Thursday, 31 May 2012

Zootanapuss #4

Zootanapuss #4 (variant cover to Glamourpuss #25, May 2012)
Art by Dave Sim


ALEXA TOMASZEWSKI:
(from Alexa & Dave: A Conversation, 23 May 2012)
Glamourpuss is the most fun thing I've ever seen. It's a social commentary, a contribution to society. It's so important. I have an anthropology background and I ultimately believe that works of art and culture like comic books, art, novels, newspaper clippings - all these things, they are a statement of where we are at and of who we are today as a society.

Glamourpuss is a statement. Maybe it's specifically a statement about women, or fashion or women in fashion, and how ridiculous that culture is, but it's something. And it's funny. Sometimes it's shocking, but like I said, that's what sells.

There's also an educational element to your work that I particularly enjoy. I have a passion for history (which is my traditional educational background, anthropology came later) and you spin a history. You tell a tale. Some people may find this boring. Ok, Dave, I'm sorry, some reviews have called this boring. But I think it adds depth to an otherwise satirical comic-book. You don't want this to be MAD magazine do you?

Finally, what drew me to your work? Well, it was the clothes, the beautiful way that you take the clothes from the glossy pages from the magazine and transfer them to comic book form. The women's hair, their accessories, they all look magnificent transferred onto the comic book panel. My favorite game to play when reading is spot that designer. I read so many magazines I can often pick out your original inspiration.

This is a big, big deal as a female comic book reader.

Glamourpuss #25 is on sale right now at your local comics shop.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Ebony Dreams

Elephantmen: Ebony Dreams (Hero Comics 2012)
By Dave Sim with Richard Starkings





DAVE SIM:
(from Cerebus TV Episode 111, 4 May 2012)
Elephantmen's Richard Starkings is a very experimental kind'a guy. When you're trying to keep to a monthly schedule, relying completely on freelance talent, you pretty well have to be. To say the least he's used a wide spectrum of talent: pure cartoonists like David Hine, stylists like Chris Bachalo, cybernetic painters like Moritat, from Tom Scioli (the Kirby clones' Kirbyclone), to the evocative pastel stylings of Canada’s own Marian Churchland.

So while I was working on my Elephantmen cover I was thinking, "Here’s a guy with pages to fill. I wonder if he'd be up for a Judenhass style story." That is, a story pasted up from fragments of the single illustration I was already doing for him. It sure doesn’t hurt to ask. Just like to ask, "Do you want another couple of those? Same price?" It doesn't hurt to ask.

Hero Comics 2012 is published by IDW and is on sale now at $3.99.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Kickstarter: Cerebus Digital 6000

DAVE SIM:
EVERYone keeps telling me: KICKSTARTER! KICKSTARTER! KICKSTARTER! So, um, here I am as part of a event/partnership -- Cerebus Digital -- registered by John Scrudder in his home state of North Carolina. You GO, TARHEELS! Okay, so John tells me I just have to sign my name and personalize Cerebus esoterica a few thousand times and mail out a few hundred packages... (both of which I'm definitely up for since, fortunately, they don't require computer literacy -- I still use an electric typewriter, "escargot mail", a fax machine and landline telephone to communicate with the outside world, relying on outside help for anything Internet-based (my MacBook is only for typesetting and downloading photoreference: God Bless Google Images!!!). I have written instructions here from John telling me how to input this. I hope I'm doing this right)...

So: here's my pitch for the $6,000 that I'm trying to raise:

STEP ONE: CEREBUS DIGITAL HIGH SOCIETY
Continue to convert High Society into digital files by producing a High Society combination e-book, audio book / digital graphic novel / oral history / weekly serialization at (so far) iVerse, Diamond Digital and Comixology and hope revenues can help things along by the time I'm getting paid early next year (The "Hail Mary" Pass Scenario).

STEP TWO: CEREBUS DIGITAL 6000
If more than $6,000 is raised (this is where I suspect John is pulling my leg: MORE than $6,000???) then the money would be put aside to do e-books / audio books / digital graphic novels / oral history / weekly serializations of ALL OF THE CEREBUS BOOKS, beginning with Cerebus (500 pages), Church & State Vol 1 (600 pages), Church & State Vol 2 (600 pages), and Jaka's Story (500 pages).


JOHN SCRUDDER:
The  primary objective of this Kickstarter project is to introduce Cerebus to a new generation of comic book fans by turning the World's Longest Graphic Novel into the World's Longest Audio Book with (fingers crossed) the creation of digital versions of every page of each issue of Cerebus. Every digital issue will include front covers, editorials, essays, letters and back covers and be made available as a $0.99 digital download (If this project succeeds!). In addition to digital versions of the individual comic books, Dave Sim is also providing additional audio and video content, including:
  • Sim performing all of the hundreds of Cerebus characters' dialogue as well as text and captions from the storyline for every issue.
  • Sim will also provide audio-visual commentary for every issue, looking back and providing his reflections and a look at all of the relevant documents in the chronological Cerebus Archive.
  • In addition, Dave Sim will also be shooting and narrating footage of his rough sketches and drawings (and translating cryptic entries) from his notebooks, as well as providing a never-before-seen "tour" close-up of the original art still in the Cerebus Archive (190 pages of the 500 page High Society as an example) issue-by-issue.
Full details of Dave Sim's project to raise $6,000 by 30 June 2012 can be found at Kickstarter.

