Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Visiting Lenny & Dawn: Part 2

a true life Dave Sim adventure

[Continued from Part 1...] This was the reason that Lenny had invited me over: FRENCH & SAUNDERS UK or FSUK. They were touring for the first time in ten years. I suspect that part of Lenny's motivation was "Dawn liked Dave. I'm in the doghouse with Dawn so maybe I can get out of the doghouse by asking Dave to come over." Probably not the best of moves since it was on the trip he had been returning home from when I met him that the cheating incident took place.

The event program was VERY funny: a send-up of HELLO magazine with Dawn and Jennifer Saunders pretending to be a famous lesbian couple adopting their first child: TINY SISSY TEARS. Dusting around the house while wearing an opera gown and tiara. That kind of thing. VERY droll bits, like Dawn with her finger sticking in the doll's eye. Reading between the lines, you realize that the reason they've adopted a child is publicity -- like a world exclusive in HELLO magazine. I'm sure HELLO magazine wasn't terribly amused. I actually "liberated" a copy of HELLO magazine from the guest flat so I could explain the joke to North Americans.

Dawn said to me, "You should have been here last night. SURE was here." Who? She had to repeat it a few times. Oh, CHER! Wow. I was impressed. Here I was breathing the same air that Cher had been breathing the night before!

I got the program signed by both of them backstage. When I was introduced to Jennifer Saunders she said, "Oh, yes. You're Lenny's hero." Which, obviously, had something more of an edge to it than it had when I had been there for his 40th birthday party two years before.

My VIP backstage lanyard. Never having been backstage before, I didn't know what to expect. We basically sat around and ate stuff and watched television. What did we watch on television? Whatever Jennifer Saunders' kids WANTED to watch on television. Lenny and I chatted about this and that, but there was no question that it was a bit awkward. "I'm With Lenny" wasn't the best credential to have backstage at a French & Saunders show in November of 2000. I mean, I was also there because of Dawn. I was glad she signed the program "Your chum".

I did take the two of them out for dinner one night. It didn't seem strained (to me), but then they're actor and actress -- part of their job is acting one way when they're actually feeling another way. I remember saying to them at one point, "I wish you could see how people react to you. People just light up when they see it's you. Just by walking past them you've given them a memorable moment." Obviously a double-edged sword and I didn't "get" how sharp the other edge can be.

a) The playbill for Jerry Hall who was playing in THE GRADUATE just around the corner from Lenny and Dawn's guest flat in Soho where I was staying. b) Me doing my best Mick Jagger impression for Dawn French at Lenny's 40th birthday party and...

I guess b) was on her mind when Dawn said to me, early in the 2000 visit, "Do you want me to fix you up with Jerry Hall while you're over here? She isn't seeing anyone right now." This tied in weirdly with Lenny saying to me at one point when I first got there, "But! You're like a rock star!" I don't even remember the context. All I could do was laugh. "I'm glad I had YOU fooled. I was never a rock star. I may have had more than my share of girlfriends and one-night stands, but… that's all over now." I had just fasted in Ramadan for the second time. Having "split hairs" over fornication and adultery in RICK'S STORY, I had decided they were in the same general box and needed to be kicked out to my personal curb.

It was weird, because I thought, "Actually it would be fun to have dinner with a beautiful Texas woman in London and talk about Texas. Who ELSE is going to talk to her about Texas in the UK?"

But. When a woman asks if you want to be "fixed up" with another woman when both you and the woman in question are there temporarily, that's not usually what she's talking about. I pictured Jerry Hall saying "I thought you said this guy was FUN! All he wanted to do was to talk about God and Texas -- in that order!"

This, to me, was the best thing about the flat in Soho -- it was just down the street from St. Patrick's Church. Which was open all day. I mean, you could just walk in and pray whenever you wanted to. You can't do that in Canada for the most part. Our churches are locked up tight as a drum except for a few hours on Sunday. I thought all churches were like that, worldwide!

Once I got over the sense that I was "getting away with something" going into a church and praying without -- you know -- "clearing" my prayer with whomever was in charge, I noticed they had a brochure about West End Catholic Churches. So I picked one up and then entertained myself by going out and finding them all and praying in each one. Sort of like the reverse of all the landmarks Gull goes to in FROM HELL. Maybe they describe a lop-sided triangle or half a Star of David or something.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Glamourpuss Art Auction: Wally Wood

Glamourpuss #6, Pages 4-5 (March, 2009)
featuring Wally Wood

Tracing papers that comprise two-page spread introducing the reader to the concept of "TRACING" in photo-realism comics, or rather STAN DRAKE's admitting that he traced, with an illustration of WALLY WOOD and the "Wally Wood Credo." Also discusses the "Art-O-Graph" and LARRY HAMA. Two (2) separate tracing paper drawings:

1) Wally Wood 9x7-inches on 14x17-inch tracing paper.
2) Larry Hama 10x7-inches on 14x17-inch tracing paper.

Visiting Lenny & Dawn: Part 1

a true life Dave Sim adventure

"I Followed Him To School One Day". Lenny Henry couldn't believe that I actually wanted to spend his entire working day with him. TV taping IS boring, but only if you never get to see it. This is really the only taping part that I got to see: the titles sequence for his BBC special LENNY HENRY: IN PIECES. This is the very rough storyboard they were working from. Lenny's basically interacting with an old-fashioned countdown clock and here he's trying to "escape" by running to the back of the frame and attempting to break out.

