Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #171 (March 1st, 2007)

(Dave again created two entries for the same day, in this case February 28th. So, first that short entry is posted - then the March 1st post. - Jeff)

Wednesday February 28 -

The Blog & Mail

Documenting the free ride

Feminists get in our society

For, oh, nigh on six months now!

Jeff also sent along a copy of an e-mail from Craig R. Johnson, the Managing Editor of dated Mon. Jan 29 and whose subject line is "At last, something from FoL":

Here's what I just received from FoL:

I would be happy to make sure this is brought to the attention of the rest of the board. However, since, after reading this over, it appears that all these decisions were originally made by people who were board members almost 10 years ago, I'm not sure how enlightening our answers might be. It seems that Sim DID receive a response, if I am reading this correctly:

"Dear Dave: Thanks for your offer of four pages. We are grateful, but we would prefer not to accept. We will not be continuing this correspondence. Sincerely, Friends of Lulu Board of Directors."

If you have tried to contact Jackie to get an explanation from her, and she has failed to communicate with you, I'm not sure what else to do, since none of the current board members were in any way involved with FoL 10 years ago. As I said, I will make sure this brought to Shannon Crane (the current Fol Board President's) attention. J

Leigh Dragoon

Craig is barely able to conceal his exasperation (which probably qualifies as harassment):

I've replied to Leigh stating that she's missed the point somewhat, the issue is that Sim made his offer again, when the board members who had a vested interest in kicking him in the balls had long since gone, and it was ignored. The second issue is that Flowers asked why Sim was ignored and got ignored. The third issue is why was I ignored when I asked why they were ignored!

I asked Jeff Tundis to relay my sincere and deep appreciation to Craig R. Johnson for daring to stand up to the feminist hegemony in the comic-book field on my behalf. I think the obvious answer to his question is that he's a guy and under the present frames of reference in our society a guy has no validity when compared to a feminist, consequently there is no need for a feminist to respond to a guy. If she ignores him, for all intents and purposes, he ceases to exist. This syndrome, evidently, is compounded when you are dealing with a feminist organization. The 1996 FoL Board, by asserting that they wouldn't be continuing a correspondence with me effectively assured that both my suggestion and myself would cease to exist. And, effectively, that is pretty much what happened. I don't think it's a sensible way to conduct a society but at least for the moment, that seems to be how we have chosen to conduct this one. Hopefully, the fact that you received a response, however belatedly and however tepid, might be a small sign that things might be changing. From experience, however, I would not be holding my breath waiting.

Depending on how honest any of them are capable of being about their feelings towards me, there is a possibility that there was one or more 1996 "board members who had a vested interest in kicking [me] in the balls". I certainly hate to think that personal animosity would play that large a part (or any part at all) in what was basically the goodwill offering of what I considered to be a sensible suggestion that might assist in the betterment of everyone's situation in the comic-book field by lending aid to the only organization dedicated to defending our First Amendment rights. I just don't like to think that anyone could be that small-minded and myopic and not see that how I felt about them or her or how they or she felt about me didn't amount to a hill of beans compared to the importance of jointly defending freedom of expression.

Only Jeff Smith knows for himself and only I know for myself how much residual animosity there might be between us from our own contretemps of a few years back. But when I contacted him to donate artwork for auction to benefit the Red Cross and Tsunami Relief, he stepped up to the plate and donated a Bone cover (the first time he had ever offered a Bone cover for sale) which raised an enormous sum of money—which was the reason that I contacted him and Neil Gaiman and Will Eisner. I assumed that whatever each of them donated would raise the most money in the shortest period of time. Tsunami Relief was a larger issue than our personal feelings towards each other and, obviously, Jeff recognized that.

If Craig is right and personal animosity was any kind of a factor, I only wish that the 1996 Friends of Lulu board of directors and the current board could recognize that the defence of freedom of expression was and is in the same category: a larger issue beside which any kind of personal feeling should subside to insignificance.

Okay, all done with "feminists get a free ride in our society" for this month. Tomorrow: Let's tackle some of this mail, shall we?

There's MORE for you

In TODAY'S Blog &…



Fourteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist

1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.

2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.

3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.

4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.

5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.

6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.

7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.

8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.

9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.

10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.

11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.

12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.

13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.

14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.


Thursday March 1 –


So let's see what Dave's been up to

(apart from referring to himself in the third person)

since the last time he was writing these!

