Sunday, 23 July 2017

Dave Sim: On Onan & Masturbation

This Aardvark, This Shepherd
Cerebus #266 (May 2001)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard 

A (very occasional) word from Dave Sim now that he's working full-time on

Thanks for your phone message, Jeff [Relaying Jeet Heer's comment on last week's article].

You can tell Jeet (and also tell him I'm sorry I haven't seen any of his work in the NATIONAL POST lately: I always disagree with him but he's always an interesting read) as far as I know these are the relevant Biblical passages re: masturbation:
Leviticus (Third Book of Moshe) 15:16 And if any man's seed of copulation go out from him then he shall wash all his flesh in water and be unclean until the Even. 17 And every garment and every skin whereon is the seed of copulation shall be washed with water and be unclean until the Even 18 The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation they shall both bath in water and be unclean until the Even.
I don't put too much stock in this because it's the YHWH and -- unlike every other monotheist -- I think the YHWH is God's adversary. At the same time, I infer that the YHWH thinks his/her/its self to be God so a big part of what the Torah and the Gospels consist, in my view, is the YHWH's idea of Godly laws. Of which I think God is a) relatively indulgent, as He seems to me relatively indulgent of flaws in all of His creations and b) reliant on men to amend them where those laws are "screwy" (i.e. stoning someone to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath).

[The Onan narrative you cite, I infer, is a good example of that. Genesis 38:9 "And Onan KNEW that the seed should not be his" when his father tells him to raise up seed unto his brother by impregnating his brother's widow. It is -- or will be -- part of the Mosaic law:
Deuteronomy (Fifth Book of Moshe) 25:5 If brethren dwell together and one of them die and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her and take her to him to wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother unto her.
The YHWH's concept, I infer, was to "short-cut" the elder being/younger being enactment (the YHWH's inference is that the YHWH is the elder being and God is the younger being; God's -- which I assume is the accurate one: Him being omniscient and all -- is that God is the elder being and YHWH is the younger being) by having the younger being impregnate the elder being's wife. Which is, of course, incestuous adulterous procreation. Morally and ethically choosing not to follow the instruction costs Onan his life but I assume he will have a suitable reward with God for standing against incestuous adulterous procreation. KNOWING what was right and doing that.]

Getting back to Lv. 15:16 the compelled inference, I think, is that semen is theologically unclean and needs to be washed out of garments. But it's not a huge deal. "Unclean until the Even" as opposed to "unclean seven days" (let's say). But that's just MY inference, which is what I infer Scripture is all about, Charlie Brown: you're supposed to make up your own mind what Scripture says, what it's telling you to do and the extent to which you conform to it. On Judgement Day you find out how you did.

The Synoptic Jesus weighed in during the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:27-28 You heard that it was said Not you shall commit adultery. I however am saying to you that everyone the ___ looking at woman toward the to desire her already he committed adultery with her in the heart of him.
[Comic Art Metaphysics in action: I just spent the better part of a month painstakingly examining the "If however the eye of you the right stumbles you" in my RIP KIRBY Commentaries vis-a-vis William Seabrook's invocation of it in NO HIDING PLACE. MATTHEW 5 JUST WON'T LET ME GO!!]

I infer that Mt. 5:27-28 applies to the metaphysics of "innermost motivation" and (in our present day: less so in 1st century Palestine) pornography.

That is, I don't think masturbation is the sin, the sin is what you're imagining while you're masturbating, in descending order of illegality (pedophilia, incest, sexual assault, rape) and immorality (adultery, fornication). Our thoughts only SEEM secret. I infer that what the Synoptic Jesus is saying is that the thought IS the deed: on any metaphysical level above our own, what we're thinking and what we're doing have a shared level of self-evident culpability. No difference.

If you just masturbate for the physical experience of it and you aren't, mentally, committing an act of adultery or fornication (or, I would infer, more problematically actually looking at a naked woman who isn't your wife: either in person or on the Internet) then I don't think it's a sin. It's "unclean until the Even".

This being 2017, I can't imagine that anyone agrees with me (maybe orthodox Jews and Muslims), so that's why I don't really participate in these kinds of discussions. As I said before, I'm way, way, way over here and you're all way, way, way over there.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Popular Posts: The All Time Top Ten!

The 'Popular Posts' box (top-right of your AMOC screen) is an automated Blogger widget which lists the most visited AMOC posts on a rolling one month basis. But have you ever wondered what the most visited AMOC posts of all-time are? No? I'm going to tell you anyway...

