Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Eddie Khanna's TedTalk

EDDIE KHANNA:
(from a Patreon Update, 12 April 2015)
...Which leads me to my upcoming TedTalk, scheduled for May 18. Shortly after Dave came back from his surgery, he told me that the whole experience gave a good opportunity to test a "Defcon 2" type of situation: i.e. Dave Sim is Dead or Incapacitated in some kind of manner that prevents him from completing The Strange Death of Alex Raymond, and determining What Happens Next. He said he'd like me to have a 1 hour conversation with [IDW Publisher] Ted Adams as if the above has happened, discussing what we see as being the next step for the project, what we think should happen, and what we think Dave would have wanted. I'll be recording the conversation using my computer and then transcribing it to send to Dave, and then he's going to add his comments, noting which parts he agrees with, which he disagrees with, and what he thinks about the conversation and our assessments and decisions (much easier this way than having to use a Ouija board if the real thing were to happen), so I'm starting to make a list of everything we would need to cover. Just from my quick email exchange with Ted, I think I can safely say we're both on the same page about the importance of SDOAR. Read the full update at Patreon.com...

Eddie Khanna is the Vancouver-based reader of Dave Sim's Glamourpuss who began researching The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond by mistake. Read the full story of how that happened here...

Monday, 20 April 2015

Taboo: A Financial Kamikaze Plane

Taboo #1 (SpiderBaby Grafix, 1988)
Cover art by Steve Bissette
STEVE BISSETTE:
(from an interview with Chris Dahlen at A.V.Club, 23 July 2009)
...Taboo was not self-publishing. Taboo was my first real experience with publishing. Of the work that appeared in Taboo, very little of it was mine. With Taboo, I learned about the ethics of publishing. And our deal with Taboo was, we sunk no proprietary rights or hooks into any of that material. It was one-time publication, a flat page-rate, $100 a page, and that was it. Deal over.

When From Hell the movie was made, we got nothing from it. Some people felt like that was unfair, but hey, that was the deal. The whole reason From Hell and Lost Girls and Throat Sprockets exist today is because they were made for Taboo, and Taboo, I was the midwife. I literally looked at it as that profession. My job was to facilitate the birth of something into this world, and then I’m done...

...Dave Sim forged a friendship with John Totleben and I at the Mid-Ohio-Con. And Dave laid out his whole vision of the inverted pyramid, that the whole superstructure of these businesses was built on the backs of freelancers that they were treating badly, paying badly. But they wouldn't be going home with their paycheck every Friday if the freelancers didn't get their work done, and all their income and revenue was generated by the work of a freelance pool that was at the end of the food chain, instead of benefiting from the food chain.

I was receptive to that. Not just because it was a radical thought -- and it was, at the time -- but also because it was the first thing I'd ever heard from someone else in the industry that was making sense of my real-life experiences with the industry...

...Taboo was like a kamikaze plane going into the deck of the Midway. It was a defunct business model before it started! I lost tens of thousands of dollars. Dave Sim poured tens of thousands of dollars into it that he never got back. The year I made a ton of money off 1963, I sent Dave Sim a check for $10,000. And he said "Steve, your checks are no good here. Keep it." For Dave, it was an investment he had made in not just Taboo, but a group of creators he believed in, and it ended up having a beneficial effect on comics.

But no one ever waited for a check from Taboo. My family ate macaroni and cheese some weeks, which drove my wife nuts, as you can well understand. Because instead, a few hundred dollars were going to Eddie Campbell and Alan Moore, because the work on From Hell was underway...

As a comics-artist, Steve Bissette is best known for his collaboration with Alan Moore and John Totleben on DC Comics' Swamp Thing in the 1980s, as well as his own self-published Tyrant. As editor of the horror-anthology Taboo, he published the first serialised appearances of From Hell (by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell), Lost Girls (by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie) and the still-born Sweeney Todd (by Neil Gaiman and Michael Zulli).

