Wednesday, 28 September 2016


Previously on AMOC, George & Dan's Cerebus Statue...

Hi George & Dan - Sorry I'm just getting to this now.  I really don't want to do any discussions by phone on this.  If you insist on private phone discussions then that's a "deal-breaker" for me, I'm afraid. For these reasons:

1) AMOC is your/our primary customer base, so I think they need to know what's going on and what decisions are being made and why.  Particularly since you posted the video of the figure.  

2)  I think there are two primary markets: a) I really want this plastic figure and b) I'm not really a plastic figure kind of guy but if it brings in some revenue that helps keep the Restoration and Preservation moving forward, I'm willing to kick in SOME bucks.  HOW MANY bucks is a major variable.

I think the b) market is larger than the a) market which means the discussions of price point and quantity need to be conducted openly because the number of b) people who go "I'm out" when they hear what it costs is going to decide if it's do-able.

3) I'm not sure that 2 a) and 2 b) taken together amount to much more than two dozen units or so. And if that's true, then my working on this comes very, very low on my list of priorities because there's just too much work involved for too little return.  I'm better served putting in available time on the Notes for CAN6 with an eye to getting that launched in January

4) I'm not a "figure guy" so I really do need input from "figure guys".  I thought al roney had a very good point about the shield. It's not really associated with Cerebus and I think it really just ends up covering up a good chunk of the figure from most viewing angles.   

5)  I just noticed the tail is the same deal as the ears: it looks as if it's for an action figure and not a statue so I think it needs to be "of a piece" with the figure itself or needs to have the seam all around it sealed.  

We can keep discussing it here and see how many enthusiasts turn up.  I do think that I need to either modify this figure or Version 2 (if that's what you want to do) and I'll be happy to send this one back to you.  There is a strong possibility that we can make the maximum amount of money auctioning each Version as we're working on the replacement.  And that might be as far as it goes. We never arrive at a mass produced Version, but we make whatever we make from each prototype on eBay.

I'll keep mentioning that I need some kind of "Cerebus grey" clay that starts soft and then hardens to modify one of the Versions and to serve as the final prototype.  If an enthusiast finds that for me, I would see that as a major step forward.  There is, at least, one Enthusiast which means there's probably a few enthusiasts and "enthusiasts".

And now!  Your friend and Jasper's Dad!  Sean ROBINNNNSOOONNNNN!

The First Twenty-Five Issues of Cerebus-- Perspectives and Details

Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings all!

Here's a quick roundup of all the goings-on in Cerebus Restoration Land.

Cerebus In Hell? #0 was delivered to Dave and Sandeep on Thursday evening, and they came back with a quick approval Friday morning, which meant it was soon speeding off to Marquis, where it enters their line for prepress. No word yet on whether Going Home has shipped yet, although it was on press last week. I'm also still waiting on a quote and dimensions for the fully-restored Cerebus Volume One, which has been a year in the making, all told. 

I had a mammoth catching-up post a few months ago, before starting work on Going Home, that summarized the issues I had to tackle in working on the book, and why the process was so long. As I mentioned in the post, with a process so complicated there were sure to be revisions.

 Detail from page 79 of Cerebus Volume One, one version scanned from the sixth edition of the book, the other newly scanned and restored from the original monthly issue four. 

 Detail from page 198 of Cerebus Volume One, one version scanned from the sixth edition of the book, the other newly scanned and restored from the original artwork 

Well, the revisions were not as bad as I had imagined. I put the finishing touches on the book this week, the final changes to the art pages occupying most of my Friday and Monday work time. The only bit left is the essay and the comparison images, which I'll be tackling this week, at which point the back matter will go to Dave for evaluation. And once it's approved, the book will go in the queue, waiting from the word from Diamond that we're ready for the next printing.

And this is where you can help me!

I'm looking for information, for foundational reading on the early period of Cerebus. Raw material that will aid me in writing what will surely be a difficult essay.

Let's break this down into categories, shall we?

The Anecdotal — Did you read Cerebus during its first run of twenty-five issues? I'm interested in your memories of this period of the book. Where you bought it. What else you were buying at the time. What you did between issues (and how patient your wait was!) What other books or cultural items (movies, music, whatever!) you compared it to or thought it had kinship with. Did you write to Dave or Deni at the time? Did you purchase artwork? What kind of relationship did you have with the book?

The Historical — Are there any "must read" materials—interviews, reviews, discussions in fanzines, even retrospectives—about the early period of Cerebus that are critical in your estimation to understanding the historical and social foundations of the book? I have the double-issue Comics Journal interview with Dave and Deni circa issue 34, I've read (and have access to about) half of the Swords introductions.  I have access to original printings of the first 25 issues, letter col and intros and all. What else am I missing, and can you point me toward it?

The Referential Borrowed characters. Borrowed voices and dialects. Parodies of current trends. Barry Smith swipes. The early book is a melange of appropriations and parodies and references. Are there any that are particularly obscure? Others that you've noticed that no one else has? A, say, pre-existing list somewhere? What are the other works that, broadly or specifically, contact Cerebus and shaped it?

Anything Else — This is your chance to have your say on the first twenty-five issues of Cerebus. What should a new reader know about it going in? How does it connect (or not) to the broader series? If I were writing this essay to your order, what exactly would you ask me to write?

Comment below, or if you prefer, you can email me at cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and perspectives.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

On Sale 35 Years Ago: Cerebus #30

Cerebus #30 (September 1981)
Art by Dave Sim

Monday, 26 September 2016

Carson Grubaugh's Re-Read Challenge: Cerebus Vol 9 - Reads

(from Carson's Re-Read Blog, August 2016)
...Does the world really need any more words about Reads? Absolutely. In fact, that is what the book is all about. Gossip. Words leading to words leading to more words until eventually the words about words take on their own life. Once a rumor has a life of it's own? Well, it ain't gonna die easily.
"Guess what I heard? Dave Sim is a misogynist."

"Oh, yeah. Total nut-job, that one. A delusional schizophrenic or something."
It is a really odd thing to do, to start a rumor about yourself, but that is exactly what Dave Sim does in Reads. And boy does he do a good job of it... [Read the full review here...]

