Sunday, 17 December 2017

Under the influence of an Aardvark: Kurt Ruskin

Hi, Everybody,

So, got an email at, from Cerebus fan and professional artist Kurt Ruskin.

And here's Kurt:
A steel sword shoved into a red hot furnace.
As I sit down to write this, that is the image that flashes through my head of the Cerebus comic book and the progression of the art as it evolved. The very early stuff looked like crap ONLY when compared to how great the stuff eventually looked (then again I only have the old copies before they were remastered so who knows). Dave and Ger kept shoving that steel sword back into the fire and hammering on it, sparks flying everywhere. Constantly refining it until it was Cerebus.
Everything about the art got better. Dave got better at anatomy, faces, design, and storytelling. The contrast got dialed up. Gerhard went from supplying the backgrounds to creating the world. Sometimes they would seem to drop what they were doing and run in wacky artistic directions. Sometimes they would run down the coast of fine art and then round the corner into silent film. One page is pure cartooning the next page is photo-realism. Even the lettering became art.
The general thrust of this post is supposed to be about the artistic influence of the work of Dave Sim and Gerhard. I can't see how you could look at more than a few pages of it and not be influenced by the work. And it just kept getting better.
My first introduction to all of this stuff was the 112-113 double issue. It was a used quarter bin copy found around 1991 or 1992. There was no deeper contrast between the pile of everything else I had off of the comics rack and that one issue. I think most people here can probably picture 90's comics accurately. While I have a whole lot of love for the comics of the 90's the difference was night and day.
No dialogue but somehow there was more story. There was an atmosphere no matter where that curious little grey guy went. It was like watching a fascinating silent film. A note from "B." Who's "B."? Where is everybody? There's a dead body on the floor?!? Who is that guy? He grabs a sword. Is he expecting trouble? Then he walks out into the rain and sits down on a ledge. This stuff is beautiful! Why is that mountain shaped like a screw? The kicker dialogue was at the end of the book. I may have not had an idea of what was happening throughout most of the story but I felt like the writer did.
So they started appearing. Little lines. Everywhere. I would be drawing a head or a figure and the lines would start showing up. Stonework in the background with lines all over it. Batman prowling on an old building... with lines all over it, and him. I didn't know what I was doing. I probably still don't. But the influence was definitely there. What was next? Time to violate Dave's copyright on Cerebus and advertise!
My Catholic grade school had a bake sale and I have to admit I was quite taken with that little grey bastard. They rounded up all of the artists in the grade school and made us create all of these posters for the school's bake sale to be plastered on the walls of the school, church, meeting hall, and whatnot. So I started drawing all of these posters of Cerebus behind a podium telling people about this bake sale. Yes, that's right. Cerebus, talking in the third person and pushing his cake.
Before you ask, I have no idea what I was thinking.
Anyway the bake sale got called off because all of the cake's were homemade and that violated some health code or something. I'm not sure. Either way all of those posters presumably got chucked into the furnace along with a lot of cake. Something about the image of a slice of cake on top of a poster Cerebus burning in a Catholic furnace... There's an allegory in there somewhere.
Moving right along.
You know what? Let's just fast forward to the present. So I can just show you some of the obvious influence of Dave and Ger on a lot of my art.
These are the some of the most recent images from Star Wars The Last Jedi. These are sketch cards drawn on 3.5" x 2.5" cardstock.
Thanks Dave! Thanks Ger!
And also thank you to Tim for running this blog! 
And he send some Star Wars art too:

Thanks Kurt!

Next time: I dunno, wanna see pictures of my Crystar the Crystal Warrior figures?

Saturday, 16 December 2017

STAAAARRR WAAAAARRRSS, nothing but STAAAARRR WAAAAARRRSS, please don't let these STAAAARRR WAAAAARRRSS go awwwwaaaaaaayyyyyy....

Hi, Everybody!

Are you ready for Star Wars:The Last Jedi? I'M ready for Star Wars: The Last Jedi! I bet EVERYBODY is ready for Star Wars:The Last Jedi. Because EVERYBODY loves Star Wars!

Well...ALMOST everybody:
WILDCARDa: What's your take on the Star Wars saga?

