Thursday 6 June 2024

Notebook One: Cerebus #24 Part One


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.

Maybe instead of rewriting this opener every week, I’ll be a bit more efficient with my use of time and have this standard opening: 

Have you got your copy of Albatross One? That is Dave Sim’s name for his first notebook used in the creation of Cerebus. If you want a copy of the notebook – and trust me, as someone who has held the actual Albatross One, it is a pretty close duplicate and looks great – you can check out this post right here. Well not this post. The one at this link. Go check it out, this post will still be here.

And if you don’t want to buy one, you can wait as I release a couple of pages a week and check them out using the Notebook One tag. But trust me, the notebook is much much nicer then my silly little posts.

Okay, now that is done, on with this week’s Notebook One post.


We are making our way through Dave Sim’s first notebook, which he called Albatross One. He used notebooks to jot down notes and sketches for use in the creation of most of the Cerebus comics, and Notebook One covers Cerebus #20 through 28. Last week we saw pages 87 and 88 which had material for Cerebus #23. Today we look at pages 89 and 90, which show material for Cerebus #24:

Notebook 1, page 89

As you can see along the top, Dave wrote December 1980, crossed it out, and wrote January 1981. If you remember the schedule that Dave had written on page 83 of Notebook 1, he planned on writing #24 on November 25 through 29, 1980 and  then drawing it on December 1 – 12. I still can’t believe drawing a 20 page story in 12 days. 

There is a sketch of page one of Cerebus #24 that looks remarkably like the actual splash page:

Cerebus #24, page 1

As you can see, instead of calling it ‘Spring Fever’, Dave called it ‘Swamp Sounds’. And the text just below the splash page sketch appears along the top of the actual page. Then we get into the dialogue for page two of the issue. That dialogue between Madam DuFort and Cerebus doesn’t show up on page two – page two instead has Cerebus playing cards and drinking with the three female students of the school. This dialogue shows up on page 6 of the issue. The dialogue is very similar to what ends up on the finished page. Well, except Cerebus usage of ‘by Clovis’ beard’.

The next page of Notebook 1 continues this dialogue between the school’s headmistress, Madam DuFort, and Cerebus:

Notebook 1, page 90

Again, the dialogue on the notebook pages matches up pretty well with the dialogue on the finished pages. Though on the notebook pages after this quick conversation with Madam DuFort, Cerebus “again drifts off into dreamless slumber. There was little else to do in the small second floor room, but sleep, think”. That didn’t happen in the issue though. In the issue, the conversation continues on for a couple of pages, and then Cerebus is seen playing card games and drinking with the female students again.

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