After self-publishing Taboo #1-4 through SpiderBaby Grafix, Steve edited Taboo #5-7 and Taboo Especial which were co-published with Kevin Eastman's Tundra Publishing. In 1993 Tundra Publishing was involved in a controversial merger with Dennis Kitchen's Kitchen Sink Press, which published the final two volumes of Taboo, #8-9, in 1995 edited by Philip Amara. In 1994 Kitchen Sink Press had been purchased by Ocean Capital Corp. Kitchen Sink Press was finally dissolved in 1999.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Work For Hire: "Open Up Your Eyes To What’s Going On Here!"

Comic Book Creator #6: Swampmen
Edited by Jon Cooke & George Khoury
Cover art by Frank Cho

STEPHEN R. BISSETTE:
(from an interview conducted in 2003, printed in Comic Book Creator #6 in 2014)
...But that was what had me ultimately walk away from the [Swamp Thing] series. I just couldn’t stomach working with the company [DC Comics] any longer. Part of it was the awakening to what "work-for-hire" really meant, what the real impact of that was… that all of the work the three of us had done meant, in legal terms, that Alan [Moore] was not the writer, I was not the penciler, John [Totleben] was not the inker, but pairs of hands slaving for this corporate entity of DC and that they, DC Comics, was the creator of the property. That’s the legal conceit of work-for-hire.

At the time -- and it took a while to get my head around that -- there were a number of factors and one of them was John and I were really getting to know Dave Sim over this period. Dave knew what the life of a freelancer was because of his friendship with Gene Day, and Gene was one of the great tragedies of comics. Gene wanted to work for Marvel with every fiber of his being, got to work for Marvel, and ended up dying as a result of just allowing himself to be siphoned away. You know, made all of his deadlines, got everything done, but lived on coffee and cigarettes until physically, he was incapable of living any more. One time in particular, when Rick Veitch and myself spent a number of hours with Dave at some convention we were at, Dave just spilled the whole story of Gene Day. What his friendship was with Gene, how important their friendship was, what Gene meant to Dave, and how, in Dave's view, Marvel killed Gene Day; and that he, Dave, was living for the day that he could dance on the grave of Marvel. Dave really radicalized me over time. What DC did during this period, the event that I won’t discuss, definitely pushed me into the wake-up call of realizing that Dave Sim was right.

Dave has given some very eloquent testimonials, spoken at various gatherings, a lot of that material has been transcribed and written down and published in Cerebus, and that is a body of work that should be collected and studied, because he is right. By and large, the relationship between the creative people and the publishers can be a very dangerous one. Things changed a lot in the wake of what happened to us, and the fights that my generation fought at places like DC. The people who really scored were the bigger names, people like Frank Miller. Frank really broke ground with his Ronin and Dark Knight contracts. The fact is that when Alan walked away from DC, they lost him forever. I mean he really walked. He wasn’t coming back. (It's very telling to me about what Machiavellian maneuvers had to go on for the ABC line to end up at DC, but I won't even get into that, because that’s a separate conversation for a separate venue.)

Creators like Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison and Garth Ennis benefited from the real hard-fought battles that were fought. And, in my small way, I was involved in a number of those battles. Around the time of Swamp Thing #35, as we’re getting up to #40, my personal conflicts with DC over a legal matter came to a head, and my political reorientation to the whole nature of making a living as a freelancer was affected a great deal by my friendship with Dave Sim. It wasn’t like was Dave was ranting at me. It was that DC would prove Dave’s points almost every time.

John Totleben went every year to Mid-Ohio Con, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. We would donate art to the auction, do sketches, and it was a great communal event. It was a lot of fun. Dave was at Mid-Ohio where we first met him, and Dave showed up one day at our hotel with a limo and said, "Boys, get in." And I didn’t know what to do. I didn't even know that you weren't supposed to open the door yourself when you got to where you were going, that you’re supposed to wait until the guy comes around. You know, Dave's whole thing was, "Guys, this is how the executives at the company you work for travel. [Jon laughs] Get a taste of it."

There's something wrong when the pyramid is reversed. There’s something wrong when you're the guys shelling out for taxicab fare or hitchhiking to conventions and staying three and four in a room, all the while the publishers are coming here in the limos and getting Presidential suites. Dave's whole orientation was to open our eyes to what the power dynamic was, what the reverse pyramid was, as he put it, where the whole power structure was built on the back of the freelancers, and we got a real taste of that with the success of Swamp Thing, you know? We got a glimpse that suddenly made sense to us.

