Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Tavern at the Wall of T'si

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.

We've looked at Dave Sim's notebook #24 six times already, most recently with Notes for Dave's Chat with Neil in May of 2016. It covers Cerebus #192 through 211 and had 138 pages scanned in. All those times we've seen pages from it, we've never seen the front cover:

Notebook  #24, front cover

While it is another purple Hilroy - sans unicorn this time - it is smaller than most of the other notebooks. This one is 22.9 x 15.2 cm (9" x 6"). The other notebooks are 27.9 x 21.6 cm (11" x 8.5").

On page 46 Dave sketched out a layout for 'Guys No. 5'. Which as we know, isn't the cover for Guys #5, aka Cerebus #205.

Notebook #24, page 46
Dave had also marked it up as Cerebus #206, which turned out to be Guys No 6. It does look like it could be some interior pages, but  I couldn't find it.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Aardvark Comics #1- Hell is Delicious, the Last Wednesday of Every Month

Order at your Local Comics Shop now! Diamond Order Code: JUL171242.

Paper to Pixel to Paper Again: Part 23

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15
16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 

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

Part 23
Laying It All Out There


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

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

Last week, we finished (or nearly finished) discussing the actual restoration and adjustment of line art for print. But as of yet, we haven't discussed layout, layout programs, or delivering files and communicating your desires to your printer of choice. 

Hopefully, you've now completely named and organized your file, completely adjusted and cleaned them up, and are now ready to move on to layout.

As I try to do as a general principal as often as is possible, we're going to automate this step, by making a Photoshop script that will do the (annoyingly slow) few steps that need to be taken care of before our finished files can be dropped into our layout program.

Go your Actions panel, and click on the New Action button.

Here are the steps you need to go through—

1. Flatten Image (important in case there's something odd about how you left your layers that will prevent then ext step)

2. Image -> Mode -> Bitmap 

This brings up a dialogue box that prompts you to select a resolution. Select 2400 ppi (or whatever your file resolution is.) For "Method", choose 50% Threshold.

And with that, our mercifully short script is complete.

Now we're going to run it.

Go to File -> Scripts -> Image Processor to bring up one of Photoshop's most helpful features.

This is a handy tool for background processing using actions you've written. Use the first dialogue box to select the folder you want to process, in this case, your (carefully labeled :) ) folder of all of your PSD files that you've adjusted and cleaned up.

The second folder prompts you for a destination for the generated files. Once again, err on the side of clarity. Name the folder something like NameOfBook_Bitmaps and nest it inside the main folder you've previously made for the book.

For File Type, check Save As TIFF, and check the LZW Compression (it's a lossly compression algorithm)

And lastly, select the Action you want to run.

And then hit "Go" and come back in a while!

You can check the process of the automation by browsing your newly-created folder and watching it populate with the finished images. They should be very small, as the 1-bit bitmaps occupy much less space than their layered, color or grayscale relatives--somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-6 MB apiece. 


Now we're going to create a layout for our book and place these images and add any other text, page numbers or any other elements we need to.

I'd heartily recommend Indesign, like most Adobe programs, a deep but sometimes quirky program, capable of a wide variety of layout tasks. (And if you're already paying for an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, it's already included.)

Here's the "New Document" prompt for the current version of Indesign.

The sizes referred to in the first dialogue boxes are the trim size of your document: that is, the actual final finished size of your pages. The Cerebus volumes are 75."(inches) x 10", so that's the size I've selected here.

Below that is the second critical piece of info—the page count. Consult your printer for limitations of this number. For most printers and binding methods, this number needs to be a multiple of at least 8, possibly as high as 32, depending on the paper selected and the size of rolls that paper is available in.

Next, click the "FACING PAGES" box on. That'll help you envision the actual final look of the book as you work on the layout.

IMPORTANT—This layout document is only for the inside of your book. Your cover needs to be laid out to the specifications of your printer, who will want a different spine size depending on the bulk of the paper, binding method etc. Making your cover as part of your interior layout can cause much confusion down the road when communicating with your printer, so beware! 