I had purchased a disposable camera for the occasion. This is Lenny, having rehearsed the shot a few times, ready for the "squashing his face up against the screen" shot. They had this whole rig with a giant sheet of acetate that two guys were going to hold as Lenny ran full tilt into it, the camera on the other side of the acetate. He was NOT HAPPY (as you can see) that someone was breaching his creative space. Until he saw it was me. And then he had to pretend it was okay because, you know, he's a CEREBUS fan!

[on the right: this is how we started the day: in the costume department where Lenny was getting fitted with his Little Orphan Annie wig. One of the skits was about Lenny, making use of Affirmative Action, demanding that he be allowed to play the lead in ANNIE. I'd like to have seen that one!]

That's the director of LENNY HENRY: IN PIECES on the right there. This is while they were still working on the shot, so he was a little tense. I have to admit that I couldn't understand why Lenny kept doing it. They had the shot, why not move on? Then he did a take and while we were watching it everyone was laughing. Lenny came back to have a look at that one. As he watched it, HE laughed. That's the shot he was waiting for.

One of the nights I was there, Lenny took me to see JOOLS HOLLAND not too far from his and Dawn's place in Reading. I'm not really a jazz fan, per se, but it was certainly much better jazz than I was used to hearing. It was only later that I found out that he was, you know, JOOLS HOLLAND! We went backstage at the intermission and I got this "All Access" badge to wear (Lenny didn't need one: he was one of the reasons that us ordinary folks want backstage passes: "And guess who I saw back there? LENNY HENRY!") (There's a downside to that: Lenny was -- apart from Jools Holland -- the only famous person back there, so we did a quick sweep, said hello to Jools Holland -- and then went back to our seats). I stuck my AAA backstage pass onto the back of one of my theatre tickets to keep it in "mint".

The sad part of all this was that when I arrived and the cab driver picking me up at Heathrow asked "You're over from America are you? Visiting relatives?" I decided to show off and said actually I was visiting a friend, Lenny Henry. And he said with a voice dripping malice "Your friend Lenny has been a Very. Naughty. Boy." This was the first I heard of the News of the World scandal -- Lenny caught cheating on Dawn French. YI! And I was walking into the middle of this? [Continued in Part 2...]

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Cerebus Cover Gallery

Cerebus Covers Gallery
by Dave Sim & Gerhard
IDW, $75.00
In Stores: 7 January 2015
Diamond Order Code: OCT140536

If you were around in the early days of the Direct Market you were thrilled to be able to order and expect to receive your DC, Marvel and Archie comics. There really wasn’t anything considered indie or alternative comic unless you counted the underground comix. We then started seeing creators with their own vision influenced by the Rip Off Press, Print Mint, and others use the new Direct Market to bring their stories to comic shops.

Two books that were early hits were Elfquest by Richard and Wendy Pini and Cerebus the Aardvark by Dave Sim. While Wendy and Richard had a solid story right at the start, Dave took a little while to get his magnum opus underway. While Dave's stories took shape, his art continued to improve and the later addition of Gerhard helped place Cerebus among the top illustrated books.

With IDW Publishing's Cerebus: The Covers we can see the path Dave's artwork took over the course of the amazing 300 issues he produced. In addition to the artwork that was scanned from his originals, Dave has also provided additional artwork and sketches that help add to the historical relevance of this series in the history of comics.

From its start as a parody of Roy Thomas and Barry Smith's Conan, and later on Wolverine, Moon Knight, and then into a unique look at history, philosophy, feminism and finally old age and death, Cerebus constantly grew beyond its expectations. This book is a must have for your shelves to go next to your copies of High Society, Church & State, Jaka’s Story, and the rest of the 16 volumes in the series as well as the new remastered edition of Cerebus Volume 1 offered this month under Aardvark-Vanaheim.

"Why Dave Sim Is Wrong About His Next Comic Book"

(from Bleeding Cool, posted by Rich Johnston, 20 September 2014)
...[Dave Sim] also talked about [in Weekly Update #48] his upcoming project first seen in the pages of glamourpuss, an examination of what Sim sees as the suspicious death of cartoonist Alex Raymond, told using a photorealistic style inspired by Raymond's work. I thoroughly enjoyed what I read so far. But Dave is rather worried.
...I’m just REALLY concerned about [IDW Publisher Ted Adams'] ambition to get this book on the New York Times Bestseller List. That’s a LOT of coin to lose betting that a 100% CLOSED-minded society is a remotely OPEN-minded society. Don’t get me wrong, Ted is more than welcome to lose as much of his money as he wants — and he’s pretty adamant that it’s his money and that he plans to back SDOAR to the hilt. Personally, I’ll just be more comfortable when Bleeding Cool is the only site that even mentions it and it tanks completely if we have that fallback position. We can sell 100 of these to major marginalized art buyers....
...Here's the thing. The Strange Death of Alex Raymond is a wonderful comic about comics, comic strips, cartoonists and opening a cold case, alleging foul play in the supposed accidental death of the superstar cartoonist of his day. It is a newsworthy comic that is experimental in its storytelling, rewarding in its experience and has a story in its construction of one master of the form learning to draw like another master of his form in order to tell his story.

It was just that it was cut up and hidden within the pages of glamourpuss when initially released, a parody of fashion magazines from a man who few people wanted to hear that from.

But The Strange Case Of Alex Raymond has the potential to be Dave Sim's From Hell. Ted Adams of IDW can see this. I can too. And New York Times bestseller lists, especially for graphic novels, are not that hard to get to the top of with the right project. And this is the right project.