DAVE: I went to see Episode Three a week or so ago, not having seen any of the films since the second one. I sort of wondered to myself about that. Why didn't I go and see any of the other ones? As soon as Yoda came on the screen I remembered. A Muppet with Fozzie Bear's voice. It just blew the whole thing out of the water for me. I had forgotten the skewed syntax to his sentences as an alien motif but I'm sure I found it as sincerely irritating twenty-five years ago as I did this time. It's Fozzie Bear. How do you expect me to take a muppet who sounds like Fozzie Bear seriously as a Grand Master Poobah type. It was silly. Ger lasted one more movie and then had the same reaction, he informs me, to teddy-bears saving the universe.
That's Dave from the Cerebus Yahoo group's Cerebus Re-Read Q&A (specifically the one from "Reads".)

The Vark Wars print (blatantly stolen from Jeff Tundis' site. I'd sue, really, I would. It'!)
And, from Dave's Blog & Mail #155 (February, 13th, 2007) (Which I can't find over on ...):
It's certainly interesting doing these commissioned pieces. I mean, on the one hand it makes me feel like a much older artist than the fifty year-old that I am. Commissions are sort of an Legendary Veteran kind of thing, but then being the Pariah King of Comics puts you in various contexts that you might otherwise not be in. Producer of Commissioned Work being one of them (although I've yet to tie it in with my discussions with Chester about prostitution). The interesting part is that I end up drawing things that I would never in a million years choose to draw on my own. It's no big secret that I am definitely not in the Star Wars fan category. I had gone to see the first film when it came out and loved it (more vicariously through Gene Day who L*O*V*E*D IT) and then went to see the second film when it came out and, well, that was it for me. I went to see the last instalment when that came out a couple of summers ago, part of me wondering, "How did I get so easily put off by these things? Wasn't there enough Gene Day Juice in the first one to keep me coming out to see every one of the films the day it was released?" The answer came at some point in that final instalment when Yoda showed up on the screen. Oh, right. Fozzy Bear. Frank Oz doing his Fozzy Bear voice with that strange syntax. That was what had done it all right. My willing suspension of disbelief went from willing to unwilling the moment I was being asked to accept a Muppet with Fozzy Bear's voice as a Jedi Master. Mm. Sorry. No can do.
No offence to all the Star Wars fans who are legion in the ranks of the Cerebus Yahoos, but that was it.
So it was interesting going to get reference at the library for the piece. There was a picture book that was just tailor-made for my purposes, Star Wars The Visual Dictionary (D.K. Publishing Inc.). Big display publicity shot of Harrison Ford from the first movie looking as if George Lucas is somewhere off-camera explaining to him exactly how to pose as Flash Gordon as drawn by Al Williamson. This was one of those "luck of the draw" things for John H. that he was asking for a Star Wars commission and that Al Williamson had drawn the original Star Wars newspaper strip. I would get a chance to do my best Al Williamson impression on the page and John was pretty much guaranteed to get a much nicer drawing as a result as I tried to impress my inner Al Williamson.
I had already warned John over the phone that Cerebus as Han Solo was going to pose some difficulties since Han Solo is a distinctly vertical figure. The more vertical a character is, visually, the more difficult it is to compress him to Cerebus size. The leg holster was a good example. It was either going to be too large if I drew the blaster accurately, taking up most if not all of Cerebus' leg, or it would look like a toy if I drew it to Cerebus scale. The Flash Gordon jackboots are a big part of the look and there was no way to do them on the shape of Cerebus' leg. The best I could manage was shiny leggings. John expressed confidence in whatever solutions I came up with. "At least he has the same vest," he said hopefully. Han Solo had a Cerebus vest? Sure enough when I got the book out—cut differently but definitely a black vest.
Anyway, this serendipitous publicity shot of Harrison Ford looking exactly like an Al Williamson Flash Gordon pushed me in an entirely different direction. I just HAD to use the whole thing and traced it off in short order manufacturing my rationalization as I went. What if Cerebus is using the legs as stilts? That way I could draw the legs and boots as much like Al Williamson as I wanted and it would look kind of funny to have Cerebus' own legs bulging up Harrison Ford's svelte waistline. I even decided to include Harrison Ford's hair as if someone had taken extraordinary pains to make this aardvark character look as much like the actor as possible. I tightened up the figure in pencil on tracing paper and got out a sheet of 11 x 17 S-172 artboard to figure out how much space he was going to take up.
