Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #120 (January 9th, 2007)



Actually those are just lyrics for a song I'm writing

Feel free to ignore them

Wrapping up my reply to Robin Snyder:

Thanks for the copy of The Comics newsletter Vol. 11 No.9 with Steve Ditko's analysis piece "The `Stolen Art Page' Problem and the Error of Non-Principled Thinking 3. The Rationalizers" which I had to laugh at. Reading between the lines—and Ditko is treading carefully and euphemistically here—he would appear to be discussing the large volume of his artwork (and Kirby's and a number of other people's) that went missing from the Marvel warehouse when they weren't giving the stuff back. I was aware through back channels that for a period of time in the 1970s and 80s one of the job perks at Marvel was that at certain points in the Marvel hierarchy (how high up is an interesting question: I had heard rumours about highly placed thievery and I had also heard rumours about opportunistically placed thievery at a much lower level) you were given access to the warehouse and the original artwork and since it was taken pretty much as a given that Marvel would never "cave" on the issue of returning the artwork that meant that you were able to (within certain established guidelines) "liberate" a certain number of pieces as a kind of self-initiated loyal Marvel employee bonus program. Now, picture a warehouse full of all of the Marvel artwork and you're the kid in the candy store. What are you going to go for? Right. Ditko and Kirby or Kirby and Ditko (depending on your preference), the earlier the better. Arguably this was why they held out for so long in returning the artwork because they had a pretty fair idea of how many "art moths" had been busily devouring the early FF and Spider-man artwork over the years. Ultimately they got caught between a rock and a hard place when Neal Adams pointed out that if they wanted to sustain their claim to the ownership of the artwork they had to pay New York state sales taxes on it—retroactively.

I'd be curious to know how much of the first 38 issues of Spider-man, early issues of The Hulk, and Dr. Strange Steve Ditko ultimately got back, but knowing Marvel, I'd be willing to bet that there's a Giant Confidentiality Agreement (intended to cover up the self-initiated loyal Marvel employee bonus program) attached to the returned artwork in order to cover up the theft that went on.

I have to admit that I hadn't heard through the back channels that the thieves in question were attempting to defend their theft by suggesting that if they hadn't "liberated" the artwork it might have gotten destroyed or wasn't being preserved properly or whatever else. "Non-Principled Thinking" is a very nice way of putting it. I'd lean more in the direction of "The Pseudo-Ethics of Human Maggots" or something along those lines.

Anyway, here's my cheque for $150 Canadian for all of the Ditko stuff you have for sale and however many issues of a subscription to the newsletter whatever is left over will buy me. I've made the cheque out to your wife, "Lady Robin" as it specifies in the order blank in the newsletter. I hope that's still the protocol.

Apt. 81, 3745 Canterbury Lane, Bellingham, Washington, 98225-1186

Got two photographs from Kevin J. Maroney, Tim's brother as candidates for the portrait. I'm going with the one Tim's widow picked out. Good close-up, good high contrast. It is now officially in the "on-deck circle" next to my drawing board.

A nice letter from Colin Longcore:

Dear Dave

I enjoyed seeing your response to my letter on your blog. It was a real thrill. I feel sorry for those folks for whom the fanboy in them has been disengaged. It really is too fun.

I shared your remarks with the two friends, Jeff and Steve, who I did comics with back in 1985 and they enjoyed what you wrote as well. I told Steve I was astonished at how well aligned we were back then.

By the way you are free to not respond to this note. I know you are swamped with other things lately and all I really need is to say thanks. You are also free to reprint any or all of that birthday letter, including the passage about the break-up. I imagine there will be more instances coming in which you will want to discuss the prevalence of break-ups. If you are so inclined you may quote my letter. I am not ashamed about what happened and I wouldn't have written to you if I was overly sensitive. Thanks for being down-to-earth and caring as much as you do about your readership.

As far as "Ye Bookes" at UICA is concerned I think I failed to communicate the lengthy wait we have ahead of us. They announce their decisions in May. Ugh. I will be sure, though, to let you know as soon as they contact me.

