Sunday, 26 March 2017

Diamond Preview Picks: March 2017

Travis Pelkie returns with his regular monthly selection for Cerebus fans of comics and books featured in the latest Diamond Previews catalog. Travis is co-founder of the Atomic Junk Shop, a site about comics and other fun pop culture. To see your comics featured here or at the Atomic Junk Shop feel free to send an email to Travis at: atomicjunkshoptravis [at] outlook [dot] com. 

Secret Sneyd: The Unpublished Cartoons Of Doug Sneyd
by Doug Sneyd
Dark Horse, $14.99
On sale: April 2017
Diamond Order Code: DEC160115

The publisher says:
Veteran artist Doug Sneyd presents a collection of unpublished cartoon concepts created throughout his career with Playboy magazine. This novelty book is packed from end to end with one-liners and pretty girls-funny, charming, and risqué jokes, each one full of all the life and expression that only a master artist can impart with a few strokes of the pen and brush! Over 200 original cartoons! Foreword by cartoonist Arnold Roth.

Dave Sim says:
(from an AMOC Comment, 27 December 2016)
Of the Playboy painting cartoonists, I'd rank Sokol WAY at the top -- particularly his early to mid-60s work -- followed by Jack Cole followed by Canadian Doug Sneyd... I think Fantagraphics has just solicited a book of Sneyd's Playboy cartoon preliminaries. That was how the cartoonists pitched cartoons to Hefner with colour roughs. I prefer Sneyd's finished work, but I think it would be an interesting reference work for someone who was looking to see how spontaneous you can be with painted colour.  

Drawing & Life Lessons From Master Cartoonists
curated by Craig Yoe
IDW, $49.99
On sale: July 2017
Diamond Order Code: MAR170625

The publisher says:
An unparalleled book, the very first of its kind! Taken from uber-rare, never-before reprinted cartooning courses with expert teachings from cartooning's rock stars: Peanuts' Charles Schulz, Little Nemo's Winsor McCay, Superman's Joe Shuster, Flash Gordon's Alex Raymond, Terry and the Pirates' Milton Caniff, The New Yorker's Whitney Darrow, Jr., Betty and Veronica's Dan DeCarlo, Prince Valiant's Hal Foster, Barney Google's Billy Debeck, Plastic Man's Jack Cole, Gasoline Alley's Frank King, Popeye's E.C. Segar, and many more icons of comic art. These esteemed geniuses act as life coaches with inspiring stories of how they succeeded and give stirring and wise encouragement to propel you to your own success. For beginners, seasoned professionals, teachers, students in school classes hungry to learn, and even those that are passionate about comics history, this will be an invaluable classic in the field.

Travis says:
Alex Raymond is included here in a collection of art lessons by famous cartoonists. From the image shown in Previews, he's showing you how to draw nekkid wimmins. A bunch of other great cartoonists as well, including "Batman's Joe Kubert" (hey, that's how he's credited!). 

Motor Girl
Absract Studios, $15.99
In stores: May 2017
Diamond Order Code: MAR171184

The publisher says:
When a UFO crashes into her desert junkyard, Samantha and her imaginary gorilla friend, Mike, repair the ship and win the heart of the little green pilot named Bik. Now an industrial tycoon wants to seize the property so he can  install his new anti-UFO weapon but Samantha is determined to stop him. What happens next is out of this world in Terry Moore's new series, Motor Girl! Collects issues #1-5.

Travis says:
Self-publisher Terry Moore's latest series, Motor Girl, is collected in a trade here, with the first 5 issues under one cover.  Imaginary gorillas, UFOs, and a cute mechanic combine for fun.

Songy Of Paradise
by Gary Panter
Fantagraphics, $34.99
In stores: May 2017
Diamond Order Code: MAR171775

The publisher says:
Fantagraphics is proud to present a major all-new book by Gary Panter. Songy of Paradise is an inspired interpretation of John Milton’s retelling of the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan after being baptized by John the Baptist and fasting for forty days and nights in the Judaean Desert. Panter’s version doesn’t rely on Milton’s words, but faithfully follows the structure of Milton’s Paradise Regained, with one notable exception: Jesus has been replaced by a hillbilly, Songy, who is on a vision quest before being tempted by a chimeric Satan figure. Gary Panter is one of America’s preeminent artists, designers, and cartoonists, whose work defined the L.A. punk scene and the vibrant work of the television show Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Songy of Paradise presents Panter’s singular vision in an ornate, hardcover format that does justice to Panter’s densely packed pages, with a stunning two-color stamping on cloth covers. It will be an art object, a brilliant literary experiment, and the most eye-popping graphic novel of 2017.

Travis says:
This one caught my eye as a sort of companion piece to Cerebus in Hell?, maybe. Songy of Paradise is by the great Gary Panter, with the role of Jesus in the desert played by a hillbilly and the entire graphic novel is "inspired by" Milton's Paradise Regained. Definitely a strange one. 

Comics Revue: April 2017
edited by Rick Norwood
Manuscript Press, $19.95
On sale: May 2017
Diamond Order Code: MAR172362

The publisher says:
America's longest-running magazine of classic comics now has twice as many pages of strips as the earlier version, on better paper, includes 8 pages of full-color comic strips, and features "Tarzan" by Russ Manning, "Rick O'Shay" by Stan Lynde, "Flash Gordon" by Harry Harrison, "Gasoline Alley" by Dick Moores, "Alley Oop" by V. T. Hamlin, "Steve Canyon" by Milton Caniff, and "Casey Ruggles" by Warren Tufts. Plus, in black and white, "The Phantom" by Lee Falk, "Krazy Kat" by George Herriman, "Buz Sawyer" by Roy Crane, "Sir Bagby" by R&B Hackney, "Steve Roper" by Saunders and Overgard, and "Modesty Blaise" by Peter O'Donnell and Romero. 

