Thursday, 27 November 2014

Talking With Your Creator

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.

In Minds, Cerebus talks with Dave. We also get to see some Zulli art. Well, Dave "doing" Zulli art. From page 142 / 143 of the Minds phonebook, issue 193 page 16 / 17:

In notebook #10, Dave Sim starts sketching Jaka and Lord Julius for that double page spread:

Notebook #10 page 37
You can also see some of the dialogue between Dave and Cerebus from that same issue. A quote from a police song "It's a big enough umbrella but it's always me that ends up getting wet', the baker and the bread analogy from page 127 of Minds, a crossed out name: Barry Lessman-Smith. It appears as if Dave returned many different times to that same page of snippets of dialogue.

On page 41 of the notebook he would return to the Jaka and Lord Julius sketches.

Notebook #10 page 41
It also appears as if he wrote done a bunch of dialogue - the starting dialogue that he says to Cerebus, beginning on page 127 again. Where Dave talks about being Cerebus' creator, but not a god. It starts off with some similar themes, but in the notebook, it is a different from the final page.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Noise, Cleanup, and a Second Helping of Pumpkin Pie

Mara Sedlins:

Production for the Graphic Designer, 1974

Although I missed the trip to Bang Printing (stuck at home with a cold), I got to see the test prints yesterday and they look fantastic! Adjusting the water levels allowed for very fine-grained variations in the quality of the ink, several of which looked like excellent candidates to me. At one point, Sean used the word "classy" to describe the aesthetic effect we're going for in the choice of paper and ink settings, and that struck me as just right. And a side-by-side comparison with the original print editions is like watching something come into focus. Magic. Classy magic :)



But, like many endeavors that give the impression of being almost magically effortless, the sheer amount of time that goes into cleaning up the pages (especially those sourced from newsprint) still catches me by surprise. Over the weekend I combed through the 11 x 17 printouts, following up on any remaining issues that Sean had flagged or that I'd caught during my read-through. Even though the amount of work left on any given page was minimal (erase two dots of noise here, fix a little bit of tone there), there are five hundred and freaking four pages! No matter how enjoyable and satisfying it can be to "perfect" a given page, going through the whole thing adds up to a lot of man hours… errr.. woman hours… umm.. doctor hours. This is why it will be so helpful to get some volunteers on board to do the rounds.



This week I'll be putting together a brief how-to manual for our Cerebus Cleanup Campaign members, and then get them (you, perhaps?) working on a few pages. I sincerely hope it ends up being as fun for them as it has been for me. But even if it does cause you break a bit of a sweat, how cool will it be to know that page X was your baby? That’s the kind of stuff you tell your grandkids right after your second helping of pumpkin pie.

In my curiosity about why this tedious work seems satisfying and beneficial, I came across this New Yorker article about the benefits of daydreaming (original research here). It turns out that doing a task that allows your mind wander leads to improved creative problem solving afterwards. So: sign up to help and not only will you be providing much-needed assistance with the Cerebus restoration project, but your own creative work may benefit as well!


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Judenhass: Free Download Now Available

Judenhass
by Dave Sim, with technical assistance by Lou Copeland
Free download at Judenhass.com and Sequential.cc

How's Your Beaver #2

How's Your Beaver (1976)
by Dave Sim
(Click image to enlarge)
DAVE SIM:
(from Cerebus Archive #1, April 2009)
...I was off to the races or so I thought until I did the second strip. All that cross-hatching made it look like something out of Charles Dickems' Bleak House... instead of a typical Canadian suburban home. It was a hard lesson in comic strip design... the "look" needs to be versatile enough to convey a range of settings. My choice of dip pen -- a C-6 Speedball nib -- was okay for lettering but not enough for "doing" Aislin or Roy Peterson. The strip went way onto my mental back burner.

Barbara Frum (1937-1992) CBC radio host of "As It Happens", a Canadian institution at the time... uber liberal (like most Canadians). Her son is David Frum. a conservative commentator who severed briefly in the George W. Bush White House and reportedly was the one who coined the term "Axis of Evil" to describe Iran, Iraq and North Korea in the President's first State of the Union Address.

Ironic, eh?

Monday, 24 November 2014

Tribute Art: Cerebus #1-200

Cerebus #1-200
(Click image to enlarge)

Sunday, 23 November 2014

S.R. Bissette: Advice To Self-Publishers

Spider-Baby Comix #1 (December 1996)
by Steve Bissette
STEVE BISSETTE:
(from the Spider Trax letters page, Spider-Baby Comix #1, December 1996)
Dear Mr. Bissette: I would like to ask if you could offer any suggestions or tips on self-publishing comic-books. Many thanks! Sincerely, Jesse Landrum
I get letters like yours every month: a one-sentence question on a loaded topic worth 20 pages or more, Jesse -- which alas, I never have time to reply to.

I hope this reaches some of you who've written asking the same question.

First, Jesse, do the work. Write and draw your comic. One issue, two issues, ten issues -- whatever leads you believe you're ready to move to print.

Okay. That's the fun and easy part.

Secondly, evaluate its relative "worth" as a marketable item. Be honest with yourself. Determine which format best serves your creation. Is a photocopied mini-comic format (inexpensive, easy to handle, cheap to mail) the best option right now? Are you ready to jump to full-blown offset printing, saddle-stitched with four-colour covers?

Third, determine the most effective and appropriate means of distribution open to your comic: trade, mail-order, convention sales, or the direct-sales-marketplace distributors? If you chose the latter, be aware of the consequences if the distributor(s) do(es) not choose to carry your creation -- and be creative in determining what options remain open to you.

Finally how are you going to market your creation? You have to let people know it exists and how to get their hands on it. Internet, paid ads, trading ads with other titles, classifieds in the fan and trade zines? There're no easy answers. Guerrilla marketing and ingenuity go a long way. Good luck!

Time, skill, the perceived 'quality' of your product (don't fool yourself -- your precious brain child is merely product in the marketplace), hard work, luck, and money will determine much. Be honest with yourself before jumping in too deep -- and best of luck. The market place is a pretty ruthless arbitrator these days.

Dave Sim wrote a useful series of "How To" articles in Cerebus, which he plans to collect into a single volume (along with transcripts of all his relevant speeches about the topic). Given the current state of the market and how readily the prominent self-publishers of two years ago jumped under the perceived "safety" of various company umbrellas, Dave may have shelved those plans for the time being.

