Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Cerebus Re-Read Challenge: Cory Foster

Cerebus Vol 5 - Jaka's Story: 
...I've been looking forward to this one big-time. The main reason I love Cerebus is that its scope is so huge. The focus (and sometimes the lack of it) and dedication of Dave and Ger is astounding, and the source of much of my admiration for them. I've always been into "big" projects. Even if they aren't entirely successful, I still highly appreciate the guts that it took to produce the thing. I sometimes think of this series as the Sandinista! of comics. Warts & all. It's quite interesting, then, that in addition to crafting something so admirably gargantuan, this creative team also pulled off one of the greatest single volume graphic novels of all time (and my personal favorite, overall). ... [Read the full review here...]

Cerebus Vol 6 - Melmoth: 
...While researching Oscar Wilde for Jaka's Story, Dave was sufficiently inspired by what he read to devote an entire storyline to the author/playwright, and in the process, befuddle fans of the book by giving Cerebus even less to do than in the previous 34 issues.  As if that wasn't enough, he confused longtime readers even further by making it clear that this wasn't the same Oscar Wilde from Jaka's Story. Of course, Oscar had been taken away by the Cirinists at the end of that book, so he was a bit busy at the time. Luckily for Dave, there just so happened to be another author in Estarcion with the exact same name, appearance, and ready wit. Lucky for us, too, because this is a fantastic, haunting work that never fails to grip my heart. This may be because this is the first time that Cerebus has flirted with non-fiction, as Melmoth is the story of the real Oscar Wilde's final days... [Read the full review here...]

Cerebus Vol 7: Flight
Cerebus Vol 8: Women
Cerebus Vol 9: Reads
Cerebus Vol 10: Minds
Cerebus Vol 11: Guys
Cerebus Vol 12: Rick's Story
Cerebus Vol 13: Going Home
Cerebus Vol 14: Form & Void
Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days
Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day
Cerebus #0 (#51 Exodus, #112/113 Square One, #137/138 Like-A-Looks)
Cerebus World Tour Book 1995 (Swords Of Cerebus Back-Up Stories) 

The Cerebus Re-Read Challenge! How far will you get?
Send in your review links to: momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com

Monday, 8 February 2016

Ditkomania #94

Edited/Published by Rob Imes
$3 US / $3.20 Canada or Mexico / $4 Rest of the world
Out Now!

A new issue of the Steve Ditko fanzine DITKOMANIA has been released! Articles include an overview of the Snyder-Ditko Kickstarter projects; reviews of the recent releases "Ditko's Shorts" and "Steve Ditko's Weird Comics"; a fictional comic strip about visiting Ditko's studio; an article on "The Family History of Steve Ditko"; a 5-page review of Ditko's "The Four-Page Series" essays; and a 1-page lettercol (including a short letter by Cerebus creator Dave Sim). Ordering information here... 

Subscriptions to DITKOMANIA are also available. Receive the new issue (#94) plus the next three issues (#95-97) for $12.00 postpaid in the USA; $12.80 in Canada or Mexico; or $16.00 everywhere else.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Gerhard: Something Fell

Hi Tim,

You may or may not have noticed that I'm between websites/blogs right now so you get first crack at these two 'Gerebus' commissions.

The first, the single figure above, was a simple request and modest price.

The other one is the kind of request I've come to expect from Brian C. Imaginative, challenging, a lot of work and ultimately a lot of fun. His original idea was to have a triptych that features Gerebus in a dream sequence tumbling across three distinctive Gerhard landscapes - the giant dark tower of demonic faces, the moon and a well-stocked bar.

My first layout had the figure in relative fixed position. My take on it was that he is falling from the chair the whole time through the imagined/remembered backgrounds. I thought of putting the demon heads into the shape of the Regency mostly so I could put a sunset in behind to give some colour to the top part of the piece.

Brian suggested he'd like more movement and that he sees this as a 'reverse ascension'. So I figured that the moon should be on top and we went with falling diagonally, size increasing incrementally, I added the tipped chair and stein, and had Gerebus extend past the border as if he's fallen right out of the picture. Not that anything should be inferred or implied by that.

'Something Fell'
Image size is 10" x 15", ink pen and W&N dyes on watercolour paper. 
(See more images at ComicArtFans)

Details from 'Something Fell':

Gerhard's 2016 Convention Itinerary:
March 18-20: Comicon Toronto, ON
April 8-10: Wizard World Madison, WI
June 17-19: Wizard World Sacramento, CA
July-August: Gone Sailing Georgian Bay, ON
September 8-10: Wizard World Nashville, TN
November 4-6: Wizard World Pittsburgh, PA

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. Now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I'll be running interesting excerpts from those letters each week.