Travis says:
Dave recently talked about Comics Revue here at AMOC, so here's the listing for the latest issue.  Good looking stuff.

by Stephen King & Bernie Wrightson
In stores: May 2017
Diamond Order Code: MAR171842

The publisher says:
Now back in print: the graphic novel adaptation of Stephen King's Creepshow, based on the 1982 horror anthology and cult classic film directed by George Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead) and featuring stunning illustrations by the legendary Bernie Wrightson with cover art by the acclaimed Jack Kamen! A harrowing and darkly humorous tribute to the controversial and influential horror comics of the 1950s, Creepshow presents five sinsister stories from the #1 New York Times bestselling author - "Father's Day," "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill," "Something to Tide You Over," "The Crate," and "They're Creeping Up on You." Unforgettable tales of terror to haunt your days and nights! 

Travis says:
After the recent passing of Bernie Wrightson, I had to feature this one. A reprint of the movie tie-in comic drawn by Wrightson in the EC style. As I went ahead and ordered this myself, I'll be reviewing it at some point over at AJS.  DC also, coincidentally, had a collection of House of Secrets starting with the Swamp Thing introductory story in this Previews, but it's way expensive and it's DC, so screw them. (ahem!)

More Diamond Previews picks at Atomic Junk Shop's regular Flippin' Through Previews column.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Gerhard's TorontoCon Sketches!

"Gerebus" convention sketches
by Gerhard
(TorontoCon, March 2017)

Gerhard's 2017 Convention & Signing Itinerary:

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

"Cerebus In Hell?" Parody Covers: Part 8

Send your parody covers to: momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com! 

looking closely at your VARK No.1, I like the way you Photoshopped the arms. Can you do a "standalone" of that VARK figure and e-mail it to me through Sandeep? It strikes me as innately funny: VARK KILL!! VARK SMASH!! And it's just Batvark with his arms out and taking up more of the panel
To which Lee Thacker said:
The 'Hulk' arms Cerebus jpg: the foreground Cerebus figures are hiding a multitude of sins in my Photoshopped 'Cerebus with his arms out' picture. I'll try to get a 'good-looking' jpg together but I fear this might be a job for Benjamin!
And since I'm Benjamin, I went ahead and made a version, which I've attached. The image was surprisingly complicated to edit. Lee did a lot more than move the arms out as Dave said. The head is smaller, the torso is wider. I think the tail is smaller as well. My version differs from Lee's in that I've removed the sword, filled in the shadow on the left leg (to cover up the fact that there is no sword), replicated the left side of the torso to fill in the right side, and drew in a couple of thumbs.

Jeff Smith vs Dave Sim: Round 1

Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3

by Dave Sim
(Cerebus #264, March 2001)

Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you about this, Jeff, but, considering that it took you nearly five years to "go public" with your side of our disagreement(s) – and in light of my own avowed intention to limit myself to writing only "Chasing Scott" and "To Ham & Ham Not" here in the back of the book (and nothing elsewhere) for the three-year-minus-two-months it was going to take me to finish Going Home – I didn't think that time was of the essence.

My "sabbatical" was partly an exercise in self-discipline and partly my concession to the comic-book environment. Having been "all over the place" in promoting self-publishing as a viable direct market vehicle for comic-book creators for three years or so...

[and – whatever else you have attempted to portray my efforts as in subsequent years – that is all that I was trying to do. I know you find it hard to believe that the direct market existed before you came along, Jeff, but believe me it did. And there was a time when virtually the entire direct market – most especially publishers like Gary Groth, Denis Kitchen and Mike Richardson – made a great point of the fact that self-publishing was not a viable option and that Dave Sim was the "exception that proved the rule". My efforts on behalf of self-publishing were not to create a "self-publishing movement" (as you keep saying), but to disprove Groth, Kitchen, Richardson et al and to show that it was possible – more than possible – for others besides Dave Sim to make a living self-publishing their work and only self-publishing their own work. I intended to devote a fixed amount of time to that task (which I did) and then I intended to walk away (which I did) and – if, thereupon, self-publishing proved itself to not be a viable option for others (without my on-going, hands-on interference) – I intended to eat Crow back issues (as it were) and admit that I was wrong and that I was, in fact, some sort of mystical being, the only one endowed with the ability to self-publish successfully. The fact that you are one of the outstanding examples that assisted me in refuting that misapprehension is one of the reasons – 'til now, anyway – that I have not responded to your own vague but passionate insinuations that "Dave Sim is terribly, terribly, terribly wrong and terribly, terribly, terribly evil in some way". However inadvertently, you helped me to disprove the only misapprehension about myself that really concerned me: that I was uniquely and exclusively suited to self-publish. The rest of the "terribly, terribly, terribly wrong and terribly, terribly, terribly evil" stuff is just part of the price one pays for being a non-feminist in a feminist world. Water off a duck's back.] seemed as if a comparable period of keeping the direct market "Dave Free" (outside the pages of Cerebus) was the least that I could do. Apart from a letter to The Comic Buyer's Guide on the occasion of Gil Kane's passing, a press release when Going Home caught us flat-footed by selling out its second print run too quickly and a cover and introduction for Dork Tower and an interview or two for small fanzines, I stuck by that vow. As the three-years-minus-two-months unfolded, I reminded myself that if there was anything which really stuck in my craw, I could address it after the three-years-minus-two-months were over. Many things stuck in my craw (my craw just seems to be constructed that way) but, as the three-years-minus-two-months came to an end, nothing had really "stuck" (craw-wise) that I could count worthy of attention. Attention, in my view, better spent preparing myself, mentally, physically and artistically for the final three year climb up the final rock face on my own personal Mount Everest, the 300-issue Cerebus project.