Of course, there are larger issue to consider.

Some people work fine under publishers. You might be one of them. Assess your needs and goals. If seeing print and earning a page rate are your goals, find a publisher. Good luck.

If your goal is establishing long-term control over your own work in the comics medium, in my opinion self-publishing remains the only viable alternative to working under the auspices of a publisher.

If you're out to collaborate with other creators, publish other people's work, or build an empire to make your character a pop-cultural icon visible in every home in America, self-publishing may provide a short-term vehicle to attracting larger media interests, but don't waste my time asking for advice. If other people end up writing and drawing your character, you're a publisher, not a self-publisher. Again, good luck, but go away.

Dave Sim maintains "it's not a movement, I'm not a leader," but, by the power of his example, he has proven the long-term viability of self-publishing. For me and my generation, Dave was the model, staying true to his course while others -- the Pinis, Eastman & Laird, the Image coalition -- strayed into proprietary work-for-hire studio-driven production-line publishing.

Of late, we've turned a significant corner in comics history, as a generation of self-publishers have emerged without Dave as their role model. Paul Pope, Dave Lapham, and other embraced self-publishing as their most direct route to their respective goals -- period. That they feel no debt or allegiance to Dave only reinforces the validity of self-publishing as a vehicle without proprietary interests, save those of the individual self-publisher.

Self-publishing is hard work, but I wouldn't trade this hard-earned independence for the coziest of umbrellas. If self-publishers choose to co-opt autonomy with employees, assistants, exclusivity deals, or what-have-you, that's their business. They choose to muddy their pond, but that doesn't mean the water table is sullied: it doesn't invalidate the strength and clarity of true self-publishing.

I've traded a certain level of productivity for autonomy. I do everything at SpiderBaby. I pack the boxes, I do the bookkeeping. I haven't any partners or assistants. My output is slow, but it's a pace I can maintain, and it does earn a decent living. Even with this year's series of financial crunches and disasters, I've had more options (including the comic you hold in your hands), more freedom to move and solve my problems, and more pleasure in my creative life than I ever had in the twenty years of working for (or, as they like to put it, "with") other publishers. I've broken many cardinal rules -- my publishing schedule is erratic, I'm not a dependable presence on the racks -- but Tyrant is alive and thriving. I for one am thankful for the years Sim poured into convincing me by his example that the option to self-publish was the best option for me. Three years into it, I've no regrets. It remains the clearest path -- for me.

Despite the rumours, self-publishing is not dead. It's just been co-opted and/or abandoned by a certain few.

These decisions and defections must be scrutinised on a case-by-case basis. Some simply could not continue to finance their creations amid financial crisis after crisis, precipitated by the collapse of retailers and distributors and the subsequent unpaid bills. Others feared the mere possibility of such a situation, and preemptively sought shelter. Doing so, they argued preserved their self-interests by trading true autonomy for the perceived "safety" of umbrella publishers. I wish them luck. Unfortunately, a few distorted the genuine issues by taking cheap shots at self-publishing per se, downplaying their own responsibility for their respective situations and inflating the perceived "safety" of the respective umbrella publisher of choice. (We'll see how things go in the coming months for those who signed on with the various Image partners and imprints, as the coalition continues to unravel.)

The"independent publishers" have been even more insidious in their undermining of industry and fan perception of self-publishing, disparaging its virtues even as they competitively fish its waters for the prize trout and bass.

Some of these publishers passively foul the waters by promoting their respective operations as 'self-publishing".

Make no mistake, when a publisher maintains a propriety interest in a creative concept by mobilising freelance talent or studio operations to perpetuate and expand upon said publisher's creative properties, this is tried-and-true publishing, in the grand comics' industry tradition.

Other publishers use their various public ventures to mount more overt attacks on self-publishing as a vehicle of self-expression. Their motives should be transparent: if self-publishing is a viable alternative, who needs the perceived security of an Image, Homage, Caliber, Antarctic, or Fantagraphics? Again, Sim has been the target of choice, and it's been a pretty sorry spectacle in what feebly passes for "journalism" in the current environment.

The lack of any genuine responsible journalism in our field is another factor in the equation, and one with far-reaching consequences. Responsible journalism has become as even more remote ideal in today's monopolised environment.

The current marketplace can be pretty fucking discouraging. The direct-sales market continues to implode, its distribution system dangerously consolidated. Presently, we're down to one major distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., effectively monopolising the only marketplace still conducive to self-publishing (self-publishing is decidedly problematic in a returnable market).

We're approaching a bottleneck comparable to that which existed  back in 1962-63. DC Comics (at that time, National Periodicals) effectively controlled and restricted comic-book distribution for many of its competitors, including up-and-coming Marvel Comics. Marvel flourished only after breaking out of the DC-controlled distribution.

Currently, the content and presentation of Diamond's catalogue is effectively controlled by DC, Image, and Dark Horse, who call the shots as Diamond's power-house exclusive accounts. Who will end up at the top pf that three-party pig pile is anyone's guess, but the Time Warner subsidiary certainly has an edge. As a result, the non-exclusive "independents" and self-publishers find themselves in dire need of new distribution and retail opportunities which, as yet, do not exist.

Increasing efforts by Diamond and its partners to (a) further ghettoize and financially compromise true self-publishers producing viable product and (b) thus "force" those self-pubs popularly perceived as "the cream of the crop" into partnerships with "umbrella" publishers (some of whose prior exclusivity relations with Diamond played a decisive role in the current state of direct-sale marketplace) can (c) only be reasonably perceived as an ongoing pattern of restraint of trade, extortion, and collusion.

Other than that, Jesse, it's a piece of cake.


Stephen R. Bissette is best known for his collaboration with Alan Moore on Saga of the Swamp Thing from 1983-87, and for his self-published Tyrant comic, the portrait of a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the late Cretaceous. He also edited the ground-breaking horror comics anthology Taboo, which launched From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. He co-authored the books Comic Book Rebels and The Monster Book: Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and his novella Aliens: Tribes, illustrated by Dave Dorman, won a Bram Stoker Award in 1993. More recently his articles on horror films have been collected in the Blur series published by Black Coat Press and Steve currently serves on the faculty of The Center For Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

A Not-Quite Live BULLETIN From Valencia, CA

Sean Michael Robinson:

Hello everyone!