No. 1
Wally Wood's 22 Panels That Always Work!!
16,208 Views, 15 Jul 2012

No. 2
On Neil Gaiman
10,666 Views, 27 May 2012

No. 3
The End?
6,405 Views, 4 Sep 2012

No. 4
Red Sophia
4,866 Views, 22 Jul 2012

No. 5
Dave Sim Checks Into Grand River Hospital
4,643 Views, 17 Mar 2015

No. 6
Neil Gaiman: 300 Good Reasons To Resent Dave Sim
3,207 View, 29 Sep 2012

No. 7
Weekly Update #97: The Great Cerebus Back-Issues Give-Away
2,890 View, 28 Aug 2015

No. 8
Dave Sim Recovering After Surgery
2,821 Views, 18 Mar 2015

No. 9
Mind Game III & IV
2,245 Views, 28 May 2012

No. 10
The Fantagraphics Offer
2,105 View, 16 Sep 2012

However, my own personal favourite all-time AMOC post is without question Sandeep Atwal's "I Knew Dave Sim..." from June 2012 - a great insight into what "evil" Dave Sim is really like. What's your own favourite AMOC post? Do you even have one? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Drunk Attic

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.

Another notebook that we haven't seen in two years: Dave Sim's notebook #22. Last seen in July of 2015's A Creator Named Dave, this notebook had 71 page scanned and had material for Cerebus #186 through 201. Since we've not seen the cover for this notebook yet, here we go:

Notebook #22, front cover
Another Hilroy? Purple? This isn't the same cover from last week is it? No, it isn't.

One of the pages from this notebook that jumped out at me was page 65:

Notebook #22, page 65
Some word balloons are all that is on the page. I thought they looked vaguely familiar and found the ones on the left of the page on page 8 of Cerebus #201 and the ones on the right on page 9:

Cerebus #201, page 8 and 9 word balloons
The one in the notebook is pretty close to the one on the finished pages, but there are a few differences.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Paper to Pixel to Paper Again Part 22

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20

A guide to creating the best looking line art in print in the new digital print world

Part 22
Cleaning Up Line-up From Print Sources


This is the twenty-second installment of Paper to Pixel to Paper Again, a series that explains (in an overly thorough manner) the how-to's of preparing line art (and later in the series, color art!) for print.

And as always, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!


In the last installment I suggested that there's a way to uniformly reduce the thickness of every single aspect of a line art scan after it's been cleaned, regardless of origin. This is the technique I used as a final step for the majority of pages in the new Cerebus Volume One to remove dot gain present from previous printings, and that I've used in the most recent issues of Cerebus in Hell? to ensure that the already-teeny-tiny-lined wood engravings survived being reduced in size so much. 

So, you wanna uniformly reduced the size of your artwork to reduce (or anticipate) dot gain? How do you do it?

Let's go back to the first page of Cerebus ever, restored from a print copy in a previous installment.

This is how the page appears after the cleanup.

 Although it looks excellent, and noticeably better than previous printings of the phonebooks, the entirety of the image has expanded from the negative because of the dot gain in the previous printing. If we allow this to go unchanged, it's very likely that details appearing here will fill in even more upon printing again.

Which leaves us with the question—how much expansion was there in the original printing? Well, we can make a pretty good estimate by looking at the Cerebus figure.

Although Dave (later, Gerhard) occasionally used a darker screentone when Cerebus was in the dark/under an object/ inside an enclosed space/and a lighter tone when he was drunk or sick, for the most part they used a straight 30 percent tone for his fur "color". So, keeping in mind any other suggestions on the page that the tone might have been different, I can use this tone to calibrate the amount of gain reduction I'm going to do.

Okay, let's get to the actual technique.

First, we're going to make a flattened version of our page, flattened and Threshold-converted! So turn on your Threshold Adjustment layer, and make every layer that you want to be visible in the final image visible.

Then hold Alt-Ctrl-Shift and hit E. This makes a copy of all of your work as a new flattened layer on top everything else. Lastly, drag this newly-created layer beneath the Threshold-Adjustment layer, for easy comparison afterwards.

(Normally we wouldn't Threshold-convert line art until we're totally done with it, but this is the most efficient way to accomplish what we want. Making it a new layer is an additional safeguard in case you want to return to your pre-adjusted work in the future!)

