Okay.
Matt: The best one is when I’ll be at work and I’ll get a song stuck in my head and I’ll start singin’ it in Peter Lorre’s voice in my head, and I’m like, pop songs with Peter Lorre really don’t work, but at the same time, it makes me laugh.
Dave: Someday “Ren and Stimpy” are coming back. You will have a job for life.
Matt: Well, they’re bringin’ “Beavis and Butt-head” back.
Dave: Are they? Well, okay, that’s really not in the same category as I’m concerned, but anyway. I got a fax from Eddie Khanna, a relayed fax from Daud Sutton. Daud is the Muslim-Arabic version of David. The date is, what is it here, the 23rd June 2020, “Dear Dave, I’m going to go out on a limb here. As-salamu alaykum. I started reading Cerebus in my early teens around 1985, 86. By the time I was in my early 20s I was on the verge of converting to Islam. I stopped reading Cerebus because I was increasingly uncomfortable with where it seemed to be going, in terms of a religious concept. Little did I know that it was part of your journey to some surprisingly similar conclusions, which I only learned about in recent years. Now I am sure of two things, firstly, that our metaphysics and theology differs considerably in places, while ultimately less so than either of us differs with the abnormal norms of today. At least in many nations. And secondly, that your practices and observances are far more rigorous and disciplined than mine, which I always find admirable. I understand entirely having had enough of an endeavor that seems fruitless. I won’t go into personal details by way of justification. However, since we share at least some notable common ground in faith, scripture, and sacred history, I’d like to mention the lesson of the prophet Muhammad’s return to Bakkah. Turned back from pilgrimage one year and accepting this to avoid conflict, he was unexpectedly welcomed with open armed enthusiasm the next year on the same journey and surah al-fath, which translates as ‘the victory’ was revealed. Verses 1 to 3 below. “In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful, verily we have granted thee a manifest victory, that God may forgive thine earlier and later faults in the past and those to follow. Fulfill his favor to three and guide thee on the straight way and that God may help thee with powerful help.” Knowing and accepting one’s limits is indeed proven and humble, despairing of future possibilities even ‘impossible’ ones is neither. I believe that SDoAR is a most worthwhile and brilliant endeavor and would personally love to see it completed. I ask only that you consider remaining open to the possibility of your future involvement with the project, should the opportunity to do so, fruitly and appropriately arrive. With all best wishes, Daud.” So, that’s a… really really elevated level of looking at this. To even suggest drawing an analogy between the situation the prophet Muhammad found himself in, and yes, he was welcomed with open armed enthusiasm the following year and was able to personally destroy all 180 of the pagan idols that were around the circumference of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. I don’t think this is really in that same category even indirectly, but the fact that somebody thinks that, okay, yes, I do have to take that into consideration. Where… I think it was Michael R who…
Matt: Yeah.
Dave: The… “where did you see SDoAR coming to an end? Was it sudden of kinda creepin' along?”
Dave: “What was the straw that broke your back?” It was sort of a simultaneous thing, because basically this was, I got as far as page… let me just check real quick here. How far does Volume Two go? Uhh… bear with me a moment. 251, 252… 255 to the end of Volume Two, and then 22 pages in Volume Three, so we’re up at 277 pages. Then the idea was, okay, I would stop now that Volume Two is done and was being tweaked and we were at the end of the tweaks for Volume Two. Okay, now it’s time to take a break and promote the book. The fact that I stopped working in December of last year and switched completely to the California trip, “The Death of a Comics Salesman” sales trip, through all 190 California comic book stores, that was… a very prudent, I think, use of very scarce resources. Not a heck of a lot of money on hand and not a heck of a lot of time, I am slowing down dramatically, so it really amounted to at least dozens and dozens of hours, probably close to a hundred hours of telephoning and hundreds and hundreds of dollars paying for the phone calls and paying for all of Roly’s research on where all of these stores are, and where the addresses are and getting contact names from everybody. But the whole thing had to go off like clockwork. The idea was to have the best possible current information, and the idea being that if I do all of this phone calling in December and January, that information will still be reasonably current by the time I’m doing the sales trip in the end of May and all of June and all of July. The fact that COVID-19 hit when it did just blew all of that to pieces because the information is now definitely not going to be correct. How many of these stores have gone out of business? How many of these stores have completely rearranged their business model? So, it was a complete waste of all of my time and all of the money that I sunk into it for this one time event thing. Even if things got back to vaguely normal, Los Angeles and Sacramento and San Francisco are going to be the last places that get back to normal, back to the kind of, “yeah, Grandpa just decided to fly in from Canada and travel around to all of these different comic book stores and sleep on people’s couches and stay in Motel 8 and Super 6” and its just not going to happen. So, consequently, it wasn’t a matter of, “okay, well, then I just stop doing that and just go back to working on ‘Strange Death of Alex Raymond’.” It’s like, no, it has to be timed so that the promotion actually helps the sales of the book. It had to be promoted, it can’t just be, as everything else is done in the comic book field, throw it at the wall, see if it sticks. That wasn’t gonna work for the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”. As the situation evolved, I mean, I was selling pages to Heritage Auction to make enough money to make this happen, now this wasn’t happening, but the auctions were still going ahead, so that just went into general revenue, and all that money is gone. The money for the fund-raising edition. So it’s, okay, this can’t be done the way that I think that it needs to be done. Consequently, my best assessment is, this just can’t be done. That doesn’t mean that something can’t be done with it. One of the things that I want to do is just take all of the information that I spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and at least dozens and dozens of hours on the phone, and send it to Carson Grubaugh. It’s like, Carson, here, you live in California. Here’s all of the information that I had about California, I think if you want to do a “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” book you’re going to have to promote a California edition. You don’t want to do that, that’s fine, but I’m gonna send you the information so that it’s off of my desk and onto yours. Then it got into the situation of, “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” was being done the same way that “Judenhass” was done, which was, I’m not letting go of this until it’s exactly the way that I want it to be. And the situation that evolved out of that was… looking at Volume Two, when Carson was done inking basically from my mock-up the last 30 or 40 pages of the book… I looked at it and I went, “well, this isn’t what I wanted it to be.” So consequently, I’m doing exactly what I said I wasn’t going to do with “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” which is letting go of it before it’s exactly the way that I want it to be. Even in terms of proofreading and critiquing Volume One and Volume Two, it was… the pages are still too small. They’re not way too small, but they’re too small relative to what size that I think that they need to be, now that we know that this is the size that the book is going to be. So there was no point of me going any further with that until Sean and I got figured out, okay, what size do the pages need to be? Getting $50 copies of Volume One and Volume Two done at Studiocomix Press because I’m only printing one of them and they’re very very expensive and saying, okay I’ve gotta fix the stuff that I’m looking at because if I’m looking at something that I don’t want in there, then I’m not looking at anything else. So, I have to say that Carson’s work on Volume One is exactly what I wanted. This whole thing started as “Glamourpuss” and “Glamourpass” started as, I wanted to be pretend to be Al Williamson.