We were not quite able to make the "simulcast" thing happen yesterday, mainly because there were about a million things happening at once and I had my hands full talking (shouting) "DOT GAIN" over the roar of the Bang Printing operation.

I drove up from San Diego with my wife Rachel, and we snagged my brother Justin from Los Angeles on the way. Arriving at Valencia about an hour early, we sat around the table at a local fast food joint and took turns drawing "printing presses"-- sight unseen, mind you-- on a napkin, with a stolen pen. Here's my brother's rendition. Notice the tree-sawing machine feeding the press.



We were escorted into the massive (and meticulously clean) press area by Alex, the business manager at the plant. Marcell the pressman was finishing a run as we were coming in, and we were soon joined by many other people, including Josh, one of the press technicians. We ran the signature a few times, with several different ink densities, using a densiometer and their gain calibration charts, hidden in the to-be-trimmed area of the signature, to take a look at the amount of gain each of the different settings were generating.



We've talked about dot gain here before. What you basically have to know is this-- as ink strikes a substrate, it expands on the surface. The amount of this expansion depends on the "range" of that area-- dot gain is worst in the 40-60 percent region-- and the type of substrate. For instance, uncoated web-press sheets like we're using for High Society exhibit much more dot gain than coated paper, like was used on glamourpuss.


Me, with a Preney copy of Going Home and a Lebonfon Cerebus.

Modern pressed attempt to deal with gain in very different ways than in the past. Since most work these days is continuous tone (i.e. grayscale), printers have their platesetters equipped with calibration curves that adjust tonal values to output the values as they'll most likely appear on that particular press. So, you send your photo embedded in your PDF layout, and the printer's curves adjust all of your, say, 50 percent values to 35 percent prior to printing, so that, post gain, your 50 percent value remains 50 percent optically.

Of course, with line art, there's no half-toning, so you can't use correction curves like this at all, which is a big struggle in web-offset, when the issue comes up. So you want your blacks darker? You have to balance that against the inevitable increase in dot gain, which, on the High Society material, manifests itself as fill-in in dense cross-hatching, as well as, of course, Cerebus's dot tone value. And, as I said before, there's no "grabbing the lighten button" to adjust, as these are non-linear processes, and are different from press to press.

So we spent about an hour and a half running different densities and examining the differences. Meanwhile, I'm sweating the minute variations, trying to balance (my perception of) Dave's desires for rich black with my desires for minimal gain. At one point the pressman Marcell (I'm sorry if I misheard your name, Marcell! It was extremely loud :)  ) suggested we stay on the lower density but drop the water level of the press. At that setting, we hit on what seemed to me like a happy medium between rich black and gain, and we were done for the day.

The press sheets will be off to Dave for review, via Fedex later today, and then once we have the orders from Diamond in January, it's off to the presses!

Sketches: Cerebus & Prince Violent

Cerebus & Prince Violent (1979)
by Dave Sim
(via Comic Art Fans)

Friday, 21 November 2014

Weekly Update #58: Shake It Off


DAVE SIM:
Executive Summary

BULLETIN! 21 November 14 Sean Robinson on his way to Bang Printing in Valencia, California for a "press test" of a HIGH SOCIETY SIGNATURE!  Yes! We might be printing in USA! USA! at least on HIGH SOCIETY.  In no small part because Bang is a three-hour car ride for Sean and he can micro-manage every step of the process.  Sean has promised to give us as close to "real time" updates (as long as it doesn't interfere with his actual supervisory work) here starting later today.  The press test begins SHARP at 1500 hours Western Daylight Savings Time, 1800 hours Eastern Standard Time.
1.  Lou Copeland announces that JUDENHASS will be available for free download at the judenhass.com website (in PDF and CBZ formats). Hoping that some volunteers will post JUDENHASS to as many Print on Demand and other websites as possible.

2.  Sean Robinson bounces back from the TOTAL LOSS of hundreds of CEREBUS scans.  The NEXT DAY faxing that "All of this crap with ____ got me really fired up to make the newsprint sourced pages as good as they can possibly be".  Attaboy, Sean!  "All Hands On Deck" call for CEREBUS OCD CLUB members!  We're NOT going to let this slow us down!

3.  Unconfirmed report from Eddie Khanna that someone has donated $500 a month to our Patreon site.  Many thanks to the unnamed individual (if true).  Please contact me for suitable STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND rewards or -- if you just want to remain anonymous, We are ALL cool with that!  Many, many, many thanks if true.

1.  Fax from Lou Copeland dated November 19 saying he's "on track" for getting JUDENHASS, now in the public domain, into downloadable form at the judenhass.com website as of November 25th, just in time for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.  It was a good eight to ten hours work for Lou getting everything ready and I offered to pay him for his time but he wrote:
On top of all the work I put into the project over the course of two years plus, I estimate I ended up putting a grand of my own money into JUDENHASS in the form of postage fees, office supplies, fax service (there was no free option back in '07) and more, more, more.  So while I really appreciate your offer to pay me for the hours I worked this weekend, I long ago decided this was a project I wouldn't take any money for.  Thanks for the offer, though.  Way I figure it, surely donating that kinda money to such a good cause will get me fast tracked into heaven when I die, right?
Uh. I'm a bad person to ask, seeing as how I give equal weight to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  If you were to take a straw poll, I'm sure 99% of the members of all three faiths would tell you I am DEFINITELY headed for the Lake of Fire (do not pass Go, do not collect $200) :)

Lou also notes:
The actual full resolution printer's files are way too large to host on the website. We both have a copy of these files burned to a disc.  Anyone that's seriously interested in the files should contact either you or me for a disc copy.  
Lou's e-mail address is transmit [at] phantomprojector [dot] com.  I don't like to sound paranoid, but the odds of getting a useable disc from me are remote.  Most recent example being the CANAR files which I gave to Dave Fisher and he relayed to Tim W. by mail -- and which were missing two or three issues in the middle.  "But -- but -- that's not POSSIBLE!"  I agree! I barely have enough knowledge to click on the CANAR folder and put it INTO the window and push "Burn".  I couldn't NOT download files to save my life.  But that's what happens with anything having "computer" and "Dave Sim" in the same sentence. So, Lou's the guy you should contact.

