Dave Sim's blogandmail #14 (September 25th, 2006)
All this week the Blog & Mail is brought to you by Dave Sim: Collected Letters 2004
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This week's Blog & Mail is respectfully and with great admiration dedicated to Chris Woerner, long-time Yahoo in good standing serving with US Forces in Baghdad. And, with a couple of days left in the week, I'd like to expand that dedication to include all of the military forces which are serving in the War on Terror, in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of NATO and the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (and, for obvious reasons, a special hello to Operation Foundation, Canada's representative group at US Central Command in Tampa, Florida). The free world is forever in your debt and your contributions to the advancement of freedom and democracy will never be forgotten.
Lou Copeland forwarded a draft petition from Joe Kubert which had appeared on Tom Spurgeon's website on the refusal of the Polish government to return Dina Babbitt's art which had been acquired and was being displayed by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. The cover letter in part read:
Deported to Auschwitz as a teenager, Mrs. Babbitt's life was spared by the infamous war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele, after he saw a mural of Snow White that she had painted on the wall of the children's barracks to soothe the children in their final hours. He then compelled her to paint portraits of gypsies upon whom he was performing his barbaric "experiments".
After the war, Mrs. Babbitt relocated to California, where she worked as an animator for Warner Brothers and Jay Ward Productions. Among other things she illustrated such characters as Wile. E. Coyote, Speedy Gonzalez, Capn Crunch, Daffy Duck and Tweety Bird for many years…
...Four years ago, when I wrote the book Yossel, about a teenage cartoonist whose life was spared by the Nazis because they were amused by his drawings, I did not know that there had been a real-life case that bore similarities to my book. I was stunned to learn of Mrs. Babbitt and even more stunned by the Polish government's position.
The petition is "intended to be signed specifically by cartoonists, animators, and comic book artists and creators". I left a phone message with Tom Spurgeon last week asking to have my name included. I encourage all other interested cartoonists, animators, and comic book creators to send an e-mail to the director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, Dr. Rafael Medoff, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Issue 43 of Batton Lash's Supernatural Law came in and is Batton's usual great work, ably assisted by Trevor Neilson and Melissa Uran. When Terry Moore packs it in on Strangers in Paradise sometime in the next year, that will make Batton's book the longest-lasting self-published title (as in: most number of issues). "A Vampire in Hollywood" touches a lot of satiric bases (which is a lot of the fun of Batton's work as you successively go along with the transition of his themes)—O.J. Simpson, Gay Rights, "Outing", the predatory press, all get little nose-tweaks and whoopee cushions in a story that is ostensibly just about a vampire selling the rights to his life story to the movies. Highly recommended as always. Check out Batton's all new stories online in full colour every Monday and Thursday at www.supernaturallaw.com and if you still haven't got the Supernatural Law parody of Cerebus (the cover of which Ger and I helped ink) go to www.exhibitapress.com where they have them available.
I really didn't want to get into this, but Mimi Cruz, a long-time friend both of Batton and his wife Jackie Estrada told me that Jackie had told her that she and Batton WANT to come to the "Ye Bookes of Cerebus" event at the Salt Lake City library but she (Jackie) is afraid that I won't talk to her. As I pointed out to Mimi, back in 1996, in Cerebus 203, with the Planet Comics retailers in Oklahoma City facing a combined prison term of eighty years for selling comic books deemed to be obscene, I had written an open letter to the Friends of Lulu when Jackie was the president of that organization saying that I thought it might be a good idea if the Friends of Lulu (composed in part of female cartoonists and writers and other creators) could get together a petition that they were opposed to censorship of any kind in the comic-book field. I proposed that if the whole organization didn't want to participate, maybe some female cartoonists would want to participate and was it possible for the organization to facilitate that? What I got back was basically an evasion from Jackie and Batton's fax machine dated January 23, 1996 over the seven names of the Board of Directors (Anina Bennett, Jackie Estrada, Deni Loubert, Cheryl Harris, Heidi MacDonald, Liz Schiller and Martha Thomases) enunciating at length the Friends of Lulu mission statement and concluding with a single paragraph saying that they didn't see what I was suggesting as part of their mandate and that the CBLDF and the Friends of Lulu were separate but complementary organizations. I gave another try at a response dated 24 January (printed in issue 206) trying to find some compromise which would allow the possibility of such a petition to take shape and to be used by the CBLDF as part of any mainstream media/public relations exercise in any jurisdiction where there had been an obscenity bust. I thought in 1996—and I think now—that a roster of female names (especially if they had drawn or written Wonder Woman or other iconic characters) would carry a lot of weight in the mainstream media particularly if some higher profile members were willing to do anti-censorship media interviews in those jurisdictions.
My last-ditch attempt involved offering them four pages in the back of Cerebus for a membership drive (basically, I'll help you with something I'm not interested in if you'll help me with something you're not interested in) if they would put a mention in their newsletter asking if anyone was willing to sign such a petition and offered to continue to debate the issue in Cerebus with them until some sort of compromise was reached. I finally got a reply nearly two months later:
Dear Dave: Thanks for your offer of four pages. We are grateful, but we would prefer not to accept. We will not be continuing this correspondence. Sincerely, Friends of Lulu Board of Directors.
