Thursday, 29 January 2015

Boom

MARGARET LISS:
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.

Issues 57 and 58 had a reoccurring motif on the cover: the small picture with a piece of text about it on a background reminiscent of wallpaper. The small pictures all had a hand in the foreground and Cerebus reacting. Issue 59 used many of those same elements, except for the hand.

Except originally the cover was going to use a hand, Weisshaupt's hand, and the text was going to be 'Boom'. From Notebook #3, which covers issues 52 to 59:

Notebook #3 page 150
We even get an unused Weisshaupt quote as he is talking to the seated figures "Blaming the rich for poverty is like giving the poor credit for wealth. . . It simply doesn't wash gentlemen."

On page 149 we see an even rougher draft of the picture for the cover to issue 59 and an outline for the 'Boom' story:

Notebook #3 page 149
We also get a sketch of the Countess Michelle and some text that I can't make heads or tails of: "It all began at a five thousand kilowatt radio station in Fresno California. Speech to Lord Julius, Leonardi, [unknown name], D'Gan and Cerebus. How he has matured in his beliefs."

Though the 'boom' of Weisshaupt setting off a canon came a few pages earlier on page 132:

Notebook #3 page 132
The bottom left hand corner has the text that appears on page 14 of issue 61 (page 204 of Church & State I). Though the 'beats' are a bit different. Rather than have Weisshaupt immediately answer 'magic' and then have a 'blank', 'oh', 'blank', Weisshaupt is the one that has two panels of 'blank'. And rather than have Weisshaupt state he 'brought it' the issues has Weisshaupt stating he 'paid for it'. We also see Weisshaupt was going to say "By the End of 1414 I'll have 3000 of them operational."

As we know, issue 59 doesn't have the 'Boom' story, it was moved to the end of issue 61. The cover with Weisshaupt's hand wasn't used, instead we get a picture of the hotel with the small figures of Weisshaupt and Cerebus standing in the wind at the top of the hotel.
 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Annotating the Aardvark-- an Academic Aexercise



Mara Sedlins:

In the lead-up to High Society’s print date, a task that’s captured a good deal of my time and attention has been finalizing the thank you list that will appear in the end pages. This includes people who submitted original art scans, as well as contributors to the CANO Kickstarter, and all of the other people that made the book possible, including our $10,000 contributor, Tim F.

In order to respect people’s privacy, we decided it was important to let contributors opt in if they wanted to be included with their full name (or however they want to be represented). As a result, I had the opportunity to interact directly (if briefly) with over half of the CANO participants. My task itself was simple: 1) record whether people opted in, 2) confirm the way each person wanted their name to look, and 3) send a thank you email. But multiply this 2-minute task by 150 people, and that’s five hours of work!

Just as the time it took to complete restoration work impressed upon me the sheer number of pages in High Society, taking the time and attention to interact with even half of the financial backers really made me think about the number of people who have taken the time to help make this project possible. I wonder how common it is to thank each Kickstarter contributor by name, the way Dave has chosen to do.


A sneak peek at the High Society back matter, via our InDesign layout file

As I was mulling over what I wanted to write about this week, I discovered an abundance of existing thought about the promises and pitfalls of crowdfunding – as well a wealth of interconnected ideas that took me down a rabbit hole of internet research (what counts as paid work, who gets to decide and what that says about a society’s values and power structures; the “do what you love” ethos; intellectual property rights and internet piracy; the free culture and related movements; crowdsourcing and participatory art – let me know if any of these sound like interesting fodder for a future blog post, by the way).

But what the thank you list really drove home for me is the fact that no creative work is completed in a vacuum. Art has always been influenced by the means of production and economic support available in a given time period and location. And even the most original ideas arise within a particular cultural context, whether they’re building on or reacting to already-existing work. This led me to spend some time thinking about the already-in-the-air idea to create an annotated version of Cerebus.

Unveiling all a writer’s allusions and references might seem unimportant or even counterproductive for a work like High Society. Explaining the punch line takes the funny out of it, right? And there’s the satisfaction that comes with “getting it” on your own, the feeling of being in on a private joke. But the convention of annotating a work, or including a list of references (aka “works cited” or a bibliography) serves so many crucial functions in the academic domain that they’re not only commonplace but mandatory. Setting aside for the moment the feasibility of creating an annotated version of Cerebus, how might some of these same functions apply?
 
Reasons to include references in academic writing:

  • it gives credit where credit is due (the number of times a work is referenced is often used as a proxy for its level of influence)
  • it puts the work in historical context
  • it clarifies how the current work moves beyond what’s been done before
  • it acts as a reading list for readers who are new to the topic being discussed
  • it illustrates the quality and breadth of the author’s knowledge about the topic
  • it provides alternative perspectives and conflicting evidence

On the surface, academic research is very different than creative writing or visual art – but fundamentally I think the goal is the same: to uncover and communicate some truth about human experience or the world we live in. 

Satire and parody in particular have been lauded as a uniquely powerful way to illuminate the realities and foibles of a society:

"For comedy is, after all, a look at ourselves, not as we pretend to be when we look in the mirror of our imagination, but as we really are. Look at the comedy of any age and you will know volumes about that period and its people which neither historia nor anthropologist can tell you." 
– Jo Coppola (1958), The Realist (as quoted in the Wikipedia article on Satire)

… but it doesn’t work if people don’t get the joke, right?

For a book like High Society, it’s the multilayered experience of the story – the decoding of parodies, metaphors, and subtexts – that leads to a full appreciation of its value. I mean, who cares about an imaginary aardvark for its own sake, right? (Just kidding!) But a novice to the world of Cerebus (like a junior academic new to a research area) requires some context to see beyond the surface story and appreciate the subtleties of what the work is telling us.

Ideally, I see some theoretical future annotation as an integral part of the restoration process – ensuring that all the intended nuances are available to a broad spectrum of readers, both present and future.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

70th Anniversary Of The Liberation Of Auschwitz


Writer/Artist/Publisher ~ Dave Sim
Digital Production/Research ~ Lou Copeland
(First published by Aardvark-Vanaheim, 2008)
Free download at Judenhass.com and Sequential.cc



DAY OF LIBERATION
Soldiers of the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front opened the gates of Auschwitz Concentration Camp on January 27, 1945. The prisoners greeted them as authentic liberators. It was a paradox of history that soldiers formally representing Stalinist totalitarianism brought freedom to the prisoners of Nazi totalitarianism.