And, please note the "SERIOUSLY interested".  I -- and I'm sure Lou -- really don't care WHERE you put the full resolution files if you SERIOUSLY think there's a chance that someone might download JUDENHASS or print a bunch of copies and distribute them.  I'm trying to be a diplomatic Luddite here. Yes! The AMAZING INTERNET is capable of getting BILLIONS OF COPIES into people's hands practically in an eyeblink.  You couldn't COUNT the number of places you could place the full resolution files that have LITERALLY BILLIONS of cybernetic walk-in customers just ACHING to

...uh....blah blah blah.

I think Lou and I have done our bit.  Thanks, Lou and good luck at the new job!


2.  Not only did Sean announce his own program of "newsprint restoration" techniques November 18, he also let me know that he already has three CEREBUS OCD CLUB members signed up to assist on newsprint clean-up.  Thank you, all!

No pressure on anyone.  If you want to try it and you find that you just don't have the time and/or it's just not "your thing", just let Sean know.  No harm, no foul.  Sean will just give "your" page to someone else. It can be weirdly therapeutic as I can attest from my limited experience "restoring" BEAVERS strips for the short-lived CEREBUS ARCHIVE.  It really depends on how much of an "inner" Obsessive Compulsive you have.

OR how jazzed you would be to have your name attached to that particular page IN PERPETUITY (or until the next technological advance makes itself known)!!

We're quite serious about this.  Sean's working on back-up pages for the HIGH SOCIETY 30th ANNIVERSARY GOLD LOGO SIGNED AND NUMBERED edition which will include credits for everyone who has donated scans of pages AND all of the participants in the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE Kickstarter AND everyone who has helped with the technical side in any way.  The credits will be included in each printing of the books and will be part of the digital files when the books go into the public domain after I'm dead.  There's not many of us left, but we are going to be the Second Generation of CEREBUS Custodians who stuck around even ten years after the book came to an end.

Anyway, Sean gets my nomination for the TAYLOR SWIFT "SHAKE IT OFF" AWARD for November 2014.  You want to know the primary job skill for being a Dave Sim and/or CEREBUS fan? SHAKE IT OFF!!


3.  I feel really bad that I haven't been posting Updates to the Patreon site, but I find that there is definitely a "Wall" of what I can take doing this online stuff and doing the Weekly Update is pretty much it.

As a way of compensating for that, however, I've authorized Eddie Khanna to post some of the STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND artwork INTERMITTENTLY to the Patreon site -- without the Joe Kubert lettering.  This is an experiment and I'm anticipating a backlash which I'm asking Eddie to watch for.

Thanks to Tim W. for posting the material FOR Eddie and me.  Eddie reported things "going wonky" with all of his computers and ipod(s?) when he posted the material himself.  Yes, I know that sounds paranoid, but that was Eddie's experience. We're both getting used to that.  "You know what happened to me today?"

I'm trying not to talk about THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND too much here at AMOC.  People are REALLY, REALLY sensitive these days and I infer that that manifests itself in people ONLY wanting CEREBUS to be discussed here.  Could be wrong about that and -- as you can see, I did discuss JUDENHASS, but only in a "finality" sense.  We wanted to preserve it, but not get in anyone's face about it. Or to have anyone infer that we were getting in their face about it.

Bottom line right now (and you can skip this paragraph if THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND offends you conceptually): the slower that I get on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, the more thorough I get -- which makes me slower which makes me more thorough, a real feedback loop.  Still learning and re-learning lessons, mostly of a technical nature.  Photorealism is incredibly accurate and there are areas where accuracy is just "beyond me".  Composition and anatomy foremost among them.  So, I'm using really meticulous techniques to try to get around that, like "building pictures" by doing each element separately on separate sheets of tracing paper.  Do the face and then try it at different angles and then do the torso on a separate sheet of paper, then each forearm and hand on separate sheets of tracing paper and just keep moving them around and adjusting them until the figure/panel looks right.  I spent most of yesterday COMPOSING one panel.  It boggles my mind that guys like Raymond, Drake, Williamson and Adams were -- or in Neal's case ARE -- able to do that just off the top of their heads.  Doing six dailies a week (and a Sunday for some of them) they didn't have any other choice.  Leonard Starr remarked about John Prentice using tracing paper when he took over RIP KIRBY and Starr saying he wouldn't have time for that. Which he didn't.  So he had to just LEARN how to do it as second nature.

I'm never going to be in that class, but I'm determined to "fake" my way in just by sheer, hard work.


4.  John's had a few delays getting rolling on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO, but that's going to happen with a printing business.  A big job -- or two big jobs -- take up time.  Again, we hope that no one gets offended at this.  John will be posting his progress -- or lack of progress -- and, I think, over time we're going to find out what is possible.  As you all know, the original plan was to make the CEREBUS ARCHIVE FOLIOS quarterly and right now we're at three times a year.  By NUMBER SIX, I think we'll know what we can do and what we can't do...but not until then (I'm guessing).

I've asked John to give me an invoice for ALL of his work on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO by mid-December (based on costs on CANO).  This was the result of a meeting with my accountant where I expressed concern about CANT "straddling" 2014-2015: all the money coming in in 2014 but no expenses on record until next year.  As long as I have an invoice, the charge comes off in calendar year 2014 (I'm going to be getting Sean to invoice for a good chunk of CHURCH & STATE I for the same reason, hoping to cut the Aardvark-Vanaheim tax bill by a few thousand dollars (which seems "do-able").  So, glad I asked!  I'm definitely working to make sure that all of your generous contributions go as far as I can make them go.

For the record, my biggest personal splurge so far out of the $38K is four pillowcases ($5.95 marked down from $12.95 at Budd's "up to 80% off sale" downtown) and a $6 toque (eh?).  My experience has been that if I have $38K in the bank, God has $38K worth of problems in my immediate future. Could be wrong, but, at least for right now, I'm not taking any chances.

Okay.  Gotta run. I still have to pick up the mail, do some banking and buy groceries.

See you next week, God willing!

And now -- HEEEERE's Sean!  (God willing)!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Vacation Time: San Jose

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.

