100 Hour Tour: The Comics Forums Stop
What follows are the posts from Dave Sim made to The Comics Forums as part of his "100 Hour Internet Tour".
Feb 20 2008, 03:36 PM: Hello Bryan -- thanks very much for your hospitality in having me here. Sorry this is just a Wednesday appearance owing to the Monday statutory holiday here in Ontario and thanks for asking people to be kind and respectful. Very much appreciated.
My name is Dave Sim and I'm here to discuss my new bi-monthly comic book, glamourpuss, which should be shipping in April through Diamond Comic Distributors. I just got my copy of the COMICS INDUSTRY PREVIEW EDITION of glamourpuss No.1 this morning -- usually by the time we publishers get our copies of DD it's pretty safe to say that all of the retailers have gotten theirs. So I'm pleased to announce that as far as I know you should be able to walk into any comic book store in North America at this point and ask to see a copy of glamourpuss No.1 before the retailers have to have their final orders in to Diamond at the end of the month. It should take about twenty minutes to read from cover to cover. As I've been saying on this Virtual Tour I can't give you back your twenty minutes but I might be able to save you three bucks!
As with the CEREBUS trade paperbacks, glamourpuss is only going to be available in comic-book stores. I believe in 100% loyalty to the "brick & mortar" stores and I'm very, very pleased and gratified that that loyalty seems to have been reciprocated here in the solicitation time period. LOOKIN FOR HEROES (93 Ontario Street South here in downtown Kitchenerwhere I'm typing this: not having Internet access they've kindly allowed me to use their back room office/subscription bin headquarters for the entire month of February) (except for the statutory holiday on Monday: there are limits even to comics retailer hospitality ) are "looking at 20+ copies of glamourpuss No.1" says owner John Brenner. "It'll be Duane's (the LFH 'comics guy') decision. But we've had people asking for it -- and that's always a good sign."
As far as I know -- I've been WAY behind on keeping up with basic stuff since these appearances are all I've been doing for the last three weeks -- as far as I know retailers can now register at www.glamourpusscomic.com under "Where to buy glamourpuss". Just follow the instructions there.
Okay, it's New Comics Day and so far, the new comics haven't shown up on Wednesday since I've been here -- but hope springs eternal. I've got "12:30" in the pool. We'll see when and if they come in!
Feb 20 2008, 03:45 PM: Yes, very astute of you: glamourpuss is, indeed, very much more art-driven than story driven. The book really just started with me doing a couple of illustrations from photographs in fashion magazines. If you go back to the notes in LATTER DAYS on "the girls of Fruitcake Park" you'll see that even a couple of years before the end of CEREBUS, I was talking about doing a comic book drawing photorealism teenaged girls in my best Al Williamson style. That's really all I was trying to do. The story came later and what it ended up being was an explanation of WHY I was so interested in doing this stuff, which required going back to the beginning of photorealism in comics, Alex Raymond's RIP KIRBY.
Of course turning the whole thing into a tutorial on photorealism is comics didn't seem like much fun, so I ended up improvising some comedic pieces centering on the fact that all of these models were actually one woman, glamourpuss.
It seems like a nice balance to me, although just described like that it sounds really confused and strange. That's one of the reasons that I sent out 4500 free copies of No.1 to the retailers. I'm pretty confident that if people just read it and look at it, they'll "get" what I'm doing and like it enough to subscribe to it at their store.
We'll find out if I was right sometime in March.
Thanks for posting!
Feb 20 2008, 03:56 PM: Sorry, I missed your second question the first time. No, I certainly HAVE copies of the FASHION INDUSTRY PREVIEW EDITION but, again, my first and primary loyalty is to the brick and mortar stores and I can't think of a worse thing to do than "carpetbagging" -- coming into Columbus and selling glamourpuss No.1 a month ahead of time to the customers of (among others) Ken Smith's BLACK HOLE COMIX, Lanny Berton's BOOKERY FANTASY and the LAUGHING OGRE. The OGRE has been a huge supporter of mine from day one of their opening and still devote an entire shelf to the CEREBUS trades. My motto for this promotion tour is Shared Risk, Shared Responsibiity, Shared Rewards.
ComicsPRO has recently issued a position paper on "carpetbagging" -- selling publications at conventions before they're officially released. The last time I spoke to Brian Hibbs of San Francisco's legendary COMIX EXPERIENCE (and a member of the position paper committee) he said the consensus on the message boards was that the retailers were just whining.
I fundamentally disagree with that view. To compete with retailers on something they haven't gotten in yet, particularly when you aren't paying monthly rent in the city in which you're selling them violates both Shared Risk (I don't pay rent, so I don't have any risk) and Shared Responsibility (I'm encroaching on what stores are doing to provide for themselves and their families).
After a book has been released, sure, no problem. If the OGRE didn't order enough and ran out and I come into town and I've got fifty copies for sale to OGRE customers who can't get them, hey, good for me. But BEFORE general release?
No, no way.