Today's entry is a letter from Dave to me, dated 20 May, 2005. It refers to a photocopy of a paper that one of my students wrote that was so striking that I sent it to Dave to see he might make of it. With no identification, I lift this excerpt from that paper:
As my last paper I would also like to tell you that you should not expect deep intellectual papers from us. You can’t compare us to your friend David. In his choice of life he has chosen to read and become fairly intellectual, we as automotive students don’t have that same drive in the same area. Nor, do we put forth the effort for your papers. You want us to sit down at the computer and ‘critically think’ for you, someone we don’t know for a class we are just trying to pass. This isn’t our major and we aren’t as interested in this class as our automotive. In this industry we have to creatively think everyday on every job. How to do it faster, easier. We make up tools find ways to fit things places you would never have thought of. Looking at the average person to a technician I would say that our creative skills are defiantly above the rest. We have had somewhat deep intellectual conversations amongst ourselves but to do that for you is different. I am not saying that we had the same quality conversation and you and David but you can’t expect that. I guess when you said that you have to read our papers separate from his upset me because we are from two way different backgrounds and it was unfair to even compare us. We do have a much deeper side to us than I think you have reached but I do understand that it probably isn’t as deep as you have with your friends due to your nature.
My response to the student:
Your point is taken, but your argument that you and Dave have chosen different paths (while true) does not preclude the fact that you are in college. Every college graduate should be able to write an essay or composition--a paper--and write it well. Every college graduate should have been taught how to think critically and should be able to do at some level. Furthermore, I did not say that i compare your papers to his letters; rather, I said that I avoid doing so *precisely* because, as you wrote, I can’t expect that the “conversation” I have with Dave will be at the same level as the discourse I have with you through your papers.

When I am grading your papers, the only comparisons that I make are between the quality of your work and the standards that I laid out at the beginning of the term, to which standards I have seldom rigorously held any of you. Also, I sometimes compare the paper in front of me to previous papers submitted by the same person--are you getting better, are you trying harder, etc.?

You wrote that you “have had somewhat deep conversations amongst [y]ourselves, but to do that for [me] is different.” Why should that be different? College provides a forum for discussion--why should your group insulate itself from discussions of ideas with people from a different background?

I respect your right to differ with me and to express that dissent. But, let me ask you one final question: If you are intelligent enough to raise the points that you have in this paper, then why would you hesitate to show your “much deeper side?”
Dave's response:

20 May, 2005

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for the birthday card and enclosures. It’s certainly interesting having my “my face is melting” years documented so thoroughly. I shudder to think how bad it’s going to get in the next ten years, but it at least reminds me that life is a forward momentum proposition at this point and the next step is definitely the grave (with nothing in between). So, thanks!

As to the short paper on romance in the workplace, I can see your student’s points only in the sense that it conveys the “brave new world” of inverse authoritarianism rife among those who (presumably) should be accepting of the fact that their status is implicitly secondary. I mean, who is the student and who is the teacher here? And out of a page of prose, half of it is taken up with taking issue with you and the actual subject is dispensed with in two anecdotes from which no inference is drawn whatsoever. It’s the sort of thing “strong, independent” ambiance that the women have brought to the table. How much improved is education--in their view--when the teacher challenges the student and the student challenges the teacher as a matter of course! “Out of the mouths of babes” you can derive the occasional pearl of wisdom, but--almost exclusively--just regurgitating mucus and slime and vomit. You are placed in the unenviable situation of having to debate your own appointed position of authority instead of assessing the abilities of one of the persons you have been hired to assess. I presume the 20/20 [Ed: grade I gave the student] was due in no small part to the fact that the composition of actual sentences has been achieved and that that is a truly rare avis in our degraded times.

I’ll look forward to your next letter.


Friday, 5 February 2016

Weekly Update #120: That's Sum Burger!

Dave gets a phone call from Sgt. Brian Moore. Plus, Cerebus artwork from Demon Joe, an update on the Great Cerebus Giveaway. Lots of comics to bag and board! If you're in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, get in touch and get some free comics!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

What Is Cerebus About?

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

We've only looked at Dave's notebook #12 twice before: "Daughter of Palnu" and "Oscar". Notebook #12 covers issues #118 through 122. While looking at it again, I saw the last page of the notebook, page 98, had an entry labeled 'Note from the President #122".

So I went to my website to see if the "Dave Sim's Notes From The President Archive" has the note from issue #122 in the seventy notes there. It wasn't. So I pulled issue #122 and took a look at the note.

It was mostly a blank page and down the bottom was this:
Hey! Guess who just broke up with his girlfriend?
And then just a quick two sentence blurb on some convention they were going to be attending in the middle of August.

I pulled a couple of issues before and after #122 to see if this text ever made it in. I couldn't find it. I quickly scanned the blurbs of the notes archived at my site. Didn't see anything resembling it. So if you know where it is, chime up. Or perhaps this is the first time it has seen the light of day?

Notebook #12, page 98
A lot of people wonder what Cerebus is all about.

When John Lennon was told in August of 1977 that Elvis was dead, he said 'Elvis died when he went in the army.' John looked at Elvis and thought said 'Man. What happened? They invented the word 'cool' for you. You scared the shit out of all those sons of bitches. And then you turned into one of them. Fucking beach movies. Fucking TV specials with fucking Frank Sinatra.' And John got up there; the toppermost of the poppermost. And he bought the right to ask Elvis face to face at Graceland in 1964. 'Why don't you do rock 'n' roll anymore?' Which was a good deal more polite than it was intended around and came up with a lame 'Well, if they I found a rock 'n' roll song I liked I'd record it in a minute.' John told him 'Well, when you do, we'll buy your records again.' I don't think Elvis ever recovered.

But John knew he blew it as well. The minute they fluffed up his hair and told him to be a cute little Beatle and keep smiling and don't wear a toilet seat around your neck on stage and be nice to the press. . .actually that wasn't when he blew it. When he said 'yes' to all that bullshit. That's when he blew it.

