Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #149 (February 7th, 2007)

Dave Sim's Collected Letters Volume 2 will be released in late spring/early summer 2007. Until Dave (who currently has the flu) is feeling better – and to whet your appetite for the book! -- The Blog & Mail will run two-page excerpts from the manuscript each day.

Today: Pages 193 and 194:

27 July 04

Dear Adam:

Thanks for your letter of July 20. No problemo on the remarks on Hench. I was very gratified to see a copy on sale at Now & Then Books. Small-town Southern Ontario is about as far from the currents of the mainstream as you can get, so if you're turning up here (to paraphrase Sinatra) you're turning up everywhere.

Ah, yes San Diego. There's a broken heart for every unbagged comic book at Comicon, or so I've heard. I haven't been since '93. I kept walking over to the convention center and trying to walk around and thinking how sincerely pointless it was and walking back in that murderous California sun to my suite at the Hyatt (which was a good quarter mile away) and sitting there thinking how sincerely pointless this was, sitting in the world's ugliest hotel suite (literally decorated in red and green — as if someone saw the interiors of the Beverly Hills Hotel and said, "Mm not garish enough. Needs some giant swaths of crimson") when the World's Biggest Comic Book Convention was going on a mere quarter mile away, so I'd walk back to the Con and try walking around and…anyway, on about my third return visit to the suite, I said to myself, "Self? Remember this. Remember this the next time you think it might be a good idea to fly all the way across the continent and spend thousands of dollars in actual — as opposed to Canadian — money for this."

Saw Peter Birkemoe at the Beguiling the day before he was flying out. "You haven't been to San Diego in…" (guessing) "…three years?" Try eleven years. That's the great thing about San Diego. It's so huge everyone just assumes that you're there somewhere every year even though no one has seen you.

Interesting your observation on script or story notes from network executives. I think I would've been in the Harlan Ellison career suicide category in any kind of Hollywood experience. On the other hand, one of the things that I missed (actually the only thing I missed) from freelance commercial art was the experience of figuring out from what an uncreative client was saying what it is that he wanted that he wasn't even aware that he wanted. Of course, being a quarter century distant from it helps. I can conveniently forget what a pain in the cheese dip it was most of the time. Like the fact that if you presented a client with four designs, three you slaved over and one you knocked out in ten minutes just to fatten up the pile, you could just bet which one they would pick.

Yes, it's an on-going discussion about work-made-for-hire. As you say, you can drop a million dollar idea in a conversation in Hollywood and lose it just as easily. In a strange way I admire your ability to be philosophical about it — even though I'm going to continue to warn kids not to try working that side of the street.

And, speaking of which, congratulations on your story editor assignment {with the Cartoon Network's "Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi"}. "A Japanese girl singing duo. Combination of Looney Tunes and The Monkees." Yes, sir. I'd say that as vague directions go, that would be just about as vague as they come.

Reminds me of the advertising exec for a small local firm who wanted me to do some freelance work after I had been doing Cerebus a good while and was just about at the point where freelance work was no longer necessary and I brought in a copy of Cerebus to show him: Partly to get my price up by showing him I had steady work and partly just to show him I'd come up a couple of rungs in the world. Turns out it was the issue of Cerebus where one of the fans had drawn Cerebus with Bob and Doug [McKenzie] at the height of that craze. And the exec points at the picture and goes, "There. See? We're on the same wavelength. That's the kind of thing we want from you." And I'm thinking a) you want me to come up with a million-dollar fad for a few hundred dollars or b) you want me to "re-do" Bob and Doug [McKenzie] so you can rip off the idea without getting sued.

I would suspect that your best bet would be to take the best-known clips from the Monkees opening and re-do them with the Japanese girl singing duo — you know: the walking in lock-step towards the camera, one using the other as a croquet ball, pretending to ride a horse, one pushing the other down the street on a bed on wheels, one pushing the other down the street in a bathtub, driving their motorcycles around the cameras in a television studio, the one getting everyone else's name listed next to her in the credits and looking variously cross, indignant, anguished and distraught, then clapping gleefully when they finally get her name right. Set the whole thing in a beach house in California. Give them a cool 60s surfer car to ride around in. Sprinkle all of that liberally and however irrelevantly through the first two or three episodes, after which you can do whatever you want because you've got the Monkees thing nailed. And when you've used that up with season two, then steal everything that isn't nailed down from A Hard Day's Night: The girls running away from their fans, riding a train with their manager and his dopey sidekick etc. etc.

I wish I was kidding.

When you ask about Gerhard's "retirement" there is no need for quotation marks. He's more retired than I am. He has a list of postponed household projects as long as your arm which he has either finished or will soon finish. He shows up on Tuesday to do his usual bookkeeping gig and then any other day there's something specific for him to do and after that he is gone. Mostly waiting for the weather to improve so he can go out on his boat. In an emergency (i.e. 10 consecutive days of sunny weather with nice breezes) I can do the weekly ship list for the warehouse and cut a cheque for UPS (and other "delayed payment intolerant" creditors). As I've told him, if he didn't show up on two consecutive Tuesdays I'm not going to be sitting here going, "Oh, I wonder where...


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.