Love & Death

Cerebus #129 (December 1989) & #147 (June 1991)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard


THE COMICS JOURNAL: 
(from Funnybook Roulette by R. Fiore, The Comics Journal #138, October 1990)
I guess I must have reviewed Cerebus for the first time 10 years ago, and I do it again every couple of years or so, and I always wind up saying the same thing, which is, in essence, lose the aardvark... It's a conclusion Sim may be coming to on his own; in Jaka's Story Cerebus is hardly there. He is peripheral to the story at best, and neither motivates nor performs any vital story action, and it could be because he just doesn't fit... Jaka's Story is another step forward in Sim's artistic development, and yet, well, here we go again. To really understand what's going on you have to have read the 113 issues that went before... Sim makes it necessary for a new reader to plow through his tyro work in order to comprehend his mature work. It makes his readership practically a closed system.

DAVE SIM:
(via CerebusWiki, Dave's Q&A at the Cerebus Yahoo Group, December 2004)
That's one of those unhappy accidents of journalism that The Comics Journal suggested in their review of Jaka's Story (I think it was) and then it just becomes received wisdom that I wanted to stop doing Cerebus and do something serious and important like Melmoth. It said so in the Comics Journal so that's what it was. Dave didn't have the artistic integrity to abandon the comic book about the talking aardvark and do Something Meaningful and how sad that is. Well, depending on your point of view, that may be terribly sad, but no, Melmoth was the Death book, the other side of Jaka's Story which was the Love book. Jaka's Story & Melmoth are my best try at Love & Death. It was very important to me to keep the Cerebus and Melmoth parts of the story separate because I thought that made an important point about Death. Cerebus is going through a metaphorical death, a death of the spirit and Oscar is staring Death in the face and they're completely unaware of each other. Everyone around Cerebus is unaware of Cerebus - of what he’s going through: you face a metaphorical death alone. Sebastien Melmoth has Robbie Ross there. Couldn't ask for a more devoted friend, someone with his best interests at heart, but he's still facing Death alone. He can't explain it to Robbie and Robbie doesn't want to hear it. The doctors don't want to tell Robbie, he doesn't want them to tell him and he doesn't want to tell Oscar. He has no more of a "support system" than Cerebus does. I wanted to convey how universal a thing facing death... and Death... alone is. Wherever you're reading this you're only a few miles from a hospital where that's going on. Someone is dying alone in a bed and someone else has fifteen weeping relatives out in the hall and another three at his bedside, but they're both going through it Alone. Your wife can climb into bed with you if she wants, you're still dying Alone.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Mind Game III & IV

The assembled puzzle from Cerebus #63 (June 1984)
Art by Dave Sim
FOLLOWING CEREBUS:
(from the No More Games essay in Following Cerebus #8, May 2006)
The next Mind Game story occurs at a particularly key moment in the saga: Bishop Powers has just nominated Cerebus, currently the prime minister of Iest, as Eastern Pontiff. Cerebus, bored and frustrated with political life, married life, manipulation by Weisshaupt, and in a rather self-absorbed, self-pitying mood, decides to drink himself into a stupor. Well into the process, he's told, "You're the western church's nominee for eastern pontiff." He concludes he's hearing things, but soon enough he is, indeed, the pope, and finds the inherent power in the position too tempting to resist using for his own personal gain.

Visually, the combined images on the halves of each of the pages form a large illustration of Cerebus as pope with the words Mind Game III... (The story itself is titled Mind Game IV, propelling readers to ask, "Where's Mind Games III?" and having to solve the puzzle to get the answer. As Sim explained in the bi-weekly reprint series Cerebus: Church & State #13, "The puzzle is Mind Game III. The story is Mind Game IV.")

Sunday, 27 May 2012

On Neil Gaiman

Savoy Hotel, 1986: Sim & Gaiman First Meeting
Backcover, Cerebus 146 (May 1991)
DAVE SIM:
(from a letter to Toc Fetch, 29 January 2004)
...back in the 1980s, Neil Gaiman (then just a freelance journalist in London) did an interview with me as part of the UK Tour that Ger and I did. Of course, since then he has gone onto worldwide fame in multiple media at each of which he is just plain astonishingly successful. As it pertains to me, I think this was God's way of showing me what it was like for all of the major cartoonists that I interviewed for various fanzines when I suddenly started achieving this strange, multileveled success with Cerebus. It was disproportionate, I think, intentionally so: Neil is exponentially more successful than I could ever hope to be. And that was the lesson. So, how does it feel to have someone who played a bit role in your own small fame take off like a skyrocket? It was very uncomfortable at the beginning. Alan Moore was always Alan Moore. He was already Alan Moore and quantum levels of stature above me in the hierarchy before I read his work and certainly before I met him. But Neil Gaiman was this snot-nosed kid in a skinny necktie and running shoes writing journalism pieces for alternative magazines. I was this big-shot alternative cartoonist with a suite at the Savoy and champagne and caviar from room service. Neil's success took me down a number of pegs in my own estimation. Which was good. It sure didn't seem good at the time, but almost twenty years later on, it was a valuable lesson to me in "how I seem to others". And, of course, Neil is a loyal friend and a truly humble and nice person. Which only made it worse in a lot of ways. If he had been a full-time asshole, it would have been salve to my wounded vanity. But he was pretty much faultless...

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Aardvarks Over UK

Tour Poster: Aardvarks Over UK Tour '93
Poster available from Page 45


STEPHEN L. HOLLAND (co-founder, Page 45):
(from Cerebus Campaign '93, Cerebus #174, September 1993)
This September, Dave Sim and Gerhard are going to be embarking on a whirlwind tour of the UK, a punishing fortnight's schedule taking them all the way from Salisbury to Aberdeen via London and The Midlands. This tour is being co-ordinated by Mark Simpson and myself... basically because we volunteered. Like  many of yourselves we too were wary and weary of the way this industry seemed to be regressing - we were growing tired of gimmicks, price-hikes, crossovers and the narrow, often harmful publicity going out to an already disinformed public through over -exaggerated four-colour deaths and the rise of the amateur speculator. Unlike others, however, we were sick of being tired of it, and decided to do something about it. When Dave Sim announced his first trip to the UK in 7 years, we were determined to use this opportunity, not just to promote one of the sharpest comics this medium has ever witnessed, but the true diversity that this unique and eclectic artform has to offer. For just as there are films, music and books for everyone, so there are comics for everyone.