Dave: …buy fashion magazines and look through them, looking for Al Williamson girls in Al Williamson outfits and penciling and inking them. That’s… putting words on the page was like a sloppy afterthought. “Oh right, it’s a comic book. Gotta have words in it too.” But that really didn’t interest me, so it was like, okay, I’ll just talk about the photo-realists. If I had stuck with that, then it would have been fine. But I got fished in, and I say fished in in a very large metaphysical sense, because I had been bright enough in my early 20s to say I don’t want to be doing Cerebus when I’m no longer competent to do it, as Al Foster said about himself on “Prince Valiant”. Which is why I said, okay, I’ll only do until I’m in my mid-40s, late 40s and assume I’ll be at, at least, close to the peak of my abilities at that point. Which is what it turned out to be. What I didn’t anticipate was that that’s got it’s own comics art metaphysics to it, which is, okay, you passed that test when you were in your 20s, now we’ve got a test comic up for you in your 50s, where you’re going to say, “okay, this is a comic book that I want to do. I’m just gonna have fun with it. I don’t want to get into some giant morass again, as Cerebus ended up being.” And that’s exactly what happened, because I didn’t anticipate, well, okay you’re gonna start talking about the car accident. You start talking about the car accident, well, I’ll have to go back and pull out the couple of articles that I’ve got on it, and read it, and start picturing it as comic pages. And it’s like, when I look at it going, “this doesn’t make any sense at all.” I mean, I’m trying to read this in terms of I have to turn these into comic pages, and I’m not seeing it. I hadn’t realized before how little sense any of this made when I first read these articles. Which had been, ya know, some years before. What I also didn’t anticipate was Eddie Khanna getting equally enthusiastic about this, giving me research material. Ask Eddie, “can you see what you can find about this? Can you see what you can find about that?” And the story started taking shape, but the story was huge, and it was… it wasn’t just huge, it was impossible huge. The same thing that happened to Chester Brown on “Underwater”, where he started doing “Underwater” as how a child gradually learns language and learns what words mean and the associated meanings of them, and realized however many issues he got into “Underwater” that, “okay, I’m already this many issues in and I don’t think I’m even like a 5th of the way through the story.” So essentially just had to abandon them, and you never want to have that happen as a creator, but at a specific point, you have to realize, okay, that is happening or that has happened with the book that I’m working on, “Strange Death of Alex Raymond.” So let me go sideways from that to say, having made the decision that, no, I’m not going to keep mocking up pages and I’m not going to keep going ahead on a page by page by page by page basis, then I started thinking, okay, what’s a good analogy of it? Was the experience with F Scott Fitzgerald and “The Last Tycoon”, which was his uncompleted final novel, uncompleted at the time of his death. I thought I had that in “The Crack-Up”, but I actually got that in a separate book, “The Last Tycoon” with an introduction by Edmund Wilson, who headed up I think writing the end of “The Last Tycoon” from Scott Fitzgerald’s notes. But I did that because it is a very interesting book, but I found myself more interesting in all of the threads that got left at the end, then I was in the book itself. Although the book is very very good, Wilson is right that this is a very mature F Scott Fitzgerald in his early 40s doing his best to produce a work of literature. Unfortunately, then he started drinking and he actually wrote a couple of scenes with major drinking in them and at that point it was pretty much all over. But, there is a section in there where he is writing an outline “The Last Tycoon” for the publisher of the book and a magazine that he’s hoping will serialize “The Last Tycoon” in advance of the novel coming out. And it’s interesting because Edmund Wilson is writing the introduction to this section and is talking about, “this is what you’re about to read, F Scott Fitzgerald writing to his book publisher and a magazine publisher about his hope for sterilization.” And it’s literally in there, it’s supposed to be serialization, but it’s “sterilization”..
Matt: [laughs]
Dave: Cause, I don’t know who the magazine was, he was very cautious about not mentioning the actual magazine, but sounded like they didn’t want anything in there that looked even remotely risque or not completely mainstream middle America type of thing. So it’s a very interesting section in terms of, here’s Scott Fitzgerald having to describe the rest of his book to people who he has a real stake in winning over to. So that’s one of the things that I’m hoping to do, to write a “if I die in 6 months, here’s my best efforts at writing out here’s what the ‘Strange Death of Alex Raymond’ is about.”
Dave: And even thinking of going further than that, because there’s… we’ve got this minuscule audience for this. But the minuscule audience takes a hundred different forms. They all want to read “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” but they all want to read it for different reasons. A lot of them just want to read it to find out, “okay, what happened?” and it’s like, what happened is actually a very very small part of what it is that I’m doing and what I’ve gotten myself into here. But at the same time, it would probably be the easiest thing to communicate. You don’t actually have to buy Volume One, you don’t have to buy Volume Two, I’ll just tell you what I think happened. And it’s gonna require a few digressions, but I can say, this is what I’m pretty sure happened on September 6th, 1956. This happened, this happened, and this happened. All of it extrapolated from the comic art metaphysics that I’ve been studying. So I’m almost tempted here to just go ahead and like blurt it out.
Matt: [laughs]
Dave: If you’re one of those spoiler warning people who want to go, “oh no, I don’t wanna know what Rosebud is!” it’s like, okay, well, stop listening right now to everybody else, are going, “yeah, I’ve always been curious about that. I’m not sure I’d ever want to actually read a book about it, or a graphic novel about it. Pretty sure I don’t want to read four or five graphic novels about it. But yeah, I would like to know, okay, what is the cut to the chase bottom line, here’s what Dave Sim thinks happened, having studied this whole thing for the last 12 years.” So I think what I’m gonna do is leave that part of it and say, okay, if you wanna discuss this on A Moment of Cerebus, and there seems like there’s a bunch of people who do want to discuss this, well, there you go. That’s one of the things that you can discuss, like, how comfortable are you with the being in existence, where I just go, “okay, shorthand, let’s say, takes me about 8 pages, 10 pages, to just explain ‘this happens and then this happens and then this happens and then this happens and then this happens and then this happens, and then the end.’” Like that. One of the reasons that I would like to do that is because I don’t want to tell Carson Grubaugh, “okay, you’re fired off ‘Strange Death of Alex Raymond’”, but definitely looking at the pages that he did from my mock-up in Volume Two, it’s like, it really doesn’t look like Al Williamson. Which was the whole idea, again, right from the beginning of “Glamourpuss” was, I want to do an Al Williamson comic book and this was the subject matter I wanna do. Which Al Williamson would never have done. He would be absolutely appalled that I was even thinking of doing the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” and saying anything even remotely detrimental about Alex Raymond, but I’m not really talking about pleasing Al Williamson, I’m talking about doing Al Williamson to the best of my ability and Carson doing it to the best of his ability. That could only have gone on for so long, because Carson is definitely not an Al Williamson fan. As he actually said to me, “what is it that you see in Al Williamson? Cause I don’t see it.” It’s like, he sees… yeah, Stan Drake. Stan Drake is definitely something that he goes, “yeah, right no.” Alex Raymond, not as much as Stan Drake, but a big Raymond fan? Yes. I can see doing this. I think it’s just excruciating even imagining making Carson Grubaugh do Al Williamson when it would, “well, no, I want to do good photorealism art and Al Williamson, to me, isn’t good photorealism art. I don’t like his stuff.” And it’s like, well, okay, but you weren’t here at the beginning. But I don’t want to rule out the possibility of, “why can’t Carson do his ‘Strange Death of Alex Raymond’? I mean, Carson definitely has parts of the story that he contributed to and would like to have contributed far more heavily, particularly the Circe references in Ward Greene’s writing of “Rip Kirby.” Like, he’s going, “this is a major hot button thing. Like, you’ve really got to… I can give you a whole shopping list of where these all are” cause he’s read all of “Rip Kirby” getting ready to do “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”. I think that Carson could do an amazing book about “Rip Kirby” and Circe, and what he sees in it. And that ties into my idea of, I don’t think I’m gonna come anywhere close to getting this done. I mean, I think I could get an outline done with just a, “okay, here’s what happened. A, B, C, D, E, F, G.” All the way through to here, here’s the end. If you don’t wanna know that stuff, okay, don’t look at this. And then, at the same time, say okay here’s the different plateaus that I have to get to. The pages that I left off on, is this really weird intersection of, again, working from the comic art metaphysics. Alex Raymond always wanted to be really famous and definitely, Alex Raymond always wanted to be in “Time” magazine and “Life” magazine as Milt Caniff was, but Milt Caniff’s syndicate wasn’t at war with Time/Life the way King Features Syndicate and the Hearst people were always at war with Time/Life. So there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell of Alex Raymond ending up in “Life” magazine. So, we have this unexplained aberration in 1948, while Alex Raymond is working on the “Bleak Prospects” storyline. They actually send a “Life” magazine photograph to take pictures of him working in bed for an article on people who worked in bed, which is just about as unlikely as you can picture. I mean, the article did come, it’s a definite “Life” magazine article and Eddie found it, and, ya know, scanned it, and sent me the copies of it. And it’s like, this is so stupid, and so “Life” magazine. But the inexplicable question is, why would Alex Raymond be in there? We know why Alex Raymond, and “Flash Gordon”, and “Rip Kirby” were never in “Time” magazine or in “Life” magazine. He was in “Look” magazine, but…