Well, not quite yet. I'm heading to San Jose (yes, I know the way) in a couple of weeks to watch the Boston Bruins take on the San Jose Sharks. Way back in the late 1980s Dave and Gerhard went to San Jose. Dave took notebook #10, which I have notebook #10 listed as issue #112/113.  There is also some scripting for the Roach tale from AARGH #1 and some ideas for the upcoming Jaka's Story.

And also some "vacation sketches" by Dave.

Notebook #10 page 57: "Sid Vicious Lives", small text "Your name here

Notebook #10 page 58: "San Jose Chic"

Notebook #10 page 57: People relaxing - probably at the hotel pool.
Any requests for any other phonebooks, non-phonebook stories or items from the notebooks you'd like to see? Leave a comment with your request, thanks!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Costly Continuing Contributions


Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings all,

The Cerebus Original Art Dragnet suffered a pretty serious blow this week when we heard definitively from a prominent art collector who owns several hundred (!) originals. No, he would not be contributing scans of any of his originals to the art hunt, nor will he be selling any of these pages in the foreseeable future.

This was particularly hard news as this person's collection represents a significant chunk of "in the wild" Cerebus art pages, pages that will now never be scanned for this project, will now forever be represented in print by second, third, or fourth-generation images rather than the pristine reproduction possible when sourcing from the original art.

I'm trying to be sanguine about this, but it's hard to be so while still finishing up work on High Society, a book that would benefit tremendously from any original art Cerebus fans supply us with. As most of you know, for both Cerebus and High Society, none of the negatives exist. In the case of High Society, a good 3/5ths of them were scanned by Sandeep Atwal before his tragic apartment fire, but the remainder of those pages can only be sourced by newsprint scans. And even the negatives are less than ideal, in many cases having been underexposed during initial photography. I've learned several tricks to correct for this, but, as I've said many times before, in many different ways, you can beat your head against the wall trying to make something look better through clever manipulation, but it will ALWAYS be better to fix it at the source. In other words, you could conceivably spend three hours on every page of High Society sourced from newsprint, and it still wouldn't look as good as if someone who currently owns the page drove to their local copy center and sent us a scan.

It's a depressing thought. Every page of High Society that we have original art, or even negatives, will soon look better in print than it ever has before. Every page sourced from newsprint, at best, will look almost as good as it did before, and only after tremendous amounts of work to make it so.




But I'm still hopeful. Mostly, because of people like Greg Kessler and Dean Reeves, who not only have contributed their own collections of scans, but continue to send us leads of auctions as they see them. People like Alan Kleinberger, who just this weekend sent us a scan of a great page you see above, that he just sold on ebay. People like Larry Wooten, who emailed Alan to let him know about the art hunt, and who has in fact continued to email people for the past few months hoping to net us pages. People like Dagon James, who sent us almost a dozen scans of pages he doesn't even own anymore, who scanned them for his own pleasure, but was willing to share with us what he had saved. Jason Crosby at ComicLink, who has twice now taken time out of his incredibly busy schedule to scan pages they have up for auction, for no reason other than it being the right thing to do.

And really, what better way to bring utility to a collection than the actual preservation of art that you care about? Not just in some abstract, locked-in-a-vault way of preservation, but active in the world, duplicated, helping to represent in print one of the singular achievements in comics?

The full list -- so far! -- of Cerebus Art Dragnet contributors-

Dean Reeves
Trent Rogers
Kevin Bonawitz
Thomas K.
Rodney Ascher
Greg Kessler
Dan Parker
Steve Hendricks
Oystein Sorensen
Jason Crosby
Matt Levin
Nat Gertler
Conrad Felber
Jean-Paul Gabilliet
Jeffrey Laurenz
Dagon James
Alan Kleinberger
Larry Wooten
Brian Stockton
Glen McFerren

And our other heroes, the Cerebus Scan Brigade, flying in the face of spine-bends since July of 2014-

Margaret Liss
Lee Thacker
Daniel Elven
Paul Slade
Carl Hommel
Eddie Khanna
David Birdsong

Lots of news coming up the pipeline, so keep the eyes peeled and the ears large and mobile!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

How's Your Beaver #1

How's Your Beaver (1976)
by Dave Sim
(Click image to enlarge)
DAVE SIM:
(from Cerebus Archive #1, April 2009)
...Okay, here's something I never thought I would admit to publicly. Highway Bookshop in Cobalt, Ontario had a Northern Ontario cult hit with a cartoon book called Outhouses Of The North... mostly variations on the crescent moon in the door. It was in its twentieth printing or something. Lonely... quiet... place, Northern Ontario. Anyway, they were looking for a follow-up hit and commissioned me to do a cartoon book [How's Your Beaver] for $125, the most I'd ever been paid for anything. So I got a template shot of my beaver character done at Kwik Kopy and did the whole thing in about three days. The good news? I made $40 a day. The bad news? The monstrosity now existed and had my name on it.

Couple of hard lesson: Never "write down" to the level of a book called Outhouses Of The North and remember that once it's in print... someone is going to see a copy somewhere, someday. And if you have an ounce of integrity decades later you'll have to make your mea culpas in public. Mea Culpa. Mea Maxima Culpa.

I don't think it occurred to me how "over the top" the double entendre was... I was a huge Lenny Bruce fan and figured the more like Lenny we could all be, The better off we'd all be. How to talk dirty and influence people. I was hard at work on the sequel: Son Of How's Your Beaver and determined to pick up the quality. So here I am really  striving to pick up my game a few hundred notches. I was going back to the "Aislen Solution" -- lots of little pen lines for a realistic background and then cartoon-y characters in the foreground. I was using a dip pen and felt tips... It's the Cerebus solution "in vitro" as well: using 30% tone on Red's shirt (there were now two beavers: Red and Whitey, the colours of the Canadian flag).

After Highway pulled the plug on Son Of I thought the next logical way to go was a newspaper strip. Yonge St. in Toronto was Canada's answer to Times Square in the 1970s. It's since been cleaned up so it's almost as nice as, well, Time Square.
CANAR #25/26/27 Triple Issue
December 1974

Monday, 17 November 2014

Glamourpuss Tracing Paper Art Auction: Loco Chanel


Glamourpuss #4, pages 22-23 (November 2008)
by Dave Sim
DESCRIPTION:
This one is a hard-nosed Chanel parody (I think the model is British actress Kiera Knightley) from Glamourpuss' First Annual Swinsuit Issue No. 4 (July 2009) pages 22-23. Left page (p.22) is a type-set mock-up taped on with Sim's hand-lettering in white paint. Right page (p.23) is 12x14-inch pencil drawing & lettering on 14x17-inch tracing paper. Set comes with original reference advert plus Sim's composition paste-up & photocopies.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Half Breed Films: Cerebus Documentary Announced

Watch for further announcements at Half Breed Films.