Through the course of the discussion I heard from exactly ONE female comics reader who expressed her support for the First Amendment as taking precedence over her personal likes and dislikes, so—something I'm not terribly proud of, to say the least—I gave in instead of pursuing the matter. The feminists won again.
It was a year later that I saw Batton and Jackie at Will Eisner's surprise 80th birthday party in Florida. I don't think I was discourteous to Jackie, but I certainly didn't have much of anything to say to her. I found her and her Board of Directors' response to me and my suggestion to be intellectually dishonest and I, quite frankly, don't have much to say to people who I find to be intellectually dishonest. If they had a good reason not to put my suggestion to their membership, they should have explained it. If they didn't have a good reason not to put my suggestion to their membership, then I think they should have put my suggestion to their membership. I was willing to leave it at that and had done so for ten years. But, in my view, Jackie has again crossed the line of intellectual dishonesty by attempting to make it sound as if she was—and is—the victim of my shunning her, when it was she and her then Board of Directors who shunned my suggestion and discontinued communication with no good reason for doing so except, I assume, because of two possibilities: 1) personal animosity toward me in the wake of Cerebus 186 or 2) feminists support censorship of anything they disapprove of but don't want to be seen as doing so.
Mimi asked if I could phone and tell Jackie that I don't hate her and that I would talk to her if she came to the Ye Bookes of Cerebus exhibit and my answer (as much as I like to accommodate Mimi wherever I can because I have always found her to be intellectually honest) is no. I don't think you should reward intellectual dishonesty and "victim posturing". I capitulated in allowing the feminist then-Board of Directors of the Friends of Lulu to close a discussion without a valid rational reason. In my view, our society is in the mess it's in because that has become the societal norm: allowing feminists to close off and evade discussions without valid rational reasons so I see myself as having made an enormous concession in doing that and in not raising a big stink about it until I got a rational answer. But, that's as far as I'm going. To ask me to further mollify Jackie Estrada because her feelings are wounded is to descend into the inner circles of feminist lunatic hell, in my view.
I'd be delighted if she and Batton came to the gig in Salt Lake City but mostly because I think she is using her false portrayal of victim-hood to make it impossible for Batton to come. And I find that profoundly intellectually dishonest—the urge to try to cling to victim status even when you are victimizing someone else.
Let me put it another way: back when 186 came out, Sook-Yin Lee (Chester's then girlfriend) declared Cerebus to be the "Mein Kampf of Comics". I just met her for the first time at the Doug Wright Awards. We exchanged pleasantries and I congratulated her on all the publicity she's getting on Shortbus at the Toronto Film Festival this year. Does that mean I think she was right to call Cerebus the "Mein Kampf of Comics"? No. Does that mean we're going to become close personal friends? No. Does that mean that she now thinks Cerebus is a great work of art and she'll be recommending it to all of her friends? No. But it does mean that we're grown-ups and that it is very grown-up thing to do to treat someone in a civil manner in any social context.
The only people I have no dealings with, personally, are my ex-wife and ex-girlfriends because I think doing so is a bad idea. If my ex-wife or any of my ex-girlfriends are interested in coming to Salt Lake City, they are certainly more than welcome. It's a free country. If they want to come by and politely say "hello" and I'll say "hello" back politely and to make a little amiable chit-chat, I'm certainly more than willing to do that. As long as they don't push it and try to become one of my best friends or in some other way insinuate themselves back into my life. Yes, this is all terribly personal and inappropriate but so is the on-going use of victim posturing to maintain the high ground against Dave Sim's anti-feminist views terribly personal and inappropriate. As I say, I left the whole thing where it was sitting for ten years. If Jackie had left it alone, I would have left it alone.
Given the propensity of liberals to revise history this is not unexpected. If I don't say anything to remind people what the actual historical record shows (the Cerebus Archive nears completion) they will soon be treating my decade of ostracism and vilification as just another example of crazy Dave Sim's delusions. "Oh, we always LOVED Dave, he just overreacted". I'm willing to be accommodating up to a point. I'm willing to be polite up to a point. I'm willing to be gracious about my ten years in the wilderness up to a point. What I'm not willing to do is to accept a revised version of history where my dissenting views on feminism were accommodated, because that strikes right to the core reality of who and what feminists are as opposed to how feminists like to view themselves. If they're willing to make use of intellectual discussion rather than character assassination to support their own views and refute the views of others, I think that's great and I support it 100%. If they want to sweep me up into the falsehood that they were always that way when I'm living proof that they have never been that way, then that's something else again.
Batton, Jackie? Hope to see you both in Salt Lake City.
Today's Blog & Mail has been brought to you by Dave Sim's Collected Letters 2004 pages 30-31, 306 and 330
The Batton Lash pages.
Batton Lash. Is Here to Save Comics or Destroy Them? Or Just to do Lots of Really, Really Good Ones?
Dave Sim's Collected Letters 2004
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