There isn't enough money in the fucking world.

That's what Cerebus is all about.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Reads: A Study In Detail

Sean Michael Robinson:

Victor had always regarded illustrators as something between an unnecessary evil and a terminal malignancy in the world of reads publishing. There was a perverse streak within every one of them (Victor was certain of this) which compelled them to render everything within their engravings except that which was described in the text.

Greetings AMOCers! Long time no see.

Lots of restoration progress to report since the last brief update waaay back in November...

First off, contributors to Cerebus Archive Number Four will be happy to hear that my work on that project is complete and sent off to John, assuming the next round of proofs arrive with everything looking a-okay. It's safe to say it's already the slickest-looking package we've put together as of yet, and the bonus prints especially have been a joy to have laying around the studio as I work.

As for the restoration work, I'm making incremental progress on three books simultaneously now, zipping back and forth between them every few days so that no one of them is finished before the others. Why this strategy? There's still stock at Diamond of two of the three books in progress, and so there's no hurry to complete the work on any of them in particular. My guess is that all three will be completed and sent to Dave somewhere within the next ten weeks. (But I've been wrong before!)

As to when we'll print them? Could be six months from now, could be six years from now-- it's entirely dependent on sales of the series.

For those of you who haven't picked up your copy of Church & State I yet, what can I say? In addition to feeding your eyes with some gorgeously printed, painstakingly restored line art, you'll be helping us move one more square closer to the Big Dance for the next few books. (And yes, Adam, commenting from this week-- the paper stock is upgraded significantly, insuring the printing has minimal dot gain and rich blacks, and basically doubling the girth of the book and more than doubling its weight...)

Last bit of news-- despite what you might see on the banner above, I'm alone on this project for now.

Sad news for me but good news for Mara-- she's ramping up her research work and won't be available for any more restoration work in the foreseeable future. This is the other reason the restoration work has slowed a bit--although I've put in more hours to compensate, one person obviously doesn't work as fast as two.

The upside to this-- once we've passed the hurdles of the current books, it's much smoother from here on out, as the artwork is newer, the tone is more intact and the condition of the pages overall improved, and Dave and Gerhard used less tone overall in their work.

So! The past few months have been alternating between work on Cerebus Volume One, Church & State II, and Reads. Since we haven't seen any yet, how about we take a look at some Reads originals?

Those of you with good to middling memories will recall that Reads begins with a long text sequence tracing the progress of one Victor Davis, writer, through the "reads" industry. The sequence is a sort of Latter Half David Copperfield Meets Comics Publishing, that rather ingeniously equates the comics industry of the 1990s with the era of the serialized novel. (This transposition is an extremely clever and telling conceptual trick, one that my friend and I would borrow two decades later).

Anyway, the text sequence is accompanied by charming one-off illustrations on the facing pages. Here's a look at one of my favorites.

Below is a raw scan of the negative.

And above is the cleaned-up scan directly from the original art. Quite a difference in the values represented-- the original has a light, airy touch, despite the pooling black in the figure, whereas the negative scan seems clogged and murky in comparison. Notice also the marbling on the stone, broken up in the initial photography. 

And here's another comparison for you. The top is the negative--below that is the cleaned-up original.

Hopefully that gives you all just a bit into the types of improvements we've been able to make by going back to the original artwork, even on a much later book like Reads. The artwork is fantastic, to a page, and it continues to be our goal to get every inch of it off the art board and on to paper for you in the most readable form possible.

But my time is short, and I'd imagine you're a bit sick of my blathering at this point. How about some Reads Original Art in Extreme Closeup to send us out?

Your wish is my command.

(some of the following images have had their color channels adjusted to bring out non-repro pencil detail that would otherwise be invisible on-screen)

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Emotional Response

Cerebus Vol 14: Form & Void
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from an interview conducted by Tom Spurgeon in The Comics Journal #184, February 1996)
...Well, I think that women are more censorship-oriented. Who do you think can up with the term "politically correct"? Apart from the term, who do you think has ruled all discourse "out of order" which can be characterized and dismissed as "misogynistic" or "sexist"? I think the First Amendment to your constitution is the last life raft to Western Civilization to keep the barbarians of political correctness from breaking down the gates and seizing the city out-right. I'm challenging that sensibility that rules debate out of order with 186...

...It's impossible for the Androgynous Mainstream to engage the argument I present without making obvious the fundamental schisms within their uneasy coalition. Any time a government becomes aware that that is where the argument is leading, it's time to attack the minutiae at the periphery. Governments have great instincts for self-preservation...

...Obviously -- in any being who is degraded in their nature to a point where their emotional reaction to something supersedes any intellectual assessment. That's the centerpiece of my argument: "Look at what you have become." My view is that an emotional response is like an alarm going off. It signals the intellect that something has arrived which warrants a higher-than-normal level of focus and attention. In most people, I think the emotional reaction triggers an outpouring of invective which precludes the possibilities of any kind of focus -- provoking instead a scattershot "shoot anything that moves" posture in the Psyche. You see it all the time in The Comics Journal -- people reacting emotionally to Gary Groth casting them in a bad light through word-craft and a carefully constructed argument. They don't engage the argument, they stomp pettishly on the minutiae at the periphery...

