Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dave Sim's blogandmail #66 (November 16th, 2006)




…UHHH…You REALLY don't care about the secret of Staroo?

But…but…it's a really, really COOL secret. No, seriously…



Got in either a review copy or my contributors' copy of Create Your Own Graphic Novel by Mike Chinn and Chris McLoughlin ("From Inspiration to Publication—The Creative Comics Masterclass"). My participation was the result of series of letters back and forth across the Atlantic with The Ilex Press Co. Limited where I wanted to narrow down what images they wanted to use (mostly because they were asking about copyrights and the artwork, post-issue 65, is copyright Dave Sim AND Gerhard and pre-issue 65 is copyright Dave Sim). I think we've all become kind of philosophical about this: hey, as long as you spell my name right and it's going to be in a book, there's no such thing as bad publicity. Having had a chance to sit down and read the first half of the book last night, I'd still stick with that (although it is very, very weird to be reading a book that makes any number of—for the most part—unsustainable assumptions and to have yourself intermittently crop up as Exhibit A: as if the invoking of your work and name is enough to support a specific thesis). Frankly, I think I'm safe in saying that the medium of comic books and graphic novels and the history of comic books and graphic novels is already so big that any attempt to provide overview is going to look a lot like this one: a hodge-podge of personal preferences and emphases.

My own first impression of the book after a quick skim was that it was looking to encroach upon Scott McCloud's turf by combining Understanding Comics and Redefining Comics into a single 154-page all-comics format as well as incorporating Will's Comics and Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative. "This book was conceived by Ilex Cambridge England" it says in the indicia which (depending on who or what Ilex is) (I, Lex? As in Lex Luthor? Who is this dastardly arch-fiend and what malice does he intend to perpetrate against Scott McCloud and Will Eisner?) (DOWN, fanboy. I say, DOWN BOY) could mean that it was just that calculated and that Mike Chinn was assigned the impossible task of condensing all four works dramatically which then Chris McLoughlin was supposed to draw and colour incorporating a lot of other people's work (certainly to a far greater extent than Scott ever did) as examples. Scott attempted to address comics as a medium exclusive of genre and, ultimately, to indicate that he saw the medium's preponderant future as lying on the Internet and the authors (either Ilex and Chinn or Chinn and McLoughlin depending on how you look at it) appear to agree with that—except for the genre part which they want to neatly categorize and encapsulate in McCloudesque (McCloudian?) fashion. There is the triumphal assertion, as an example, that super-heroes ARE a subgenre of science fiction which is a) debatable and b) a long-standing and more-than-a-little patronizing prejudice on the part of science fiction fans (except for someone like Maggie Thompson with a foot firmly in science fiction and comic books who would be apt to see it as unprejudiced inclusiveness). How long does it take to become a myth? might be an apropos question in such a context if you wanted to match up, say, Superman's mythic stature against any fictional character in pure, "pure" or Pure science fiction (and so reverse the standing of the patronizing prejudice into More Mythic Than Thou): or (another) where is the borderland between science fiction and fantasy and to what extent do super-heroes straddle it? And what about Batman? How science fictional is Batman and to what extent can he be successfully be called a super-hero?

At the age of fifty, any debate that arrives, inevitably, in the space of a few steps at "What about Batman?" soon disappears off my personal ideological radar screen and Scott was always pretty adamant about keeping the discussion away from such Dark-Knight-centered specificity as well, as I recall (going so far as to extend the parameters of his ideological purity into the darker realms of academic totalitarian suppression of the X-men, as I recall) (cit. the use of metaphorical goons to suppress the metaphorical free speech of the unnamed metaphorical fanboy; Understanding Comics page 9).

If I did get a copy of this because of the use of my work within the book (and not as Blog & Mail swag) then Mr. Ilex is to be applauded for his thoroughness and generosity of spirit and bank account (assuming that everyone else who was cited and excerpted got a free copy).

I still have to do final touch-ups on my "Reply to Roberta Gregory" strip for Following Cerebus 10 (including the entirely anal-retentive search for the exact typeface that Mad Magazine used to use to credit Mort Drucker and the writer which could more fruitfully be exerted in other directions but—a new three-page strip being such a rare event in this day and age for me—that's just the way it is). I also have to make my final Favourite Buffy Pic selection for Following Cerebus 10 which is nearing completion and describe it and write a little something about Harvey Pekar since I used Dave Fisher's photos of my lunch with Chet and Harvey at Peter Pan as reference for the strip and I thought it might be interesting for people to see what the un-caricatured original images look like. I talked to Craig yesterday (he said John Thorne's come up with some really, really good stuff on the Cerebus Sandman parody for this issue) (issue 10: did I mention you can still order it?) (being a huge fan of both Sandman and Cerebus) and he said there should be room in the issue to run as many of the photos as I can get to him. The issue is supposed to be shipping in November but as with the last half dozen or so it's looking as if it is going to be shipping anywhere from one to three weeks late. Sincere, sincere apologies to all our retail partners from Aardvark-Vanaheim and Win-Mill Productions since we're both very much aware of how irritating late shipping books are and what a nuisance they are for your in-store budgeting. As Craig said yesterday, "There's a part of me that just wants to give in and move all the shipping months forward one. If I had done that two years ago, all but one of the issues would have shipped on time. But I just hate like heck to do it—because it looks like giving up instead of fighting to get the magazine back on schedule." I don't think there's been a month go by in the last two years that Craig and I haven't faxed or talked around this very subject. The bottom line for us has been that if we are getting the magazine out to the retailers within the narrow window that Diamond allows for lateness then we're still technically on time. But neither Craig or I is going to be very happy until we are delivering the magazine on the date specified in the solicitation. Again, sincere apologies to all our retail allies out there fighting for us in the brick-and-mortar trenches. I'll keep you updated on the progress of Following Cerebus 10.

And tomorrow, I'll pick up where I left off on my review of Create Your Own Graphic Novel.

There's More For You

In Today's…

Blog &…Maaaiiil

And even more in Following Cerebus 10, part one of the two-issue Dream Theme

More details at


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.