Saturday, 10 December 2016

Kickstarter: Cerebus Archive Number 6

A Portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints with Exclusive Commentary by Dave Sim
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel 

$20,588 @ 12:58 pm THANK YOU!

So one of the "tweaks" that I'm hoping to do is to, as I say, tie in the First Day Cover postcard to a comic-book convention where STUDIO COMIX is representing CEREBUS.  Alfonso gave us his "so far" convention schedule for 2017.

Theoretically, if everything goes smoothly with "rolling this out", the first FIRST DAY COVER CEREBUS RESTORATION POSTCARD could be on sale January 21-22 at FrostCon in Burlington, Ontario.  You can order one (or 10 or 20) and pick it up there OR have it mailed to you with a January 23 Burlington postmark which would make it an official First Day Cover -- the first day after the convention.

January is maybe a little optimistic, so after that we have GEERECON in Guelph, Ontario (Feb 3-5); TORONTO COMICON (Mar 17-19); KITCHENER COMICON (Apr 1); CALGARY EXPO, Calgary, Alberta (Apr 28-30); ORILLIA CON in Orillia, Ontario (May 21); NIAGARA FALLS COMICON Niagara Falls, Ontario (June 2-4); OSHAWA COMICON Oshawa, Ontario (June 10);  MONTREAL COMICON Montreal, Quebec (July 7-9) and TORONTO FAN EXPO (Aug 31 to Sep 3)

$20,368 @ 11:38 am THANK YOU!

The further tweaking is to have a different CEREBUS stamp for each postcard.  Starting with the assumption that the first postcard will be the Cerebus figure from the cover of Volume One so that will also be the image on the stamp.  And the postcard will be available in perpetuity, but the stamp will only be available on a First Day Cover basis:  all done by advance order.  You pay in advance and you're guaranteed to get a First Day Cover postcard and stamp.  You can also order a book of stamps and a sheet of stamps.

And as a thank-you for all of the hard work Alfonso's STUDIO COMIX has been doing for us around Canada, you'll also be able to get a First Day Cover postmarked in the convention city that STUDIO COMIX is representing us at (they're in Toronto today! Drop by and get your free CEREBUS comics at their booth!).

Okay, noon prayer time coming up and then I have to go and pick up my drawing of Joe Shuster from the first SHUSTER AWARDS poster at King Framing here in town for the "Superman entrance" of the Off-White House.  And drop off page 2 of JUDENHASS with my portraits of Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Stan Lee,  Max Gaines, Sheldon Mayer and Will Eisner for framing next week.

Hope to be back in about an hour or so and I'll check the comments sections of this morning's posts to see if anyone has any questions.

$20,263 @ 11:29 am Thank you!

One of our priorities with the NEXT Kickstarter is to have a series of more affordable pledge items and it's looking as if those are going to be Alfonso's postcards -- now called the CEREBUS RESTORATION POSTCARDS -- that I talk about in the Weekly Update this week.  We're definitely tweaking the idea, but sticking close to a MOST AFFORDABLE VARIANT:

In this case, a single postcard with a regular stamp on it, mailed to you in exchange for a pledge of, say, $5.  "I HELPED RESTORE CEREBUS!"

After that basic rock-bottom pledge level, we move up to:

- a single postcard with a CEREBUS stamp ($8?)
-a single postcard with a CEREBUS stamp autographed ($12?)
-a single postcard with a CEREBUS stamp autographed and personalized ($20?)

This, in turn, has led to some further tweaking.  

$20,263.00 @ 11:15 am

I apologize for the fact that a lot of what we're doing "behind the scenes" isn't showing up on your radar screens yet.  One of the things that we're doing is developing a "wish list" for ways to process the Kickstarter information to help us "better serve you" while maintaining as close to 100% privacy for each of you as possible.