...I'd include Gary in that group. If you go back and look at the "Dave Sim is a Nazi" issue of the Journal, the people who were the most offended were the ones who either had never read Cerebus or haven't read Cerebus for years. I admire Seth's work -- bringing that New Yorker cartoon-style to the comic book page was a great stroke and a great potential initiated by one individual. But if you were to ask me which view I would give greater credence to: the author of From Hell saying that the text pieces in Reads were the closest thing to a mystical experience on paper or Seth saying that Cerebus is the same as Jack Chick comics... words fail me...

...I said that the end of Church & State and the end of Reads represent two extreme. It depends on the reader which one is the mountaintop of "right thinking" and which is the depraved corruption of all that is good and true...

Monday, 1 February 2016

The Toronto Summit

The Toronto Summit.
L to R: Peter Laird, Michael Zulli, John Totleben, Dave Sim, Steve Bissette, Stephen Murphy, Kevin Eastman. 
Photo by Helen Finlay

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Page 45: The Restored "Church & State I"

Cerebus Vol 3: Church & State I
by Dave Sim & Gerhard

PAGE 45:
(from a review by Stephen Holland at Page 45.com, January 2016)
The original art has been reshot then reprinted on such fine paper stock that the book's already considerable girth has almost doubled. 

"Anything Done For The First Time Unleashes A Demon."

Around this time there was a CEREBUS cover whose only visual element was the hand-lettering of the sentence above, white letters on black. No picture at all. I don’t recall that being done before or any time since. As both a brave and successful attention-grabbing visual device and as a Truth, it has stuck with me ever since to the extent that I typed the sentence from memory rather than sought out my own issue.

It's now that we start using the word 'genius'. Not because I am drunk but because the writing and art have both ascended to the point of inspired precision.

Every look, every line has a weight to it. They're so well refined and targeted, and amongst the targets are melodramatic superheroes in the form of Chris Claremont's Wolverine, and organised religion. Not faith – that’s a very different thing. Which is fortunate, for Sim would go on to embrace God with a passion.

Prime Minister Cerebus is persuaded to enter the Church, to vie for the role of Pope which for Cerebus involves throwing babies off roofs to prove a point about obeisance and being careful what you wish for.

Please don't think that Cerebus has been converted. He hasn't. The most famous CEREBUS t-shirt has him dressed as Pope declaring, "He doesn't love you. He just wants all your money." Specifically, he wants gold.

But Cerebus achieves his status through an assassination out of his hands, and for the first time he observes that "Something fell!" It won't be the last. It will ripple through time and, when uttered in the future, will become a catalyst for destruction.

This is where the subplot – hiding in the wings but very much in evidence for those who’ve either been looking for it or reading in retrospect – really kicks in. There is something evidently rather singular about our Aardvark. Also something of a duality. Things happen around him. There are the Mind Games, the Strange White Glowing Thing, and the gold evidently wants him as much as he wants it...

Did I mention he gets married? If the first book begins as a parody of CONAN, you won’t be surprised at the inclusion of a character called Red Sophia based on female barbarian Red Sonja. What would perhaps surprise you is that Red Sophia’s mother is an extended homage to British cartoonist Giles. It's brilliantly done, too.

More Mind Games, more chess pieces, more Jaka. Oh, yes, more Marx Brothers!

For more on CEREBUS – an overview or its story and an assessment of its structure, its art, its invention and its place in comicbook history – please see my reviews of every single one of its sixteen component parts making up 300 monthly issues written and drawn over twenty-three years.

Unusually I wrote them back to back just before Page 45’s website launched because a) most of the collected editions were published long before we wrote reviews so we had none, and b) CEREBUS is such a landmark series in the history of comic art and industry that I would not countenance a Page 45 website launching without every single edition being assessed to one extent or another.

Because I wrote them back to back, they constitute one complete and hopefully coherent review dealing with different elements like the lettering and art rather than repeating myself each time as an introduction. Begin at the beginning?

Stephen Holland is the co-founder (with Mark Simpson) of one the UK's leading comic stores - Page 45.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Hello, everyone out there in AMOC land! Per a joint decision by Dave Sim and myself, I would like to humbly request feedback on the following question:
Would you rather see these weekly posts of Dave Sim letters in chronological order (as they more or less have been posted so far), or would you rather see random posts from any place throughout the 11-year correspondence?
Argument for chronological:  It gives a glimpse into the evolution of a long-term relationship as it unfolded over time, and it is posted as that evolution occurred--sequentially.

Argument for random:  Randomness keeps things hopping and we don't have to wait it out through three or four weeks of posts of letters that are all about the same thing/s.

So, please, everyone who could give the hindquarters of a rodent, please vote here in the comments section to this post -- vote early and vote often. Once a week's worth of votes are in, I'll let Dave know. We now returned you to your regularly scheduled programming...

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. Now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I'll be running interesting excerpts from those letters each week.

Today’s letter is from Dave to me is dated 12 April, 2005. It does not have a postmark or stamp on the envelope because Dave delivered it by hand, along with some others he also delivered by hand to other Cerebites, at the S.P.A.C.E convention in Columbus, Ohio, in late April that year. It was my first year of attending S.P.A.C.E. If memory serves, that was also the year that I witnessed him handing off several of his notebooks to Margaret for scanning, some pages of which you have seen and more of which you will continue to see every Thursday, here at AMOC. Okay, on to the letter:

12 April 05

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for your letter and enclosures of March 27. I’m afraid I’m a little “under the weather” and trying to stay pasted together long enough to make it through the S.P.A.C.E weekend, so this is going to be less thorough than I would’ve liked.