That was when I noticed that the book had a nice Star Wars logo in gold against a white backdrop, which meant that I could trace it off without even shooting a photocopy. It only took a few minutes to change Star Wars to Vark Wars. Then it was time for Jaka as Princess Leia. I tried the traditional all-white robe and the hairstyle that looked like two cheese Danish stuck on either side of her head from the first movie. It just didn't work for me somehow. It was hard to tell why. The basic answer is that the outfit is pretty much featureless—a nun's habit is more distinctive!—and it was pretty much tailored to Carrie Fisher's body type which is very different from Jaka's body type. I could trace off the publicity photo in the book, but pretty much everything would have to be redrawn anyway including the posture of the figure. What a strange outfit. Did they cast Carrie Fisher before they designed the costume? These are the sorts of questions you find yourself asking yourself when you're hip-deep in a strange commission and mentally analyzing the physical components. Under what other circumstances would Dave Sim find himself asking himself if Carrie Fisher or her costume came first in the first Star Wars movie?
On the facing page was a smaller shot of Carrie Fisher dressed as Jabba the Hutt's slave girl. It certainly seemed more suited to Jaka with her dancer costumes (and I suspect if your average Star Wars fan was to choose a favourite Princess Leia outfit the slave girl outfit would be the one) (I wonder how many slave girl publicity stills Carrie Fisher sells versus the other publicity stills at show signings these days?). This raised even more layers of speculation that I had no idea I had inside of me. How did George Lucas talk Carrie Fisher into the slave girl thing? I mean, that was pretty far along in the series and presumably Carrie Fisher was still thinking and hoping that this Star Wars gig might be a stepping stone to other roles in "major motion pictures". "Barely there" costumes are not exactly something with which actresses with hard-won screen cred are known to willingly associate. Did he just blindside her with the script? Throw it onto her front steps in the middle of the night? PRINCESS LEIA DRESSED AS SLAVE GIRL ENTERS FROM RIGHT OF SCENE. When did she first get a good look at the costume? Did she call George Lucas up screaming? Can you even do that to George Lucas or did everyone have a "Whatever George wants George gets" clause in their contract? That might explain my favourite Harrison Ford quote where he said that George Lucas should be tied to a chair and forced to read his own dialogue out loud.
 Where was I dredging all this stuff up from?
Were there negotiations about how much skin would be showing? Or was the outfit just presented as a fait accompli? I mean, it's a very good costume, based solidly in the Alex Raymond/Dale Arden mode (I assume it was one of the things on George Lucas' mental checklist) but with all of the high-end Hollywood costume artistry brought to bear. "Here's Alex Raymond/Dale Arden and here's Carrie Fisher's body type. Now, how do we do work them both in?" Pretty flawlessly, I would say. In the publicity shot she certainly doesn't look very happy (which I suppose could be just "in character" for a slave girl). Looks like she had to work out pretty hard to get that toned. How old was she at that time? Early thirties? No love handles, no pot belly. She did a great job.
As I say, it's bizarre what goes through your mind when you actually work on something like this. In the same vein, it was an unexpectedly happy nostalgia jolt to have John Williams' Star Wars soundtrack running through my head for days on end. Took me right back to 1978-79 when that was what you listened to most mornings at Gene Day's studio in Gananoque. "What'll it be? John Williams' Star Wars soundtrack or John Williams' Superman soundtrack?" It certainly made writing and drawing comic books seem incredibly heroic at the time. 
I really have to give George Lucas credit as a thorough-going storyteller, assuming that all of the detailed information included in this book came from him personally. I mean, I'm probably just outside the loop, but I had no idea that that broken red racing stripe on the side of Han Solo's pants is a "Corellian blood stripe" or that his belt is equipped with a Droid caller and blaster power cell. Or that the blaster consists of a scope, enhanced blast delivery circuits, power pack release lever, low power pulse warning, power pack, cooling unit, final stage collimator (with "puree" setting?) and flash suppressor. Or that it's officially a DL-44 pistol. I think I managed to get them all on there, although I'll frankly admit that the proportions are probably off by quite a bit. 
Anyway, I did a quick Jaka as Jabba the Hutt slave girl drawing on tracing paper and then reduced it a bit on the photocopier so she didn't look TOO much larger than Han Solo (although I did want her to look larger—this is, after all, Cerebus and Jaka), turned over the photocopy on the light table to trace off onto another piece of tracing paper… 
…and the next day promptly fell ill for nearly a month.

Next time: "I bent my Wookie..." 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Noice. Fank You.

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.

For the past few weeks we've been looking at Dave Sim's notebook #9 pages that had material on Prince Mick and his brother Keef. Most of it so far has been sketches of Prince Mick as seen in last week's Sketches of Prince Mick we left off with page 67. On the next page we get some thumbnail layouts and dialogue.