Dave Sim might realise this too eventually, but only after publication. I just hope his negativity doesn’t harm the project in any way.

Because that really would be a car crash...

Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by donating at Patreon.com or via Paypal.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (2008 to 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.

My Kickstarter Rewards: David Birdsong!

The Cerebus Archive Number One package arrived with a few dings, but intact. It took a hit, but nothing inside was effected. The contents arrived in excellent shape and everything is accounted for.

If memory serves I only asked for "David B" on the book plates, but I could be wrong. However I ordered it Dave, as usual, went above and beyond and it looks like he had a blast lettering my name sixteen times. I couldn't be more pleased and humbled at how generous Dave is with his talents and his time. I just had to share and I don't know if I can bring myself to peel the stickers off and actually put them in the books. Perhaps when the ultimate editions are done...

And then there is the Cerebus head. Wow.

Looking very forward to Cerebus Archive Two.

(Click bookplate images to enlarge)

...With regards to the personalisation, yeah, Dave sure went to a lot of creative effort on those. I really enjoyed looking at them after he was through with them. You should have seen the one he did for Rich Johnson of Bleeding Cool. Now I regret not scanning those in for our own project 'archive'. It just wasn't forefront on my mind, not when I was staring at a pile of 300 porfolios and a box of bookplates, all needing packaging and shipping.

BTW, I was curious about whether I missed the "David B." personalisation request, but I didn't see anything like that from you. However, that's the way Dave originally intended to do it, but I think he forgot and went all out! But he did mention one time that they took a long time to do.

Ok, back to catching up on things and clearing up my in-box so that I can get CANT (Cerebus Archive Number Two) up and running.

Share your Cerebus Archive Number One  Kickstarter rewards with other Cerebus fans. Send in your head-sketch and bookplate scans and get them featured here on AMOC. Contact: MomentOfCerebus [at] gmail [dot] com. Many thanks ~ Tim

Saturday, 20 September 2014

From The Archive: Rick Veitch's The One

Treasuares From The Cerebus Archive: I still laugh when I read Rick Veitch's dedication on the 20th Anniversary Edition of THE ONE: "M-Must Get…(knees hurt!)…Twentieth Anniversary…(Elbows hurt!)…Edition of THE ONE…(neck hurts!)…self-published! (back hurts!) To Dave from Rick (fingers hurt!)"

Cerebus Action Figure: The Bottom Half

The latest update from George Peter Gatsis:
"For scale... The partially built action figure is standing on a letter size paper."
For more videos and information check out the Cerebus Downloads website.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Weekly Update #49: The Puma Blues Returns!

Fax capability has been restored:  519-576-0955

Not really sure what is going on, but I got the same "Not connected to the Internet" notice this week at the coffee shop and have now moved to An Undisclosed WIFI Location where -- with a certain amount of "futzing around" -- I have managed to get connected to the Internet!

  1. We are definitely now in "soon" mode for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO.  "Soon" meaning: before next week's Update unless John posts a STANDBY notice before then
  2. Dr. Mara to provide restoration "clean-up" options for me to view.
  3. I'll be doing an introduction for the collected PUMA BLUES from Dover Books.
  4. Final approval given of the box artwork for HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL

1.  I'm actually more psyched about CEREBUS ARCHIVE than I thought I was going to be. It is a very nice package and I still haven't put the four Cerebus Archive copies away even a few weeks after John gave them to me.  Which is a very good sign -- still have a POSITIVE response to seeing them "right over yonder" in the office.

John and I talked on the phone about the Major Variable this time out with which we have no previous experience: the Bonus Prints.  I sketched in a "point of greatest reduction" option on it: basically everyone who signs up gets an option to buy either one or two of the bonus prints for $8 each.  And then if we can hit the same $34K summit we did on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE, everyone would have an option to purchase an unlimited number of prints for -- something less than $8.  HOW much less, we haven't really determined.

I pointed out to John that the Bonus Prints really complicate his job a lot more than they do mine.  For me it's just more prints to sign.  For him, it's going to be a lot to keep track of:  who ordered which prints and, consequently, which prints go in which folder?  So, that was why I was pitching it to him as a "point of greatest reduction" option:  if the one or two prints are an option for each individual, all he has to do is to "crunch" one or two extra items at a fixed price.  Basically, two pledge options that you can check off when you're signing up.

And then if we have an unlimited number of prints at the $34K threshold, then the volume of work that John will have to do -- and be compensated for -- should justify the complexity.

Of course, John "got it" right away and said that, no, he didn't think a "greatest reduction" option was going to work:  it's just too big a jump from "one or two for anyone signing up" to "as many as you want if we hit $34K".  There needs to be a series of plateaus "getting there".  So, that's what I'm leaving up to him:  to "crunch" his own numbers.  "This is the volume of business I would need to do in order to justify two or three extra layers of complexity".

So, if "soon" turns out not to be before the next Weekly Update, that's probably what will be in back of it.  And John will let you know what his progress is.

I also think it's going to be BONUS ITEMS as opposed to Bonus Prints, including signed copies of IDW variant covers that I did.  $8 or so seeming like a good "ballpark" figure for a signed variant where the increased cost of shipping shouldn't be a factor:  I'll just bag and board the comic books and John will tape the bagged comic or comics onto the cardboard mailer (which is getting rave reviews, by the way).  I expect the X-FILES and LOCK & KEY covers to be particularly popular.

Anyway, we should have a wide variety of items on offer which will -- hopefully -- keep bringing everyone back for future Kickstarter Campaigns. 

