Friday, October 13, 2006

Dave Sim's blogandmail #32 (October 13th, 2006)

All this week the Blog & Mail is brought to you by:

Friends of Cerebus Fan Club packages that were returned as undeliverable by the post office twenty-three years ago!


Not really. They're just, you know, Friends of Cerebus fan club packages that were returned as undeliverable by the post office twenty-three years ago (get a grip, people)

Today's fan club MYSTERY package is

Amroth Laurelas

of Silver Spring, Md.



Hopefully for BIG BUCKS so I don't look like a

Total Chump for having held onto it all these years!

Offer null and void if it turns out that Amroth Laurelas has been in a coma all these years and suddenly awakens miraculously at 4 pm tomorrow going "My FAN CLUB package!" Of course if he suddenly awaken miraculously after the auction is over, Hey, you snooze, you lose, bud. (no offence is intended BY THE BLOG & MAIL MANAGEMENT AND ITS DESIGNATED SUCCESSORS AND ASSIGNEES against Our Society's Noblest Disenfranchisees, The Consciousness-Challenged) (or "Physical State Enactment Vegans" if that is your preferred appellation)

10:25 am: Okay, we're talking about "where is the harm?" in my allowing this 3D animated Cerebus film to go ahead.

This is going to seem like a lousy example, but I think it's actually a very good example. Back in the 90s, the song "Summer Love" from Grease suddenly became a mid-sized hit again when it was re-released for the dance club market with another song called "Greased Lightning" grafted onto it. The re-release became such a phenomenon that it generated interest in the original Broadway musical which a number of touring companies (always with an eye out for this sort of thing) then decided was strong enough to try to tour Grease again. Well, they ended up getting complaints that there was no "Greased Lightning" in the musical and ticket sales started dropping off. So they had to quick write in a new dance number with "Greased Lightning" and sales took off again. I suspect the "purist" road companies who wouldn't do it just took a major box office hit. The tail—the re-released dance club song—was wagging the dog—the original musical.

I see there as being a real danger that the same thing could happen with this film. Since they're already ejecting pieces from Cerebus No.1 and replacing them with other pieces, there's a real danger that one of the newly-grafted-on pieces is going to become the thing that Cerebus is known for. I call them "off-ramps"—things that can get grafted onto Cerebus that will make it impervious to new readers because people will have been "trained" to something that isn't Cerebus but which is called Cerebus instead of to something that is Cerebus.

One of the biggest off-ramps is "poor quality". As long as there isn't a poor quality Cerebus film (or anything else, for that matter) out there serving as an "off-ramp" then it just rises and falls on its own merits as an intellectual property that consists of 16 books. If there is a poor quality film ("Cerebus is supposed to be cool, but I saw the film and it sucked.") then, that's it, twenty-six years of my life down the tubes.

I'm trying not to let it concern me that all of the photos have a "Buy this photo" Internet shopping cart icon under them. I can't imagine that anyone would buy the photos, and I'm not sure what amount of control I should even attempt to exert over them. They aren't my 3D images of Cerebus. Why shouldn't the guy[s] who put all the time in on them reap the benefits?

Layers and layers of questions.

So then I started tackling it from another direction: instead of thinking, "How can…"

Ut. The doorbell. Hang on.

10:55 am: Finally, our copies of Following Cerebus 9 come in. As I told Ger, yesterday: "I always tell Chet not to buy Following Cerebus and tell him that I'll send him a comp copy when I get ours, but it's been three weeks now and he really wanted to read it so I think I have to either give him a call and tell him to go out and buy it or tell him why he hasn't got his comp copy yet." Just phoned him. Win-Mill sent him a comp copy, so he got his copy from them before we did! And he really liked it. Past tense. "Oh, you read it ALL already?" Yeah, read it right through as soon as he got it. Dave Kostis at Now & Then had been halfway through the day after it came out. Al Nickerson had read at least as far as the Lou Fine part when he called. At 104 pages I had figured a lot of people would be "savouring" it (i.e. "This is way too long to actually, you know, read so I'll just skim through and look at the pictures but because that makes me sound vaguely illiterate, I'll just pretend that it isn't way too long to read just to cover up that fact and to be polite."). Maybe there's hope yet.

