Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #131 (January 20th, 2007)


Here on the Blog and Mail:

The Neal Adams Following Cerebus issue was quite fascinating and I devoured it in 2 days.

Well, thank you. Neal liked it which was all that I was really worried about and hoping for. Andy at Carry-On Books in Waterloo had the nicest compliment: he has two favourite things in the world, Neal Adams and Niagara Falls so this was a tailor-made magazine for him. Finally got to read his full interview about Jack Adler in Comic Book Artist over the holidays when my TwoMorrows CARE package came in. That'll wrap up this section of the mail when we're done here, Steve.

OK, now I'm going to have to tell you some of what I've been up to in the past few years so you can see how you're connected to it all. I started the Chemistry comic 6 years ago – a panel-a-day comic that, when I started it, was about the relationship I was in. It was not to last, and so far it's the last relationship I've been in. When I finished that comic the following year, I immediately began another panel-a-day comic; this was called Magic and soon became my quest to find, understand, and I suppose, practice, magic.

Sorry to interrupt, but I have to mention here before I forget—and this is going to surprise you—that you were a big influence on me with the panel-a-day idea. I didn't use your idea of writing the date into the panel (although it's a good one), but you were definitely right about the level of productivity. Who can't find time to do a panel-a-day? In fact I got five pages into a 1960s Marvel Comics parody that way. I used Ditko's nine-panel grid so each panel would be about the same size and pencilled a panel every day and inked in the dialogue, then reduced in on the photocopier and pasted it up. Then I realized it was about to take a very politically incorrect turn so it was sort of pointless to keep going with it. Everyone already hated my guts without my having to write or draw anything in the last three years and they have almost 6,000 pages to hate as it is. I just re-read it the other day. I might take another stab at it or at least see how bad the politically incorrect turn is. If it's just off the comic-book leftist radar screen I might finish it for myself and maybe send you and a few other guys (and Margaret) a copy.

Sorry, Steve…back to you:

A few pages from Magic appeared in The Origin of Sparky (the pages you liked best), and my plan was to use other chapters from Magic in future Sparky comics. Part of Magic was about listening to an inner voice that told me that I had a chance with one of two girls I had a crush on at the time. One I saw as a deuille, the other an angelle. The voice told me that I'd have a lasting relationship if I chose the right one. I chose the deuille, with disastrous consequences, naturally. I suppose that the results couldn't be anything other than disastrous, since it seems pretty obvious now that the voice I was listening to was that of YHWH. I finished (using the term loosely – I left many panels just penciled) Magic two years later, in 2003, clocking in at 64 pages. I was very disappointed with the results; by the end of it, it was clear I hadn't really made any progress; I was still pining away for women I didn't have a chance with. It was only recently that I realized that, if I ever get a chance to work on it again, it could be a good cautionary tale. I could explain how I started praying and came to realize that magic is something that's best left alone.

I took a little break in 2003 and then started another panel-a-day comic that I eventually left unfinished called Regeneration. This comic was mostly about how I started collecting toys from my childhood and how they came to life (in the comic, not in real life!), but now I think a couple of the other themes in it were more important than I realized: that I began praying, and that I decided to stop having crushes on women I didn't have a chance with. Another facet of Regeneration (perhaps I had too much going on in it, but it all seemed interconnected) was that of documenting an open mike that I used to perform at and all the interesting folks that appeared there. One of them became my co-writer on Regeneration; we had a really strong collaboration going for a while, but he eventually lost interest or became distracted by other things, causing me to lose interest as well, and I abandoned the project.

In 2004, I began working on a new comic called Meda with another writer from the open mike, this time a female. We had a pretty fantastic collaboration going and became extremely close as friends, as close a female friend as I've ever had. I've got to admit that I fell for her in a big way; I was really impressed with her and she really seemed to be a cut above, or several cuts above, the other women I'd known. I felt pretty strongly that this could be The One. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on how you look at it) she had no romantic interest in me. I realize I talked about giving up on having hopeless crushes, but this person approached me to work together. I wasn't pursuing her (or anyone for that matter), but once I got to know her, I was lost.

This is where you come in. I'd been developing an angelle character who resembled the girl I had a crush on during the Magic time period. I drew her in the first tier in the second page of the Sparky jam we did. Uncannily, when you drew the angel, she much more resembled the writer who was working on the Meda comic with me at the time. I have to tell you, it was pretty unsettling, and in the back of my mind I saw it as hitting a cautionary note.

Ultimately, she and I parted ways after a year and a half, and hardly on the best of terms. I can't really explain why. She seemed to have changed, and working together was no longer the pleasant experience it used to be. Every time I've been in a relationship, the woman changed after some length of time (in the interest of fairness, though, my second girlfriend didn't necessarily change. I just realized she wasn't what I was looking for; stayed with her hoping to get laid, but to her credit she saw through me and dumped me). You wrote about your last relationship something to the extent of "I recognized the bait and switch and realized it was time to head for the door." I've been wondering what you meant by that, if the "bait and switch" you talked about was this phenomenon I've experienced of women seeming really great in the beginning and then changing once they've known you a certain amount of time. That there's a certain amount of portrayal going on in the beginning stages that gets dropped later on.

Yes, I think it's just a given at this point. To me it stems from feminism being insatiable. No matter how much you agree with her to keep the peace, she's just going to keep coming up with more things that you have to agree with, whittling away at who you are. I think for most women that's what they've come to understand love as being. A guy who loves you does whatever you tell him to and supports you in whatever you choose to do. If he doesn't do whatever you tell him to, he doesn't love you. But, of course, if he does do whatever she tells him to, then he's just boring and he's not a "challenge".

Anyway, it was a completely disillusioning experience. We were extremely close, as close as I've been to anyone without being intimate, and now we're not even speaking. If that can happen with one of the coolest people I've met…well, it's put me off the idea of being in a relationship. There is still a part of me that really wants that, but for some time now, it just doesn't seem to be worth the trouble and aggravation.

No, and I think the same is true on their side. I think they're universally getting irritated at the fact that some men insist on having opinions of their own and not just falling over and agreeing with whatever they say even while they're disgusted with men who just fall over and agree with whatever they say. And, as you say, that's even extending into the friendships now. To me, there's a difference between a society which contains anecdotal examples of individuals who are incompatible and a society where there is just structural incompatibility with anecdotal exceptions who get along and I think we passed from the one into the other a ways back: a good ten or fifteen years, at least by my reckoning. Having been celibate for nine years it's now just that on-going traffic accident happening over yonder.

I invested a year and a half in that comic, and it was quite good, so I didn't want to see all my work go down the tubes. I've started it over, excising all the material that she wrote, and, as I told you over the phone, I'm now doing it in color. A bit heartless of me, I suppose, like cutting someone's picture out of photographs, but there was too much good material to throw it away completely. Hopefully, I'm not making a mistake working in color – it's completely revitalized me; I feel the same excitement I felt when I was a boy working on comics with colored markers. I believe it's what God wants me to do – just keep my head down, put my nose to the grindstone and work on comics.

Well, and pray, fast, read scripture, etc. Right?

[synopsis of the current work excised at Steve's request]

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.