Now it's time for the magic trick. Go to Filter-> Blur-> Gaussian Blur, and use a blur with a radius of just under one pixel. (.9 px should work perfectly).

If you have the Threshold Layer turned on, you probably won't notice much of a difference except for the finest details shrinking or disappearing a bit. Now bring up the Levels control (Ctrl-L).

Now grab the Mid-control (the gray middle arrow) and bring it to the left. The further to the left you move the arrow, the more you'll shrink your content. Don't worry if smaller elements continue to disappear, just bring the tone (or whatever area you're using to calibrate the shrinkage) to go to the size you want. (At the end of this series, I'll upload a "tool kit" of Photoshop scripts that includes a tool to analyze tone density, so if you've already downloaded that, future person, use that :)  )

Lastly, we have to restore the details that we lost. If you've read and understood this series thus far, you probably know by now what the answer is—Unsharp Mask.

Bring the Threshold all the way down—we want this to affect the entirety of the image. The radius, as usual, should be just a little higher than 1 px, and the amount just under 200 percent. If you make the amount too high, you'll make the entire image unnaturally spiky—so watch this.

And if you've done all of this, assuming you're working in the required resolution space (2400 ppi), you should have a perfectly-reduced version of your line art!

(Tangential parenthetical—notice how the dots are the most round and smooth in appearance in the middle, Gaussian-blur applied example? Well, as you might guess, some very clever use of Gaussian Blur and sharpening can do wonders for damaged or digitally mangled tone. But there's no real formula, only adjustments that can be made on a case-by-case basis, and I've already dragged this series on far longer than its usefulness to most readers...)

As I mentioned above, the monthly schedule of Cerebus in Hell? has enabled me to take it to another level, which is a good thing, seeing how much the Dore images are shrunk on any given page, and seeing how dense with dark tones they are, and thus more prone to visual dot gain.

The problem is exacerbated on the Bible plates, where I'm working from scans of materials one generation removed from the original printings. So they need special treatment to ensure they don't close up upon printing.

And voila! The technique works great.

A "Solomon" panel from Batvark, before, then after:

One last thought. It took me less than an hour to type this installment up and put together all of these examples, but all-told hundreds of hours of work on the overall Cerebus restoration project before I figured this technique out and perfected its application. Of all the things I've figured out in the course of this project, this and a sophisticated use of sharpening are the two things that I think are most significant to future line art projects, and the least understood by other people. So, if you have any need for these techniques, read this installment, play with these techniques, until you understand them inside and out. And as always, if you have a better way to accomplish the same ends, let me know in the comments!

Sean Michael Robinson is a writer, artist, and musician. See more at

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Russ Heath & The Hero Initiative

"Bottle of Wine"
Story & Art by Russ Heath, Colors & Lettering by Darwyn Cooke
(first published in Hero Comics 2012, IDW)

Hero Initiative is the only federally chartered, non-profit charitable organization
dedicated to helping comic book creators in medical or financial need. 
One of the creators they've helped is Russ Heath.

Monday, 17 July 2017

"Gratification Is A Dish Best Savoured Cold"

'Shadow Of The Axe!' from Creepy #79 (Warren, May 1976)
Story by Dave Sims, Art by Russ Heath

24 September 04

Dear Mr. Morrow:

I’ve just received a letter from Janine Bielski, the Development Director at ACTOR [now The Hero Initiative] notifying me that a "generous donation" had been made in my honour, by you, on March 1 of this year. The letter itself is dated August 11 and was mailed to me September 16. Fortunately, at one time I dated the Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, so I know better than to take these progressively slow "turnaround times" at a charitable organization personally. The staff members are usually dancing as fast as they can.

I’m assuming that the date of your donation links it to the publication of issue 300 (now receding into the distant past of our mostly "here today, gone later today" environment) and I appreciate the gesture on your part.

Oddly enough, I just picked up the latest Alter Ego last night and, as I told Roy Thomas when I had dinner with him and Dann in Toronto (along with Michael T. Gilbert and his wife Janet and a "hanger on" named Will Eisner), I was again amazed that it was possible to read an entire magazine about comic books without once having to wince or get doubled over by a body shot. I was particularly glad to see Russ Heath's splash page for Shadow of the Axe, but then I’m glad to see that page anytime it doesn’t have my name spelled as "Dave Sims" at the bottom, as it did in Creepy 79 ['Shadow of the Axe' was my second sale of a professional script to Louise Simonson at Warren when she was still Louise Jones].