Except one.

Just about a year ago at this time, I was still "pissed off" (a definite exception to the rule of my largely non-emotional life) about your assertion in your Comics Journal interview (the belated Trilogy Tour issue) that you had threatened to give me a "fat lip" that time that I stayed in your lovely A-frame house overlooking the San Andreas Fault.

Can't remember the last time I ever said this, but I'm saying it now – to you, Jeff.

You are lying.

(If anyone doubts that you are lying, I invite them to read what I wrote about that visit in Reads – page 241 - and compare it with your recollection of what I wrote as you "reconstructed" it – that is to say as you completely fabricated my words – in the aforementioned interview)

Leaving aside your "Big Johnson Bone" fabrications, I'm not sure what my reaction would've been had you, indeed, threatened to give me a fat lip. I find accurate perception a sufficiently arguous on-going task without muddying the waters of perception by dealing in various permutations of the hypothetical. I suspect I would've asked to use the phone and called the nearest hotel and then the nearest limo company and made arrangements to leave (since you had picked me up in a limo, I could at least be sure that one could have made it up those mountain roads) and then I wouldn've taken you up on your little "challenge" once I was sure that I wasn't staying under your roof any longer.

But, of course, there was no "challenge".

That's the really infuriating part of this whole business, Jeff: your assertion in the interview that you presented me with this "challenge", and "everything got very quiet" and then you proceeded to "enjoy your weekend". The comic-book field is not a particularly masculine environment so, for a certain unknown-but-presumably-large percentage of the people who read your interview, the whole thing was very straightforward. You threatened me and I backed down. For a likewise unknown-but-presumably-small percentage of the people who read your interview – that is for the (dozen? two dozen? three dozen?) men as opposed to males in the Comics Journal's readership, let's face it, Jeff. You were calling me a coward who backs down from another man's challenge to settle things man-to-man. And then you compounded your insult by portraying me as a weasel who would stay under another man's roof after having backed down from that man's challenge to a fight.

Off-and-on, I have now spent the better part of a year trying to figure out how to address another man's entirely fictional "challenge" to "step outside" (presumably we would have stepped outside as opposed to "duking it out" in your living room) made five years after the "fact". At the height of my "pissed-offedness", I just kept thinking to myself, "I'd like to see him try."

Once my "pissed offedness" had subsided (it took a few weeks), to my own not inconsiderable amusement I realized that that was exactly the sum and substance of my reaction. All emotion aside:

I'd like to see you try, Jeff.

I have to confess that I never thought that, at the ripe old age of forty-four (forty-five in May) I would be "stepping into the ring" with someone, least of all a fellow cartoonist. No matter how much of a fighter you are – George Foreman aside – it's really a game for one's twenties and thirties. But, clearly, I can't just let this pass without taking some action to defend myself from this... (whatever you call it. Before this, who would have needed a word for "lying about a challenge to fight man-to-man"?)

[I do understand – given the fact that I am not a feminist – I have to accept that it is "open season" on Dave Sim. Any feminist is going to feel him - or herself more than entitled to talk about me behind my back and to exert any and all efforts to destroy my reputation and credibility through gossip, innuendo and outright lies. I would expect nothing les of the unfairer sex and their allies and I knew that was the inevitable result of declaring myself to be "not a feminist" in an almost wholly feminist environment.

But you are supposed to do it behind my back, Jeff. That is how the feminist game is played. "girl fighting", as it were. However. To lie, in a public forum, about having offered to give another man a "fat lip". That's something else again.]

I would assume from your choice of the phrase that you have had a certain amount of fight experience. Offering to give someone a "fat lip" implies a disproportionately larger amount of fight experience on the part of the "offerer" than on the part of the "offeree".

I have to say that in the short space of time that we knew each other, I never once thought of you as being a fighter but, presumably, I was wrong about that. Or maybe I wasn't.

Which brings us back to "I'd like to see him try":

I will fly to Columbus on any date that you would care to name and I will give you three three-minute "rounds" to try to give me a "fat lip". I'm in a the light heavyweight class – on any given day between five and ten pounds lighter than a heavyweight. I would assume you are somewhere in that vicinity as well. I have ten-ounce gloves. Opinion is divided as to which sort of glove dish out the greater punishment: sixteen-ounce (just because they’re heavier) or ten-ounce (because there’s less "cushion"). If your opinion is that ten-ounce gloves won't do the job for you ("fat lip-wise"), let me know which weight you prefer and I'll pick up a pair. Or if you want to go all the way up to twenty-four ounce gloves I'm more than amenable. Likewise with headgear. I'm comfortable fighting without it. If you prefer headgear, just let me know.

I'll let you pick the venue and the time keeper and the referee and I'm more than willing to listen to any requirements you might have that I haven't covered here.

