Friday, September 29, 2006

Dave Sim's blogandmail #18 (September 29th, 2006)

All this week the Blog & Mail is brought to you by

Individual Cerebus Trade Paperbacks

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Today's Trade Paperback: Flight

Surreal! Mind-Bending! Blood Soaked!

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Then issue 186 came out and that was the end of that!

Available at better comic book stores or at

Anatomy of a Following Cerebus cover

A Week-Long Except for Wednesday, Sunday and Tuesday Blog & Mail Essay

Figuring out what an issue of Following Cerebus is going to be about is really one of the toughest things about my and Craig's jobs right now. Just about the time we're getting our publisher's copy of Diamond Previews with the solicitation for an issue of Following Cerebus, it's time to start working on the next cover. So, about a week ago, the Previews issue came in with the solicitation for issue 10 which means we now have three weeks to get a cover done, scanned, the logo and type put on and a description of it sent to Diamond. Of course, right now Craig is just cleaning up the debris from the Neal Adams issue—sending me back my Adams reference material and getting his own files back in order—and starting to write some of the text and come up with the interview questions for issue 10's "The Night Before and Dreams" issue. The last thing he wants me to ask is: "What's the one after that going to be about?" But that's what's right in the middle of my plate if I'm going to get my part done and Ger's going to get his part done and each of us is going to have enough time to do our part properly. If I'm doing the cover solo (a la the cover to issues 5 or 7) that isn't as much of a problem, but obviously if you have the King of the Pen and Ink and Watercolour Eye Candy standing by, you want to make maximum use of him (a la the covers of issues 2, 8, 10) and that means giving him as much time as possible.

So, a while back I had faxed Craig the suggestion that we do an Animation Issue. I had just had brunch at the Walper Terrace Restaurant with Rob Walton who had come up for a visit and I had recorded our conversation, got the waitress to take photos, etc. Apart from Ragmop [again, highest possible recommendation on this 400-page graphic novel—get your orders into Diamond before the book actually ships if you're a retailer and let your local store know you want one if you're a comics reader] Rob's primarily made his living from animation, working for various companies but primarily Toronto's Nelvana Studio over the years, doing storyboards and all other aspects of the animation business and he knows them inside and out. As far as I know, apart from the guys who have drawn the Hanna-Barbera characters over the years for their various comic-book incarnations, Rob is the only one to use that cartooning style extensively in his own comic-book work. So it seemed like a fruitful idea to discuss what both of us have taken from the animation field in our own work, where comic books and animation are similar, etc. And, what the heck. I'm the point man. No one else is thinking of issue 11 at this point, so let's just say it's the Animation Issue. I suggested to Craig that I could do an Elrod/Foghorn Leghorn homage, with Elrod wearing a Foghorn Leghorn costume and Foghorn wearing a Lord Silverspoon tunic and wig. He thought it was a great idea. So, that was what I decided to do when it came time (which, as it turns out, was last week).

So, I got my part done and the gag hinged on knowing what "Space Jam" was—Foghorn basically fools Elrod into switching places. Foghorn will get all of Elrod's High Society royalties and Elrod gets to go to Hollywood and star in the big "Space Jam" sequel. I showed Ger the pencilled cover idea and he laughed a little bit through his nostrils which meant that he didn't like it, but I soldiered on anyway. The following week when he came in, I had my part pencilled and inked and lettered and finally he asked in an exasperated voice, "What IS `Space Jam'?"

Uhhh. So, I explained that "Space Jam" had been this huge animation fiasco that only Time-Warner could put together that came out five years ago which involved the Warner Brothers cartoon characters teaming up with Michael Jordan, of the NBA's Chicago Bulls to save the universe in a big basketball game. Does this sound familiar to anyone? One of the problems with a two-man operation is that there's no way of telling who is crazy and who isn't. I figured pretty much everyone would remember "Space Jam" because it had been so bad—that really irritating Roger Rabbit crap that they do these days where every frame of every scene looks as if it had been drawn by Tex Avery on amphetamines—LOTS of amphetamines. And, um, it tanked really, really badly. I tried watching it on Pay TV back when I had a TV and I think I lasted about eight minutes. So, I'm explaining this to Gerhard and he has his "REAL people won't know anything about that" look on his face. So, I'm the crazy one. And I'm not so much agreeing with him (does ANYONE out there remember "Space Jam"?) as I'm thinking, the target outreach audience for this issue (if there is one) is animation people and maybe trying to get a laugh out of "Space Jam" is not a particularly cagey move given that the movie virtually single-handedly sunk traditional animation which is what most of the potential new audience would have been employed in. See, they didn't do the movie in-house but farmed out most of it to animation studios all over North America and then stitched it together at the end. I heard that Jeff Smith's old studio Character Builders did some of it and I know Nelvana did some.

Meanwhile, I've gotten a book out of the library on the Classic Warner cartoons which has a great Robert McKimson model sheet of Foghorn Leghorn from 1953 (there are approximately three or four really good Foghorn Leghorn cartoons—the first one won an Oscar—and then a bunch of so-so and lousy ones) as well as the Looney Tunes title card. I figure I'll do an animation strip of the title card, lettering "Following Cerebus" in the "Looney Tunes" style and in the final frame Cerebus is bursting through the title card a la Porky Pig only Cerebus says, "Nay. Nay. Cerebus is NOT going to say it." (`Th-th-th-That's All Folks", right?)

Tomorrow: I know Gerhard's out there I can hear him breathing


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.