Thanks again. Gratification, like revenge, is a dish best savoured cold.



Sunday, 16 July 2017

Dave Sim: On Prostitution & Chester Brown

Cerebus #275 (February 2002)
Art by Dave Sim, photo by Ken Sim

A (very occasional) word from Dave Sim now that he's working full-time on

You aren't, I don't think, going to win in any discussion with Chester Brown about the morality/immorality of prostitution.

In an... idiosyncratic?... society like our own, you aren't allowed to privilege your preferred form of fornication over any other person's preferred form of fornication. If Chester "gets off" on paying women for sex, that becomes the bottom line. Right next to "consensual". He wants to buy, she wants to sell. It's all good. End of story.

The terminology of fornication has changed to match the idiosyncrasy of subjective-perception-as-reality. In my youth it was called "pre-marital sex". That is, the presupposition was that everyone was going to get married and unusual people had sex before the ceremony. In 2017 that just seems weirdly quaint. Which I experience as moral erosion and most people (at least appear to) experience as progressiveness. All that matters in 2017 from our idiosyncratic society's perspective is what two adults agree upon at the moment. Their agreement, in and of itself, makes whatever it is inherently right.

If you ask me where our society's (reputed) epidemic of free-floating anxiety is coming from, I think that's an obvious place to look. If you don't think you're transgressing and you actually are, that's going to cause you a LOT of psychic stress.

I don't, personally, think that subjective perception determining the nature of reality is the case. In my view, the only valid viewpoint on fornication is God's and -- unless I'm misreading Scripture -- the verdict is "thumb's down" across the board. The notion that simple consent is the bottom line on fornication is, I think, a fabricated human conceit. The "deal" isn't, I think, between you and your girlfriend or you and your wife. The "deal" is between you and God, your girlfriend and God or your wife and God.

That is, I infer, it's a matter of fidelity to God. If you want to have a female counterpart in your life and have sex with her, and you don't want to experience severe consequences, then it has to be on what I infer are God's terms. You need to a) be a virgin when you marry b) commit to a lifelong marriage c) consecrate that marriage in the sight of God (i.e. in a church, a synagogue or a mosque). Otherwise you're transgressing. And that, it seems to me, is the actual bottom line.

[One of the reasons that I haven't participated in the discussion is that I'm way, way, way, way over HERE and all of you are way, way, way over THERE. All I could be is an AMOC troll on the way, way, way over THERE subject.]

When I realized back in 1997 -- after having read the Bible and the Koran for the first time -- that I don't have those qualities, I'm intrinsically, soul-deep NOT a husband...

[which I attribute at least partly to being the child of a child of fornication. My maternal grandfather impregnated my maternal grandmother sometime around March 6 of 1930 and my mother was born December 6, 1930. It takes a lot of chutzpah to call a daughter of fornication "Mary" in what was -- at the time -- a Christian society. My grandmother -- who was a devout Christian, attending church multiple times daily, in her youth -- never lacked for chutzpah. Years later I found out that my grandparents had their "shotgun wedding" on May 17, 1930 which means that I was born on their 26th wedding anniversary. The metaphysics of which -- see the emphasis on Cerebus' 26th birthday in the earliest issues -- seem particularly ominous in retrospect: I enacted their transgression starting around age 26 and didn't stop until I was almost 42; CEREBUS ran for 26 years, etc.]

…I opted for the only thing that seemed sensible to me under the circumstances: repentance (i.e. I stopped fornicating) and atonement (I haven't fornicated since 1998). In May of 2019 I will, God willing, have atoned for my previous 21 years of fornication and adultery.

Which, I'm sure, sounds absolutely crazy to everyone reading this, just as your ideas of what constitutes societal progressiveness sound absolutely crazy to me.

I wish everyone, including Chester, the best of luck with their fornication and adultery rationales/cover stories/realities on Judgement Day.

I'm sticking with my own. And looking forward to May of 2019.

Further Reading:
Dave Sim: "Avoyd Fornication" (January 2014)

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Gerhard: A Big Explosion In Space

Cerebus #192 (March 1995)
art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

(via Comic Art Fans)
This was 'take two' for this page, Dave wanted a big explosion in space, but in space there is nothing to give you a sense of scale, so 'big' is quite relative. My first attempt really sucked; way too 'cartoony' and it had the stereotypical ball of flames and mushroom-like clouds. But in space there wouldn't be any flames or clouds and there isn't any 'up' for clouds to rise into. I went to the library and found photos of nuclear tests in space: incredibly boring looking, just a bright ball. So I added the expanding nebulous bands of dust and debris. The little Cerebus on the chunk of throne room is a photocopy from the original first attempt.

