Monday, March 05, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #175 (March 5th, 2007)


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.


Hey! It's that REALLY ANNOYING TIME again when Dave Pleads with HOWEVER MANY of the retailers are reading this to

Check their shelves and make sure they have

All Sixteen Cerebus Volumes in Stock!

Remember "They Don't Sell If They Aren't All There"





(I'll do them four at a time all this week in an effort to be less annoying)

Got a nice note dated 1/15 and several of Jeffrey Brown's books in response to my defending him against Noah Berlatsky's review of Every Girl is the End of the World For Me in last month's Comics Journal:

Hi Dave

Thanks for sending me the printout of your blog – I had not seen it, as I try to avoid spending much time reading on the computer, because it easily sucks up extra time. (I must confess to occasionally perusing the TCJ message board for news – a place where Noah Berlatsky seems to spend a decent of time attempting to make a name for himself in `comics'). I do, also, remember talking with you at TCAF…as I think I may have said then, reading Cerebus was a revelation in comics for me, and marked the beginning of moving on from X-men and the like for me, although it wasn't till 2001 that I really started making comics.

It's very possible you did mention it and it slipped my mind, but it's certainly gratifying to know.

Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts on Every Girl… -- it wasn't an ambitious book, just an attempt to sketch out an idea or two, and I was certainly surprised to find TCJ thought it warranted a full two-page review. I guess that's more a reflection of what they think of my status rather than the books.

Always hard to tell but the idea of doing a modest book does seem to be a red flag to them if they've put you in the pantheon or the on-deck circle for the pantheon. If you got onto their radar screen with something the size of Clumsy (224 pages and thank you for the free copy) then I think you're expected to always shoot for that fully-developed a project every time out.

As for Berlatsky, well, he's a failed mini-comics creator himself, and his reviews depend on unnecessary and judgemental metaphor rather than objective criticism, and often he needs to quote someone else's words out of context to express his sentiments. That review in particular was full of inaccurate assumptions, from his misinterpretation of a Chris Ware quote to a rather flimsy blanket statement about autobiography…I think he has a personal vendetta against me, because in his article about alternative cartoonists trying to emulate Charles Schulz and failing he cites me as an example even though I've never claimed Peanuts as any kind of significant influence (I was a bigger fan of Garfield). That said, his point about "aesthetic constipation" had some merit, even if he undermined it with his venomous wording. But I view my work as a whole as work in progress; the failings of a book can be corrected over time. I still have a ways to go before I reach my potential (I hope).

I don't remember seeing the article on cartoonists "trying to emulate Charles Schulz and failing" but that seems to me to be a residue of the old Gary Groth yardstick model of The Comics Journal, that what he saw the magazine as doing was, over time, creating a yardstick of standards for comic books that we could all measure ourselves against. My opinion was – and is – that that isn't possible since it's all just opinion. "I like this" and "I don't like that". You can dress it up whatever way you want, it's still "I like this" and "I don't like that". And since that yardstick a few years back determined that Peanuts was the highest achievement in the comic book field (which suddenly included comic strips for some reason) it would make sense from Berlatsky's standpoint to write an article that would basically use that "fact" as the springboard for an opinion piece. Maybe he isn't a failed mini-comics creator, just a mini-comics creator who hasn't succeeded yet. Somewhere (and I wish I could find where) I've still got original stapled copies of your fellow Chicagoan Ivan Brunetti's Misery Loves Comedy that he used to send me on a regular basis. Laugh out loud funny material, but you talk about a drawing style that had failed cartoonist written all over it. And now look at him today: a critically acclaimed starving cartoonist. There's hope for Berlatsky yet.

I thought I'd send you some more of my books. I hope you're at least a little amused by them; I've always made my comics to be funny rather than sad, and whatever angst is there is there for self-deprecation's sake.

Best to you,

Jeffrey Brown

PS: As for character in my books – it's not part of any feminist influence, nor is it the weakness Berlatsky seems to think it is. I'm just not as interested in character, generally, and am more curious about moments/situations/atmosphere. I think this is actually one reason my work appeals to such a variety of people, both male/female and young/old and gay/straight. Which is not to say I won't develop character better someday.