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

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Gerhard's Recreated Scenes From Cerebus

New prints just added to Gerhard's Store:
All prints available in two sizes:
Small (11" x 17") - US $20 plus p&p
Large (17" x 22") - US $40 plus p&p
All are printed on fine art paper and signed by Gerhard.

Previous prints still available from Gerhard's Store:
The Regency, Church & State and Melmoth
All prints available in two sizes:
Small (11" x 17") - US $20 plus p&p
Large (17" x 22") - US $40 plus p&p
All are printed on fine art paper and signed by Gerhard.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

"Seriously Deluded As To The Nature Of Self-Evident Reality"

Continuing the discussion of marketing glamourpuss, this week’s letter was Dave responding to me when I wrote to him about a kerfuffle at the old Cerebus Yahoo Newsgroup (chat group), in which someone named Mike B. decided to have a go at me personally because I supported Dave in his views about women. When Mike did that, I decided (since there had been a lot of such people doing that at that time), to respond, and it quickly devolved into a “flame war”. I decided to tell Dave about the “flame war” and asked him what he thought about it. What follows is his response.

22 July 08

Hi Jeff -

What I think:

  1. I don’t know if this is common on the Internet, but someone “going postal” like that demonstrates to me that these environments are a waste of time for thinking people. However, given that there are people who fundamentally disagree with that (and given that you appear to be one of them):
  2. The best thing to do is to return to foundational premises, since the person isn’t actually “going postal” but is just covering for their own inconsistency/ies by using the literary equivalent of automatic weapons fire, counting on the fact that you will tire even in contemplating refuting half of the scattershot insults and accusations and, therefore, they win the argument by attrition:
  3. Ask: “Mike? How many female cops do you think there would be if females had to meet the same high standards that men have to? I’ll answer your various calumnies against Dave if you’ll give me a simple range ratio of minimum and maximum numerical percentages. But, let’s face facts: If your number is anything less than 50%, then you agree with Dave and I that feminism is a foundationally fallacious premise and if your number is anything more than 3%, then you have to accept that you are, by any logical standard, seriously deluded as to the nature of self-evident reality... and your histrionics here serve to reinforce rather than refute that fact.”
  4. Followed by: “To anyone reading this far who considers themselves a fan/supporter of Dave and his work, there is a program of people, gpv’s -- glamourpuss volunteers -- who are posting advance artwork for the series to as many comic book websites as possible. We have nine days in which to reach as many people as possible with preview artwork of issue 3 before the solicitation period for issue 3 comes to an end. Right now, we have very few volunteers and very many websites to ‘hit’. We aren’t doing this because we are Dave’s worshippers or Dave’s robots or Dave’s sycophants. We are Dave’s fans. When did ‘fan’ turn into such a pejorative as to validate using commentary you couldn’t justify use against a dog here on the Internet? I don’t know. I don’t think that Mike B’s commentary falls anywhere close to being a fan of Dave Sim and, so, I would respectfully suggest that Mike B. is in the wrong message board destination. Instead of wasting his time slagging Dave here, why doesn’t he go to some message board where there is a creator whose work he is interested in supporting and do something positive there?”
  5. “In conclusion, let me say that I don’t see anything positive happening in this environment soon and I would like to apologize for letting my sentimental attachment to what the Newsgroup USED to be blind me to what the Newsgroup has BECOME. Dave told me that he understood that my holding down two jobs over the summer would make it difficult for me to find time to serve as a volunteer. Having taken a good, hard look at my own situation, if I have enough time to waste engaging in a discussion with someone who is just going to ‘go postal’ on me, I can certainly find five or ten minutes to download images from gp #3 and post them to one of the many websites that hasn’t been ‘hit’ in the nine days that remain to do so.”
  6. [Parenthetically, let me add that, in doing so, I resolve to monitor whatever commentary surrounds that posting and will address whatever commentary surrounds that posting and will address any basic informational questions... but that I also resolve not to get into any ‘discussions’ there about Dave Sim personally, since I don’t know Dave Sim personally, having spent maybe a grand total of five hours in his company over a period of years -- and I sure wouldn’t want anyone claiming to know me who had spent that pitifully limited amount of time in my company at a series of public events. And, I further resolve to answer any questions about Dave Sim’s ‘misogyny’ with the female cop question... and then leave it at that.]
  7. I’ll also continue to read posts here as time permits but unless and until the Newsgroup goes way, way, way, way back to what it used to be and stops being what it has become, those posts will be very few and very far between.

That’s what I think.



I noted that the fax from Dave was time-stamped as having been sent at 03:25--3:25 in the morning. Thus, I noted on my copy, at the bottom, “Wow! Late at night, you get really cranky, DON’T YOU!?!” I don’t recall whether or not I actually sent that response to him, but later that day, at 9:22 a.m., Dave sent the following by fax, amending his earlier fax. He but an asterisk just after the penultimate sentence, “very few and very far between.*

*...and concerned primarily if not exclusively with correcting misinformation such as Mike B. was spreading in this forum suggesting that the gap of three months between issue 1 and 2 of glamourpuss wasn’t intentional and wasn’t done to give the retailers time to assess their first issue orders before ordering the second issue.

I don’t THINK this will or would work, but that’s the reason that I don’t have Internet access and why I haven’t looked at what’s going on on the Yahoo Newsgroup since before SPACE.


This letter from Dave left me nearly completely nonplussed. I had been trying to keep him updated as to what was going on but he, in a fit of pique, decided to hold me to the fire for not being more proactive in doing what he wanted his volunteers to do. At the time, I had very, very limited Internet access, as well as extremely limited knowledge of comic book stores and their web addresses, so participating in the “hitting” of various comic store websites, let alone downloading images to them (something that, to this day, I don’t really know how to do -- and that’s eight years on, when it’s actually easy), was beyond my purview.

