Monday, March 19, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #189 (March 19th, 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.






Moving on to comics…

Within the next few years, my plan is to attempt doing my black-and-white self-published funny pages full time. Of course, I've been planning this for years, while dabbling in the Spy Guy one-shots. Currently I am running about three years behind schedule. God knows if in the end it will be at all successful enough to make a full-time job out of it or not, but it's worth a shot. The secondary plan is to, at the very least, leave behind a stack of newsprint funny pages when I'm dead. Either way, it's a doable goal. The next comic I make is Spy Guy #1 of the unlimited series. We'll see what happens.

I have always been hesitant in sending these comics to you, as they are still amateurish. Admittedly, not ready for "prime time". So I didn't want to waste your time with them, as I'm assuming you get your fair share of amateurish indy books. I know I have a long way to go (on page 80 or so, of my 2,000 bad pages, yeah – long way to go).

The Catch-22 being: to reach a professional quality level, I need to get my 2,000 bad pages out of my system, meaning I need to spend more time drawing comics, meaning I need to make money, meaning I need to get good. A problem compounded by being a husband and father who is pigeon-holed into clicking away at a computer instead of honing my skills as an artist. But you knew that already.

Well, I wouldn't describe your comics as amateurish. They're maybe at a semi-pro level which is pretty good considering how few pages you've been able to draw. They're a little pricey at $3.50 US and $4.10 Canadian, but I can understand that you have to make some money while you're holding down your day job. You quote Chuck Palahniuk as saying "The moment you think when you're writing you've probably gone too far, is probably the moment when you've gone just far enough." I think that's probably true and it certainly seems to me something that is more of a question in the comic-book field than just about anywhere else since – if you're self-publishing your work – there is no gatekeeper to tell you when you've crossed the line so, at the very least we tend to, at least potentially, get a lot more honest material. "This is actually what I have to say." I think there were a few strips here – the 4-part "The Dog, The Bitch, and The Gimp" in particular – where you probably didn't do yourself any favours. I mean it's really over the edge into bad taste and strikes a jarring note compared to what came before and what comes after. I mean, it's funny – or, at least, I thought it was funny – but I think it was probably an example of raising the stakes too high too early with little chance of a payoff. You would probably drive away more people way early on here where you're trying to establish an audience than you would be attracting people who would go, "Whoa, dude. I thought you were just funny. But this is EDGY stuff, man!" Of course, you may end up deciding to go all the way over there, instead. Lenny Bruce started out doing much milder comedy than he ultimately got known for. You're only able to get so much drawing done with your other responsibilities and commitments so you have to decide what you're putting that limited time in on.

I'd certainly recommend both of them. Check them out at See? I recommended them.

This comic was inspired while writing this letter. It was mostly drawn in the U.S. Embassy. The rest was finished on the GO Train, and then digitized in my basement. [very funny cartoon about the "Self-Publishing Marathon" check it out on Mike's website]

Cerebus has prepped me for what marriage would do to my comic-book plans. The Pro-Con speech spelled it out nicely. Of course, I never would have dreamed that it would be ten years of setbacks. All you can do is to keep plugging away at it. Like Chinese water torture. Drip, drip, drip.

Comics was something that I used to think of as a young man's game. However, with the acceleration of time, I am now forced to look at comics from a different perspective. Yes, at this rate, taking a shot at comics for me will have to be looked at as my own personal "old man's game". Still I consider it a game worth playing.

Hey, me, too. I'm definitely enjoying working on my secret project and being able to take some real time and care with it. Ideally, I'm hoping to counterbalance the impression I seem to have left everyone with that unless you can do a 6,000 page story your efforts aren't worth anything (definitely not what I think) by going all the way back the other way and doing a self-contained comic book story, beginning middle and end in forty pages or so. I hope it will be well-received but I also hope that it might revive what I see as one of our "best feet forward" in the comic book that sells perennially. We never had that much of that in the mainstream or indy end of things but it was a big part of the underground comics' success. Head shops and "comix" stores ordered and re-ordered and re-re-ordered the early issues of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. It was inconceivable that you wouldn't have them in stock. And the ones that sold the best (Freak Brothers, Zap) made a place for the marginal and infrequently published ones. At least you got your shot at becoming a perennial seller. If you didn't make it you could try with something else.