We all went to New York City to meet Alan and Phyllis for the first time. There's Dave Gibbons, delivering the first pages of Watchmen, Alan and Phyllis are put up in one of the best hotels in New York City, and Dave ends up in a dive on 42nd Street where his room is broken into because he's the artist [laughs] and Watchmen is just in the early stages. It was hard to ignore the favoritism going on, and it was getting harder to ignore it any longer.

If I was called in to the Marvel office, Marvel footed the bill. If I brought in receipts for the train ticket and cab fare, I was reimbursed. But when DC called John and I in, we had to pay for travel. It took me longer to wake up to it because of the fun I was experiencing doing the work, the fun of doing the comics. So had it not been for people like Dave saying, "Listen, open up your eyes to what's going on here!" I would have remained blissfully ignorant.

I bring all that up, Jon, because that’s part of what also soured my passion of staying with the book. By the time we got to American Gothic, where it was all schematically laid out for the next 10 issues where we were going and what was going to be in what issue, the ride was over. It was that I knew 12 months down the road where we were going so there was no fun to it any longer. I remember the metaphor John used, and John’s great with this stuff. He says, "You know, we put the car on the road and now they want us to ride in the backseat." [laughs] And it was true. It wasn't a power thing. That wasn't what it was about. It was that everything the book had become was through our energy and drive and concepts; and suddenly, there was this road map and we were part of the machine. It just wasn't as fun any more, but the personal side cannot be downplayed and I take full responsibility, and always have, for my issues of deadlines, and so on, but it’s still tough to hear some of the stuff said at DC. It's pretty easy to ignore their culpability in a lot of events that went on, but that's what they did...

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 period. 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. 

STOLEN ART ALERT!
With SWAMPMEN out this week (from Jon B. Cooke, George Khoury, TwoMorrows, 2014), it's time to remind everyone in the community that the painted cover art to SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #34 and the final page of that issue (Rites of Spring) are STILL STOLEN PROPERTY.

These belong to John Totleben and yours truly, Stephen Bissette -- only they don't, because they were stolen right out of the DC Comics offices in 1984-85.

These are STILL STOLEN PROPERTY. Anyone owning, trafficking, trading, or harboring this original art -- SOTST #34 cover painting and the final story page -- is involved (knowingly or unknowingly) in criminal activity.

John and I also have children; mine are now adults. They are looking, too. Even after we're dead and gone, this will be sought-after STOLEN PROPERTY.

This is not going to "go away."

Stephen R. Bissette, 2014

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Tumblr: All Of Cerebus For Free

All Of Cerebus, One Page Every Day
BLEEDING COOL:
(from an article by Rich Johnston, 17 April 2015)
Cerebus is one of the greatest comic book works in the history of humanity. Initially a funny animal parody of Conan The Barbarian, it became a comic about politics, religion, life and death. And parodying anything that geek and pop culture was obsessed with along the way. Running for 300 issues, for twenty-five years, it is 6000 pages long.

And it is running, with permission of Dave Sim, one page a day on Tumblr. The first two issues are up. If completed it will take [over 16 years] to conclude. Tumblr may not even be around that long. Just consider it a daily comic book strip. Oh and it will get really good in about a year-and-a-half…

And if you can’t wait, there’s always Cerebus Downloads...

High Society Figurine

OLIVER SIMONSEN:
(via Cerebus Facebook Group, 7 April 2015)
...animator Zeke Sabee actually had a figurine made that at Dave's suggestion was going to be made available with a limited premium edition of the [High Society Digital Audio/Visual Experience] DVD. IDW thought it a great idea and was totally onboard, but in the end Zeke's production costs of mould making and poly resin casting were too high. Now with 3D printers becoming common place that could maybe have gone very differently.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Weekly Update #78: All Good Things Come In Threes


Featuring updates on Dave Sim's contributions to the Cerebus Covers collection from IDW, Cerebus: Fractured Destiny movie, and The Puma Blues collection from Dover Books.