One of the things I wrote down today was to pay someone to develop software that would "crunch" the online information from all of our Kickstarters so far into KICKSTARTER ALPHA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, DELTA, ECHO, FOX TROT and GOLF categories.  ALPHA would be anyone who has participated in all six CAN KICKSTARTERS. BRAVO anyone who has participated in five, CHARLIE anyone who has participated in four, etc.  And further "crunch" those lists into patterns: ECHO and FOX TROT where they've participated in the most recent Kickstarters (i.e. loyal newcomers) and those who skipped a Kickstarter.

The idea being that we could smooth things out for the ALPHA folks -- soliciting their input -- as well as offering assistance to people who maybe missed a Kickstarter for one reason or another but who would otherwise be on the Alpha list.

We've been working on the software "wish list" for a while because you want to get the whole thing done STRUCTURALLY as solidly as possible and that involves being very specific about the computer capabilities you're looking for.

$20,263 @ 11:03 am Thank thank thank you!

We're trying to keep a lid on the number of survey questions (which most people appreciated -- a great deal! -- last time).  This time, our major interest is going to be "Did the CAN6 launch come too soon after the CAN5 launch?" -- i.e. roughly two months -- with optional answers of "Too soon: should be every three months"  "four months"  "five months";  "'Goldilocks' by me: keep 'em coming"; and "Not soon enough.  Can you do these monthly?"

And, of course, we'll share your comments and let you know the breakdown of responses when we launch CAN7.

Two months is, I think, the fastest we COULD go (although we are getting much faster) but we might add in a month -- i.e. CAN7 launching in March 2017 -- and see if that moves the pledge level back up closer to the $30K mark we hit the last two times.

$20,158 @ 10:56 am THANK YOU!!!

The tentative plan right now is for Rollie, my designated "print puller", to come in on Tuesday and for me to sign all of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER SIX prints in one "go".

We've also "cycled through" the first round of metallic CEREBUS ARCHIVE logo stickers and CAN6 will have the same logo colour as CAN0 did.  All of the materials we need are "in-house".  

Can't PROMISE anything, but we're hoping to get a bunch of these to as many of you pledge partners as we can before Christmas if possible!  Pencil in the Southern Ontarians.

$20,158 @ 10:43 am. Thank you!

What your very generous pledges are helping to finance:

Referring to the Diamond Inventory of CEREBUS material as of yesterday:

They have "quadruple digit" and "triple digit" "Dave breathes easy" quantities of most of the books.

In the "double digit" category they have JAKA'S STORY, MELMOTH, LATTER DAYS and THE LAST DAY which is also "breathe easy" because we have inventories of each of those books that represent probably three or four Diamond-sized orders (based on Diamond's ordering patterns over the last couple of years).

At the moment, MINDS is in the "not breathe easy" category of double digits of a title we don't have ANY inventory for.

Which is why it's next on the list for restoration and printing.  Stage One - scanning the originals in the Cerebus Archive and the pages Gerhard has -- has already taken place and now we've moved to Stage Two - Sean restoring and remastering the scans, as well as scanning and remastering printed copies of the pages that we don't have (roughly 50 out of 280).

Stage One and Stage Two are both "pure overhead" phases: they cost money to do with no money coming in on them.

So thanks to all of our pledge partners for helping to finance that!  

$20,158 @ 10:33 am! THANK YOU THANK YOU!

If Sean is reading this, something I keep meaning to ask: can you list the ART DRAGNET pages for CEREBUS Volume One that will be new to this printing?

There was a bit of a surge there, which I think might have been attributable to CEREBUS IN HELL #0 hitting the stores with the AMOC plug on the inside back cover.

I can relate to the "fan anguish" that causes.  I always try to relate it to Alex Raymond's RIP KIRBY.  Would I buy a new printing of IDW's RIP KIRBY books if I knew there were high quality restored scans of newly rediscovered originals included?  I'd say, yes, speaking as someone with virtually no disposable income, since that's basically what I did with the Ron Goulart book:  there were maybe five RIP KIRBY strips in there that I didn't have high resolution restored scans for but -- $70 Canadian for five new strips?  I'm in.