Anyway, Chet says the writing's going well on his new graphic novel—most of the time it's just going "okay" so when he says it's going "really well" you know it's going really well—he figures he's within sight of the finish line on his first draft. But he has an interruption coming up, a ten-day promotional tour for the Louis Riel paperback.

This was the point where I incorporated the dates into Wednesday's posting.

11:05 am: Where was I? Oh, right. So then I started tackling this 3D film from another direction: instead of thinking "How can I keep it from happening?" I thought, "How can I keep it from really, really sucking?" So, the conclusion that I've come to is to make this part of your Yahoo jobs. You will be "quality control". The as-yet-unnamed coordinator is soliciting my feedback, but obviously you guys (and Margaret) are just as much experts in whether or not this thing sucks or how to salvage it if it needs salvaging. I mean, there's been a lot of work put into it as is, so I'll leave it up to the as-yet-unnamed coordinator to let you guys know where you can find the site where the 3D film is being put together and consult on it. I'll even leave it up to him whether or not to contact individual Yahoos directly or to make a "general boarding" announcement. And I'll leave it up to you whether to consult on it on an on-going basis or to just generally write it off and make sure people know that it either just basically sucks or if it doesn't suck but it isn't Cerebus or whatever it is that you decide about it. He bought one of the trade paperbacks from the Christmas offer last week so he's obviously either lurking or participating here pretty regularly.

As to the "kind words" that he requested: I'm certainly very pleased and flattered that so much high-powered Hollywood talent is that interested in working on a (semi-authorized?) Cerebus project. As I said earlier, I think this is an interesting experiment in a context (creativity by committee) where there hasn't been a lot of interesting experimentation, to say the least. I'm pretty sure that the Yahoos will give your work a fair assessment since they have the biggest stake in Cerebus outside of myself and Ger. If they tell you they like something then it's probably good for Cerebus and fine by me. If they tell you they hate something, I would seriously consider changing it.

Since the Creator's Rights debate has lapsed back down to nothing in recent months, maybe this would be a good way to revive it with a very lengthy hypothetical question: Let's say (for the sake of argument) that the Yahoos give the project the thumbs up, and let's say that at some point when you are far enough along and you know how long the film is going to be and you've got a fixed sequence of scenes and you're really just doing the nuts and bolts, let's say that at that point I call Christine at the Cartoon Network and say, okay, here are these guys and this is what they're working on and I tell her where your website is and she goes and takes a look and then she gets others at the Cartoon Network to take a look and they're interested and they come to me and they say, "We'll give you x amount of dollars for it"—just the film, no merchandising or ancillary rights—(I told you this was a lengthy hypothetical question) and suppose I go, "Well, that sounds great"…And we have a list of everyone who worked on this film and everyone gets fully credited for what they did and I make it a requirement that instead of the Hollywood standard for animated films of all kinds, the credits have to go by slowly enough so that you can actually read them

1)…at that point how much do you think you should get of the amount that I get paid, both you personally and the 50 people who are working on this and however many more are working on it by then and

2) how many people are willing to say, "Hell, you can have my work for free if it means that Dave and Ger will be more able to keep the trade paperbacks in print and work on their own projects and not have to go and write some Hollywood blockbuster or draw some super-hero comic to make ends meet".

I'm not sure if they're "kind words" but let's call them "interesting words" and I'll look forward to whatever form your reply might take.


If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
P.O. Box 1674
Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

Looking for a place to purchase Cerebus phonebooks? You can do so online through Win-Mill Productions -- producers of Following Cerebus. Convenient payment with PayPal:

Win-Mill Productions

Or, you can check out Mars Import:

Mars Import

Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.