The Sally Quinn column [Ed: a clipping I sent him]

Yes, it seems to me just basic embarrassment at how the whole thing is hatching out. It seems to me that it is one of the givens of gender relations that we’ll just have to suck it up and not make a big deal about the waste of thirty-five years of human civilization (or however many years it takes) while we all tried to glue together this complete feminist misapprehension. It also seems to me a bad sign the she refers to men as “poor devils”. The feminists are completely wrong [she writes], that doesn’t mean they’re going to give up without a fight. Exactly the opposite. The profound level of feminist chauvinism means at least another ten or fifteen years of exactly this pendulum swing from resignation to harpy-like defiance and back again. Whenever we finally do get clear of this, it is going to be one of the most thoroughly documented and least appealing chapters in human history.

That’s the way the cookie crumbles: Science marches on [another clipping, all of these are from the Dallas Morning News]

Good light-hearted piece. It always astonishes me the things that people anguish over.

Visit Dallas Central Mosque, and you’ll find tolerance and faith [clipping]
“Do we condone hate or extremism in our mosque? Absolutely not. Nor do we think in terms of ‘killing the infidels’ or ‘avoiding friendship with Christians or Jews’ as some ignorant writers suggest based on out-of-context interpretations of the Quran.”
I would take issue with Nabil Sadoun here because I don’t think there is a context to the Quran, per se. I see it as a twin monologue conducted by God and YHWH and there’s no doubt in my mind that YHWH is in fine form with his/her/its Jew hating. I see the Koran (my preferred spelling) as a litmus test, actually. Who do you think is talking here? God or YHWH or, as they’re called in the Koran, Allah or Eblis/Satan? There are some borderline instances, but there are also glaringly obvious YHWH assertions: malign, hard-hearted and mean-spirited. A portion of the Muslim world seems to be coming around to a recognition that it is not only impossible but evil to institute every aspect of the Koran as divine law. I assume that’s the point of the debate. WIll Muslims ultimately follow the malign, hard-hearted and mean-spirited verses or the enlightened ones, like ‘you to your religion and me to mine’? I’m sure God is betting that they’ll all ultimately come around to the enlightened view and Eblis is betting they’ll destroy the world trying to fulfill the Eblis inspired verses.

Out of bounds [clipping]

Yes, the unhappy result of the largely optimistic decision to create the United Nations. Democracy doesn’t work among nations, largely (I suspect) because of the Arab and African Bloc voting. Marxism hadn’t fully hatched out by 1945 and will be flourishing in those two blocs for some time to come, as well as infecting countries like Canada that should know better but don’t seem to. It’s the primary conundrum. A free country is free to choose to become Marxist but a Marxist country isn’t free to choose to become free except in extremis (witness: Ukraine). It’s only because of the United States that there is light at the end of that tunnel, so all eyes are on the land of the free and home of the brave to get us out of the mess we’re in.

[End of responses to clippings.]

You are certainly free to post our correspondence to the Newsgroup. Legally, I can’t do that with all of the correspondents, so it seems unethical to pick and choose, but if you want to post the whole thing and scan in my answers, you’re certainly free to do so. At this point, it looks as if we would have two full volume of Collected Letters ready to go. Depending on the reaction to the first we might do the second through one of the on-line print-to-order houses just to keep our own printing obligations to a reasonable seventeen volumes. I say this so you have an option--my responses will see print up ahead, but if you want the correspondence posted you are welcome to do so. I’m sure Margaret will be glad to include them at cerebusfangirl.com

I suspect the propensity for “off topic” can be attributed to the fact that everyone is still responding reflexively to discussions of feminism by the tried and true feminist method: changing the subject. I’m also a little suspicious of your survey because it asks people to assess themselves and I’m not sure--post 9-11--how accurate most self-perceptions are. I think most liberals see themselves as something in between liberal and conservative. In my own case, I see myself as liberal but realistic, whereas most other people would see me as extreme right wing. Although I think it was valuable as a piece of information where there had previously been a void, my own view it that the critical importance--and only “way forward” remains ideas and the free and open discussion of those ideas. Labelling tends to be evasive of ideas. If I point out that standards need to be skewed in order to achieve numerical parity between the genders, it’s easy to avoid the core idea presented by labelling me as a misogynist or asking me if I consider myself to be a cynic. What someone calls me or what I call myself is irrelevant in the realm of ideas. Let’s stick to perceiving reality accurately and skip what we call aspects of it in favour of examining the ideas.

My ideas are definitely in the “this is a hard saying and who can hear it?” category. I suspect that your brother agrees with me far more than he lets on. Otherwise, where’s the girlfriend? Where’s the fiancee? Where’s the wife? You can drink heavily and curse the name of Dave Sim and the star he was born under, but if you’re living in his construct--marriage as constituted is untenable--then it rings more than a little false. Prove me wrong. Go out and marry someone.