As well as the above poster, why not complete your Cerebus collection with copies of Cerebus Number Zero (reprinting Cerebus #51, 112/113, 137 and 138 not included in the regular Cerebus 'phone books') and the Cerebus World Tour Book 1995 (reprinting all the Swords Of Cerebus back-up collaborations with Marshall Rogers, Joe Rubinstein, Gene Day, Barry Windsor-Smith and Gerhard, and a new jam story with Chester Brown), both of which are available from Page 45 - one of the UK's finest comic stores - during their gargantuan online sale, with a 25% discount on over 2,000 items. Sale must end 5pm, Thursday 31 May 2012!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Dave Sim vs Spider-Man

Spider-Man (left) & Dave Sim (right)
(backcover, Cerebus #81, December 1985)
Photo by Mike Pincus


DAVE SIM:
(from Note From The President, Cerebus #81, December 1985)
Our Back Cover: Signing an autograph for Spider-Man at Mid-Ohio-Con. He told me his real name was Peter something but that I wasn't supposed to tell anyone. He offered to loan me the tights for Saturday night. "The chicks, man, they love red and blue tights."

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Comics Journal #82-83

The Comics Journal #82-83 (July-August 1983)
Art by Dave Sim
(Click Image To Enlarge)
KIM THOMPSON:
(from the introduction to an interview with Dave and Deni Sim, The Comics Journal #82-83)
In my pantheon of Gods and Demi-Gods, I have cordoned off a special section for those people who can make me Laugh Out Loud. It's not a terribly overpopulated place. Look in the writer's division and once you've tallied up Wodehouse, Jerome K. Jerome, Keith Laumer and Ring Lardner, you'll run into problems. The filmmaker's quadrant runs a little heavier (which I credit more to the nature of the medium than to the innate superiority of the directors). But the comics section is, ironically enough, a disaster. Try as you might, you will find no more than three people in there that aren't either dead or substantially past retirement age, and only one of them is an American. That's Gilbert Shelton. I'll tell you about the first foreigner someday, but the other foreigner is Dave Sim. He writes and draws the monthly Cerebus The Aardvark comic and you may have heard of him.

In his work, Dave Sim displays the intelligence and wit of a man entirely in tune with and in control of his craft. Although he can, if one is so inclined, sift through his work and pick out mannerisms and chunks of style borrowed from elsewhere (including two sets of comedic brothers, Warner and Marx), the guiding intelligence is unique and recognizably Sim. And Dave Sim is a very funny man.

I laughed out loud at the first Cerebus I ever read, #12. It turned out to be a good starting point, since that issue, Sim acknowledges, pretty much marked the point where proto-Cerebus became the definitive Cerebus. As Sim became more ambitious, the series gained in depth and breadth: plotlines became more intricate, characterisations gained in subtlety; yet the razor-sharp, sardonic wit remained a constant. At present, Sim is finishing off a 25-part serial, High Society. It manages to combine political intrigue, comedy of manners, slapstick, and satire - Sim even claims it bears overtones of a fictional biography of Richard Nixon.

Dave and his wife Deni publish Cerebus, making it one of a handful of alternative comics published by their creators. (Elfquest is the other handy example). Recently, the Sims have expanded their publishing operation to include several other projects: Michael T. Gilbert's Strange Brew, Arn Saba's Neil The Horse, and William Loeb's Journey. They have also begun showcasing other work in the back of the Cerebus comic itself. Thus, in addition to publishing Sim's own handiwork, the couple has begun to use the aardvark's success to promote new or little known talent.

I intercepted Dave and Deni Sim on their 1982 American tour, sometime during the fall. Cozily installed in the Sim's appallingly luxurious hotel suite, we talked for well over three hours. In addition to covering Cerebus itself, the conversation roamed far afield, at one point settling into what the Journal's back issues page will no doubt refer to as "a no-holds-barred discussion of current comics in general and Marvel Comics in particular." (I can say that, because I write the back issues page, you see).
Dave & Deni Sim, 1982. Photo by Alan Hose.



Wednesday, 23 May 2012

New Releases: May 2012

Glamourpuss #25
by Dave Sim
Aardvark-Vanaheim
$3.00
Kyla Nicolle: Canada's Next Great Super Model? It's the question everyone is asking in The Great White North. Watch the feisty redhead in head-to-head action against Zootanapuss as Zootanapuss vs. High Fashion Models nears its climax. When Sudden Death Isn't Enough For a Girl and Her Bunny: SHOOT-OUT! In the History of Photorealism section, a close examination of Stan Drake's version of the car crash that claimed the life of Alex Raymond as documented in Arlen Schumer's Alex Raymond's Last Ride.
On sale: 30 May 2012
Available from your local comics shop

Hero Comics 2012
by Dave Sim & others
IDW
$3.99
Hero Comics 2012 presents some of the greatest creators in comics using their talents to tell great stories and raise much-needed money for the Hero Initiative, the charity that helps comic book creators in medical or financial need. This year's annual includes: a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story written and drawn by Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman; an original Zombie vs. Robots tale of Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood; a new Red Star story by Christian Gossett; an original Elephantmen story written by Richard Starkings with art by Dave Sim. Also, creators Tom Ziuko, Russ Heath, Alan Kupperberg and Robert Washingtom tell their own stories of how Hero Initiative has changed their lives. And it all comes wrapped in a cover by J. Scott Campbell.
On sale: 23 May 2012
Available from your local comics shop

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Wait. What?