I'd probably try and think of someone I could give my old copy to who might get hooked.

$20,108 @ 10:27 am Thank you all!

Up over the $20,000 mark.  Very much appreciated by all of us who are working hard to keep this Restoration/Publication juggernaut rolling forward.

I forgot to copy the DIA order code for CEREBUS ARCHIVE #4, the DIA edition, which they listed -- with #3 -- in the latest PREVIEWS. D'OH!   I will make a note to do that after my noon prayer for those of you who want your LCS to order you a copy.


$19,993 at 10:14 am. MANY, MANY THANKS!

We've been tracking the sales of all of Diamond's CEREBUS material on a weekly basis for a few weeks to try to catch any "glitches". And I think I just found one.  They have CEREBUS ARCHIVE VOLUME 01 -- the Diamond editions of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Portfolios that are only autographed on the front label -- listed (DIA order code SEP140947) but they're still showing an inventory of 100 copies, their original order.  Likewise with CEREBUS ARCHIVE VOLUME 02,
(DIA order code FEB150878) and CEREBUS ARCHIVE VOLUME 03 (DIA order code JUL150858) -- all three are listed at $89 US each.

If you've been trying to order any of all of those three through your local LCS PLEASE persevere. I've left a phone message for my Diamond rep flagging the problem so it should be cleared up in the next week or so.

I'm going to list the order codes AND the Diamond STK (Stock) codes (in case that helps your LCS):


Good luck (to all of us!)

CA6 LAST DAY! $19,993 @ 10 am. THANK YOU!

Hello U.K., EU and parts of North America!  I imagine everyone in California is still asleep.  Here we are with the last day of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 6 Kickstarter.  $7 away from the $20,000 plateau.  Thanks to everyone who has pledged so far.

As promised yesterday, here's a list of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5 Portfolios that are available.  Like CAN6, these are the "one-time printing only" editions with every plate autographed:

#s 9, 67, 172, 181, 189, 190, 193, 198, 202, 205, 207, 211, 213, 215, 217, 219, 222, 235, 239, 240, 241, 242, 244, 245, 246, 247, 249, 260, 261, 262 to 271, 273, 274, 275, 278-281 and 283 to 299.

If there's a SPECIFIC number you want or if you want the LOWEST number, please post that to the Kickstarter site after pledging -- either in the COMMENTS section or with the e-mail function Kickstarter provides you with to contact us.


Gary Groth: "Modestly Enthusiastic About Cerebus"

Gary Groth (publisher, Fantagraphics Books) from We Told You So: Comics As Art,  
an oral history of Fantagraphics Books by Tom Spurgeon with Michael Dean.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Weekly Update #160: The Cerebus Postcard Collection!

Coming in 2017: The Cerebus Postcard Collection!

Cerebus In Hell? - Week 24

   CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
   CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
   CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
   CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
   CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
   CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at
  CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at

   CEREBUS IN HELL? #0 on sale now!
(Diamond Order Code: JUL161105)
Read CEREBUS IN HELL? daily at

Thursday, 8 December 2016

CEREBUS ARCHIVE #6 Now Features...#5!

Sandeep's just posted a new pledge item for the Last Day of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE #6 Kickstarter: CEREBUS ARCHIVE #5!  I checked the inventory at Camp David and the lowest number is #9 and the next lowest is...#67?  Something like that.  Then it jumps into triple digits. So, first come first served!

Pig's Ear

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

So after last week's notebook entry, I realized that there were a couple notebooks that we've only looked at once before. One of those is notebook 26 (it was previously called notebook 23) in Cool's Right. It covers Cerebus issues #224 to #230.

Here is the cover, just another Hilroy notebook:

Notebook #26, front cover
I don't usually show the back cover, but this one make me scratch my head. It looks like Dave might have had it by his desk, and used it to get his pens / brush started.