I should add that I’m pretty sure that I did not send the above words to Mike B., as I would have then, and now, taken exception to allowing someone else to put words in my mouth. I may have paraphrased some of it and posted that, but I honestly don’t recall. If anyone who has access to the old Cerebus Yahoo Newsgroup Archives wants to look it up, knock yourself out.

Also, I was just a little bit (well, slightly more than a little bit) put off by Dave’s point number six, as I have never considered myself to be a “friend” of Dave’s. I may have written that I knew him personally, which is true, since I have met him in person and had corresponded regularly with him, at that point, for four years, but that doesn’t mean that I knew or know him “personally” in the sense that Gerhard or Sandeep Atwal or Dave Fisher or Deni (whatever her last name now is) do or did.

All I’m doing here is reprinting the correspondence, as it occurred, as accurately as I can, with a few typographical errors fixed along the way.

‘Cause that’s what I does.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Birthdays and Goodbyes

From the Aardvark Vanaheim fax machine:

Happy Birthday, Dan Day! 
Happy Birthday, Mike (SPY GUY) Kitchen 

RIP Gene Day (1982) 

Weekly Update #149: Cerebus Archive Number 5 Gets Signed

Dave gets a phone call from Jimmy Gownley and signs 3,000 CAN5 prints in one day!
Also, the Melmoth negatives get prepared for scanning.

Cerebus In Hell? - Week 13

 CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 shipping soon!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
 CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 shipping soon!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
 CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 shipping soon!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
 CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 shipping soon!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
 CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 shipping soon!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
 CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 shipping soon!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
 CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 shipping soon!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
 CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 shipping soon!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Listening to Dead Cirinists

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're looked at Dave Sim's final Cerebus notebook, notebook #33, previously in The Final Notebook, Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk and in Fred Hammer Wins the Jakirbee Cup.

We still haven't seen the cover, another Hilroy in a long list of Hilroy notebooks used for Cerebus. The beginnings of the crease near the right hand side from holding / being opened. Other than a few blue pen marks, nothing else appears on notebook's cover.

The Cover for Notebook #33
One of the few pages with thumbnails - only 3 pages out of 58 scanned - is page 28:

Notebook #33, page 28
So while the cut out piece of paper in the upper left hand corner says 275 the thumbnails are for issue #274 pages 11 - 13 (if you're following along with the phonebooks, it is pages 171 - 173 of Latter Days). If you look closely, there is a note that says 274 with the page numbers circled.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016


I've added some comments on the statue to the COMMENTS section of George and Dan's post for September 12 now that I've actually handled the prototype and had it around for a few days.


Gustave Dore in Hell?

Sean Michael Robinson:


On Monday afternoon I received a very special package from Dan Malan, the world's foremost expert on Gustave Dore, and, as far as I know, his only English-language biographer in a century or so (1995's Adrift on Dreams of Splendor) Dan and I (and Dan and Dave!) have been talking periodically about our various overlapping projects and interests, and when I called him last week to talk about the image quality of the various editions of Inferno out there, Dan turned around and made an extremely generous offer that made my search unnecessary. He packed up and mailed to me all 75 illustrated plates from a "parts" edition of the very best printing of Inferno that's ever been.

Parts editions were versions of books sold chapter by chapter, unbound except for a single thread to keep the pages in place. As you can imagine, scanning 75 flat unbound plates is an awful lot easier than attempting to do the same to 75 plates that have been bound in an oversized book that you're trying your hardest not to damage. Other than wearing gloves while I scan to keep from adding skin oils to the paper, this is now a pretty straightforward scanning job. 

I spent the first bit of yesterday morning sorting the images, and scanning the ones I'd be needing first. And ever since then I've been working on the actual production work for Cerebus in Hell? #0, getting it ready as quickly as I'm able so we can get it printed and into your hands. And it looks like, all things remaining the same, I'll be able to get it out sometime tomorrow.

Hence the late post here! Hence the short post.

So rather than taking up any more time here, I'll be updating this post through the day with any closeups of the images I think are particularly striking.

These are truly some amazing images, and it makes the work, tight as the timetable is, a real pleasure.

Until Dore's work, this technique was associated almost exlusively with steel engraving, not wood engraving. But the technology of wood finally made this sharp edge tapered hatching possible, using different types of boxwood that had a harder surface and could maintain detail over a longer run of impressions.

Above—a multiple-generation low-res scan, below replaced by a scan from the page Dan sent me. Notice there appears to be some kind of patch or alteration on the foliage below the roots. The invention of electrotyping gave publishers the ability to reproduce their printing blocks infinitely, ensuring that worn blocks wouldn't have to stay in service. But the lack of international copyright agreements meant that piracy was rampant, and so popular illustrations would often be transferred and re-engraved completely to meet the reading demands of another continent (or in the case of his Bible illustrations, the religious needs of other sects or countries. The blocks could be copied and then the offending details touched out of the surface)

Talk about drawing deep into the page. The head is less than a centimeter across. This is from the first plate of the book (second if you could the portrait of Dante)

Is this not the most metal image that's ever existed? Why exactly has this not been an album cover?

Want a 20th century woodcut style? Magnify a portion of a Dore woodcut a few hundred percent.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Carson Grubaugh's Reread Challenge: Women

(from Carson's Re-Read Blog, August 2016)
...Flight and Women, the first two volumes of the four-volume Mothers & Daughters bleed together in my mind, both being about the new matriarchal, Cirinist, state. As with the two volumes of Church & State, and to a lesser extent Jaka's Story and Melmoth, I do not see a huge change in Sim's persona; more an escalation of what started in the previous volume... [Read the full review here...]

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

Monday, 19 September 2016

GOING HOME on press at Marquis right now!

Sean Michael Robinson:

This just in from Karine at Marquis—Going Home is on press at the Marquis facilities right now!

If you want the full experience, imagine a jet engine combined with No-wave era Swans at full volume.

Thanks Karine, Patrick, Jean-Francois, Lisa, Annick, and all the Marquis staff for all of your careful work on this book!

More as it comes in...