Thanks for the books and I meant no offence with my comment on your having capitulated to feminism, it's just one of those things that I tend to see when I look at the next generation coming along particularly when it's someone like yourself who is documenting his love life as you did in Clumsy. I think it's very honest and authentic material and that's more the reason that it appeals to a broad cross-section of people. It's certainly one of the things that comics are well positioned to do best, to actually document what we're like "right now" as opposed to the most lucrative way we can portray ourselves for the sake of selling more laundry soap. I certainly experienced "déjà vu" with a number of the episodes in Clumsy, but there were a few things that were kind of "over the androgynous edge" relative to a guy who is fifty-years-old. I turned down the page corners on "Toenails" and "Clean" where you let your girlfriend paint your toenails and where you shaved her legs for her, respectively. Hey, we all make our choices and I don't doubt that you don't see things like that as feminist-influenced but I think that has more to do with absolute immersion in feminized society. "A fish doesn't know he's swimming in water." More revelatory for me (and again, I'm speaking as a senior citizen of fifty in our youth-dominated culture) was your Be a Man mini where you redid a lot of the Clumsy episodes but changing yourself into a (to quote your pin-up on the last page) "RRRR, beer, sex, sports, ungh, unh, porn, kick ass, fuck, explosions, trucks, breasts, meat, bitch" MAN and as you write in the intro page: "This is a parody and mostly not true and if you can't take a joke, fuck you." But the thing is, the masculine caricature you're trafficking in is, frankly, pretty much the same as the way feminists caricature men. I mean, don't get me wrong, a lot of it is very funny -- when you re-do "First Times", the first time you have sex with her, and finish it with "Here, you can wipe yourself off with this sock" I definitely laughed out loud – but I had the same reaction that I used to have when Joe Matt would tell me about his fear of big, tough guys coming towards him when he was walking on the street in Toronto. I used to tell him, What's the worst that could happen? They pick a fight with you, you get some licks in and you get your ass kicked. If you look at them as if you're terrified that usually just strikes them as funny because they're just, you know, walking down the street. So making you even more scared is even funnier and that might lead to some genuine slapstick. Joe's the same height I am, he maybe weighs a little bit less than me, but he obviously saw MEN as this scary, alien life form and, to me, that just suggests that you've capitulated to the feminist side: you see men the way women do. I don't think in relativistic terms, but in those situations you can't help but slip into it. Is Joe Matt too feminized or am I too "masculanized"? I don't really think about it too much anymore because it all seems to have more to do with just being old and the world I knew (or I thought I knew) passing away. If you don't think like a woman, you're a fossil and you'll be dead soon. It's hard to find a persuasive argument against that.

Anyway, I would agree that you haven't hit your cartooning peak as yet – there's such a huge difference between the iconic imagery in Clumsy and your updated and refined versions which would suggest that there's still a lot more refining going on. I forget which book had the strip which showed you trying to figure out how many of your notebooks to bring with you on a trip and that interested me and that I found encouraging: having that many projects "on the go" at the same time (which I could never manage after going monthly on Cerebus) certainly makes me think we've got a wide variety of Jeffrey Brown projects to look forward to.

Anyway, I enjoyed the books and appreciate you sending them to me. The two big beefy ones are Clumsy (10 dollars US) now in its second printing and Little Things (no price but let's say 10 dollars US as well) and can be ordered from Jeffrey Brown, PO Box 120, Deerfield, IL 60015-0120. The smaller books include Be A Man (3 dollars US) and I Am Going To be Small (5 dollars for 96 pages of sketchbook stuff). I turned down a couple of corners in the latter book.

So, Jeff, did you find a new girl yet?

Yeah, Jeff, when are you going to settle down with a girl?

When they start making sense.


She's too cute to be a ball and chain. She's more of an ankle bracelet.

I also liked the cartoon of you introducing someone to a girl and asking "Have you met my next book yet?"

There's MORE for you

In Today's Blog &…



If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

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P.O. Box 1674
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