2.  I'm sure we all appreciate Sean Robinson keeping us all posted on the restorations process.  It's certainly interesting for Low Tech People like myself and I imagine it's quite a kick for the High Tech People among us as well.

The latest development is with Dr. Mara's clean-up work.  Sean wanted to know if I wanted to see, say, the first 60 pages.  I thought it made more sense to do a "Goldilocks" test, where Dr. Mara would do various stages of clean-up on the scans, starting from what she would consider "Adequate" up through "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" level and print out copies of, say, two or three pages where she hit each threshold.  And then mail them to me along with her own comments on where she thinks the "Goldilocks" spot is and why she thinks that's "Goldilocks" spot.

As we've seen with the CEREBUS trade, it's going to be hard not to revisit these questions as both Sean and Dr. Mara get better at what they're doing.  Time and distance are going to apply to the CEREBUS trade, as well, I think: give the two of them a year away from it and they're apt to see it differently -- and some obvious fixes.  That's where all of you come in as supporters of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Kickstarter Campaigns.  It's not as if we won't have MANY ways to spend the money -- from training more clean-up people, revisiting earlier work, developing more intricate processes.  Those "curves" on the graph aren't going to stay stable.  OVERALL: they've managed to refine what they're doing down to around 20 minutes per page.  That's the primary "curve" and it's coming down.  But there are plenty of variables.

Still sticking with a Zero Deadline approach:  the secret hope is that we're going to be able to get close to or AT the Legacy Edition with this printing of HIGH SOCIETY.  We're watching our retailer patron, TF's, $10K contribution as it erodes.  I have SOME cash reserves (STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND money and a few thousand dollars from the Diamond cheque that paid for the CEREBUS trade) (which is now OFFICIALLY available, the Diamond order code unchanged, although it is called the REMASTERED CEREBUS VOLUME ONE).  I'll be talking to Tim at Diamond as we get closer to the printing time period to find out

a) how the CEREBUS trade is doing

b) if it's doing good enough to justify Diamond taking the same quantity of HIGH SOCIETY

c) if there are enough orders for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE (the unsigned edition) to pay for the full page ad we did for it and generate a profit and a purchase order

A lot hinges on having hard numbers to base their decisions on and hard numbers require leaving time to for them to accumulate and time is what we tend not to have in abundant quantities.

Stay tuned.

3)  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.  Which I said I would.  It's really pushing the boundary of "going out in public" vis-a-vis me being popularly believed to be a misogynist...

(By the way, thanks to Dave O'Connell and Michael Cohen who signed a week ago and two weeks ago respectively, bringing us to 563 signatures on the I Don't Believe Dave Sim Is A Misogynist iPetition.  One signature a week being WAY WAY above our average lately)

...but, if there was something I would make an exception for, it would be THE PUMA BLUES.

I've spoken to their editor a couple of times on the phone and had a nice half-hour chat with Stephen the other day, so we're all "on the same page" as to what it is that I'll be doing.

Realizing that they would be going through the same restoration headaches (actually more -- I don't know if you remember that Michael was using duo-shade artboard on MANY of the pages: so even if they can find the original art -- which has been scattered hither and yon -- that duo-shade tends to die over the period of time since publication) that we're going through, I referred their editor to ANYTHING SEAN ROBINSON HAS POSTED AND WILL POST TO A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.  I also said that I was sure that Tim W would be more than amenable to let AMOC be used to promote the project as it goes along.

I also told their editor that I still have a stack of 17x22 PUMA BLUES posters that we did back in the late 1980s that's basically just a photo of Michael and Stephen on a mostly black field -- there must be at least 300 of them -- and he was more than welcome to them if he was willing to have Packaging Too build a RELAY BOX and a SHIPPING BOX for them (the idea being I would ship them to Stephen and Stephen would sign them and then ship them to Michael and Michael would sign them).  He was pretty sure the "higher ups" would be fine with that and that it would make a good retailer incentive when they get to the actual solicitation process (next year? Mid-next year? Late next year?)

Anyway, 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! 

4) Just on my way down here, the FedEx truck pulled up with print-outs of the final artwork for HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL.  It's a VERY nice looking package.

I faxed Justin at IDW and asked if he wouldn't mind posting the images here and doing a Q&A will all of us (well, except me -- I'll "bat clean-up" the following Friday).

No promises. He's a very busy guy. But, I do have to say that -- for folks going through their first time putting together an Audio Digital Book -- they've really batted this one out of the park.

Okay, I want to do a quick Patreon update and then it's back to THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND!

Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by donating at Patreon.com or via Paypal.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (2008 to 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Final Ascension

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.

This is how Cerebus #102, book six of Church & State II, opens: Cerebus leaping out the window with the golden sphere. So Dave must've known that is how he had to end issue 101: showing Cerebus leaping up at the window. 

On page #102 of notebook #8 we see at the top of the page a thumbnail for the final page of issue #101 (page 1016 of Church & State): Cerebus leaping up at the window and the title for issue 102. Dave then works his way backwards, with pages 19 / 18, 16 / 17, 14 / 15. 

Notebook #8 page 102
There is also a sketch of Cerebus getting his fancy robes on, something that happens off panel a couple issues back - though we do see him take off his robes during this issue, as shown in the thumbnails. There also are a couple sketches of Cerebus running and then leaping up. The thumbnails are a mix of being what is on the completed page - page 14, 17 - 20, and a  mix mash of some it made the final cut - page 15 & 16. 

