Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #257 (May 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.


I did have a phone conversation with my contact at Marvel about the possibility of just doing a cover, trying to get really basic about it and then got in the same nineteen pages that I got in before but now with a page rate for pencils, inks and letters plugged in.

Crossed wires and miscommunication.

I thought he had gotten me bumped up to another level of income and that I would be getting 150% of that new rate for a cover (150% of your assigned rate is, evidently, Marvel's standard rate for a cover). Turns out that he was talking about the standard rate and the 150% would be that much more because it was 150%. Also the powers that be at Marvel want me to sign off on the page rate first before we move on to other elements of the agreement which I'm not crazy about. Purely in the sense of Larger Contexts it seems more than a little foolish to sign my name to an agreement specifying that I am worth about $100 less for a fully penciled inked and lettered comic book page than I am for what I just made from Mark S. (Hi, Mark!) for a 9 X 12 pencil drawing of Cerebus and Yoda…and $3,200 less than I just got offered for a pen-and-ink Cerebus and Cirin fight scene for Matthew E. (Hi, Matthew!). This is what I warned about early on: Marvel essentially wants me to sign an agreement specifying that I'm not worth what I'm making right now and I'm only worth what they say I'm worth.

I tried to do an end-run around that one: Let's just stick to a single cover. Marvel wants me to do A cover and here's what Marvel is willing to pay me for A cover. My contact was under the impression that they were in the ballpark for a cover with the quoted rate. Well, maybe if it was basically just a pin-up shot of the character with an all-black background. Basically something I could knock out as fast as a 9 X 12 pencil drawing of Cerebus and Yoda. If they would rather have a cover with the sort of thinking you would put into a cover, that's going to take longer and cost more. Relating it to the commissions I said, "Are you going to buy it sight unseen?" No, definitely not. They don't buy any cover sight unseen. It would have to go to Joe Q for approval. Well, to me, that's a different category. You come to Dave Sim and you want Dave Sim to do a Dave Sim cover, presumably you have confidence that he will produce something worth the money you are paying him. My contact countered with the fact that there is a $50 sketch attached (I'm also not crazy about rabbits getting pulled out of hats in mid-negotiation, but, okay, let's talk about this sketch). I do a sketch of the cover and I get $50.

I mean, we're not yelling at each other or anything but he was clearly disappointed because he thought he had a clear commitment-in-principle that I would do a cover for the quoted rate and my understanding was that the quoted rate would be bumped up and I would get 150% of that higher amount. Even at that point it wouldn't be a slam-dunk – which evidently he thought it was -- but at least I would have a new dollar amount to contemplate. The quoted rate was very far from making me jump up and down for joy. I'm trying to be conciliatory but that never works very well with me. In my view, it's because I'm never a big fan of outright capitulation and that seems to be what the world primarily runs on. Just sign the agreement and we can move on. Well, uh, (in a word) no. I said one of the problems was the quoted rate getting carved in stone as What Dave Sim is Worth. He pointed out that rates have been increased. Well, yeah, but the BASIS is always the QUOTED rate. Here's what you agreed to and here's, you know, 10% more for your next cover because your first cover sold really well. I tried dealing with the fact that he had approached me on behalf of Marvel, I hadn't gone to him looking for work. Maybe the problem is that Marvel doesn't share his enthusiasm (as a long-time Cerebus fan) for Dave Sim's work. It would certainly account for my getting quoted a rate for a finished page that was $100 less than I was getting for a pencil drawing of Cerebus and Yoda. I'm trying to let him off the hook: no harm, no foul. Call me back when you have Joe Q's job. He pointed out that there is a sense at Marvel that DC failed to arrive at an agreement with me and it would be a feather in their cap if they could succeed where DC failed. I can see that, but that really opened another can of worms. If you want to succeed where DC failed, you have to step back and see why DC failed, which was that they were determined to cram me into their work-made-for-hire context for an amount of money which is far less than I make for a commissioned piece. In a real sense you're asking me to play Judas goat. I sign your agreement and do a cover or a few covers and you get to use that as leverage against other indy creators. Hey, Dave Sim signed our work-made-for-hire contract. How bad can it be? He threw the Warren Ellis card on the table – that Warren Ellis said somewhere that working for Marvel instantly gives all of his non-Marvel work a higher profile. Marvel gets the entry-level audience and their audience pretty much turns over every few years. Yeah, I can see that point AND no one is near to Marvel in being able to stake a claim for doing good for your career just because they ARE Marvel but I'm not sure that A cover or a SERIES of covers is going to have that same effect.

I'm not sure that it ISN'T, either, and Marvel definitely has that going for them.

So then you get into: why not become the new writer on fill-in-the-blank and agree to write ten issues of something and do the covers? Well, because I'm working on my own things, my own things that I own. If I could write something that would be bought sight unseen and do covers that would be bought sight unseen that's one thing: I could then mentally balance the promotional value for my own projects against the working time and the page rate and see if one of the pans can't be made to balance the other. But the odds are I'm going to be spending hours a day on the phone being told what I can do and what I can't do. This cover was accepted, but this one was rejected. Joe Q needs a new sketch by 5 pm. Joe Q saw the new sketch and he doesn't like that one either, can I send another three by 9 am tomorrow? I can't use Iron Man. No, no one said I could use Iron Man and if they did they misspoke. I need to rewrite the middle eight pages on issue 219 using Sub-Mariner instead of Iron Man. You would need a lot of promotional value, in my book, to overcome that kind of (what's a nice way of putting it?) consultative excess?

Monday: I had this discussion with someone once…who was it? Oh, right. Joe Straczynski

Tomorrow: "Don't call them `jihadis'"

There's more for you in today's blog &…maaaillll!


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.