Personally, I’m very much at peace with the way things are hatching out since all of the linked entities which are not based upon reality--Marxism, feminism, academe, the United Nations, et. al.--are suddenly falling on hard times. They represent a temporarily effective series of basic tricks, but the problem with basic tricks--like fundamental evasiveness, labelling and changing of the subject--is that once they’ve been identified they quickly become useless. As long as those of us opposing the malignancies can stay on topic and continue to ask the same basic questions about the forces which continue to dominate our society, they really aren’t long for this world--whether that’s in a human frame or reference of another decade or so or a societal frame of reference of another century or two. In either case, I consider it worthwhile (and a privilege!) to have been an early proponent of accurate perception and have no regrets whether I live to see the dawning of a new age of accurate perception or whether it arrives fifty years after I’m dead.

Thanks as always for writing.


Friday, 29 January 2016

Weekly Update #119: A Phone Call From Bill Sienkiewicz

Dave gets a phone call from Bill Sienkiewicz! He also gets one from a Czech company trying to reprint Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Also, an update on Cerebus Archive Number Four.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Jaka the Dancer

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

We've seen a bit of Notebook #10 before, most recently last August in "Notebook #10 Bits", but also in "Vacation Time: San Jose", "Jaka's Story" and "Jaka's Story (II)". Notebook #10 had 100 pages to begin with, and had 80 pages scanned. There were 6 total blank pages. It was labeled by Dave as issues 112/113, but also has some tidbits on Jaka's Story - him getting ready for it.

Like on page 29 where he has a listing of the different chapters in Jaka's Story and which issues will be a part of them. He also lists the characters in the story - Jaka, Rick, Cerebus, Oscar and Dan? Dan? Perhaps that is Pud before he was renamed Pud Withers.

Notebook #10, page 29
He also has a blurb on Jaka's Story:
Jaka is a single-minded dancer. She wants to be the center of attention. She was so close to being the absolute center as part of to Uncle Julius' family. Front row seat at the pageant. But she didn't want front row. She wanted to be in the pageant. And gradually the center of the pageant. And when she was seven there was no pageant. She became the pageant. At last there was the darkened Theatre of Palnu. Somehow there was a light that just shone on her. A circle of white large enough just to contain her and Magic, her horse. She wouldn't see the people but their applause was deafening. Like the first pageant she had attended when after the final prancing drill of a team of horses the thunderclap of the ovation had startled her. Thrilled her. Made her cry. When nurse had asked her what was wrong she had been unable to reply.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Cerebus: In My Life - Anthony Phillips

Cerebus #36: The Night Before (March 1982)
Art by Dave Sim
I read Cerebus when I was a teen.  It was probably the deepest comic I'd read yet.  This was just around the time the term "graphic novel" was becoming popular, but men like Sim, Moore, and others had been doing this for a while.

Cerebus taught me that this art form was depthless.  Longer page counts than any novel, and filled with art - comic form was WORTHY... as any other medium.  It had paid its dues.  I started to be proud of what I'd read.

And Cerebus had scenes of such breathtaking beauty and sadness.  Single pages that stood striking and stark.  Jaka returning the sword is one scene that really got to me.  I love seeing these sorts of frozen moments now. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

This Is Going To Sting A Bit...

Cerebus #224 (November 1997)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

Monday, 25 January 2016

Neal Adams, Niagra Falls & Other Forces Of Nature

Josh Adams, Marilyn Adams, Neal Adams & Dave Sim, 2006

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Character Assassination, Lies, Gossip & Innuendo

The Comics Journal #253 (June 2003) published (at Dave Sim's request) two letters from Cerebus fans, Jack Baney and Allen Rubenstein, which had originally been intended for publication in Aardvark Comments letters page within Cerebus, but were omitted due to space limitations. Dave Sim's detailed response (over 15,000 words!)  was published in The Comics Journal #255 (September 2003) and #258 (February 2004). What follows is just a short extract from that reply.

...Well, I have to disagree with you there. I did get isolated because I spoke out. People believe that being an anti-feminist is the same thing as being a misogynist or a racist. No, a misogynist hates women because they are women. A racist hates black people because they are black. What I have is a political disagreement with what I believe to be a wrong political direction that my society has adopted and a wrong political choice that the majority of women have made their own. It appears that my actions are, as you assert, "engineered to alienate as many people as possible" only because virtually everyone else thinks that there is a sound basis to Marxist-feminism and believe that disagreeing with Marxist-feminism is a sign of bigotry. I disagree. I think Marxist-feminism is bigotry itself, which maintains itself, as Mao's Cultural Revolution did, by ostracizing those people who are basically saying, "Dude, the experiment isn't working."

Ostracizing Dave Sim, ignoring and disparaging his work, while refusing to enunciate where you believe that the [15] Impossible Things To Believe Before Breakfast are not only not Impossible, are not only Possible, but are, in fact, Shining Truths of How to Conduct Our Glorious Society is very reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution. Your experiment isn't working. It is working less well as we go along. The enemy isn't the person who is trying to tell you that. The enemy is your own persistence in a misapprehension that doesn't suit the nature of free and democratic people. I can't rule out the possibility that God picked me for this job for the basic reason that He knew I would build a very small impregnable fortress.

I wouldn't have a publisher or an editor who could lean on me. I wouldn't have any advertisers who could be leaned on. I wouldn't have a wife who could threaten me or children that I had to worry about "having an evil misogynist dad." I wouldn't have any female friends that I wasn't completely prepared to lose out of my life (all of whom I have lost out of my life, willingly and happily) if it came to a question of appeasing them or sticking with what I believe to be the truth.