BONUS SKETCHES:

Unboxing Video For "High Society: Digital Audio / Visual Experience"

SANDEEP ATWAL:
New to the world of computers, Dave Sim tries his hand at an unboxing video as he has heard that there is "an entire website" devoted to the pastime. Although there is no box per se, the spirit of the Unboxing Video is adhered to throughout this presentation.

8-Disc DVD Box-Set
by Dave Sim, with George Peter Gatsis
IDW, $39.99

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Assassin

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.

So way back in July 2014 we saw page 72 of Dave's notebook #7. Through that page we could see page 71, which was Dark Roach from the cover of Cerebus #93, Dave's homage to the cover of Batman: The Dark Knight #2 by Frank Miller.  

Dave started sketching some roughs for the cover of #93, a grimacing Dark Roach, on page 69. He had some different mock-ups of the title for that issue 'assassin' along with the different tries of 'Bishop to Queen Two' and 'Vortex'. Note of the three would be the actual title of the book, as Dave went with 'The Prisoner' instead.

Notebook #7, page 69
We also see the thumbnail of page 1 of issue 93 in the above notebook. Page 70 is some floating heads and dialogue for some of the first couple pages of the issue. Then on page 71 we see a couple of roughs of the cover for issue #93.

Notebook #7, page 71

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Heartfelt Philosophizing at the ookstore

Mara Sedlins:

I've been back in the States for about week now and am settling back into a normal routine with restoration work. Working abroad worked out fine - but it feels like a luxury now to be back in my home office with a standing desk and large monitor. Sean told me the negative scans we have for Church & State I are looking fantastic, so I'm looking forward to working on those once I finish the original art scans I'm focusing on right now.

I suppose this is old news by now (thankfully), but I wanted to share a few thoughts related to Dave's recent health crisis. First of all, I share everyone's relief at his recovery and good wishes for his continued improvement. I also want to echo Sean's comments about the way a crisis like this puts things in perspective. In the day-to-day you become occupied with immediate concerns and small difficulties - but when you're forced to shift focus, then you see the world in a new light and your real priorities become clearer. 

The best examples of art do this too - though ideally without a trip to the hospital.

I found that travel can also produce a perception-shift, though for me it was fairly subtle. People warn you about reverse culture shock when you return home after living in another country. But when I got back to San Diego, I just felt a renewed sense of gratefulness for everything in my life - my home and spouse, friends and family (including two precious-beyond-belief baby nieces) - everyone I love and the memories I have here. 

I hope that as the recovery process continues, Dave and all those who care about him will find ways to see beauty in the impermanence and fragility of every human endeavor.

Heartfelt philosophizing aside, I did find one very specific thing unchanged when I returned to San Diego. Getting back to work on C & S I, I discovered that I really need a good reference copy of my own to work from - especially for a page like this:



As you can see, the outline of the bird has been mostly obscured by a bad ink spill. There's simply no way to clear this up without consulting the original printing. I remembered seeing a pristine copy of C & S I at a used bookstore (excuse me - a used "ookstore") a while back and returned a couple days ago to see if it was still there.


It was a fun experience to walk into this haphazard place, cramped with piles of books everywhere, nothing alphabetized (of course if I owned an ookstore, it would be compulsively organized!) - and go straight to the thing I wanted, still in the same spot I remembered from months ago.

Book in hand, I was able to finish working on the ink-spilled page yesterday:

Middle-- scanned from my reference copy. Bottom-- cleaned original art

Come to think of it, coming back from a long trip, or emerging from a crisis, or having a brush with mortality - all of these things can make the world more vivid to the senses. For example, I now realize that San Diego air has a particular, delicate scent - probably something to do with the ocean - that had become so familiar to me that I stopped perceiving it until I left and then came back again. My goal with the cleanup process for Church & State I is to give readers a similar experience of renewed vividness - to bring out details that had been obscured, to make the familiar new again.

"Cerebus: Fractured Destiny" Update

Gerhard's pencilled/inked/coloured Sanctuary (above) stunningly modelled in 3D by John Eyre (below).
Keep up to date with the latest Cerebus movie news here!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Happy 56th Birthday, Gerhard!

Self-Portrait (2011)
by Gerhard

Be sure to visit Gerhard's website, blog and print-store!

