Monday, May 28, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #259 (May 28th, 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.


So, meanwhile back at the Center of the Universe, Marvel Comics, I had just reached the point in my discussions with my contact where I was thinking, "I've had this conversation before – about editorial changes and how you can't factor in how much time that's going to take up so it's hard to know what you should be charging for your services or if you should even take the first step down that path.. Who was I talking to about this?" Turns out it was J. Michael Straczynski the night I met him at Torontocon.

"I just tell them, this is what you get, take it or leave it."

He was talking about television now that I think of it, but he was also talking about freelance writing in general. Doesn't "take it or leave it" get you a reputation as "difficult to work with"? Oh, of course, he said (or words to that effect), but the thing is they come to me because they know I can deliver the goods. If they weren't willing to take what I give them they wouldn't have come to me in the first place.

The other part of his argument is that it means he gets work that gets aired or published in pretty close to the form in which he intended it. So he rises or sinks based on the work's own merit and not on what someone else turned it into.

I think that's the viewpoint I'm going to be forced to adopt. You came to me to suggest that I might "do some covers or something" for Marvel. Okay, let's do A cover. Here's how much I charge for a cover. I'll be happy to listen to any suggestions you or Joe Q wants to make but at the end of the day it's my cover. If it works – that is, if it sells copies of the comic book that it's on, we can talk about another cover or maybe four covers. I'll tell you what I want for them and you can pay me that or not pay me that. I mean, you guys have another BILLION-DOLLAR movie in the cineplexes and what I'm asking for is probably a fraction of one percent of what one catered meal on the set for one of the key grips set you back. Don't you think quibbling over a few hundred dollars (or, say, a grand) for a cover is, you know, beneath a corporation of your exalted stature?

And looking on the bright side from their standpoint, I've already worked for Marvel twice: once with the frontispiece for HOWARD THE DUCK magazine and once with the "Original Sim" portfolio in Marvel Fanfare. I haven't done anything for DC.

Checking my notes here: "THE COMIC EYE cover" Speaking of covers, I finished my part of the cover of THE COMIC EYE, Mark Innes' Blind Bat Press anthology trade paperback about creators' experiences in their comic book careers.

"Oh," I thought to myself, "A HORROR anthology." Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.

So that's what I went with – doing my best Ghastly Graham Ingels – for the princely sum of $115 Canadian. As far as I know Blind Bat Press doesn't have any movies in any cineplexes anywhere and I admire Mark Innes for hanging on all these years so, $115 for a cover. Why quibble? He'll let me do exactly what I want sight unseen. And I'm sure he'll let me reprint the cover or do prints of it or include it in an ART OF DAVE SIM book without having to ask legal permission. That, to me, is an example of exalted comic-book publishing stature. You hire the people you have confidence in and you trust them to turn in good work and then you leave them to it and you remain aware that both the person producing the work and the person publishing it have a legitimate claim to ownership and you try to find a working relationship as close to the 50-yard line as you can feasibly get. Same relationship I had with Gerhard for over two decades.

Largely, I said yes because I wanted to use the EC font that Mike Lindsay (Hi, Mike!) dug up for me and doing a horror splash page as a cover was the first chance in the offing.

I'll have my part of the cover at the table at Torontocon June 8 and 9 (see for details) along with a few of my other photorealism pieces from recent days and the photos I worked from. Bernie Mireault is doing the cover colour and logo. Keep your eyes out for it.

What else have I got here? "website". The secret project is going to have a website and L.C. and I are filling it up like there's no tomorrow. The idea is that retailers will get tipped to the location first while I'm doing the promotion for the book at the same time that it's going to be in Diamond's Previews catalogue. And as long as nobody in the retail community leaks like a sieve it can stay that way – retailers only – until three months later, the week that the book hits the stores when the website will be announced to all and sundry. Shows you the level of confidence I have in comic-book retailers that I'm doing it that way. I hope the confidence isn't misplaced. We'll find out.

18 MAY update – Peter Birkemoe of Toronto's THE BEGUILING store (I showed him the project in rough form the day before yesterday to see if he thought I had met his challenge – to produce a self-contained affordable comic book that could be used to show "civilians" what the comic book medium is capable of: I'm gratified to say that he thinks that I have) thinks I'm crazy and that the retailers will, indeed, leak like a sieve and I'll be peaking too early – a couple of months too early – by doing it that way. Some retailer or several retailers will leak the website location and by the time the book comes out it will be "yesterday's potatoes". Chris Butcher is Peter's in-house Internet expert, so I think I'll be bringing him in on the planning and strategy stage when I go back to Toronto for Industry Night this Thursday from where you are and two weeks from now from where I am.

