Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #227 (April 26th, 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.




The latest two missives from Scott Berwanger of the still-in-progress Anubis mega-project fame. First one is dated January 27:

Dear Dave,

Here we go again! I sent a letter to an old musician friend of mine that cements my position as having left painting behind for good. I had to say the heck with it. Too hard to do it all. Just the way it is. You MUST be getting sick of all my vacillations by now, Dave. But I've hit a threshold with it, I think. I've cracked the master code. I've become a rock solid, uncompromisingly devoted comic-book artist.

My musician friend was one of the people who was encouraging me to paint, but I told him that I just had to let go of it. Forget painting shows, man! Sure, it would've been nice, but screw it! I just wanna make Anubis the best damn comic book possible at the expense of everything else I ever wanted to do artistically. And yes, I am almost equally dead set on doing it with micropress mini-comic boxed sets. I'm going to do everything I can to save up for that photocopier, use the color cover designs that I was gonna use for the self-published trade paperback version to emblazon the boxed volumes with, and hit small press shows as a mini-comics maniac! I don't know if it will ever get beyond the boxed sets into a conventional format or not, but I've promised myself that I will never surrender Adventure Comics' lawful claim in order to do it. I'm just gonna deal with what I've got going for me now, and we'll see what else comes to fruition.

Think about it…with my boxed sets, even though I will never achieve widespread recognition, I will be able to promote Anubis in real time! It just ain't healthy to be holed up for nineteen more years waiting to self-publish the whole enchilada at once. I'd probably go crazy writing and drawing a 3,000+ page story with no audience at all. Having even a very small audience is something I never dreamed I'd be able to do during my studio years. SO WHAT if I'm not artsy enough for the small press crowd. They'll just have to put up with me, `cause I'm in the game whether they like it or not. And hey! I'm easy enough to get along with, right? I even set up a special savings account for working towards the photocopier.

PS I believe the micropress has nearly as much potential as POD. I'm basically using the same tactic, and just going in the opposite direction with it. And I don't run the risk of becoming a sell-out doing it this way, either! I won't even have the chance to sell out! (good for me) I'll be the real deal mini-comics meal. So many of the bigwigs sell out…It's really disappointing to see.

The whole idea of "selling out" is an interesting one. I mean, has Frank Miller sold out with the Sin City and 300 movies? I haven't seen 300 but Sin City was so faithful a translation of graphic-novel-to-film that it verged on slavish. I mean, I wouldn't do it and from what I understand Frank had to be talked into it (if you call Robert Rodriguez basically capitulating to all of Frank's terms being "talked into" something: an ancillary question to whether it's "selling out" when you not only get a pile of money but you're also given absolute creative control) which would seem to indicate that there's at least a potential `gone wrong' quality there. I do tend to come down on your side of the fence, though. If it's just a comic book and stays a comic book you haven't sold out, if it becomes a movie, you have. We're in a distinct minority thinking that way, though.

Scott's next—and most recent—letter was dated February 11:

Dear Dave

Painting's a bust. I think I've let go for good finally. Just gonna try and spend as much time in front of the drawing board as I can. After all, I've got another shorter graphic novel in mind beyond Anubis! Better get crackin'. No time to fool with paint and canvas; I've got a life in comics to live (and a day job to hold down).

Best, Scott

Well, I hear you on that. I've just gone through a comparable situation. Two years in on my secret project and only halfway through it and suddenly I get this idea for what it is that I'm doing next after the secret project. Even assuming that I can do the other half of my secret project in, say, half the time it took me to do the first half (there's a good sentence in there somewhere), I'm still talking about a minimum of a year from now before I even start the next one. You've certainly got the location right: a life in comics is spent mostly in front of the drawing board if you're doing it properly. Not a lot of people would call that a life or even a "life" though. That also leaves open the question of whether you can stay in comics exclusively and still "sell out". Is getting CGC to slab and grade the Dave Sim file copies "selling out"? Is the idea of doing incentive editions of my secret project to get sales up "selling out"?

Good questions. No idea what the answers are.