Okay, now that we have all of the unpleasantness out of the way for another month, I thought I'd update you on the secret project. I had one large background to do and another small background to do and figured if I got those two done in the two weeks of lead time I built up by working ahead on the Blog & Mail that I would consider that pretty successful (as you can imagine I'm pretty rusty when it comes to backgrounds). Anyway, I got both done and also managed to get a much clearer view of what it is that I'm trying to do here (thanks to my computer scanner/research assistant Lou) which is probably the more important development since I think I'm now officially past the "this just ain't working, let's just pack it in" stage. I also managed to get two large figures pencilled and inked on subsequent pages and (hopefully) nailed the ending structurally so now all I have to do is work backwards and hook up the pages I just finished (23, unless I decide to change something) with the ending. It looks as if I will be able to keep it the size of a comic book, albeit a rather large comic book: 40 pages, possibly 48 and possibly 56.

I'm eager to get back to it, naturally enough, but I have a bunch of Blog & Mails and a commissioned piece to do first, so let's get rolling:

Pardon? Oh, my health. Yes, I'm writing this February 20 and I'm almost back to 100% (did the ten flights of stairs at City Hall once last week and twice so far this week – first time since December). The only thing left to clear up is my hearing. Whatever the massive congestion was all about, it lingers in my ears so I've been virtually deaf for about six weeks at this point. Since I spend all my time alone, and I don't have any electronic media the only time I really noticed was trying to talk on the phone or when I went out for coffee and a muffin with Sandeep, all I could hear was myself chewing. Even sipping my decaf was deafeningly loud and drowned out everything he was saying. It's coming back gradually so that I can now hear what someone's telling me without lip-reading (as much). I can finally hear what's on the radio if I'm in a taxi but I still can't hear the music if I'm in the grocery store. I'm always convinced that it's just an ear wax build-up but this time I was clever enough to only put ear drops in my left ear and take decongestants. My right ear has finally started crackling and popping but my left ear hasn't. So it's definitely a congestion problem, not an ear wax problem. Now what I need is ear drops that will get rid of ear drops or something. But I am fully functional, fully mobile and putting in my standard 12-hour day, all for you, the discerning Blog & Mail reader.




Well, I can't say for certain that it's a Cerebus rarity or the absolute rarest Cerebus related item ever to appear but…

This guy called me up last fall who said his name was Matt Ingraham and he told me that he was a student at Cameron Heights Collegiate here in Kitchener and would I be willing to be interviewed for his student newspaper? You can't be too fussy about local publicity, in my experience, so I said "Sure!" And then made arrangements to meet him at Now & Then Books the following Saturday (doing an interview elsewhere makes it easier to terminate when the time comes – you just start putting on your coat and the interviewer gets the idea).

So I showed up at Now & Then and asked Dave Kostis if it was okay if I used his office and he said "Sure". So that was a very interesting experience – first time I ever sat in Harry Kremer's old office chair and realized, looking at Matt, that he was about the same age that I was when I first started doing interviews with comics professionals for Now & Then Times and Comic Art News & Reviews shortly after the store opened in 1971. I then realized that I'm now twice the age Harry was when he opened Now & Then. Wondered to myself if my first interview subject, Jim Mooney, had been fifty years old when I interviewed him in 1972.

Anyway, it was a good couple of months later when I got a call from Rich Payette, the school librarian and newspaper patron telling me that the newspaper crew had finally gotten the first issue done and asking where he could send me a copy, so I gave him the post office box address. And then there it was: five sheets of paper stapled in the one corner, The Cameron Heights Student Newspaper SERIOUSLY…er…that's the name: "Seriously…" And just as promised, there's Cerebus on the front page under the headline "Local Legend: David Sim" occupying more space than "History made on Election Day '06 In the U.S." (a mere sidebar! Mind you it was mid-January by then) and "Christmas and More?" And the article continued inside for three full uninterrupted pages. So, it's officially a Cerebus item, right? I mean, quite apart from Jeff and Margaret, some other people are completist enough to want a copy, right?

Well, I don't know how many copies they printed or how many copies are left (it did come out more than a month ago) but you could always write and ask if you could get a copy, right? Write to Matt Ingraham, c/o Rich Payette, Library, Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute, 301 Charles St. E., Kitchener, Ontario N2G 2P8 and see if you can't make a deal.

Now which is worse: that I didn't tell you about this and you had this gaping hole in your Cerebus collection you knew nothing about or that I did tell you about it and needlessly complicated your life as a Cerebus completist? I know, tough call, eh?

This one got misplaced in the course of my Lost January, dated 1/19/07:

Dear Aardvark-Vanaheim:

As a child, my mother (Claudia) learned to read thru comics. Because of her love of this genre she also became a comic-book and non-sport card retailer and dealer in the 1990's. She also sold super-hero statues and toys. Her distributors were Heroes World, Diamond and Comics Unlimited. She and my older sister would sell at conventions. They were one of the few mother/daughter dealers at the time. When I became older, I joined them. We enjoyed having tables at ComicFest and Wizard World in Philadelphia.