I'm pleased to say that over the two weeks that I worked on the secret project I got a little over two pages done so I am now between 11 and 12 pages left to go out of 49 pages. I would classify 6 or 7 of those pages as complete nutcrackers, so I can't even hazard a guess as to how long I have left to work on it. It would be nice to have it out in December, a new No. 1 on the thirtieth anniversary of Cerebus No. 1 if everything falls into place.

18 MAY UPDATE: Peter Birkemoe strongly recommends against the new #1 and strongly recommends in favour of square-binding it. At least in terms of format (definitely not content) he strongly recommends in favour of making this Dave Sim's answer to Alan Moore's KILLING JOKE: hopefully a self-contained perennial seller. Batman won't be in it, but Bob Kane makes a cameo appearance on page 2. Before talking to Peter I would rather have rolled around in broken glass than to have switched formats from "saddle stitched comic book" but he talked me into it. The advantage, as he pointed out, is that even if you can only get the name on the spine in 14 pt. type it can be picked up by Diamond's Star System and, because it's the same dimensions as a comic book for those people who just want to treat it as such, there's no problem.

I'm going to the PRT (People's Republic of Toronto) this week and meeting with an editor at the Toronto Star who is a huge Cerebus fan to ask him, as someone on the other political extreme where everyone else seems to be, if he can picture the secret project being worth promoting to the mainstream media (given that the mainstream media are all over at the same political extreme). I just want him to read the rough cut and give it to me straight. I assume his honest answer will be "You couldn't get this into a Canadian daily newspaper even if every editor was staring down the business end of a shotgun". That's fine, then I can go back to thinking exclusively of promoting it in the comic-book field. If he surprises me and his answer is at the other extreme, then that makes my life a good more complicated over the next few months.

Neither answer would surprise me.

18 MAY UPDATE: Well, he was pretty impressed with what I showed him and had some very good advice on how to promote the project to mainstream media which will, indeed, make my life more complicated in the next few months. I was thinking of doing it in stages (comic world first, then the real world if the comic world just doesn't "get it" – "First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin" as Leonard Cohen once put it) – but he pointed out that for mainstream media the key is to be able to tell people where they can go and get it and just being able to say "Chapters/Indigo" in Canada or Barnes & Noble in a general North American sense is going to be more effective and is more apt to compel mainstream participation than having to say "Well, first look up comic-book stores in the Yellow Pages…" I'm still inclined to give comic stores the benefit of the doubt and an exclusive first try at the project, but he gave me a lot to think about.

As my Technical Director and Research Assistant put it, "It wouldn't surprise me if this sold 3 copies and it wouldn't surprise me if it sold 35,000 copies." I had to remind him of that quote the last time I talked to him on the phone and he said "I can't believe anyone wouldn't want to pick this up." If anything should jinx it that would be it. And no, the TD & RA isn't Jeff Tundis. He isn't lying to you nice Yahoos. He knows nothing about it.

Next note.

"Craig Russell" called. Yes, P. Craig Russell – to ask me if I'd write an introduction for his ART OF P. CRAIG RUSSELL book that Joe Pruett is doing. I said sure. Then I asked if I could get advance copies of the pages. Even just rough print-outs so that I could see what was going on and comment intelligently on it. He wasn't sure but he has referred it to Joe who is one busy guy right now if you've seen the line-up of things he has in the works. The book was in the latest Previews and he hopes to get a couple of hundred shipped to San Diego for Comicon this summer from wherever it's being printed – Singapore or Hong Kong. Incredibly tight deadline. Has to have the introduction in a week to ten days. That was a week ago and I've heard nothing since. The last time I heard that was with Barry Windsor-Smith's NEW GODS collection and the book didn't end up coming out until something like a year later. I am standing by, however.

Craig's still pulling all-nighters to get all his work done. I told him he was too old for that. He said the rent has to be paid. I hear him on that one. "Paying the rent is my Muse," he said. I laughed. It was a very good way of putting it.

FOLLOWING CEREBUS should be back in stores with issue 10 sometime this month or next month. Yes, it's been gone a while. The reason is that Craig Miller was going through a messy divorce and child custody battle. Do you REALLY want Dave Sim to tell you his personal impressions of someone's messy divorce and child custody battle? No, I didn't think so. So let's just say that FOLLOWING CEREBUS will be returning real soon and leave it at that.

What else have I got here? "Confessions of a Global Warming Denier." That's the title I came up with for my latest article for Sandeep's VERSUS magazine (number six). He usually makes up his own titles. Obviously, I couldn't get into the fact that I think the whole Global Warming scam is just YHWH entering menopause and wildly and telepathically communicating every hot flash to all of his/her/its followers. If I had been able to get into all of that, I would've called it "YHWH: The Hypochondria Years".

Tomorrow: Scott McCloud comes to Toronto!


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.