Feb 20 2008, 04:09 PM: Well, I think that that's certainly a danger and -- having no real knowledge of the fashion industry when I started -- it's one of those things that I have to assess on an on-going basis. Just when I had finished the first issue, ads started cropping up in the fashion magazines for L'OREAL FASHION WEEK in Toronto and I thought, Well, okay here's a good chance to do some research. So I went down for one of the days, thinking I could show the mock-up of number one to fashion people and just see what the reaction was, "network" those kinds of things.
I realized pretty quickly that there wasn't much there for me to connect with (although I certainly got my $53 daily admission fee from being in an event tent packed to the rafters with pretty girls and women). Someone was handing out copies of a new fashion magazine and I got one of those and realized, "Okay, this is it -- a magazine I can do something with." The fashion MAGAZINES are distinct from the fashion INDUSTRY in that they have their own narrative voice starting from the cover on in. I mean, if I even tried using the actual cover headlines on COSMO, everyone would be more convinced than ever that I'm a misogynist: and yet these are magazines purchased 99% by women!
I'm not really looking to score brownie points off of that. I'm just trying to bring out the natural humour inherent in the magazines in a light-hearted way.
I'm sure I'll get accused of being flighty and faddish for doing the book the way I'm doing it. But then if I did a project that wasn't flighty and faddish, I'd get accused of being Controversial.
At a specific point, you can't win for losing so you do what it is you want to do:
Pretty girls and women in my best Al Williamson style.
Feb 20 2008, 04:19 PM: Bactroid: Are you concerned that some of your fervent fans might be lost in the confusion between your art and the subject of your art?
Uh, I don't really see myself as having "fervent fans". I have a lot of open-minded and devoted readers, but even the most devoted CEREBUS and/or Dave Sim readers -- the CEREBUS Yahoo discussion group -- tend (with a number of exceptions I could probably count on one finger) to disagree with everything I think and everything I have to say. Consequently I think ANYONE who has been reading my work for any length of time is probably "lost in the confusion between [my] art and the subject of [my] art" to one degree or another. Most of them seem pretty well-adjusted...floating around out there. I'll see most of them at S.P.A.C.E. in a week or so (March 1 and 2).
Maybe we could have some on-line assessments in real time of the degree of their "well-adjustedness" from S.P.A.C.E. attendees?
Feb 20 2008, 04:44 PM: Kaptain Sequential: Hi Dave, Thanks so much for being here. How is your technical approach to the art in glamourpuss different from that of your work on Cerebus -- or is it? Also, what are you enjoying the most about creating this series? Kyle
Hi, Kyle. thanks for checking in. I'd say the biggest difference is in the materials that I'm using. Because I'm trying to teach myself the Raymond School look, one of the cardinal rules is that virtually everything needs to be inked with a thin brush (as opposed to the variant traditions in the comic-book field of a melding of brush and pen). So when I'm copying a Raymond RIP KIRBY panel, I'm basically learning to do things a different way. On CEREBUS virtually all of the inking was done with a Hunt 102 pen nib which is reasonably stiff but with a degree of flexibility. Because I hated having to maintain a brush, I'd try to get as many brush effects as I could with the 102. If you press too hard it will either break or bend so far that the two flanges which hold the ink get permanently separated. I'd get around that by holding it higher up on the pen stock and keeping the pen practically horizontal and parallel to the page. In the Raymond School, you only use a thin brush to get those sort of lines.
Also, I didn't find out about the Gillott 290 pen nib from Neal Adams until a couple of years ago. Alex Kotsky turned Neal onto them way back when at Johnstone & Cushing when Kotzky was doing the backgrounds on Stan Drake's HEART OF JULIET JONES strip. I just recently found out in Tom Roberts' great new book ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART that Raymond also used the Gillott 290.
It's a temperamental tool, far more flexible than the 102 so it requires a feather-soft touch and 100% accuracy when you're placing it on the page. If both flanges aren't touching the art board, you aren't going to get ink out of it whereas with the 102, there's a lot more latitude. You can hold it at a slight tilt or a little off centre and it will still give you a viable ink line -- usually not the EXACT ink line you're trying for but "close enough for government work". That's a big advantage of the 290 -- it really won't let you do an "approximate" ink line. You have to have a clear mental image of the line that you're attempting and where you need to place it to get that line. Both together. If you just have one or the other, no ink line.
So with the Gillott 290 you spend a lot of time dipping it in water and cleaning the ink off, dipping it in the ink and trying again. Until you are 100% focused on the spot on the page where you're inking it just isn't going to work. Once you are there, "in the groove" and completely focused, it's like the magic wand of pen nibs. It can do anything from tiny, tiny fine feathering lines to brush lines. On a good day, I can get "into the groove" for an hour or so at a time. On a bad day, I just have to admit defeat and go back to the 102. But because I'm really doing just one primary, traced from a photo image per page with secondary images, limited backgrounds, I can afford to devote the time to learn the ins and outs of the 290 when doing glamourpuss (or Secret Project One which didn't have a deadline).
As Neal says, he hasn't used the 290 in a long time because he's doing storyboards. Most of what you are selling as a storyboard artist is turnover time: I will storyboard your commercial for you faster than anyone else in Manhattan and make it look at least 60% prettier than anyone else in Manhattan. There just isn't time to use the 290 in that context. It would be pointless. The director of a television commercial doesn't know the difference between a 290 and a magic marker. All he knows is if it looks good, shows what he wants it to show and it's in his hands Monday.
