Saturday, 28 November 2015

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

This is an unusual entry.

When I was working in the greater Dallas metropolitan area in the summer of 2004, as I was a substitute teacher out of work, I signed up with a company which attempted to sell electricity door-to-door (well, service contracts, that is, following deregulation of the existing monopoly). It was a 3-month job, before I could go back to teaching school, and I asked Dave Sim if he could give any advice to me and my fellow workers. I posted this on the bulletin board the day that I received it, and it was gone the very next day.


Anyway, here's what Dave sent to me to post:
Welcome to the way the real world operates. To be a success in the real world, it is necessary to be a good learner; a quick study when it comes to the basics; a thoughtful and introspective initiate who absorbs information like a sponge, processes it, and continuously assesses and reassesses and re-reassesses everything, as impediments present themselves. Good learners quickly lose any sense of entitlement and know that they have to do everything on their own. Any help you get from outside is likely to be accidental and should never be counted on to any significant degree.

Picture yourself as a planet. Your talent is your molten core. It is up to you to make an environment for that molten core which is conducive to growth, which will permit your talent to flourish in a hostile world. There is any number of ways to go about this. The only way to find out if you have the determination and work ethic to see it through to its conclusion is to make a start and stick with it.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Weekly Update #110: Kitchener - Home Of The Aardvark

Wes Hagan's WAREHOUSE OF WONDERS has agreed to take FORTY THOUSAND copies of Cerebus! With the bag-and-board wonder Ramon on the job, Kitchener is now officially The Home of the Aardvark.

Are you a qualified medical practitioner? If so, here's A LINK to Dave's recent MRI and X-Ray of his damaged right hand. It's a zip file with two folders (MRI and X-Ray). Each one has some a small proprietary viewer with which you can see the files. Note, it's PC only. Send in your diagnosis to: sandeep.s.atwal [at] gmail [dot] com

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Dreams part 1

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.

Time for a little something different. Instead of looking at just one notebook, I'm going to look at a theme that runs across a couple notebooks. This entry is on Dave's dream entries. I'm going to show two this week, and one next week.

The first dream diary entry shows up on page 37 of notebook 21, which covered Cerebus #197 to 211. Dave has dated September 4, 1995.

Notebook #21, page 37
The text on the side states "Inking MacMurrary's Jacket. Rain-soaked field next to my parent's place. Using Ger's Pluto reflections - lot of x hatched (unknown). I'm the husband as we start to make love. She has transferred her tattoos to part of me mostly on my left side."

The next dream entry is in notebook #25, which covered Cerebus #227, however you can see where Dave wrote the number box for Cerebus #248.

Notebook #25, page 36
The text of the entry:
Jaka on the floor in a drawing room playing with her young son. Making a mental inventory of the toys that he is to have just "Exactly the ones that Uncle Julius had when he came to..." The toddler unexpectedly throws his arms around her and she wakes up clutching Missy.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Thanksgiving 2016

Sean Michael Robinson:

Hello everyone!

American Thanksgiving Weekend checking in here. After working on Monday and Tuesday hammering away at Cerebus Volume One and then pivoting to finishing the Mick n' Keef sequence of Church + State II for special delivery to Jimmy Gownley, I'm taking the rest of the week off to cleanse my brain by spending some time with friends and family and temporarily forget about 4,500 or so pages of talking aardvark still remaining...

In the meanwhile, in the American tradition, I am thankful.

I'm grateful to our art hunters, who continue to turn up pages and scans of pages, and are forgiving of my occasional mistakes, like, say, horribly mangling/misspelling their names. (Sorry Steve!)

I'm thankful for all of the fellow workers in print who gave me advice over the past year, especially Mike and Colleen who gave me printer advice and eventually led me to Tien Wah Press, the fantastic printer that we'll be working with for the foreseeable future.

I'm thankful for Tim W for his incredible blog, and a venue to write these updates.

I'm thankful for Tim F, whose incredibly generous, and very timely, donations have kept us going through so much of the restoration work.

And mostly, I'm thankful for the generous Cerebus fans everywhere who have given their time, energy, and financial support to this endeavor. The outpouring of support for the last Kickstarter was amazing. It's always a pleasure, at the end of a book, to lay out those thank you pages, and see how many people contributed to the work, and in so many varied ways.