Gerhard's Star Wars

Star Wars #1
(2016 recreation of cover originally published by Marvel Comics in 1977)
Art by Howard Chaykin, Tom Palmer & Gerhard

Sunday, 18 September 2016

"Jim Shooter Did Not Kill Gene Day"

Gene Day
(13 August 1951 -  23 September 1982)

Howard Eugene Day, Mentor
by Dave Sim
(Cerebus #270, September 2001)

I first met Gene Day in the summer of 1974, when I stepped off the bus that ran a couple of times a day between Kingston, Ontario and Gene's... very, very... small hometown of Gananoque (Gateway to the Thousand Islands: one of Canada's more picturesque and renowned tourist attractions). The bus pulled in to a gas station which doubled as the local Grey Coach Terminal -- pulled in just long enough to let anyone off who was getting off and let anyone on who was getting on.

I had corresponded with Gene since the previous fall when we had been put in touch with each other by a writer named Augustine Funnell who had recently sold a couple of comic book scripts to the editor of a line of horror comics magazines -- a man by the name of Al Hewetson -- who edited those magazines from his home in St. Catherines, Ontario. John Balge and I had interviewed Hewetson for the second issue of the Now & Then Times... which I edited and had talked Now & Then Books owner, Harry Kremer, into publishing. I had gotten Hewetson's name, address and phone number from Vince Marchesano (at the time a very big name in Southern Ontario comic-art circles). Psycho and Nightmare -- later joined by Scream -- were the titles Hewetson edited for Israel Waldman's Skywald Publishing, second rate knock-off's of Jim Warren's (by 1973) equally second-rate comics horror magazines: Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. It was in the pages of the last issue of Psycho that I would make my own professional debut as a comic-book scriptwriter a year or so later.

When you are young and you are hungry and desperate for paying comics work -- as we all were in those days -- it is by just such circuitous routes and indirect connections that you begin (step by step) to get anywhere. Augustine ("Gus", as he was known in the "Gan") had gotten in with Skywald. John Balge and I had interviewed him (for John's fanzine, Comic Art News & Reviews) and he had told us about his friend Gene Day who might be willing to do some spot illos or covers for "CANAR". John wrote to Gene and Gene sent down some samples of his work. His samples were really good. So good that I had no problem with being knocked out of my spot as CANAR's primary cover artist by him.

Professional is a highly flexible term. I was a professional insofar as I sold my artwork for money and it was published (each sale duly recorded in my little black and red hardcover notebook reserved for the purpose). That is to say, technically I was a professional artist, but only technically. I was still living at home (or, rather, "living with my mother" as Gene would rather gleefully put it whenever I would get a little too big for my britches) and I wasn't earning nearly enough money to support myself. Gene was in a different category altogether -- a giant step up from where I was. Gene made enough money -- rarely, most of the time -- to rent the second floor of the house Gus Funnell lived in (although at the time of that first visit Gene slept, as I recall, on the screened-in front porch of his fiancee's mother's house). He paid for most of his own food, his own telephone bill. As I say, a giant step up from where I was.

"Dave Sim?"

We shook hands as the bus roared off behind me down King Street toward the next tiny Eastern Ontario town, Lansdowne, then Belleville, then the next and the next and the next -- all the way up to Montreal. For those who prefer the human side of these stories, let me attempt to describe the man who met me at the gas/bus station "upstreet".

Gene's was am intimidating presence. He dominated the space he occupied and the area around him as most big men do. We would soon be about the same height (5' 9" -- I grew about seven inches between dropping out of high school in June of '73 and the summer of '75) but he probably had forty or fifty pounds on me -- 180 or 190 would be my guess. There was an unmistakable sense, as we walked along, that he was edging me out of the way -- there wasn't enough sidewalk for both of us. A sense very much belied by his level of interest -- keen interest -- in anything and everything I had to say. He had what could be best described as a "rolling gait", both shoulders hunched, the forearms swinging, swinging in counter-rhythm to his bulldog stride: the stride of a man with places to go and things to do and little patience with impediments of any kind. He had long, long straight black hair which fell to the middle of his back and which called to my mind Conan's hair as depicted on the old Frazetta paperback covers. He was relaxed conversationally, moving easily from topic to topic: relaxed but not relaxing (it was impossible, it seemed, to stay out of the way of those swinging forearms) and I remember thinking -- briefly -- that I had made a mistake coming to visit him. His face was heavy, nearly a perfect oval. A rubbery complexion, as if molded from smooth plastic -- but firm -- which made him appear heavyset rather than fat. No facial hair to speak of -- stubble on his chin and the corners of his mouth only. An eighteen-year-old notices those things about a twenty-three year old. It was the only area where I had the advantage over him. Rotten teeth, brown and discolored and stunted. He told me the story of his teeth, once, years later. Some precursor of "workfare" had involved him in the hauling felled trees out in the bush, dragging them to a huge bonfire in minus-40-degree weather. Someone later told him that moving repeatedly from the extreme cold of the surrounding bush to the furnace-like temperatures at the bonfire caused permanent damage to his teeth, killing them from the insides out. Anyway, they caused him no end of trouble and he was forced to limit his diet to soft food. He had been quite the hell-raiser in his welfare days. Lots of drugs. For months (years?) on end his daily diet had consisted of a jug of the cheapest wine they sold at the LCBO and a box of French fries. Finally he had had an attack of the DT's -- convinced that he saw a UFO landing right in from of him on the creek that runs through the middle of Gananoque. For years (he told me) he and his friends were hauled in for questioning anytime anything bad happened in town. It was hard to reconcile these stories with the Gene Day I knew and the reaction people had to him on the street. "How are ya?" With the Eastern Ontario accent which made it sound almost like "How air ya?" How's so-and-so? How's she getting on with 'er (whatever it was). Every few feet on the way "upstreet". "Gene!" "Oh, hey. How are ya?" Just plain folks. No putting on airs. "WhattzAT?" With me, it's a conversational trick because I used to see how well it "worked" for Gene. Only for Gene it was just part pf his genuine interest in people. That and the fact he was a little deaf. Actually more than a little deaf. So, he would miss a line of the person's story, but he was so interested in what they were saying that he would lean in a little, a big grin breaking out on his face and say, "wattzAT?" Whoever they were they would just light up. I doubt that most of them had ever been listened to so attentively. I know I hadn't. He was also blind as a bat without his glasses and not exactly as "eagle-eye" with his glasses on.