Just in case some "bright lights" out there get the idea of turning this into a benefit for the CBLDF or some other charity at a convention, let me head you off at the pass right now:

Having had a year to try to figure out how to explain this to a largely feminist, largely feminized crowed I figure the best bet is a (may God forgive me) movie analogy:

Do you remember in the movie The Color of Money, the sequel – make that, the "sequel" – to The Hustler where the Tom Cruise character tells the Paul Newman character that he "threw" their big championship game, so he could "clean up" on side bets? And the Paul Newman character corners the Tom Cruise character and challenges him to a game, a for-real game? And he says to the Tom Cruise character, "Let's clean this up"?

That's what I’m doing here. You can't "clean up" a mess like this in a circus atmosphere.

Jeff, I am saying, flat out, that you have lied. In lying, you have made a mess – a non-masculine mess.

You have made a mess.


Let's you and me, man-to-man, clean up the mess that you have made.


Next: Seconds Out... Round 2

Friday, 24 March 2017

Weekly Update #175: A Chris Woerner Top Ten & Starchy the DarkSpud

Cerebus In Hell? -- Week 39

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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Wuffa Wuffa

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 only looked at Albatross #4, Dave Sim's fourth notebook used during the production of Cerebus, once before back in August of 2016 in Albatross Four. Looking through it again, I saw a sketch for the cover to Cerebus #44 which wasn't shown in the Cerebus Cover Art Treasury book.

Cerebus #44, the Wuffa Wuffa issue, is when Cerebus, Astoria and the Roach head up to Northbell in the snow. So the cover that was used shows a bit of Cerebus in the snow:

Cerebus #44 cover
The  cover sketch on page 59 of Albatross Four shows the sled that they used to get to Northbell:

Albatross Four, page 59
The page also features some quotes, which appear to be from Lord Storm'send. The one that made me chuckle: "If'n I thought about Tarim as much Lord Julius thinks about money, I could be a high priest by now. . .".

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Paper to Pixel to Paper Again, Part 10: Still Cleaning Line Art Originals!

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

Part 10
Still Cleaning Line Art Originals!


This is the tenth 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!


At the end of our last installment, we were still in the midst of learning to clean our line art originals. And I had done all of the work so far with none of what you might think of as the "traditional" Photoshop cleanup tools. We'll get to why in a bit.

Let's take a look at another page from Jaka's Story, the book I'm currently in the cleanup stage of.

 This far zoomed out, the page is looking pretty good, with only a few visible problem areas. But really good commercial printing has a much higher effective resolution than even the best monitors around, so zooming in "waaaay too close" is important.

First I take care of making the white outer mask for the page with the marquee selection tool and the Paint Bucket, as discussed last week, and then use the Median noise filter on the edge of the panel border, also as discussed. Now I'm going to take a look at that first panel a little tighter in.

You can see we've got the "panel border shmutz" problem happening here pretty severely. Some of this might be caused by the sticky edge of the carrier film for the border "catching" schmutz over time. But some of it also looks like stray ink lines that were incompletely scraped off the border tape. You can also see an area (to the left and right of the Jaka figure here) that weren't scraped off at all). Regardless of the why, if we let this go as-is, it's going to mar the beautiful clean white border that's the intended look here. So clearly we're ready for another technique!

Oh! Hey! How about —

Cleanup Method D: Dodge Tool

Go ahead and select your Sharpen layer, i.e. the layer that represents your actual sharpened, visible artwork. And then select the Dodge tool (or hit O. Learn your shortcuts!)

In the upper tool preferences bar, change the "Range" to Highlights and the "Exposure" to 100 percent. This is now our "schmutz on white" tool, the perfect way to brush an area to eliminate black on white schmutz on a page.

Very important: DO NOT use this tool over an area of dot tone or mechanical hatching! Even if the effect is not visible to you on screen, it WILL be visible in print. Your eye "reads" dot tone as a continuous gray tone, and thus any changes made to it, however slight, are visible in print when it's resolving to your eye. 

With the above caveat in mind, why use this tool? Well, because it's only effecting the highlights of an area, you can sweep over the edge of, say, that cross-hatching, and not have to be as precise as you would be with a brush.

Use it!

So with a little bit of work with the Dodge tool, I've eliminated a lot of the border schmutz, but there's still some work to do. I think it's time, finally to switch to the tool I've been avoiding.

Cleanup Method E: the Brush tool

Yes, the humble Brush tool (hit B for the shortcut). It's the most basic cleanup method available to you. For our purposes, we want pretty specific settings:

Round brush--no fancy pants shapes or blending modes etc.
100 Percent opacity
Hardness at 100 percent
Size controlled by pressure of pen on tablet (buy a tablet!)
Color at either 100 percent black or 100 percent white (X shifts between them)
Size-- As big a brush as you can get away with using (hold [ or ] to change brush size)

Select your Cleanup layer, and then go to town!

So, why have I avoided talking about this so far?

It's simple—I think that the less cleanup you do with the Brush tool, the more efficient you'll work.

It feels good to fill something in all the way black. It feels good to get all of the little dots of noise out of the white. Satisfying, like you're really ACCOMPLISHING something.

But, more often than not, those same things can be accomplished more efficiently with one of the other tools I've discussed so far.

Moreover, you don't actually need to eliminate every speck of white from your black areas! The real problems you need to look for are systemic ones—an entire area of your page with broken up black. The white lines unintentionally in the black, like you see above. Noise that is in a particular shape, or, say, cut lines around an object that was pasted on. Those are the kinds of things that will likely be visible in print, not that little grain of white that will soon be swallowed by the black ink surrounding it.