Glamourpuss #24 (March 2012)
Art by Dave Sim
(Click Image To Enlarge)
Glamourpuss #24 was just one of many fine comic books under discussion in episode 82 of the Wait. What? podcast, hosted by Jeff Lester, at The Savage Crtics on 10 April 2012. The following comments were posted later in the comments section of their site:

JEFF LESTER:
I read the first two issues of Glamourpuss (and maybe even bought them?) when they first came out. Sim's essay was definitely the main part of the book then, but it had yet to become this... this amazing thing. Since then, I've gone back and bought two more back issues and they do indeed set up this car ride with Raymond and Drake in extensive detail... but not only did that sequence I read stand alone, it really upped the ante on the storytelling I'm seeing in the two issues preceding it. Stunning stuff. 

BEN LIPMAN:
Glamourpuss isn't the sort of book/art where you want to separate the artist from the work. That would be missing the point! We're paying our money to watch Dave Sim be himself. Hell, he gives you no choice - Sim is really putting himself into the book. The parts about Drake and Raymond are as much about Sim himself, or at least about Sim telling this story and relating to it/what he thinks they must have been discussing and thinking. Check it out - I'm a little calmer now, but was at least as excited as Jeff was after the first issue I read. It will definitely be a change of pace from the last comic you read.

THE BEAST MUST DIE:
But goddamn is it beautiful looking. I was marvelling at the delicacy and artfulness of his line last night and it was breathtaking. That double page spread is flat out one of the best pieces of comic art I've seen in a long time. Picked it up thanks to your enthusing Jeff. You should enthuse more!

Back issues of Glamourpuss are always available at ComiXpress.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Mind Game II

Cerebus #28 (July 1981)
Art by Dave Sim

FOLLOWING CEREBUS: 
(from the No More Games essay in Following Cerebus #8, May 2006)
As with Mind Game I, however, the most interesting part of Mind Games II is not the (again murky) metaphysics, but the presentation of the political backdrop. Cerebus brushed aside the conflicts between the Cirinists, Kelvillists and Illusionists because, according to him, it's the Orthodox Tarminites who "run the show". This allows Sim, through Po, to present the social and political landscape by describing the rift in the Church of Tarim (with conflicting seats of power in both Iest and Serrea), Cirin's quest for power, and the ostensible powerlessness of the Illusionists. Cerebus becomes suspicious of Po's truthfulness, however. In the end Cerebus wonders in which group he should throw his lot. Po argues against the Cirinists and suggests the Eastern Church of Tarim - though even that may not be ideal. Ironically, in Church & State, Cerebus finds himself not merely aligned with the Eastern Church, but its Pope.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Cerebus Bi-Weekly Reprints

Cerebus Bi-Weekly (1988-1992)
Art by Dave Sim
DAVE SIM:
(from an interview in The Comics Journal #130, July 1989)
If I want to get readers involved in the storyline in comics shops, I'm going to have to give them comic books. I don't consider it shoddy. I like the fact that the Bi-Weekly reprints everything. It's kind of a gas going through 1977 and '78 again. Doing the historical stand point satisfied the artistic need to have the whole story told again, all the letters pages and whatnot. But also there are people who bought Cerebus from issue one and had to sell their collection at some point. This way they've everything back that they ever had and everybody gets to own a complete collection. It frees up a lot of the collector's issues back into the collector's market because people who were just hanging on to them because of the letters pages - fuck, don't worry about it: you can get one for a buck and a quarter that's got everything in it that you've got in this original one right here... Also realise you've got to have an on-ramp for people. There are a lot of people who've been saying all along that they would buy Cerebus if they could just start from the beginning, and are not going to start with a $25 book.

Reprints of 80 single issues of Cerebus were published bi-weekly by Aardvark-Vanaheim based around the main arcs of the story: Cerebus Bi-Weekly #1-26 (December 1988 to November 1989), Cerebus: High Society #1-25 (February 1990 to January 1991), Cerebus: Church & State #1-30 (February 1991 to April 1992).

Friday, 18 May 2012

Big Words From Alan Moore

The Comics Journal #138 (October 1990)
Art by Bill Sienkiewicz


ALAN MOORE:
(from an interview in The Comics Journal #138, October 1990)
Dave Sim and Gerhard. There you've got some consummate storytelling. It's always possible to learn from Dave... His sense of timing. Comics in Dave's hands comes closest to music in some respects, in that he's got such a perfect sense of comic timing. And he's also got - like I say, the thing that's very important to me - the desire to push forward and experiment and move into untested ground. What Dave has managed to do with an aardvark barbarian character that started off as a Barry Smith Conan parody, what he's managed to say in the context of that strip is staggering. I could never do that. I would feel so limited by the restrictions of the character and the world that I would never attempt to do a book as long as Cerebus, but what Dave's done is he's come up and met that challenge. It's difficult to imagine something that Dave couldn't address in Cerebus. Despite the fact that it superficially looks like a limited world, he manages to be able to talk about anything people can talk about in other books. There's not a lot of people who you can learn from in terms of storytelling, but Dave's always one of them.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Happy 56th Birthday Dave Sim!

The Comics Journal #130 (July 1989)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Neil Gaiman: By The Book

Neil Gaiman (2012)
Art by Jillian Tamaki
THE NEW YORK TIMES:
What’s the best comic book you've ever read? Graphic novel?

