Dave Sim's blogandmail #222 (April 21st, 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.
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.
Meanwhile Back at
In a fortified bunker
So, the secret project went really well this time out, for two of the three weeks, anyway. First of all I sat down and went through all of the text that I had and started breaking it down into pages and figured out that, yes, I will be bringing it in at exactly 48 pages. So that made a big difference in working on it. Now it was just a drawing exercise, trying to make each page look the way it did in my head. For the past two years, a good deal of the work on it consisted of sitting and staring and trying to envision what the finished package was going to look like and assessing whether the drawing I was looking at fit the bill or not. I was up to page 23 or so and that's just about the outside limit of what I can do without having my paranoia about pacing overwhelm everything else that's going on. Some material had to be cut and those were long days. What's my best shot? I had been living with all of it for two years so all of it seemed like an inextricable part of the project itself. No, no, what's my BEST shot? That's a different way of looking at it, establishing a pecking order. By the time I had the best captions lined up, it was just a matter of cutting the ones that weren't in the upper echelon (and trying not to re-read them too closely: I'm sure that when a hockey coach cuts a defenceman from the roster he doesn't make a point of going to watch the guy practice the next day).
And, as I say, at that point it was a drawing exercise, apart from digging up the last few items of photo reference that I needed. There was a couple that I thought were going to be easy to find and…four hours later I was still combing the library and used bookstores. I was torn at that point between continuing to look and going back to the studio and actually drawing some pictures. I wanted to emphasize that quality of it just being a drawing exercise and to have all of the photo reference in-house. No more library or used bookstore for me until this puppy is DONE. Well, I'm still not at that point, so I'm shifting gears when I get these Blogs & Mails done and drawing what I do have photo reference for and postponing the final photo hunt until I've drawn everything that I have in hand.
Hit a glitch on page 26. Two quotes that my Tech Support Guy had come up with—which were great, just what I was looking for—were just not reading right. They smelled funny. You read a piece of text the hundreds of times that I've read these pieces of text and it's like a sour note on the piano. You can't cover it up. It's either the right note or it isn't. Particularly when it comes time to draw that page which is what had happened. Page 24 and 25 went quickly, but I just couldn't bring myself to start page 26. I contacted TSG and asked him if he could do an Internet check on the two quotes and at least see if the books they were supposedly from actually existed (he's strictly volunteer so I wasn't going to ask him to find the books and read the whole damn things). He got back to me a day or two later. Sure enough, both quotes were hoaxes and notorious ones at that. Two years in is a hell of a time to find out something like that, but it's better to find it out before publication than after publication, right?
There wasn't much work left to do on a two-page spread so I got that done in less than a day which put me at 30 pages (not sequential pages, but 30 pages nonetheless) done of the 48. Which gave me the sense of being "almost done" but I had to remind myself that each page was taking an average of four to six days to do. This wasn't like Cerebus where, if I had 18 pages to go, I had roughly 18 days to go. Factoring in the Blog & Mail days and the outside work days, I would be VERY lucky to be done in two or three months and that's only if nothing went seriously wrong in the interim.
Which was a really stupid thing to even think to myself and a week ago Saturday (week two of the three weeks) I was photocopying one of the drawings and hand-feeding the 11 by 17 sheet into the office photocopier when the sheet pulled sideways and promptly jammed the whole works. It took about a half hour to even get AT the sheet of paper, another half hour to tear it in half (so it would be two separate problems) and about twenty minutes per half sheet to extricate them and get the photocopier put back together again. I managed to get the enlargement done without further misadventure and slapped it down on the light table and clicked the toggle switch. No light. The toggle switch had been "tetchy" for years but there was something about it at this point that was dead—as if it had never even heard of the word "electricity". I checked to see if the light table was fully plugged in to the power bar on the floor. Yep. But still dead. I felt like a racehorse at the Kentucky Derby whose chute "at the post" had failed to open. The whole point of the project is absolute photo-realism, not a line out of place, faithful reproduction. For that you need a light table. I tried changing the bulbs. Nope that wasn't it. Tried putting a flashlight in instead. Not bright enough. Well that was it. With a full week to go in my painstakingly amassed secret project working days I was dead in the water. Okay, maybe God is trying to tell me something. I mean, besides "Stop doing this story" which might be the message I was failing to get all along. So I decided to sit down at the computer and do the back cover and inside front cover which were not technically part of the story, but they did need to be done at some point. I decided to make the back cover something a little more traditional, something that would help explain the contents and hopefully get a comic shop browser to seriously consider buying a copy (or at least getting them to look inside). At that point, I thought, "Two years into this I should probably be starting to think more about these kinds of things instead of just barreling through the drawing exercise that remains." It's a very different market these days. The latest issue of Comics & Games Retailer wouldn't come in for another week, but in an article entitled "A growing community: state of the Comics Industry 2007" Phil Boyle seemed to sum up what I had been sensing in his section on Independents:
Take a moment to consider a discussion that rears its head every once in a while—collecting vs. reading. Even if a new DC comic is not that great, chances are it will be more valuable than an independently published comic two years from now. That value may be 50 cents versus birdcage liner, but mainstream comics tend to hold higher value in most collector circles. (Feel free to argue that point if you wish but look around at the booths at the next convention you visit and see what has value and what is missing). This means that now the independent comic is strictly reading material with no further value which, at $2.99 a copy, makes it a very bad entertainment choice by the formula fun time/dollars spent. A movie is about $9 for two hours (or six hours if you show up early for the commercials)—a comic is about $3 for 15 minutes (or six hours if you read all the ads in a Marvel comic). The comic is two and a half times more expensive as an entertainment form, which means in turn that it's becoming a much harder sell in today's techno-oriented market. This leaves indies fighting an increasingly steeper slope as more begets more and right now, Marvel, and DC to a lesser degree, have more PR, more releases, more shelf space, and more recognition in the mass market. Overall grade: D, and falling.
I took my light table to a local small appliances fix-it shop nearby, wondering if I should just skip that and order a new one. Meanwhile, I had a lot to think about when it came to whether there was even potentially a place for my secret project in today's market.
On Monday: More on Today's Comic-Book Market
Tomorrow: Goodbye to the Registry Theatre
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