Lastly, make sure to click your Threshold adjustment layer on and off as you work, to preview what your image will look like as a bitmap. Often times things that you think might be problems will disappear completely after the Threshold adjustment.

(We'll return to all of these issues in greater detail when discussing restoring comics from newsprint...)

....and that's all we have time for this week! Next week—we fix shrunken screen tone... most likely, with video!

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

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

SDOAR: Kick Ass Princess

Well, that took a while! Anyway, here is the Kick-Ass Princesses spread. I was so excited to work on this page for many reasons, most of which I have detailed in past posts. Kind of sad to be done with it.

In his notes to me about this page Dave said:
"... as a comic-BOOK store manager Jack would probably have read or flipped through the COLLECTED FLASH GORDON but probably would never hear of RIP KIRBY. And, as a modern tattooed woman (make sure you keep those tats visible!) all she would have taken away from FLASH GORDON is "Kick-Ass Princesses"."
Dave has also jokingly mentioned making Jack a character feminists will love enough to demand a spin-off title.

I think the idea is pretty funny but was skeptical that any feminist would look at this illustration, see a girl lost in wistful fantasy, surrounded by sexy women in skimpy costumes, and not be offended. So, I tried a little social-media experiment.

This page was started the day after International Women's Day, and I had just figured out that people follow hashtags on Instagram, not just particular feeds. So, I decided to post image updates each day I worked on the page and to hashtag the posts with things like #girlsrule #girlpower #feminist #feminism as well as more descriptive things like #inking #comics #davesim #strangedeathofalexraymond. In the first post I made sure to say that in honor of International Women's Day the day before I had started the Bad-Ass Princesses (Forgot that Dave used "Kick-Ass Princesses." Whoops!) spread for The Strange Death of Alex Raymond. Every subsequent post I made sure to reference Bad-Ass Princesses and Strange Death of Alex Raymond.

No one has called me out for being a dude drawing sexy women, or balked at the idea that Dave Sim is involved with something about girl power. The posts received likes and follows from hardcore feminist feeds with names like girlpoweruniversity, nipplemagazine, sluttygingerbread, nyclitoris, thefutureoffeminine, wearethetulip, and a number of personal feeds with large amounts of feminist memes posted to them.

So, Dave, you are totally right, the ladies do love Kick-Ass Princesses and Jack. I think we should ditch SDOAR and start the Jack spin-off asap!

I think I am going to keep the experiment going with Kick-Ass-Comic-Shop-Manager Jack vs.The-Oppressive-Hand-Of-The-Patriarchy, since the last eight pages are pretty much my hand drawing Jack's face over and over. Maybe we can drum up some new readers?

Cerebus #11: "A Little Behind-The-Scenes Stuff"

So I finally purchased a copy of the Cerebus Cover Treasury. I'd provided IDW with two scans of cover prelim's I own, for #11 and #36, back when the book was in the planning stages, but I'd never heard whether the images would actually see print.

And now my wait is over: neither were used.

But it occurs to me that other AMOC regulars would like to especially see the #11 cover -- a hand-coloured example not unlike the #15 shown in the book. Dave doesn't mention it in his commentary but I seem to remember the #11 original art being sold on eBay and then he did the #11 re-creation shown and auctioned that on eBay not too long after... which didn't sell for nearly as much as the original.

(I paid much less than either the original or the recreation for the hand-coloured example.)

It was nice to have Dave's corrections (or whatever he called them) to the book posted on AMOC, and hopefully for other fans the #11 cover is a similar nice addition.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Speaking of Petunia Con...

"Petunia Con '84" print
Art by Dave Sim
(Click image to enlare)

(from an AMOC Comment, 16 March 2017)
Coincidentally (?)

a) I just sent Conan Tobias [at Taddle Creek] two pictures from the Aardvark-Vanaheim panel -- featuring Bill Loebs, me, Deni, Arn Saba, Jim Valentino and Joshua Quagmire -- at the Real World (?) PETUNIACON '84 in Oakland California (since they were two of the only four photos of Arn Saba that I had for his article on Arn Saba/Katherine Collins for QUILL & QUIRE)...

b) researching LOVE & AARDVARKS #1 in Todd Hignite's JAIME HERNANDEZ book, I just noticed in a period photo of Los Bros. that Mario is wearing a Petuniacon t-shirt (it was the first convention Los Bros. attended: Jaime's was definitely the first mohawk I had ever seen in my hotel suite). It was also Gerhard's first convention.

*I* don't even have a Petuniacon t-shirt!

Los Bros Hernandez: Jaime, Mario & Gilbert (1984)
Photo by Carol Kovinick Hernandez

c) a caption for another photo in the book mentions that I had organized PETUNIACON. Which isn't true. Faye Desmond organized PETUNIACON at the beginning until the Bay Area Comics & Comix retail chain crew got wind of the fact that the only guests were going to be Indy creators and recognized a disaster in the making and jumped in and lined up Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz as guests to prevent the disaster from taking place. I did drawings for the program book, t-shirt and poster but that was the extent of my hands-on participation. Apart from holding the above-mentioned Killer Party in my suite. And insisting that I needed to have a suite large enough for a Killer Party as part of my attendance.

Swords Of Cerebus: Cerebus #9

Swords Of Cerebus Vol 3 (1981)
Art by Dave Sim

Published between 1981 and 1984, Dave's six Swords of Cerebus volumes were his first attempt to collect the book in a more permanent form. He gave each story included in these volumes a prose introduction, explaining where the book stood when he’d been working on that particular issue and how he was thinking of its prospects at the time. This is the first of the five intros from Swords volume 3.

