Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #162 (February 20th, 2007)



Got a package in from Kevin J. Maroney with photos of his deceased brother, Tim, as per my request (trying to make up for my gaff or "gaff" in advertising Tim's Friends of Cerebus package which was returned by the post office, lo, these twenty years ago). The photo which had been selected by Tim's widow, Kat, was a particularly good one—high contrast, good detail, lots of solid black, so that was the one I chose to go with. I'm going to get Jeff Tundis to make it the heading for the Blog & Mail all this week.

Tim? Thanks for being a Cerebus fan.

Tim Maroney

Kat, Kevin, Dave Sim &

All the Yahoos Salute Your Memory

Another posting from Shabad Atma at his website at http://shabadatma.blogspot.com. He catches me a little flat-footed with some of his observations on demonic possession. "'Free will', without an awareness of God is, in my view, merely the mouthpiece or steering wheel or canvas of the demon(s) possessing any given human. This is why I think that the single greatest decision anyone can make with free will is to give it over to God." Well, yes, that's certainly been my experience and what I see as the motivating force behind the definition of Islam, submission to the will of God. The more you submit to God's will and voluntarily welcome his guidance and commend every aspect of your being to his custodianship, the better life goes, the more things just naturally fall into place. I hadn't considered that there might be an inverse rule to that: resisting or opposing God just means that every time you express what you think is your own free will it is, in actuality, just the venting of the demon possessing you. That's interesting. I can think on that one for the next while and see what implications I come up with.

I'll trade you this recent thesis of mine for that one: most ill health is actually demonic possession. I have come to believe this because so many of my ailments tend to linger for long periods of time and then vanish—poof!—just as suddenly as they arrived. One of the reasons that I resist seeking medical attention is that most doctors are atheists, so I see them as being very much part of the demonic possession construct (I tend to see hospitals as Disneyland for the Infernal). You go to the doctor or you go to the emergency ward and essentially you present yourself to the demonically possessed while you yourself are in mid-possession and basically agree to do whatever they say. For some reason you've attracted a djinn within you and he's playing hob with various parts of your anatomy and in such a way that it will register on the various machines that doctors use to identify specific medical conditions. The doctor sees a dark spot on the X-Ray or a glitch in the CAT scan and, being demonically possessed, sees no recourse but to get in there with a knife or radiation and cut it out or burn it out. My own suspicion is that you would probably find evidence of a pre-cancerous tumour in just about anyone where you would care to look for it depending on when you look for it. I suspect that they come and go on a regular basis through our adult lives. As long as you don't go to the doctor at any point where the whatever-it-is is fully or partly incarnated you'll get a clean bill of health. Catch it in mid-sprout and you can let yourself in for months or years of being tortured by the demonically possessed as they try to eradicate something that would have faded away on its own in a matter of weeks or months. It seems to me that that too is an example of submission to the will of God. We have no idea why we attract a djinn or a demon. We have no idea how to get rid of it. But, it seems to me that the more sensible response is just to accept it. I'm in pain. I might be in pain for a week or months or maybe even years, but one thing I can be sure of is that I deserve this and I deserve this for exactly as long as I have it. If I face it uncomplainingly while maintaining my prayers and devotion to God, it'll be here with me for a little while (God alone knows how long). If I allow it to completely change my personality and undermine my faith it will be here for a good while longer. Instead of asking "Why me?" the correct approach, in my view, is to try to improve yourself through prayer and the reading of scripture so that you are no longer deserving of whatever it is that's taken up residence within you. The more faith and devotion you exhibit, the less amenable a "host" you are. I think our forefathers understood these kinds of direct correlations between faith and devotion and illness far better than we do. In practical terms, medical science separates you from any sense of personal responsibility or culpability or participation in your illness. You are trained by the idea of a doctor as an expert on whatever it is you have and to see yourself as an ignorant bystander to whatever is wrong with you. As the patient, you are perceived to be the only one in the room with no level of expertise whatever when I think it's only sensible to believe that the opposite is the case. You are the only one who can take action in such a way as to become inhospitable to your illness just as you are the only one who can take action in such a way as to perpetuate your illness. Being trained to just lie there as the object of medical expert attentions takes your perceptions of yourself and your situation in exactly the wrong direction. "This has nothing to do with me. It's all up to the doctors."