Scans of print copies. Scans of artwork. Emails, messages, reviews, shares, Kickstarter contributions. So much outpouring of support for a comic that ended more than a decade ago now. Who would have thought it?

Well, Cerebus is a one-of-a-kind piece of art. And Cerebus fans are no different.

Thanks to you all!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

To Scott Adams From Dave Sim

Dear Scott,

I'm a Huge DILBERT fan!  Sandeep Atwal gave me your post as a digital file and I thought you might be interested in a response from a cartoonist who was an atheist until age 40 and who now gives equal weight and observance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  

Global Gender War

Posted November 17th, 2015 @ 10:07am in #ISIS #daesh

I wonder if the discussion of so-called radical Islam is disguising the fact that male-dominated societies are at war with female-dominated countries. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Islam doesn’t look so dangerous in countries where women can vote. 

Consider the United States.

When I go to dinner, I expect the server to take my date’s order first. I expect the server to deliver her meal first. I expect to pay the check. I expect to be the designated driver, or at least manage the transportation for the evening. And on the way out, I will hold the door for her, then open the door to the car.

When we get home, access to sex is strictly controlled by the woman. If the woman has additional preferences in terms of temperature, beverages, and whatnot, the man generally complies. If I fall in love and want to propose, I am expected to do so on my knees, to set the tone for the rest of the marriage.

Personally, I don’t go on dates. So the story above is just an example. But if I go to dinner with a female business associate, the story usually plays out the same way. The difference is that she might pick up the check if we are talking business, and the night ends earlier.

I finally decided that I shouldn't go out on dates unless I was interested in getting married -- which I'm not -- because that's what women go out on dates for: looking for Mr. Right.  So the only thing that works is dating women who you think of as potential wives.  Anything else is just "whore-mongering" and "whore-mongering" is never going to end happily.  Not because of anything that women are doing wrong but because "whore-mongering" itself is wrong.   

I won’t reopen the discussion of gender pay imbalance in this post. I’ll just summarize by saying that well-informed feminists don’t see much gender discrimination in the data. So if you think women in the United States are paid less for the same work, please take it up with well-informed feminists. I’m just reporting what they say.

The emphasis seems to have shifted to the number of female executives and women sitting on corporate boards (roughly 19%).  Since we went right past numerical parity on campus and are now sitting at 70% to 30% in favour of women, I think it extremely unlikely that women will EVER stop at numerical parity in any context where they say that's their only interest.  Caveat emptor.

Women have made an issue of the fact that men talk over women in meetings. In my experience, that’s true. But for full context, I interrupt anyone who talks too long without adding enough value. If most of my victims turn out to be women, I am still assumed to be the problem in this situation, not the talkers. The alternative interpretation of the situation – that women are more verbal than men – is never discussed as a contributing factor to interruptions. Can you imagine a situation where – on average – the people who talk the most do NOT get interrupted the most? I don’t know if the amount of talking each person does is related to the amount of interrupting they experience, or if there is a gender difference to it, but it seems like a reasonable hypothesis. My point is that men are assumed guilty in this country. We don’t even explore their alibis. (And watch the reaction to even bringing up the topic.)

Freudian slip there, calling them "alibis" instead of reasons.  :)

Two situations I see here:  1) women explain things differently and usually at greater length because they want to explain their subject exhaustively while also avoiding bruising anyone's feelings through inconsiderate phraseology 2)  Men tend to distill what they have to say to, as you say, "adding value".  Figure out what you're going to do so you can start doing it.    

If they aren't "adding value" to the discussion, men tend to just listen until they have something to add.  If you're right in your assessment, I think women in the workforce need to develop these sorts of distillation abilities:  Here's An Idea. Period.  And I would agree that NOT interrupting people who just like to talk isn't a valid option or you're just going to have interminable meetings that never lead to anything but "further study".  Which would certainly explain the nature of politics and industry since women got the right to vote 100 years ago.    :)

Now compare our matriarchy (that we pretend is a patriarchy) with the situation in DAESH-held territory. That’s what a male-dominated society looks like. It isn’t pretty. The top-ranked men have multiple wives and the low-ranked men either have no access to women, or they have sex with captured slaves.