Notebook #26, back cover
"Pig's Ear"? I'm not sure, but it doesn't look like Dave's handing writing. However, we know how good he is at changing his for whatever task he has at hand. I wonder who wrote it and what they were referring to - what was messed up?

And here is page one of the notebook, starting with issue 224.

Notebook #26, page 1
A sketch of Rick and some Cerebus dialogue.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Melmoth Kickstarter-- Three Days Left! and MINDS begins...

Sean Michael Robinson:


If you haven't done so already, please check out my lengthy post from last week, which has since been buried under an avalanche of great content, on the why and how of the restoration. Why exactly are we doing this, and what is is that we're doing?

In my long essay at the end of the newly restored Cerebus Volume One (at the printer now!), I make the case that Cerebus's success as a publication involved a perfect alignment of market and creator; fanzine culture and the direct market colliding with a comic writer/artist/soon-to-be publisher capable of telling serialized stories uniquely suited to the new form of comic consumption. 

Time will tell if we make it to the end of this project, but in my most optimistic moments, it occurs to me that Cerebus is now once again in a similar position. Dave Sim has gone to great legal lengths to ensure that his creation will go to the public domain upon his death. so that anyone who wants to can benefit from it in any way that see fit—republish, rework, critique, discuss, collage. It's a concept very much aligned with some of the most idealistic thinkers of the Internet age, a concept that continues to develop as the corporate stranglehold on copyright continues. (There's a wealth of information at Duke Law's Center for the Study of the Public Domain).

It's fitting, then, that just a few hundred people have so far successfully financed this project, have paid for the scanning and careful restoration of around 3.000 pages of artwork through their pledges to the Cerebus Archive campaigns. If the project itself is unique to the print world (image quality not usually considered the domain of the Internet), the funding and organization of the project itself is uniquely digital, in that we're now entering a time where it's possible for smaller audiences to fund and sustain their interests.

Personally, I don't see Cerebus as a niche series, but an extremely unique series, that has straddled enough genre lines and weathered a remarkable series of genre changes and audience expectations, a work ripe for rediscovery. And if that process does continue, it'll be restored, with the aesthetic aspects presented as they were when they left the drawing boards of Dave and Gerhard, the care and attention they lavished on each aspect of the work evident in every panel and line.

Thank you all for making it happen.

Up next—we skip ahead to Minds! The raw scans are coming in now, as I type this. Here are a few closeups.

In fitting with earlier depictions of magic and madmen having their visions entangled with science (see: K'Cor, King of Imesh), Magus Doran has a prominently-featured gyroscope in his waiting room. 

 Sunday Best. Look at how artfully the line weight is communicating both lighting and prominence. 

We Told You So: Comics As Art

We Told You So: Comics as Art
An Oral History Of Fantagraphics Books
by Tom Spurgeon & Michael Dean
Fantagraphics Books, $49.99
On Sale: December 2016

Publisher's Description:
In 1976, a group of young men and women coalesced around a fledgling magazine and the idea that comics could be art. In 2016, comics intended for an adult readership are reviewed favorably in the New York Times, enjoy panels devoted to them at Book Expo America, and sell in bookstores comparable to prose efforts of similar weight and intent. We Told You So: Comics as Art tells of Fantagraphics Books' key role in helping build and shape an art movement around a discredited, ignored and fading expression of Americana the way insiders share the saga with one another other: in anecdotal form, in the words of the people who lived it and saw it happen. Comics historian and critic Tom Spurgeon and Michael Dean assemble an all-star cast of industry figures, critics, cartoonists, art objects, curios and groundbreaking publications to bring you a detailed account of Fantagraphics’ first 40 years. We Told You So is a detailed catalog of the look of a cultural awakening. It’s a story that includes appearances by Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman, Harlan Ellison, Jim Shooter, Stan Lee, Daniel Clowes, Frank Miller, Peter Bagge, Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, Dave Sim, Steve Geppi, Todd McFarlane and every other major figure in the arts or business end of modern comics. More than a corporate history or a fond look back, We Told You So: Comics as Art makes the warts and all case for Fantagraphics Books' position near the heart of the modern reclamation of the comics art form.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

"Cerebus Cover Art Treasury" Reviewed!