NEIL GAIMAN:
Ow. That's hard. I think I love Eddie Campbell's ALEC: The Years Have Pants best of everything, but it's a hard call. Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell is pretty wonderful, after all. Watchmen had a bigger influence on me than anything else, reading and rereading it a comic at a time as it was published, as did the High Society and Church & State sequences of Dave Sim's Cerebus. And Will Eisner's The Spirit is funny and sad, educational and entertaining (read the books, ignore the movie). I'm about to start building giant lists of comics and graphic novels here, so I will stop. (Quick! Read anything by Lynda Barry!). There. I stopped.

(from The New York Times, 3 May 2012)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Big In Seattle

Tour '92: Seattle Publicity Image (Cerebus #164, November 1992)
Art by Dave Sim


The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (popularly known as the Seattle P-I, the Post-Intelligencer, or simply the P-I) is an online newspaper and former print newspaper covering Seattle in Washington, United States, and the surrounding metropolitan area. The P-I is known for the 13.5-ton, 30-foot (9.1 m) neon globe atop its headquarters on the Elliott Bay waterfront, which features the words "It's in the P-I" rotating around the globe and an 18-foot (5.5 m) eagle perched atop with wings stretched upwards. The globe originated from a 1947 readers' contest to determine a new symbol for the paper, to be placed atop the paper's then-new headquarters building at 6th Avenue and Wall Street. When the newspaper moved its headquarters again in 1986, to its current location on the waterfront, the globe was relocated to the new building. Over the decades since its first installation, the globe has become a city landmark that, to locals, is as iconic as the Space Needle. A stylized rendering of the globe appeared on the masthead of the newspaper in its latter years and continues to feature on its website. In 2012, the globe was donated to the Museum of History and Industry for refurbishment and relocation.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Mind Game I

Cerebus #20 (September 1980)
Art by Dave Sim
FOLLOWING CEREBUS: 
(from the No More Games essay in Following Cerebus #8, May 2006)
The first Mind Games... appeared in Cerebus #20. This issue's importance grew as the Cerebus epic neared the end of Church & State, and even more so by Mothers & Daughters. Cerin, Suenteus Po, The New Matriarchy, and Illusionism all find their introductions in this issue, and in retrospect it's astounding to see all of this appear in a single twenty-page sequence. However, the issue came out in September 1980, by which time, according to Sim, he'd already had the basic Cerebus storyline worked out (at least the first two hundred issues). Cirin's political ambitions are already clear, as is her animosity towards Po and Illusionism.

The long-ranging implications of the issue were not immediately apparent to readers, of course. The story seemed little more than an obvious homage to Neal Adams' Deadman (Adam's influence on Sim was already evident by Cerebus #20) and a way for Sim to speed up the time spent at the drawing board by not having to do backgrounds: Cerebus floating in a sea of black - that's the ticket.

The New Matriarchy excerpt itself that begins the chapter is a bit of a confusing jumble compared to the writings that appeared years later in Women... The essence of Cirinism is suggested, but the passage here is vague enough that it was unlikely going to conflict with the details that would eventually come.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Jerry Siegel

Cerebus #74, May 1985
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard



AARDVARK COMMENT:
(from Cerebus #76, July 1985)

Dear Dave,

Cerebus Jam #1 was a lot of fun to read and enjoy. It was the way comics were meant to be and should always be... love of comics was in every word and drawing.

As for Cerebus #74, 'Acquired Tastes'. Hilarious yet touching, moving at an unhurried pace, with so little dialogue that you can pay more attention to the art and each fragment of a graphic moment, dwelling on what may be going on in the character's head when he says nothing... but a sombre spark in his anthropomorphic eyes tells more than a mountain of prose could.

It's A.R.T., that's what it is! So keep doing your thing in your own unique way. Never mind the off-stage murmurings. Slave away at your drawing desk, you and Gerhard. Tell it all... love, hate, joy, sorrows, comedy. And don't make so many public appearances... your drawing board misses you.

Cordially,
Los Angeles, CA

While I appreciate such extravagant praise from the co-creator of Superman, I can't think of Cerebus as Art. I think it's clever... engaging... addictive even. But if Cerebus is Art, we're going to have to find something else to call Shakespeare.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A Tribute To Will Eisner

A Contract With God by Will Eisner (1978) 
reinterpreted by Dave Sim & Gerhard (1996)
DAVE SIM:
(from 'My Dinner With Will & Other Stories' in Following Cerebus #4, May 2005)
...He had invented the term graphic novel at the age of 60 and was then faced with the problem of the limited number of years that he had left to be productive and how he was going to use that time. He freely confessed that one of his big problems was that everything about the human condition interested him, and he could see for himself exactly how narrow the parameters of most graphic novels were. The vast majority were just serialised superhero stories collected under one cover. The fact that that left all other literary themes and subjects wide open for treatment - with the clock ticking - would be the driving force behind the last twenty seven years of his life. Every story that he tackled was new and untrammelled territory. It was no surprise that the subject he returned to, time and time again, was his own background in 1920s and 1930s New York City while still making occasional forays into the vast reaches of untapped literary territory such as Sundiata, A Legend of Africa. It was the New York eras he had lived through that were being lost with each passing year, and he felt an obvious and compelling need - as a member of those era's dwindling custodial constituency - to document and preserve his recollections of it. The sense of urgency, it seems to me, was what made his choices for him and the sense of urgency compounded itself as his eighties (his eighties!) were disappearing behind him.

...I complimented him again on A Contract With God, the title sequence from the book of the same name. I do think it is in the pantheon of great comic book stories. Its only nearest competitor, in my mind, is Barry Windsor Smith's The Beguiling... He had only been vaguely interested... so this time I tried to explain a little more thoroughly.