Yes, I was rather pleased with myself when I came up with the idea that for life on planet Earth, the ultimate hell is our sun beside which the interior of the earth is just a mere blob by comparison. As a God-fearing person you obviously picked up on that right away. But it's another example of how those who aren't "rightly guided" can't be "rightly guided". The earth's molten core or the convection systems on the sun: what's the difference? There is simply no sense of proportion, no sense of the enormity of what it is going to be like for tiny little souls like us to be vacuumed up by the gravitational enormity of the sun and to be trapped within it while it goes through hundreds of millions of years of excruciating contortions before ultimately collapsing in on itself. I mean, to combine that fate with the sure knowledge that at any point in the millions-of-year histories of each of our souls (taking it as a given that each soul is immortal) we had every opportunity to escape that fate and return to God and that we essentially made the wrong choices, intentionally, for those millions of years…

…and then to be blithely philosophical about that as if anything that far in the future just doesn't apply to us—what WE need to do is to win the lottery or get laid or find a way to buy a nicer car. It's like so many escalating layers of compounded misery that the mind literally can't encompass Just How Bad The Whole Thing is Going to Get. As with everything else that involves the enormous unfolding of God's plan, the God-fearing mind just fairly boggles even trying to grasp the sketchy outlines and the atheistic mind sees nothing there at all.

You know I ran across my original two-page spread of the surface of the sun that I ultimately rejected from The Last Day just a while ago. I had rejected it because it was just too chaotic and over the top. I think I've changed my mind and I'll be reworking it and plugging it into the next printing. Of course it's over the top. It's HELL! I can still feel the frisson of horror that I first experienced when I put the pieces together: My soul is immortal. Whether my soul ends up sleeping in the earth or whirling around in earth's atmosphere or restlessly (and inexplicably) haunting the garden implements section at the local Home Depot, my soul is still going to be here in some proximity to this planet and consciously aware when the sun begins to swell into a Red Giant and basically cracks the earth open like an eggshell and devours everything that ever was upon or within the earth. I'll be right there experiencing it. No escape possible. You're definitely one of the first people to comment on that part, and I appreciate that.

Point taken on fasting in thin, dry desert air seven thousand feet above sea level. I mean you have to go with the assumption, as it says in the Koran, that God won't tax any soul beyond its strength, but along about hour number fifteen in the middle of summer it would be very easy to call that into question. Or, perhaps, call into question one's own choices (i.e. I have to choose between my health and living in a desert climate seven thousand feet above sea level).

I'm afraid I spoke a little too soon on the Ye Bookes of Cerebus exhibit. Shortly after writing to you, I got a letter from Jason Trimmer who initiated the whole thing and who curated the exhibit at the Quick Centre in St. Bonaventure. He's decided he needs to be more "hands on" about Ye Bookes if he's going to maintain his original vision behind it. It took me about ten seconds to realize that he was right. I ain't in the art exhibition business and I know nothing about it, so better to trust Jason as the expert I was fortunate enough to hook up with and leave the actual arrangements and decision-making to him. Sorry I misspoke, but I do appreciate your willingness to volunteer to help. I'll let you know if Jason gets any suitable overtures from the South Western US. Until then I think I better just follows Jason's lead.

This sure is some backlog of mail when you've been sick for a month.

Elizabeth A. Bardawill hits the ground running:

Dear Dave,

Okay. I'm pissed.

Not in a "too many fermented beverages in too short a period of time" sort of way, but in an "I'm fed up to the teeth with this" sort of way.

(I'll try to keep this relatively unemotional and blessedly short.)

This whole "Pariah King" thing? It's over. You've been usurped. Big time. Rick Olney has now taken that title and it looks as if he's going to be hanging onto it for many, many years to come.

You're deposed, Dave. It's over. I mean…honestly! That was ten years ago, okay? Did you hear me, young man? You. Are. No. Longer. The. `Pariah. King'.

My point is—go ahead and write the introduction for Troy Little's Chiaroscuro. The first edition. If comics were kids, Chiaroscuro would be your artistic grandchild. That introduction belongs to you and to no one else.

Where comics, and the quality thereof, is concerned, you have plenty of hard-won street cred. Respect for you as a comic artist and advocate far outweighs any negative sentiment still lingering. (Trust me on that. I Googled it.)


Write the introduction for Troy…please.

Yours respectfully,

Well, nice TRY, Elizabeth (I was chuckling pretty good when I came to the end of your letter) but I'm afraid it just doesn't work that way here in the real world. I can certainly understand you comic-book feminists wanting to change the history of the last twelve years and "wish away" or "declare null and void" the idea that Dave Sim is a pariah (now that I'm here to hector you all on a daily basis so that the feminist choices of the last decade or so vis-à-vis Dave Sim are starting in retrospect to look a little…shall we say…tactically inopportune?), but I'm afraid the evidence just doesn't back you up. The historical record is there of how I was treated prior to 1994 and how I have been treated since 1994—all shunning, all vilification and all without one single feminist addressing or refuting a single one of my ideas whether in issue 186 or in "Tangent" or Collected Letters or any of my other writings on feminism. The point that your team missed and which your team continues to miss is that the net effect of shunning and ostracism when it is used in place of reasoned discourse and refutation—especially over a period of years—is cumulative. It would certainly be nice for your team if your recent Google search could completely undo the last twelve years like some weird feminist magic wand but, again, it just doesn't work like that. Want me to refute your charge that I'm no longer the Pariah King of Comics? No problem. How about this from Carla Speed McNeil's interview in the latest Comics Journal (how's that for up-to-date?):

NASO: That reminds me of Cerebus. A lot of people complained about the way the story turned out. But it is Dave Sim's story.

