How Do You Digitise A Comic Like Cerebus?

The Cerebus Digital 6000 Project is well underway at Kickstarter and has just earned $20,000 in funding, over three times its original aim. But how is the actual digitisation happening? And who is doing it?

Why it’s Bleeding Cool’s own George Peter Gatis, author of our semi-regular It’s Not Rocket Science column. We had a chat.

George, how did Dave Sim’s plans to take Cerebus digital come to your attention?

Through the Bleeding Cool Christmas report on Dave’s weekly CerebusTV show, where Dave was contemplating going digital.

That’s keeping it in the family. So how did you get in touch?

I left a message on Dave’s answering machine and got a call back about a month later. A more detailed overview is on my site which collects the “It’s Not Rocket Science” posts on Bleeding Cool News, with some additional stuff.

What are the difficulties facing a job like this, especially where no digital assets exist?

Creativity. How do you take static pages and incorporate all the awesome behind the scenes content and make it easy and fun to navigate… In Cerebus (over all other books) everything on the page is integrated and ripping it apart is not an option. And… the pages are being scanned from the original film or the original boards.

How are you being compensated for this work?

No charge. I was upfront with Dave months ago. I was grateful for his offer of compensation, but I respectfully declined. Yes, right about now someone’s brain just exploded, thinking I am crazy insane… which would make me sane… right?

Right… I think. What do you believe a digital Cerebus will offer those familiar with the work – and those who aren’t?

The excitement of Dave’s Cerebus Universe, and the exciting content being developed right before our eyes! The Cerebus Movie is looking mighty good. And for those who are not familiar with Cerebus… they are in for one heck of a ride! My generation had to wait over 25 years to get the whole story. This generation will be getting it digitally and a lot quicker less to carry.

What lessons do you believe other publishers and creators should learn from what you are doing with Dave?

It doesn’t take much to jump in and go digital. The options are wide open. The need for someone between the creator and reader has been greatly reduced. But, that doesn’t eliminate print or the stores… it just changes the printed product that would be coming out. Books like the Dave Stevens or John Romita Oversized Artist Editions are a prefect example… Books like that, DEMAND to be printed and held… You can’t duplicate that experience digitally.

What additional digital-only Cerebus features will you be able to offer?

All the different content have technical requirements. Audio, Video and Image. Images are already a given, wither it is pages of the comic, letters pages, covers or original artwork. Audio, is a big thing that will be digital-only… The reading of the pages will be enhanced with sound mixing (musical jingles and sound effects). Video is something that is a possibility… All this will be considered and the eventual file size of the digital offering will have an impact on how it is presented. The quality of the images will not be messed with… But the compression of the audio and just how many videos will be included in each offering will be addressed. I certainly don’t want to be putting out a 3 gigabyte file like the Thrill Electric. That’s just huge! Over the course of all the Cerebus Digital books that will be released, a reasonable file size per offering has to be.. reasonable. There is a finite amount of space on the customers drives.

Can you see Dave making digital-only original comics at any point?

Good question! Personally, I have a wishlist… But, I would like to put that question by Dave the next time I talk to him.

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