I don't think the men of ISIS are obsessed with sex.  I think that's seeing a Muslim context through North American eyes because North American men ARE obsessed with sex or -- rather -- with whacking off to online porn and mistaking the latter for the former.  Personally, I haven't masturbated since 2003 and haven't missed it.  

I think the men of ISIS, like all Muslims, are centrally concerned with submitting to God's will and doing what they think God wants them to do.  I'm not God so I have no idea if they are or not. The will of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- relative to women -- involves marriage and fatherhood instead of fornication, adultery, whoredom and masturbation.  It would be unusual for a good Muslim to rape a captive "if she wishes to preserve her modesty" as it says in the Koran on that very subject.  I'm not saying it doesn't happen -- the Boko Haram abductions are a glaring example -- I'm just saying that I think it would be unusual.

Of course, that leaves aside revenge questions.  ISIS is mostly made up of Saddam Hussein's Sunni military who doubtless experienced Shia backlash when Iraq was overturned by the US invasion and who are now, in turn, wreaking vengeance upon the Shiites behind that backlash.  Muslims have very long memories.  The fact that they still call us Crusaders a thousand years later speaks volumes.   

"Access to women" is a G7 concept.  In a Muslim context, you have only married women (unaccessible) and unmarried women (unaccessible except through legitimate means: like family-approved courtship).  Wives and potential wives.  A Muslim man isn't going to want to be seen as a whoremonger or a fornicator or an adulterer because that a) would indict him in the sight of God and b) would rule him out as a potential husband.  Particularly Islamists like those in ISIS and al-Qaeda.  

While I’m being politically incorrect, let me describe to you the mind of a teenage boy. Our frontal lobes aren’t complete. We don’t imagine the future. Our bodies want sex more than we want to stay alive. Literally. Lonely boys tend to be suicidal when the odds of future female companionship are low. 

So if you are wondering how men become cold-blooded killers, it isn’t religion that is doing it. If you put me in that situation, I can say with confidence I would sign up for suicide bomb duty. And I’m not even a believer. Men like hugging better than they like killing. But if you take away my access to hugging, I will probably start killing, just to feel something. I’m designed that way. I’m a normal boy. And I make no apology for it.

You can usually get as much HUGGING as you want in North America if you're a good feminist.  What you aren't going to get is sex.  And even if you could, the sex wouldn't make you happy because you're not designed THAT way: to be a whoremonger.  You're designed, by God presumably, to be a good husband and a good father.  

If you whack off too much, it's just like any other addiction.  You need more and more explicit and perverse subject matter to get the same "high" and eventually it just becomes another boring habit like channel-surfing. As the feminist singer eloquently put it, "If it makes you happy, then why are you so sad?"   

I definitely think that's a problem for G7 men: having far more of a "relationship" with porn-sites than with actual women.  Or, more pertinently, than with God.

Now consider the controversy over the Syrian immigrants. The photos show mostly men of fighting age. No one cares about adult men, so a 1% chance of a hidden terrorist in the group – who might someday kill women and children – is unacceptable. I have twice blogged on the idea of siphoning out the women and small kids from the Caliphate and leaving millions of innocent adult men to suffer and die. I don’t recall anyone complaining about leaving millions of innocent adult males to horrible suffering. In this country, any solution to a problem that involves killing millions of adult men is automatically on the table.

Yes, indeed. It's also a feminist suggestion which is not unusual in a thoroughly feminized context like the G7.  The idea being that Muslim women and small kids can be converted to our way of thinking and that Muslim men are the ONLY problem. 

"No one cares about adult men…"  God does.  But, I agree, He's the ONLY one in our society who does.     

It would seem to me a better idea to "siphon" out the Christians from Syria since they're genuinely being victimized. 

You want a linguistic kill shot to end DAESH recruiting? I don’t have the details worked out, but perhaps something along the lines of…

If you kill infidels, you will be rewarded with virgins in heaven. But if you kill your own leaders today – the ones holding the leash on your balls – you can have access to women tomorrow. And tomorrow is sooner.

Teens aren’t good at planning ahead. 