The next page in Dave's notebook shows us the first panel - though from a different angle - of issue #102. The text in the top right of the page says "too much a coincidence to be synchronicity" I don't think  it was used in the book, but sounds like something from an Aardvark Comment. 

Notebook #8 page 103
There are sketches of Cerebus asking Bishop Powers: "Cerebus' Most Holy hat...The Pope thing Cerebus wears on his head. It's gone." The dialogue comes from page 8 of issue #101 (page 1004 of the phonebook). The text changes on the finished page to "Cerebus' hat...Cerebus' hat...the thing Cerebus wears on his Most Holy Head...It's gone." Telling how in the finished dialogue Cerebus refers to himself as Most Holy, rather then to the Most Holy hat, as if he isn't Most Holy.

The text to the right of those missing pope hat dialogue sketches is not in the book, but describes what Cerebus is thinking as he hits the window - "Cerebus' first thought as he hit the window was that the tower was further away than he had anticipated. A kind of Panic pass through him in the manner of a small wave. By the time it had crested under beneath his scalp his hand his gripped the pitted surface of grip was secured."

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Art Auction: Stan Drake

Glamourpuss #6 Pages 2-3 (March, 2009)
feat. Stan Drake

Tracing papers that comprise two-page spread introducing the reader to Stan Drake's "Heart of Juliet Jones" strip. The tracings feature a portrait of Drake, plus re-created panels with Juliet Jones, Eve Jones, Hardy Teague and a "slightly rumpled-looking but kind-hearted gentleman." 

Three separate tracing paper drawings:
  1. Stan Drake 6x7-inches on 9x12-inch tracing paper. Nice clean page, no fold or creases.
  2. Eve Jones 5.5x7-inches on 9x12-inch tracing paper. Nice clean page, no folds or creases.
  3. Three-panel strip re-creation 4.5x15-inches on 14x17-inch tracing paper. Clean page, folded in half with fold crease.

Sharp Sharp Goose

Sean Michael Robinson:

Hello everyone!

While the work on High Society continues, the art dragnet continues to capture pages. Big thanks to Oystein Sorensen, otherwise known as "Norway's biggest Cerebus fan," for contributing an awesome EIGHT pages this week. We also received a few other tips as well, pointing us in the direction of some collectors who wouldn't mind contributing.

Oystein's pages couldn't have come at a better time. He brought with him two High Society pages, including this gem-

This morning I got to this great page, contributed by Dan Parker of ThirdDeviation.com. Like the pages provided last week by ComicLink, Dan's scans are fabulous, and are great examples of how little work it takes to make a great page when your scans are optically perfect. This scan, supplied at 1200 ppi at original art size, is a great example of optical sharpness. Each of the edges are clearly defined, including those edges that primarily exist as "wedges" between the lines. These areas are the kinds of places where you're most likely to lose information when working from soft digital files. The elaborate sharpening routines I've developed are designed to preserve this information in optically soft scans--but a scan like this will need very little sharpening, comparatively, because that hard-edge information has been picked up at the initial capture.

 This optical sharpness is very distinct from software-applied sharpening, which, if already processed at the time of capture, is destructive to detail rather than supportive. (As I've said before, many of the lower and mid level Epson scanners apply aggressive software sharpening whether you like it or not, which prevents you from up-scaling your output effectively. However, optically sharp scans like this one upscale just fine.)

These issues are all on my mind as I continue High Society, and project forward to the next stage of this project. I'll be driving to Los Angeles this weekend to do some tests with some high-end scanners, in the hopes of finding one that balances the various needs for speed, optical sharpness, and affordability. 

Meanwhile, please, keep those pages coming!

Dave's been working on the finder's prize for contributors to this hunt. Here's a quick peek--

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Gah! Colour!

(Click image to enlarge)
(from Gerz Blog, 7 July 2014)
Anwar contacted me about colouring a piece of Cerebus art that he'd acquired. He lives in Germany and rather than mailing me the physical art, he had it scanned and sent me the file which I then had printed out on watercolour paper. And then I hand-coloured the print.

This could usher in a whole new way of doing things: Send me a high res scan of your favourite art, I'll send you back a hand coloured print. Anyone interested can contact me at -- gerzmail [at] yahoo [dot] ca -- and we can discuss details.

Monday, 15 September 2014

My Kickstarter Rewards: Margaret Liss!

Not only did I get a head sketch on my copy of the Cerebus Archive kickstarter, but the bookplates - which Dave did different lettering for my name on every one. He also added some lines for sword movement and some bloodsplatter. . .Cool.
(Click bookplate images to enlarge)
Share your Cerebus Archive Number One  Kickstarter rewards with other Cerebus fans. Send in your head-sketch and bookplate scans and get them featured here on AMOC. Contact: MomentOfCerebus [at] gmail [dot] com. Many thanks ~ Tim

Sunday, 14 September 2014

My Kickstarter Headsketch: Dr Farley!

"Awesome!; Totally worth it."
Robin L. Farley

Share your Cerebus Archive Number One  Kickstarter rewards with other Cerebus fans. Send in your head-sketch and bookplate scans and get them featured here on AMOC. Contact: MomentOfCerebus [at] gmail [dot] com. Many thanks ~ Tim

From The Archive: TMNT Invitation

Treasures From The Archive: Invitations to the Northampton, Massachusetts premier of the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES film way back in 1990. We got two of them, printed on bright magenta copy paper (presumably to discourage counterfeiting) and also an invitation to the after-party at the Hotel Northampton (which had been the scene of the Northampton Summit a little more than a year before that).