Gerhard's Art


"Commissioned by Will (he just asked for something Moby Dick related)."

"Back in May, Mia & Charles asked me to draw the birds that visit their palm trees to use on their wedding announcement. I was also asked to draw a close up of the pair of parakeets to use on the menu."

"Julie and Mike commissioned me to draw Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater", a house that sits atop a waterfall. I wanted to accentuate the flow that Wright designed into the building by keeping the high contrast areas in focus and letting the house blend into the foliage surrounding it."

"I was commissioned by Fred to do a portrait of his wife and daughter. He sent me three photos that I mashed together to get this compostiton. We decided early on to make this a pencil drawing; it's much softer and more suited to the subjects. I hope Duda and Daria agree. I know Fred does."

"I met John Higashi at Big Wow a couple of months ago. He asked if I'd be interested in doing a drawing for his project. The project was inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped near her home in Hiroshima. Ten years later she was diagnosed with leukemia and had less than a year to live. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish. A popular version of Sadako's story is that she fell short of her goal of folding 1,000 cranes, having folded only 644. John is planning a 10-year project (started 01/11) to get pieces from 644 different artists. His goal is to make an 81+ page hardcover book and donate the proceeds to 4 charities: Hiroshima Peace Museum, Japanese American National Museum, Hero Initiative and the Mike Wieringo Scholarship Fund. At the end of the 3rd year, 2013, he had 247 pieces. You can check out some of them here."

For your own commissioned artwork contact Gerhard at: gerzmail [at] yahoo [dot] ca

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Puma Blues: New Zulli Cover Art!

The Puma Blues
by Stephen Murphy & Michael Zulli
(Dover Publishing, 2015)
DAVE SIM:
(from Weekly Update #49, 19 September 2014)
...Got a phone message "out of the blue" (nyuck nyuck nyuck) from Dover Publishing saying that Michael Zulli and Stephen Murphy have gotten together to finish THE PUMA BLUES (they were within pages of being done when they ended up going separate directions) and they wanted to know if I would write an introduction... they're paying me a VERY generous fee for the introduction (which they've also agreed to make the introduction RECIPROCALLY OWNED by Michael and Stephen -- that is, EITHER Michael or Stephen can use it whatever way they want if they go their separate ways at some point -- as opposed to JOINTLY OWNED.  I'm hoping that Michael and Stephen would see THE PUMA BLUES the same way, but that's up to them) so it should be a number of pages long -- it will be nice to read the Entire Book in one sitting and to be one of the first to do so!...

The Puma Blues was a comic book written by Stephen Murphy and drawn by Michael Zulli. Published first by Dave Sim's publishing imprint 'Aardvark One International' and later by Mirage Studios, it ran from 1986 to 1989, stretching over 23 regular issues and a single "half-issue" minicomic. In 2015 Dover Books will be publishing a collected edition of The Puma Blues

CANAR: Fan Artists

Dave Sim contributed to all 32 issues of CANAR (Comic Art News And Reviews) published by John Balge (1954-2014) between September 1972 and April 1976. Balge had got to know the sixteen year old Dave Sim through Harry Kremer’s Now & Then Books comic shop in Kitchener, Ontario. Balge, Sim and Kremer travelled together to comics conventions in the US and Canada interviewing many prominent comic creators of the day, making the back issues of CANAR a treasure trove of interviews with the likes of Will Eisner, Russ Heath, Harvey Kurtzman, Barry Windsor-Smith, Mike Kaluta, Gil Kane, Berni Wrightson, Howard Chaykin and others.  


CANAR #30, February 1975
'Fan Artists' Strip by Dave Sim
All contents of CANAR © John Balge Estate.
(Click image to enlarge) 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Weekly Update #57: Cement, Tar & Dimpleboard

DAVE SIM:
Hello, everyone!

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
1.  Off-White House foundation rebuild "caps out" at 48 bags of cement.  Tar and "dimpleboard" have been added and as of today Nov 14, the trenches flanking the two sides of the house have been filled in.

2.  Inventory list arrives from Leamington warehouse. Inventory ranges from 1 copy of CHURCH & STATE BI-WEEKLY (reprinting issue 61) to 4,068 copies of CEREBUS No.202.  CEREBUS ARCHIVE FIRST RELEASE program contemplated.

3.  Three most recent signatories to the "I Don't Believe Dave Sim Is A Misogynist" petition (ipetitions) have arrived on sequential weeks. At the rate of one a week we should reach the target of 2,000 names (which would allow me, comfortably, to go out in public) sometime in 2034 when I'll be 78 years old.

4.  John Funk plans to develop an overview template of the progress of CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO through the printing and shipping phases and to do a weekly update of his own at Kickstarter so everyone can see what progress is being made.

1.  It was a bit of a race with the cold weather bearing down on us and the last couple of days have been very cold and very wet which, according to Scott, is the worst weather for "tamping" the dirt. It's basically wet clay and doesn't transfer easily and doesn't tamp effectively.  But, there is no question that the job is a solid one and the Off-White House is now good for at least another 100 years.  Scott just needs to add three feet of gravel as a base for the interlocking stonework (to be done in the spring) and that will do it for Off-White House Renovations 2014.

There is a necessary balance: part of me wants to conserve scarce resources and just leave the place as it is but part of the deal with Scott is that we jointly improve the two properties -- in his case so he can get "high end" tenants and in my case to try to be a good custodian of a Heritage Property here in town. And, of course, to maintain the neighbourhood which is always going to be a problem with "downtown" properties.

So I basically have the winter to come up with the "most bang for the limited buck" on the exteriors.  I think we're going about it the right way: lunch bucket structural solidity first with the raw materials we have so there's a severely limited amount of "sub-contracting" going on when it comes time to "prettify" both places.