The Red Army obtained detailed information about Auschwitz only after the liberation of Cracow, and was therefore unable to reach the gates of Auschwitz before January 27, 1945.

About 7 thousand prisoners awaited liberation in the Main Camp, Birkenau, and Monowitz. Before and soon after January 27, Soviet soldiers liberated about 500 prisoners in the Auschwitz sub-camps in Stara Kuźnia, Blachownia Śląska, Świętochłowice, Wesoła, Libiąż, Jawiszowice, and Jaworzno.

Over 230 Soviet soldiers, including the commander of the 472nd regiment, Col. Siemen Lvovich Besprozvanny, died in combat while liberating the Main Camp, Birkenau, Monowitz, and the city of Oświęcim. The majority of them are buried at the municipal cemetery in Oświęcim.

In the Main Camp and Birkenau, Soviet soldiers discovered the corpses of about 600 prisoners who had been shot by the withdrawing SS or who had succumbed to exhaustion.


FIRST HELP
Soviet army medics and orderlies gave the first organized help to liberated Auschwitz prisoners. Two Soviet field hospitals, commanded by doctors with the rank of colonel, Veykov and Melay, soon arrived and began caring for the ex-prisoners.

Numerous Polish volunteers from Oświęcim and the vicinity, as well as other parts of the country, also arrived to help. Most of them belonged to the Polish Red Cross (PRC). Dr. Józef Bellert of Warsaw opened the Polish Red Cross Camp Hospital at the beginning of February and took responsibility for running it. More than 4,500 ex-prisoners from more than 20 countries, most of them Jews, became patients at the Soviet field hospitals and the PRC Camp Hospital. The majority of them were bedridden. They included over 400 children, some of whom were Jewish twins who until recently had been used as experimental subjects by SS physician Josef Mengele.

Hundreds of bedridden patients were pulled from bunks covered in filth and excrement, and taken to clean wards. They had to be introduced gradually to normal eating. They received their meals in small doses (for instance, one tablespoon of mashed potato soup three times a day at first, with this being increased to several spoonfuls at a time afterwards). Many weeks after liberation, nurses were still finding bread hidden under the patients’ mattresses. Some of the ex-prisoners hoarded bread in this way because they could not bring themselves to believe that they would receive more the next day.

Liberated prisoners who were in relatively good physical condition left Auschwitz immediately after the Soviet army arrived there. Most of the patients in the hospital did the same within three to four months.

Some set off for home on their own, and others in a variety of organized transports (several hundred Jewish ex-prisoners from western and south-eastern Europe by way of the USSR; others went by train to Odessa and from there to Marseille; others still passed through transit camps, a variety of DP camp, in Slutsk, Byelorussia, and Chernivtsi, in the Ukraine).

Monday, 26 January 2015

'Goat' Layout Rewards


Cerebus Sketches (2015)
by Dave Sim

DAVE SIM:
(from Weekly Update #66, 16 January 2015)
...Not sure what Scott and Tom will be getting for their work on the GOAT layout but I'll be sending them something today...

Sunday, 25 January 2015

High Society Bookplate Ideas - Late Entries

In Weekly Update #65 Dave Sim asked for bookplate ideas for the High Society Signed & Numbered Diamond Edition. AMOC-reader ideas were featured here and here, with Dave commenting on them in Weekly Update #67. The additional bookplate ideas below were submitted before Dave Sim posted his comments -- apologies to Sandeep and Paul for the delay in getting them posted ~ Tim W.

Sandeep Atwal

Paul McKenzie

Deni Loubert: "I Turned Down Running Image Comics"

DENI LOUBERT:
(from 'I Have To Live With This Guy' by Blake Bell, Twomorrows 2002)
...[Renegade Press] never really recovered from Glenwood going out of business. Glenwood was the regional distributor and owed me a lot of money. I owed my printers a lot of money and I brought them a lot of business. At one point pretty much every black-and-white book was coming out of Preney Print all through my recommendation.

They met with me about eight months to a year before we closed and said, "You've got a huge debt we don't think you'll ever be able to pay. We're going to forgive you the entire debt and write it off the books. We're going to say you brought us all this business, count that as payback and put you on pay in advance." I felt that was fair. If they hadn't done it, I would have been out of business then.

We took another look at the budget. I started charging more for PR and tried a lot of different things to figure out what the market wanted. We had core books like Ms. Tree, Neil The Horse and Flaming Carrot that sold well. We had books that were almost vanity press. They would sell two or three thousand, like Maxwell Mouse, that I thought should have succeeded. I wanted to do books for girls, but when I did them, they didn't sell.

You are looking around and who's succeeding are the people doing platinum covers, doing marketing techniques. We can do that, but that's not what I got into this for. This was before Image Comics, too. I felt like there was no place left for the small independent publisher who just wanted to do good stories.

In terms of how you market books, I was probably ahead of the curve. I had an instinct for it, but I just didn't have a lot of practical knowledge. Face it, I was a girl working in a factory that started putting out her husband's book.

I've learned a lot about running a business since I closed Renegade. I would have cut it back to the books that actually sold. I would have done more licensing. That really was the way to keep us afloat and I didn't recognise it at the time... I was too much of an idealist...

...Jim Valentino came to me and said, "I'm talking to Rob Liefeld and these guys to do basically what you did with Renegade. We want to form a consortium," which was what Renegade was. It was a co-op. He said, "These guys sell big numbers. You want to come run it?"

I went, "I don't want to run another comic book company for as long as I live!"

It was the wrong answer. I turned down running Image Comics because I had just closed Renegade and emotionally was not in a place to do it.

Deni Loubert was Aardvark-Vanaheim's publisher for the first 70 issues of Cerebus. Deni and Dave Sim were married between 1978 and 1983. After their divorce, Deni moved to Los Angeles to start her own comics publishing company, Renegade Press, which closed its doors in 1989. She was inducted into the Joe Shuster Hall of Fame in 2010.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Wait... What? A Half Scale Cerebus Action Figure?


