Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #127 (January 16th, 2007)


Okay, this is getting out of hand, but I'm determined to get to the bottom of the mail before I leave for Toronto on Thursday (three weeks ago, almost, from where you are) and then get started on John G's "Cerebus and Jaka as Han Solo and Princess Leia" commissioned piece. I'm starting to realize that it isn't really possible to bring in a secretarial service to type out these letters and then just respond to them, at least not the way things are set up right now, but that's now at the top of my list of things to do in the New Year as I try to give full value to what may be the last two months of this experiment (Saturday was the two-thirds mark).

Got a letter and a couple of books (one for Gerhard) from Troy Little (see website above, hopefully, for pages from the book):

Dear Pariah King:

First off, a long overdue CONGRATULATIONS to you and Gerhard on completing Cerebus! It is, in my opinion, the stand-alone most brilliant work in the medium of comics. Now the sad part is that I have nothing in my subscription bin at the comic shop except Following Cerebus, but at least I have that to get my fix along with the Blog & Mail.

What can I say? It was Cerebus and your Guide to Self-Publishing that helped me decide that making comics was what I wanted to do. So in 2000 I started my comic Chiaroscuro going with the "Learn as You Go" approach. All went well and I actually managed to snag a Xeric [grant] right off the bat! I got Diamond, FM and Cold Cut to distribute it and published 7 issues in total. Not quite the 30-50 issue run I had planned, but life happens. A few years back, I sent you issues #1-4 and got a nice letter back from you saying you enjoyed them but also cautioning me against pulling a "Melmoth" right out of the gate. Wise advice even if I didn't heed it.

I remembered the book right away and that was my first—and most common with a lot of the stuff I get in—criticism: you really do need to do first issues that tell the reader more than the first issue of Melmoth does. I was trying to communicate an infirm old man having just come out of prison so it takes him and Robbie the entire issue just to walk past a few buildings. It's very attractive, very understated and looks like the easy way to do Art as opposed to "just comics" but it really does need the weight of ten years of entertainment behind it before you can rely on even a fraction of your readership going along with you. On a first issue, it just looks as if you're yanking their chain. You can accidentally send out the wrong creative message (in the same way that Frank and Alan thought they were killing the super-hero with Dark Knight and Watchmen) and I have come to realize that I did so with that kind of snail-pacing and I sincerely apologize for what I "did" to the comic-book medium by getting guys thinking in terms of 30-50 issue story arcs and pacing them accordingly rather than just getting a bunch of good individual stand-alone issues under the belts first. Mea Culpa. Trying to do anything about it at this point has about as much chance of success as Frank and Alan issuing a joint press release announcing that it isn't necessary for EVERY super-hero comic to be grim and gritty.

I lived in Ottawa at the time, working in animation. The studio my wife and I worked at went belly-up in 2003 owing us a ton of money and putting us in serious debt. We ended up having to move back home to Prince Edward Island and live out of my wife's grandparent's basement for 4 months.

But I kept on drawing the comic. My goal was to get 10 issues out and make the first collection from that. Times have changed and it would seem many self-publishers are going straight to the graphic novel format. Makes sense: longer shelf life, bigger ticket price and more bang for your buck. So here I am finally with the graphic novel ready to go!

See, and I'm fighting back in the other direction, trying to make my secret project a self-contained comic-book-sized comic book—hopefully not much more than 40 pages and a one-shot. I really think we need individual comic books more than ever. If all the stores have is episode 12 of 20 or 4 of 6 or a full-sized book I think we're missing an on-ramp for the civilians we're supposed to theoretically be attracting. Of course I say that from the other side of 16 full-sized graphic novels knowing, obviously, what the appeal of works of that size is. I just hope I can counterbalance that in 2007 or 2008 or whenever it is that I get this comic book done that I've been working on since 2004 off and on. I worked a good dozen 12-hour days on the book and got a total of two pages done. True, they were backgrounds and I'm not used to doing backgrounds (especially not with a Gillott-290 and a magnifying glass!)

Sorry, Troy, I interrupted.

Tomorrow: The Uninterrupted Troy Little


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. Here are the Diamond Star System codes:

Cerebus #1-25 $30.00 STAR00070

High Society #26-50 $30.00 STAR00071

Church and State I #52-80 $35.00 STAR00271

Church and State II #81-111 $35.00 STAR00321

Jaka's Story #114-136 $30.00 STAR00359

Melmoth #139-150 $20.00 STAR00431

Flight #151-162 $20.00 STAR00543

Women #163-174 $20.00 STAR00849

Reads #175-186 $20.00 STAR01063

Minds #187-200 $20.00 STAR01916

Guys #201-219 $25.00 STAR06972

Rick's Story #220-231 $20.00 STAR08468

Going Home I #232-250 $30.00 STAR10981

Form and Void #251-265 $30.00 STAR13500

Latter Days #266 - 288 $35.00 AUG031920

The Last Day #289 - 300 $25.00 APR042189