Notebook 9, page 68
The page 5 and page 6 refer to Cerebus #85, or pages 679 and 680 of Church & State II if you're following along with the phonebooks. The thumbnail of page 5 follows the finished page pretty closely.  The dialogue from below the thumbnail is a bit different, and it lacks Gerhard's amazing backgrounds, but even Keef's word balloon's in panel two have the bubbles the same as his word balloons on the finished page.

Cerebus #85, pages 5 & 6 (click image to see it larger)
On the next page of the notebook we see more dialogue for pages #5 and 6 along with some sketches of Mick and Cerebus for page 6.

Notebook 9, page 69
Again most of the dialogue was used with just a word changed there or here. Prince Mick is facing the left instead of the right.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Cerebus Anniversary-- Forty Years of a Cantankerous Aardvark Part the Second

Sean Michael Robinson:


I wanted to use this week's post to bring some attention to a so-far-unheralded milestone in the world of comics. This month is the fortieth anniversary of Cerebus #1, first published (according to the cover date, anyway!) in December of 1977.

So as of yet, no one's thrown Cerebus a party. No one's baked him a cake. But to celebrate in a smaller, less icing-involved way, over the next few weeks we'll take a look at a few excepts from the essay I wrote for the newly-restored 17th printing of Cerebus Volume One, released January 2017. If you enjoy the excerpt, or really, even if you don't, I'd recommend picking up a copy of the printing, which is remarkably better than any of the preceding printings. (Easily identified by the increased cover price, and the giant REMASTERED EDITION banner on the top!)


An early (and possibly only) Cerebus "style sheet", most likely drawn around the time of the second issue, at least, based on the style of the figures and the shield.

It’s this kind of tangle and community of contribution and borrowing that make writing about, and really, comprehensively thinking about and analyzing the early issues of Cerebus such a difficult task. Do you want a comprehensive list of references, of parodies, of appropriations both large and small? Even forty years removed, such a task would be almost impossible, at least partially because the targets were often local or personal, as well as broad cultural appropriations. Take Elrod the Albino, who first appeared in “Death’s Dark Tread” (June 1978) and who drove an early sales spike in the book. He’s equal parts Michael Moorecock’s fantasy character Elric of Melnibon√©, and Foghorn Leghorn of Warner Brothers’ cartoon fame, who himself was based on Senator Beauregard Claghorn, a character from The Fred Allen Show, a popular radio show in the 1940s. Further muddying the waters, a former girlfriend of Sim’s claimed that “Elrod’s delusional narcissism [was] partially inspired by a mutual acquaintance who is/was the bane of my existence, Dave’s too. It is Dave’s most brilliant inside joke, so effective and so well done the inspiration probably still is blissfully unaware of the association, even though he’s aware he inspired a character.”

I’m not sure if any of that information makes Elrod any funnier. But it does go a long way to explaining the particular effect that’s at work here. Every detail that appears in these issues, no matter how superficial, is continually mined and re-worked, polished and scrubbed, sometimes melted and reformed, and is made to serve the broader project as the book continues. These first twenty-five comics, crude as they can be and indebted as they are to fanzine culture of the 70s and the youthful urge to poke every bear in the eye, are referenced and reworked for at least the next 175 issues, almost twenty more years of fiction built upon the initial framework of monthly fantasy adventure stories.

Structurally, formally, there’s never been anything like it.

But if I can be permitted some medium-hopping, there’s at least one comparison that seems apt, that gives some insight into the formal issues at work. Frank Zappa, one of the most prolific musician/composers of the latter half of the twentieth century, bears comparison with Sim. Both were autodidacts, self-taught in a host of skills, and eventual virtuosos in their chosen specialties of technique. Both had an irreverent and even post-modern penchant for both social parody and borrowing, making art out of not only their observations of the world and those closest to them, but many times, of those people’s actual words. Both rose to prominence in their fields with laugh-out-loud work that seemed crude by their later technical standards. And crucially, both grew to envision each creation on its own and as a segment of a larger framework. Sim’s vision of Cerebus as his life’s work, both a continuing story of the life of a single character, and a series of novels documenting his own evolving thoughts on the nature of reality, was made after his LSD-inspired breakdown and subsequent hospitalization at Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital.

