Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #234 (May 3rd, 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.


Dear Jim Waley

Dear James/Jim:

I will never get used to calling you James. You are Jim, one of two people—the other was Harry Kremer—who I ever called "boss" however briefly back in the dinosaur age when Orb magazine was breathing its last and you were publisher and I was editor-in-chief. Just a couple of star-struck kids with a crazy dream if you want to make a musical comedy out of it. I actually got my part of the Joe Shuster Awards Hall of Fame Jam Tribute illustration done ahead of time. The good news is that means that you get to "jump the qeue" and get an early answer to your 3-page 8 pt. type fax ahead of a dozen or so other people. The bad news (at least potentially—I'm not sure if this is your idea of a good way to become a public figure for a day) is it's going to be part of the Blog & Mail.

I apologize for not having called you back when you left several messages on the machine, but I'm afraid I have a very strict policy about not answering "Dave, give me a call I have a couple of things I want to discuss with you" messages. Especially now that I'm back working twelve- hour days, my response to those sorts of messages is "You may have a couple of things that you want to discuss with me but that doesn't mean that I have a couple of things that I want to discuss with you." The Aardvark-Vanaheim answering service is one of the Bell Canada kind where you have unlimited room to talk—unlike back in the old days when we had an actual answering machine that gave you a minute or so—so it's always better (and I thank you for giving me a chance to address this to the most relevant audience) to say: "Dave, I have a couple of things that I need answers to" and then outline what they are, outline when you need an answer (you were calling in February for answers to questions I wouldn't need to answer until April at the earliest—in February I am usually solving February problems and a leftover batch of January problems) outline your own ideal outcome and then say "If I don't hear back from you, I'll assume that this is okay." I think there's been a kind of breakdown in how to deal with answering machines now that the rest of the world is living off the terse Western Union literary forms of e-mail. "Sry this is so L8". My way, that gives me time to think over whatever you have left a message about and to be able to give you a quick and concise answer when I do call you back instead of hearing about your subjects for the first time when I call you back and having to make up my mind on the spot. Look at it this way: you're a lot more likely to get a favourable answer with the reverse onus depending on what five things I'm juggling on a given day: today, as an example, you would be competing with the writing of my speech announcing my candidacy for President of the United States, working on page 33 of my secret project, checking on-line at the library to make sure my booking for the Columbus SPACE trip—paid for by Aerogold air miles (hopefully)—actually exists, taking pages from my secret project out to Waterloo for Sandeep to scan, as well as paying leftover bills from earlier in the week.

I appreciate your good wishes that Ger and I would remain friends, but I'll have to reiterate that I think that friendship would be pointless and, in fact, counterproductive if it was at odds with severing the partnership the most ethical way and in conformity with our respective intentions: in Ger's case that he wants to be completely severed from the company and all associations with it and mine to see that he is compensated for what he perceives to be the dollar value of his 40% of the company and, hopefully, to keep the company going once that amount is extracted from the Aardvark-Vanaheim bottom line over the next five years.

Thanks for word of the inductees to the Joe Shuster Awards Hall of Fame (year 3) which are worth going up a few point sizes, I think:

Albert Chartier

Gene Day

Jacques Hurtubise

Jerry Lazare

So far as I know

Now & Then Books

90 Queen St. S.

Kitchener, Ontario

(519) 744-5571

is still in business, although it is a bit distressing that you would remember that I said they were out of business on my blog since I've heard this from others as well. For the record what I said is what I have said all along. I have no idea if Now & Then is still in business or not. Between my illness in January and my workload since Gerhard left, wandering down to Now & Then for a "chat and chaw" has just been out of the question. What I did do was to encourage people— as I encourage people here—to give owner Dave Kostis a call and wish him well, maybe buy a few things (including the business itself if you're inclined towards owning the world's oldest comic book store and the price is right) and to thank him for keeping Harry Kremer's 35-year legacy alive. It just seemed to me to be a nice thing to do but I suspect that I hadn't factored in the extent to which people are inclined to draw extreme negative inferences from whatever they read on the Internet. "I don't know if Now & Then Books is still in business" being read as "Now & Then Books is out of business." All comic-book stores and retail in general seems to be much dicier propositions than there were even just a few years ago with the perceived competition from the Internet (which might be more or less a Grand Fiction perpetrated by the Internet itself) tending to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Not being on-line, any comic books I buy I buy in brick-and-mortar stores and I certainly encourage everyone to follow suit if they can afford to do so.