Saturday, 13 September 2014

From The Archive: Joe Matt's Poor Bastard

Treasures of the Cerebus Archive -- THE POOR BASTARD by Joe Matt. This was during the period after I broke up with Susan (2/98) and I thought it would be interesting to go to Toronto and hang out with Joe, Chester and Seth (this was before they made it clear that they thought I was a misogynist).

And it WAS interesting: like walking into a live version of a Drawn & Quarterly comic book. Joe isn't really a drinker but I was buying (because I was the only drinker at the table) so there was a genuine conflict for him there: not really being inclined to drink alcohol vs. getting expensive things to drink for free. It's like the old Jack Benny routine where the hold-up guy says, "Your money or your life" and you have the longest silence in radio show history. Then the hold-up guy says, "WELL?" And Benny says "I'm THINKING! I'm THINKING!"

Friday, 12 September 2014

Cerebus Action Figure Update: Rotation

For more videos and information check out the Cerebus Downloads website.

Weekly Update #48: "You Are Not Connected To The Internet"

Hi folks!

Okay. Looks like "that's it" when it comes to "interactive" in these Updates.

Same thing that happened last week. Click on "Safari" and a notice comes up that I can't get to Google because "I'm not connected to the Internet". Go through the same drill four times and, no, this is that "rat trapped in a cage let's see how many times we can get him to push the little lever" thing that is a big reason that I'm not connected to the Internet as a policy.

So, sincere apologies, but I'm just going to type this here in the coffee shop and then fax it to Tim W. Oh, wait that isn't going to work. The PRINT function isn't working. If you have questions or comments, the address is Box 1674 Station C Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2. Which leads into our #1 item on the agenda:

  1. Office FAX COPIER SCANNER dies. Again. So, until further notice, these Updates will no longer be interactive. I'm just going to type, print and fax them to Tim W. (I can fax out but not receive faxes).
  2. End of Life Update: funeral home where my funeral is prearranged is closing so, change of venue: (get this:) WESTMOUNT MEMORIAL CELEBRATION CENTRE 1001 Ottawa Street South, Kitchener
  3. Menachem Luchins and the ESCAPE POD COMICS crew come through Big Time and all USPS copies are now on their way -- either to you or, you know, back to ESCAPE POD COMICS (we're all holding our breath)
  4. We've switched to our retailer patron's $10K donation to keep funding Sean and Mara's restorations between CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE and CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO. No CLEAR idea of how much longer it's going to be until HIGH SOCIETY is ready for printing. Keep watching this space
  5. Official Off-White House News Leak: Chris Ryall, IDW editor-in-chief: "We are completely into doing the CEREBUS COVERS BOOK. no matter what. [HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL]'s performance has no bearing on that."

1. I've experienced -- as of Wednesday -- the same partial shut down of the office FAX COPIER SCANNER. Not printing. Or, rather, printing in striped horizontal vanishing bands. Same as last time, I can fax out but no fax can come in. I take it as a given that this is going to be an on-going situation of having to buy a new machine every two or three months. So, I'm going to do that for as long as it makes sense to do so. I really only have it for printing out the Joe Kubert font lettering for THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, photo reference, etc., so a new machine every two or three months until I'm done the book, I guess. The office fax number is 519-576-0955. If the NEW machine works that should be LIVE and available come late Monday night.

Apart from that, today is the first REAL mail-answering day in a number of weeks. So good news on that score. If you've been waiting for an answer to your letter it should be coming to you in the next couple of weeks.

See, I also use the COPIER function to print copies of my typewritten letters for the Cerebus Archive and I can't do that with the machine on the fritz so, even though I've answered the letters on the typewriter (since I a.m.), mailing has to wait until I can print copies again. Again, God willing: Monday. Obviously, no promises.

2. Schreiter Sandrock Funeral Home on Benton Street where my funeral is prearranged has announced that it's closing so my funeral will now take place at (those of you old enough to remember a more rational world, feel free to LOL) WESTMOUNT MEMORIAL CELEBRATION CENTRE 1001 Ottawa St S.

Balloon animals and rubber castle for the kids! Interment via ferris wheel!

Interesting experience: for 10 years, I've been able to picture the room where the "visitation" would take place and now I won't be able to do that (I'm really not curious enough to take the bus all the way out there to see what the place looks like especially with a name like that -- the mind literally boggles) (that's where they're moving their offices so, I'm just going to go along with it. It's not as if I CARE what the place is going to look like where my stiff will be laid out.) (And, since Kitchener has alway been a uranium core feminist environment, what else would you call a place with Dead Dave Sim in it, but a "Celebration Centre"!)

Worth noting (perhaps): I've specified that my remains are to be kept in cold storage for a week before the funeral to allow interested parties to drive in from out of town if they're so inclined. Since AMOC is the only place where any information on my funeral will appear until the event itself, I'd encourage likewise interested parties to write down that funeral home name and address and call them if you hear that I've died since there isn't anyone in town who will know anything about it. It's not much of a casket, but it's paid for and it would be shame to waste it because everyone in town was going "Dave Who?" 

3. Many thanks to Menachem Luchins and his ESCAPE POD COMICS crew for breaking down the mass shipment of CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE for USPS and getting them out, like, within 24 hours. Unbelievable -- but only if you don't know Menachem. We are in COMPLETE agreement that we can't do this again next time. Fortunately, John Funk seems to have found the outfit my lawyer Wilf Jenkins was talking to me about who take mass mailings down to Buffalo and send them out by USPS (Wilf just remembered reading a newspaper article about them).