At the same time, there's a level of expertise needed there.  I can design two exteriors (and have done so) but I'm not an expert on 19th century German architecture and what limits can or should apply.  And experts don't come cheap.  One of the reasons that we're all hopeful that the Kickstarter Model continues to be viable.  None of these things can be "costed out" ahead of time.  We have to go through them when we go through them.  The plan that Scott and I have is to work in increments that we can afford, which will be part of the "costing out" of the completion of the exteriors:  how much we do and how quickly.  My concern is that the Kickstarter Model might start eroding quickly at some point and I don't want to be overextended if/when it does -- because there really isn't a Plan B.

And, also, time is at a premium.  It would be great to spend all day, hours and hours, meeting with people and looking at computer simulations, etc. But this is really a small, small, small part of what I need to be doing over the next few years as my stamina erodes and my custodial duties to the intellectual property and physical property multiply.


2.  The warehouse in Leamington has basically sketched in the inventory situation for me, breaking down the quantities into how many cartons there are of back issues.  Which is the first step in the transportation problem:  how many cartons?

To cite one example: CEREBUS No.248 there are 779 copies.  With THIS list, Sharon and Julie have indicated that that consists of three cartons.  Two cartoons of 320 copies each and then 139 in a third carton.  From the Kickstarter One experience, back in 2012, I know that a lot of those copies are a write-off because they were jammed in very tightly, so the top and bottom (20? 30? 40? depends on the box) are buckled and warped and unmarketable.  I'm not sure if that condition worsens over the years -- that is, the longer they sit there the more of them get warped.

But, the bottom line, as I see it is that this is going to be a very labour-intensive process, whatever I end up doing with them.  SOMEONE -- not me -- is going to have to go through and do a cursory scan of each box.  I don't think it makes sense to do a microscopic examination looking for 9.8s or higher, let's say.  But I could offer a persuasive argument countering that:  ALL you want is 9.8s or higher and anything else is just "Recycle City".  That cuts across two "CEREBUS Constitutencies":  the "the value of the comics is as reading material" people and the "the value of the comics is the potential CGC grade" people.

The question for the former group would be: okay, how many potential readers do you see for 779 copies of CEREBUS No.248?  Let's say that 200 of those are rated completely uncollectible.  What do you do with the 200?  Give them to a charity?  What is a charity going to do with 200 copies of the same issue of the same comic book?  Ship them overseas for ESL students?  Shipping is the biggest cost in just about anything these days even with oil at $78 a barrel and dropping.

Conversely, if you DO stick strictly to 9.8 or higher (and there you're talking about someone with that ability volunteering to go through these tens of thousands of books OR someone who can do a preliminary skim:  these LOOK perfect -- and then have someone else go through them who knows a 9.8 from a 9.2:  I know I don't have that skill).

The LONG TERM value, as I see it, is if you can get the inventory down to 9.8 or higher and I can sign them and get them bagged and boarded and INSIDE the bag put a colour postcard showing the book and how it is signed (I'd obviously sign all of them the same way, in the same spot with the same pen and possibly CAFR -- Cerebus Archive First Release -- written under the signature) and then emboss the card with the CEREBUS ARCHIVE FIRST RELEASE embosser.

Well, then you've got something.

I'm not sure WHAT you've got -- not much of anything in 2014 -- but after I'm dead and there are only so many CAFR copies on the market -- even 2,000 -- that seems at least potentially a fund-raiser for The Cerebus Trust.

(Being "backstage" at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge back in 2007 was an education in that regard:  Rockwell spent most of his final years signing material for the Museum, which is now able, in many cases, to trade signed prints for original paintings that would otherwise be out of range for them.  And, of course, the supply of signed prints is fixed and dropping year by year. What would have seemed like an exorbitant number when Rockwell was alive doesn't seem so exorbitant this many decades later)

I'm hoping to experiment with it on the next CEREBUS ARCHIVE Kickstarter, offering the rarest CAFR copies.  Just skimming the list: there are 46 copies of No.152, 21 copies of No.167,  13 copies of No.115, 8 copies of No.125, 11 CHURCH & STATE BI-WEEKLY reprinting No.63, 22 CHURCH & STATE BI-WEEKLY reprinting No.51.  I might not do all of those issues -- they all need to be bagged and boarded and time is at a premium.  But it seems sensible to start with the smallest quantities and build from there. 


3.  Many thanks to Margaret Liss for mailing me a complete printout of the first 570 names on the "I Don't Believe Dave Sim Is a Misogynist" petition. (now 572!) She says in her letter dated October 26:
Every month or so, I'll swing by the petition and check for "spammers" and vandalism.  There used to be more idiots at first, but their numbers have decreased as the years go on. The most I have to clean up is the occasional no first or last name.  I used to be able to send people an e-mail -- as leaving one's e-mail was one of the required inputs -- but ipetitions has gotten rid of that. 
I also noticed that ipetitions no longer lets you access the full list of names (unless that's just my Luddite ineptness at work :)).

But, again, MANY thanks to Margaret who has shepherded this thing for a number of years now and for devoting hours of her leisure time to getting me the complete list.  All of this voluntary stuff is strictly at your own pace.  I haven't talked to anyone in the last few years who ISN'T swamped with just keeping up with basic life stuff, so MANY thanks to everyone who continues to volunteer to help us with all this.

Anyway, I was very gratified to see that Gary Spencer Millidge HAD signed the petition -- and relatively early, too:  #117 in June of 2008!  If you recall, it was getting a copy of MEANWHILE in the mail from him that provoked the question.

This actually ties in with the letter I just got from Eddie Khanna with more GREAT STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND research material.  Eddie says, tongue-in-cheek, that there might be a place in hell for comic fans who bury graphic novelists in research material and who make those graphic novelists therefore have to continue working for years and years and years even AFTER those graphic novelists have already done the world's longest graphic novel.

I look at it this way:  there's no place for me in a society where it is taken as a given that if you aren't a feminist you're a misogynist.  So, not being able to go out in public and with no sign of getting any more "traction" than one signature a week for the next twenty years...

...it might be a simple math problem:  Maybe it will take me as long to finish THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND as it takes to get to 2,000 signatures on the petition.  There might be a sudden surge in signatories and we get there in ten years or twelve years -- and meanwhile THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND just gets longer and longer and longer.  Or we could get there by some unforeseen means in five years or eight years or ten years.  My cheque from IDW for the latest ten pages came in alongside Eddie's letter.  Which seemed an auspicious juxtaposition.

