Monday, February 19, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #161 (February 19th, 2007)

The Blog & Mail would like to officially apologize for the anonymous cranky narrator who has been dominating this space since Dave Sim's return. The Blog & Mail would also like to take this opportunity while you have been lulled into a false sense of gratification by being unexpectedly apologized to to mention that Dave Sim Collected Letters Vol.2 will be published in a smaller-than-usual 6" by 9" format.

Again, the Blog & Mail officially apologizes to you, the discriminating Blog & Mail reader, for the anonymous cranky narrator.

Hey! Remember back in September or so when we had a visit from Andreas Platthaus and his girlfriend who were over here from Germany and wanted to come by a do an interview with me for Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagzeitung? Well, he forwarded a copy of the entertainment section for December 10 and there it is: nearly a full broadsheet page (in a country where newsprint is not cheap): "Erdferkel sterben langsam: Muslim aus eigenem Recht: Ein Besuch be idem verteufelten Comiczeichner Dave Sim". That's the great thing about foreign language coverage. No wincing for the Pariah King of Comics. I mean the fact that "Muslim" is that prominent would certainly be enough to give me the heebie-jeebies but since I don't know any of the other words around it, hey! I can just enjoy the fact that there's a whole page of it whatever it is: win, lose or draw. Subheadings like "Im Haus des Grauens". That could be anything. "Islam als Ordnungshilfe" (I think I'm detecting a recurring theme here). "Gerhard bleibt gelassen". That could be grounds for a libel lawsuit but who would know? It came out two months ago and as far as I can tell, had absolutely no effect no matter what "gelassen" means. "Seine Comics uber das Erdferkel Cerebus machten ihn beruhmt, seine erzkonservativen Ansichten beruchtigt. Nach seiner Konversion zum Islam ist er zur Unperson geworden." The juxtaposition of "Konversion zum Islam" (I'm definitely detecting a trend here) and "Unperson geworden" is maybe a little unsettling (couldn't they have found a nice German word for "Unperson"?), but overall I think I may have found the key to true happiness for all creative types everywhere. Have all of your press clippings translated into a language you're completely unfamiliar with before reading them.

Lookee thar. A whole broadsheet page!

Seriously, thanks to Andreas for the coverage and for being such a gracious guest when he was here visiting.

What else have we got here?

Oh, here's a GREAT one: a letter from Jean and Dawn and Warren Shuster (Peavy/Peary), Superman creator Joe Shuster's little sister and niece and nephew respectively. I've kept in touch with them since Jean and Dawn were up here for the inaugural Joe Shuster Awards at Torontocon. They write:

I don't believe you knew that I am a Nutritional Consultant [that would be Dawn—I suspected something of the kind from the business card which she gave me when she was up here]. I don't know if you knew that Warren, besides enjoying writing screenplays, does medical research on eating for optimum health, weight loss & disease prevention. The book he wrote, The 10 Biggest Diet Myths and Greatest Health Secrets Revealed went into a second printing in 2005. It can be ordered on under his name Warren Peary [no, I have to admit that I didn't know about the book, although Jean had told me about at least one of Warren's screenplays in a previous letter which she discusses again later in this current letter].

I'm enclosing pictures of us taken at the Superman Returns premiere party after the movie. We enjoyed meeting Brandon Routh and other celebrities. You have our permission to use any of these pictures in your Following Cerebus magazine [sure hope the offer extends to posting them here on the Blog & Mail—I thought it might be nice to get Jeff to post the pictures in colour so all you nice folks could see why it was that we kept walking past Jean and Dawn at Pearson airport when we had gone out to pick them up in a limousine. I kept looking for two decrepit silver-haired senior citizens. It was the limo driver who asked them if their name was Shuster just as they had given up and were about to get into a cab. THAT was a close one!]

Ilya Salkind who produced the first four Superman movies with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder as Lois took a three-month option on Warren's screenplay and has renewed the option for another three months. He likes the screenplay on the life story, during the Nazi war, of Siegel and Shuster. Raising money for its production is a little more difficult. We're being very patient. If Salkind doesn't raise the money, there is another studio that is showing an interest so we shall see.

