Mentioned: issue 200.
Served with Cerebus in the Army. He was the bodyguard for Cerebus when Cerebus was the pope. He met Jaka for the first time when Cerebus asked him to get her from the Lower City. He also met her then husband, Rick.
Dave on the Basis of Bear
28 January, 2006
Yes, there is a story behind, wattayacall, my use of "wattayacall". The name "Bear" and the visual look of the character came from a biker that I met at a Calgary signing on the 1983 Canadian Tour and who appears to have vanished without a trace without ever finding out that he had become a character in Cerebus. One of the only times of all the people who *asked* to be put into the book that I actually put someone in the book and to this day he has no idea that he made it, I'm sure. The, wattayacall, verbal tick of using "wattayacall" came from one of the charter members of Gerhard's high school group at Grand River Collegiate--the self-declared "Out to Lunch Bunch"--a guy by the name of Ernie. If I ever knew his last name, I've forgotten it now. The friendship between Ernie and Gerhard had exactly the tone I had been looking for in the relationship between Bear and Cerebus. Both of them were outdoors-y, self-reliant "do it yourself" types--real guys and it certainly looked like a permanent thing which was the other thing I was going for: you'd need a crowbar to separate these two. Entirely unspoken and entirely understood to even an intermittent outsider like myself (who was always just thought of as Ger's strange boss). Strangely Ernie was one of the ones who eventually left the group and with whose departure the group basically cease to exist as previously constituted and became instead Dirty Shirt, the garage band, and a certain number of indirectly connected individuals. At one point Ernie (who now lives up north in some place isolated) was coming back for a visit and phoned the studio. Ger wasn't there but Ernie left the message that he wanted to clear some things up that had taken place around the time of his leaving. When I passed the message on to Ger he had no idea what he was talking about and from there the conversation went "indoors" between the two of them--Ernie never mentioned that he wanted to see me on his visit and I would have been surprised if he had expressed interest in seeing Ger's strange boss although I would have been glad to see *him*--and whatever he was talking about was and is, of course, none of my business. I can say from experience that if Ger doesn't know what you're talking about, that's where it will be left. Sometimes relating to Ger's governing philosophy of 'there's no problem too big that you can't run away from it' (I know what you're talking about but I don't want to talk about it) and somtimes a genuine case that he doesn't know what you're talking about. I always thought the schism, whatever was behind it, was unfortunate because--as I said--I figured Ger and Ernie would still be palling around together when they were old and gray.
Ernie had a real job getting the right word for something when he was talking to you. He was particularly bright--he was certainly one of the few members of the Out to Lunch Bunch who was genuinely interested in ideas of all kinds and usually had an opinion about any subject you could come up with and a good working knowledge of any number of subjects. But he didn't have a ready vocabulary and as a result "wattayacall" proliferated in his coversation to an objectively amusing extent (objectively amusing at least partly because it was so subjectively unamusing for Ernie himself) and, of course, I always kept an ear out for things that were objectively amusing since I made my living from them. The other word that he used to excess in the same vein was "unit" and its verb form "unitize" which I suspect he got from Frank Zappa (the Out to Lunch Bunch were of the rebel generation after mine, post-Beatles and post-Stones which basically did to the Beatles and the Stones what the Beatles and the Stones had done to Elvis--basically made him irrelevant and meaningless--by deciding that rock-n-roll began with the Who and then headed out to obscure cult bands like Frank Zappa's) who called his daughter Moon Unit. Unit was a little too anachronistic for use in Cerebus' world since it originates in late twentieth century component electronics. At one particularly extreme point I remember Ernie trying to explain how you had to fix something and he said, "You need to take your unit and unitize it with the, wattayacall, unit" which as I recall was sound advice, just lacking in specifics if you had to communicate it someone who didn't know what you were talking about. 
- "Men Piss. Women pee." Attributed to Bear by Cerebus, Issue 246, p. 10.