We'll definitely be talking to them to find out what their arrangement is. As far as John can see, it's really a difference of about $10 (mass shipping them across the border and breaking them down there) versus $20 (mailing them direct from Canada).

So, on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO, we might just offer them as two options: your copy can go out at the same time as the Canadian and International from here or you can wait until the bulk shipment is put together and shlepped down to Buffalo.

I had sent Menachem a cheque for $1500 drawn on the A-V US$ account and he said the total shipping came to about $1200. I suggested that he take everyone out for dinner (including Sarah and the kids) and send me a cheque for the balance because of his trouble. And he says (he says) they couldn't go out for dinner in Huntington Station because they don't have a kosher restaurant. THEY DON'T HAVE A KOSHER RESTAURANT IN HUNTINGTON STATION? I thought it was, like, a New York State bylaw that you HAD to have a kosher restaurant anywhere closer than, like, Albany (or maybe Rochester maybe) to NYC. Couldn't be more surprised. We'll keep you updated as the situation continues to unfold.

Seriously, many thanks to Menachem and crew for all of their help Above and Beyond the Call of Aardvarkian Duty. I had a long and enjoyable conversation with him Wednesday night on the phone.

Even more seriously, I had a major "D'Oh!" on the Kickstarter CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE numbers after the fact: because we included the postage costs with the various different pledge levels, that got included in the total. So, I'm mentally calculating our overhead and our costs to get our profit margin and "ballparking" on that basis and -- obviously -- I'm way south of where I should be. So, that's one of the things that we'll be attempting to fix on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO with a parallel registration site so that we can crunch ACTUAL numbers in a way that Kickstarter isn't set up for. I wish we could just LAUNCH right now, but there is a certain amount of "homework" that needs to be done once we're ALL the way through this first one. Fisher has finished editing the video, so...

We're getting there. But, no, it won't be soon. Soon in 2014 means the day after tomorrow or five minutes ago. In this case it means "On the Friday when I STOP saying 'Soon'". 

4. Sean is keeping me updated on the restorations work -- or was until the fax machine went on the fritz. He got quite innovative right away: short START [two-line message] END faxes duplicated three or four times on the page. Usually one and sometimes two of them come through loud and clear. VERY weird that I can fax him back a full page and there's no problem with it. I can fax OUT no problem. It's INCOMING that's a problem. As I said to Sean, I think God is trying to tell me something but I'm not sure what. Coupled with the inability to access the Internet in the coffee shop, I suspect it's "Communication is fine. Conversation? No, you don't want to be doing conversation online. That's just going to eat your life."

If that IS God's point, it might be a very good one: I've been typing this for an hour and I'm almost done. Most weeks I'm creeping up on the two-hour mark by the time I've read and answered a bunch of comments and then started typing what I have jotted down in my little notebook here.

Many MANY thanks, as always, to "TF" our retailer patron. Without you, sir, this would have been about the week that I'd have to pull the plug on Sean and Mara temporarily while I wait to find out if any cheques came in to the mailbox in the last two weeks. 

5. Needless to say, I found Chris Ryall's reassurances very… reassuring. I have to admit that I was taken completely by surprise when he started his fax, "Amusingly enough, I was reading your latest Update at the exact moment that Lauren handed me the fax saying there's a new Update." (I figured I better warn him). CHRIS RYALL READS THIS STUFF?

I didn't know if he had some sort of signal that tells him that someone mentioned IDW/him or both somewhere on the Internet (which would make a lot of sense for an editor-in-chief when I think of it) (and probably won't work with faxes scanned in, so somebody might want to give him a "head's up"):

Anyway, he's going to be sending me a full communique on the COVERS BOOK(S?) and THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND at some point.

This might be a good place to mention that IDW has a lot more confidence in STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND than I do as a commercial property -- which is kind of an odd reverse of the usual author/publisher relationship. MY take is that we can sell maybe 100 copies in an Artist's Edition if I have enough time to actually construct a market that size through Heritage Auctions (building on the "glamourpuss original art auctions" that Dave Fisher and I are still in the early days of starting to construct).

People who are interested in my photorealism art are a mere handful of people, a pimple on the butt of the CEREBUS audience (which itself isn't huge these days), as I see it. Brian Hibbs' observation on how many copies of Dave Sim's new project he's going to order (when I was working on JUDENHASS and hadn't announced it). "Depends on if it's CEREBUS: THE HA-HA YEARS". Which is, I think, a good way of putting it. This , as far as the market is concerned, is all Dave Sim is good for.

And THAT only potentially.

It BETTER be. HA. HA. If it's not? Kill it.

Anyway: lesson learned. Go through Heritage Auctions and find people who buy the ACTUAL photorealists, send them a preview/catalogue of the glamourpuss art auction material and try to engage them there -- with the fashion stuff AND pages that won't be used in STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. Complete firewall, of course. I don't know who they are, but Heritage contacts them directly.

THEN! THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND PREVIEW ROUGH CUT ARTISTS EDITION. Same firewall group. Send them print-outs of a bunch of the pages in advance of the auction. No one else -- except IDW and Eddie Khanna -- has seen or will see the work at that point. That is, the initial print run of Book One would be 100 signed and numbered copies (with tipped in bookplate, tracing paper preliminary signed and personalized -- maybe photorealism drawing of the purchaser or spouse on #'s 1 to 5, the whole nine yards) and they would be auctioned and IDW and I would split the proceeds.

THAT I have confidence would bring in enough revenue to make doing the book worthwhile after deducting the cost of the 100 copies.