It's worth pointing out that the Kim Thompson comment Dave quotes here came in the context of a very positive review. Looking at Cerebus issues 1-12, Thompson calls the book "a true heir to Carl Barks' duck stories", and credits Dave with better storytelling skills than John Byrne, Paul Gulacy, Jim Starlin and the Buscema brothers. Where he does quibble, it's with relatively minor issues such as a speech balloon which seems to come from the wrong direction.

Thompson mentions Barry Smith's habit of filling every Conan panel with elaborate decoration, and then adds: "Sim, aware that this more often than not diverts the eye from the basic flow of the action, frequently draws page after page set against backgrounds composed of very simple designs – mostly simple pen strokes – after establishing the décor in the opening shot. Despite some goofs that crop up here too (the "marble patterns" during the fight with the Panrovian in #9 are coarse and distracting, for instance) this technique serves Sim, who can indicate a persistent rainstorm merely by filling the page with vertical lines, very well indeed."

"The tonal pattern I had selected did not work at all," says Dave.

Next week: The unhealthy origins of Red Sonja.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

RIP Bernie Wrightson (1948-2017)

Badtime Stories (1971)

(posted on Facebook, 18 March 2017)
Legendary comic book artist and illustrator Bernie Wrightson has lost his long battle with brain cancer. He is survived by his wife Liz, sons John and Jeffrey, stepson Thomas, and countless friends and fans. We will have a celebration of life for him later this year. His full obituary can be found here:

 Thank you for the many years of love and support!

"It's Just Not That Simple"

Dork Tower #9 (2000)
Art by John Kovalic & Dave Sim

29 March 07

Dear John:

Howdy. It's me, the aardvark guy.

I realize that you're one awfully busy guy these days with your rapidly expanding empire, but I was wondering if I could trouble you for a favour? As you’ve probably heard, Gerhard left the company at the end of last year and I'm now in the situation of having to figure out how to buy back his 40% of the company and (obviously) I'm interested in doing that as painlessly as possible. So, I was flipping through the Comics & Games Retailer 2007 Industry Directory and wondering to myself if a Cerebus role-playing (or other kind of) game wasn't something that I should look into. What I'm thinking of is basically an authorization and some input and some artwork from me but, of course, I'm completely clueless about how that market operates whether there even IS any money to be had in it or what company would be the most likely to pay the most money up-front or what company would even be aware of Cerebus from back in the barbarian days.

And then I ran across the Dork Storm listing and I thought, "Unless John is absolutely faking it these days, I assume that he's still pretty current with the Games environment and would probably at least have an idea of who would be my best bet, who I should steer away from completely and (again) whether this is even something lucrative enough to be thinking of in terms of making some quick cash for a minimum amount of work." Or if you’re now laughing uproariously at my lack of sophistication (i.e. trying to make money in gaming is like trying to make money in local theatre).

If you could fax back a quick note at the bottom of this fax if I'm way off base on this one (I’ll take your word for it) or give me a short list of "best bets" if I'm only slightly off base on this one or 15 or 20 minutes of your valuable time on the phone if "it's just not that simple", I'd really, really appreciate it. Phone number's right down here on your right.

Hope all is well with you and yours.


Dave Sim

From "Dave Sim's Collected Letters 2007", a Cerebus Archive Kickstarter reward.

 ~ John Kovalic (via Twitter, 12 March 2017)

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Chester Brown: "Dave Sim Again"

Art by Chester Brown

Dave Sim Again
by Chester Brown
(from a Patreon Update, 14 March 2017)

Tim of A Moment Of Cerebus reposted my March 4th post about Dave Sim, so Dave responded again in the comments section. And I feel compelled to respond to some of those comments.


I had speculated that Dave had been "affected by the whorephobia that surrounded him as he grew up". He denies this:
“Far from being a “whorephobe”, my parents were fine with me buying PLAYBOY magazine when I was 14 or 15 and were fine with me reading my Dad’s copies of PLAYBOY from about the age of 11.”
Plenty of people who read Playboy are whorephobic. Liking to look at pictures of naked women doesn’t mean that one does not have a problem with the idea of paying for sex. Nevertheless, I didn’t say that he was a whorephobe when he entered those strip clubs forty-or-so years ago, I said that he’d been affected by the whorephobia that surrounded him as he grew up. It’s possible that, if someone had asked him about prostitution before he ever walked into a strip club, he would have been either in favour of legalizing it or wouldn’t have had a opinion one way or the other. But he’d encountered countless negative depictions and accounts of sex-work in movies, books, songs, and television shows and had also heard the things that people around him said about strippers and prostitutes. All of that was in the back of his mind and influenced his perception when he looked into the eyes of strippers and imagined that they looked dead.