Again, I don't think "access to women" in the sense that you mean is what's available to men, generally, in the G7, apart from prostitutes and on-line porn and it's hard to imagine those holding much appeal for your average Muslim man (or G7 man either: except in a temporary, misguided and unsatisfying "any port in a storm" sense).  The Houris -- "ever virgins, dear to their spouses"  "the large-eyed ones with modest, refraining glances" -- aren't really the point, per se.  The fact that they're a reward FROM GOD is the point.   

"Access" to western women -- particularly the extremely limited "access" on offer -- just wouldn't be in the same category.

Anyway, I do want to applaud you for your outspokenness since you have such a RICHLY DESERVED high profile in the Real World of newspaper syndication.  Actually saying what you think -- as you're no doubt finding out -- takes real guts in our Feminist Theocracy. 


Dave Sim 

Bay St. Pagans

Art by Dave Sim

Monday, 23 November 2015

Gerhard's Cerebus Sketches

(from The View From Here, 8 November 2015)
...People ask me for a Cerebus sketch. I remind them that Dave drew the characters. They don't care; they want a sketch of Cerebus. I start doing my version which I call 'Gerebus'. Turns out they are fun to do and people love them. They're thrilled. It's the character they care about; it's the work they admire. The irony is not lost on me that I'm now the one out there doing drawings of the aardvark.

For your own iconic ironic 'Gerebus' sketch you can contact Gerhard at:
gerzmail [at] yahoo [dot] ca
Prices ranging from $25 to $300 [plus postage] depending on size, complexity.

Gerhard can be found online at Gerhard Art and Gerz Blog...
...along with details of Gerhard's prints for sale.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Cerebus Archive Number Four: Kickstarted!

Congratulations to Dave Sim and John Funk on another successful Kickstarter campaign for Cerebus Archive Number Four, which helps to fund the Cerebus Restoration Project. In case you missed it, Dave Sim spent the last 12 hours of the campaign online in the Kickstarter Comments area answering questions from backers. Below are just a few highlights from his comments:

...The head sketches ARE nixed for the foreseeable future. If I can get my right wrist in shape for ANY kind of drawing -- either through treatment or surgery or just letting it rest and heal for a year or two -- that drawing is going to be done on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. Sorry about that -- and thanks for your support!...

...Before they decided not to sign the petition, Mort Drucker was one of the only cartoonists that Seth and Chester and Joe and I agreed on as Toppermost of the Poppermost. And his best work the first STAR TREK parody. "Meaning -- it's no whip and chill but it does have a very nice flavor..."

...I'm waiting for Dr. Troy to set something up in Texas with two specialists and/or for those specialists to offer a diagnosis on the current MRI. Dr. Troy is theoretically going to find me a neurologist to check on the possible Parkinson's Disease. I'm not sure what I'll decide but a lot is going to depend on whether the diagnoses and proposed treatments agree with each other. In the meantime, just resting it and -- occasionally -- two-handed typing to see how that part is coming along...

...Mo' money, mo' problems. But, as Sandeep said, "It would be nice to have SOME money and SOME problems..."

...My favourite story from the Dave's Comics signing was a guy who worked behind the counter who was taking a break and sat on a chair slightly behind me, staring at this long line of guys going straight through the shop and out the front door. "Yeah, I'm really just in comics for the chicks" he sighed. I couldn't stop laughing...

...The only real plan right now is to get the 6,000 pages scanned and restored and try to keep everything in print. When you're juggling 16 chainsaws the last thing you should be thinking about is how to get another chainsaw in the air. :)

Source: Kicktraq
(Click image to enlarge)

The Cerebus Re-Read Challenge: Cory Foster

Cerebus Vol 1: As I open volume 1 of the longest sustained narrative by a single creative team, I'm instantly transported by the smell of the pages to Christmas 1995, when I first received the book. I was 11 at the time, having just seen Dave Sim's segment on the Masters of Comic Book Art documentary. Among all the other people interviewed, Dave struck a chord with me as I was beginning to outgrow the spandex sector of the comics market and was looking for something more adult, involved, and complex. I asked for the first phonebook (the colloquial name for the collected volumes, as a reference to their size), and as I read through the first 25 issues of this highly unique comic, I realized I had hit the mark... [Read the complete review here]

