Anatomy of Another Commission (Part 4)


“Take On Me” p 1 (2019)
by Carson Grubaugh (1981- ) and Gerhard (1959- )
and written by Brian P Coppola (1957- )
11 x 17, ink on board (pre-watercolor version)
Coppola Collection

And now, finally, my 40th anniversary commemoration of Cerebus the Aardvark.

The Big Idea: Carson Grubaugh is now the drawing hand of Dave Sim. And the first meaning for the title of this story, “Take On Me” (yes, a direct reference to the song, again), is that Carson has stepped into “The World of Cerebus” and will take on a Dave Sim role. You saw that idea played out, already, in The 2018 Carson Commission (see Part 3).

The Big Plan: I write a 5-page story that gets produced in the classic Dave’n’Ger style, except with Carson doing the general layout and figures and then handing the pages off to Ger. And having been the fortunate recipient of hand-colored commissions in the past, there will be none of this in black and white only stuff. After all, the first Dave’n’Ger work on Cerebus were the color stories in Epic Illustrated (the first of which I have three pages from).


“His First Fifth” aka “Guttersnipe” (Epic Illustrated 26 p 44; Oct, 1984)
by Dave Sim (1956- ) and Gerhard (1959- )
11 x 17 in, ink and watercolor on Bristol Board
Coppola Collection

The Big Story: the beginning scene is Carson’s art class, as class is getting out. The coloring is “the real world” is done in sepia wash (think: Wizard of Oz). Carson is picking up an art prop, a white sphere, while cleaning up after class, and gets accidentally whacked on the head by a kid carrying a bag that has a copy of a Cerebus trade in it. He drops the sphere, which means…

“something fell…”

… and the scene transits to Estarcion, in color, with the sphere becoming the “Big White Glowing Strange Thing” (the BWGST that, we know, causes or eases transits). And if all that seems too unfamiliar to you, well, you are just going to have to take a leap of faith.

During the 5 pages, Carson ends up traveling through the entire Cerebus series, featuring one panel from each phonebook depicting him in an iconic scene or setting… ultimately, through, there is no place like home, and he transits back in the end.

Here is my script. Thanks to two clever artists, improvements were made in the final execution.

Page 1

Carson is at work, putting away still-life props. The last few students are filing out. The color scheme is sepia (a bit like Ger’s Grinning Cat stories), as an homage to Wizard of Oz.

Like any good patron, or maybe more like Stan Lee, I make a cameo as one of the art students in class. And given that Cerebus started in 1977, it is going to be my 1977 self (during College, when I did take some art classes). I am easy to spot.

A white sphere gets knocked off the prop table. Carson stoops over to pick it up.

At the same time a student with a portfolio and a book-bag gets the portfolio stuck on a desk and whacks Carson in the head, the white sphere is on the loose again, on a collision course with the book bag, from which the Cerebus trade paperback has spilled onto the floor.

The sphere lands on the open page, it is from the issue with the Cerebus #5, p 17 showing (the Pigt lair).

Student: “Sorry, Mr. Carson.”
Carson (dazed, holding his head): “It’s fine…something…”

The white sphere is now a Big White Glowing Strange Thing.

The trip through the BWGST is the equivalent of Dorothy’s ride in the twister, and everything comes out color on the other side. Note that the coloring on the last tier is a computer fill that Gerhard uses to think about tones before doing the actual watercoloring.

BOOK REF: Cerebus


Cerebus #5, p 17

Carson is now kneeling on the floor of the statue room with the fully intact statue (in Living Color). Carson is holding the back of his head, the glowing BWGST floats in mid-air, but does not emit light that causes shadows  – and he finishes his sentence:

“…fell.”

Carson stands, a bit bewildered. Figure out the positioning in the room, so that there was either the lighted outline of the open archway that enters the room casting its shape on the wall or onto the floor. The last two frames on this page will show the movement of the BWSGT towards Carson; the transition to the next scene is managed by the glow. In the last panel, that arch-shaped stream of light is now occupied by the silhouette of Cerebus, sword raised, about to enter the room. Glowy panel edge.

Next: Page 2

3 thoughts on “Anatomy of Another Commission (Part 4)

  1. Pingback: Take On Me page 5… | Gerhard Art

  2. Pingback: Family Portrait | Gerhard Art

  3. Pingback: ‘Take On Me’ finished | Gerhard Art

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