Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #201 (March 31st, 2007)


Fifteen 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.

NEW! 15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.









Jeff Seiler continues:

My next point is that this letter to Wilf clearly was not an actual "Last Will and Testament and Powers of Attorney for Property and Personal Care", but was just your suggestions for same. So, in the ensuing year and three months, has Wilf produced said legal document? If so, I assume that it will be revised soon to reflect Gerhard's departure.

"Soon" is a relative term. It took about two or three years for me to actually arrive at a final Last Will and Testament and I signed it at Wilf's office, literally the day before I flew out for Salt Lake City and Gerhard dropped his bombshell literally his first day back in the office after Salt Lake City. There are two documents. The Power of Attorney for Personal Care is valid and David Carrington will be added to the list when Wilf gets back from Zimbabwe (of all places) the middle of this month. The Will is a more complicated piece of work that I am still composing mentally and which I have been working on mentally since November 1st of last year.

When it is revised, what is your thought as to giving me (and perhaps the other Committee members) a copy of it? I mean, I assume there would be no secrets or surprises in it, particularly with Gerhard out of the picture, right?

I assume that, yes, you would all get copies. The question right now is if the Last Will and Testament would be posted to the Newsgroup which was the plan with the one I signed last October that got scuttled when Gerhard announced his resignation. One of the big questions is: Is Gerhard "out of the picture"? His own first idea was that we would just "wind up" the company, liquidate all assets – sell the house, ditch the inventory and whatever else -- and divide the resulting amount of money. When I made it clear that I intended to keep going he accommodated that by pitching a lump sum payment for this year and subsequent monthly payments for five years. Which I agreed to. However, citing the Peter Laird buyout of Kevin Eastman I said that I thought it was wrong for a creator to not have some participation in his own creativity, however marginal it might be and made the suggestion that at the end of the five years Ger would start getting royalties on the sales of the books that he worked on. Relative to the on-going Creator's Rights debate, this allowed me to demonstrate what I see as correct behaviour for a publisher since Gerhard relinquishing his 40% share of the company would then put us in the relationship of publisher and freelancer. So what I want to do at that point is to establish the Superman Contract that I had been trying to pitch to DC almost twenty years ago now and which Paul Levitz just couldn't bring himself to sign off on or even discuss seriously even in the initial baby step stages. That is, had DC known in 1938 what a goldmine Superman was going to be, what sort of a deal could they have offered Seigel and Shuster that could be deemed fair? And, to me, there you look to the newspaper strip field where the syndicate and the cartoonist split revenues 50-50 with all expenses coming out of the syndicate's half. Book publishing is a little more complicated and has quite a bit more overhead to it, so I wouldn't institute the program from "dollar one" as the newspaper syndicates do. But my intention with DC had been to say, "Cerebus is an established property, so you pick the dollar thresholds – make them as high as you like – but at some point we split all revenues 50-50." Make it a billion dollars if you want, but at some point there has to be an amount of money coming in that you can be happy only getting half of it instead of 90% of it. How can you turn up your nose at making $500 million dollars off of a creative property? That was complete pie-in-the-sky back in the late 1980s, but with the Spider-man franchise now approaching the one billion dollar mark, it's now a lot more real. Anyway, at the end of five years – having accepted Ger's lump sum request and five-year monthly payment request – I'll present him with a Superman Contract that specifies specific thresholds at the maximum of which he will get 25% (half of 50%) of every dollar that comes in if the company ever hits that maximum threshold. And it will obviously be much less than a billion dollars.

Also, (I don't mean to be nosey, but I really do think this question pertains to your estate) how can the two of you possibly divide up the material part of the Aardvark-Vanaheim, Inc. property?

We couldn't without dismantling it as Gerhard suggested, turning all assets into cash and then dividing the cash 60-40.

Who gets what pages (a tangible and valuable asset, not necessarily just to be relegated to the estate); how do you determine the value and share, page by page (arguably, Ger did more than 40% of the work on many pages and you certainly did more than 60% on others)?

We couldn't. The range of prices on the few pages we auctioned on eBay to test the waters last year means the pages are worth what you can get for them on a given day and depends largely on how much more than two people with deep pockets want them. Ger and I agreed years ago in the event of a split that we would divide the pages 50-50 on a strict "one for you, one for me" basis starting with the earliest page in issue 65 when he started on the book. The randomness of doing it that way would mean it was luck of the draw as to who got what pages. I'd get 1900 and Ger would get 1900. The accountant originally wanted to do a valuation of the pages as a company asset, but that really isn't the way things work in the comic-book field. You get your artwork back. We kept the pages in the company because we were both in the company. If we got paid for a page the revenue got divided 60-40 whether it went towards a company expense or whether it was part of our salaries. It was a convenient way to make sure we shared in our rare art sales. But the understanding was always that Ger was entitled to a fair share of the pages (and it isn't just about the amount of work that went into it – a page with my characters on it: particularly Cerebus or Jaka with backgrounds just at the periphery sells for a lot more than an all background page). What we are tentatively doing now is giving each of us jurisdiction over half of the pages. I can authorize the sale of pages over which I have jurisdiction and Ger can authorize the sale of pages over which he has jurisdiction. Neither of us is particularly interested in selling artwork since the artwork is the thing that has appreciated the most in dollar value over the years. The trade paperbacks still sell for what the trade paperbacks sell for, the house is worth substantially less than what we paid for it at the top of the housing market and the intellectual property rights to Cerebus for movies or merchandising aren't for sale so that point is pretty well moot.

Lengthy digression: Ger considers the Cerebus art market to be dead right now, but I don't agree. I think the artwork is just under-valued. Brian Coppola for several years there was able to buy virtually every page that came on the market for between $500 and $700. Lately, the few pages that have been offered for sale or auction haven't been meeting their reserve and have been withdrawn more often than they've changed hands. But, come on – there are roughly 2,200 pages out there circulating or theoretically circulating. I don't think there's any other art team that has 2,200 pages in circulation. If the Cerebus art market was dead hundreds of those pages would be dumped onto eBay at $200 to $400 a page. The owners would be desperate to sell them for whatever they could get. No, I think it's a case of people believing the pages will go up in value from their present level so they're hanging onto them. If someone starts paying $1,000 to $1,200 a page the way Brian was one of the first to make the jump to $500 to $700 a page, I think they'll be able to pick up the stray pages that come onto the market and probably persuade some owners to part with pages they've been sitting on. I mean, Harry Kremer would barely speak to me when I put the pages up to $100. To him that was a ridiculous amount of money and he wouldn't pay it and he resented it as one of my biggest art buyers to that point. But Ger and I were just as happy not to sell the pages and if we did sell them we wanted to make $100 off of them. At that point if you had offered us $100 a page for the whole lot we would have sold them in a New York minute and carried them over to your house one at a time. Then they started evaporating at $100 a page and we put the brakes on and just let the market set its own price without our participation. People used to anguish and virtually dissolve in front of us at conventions really, really, wanting to buy a page but…a HUNDRED BUCKS! Brian's Cerebus the Artvark website was set up by him to update everyone on what Cerebus pages were trading hands at and, as far as I know, for as long as he's had it up and running you can pretty much count the number of pages he's documented on two hands and have several fingers left over. That isn't a dead market, that's an undervalued market.

Tomorrow: Really having to dig down in the pile for a religious topic

Coming Monday: Meanwhile, Back At the Subject

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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.