Anyway, to say that he was making up for lost time -- the teenage years he had wasted on drugs and alcohol and just basic hell-raising -- was an understatement.

That became apparent when we got to his studio and he started pulling out pieces of artwork to show me. At the time, I had only seen the three or four pieces of art he had sent to John Balge and had assumed that they represented, numerically (as they would have in my own case) a substantial chunk of what he had accomplished to that time. Virtually all of his work was drawn on Bristol board: that-glossy-on-one-side-dull-on-the-other Bristol board that we all used at school (and which I had abandoned for "artsier" Mayfair card stocks.) And there was a lot of it. I see him, in my mind's eye, crouched down in front of a vertical file, pulling out illustrations after illustration. A stack of comic strips he hadn't been able to interest anyone in. Full colour strips betraying a Vaughn Bode "Purple Pictography" influence with their balloons floating outside the panels...

[I was going through my own bout with swiping Vaughn Bode's thinking and idiosyncrasies -- we were all terribly susceptible to Bode in the mid-70s, thrashing around, looking for regular work, not fitting in. Apart from the high quality of the work  itself, Bode didn't fit any known category. He wasn't an "underground" cartoonist like Crumb, but he sure wasn't a Marvel or DC guy either. National Lampoon's Funny Pages with "Cheech Wizard" every month, his own (not really "underground" comics and third string skin magazines like Swank. If you could make a career out of that -- and clearly, Bode had -- there was some small hope for all of us]

...drawings of Robert E. Howard characters: Conan, Bran Mak Morn, Kull, Solomon Kane (a particular favourite of Gene's and the model for Gene's own Stromm Hel Dunn character). Conan was going through one of his periodic renaissances (on the heels of the success of the Roy Thomas-Barry Smith comic book incarnation which would one day serve as the primary satirical touchstone for the early Cerebus) and the fanzine world was awash in REH "zines" both amateur and "prozines" (as they were called: paying markets). I learned from Gene the value of doing a Conan picture and then running it around the circle of prozines until someone would agree to pay anywhere from twenty to forty dollars for "one-time" reproduction rights. Shoestring operations all, they paid "on publication" more often than "on acceptance", seldom published more than once or twice a year, and were usually backlogged with eight or ten issues of material "in the drawer", so it was not unusual to wait (literally) years to see your picture in print and to get paid for it.

...covers and illustrations for Gene's own fanzine, Dark Fantasy (then at around issue 6 or 7) and other proposed/dreamed-about publications slated for his Shadow Press imprint, painstakingly imitative of the professional digest-sized fantasy and science fiction magazines sold (widely, at the time) on newstands. I say "painstakingly" because this was before the computer revolution in desktop publishing. A small block of "type" on the cover, outlining the contents of a given issue required each letter (barely an eighth of an inch tall) to be aligned by hand and by sight and then burnished into place from a master sheet of Letrset dry-transfer lettering.

Looking at that sheer, awe-inspiring volume of work on that first visit, I recognised that Gene was not only a professional (able to feed himself and provide for himself, solely through his artwork, the basic necessities of life) -- but also, at least, potentially, a PROFESSIONAL professional (which, at the time, meant only one thing to all of us: he could, conceivably, get work at Marvel and/or DC in the not too distant future).

I was definitely not in that category -- nor was Gene -- but he was clearly much closer to the goal than I was. The only real impediment to Gene's breaking in at Marvel (that I could see) was a "cartooniness" to his drawings, a rubbery look that came and went from panel-t0-panel and page-to-page -- and an inversion of the Jack Kirby Principle of Small Heads and Big Hands to convey Heroic Proportions (Gene's figures tended towards large heads and small bodies and hands) that also came and went from panel-to panel and page-to-page.

By the end of the visit, I didn't want to leave, didn't want to go home to my parents' basement and my own modest, little stack of illustrations and strips that I had just sort of -- produced -- since dropping out of high school with no idea where they might (even theoretically) be published. That visit was the first major adjustment I made to my focus, recognising that sheer productivity was an inherent good thing and (so far as I knew) as essential element in making the jump from amateur to professional. For me, it would no longer be enough to just draw a picture or a strip and send it out to some market or other and sit back twiddling my thumbs waiting for it to be returned or a cheque to arrive in the mail.

But, this isn't about me.

Gene got work and then Gene got more work. He hooked up with a publisher who was doing comic-book adaptations of classic literature -- and who commissioned Gene to adapt Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some unbelievably lengthy format (this is going to sound funny coming from me) of 120 pages or something. Pencilled, inked and lettered. The work either never got printed or they never sent him a copy. But he did get paid for it. Getting paid was the priority. Project One -- this time written, pencilled, inked and lettered by Gene for an outfit in Chicago. In a reader poll, Gene was rated the number two guy (Jim Craig was number one) at Toronto's short-lived ORB magazine. Gene got quite a bit of work at Star*Reach in Star*Reach and Imagine. It was a story in Imagine -- a story about a Samaria Warrior -- where the cartooniness and the inversion of the Kirby Principle (suddenly!) vanished from Gene's work and where his brushwork (suddenly!) snapped into crystal clarity -- that finally attracted the attention of someone at Marvel. Norman Mailer's phrase, "an eye to the main chance" is applicable. Gene had been hungry, Gene had worked hard and now he had his chance. Unlike everyone else we knew who had "broken in" at Marvel or DC, Gene had no intention of letting (what he saw as) "the main chance" slip away. Marvel wanted Gene as an inker. There is a joke that Gil Kane (may God rest his soul) used to do on panels at conventions about Marvel inkers, pantomiming a puppet with both hands hauled aloft by invisible strings. "And then they slide the page in front of them," he would say and then mime the hands plummeting onto the page and the right hand furiously describing circles and lines and slaps and dashes until, abruptly ( a second or two later) the hands would be hauled aloft again. And then the process was repeated. It got a very good laugh anytime I saw Gil perform it.

