Saturday, December 23, 2006

Dave Sim's blogandmail #96 (December 16th, 2006)

One of the current contenders for

The Next Commissioned Piece, John G, is interested in

Cerebus as Han Solo and Jaka as Princess Leia.

That led to an interesting question: can someone else steal his

Idea and offer more for it?

The Answer on Monday in the Blog & Mail.

The Final Offer for The Next Commissioned Piece

will be accepted one week from today!


Five letters this month, reading into the Cerebus Archive record, from Adventure Comics' Scott Berwanger re: his magnum opus Anubis which he intends to complete before even considering publication. He's still sticking with his plan to alternate doing full-sized black and white paintings of enlarged panels and alternating them with the production of the graphic novel itself in digest instalment form. He got a very good reaction at SPX this year and is obviously psyched to keep forging ahead. He has two 40-page episodes left to complete and then he promises to send me a two-volumed boxed set of the full completed first third of the story (also known as Book I).

The more I think of it, the more I think that it's an interesting approach to take—to promote your magnum opus by exhibiting paintings adapted from it in a gallery setting. I still think Anubis will do well in comic-book stores when it's done, but I can certainly understand Scott's wariness about the environment given that he was one of the mid-90s casualties of the mini-boom and bust.

You can write an offer him encouragement and/or money at Adventure Comics, 1100 Belle Vista Ct. Severna Park, MD, 21146.

* * * * *

A small mystery solved! Long-time correspondent and fellow Creators' Bill of Rights Dialogue participant, Robert Rowe of Reseda CA, was the mysterious Californian who showed up at the exhibit at the Salt Lake City Library and Night Flight store the day before the appearance! He sent along a photo of Barry Windsor Smith and Roy Thomas from a convention in the early 1970s that he found at Looks like it's from the time period of Barry's guitar solo on-stage at Carnegie Hall (see, I'm old enough to remember that Barry once did a guitar solo on-stage at Carnegie Hall).

* * * * *

Larry Hart, uber Yahoo: Long time no hear from! He sends along an article by David Brin "An Issue to Help Conservatives to Do the Right Thing"—that is, to vote Democrat in the recent congressional elections. Much obliged, Larry, but personally I'm going to enjoy a time out from politics for the next two years now that the Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, having written pretty much non-stop on Where I Think We Are and What I Think We Should Do since 9/11 (starting with "Islam, My Islam" and "Why Canada Slept"). It's now up to the Democrats to decide what to do about Iraq specifically and Extremist Islam in general with an eye toward persuading the rest of their country and the rest of the world to follow their lead in November 2008. Good luck!

Those of you who enjoyed Cerebus Readers in Crisis #1 which debuted at SPACE last year (and which is still available from Jeff Seiler at 2400 Queens Court, Carrollton, TX, 75006 or you can get his e-mail address pretty regularly either here or at depending on where you're reading this) will be glad to know that there's a second issue in the works and Larry's hard at work on his story called "Following Larry" which begins with his death and "explores some of the choices I had made and continue to make afterwards". Evidently it involves a total babe named Stacey (which I hope, for his sake, is his wife's name) of whom Larry sent a photocopy of an early sketch. Hubba hubba.

Having missed the debut of the first issue you don't want to miss Cerebus Readers in Crisis #2, do you? No you certainly don't, so this is another good spot to plug the 2007 edition of SPACE taking place at the Aladdin Shriner Complex in Columbus Ohio in April. Details at Tell Bob, Kathy and Megan Corby Dave Sim sent you over there.

* * * * * *

Claude (Just Call Me Sarge) Flowers, uber uber Yahoo, having gotten tired of waiting for a response from me on the excerpts he's pulled out from Collected Letters 2—which are a good selection and a definite "go"—and which will be running in this space in the not-too-distant future…

[the problem is that I don't know how distant in the future: I've had to reassess whether we're doing the book Print on Demand or doing it through whomever turns out to be the new Aardvark-Vanaheim "printer of record"—narrowing the list of candidates has been a full-time job the last couple of weeks. Until I know that, I don't want to solicit for the book and until I know when I'm going to solicit the book I can't say when would be a good time to run the excerpts here. In the Army that's called SNAFU]

…decided to take the cow by the horns and send an e-mail to the Friends of Lulu quoting from my "Why not a feminist petition against censorship?" every-25th-of-the-month stance here at the Blog and Mail and asking what their official position is.

Which might account for the snow currently blanketing British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. He sent the e-mail on the 25th of November, I'm writing this on the 28th of November and then faxing it to him. Who knows what might be going on when this appears nine days before my next mention of the "free ride" feminists get in our society?