Okay prayer time. I should be back in forty minutes or so.
Feb 20 2008, 06:01 PM: Kaptain Sequential: Also, what are you enjoying the most about creating this series? Kyle
I don't think it would be an overstatement to say EVERYTHING.
One of the advantages of having done a monthly book for a quarter of a century is that you realize after a while that you really need to do a lot more thinking in the planning stage than most guys do. A good example in this case is the SIU TA SO FAR strips that I did for Canadian actress Siu Ta (see www.siuta.com) as a dry run on "pretty girl" photorealism. I was working the standard 10 x 15 size (turned sideways) that I did on CEREBUS and realized that if you try to do full figures at that size, a good likeness becomes almost impossible (Siu is tiny in the first place -- a little over five feet tall -- so her features are comparably tiny). The experience told me that I had to limit the number of images per page and keep those images as large as possible.
As it stands with the first issue and a half completed the balance is pretty good. Just when the challenge of trying to outline a photo image as accurately as possible through photocopy paper and tracing paper has worn thin, I'm done. Just when the challenge of transferring the image has worn thin, I'm done. Just when the challenge of replicating the image in tight pencil has worn thin, I'm done -- and so on.
It really is the greatest job in the world -- I get to look through an issue of ELLE or MARIE CLAIRE for my absolute most favourite photographs -- they're the most beautiful women in the world and I get to pick my personal favourite. Then I get to study her close up for literally hours on end, working to achieve a good likeness, capture the gesture and so on. And the whole time I'm drawing her -- turning her into an Al Williamson/Alex Raymond drawing -- I just keep thinking, "What would make her laugh?" What improvisational bit of comedy can I come up with that would make this immaculately beautiful woman laugh?
You can see how much time and energy I'm putting in to making this book happen. As they say in hockey, "Y'gotta WANT it."
John just crunched the numbers and he says LOOKIN FOR HEROES has advance orders for 15 copies and that they would usually double the number on a first issue. So, pending Duane's decision we could be closer to 30 copies than 20.
As I shout at the Kitchener Rangers every Friday night from my rail seat next to the penalty box: C'MON GUYS -- HUSTLE! HUSTLE! HUSTLE!
Feb 20 2008, 06:04 PM: Bryan Deemer: For answers to some of these questions, be sure to check out today's episode. Towards the end of the Melmoth episode we talk quite a bit about Glamourpuss. Bry
Oh THAT Bryan -- the INCREDIBLY FAMOUS Bryan of INCREDIBLY FAMOUS Bryan, Peter and Jamie on INCREDIBLY FAMOUS the COMIC GEEK SPEAK INCREDIBLY FAMOUS podcast.
Well. Now I AM impressed.
Feb 20 2008, 06:30 PM: max headroom: Mr Sim, Thanks for taking the time to answer questions. Looking forward to glamourpuss and I have been enjoying your CGS episodes with Peter, Bryan and Jamie.
Oh thank you for asking some. I've been enjoying the COMIC GEEK SPEAK experience as well. Very gratifying to know that it is still possible for the CEREBUS trades to find an audience with guys who are, self-admittedly, mainstream Marvel and DC readers. The fact that they've been willing to devote this much time to my work this long after it was completed gives me a lot of hope for the future.
max headroom:1. Is there a central character to glamourpuss or recurring characters in every issue?
1. Hey, the new books are here! I win! I picked 12:30, John picked 2:00. This is the first time the new books have come in on Wednesday since I've been here. Oh -- sorry, Brian. So far the recurring characters are glamourpuss, Dr. Norm and glamourpuss' Evil Twin Sister, Skanko. I'm pretty sure they'll be in each issue, although so far in issue 2 Skanko is just a disembodied voice on glamourpuss' cellphone.
max headroom: 2. What artists/writers in any medium, have you discovered and been inspired by since Cerebus ended?
This biggest one would be Leonard Starr, with the new reprints of MARY PERKINS ON STAGE (three volumes available). I had only seen a handful of ON STAGE strips until a few months ago. I think Leonard Starr is a good answer to your question because I think MARY PERKINS is the best WRITTEN of the photorealism strips. Starr wrote it himself after experimenting with a writer early on and he has the necessary "chops" in spades. Good transitions, good internal resonances. Particularly that latter element. In volume three there's a story where Mary is cast in a play opposite a veteran comedian down on his luck. She's the newcomer hoping for her big break and he's the veteran trying to fight his way back in -- and several days apart they both expess their determination using the same words. It's a very effective moment and very unusual in a newspaper strip.
max headroom: 3. What artists/writers are you looking forward to exploring, but haven't had the opportunity yet?
