My first thought on the digital copies of Cerebus: they are biweekly reprints taken to not the next level, but a couple levels up.
First, if you haven’t gotten your free digital copy of Cerebus #26 yet, you can go to the Cerebus Downloads website, scroll to the bottom and then right click on the picture of whichever of the four options you want and save link as: PDF (Adobe Acrobat), CBZ (comic book archive format), EPUB (electronic publication, an open format used by iBooks), and if that wasn’t enough, you can get the MP4 format – which is shown as the quicktime Q picture – which is an audio visual copy of the issue. When you download the files, be advised they are large files, so it could take some time depending on your connection speed. For example, the PDF version of Cerebus #26 clocks in at 176 MB. I downloaded both the PDF and the MP4 files, one at a time, and just let them download in the background while I surfed the web – so I can’t remember how long it took to be honest.
The first 29 pages of the file is the complete comic book. I mean complete: everything from covers, to letters pages, to ads. Nothing was left out. The next page is dividing page show the title Cerebus Archive, and pages 31 – 45 are copies of items from Dave’s Cerebus Archive file cabinet and they have commentary by Dave. Some of the items may seem a bit . . .trival? boring? unnecessary? For example, I’ve heard people wondering why we have copies of Aardvark-Vanaheim’s invoice books:
These invoices will help figure out print run estimates for these early issues. Starting with issue #46 the print runs were printed on the inside front cover, so figuring out the print runs for the earlier issues is difficult. So along with estimating print runs for the earlier issues, they also give us a glimpse into the financials of self-publishing a comic in the early 1980s. Cerebus #27 has a cover price of $1.50, and with the above invoice, we can see Bud Plant buying five thousand (!) copies at 45 cents a piece! While Now & Then Comics, a local Kitchener comic book store, brought 1,000 copies at 52.5 cents a piece:
It makes me wonder what Aardvark-Vanaheim was paying the printer for the copies, seems like a slim margin to me, but I’m no expert. Oh, wait, on page 38 there is a copy of a bill from their printer at the time: Southern Dutchess. So the quote from them for issue #24 of Cerebus shows 12,200 copies at a cost of $861.50, so 7.1 cents a copy. With shipping and one other charge put into the cost, it comes out to 10 cents per copy. So using the price given Bud Plant of 45 cents, that is 35 cents profit, over 12,200 issues – I know, I know, I’m using numbers for #27 with costs for #24, but this is just a rough estimate for curiosities sake – that is $4,270 per month. Not to shabby. Of course, there are other expenses in there that we aren’t seeing, so it wasn’t quite that good.
Showing all of this seems like a new level of openness that I’ve not seen before with regards to comics. Again, could just be me.
Then on page 46 we get another divider page: Cerebus Archive Notebooks and on page 47 the cover to Albatross One. As Dave’s comments below it reveal: “I began using notebooks to plot CEREBUS beginning with issue 20. I called the notebook my ‘albatross’ since it was always with me, a constant reminder of work I had to do.” From page 47 to page 66 we have the scans that I did of the notebooks way back when, along with Dave’s commentary for each page. Even though I did these scans of the notebooks, it is like I’m seeing them for the first time again – while scanning them I usually didn’t stop to read them as I wanted to scan them quickly and get them back safe and sound to Dave. But also this time I get Dave’s commentary – so when I stopped to look at something before and went, huh?, this time it makes more sense as Dave explains what it is and why it was there.
So for 99 cents a piece to get the next digital copies of Cerebus – and I didn’t even go into how high quality the scans of the actual issue are, download it for yourself and see – I think it is worth it. Of course I help funded the kickstarter, so for me they are all free, but when the other phonebooks come up for digital treatment and we get the same high level of detail, both scan of artwork wise and background materials, then I’m so willing to pay 99 cents per issue.