Well, I for one have my fingers crossed. I think it would make a great human interest picture with any number of approaches.

We appreciated the illustrations you made and what a joy to see the remarkably well done likenesses of Joe and Jerry. Are the other illustrations of other comic-book creators?

Um, yes as a matter of fact they are. Will Eisner is in there, as is Bob Kane, Stan Lee. Jean and Dawn are two of a handful of people that I have shown any of my secret project to. In this case one page that features a montage of about a dozen of the 1930s and 40s pioneers in the comic book field.

Is there a project you are still working on about these creators?

No, the project isn't about the comic-book creators per se, but the single page (page two of the comic) does serve as a springboard in establishing my personal motivation for doing the project in the first place. I found a couple of particularly good photos of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel and you can bet your bottom dollar that I was bearing down with my best photorealism licks knowing that Jean and Dawn would be seeing it. Obviously, I couldn't be more pleased that they liked the results.

Are you progressing with the Creator's right issues?

That would be a more difficult call. What with the enormous strides that were made by creators between the time, say, Neal Adams really stepped up to the plate and started forcing a number of issues (like the return of original artwork) and when Image Comics established that creators on their own could be viable (THERE's an understatement) commercially, I think it's only natural that there would be an extended period of complacency where creators would be happy to just get put wherever they are put in the pecking order of arbitrary compensation with no real interest in what the next issues facing us might be. My own view is that most problems that have occurred in the Siegel and Shuster vein occur very early in the whole process of negotiation so I tend to think that that's the direction creators should be looking at. Not only in their dealings with the companies, but in their dealings with each other. Is it a 50-50 collaboration straight down the middle or is one partner the ultimate authority and decision-maker and how does that affect compensation and creative decision-making? The nature of the partnership between Siegel and Shuster was far more clearly defined than, say, the partnership between Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. My idea is always that if you have the right list of questions to ask and address them at the outset you can avoid a lot of mistakes. If Steve Ditko had known that Stan Lee saw himself as being in the driver's seat on Spider-man, as an example and that Lee would change anything he wanted to change in the stories Steve Ditko was pencilling and directing, it's very possible that Ditko would never have agreed to work on an on-going feature with Stan Lee. OR they might have been able to negotiate limitations on Stan Lee's ability to make changes without consulting with the artist laying out and directing his stories. I may be completely wrong in thinking that a lot of these problems can be avoided structurally by having the boundaries of specific kinds of partnerships established at the outset, but that's what I suspect. No one else seems to think that way so it might be a discussion for my sixties or seventies if I live that long and popular opinion shifts.

When I did an interview with Tina for CBC [this would be Jean asking] do you know if that program was ever on any TV schedule? It would be fun for me to have a copy if it was ever shown.

Offhand I wouldn't know, but I am willing to pull some strings (Chester's ex-girlfriend Sook Yin works at the CBC and if I can narrow it down with the "Tina" and the fact that it would have aired on or about April 30, 2005, hey, you never know). I suspect it was the local Toronto affiliate of the CBC rather than The National edition. That might make it more difficult or less difficult to locate. I'm faxing this over to Chester today to see if he—and Sook Yin—can help.

Chester just faxed back "Hey Dave – Sook-Yin's in Detroit right now (for CBC) but I'll ask her about this when she gets back. She's back on Friday so she won't be back in the CBC building till Monday. And it'll probably take several days of me reminding her about this to get any results – Chet."

So, there you go. Who would've believed that a simple request could have you all on the edge of your seats. What drama! Stay tuned as we try to track down Jean Shuster Peavy's CBC interview!

Seriously, thanks for writing and keeping me up-to-date on everything you've got going on, Jean, Dawn and Warren. I can sort of feel Joe Shuster beaming with pride at that shot of the three of you. You've done him proud and considering what a legend he is in the comic-book field, that's really saying something.

Tomorrow: Honouring Tim Maroney

There's MORE for YOU




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

Collected Letters - $30 FEB052434