"The story can be read a lot of different ways..." I began, my thesis being that it would not be difficult to see the titular Contract with God, having been abused by Frimme Hersh and so ending up in the hands of the young Jew who finds it where Hersh had discarded it in the allyway as a metaphor for Christianity supplanting rather than supplementing Judaism - which would certainly be a more controversial interpretation than has attached itself to the story over the last twenty-five years.

"Your telling me," Eisner interjected, his eyebrows shooting up. "The first two letters I got on A Contract With God came in the same day. One of them raving about the book as a positive portrayal of Jews in comic books and the other one denouncing it as anti-Semitic." He chewed, thoughtfully, and then swallowed. "I should've saved those two letters."

..."If God requires that men honor their agreements, is not God also so obligated?" That chilling moment in A Contract With God where Frimme Hersh is "chewing the scenery" in his monologue directed at God - railing at God and accusing God of malfeasance! - while a thunderstorm rages overhead. It was my first choice of a tribute to Eisner for a Chicago Comicon program booklet (everyone else, of course, had done The Spirit).

Read the complete article in Following Cerebus #4.

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Death Of Elrod

The Death Of... I Say, The Death Of Elrod (Cerebus #22, November, 1980)
Art by Dave Sim

DAVE SIM:
(from an interview in The Comics Journal #83, August 1983)
I may not be pleasing to the mainstream of fans - what one thinks of when one thinks of comic book fans per se - but I am pleasing to a group that is not being pleased very much, and which can only get larger. I mean, they're all over 25 and are part of the baby boom. Cerebus is like comic books for the baby boon generation, like RAW is, like Heavy Metal is. When you become too sophisticated to wonder if Elektra is going to win this time and kill Daredevil, and you get to a point where you're seeing real dramatic tension like "Is Cerebus going to be prime minister or not?" you recognise the difference. It can be one or the other. If you read "Next Issue: The Death of the X-Men?" after reading comic books for 20 years, you're not likely to go, "Oh shit, I can't wait for the nest issue, because these guys might die." You know better. I used that cliffhanger once with the end of #21, that had "Next Issue: The Death of Elrod" and then did the death of Elrod issue, which was a parody, and people were really shaken up. I know what they were thinking: "This guy is a crazed son of a bitch! This guy is an alternative comics asshole who has all the reins in his hand and doesn't have anybody telling him not to, he might just do it?" Mary Jo Duffy [a Marvel Comics editor] threatened to kill me if I actually killed Elrod: "Don't you dare kill Elrod!" It creates more tension in Cerebus because it's impossible to predict where I'm going.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Cerebus Jam

Advert for Cerebus Jam (Cerebus #80, November 1985)
by Dave Sim & Gerhard

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Mind Games

Cerebus #20 (September 1980)
Art by Dave Sim

DAVE SIM: 
(from the No More Games essay in Following Cerebus #8, May 2006) 
The Mind Games were about contact with other consciousnesses and ostensibly higher and more adept consciousnesses.

FOLLOWING CEREBUS:  
(from the No More Games essay in Following Cerebus #8, May 2006)
Early on, the Mind Game issues of Cerebus helped establish that the series was not going to be standard comic book fare. Issue 20 contained the first such story, and a quick glance made it clear that Dave Sim was engaged in experimental storytelling. As other Mind Game issues followed (in High Society, Church & State and Flight), they continued not only to have distinctive visuals, but to contain an ongoing story thread by themselves - their own subtle subplot that, we will argue, became the dominant story element by the end of Mothers & Daughters.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Woody Allen

Konigsberg (Cerebus #280, July 2002)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
DAVE SIM:
(from the notes to Latter Days, November 2003)
...So I just started designing the story largely as an exercise in damage control. How funny could I make it in those parts that wouldn't be taken up with the Torah commentaries? Suddenly my choice to use Woody Allen seemed more than just a structural convenience. In a lot of ways, I was mirroring what most people would see as his career suicide. A guy with a successful career in making wacky comedies suddenly goes serious on everyone and decides he's going to become an auteur. Had God known this as well? I have to admit that I was one of those people who thought that Woody Allen abandoning his "earlier funny ones" for Stardust Memories and Interiors was interchangeably "gutsy" and "insane" ("gutsy" when I liked the result and "insane" when I didn't).

Monday, 7 May 2012

Head-Sketches For Sale

Each Cerebus head-sketch, signed and dedicated by Dave Sim, can be yours for $39.99.
Available only from Dave Sim Art.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Of A Fire On The Moon

LIFE magazine (29 August 1969)