It also wasn't far from the truth. In the pre-FedEx days, a twenty-two page story, pencilled and lettered, would arrive at the Gananoque Post Office via airmail on a Monday and Gene would be expected to ink it in five or six days. Often another issue arrived while he was still working on the first one. One way or the other, he got them done. It was an amazing thing to behold. In fact, it was believed at Marvel that "Gene Day" was a pseudonym for an art agency (like the "Crusty Bunkers" designation for "gang inking" done at Neal Adams' Continuity Associates), so reliable was Gene in turning books around, no matter how crushing the deadline. It was actually just Gene and Danny, his younger brother (the same Dan Day who, today, works for Claypool on their licensed title, Elvira). Danny filled in solid blacks (Gene would outline them in ink and put an "x" where he wanted the solid black to go) laid in basic patterns and textures, ruled the straight lines. The rest of it was Gene. 16- and 18-hour days were the rule and not the exception. As I say, it was something to behold. In addition, Gene still produced his political cartoon "Cap'n Riverrat" for the local weekly paper The Gananoque Reporter in exchange for free photocopying. He was also still corresponding and talking on the phone with all the Dark Fantasy contributors: Charles Saunders, Joe Erslavas, me, Tim Hammell, still making slow progress on Pigeons From Hell, a Robert E. Howard short story for which he had acquired the rights from the Howard Estate to adapt into comic-book format and which he intended to self-publish as a graphic novel. But mostly, from morning 'til night, he inked Marvel comics. He got a steady gig inking Mike Zeck on Shang Chi, Master Of Kung Fu (which was still being written by Doug Moench "based on the characters created by Sax Rohmer" in his Fu Manchu stories). It had been a fan favourite when drawn by Paul Gulacy (isolated issues and then a memorable run, issues 42 to 50) -- but had since fallen to a completely marginal status and was verging on cancellation (selling somewhere around 80,000 copies an issue: in this day and age, a mega hit). Master of Kung Fu suited Gene just fine with its pulp flavour, exotic locations and adventure motifs. He got on like a house-on-fire with Moench and Zeck and loved working on Zeck's pencils. Then, Mike Zeck quit. That left Marvel with no Master of Kung Fu penciller and, of course, since it was such a marginal book, no one wanted to do it. There were no royalties to be had and it was a monthly title so it was a back-breaking job. They offered it to Gene. Not because they wanted Gene to do it especially, but because Zeck had left, it was a monthly title and every day that went by that someone (ANYone) wasn't turning in pencilled pages was another day that the title was late. Or, rather, later, since it had been taking all the running Doug and Mike and Gene could muster just to keep from slipping further behind.

Even though Gene was a much slower penciller than he was an inker (much slower) , and would, therefore, be taking a dramatic cut in pay right at the time he needed every penny he could lay his hands on to pay The Mortgage on the big, old, Victorian house he had bought on First Street -- he took the assignment. Loyalty is "bred-in-the-bone" in the Scots who built the small towns of Eastern Ontario and, in the small towns of Eastern Ontario, loyalty is a two-way street. Marvel cheques paid The Mortgage and so (loyalty demanded) what Marvel wanted from Gene, Marvel got from Gene to the best of Gene's abilities.

It was, unquestionably, a thing to behold when Gene began applying the loin's share of those prodigious abilities to the task at hand. Now, instead of piles of pencilled and lettered pages scattered across the old kitchen table next to his drawing board, there were blank pages with pieces of tracing paper of various sizes and shapes and (overlapping) configurations taped to the pages at different angles -- big figures, little figures, faces, buildings, statues, locomotives, period cars, .45 automatics (accurate in every detail) -- "pencilled-side-down", ready to be transferred to the page by Danny tracing over them and then returned to Gene to be tightened-up into finished pencils.

No inking. Not yet. the pages had to make a return trip to New York so they could be approved, editorially, then lettered, then returned to Gananoque for inking. Easily (easily!) a week of working time lost out of that brutal monthly schedule.

Doug Moench was a prince, in all this. "What do you want to draw?" He would tailor the story to Gene's pencilling strengths, the things Gene had confidence in. East Indian statues. I remember the East Indian statues. Bas relief panels. A definite motif that Gene seized on, Doug played to. The book really started to click. Sales started going up as Gene edged over into his own "take" on Steranko's style. He didn't have Paul Gulacy's facility with the human figure and he knew that, but he had a nearly super-human design sense and he knew how to spot blacks like nobody's business. And he could tell a story; move your eye from panel to panel and then BAM hit you in the face with a display shot when you turned the page. He was amused talking with me on the phone one night.

"It's 'Have a Cigar' time," he laughed, referring to the Pink Floyd song.

People at Marvel were taking notice and suddenly everyone wanted to fiddle with Master of Kung Fu now that sales were going up. Everyone wanted to make changes so they might be able to steal some credit for the success ("It could be made into a monster/if we all pull together as a team"). Gene laughed. But, I knew it wasn't funny. I suspected it was going to get a whole lot less funny. And it did.

[As tends to happen, a warning about misplaced loyalty arrived in Gene's life in the winter on 1981-82 during a particularly server cold snap that blanketed much of Ontario, Quebec and the north-eastern US. Right in the middle of struggling to maintain his brutal schedule on Matser of Kung Fu, Gene was summoned to Marvel's New York offices as an emergency inker; and eight- or ten-page story needed to be inked over a weekend. Gene had s lifelong fear of flying so he had to take the train east to Montreal and then south through Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and finally into Manhattan -- and "hit the ground" inking on arrival. Whatever Marvel wanted, Marvel got. They put him up at a hotel that proved to be roach-infested. He asked to be given a different hotel (not substantially better but, you know, not roach-infested). The editor, who will remain nameless (it wasn't Jim Shooter, by the way) told him he could sleep on one of the two-seater couches in Marvel's reception area. Whatever Marvel wanted, Marvel got. He slept on the couch with his coat pulled over him... in a Madison Avenue office building where the turned off the heat at night... in the middle of a serer cold snap. He developed an infection in his kidneys, as a result, which would cause hm almost as much pain as his teeth did for the rest of his life. He finished the inking job over the weekend and went home.]

