Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #275 (June 13th, 2007) - with guest host Craig Miller!

[Following Cerebus editor/publisher Craig Miller is filling in this week for Dave Sim.]

Following Cerebus 10 is at the printer now, and issue 11 is scheduled for October. Yes, I know that still isn't the intended quarterly schedule, but after the ten-month gap between issues 9 and 10, it's a step in the right direction. And up until about two weeks ago, I had no idea whether whether FC 10 was going to appear at all (along with, of course, all subsequent issues), so I'm happy to be back on some kind of schedule.

FC 10 focuses on the theme of dreams on Cerebus, a sort of continuation (in my mind, anyway) of the Mind Games theme covered in FC 8. We talk about Barry Windsor-Smith's "Cerebus Dreams" that originally appeared in Swords of Cerebus 5 and how that inspired Sim to begin to give greater emphasis to dreams in the saga as a whole. The issue reprints Sim's "Cerebus Dreams II" story from AV in 3D so that readers can finally appreciate the great artwork there. I don't know about anyone else, but I hate 3D comics. I rarely can get the glasses to work to give me that 3D effect (maybe it's just something with my eyes), and looking at the art without the glasses just makes everything look like a muddy mess.

The cover feature essay about "The Night Before" from Cerebus 36 has nothing to do with dreams but appears because that's what the cover portrays because that's what Dave and Ger wanted to do. Perhaps grasping at straws, I told Dave, "No problem. Dreams generally take place at night. So does this story. It all fits!" Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Once Dave and I got to thinking about dream motifs in comics, going all the way back to Winsor McCay's brilliant work (Winsor McCay, Barry Windsor-Smith--man, the coincidences never cease to amaze me), we realized that there was way too much to put into a single issue, so dreams will continue to have a presence in FC 11--maybe half the issue, maybe more, we're not exactly sure right now. There is a ton of background material on that first "Cerebus Dreams" story that we're trying to put together, though some of it's in BWS's hands. If he can locate those twenty-five-year-old files, we should have a blockbuster article. We also didn't get to everything regarding the Sandman parody from Women. That should be in there, too. And some other stuff that I can't really talk about yet.

At that point, beginning with issue 12, it will probably be time to move on from the Mind Games/Dreams theme!

Before I go, Dave asks me to mention that next Tuesday's Blog & Mail entry (June 19) will discuss a Cerebus/Mouse Guard jam cover and dialogue on anthropomorphics for an upcoming issue of FC. (If you aren't familiar with Mouse Guard and want to get a head start on things, check out the book collection of the first story arc, Mouse Guard Fall 1152, at a comic shop near you (or at Archaia Studios Press at

For now, here's another sneak peak at a page from FC 10.


Upon the story's original appearance in 1982, it was somewhat of an odd duck, even by the standards of Cerebus. Granted the series itself was distinct from other comics in numerous ways—the "funny animal" lead character, the madcap humor, the dead-on parodies, the mutual independence of the cartoonist and his wife/publisher, and much more. By the time the High Society storyline rolled around, the manic action of the early issues had been replaced with the slower pace of political intrigue (though the biting satire remained), and some fans began grumbling for a return to the Cerebus the Barbarian days. When Sim announced that the High Society storyline would last twenty-five issues (a mere blip in retrospect), readers settled in for a long wait until the "good stuff" would return.

Then, a third of the way into High Society comes "The Night Before." The return of Jaka thrilled some fans, to be sure, but the story itself seemed to consist of nothing more than two characters standing around talking. No "action" scenes, no slapstick humor, no sly winks at the audience with parody characters. Just two characters. Standing around. Talking.

In a recent episode of House M.D., possibly the best-written network drama nowadays, one of the characters says something to the effect, "Life is just a series of rooms, and the people that you meet in those rooms." In "The Night Before," Cerebus and Jaka meet in a room at the Regency hotel. With the aid of Lord Julius and Astoria, Cerebus has been moving his way up the political and social ladder of Iestan politics. The night before Petuniacon, where Cerebus will lobby for votes to remain the ranking diplomatic representative, Jaka (in her profession as tavern dancer, very much at the "other end" of the social ladder)—pays an unexpected visit in order to deliver a surprise gift she recently picked up from a salvage merchant from Beduin.

That is the entire "plot," but Sim understood that a compelling story need not have lots of comic book-ish action. "The Night Before" is a character study propelled through fine storytelling and even better dialogue.

The splash page is interesting in that the only two characters are dwarfed by their environment—a narrow greenhouse-like room lined with potted plants. The starry nighttime sky dominates the image area, reinforcing the apparent insignificance of the individuals. (It brings to mind the famous line from Casablanca: "The problems of [two] little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.")

Beginning with the second page, Jaka and Cerebus are center stage, but it's obvious from both the dialogue and the expressions that they inhabit different worlds and are only temporarily occupying the same physical space. Jaka is clearly...



If you wish to contact Craig Miller, you can mail a letter to:

Win-Mill Productions
Dept. B
P.O. Box 1283
Arlington, TX 76004

Or send an email to:


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. Here are the Diamond Star System codes:

Cerebus #1-25 $30.00 STAR00070

High Society #26-50 $30.00 STAR00071

Church and State I #52-80 $35.00 STAR00271

Church and State II #81-111 $35.00 STAR00321

Jaka's Story #114-136 $30.00 STAR00359

Melmoth #139-150 $20.00 STAR00431

Flight #151-162 $20.00 STAR00543

Women #163-174 $20.00 STAR00849

Reads #175-186 $20.00 STAR01063

Minds #187-200 $20.00 STAR01916

Guys #201-219 $25.00 STAR06972

Rick's Story #220-231 $20.00 STAR08468

Going Home I #232-250 $30.00 STAR10981

Form and Void #251-265 $30.00 STAR13500

Latter Days #266 - 288 $35.00 AUG031920

The Last Day #289 - 300 $25.00 APR042189

Collected Letters - $30 FEB052434

Collected Letters 2 - $22 MAR073054