Dave: But… this creates an unsolvable problem, because the photographs they took of him are very very important and I think that they’re important because the bed that he’s working in in his pajamas with this, like, the sort of tray that you would serve somebody breakfast in bed on and theoretically he’s drawing “Rip Kirby” on this tray and it’s like, not in a month of Sundays. There’s just no way that he could… the strip barely fits on most of the tray and okay, how is he going to ink while he’s sitting bed? And he’s in this single bed, and there’s a door like just inches away from the headboard, so I’m going, okay, this isn’t his mansion on Mayapple Road because, first of all, the bed would be a lot nicer than that, and second of all, the door wouldn’t be that close. Even if it was just a closet, this is not the master bedroom of the Mayapple Road house. Which led me to the conclusion that this is Alex Raymond getting a bed put into his studio that he decided to have in downtown Stamford. Instead of at the house, he was going to work downtown sometime. His explanation of that being that he got into the camaraderie of being in the Marines and hanging out with guys and having lunch and stuff like that, and wasn’t interested in going back to just, Dad in the living room of his mansion drawing his comic strip, which he had as a pre-war thing. It was partly that, but I think it was partly that that was when he started thinking about committing adultery. He wanted to have sex with somebody else, and he wanted to have sex with somebody much younger than he was. And so he had this cover story of he’s going to put a single bed in the studio that he has on Sun Street, so that if he’s working really really late and ya know he needs to take a nap for an hour or so. Which was also true, he was in his mid-40s at that point and “Rip Kirby” was a very arduous strip to do. Like, he invented photorealism and he did everything absolutely from scratch, so, yes, there are occasions where he’s probably going to have a nap, but he could probably just have had a couch in his studio. He really didn’t need a bed. I think this attracted high level, metaphysical attention where it was, “we want a photograph of Alex Raymond in bed working on his comic strip because we’re calling this a cover story. We don’t think that this is actually ‘he works in bed’ or ‘he needs a bed in his studio’, we think this is adultery. He maybe doesn’t even know consciously that that’s what he’s doing, but that’s what he’s doing.” But the problem comes in because these are Time/Life photographs. Eddie got sort of second generation photocopies, which, okay, ya know, they’re really good “Life” magazine photos. They’re taken by a professional photographer. I can see exactly what’s going on in them. But the expression on Raymond’s face and the set up that he’s sitting in this bed in his pajamas with this breakfast board, theoretically drawing “Rip Kirby” and looking at the proof sheet, and here’s this very attractive woman that we only see her midsection, her skirt, and her sweater, and she’s standing next to the bed, as Alex Raymond is going over his “Rip Kirby” originals and proof. And it’s like, yeah, this is looking more than a little funny around the edges, and Raymond’s expression is a little funny around the edges. He looks like Mr Whipple on “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” commercials when he starts squeezing the Charmin. Which I think is a resonance as well, they had to find an Alex Raymond lookalike for that one, a priceless expression. But you can’t, you would never be able to capture that drawing it, so it has to be a photograph, but in order to use the photograph you have to get the rights from Time/Life and Time/Life is not exactly cheap when it comes to getting their photographs. Eddie and I wanted to look at them because there’s also hand-written notes for “Rip Kirby” that are part of this setup, which is, obviously the notes that Alex Raymond took in his weekly meetings with Ward Greene for this week’s strips. And we assume that the resolution is strong enough on the photos that if we can get high enough resolution copies of the photos. The high resolution copies of the photos were like $400 or something like that? Because that’s where Time Warner…. or the Time/Life section of Time Warner is making their money these days, from high end Time/Life photographs. So it’s one of those, I wouldn’t want to do that section of the book without the photograph and I can’t picture anyone spending that kind of money to get the rights to those photographs to go into that section of the book, which, ya know, would be way off in the future. Now what’s interesting is that the part that I just got to, where Ward Greene has finagled Alex Raymond into doing two caricature characters of his wife, Lady Lilliput in “The Doll’s House” in 1947 and Priscilla Bleak in “Bleak Prospects” in 1948. And we know that this is really the only “Rip Kirby” strip that we know what Raymond was doing when he was working on it because these Time/Life photographs exist, and it’s literally the part of the story where Rip Kirby is running towards the house where the Helen Raymond caricature is and she shoots him and nicks him in the forehead. And the only part of all of the strips that are in these Time/Life photographs, the only panel that isn’t inked is the panel where Rip Kirby gets shot.
Matt: Okay. That’s weird.
Dave: [laughs] That’s one of those, you say “okay” and I understand that. This is why I’m explaining, if you just want to know what happened September 6th, 1956, here’s what happened. I’ll be happy to tell you that. I wanna know why that happened. Why did Alex Raymond die in a way that cartoonists really really don’t usually…
Dave: …die. And that takes a far more elaborate level of explanation. So, consequently, and then of course, you’ve got the fact you’ve got this Helen Raymond caricature. This evil caricature of Raymond’s wife who was then created by Ward Greene and her name is Priscilla Bleak, you’re not going to understand why Ward Greene called her Priscilla Bleak unless you know who the early Christian church Priscilla is, and unless I can explain that to you, you’re not going to understand that what it is that Ward Green was saying and why this was such a poisonous metaphysical thing to put into a comic strip that just isn’t going to end happily. Didn’t end happily for Alex Raymond, and didn’t end happily for Margaret Mitchell, who became a casualty in this situation. So the situation really comes down to, I have to do things to make money. There are very very few things that I can do to make money. I’m very very interested in Dagon James and Waverly Press right now because, ya know, he did Cerebus #1 and brought in $52,000 US. I don’t know how much is going to be left out of that when we’re done printing and shipping all of the bells and whistles, but that’s a big chunk of money, and that’s a much bigger chunk of money than Grandpa can rustle up on his own doing the Cerebus Archive portfolio, which brought in like $16,000 US, which still made money, and pretty good money  the best money, but not in the same category as Cerebus #1 Kickstarter.
Matt: It’s the difference between a nice steak dinner and gourmet cat food.
Dave: [laughs] Well, it’s also… the further along we go, the less and less money is worth, and the more money you need to bring in just to keep your head above water. So consequently, I can’t justify to put in the time on the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” because all it does is cost money. I’m very very hopeful that Carson is able to make some money Kickstartering “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”. I’m very very pleased he’s starting with, from what I understand, “You Don’t Know Jack” is gonna be the first Kickstarter that he’s doing.
Matt: His plan right now is he’s gonna Kickstarter “You Don’t Know Jack” as a 48 page book, but he’s shopping SDoAR around tryin’ to find a publisher that’s willin’ to print Volume One, Volume Two, and then if he can find a publisher, he’ll finish off the 20 pages of Volume Three he’s got, and then his own conclusion of wrappin’ up the story and it’ll be a complete, around 300 page graphic novel. If he can’t find a publisher at all, I believe his is going to be, doin’ a Kickstarter and it’s gonna be “this is everything that’s completed, these are Dave’s mock-ups, and he’s not gonna put anymore time into finishin’ it up.” It’s gonna be “this is where we were when the axe dropped.”
Dave: Right.
Matt: And, I actually, I emailed him, and I emailed Eddie and said what can I do to help, and I ended up helpin’ Carson work on the pitch to send to publishers cause he was pitchin’ to Image and they want a cover letter and a synopsis and a preview, and he’s like, “can you help me out with this?” and I’m like, “yeah, okay, I can help” and I’m writing the synopsis which is basically a book report for a book I’ve never read.
Dave: [laughs] You’re a talented guy, though, Matt.
Matt: Well… it’s one of these, I went, okay, ya know, give me your cover letter with your information and stuff, cause I had made a blog post of, the bare minimum of this is what the book is about, and did it where there’s none of Matt’s funny business in the post, just this is what SDoAR is. And gave it to Carson, I was like, okay, you can send people a link of, okay this is the proposal and he’s like, “this is really good. You’re good at this!” And I’m like, ehh, okay, I’ll take the praise but at the same time I don’t know what I’m doin’, but okay. And then, he came back with, “can you help me write the synopsis” so we rewrote the blog post and I sent it to Eddie and Eddie sent the inside front cover of Volume One of this is what’s the book’s about and I’m like, “oh that’s really good” cause, again, this is a book report that I haven’t read the book. It’s not even like I can say, “oh well, I watched the movie and there’s enough similarities that I can get away with it”, this is I don’t know anything. I remember “Glamourpuss” but I don’t remember “Glamourpuss”.
Dave: [laughs]
Matt: And so, with Eddie’s help, we redid the synopsis, and I emailed Adam Beechen of, “hey, you’re a published professional, can you just look this over, you’ve done pitches. Be brutally honest, what does this pitch look like?” cause I expect it to come back as “you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it that way” and he came back with, “oh it looks really good, but I think the book’s gonna fail completely” and I’m goin’ ,”I did say brutal.”