Meanwhile, on Master of Kung Fu, as the sudden sales spurt continued to attract editorial attentions, Gene ran afoul of many of Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter's Rules of Good Comic-Book Storytelling. "No continuous backgrounds" was a big one (that is, no pages where a single background ran across two or three panels: a cornerstone of Steranko's storytelling.) Loyalty isn't the only attribute of a Scot. There's also stubbornness. Gene was part of a hit -- or, at least, a book whose sales were going up, a book that was being talked about. He must have known that that success could only be attributed to his storytelling since that was the only thing that had changed (he could never say that, or course -- not even to himself -- his natural modesty, his self-effacing Eastern Ontario nature would forbid it). But, there was another way to make his point. He did a sequence that ran across four or five pages.

One. Continuous. Background.

That, of course, led to The Phone Calls: Knock off the continuous backgrounds, said Shooter. Get them Coloured Properly, replied Gene (Shooter had told the colourists to use different colours on the backgrounds in different panels, so a continuous wall changed from mauve to red to yellow. Unbeknownst to Gene, the colourist was Shooter's long-term girlfriend) (oops, as they say)

It was an unhappy situation. Shooter called the shots. He was Editor-in-Chief. It was his job to call the shots. Gene was a freelancer. It was his job to do as he was told. Shooter told him that Archie Goodwin found his work unreadable. That hurt. Big time. I knew Archie quite well by then, so I called him. No. He didn't find Gene's work unreadable. Shooter had brought the continuous background pages to him and asked him if he found then unreadable and Archie had said, no. They were a little more difficult to follow than a typical page, but he could read them with no problem. I phoned Gene to relay the word. He was relieved to hear it, of course, but the relief was temporary. At that point, that was all any of us could provide for Gene: temporary relief. It was between Gene Day and Jim Shooter and there was no doubt how it was going to end. Not in my mind. Not, I suspect, in the mind of anyone who was privy to the conflict. Gene got the axe. Got work at DC right away. Dick Giordano snatched him up to do Batman (a guy who can do Steranko-style graphics and storytelling, pencilling and inking, on a monthly schedule? What, is this a trick question?). From an Industry standpoint it was, unquestionably, a promotion, or rather a Promotion -- from a marginal book at Marvel to the top book at DC. But not for Gene. Gene wasn't a DC fan. Gene was a Marvel fan. The House That Jack Built. Marvel had picked him and Gene had vowed never to let them down and was on the verge of delivering a hit for them. The way it ended, for Gene, wasn't so much "wrong", as it was "inexplicable". If sales were going up, why not let him do what he wanted until sales went back down? The wrenching "downshifting" out of the 16- and 18-hour days took its toll, no question. But it wasn't just the 16- and 18-hour days and it wasn't just the downshifting...

There are things that happen...

There are. Things. That. Happen...

...which, spiritually, can just cut some vital part right out of you, some vital part that is necessary to sustain life as is blood, as is oxygen. And that, I believe, is what happened with Gene getting fired off of Master of Kung Fu. He had a regular check-up with his doctor in mid-September of 1982. Apart from the lingering effects of his kidney infection, he was given a clean bill of health. A week later, September 23, 1982 -- coincidentally, his brother Danny's birthday -- out for a walk in the neighbourhood around the First Street house, he collapsed and died of a heart attack.

At the age of thirty-one.


"Jim Shooter did not kill Gene Day", said the Marvel spokesman -- before anyone had even had the chance to ask a question -- at the weekly "news conference" they used to hold for various New York-area fanzines and their correspondents. And that's really all that was ever said, apart from Archie Goodwin's wonderful tribute in Epic Magazine and my own in... The Comics Journal?... The Comics Buyers Guide?... I don't remember offhand. What else could be said? Embarking, as I was, on the first national tour of comic-book stores a week later, I was certainly in a position to say something, but what? Gene had made his own choices all along, choices that had put him on a collision course with his boss. To the day he died, his loyalty to Marvel remained unshakeable. To me, loyalty to Gene meant respecting that loyalty -- both in the immediate aftermath of his death and for the ensuing (as it turns out) nearly two decades -- even though I saw that loyalty (then) and see that loyalty (now) as having been wholly and completely misplaced.

"It was a Shame."

Many depths of meaning descended through the noun which ended that simple sentence, allowing me to express what I truly thought -- while also allowing a largely disinterested industry, and the company at which it was directed, to take (because of my loyalty to Gene and his memory) the surface meaning. Yes. "It was a Shame."

All of us who knew Gene, who respected and admired the man and his work, who had worked with him and had watched his talents hatch out into something remarkable, exhibiting the first glittering promise of many gems to come -- me, Danny, Doug Moench, Archie Goodwin, Mike Zeck, Mike Friedrich, a handful of others -- separated geographically, stunned, disbelieving but, alas, still just a mere handful of individuals, caught between the rock of the industry consensus and the hard place of our own loyalty to Gene, would have to content ourselves with that.

Yes. Jim Shooter did not kill Gene Day. Yes. It was a Shame.


In a perfect world -- in what I would consider a perfect world -- Gene Day's adaptation of Robert E. Howard's Pigeons From Hell enters its record-breaking thirtieth printing this year. Still the flagship volume in the extensive and ever-expanding backlist of Gene's own Shadow Press (which occupies a quarter-page in the Star System catalogue), it will soon be joined by the first printing of his latest effort, two years in the making, as all of us head to "Gan" to salute him on his 50th birthday: August 13, 2001.


Howard Eugene Day (1951-1982) was the Canadian comic book artist best known for Marvel Comics' Master of Kung Fu and Star Wars series. Dave Sim credits Gene as his earliest and most influential mentor, and the inspiration for his own self-publishing efforts. From 1985 to 1986, Deni Loubert's Renegade Press published four issues of Gene Day's Black Zeppelin, an anthology series primarily featuring stories and painted covers Day completed before his death of a coronary on 23 September 1982 at the age of 31. From 2002-2006, Dave Sim and Gerhard created The Day Prize, an annual award given to a comic creator chosen by them from the exhibitors at SPACE (Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo) held in Columbus, Ohio. In February 2009, the Shuster Awards received permission from Gene Day's widow, Gale, and brothers to name the annual Gene Day Award For Self-Publishing in his memory. Gene was inducted into the Shuster Hall of Fame in 2007.