Here’s the story, very effectively dramatized by Christopher Shulgan for Toronto’s Saturday Night magazine:

One day, shortly after Sim had been invited to appear at a comics convention in the eastern United States, an acquaintance gave him four or five hits of LSD. [actually the aforementioned Michael Loubert] As a heavy marijuana smoker, Sim was not uncomfortable with drug use. “I had always done Cerebus stoned,” he recalled, years later. “I did everything stoned.” Curious about how the acid would affect his work and anxious for a release from the anxiety brought on by the impending public appearance, Sim took the drug. He liked the perspective it gave him. His work seemed effortless. When the acid’s effect faded, he swallowed another tab.
That first day on LSD turned into two, then three. His behaviour began to alarm his wife. With the comics convention only weeks away, Loubert heard Sim speaking to people who didn’t exist. After days cycling through moods of apoplectic rage and of passivity, Sim found himself in the psychiatric ward of Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital. (It was Loubert [in tandem with Sim’s mother] who had him hospitalised).
Sim came to realise he had experienced a breakdown brought on by a combination of stress and LSD. When he realised the hospital couldn’t hold him against his will, he left. Soon after, the ideas and inspiration generated during the acid trip coalesced into a creative epiphany that spawned his life’s work: he would use Cerebus to tell the story of a life.... The story of Cerebus would last 300 issues, he said. And it would finish in March 2004.

Sim’s grand vision of Cerebus as a vehicle for all of his creativity and a soapbox for all of his thoughts on the world is both the single biggest barrier to access for the series and simultaneously its biggest aesthetic strength. The chronological and literal length of the endeavor forced different kinds of narrative conception, different types of stories, and a constantly-shifting set of narrative tacks that give each segment its own thrust and structure, while the entirety of the work remains, in a way, unknowable. Zappa had a name for his own conception of this effect—“Project/Object,” a way to take the innumberable projects that he executed in his life—over fifty albums, hundreds of live performances, films, scripts, even interviews—and place them together, referencing each other and thus existing in simultaneity, so as to change and enrich the individual projects in context of the larger theoretical “object.”

And that is in essence the mystery at the heart of Cerebus as art object, versus Cerebus as narrative or Cerebus as long-running periodical. Over the entirety of Cerebus there exists a 500-page novel focused almost exclusively on art, ambition, and quiet obsession, people as objects in orbit around each other, intricately rendered in a pen and ink style reminiscent of Franklin Booth, populated by figures acting with exquisite subtlety but capable of sudden rubberiness a-la Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair. Another novelette consisting of an author’s slow-moving death while the titular character is virtually catatonic, which ends in a burst of physical violence unprecedented in the series. There are no less than three cosmic revelations, with two literal theophanies, and an attempt to unify a reading of modern astrophysics with the first book of the Torah. Many, though not all, of these could be read independently from each other, without reference to the rest, much as you could read any of the individual early issues and have a complete experience. But placed together, they are changed.What do these novels say about each other? Do to each other? How do they interact, speak, conflict, continue or contradict the goals and values of the preceeding, and those to-come? And how, exacly, do all of these segments have their genesis here, in a comic best described as Conan meets Howard the Duck?

Another "first Cerebus"-- Cerebus the potted plant/table lamp. From "Crimson Alpha", a story from the never-published all-Dave Sim anthology REVOLT 3000, drawn between the long-lost CEREBUS the fanzine and the first actual issue of Cerebus.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Justice League: The AMOC review

Hi, Everybody!

So I went and saw Justice League, and now the A Moment Of Cerebus review:

Cerebus doesn't appear in it.

Join me next time when I review: Thor Ragnarok (spoilers: there are no aardvarks in that either...)

Monday, 11 December 2017

Super-rare Cerebus Archives for auction!

Hi, Everybody!

Who's looking for some Cerebus Archive (the comics series)?

Well boy-howdy are you in for a treat,

Check this out!

Numbers 7 & 8, 9 & 10, 14, 15 &16, 17&18.

Good luck!

Thanks to Sean Robinson for the tip.
Do you have a tip/suggestion for A Moment Of Cerebus? Drop a line to momentofcerebus (at) gmail (dot) com and you could have YOUR NAME typed in a small font by Interim Editor Matt Dow (It IS quite the honor...)

Next time: "What am I bid on these old Archie Comics from the late 70s, that have a vague 'wet dog' smell?"