GEORGE PETER GATSIS:
Tease... :)  On the right is the 1/3rd scale... On the left is the 1/2 scale...  OH MY by George... I've gone and done it again... :)

Cerebus Meets The Possum & Tony The Tiger

Cerebus, The Possum and THE! TONY! THE! TIGER!
(Click image to enlarge)
DAVE SIM:
(via John Funk via Dropbox, 17 January 2015)
The Last Undesignated Off-White House Copies Recipient: The last Off-White House visitor to access the "Off-White House Copies" was Blair (THE POSSUM) Kitchen who had some holes in his CEREBUS collection.

"Just make a list and the next time you're over, we'll go downstairs and rifle through the long boxes and then check 'my personal stash' in the Off-White House Liberry."

I think I had to tell him a couple of times but he and Rochelle (Hi Rochelle!) and the kids (Hi, "Tex"! Hi Jacob! Hi Nate!) showed up for a visit and he had the list. It was pretty funny. "#144". "Yes!" "#148". "Yes." One after another, plugging in the major holes... and then the inevitable question: "Are you sure you don't want me to pay you for these?"

I'm sure, Blair. Just give me everything with THE POSSUM on it or in it when you do something and we are MORE than even. Which he already was doing.

And then I thought a few days later, "Wait a minute -- not money but what about a speciality drawing?" So, I told him I had changed my mind. No deadline but what I'd REALLY like is something that I can put up in the Off-White House that hardcore civilians would go, "Wow! That's cool!" I mean all of the art that I have is by people they've never heard of (including Dave Who?). "Oh, yeah . Whatever." But Blair Kitchen -- Blair Kitchen did a Tony the Tiger animated commercial for FROSTED FLAKES! SERIOUSLY! Tony the Tiger! WHOA! Now, you're talking! MAJOR CIVILIAN STREET CRED!

So what I asked for was an animation cell pencil drawing of Cerebus, The Possum and THE! TONY! THE! TIGER! Like they're all in the same FROSTED FLAKES commercial!

So he did! Not, you know, right away. Cartoonists are all the same. Just get caught up on all those outside favours we promise people -- what a relief! -- swear to never say Yes to anything again EVER and, before you know it you've got three more things you've promised to do hanging over your head.


So, he finally got "Dave's cockamamie FROSTED FLAKES thing" done and off his back. He even added "inside animation" details like (I hope Blair will correct me as I'm probably getting this wrong) the chart in the upper right that indicates that this is frame #14 and that #14, #18 and #20 are done by the master animator and where the "in-between" cels need to be done by the "in between" animators.

He was going to plug a FROSTED FLAKES box into the little rectangle balanced on Tony's tail but his printer ran out of ink. Besides, it looks like a finished pencil animation drawing with just the rectangle there.

Do I have the guts to do a Bonus Print of this?

I think it would be funny if some Photoshop fan with WAY too much time on his hands mocked it up as a cel! Or done like a LIFE Magazine ad from -- say, when DID Tony the Tiger first appear? Who makes FROSTED FLAKES anyway? Do you suppose they have a sense of humour? Or am I so totally invisible that you can't even SEE Tony the Tiger in proximity to me if you OWN Tony the Tiger? That's pretty potent invisibility if you think of it. But! I love a challenge!

Okay, now that I have it scanned and TimW has a copy that you can download if you're a Photoshop guy with too much time on his hands, I can now get it framed! Not a new frame but one of the Off-White House frames that still has a drawing in it from, like, 1976. That way I only have to buy a new mat and clean the glass so you can see through it.

Out of the way, there! TONY THE TIGER AND THE POSSUM COMING THROUGH!



UPDATE:

Tony the Tiger, the Possum & Cerebus
Pencils by Blair Kitchen, everything else by L Jamal Walton
"...because I'm a 'Photoshop guy with too much time on his hands'."

Friday, 23 January 2015

Weekly Update #67: Not Cheap


DAVE SIM:
Hello, everyone!

Looking over all of the great ideas for the HIGH SOCIETY bookplate, I'm still leaning in the direction of the first option presented (that's always the way: the first "take" is usually the best):  Cerebus with his drinking bowl at the top.

Mentally, I'm deleting the bottom image -- not because it doesn't look good but just because if you haven't already read the story, it might be a turn-off for someone browsing in a comic store ("What the heck is THAT supposed to be?").

So, I'm picturing the bottom panel deleted and the HIGH SOCIETY logo in black but in behind it in the vertical space one of the vertical panels of the Regency Elf with the linework burned to a gold colour. That is, a gold image.  And then I'd sign and number on top of the area between the HIGH SOCIETY logo and the bottom of the bookplate.

It would be nice to see some "gold colour hold" options of Regency Elf panels, now that we're "almost there".

Next week, I'll discuss the "Next issue:" deletions. If I remember!


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
1.  OFF-WHITE HOUSE COPIES goes "front burner" again as Dave Fisher prepares for a fact-finding mission to the warehouse in Leamington

2.  Learning curve on shipping JAKA'S STORY, MELMOTH, LATTER DAYS and THE LAST DAY directly from Southern Ontario to the Diamond Star System in Mississippi proves steep:  everything needs to be RE-boxed

3.  Possibility raised of getting copies of the HIGH SOCIETY 30TH ANNIVERSARY REMASTERED GOLD EDITION TP (Diamond order code AUG120748 JAN150915) personalized through the two local Kitchener-Waterloo comic stores.

4.  Voice-work on CEREBUS: THE MOVIE, as far as I can see, will be virtually the last thing done on the movie


1.  Dave (CEREBUS TV and Kickstarter video editor) Fisher has completed his move to his new residence -- which turns out to be literally a stone's throw from the Kitchener storage facility where I had already planned to relocate the CEREBUS inventory (I'm taking that as a sign from God).  So, he already has the first long box of OFF WHITE HOUSE COPIES -- they are signed and designated -- and he is in the process of bagging and boarding them (we're going one step at a time on this).  Next week he's driving down to Leamington (which was chosen years ago because of its proximity to Preney Print & Litho) to measure the entire inventory, preparatory to moving it all to Kitchener where I'll be signing it and Dave will be inventorying it, bagging and boarding it and supervising the storing of it. And, ultimately, shipping of it to interested customers.