Gerhard's 2017 Convention & Signing Itinerary:

Keep up to date with Gerhard's latest news at Gerz Blog!

Gerhard: The Nerdy Show Interview

The Nerdy Show celebrates 40 years of a comic book milestone: Cerebus the Aardvark:
It’s an independent comic that took the world by storm, changed the industry forever, and broke bold new ground with its hilarious and heart-rending story. The series was written and drawn by Dave Sim with background artist, Gerhard. Together they chronicled the life of this ill-fated aardvark with Sim drawing the characters and Gerhard anchoring the cartoon animal into immaculately rendered environments. This archival HeroesCon panel is a one-on-one conversation with Gerhard as Cap Blackard learns about the artists’ collaborative process in creating the longest-running indie comic of all-time, how to ditch school but still get some book learnin’, and breaking beyond the background with Gerhard’s new project, The Smile of the Absent Cat, written by Grant Morrison for Heavy Metal.

Thursday, 13 July 2017


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.

It has been over two years since we've looked at Dave Sim's notebook #20. The most recent time was in July of 2015's US Tour 1992 tour diary.  The notebook covers Cerebus #153 through 164, and it had 59 pages scanned, 20 missing pages and a ton of blank pages.

And somehow, while we've seen pages from this notebook many times already, we s till haven't seen the cover. Surprise! It is another Hilroy:

Notebook #20, front cover
On page 38 of the notebook there is a sketch of 'Cerebus 163 page 9' (or the phonebook 163, page 15):

Notebook #20, page 38
Looking at the finished page, it is another fine example of Sim thumbnails and Gerhard's finishing:

Cerebus #163, page 9
The finish page is close to Dave's sketch, but the building he falls into is rotated by 90 degrees - though the six window skylight is still there for him to fall through. Gerhard also put some extra detail into the finished page: top right hand corner of the first two panels show two people walking towards the top of the panel and a cart moving to the right edge of the panel.  Their movement from the first to second panel gives us a sense of time.

Dave also has written down a page by page summary of Cerebus #163, with page one being the text 'Book Two Women' as it is the first issue in that phonebook. I'll leave it to you to determine how close the rest of the notes match up with the final product.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Want to help on Jaka's Story?

Sean Michael Robinson:

Edit on 7/13/2017--

Thank you thank you thank you to David Roel for pointing me to a much better OCR solution than the two I was using! The Jaka's Story text formatting presented major problems for both Vuescan's OCR and Adobe Creative Suite's OCR techniques, but was handled easily by the fantastic A few minutes figuring out their interface, and $7.99 later, and I was in business, with only light amounts of adjustment to be done on the outputted text.

For anyone looking for an OCR solution, you might want to start there.

Leaving the rest of this post here, but I'm no longer looking for help on this. Thanks again David!

p.s. The complete Jaka's Story text, including the introduction, is just shy of 30,000 words. Just FYI!

previously, I wrote....

Well hello again! Fancy meeting you here!

Are you a fan of Jaka's Story(or Cerebus in general)?

Do you know how to do very basic text editing and formatting?

Do you have a few hours of time to spare sometime in the next two weeks?

I'm looking volunteer(s?) who might be interested in helping out the restoration effort by doing some basic formatting on the Jaka's Story text, prior to that text being passed on to Jeff Seiler for copy editing.

I've scanned the entirety of the text, done the initial OCR (optical character recognition) work, and used various find-and-replace tricks to get rid of as much of the text weirdness as possible. But owing to the various text formatting choices in the original book, the size and amount of fill-in on the text, and other oddities, there's still some formatting to be done, namely, adding in paragraph/line breaks and deleting various junk characters added by the OCR. Based on my formatting work so far, I'd estimate there's somewhere between five and eight hours of work to do on this.

Here are two screenshots, so you know what you might be getting yourself into:

The top one is the actual formatted text, with a single line break to indicate a paragraph break, and the additional line spacings resulting from the funky formatting of the original text removed. The bottom is how the majority of the text stands as of now.

I would love the help, and would be happy to add you to the credits for the finished book.