Monday, 13 April 2015

The Avant Garde List

Penguin Graphic Classic Covers
Cover art by Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Chester Brown, Seth & Charles Burns

DAVE SIM:
(from 'Mind Games Of The Avant Garde' in Following Cerebus #8, May 2006)
...when [Chester Brown] and I were en route to The Beguiling after having had lunch with Rob Walton and James Turner, we were discussing a recent plum assignment that Chet had landed with Penguin Books: doing a comic-strip / cartoon illustration cover for a literary classic -- in his case D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover. I had asked -- more than a little disingenuously -- who else had been asked to do one of those covers? "Let me see," he said, "Art Spiegelman did one, Dan Clowes, Charles Burns, Seth, Chris Ware..."

"The usual suspects," I said.

Chet smiled and allowed -- I suspect more than a little disingenuously -- that it did seem to be the same group of cartoonists that kept turning up in these high-prestige real-world environments. Indulging in a little good-natured teasing from the sidelines, I asked, What had happened to the Brothers Hernandez? How did they get dropped from The List? Chet didn't know. Hard to tell if he was being serious or answering in the same facetious manner -- as is always the case until one of us cracks up. They hadn't been in that special issue of McSweeny's had they? Mmm. Chet was pretty sure they had been. As I say, good-natured teasing. Of course then we got to the Beguiling and Chet pulled out a copy of McSweeny's, and there they were: Jaime and Gilbert. Okay, I thought, time for some more good-natured teasing. What about Adrian Tomine? Why wasn't he on The List? Adrian -- or Mr Tomine if he prefers -- was on my mind because I had just picked up the latest issue of Optic Nerve.

"Oh, Adrian is definitely on The List," said Chet.

Yeah? How so? I asked -- preparing to be needlessly quarrelsome -- which is always a big part of discussions when I visit Chet: whether the subject is comic books, Scripture, prostitution, or gloves vs. mittens.

"Adrian passed on doing Lady Chatterley's Lover -- that's why it was offered to me."

I cracked up. Okay, Chet won that round hands down.

...what bothers me about The List is the sense of More Validity Than Thou that seems to accompany membership on it for several of its members. It seems to me that the latest round got launched with the New York Times Magazine - can you cite the date? - cover that you had done and the picture of you with Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Seth, Dan Clowes and... am I missing anyone?... and the accompanying article last summer. Nice Big Feathers in everyone's cap all the way around, to be sure, for whatever actual value the "real world" coverage has. But I really thought we had all gotten past that back in the 1980s when the Major Piece on Frank Miller in Rolling Stone really didn't do anything much for Frank that Frank... and DC... hadn't done for himself and when Alan Moore became Top of the Pops pop culture phenom in England that left him, at the end of the day, you know, Alan Moore. Not that there's anything wrong with that stature. I should be so lucky...

New York Times Magazine (July 2004)
Clockwise from Top Left: Seth, Chester Brown, Adrian Tomine, Art Spiegelman, Joe Sacco

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Wolveroach Triptych Revisited



The Wolveroach Triptych (2005)
By Dave Sim

DAVE SIM:
(from Following Cerebus #7, February 2006)
A series of three colour-proof reproductions of my ink and watercolour "revisitings" of the covers of Cerebus issues 54, 55 and 56 (which were originally done in black and white with mechanical colour separations back in 1983)... Although most cover recreations attempt to reproduce the original version with pin-point accuracy, I've adopted a slightly different approach of attempting to get a little closer to what I had pictured in my head but which the limits of my ability as well as the constraints of a monthly schedule at the time kept me from achieving...

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Tribute Art Round-Up #10

Cerebus (2015)


Cerebus & Boobah (2015)

Cerebus & Red Sonja (2012)

Cerebus Jam (2014)

Cerebus & Yojimbo (2015)

Friday, 10 April 2015

Weekly Update #77: Not Dead Yet!


In which Dave Sim discusses: his lack of sleep, the 'correspondence' pile, IDW's proofs for Cerebus: The Covers, the shipping date for High Society 30th Anniversary Signed Limited Edition, and Tom Stazer's Lionheart Tales.


Lionheart Tales (2014)
by Tom Stazer

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Finale: Good and Bad of Comics in the Early 90s

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.