Dave: [laughs] I would go along with that. I mean, one of the things I was working towards with the retailers was taking the Cerebus Archive portfolio approach of 20 pages. The first 20 pages of “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, so it’s still 10 sheets but they’re printed both sides, from the original artwork, and setting it up for the retailers. “if you want to promote ‘Strange Death of Alex Raymond’ in your store, we’ll set this up at Kinko’s”, where this is the stay flat, it’s called. The oversized envelope. This is the stock that you print it on. Here’s the digital file. Just go to Kinko’s and print as many as you want, sell them in your store for, ya know, whatever you think you can get for it, $60, $70, with the fact that it costs about $8 or $9 to print, and take all of that money and put it into promotion. Which, I still, think is a more viable thing at this level. I mean, I think Adam’s right, I think anybody looks at the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, even if I could get them to sit still and actually read Volume One, they would go, “uhh, this is like interesting is a way, but it’s more interesting in terms of, what a strange thing for somebody to be obsessive about. Isn’t this interesting at that level?” Which is why I think it has to be dealt with the same way that, again, Cerebus is. That’s why I came up with the Cerebus Archive portfolio. You’ve got a very very small audience that you need to get lots and lots of money out of in order to make this sustainable, so here’s what you’ve got to do in order to make this palatable for [inaudible]. Carson wrote a lot of very very good stuff about working on the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” and how that came about. You could easily make those the notes for “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” Volume One portfolio, 20 pages, and do it on the same kinda basis. Anybody wants to buy one, I’ll print it up for you, but it’s gonna cost you this much because it’s gonna cost this much to print and this much to ship….
Dave: …it. I mean, at one time, I was hoping to do a Heritage Auctions catalogue of the “You Don’t Know Jack” artwork, so Carson and I came up with the parody, “Hermitage Awesomes” and it looks exactly like a Heritage Auctions catalogue, but it’s all Carson’s artwork and some of my artwork from “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” and his artwork from “You Don’t Know Jack”. It’s like, I’ve got… those are expensive to print. Those are about $35 or $40 for each individually, proofreading them. I’d be happy to let Carson have those for his Kickstarter and sign them and mail them from here. It’s really funny, I mean, it’s a parody of the very earnest Heritage Auctions descriptions of their artwork. Making fun of Carson and myself as starving artists and people that just don’t know that there’s stuff that you’re not allowed to say in public. So here we are in our art catalogue. “You Don’t Know Jack”, I thought all along that, okay, I think that there should be a three way split on that. Carson, Dave Sim, and Jack, and after that, like after whatever amount of money he’s able to make from this 48 page book, after that my assumption was always, okay, Jack owns Jack. You can’t say, “oh no, I drew you” or “I wrote you as this character, so consequently I have a share” it’s like, no, you have a share to the extent that Jack wants you to have a share. She’s the character in the bridging material between the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” episodes. Like, that’s one of the things that happened, the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” was, okay, we’ll do these as comic books. So, okay, I start breaking them up into comic books, and I’m gonna start doing covers. Okay, I did a cover for each comic book, and I said, I think they have to be in colour. And it’s like, “oh no no, they can’t be in colour. The black & white artwork is gorgeous.” I appreciate that the black & white artwork is gorgeous, but people don’t buy black & white artwork, people buy colour, because that’s all that they’re interested in. “No, no no, no, we want this to be an artistic thing”, well, okay, I’d also like to make some money on this if I could. So, alright, then it’s this series of comic books and I’ve worked really really hard on the five covers to the comic book. “No, now we think this should be a graphic novel. One should be like 112 pages” and it’s like, well, I don’t really want to get rid of these covers that I spent all of this time labouring on, trying to do my best Al Williamson/ Neal Adams fusion of Alex Raymond and Stan Drake in the car accident. So, let’s make that part of the graphic novel, and Jack in her comic book store that she worked in and this comic book just appears in front of her when she’s working way late at night. And it’s like, it was kinda cute, kind of fun, and I love what Carson did with it. I was already going to do the bridging material with a previous collaborator making up a female comic store employee, and Carson actually had a student who was a comic store manager. And it’s like, well okay, there’s comic art metaphysics in action. So, it really is some of my favorite stuff, cause it’s definitely Carson doing his best Al Williamson which my eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be, so until I had my magnifying glass when I was proofreading, because I didn’t want to miss anything. I hadn’t really seen how exactly how exact an Al Williamson Carson was able to do on this bridging material with Jack. Which, I dunno, I think it might partly have to do with Jack, and the fact that he was working from photographs and he knew that I was pushing for the Al Williamson look and most of Volume One has the Al Williamson look. So, ya know, it’s one of those… the way I had it written is, okay, you get used to Jack being the bridging person between each of these issues. She sees issue 1, and then she sees issue 2, and issue 3, and issue 4. All in Volume One, and then Volume Two is almost all issue 5. Suddenly it’s a like 90 page comic book and Carson actually comes in at the end and says, “that’s gotta be the longest issue 5 of a comic book in history.”
Matt: [laughs]
Dave: And hopefully you’ve forgotten by that point. See, this is it, I’m not interested in spoiler warnings anymore. By that time you forget, “oh right, this is supposed to be Jack reading this comic book” and then, actually, it bridges from Jack to Carson and Carson becomes the person reading issue #5 of “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” at the end of Volume Two. And the idea was, I would like Jack to come back way at the end of “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, whenever it’s done, or whenever its as close to done, whatever age Jack is at that point, we will go and find Jack wherever she is and say, “are you interested in coming back into the ‘Strange Death of Alex Raymond’ at age 30, 35, 40, 45, 50,” however long it takes. I mean, this could be like what’s her name in the “Titanic”.
Matt: [laughs]
Dave: It opens and she’s 97 years old, which, you know, might be the case. I don’t think I’m going to finish
”Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, I don’t think Carson’s going to finish “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, but I would like to open up the possibility that if you’re the future Al Williamson, you’re that weird guy like Carson and like me, who actually loves photo-realistic comic art, and is interested in these guys, and Al Williamson is your favorite and you do a mean Al Williamson, please, by all means, here’s Dave Sim’s outline for the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” from where he left off to where it ends. And whether you get wind of this as the next Al Williamson… sometime in the next six months, or sometime in the next year, or 50 years after Dave Sim and Carson are dead, by all means. Here it is, this is not owned by anybody. This is not, “ah no, you would have to ask permission of Dave Sim’s estate, you’d have to go ask Eddie Khanna is you’re allowed to do this.” No, I think, I would like to see anybody audition who is interested in auditioning by just doing a page of the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond.” Here’s Stan Drake, we’ve got lots of photos… not lots of photos, but we’ve got a bunch of photos of Stan Drake, and we’ve got a bunch of photos of Alex Raymond, what he looked like in his mid-40s when he died. Here’s what the Corvette looked like. You can find period pictures of Westport, Connecticut. You can certainly go and poke around the intersection. And okay, here’s your sample page. Post it to A Moment…
”Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, I don’t think Carson’s going to finish “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, but I would like to open up the possibility that if you’re the future Al Williamson, you’re that weird guy like Carson and like me, who actually loves photo-realistic comic art, and is interested in these guys, and Al Williamson is your favorite and you do a mean Al Williamson, please, by all means, here’s Dave Sim’s outline for the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” from where he left off to where it ends. And whether you get wind of this as the next Al Williamson… sometime in the next six months, or sometime in the next year, or 50 years after Dave Sim and Carson are dead, by all means. Here it is, this is not owned by anybody. This is not, “ah no, you would have to ask permission of Dave Sim’s estate, you’d have to go ask Eddie Khanna is you’re allowed to do this.” No, I think, I would like to see anybody audition who is interested in auditioning by just doing a page of the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond.” Here’s Stan Drake, we’ve got lots of photos… not lots of photos, but we’ve got a bunch of photos of Stan Drake, and we’ve got a bunch of photos of Alex Raymond, what he looked like in his mid-40s when he died. Here’s what the Corvette looked like. You can find period pictures of Westport, Connecticut. You can certainly go and poke around the intersection. And okay, here’s your sample page. Post it to A Moment…
Dave: …of Cerebus. Hey, if anybody thinks, “I should be the guy who does ‘Strange Death of Alex Raymond’”, and it’s like, you don’t have to do it sequentially. Like I say, where I left off until we figure out how to get these Time/Life photographs without spending thousands of dollars on them, well okay, skip that part! Pick this part up ahead. I would love to see somebody do the “Strange Death of Margaret Mitchell” that… I mean, and there’s a serious problem. Boy, do you wanna try and research anything to do with the death of Margaret Mitchell in Atlanta through any conventional environment. The library, city archives, anything like that. Everything’s shut tight as a drum. You wanna talk about the glamour in “Glamourpuss”, Margaret Mitchell has it in spades. Presumably there are photographs of Peachtree Street and Third Avenue, period shots of the movie theater which was across the street from the women’s club. Try and find those photographs, or try and even ask anybody about them? I’ve had at least a half dozen volunteers who’ve said, “Oh, I’m in Atlanta! I’ll go check it out for you. No big deal. I know how to do research. I’ll go to the library, go to this place, go to that place.” You never hear from them again.