Well, Al Williamson on the artist side. Yoram M. who is a huge CEREBUS art collector and also collects Williamson's work actually GAVE me Williamson's own syndicate proof sheets for SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN -- some of them marked, indicating where the linework has broken up. He also brought up about 40 CORRIGAN daily strips and we spent an hour or so in the office chatting while I photocopied favourite panels, original size. I just touched on Williamson in the first issue but I think Prof. Mendez has aptly christened him "The Man Who Would Be King". He was the one who was the most devoted to the original incarnations of the Raymond School and, in my view, brought that look to its highest plateau in comics history. I have to hold myself down from just skipping straight to Williamson.
Coincidentally, this month's PREVIEWS has a solicitation for CREEPY ARCHIVES which is going to be chock-a-block full of Williamson stuff as well as other Raymond School guys like Angelo Torres, Joe Orlando and others in the original b&w 232 pages for 49.95 Diamond order code FEB08 0103. The first issue of CREEPY has my favourite Al Williamson comic-book story, the one about Baldo Smudge, the syndicated cartoonist. That should be worth the $49.95 price of admission right there.
max headroom: Best wishes with this project and future projects. Please let the CGS guys know when you have more things planned. -Brian Hancock
Thanks Brian -- sorry I don't know how to separate out my answers from your questions, but they're all up there.
(from Peter: I pulled Dave's answers out to make it more clear. )
Feb 20 2008, 06:38 PM: Thomalo: Mr. Sim: What started you writing and drawing comics?
I remember when I was hanging around with Jeff and Mark Hoppe back in 1967-68 that Jeff suggested that we should do our own comics and that idea went nowhere. Do our own comics? Why? In 1969 I met Max Southall who was three years older than me and had a huge comics collection, specializing in Batman. He did his own fanzines and had Batman comic pages he had drawn on the inside fronts of the cabinets that held his books in his parents' basement. I think that was the first time that it seemed like a good idea to me. I remember waiting in the car while my parents went to get my sister at the summer camp she was at and doodling in a notebook the strips (as I remembered them) that Max had done. At some point I bought some bristol board and started doing my own Flash Gordon daily strips -- probably about seven of them before I ran out of gas.
I think I really got the bug when I started buying original artwork -- a George Tuska THUNDER AGENTS page, a SUPERBOY cover by Irv Novick with a pasted up Neal Adams Superboy figure. That would be around 1971/72.
Feb 20 2008, 06:55 PM: Torchsong: Dave, Thanks for being here. Thanks for Cerebus. Looking forward to Glamourpuss. Question: You were championing independent comics long before there was ever such a thing as an internet, no matter what Al Gore tells us. Would you say it's easier now to get your stories out there, and would you ever consider doing a web-based comic? How much has the industry changed for an independent creator like yourself from when you started? Al/Torchsong
Well, first of all, although this is the first that I've known that Al Gore is making unfavourable comments about contribution to comics and when that contribution began relative to his invention of the Internet, let me just say that I have the highest possible respect for anyone who can win the Nobel Prize AND an Academy Award in the same year. Along with everyone else, I sincerely hope that there is AN EVEN MORE INCONVENIENT TRUTH or EVEN MORE INCONVENIENT/EVEN TRUTHIER sequel in the works and that he is able to sign all the cast members to long-term contracts so that AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH can one day be competing with JAMES BOND for most successful movie franchise.
It is easier to get your stories out there and I think web-based comics offer a lot of potential, not only in finding out if you can build an audience for your work but in finding out if you can meet your deadlines. I think it's an obvious first step for any aspiring comic book artist/writer/publisher. The second step, I think, is to copy your work and take it to comic store owners that you DON'T know for their opinion on its commercial merits. The store where you buy your books or where you hang out is a bad choice for obvious reasons: there's a personal relationship in the way of getting honest feedback. Somebody told me that the Siu Ta strips (www.siuta.com under SIU TA SO FAR) qualify as web-comics since that's the only place that they've appeared.
I'd say the industry has changed primarily in the number of challenges/opportunities that it presents. If I'm able to get a better-than-respectable circulation on the first issue of glamourpuss I think it will point aspiring creators in those directions: getting your work into the hands of as many retailers as you can, phoning the retailers directly and then putting in 100 hours on the Internet attempting to generate some buzz. Those are challenges in the sense that they are relatively expensive for someone starting out and pretty time-consuming. They're opportunities because they're just sitting there waiting to be used which they weren't when I started in 1977.
I would STRONGLY urge complete novices to learn to walk before they run, though. Don't knock out a comic book, print 4500 copies and expect that Diamond is going to let you send them out in Diamond Dateline and that 300 retailers are going to be happy to get a phone call from you. Start with a web comic and when you think you're ready take your work to a half dozen retailers and ask them to critique it. Tell them to be honest: if you wouldn't order a single copy, please tell me. If they don't know you, they will tell you. Don't get discouraged. No one -- including me -- makes it with their first attempt out of the gate.
C'MON GUYS! HUSTLE! HUSTLE! HUSTLE!
Remember, "Y'gotta WANT it."
Thanks for the kind words. Hope you enjoy it when it comes out!
Feb 20 2008, 07:05 PM: Deadpool: hey dave. i've never read Cerebus and i don't care much for fashion. how would you sell this book to me? my friends a fashion writer but hasn't even read "peanuts" strip, is this something i could give her?