For the last two weeks we've looked at six pages total from Dave's notebook #17: pages 17 through 23 - here is part one and here is part two. Dave talked about what he saw good and bad, the collector's market, the expansion of the industry, how he saw comics in the early 1990s. We finish up the look at Dave's thoughts on the comics industry in early 1990s on pages 24 though 26.

Last week we saw Dave was writing a speech to comics retailers. On page 24 he goes back to listing what he sees as good - a distributer making 1 million dollars in 1979 to a comic book store making 1 million dollars in 1991 , the expansion of the market being more choices, et al:

Notebook #17, page 24
 On the next page Dave tells the media what he thinks is a good hook. Not what a number one issue will go for now, but that it is a long story, a story with a commitment. The biggest hook of Cerebus hooking to early 1990s Dave? Is that Cerebus "document(s) a war between feminists and the matriarchy."

Notebook #17, page 25
Dave lets the retailers know that he is in their corner, that Cerebus only sells in their stores. That he has said no to Lucasfilm, Time Warner, and Surge Licensing. He continues saying he doesn't want Cerebus in Walmart, Sears, Waldenbooks, Toys R Us or 7-11s. Dave shows us his fierce loyalty to comic stores, something that continues to this day.

The 1992 US Tour is mentioned on the next page along with a line that we'll see again in Reads "Are we having fun yet."

Notebook #17, page 26


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Teeny Tiny Little Lines



Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings everyone,

This will be a brief one, as I'm still trying to catch up on Church & State work, while making progress on the CAN3 files, namely, getting Dave's remarkable notes for the project illustrated and laid out.

In light of the recent discussion of the photo negatives and how well that end of the project is going, I thought it might be instructive to do a bit of comparison and reiterate in what ways the project benefits from access to original art. As I've mentioned a few times, it would be an easy thing to batch-convert the negative scans and create a new digital "negative" virtually identical (functionally, anyway) to the original negatives. 

Putting aside pages that were underexposed initially, or where the negative has been damaged in some way-- how does a well-photographed neg compare to a high-res scan of the original art for the page? Is it really worth the hassle of dealing with the original art, of having to seek it out, correct tone shrinkage and other problems?

Here's a rare example of a page where I have an ideal scan of both original art for the page and negative. The original art in question was (most likely) scanned by Scott Dunbier as part of the work on the upcoming Cerebus Covers book from IDW, and passed on to me by Justin Eisinger. The negative was expertly scanned by Funkmistress Karen last week.

Other than a little bit of shrinkage of the border tape and a little bit of tone shrinkage on the left leg that will need to be repaired, this is about as perfect as you get. The page was in great shape, the scan was clean and easy to work with, with really sharp optics (Epson Expression 10000XL? I'm guessing here, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm correct. Truly a "Cadillac" flat-bed scanner).

Okay, so how does that compare to a truly excellent scan of the original negative?



Take a look at the skew of the panels in the top tier-- the sides are still straight, but the tops and bottoms of the page have been skewed upwards to the right. This is most likely a result of the art being mounted at an angle to the camera during the initial photography. Strangely enough, it even makes Cerebus' expression in the top tier seem a bit different to me.

Perhaps more noteworthy are all of the missing lines.



Less visible in this particular close-up is the amount of plugging on the fine detail information, i.e. white space between black lines. As this plugging happens normally during the print process, it's important to preserve as much of this as possible before you get to that stage.

This might seem like fairly minor losses here-- but how much linework is actually absent from the page really depends on how much fine-linework was there in the first place. What got lost in photography? Very fine lines. Lines drawn with watery ink. Lines drawn with technical pens. Pages with tons of fine-line information had, no surprise, more to lose, whereas a page like this only really has fine hatching and feathering in a few places.

Last noteworthy difference, more interesting than good or bad-- the tiny Cerebus figure in the lower right hand panel has has his exposure "spiked", along with the rest of the panel, to turn his tone from a 25 percent to closer to a 20 percent. This was no doubt intended to combat the inevitable dot gain from the printing process, exacerbated by the newsprint the book was printed on, and by the desire for rich black on the part of everyone involved. (The unintended consequence of this-- a general thinning of the lines in that panel, and blowing out some of the more watery lines.)