As I say, the OFF WHITE HOUSE COPIES will be signed and numbered first and -- if you're a Kickstarter Pledge Partner -- you will be notified as to which issues are available in your reserved number.  And then you'll have an extended period to choose to commit or not commit to buying them and be informed of the various payment plans we'll have available.

[I noted David B's concern that -- although he had been close to the first in line to be a Pledge Partner -- he chose a later number for its "Cerebus signifier" quality (#77 I believe).  Unfortunately, all I can do at this late date is to recommend that anyone who is REALLY interested in the OFF-WHITE HOUSE COPIES send me a postcard or a letter (yes, an actual postcard or letter:  I said you have to be REALLY interested) with your own Kickstarter number and indicating that you are interested in a "Lowest Number of the OFF-WHITE HOUSE COPIES".  I'll keep the information handy and -- if any Kickstarter Pledge Partner decides not to buy any or all of the OFF-WHITE HOUSE COPIES they have a claim to -- which seems likely -- then they will be offered to the person whose postcard or letter I get first, and then to the second person, the third person, etc.  I'll ask John to post this as a Kickstarter Update as well, so everyone finds out about it at roughly the same time.]    

The transition is going to be a bit of a problem since A-V will be paying rent both in Leamington and in Kitchener for however long it takes to make the switchover -- roughly $300 a month for both locations.  Nothing is cheap (you may have noticed) in 2015.  The temptation is just to do one massive "airlift" but from an organization stand-point, the books need to be moved at least roughly in a sensible order so they can be roughly in a sensible order when they get here and Dave starts the massive process of winnowing them down to the mint copies, bagging and boarding them and inserting the CERTIFICATES OF AUTHENTICITY.  Dave Fisher will crunch the numbers having $1,000 per as the ballpark figure for each U-Haul trip and this week's bill from the warehouse for shipping 200 copies each of JAKA'S STORY, MELMOTH, LATTER DAYS and THE LAST DAY by TST EXPRESS to the packaging place in Waterloo:  $276.  "Not cheap" sums it up nicely, I think.

Which makes a nice segue to:


2.  Thought we were "out of the woods" with the delivery of the bar code labels (which are easily removable without leaving a trace of adhesive or label) which are now affixed to all 200 copies of MELMOTH, JAKA'S STORY, LATTER DAYS and THE LAST DAY but then Chris B notified me that Diamond has a policy that no box can be taller than seven and a half inches high.

I don't know when the policy came into effect because Lebonfon had previously handled the books -- getting them from the warehouse in Leamington and then transporting them across the border with all of the other books they handle for small-press publishers and putting bar code stickers on everything.  Were THEY breaking down the boxes into "Diamond Compliant" sized boxes?  Nice of them if they were!

So this is another stage in the moving of the inventory:  breaking down the boxes that aren't "Diamond Compliant" and putting the books -- securely packed -- into boxes that are.  Ultimately it will be a time saver because the books will then be in boxes already labelled for Diamond with the product code, bar code, quantity, etc.  But, in the meantime, it's definitely a "make-work" project for Dave Fisher.

Not an emergency -- 200 copies should hold Diamond for a while -- but something that needs to be attended to.


3.  George Gatsis wanted to know if he was getting a copy of the 30TH ANNIVERSARY REMASTERED GOLD EDITION of HIGH SOCIETY (Diamond order code AUG120748 JAN150915) from me or if he should place a Paypal order for it.

The short answer is, Aardvark-Vanaheim won't be getting ANY copies of the 30th ANNIVERSARY GOLD EDITION.  The shipping costs from California just don't make any sense, the Off-White House already looks too much like a loading dock these days and I can't afford the time to wrap and mail books to people.

Hopefully, at some point we will be making books available by mail direct from the new storage facility, but that's not something that I see as happening in 2015.  The OFF-WHITE HOUSE COPIES first, just to get our feet wet and for Dave Fisher to familiarize himself with all of the shipping logistics that John Funk has had to learn with CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE and TWO, inventory protocols, packing, shipping options, etc.

George then prevailed upon John Funk to place an order for the book with one of the local comic book stores and to get John to pick up the book, deliver it to me for personalizing and then deliver it to George.

I've told John to make sure that he knows what he's doing since that's turning into a lot of work for little or no return.  I suggested he charge at least $10 per book on top of the $30 cover price. I have no contact with either of the local comic stores because they've chosen not to sign the petition, but I am willing to personalize copies if John is willing to pick them up, bring them to me and then take them back to the store.  What John wants to charge for that if John chooses to do that is up to him.  A phone call to one of the stores from John turned up the information that "the 30th Anniversary Gold Edition had been cancelled".  No big surprise.  But they did agree to order a copy for George and John.  We'll see if they actually do.

And that's as far as I'm going with that.


4.  Fax from Oliver Simonsen, Director of CEREBUS: FRACTURED DESTINY dated 17 January after he saw the 37 YEARS AN AARDVARK scan (and thanks to TimW for posting it!)
"I actually wanted a black actor to do the voice of Cerebus -- thought that could have really worked especially with Elrod -- but John Di Crosta did such a great job.  He also did the voice of Doctor in the TRANSFORMERS movie among other things. And Stephen Mendel, the voice of the Wizard [the Wizard character from CEREBUS No.1] has a huge list of credits including MED MEN and, in the comic book animation realm, Splinter from TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and even as Nekron from way back in Frazetta/Bakshi's FIRE AND ICE -- just to bring it full circle: now to be remade by pioneer Robert Rodriguez  :)
On a related subject: I've gone over the audition recordings from both actresses a bunch of times and I've decided that it's not really practical to use the LATTER DAYS dialogue for the character of "Foy" because, at that point, she and Cerebus are pretty comfortable with each other, which they won't be in CEREBUS: FRACTURED DESTINY. Also, the LATTER DAYS dialogue is "bantering" and it's hard to know if someone can do "bantering" if you're only getting one side of it. So we'll have to wait until I have a good chunk of "Foy" dialogue intended for the movie and -- a more central point -- an actual monologue so I can see if they've "got" the character.