Hi, thanks for checking in. I realized pretty early on that, like CEREBUS, glamourpuss just doesn't lend itself to capsule description/elevator pitch/READER'S DIGEST explanations.
If you're a comic-book fan and you regularly go to a comic-book store, I think the best advice I could give would be for you to go in and ask the manager or owner or the guy behind the counter if you can see their COMICS INDUSTRY PREVIEW EDITION of glamourpuss No.1 that came in with Diamond Dateline (Feb 13 edition) this week. It's the complete comic book and it will take about twenty minutes to read depending on your reading speed. I figure at that point you'll either be "sold" on glamourpuss or you won't. As I've been saying pretty regularly, "I can't give you back the 20 minutes, but I might be able to save you three bucks."
Your friend the fashion writer might be a different case. If he/she is willing to do a "road trip" then the same advice above will apply. Unfortunately for most real world people, the idea of going into a comic-book store holds the same level of appeal as going to the dentist. I think it might be a two-stage thing: see for yourself if glamourpuss is your "cup of tea". If it is, you might consider either lending your copy to your friend or (if you're a wealthy kind of guy) buying he/she one of his/her own.
I appreciate your taking the time to post about this whatever you decide.
Feb 20 2008, 07:34 PM: Third time's the charm, indeed. It's not even a prayer time so lucky you (finally!).
QUESTION 1 Unconsciously, I think that's true. As I wrote somewhere else, the pyramid in UNDERSTANDING COMICS certainly charts comics on an iconic versus realistic graph that was a very useful and revelatory incarnation/conceptulization of a fundamental duality which exists within the medium. Scott is and always has been at his best, in my opinion, when he's discussing the medium itself. At the time, I thought it was interesting that CEREBUS was confined to the iconic side of the pyramid. I think it's more accurate to say that CEREBUS spanned the pyramid. Cerebus himself is distinctly iconic, cartoony -- which is where Scott put him -- but the other characters in the book cross the spectrum from iconic/caricature (the Al Hirschfeld inspired Norman Mailer and Mrs. Thatcher pages in GUYS) to photorealistic. Bryan, Jamie, Peter, Jeff and I touched on this in our discussion of MELMOTH. There are images of Robbie Ross and Reggie Turner that are traced from the only photo I could find of the two of them. There are also realistic/cartoony drawings of them and Drucker style caricatures of them. Young Jaka in JAKA'S STORY when she gets to be a gangly youth is a caricature whereas the adult Jaka is drawn realistic/cartoony. And then I also used a photo of my then girlfiend Susan Alston for the Michael Zulli portrait of Jaka in GOING HOME.
It would have been nice if Scott had addressed some of that, but I think his personal interests intervened and he pretty much dismissed realism as a marginal interest (and points west) and restricted his attention to the iconic and the cartoony. Hey, they're his books, he can document whatever he wants an dismiss whatever he wants. But, as far as I know, I was one of the few people to take the spectrum, itself, as a given in CEREBUS -- from iconic to photorealistic.
GLAMOURPUSS is pretty much a "stuck needle" on the photorealism side of the pyramid. I'll do some cartoony things in there, but the point is still "pretty girls in my best Al Williamson style".
QUESTION 2 I'm a big fan of Jean Giraud's work both as Moebius and on his earlier LIEUTENANT BLUEBERRY stuff which is closer to my own interests in terms of artistic style. The content of his more modern work is a little obscure for me, but nonetheless pleasurable for that: just watching him move the camera and subject elements around. Very smooth!
I did indeed get a kick out of your son's drawing. And thank you for your kind words. Spending 100 hours on the Internet is a bubble-like existence so I'll take your word for it that it's doing some good. At this point it's just a rhythm thing. Type type type...slog slog slog...pray pray pray....slog slog slog...type type type...slog slog slog...pray pray pray...slog slog slog...type type type. My socks and running shoes are soaked by the time I get home so I hang the socks over the end of the bed so they're dry the next time I'm back at the house and getting changed for my ritual ablutions. I think I'm going to buy some new running shoes that don't have holes in them. Or maybe even some boots -- although that would move me out of the three pairs of footwear category.
C'MON DAVE -- HUSTLE! HUSTLE! HUSTLE!
Six days, three hours and twenty minutes to go. But who's counting?
Feb 20 2008, 07:44 PM: Oh, hey, thank you, James. I've certainly heard great things about ISOTOPE as being one of the Top Indy Friendly stores in the Bay Area and I appreciate you going to all that trouble on my behalf and on behalf of glamourpuss. It was quite a trip phoning as many Fantagraphics/Drawn & Quarterly stores as I was able to in that short a space of time -- places like CHICAGO COMICS, MELTDOWN and others -- and not only not have them hang up on me but in every case being glad to schmooze a while and agree to use the PREVIEW EDITION to drum up business. We're all in this together, eh?
Hope you got in enough ANGEL No.4 today. LOOKIN FOR HEROES had enough for subscribers and the shelf but not enough to put one in the window.
Hot book, I'd say.
Okay, prayer time. Duane's switching me to the other side of the desk while I'm gone so he can put his New Comics Day orders through to Diamond on the other laptop. Pardon me -- I gotta slog.