Jim Shooter was the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics between 1978-1987. He addressed many of the issues surrounding Gene Day's death here in August 2011.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Weekly Update #148: Guys & Minds Hardcovers

A VERY special Cerebus fan orders custom-made hardcovers of Minds and Guys... for $10,000 each!
No, we're not kidding.

See also: Why mass-market 'Cerebus Hardcovers' will probably never happen.

An Inhospitable Retail Environment

glamourpuss #2 (July 2008)
Art by Dave Sim
Sequentially reprinting Dave Sim's letters and faxed correspondence to me, with occasional annotation from me.

Today’s entry continues the discussion about the early sales numbers on glamourpuss, a discussion that included Craig Johnson and Lenny, and (peripherally) me.

16 July, 2008

Jeff and Lenny:

My best guess is that once you drop below an overall “one copy per store” ratio (estimates vary between 2,000 and 3,000) then that’s the edge of the psychological radar screen where your work ceases to exist in the mass comicbook mind.

The severe cutting is a result of Marvel and DC glutting the market. Whatever you sell between Wednesday and end of the first weekend, that’s all you’re going to sell. So, if the store orders eight copies and has five left over on Monday, they’ll cut their orders to three on the next issue. Of course, that doesn’t really work with indy comics since indy customers are not usually “every week” people -- and they expect to be able to walk in and buy the first three issues of glamourpuss if they only go in once every six months, which isn’t going to happen in 99.9% of stores. Paradise -- whose employees and owner are the only ones to sign the petition and therefore the only North American store I’ll go into -- had issues 2 and 3 of Terry Moore’s ECHO but no #1’s. And ECHO is monthly, so you’re talking about a less-than-three-month supply of back issues.

It’s really a matter of Marvel and DC creating an environment which is inhospitable to anyone except Marvel and DC: an ongoing, massive glut of Colgate versus Crest flavours to occupy all the rack space and no market (or cash) for back issues.

I’ll be speaking to Sandeep today or tomorrow and I’ll get him to do a package of #3 artwork. We can certainly work the solicitation period, but I suspect all that’s going to do is give the stores an “out” during the week of release (“Why did you release the artwork two months ago? Now everyone’s forgotten the book and I’m stuck with all these copies!”). Oh well, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Friday, 16 September 2016

Jeff Seiler: Proofreading Jaka's Story

I have been proofreading Jaka’s Story since shortly after I finished proofreading Going Home, although I had actually begun proofreading it while I was proofreading Reads, if that makes any sense.

So, when I picked it back up, I had to go back over my prior proofs, while making the current corrections. I decided to divide the proofreading notes into two sections -- word balloons (which admittedly, might not make the remastered edition because of how much of a pain it would be to reformat the balloons) and text. I now have 87 pages to go and hope to finish by the end of this week -- on or about September 18.

I thought I might give you some insight into just how tedious the work can be by relating something that happened earlier this evening. There I was on page 384 of the phonebook (2nd printing), about to make the correction of “Hand-written” to “Handwritten”, and I had to count out what line it was on in the second paragraph. But, before I got down to line 19, on which the miscreant lay, I went back over “onion” on line 17 of paragraph 1 and “skin” on line 18 of paragraph 1 and it finally caught my eye. Looked it up in my handy-dandy American Heritage College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, and, sure enough, “onionskin” is one word, no hyphen. Except that, in the example above, where “onion” ends line 17 and “skin” begins line 18, there should be a hyphen after “onion” on line 17. Made the notation. Then made the same notation for “onion” ending line 2 of the second paragraph. Then made the notation for line 16 of paragraph 2, where “onion-skin” should be “onionskin”, since it’s all on one line.

And, then, I had to back to page 365, where the word first appears, and make the notation for changing “onion-skin” on line 14 of paragraph 2 to “onionskin”.

And, then it was time to make the notation for “Handwritten”.

Just a little insight for any of you who are interested in that sort of lonely, tedious work.

I actually LOVE doing it.

Yeah, I know. Weird.


Might as well get a "hey, folks! Can you believe what a hassle it is to REMASTER a five hundred page graphic novel with big honking blocks of text" post out of this, I reckon.

On the proofreading for JAKA'S STORY, I think the thing that makes the most sense, now that you have all of your handwritten corrections (and thank you for getting through it, that's a lot of work) is to wait until Sean can send you a printout and then take a yellow highlighter pen and mark where the corrections go.  Doesn't have to be exact, just instead of me having to count down the number of lines in which paragraph to find what you're talking about (kind of thing) I can just flip over the page and look for yellow and look at your next suggestion/correction/series of options.

From the vantage point of Proofreading Posterity, it would be nice for everyone to see -- preserved in the CORRESPONDENCE FILES 2016 -- your reasoning behind some of the multiple suggestions, in particular.  That way everyone can "Monday morning quarterback" it:  MM. I would have gone with Jeff's SECOND choice.  Or, I think Dave should have gone with his original choice on that one.  Since the book will be in the public domain after I'm dead, any publisher can make their own choices, as well.

Lesson learned (I hope) is: next time let's wait until Sean sends you a print-out of the entire book you can use a yellow highlighter pen on, instead of you hand-writing everything first (although I understand that that's the way you prefer proof-reading).  I learned from your corrections on "Chasing Scott" that counting down the lines in search of what you're correcting is what was eating up most of my time.  So, whatever we do, it seems to me the solution has to eliminate that part of the process.  Any suggestions that do that, hey, I'm wide open!  But I think dabs of sequential yellow (good name for a band!) will do the trick.

And now!  The WEEKLY UPDATE and CEREBUS IN HELL?  Week 75 (but who's counting?)

Take it away, ME!  (and Sandeep!)