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Reading Cerebus #2

Hey look kids! It's "READING CEREBUS" time!
Kevin Kimmes:

Welcome back to “Reading Cerebus”, a new weekly column here at A Moment of Cerebus. The goal of this column is to bring a fresh perspective to the 300-issue saga of Cerebus as I read through the series for the first time and give my insights into the longest running independent comic book series of all time. Think of this as part book club, part lit-crit, and part pop culture musing. Oh, and they told me Dave Sim himself may be reading this, so I hope I don’t screw this up. Let’s continue.
Issue #2 – “Captive in Boreala”
Cerebus #2: Captive in Boreala
Issue 2 opens an indeterminate amount of time after the events of issue 1. With his money gone, we find Cerebus has fled the cities of the south and has joined a Tansubal warband headed for Boreala and the countries to the north-east.
After being ambushed by a group of savage marauders (no, not the 1980’s X-Men villains), Cerebus finds himself outnumbered and proving his worth as a “sword for hire” in the sacred “Duel of the Long Knives”.
Some of you are saying, “What’s this “Duel of the Long Knives” of which you speak?” Well, I’m glad you asked. In the “Duel of the Long Knives” two competitors, each armed with long knives (surprise, surprise) fight with a two-foot length of cloth between their teeth. That is how “sacred tradition” dictates the fight is supposed to transpire. However, due to a height disparity between Cerebus and his opponent, Klog, this fight features a six-foot length of cloth in order to be “more - - uh sacred”.
Sacred tradition demands I caption this image from the first phonebook... courtesy of CerebusDownloads

This test is meant to favor the physical attributes of the man-mountain, Klog, and plays out as such in the early going. Cerebus is quickly thrown from his feet and his knife flies several feet away. This would be the doom of less qualified warriors, but only a momentary distraction for Cerebus. See, he has a secret weapon at his disposal, his snout.
As mentioned in last week’s column, the Cerebus of the early issues has a long snout and is a bit “off-model” in comparison with the look that most comics fans of the last 40 years would recognize, but in this week’s tale, this strangely pays off for “The Earth-Pig Born”. With, Klog’s attempt at a charge foiled, Cerebus draws him in close and unleashes a dreaded “Earth-Pig Snout Punch”. Yes, sometimes being a bit off-model pays off in ways you wouldn’t necessarily expect.
Sadly, poor dumb Klog learns a harsh lesson from this contest: Don’t piss off Cerebus!
While Klog lays unconscious in the snow, the Borealan chieftain quips about how as a southlander Cerebus doubtlessly has a moral code that prohibits the execution of an unconscious foe. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as Cerebus picks up his knife and plunges it deep into Klog’s skull. Again, repeat after me, kids: Don’t piss off Cerebus!
Cerebus soon finds his time as a Borealan marauder short lived as on the third day of their march they run into fatal opposition from an ensorcelled army of fifty warriors. Cut off from the Borealans, Cerebus soon finds himself herded toward the precipice of a cliff with two options presented: fight against unfathomable sorcery or face the unknown danger of what lies below. Cerebus chooses the unknown.
As it turns out, the unknown holds two things: 1) “The Eye of Terim”, 2) An artistic shortcut. We’ll get back to “The Eye…” in a moment, but let’s talk about this shortcut for a minute. In his introduction to issue #2 in “Swords of Cerebus” (later re-printed in “Cerebus Bi-Weekly” #2), Dave admits that drawing twelve pages of Cerebus and rocks was a lot more appealing to the artistic part of him at the time, than the alternative of spending the next two weeks drawing Barry Windsor-Smith people and buildings and snow. Thus, we get the heavy blacks of the poorly lit resting place of “The Eye of Terim”.
“The Eye…” is said to be guarded by the demon Khem, but as Cerebus is soon to learn, legends can be deceiving, as can appearances. As with the “Flame Jewel” of issue #1, “The Eye…” is not actually “The Eye…”, but instead the trappings of a succubus!
As the succubus attempts to attack Cerebus for seeing it for what it is, an interesting twist is uncovered: “The Earth-Pig Born” may have no soul. Explained as “…his unusual nature” on the last page of the story, this is something I’ll be keeping eye out for in later stories. For now, this lack of or difficulty in finding a soul, has just saved Cerebus’ grey hide.
This issue ends with Cerebus realizing that his battle with the succubus has released the ensorcelled army, leaving a battle field of skeletons as proof. Finding himself broke and hungry again, Cerebus heads to the nearest port twenty-plus miles away where he plans on enjoying the finer things in life like ale and brawling.
Join me back here next week as I discuss the “Song of Red Sophia” which features the introduction of Red Sophia, based on another Robert E. Howard creation, Red Sonja. Take care.
Currently Listening To: “Sunshine Daydream: Veneta, Oregon, August 27, 1972” by Grateful Dead
Kevin Kimmes is a lifelong comic book reader, sometime comic book artist, and recent Cerebus convert. He can be found slinging comics at the center of the Multiverse, aka House of Heroes in Oshkosh, WI

Saturday, 9 December 2017

"Like sands through the hourglass..." Dave's Sim's Blog & Mail #1

Hi, Everybody!