McNEIL: Yeah, it is his story and the man's work is still worth poring over for technique. He's one of the most skilled people we've ever had. It's just that at some point he merged face-first with his own work and everything that popped into his head ended up on the page, however bizarre and obsessive.

See: "bizarre and obsessive". Those are not terms that denote respect or "street cred", Elizabeth. Those are terms of ostracism and shunning, patronization and condescension—the exact way that you treat a pariah and the core of the Feminist Party Line in the comic-book field relative to Dave Sim. If anything, any "street cred" that I have comes from the fact that a certain number of guys—still cowed and intimidated by your team and the implied threat that ostracism and vilification can be used on them as well and consequently still silent on the subject of Dave Sim—are starting to realize that you can tell feminists that they're full of s**t even if there's only one guy doing it. In a democratic society, freedom of speech is (at least theoretically) for everyone, not just for feminists, homosexuals or those who believe the genders are interchangeable. I assume that there will be more support for my views as we go along and people clue in that feminists have never been able to refute anything that I've said about them and their movement. In fact, Craig R. Johnson, managing editor of www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com actually went public with challenging the Friends of Lulu for ignoring both me and him and the points that we're making (as we will see when we get to February 25 and the next instalment of "free rides for feminists in our society" here on the Blog & Mail). That was unexpected, very gratifying and a lot sooner than I would have thought possible considering the implied feminist threat against anyone speaking out against feminism. Back at the CSM interview:

NASO: It stopped being about Cerebus.

McNEIL: Very much so. Cerebus was one of my formative experiences. It will always be in the back of my head how brilliantly [Sim] pasted a conversation how many nuances he was able to get out with his approach to lettering. The man is incredibly expressive, but we're leaving aside what he chooses to express…

Well, of course you are, Carla, because you can't even begin to refute what it is that I'm saying and have been saying for twelve years. Instead of "leaving aside what he chooses to express" why don't you (oh, I don't know) refute the "Fourteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast"? Why don't you refute seven of them? Five of them? Three of them? Pick one, Carla, and refute it: "This is not an impossible thing to believe, this is the sole sensible and legitimate way to conduct our society." Well, you can't. So all you can do is toe the Feminist Party Line in the comic-book field and treat Dave Sim and his work (like "The Fourteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast" as contained in "Tangent") as if both are self-evidently clinically insane. It's the only feminist recourse. "This guy has us nailed dead to rights so all we can do is establish that shunning him, ostracizing him and treating him and his work like a colossal failure is the only sensible way to behave and hope he kills himself or he just gets forgotten on our say-so." So far, it's working like a charm. Everyone has fallen into lockstep and gotten with the program. Even the people who disagree just shuffle nervously on the sidelines and don't dare utter a single word in my defence. Hey, I'm completely at peace with that. I've got twelve years of historical record to back up my version of reality: feminism is indefensible so all they can do is attack someone personally who dares to question feminism. Twelve years so far and I assume there'll be another good twelve years of this. "Poor, sad, failed Dave Sim" being the enunciated universal consensus and everyone else shuffling nervously and silently on the sidelines.

But, let me ask you this: How do you think that's going to make your team look in the long run when the historical record actually gets examined and men discover that in a democratic society they have a right to free speech and to express an opinion on what was done to Dave Sim, Elizabeth?

Exactly the way you'll deserve to look, is my guess.

Anyway (I'm still chuckling gleefully away to myself, Elizabeth) feel free to give it another Orwellian revisionist try anytime the mood takes you and I'll bet I'll have a half dozen "poor, sad, failed Dave Sim" Feminist Party Line examples of ostracism and vilification to match whatever you happen to come up with to prove that I've only been imagining my "pariahdom".

Thanks as always for writing. I look forward to writing the introduction for the second edition of Chiaroscuro and (please try not to take this personally) I really don't give a tinker's damn what you think about my decision to pass on the first one. How about that, eh? A man who doesn't care what a feminist thinks of his choices.

What if it catches on, Elizabeth? Won't THAT be fun?

There's MORE for YOU

In Today's


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.