And then IDW is welcome to try to market (how do I put this delicately?) DAVE SIM'S NOT-CEREBUS THE-HA-HA-YEARS CRAP PROJECT to the stores. I think that's the only realistic expectation. I mean, come on, only Rich Johnston even TALKS about Dave Sim (and thanks, Rich, but…you know, it is what it is, right?). That isn't going to change, I don't think. The needle on that dial isn't going to budge. The same force that sold 10,000 copies of JUDENHASS and then dropped to Absolute Zero and has stayed there ever since will, I'm pretty sure (not seeing any variable in the equation) do that to Book One of THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. I'm fine with that. If you can do a book for 26 years and have the last 10 years of it completely ignored, trust me, you're fine with anything.

Let me say that I deeply appreciate IDW's confidence in me and SDOAR. All I'm saying is that I don't want them to take a Major Bath between what they THINK the book should do and what the book is GOING to do. My way, they'll at least make a few dollars off the 100 copies and I'll make a few dollars off the 100 copies (and, I'm pretty sure, auctioning ALL of the artwork before the market kills the book BANG DEAD -- so right after the 100 copies have been auctioned) and then we can be 100% realistic about Book Two and Book Three and Book Four, etc.

We'll have a fallback position.

"Right. We can sell 100 copies of this book through Heritage Auctions and that's the ONLY place we can sell it." And we just DO that. No hand-wringing. No "Oh Why Oh Why Didn't This Wonderful Piece of Work Sell Better?" Uh, three guesses and the first two don't count.

Or we can sell another 400 copies or 1,000 copies.

I'm just REALLY concerned about Ted's ambition to get this book on the New York Times Bestseller List. That's a LOT of coin to lose betting that a 100% CLOSED-minded society is a remotely OPEN-minded society. Don't get me wrong, Ted is more than welcome to lose as much of his money as he wants -- and he's pretty adamant that it's his money and that he plans to back SDOAR to the hilt. Personally, I'll just be more comfortable when Bleeding Cool is the only site that even mentions it and it tanks completely if we have that fallback position. We can sell 100 of these to major marginalized art buyers.

Okay, one hour and forty-five minutes. Back to answering the mail.

I'll try again next week, but I suspect this is the "new normal". "You are Not Connected to the Internet". Whoa. Fine by me.

Sorry to anyone who had questions or comments for me.

That address again is: Box 1674 Station C, Kitchener, Ontario, CANADA N2G 4R2!

Bye for now!

Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by donating at Patreon.com or via Paypal.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (2008 to 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.

Cerebus Archive Number One: Income & Expense Report

(Click image to enlarge)
Now that all of the reward packages have been shipped out, I want to share the financial results for CANO with all of you. There are still some shipping invoices that haven't arrived yet, but they have been estimated in the Actual plus Forecast column.

If you're not familiar with financial reporting (or if your eyes glaze over at the sight of columns and rows of numbers), then this written summary will be of interest. However, if you have any questions at all about these financials or this report, please don't hesitate to e-mail them to me either via the Kickstarter message system or at: cerebusarchive [at] geps [dot] ca.

There are four sections to this summary report: i) Pledges, ii) Reward Make & Ship Expenses, iii) Management Fee, and iv) Cerebus Restoration Expenses.

i) Pledges:
$33,023 was pledged and after deductions for Kickstarter fees and the credit card company fees, we had $30,324.84 remaining.

ii) Reward Make & Ship Expenses:
These are the costs for producing and shipping your rewards. The total expense is projected at $14,366.90 which is $3,276.80 higher than what we had budgeted on back in April, when planning out the campaign. The following activities caused this to go over budget: a) in order to get better price points, we purchased additional Cerebus foil labels and extra stay-flats to take us into the next campaign, and b) the packaging that we planned on did not stand up to testing. Therefore, we had to reinvent the packaging on the fly which had more cardboard components and therefore required much more labour to assemble it. This made for a larger size and caused an increase in shipping expense for some regions. The cost of bulk shipping the USA packages to Escape Pod Comics was more expensive than we had thought it would be.

iii) Management Fee:
This is the compensation to me for my time and effort spent managing the campaign, from the initial project write-up and submission, to recording reservation numbers, e-mail follow-up, setting up and recording the survey results, assigning the 'lowest hold' reservation numbers, deleting non-pledged reservation numbers, creating and testing the packaging, posting updates and many more numerous activities. The 90/10 split was agreed upon at the start. The 90% that goes to Dave Sim, is shown on the final section:

iv) Cerebus Restoration Expenses:
This section shows the amount of money that was spent on the actual project goals (pay for the first printing which did not turn out to expectation for Cerebus and High Society, and the subsequent scanning and restoration work that Sean Robinson is doing). As you can see, of the available $14,362.15 the restoration expenses have already consumed all of that and more. In fact, to date, restoration expenses have exceeded the $14k amount by $22,607.33. Which means that we need to continue with Cerebus Archive Number Two, Three, Four, and so on in order to keep the restoration activity going.

I'm confident that as we move forward with the next campaign, we will get better, faster and more efficient at what we're doing, both time wise and expenditure wise.

As part of public accountability for this project, Dave has directed me to scan and make available to view all of the individual expenses and invoices related to this project. I've placed everything in a folder called Invoices at this Drop-Box location. There is also a folder with pictures of the packaging and of the stacks of packages before they were shipped out.

Again, please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail with your questions regarding this report and the project expenses.


John Funk (on behalf of Dave Sim)
cerebusarchive [at] geps [dot] ca