Cerebus Vol 2 - High Society: I always think of High Society as one of my favorite graphic novels of all time, but I’m always surprised by how incredibly dense it is each time I read it. I know the story well, but whenever I turn the final page, I invariably feel the need to sit for a moment, frazzled by how much actually happens within its 512 pages. This only took me three evenings to get through, but looking back on it, it nearly feels like I read it in real-time, like some political satire version of 24... [Read the complete review here

Cerebus Vol 3: Church & State I
Cerebus Vol 4: Church & State II
Cerebus Vol 5: Jaka's Story
Cerebus Vol 6: Melmoth
Cerebus Vol 7: Flight
Cerebus Vol 8: Women
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
Cerebus #0 (#51 Exodus, #112/113 Square One, #137/138 Like-A-Looks)
Cerebus World Tour Book 1995 (Swords Of Cerebus Back-Up Stories) 

The Cerebus Re-Read Challenge! How far will you get?
Send in your review links to: momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Kickstarter Ends Today!

Kickstarter Ends Today!
Please support the Cerebus Restoration Project -- Pledge Now!!

Many thanks to Dave Sim for blogging here on AMOC for the past few weeks. Wait... You didn't notice? His posts were buried deep within the comments section of each day's AMOC post. In case you missed any of it, here's a handy day-by-day link summary. Just scroll-down to the 'Comments' at the foot of each post to find out what's been on Dave's mind recently:

November 2: The Best Laid Plans
November 10: Feminists Aren't Evil

...and Dave Sim will be online all day today, Saturday, at the following times:
  -  9:00am to 9pm  EST (Kitchener, Toronto and NY time)
  -  2:00pm to 2am GMT (UK time)
  -  6:00am to 6pm PST (California)
That's 12 hours of non-stop online chat with Dave Sim over at the Kickstarter Comments area... (or if that doesn't work out, Plan B will be to post here on AMOC). Good luck to Dave, Funkmaster John, Sandeep, Sean and Mara for the final day of campaigning. 

Kickstarter Ends Today!
Please support the Cerebus Restoration Project -- Every $ Counts!!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Weekly Update #109: Cerebus Art Dragnet

Thank you yet again! Take a look at the special Cerebus Art Dragnet certificates to be sent out to everyone who provided scans of original artwork.

Are you a qualified medical practitioner? If so, here's A LINK to Dave's recent MRI and X-Ray of his damaged right hand. It's a zip file with two folders (MRI and X-Ray). Each one has some a small proprietary viewer with which you can see the files. Note, it's PC only. Send in your diagnosis to: sandeep.s.atwal [at] gmail [dot] com

Cerebus Archive Number Four on Kickstarter
Only 1 Day To Go! 

KICKSTARTER Cerebus Archive Number Four coming to an end!

Just a reminder that the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER FOUR Kickstarter is coming to an end. We've had a VERY surprising late surge in pledges -- and THANK YOU, everyone!  Check yesterday's post for the remaining Bonus Prints on offer -- hand-picked by Sean Robinson!

Don't WORRY if you have trouble navigating the actual Kickstarter site and can't figure out how the "add-on" feature or shipping works.  Whatever you're interested in, we WILL get to you.

TRY to pledge for what you want and if you don't "get it", just send John a message and he'll get back to you as soon as possible.  Even if he's completely SWAMPED today and tomorrow, he WILL get back to you and make sure you're included, even past the campaign expiration time.  REPEAT! DON'T WORRY!  We've got you covered!

Speaking of "not getting it", I'm going to be TRYING to post on the Kickstarter site all day tomorrow (thus endeth the "going out in public" experiment).  If I can't figure it out (and that's the "odds-on favourite" result: I try to post and get a blank screen headlined "about:blank") I'll just post here instead, alternating between the COMMENTS section and doing a NEW POST (like this one).

Starting (God and caffeine willing) at noon GMT and ending (ditto) at 5 pm PST.

Okay, back to the Off-White House and "The BONE Commentaries".