Before I leave, one more plea for feedback--what would you like to see (or not see) in this space? Any suggestions welcome.


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

I Don't Believe Dave Sim Is A Misogynist


Please consider signing the iPetition
Recent signatories include:

DAVID J WOODWARD:
Cartoonist from Detroit, MI and fan of Cerebus. I think there are way too many people who read far too into things and overthink what they read. Cerebus is an intelligent and thought-provoking graphic novel series that deserves more respect than it gets, and from fellow friends of mine who have met Dave, I've only heard the very nicest things about him. His work has been very influential to mine.

ANTONY VOLLEY:
Cartoonist from Grimsby, U.K, decade long fan. I've thought long and hard about this subject. My views on Mr. Sim being one of the greatest cartoonists of all time have no bearings on my signing of this petition. Although I disagree with some of his opinions regarding feminism and gender issues I do not believe he is a misogynist. Thanks for all the great comics Mr. Sim and I hope your recovery from your recent medical problems continues apace! You remain an inspiration! 

DON VAN HORN:
I'm a fan and sometimes acquaintance. I was friends with Harry Kremer of Now and Then Books before he passed. As such I had many opportunities to visit with Dave personally and as a fan. He has only ever been kind and generous with his time and talent in my experience. Not once have I ever seen him disrespect a woman either in or out of their presence. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

The 'Good Shit To Bad Shit' Ratio

Feature #2 (1997)
Cover by Peter Bagge

DAVE SIM:
(from 'State Of The Industry', Feature #2, 1997)
...I've come to perceive the comics environment as having its own consciousness in addition to its physical form -- number of companies, number of titles, number of stores etc -- and I believe that the consciousness governs the physical dimensions. That is, the number of companies, number of titles, number of stores expand in response to the consciousness perceiving that something "good" is happening, that something "good" is possible. There seems to be an in-built perceived ratio of good shit to bad shit -- an acknowledgement that there will always be more bad shit than good shit -- coupled with a "capping mechanism" which causes the environment to make itself smaller at the exact point that the ratio begins to drastically favour bad shit.

The rise of Marvel Comics in the early 'sixties, the Batman television show, the influx of the underground in 1968-69, the emergence of ground-level comic books like Witzend, Star*Reach and so on: Each functioned as a signal that it was time to expand. Good shit was possible! The "capping mechanism" kicked in when Marvel started to put out too much, imitation Marvel companies proliferating like bacteria in a petri-dish, DC attempting to imitate Marvel. Same thing with the undergrounds -- the good shit to bad shit ratio started to favour the bad shit so the expansion was arrested. Star*Reach got supplanted by First and Pacific. For every American Flagg! there were three dozen interchangeable X-Men rip-off titles. Self-publishing is the same way. It expands in 1984-85, 1993-94 until the ratio of good shit to bad shit drastically favours bad shit and then the expansion is arrested. In the pre-direct market days, the environment was capable of lying dormant for years at a time. It would "exhale" impurities and lapse into survival mode, waiting to something good -- or potentially good -- to happen so that it could expand again. It still does this, in my view, but the periods of "lying dormant" in the direct market age are much shorter. I think the consciousness is completely at peace whether its expanding or lying dormant - inhaling or exhaling...

Sunday, 5 April 2015

CBLDF Defender #1

CBLDF Defender #1
Publisher: Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Release Date: April 2015
Price: Free!

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is proud to announce that CBLDF Defender, a new free quarterly news magazine coming to you from the front lines of the fight for free speech, is now available. Each issue of CBLDF Defender will bring engaging creator interviews, detailed analysis of current censorship news, and in-depth features that tell the story of the people fighting for the freedom to read. Neil Gaiman kicks off the first issue with an in-depth interview on his battles with censorship.  We're also taking you to the front lines, with news and analysis on the latest censorship battles raging in schools and libraries across the USA. Take a look at international cartoonist rights issues and the free speech fallout from the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Plus, a lively history of Bill Gaines, the U.S government, and the birth of the Comics Code! Let's take a look at the attack on reading and how CBLDF is working to fight censorship!

CBLDF Defender #1 is available from your comic book store, comiXology, Issuu, or as a free PDF download.