ALTERNATELY-- are you an OCR expert who believes you could transform my scans into a product much closer to the desired result? Please, contact me, either here in the comments, or by email: cerebusarthunt at gmail.

Thanks so much for your time everyone!

Paper to Pixel to Paper Again: Part 21

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20

A guide to creating the best looking line art in print in the new digital print world

Part 21
Cleaning Up Line-up From Print Sources


This is the twenty-first installment of Paper to Pixel to Paper Again, a series that explains (in an overly thorough manner) the how-to's of preparing line art (and later in the series, color art!) for print.

And as always, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!

In the last installment, we left off discussing techniques for cleaning pages restored from newsprint sources. Many of the techniques I ended with in the last installment are no different than how you'd clean a line art original or production negative, albeit with a lot more to do—but now we're going to discuss something unique to newsprint originals. 

When a visual has undergone multiple generations of any kind, there's bound to be some loss of quality, as the medium imparts some of its characteristics to If you're old enough to have made cassette mix tapes for friends or boy/girlfriends or whomever, you're familiar with the phenomenon. The tape hiss and corresponding rolled-off high end, and wow and flutter imparted by the cassette significantly changes the character of the sound. Dub a song onto multiple generations of consumer-grade cassette, and you're really in trouble.

Well, printing is no different, in that multiple-generation sources have picked up characteristics/flaws from their previous printings. In the case of restoring Cerebus pages, the newsprint and web presses used to print the monthly issues present these problems quite vividly, as a side by side comparison with original artwork will tell you. The chief noticeable characteristic is the dot gain of the printing—the tendency of ink to expand and spread as it hits the page—which we won't address now, as we'll be dealing with it in a future installment. The second characteristic is called slur. 

Here's a brief description of slur written by Gordon Pritchard--
One talks of slurring whenever the geometry of the halftone dot changes. The printed image then appears to be displaced. The round halftone dot assumes an oval form. Two kinds of slurring exist – on the one hand, in the direction of printing (circumferential slurring), and on the other hand, transverse to the direction of printing (lateral slurring). These effects lead to a reduction in quality, and reflect the processing conditions within the group comprising the plate, blanket, and printing cylinders, as well as on other material influences.

The above is taken from, a great resource for prepress and offset print troubleshooting.

The above visual example is pretty extreme, but gives you a good idea of what we're talking about here. For a variety of reasons, the impression the negative made on the paper varies from the intended image in ways that will add to each other should you make yet another copy of this copy, especially if the art in question involves this kind of mechanical tone.

There are, however, some things you can do to help things along and try to keep the tone from clogging up more in your copy of a copy.

For the purposes of this demonstration, we're going to work from a different page than before. Here's a print scan of the second page of Cerebus ever, as printed in the first-issue file copy used to restore the new (January 2017) release.

Please put aside any general observations you might have ("What, did Deni Loubert write in the corner of every single page of your copy?" "What pressman was running this, and why didn't they notice the smeared ink on the blanket, obscuring several words on every single copy of the run??"), and focus on the figure at the bottom, and whatever it is that's going on on his snout.

And here's what this looks like nice and up close, in my in-process version of the file. 

In addition to the horizontal stretching of the dots (slur) resulting from the speed of the paper feed, and various press issues, notice how large the dots are in the highlighted areas, and how some of the dots are even connected to each other. If these are left alone and the material printed from this file as-is, these areas will only become further degraded and clogged, possibly even leaving a dark black blotch in the very tight area.

Fortunately, once you've identified these issues using your eyes and your previously-printed copy, it's pretty easy to correct using the techniques we've already learned in previous installments. Those connected dots should have their connecting areas drawn out with a brush, and the larger, expanded dots can be replaced by tone patched from another area of the figure. (see the "tone fixing" installment from before.)

So let's take a look at how it appears after the cleanup.

Wait a second. That's not just cleaned up, everything is also magically shrunk uniformly?

Yeah. We'll get to that in the next installment or two.

(Fantasy parenthetical: it sure would be nice if you could, I dunno, click a button and make all of the junky tone disappear, leaving nothing but the line art remaining, ready to be re-toned... a nice fantasy, huh? Well, I've done some messing around with some freely-available Free Fourier Transformation tools--which include source code!--and it seems like, in the hands of someone with some real programming skill, it could be a reality. Are you a programmer interested in working on such a tool with me? Email me at cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com!)

Next week: The end in sight?