Your ol' Interim Editor Matt Dow here. Today, I thought we'd take a look back at Dave Sim's Blog & Mail. Specifically, the first one. With my then-commentary.

Preamble: Dave Sim's Blog & Mail ran on the Cerebus Yahoo group from September 13th, 2006 to December 26th, 2007., that's pretty much all you needed to know. I used to call it the "bloggymail" because in Spanish, "and" is "y", and I thought "Blog y Mail" sounded funny, or something. Dude, it was a decade ago. Wait do you want? Anyway,

Dave's text is in bold. 
And my comments are in not bold.

Hi Dave,

Since Jeff Seiler has made it clear that we (the yahoos,) are pretty much mandated to write in (hmmm...who made THAT decision?  Something smells fishy here...), here's my replies/comments/mad ramblings on the first weeks worth of "blogandmail"s.

On 9/13/06, Dave Sim < > wrote:
Wednesday September 13 – Hi and welcome to my Blog.


I'm actually going to try to stay current with this on a daily basis, having noticed that I spent way too much time saying to myself while answering my escargot mail "I really should make a note of that and let the Yahoos know about it" and never, you know, actually doing it.  

Oh the things that never turned up here...

Even tried self-inducing a trance-like state and saying to a particular paragraph in a letter I was working on: "Go to Larry Hart (or Lenny Cooper or Jeff Seiler or Jeff Tundis or…you get the idea).   Go to him now and tell him what you have to say. Tell him to post you to the Yahoo discussion group. Go now"  You know, I figured if I had it typed on my computer screen and I just wanted it to go to another computer screen, maybe I could make it into a Lassie-type gig.   "Go to the Yahoos. Tell them you need help." 

Well, that explains that.  We've had about twenty border collies hanging around for the past month or so.  Nobody could figure out what they wanted.  It went kinda like this:
Border collie: "woof-woof."
Jeff Tundis: "What's that Lassie, Timmy fell down the well and has a compound fracture of the lower mandibula?"
Border collie: "woof-woof."
Lenny Cooper: "What's that Lassie, bootleggers are hiding out at the old Miller place?"
Border collie: "woof-woof."
Larry Hart: "What's that Lassie, The Highway Ghoul is really Smithers, the cantankerous old caretaker?"
Border collie: "woof-woof."
Jeff Seiler: "What's that Lassie, 'be sure to drink your Ovaltine'?"
Border collie: "woof-woof."
Margaret Liss: "Does anybody know why this dog keeps following me around with what looks like an old notebook that somebody drug through a creek?"
Border collie: "woof-woof."
Chris Woerner: "So Sir Gerrick was supposed to be a major presence in Cerebus, but Dave had to cut him out to fit in all the Cirinist stuff?"
Border collie: "woof-woof."
Jason Trimmer: "Why does a dog have original Cerebus sketches in it's mouth?"
Border collie: "woof-woof."
Me: "'Deep is the suede that mows like a harvest'?  What does that even mean?"
Jeff Seiler: "Hey look, this dog just pulled out a copy of 'Latter Days' and opened it to the sheep dog at the beginning."
Jeff Tundis: "Aww, he must think he knows that dog."
Border collie: "Grrrr."
Um... you get the idea.
(Say, since these are technically your dogs, could you kick in a couple bucks to pay for dog-chow?  Cause in a few months we're gonna have even more dogs around here.)  (It looks like somedoggy's been up to the devil's business.)

     Finally, I decided to make Uber Yahoo and Minister-in-Charge-of-Checking-Dave Sim-for-Hypocrisy-on-Behalf-of-Secular-Humanists-Everywhere Jeff Tundis

Ha!  Now I know Jeff's official title.
And knowing is half the battle.

(check out his website, still in progress) my posting victim.  The nice thing about Jeff is, like me, he is always working so I never have any trouble getting him on the phone. 