Last summer in June, she was diagnosed with tongue cancer and had to quit work. In September she had a 12 and a half hour surgery & tongue reconstruction surgery, in which they had to remove two thirds of her tongue. Presently she is undergoing radiation sessions.

We would like to have a benefit auction to help her with her finances. We were wondering if you would be able to donate a few books, cards (or whatever you would prefer) to help us with the auction.

Her tax exempt # is: [[redacted]]

I look forward to your reply,



I called and gave Kira a few phone numbers of retailers that I was pretty sure would be glad to help and told her to give me a call when the auction had been arranged and I'd be happy to donate a page of original artwork. Haven't heard anything so I don't know if this is on the up-and-up but, jeez, how can you err on the side of caution in a situation like this? If there's anyone in the area that can confirm this one – hey, that's what the internet is for, right? -- for the Doubting Thomases in the crowd I'm sure there are a lot more folks who would be glad to help.

Let's see what else we have here.

I got another letter from Robin Snyder which I can't find for the life of me. Which worries me because if I'm missing a letter that I remember getting in then that usually means that it will turn up in a pile of paper somewhere with a half dozen other letters I've forgotten getting in.

Anyway, Robin seriously questioned my comparing Steve Ditko to Kafka and I'd have to say that that was probably more of a first impression from the Ditko Package that I read first that Sandeep loaned to me.

[And it turned out that I hadn't dreamed up the whole "Max Brod being ordered to destroy all of Kafka's papers" thing which I found out when I ran across Introducing Kafka on one of my bookshelves. Written by David Zane Mairowitz and drawn by Robert Crumb, it was published by Kitchen Sink Press back in 1994 and the point is covered in the afterword:

"A Hunger Artist" was one of the few stories Kafka exempted from his instructions to Max Brod that all his work, all his manuscripts and papers be incinerated after his death. So, he was still trying to dispose of himself; although, as the writer J-L Borges rightly points out: if he really wanted a bonfire, why didn't he just strike the match himself?

Chester's exact words. Maybe he read the book as well and, unlike me, retained that part.

In any case, Brod, as we know, did not comply, and went on to edit what was, at that time, a confused jumble: chapters unnumbered or out of order, multiple versions, crossings-out, some works untitled (many of the titles we have were later provided by Brod).

An unenviable task, depending on how much or how little of a Kafka enthusiast he was. I certainly wouldn't want to condemn anyone who wasn't interested in my writings to make sense of all of my own papers. Maybe that was a factor in Kafka's decision: realizing what a jumble everything was and realizing that there was no such thing as a Kafka enthusiast and not wanting to stick Max Brod with having to wade through everything, he picked the writings that he wanted to represent him to posterity and instructed that the rest were to be burned. It's a theory.]

Having read most of the Ditko material that I ordered from him by now, I'd have to say that Steve Ditko has an amazing range to his post-Spider-man work. In terms of what would be called a graphic novel, Static struck me as the most entertaining and engaging. Although I think I'll have to re-read The Mocker now that I'm not sick anymore and see if it doesn't read a little better when I can read more than two pages at a time. Both are interesting in that they appear on the surface to be standard trademarked super-hero fare but that they are actually addressing a lot of the inherent assumptions about the trademarked super-hero and calling them into question. It's an interesting moment when Stac Rae basically backs off and agrees not to wear the Static suit outside the laboratory, acknowledging that since it was created by Dr. Ed Serch he should call the shots over its use. It's one of the better examples of Ditko applying his own clear-cut definitions of right and wrong to a character he has created. When did the guy in the super-powered-suit even acknowledge the existence of the scientist who invented it once you got past page 3 of the origin story?

In the "goofy fun" category, there's The Lonely One by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko, a kind of haphazard collection of Konga stories from the early-1960s Charlton title of the same name. Little monkey gets turned into a Godzilla-sized gorilla and accidentally causes problems wherever he goes. I don't know how the stories were selected from a handful of issues (Gill and Ditko's favourites? The only ones they had the original artwork for?) but I definitely enjoyed it. We may or may not have gotten more sophisticated in our story-telling over the years, but one of the things I remark on to myself all the time is the ability the older talents exhibited in getting the story told. The transitions are choppy (looked at one way) but (looked at another way) you sure get a lot of bang for your buck. This was one of the things that I noticed when I was working on my 1960s Marvel Comics parody. I'm trying to make fun of this, but the fact is I don't know how to do this. I'm on page 7 and I haven't even gotten the origin out of the way. Too much information. "The kids don't need to know all this stuff," I can hear Jack Kirby saying. "Cut 90% of the explanations and get to the action."

Tomorrow: Ditko Package 3


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.