Even though it feels as if I haven't been to the drawing board in the last five weeks with all of the mounds of unrelated work that have to be dealt with, I'm still on pages 8 and 9 of the latest 10-page batch.  Which isn't THAT far off of the five week average for doing those 10 pages. 


4.  Gratified that John Funk plans to start posting a weekly update to the Kickstarter site, starting, as he put it, "at 10,000 ft." with a projection of the targets he's hoping to hit with CANT fulfillment.

That turned out to be one of those really basic structural things.  Obviously, I wasn't looking forward to doing batches of head sketches and signing stacks of prints and hand-lettering stacks of bookplates, so the longer they didn't turn up, the -- secretly -- happier I was: slaving away on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.  But, that tends to lead toward bad customer service.  So, having gone through that with CANO, it was a learning experience, best summed up as: "Don't tell ME, tell THEM" -- that is, all of you pledge partners.  HERE's when you can expect to see your CANT pledge items and, week by week, how John plans to get there.  And then explaining on a weekly basis when and how he met the target or missed it.  And blaming me if I'm the one holding things up  :)

Like the "the next bus is due" clocks in the GRT bus shelters.  Even if it's not 100% accurate, it's better than spending twenty minutes wondering if you missed it.

The only related CANO/CANT news is that Diamond HAS received all of the unsigned copies of CANO that they ordered.  At least for the time being, we'll be doing a full page ad in PREVIEWS for each folio, even though it eats up a substantial amount of the profit (putting it over in the direction of glamourpuss-style cash flow territory:  you can't really spend $3,000 printing and shipping a comic book that only generates $3,500 in revenue -- well you can, but your cash isn't going to be there when you need it).  It's less of a revenue stream and more of a "retailer/fan service":  they're always available if you end up missing one of them.

That should be true for the next six months, at least, with Diamond's generous over-order on CANO, but it is something that I will be monitoring on an on-going basis, since we still haven't settled what minimum quantity of folios John would need to have an order for before it would make sense for him to produce them.  Ballpark, he thought, 20 copies.  Which I think should be "do-able" for Diamond.

We'll see when we get there.

See you all next week!    

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Notebook 27 Minds Rehearsal

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 #27 is the smallest of the notebooks I scanned in it. It measures 5" x 3", one of those small notebooks that you could fit in your pocket:

Notebook #27 back and front cover
The cover says there are 100 pages in the notebook, but only 75 pages remain: 73 pages with material on them were scanned. Only four pages have sketches on them, the rest is text. What Dave thinks he is going to say to Cerebus during Minds, as Dave gets his say first. Some of it makes the final cut, but not all of it, like what he had to say about Prince Mick and Keef, Oscar, Lord Julius. . .

"The skirted the border-line between breathing fire and soiling themselves noisily. They were (and are) a linger petition to the superiors -- the lesser gods, unapologetic for their contrariness letting their words and deeds peak for themselves. They are restrained at times, lose sight of the untenable position emerging on the chessboard of their lives, they are dismissed as aberrations, explained away as self-promoting exhibitionists. Time is their ally. As their beloved contemporaries fad into foot-noted history or obscurity they are returned to over decades. The defy ready explication."

Notebook #27, pages 24 and 25

Notebook #27, pages 26 and 27
The small text like that is only on pages one to 46, and then the lettering changes style, we get a couple pages of sketches and some of this:

Notebook #27, pages 58 and 59
"Cerebus stands for just about anything if it'll make you buy his phonebooks." Looks like some text for a promotional campaign that Dave was formulating.


Cerebus Visits Lake Tahoe


Mara Sedlins:

After completing our first pass at cleanup and doing an initial layout of the pages, I took off for a couple weeks to visit family in Minnesota and Nevada. Besides being reminded why I live in San Diego (I swear, 40 degrees has actually gotten *colder* than it used to be!), I had some down time to read through and enjoy High Society as a novel.




A portion of that down time happened to be at Lake Tahoe, where soon after snapping the above photo I was approached by an elderly gentleman and his fluffy white dog. I had time to kill, so I didn't mind chatting with the guy for a good 20 minutes or so - turns out High Society is a terrific conversation starter (or at least an excuse for strangers to approach you). 

I talked to him about what a graphic novel is, about the idea of self-publishing, and tried to explain the work I was doing on Cerebus. He was intrigued, as well as impressed by the quality of the artwork, and promised to look it up - so Dave, you have a couple new fans in Incline Village, NV (Wayne, and his dog Sophia).

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”

My little encounter at Lake Tahoe reminded me of this quote (attributed to Albert Einstein), often referenced in the context of scientific communication, but an interesting exercise no matter what you're working on. And as it turned out, I actually did have the opportunity to explain digital restoration to my grandmother (who turned 94 while I was in Minnesota).

At first I said some things about Photoshop and contrast and sharpening - but I think the only way I really got it across was with a side-by-side comparison of the before-cleanup and after-cleanup pages. Which I was able to do, since I brought a printout of the first hundred-or-so cleaned up pages with me, as well as our working copy of High Society.



Our poor copy of High Society, which was unbound with an exacto for ease of scanning.

Besides being able to explain the restoration work to my grandma, this also meant that I was able to compulsively highlight and make notes on the newly restored pages, catching a handful of details we missed the first time around (even though my intention was only a leisurely read). 

II also noticed a dramatic change in my reading experience when I switched to the older edition - I was a lot more distracted by degraded text, noise, etc. It was generally less "crisp", with a feeling of being slightly muddled or out-of-focus compared to reading the restored pages. My attention kept getting pulled into the low-level "structural processing" mode I mentioned in my last post, at the expense of experiencing the flow of the story. It'll be great to see the restored version in its entirety in the next day or so when Sean prints a full-size copy, which we'll check systematically for any inconsistencies or remaining cleanup.

I'll share some more thoughts about the plot itself in a future post, but as a preview I'll just mention that my favorite issue was "Mind Game II" (probably not a surprise, given my background). I really enjoy creative visual depictions of mental processes, and the "strange, grey scenery" as "a manifestation of ... mental clutter" (pg. 51) was brilliant.