To prove that I wasn’t really his friend, Dave recounts an incident from an event that he attended:
“Seth [was] interviewing Chester onstage. And, at some point, Chester mentioned that although he’s a Libertarian, all of his friends were Liberals or Socialists.”
And because Dave isn’t a leftist, he therefore supposedly thought that I was indicating that I wasn’t his friend. I was exaggerating for effect (rather like Dave does later in his comments when he writes that "anyone from Toronto is going to think I’m a misogynist", even though many Torontonians have signed his petition). I do have friends who are not leftists, like Jason Kieffer (who I’m almost positive was there that night) and Ella (who I knew back then and who would actually agree with Dave about sex-work). Dave came up to me after the onstage interview with Seth and mentioned my statement that all my friends are leftists and, with a smile, pointed out that he isn’t a leftist. I thought he might be joking in implying that I didn't consider him to be a friend but, in case he was serious, I apologized and affirmed my friendship for him. 
Dave seems to think I was trying to keep my friendship with him some sort of secret:
"[Y]ou definitely don’t want to admit, publicly, that Dave Sim is your friend. And there was no danger of that happening with Chester.”
No one around me was in any doubt that I considered Dave to be a friend. I certainly didn’t avoid talking about him to my other friends and didn't hesitate to make my real affection and admiration for the guy clear. And if I was trying to keep my friendship with him secret from a wider public, then why would I have mentioned that I was his friend on page 163 of The Little Man? (That would be page 163 of the 2006 second edition.)


Some guy going by the name Sean R defends Dave's position about sex-work:
“Individual lives have value, and pain is real, ergo, actions that cause pain and decrease that value are morally suspect”.
Sex-workers are no more likely to experience physical pain during the consensual sex that they have with their clients than non-sex-workers do with their sexual partners, so (unless he sees allsex as morally wrong) Sean is presumably talking about emotional pain, and is assuming that sex-workers hate their jobs and experience emotional pain as a result of doing them. That assumption is not necessarily true. In this piece, sex-worker and blogger Maggie McNeill references various studies showing that significantly high numbers of escorts report increased self-esteem after taking up the work and that their lives had improved. According to the Canadian study referenced in a report from the National Post, “70% of sex workers are satisfied with their jobs”:
" 'They talk to us about the amount of control they have over their work situation,’ said researcher Mikael Jansson. ‘They have a lot more control over the timing of their work, the pace of their work than journalists.’ " [National Post, 23 September 2014]
Britain's newspaper The Independent reports that a Leeds University study discovered that, of the sex-workers that were surveyed for the study, “over half find their job ‘rewarding'."
Yes, there are sex-workers who hate their jobs — but so do lots of people in all other jobs. There are cops, dentists, and lawyers who experience emotional pain as a result of their jobs, but that doesn’t mean that it’s therefore wrong to use the services of cops, dentists, and lawyers. Sex-worker-rights advocates point out that their right to do the work should not be contingent on enjoying the work. 
Sean R further writes:
"To Mr. Brown […] what are the incidences [sic] of mental illness among sex workers? What percentage of that population was abused as children? How does the life expectancy of a sex worker compare to a non-sex worker? Do you think any of these issues are causal, or just correlated with that choice of profession? How many of these things do you expect would change with legalization, and how would such a legalization scheme avoid the problems with essentially indentured servitude seen under the German legalization scheme? [...I]t doesn’t take much exposure to the sex economy for an empathetic person to see the damage that’s being done ”
The website Tits And Sass (which posts material by sex-workers about sex-work) had a good piece recently titled We’re Not Crazy For Doing This: Sex Workers With Mental Illness. Here are two excerpts from the essay:
“People diagnosed with mental illness frequently have their decisions invalidated and undermined by the dominant culture. Many individuals who do not have much experience with mental illness will attribute any socially unacceptable behaviors to “mental illness.” In much the same way, people who have never been in the sex industry tend to sideline the decisions of sex workers by inferring that trauma or abuse must have predestined them to a life in the sex industry. When people who are neither mentally ill nor in the sex industry say these things, they are robbing us of our ability to exert agency.[…]
“Sex work is not a dysfunctional behavior stemming from our disease. Rather, it is often the best choice we can make to adapt to our mental illness. In truth, many people with mental illness find sex work helpful in a variety of ways as an occupational choice. It gives us a less rigorous schedule which allows for more emotional stability. Sex work can affirm us as something we can excel at when mental illness has hindered our success in more traditional pursuits.”
I recommend reading the whole article. While I don’t know what percentage of sex-workers have mental problems, I strongly suspect that the majority are completely sane — certainly Denise is. (She’s the sex-worker I’ve been seeing regularly for fourteen years now.)
As for Sean R's implication that a high number of sex-workers were sexually abused in childhood, I wrote this in Paying For It:
“I think we’re stepping into dangerous territory when we start saying that certain adults are not allowed to make choices because they had bad childhoods. If women-who-were-abused-in-childhood aren’t competent to make the choice to engage in paid-sex, then are they competent to make other sexual choices? Regardless of what happened to them in childhood, adults should have the right to make sexual choices”.
It’s probably not even true that a particularly high number of sex-workers suffered such abuse. Maggie McNeill has this to say on the subject:
“The original source for this claim [that 85% of prostitutes report childhood sexual abuse] was a 2004 study of incarcerated street workers which actually claimed that 45% reported sexual abuse and 85% physical abuse. Furthermore, there are serious methodological problems with the study, which is typical when biased researchers use an unrepresentative convenience sample and then extrapolate the results to a much larger population with which it does not correlate to any meaningful extent.”
In asking "How does the life expectancy of sex worker compare to a non-sex worker?” Sean R is presumably implying that sex-workers have shorter lives because they’re exposed to dangerous clients. Let’s say that it could be established that taxi drivers experienced more violence and tended to have shorter lives than accountants. Would that mean that it’s wrong to use taxis? Should it be illegal to drive people around? It’s wrong to use violence against taxi drivers and prostitutes, but that doesn’t mean it’s morally wrong to peacefully ride in a taxi or pay money to a prostitute and have consensual sex with her (or him). 
The laws against sex-work exacerbate violence against sex-workers: criminals know that prostitutes are vulnerable because they’re reluctant to go to the police. Decriminalizing sex-work wouldn’t completely eliminate violence against sex-workers (any more than violence against taxi drivers has been completely eliminated) but it would be easier for sex-workers who’ve experienced violence to go to the police if those sex-workers knew that neither they nor their clients could be charged with committing a criminal offence.  
It should also be pointed out that the vast majority of johns are not violent, and most interactions between sex-workers and their clients go as they’re supposed to. (Denise, for example, tells me that in the years that she was working as an escort she never had a violent incident with a client.)
As for Sean R’s mention of the problems associated with the German form of legalization, I completely agree that the German system is bad — all legalization schemes are bad. Maggie McNeill says that “legalization is criminalization under a different name”. Sex-worker-rights advocates support decriminalization, not legalization. The government should repeal the laws that affect sex-workers and their clients, not set up new legal regulations to control them.