Feb 20 2008, 09:34 PM: Wood: Dave -- Let me echo everyone else and thank you for Cerebus (a masterpiece I'm just now discovering) as well as for making yourself available to us in this forum and others. As to my question, I'm particularly interested in the juxtaposition of where you are heading into Glamourpuss versus where you were heading into Cerebus. Given how long Cerebus spanned, it was only natural that what it BECAME was much different than what you intended it to be when putting out that first issue. We all like to talk about the benefit of hindsight, yet few of us get the chance to put it to practical use. So what, if anything, is different in your approach to Glamourpuss and the story you have to tell? Do you envision this book being as profound a journey of self-exploration as Cerebus turned out to be?
Sorry, I'm a little late getting back. I had a phone message from Trevor Grace in Toronto telling me that his rough cut of "THE MAKING OF GLAMOURPUSS (well ONE of them, anyway)" has been completed but owing to "computer issues" he wasn't able to get the title and the credits on. He's uploaded it to Jeff Tundis' FTP site, and was basically leaving the GO LAUNCH/DELAY LAUNCH decision up to me.
What the heck.
This whole enterprise has been "quick and dirty" and held together by chewing gum spit and bailing wire from the git-go ("You can't send a crate up in a kid like that!") and we seem to be doing okay so far, so I faxed Jeff that we are GO LAUNCH and he should post the video to the www.glamourpusscomic.com website as soon as he can and add the titles and credits when he gets a chance (after S.P.A.C.E. if it comes to that). So watch www.glamourpusscomic.com for signs of the rough cut of "THE MAKING OF GLAMOURPUSS (well, ONE of them anyway)" coming to a laptop, harddrive or modem near you.
HA I just figured out how to make bold type! Dave Sim: Master of Cyberspace!
Sorry, Wood. Getting to your question -- and thank you for your extremely generous words about CEREBUS.
I'd have to say if you wanted to juxtapose CEREBUS and glamourpuss, the biggest difference between the two is that with CEREBUS I was attempting from the beginning a quest for Truth (although I was willing to settle for Reality). I saw that as being external to the book: I was heavily influenced by my discovery of The Beatles around 1975 and the relationship between The Beatles and Elvis (I had always been more of an Elvis guy from about the age of eight when Tim Morton, a neighbour, got a copy of the soundtrack for the movie GIRL HAPPY). I was struck by John Lennon's comment when told Elvis had died in August of '77 (a couple of months before I started CEREBUS) "Elvis died when he went in the army." It was classic Lennon: cruel but fair.
Ultimately I came to the conclusion that Elvis and The Beatles both "died" in the highest sense (Truth and/or Reality) when they signed their recording contracts. Having avoided that pitfall -- I retained and retain 100% control of my intellectual property -- my quest for Truth moved into other areas: the nature of fictional reality "reality" and Reality and whether or not it was possible to move up the scale from fiction to Reality in the context of the fiction (READS). As an earlier poster observed, the use of the second person singular in the later READS text pieces was pretty unique. Anyway, I ultimately think I succeeded on my own terms that ended up being very much at variance with audience expectations. Gradually, I think maybe that gap is starting to close particularly as a new generation comes along who experiences CEREBUS as you did: a huge meal over a short period as opposed to the monthly snack it was for 25 years for those who read it in its serialized form.
Anyway it was Big Ambition stuff which, fortunately, has given me the luxury to completely switch gears and do what I want. I want to learn the Raymond School by tracing Raymond and tracing photos so that's what I'm doing.
Oh, you CAN'T do that. Tracing is cheating!
Well, I did a 6,000 page graphic novel. I'll "cheat" if I want to.
You're only doing one big picture per page.
Yeah, I know. I think they look really good, big like that.
Oh, you can't do that -- it isn't really comics! Yeah, I know. Me and Hal Foster with PRINCE VALIANT. "Not comics". Foster did 2,000 Sunday pages, I did a 6,000 page graphic novel. Even with everyone saying PRINCE VALIANT and glamourpuss aren't comics, I think we'll both muddle along somehow.
It's fun. I did the absolute most difficult book I could conceive of for twenty-six years and three months and then commented on it for roughly another few thousand pages for the three years and nine months after that. Thirty years. I think I'll have fun now. I don't know how the orders are going everywhere else, but Floyd (John) just came in with another glamourpuss post-it note for an issue so we might even be up over 30 copies at this point. Personally, I think maybe the comics audience is ready for some fun -- I know I am. And a lot of things seem to be rolling my way: a superb photorealist guy like Bryan Hitch taking the number one spot on the WIZARD Top Ten, the release of MARY PERKINS ON STAGE, Tom Roberts' ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART and now CREEPY CLASSICS from Dark Horse. All the way from total obscurity to a toehold in the market.
Hey, good for us. Good for ALL of us.
Feb 20 2008, 09:38 PM: TalonTM: Dave, Your "Random 25 Question" interview with Craig Johnson is now up at Comics Village. Good answer to the "most ferocious argument" question.