Cerebus Cover Art Treasury
by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(IDW, 2016)

PAGE 45:
(from a review by Stephen Holland, Page 45 proprietor)
If the 300-issue, 6,000-page magnum opus that is CEREBUS remains one of the most inventive comics this medium has ever produced, with narrative innovations cascading from its pages at such an astonishing rate as to make Niagara Falls look like a domestic, dripping tap - and it does - then its covers were no less ingenious, iconic and iconoclastic, all at the same time.

What makes this luxurious, full-colour treasury even more of a thirstily devoured "Yes, please!" is that so many of these illustrations don't just set the tone but actively inform the story within, which most modern readers have had access to only in the form of those whopping, black and white CEREBUS phonebook collections. They never reprinted the colour covers to keep their costs down, but some seen in sequence form comicbook narratives in their own right (#153 & #154) and they are bursting with clues.

The diversity of their approaches and angles - geometric or otherwise - was jaw-dropping, especially when one considers the relative, relentless homogeneity of the corporations' covers competing for space on retailers' shelves back then, and even more so to this day.

You never knew what you'd be startled by next: stark silhouettes, spot-lit close-ups, balletic action shots, quiet reveries, dream-sequence deliria, architecture only, lunar photography, William Morris wallpaper either hung with framed portraits or used to frame pithy, telling snap-shots; typography only (ever so brave and oh so effective), images rotated sideways to reflect what lay within, woodland landscapes, a funereal flower arrangement, glistening bottles of booze placed in the foreground of drunken misdemeanours, film-poster parodies, cosmic chess matches, or Dave / David Sim drawing the divine Mick / Michael Jagger in precisely the same pose as Michelangelo once sculpted David.

No, I wasn't perceptive enough to spot that little joke - and, trust me, I studied these long and hard as I acquired each treasured gem. The good news is that, thanks to the conversational back-and-forth between Dave Sim and Gerhard's annotations on almost every page, you'll be privy to even more process notes and private self-indulgences. Take the cover to #77. Here's Gerhard:

"Dream covers are always fun. When I was drawing the water pouring from the statue, I thought it might be fun to have the water fill the letters M and T... as in 'MT is full'. Say it fast, and you'll get the joke... or not."

Dave was joined by landscape artist Gerhard in CEREBUS #65, though not on its cover which was the typography-only effort bearing the truism (which has stuck with me ever since), that "Anything done for the first time unleashes a demon". There were some very, very fine titles: some portentous, some ripping the piss - out of themselves, readers' expectations or Marvel's melodrama - some simply playful yet salient, like "Sane As It Ever Was".

From #65 onwards Dave continued to write and draw all the characters while Gerhard would render the backgrounds in meticulous detail, providing both textures and colour. The cover to #66 is a ripped-open version of #65, exposing Gerhard's first cover and colour contribution.

"It was interesting watching Gerhard tearing art paper carefully so it LOOKED like torn art paper."

That's what I mean by meticulous.

"It took me years to figure out that Gerhard LIKED doing precise measurements / vanishing point stuff: that it was his favourite part," observes Dave of the phenomenal window on #68.

Of #162's extraordinary spectacle: "Vanishing point and applied geometry. It was there in front of me the whole time." And once again of #164's delicious, crystal-clear, blue-sky winter panorama with its single shattered skylight because we'd been there before.

Neither of the artists is here merely to pat themselves or each on the back, though. They're both commendably candid about their mistakes, shortcomings and where things didn't work out the way they had planned. But it was a monthly comic which only once fell behind schedule (towards the end of CHURCH & STATE) so at the end of the day, a) they had to go to print and simply strive to do better next time b) you simply don't know what it will look like until the printed article appears right in front of you.