Jim writes:

`The scenario that I've come up with for this jam is a pitched battle scene between Shang-Chi [Gene Day's character] and le Somber Vilain [Jacques Hurtubise's character] on the left side of the illo (we'll be going with a horizontal rather than a vertical design)—the little guy spraying bullets from his machine gun at the martial artist while Shang-Chi leaps at him through the barrage of lead. This will be taking place on a deserted street in Montreal with The Dreamer [Jerry Lazare's character] coming upon the mÍlÈe and observing it from around the corner of a building while using his powers of dream-like suggestion to dissuade Onesime [Albert Chartier's character] from wandering into the deadly conflict (his hands striking a "Dr. Strange-like" pose as they cast a daydream image into Onesime's mind persuading him to turn on his heel and seek out an ice-cream cone from a nearby truck). A simple, but I hope you agree, effective way of getting all four diverse characters into one scene together. As for the interpretations of the characters by the various artists, as this is a tribute to the Hall of Fame inductees, I only expect that everyone will do their best to keep the original spirit of the artist they are saluting and not to deviate too much from how the character was originally handled. I'm certainly not looking for a straight-out imitation of the original artist's style, but I'd only as that everyone definitely keep a reasonable amount of respect for the look of the original source material --- `nuff said"

You know, Jim, when the book is finally written on the early years of the Joe Shuster Awards, I hope there will be a lengthy chapter devoted to your Alan Moore-like art directions on these Hall of Fame Tribute illustrations since they have already become something of a legend in some quarters (and a good reason to steer clear of volunteering to do free artwork for the JSA's in others). Being a fan of high irony, had I been the one you had approached to do the a) original layout and b) one of the figures (like the unnamed first candidate you suggest "didn't work out too well"—I imagine I can hear his molars grinding from here) I think I would have faxed you back asking if you had a specific Montreal street in mind or if you could, as example, suggest which end of Rue de Ste. Catherine you had in mind and which side of the street you were picturing. Would it be all right if, as an example, I substituted a "Smoked Meat Shop" from the Mordecai Richler end of town (as an "inside" visual pun for those in the know) for one of the more nondescript pharmacies in the end of the street you were envisioning (unless of course that was the south side of the street and not the north side). I mean, part of it would be high irony and part of it would be sheer disbelief and part of it would be the challenge of actually measuring up to what you so specifically envision. This is volunteer work, Jim, that we are all having to fit into our jammed schedules. Remember that Alan Moore always concluded his baroque art directions with "…of course if you see it another way, please feel free to disregard all of the above".

I say all this, not to embarrass you publicly (although I might very well be doing that and if I am, I apologize) but to indicate to you that this is "of a piece" with your problem the first year when you took to the podium and droned on and thanked everyone and addressed everyone for an inordinate length of time. The fact that the following year you slapped a timer onto the podium and hit a start button (which was very funny) made me think that it was worth saying something since you're obviously open to criticism and sometimes your best friends—and former employees—will tell you. I mean, I put aside most of this morning, starting at 7 am to answer your three-page dense-packed fax. I just knew that I was going to have to do that. It's now 8:45 and I'm about halfway through page two. It took me a good twenty minutes to look up the correct accents on "mÍlÈe" when my spellcheck rejected your version because first I had to look up the word itself in my French/English dictionary and then felt compelled to attempt to look up the names of the respective accents and found that my dictionary falls down on that front, so I had to look up accent to see what it said there and all it had was "accent grave and accent. aigu" ONE of which is the second accent (I can never remember which one goes up from right to left and which goes down from right to left) and absolutely nothing on what you even call the little pointed hat on the first one. I mean, I started to answer your fax last night and I just knew: it's a fax from Jim Waley, there's going to be a Gordian Knot of some kind in here. Looking on the bright side, without your valuable assistance I would never have suspected that I need to find outside help to determine the names of various French accents or that my French-English dictionary had such serious shortcomings. There's a certain "high irony" in that but I think you should know that that's a rare quality in creative people and that what I consider to be a sort of multi-levelled witticism that is worth playing along with, your average creative type is going to take a fundamentally dim view of. I thought I better mention this before you run out of Hall of Fame Jam Tribute Piece volunteers.


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.