Matt Dow went to all the trouble of e-mailing Jeff Tundis and getting Jeff to fax me a letter back on February 26. Hey, Matt, it's really not necessary since all the mail and faxes are answered in chronological order. You could have just sent a letter. Anyway, he had a number of questions about the Dave Sim/Gerhard split mostly centering on what happens to Gerhard between the time that I die and Gerhard dies, most of which (I hope) were answered to everyone's satisfaction at the end of last month here in the Blog & Mail. Matt's biggest concern was that Ger might be getting "pulled back in" to Aardvark-Vanaheim against his will because of his vested interest. I really don't think that's the case. I think one of the problems that people have trouble understanding is Gerhard's level of complete disinterest and complete disconnection from the comic-book field. Believe me, you Yahoos are infinitely more interested in and concerned about what happens with Cerebus than Gerhard is or (as far as I know) ever was. I suspect that the way Gerhard views the whole thing is as a job that he didn't really like but which had some redeeming features and that he progressively liked less and less the further he went along and which ultimately, for him, had virtually no redeeming features and which really came to an end in December of 2003 even though he continued to get paid and to work a much shorter week for three years after that. But, for those three years, mentally he was already gone. Ultimately, being able to live his life having absolutely nothing to do with Cerebus or me or the comic-book field became worth whatever price he had to pay or whatever he needed to give up in order to achieve it.

As far as I know most of my Last Will and Testament is still going to be completely valid and not require that much tinkering or revisiting just by performing a Gerhard-ectomy on it. Gerhard is just no longer part of the "post-Dave" equation: instead we go straight to the "winding things up" scenario. In terms of creators' rights, I have to factor him into my own thinking and my own planning, but it isn't about Gerhard as a person, it's about Gerhard as a concept. What is the Right Way for a person in my situation to behave towards a person in Gerhard's situation? Once again, I'm in the situation of blazing the trail and I have to take it seriously for the same reason that I think Elvis and the Beatles should have taken their situation and their business dealings more seriously. Elvis should have figured out a way to stay at Sun Records instead of just dutifully going to RCA because the Colonel and his mother told him he needed to go to RCA, as an example. It was Elvis' call to make and because he made what I see as the wrong call—choosing to make it the Colonel and his mother's call—pop music from then on took it as a given that you had to go with the big company and led to the corporate domination we see in the music field today. But that has everything to do with Elvis as a concept, Sam Phillips as a concept, Sun Records as a concept, Colonel Tom Parker as a concept, RCA Records as a concept and the fact that Elvis was the one in the driver's seat. `I have to get this right the first time out because I'm in the situation of deciding how the music business is going to be run from now on." It had nothing to do with the people AS people. Sam Phillips AS a person didn't begrudge Elvis AS a person going to RCA for one minute. But that didn't make going to RCA the right decision. And it certainly didn't make going to RCA the right decision because Tom Parker and his mother told him to do it.

Just by virtue of how corporate law is set up in Canada, Gerhard could have walked away with virtually nothing. But the fact that "Gerhard walking away with virtually nothing" being entirely legal wouldn't make it right. Far from it. And I'm the one in the driver's seat making those calls. "I have to get this right because I'm in the situation of deciding how artistic and business collaborations are going to be run in the independent comic book field from now on." I might very well make the wrong call but at least I'm aware that the call that I'm making regarding Dave Sim and Gerhard AS concepts is infinitely more important than just the immediate concerns of Dave Sim and Gerhard AS people

I suspect that the Larger Forces at work here—the ___s sticking their noses in where they either don't belong or they do belong: that's above me and out of my field of expertise—are basically trying for a major squeeze play: making use of my belief in creator's rights to try to engineer the destruction of Aardvark-Vanaheim in the name of feminism by compelling Gerhard to tear the company apart on the assumption that the company can't be maintained with half of its present resources and that—and there I hit the `I really don't know' wall, because that intrudes on what feminists at all levels perceive as being of significance and requires thinking (or "thinking") like a feminist i.e. Dave Sim is going to die of loneliness or something because his opposition to feminism has driven everyone away. A worst case scenario for people who are obsessive about needing to be up to their eyeballs in friends and relatives and emotions 24/7 but which strikes me as being like the "comfy chair" torture device in the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch. The problem is that I just don't see feminism as a large enough force that it needs to be taken either a) into account or b) seriously. It's more like a joke that only I seem to "get" right now: a kind of self-deluded trickster fox that assumes that everyone shares its frames of reference. In this case that if Dave Sim's life can be made unpleasant enough and empty enough in feminist frames of reference that he'll capitulate or, again, die of loneliness or something.

Frankly, the complete opposite is true. It's only when I allow people into proximity to me that the trickster fox out of wounded vanity at my not taking it seriously has an on-ramp to try and cause trouble which is why I've always strictly kept people in the category of concepts based on the larger idea of doing what is right and not doing what is wrong. Otherwise I'm just playing the trickster fox's game by the trickster fox's rules. When I'm in complete isolation there is no on-ramp, no access point and life becomes largely effortless. Or as largely effortless as it can be when you're working twelve hours a day.

Tomorrow: More Big Doings


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.