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Cerebus Archive Number Four: All Bonus Prints Revealed

 10 New Bonus Prints Are Available To Add To Your CAN4 Portfolio Reward
Pledge Now & Help Fund The Cerebus Restoration Project
Bonus Print #41: Diamondback with Marshall Rogers
Bonus Print #40: Cerebus #5 Cover Art (1978)

Bonus Print #39: Cerebus #1 (1977)

Bonus Print #38: New York Comics Art Convention '79

Bonus Print #37: Cerebus #1 Eccentric Cover Recreation

Bonus Print #36: Cerebus #301

Bonus Print #35: On The Stairs

Bonus Print #34: Selling Insurance

Bonus Print #33: Swords Of Cerebus #4

Bonus Print #32: Alan "Jacob" Moore


Out With the In Crowd

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.

The first time we looked at Dave Sim's notebook #7, which covers Cerebus issues 87 to 95, it was back in July 2014 in an entry entitled "Lord Julius". We also looked at it a couple of other times: "So...You already said that.", "Odds and Ends", and most recently in April 2015 with "Assassin". All of those pages came from page 69 or later, so now we'll look at some of the first few pages in the notebook.

On page 15 we see the number boxes for issues #88 and #89 and the titles for both of those issues. Dave has also written the title for issue #88 a couple of times: "Out With the In Crowd". It also has a list of plot points that happen in issue #88. And they do happen. Pretty much word for word.

Notebook 7, page 15 (click to enlarge)
Well, except the line "Necross! Who's Tarim on Earth?" The word Earth is never said in issue #88.

The next few pages are small thumbnails of each page, and on page #25 we see one of the more dramatic scenes in the opus:

Notebook 7, page 25 (click to enlarge)
The large black Hs are bleed through from page 26, which has thumbnails for the next issue. The thumbnails on this page are for that ass kicking scene in issue #88 - or in the Church & State II phonebook, pages 750 to 752. While the thumbnails are pretty much the same as the finished pages, the text is a bit different, though the gist is the same. I wonder how long Dave had been thinking of this scene before finally putting in the notebook and then on the finished pages.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Excerpts from 2,300 Words on Church & State I

Sean Michael Robinson:

Hello everyone! With only three days left to pledge on the best Cerebus Archive project yet, I thought I'd present a few excerpts from my essay in the back of the new, fully restored Church & State I volume currently making its way to this continent by ship.

Although I'd hoped that volume would be available by the time this campaign hit, scheduling with the printer didn't permit it. But until you can pick up your own copy (most likely the first week of January!), here's a little teaser of the back matter. It's a poor substitute for the book itself, I know, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.


The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details ... a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables                    

There was a time when it seemed possible that comics, little packets of ink on paper, could be the true inheritors of ambitious serial storytelling—could carry the mantle of the sprawling, messy, glorious serial novels of the past, could inspire the devotion that those works did, the kind of devotion that, in 1841, on the eve of the publication of the final installment of The Old Curiosity Shop, caused more than 6,000 New Yorkers desperate to find the fate of Little Nell to crowd the wharf where the shipment from London was due to arrive.

Now, it seems clear, that mantle has been passed on— to television, of all media. Something that would have been unthinkable just two decades ago now seems like an historical inevitability. Comics, meanwhile, declined the opportunity. Maybe it was the structural problems with the industry, the lack of distribution channels. Maybe it was the shortsightedness, the contempt with which the creators of the material were treated by the monied interests. Maybe it was just a lack of ambition.

But we consider an exception.

There’s never been a work of art quite like Cerebus the Aardvark.

More relevant to the task at hand, there’s never been anything quite like Church & State, the under-two-covers epic that represents 1/5th of the entire 26-year, 6000+ page saga.

Like many an enthusiast before me, I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to describe Church & State and its qualities to the deprived, the abstinent, the uninitiated. “It’s like, you know, a really dense serial novel,” I might start. “The kind that rambles from incident to incident, before somehow cohering into something new. Made on a tight-rope, while the public watches below. Politics and power. Religion and revolution. Pain and pleasure and persuasion. A deep and abiding enthusiasm for Looney Tunes and Duck Soup and...”

So, like, David Copperfield meets A Tale of Two Cities, then? Or Vanity FairLes Misérables?