Sean Michael Robinson is a writer, artist, and musician. See more at

Batvark #1-- Savor the Taste of Sulfur, the Last Wednesday of Every Month!

Order at your Local Comics Shop now! Diamond Order Code: JUN171076

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Diamond Preview Picks: July 2017

Tim here, filling in again for a poorly Travis Pelkie, with a selection of picks from the latest Diamond Previews catalog for the discerning Cerebus reader (or basically all the comics I would buy if I had an unlimited budget). Travis obviously would have done a much better job, so lets all wish him a speedy recovery for next time! Visit Travis at Atomic Junk Shop for a wider (and probably much better) selection of reading recommendations. To see your comics featured here or at the Atomic Junk Shop feel free to send an email to Travis at: atomicjunkshoptravis [at] outlook [dot] com.

Aardvark Comics #1
by Dave Sim & Sandeep Atwal
Aardvark-Vanaheim, $4.00
In Stores: 27 September 2017
Diamond Order Code: JUL171242

The publisher says:
Comparing "Origin of Origin" stories; real-world historical figure in Action #1 (plus "stripped-cover returns"); "Whatever Happened to Tex Thompson, Pep Morgan, Chuck Dawson and Scoop Scanlon?" plus the earliest Super-Cerebus online strips from July 2016, Lucifer repents?!? Goldman Sachs, get it? Super-Cerebus versus Batvark the Movie; British Petroleum executives; dirty sea shanties; Atari 2600 ET;  Superhero Derangement Syndrome; Composite Batvark and more!  

Chris Ware Monograph
by Chris Ware & Ira Glass
Rizzoli, $60.00
In Stores: 11 October 2017
Diamond Order Code: APR178211

The publisher says:
A flabbergasting experiment in publishing hubris, Monograph charts the art and literary world's increasing tolerance for the language of the empathetic doodle directly through the work of one of its most esthetically constipated practitioners. Arranged chronologically with all thoughtful critical and contemporary discussion common to the art book genre jettisoned in favor of Mr. Ware's unchecked anecdotes and unscrupulous personal asides, the author-as-subject has nonetheless tried as clearly and convivially as possible to provide a contrite, companionable guide to an otherwise unnavigable jumble of product spanning his days as a pale magnet for athletic upperclassmen's' ire up to his contemporary life as a stay-at-home dad and agoraphobic graphic novelist.

Chris Ware Conversations
by Chris Ware & Jean Braithwaite
University Press Of Mississippi, $25.00
In Stores: 27 September 2017
Diamond Order Code: JUL172411

The publisher says:
Displaying both Ware's erudition and his quirky self-deprecation, these collected interviews span his career from 1993 to 2015, creating a time-lapse portrait of the artist as he matures.

Dave Sim said:
(from Following Cerebus #6, November 2005)
...later in the interview, Craig [Thompson] asked, "Are you going to interview Chris Ware [for Following Cerebus #5]?" My mind boggles at these points. I told him I had a number for Chris Ware -- he had been one of a number of participants in a Overstreet Fan jam cover I had coordinated back around 1993 -- but I was pretty sure it was out of date. So Craig volunteers to give me the Chris Ware number that he has that Chris Ware evidently gave him. As I say, my mind boggles in these situations. So I phoned the number and got an answering machine and left a message explaining what I was doing and asking him to give me a call back if he was interested in participating. And, of course, I never heard a word. So at least I know I'm not the crazy one around here...

Fred The Clown: The Iron Duchess
by Roger Langridge
Fantagraphics, $19.99
In Stores: 27 September 2017
Diamond Order Code: JUL171896

The publisher says:
This nearly wordless romp from master cartoonist Roger Langridge is the author's paean to the silent, heartbreaking slapstick comedies or the teens and '20s, spun for a contemporary audience. Though Langridge has garnered considerable acclaim the past few years for his brilliant takes on The Muppet Show, Popeye, Betty Boop, and Marvel Monsters, he is at heart a cartooning auteur, earning multiple Eisner, Harvey, Reuben, and Ignatz Awards nominations.

Roger Langridge said:
...I expect I would not have got into self-publishing as deeply as I did (i.e. regular comic-book format, distributed-by-Diamond deep; I always made mini-comics) if Cerebus hadn't been around as an example. By the time I began self-publishing there were a few other success stories, like Bone and Strangers in Paradise, to hang my hopes on, but I think all of us knew that Cerebus was the Daddy. The Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing got a lot of my attention in 2000/2001 while I was gearing up to publish Fred the Clown...