The next important number is your "Margins" settings. This will create a little red box in your document (only visible to you, and not part of your finished file!) that will help you guide your image placement. If you were already working with a specific margin size in your artwork, enter those numbers here for easy image placement.

Lastly, we have settings for Bleed. This is the amount of space that the layout program will extend images outside of your document, should you have any full-bleed ("to the edge of the paper") images in your book. This is yet another number that should come from your printer, as different facilities and different printing processes have different tolerances for variation—but go ahead and set it to a very safe 0.5" for now. It's easy to adjust later if needed (Some printers can tolerate bleeds as small as .125")

Okay, now, let's take a look at our empty house.

Here are the first three pages of our layout. The magenta interior box are the previously-discussed margins, and the red outer box is the distance that our bleed extends.

Before we drop in our images, we need to set up any elements that might be common to every page. In this case, all I'm going to need are page numbers, something fortunately very easy to do in Indesign.

First, we need to edit our Master page. Indesign allows you to make multiple "Master" pages, which serve as templates that carry over certain common elements from page to page. In this case, we need only one master page type. Fortunately, Indesign defaults to having a single master ("Master A") applied across every page, so all we have to do is edit it.

Go to Window -> Pages to bring up the Pages window.

Double-click the little page icons next to the A-Master. This should bring up the A-Master page. Anything that you add to this page will now be present by default in every A-Master-associated page (which, currently, is every page in your document).

First, I'm going to add some handy-dandy guides to mark the middle of my page both horizontally and vertically.

You make these guides (again, unprintable guides) by grabbing the ruler at the top or side of the page and pulling towards your document. I've used some basic division to place them at the center of my page. Whatever placement might be helpful for you, go ahead and do—there's a lot of personal preference on these things.

Now I'm going to make the page numbers. First I'll select the text tool (T) and draw a text box big enough to accommodate the longest number in your book.

Go to Type -> Insert Special Character -> Markers -> Current Page Number. Now is the time to decide what font, what size, centered, whatever formatting decisions you make, because although you can change this from the master page at any time, any time you override it on an individual page (which we will do in the course of the layout), it will remain the older type with whatever changes you made. So decide now!

After you've got this set, you need to copy it over to the facing page as well. Click the text box, hold Alt (makes a copy) and shift (keeps the newly-created item straight along whatever axis you move it) and drag it to the right to the facing page.

Now the letter should be on both pages, like so—

Next week: More layout, and it's just as exciting as it seems!

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

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Eddie Khanna's Newspaper Clippings #1

 Chicago Tribune
(24 April 1992)
 Argus Leader, Sioux Falls
(2 May 1982)
 The Muncie Evening Press
(5 January 1984)
Quad City Times
(12 Junly 1982)

(Click all images to enlarge!)
Many thanks to Eddie Khanna for providing these newspaper clippings.
Eddie is currently helping Dave Sim research 'The Strange Death of Alex Raymond'
and you can read his regular updates on Dave's Patreon site for as little as $1 per month.

Monday, 24 July 2017

That Russ Heath Girl #2

That Russ Heath Girl! #2
(Glamourpuss #17, January 2011)
Russ Heath contributed three covers to Dave Sim's Glamourpuss #11-13 (2010)
as well as four 'That Russ Heath Girl' pin-ups in Glamourpuss #16-19 (2010/11).

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

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Dave Sim: On Onan & Masturbation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Popular Posts: The All Time Top Ten!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Drunk Attic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Paper to Pixel to Paper Again: Part 22

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15
16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23

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

Part 22
Cleaning Up Line-up From Print Sources


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

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


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

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

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

This is how the page appears after the cleanup.

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

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

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

Okay, let's get to the actual technique.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And voila! The technique works great.

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

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

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

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Russ Heath & The Hero Initiative

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

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

Monday, 17 July 2017

"Gratification Is A Dish Best Savoured Cold"

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

24 September 04

Dear Mr. Morrow:

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

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

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

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



Sunday, 16 July 2017

Dave Sim: On Prostitution & Chester Brown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Gerhard: A Big Explosion In Space

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

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

Gerhard's 2017 Convention & Signing Itinerary:

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

Gerhard: The Nerdy Show Interview

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

Thursday, 13 July 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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