My argument is that one of our big pluses is that comic books – not graphic novels, but comic books – are a quick read in a world where time is more and more at a premium. It takes less time to read the average comic book than to watch a situation comedy as an example. About the only thing shorter is a music video and look at how popular those are. And the price can be kept to a reasonable level (who flinches at $3 for anything these days?).

If I can do it with my secret project or if someone else can do it with a self-contained comic book then I think the stores would have something to use as a gateway experience into comics. Here, this is what comics can do. If you like this, I'll show you some other stuff the next time you're in.

As for your latest endeavours I am finding the most interesting are the Creators' Rights debate and the religious Discussions. Figures, they are two that most seem uninterested in. Regarding the Creative Manifesto II, I am still interested in discussing The Audience portion, though I will save that for a separate letter (as this one has predictably spiralled out of control).

I don't want to waste any more of your time. It would be better spent on your secret project and Gospel of Mark commentaries. Both of which I am looking forward to. It's been too long since we've seen a comic by Dave Sim. Immediately, I wanted to read the politically incorrect 1960s Marvel Comics parody. So, yeah! Keep going with it! There are some of us that won't hate your guts for it.

It's sort of in the same category as "The Dog, The Bitch and The Gimp". For the sake of where the story was going on and whatever entertainment value it had, it was about to raise the stakes too high and leave me stranded: I'd lose the people who would like a good Marvel Comics parody because it was "intentionally offensive" and I'd have no chance of attracting the people who would like something that edgy because it would just look like a 1960s Marvel Comics parody. It takes way too long to do these things to devote weeks and weeks to something even I can't picture as having even a potential audience. It's okay where it is right now because I stopped so maybe I can go back at some point and re-think it. Ger definitely thought it should have been the next project and we had a long discussion about it. His point was that South Park is politically incorrect but it has a large audience. I disagreed. From what I've seen of South Park it's pretty much tailored to liberal sensibilities and liberal prejudices. It pushes the boundaries of bad taste, but that's a liberal thing, too: how much bad taste can you take without flinching? The more bad taste you can take without flinching the better a liberal you are. But that's very different from being politically incorrect.

I appreciate all that you've done for both comics, and for the intellectual quest for truth. You said on the Friday January 19 Blog and Mail:

"No one really pays attention to anything that we're saying so it's all `reading into the record' at this point. It's a matter of `putting things right.'"

However, that's not true. What you need to know is that your words do resonate with readers in this generation. What that number is, I can't tell you. However, I can say for certain that I am one of them. I look forward to your future endeavours.

Well, thanks. You're right, I do need to know that and the only way I can know is if someone tells me so I appreciate your doing so. I'm looking forward to my future endeavours, too, win, lose or draw.

I just heard about Gerhard leaving Aardvark-Vanaheim. I've always considered the Dave `n' Ger's business partnership as the pinnacle of an artistic collaboration.

The inner workings of Aardvark-Vanaheim is something I've always been interested in, however with this recent development, I'm all the more curious about what happened, and how things will be resolved. I was also thinking that this would be an article (if not a full issue) I'd like to read in Following Cerebus.

Best of wishes to you both.

Much obliged. Well, there are a lot of financial and legal implications of me re-acquiring Ger's 40% of the company and we're just at the start of that process. There are things we can't do because of accounting/tax implications and there are things we can't do because of legal implications so there's a lot of bouncing back and forth between Mark, our accountant and Wilf, our lawyer up ahead. I'll try and keep everyone updated on my side of things – Jeff Seiler has a long letter here which gets into a lot of the nitty-gritty of my own situation and I'll try to answer as much of that as I can. I really can't speak for Gerhard and Gerhard doesn't do a whole lot of speaking on his own behalf and I can't see that changing especially now that he's able to walk away from the Cerebus spotlight. I mean, it's really no big problem since Cerebus is such a marginal thing to begin with. If he doesn't come into the office and he doesn't follow the Yahoo newsgroup, he can already be leading a completely Cerebus-free existence. If that's what he wants (and I suspect that is very much what he wants) then it's unlikely that he would want to discuss "where it all went wrong" from his point of view.

There's a big part of me that really envies that. Like the guys with nine-to-five-jobs where when they punch out at the end of the day they can stop thinking about it.

I don't think that's who I am or who I could ever be, but a big part of me really envies that.

Tomorrow: The Day Prize Short List – only a few days behind schedule, too!


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.