“Sure, sure, exactly like Les Misérables... if you replace France with a sword-and-sorcery parody world that slowly morphs into an early-industrial environment with fantastical elements remaining as mystical and/or spiritual projections. And, you know, if Jean Valjean was  a pathologically self-interested, genocidal three-foot tall talking aardvark. So yes, exactly like Les Misérables.”


The synthesized visual look of the latter third of Church & State I, and indeed the majority of the next two books, Church & State II and Jaka’s Story, is of a quality unknown to virtually any other comic. Unlike the majority of black and white North American comics, presented with little more than a contour line and large swaths of Caniff-like black intended to anchor a color layer that will never come, these are fully rendered illustrations with widely varying values and detailed textures, on par with the work of the great pen and ink artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Of course, you wouldn’t always know it from looking at the printed books.

The monthly installments of Cerebus, and every collection of the material up to this point, were printed on low-grade newsprint, a highly absorbent substrate that caused enormous amounts of dot gain (the tendency for inks to expand as they hit a surface). The desire for a rich black from these materials exacerbated the problem, oftentimes leaving the final product a muddier, mid-tone-heavy gray very different from the crisply-defined values of the original artwork.

For this edition of Church & State I, we’ve gone back to the source – creating fresh high-resolution scans of the photo negatives that have been used to generate printing plates since the original production of the monthly comic book – and, when possible, replacing those scans with as much original artwork as is available to us. All of these materials were then sorted through and selected on a page-by-page basis, to create a new digital “master” that can be used to produce the book going forward.

It sounds a bit simpler than it actually is.

Although the original artwork contains more detail than ever made it to the page initially, it has aged poorly. Specifically, the mechanical tones used to produce the gray of Cerebus’s fur, as well as a multitude of background textures and effects, have shrunk and migrated over time. Every bit of tone on a page sourced from original artwork was in need of some type of adjustment specific to the type of tone and its relationship to the surrounding line art. In the case of iterative patterns (like Cerebus’s dot tone), it’s a matter of digitally copying and cloning a segment of the exposed pattern, moving it to fill in the gap, and then “erasing” any excess and overlap with the existing areas. With the more random patterns, more varied methods of correction are available...


...I’ve written a lot here about the aesthetics of the work at hand, and very little, one might argue, about the “content.”

That’s primarily because a work of graphic art isn’t just a summary of its text -- it exists as a complex synthesis of its formal and narrative elements. Describing the “plot” of a work of true graphic literature is akin to summarizing the “narrative” of Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite, or criticizing Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the combination of dramatic and parodic/comedic elements.

Simply put, the work IS the visual. The content IS the aesthetics. And in the realm of aesthetics, the quality of the reproduction matters. It is, in the literal sense, essential.

The “preservation window” available to great works of visual art intended for reproduction is perilously narrow, requiring the right combination of readily available source materials before they can erode, capital via commercial interests and/or a participatory audience, facilitating technology, and a copyright to the work free of legal entanglements. Just as it was Dave Sim’s ownership of his work and the patronage of his audience that gave him the creative freedom to follow his wildest ambitions to their conclusions, it is his continued ownership and his audience’s patronage that enables this restoration within that window.

Your purchase of Church & State I is one more link in that chain.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Dave Sim In Chicago

STEVE H. [who Dave stayed with when he got his recent MRI]:
The First Half poster was one that Dave singed at his warehouse visit to Diamond Comic Distribution Chicago location back in 1992. It used to hang on the wall at the front entryway into the offices back then... and Dave was really excited to see new work out of Scott Beaderstadt, old friend and Trollords creator.

Tell Dave that Bonut (the dog) misses him!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Dave Sim's Financial Road Map

Dave Sim's "Financial Road Map" (2015)
Dave Sim pictured with Jim and Keith of Erb & Erb Insurance Brokers

Personalised Cerebus Bookplates!