Carson Grubaugh writes in the comments section for that same Moment Of Cerebus post:
“Started reading Paying For It for the first time last night, thanks to this discussion. Entrancing book. I had to force myself to put it down about halfway through because I needed to go to bed.”
Did I mention that, even though I disagree with his opinion of life, I like the work by Grubaugh that I’ve seen? 
“If sexual release is all there is to it I default to the classic cynical viewpoint of Diogenes, take the most expedient route and just jerk off.”
I seem to remember that there are stories of Diogenes visiting brothels, although, flipping through my books on the Cynics, I can’t locate them at this moment.
I hope the ending of Paying For It makes it clear that I’m experiencing more than just "sexual release" with Denise.
Grubaugh makes these two observations in relation to Paying For It:
“I am much more interested in getting the woman off than I am in getting off. I need that aspect to enjoy it. It doesn’t seem like that would be a big focus of the interaction in prostitution. Like does Chester ever perform oral sex?”
“[Chester] never really addresses the woman’s sexual gratification in Paying For It”.
From what I’ve read in accounts written by sex-workers (and I’m sure there are exceptions), they tend to find it annoying if their clients want to sexually please them. They’re doing the work for money, not pleasure. They see the job as satisfying the desires of the client, not satisfying their own desires. That said, after I had been seeing Denise for a while, she began to tell me what I was doing sexually that was annoying her and what I should be doing instead to make the experience more pleasurable for her. I suspect that she wouldn’t want me going into the specific details of our sex-life here, like whether I perform oral on her. But I’ve always been very willing to perform oral on sexual partners who’ve wanted me to.
I’ll also add that physical pleasure doesn’t just come from sex. One day, many years ago, Denise complained that her back was a bit sore. I offered to give her a massage. She was so satisfied with that massage that now I always have to give her a massage when we get together. I massage her for as long as she wants, which is always much longer than the amount of time we spend having sex. A few weeks ago she called me up out of the blue to ask if I could come over to her place and give her a massage because she wasn’t feeling well. I was happy to do so — we didn’t have sex and no money was exchanged -- this was just about helping a friend feel better. We had a very pleasant afternoon together. (Sook-Yin and Amanda also frequently ask me to massage them. Sook-Yin tells me that I’m a much better at giving massages than Adam. If only I’d given Dave massages he'd have wanted to stay friends with me.)

Chester Brown has been writing and drawing comics and graphic novels since the 1980s: Yummy Fur, Ed The Happy Clown, I Never Liked You, Louis Riel, Paying For It, Mary Wept Over The Feet Of Jesus. You can help provide him with a stable source of income while he works on his next graphic novel by donating at Patreon

Friday, 17 March 2017

Weekly Update #174: The March Mailbag

"Cerebus In Hell?" Parody Covers: Part 7

Send your parody covers to: momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com! 

Here's my second and possibly FINAL bunch of Cerebus Cover Parody suggestions (we're about two weeks away from having a new baby in the house, so if I disappear from AMOC for a while, you can find me near the diaper bin on Sleepless Street.) I hope you guys find them amusing, I had fun making them up. Hey, maybe Dave could run a page or two of unused cover idea's in the back pages of these things. Anyway, here we go...

I had to give this one a try, I mean it's so easy, A big grey figure on the cover? It's just begging for a Cerebus spoofing.  Unfortunately, it's not as easy as it would seem.   I had a hard time thinking of just the right gag for the images. Sometimes having too many options is not a good thing. I used the Cerebus head from a "Cerebus for President" image I found online.  It kind of works, although I't would be better with a meaner expression.  Does anyone know the legal parameters of altering someone else's art and mass producing it on a comic cover.  It's a little different from redrawing it entirely as in a homage type of cover.

Again, used the "Cerebus for President" head.  I tried shifting the eyes to the right a bit, but it just looked goofy instead of inquisitive. This was the first one that I added the 'Cerebus 40th Logo in the corner.  Not sure if this is something that Dave has considered, but my feeling is that it would tie the various covers together for the year. Unless this is something that is going to run indefinitely. 

My first suggestion to Dave, I think there was some discussion in regard to postage stamps at the time. Let me tell ya, it wasn't easy getting Captain Canuck to disappear.

I can't believe nobody has thought of this one yet. Well, aside from sharing the name of a popular video game series, which could be a problem.  Maybe call it "Dave SIM CITY"?  I love how the lighting matched almost perfectly.  The shadow that's cast would need to be altered as well.

I don't think there's much I can say about this one. You either like it, or you have no sense of humour.