 DAVE SIM:
(from an interview in The Comics Journal #192, December 1996)
What was interesting was that I was doing all of the research on that and reading as much as I could about the moon and the whole Apollo program and whatnot and one of the things that I did pick up was Norman Mailer's Of A Fire On The Moon. I got about 30-40 pages into it, and went, "This is an interesting book, but it's got nothing to do with what I'm talking about here. It's not going to help me to understand the moon. I want to find out as much as I can about the moon." Well, I actually got around to reading the book three or four months ago. And it's extraordinary. Because it's all in there. It's a different coloration, I would suspect having to do with Norman Mailer's particular circumstances at the time, but so much of what I was trying to talk about in Church & State and failed to say, and them tried again to say filling in another half of the sphere that those two stories make up - Church & State and Mothers & Daughters - is there. Frustrating as hell as it may be. Mailer was there first. And he had just about everything on paper that I was trying to get across. Very irritating [laughter] considering that he did it in about six weeks. It's a gig: "LIFE magazine is going to give you a wad of money, you've got all these ex-wives to take care of, what the fuck? Fly down to Houston and we'll see if we can make a story out of it."
Cerebus #107-108 (February-March 1988)
Art by Gerhard
RALPH GRAVES, Life magazine editor:
(from Norman Mailer At The Typewriter, Life Magazine, 29 August 1969)
A Fire On The Moon, Norman Mailer's treatise on the moon landing starts with this issue. It is the matching of a fantastic subject with a most unusual journalist. "I can't write anything in 5,000 words," Mailer told us, "and 10,000 words is just for poker money." This enormous instalment, in fact, runs some 26,000 words - the longest non-fiction piece LIFE has ever published in one issue... Mailer is a phenomenon as well as a writer - novelist, journalist, movie-maker, candidate for mayor of New York last spring, and all-around public outspokesman. He doesn't cover a story in traditional fashion. Before writing The Armies Of The Night, he broke two icons of  journalism: he took no notes (for he had not intended to write anything) and he inserted himself into the story as the central figure. The book won a Pulitzer prize. In A Fire On The Moon Mailer says he is not the central figure (Saturn V is) but is simply an observer and a voice... Mailer uses transcripts of speeches and press conferences, and he does take notes, but they are reflections of his own thoughts rather than descriptions of the scene or quotes from the characters. He seems to hammer his perceptions into his subject until he finds a core of meaning, which is often different from what anybody else has found.

NORMAN MAILER:
(from a letter to Apollo 11 commander, Neil Armstrong, 26 February 1970)
I've worked as assiduously as any writer I know to portray the space program in its largest, not its smallest, dimension.

Of A Fire On The Moon by Norman Mailer was serialised in LIFE magazine in 1969 and 1970, and was published in 1970 as a book. It is an intensive documentary and reflection on the Apollo 11 moon landing from Mailer's distinctive point of view. After spending time at the space center and mission control in Houston, and witnessing the launch of the colossal Saturn V rocket at Cape Kennedy in Florida, Mailer began writing his account of the historic voyage at his home in Provincetown, Massachusetts during marathon writing sessions to meet his deadlines for the magazine. His epic account, which ran to 115,000 words, was published in three long instalments: A Fire On The Moon (LIFE, 29 August 1969), The Psychology Of Astronauts (LIFE, 14 November 1969), and A Dream Of The Future's Face (LIFE, 9 January 1970). Mailer's Of A Fire On The Moon was reproduced by Taschen Books in 2010 as Norman Mailer: MoonFire, a publication commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with Mailer's non-fiction writing and photographs from various sources.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Roach

Cerebus #93 (December 1986)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
DAVE SIM:
(from an interview in UK fanzine FA #115, 1989)
I was married, I had a job, it happened to be drawing comic books, but I had a job. The people I associated with were not comic book fans, they were mostly friends and/or family of my wife, their only interest in comic books was that I happened to draw a comic book. But every once in a while I'd go to a comic book convention, or a fan would show up somewhere, and that's what the Roach symbolised. You're getting on with your life, then all of a sudden this brilliant four colour individual comes trooping in, like he just belongs here, this is just it, this makes perfect sense for me to be here, and I think everybody should be damn grateful that Captain Cockroach has arrived, with exactly that 'chosen people' quality that comic fans tend to have en masse, and sort of reflecting that in Cerebus' life. A fair amount of time it was, if not a major embarrassment, at least a minor embarrassment. In the comic book world there's this notion that if there really was a Spider-Man people would be reacting like Jack Kirby background characters, with their hands up around their faces going "Gasp! There's someone swinging from that building!" In the real world it'd be "Who's that asshole in his long underwear?" If you were walking down the street and Captain America was on the other side of the street, and you were with this girl you wanted to impress, and he goes "Dave! Hey Dave!" you’d cover your face and go "I have no idea who that guy is."

Friday, 4 May 2012

At The Club One Afternoon

At The Club One Afternoon (Cerebus #59, February 1984)
Art by Dave Sim


DAVE SIM:
(from an interview in Following Cerebus #6, November 2005)
...it's an implied element of Cerebus' nature that different people see him in different ways and that no one sees him as he actually appears in the book. One of the story points that I never got to was to have an artist attempt to render a portrait of him, to show the dozens and dozens of failed attempts all of which would have elements of Cerebus to them but which would never quite add up to a likeness. The human part of the artist would be trying to render Cerebus in the likeness of a human - rendering the eyes separately, putting the ears in the right spot and making them the right size, shrinking the nose and putting the mouth under it - and consequently driving himself to drink. If you look specifically at the ears, you see normal ears but when you stand back and look at the overall effect, it looks nothing like him. At The Club One Afternoon is the closet that I got to depicting how people react to Cerebus' appearance: that he's shorter than he initially appears to be and that he's somewhat deformed. It can probably be attributed to the "magnifier" quality that he has. His perception of himself dominates any individual in his immediate environment, certainly anyone within visual range of him.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Following Cerebus #1-6

Following Cerebus #1-6 (July 2004 - November 2005)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard


CRAIG MILLER & JOHN THORNE:
(From the introduction to Following Cerebus #1, July 2004)
Now that Dave Sim's epic comic book story has concluded with the publication of issue 300 in March, those of us who hunger for still more Cerebus-related material have a print outlet to find rare and previously unpublished art and stories, interviews, essays, and letters, plus whatever else comes our way. For some of us, six thousand comic book pages, plus various supplemental material and previously published interviews, are not enough. We want more.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Mick & Keef