Cerebus Trade Paperback Personalised Bookplate
Art by Dave Sim, Tone by George Peter Gatsis
'Unsigned', 'Signed' & 'Your Name Hand-Lettered By Dave Sim' Options Available
Available from Cerebus Archive Number Four Kickstarter
Ends Saturday 21st November 

(from Cerebus Archive Number One Kickstarter Update #6, 21 May 2014)
...The gag actually goes back almost 50 years now, back, back, into the Vanished Mists of Ancient Times to when men used to wear…hats! See, when you went indoors, you took off your hat. As deference to what were then known as "Ladies". I still do this compulsively in the winter even when I'm only going indoors for five minutes. Anyplace that had a cloak room also had a shelf for hats. And a lot of hats looked alike. So gentlemen tended to put an identifying label in the inside of the brim with their name on it. So it was not unknown for you to pick up a hat and check inside to see if it was yours. So, my Dad got this joke label from someone that said "The HELL it's yours. Put it back. This hat belongs to…" and then he wrote Ken Sim in it. His hat would often get a good workout with guys laughing and then pretty much having to show it to other guys to explain, you know, what EXACTLY did you find particularly funny about someone else's hat? As soon as I needed a gag for an identifying label -- well, what could be more a more Cerebus-like sentiment regarding YOUR personal property?)...

Cerebus Archive Number Four: Bookplate Options
Left: Tone by Sean Michael Robinson
Right: Tone by George Peter Gatsis

Sunday, 15 November 2015

People Say The Nicest Things

Bonus Print #39: Cerebus #1 (1977)

(from Bleeding Cool, 12 November 2015)
...As ever, my attitude has always been Dave Sim is one of the few geniuses who have chosen to work in comic books, and every single one of those people have what I would call "issues". Some people can't get past that to appreciate the work, others prefer to concentrate on the art and ignore any opinions of the artist, if they offend. I prefer to see it as part and parcel. For people to make great art, many end up being a transgressive person, breaking out beyond accepted behavioural norms or beliefs. It's the price paid, before or after the journey...

Bonus Print #38: New York Comics Art Convention '79

(Reddit, May 2015)
Dave's an old friend. I think Cerebus is one of the greatest accomplishments in comics, not only as a work of art, but as a commitment to a vision.

Bonus Print #37: Cerebus #1 Eccentric Cover Recreation

(from Kickstarter, 29 March 2015)
...Dave Sim is a man to be loved, admired and respected...

Bonus Print #36: Cerebus #301

(via Twitter, 25/26 August)
I'm supporting Dave Sim on Patreon (Because the world of comics is a big one that includes Dave and Erica Moen)... I've known Dave for 30 years. He no longer talks to me, as I won't sign his pledge. I wish him and his comics well... I don't retract anything I've said about Cerebus, or the quality of Dave's work.

Bonus Print #35: On The Stairs

JIMMY 'Amelia Rules' GOWNLEY:
(via Twitter, 31 October 2015)
A comics masterpiece and the reason I make funny books. Please help restore Cerebus! Kickstarter.

Bonus Print #34: Selling Insurance

(Michigan State University, 4 November 2015)
...Reading comics was something Sarah Newman only did as a child until her husband Richard (Rick) Mark Newman reintroduced her to them as an adult. Rick, a physician and a neuroscientist like his wife, relied on comic books during the eight years he lived with ALS. "He couldn’t do anything but read,” Sarah said. “He was totally paralyzed, but he could move his eyes."

As a childhood fan of Conan the Barbarian, Rick began reading Cerebus the Aardvark, a loose parody of Conan that evolved into a broad exploration of the artistic and literary reach of comic art. Each week, Sarah stopped at the comic store to pick up the latest issues of this and other favorite titles for Rick.

During his years of paralysis, Rick was "bored to tears" and always looking for ways to exercise his intellect. To him, comics brought entertainment and intellectual stimulus in equal measure. He had an appreciation for the artwork and collected a good deal of memorabilia from the Cerebus series before his death in 1987.

Memories of this time prompted Sarah Newman to pledge a $280,000 gift in support of the MSU Comic Art Collection. The Richard Mark Newman, M.D., Endowment for Comic Art, when fully funded, will ensure continued preservation and access to this beloved collection...

Bonus Print #33: Swords Of Cerebus #4

(via Twitter, 4 August 2015)
For the record, I still think the first half of CEREBUS are some of the greatest comics ever made, period.

Bonus Print #32: Alan "Jacob" Moore

(The Beat, 8 March 2015)
...If you're coming in late, Cerebus is a 300 issue epic that's one of the greatest comics ever made...