Dave Sim's blogandmail #26 (October 7th, 2006)
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Having completed my Blog Length Digression on the Abortive American Splendor cover and preparing to get back to my discussion on the technical ins and outs of photorealism in comics not twenty minutes ago I got back my artwork from Howard Shum's film, The Secret Life of Comic Book Artists, along with a rough cut of the film on DVD. It might well be that God is sick of listening to me talk about photorealism in comics or it might just be an excuse for another related digression.
Anyway, what I expected to do was to open the FedEx box and find my pencilled pages with a note from Howard "Dear Dave – Ended up not using your pages after all but I appreciate you taking the time to do them – Howard". See, I had pitched Howard on my using my photorealism style (I told you Yahoos that you're going to get sick of hearing about that) and even had him check out Siu Ta's website while I was talking to him on the phone. "Wow, that's great. You really nailed the Stan Drake thing." Short pause. "But, would you mind doing the pages for my film in your Cerebus style?"
I wasn't even really sure what he meant by my Cerebus style. "You know, the way that you did Mick and Keith." Oh, my modified (-as-in-swiped-imperfectly-) Mort-Drucker-Cerebus style. "Yeah, like that." So that was when he sent me the photos of him and (sigh) Anna Lynne walking through the mall, talking, etc. The photos weren't very good. I mean they were good as ordinary snapshots go, but in terms of being useful for photorealism reference they fell well short of the mark. If I had tried to enlarge them on the photocopier all of the detail would have dropped out and the colour would have gone to a muddy grey. This was why I got Dave Fisher, formerly a professional photographer, to do my shots instead of just getting the waiter to take some pictures with a disposable camera. The more professional the pictures the better they are for photorealism. So, in this case, it actually worked out for the best since the photos Howard had sent were good enough from which to do my largely-swiped-partly-modifed-Mort-Drucker style.
But, there were other problem areas. I had told Howard on the phone, be sure and let me know which pictures look the most like you folks and he hadn't done that (I think because I had explained imperfectly why it was important). It's an occupational hazard of doing a caricature of a photograph rather than a person that you have to guess if the photograph is a good likeness. A lot of them aren't when you are getting down to the finicky business of doing a drawing that's a good likeness. On the Siu Ta strips, I was always having to balance mentally what Siu looks like in my head against how she looks in her publicity stills and headshots. "That looks like the photograph, but it doesn't look like Siu" and have to mentally analyze why that was the case. What was the photograph missing or adding to her features? I had seen the publicity stills I ended up using from This is Wonderland but it wasn't until I was able to watch a couple of episodes (2 down 37 to go) at John and Siu's place that I got to see how her cast-mates actually looked which was very different from how I pictured them from the stills (and, I would imagine, different from how they look in person).
In this case, this was the first time that I had even seen a photo of Howard or Anna Lynne and they looked very different from photo to photo. Some of that can be that people have their "good side" and their "bad side" but some of it can be lighting, expression or any number of factors. Howard's beard stubble looked heavier in one photo than it did in the other. Which one was it?
And then, of course, there was the fact that I had only seen Howard's inking style on Gun Fu which is a really broad brush, semi-Manga style. Practically geometric curves. Say what you will about A Frankly I Admit It Absolutely Purloined Mort Drucker style, geometric it ain't.
So, the verdict? He did an amazing job. It's not my style, it's definitely his, but they are, in my view, some good-looking comic-book pages and I really, really want to watch the DVD and see how they fit into the movie and look on the screen. But, I can't until Ramadan is over and I can take it to Toronto and see it at John and Siu's place (that'll be a switch—me bringing a film to them!). And you can't either. Even after Ramadan is over. So I think we all just have to direct our psychic energy towards the Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals that Howard will be submitting the film to, to get them to accept the film and then make it into a big festival hit so it gets international distribution and comes to a theatre somewhere near you.
Sure, it's a long shot, but it's the only shot you've got, right?
Late breaking Matt & Paula bulletin: Actually this whole week's worth of Blog & Mail's has turned out differently from how I had pictured it going. See, I've had this idea sitting on the desk of a movie producer in Hollywood (who, I suspect, is a Yahoo lurker—he started reading the book at issue 2 back in high school) since the middle of July in the form of storyboards for the proposed trailer and 50 pages of script and I had pretty much given up on it. I figured it was really bad and he just couldn't bring himself to tell me how bad it was (which I thought was nice of him). So, that was when I thought: Why don't I just post the storyboards that I did, one at a time along with the dialogue and a rough idea of what the film is about and then auction the storyboards and script on eBay—just as artefacts, but always with the possibility that someone might want to buy the rights to the script or option it, or whatever. And weirdly enough I got a phone call from the Cartoon Network while I was mulling that over asking if the rights to Cerebus are available for a new division they're opening up (I don't know if I'm supposed to talk about the new division, so I won't). Well, no, the rights to Cerebus aren't available. But then, Christine (Hi, Christine) calls back and asks if I have any other intellectual properties that I'm not as finicky about. And I thought about this movie idea and whether or not it could be turned into a cartoon idea. And then just when I was mulling THAT over, I got a call from the first producer's administrative assistant (Hi, Diane!) saying that he was working 20 hours a day on two different movies (the name of one of which you would recognized right away) but that my project is right at the top of his pile of projects to look at when those two movies are done. So, that's why you aren't looking at storyboards and dialogue and a synopsis here and are reading this instead (unless you got bored and went and read something else instead instead).
HOW is this a Matt & Paula tie-in? I thought you'd never ask. See, I used Boner the Runt Dog in the script! It's true! Matt used Cerebus without permission on the back of his Beer and Iguana zine, so I thought, Hey! Why don't I use Boner the Runt Dog without permission! The character in the script who comes up with Boner (in a manner of speaking) created him in high school and guess what? Matt created Boner the Runt Dog in high school!
So, now I have to figure out if I should send Matt the script, or just the parts of the script where Boner is mentioned or just send him the letter with my Boner the Runt Dog sketch and I still can't make up my mind. One way or the other, we're getting closer to the time when all original copies of Beer and Iguana with the first appearance of Boner the Runt Dog are going to need to be slabbed by CGC. And one way or another The Entire Matt Dow family—or at least Matt and his grandmother—are now all going to be Hollywood billionaires!
Billionaires I tell you!
WHATEVER YOU DO
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REPLIES POSTED ON THE CEREBUS YAHOO! GROUP
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
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:
Or, you can check out Mars Import:
Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.