Georgina, in her video audition, definitely bears a striking resemblance to Lynn Morrison, the original model for Jaka.  Not big metaphysical surprise there.  :)

STRUCTURALLY: because we're doing this whole thing on a volunteer basis and not really letting go of anything until we're happy with the results (whether it actually gets approved as a film or just does a FAREWELL TOUR of Comic Conventions), the voices are actually ALL just placeholders right now. If we go the FAREWELL TOUR route, then we can stick with everything just as we have it so far.

If, however, it looks like a good film and a good CEREBUS entertainment vehicle in my eyes when it's done, then the next stage will be getting distribution and distribution is ALWAYS helped by Star Power.

So, we'll have a completed film, from which we'll transcribe a script and then circulate the script as far and wide as possible to see who is interested in voicing whom (the exact opposite of how animated movies are made where the voices come early in the process).  We're talking YEARS from now (how many years, we don't know) so it's very possible that the voice actors and voice actresses are complete unknowns right now but could be very hot properties in 2019, 2020, 2021.  If there is "buzz" about the movie, all we would need is one major name and that will probably lead to another major name and another major name and then we have The Big Mo when we look for a distributor.

Put another way:  Jeff Seiler?  If Brad Pitt wants to BE Elrod, your voice work is TOAST.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

To Ham & Ham Not

MARGARET LISS:
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.

Notebook #28 covers issues 256 to 265, a large chunk of Form & Void, and issue #256 starts with Mary Ernestway telling her story of the time Ham and her went on safari. On page 6 Dave lays out what page from Mary's autobiography "How It Was" he was referencing, a sequence description for what it was and how many pages or panels he thought it would take in comic form:

Notebook #28 page 6
While I don't have a copy of "How It Was", nor the time to read it if I did have it, but lucky for us, Dave has written notes, To Ham & Ham Not, which he placed in the back of the phonebook. On page 721 we see that pages 499 - 500 (issue 256, pages 13 & 14) are for the Kimana Swamp, which we see comes from page 439 - 440 of "How It Was" with this description from Dave "Gerhard BGS w/voice-over" for 4 pages. Compare the two for yourself to see how they stack up.

Dave continues his outline on the next page:

Notebook #28 page 7
These two pages are the only pages that outline "How It Was" and how many pages for it  To me it doesn't look like much of it was used, as his To Ham & Ham Not notes mostly reference Mary's East Africa Journal that Dave got from the JFK Library. On page 718 in Dave's note we see the reason for this - he only had "How It Was" when starting with pages #488 & 489 of Form & Void.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

High Society Bookplate Ideas, Part the Second

Sean Michael Robinson:

In Weekly Update #65 Dave Sim asked for bookplate ideas for the High Society Signed & Numbered Diamond Edition. Yesterday, Tim ran some of the designs we've received so far. And here are the remainder!

First off, here are two designs from Tom Palmer Jr. Captions below are what he had to say about them--
 Tom Palmer: The art is from the "Ages of Cerebus" in Epic Illustrated 32 with just a bit of work to add in a box for Dave's signature. This is from a crude scan I found online. I have no idea if the original art is available so maybe a better scan from a copy of the magazine would do the job. Since this is basically a portfolio piece it translates pretty well to a bookplate; unlike any of the covers there's no trade dress to get rid of. (Technically it was drawn after the initial run of High Society...but it was done before the cover of the trade was drawn so that should count for something!)

Tom Palmer: And option two is just a montage of some of the various looks Cerebus has in the story. It was hard to find full figure shots of him that could be easily isolated, and I'm not completely satisfied with the layout but here goes...

Secondly, we had two very similar suggestions on last week's book plate post--

Ethan Burns : Cerebus at the debate doing sketches of rocks and trees with the persons name on his sketch somewhere. Alternatively elrod doing the same thing.

Travis Pelkie: I like something like what Ethan Burns said: a pic of Cerebus or Elrod signing/drawing the rocks and trees, so it looks like Cerebus is the one who signed the bookplate (which is where Dave's going to be signing it, right?).

And below you'll find two very quick mockups of Ethan's idea (with Travis' elaboration).





Got some ideas of your own? Please send them to momentofcerebus at gmail, or link to them in the comments.

If you're interested in getting a signed and numbered copy of High Society for yourself, you can preorder them now through your local comic shop. Those of you who might not have a local shop handy could also heed the words of  BBCoffey--

If you can't make it to a store, Discount Comic Book Services (DCBS) and Things From Another World (TFAW) both have it available for pre-order.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

High Society Bookplate Ideas

In Weekly Update #65 Dave Sim asked for bookplate ideas for the High Society Signed & Numbered Diamond Edition. Here are the entries received so far. Sean will have more tomorrow here on AMOC.

Will Collier:
My suggestion:  this panel on top (with the fragment of the left-hand panel word balloon removed), a space below for the signature, and the gold "High Society" logo below that (superimposed over a silhouette of the Regency would be even better):

Famous The Aardvark:
A few ideas.

Paul McKenzie

Monday, 19 January 2015

Short Stories In Six Words

CHAD V:
It is claimed Ernest Hemingway once wrote a six-word short story that could make people cry for a bet. The wager was ten dollars, which Hemingway won with the following: "For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn." However, there's no hard evidence that this ever happened...
...Here’s how Mr. Hemingway described the author’s role in his Nobel Prize winning speech in 1954: "Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day. For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

I'm sure Dave is well aware of this anecdote. I'm just wondering what were/are thoughts on the story itself, the question of its validity, AND the quote discussing authors lives. Could you forward this to him?

Cerebus #251 (February 2000)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
EDDIE KHANNA:
Hey Tim. I remember hearing about that anecdote. Wired magazine got a lot of authors (including Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Stan Lee (insert joke about the 'Marvel Method') to do their own version (of the long list, I think I like Alan's the best)

Not sure what Dave would make of it, but my first instinct was to laugh, since I recalled Dave's notes in "To Ham and Ham Not" in the back of Form & Void where he said that Hemingway was trying to come up with a way to create more by doing less, and basically just type type typing. What better way to do that than to basically write classified ads (albeit very clever ones)?

I'm kind of surprised it moved Arthur C. Clarke to tears, but I guess that ties in with the old idea of "an infinite number of drunk typists type type typing away 6 word short stories as an expression of primitivism will sooner rather than later come up with something that will make the creator of 2001: A Space Odyssey and that scene with all the apes at the beginning cry."