Alex Banchitta writes:

I'm currently taking a portfolio class with Phil Jimenez and it seems like no matter what I do everyone improves drastically faster than me. In all honesty, I'm not working excessively hard in this class but most likely as hard or even harder than the other students, but I guess just due to lack of natural talent I can't compete with these kids. Is this something I should worry about? Is it better to just lock myself away and draw all day or should I really study art more and try a different approach to working? I'm sorry if these questions aren't worded well, I just feel like in general that I'm not drawing faster and I'm not improving at the rate everyone else seems to be. Should I just start drawing a page a day and wait till I get to page one thousand for the good ones? Or is there something else I should consider doing?

Well, Alex, looking at your samples it seems unlikely that you're going to turn into a world class illustrator, but at the same time guys who have started out with less of a grasp of what "finish" and "polish" are than you do have gone on to have successful careers in the comic-book field (me for one). The fact that you admit that you aren't working "excessively hard" and measuring your efforts against the efforts of others I would suggest is a bad sign. As with everything else in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Gene Day and I were rated very low on the Southern Ontario totem pole of wannabe cartoonists in 1973-74, but by 1979 we were the only ones still working in comic books on a full-time basis and making a living at it. Gene Day had a phenomenal work ethic and I learned that from him. I also remember Howard Chaykin telling me how badly he wanted Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser when DC got the license to do it. It was between him and Alan Lee Weiss. Weiss did a couple of display pieces over the weekend and Howard pulled a couple of all-nighters to produce a (relatively) huge amount of material which was less accomplished than Weiss' but which gave the editor a clearer idea of what he was going to do with the material. Chaykin got the gig.

The early bird catches the worm, all that stuff. It's as true today as it was in our grandfathers' time.

Alex mentions hearing my interview at It was a lot of fun to do and I hope to be back on the show in the future. John Tran played me the "Dave Sim You're My Hero" song that one of the hosts came up with and that ran at the end (?) of that episode (?) and I was laughing until tears were coming out of my eyes. Very, very funny stuff. Now I have to write the definitive "Indy Spinner Rack" tribute song and perform it—hopefully on their second anniversary show next September.

* * * * *

Okay, coming to the end of the mail for the week of November 27.

Just heard from John Frizelle (aka Romero Burruel). I wonder if he ever saw the letter I wrote him in Collected Letters 2004 (page 81) that got returned as having an insufficient address. I not only recognized his work when it came in, I recognized his bathroom from his earlier autobiographical work! Oh, hey, this is the guy from Philly that I talked to on the phone that time (it was a rare instance where I had come to the end of answering my mail and his phone number was on his letter that had come in with samples of his work so I just up and called him, on a Saturday night I think it was). That's a pretty good testimony to his work, I think.

Anyway, he writes:

Ah, Hey there, Dave!

Just starting the big 26-year project here. Not sure if this issue fits in or not, hence the #0. But…I can't think of anything cooler to do than put out a self-published issue of empty as often as I can until I've got something.

I've read & re-read & digested your Guide to Self-Publishing so many times, I believe I've gained a fair amount of practicality.

I'll print enough to keep a few on the shelves of my local comic shops & try to spread a few around when the opportunity arises but…well…I work a full-time job and have accepted the fact that I may well be working for my own satisfaction only for the next ten years.

OK. Take care!


What's kind of ironic is that empty #0 is concerned with John losing his full-time job as a cook and making all these resolutions to use the money he's saved up to buy himself the time to really bear down on his comics work and his song-writing. Reading between the lines it sounds as if he ended up doing the same thing we all end up doing—resolving to work and then ending up doing just about anything except working (like me doing the Blog & Mail and now, right now, here I am with the Blog & Mail written up to December 17 and it's November 28 so hopefully I will be working on my secret project and my commentaries on Mark for the better part of the next seventeen days) (oh, except I'm going to Toronto on Thursday to try a Blog & Mail Live centred on the release party for Rob Walton's Ragmop trade paperback at the Victory Café) (oh, and I still have to send the number of skids worth of books we have at Recker to the two candidates for our new printer) (oh and Christkindl is on at City Hall December 6 to the 10th) (oh, and I'll have to write another article for Versus #4 when #3 comes in) (oh, and…) (well…you get the idea).

This is a very solid outing for John, though. He's working in a photorealism style that's probably closest to Michael Zulli's point of view and style. He needs to go a little heavier on the lettering (some of it is breaking up in the reproduction). But, as I say, the last time I saw his work was two years ago and I knew whose work I was looking at the moment it came in and that's really the best criteria that I have for recommending someone. "Here, this guy's work stuck with me enough that I know that that's his live-in Asian girlfriend in the one panel, even though he makes no reference to her as such."

Empty #0 is published by Midnight Lamp Escape Plan, 4404 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA, 19104 and sells for $4.00. I definitely recommend it for guys wanting to psych themselves up for the big creative push. This is Romero Burruel at his most psyched.





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.