Mick & Keef
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
DAVE SIM:
(from Note From The President, Cerebus #163, October 1992)
Having stupidly lost Ken Viola's phone number, I have been unable to badger him about the autographed Mick Jagger caricature. Just as I was sitting and staring at my legal pad wondering what to write next, Ken gives me a call! He talked to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and both agreed to autograph a Glimmer Twins caricature to be auctioned to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund (Jagger asked to see some literature on it, which we are falling all over ourselves to provide).  Looking at the comic books Jagger asked Ken "Does he make money doing this?" I laughed. The Ken mentioned that Keith took a very dim view of his portrayal (ice water floods my intestines), but once Ken had a chance to explain Cerebus a bit he took a more charitable view. Evidently everyone at  the Rolling Stone's office had been incredulous ("You're going to show this to Keith?! Are you crazy?") and Jagger as well ("You didn't show this to Keith, did you?"). It serves me right really. I'm still trying to live down a drug-crazed, drunken reputation from years back and I get very frustrated when people won't let go of that image or are disappointed when I turn out to be "too normal". Anyway, I'm starting on the piece tomorrow and we'll try to have it on the inside back cover before the end of the year. And I'm definitely bidding on it myself!

Oh and Ken asked me to correct the impression that he's still a roadie for the Stones. The last tour he did was 1981. He's now a roadie for the Grateful Dead and he informs me that he has managed to turn Jerry Garcia onto Cerebus. Bonus.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Taking A Stand

In April 2012, Chris Roberson, a novelist and writer who has worked on several comics titles for DC and Vertigo, including his own co-creation iZombie, announced via Twitter that due to ethical concerns, he was no longer comfortable working for DC Comics. The remarks, following in the wake of several other comics-related controversies (Before Watchmen and general disappointment over the handling of Jack Kirby's legacy, among numerous other things) very quickly spread throughout the comics internet, and shortly led to DC terminating Roberson’s contract. Roberson's public statements, and the sometimes fiery arguments that they have provoked, seemed in some way to augur a possible modest paradigm shift. He agreed to speak to TCJ.com about what happened, his relationship with DC, and the ethics of the comics industry.

CHRIS ROBERSON: 
(from an interview with Chris Roberson at TCJ.com, 25 April 2012)
...Yeah, and that's really one of the things about it that has rankled me so much over the course of the last months. Because the only defence that's offered of things like either Before Watchmen or the counter-suit against the Siegels or any number of different things that have been done historically is that the company is operating within the bounds of the law. The company is doing nothing illegal. There's no defense mounted to the ethics or morality of their actions, and in many cases they will make kind of passing nods to the fact that what they are doing might be interpreted as unethical, but that because it’s not illegal, you know, they're going to do it. And seeing as these are companies, both DC and Marvel, that are built upon stories about paragons of virtue who stand for what's right, not for what's nitpickingly legal, that was really bothersome to me.

...I think that in a lot of ways so much of the hue and cry for creator rights over the course of the last - forever, really, but definitely in the seventies and eighties - in large part was about remuneration. It was about getting fairly paid for one's labor, and the fruit of ones labor, and definitely in that aspect DC has done a fairly admirable job, at least with stuff initiated after that. But the other part of the creator rights manifesto back in the '80s was over creator control and the moral rights that a creator could exercise, and that's the part that they don’t talk about very much, because that doesn’t seem to exist.

...There is [something DC could change which would make me feel comfortable working for them again], actually, and it was suggested not to me, but in a public forum, I think on Heidi MacDonald’s ComicsBeat.com, by Kurt Busiek. Kurt is tireless in wading into enraged inflamed conversations online and being a voice of reason. But what Kurt suggested was that if Marvel and DC both were to retroactively grandfather their current work-for-hire creator-equity deals - for example, now if you work for DC and you create a character that appears in one of their books, and then years down the line it’s an action figure or it appears in a movie or appears in a TV show or gets republished or whatever the case may be, the person that created that character gets a check. So what Kurt suggested was if DC and Marvel were to grandfather their current equity deals back to 1938 that they would obviate the need for the lawsuits that many of the creators and their estates continue to bring and that also they would have a public relations bonanza on their hands because they would be able to show how they were taking care of the people that made these characters that people cherish now. In much the same way that Time Warner settled with Siegel and Shuster in the '70s so they could trot them out for the premiere of the Superman movie. How great would it be if Time Warner could point to how they were helping pay for Tony DeZuniga’s hospital bills while they were promoting the Jonah Hex film, or whatever the case may be. I think if they took better care of the people who created the characters that other hands now service, that would do a great deal to engender fonder feelings on my part.

One other thing I would add is that if DC and Marvel did retroactively grant the creator-equity deals to their former creators, we wouldn't need a Hero Initiative now, because those guys would be getting money. It would reduce the profits a minuscule amount for the larger corporations, but it would take care of entire generations of now dying old men and women who have gone on to see their creations continue to generate revenue they or their children don’t have any part of.

A MOMENT OF CEREBUS:
I thought the principled stand taken by Chris Roberson against DC Comics echoed many of the creator's rights issues Dave Sim has discussed over the years and demonstrates the ongoing impact of the Creator's Bill of Rights on the younger generation of comic creators. I urge you all to read the full interview with Chris Roberson at TCJ.com and then reflect on whether you want to continue supporting Marvel and DC.

For me, enough is enough. From now on, I'm taking my own personal stand against their corporate ethics. I will no longer be spending any of my own money on Marvel or DC comics or products until they address their shameful, on-going treatment of the creative-founders of their companies (including - but by no means limited to - Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and their heirs). That means not buying Marvel/DC comics, not paying to see Marvel/DC films, not buying Marvel/DC merchandise for nephews and nieces etc.

How about you? Are you taking a stand?