Dave Sim's blogandmail #116 (January 5th, 2007)
Usually the other ones that sell out
Over the Christmas holidays are the
Most recent volumes:
Can you check and see if you need to
Latter Days (AUGO31920)
The Last Day (APR042189)?
Hey! Here's a first for the Blog and Mail: a guy whose first issue I plugged has gotten his second issue out almost right away! Nat Neal—remember, the guy who wrote "Crumb Clone" as his return address and it turned out that he was doing a new book that wasn't Crumb-like in the least? The book—called The Sanctuary—with the cave picture of the bison as the logo? Well, here's number two so if you didn't order number one when I told you about it you are in danger of falling behind. Nate's letter came on the back of a photocopy of two pages from Bob Dylan's Chronicles (pages 252-253) which was interesting as well.
Thanks for the nice words about the comic. Although I think it will take a miracle to make a "success" out of the serialized pamphlets. These days, even the big boys have a hard time roping in a purchase order over 3,000…
Anyway, here's issue 2…
It's interesting that this seems to be the new refrain in the comic-book field, a variation on the "comics won't even exist in five years" that everyone had been saying from roughly 1938 to roughly 1985. Going through the Day Prize submissions this year
Don't miss the 2007 edition of
Howard E. Day Memorial Prize
SPACE The Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo
At the Aladdin Shrine Complex in Columbus, Ohio
Details at www.backporchcomics.com
one of the things that I noticed was the exponential leap in the number of Print on Demand books that are being done, most of them by www.comixpress.com and www.ka-blam.com to the extent that the traditional digest-sized eight-and-a-half by eleven folded and 11 by 17 folded/printed at Kinko's books are completely marginalized this year, likewise the mini-comics format. I think that points us towards a more level playing field where a cartoonist, not having to produce minimum print runs of 2,000 or 3,000 copies, can test market a title locally, at conventions, at stores and try to get Diamond interested and find out what demand there is if any and what demand there is locally and how great before having to commit any vast amount of capital. It also means that you can stay in the game even if Diamond won't carry your book, working the margins of the field and selling copies for full retail or a small discount until you prove yourself and your book. I think it's going to change things a lot. Anyone declaring the death of the serialized pamphlet has ended up with egg on his face these last seventy years, so let's not be hasty.
The key variable, though, is always reliability and no one really listens to that side of it when they ask me for advice. Your odds are a lot better of making a living if you can do a quarterly book on time, even better if you can do a bi-monthly book on time and even better if you can do a monthly book on time. If you read the first hundred pages or so of Cerebus, the first year's worth I think you would have to admit that reliability was really most of what I had going for me. Readers were vaguely interested, sufficiently so that when they saw issue 2 two months after issue 1 they picked it up as they did with issue 3 two months after that and issue 4 two months after that. No Excuses Comics. If I tell you it's a bi-monthly it will come out bi-monthly. My guess is that if Nate is able to make a go of it with The Sanctuary, that'll have more to do with it than anything else. If you can produce a comic that people read and go "Hey, this doesn't totally suck" and you can do it on time, that puts you (as any retailer can tell you) in the top .01 % of writers, artists and publishers.
I still think Nate might run into trouble with the limitations of using no English in the word balloons—just iconic images signifying cave speech—but I have to say that the second one measures up to the first one in terms of conveying some very interesting ideas about primitive men and women. I didn't "get" either one the first time through but the big advantage is that it's such a quick "read" that you can go back and "read" it three or four times in half-an-hour until you do "get" it. Clearly a lot of original thought has gone into this and, so far, in each of the first two there's been enough of an idea that was original and gratifying right there on the surface in one of the sequences that it made me realize that Nate wasn't telling it wrong, I was "reading" it wrong. I needed to slow down and actually look at what he was doing. Can he build a large enough audience to keep going? That remains to be seen (as is always the case) but he's off to a flying start.
You can e-mail Nate at email@example.com or write him at OM Comics 55 Ionia NW Ave. Apt. 315, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.
I've got some long letters here that are pretty interesting but I think what I'm going to do is get a secretarial service to type those up and do them all in one batch with my answers. I've got one from Matt S. of Round Rock TX which is a corker. Also one from Steve Peters. Actually, an official WHACK of stuff from Steve Peters. He also made the cut for the Day Prize Short List (also coming up on the Blog and Mail) this year with Chemistry and he has a bunch of corrections to make where I have misinformed you entirely by accident. Let's just officially make next week Steve Peters Week here on the old B&M, shall we?
Let me get all of these Christmas cards in one pile to begin with and see where that leaves us. That is a whack of Christmas cards, relatively speaking. Compared to five years ago when all I got was one from my financial advisor, Mo (yeah, I know, boo fragging hoo, eh?). I think I can get away with the ten Mr. A cards I'm having printed but I might have to leave out Betty, who delivers the National Post every day. Jimmy Gownley must be getting incredibly famous. Slick colour card and his signature is down to one incomprehensible couple of swirls with a Sharpie. You GO, Jimmy G! Some of these have notes in them. Here's one from Dan & Linda Parker. Or, rather, one from Dan Parker that Linda signed by the looks of it.
Dear Dave & Gerhard
It's not like I planned it or anything, but for me 2006 was the Year of the Book. It didn't hurt that Linda and I discovered a wonderful used bookstore not ten minutes from our house (Sage Books, http://www.sagebks.com/ if you're interested). At last count I've read 37 books this year, one of which was The Comics Journal Library 6: The Writers. While you've probably seen it, it's a collection of interviews from 1975 to 1985. What was remarkable (especially in light of things to come) was the rather grim outlook most of these top writers had for comics. Cerebus was right under their noses (though in fairness, the phonebooks hadn't been published yet) leading the way.
The other book I wanted to mention was The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam. I've been a big Halberstam fan since reading The Breaks of the Game, an inside look at a season in the NBA and the best sports book I've ever read. (Quick tangent: did you know that one of the original NBA franchises was in Toronto? The league was called the Basketball Association of America and the team was the Toronto Huskies. They folded after one season (1946-47) with a 22-38 record. I feel like it's important for you to know these things.)
No, I didn't know that. Of course, up until this morning I didn't know that basketball was invented by a Canadian until there was a write-up about it in the National Post. Seems that the Raptors just bought a bunch of memorabilia associated with the guy and will be putting up a permanent display at the Air Canada Centre. Just went all the way downstairs to look up his name and it turns out it wasn't this morning and all of this week's newspapers have been recycled. But, unless it was a dream, it's true, basketball was invented by a Canadian.
Uh, anyway, The Best and the Brightest is about politics in the 1960s, focusing on the decisions made that led to the U.S.'s escalation in Vietnam. What made it really interesting was around the time I was reading the book, I learned that Linda's boss, Will Bundy, was the son of McGeorge Bundy who was a special advisor to the president from 1960-1965. Will (named after his uncle who was also in Washington during that time) was kind enough to meet me for lunch to talk about his father. It was absolutely fascinating—and here I thought the most interesting thing about the building Linda worked in was that Gary Dolgoff [one of comics' longest serving Golden Age/Silver Age dealers] was one of the tenants. History, a subject I hated in high school, has really sparked my interest lately. I just dove into a monster two-volume book called The Glory and the Dream which covers 1932 to 1972. It's too big to be #38 in 2006, but it looks like it will be #1 for 2007.
Tomorrow: Still answering Daniel, Daniel Parker King of the Wild Frontier
There's MORE FOR YOU!
REPLIES POSTED ON THE CEREBUS YAHOO! GROUP
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.