Ahhh, I shouldn't be cruel; Hemingway DID write The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, which I thought was very good. It's just too bad they didn't know about fractal mathematical equations back then; otherwise he could have just used one of those as the world's shortest "choose your own adventure" story generator by having people plug in their own numbers.

Hemingway's speech about what it takes to be writer sounds like good advice to me; I'm just not enough of a Hemingway scholar to know for sure how much of it he actually followed it himself. My guess would be, probably not very much.

Hey maybe you could post that email as an Aardvark Comment, or with excerpts from the Wired article as an AMOC blog post? And if Dave has any inclination or time, he could respond to it if he wishes? 


WIRED:
(from Wired Magazine, November 2006)
We'll be brief: Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and is said to have called it his best work. So we asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to take a shot themselves. Dozens of our favorite auteurs put their words to paper, and five master graphic designers took them to the drawing board. Sure, Arthur C. Clarke refused to trim his ("God said, 'Cancel Program GENESIS.' The universe ceased to exist."), but the rest are concise masterpieces.

Automobile warranty expires. So does engine.
- Stan Lee

Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
- Alan Moore

With bloody hands, I say good-bye.
- Frank Miller


I’m dead. I’ve missed you. Kiss … ?
- Neil Gaiman


“I couldn’t believe she’d shoot me.”
- Howard Chaykin


Broken heart, 45, WLTM disabled man.
- Mark Millar 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Weekly Update #66: Supplemental

Steve Harold meets Dave Sim
The Off-White House, January 2015
DAVE SIM:
(via John Funk via Dropbox, 15 January 2015)
Former Diamond/Chicago Warehouse guy and co-organizer (with another former Diamond Warehouse guy, Tim Gagne) of the I.C.E. Spirits show in Chicago, Steve Harold, was invited to the Off-White House for a quick "between prayer times" visit -- starting with this "photo-op" in the Rectangle Office - -January 6th when he found out he was going to be in Toronto on business. (That's Tim's Grinch-y Christmas card -- which arrived with a single panel of original art from Stan Drake's THE HEART OF JULIET JONES "Pop" and Eve Jones with the street number for "234 Hemlock Rd." clearly visible in the background -- as a surprise Christmas gift!

I asked Steve if he had any advice as a former Diamond employee and long-time reader/viewer of A MOMENT OF CEREBUS. His immediate suggestion was that I sign the front of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE FOLIOS being solicited as "unsigned" through Diamond. Too late for NUMBER ONE but I will definitely be doing that on NUMBER TWO. Thanks for the suggestion, Steve! Please think kind thoughts of Steve when you see my autograph on the front of CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO in your local store -- and watch for his "CEREBUS IN MY LIFE" contribution here on A Moment of Cerebus... whenever he gets around to it. My suggestion to him was to see if he could put together the first "CEREBUS IN MY CITY" segment with all of the Chicago folks who have always been a big part of CEREBUS' success.

(Click image to enlarge)


Another Christmas gift -- and more Stan Drake original artwork! This from a syndicated cartoonist (King Features) who I'm not going to identify since I'm not sure he wants to be "exposed" publicly. It would have been published on January 31, 1978.

Weird metaphysics: that would have been Norman Mailer's 55th birthday and I had just been musing -- the day before it came in -- that Zack Kitchen-of-the-perpetual-Christmas-card-from-Jeff-Seiler -- had been born right around my 55th birthday in 2011, not knowing that Mike had, at that point, posted the video of Zack playing the Christmas card even as I was musing. Even weirder, that same day's mail brought two articles on Norman Mailer sent by Robert R. of Van Nuys, CA. Even weirder, the syndicated cartoonist is from Minneapolis where Jeff Seiler lives.

The piece is important to me, personally, because -- calculating from Stan Drake's six-week lead time on JULIET JONES, he would have drawn this strip on or about the day that CEREBUS No.1 came back from the printer!

I just noticed when I put the strip in to be scanned that Stan Drake must have had trouble with Eve's left eye in the middle panel because he's pencilled it on the other side of the strip (and either inked it directly on his lightbox or traced the reverse image in pencil).

Anyway, many thanks, Mr. Anonymous!


Saturday, 17 January 2015

Todd Klein: My Five Favourite Letterers

TODD KLEIN:
(from Comic Book Artist Vol 2 #1, Top Shelf Productions, 2003)

From the early 1950 to the present, Gaspar has set the bar for creativity, energy and style in comics lettering. During his prime period from 1967 to 1987, Gaspar's logos and cover lettering for DC were particularly inspiring to a whole generation of letterers, including myself.

Before Gaspar, Ira was THE lettering stylist for DC, with his logo's and cover lettering gracing nearly every DC cover from the late 1940s to his death in the late 1960s. He also created many of the memorable DC house ads. Reportedly trained as a stone-carver, Ira's letters had a classic style redolent of the art deco era.

3. Dave Sim
In comics, no one has made lettering such an important part of his work as Dave Sim in Cerebus. He continues to experiment with lettering style in delightful ways, evoking a wide range of voices, emotions and moods. Were it not overshadowed by his writing and art, Dave's lettering would be more celebrated.

From his early work with Jim Starlin, through decades of X-Men books to his ever creative work on Spawn, Tom has continued to put a great deal of thought and craft into his work, drawing on styles from the past, but imbuing them with his own personal stamp. Tom's lettering is always neat, concise and attractive.

John's angular and stylized lettering has always appealed to me since I first saw it on the Englehart / Rogers / Austin stories in DC's Detective Comics in the 1970s. John's best work has often been when teamed with Walt Simonson, where his style finds the perfect artistic complement.

Only five? If I had a few more numbers, I'd certainly add Bill Oakley, John Costanza, Richard Starkings, Dave Gibbons, Dave Lanphear and Robin Spehar to the list, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few other favourites.