Matt: [laughs] So we need to send out search parties?
Dave: You never hear from them again. We’re talking about “the south will rise again”. Margaret Mitchell made the bad guys look like the good guys, where I think we are coming to point where we’re going, “ahh, no, the Confederacy were the bad guys. You’re very good at writing really nice Confederacy characters, but no, I think you’re inverting reality. You’re substituting evil for good and the glamour that surrounds you, and the glamour that surrounds Ward Green’s obsession with you, makes all of that extremely, extremely problematic in order to tell the actual story of why Alex Raymond died. Have you got any questions while I’m spouting along like this?
Matt: Um, well. I was gonna ask if you’d talked to Ted Adams since he left IDW but I’m gonna assume that’s a no.
Dave: Yes, it’s a no.
Matt: Do you wanna talk to Ted Adams?
Dave: Ah, I’m not sure that I could talk to Ted Adams without sounding like I was trying to coerce him into being the guy who loses tons of money on “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”. It’s like, IDW has had enough. I think Ted’s a stand-up kind of guy, definitely a stand-up kinda guy, and you don’t want to even appear to be leveraging “do you want to do this?” The bigger question is, “do you wanna finance this?” It’s like, no, of course not. Nobody wants to finance the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”. It’s going to make nickles and dimes and we would be up around 10,000, $20,000 just on research if Eddie was charging for research and I was charging for the amount of time that I’d spent pouring all of this stuff. I think we have the good faith, all of us, to say, yeah, we would like to see this done, and unfortunately, nobody is gonna make any money off of it. Anybody gets too close to it, is gonna start losing money. You get anywhere too close to “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” and it just starts sucking money out of your hand. It’s just one of those kinds of projects. Which is why I was hoping I could find, and I think I did find a handful of California retailers who were, “yeah, I can’t picture this making any money”, but there are ways for a retailer, like I say, if you give them carte blanche to print artist’s edition portfolios of the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”. I mean, we’ve got enough here for… well, 20 pages per portfolio, we’ve got enough for 12 portfolios right there. So if you even have like one customer who’s willing to pay $100 per portfolio, they got way too much money and they’re way too interested in it. Well, okay, that’s a good chunk of money in that store, and if they’re willing to plow that back into promoting “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, we could possibly do worse than that. But I really think, no, it’s not going to make money. I think it’s a really interesting story. It’s definitely a Horror story. I mean capital H Horror in the classic sense. Not, “hey this would make a really good ‘Friday the 13th’ kind of movie”, no this is the serious stuff. One of the things I was kind of hoping was with the Patreon people, the people who are paying money month after month after month after month to keep Dave Sim working on “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, I was hoping we could just do a digital version of Volume One, Volume Two, all of the mock-ups in Volume Three, so that anybody that’s not interested would be able to read it all the way through to page 277. And if you actually get there, if you actually read all 277 pages and you go, “oh, I gotta know more about this. I have to know how this ends. I have to know where Dave Sim is going with this.” I will put you on my mailing list, and I will get Eddie to email you… you have to send me a letter asking me. Like you  have to be that interested that you actually go and get an envelope, you have to get a stamp, you have to write my name and address on it, and you have to get a piece of paper and write on it, “yes, Dave, I read all the 277 pages and I am just completely obsessed with this, same as you and Eddie are, and Carson is, and I wanna know what happens after that.” Well, okay, we can probably get it down to eight or ten people.
Matt: [laughs]
Dave: Also, I think, it would be a good thing for any would-be Al Williamson, if somebody does a “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” sample page and goes, “how ‘bout this? Took me about three days to do. Yeah, I love Al Williamson’ work, I would have a lot of fun doing Al Williamson’s pages.” Well, okay, here’s the 277 pages, here’s my mock-ups, here’s what Carson did with them, anything you want to do with Carson’s pages over my pages, go ahead and do it. It’s like I say, the situation got to the point with me where there’s this great shot of Ward Greene when he was a young reporter, about 1920, if what the photograph that Eddie bought online says it is, I think it’s a little earlier than that, it looks like about 1918, and I used it as an inset on the Mad Hatter cafe which was the speakeasy that Margaret Mitchell used to go to and Ward Greene used to go to as well, in Atlanta, and I made up the Mad Hatter… no, it wasn’t the Mad Hatter, it was the, what’s the other one?
Matt: The March Hare?
Dave: The March Hare! Yes, thank you. The March Hare cafe and Carson did a great job on my fake speakeasy and did the inset picture of Ward Greene and it just doesn’t look like the picture of Ward Greene. So that’s one of those, what’re you gonna do? Am I gonna double back and redo any drawings that I didn’t think Carson got it, not only doesn’t look like Al Williamson, it doesn’t look like the photograph? And if I don’t do that, then I’m not doing what I said I was going to do with the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, which is don’t let go of it until it’s exactly that you want it to be. And those are the things I was getting bogged down in. But I really think that most people are being polite, like “I’m a huge ‘High Society’ fan, a huge ‘Church & State’ fan. My interest in Cerebus fades towards the end of ‘Church & State’ and I haven’t even read much past that. But, those books are my absolute favorite graphic novels of all time, so I feel like I owe it to Dave Sim to support whatever he’s going to do.” Believe me, I appreciate anybody doing that, “saying I really really want to support Dave Sim if this is what he wants to work on”, but don’t force yourself to read it. [laughs] It’s like, if you bought it, particularly if you paid the premium price of $50 for the fund-raising edition and you get it and you read the first eight pages and your eyes are glazing over and you’re doing that thing of, “okay, I’ll read another ten pages”, and then you’re consciously flipping, going, “how much more of there is this that I have to read?” It’s like, you don’t have to read it, the fact that you bought it means a great deal to me. Don’t pretend that you’re interested if you’re not interested. That’s one of the things that an art patron is for, as far as I can see. So, ya know, I really think that, having made that offer, the number of people, if all of the Patreon patrons and whoever else reads all 277 pages, they’ll probably be about eight people that would be interested. Eddie was about, as far as I know, the only one who was interested when “Glamourpuss” was coming out. He was about the only one that wrote to me. And then, I find out that, no, Carson was reading “Glamourpuss” and this was about the only thing he was interested in working on in comics. “This is what I’m interested in in comics, this is about the only thing being done in this area, so yeah, I’d like to work on it.” I heard from the two guys that were interested in drawing the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”. It’s a very very very small, specialized kind of thing, but if it gets into your blood, it gets into your blood. Like, a perfect example, last year I did two or three covers for “Cerebus in Hell?” I did “Green Dante/ Green Virgil”, “Attractive Cousins”, and I drew the Spider-Vark character. Then it’s like, I stopped drawing again. This year I started going, well, what the hell happened there? It’s like, I did a fair amount of drawing in a short space of time, but I don’t remember why I’m not drawing now. So, as soon as I decided, okay, I’m not going to be mocking up “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” pages anymore (never say never, maybe I will, but that depends on whether I think that’s the best way to get it down on paper for posterity). As soon as I, because it was always, okay, anything where it feels like it’s seriously going wrong with the wrist, you’re going to have to back off, because you’ve got to save it for “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, however many drawings you have left, there is stuff that you have to “draw and ink”…