I would be working with distributors and retailers who have learned by hard experience that freedom of the press is meaningless unless you're willing to make work available that other people want to read, no matter what you think of it personally. I would have a business partner who would accept that -- in terms of written content -- it is my book. I have offered twice to include and/or write on Gerhard's behalf any disclaimer Gerhard wanted to run in the book, disavowing his having anything to do with the written content. The first time he said that he was pretty sure that no one would believe that he agreed with what I was writing. The second time he simply said that it wouldn't be necessary. So that is where and how things stood and stand here in the small impregnable (so far, God willing) fortress.

That left only the "mob" and a flat-out Marxist-feminist "Enemy of the People and the Glorious Revolution" "hanging in effigy" on the Internet, character assassination, lies, gossip and innuendo as the only means available of attempting to destroy me. If I had a nickel for every time I've been called insane since #186 came out, I would be a very wealthy man. A lot of people are convinced that I must be suicidal, doing without friends as I do. On the contrary, given how those people responded to a simple minority viewpoint, I count myself to be very lucky to have found out who and what they are so that I didn't have to waste any more of my time on or with them. I'm not insane. I am a perfectly sane individual living a very coherent and simple life, a large part of which involves metaphorically staring down virtually every other person in the comic-book field who is, to my own great amusement, waiting for me to flinch.

Folks, I'm not going to flinch. I have nothing to flinch about. You will flinch (you, in fact, have flinched, and are flinching) because you can't answer my argument. You can't even address my argument. All you can do is indulge in mob behavior, character assassination, lies, gossip, innuendo, calling me insane and hoping that that will drive me insane, believing that I'm suicidal in the fervent hope that I will kill myself and that (in the brand of logic peculiar to Marxist-feminists) that my argument will therefore die with me. I haven't indulged in a single one of those unbecoming approaches to societal discourse with any one of the people that I am metaphorically staring down. I don't have to, because -- until a female member of your ranks can present a coherent counter-argument to Tangent and the [15] Impossible Things To Believe Before Breakfast -- I am the one who is in the right and you are the ones who are in the wrong. You were wrong to ignore my argument, you were wrong to engage in character assassination, lies, gossip  and innuendo when you had no answer to my argument, you were wrong when one of you claimed to have threatened me with physical violence, you were wrong to indulge in character assassination, lies and innuendo when I answered that claim of a threat of violence in a like fashion. Under your own Marxist-feminist standards (however degraded they may be) I am right and you are wrong.

Sorry to hurt your collective feeling like, but, you know, there you go...

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. Now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I'll be running interesting excerpts from those letters each week.

23 February, 2005

Dear Jeff:

I'm typing this as part of my February answers to the [Cerebus] Newsgroup, so you might want to post your letter and indicate that that’s what this is about. [Ed: If anyone wants to see my letter, let me know, I’ll try to find it. This is not an exact science, keeping letters for decades. Although, Dave has done a pretty good job of it, with his archive.]

I think it’s a good idea to try for some level of political identification in the Newsgroup for exactly the reasons you outline. I’d be very curious as to what a survey would turn up if you asked everyone to identify themselves as Liberal, Conservative, or Something In Between as a good starting point for the discussion. I also think that you make a good point about finding the monthly answers more conveniently. I have been honestly trying in recent weeks to make an effort to get to the library and check the occasional website on the Internet if someone specifically asks me to--previously I just ignored all such requests--and I just have no patience with it. What am I supposed to “click on”? How do I “turn the page?” “Where did everything go?” With a book, I can check the index, then find the page number, flip to that page, and see if it’s what I’m looking for. On the Internet, I have to find what I think is a pertinent reference (and never is), click on that, scroll through it until I give up, go back to the home page, click on something else. Given a hundred years of evolution it might achieve the efficiency of a book with an index, but I’m not holding my breath.

And I do think that Cerebus would be better served by Conservative interests and that a Foundation would be a good idea eventually. Ger and I are mutually insured through the company through the company, so he would be getting a pretty good sum of money at my passing, but that’s his money. I’d certainly recommend forming a Cerebus Foundation and dovetailing it with Cerebus Legacy, but that will be his decision to make--I can’t tie his hands ahead of time in good conscience. And, as I said before, I think that the possibility of a [metaphorical feeding] trough should be resisted in the early planning for Cerebus Legacy because, otherwise, you attract the wrong kind of people. If you accomplish as many tasks as you can just structurally and then apply specific amounts of money to specific problems--like memory for Margaret’s, etc.--then you’re going to be making better choices. If you start talking about salaried positions, then you have a vested interest in someone continuing to draw the salary and you have a perhaps terminal drain on resources if Cerebus stays the size that it is and a cesspool of corruption if it gets much or even a little larger. But, definitely, if I had to pick a good early course direction to take, it would be giving a disproportionately larger voice to those who identify themselves as Conservative. Trying to avoid creating a Foundation with salaried positions and keeping money as far as possible from the day-to-day running of Cerebus Legacy is a Conservative approach. I can’t see the problems that exist as having any chance of being solved by having money thrown at them and you’re going to need a strong Conservative hand on the tiller--and Conservative voices willing to speak up and be heard--to keep that from happening.