Todd Klein is the multiple Eisner and Harvey award winning comics letterer and logo designer.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Weekly Update #66: 37 Years An Aardvark

37 Years An Aardvark
Art by Dave Sim
(Click image to enlarge)
DAVE SIM:
Howdy, everyone!

Question from a couple of weeks back (last week?) about the notebooks: what about those missing pages?  That's one of those concave/convex/concave/convex oscillations where I was aware that this was a notebook in which I was writing part of The World's Longest Graphic Novel so that would be a question since the notebooks say how many pages they contain.  So, if I was heading up to Doogies for a beer or something and I wanted to leave a note for Ger ("Ger - I'm up at Doogies having a beer") and I was (as was usually the case) taking The Albatross with me...

Well, good spot to get a quick sheet of notepaper.  But, then I'd think, "Well, that's going to raise questions some day. Did someone tear out pages? Did Dave self-censor himself?  Did the CIA tear them out?"  And then I'd have to talk myself down from the ledge.  It's JUST a notebook.  Even thinking that the question might come up SOME. DAY.  seemed disproportionate and egomaniacal.  Certainly if I had tried telling someone that when I would be hunting around for a piece of paper, they would have thought I was crazy (in a distinctly disproportionate and egomaniacal way).

And, now, here we are, eh?

Belated thanks to Margaret for keeping up with this WELL into Bruins season.

Margaret Mitchell "tasked" her husband, John Marsh, with destroying her writings after she was dead, leaving the judgement up to him -- a task inherited by her brother, Stephens, after Marsh died in 1952.  As late as the 1960s he destroyed the only remaining version of PANSY HAMILTON, FLAPPER HEROINE.  Not my nature, but I can see the logic behind it.  Whatever you leave behind adds many different levels of interpretation (as we've already seen).  My own retention isn't particularly good this many years later of things that didn't make the final cut -- particularly "blue-skying" ideas many years down the road.  As a writer, I often need to see how NOT to write a line of dialogue or an explanation in order to understand how TO write a line of dialogue or an explanation.

But, missing pages, I can pretty much guarantee were just torn out to write notes. And not often, just when I saw a need to talk myself down from a ledge that I was pretty sure I was actually on.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
1.  CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO now within 100 autographs of being "off my desk"

2.  CEREBUS: FRACTURED DESTINY Hello Joe Rubinstein Via Facebook!  Hoping to get some sheets of the  comic-art drawing paper you use and wondering if Kinko's can print on that paper.  37 YEARS AN AARDVARK on its way to Antony via Oliver.

3. Bar codes stickers for MELMOTH, JAKA'S STORY, LATTER DAYS and THE LAST DAY have been produced and are awaiting "testing/testing" at Diamond before being applied to the books

4.  Not sure what Scott and Tom will be getting for their work on the GOAT layout but I'll be sending them something today.  Hope Scott -- who has been "under the weather" all week, he says -- is feeling better soon

1.  Funkmaster John made an error in cutting 100 copies of Plate 3 (I'm surprised that doesn't happen more often) (knock wood).  So, I'm almost at the finish line instead of finished.  I forgot about having to sign the labels that go on the front of the IH (Inked Head) copies, so that was another 37 and BP ballpoint pen head sketch copies (another...4, I think?).  Apart from that, signing Plates was Job One on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week between the end of "dinner and flossing hour" (2000 hours) and lights out (2300 hours).  I tend to be quite monomaniacal about it:  I've been paid for these, they arrived tonight, they're getting signed tonight. Period.

The smaller-sized boxes for transport that John got from U-Line are working great.  Much easier on my left shoulder...

[Okay, real quick: Canada Post moved Box 1674 out to Waterloo from Kitchener -- the only way I could retain the number was to go out there -- so as of summer 2013 I was walking out to Waterloo every other Friday to get the mail and groceries, every other Friday to the Frederick Mall for groceries.  And then taking a cab home instead of walking home.  During Ramadan I switch to Central Fresh Market because it's all back streets going over there so there's less chance of my seeing a pretty girl which is really...unhelpful...during Ramadan. Not foolproof: pretty girls use back streets as well as main drags but much lower percentage. Particularly in the summer.  I had always walked back from Central Fresh carrying my groceries so this past summer I naturally did that.  But I'm 58 years old.  If you spend a year -- as I had -- NOT carrying groceries for a mile or two miles every few days, your muscle that does it is going to atrophy.  Which meant pain. Which I ignored. "Don't baby it, don't baby it."  And now I can't sleep on my left side because it stretches the muscle and that means P*A*I*N.  "Okay, maybe we need to baby this."  So, it's either a stretched muscle that will someday come back from the dead, or it's a permanent 60-year old aches-and-pains thing.  Or it's terminal bone cancer.  Or flesh-eating disease just getting warmed up.  :)   I'm pretty philosophical since I'm not a "doctor visit" kind of guy. I It's complicated somewhat by the fact that for 40 years now, I've done everything I possibly could with my left hand and shoulder to avoid any damage or strain to my right hand and shoulder. So my right hand and shoulder are not used to doing EVERYTHING which they now need to do.  Which means they're both eroding faster than, presumably, they would have under ordinary circumstances. End of story  :)]

...John also came up with the idea of putting all the prints in a plastic bag which means I can get them out of the box with one good pull mostly on my right side and only using my left hand to guide them.  Unbag them one-handed, sign them all, slide them back into the bag and slot them in between the two pieces of styrofoam he's got to hold everything together.  So, that's VERY good news for keeping doing CEREBUS ARCHIVE.  Funkmaster comes from an engineering background, so he's always watching for structural things like this.  For which I am SINCERELY grateful.


2. Hi Joe!  Thanks for your phone message which I thoughtlessly deleted before making a note of what comic art drawing paper you use for doing your watercolours.  When you send the three images back to me, can you include two or three sheets?  I might as well work on what you're the most comfortable colouring on.  I'd volunteer to try to get them locally, but neither of the local comic stores has signed the on-line petition (belated THANK YOU! to Don Van Horn for signing a few weeks back and the two other fellas who signed in the last couple of weeks -- 582 names and s.l.o.w.l.y. counting -- a Kitchener person actually signing the petition! Will wundas nevah seize? as Krazy Kat put it.  Don was the guy who took the last pictures of me and Harry Kremer together that appeared on the back cover of 279) and I don't get to Paradise Comics in Toronto often enough to get them there.  Two or three sheets at a time should do fine judging by how little time I have to devote to the movie.