Dave: As soon as I didn’t have that, it’s like, Waverly Press, we had great success with Cerebus #1. It’s like, okay, what’s in that category? From my perspective, the only thing that I did in my career in the comic book field that registers in general is Cerebus #1, Spawn 10, and Turtles 8. That’s the only time that Dave Sim registers with anybody in the comic book field, except Dave Sim fans. Dagon doesn’t look at it that way, it’s like, “no no no, you got a lot of fans”. And it’s like, no I don’t. I really don’t think so. As I keep saying to him, I don’t mind being a nostalgia act, but, ya know, I have to try and make this as interesting as possible, because it’s like, no, Todd McFarlane and I have always had this reciprocal agreement, or we have for the last number of years, that he can print Spawn 10 and sell it anywhere and not compensate me for Cerebus being in there and I can do Spawn 10 anytime that I want and not compensate Todd or Todd McFarlane productions for having Spawn in there. So we decided to do a Waverly Press Spawn 10, and it’s like, that happened just about simultaneously with us getting the black & white scans of Todd’s artwork from Spawn 10, so okay, now it’s a go. Now it’s, what’re we going to do to do some bells and whistles with this? And it’s like, okay, I’m gonna do a new Spawn 10 cover, hopefully doing three Spawn 10 covers. And what I’m going to do, of course, is Cerebus as Spawn on the cover, but most of it is going to be the superhero arms sticking out through the bars and that I’m doing as Neal Adams. It’s like, I’ve got all of my Neal Adams stuff out, and I’m looking at it through the magnifying glass and they just had a splash page of Deadman splash page from “Strange Adventures” that I remember very very vividly from Heritage Auctions, so I’ve got that under the magnifying lamp, because I can finally see it in black & white, not on cheap newsprint and not with that horrible rose colored lamp colour on top of it. And it’s like I died and gone to heaven. And it’s like there’s Gillott 290 pen lines on there, I’m sure of it. And it’s like, they’re faded. They’re extremely faded relative to the rest of the ink on there and it’s like I went, I’ll bet what Neal was doing was using the Gillott 290 pen nib, which he had been using on “Ben Casey” because that’s the pen nib that Stan Drake used, but because he’s having to work a lot fast on DC Comics pages because he’s not getting paid even as much as he was on “Ben Casey” and he’s not getting very much per page as it is, and the Gillott 290 is a very finicky instrument. He’s using it very selectively, he’s using a Hunt 102 for most of his thin lines, but as Neal said to me personally when I did the “Following Cerebus” trip with him to Niagara Falls, “the really fine lines I did for myself” [laughs] It’s like, you would have to, because they don’t show up. You can’t see them, you can only see them because they’re in this glossy Heritage Auctions catalogue and they’ve been photographed as sharp as they can possibly be. And I think what he was doing was he was inking with the Gillott 290 but, ears open Carson, if you dip in water and then dip it in ink, it’s not nearly as techy an instrument. Because it’s almost impossible to get the line to come off of the Gillott 290 . It is the absolute finest pen nib that you can get. I concede the point, Carson used to argue about this, I’d say, “no, a really fresh Hunt 102, if it’s one of the better ones, will give you exactly the same fine lines as Gillott 290 does.” Like, “no, no, there’s something to the Gillott 290 pen lines.” So what you have to do is ink the entire page, or ink the entire cover in my case. Make sure there’s absolutely nothing on there that you still have to ink, and then erase like an SOB all of the pencil on there. Can’t be any pencil left, because when you ink with the diluted ink on the Gillott 290, if you try to erase over that, it’s just gonna disappear. So that’s, I think what Neal was doing, and it certainly worked for me on my first Spawn 10 cover, which is done. I’ve actually got two of them done now.
Matt: Uh, yeah I got an email last night from Dagon titled, “top secret” and I’m like, “okay” and he’s explainin’ about Spawn 10. It was to Margaret and I, and he’s giving us the heads up, and he’s like, “is there anything you guys know?” and Margret responds of, “I don’t remember anything in the notebooks, but I’ll double check” and I’m like, “Margret you posted two posts with notebook pages from Spawn 10.”
Dave: [laughs]
Matt: Sent an email, with the links, goin’, “this is what Margaret’s got. First one, second one” and in parentheses goin’, “it’s my job to know this stuff. Mags.”
Dave: [laughs] Which shows exactly how impressed Margaret was with Spawn 10, I think.
Matt: Well, I mean, she emailed back goin’, she was was searching for Spawn, and not “Crossing Over” or Todd McFarlane or anything like that, and I’m goin’, I understand that but I looked for… I know there’s somethin’ in the notebook pages, so I clicked that label so it’s only those posts, and I’m like, Spawn, and they both popped up and I’m like, see I knew they were there.
Dave: [laughs] That’s one of the great things about this situation is, Dagon asked me, like “what do you got on Spawn 10?” And it’s like, I think there’s stuff in the notebooks, but if it’s in the notebooks I don’t have to remember it anymore, cause that’s Margaret’s job and your job.
Matt: Uhh, I’m tryin’ to think… where was it? Uhh…
Dave: I do have to check the 8 and half by 11 and smaller archive, the filing cabinet. And I’m pretty sure that I’ve got a few things in there. There’s Todd’s original sketch for Spawn 10 that I faxed back something closer to what he ended up using. And we’re talking about doing that as well… [coughs] Excuse me. The… doing an updated Spawn 10 cover, which is, like I say, we’ve got the scans of Todd’s black & white artwork. [coughs] Excuse me again. I don’t… I think it has to be in colour because they’re superhero comics? The cover has to be in colour. But I think the black & white would also be…
Matt: Oh no, you don’t understand how this works. The Cerebus #1 there’s the red cover, there’s the gold cover where it’s got the gold metallic ink, the platinum cover where it’s got the platinum metallic ink, and then there’s the retailer poster that’s a postcard that Dagon then put on as a cover for promotional purposes that was only available through the Indiegogo, and there were guys who bought the first three covers that bought the fourth cover. But they didn’t just buy the fourth cover, they bought the package of all four covers that they already bought three of. You do have fans that have more money than brains, and I love them dearly. [laughs]
Dave: [laughs] This is why I’m not straying too far from Dagon James, because he’s finding them and I can’t find them.
Matt: Well, the deal was, if you bought all four covers you also got one of the Oslo Norway trading cards, and so… I’m goin’, I kept posting, you have the cards coming to you, the only difference is this card has Dave’s signature. If you’re a real fan you have tons of copies of Dave’s signature on tons of scraps of paper in your collection. And of course, everybody’s going, “yeah but this is one more” and I’m going, I kept tellin’ everybody, this isn’t a cash grab, nobody’s trying to take every penny you have. You can be judicious and say, “I don’t need this in my life” and of course, there’s 100 guys goin’, “yes yes I want this” and posted about it of, “oh yeah I have to do this” and I’m like, I love that these fans are out there. I’m not one. There’s a limit to where I go, that’s a bridge too far. It goes back to Mickey and Donald and Walt in “Latter Days” of, when Donald was one of them guys that either let his wallet do the talkin’ or decided at that moment to sound like one of the guys that let his wallet do his talkin’. And I keep comin’ back to that of, I have X amount of dollars that I can spend on various Dave Sim Cerebus things. If I find somethin’ neat, and I have the money… or like when I was doin’ the Cerebus paintings and all of a sudden I have extra cash that, this money didn’t exist a week ago. It’s like, okay, I can go and spend money foolishly and this is found money so it’s okay. But then there’s other guys that’s like, “I need 12 of everything.”
Dave: Right. [laughs] Right. Yeah, I mean, it’s one of those rarity things, of… even I’m susceptible to it. Like as soon as I did the numbering the “Cerebus in Hell?” #1s on the front cover, I didn’t realize what an impact that was going to have on me, where, okay Roly and I cracked open the “Attractive Cousins” today and the 1, 2, and 3 were right on top. And it’s like, okay, grab the 1, 2, and 3, take them in the house, put them in a plastic bag and a backing board. Then it’s, there’s a very very short list of people on the comp list. I can’t really afford to have a comp list. So then it’s , okay, who gets what number? And it’s like, I could give anybody #4 if I want. It’s like, “I’ll keep the single digits. I’ll keep 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.” And then it’s like, “okay, you’ll give ‘em 10” and it’s like, “well, maybe not 10.” It’s like, where at what point do you go “okay we’re no longer in lowest numbers, but we’re still in impressive numbers.” Where, as an example, like we’re selling “Cerebus in Hell?” #1s at Lookin’ For Heroes in town here, and of course they’re getting much lower numbers than most people are getting through Diamond because they’re getting them from us. So, if you want something 100 or below or around 100 out of 1800, Lookin’ For Heroes on Ontario Street, right across from the old bus station. That’s your go-to place to get them. They’re autographed and they’re $10 Canadian.
Matt: So, speaking of numbering, when I got the “Walt’s Empire” in, I opened the box, I’m like, okay, yeah they’re numbered. I’m startin’ to pull them out, I’m like, wait a minute, they’re not sequential, it’s just kinda random. And I’m like, no, they are sequential, but it’s one of these “Dave signed 10, set them aside. Dave signed 10, set them side.” So then I spent 20 minutes puttin’ all of them in order, and writin’ down what numbers I had, so that when I did the blog post about it, I could say, “these are the numbers I have, if you want your CAN number and I have it, I will give you that number.” And Larry Wooten was one of the first guys to respond of, “yes, I want one and my CAN number is 11” and I don’t have 11. But I had 110, so I signed it to him and circled the number and wrote on the back, “you just gotta subtract 99”.