The even nicer thing about Jeff is that even though he's up to his ass in crocodiles as a general rule, he's always glad to find out what it is that I want (or he's glad to pretend to be interested in finding out what it is that I want which is "close enough for government work" for me!).   

Remember Dave, don't abuse this awesome power.  Ya know, like by making Jeff go get you a turkey sandwich.   Okay, that'd be pretty funny.  But don't make him get you a turkey sandwich a whole lot.  Only on special occasions.

He pretty much put this format together while I was still talking to him on the phone and asking him if it was possible. 

Much like that lady who used to hang out with Helen Keller, Jeff is a miracle worker.  Like Scotty from Star Trek.

So I really found out that it was possible for me to do a Blog without actually being hooked up to the Internet and found out that I was now doing a Blog pretty much in the same moment. 

That sounds like it was fun.  Fortunately, Jeff didn't post THAT conversation as the first installment of blogandmail. 
You: "Jeff, it's Dave.  Is it possible to do a Blog without being hooked up to the internet?"
Jeff: "Sure Dave, I'm posting right now, what do you have to say."
You: "Um...'Hi, this is Dave Sim.'"
Jeff: "Anything else?"
You: "Yeah, 'Go get me a turkey sandwich.'"

  So, we'll launch the new "Blog & Mail" right after this brief commercial message.

Jeff's great.  Now make him cluck like a chicken!

The Blog & Mail is brought to you today by

I've been, neat sight.  (Now if only that dump truck full of twenty dollar bills would crash in front of my apartment and make me rich enough to afford original Cerebus art...)

 Your "One-Stop Shopping Headquarters" for all your Cerebus Art Needs Well, okay, not ALL of your Cerebus Art Needs.   Let's say you NEEDED all of the interior pages for issue 8.  Well, we haven't got them.  SOMEBODY sold them for $10 apiece back in 1978 and spent the money on marijuana. Not naming any names.

Hey, somebody mentioned that somebody else was interested in getting a full recreation of issue one for the thirtieth anniversary of Cerebus.  And that that was gonna cost a small fortune.  Is there any interest on your or Gerard's part to do a "Special Edition" of Cerebus #1 for the thirtieth? (He asked knowing the answer's probably "not really" and "Where's that Tundis kid with my sandwich?".)

In the Blog & Mail today:

  IN TALES OF THE SILVERFISH #4 WITH CEREBUS ART AND DIALOGUE BY DAVE SIM  CEREBUS CROSSES OVER WITH THE SILVERFISH.    This was quite a bit of fun to do from John Q. Adams' layouts although I changed it from the regular old dying Cerebus of The Last Day to Cerebus' first post-mortem guest appearance at a comic book convention.

Neat.  (Of course now I gotta find a copy, but still neat.)

   The pages sat around here for a while as I tried to figure out how to put tone on Cerebus and still have the Silverfish in the foreground.   That was when I figured out they're just cartoon silverfish: draw a head and a body shape and people should get the idea from the context. People are, you know, pretty bright that way.

"Look Peggy, it's a little silverfish."
"Why that's real purdy Joe-Bob, I wunder how he does it?"

Even did my own (albeit second-rate on a Gerhard scale) backgrounds!

Aw come on Dave.  They can't be any worse then any background I've ever done.

   Some or all of the proceeds from issue 4 will be donated to the CBLDF [see or for details].  

Well now I know where to look for a copy.
And knowing is half the battle...
(The other half is gratuitous violence.)

The Silverfish Gallery features an extensive exhibit of silverfish cartoons done by a variety of comic-book big names and some little names.

Well Dave around here you'll always be a big nam...WOW, FRED HEMBECK!  AW, NEAT!!!!!

    It also took a while for the issue to get printed which is pretty much par for the course for rookies and folks for whom cartooning and self-publishing is not their regular gig. 

Are you talking about me?

  I tend to think about that when I'm working on a jam strip for somebody: I wonder what's going to be going on in my life when this turns up in printed form?   Sometimes the stuff just vanishes and I never get an answer to that question.

Okay, you're talking about me aren't you?


If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
P.O. Box 1674
Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

You'd think I'd have this memorized, but every time, I end up having to look it up.

Looking for a place to purchase Cerebus phonebooks?

Not really, I sorta have 'em all.  I mean I was thinking of finishing my best friend's set for him

And that's it. Come back next week for the next installment of "Bloggymail Archives" or whatever I call this feature.