You know, I really had to wrestle with that one. It's always hard to tell EXACTLY how humourless the comic book field has become. "Did you read that Dave Sim is fighting with Neil Gaiman about whether CERTS is a breath mint or a candy mint? No wonder everyone HATES the guy."
Oh, well, at least you thought it was funny.
Feb 20 2008, 09:56 PM: Amber the SuperheroStylist: Unfortunately I didn't get time to read Glamourpuss but I was able to delicately flip through someone's copy at the shop. I just wanted to relay that it's beautiful! I felt like I was perusing the pages of a vintage copy of W magazine or Women's Wear Daily. I was wondering if you referenced old publications like that when you created this. Beth
Hi, Beth, Well THANK YOU! Beautiful is definitely what I'm shooting for. As to your question, uh, actually no. My taste in clothing does tend to run to the "classic tailored" look a la 1950s Chanel but most of that is filtered Alex Raymond (probably with generous helpings of the scenes at The Copa on "I Love Lucy") but I definitely decided I was better served using their present-day incarnations with their subtle and more modern touches.
The touches are often pretty subtle indeed -- and I'll probably "hit" exact translations more by accident than intent -- but, I think, they're also identifiable for those "in the know": I'm shamelessly sucking up to fashion people even though I think that the best I can hope for is "Hunh. That's an ACTUAL Gucci watch and boots. In a comic book. How weird" eight months after the fact from maybe one or two junior editors somewhere. I'm also trying to stay literally to "The High Fashion Comic Book That's SO Six Months Ago". All of the shots in No.1 are from the early fall of 2007 and will be coming out in early spring 2008. I got halfway through issue two before I thought, "Hang on -- issue two is out in July: I should be using pictures from the January fashion magazines, not the October magazines." So, I'm having to fight myself not to buy any more fashion magazines until next month for issue 3 which will be out in September.
There was a photo of a model wearing an authentic 1956 Chanel party dress with matching pillbox hat that I glommed onto right away before I read the caption. I've actually sent a tracing of it to Neal Adams to see if he wants to do a guest cover.
Hey, dream big, I always say.
Feb 20 2008, 10:16 PM: Paul: Hi Dave, I was wondering about your creative process in putting an individual issue together. Do you start with a full script, or plot, and then start drawing from that, or do you plot things out by creating layouts, and then further refining them? Do you find that this part of the process has evolved from Cerebus to Glamourpuss? Also, as a fellow resident of Southwestern Ontario, I'm wondering if there are aspects of the Kitchener-Waterloo area that have found their way into your work? Thanks for years of great reading (much of which is still ahead of me ) and I hope to see you at the Paradise show this summer!
Well so far I've only done one and a half so I'm not sure that I have a routine yet. On issue two, I decided to do all the glamourpuss stuff first and then the Raymond School tutorial stuff second. I'm not sure if I'll stick with that or just go one page at a time since I'm pretty sure the glamourpuss stuff is the most fun. I have a small sense of having eaten dessert first on issue two and now I'm looking at the meat and potatoes. Although I do enjoy both once I'm in there and working. One of the last pages I did before the three-month promotion campaign started was four panels: one Jack Kirby, one Neal Adams, one Art Adams and one Marc Silvestri and Bruce Timm. That was fun. The one I've been "on" since mid-November consists of portraits of Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, Milt Caniff and a Peanuts panel. I try to say as much as I can VISUALLY and then flesh out the information with as few captions as I can. I don't find I need a script since the lettering is the Joe Kubert computer font -- I can refine each caption right up to the last minute.
CEREBUS was all forward momentum through to the end of READS and then repercussions from there on. Glamourpuss is much more tightly confined: how do I express the multi-decade long "dialogue" that Raymond started with RIP KIRBY and outline it in roughly 200 pages (with 200 glamourpuss pages)? A much more basic job.
The Kissing Bridge appears in GOING HOME.
Apart from that not a lot.
There's a very well-dressed blonde who works at Just Between Us, the high fashion store next to City Hall and I'll see her in there going from fashion site to fashion site on her computer (the store is an all-glass goldfish bowl, so I don't really consider it stalking or even 'stalking'). That was something that stuck with me when I was casting about for a way to do a comic book that was basically just "pretty girls done in my best Al Williamson style"
...what would a comic book that appealed to someone like that be like? That was what was led to my trying to get the ComicsPRO retailers and retailers in general to "target" fashion store clerks (as you can see from the first screen on the www.glamourpusscomic.com website). Particularly Mimi Cruz of NIGHT FLIGHT COMICS at the Cottonwood Mall in Salt Lake City.
I think it's a real "Hail Mary" pass across the board, but I do think we have to at least attempt to get out into the real world some other way than just super-hero movies. Anyway, the fashion clerk (or for all I know the owner) of Just Between Us was the genesis of that.
Oh you're welcome, and thank YOU for the years of great money! You and all the folks like you are what made and make it all possible.
Feb 20 2008, 10:30 PM: Oh, hey no problem. Thanks for putting it on your pull list. That's what the 100 Hours here are all about.
Well, anytime I think of CEREBUS the biggest thought in my head is "I'm sure glad I don't have to do it AGAIN!" You know, like playing Vegas or something. Come out on stage. "Here's a little 6,000 page graphic novel I think you might remember...and it goes...something...like this..."