Dave: There you go. There you go. Yes, count your blessings.
Matt: And then, there was somebody else, they wanted… uhh… 69, and I had 69, so they got that. Margaret wanted one, and I’m like, okay, what number do you want, she’s like, “I just get the lowest number on the CAN that they can give me” and I’m like, “well, I have #4, do you want #4?” It’s like, “yeah, yeah, I want #4” and I’m like, it’s one of those… it’s just a comic book, but now there’s a separate number so this comic book isn’t the same as that comic book, isn’t the same… and I could see, I was goin’ through, like “hey, I have 37, that’s my CAN number. I guess this is the one I’m gonna keep for me.”
Dave: [laughs]
Matt: My motorcycle club’s number is 111 so my Dad collects 111 anomalies like if he gets a dollar bill with three ones on it he keeps it, and he’s got a… point thing in the club, where if you find them you get points, an officer in the club you can’t get points. It’s complicated. So I called him goin’, “hey, I have 111, do you want it?” and he’s like, “well, I kinda have a lot of stuff in my life, I’m not lookin’ to add…” I’m like, “Dad, it’s a comic I wrote. How many comics have I written?”
Dave: [laughs]
Matt: “Well, if you want to hang onto it for the club”, “no, no, no, I want to send it to you so you can read and be all like, ‘hey that was really funny. Do it again.’” I’m lookin’ for the pat on the head, Dad. “No, no no no no, I don’t need anything.”
Dave: Not a chance, not a chance. If you haven’t got comic books in your blood…
Matt: He did, when he was a kid. But then, when I was like 10 or 11, I went to visit him and we went to a comic book show and it was very small, at a Holiday Inn in the Ramada room there was a couple of dealers set up. Ya know, no guests, no signatures, just a bunch of comic book resellers with their stuff, and whatever year it was, it was the 30th anniversary of the Avengers. So there’s Avengers stuff all over the place. My Dad’s goin’, “the Avengers? You mean with Peel and Steed?” and I’m like, “No, Dad, with Captain America.” [laughs]
Dave: [laughs] That would’ve been 1994 in that case, wouldn’t it? Or 1993.
Matt: Yeah, it was… 94, I think that was, cause that was the year, he was livin’ in St Louis and they had the big flood where the Mississippi overran the banks and we volunteered to go sandbag. He’s like, “come on, we’re goin’ out” and so we went to this neighborhood and we’re sandbaggin’ and the Army’s there runnin’ thing, but it’s all volunteers fillin’ sandbags tryin’ to save this levee. Cause it hasn’t broken yet. And my Dad starts jokin’ with everybody of , “what are you guys goin’ to do when you find out that the guy whose house we’re sandbaggin’ is a snowbird and he’s down in Florida right now?” and it turned out the guy two over was the actual owner of the house, and he’s like, “oh no, I live here, I live here!” and Dad’s, “okay” and they’re talkin’ and jokin’, all funnin’ and the guy’s like “but the neighbors, the neighbors are in Florida right now.”
Dave: [laughs]
Matt: And we spent all day sandbaggin’ and two days later the levee burst, and my Dad turned to me at breakfast and went, “yeah, you didn’t pack those bags tight like I told ya to.”
Dave: There ya go. There ya go. Oh yeah, you’re not gonna get a pat on your head from your Dad for a comic book. It’s just one of those things, but, yeah, I’ve been thinking, what if I auction the earliest number every month? Like 4 through 10, sort of thing, on eBay? Would people get competitive about it? Like, I was thinking the really cruel version of that would be auctioning off #26 so that Michael R would have to be bid on it. But, like announcing it. Let’s really force Michael R to dig deep on this one. [laughs]
Matt: Ya know, the way I would do it is, figure out if it was an ongoing series, what issue number it would be, and that number goes on eBay of, “okay this is #38 and next month we’re gonna auction 39, and 40, and 41” of, if this was legacy numbering, this would be the legacy number.
Dave: Right, right.
Matt: Cause then you get the real competitive people of, “well now I need issue 50, and issue 51, issue 52 of ya know, every month.”
Dave: It is an interesting effect though, that the numbers are such a huge part of comics, that I really didn’t anticipate that is gonna be tough on you. Like sending free copies to Doug Sulipa in Manitoba because the Doug Sulipa’s Comics World, he’s the one selling me my Canadian price variants. I said, I’ll send you “Green Dante/ Green Virgil” when it comes in”, and then that was right when the COVID-19 thing. And I said, “you can tell what I think of you by how low the number is.”
Matt: [laughs]
Dave: And it’s like, it was a joke, but it’s not really a joke. It’s like, Dave, you’ve got a box full of these things. Just pull out a copy for Doug and a copy for Dave, both at Comic World, and get Roly to send it to them. The same thing with the “Walt’s Empire”, it’s like, well, which ones am I gonna send to Matt? It’s like, well it’s Matt’s book! Matt did virtually everything on there, so why don’t you just grab a bunch of them. So that’s what I did, and now we’re starting to develop a protocol where I don’t even open the box until Roly gets here, because Roly puts them all in order. He can actually see the little numbers, I gotta have my magnifying glass out to see what the numbers are on the front covers. So, the first couple of times that I did that, man, that took like an hour and half putting them in order. “But you’re a comic book fan, you gotta put ‘em in order! You can’t just have a bunch of numbers, you gotta know which numbers you’ve got.”
Matt: That’s… when I got them all organized, I laid ‘em out so you can see all the numbers and stood up on a chair, took a picture. And then took another picture on the edge, goin’ off into the distance, and I’m like, why am I takin’ the time to do this, I’m gonna crop the photo digitally so that it’s only 1000 pixels across, you’re not gonna be able to read any of the numbers no matter how much ya zoom in.
Dave: Right. That’s got nothing to do with it.
Matt: But you’re a comic book fan! You have to do this, otherwise, you’re gonna kick yourself for, I only get to take this…
Matt: How many copies do you want me to send back of each? Just three, or do you want four?
Dave: Uhh, I’ll leave that up to you.
Matt: Okay. Cause I will definitely send ya three where I just sign ‘em, and then I’ll send ya an additional one where I Bantha wrangle ‘em where I go through with a pen and I write who wrote what on each page.
Dave: Well, that would be cool. That would be cool.
Matt: I’ve been offerin’ ‘em for sale, it’s $4 a copy and if you want them that way, I will do it. And everybody goes, “oh okay” and “yeah okay I’ll take that” and then I spend 30 minutes writing the same thing on the same comic, over and over. And of course, me being me, ya can’t just write, “I wrote this one”, I have to draw a little Iguana or a little Beer saying “Matt wrote this one.”
Dave: Right, right.
Matt: And after the third time I did it, I’m like, I really need to write this down on a piece of paper so I can just copy it instead of having to… cause I’m doing both “Walt’s Empire” where it’s only four pages I didn’t work on, and the original “Vark Wars” where I have to remember, “did I do this one? Did Birdsong do this one? Was this one of the ones Oliver sent in? I know David Branstetter sent us six strips but we only did two of ‘em. Ya know, this is the one that Seiler did half the page of.” And I’m like, I really need to just write this down so that I don’t have to remember it. And every single time, it’s like, nah no, it’s just easier to remember it. And every single time I’m goin’, “yeah I think this is this one.” So some of the notes are, “this strip is by this guy, unless I’m wrong then it’s by this guy.”
Dave: Right. Right. Yeah, the same thing happened with Will Eisner and Jules Feiffer, who used to argue about…
Matt: I literally just read that in “Following Cerebus” yesterday.
Dave: Is it? Yeah, yeah, I used to kid with Sandeep Atwell about that, we’re gonna have the same thing happen with “Cerebus in Hell?”, it’s like, “you didn’t write that one, I wrote that one.” “No, you didn’t write that one, I wrote that one. That’s my strip.” We should probably get the first four or five out and then go through them while the memory is still fresh, but there’s always other stuff to do, like making money.
Matt: [laughs] Well, I was kinda wonderin’… how much would it cost to print a copy of Volume One of SDoAR at Comics Express. At the level of this is how you wanted it printed if it was goin’ out into the world.
Dave: Studiocomix Press?
Matt: Err, Studiocomix Press, yeah.
Dave: Yeah. Ahh, about $50 Canadian.
Matt: Okay, so… I know it’s the goin’ back to the well one more time, ya know, askin’ the Giving Tree to give you something else, but would you wanna make the offer of, if people want to pay, say $100 American, ya know, you’ll go get ‘em printed, sign ‘em and mail ‘em, and maybe still make some money on it. Or will it be, even at $100 American you’re gonna lose your shirt?