Any preference as to pencil interacting with the colour?  I used, variously, 3H, 4H and 2B Staedler Mars.  Leave a phone message if you have a preference or not if you don't.  

Regarding the 37 YEARS AN AARDVARK piece.  Good point.  Yes, you would have gotten paid for it, but that would depend on how many Bonus Prints it sold as.  And looking at it, I'm thinking, "This is not going to break any Bonus Print box office records." So I'd hate to ask you to put time in on it that would be comparable to the time you'd put in on the FRACTURED DESTINY images which (to my eye, anyway) have much greater box office appeal. And in the case of those, we'll be auctioning the originals as well as selling them as Bonus Prints -- which we wouldn't be doing on 37 YEARS AN AARDVARK.  I'll try to think these things through a little better before saying anything.

So I finished it up in ink (TimW should have the scan I did of it and -- hopefully -- will post it here when he gets home from work) and mailed it to Oliver to give to Antony (who's actually in England) and it turns out that Oliver moved and faxed me not to send anything to his old address which I had already done but fortunately either his or Carma's son in in residence there and will be able to forward it.

We will offer it as a Bonus Print and see "Okay, what does this do?"  And if it turns out to have box office appeal, I'll definitely keep you in mind for colouring other peculiar "one-offs" like this. If it tanks. ...well, better you not have time invested in it.  It's REALLY just something cool for Antony's wall.

I think that covers it.


3.  Funkmaster did a really good job on the bar code stickers (which will be: guaranteed easily removable from the books), e-mailing them to Matt and Diamond and dropping off printed copies for me.  Checked them very carefully to see that all the information is correct, which it was.  Matt has now given them to someone at Diamond to check for "scanability":  do they register as being barcodes for the books for which they are supposed to be bar-coded?  Once Matt gives us a green light on that, then it's a matter of the Waterloo-based company putting them on the books, re-packing the books and shipping them to the Star System warehouse in Mississippi.

Shouldn't be long now!


4.  I'm going to try to do things like this more often particularly with the "early, funnier ones" material where I think CEREBUS fans are always going to have a clearer idea than I do of what's required/apt to work the best because the "early, funnier ones" are "nearest to them in their affections" (Koranic phrase).

It's very much like seeing Cerebus the Barbarian through Kevin Eastman's eyes when the TURTLES crossover pages were coming in.  Instead of "Well, I know how to actually draw now" it was "Hunh.  Yeah, there's a certain E!N!E!R!G!Y! to this, isn't there?  Badly drawn E!N!E!R!G!Y! but definitely E!N!E!R!G!Y! for all that!"

See you all next week, God willing!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Odds and Ends

MARGARET LISS:
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.

Way back on October 16 of last year I looked at some of Dave Sim's notebook entries for issue #94 of Cerebus. They came from notebook #7 and you can see the cover there. Notice on the cover that it says "with 2 pocket folder". Well, the pocket was  still with it:

Notebook #7 "pocket" There was nothing in it.
As you can see it is Dave's schedule for issues  #93 through 98 while he was out in Honolulu in January through March 1987. Talk about a compressed schedule. take issue #95 for example, starting on February 2nd, he does two pages and does two pages a day except the 7th and 8th (Saturday and Sunday) and finishing with the cover and letters on February 13th - the following Friday! Less than two weeks to do a full issue. Though I don't know if it was actually accomplished, I remembered they were late during that time period and needed to play catch up at some point, but can't remember exactly when that happened.

On page 13 of notebook 7 you can find Dave's outline for the end of Church & State.

Notebook #7 page 113
Looks like he had it going to issue #115, which turns out to be issue #2 of Jaka's Story. Issue #112 has the note "Bye now" and issue 113 has the note "trip back", neither of which we really see.

Notebook #7, while it encompasses issues #87 to 95, has the first appearance of what would later become Cirin:

Notebook #7 page 92
Not much snout there, but big bossums as my mother would say. The back side of that page is page #91 and you can see it in the entry from Oct 16 linked above.



Wednesday, 14 January 2015

How High Society? Odds and Ends and Audience Participation


Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings everyone!

I'm afraid it's an "odds and ends" style roundup this week, as that's where we are with the work. Mara's spending this week finishing up the Dragnet certificates for all of our Cerebus original art scan donors, and I'm spending most of my time working on layout for my new graphic novel, A Summer Horse. 

But High Society continues on without us! 

The results from last week's "Redesign the GOAT Sequence of High Society Contest" (RTGSOHSC) are in. Here's what Dave has to say--



Scott Yoshinaga's GOAT redesign, pg 1, with Dave's tweaks

Congratulations Scott! And thank you, Scott and Tom, and everyone else for your great comments. Scott and Tom, please send your addresses and contact information to cerebusarthunt at gmail so Dave can send you your prizes!

Meanwhile, we still need your help with the final design decisions. First off, as Dave said on Friday, the "continued..."s are still up for grabs. Feel free to weigh in here, or in the comments on Dave's post, with your opinions-- what gets the axe? What doesn't? Why? (You'll notice from the fax above that last week I completely misinterpreted Dave's Astoria thought. So, no, no word balloons are going anywhere! Relax!) As you might be able to tell from the GOAT redesign, we're finding it tremendously helpful to put off some of these decisions onto the shoulders of the crowd, as it were. And you all seem to be doing a great job so far.

Lastly, we're still looking for ideas for potential High Society bookplates. These will be placed in the signed and numbered edition of the book that, hey, you can pre-order from your local comic store right now...

Although he hasn't explicitly said so, I think it's very unlikely that Dave will want to draw anything new for this, for a variety of reasons. So for those of you interested in participating-- take a tour through your older High Society editions, or the original Cerebus 26-50. What images best represent the book? In what sequence? Feel free to pick and choose from anything available in that time period-- interior art, covers, letter page doodles. If you'd rather not make a mock-up yourself, then leave a text description here as a comment, along with a description of where I can find the art you're referring to. If we get any comments here along those lines, I'll make some mockups of the suggested ideas, and use next week's blog post to share the current contenders.

There's still time to be a part of this book. (Including, you know, submitting original artwork. It's not too late, Cerebus original art owners...)

Thanks again to everyone who's contributed so far!