Dave Sim's blogandmail #65 (November 15th, 2006)
THAT'S RIGHT, PUNY MORTALS. ANOTHER WEEK HAS BEGUN AND STILL YOU ARE NO CLOSER TO KNOWING WHO OR WHAT STAROO IS! PERHAPS IF YOU BEG NICELY STAROO WILL GIVE YOU A CLUE BY THE END OF THIS WEEK.
OR PERHAPS NOT! HAHAHAHAHA!
FEEL THE PITILESS STING OF STAROO AS HE SHE OR IT TOYS WITH YOU SOME MORE!
Romantic Eye #1 [Blind Bat Press, Apt. 401, 21 Duke St., Hamilton, Ontario L8P 1W8] I think Darrell Epp's one-page strip that he wrote and David Collier drew was the strongest outing here. Mark Innes—who is legally blind—has been running Blind Bat Press for years and I'm pleased to give him a plug for his line of books (which can be viewed and ordered from www.markinnes.com). Strange the connections that crop up. Romantic Eye has a lead-off strip from Earl Geier who used to do strips back in the Faerie Star days and who still keeps his hand in. He was working at Graham Crackers Comics in Chicago when we did our last pre-9/11 signing there. Bernie Mireault who always does great work does a strip. Ron Kasman who I quoted in the "My Dinner with Will" piece in Following Cerebus and who I first met when he was helping Ronn Sutton to organize the first Cosmicon back in 1972.
The comic is kind of uneven, but it seems to me that that's because no one knows how to express love creatively in the direct kind of way that the old love comics used to with lots of hearts and tears and hopes and fears. In our society as constituted love has become a kind of peculiar irony. How do you portray women who are strong and independent as being in love? It seems to me that John Lustig comes the closest with his parody comic strips where he substitutes "cutting close to the bone" materialism and harlotry and comic-book collecting for the generic content of the iconic love scenes from the old Charlton Comics love comics. "We can't deal with love on its own terms any more, but if we make fun of it, it becomes a viable concept." That's what most of the strips do here, with twist endings, puns and (occasionally) very direct "fly me to the moon" metaphorical visual assertions: This is what love is like, this is what love feels like. One episode ends up being a reality television show and another ends up being a movie. That seems significant to me: arguably television and movies have replaced love for a lot of people, arguably that could be the net effect of hundreds and hundreds of channels to choose from. Whoever you are, the odds are your primary relationship is with television and only secondarily with the person you are with. I used to notice that in the early stages of a relationship the last thing either of us wanted to do was to put the television on. All we wanted to do was to experience each other. But, of course, television predates any relationship that you have so in a weird sense when you start a relationship with someone you're cheating on your television with them and they're cheating on their television with you. "Living Without Hydro" I liked a lot (another one-pager) but apart from dining by candlelight its only tangentially related to love.
I really think something was lost when we lost the capability of doing a basic straightforward love comic where the men are handsome and the women are pretty and the plot was endless variations on "boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, etc." Every few years, someone gives it another try and it usually takes months for the contributors to get around to finishing off their one-pager or three-pager or five pager and none of it is straight ahead love comics, it's all ironic or metaphorical or a parody, or a twist ending. It seems intriguing to me. You would think if feminism had had such a positive effect on society that the opposite would be true. Instead of pumping out two or three monthly titles filled with clichÈ-ridden love stories, the companies would be pumping out dozens of titles centred on strong, independent career women and how these multi-faceted, super-intelligent creatures have expanded the creative range of fictional romance so that you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a great post-modern thought provoking heart warming love story.
But, then, from what I understand the Romance Novel companies like Harlequin—who have literally tens of millions of dollars at stake—keep running up against the same problem. They try to do lines of books about the romantic lives of strong, independent career-minded women who dominate men and those lines of books keep tanking in favour of the "bodice-rippers" and nurse novels and other girly fare. My theory is that women like what they like, not what the feminists tell them they're supposed to like. Particularly when it comes to their hard-earned entertainment dollars. But, I'm the crazy one around here, so I can't wait to have my mailbox flooded with the obvious answer that I just can't see because I'm a misogynist as to why feminist romance fiction is always dying on the vine and fiction where women are women continues to sell in vast quantities.
Anyway, if anyone is looking for a worthwhile publisher to support, I couldn't make a better suggestion than Blind Bat Press's titles: Glass Eye, Oatmeal, Oatmeal II, Dreamtime, Dinky, Wavemakers, Pulp Tattoo and more.
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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
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:
Or, you can check out Mars Import:
Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.