Dave: Um, there are, like I say, there are preferable ways to make money. I’m interested in what Dagon James is able to do with Waverly Press and I’m focusing on that. Roly’s starting to get swamped. To put another way, I’m starting to swamp Roly, where just bringing all of the stuff back to Camp David today that he had to deal with, which isn’t everything that’s on his plate, it’s a lot of shipping, and we’ve got to sort of keep that under control, because otherwise we’re gonna get into a situation where, okay, now I need to hire somebody else to help with the mailing or to do the mailing while Roly does other stuff. And, yeah, at that point, it’s, okay, yes, you are making $20, but it’s a Rube Goldberg kind of…
Matt: You’re makin’ $20 so you can spend $30.
Dave: Yeah, or you’re making $20 but it’s costing you $80 to make the $20 on top of it. I’m always thinking about that. I think it… again, there just really isn’t the demand for it. There are possibly ways to generate demand that would make it worthwhile, but…
Matt: The thing that always comes back into my mind is somethin’ you said back in, I believe, might’ve even been pre-”Glamourpuss” in the Blog and Mail, when you’ve written somethin’ to the comics pro retailers of, you can spend six months makin’ a graphic novel and six months promotin’ it and sellin’ it trying to make money, but you can’t do both at the same time.
Dave: Right.
Matt: And what I keep comin’ back to, is so you’ve spent how many years makin’ two graphic novels that aren’t even the whole story, there’s still presumably three more volumes comin’. And yeah, you could stop and do everything we can think of. Ya know, tryin’ to generate interest, tryin’ to generate sales, but at a certain point if you’ve worked on this for, what, 12 years, you’re not gonna spend 12 years tryin’ to sell these two volumes, it’s just not gonna happen.
Dave: Right.
Matt: Ya know, six months in, six months to sell, well at a certain point, it’s, we’re not gonna sell these things in six months. And I kept comin’ back to it , thinkin’ about it, ya know, what about this? And my brain goes, “six months, six months.” It’s dividing a dozen in half. It doesn’t matter what idea I come up with, because A) it’s not my money. I could come up with a million great ideas with somebody else’s money. And I always try to temper of with, well…
Dave: Um, you can go all the way down that rabbit hole trying to figure out how to sell something that people don’t want to buy. I mean, comics are specialized. Extremely specialized in one sense, in a central sense in our society. The fact that your own father doesn’t want a comic book from you, that gives you an idea of where comic books are in the popular imagination. Superheroes are in a different category. Marvel Movie superheroes make a ton of money, but most superheroes don’t. But that’s the most popular form of comic book. Once you’re getting away from that, you’re getting into such a marginal audience that really all you can say is, “I do this because I really like doing it.” I mean, I sat down and read “Attractive Cousins”. Came in last week, but we hadn’t opened the box and Roly hadn’t sorted through them. And it’s like, I worked really hard on this. I wanted it to say exactly what I wanted it to say and now I want to read it and make sure that it said what I wanted it to say, and it did. And it’s… I don’t really care that I’m not making grown-up amounts of money off of it, but I do have to find things to make grown-up amounts of money off of and “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” I don’t think is it. It could end up being a surprise. It could, for just some reason, go completely viral out in society. Or at least, viral in the comics community. I think it’s a very good time for Carson to be doing a Kickstarter with “You Don’t Know Jack”, or anybody in comics to be doing a Kickstarter, because people are very limited in how they can spend money, and online fund-raising is one of the few places that they can do it and not have to run afoul of the whole COVID-19 lifestyle thing. I think that one of the major things that Carson doesn’t want to do, that I would think would be a great idea in terms of promoting “You Don’t Know Jack” with the Jack Van Dyke photo cover from the photograph that Carson did. Carson doesn’t want to do that because that wasn’t the agreement. He wasn’t taking the photos to use as photos, he was taking the photos to use as photo reference. But there are photos of Jack Van Dyke online and very very nice photographs. They would make really really good comic book covers, if you did multiple covers where if you buy these two photo covers you get this bonus photo cover. I haven’t looked at the photos in a long time. They’re really really good photographs. I’ve never met Jack Van Dyke and I’ve never spoken to her on the phone, she’s always just been the subject of the bridging material in the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” and “You Don’t Know Jack” comic book. But, boy there’s a real quality in her, in terms of visual, particularly some of the photos that Carson used for the really spectacular splash pages in “You Don’t Know Jack” would make really really nice photo covers. And I dunno, you go all the way down there, like the same way that the direct market works with the variant covers. Like, you have to buy 10 of these to get this Jack Van Dyke photo cover, and some of them, I think, there would be a lot of fans who would go, “yeah, I’ll buy 10 of those to get one of those.”
Matt: Well, I will suggest that to Carson when he’s gearin’ up, that, ya know… worst that he does is he asks Jack and she says, “No, no way. Never ever ever.”
Dave: Right.
Matt: I mean, she might say yes.
Dave: Yeah. Okay! That’s the 2 hour mark so I’m going away now.
Matt: [laughs] I was gonna say, I think we’ve covered everything we need to cover.
Dave: I think so. If we haven’t, if anybody wants me to talk more about the “Strange Death of Alex Raymond”, I’m glad to do it. Like I say, let’s just leave it on the table of, I’m not a spoiler warning kind of guy, I would be just as happy to say, “here, this is the big reveal in Volume Five and if that’s all that you want, we’ll just a find to sequester it so that…”
Matt: I was gonna say, what you could do is record it, and then give it Eddie and have Eddie put it on the Patreon and if any Patreon supporter wants to know, click the link.
Dave: Right. And at the same time that runs afoul of the people who have trouble controlling themselves. They don’t want to know, but they do want to know. They don’t want to know, but they do wanna know. That used to happen with Gerhard working on the book, where he’d say, “what’s blah blah blah about?” and it’s like, I’d go, “do you really want me to tell you?” and he’d go, “yes” and then he’d go “no”, and then he’d go “yes”, he’d go “no”. [laughs] And it’s like, okay, you let me know when both of you have a definitive answer to that one.
Matt: [laughs]
Dave: Have a good night, Matt!
Matt: You too, Dave! Take care.
Dave: Say hi to Paula and say goodbye again to Janis Pearl, and Bullwinkle.
Matt: Will do!
Dave: Buh-bye.
Matt: Yep, bye. Okay guys, so if you really want to know what the twist is in Volume Five, sound off in the comments on the Youtubes or on AMoC or send me an email or just call Dave and scream in his answering machine, I can’t control you on that one. Uhh, every…
See Jesse, I remember you exist.

Anyway, got a message from the T8 Kickstarter. The Highlights:
  • T8 is at the printer, and the Waverly expects the books in 2-3 weeks.
  • Nearly everything else is finished and mostly in hand, so we should get our packages next month.
  • They're selling a new printing of Cerebus #1
They DIDN'T mention that the Glow-In-The-Dark variant cover Flash Sale starts Friday at 10AM EST.
  • The Cerebus and "Matisse" enamel pins arrived a few days ago and look super cool!
  • Our next Kickstarter will be for the remastered deluxe hardcover of Cerebus: The Last Day. As of this writing it's scheduled for the third week in August and will run for 8 days.
"8 DAYS"! I better make sure I shout THAT from the rooftops...
Speaking of:
The Last Day Without nothing.
   "      "     "        "  Dave's signature.
   "      "     "        "  an Old Cerebus Remarque
   "      "     "     Auction catalog for the Panoramic Remarques (still ain't got one, so no idea if I'm supposed to be selling these, when, or, for how much).

Temperance is STILL winning with a bid of $45USD, auction ends the next time I post (Friday)
Oliver's Cerebus movie: The Absurd, Surreal, Metaphysical, and Fractured Destiny of Cerebus the Aardvark it's currently available on "Plex", "Xumo", "Vimeo On Demand", "Tubi". If you're in Brazil..."Mometu", "Nuclear Home Video". 
Up to 35% off site-wide:  
July 27-30.
Tell your fans! Remind them that everything will be up to 35% off 
She's SUPPOSED to be posting tomorrow, but STILL demands I remind you...
Hey Matt!
Could you add a link to SDOAR 2023 GFM at the bottom of your posts on AMOC?
If you click the link and donate five dollars, you get access to a sh*tload of Strange Death of Alex Raymond mockups. (Like a hundred pages I think.) Of course, donating more could get you more. 

Next Time: Jen. Futile attempts at humor. Pictures of Lily

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