And I think I did it more "independently" than independently. That's why I always say "Thank you for the money". It's not just that I didn't need the backing of a multinational corporation to get to issue 300, it's the fact that I didn't need to get a Canada Council or Ontario Council of the Arts grant to get to issue 300. It's pretty much taken as a given in Canada that nothing can exist in the arts unless the government pays for it. A lot of stores and a lot of readers made it happen, often when there were only two or three guys in a fifty-mile radius who even knew what CEREBUS was. You picture that taking place over twenty-six years and it's a piece of imagery to conjure with. Hey that's one!
Seems like a real cultural phenomenon to me.
But I don't think you'd ever get a multinational corporation or Canadian government to finance a film about it.
"WE aren't responsible for this. Okay: complete non-event. Break it up. Everybody just move along. Nothing to see here."
Feb 20 2008, 10:44 PM: That was my reaction out at Carry-On Books in Waterloo. Andy started grinning the moment I walked in and I knew right away, "It came in? It's actually HERE?" He ordered one for himself as well. A long wait but worth every minute. Especially the handful of full-size reproductions shot from the original artwork. He'd get about 60 to 70% of what he put on the page in the reproduction and the other 30 to 40% -- as with Neal Adams, Al Williamson and Stan Drake -- is just jaw-dropping when you get it. My two favourite pieces are the one that he did for the auto body shop where he took his sports cars and the invitation to the dinner dance at the golf club where he and Mrs. Raymond were members. Tiny, tiny waist on the girl -- the guy's hand looks like it could go all the way around, but boy howdy does that picture work.
The last week or so I've just been staring into space after a full day of "message boarding" but the rest of the book is at the top of my list. I devoured the RIP KIRBY chapters and the chapter about the fatal car accident the day I got it, but I'm definitely looking forward to reading the part about his service in the Navy next. The guy who wrote the SMITHSONIAN BOOK OF NEWSPAPER STRIPS served on the same ship as Raymond and I suspect diminished Raymond unconscionably in the contents of the book as a result ("Alex got enough adulation in the service"). It would be hard not to feel that way I think. The success of FLASH GORDON made him a huge celebrity to those serving with him. He had an easy deferment for the asking: young family, needed as a morale booster on the home front -- but taking it easy while his brothers all volunteered just wasn't in his make-up. You've gotta respect that. That GREATEST GENERATION quality in spades.
Thanks for posting, Steve.
Feb 20 2008, 10:49 PM: Le nny Cooper, ladies and gentlemen, co-moderator of the Cerebus Yahoo Newsgroup.
No, glamourpuss was it pretty much right away. It's from the eighth RIP KIRBY strip in 1946 when Rip talks Honey Dorian into going undercover as a photographer's model. "Gee -- imagine. Me...a glamourpuss" she says. It's got the perfect tone. High fashion, but also self-deprecating.
Okay prayer time. I'll be back for the last forty minute stretch around 6:40 EDST. See you then.
Feb 20 2008, 11:39 PM: Well, it was a tough call. I was tempted to go ahead with Secret Project Three and try to find something more commercial than glamourpuss as a lead-in to glamourpuss and have glamourpuss as the lead-in to Secret Project One but, finally, I just decided to go ahead with glamourpuss. We'll find out if I made theright call over the next six months or so. I'm told the buzz is pretty good right now, so I'm just trying to stay positive and work hard. After that it's all up to the retailers.
No, as far as I know Pete just doesn't want Cerebus in there and since he has absolute control over the Turtles, it's his call to make. I don't think it's a huge deal. As Kevin pointed out between the original comic book and the First Comics reprint there's probably over 100,000 copies in circulation. I've always held that any artist or writer can reprint anything that they worked on so obviously I'd like to have the original duo-shaded Kevin Eastman story with my Cerebus pictures in the CEREBUS MISCELLANY b&w collection, but I also know better than to go head to head with Pete's a) millions and lawyers. Same as with SPAWN 10. I'd like to reprint it in black and white in CEREBUS MISCELLANY and (possibly) redraw the Cerebuses. But unless Todd wants that happen that isn't going to happen no matter what foundations I choose to conduct my own business on.
Thanks for posting.
Feb 20 2008, 11:45 PM: Well, I beg to differ (and of course I remember you). I have a very nice photo of you in the Cerebus Archive that you sent me way back when of you seated at your drawing board in a very nice, very simple sleeveless white dress. You're certainly more in the fashion plate category than I am.
So we'll finally meet at NYCC? I'll look forward to it. And hi from me as well to Brian and Scottie at BURIED UNDER BOOKS.
I'll see what I can do about making issue two funnier than issue one.
Feb 20 2008, 11:51 PM: Not MY hotel room, I hasten to add. I'm very big on plausible denial. "I don't know, officer -- I think they're STAR WARS fanatics of some kind. One of them offered to sell me this container of spaghetti sauce and some noodles and...well...I'll be running along now, I guess"
Feb 20 2008, 11:54 PM: If there's someplace I can line up for 24 hours to get a copy, I'll bring the sleeping bags and the thermos.