Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dave Sim's blogandmail #17 (September 28th, 2006)

Today's edition of the Blog & Mail is brought to you by

High Society (Volume 2 in the series)

When 16 Volumes Seems Like Committing to a Marriage

Remember, several of the books can stand alone

High Society (Volume 2 in the series)

The Walking Barbarian Id encounters Civilization For the First Time

You'll Laaauuugh! OY!

Anatomy of a Following Cerebus Cover

An Almost Week-Long except for Wednesday and Sunday and Tuesday Blog & Mail Essay

Well, no sooner do I tell you guys that I'm going to do a colour cartoon for the cover of Collected Letters Volume 2 than I change my mind. I dug out a list of letter recipients that I could do caricatures of on the cover and then realized that virtually no one knows what any of them look like! "Boy, doesn't that just look like Kitchener Mayor, Carl Zehr?"

[His Worship got a big laugh at the General Meeting and Dinner of the Kitchener Downtown Business Association when, after a monumental build-up introduction by the KDBA Director, he stepped to the podium. Thanking the director for his lavish praise he then said that while the praise was much appreciated, there's always something that will bring you back down to earth. Two of the women who were sitting at his table had just asked him, "So where do you work downtown?"]

So that was when I got in the new paperback edition of The Little Man, Chet's short story collection which has just come out from Drawn and Quarterly ( Highly Recommended) where Chet did a comic strip on the cover (having gotten the idea from the series of Penguin Classics that he did one of the covers for, Lady Chatterly's Lover). He had been pushing Rob Walton to do one on the cover of Ragmop [the great 1990's self-published title which is now a 400-plus page graphic novel available from Diamond Comics Distributors. Highly recommended even though you couldn't get much further away from my end of the political spectrum. That's right: Ragmop is squarely in Yahoo Territory! And has a pretty good track record for making me laugh out loud at its ultra-liberal caricatures of my side of the fence] while I had been pushing Rob to revive his original issue one cover which had been modeled on the It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World movie poster design. The book ships later in the year—Rob's driving the artwork up to Quebecor even as you read this—it was listed one or two Diamond Previews back so your local store should be able to get you a copy if you say something now!]

It is an interesting idea, I decided. The concept is, obviously, that people feel compelled to read comic strips so putting one on the cover of your book is going to make use of that compulsion. I'm not sure that it actually works, but I bypassed that thought with another thought: what kind of a strip would I do? And the obvious answer (all you Yahoos are going to get sick of hearing this, I think) was a photo-realism strip, along the lines of Stan Drake's Heart of Juliet Jones and Leonard Starr's Mary Perkins On Stage [I can't believe how many plugs/digressions this one little item is necessitating. I just got in volume one of Classic Comics Press reprinting of Mary Perkins On Stage's first year February 1957 to January 1958. Volume two is scheduled for release in November. I bought the premium package including a print signed and numbered by Leonard Starr himself! The books are $19.95 each plus $3.95 for shipping and handling It's a surprisingly good read in addition to the gorgeous art.] So I put something together last week making use of the "Siu Ta (so far)" method: photocopying photographs, cropping them to panel size and dropping computer font lettering in the right space. Margaret "Maggs" Liss wrote me that there has been some dispute on the Internet about whether I was hand-lettering the strips or using a computer font and Jeet Heer brought up the same subject at the Doug Wright Awards. Yes, it's true. It's a computer font from Richard Starkings' Comiccraft called "Joe Kubert". Basically I wanted something that was as close to the ultra-clean Ben Oda style as possible which I frankly don't have the "chops" for (Oda lettered virtually all of the narrative comic strips of the 1950s and 60s. I've even heard the story that he had the keys to a lot of cartoonists' studios so he could just let himself in in the middle of the night, letter the strips and then let himself back out again. Which would make a really good photorealism strip in and of itself!). It's also a lot easier to do caption and balloon corrections. You just retype the material, re-space it and away you go. The final reason is that in the aftermath of issue 186 the predominantly liberal comic-book field went from treating me as a first-rank penciller, inker, writer, writer-artist, cartoonist and letterer (nominations for Eisners and Harveys) to relegating me to nominations in the Best Letterer category only (where I finally won a Harvey in 2005). It didn't bother me since it was so obvious that that was what they were doing: if you're not a feminist you can't be any good at anything but minor technical achievements. But, as I told Margaret and Jeet, I figured if I used a computer font that they wouldn't be able to do that anymore and, sure enough, everyone has been favourably mentioning my artwork on "Siu Ta (so far)" the first time my artwork has been mentioned favourably by anyone since 1994. I did want to emphasize that I gravitated directly to the Joe Kubert font, so Mr. Kubert can take a very deep bow that his lettering is what Dave Sim Superstar Letterer picked over any other for his photorealism work. It's a damned fine font and worth every penny of the $75 or so that it cost. Joe Kubert's lettering font! Accept no substitutes!

Anyway, I've got the logo lettered and a cover inset image of two of three teenaged girls pencilled and inked so hopefully I'll have the finished cover ready to go to Diamond for solicitation in October sometime. Ger's also working up his part of another wraparound cover for Following Cerebus 11 this week. Craig and I are betting that the Dream Analysis issue 10 is going to "burst all bounds" and have to be split up over two issues. More on this tomorrow but at least I GOT to the Following Cerebus cover before the end of episode 1, eh?


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

Looking for a place to purchase Cerebus phonebooks? You can do so online through Win-Mill Productions -- producers of Following Cerebus. Convenient payment with PayPal:

Win-Mill Productions

Or, you can check out Mars Import:

Mars Import

Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.