Sometimes I found myself shaking my head, bewildered by what one or the other considers a failure. The library cover to #151 with its tumbling book and exceptional sense of space has always struck me as one of the ten best covers ever to grace a comic, but Gerhard was so frustated by its colours that when he hung it on its clip on completion, he did so facing the wall.

"In these situations," writes Dave, "you take the hint and just hope it's still on its hook, face to the wall, when you come in tomorrow. It's HIS cover."

Hilariously, however, Dave confesses that during much earlier days - the beginning to HIGH SOCIETY - he tried his hand at watercolours for the covers without comprehending that you were supposed to dilute them. You know, add water. So he used them as you would oil and acrylics, virtually smearing them onto the board. Such is the way of the self-taught artist. I actually liked those covers, but you can't un-see something once you've been shown.

Successful experimentations are equally well documented, like Gerhard's discovery that using a toothbrush to flick white or red ink onto the boards was far more effective for snow, stars and blood than an airbrush. There are lots and lots of different space and star effects in evidence. Also, in one instance, a book bearing bloody finger prints. They're Gerhard's, if that ever proves forensically relevant.

You may have noticed by now that the covers are presented in different ways. The majority are shot from the originals before some or all of the lettering and extra effects have been added which, with attendant notes, gives extra insight into the process behind them. I find it fascinating to peer behind the curtains to see bits pasted on here and there, and what was entrusted to the printers instead.

Others are reproductions of the covers as we encountered them complete with the ever-evolving CEREBUS logo and other typography. I learned a new word: "majuscule". Sim has long been hailed as one of the medium's all-time greatest letterers, sliding sentences up and down, giving them an extra lilt or cadence (when Thatcher is speaking, for example), and deploying the visual equivalent of onomatopoeia in places. At least one is the result of Sim and Gerhard revisiting a cover, recreating it for a commission.

They're reproductions or recreations because some of the originals have been sold, and so many more have been stolen. I'll leave the introduction to fill you in on that aspect.

So yes, there are practical and commercial considerations as well as artistic ones assessed. From time to time, Dave's Inner Business Manager retrospectively smacks himself upside the head to much comedic effect when either carelessly or wilfully making design decisions which ran the risk of thwarting his own sales.

When getting it right on #52 he writes: "Cerebus breaking a chair over the head of a barbarian. Yes, Dave, BRANDING. What is it you're not 'getting' about what you're trying to sell here?" In addition both Cerebus and the logo are found at the top, so easily seen even in shops with semi-tiered shelves which obscure some comics' bottom halves. Everything is a learning curve including copyright infringement, though Dave did get away with it on satirical grounds.

"The three 'Wolveroach' covers which I really just did to show Frank Miller and Joe Rubenstein how the WOLVERINE mini-series covers SHOULD have been done - more like Neal Adams. Thus overshooting the 'Branding' runway and smashing through Marvel's intellectual property fence and leaving this mixed metaphor jackknifed into their swimming pool with its tail in the air."

Of the second in the series, #55: "Now that you mention it, it DID look sort of familiar".

From the ridiculous to the sublime, we finish where Dave Sim and Gerhard concluded, with the final ten issues sub-titled CEREBUS: THE LAST DAY. For this Gerhard supplied a detailed 360-degree view of the room divided into nine covers which conjoin seamlessly with each other and at each end. This in itself constitutes sequential art when considering that time passes ever so slowly inside, but the pan is paused with #298 for a halting juxtaposition.

That's what I meant when I wrote at the start that the exterior art informs what lies within and - at times - creates a narrative all of its own.

This is a gallery we never thought we'd see because of those aforementioned colour costs which would have jeopardised the self-publisher's finances, so bravo to IDW for enabling this miracle.

I'd only add that to close this book immediately after the final cover is to feel almost as bereft as Mark and I did after reading the very last panel on the final page of CEREBUS itself twelve years ago.