The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell & Others
Harper Collins, $20.00
In Stores: 20 September 2017
Diamond Order Code: JUL171944

The publisher says:
The two volumes of the graphic novel adaptation of The Graveyard Book are now bound into one stunning paperback edition. Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except he lives in a sprawling graveyard and has been raised since infancy by ghosts and a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in a graveyard for a boy-an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, and the strange and terrible Sleer. There are dangers though, too, and if Bod leaves the graveyard, he may fall prey to the man Jack, who has already murdered Bod's entire family. Effortlessly inventive, chilling, and magical, Neil Gaiman's Newbery winning and bestselling Graveyard Book is a classic in the making. 

Alter Ego #149
by Roy Thomas
TwoMorrows, $9.95
In Stores: 18 October 2017
Diamond Order Code: JUL172226

The publisher says:
Showcasing Gil Kane, one of the Silver Age's greatest artists-with gleaming Golden Age roots in the Simon & Kirby shop! Incisive and free-wheeling Kane interview conducted in the 1990s by Daniel Herman for his 2001 book Gil Kane: The Art of the Comics-plus Gil's incisive article from the Spring 1974 issue of the Harvard Journal of Pictorial Fiction, and other surprise features centered around the artistic co-creator of the Silver Age Green Lantern and The Atom! And beginning the autobiography of Golden/Silver Age Flash/GL scripter John Broome!

Dave Sim said in Swords Of Cerebus Vol 2:
"It was the Gil Kane interview in Comics Journal No 38 that had started me re-thinking the whole approach I was taking to doing my own comic book..."

Berlin #21
by Jason Lutes
Drawn & Quarterly, $5.95
In Stores: 20 September 2017
Diamond Order Code: JUL171839

The publisher says:
The penultimate issue of the long-running series finds Silvia Braun and David Schwartz joining forces to sabotage a neighborhood National Socialist outpost, while Marthe Müller says her final farewells to the city where she has come of age. And as darkness manifests in the alleyways of the underclass and estates of the elite, Kurt Severing glimpses the worst of all possible futures.

NOW #1
by various
Fantagraphics, $9.99
In Stores: 27 September 2017
Diamond Order Code: JUL171883

The publisher says:
Fantagraphics is proud to launch a new, ongoing comics anthology of short stories by a mix of established and up-and-coming talent. This three times per year series features all-new, done-in-one stories for comics fans of all stripes. The first issue includes new work from acclaimed authors such as Eleanor Davis, Noah Van Sciver, Gabrielle Bell, Dash Shaw, Sammy Harkham, and Malachi Ward, as well as international authors such as J.C. Menu, Conxita Herrerro, Tommi Parrish, Tobias Schalken, and Antoine Cossé. Plus other surprises, and a gorgeous painted cover by Chicago artist Rebecca Morgan. 

Poppies Of Iraq
by Brigitte Findakly & Lewis Trondheim
Drawn & Quarterly, $21.95
In Stores: 6 September 2017
Diamond Order Code: JUL171842

The publisher says:
Poppies of Iraq is Brigitte Findakly's nuanced chronicle of her relationship with her homeland Iraq, co-written and drawn by her husband, the acclaimed cartoonist Lewis Trondheim. In spare and elegant detail, they share memories of her middle class childhood touching on cultural practices, the education system, Saddam Hussein's state control, and her family's history as Orthodox Christians in the arab world. Poppies of Iraq is intimate and wide-ranging; the story of how one can become separated from one's homeland and still feel intimately connected yet ultimately estranged. 

Streak Of Chalk
by Miguelanxo Prado
NBM, $19.99
In Stores: 27 September 2017
Diamond Order Code: JUL172010

The publisher says:
On the occasion of NBM's 40th anniversary, a classic returns to print! A small streak of an island in the Atlantic. On no map. In heavy summer heat. One general store with a woman and her taciturn boy. A lighthouse with no light. Memories and messages graffitied on the pier wall. A chance encounter with a beautiful elusive woman. A Murder. Or was it? Nothing seems completely real. Only the graffitied memories are constant. A mysterious multifaceted novel steeped in magical realism that can be read a number of ways, Streak of Chalk is one of Spain's best comics authors' magnum opus, and one of the greatest most pioneering graphic novels NBM ever published.

More (and probably better) Diamond Previews picks at Atomic Junk Shop's regular Flippin' Through Previews column.