This letter is one of the last things I will do before I return to Korea. It's funny. The first thing I wanted to do when I came back to the States was write to you. Now the last thing I would like to do before I leave is write. This is curious, I must admit. I've met you only three times and I am sure you wouldn't recognize me, but there you go; the power of sitting in a room—alone—and creating a comic book. I wrote to Jason [Trimmer, curator of "Ye Bookes of Cerebus"] that I felt Cerebus was, is, mine. That policy of yours of putting him into the public domain after your death seems a natural extension of this effect the work as had that I know many of us have experienced. It is ours—you don't have to die for that to be the case.

Take care—stay alive.

I got a call yesterday from the Portuguese Embassy in Toronto that the original artwork for "Zelda Café" has been returned by diplomatic pouch from the outfit that puts on the big week-long Comics Festival in that country (they had borrowed it to go along with their "dream theme" last year: Rick Veitch was their major international guest). There had been some talk of "Ye Bookes of Cerebus" going over there so maybe they included a letter or something. I'll pick the package up when I'm in T.O. next Thursday. Embassy Row is just around the corner from the bus station on University Ave. I think in all likelihood we'll be moving the artwork from Salt Lake City back east—either back to the Quick Centre or to Michigan if you get a positive response in May. As I told Jason on the phone, the minute the pages are back in St. Bonaventure New York, you can bet we'll get a solid offer from Los Angeles or Seattle or someplace. D'OH! Jason Trimmer checks in here pretty regularly so if anyone has ideas or suggestions or leads, let us know.

Now what I need is a librarian to go through all of the correspondence boxes and find the Full Story of Colin Longcore's Ill-Fated Romance and I can take a week off and let YOU entertain all these nice Yahoos. In the meantime, I'll just skip to the punchline where your ex-girlfriend told you, flat out, not only that she was crazy but that ALL women are crazy. If any of you guys (or Margaret) has a "comeback line" that trumps that one, I'd love to hear it.

Speaking of Jason, got a nice Christmas card from him. "Can you believe it has been two years since you finished Cerebus?" made me laugh since it's been three years since I finished Cerebus. The last issue was March, 2004 but I finished it in December 2003. He also sent along a great photo of Gerhard, Mimi, Jason and me in front of Night Flight's Cottonwood Mall store taken by Matt Dow. Has Matt posted that one? Matt, post that one for the nice Yahoos, would you? Great shot.

It's very nice of them that the guys still send me Wizard magazine—and most years a Christmas card—even though I can't think of a less likely recipient than myself (not including everyone at Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly, I mean). I could always at least look forward to checking the Cerebus listing in the Price Guide pages. Some of the prices would go up, then some of the prices would go down. Then Cerebus disappeared for a while, then Cerebus was back. Now the Price Guide itself disappeared. Or maybe it's just that this is the 2007 Movie Spectacular Issue. Anyway, it's interesting to see the net effect when you take the Price Guide out which (it seems to me) is that the magazine becomes the comic-book equivalent of Starlog (i.e. here is how we—as a genre—are doing in Hollywood right now: Starlog for science fiction and Wizard for super-heroes). It's an interesting parasitic cum symbiotic relationship which to me is still up in the air. Is Hollywood devouring super-heroes or are super-heroes devouring Hollywood? Right now, I'd call it "advantage super-heroes". Read a great lengthy interview with Michael Gross in Comic Book Artist about his years of Art Directing National Lampoon. There it was no contest. Hollywood devoured National Lampoon in two or three big bites starting with Animal House—all the founders of the magazine and key staff just packed their bags for Hollywood and gutted the magazine—so, in my books, you have to give the super-heroes points just for holding their own and it seems to me that there are a few beads of sweat standing out on Hollywood's metaphorical forehead right now as it contemplates exactly how many super-heroes there are and the fact that no one knows how many Spider-man-sized franchises there are in the group. A dozen Spider-man sized franchises and Hollywood is toast is far as I can see.

Tomorrow: Hey! An easy one!


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.