On the subject of replacing the “originals” [Ed: the original readers/fans of Cerebus], I think as long as an honest dialogue is taking place that that won’t be necessary. How many honest dialogues do you know of? I think they’re: a) pretty rare, and b) pretty attractive in no small part because they’re pretty rare. I didn’t want to make you all self-conscious about your ages--or, more relevantly, about your pertinence to Cerebus--but I’m definitely aware of the condition you describe. My own view is that you will become Cerebus celebrities in your own right directly relative to the level of celebrity attached to the book as the years go by. The fewer there are of you, the more important you’re going to be seen as being. The fact that--I assume--the poll will indicate the vast majority of the Newsgroup identifies themselves as Liberal will--again, I assume--prove to be a genuine credential in the years to come. You stuck it out with a viewpoint that you deplored. Well, that’s genuine Liberalism, inclusive rather than exclusive. It will get tested every time there’s another societal convulsion that doesn’t favour the book and it will get tested every time there’s another societal convulsion that does favour the book. If I’ve done my work properly, that should go on pretty much indefinitely. As an “original”, I wouldn’t worry about “successors” too much. When we all start to lose it, they’ll be very nice about edging us out of the way and trying to live up to what we’ve laid down as the original groundwork. They’ll either improve it or wreck it or maintain it but by that we’ll all be drooling in our oatmeal or be six feet under. The key thing is to do what we can now while we’re still “all here” in every sense of the term.

You raise another good point when you mention the cover art. I would definitely never want the covers reprinted inside the trade paperbacks. They are supposed to be graphic novels and that purpose is defeated if there’s another comic-book cover every twenty pages. If the covers are reprinted [Ed: They now are.], my preference would be a separate volume. I could grudgingly allow for them being reprinted in the back of each trade--very grudgingly--but having the covers interleaved into the books, no, to me that’s in the same category as computer colour.

Thanks for writing, Jeff.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Weekly Update #118: From Brooklyn With Love

Dave gets a couple of phone calls from some fans... including his one and only stalker, Mark from Brooklyn.
You know what a lightsaber is, right?

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Naming Church & State

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.

A while back iestyn had asked for pages with Dave's text pieces on them. While looking through notebook #5 for last week's entry, I found the original text for the Note From The President for Cerebus #72 on page 31, written in 1985:
"Church and State"
You guys have been asking me what this part of the Cerebus story-line is called. I did "High Society" with the intention of addressing myself to what I felt were the central elements issues of politics.
"Church and State" addresses itself to people in the late 1990's. Before the year One  Thousand there was a great deal of turmoil as regards a second coming or coming Second Coming. If you're so disposed (or a First Coming if your particular faith feels the first one was largely so much smoke and mirrors, but I digress.). We are now only half-way (I'm writing this February 6,) is between January 18, 1970 and January 1, 2000. With the kind of communications we have in this day and age, we will have time to all flock behind our personal Messiah and change our minds dozens of times before the ball drops on Times Square (only that isn't going to happen anymore, is it?) Janua December 31, 1999.
So I just moved the whole attitude into Cerebus world. For the pigts 1414 is a wonderfully scared year. The Year Cerebus Returns.
And the original page itself:

Notebook #5, page 31
Quite a bit different from the note that was published in Cerebus #72:
You know, it's not really true that there's nothing to say in this space. I mean this would be a great spot to clear up a lot of the confusing plots and sub-plots and sub-sub-plots.
I mean, I could tell you when Jaka is coming back, then, couldn't I? Wouldn't that make sitting down and filling all this empty space worth while? Well that depends.
There are people in the world who don't want to know what changes are going to take place. There are other people who soak up previews like a sponge soaks up water. Unfortunately, I'm one of the former rather than latter individuals. I watched STAR TREK II on television the other night up until the last half hour when Spock stands up and goes out to die. I had known that was what he was going to do so why extend the eyestrain?
What I can tell you is that this section of the Cerebus story-line now has a name.
"Church and State."
Like it? Well who cares. That's what it's called.
I've had a few comments in the last while that time isn't passing as quickly in the story-line as, say, in issue 27. This is largely a reaction on my part to the cramming I had to do in the "High Society" storyline. If the overall reaction to "High Society's" conclusion had been "Shit, Dave, that was a long way to go for nothing", I probably would have made a more concerted effort to provide a series of sixty and eighty page stories with a lot of "Three days later..." and "After a series of misadventures..." captions strewn throughout.
Quite the contrary, the reaction (particularly from those people who started reading the book in the last two years and have read "High Society" in one sitting) has been in favour of the extended story-line.
To pull the curtain aside ever-so-slightly, "Church and State" is largely concerned with Cerebus' personal identity crisis set in motion in issue 5 when he discovers the Pigts (and vice versa). Is he Cerebus, The Great Cerebus, Most Holy, a combination of all three? If a combination of all three, in what percentage does each dictate his thoughts and actions?
Now the only way to illustrate this effectively in my opinion (and as me Dad used to say "Who else's Opinion counts around here?") is to show you the little bastard bouncing off his mental walls in great detail over a couple of days and take an ungodly number of issues to do it.
Consider the implications of selecting one of those identities given his present circumstances. Pick an identity. Any identity.
Okay get your noses out from behind my curtain and start reading.
See you next issue.