Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #260 (May 29th, 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.


Scott McCloud was in Toronto last week (earlier this month from where you are) doing his slide show where I'm acknowledged for my lettering (according to Jeff Seiler who caught the McCloud & Family Show in Dallas) in one of his slides.

There was a nice piece on him in THE NATIONAL POST where he talked about Seth and Chris Ware and Art Spiegelman when asked about graphic novels. Considering that his plane was going to pass directly overhead or his car or train pass within a few miles of the author of the world's longest graphic novel (he was coming in from Ann Arbor) that gives you a rough idea of the status quo "state of play" for foolish Dave Sim the Evil Misogynist in the Scott McCloud Universe. I'm the one using the "Misogynists Only" water fountain and toilet in the bus station. The one with the yellow felt "M" stitched to my jacket. "But…he MIGHT have mentioned you to the POST reporter and the POST reporter just didn't mention you, Dave!" Come on, folks, there's liberal delusional and there's liberal delusional. Scott's kind of weirdly conflicted on the subject, like most liberals. I'm listed in the index for REINVENTING COMICS on pages 60-61 but there's no mention of the footnote on page 104: "Dave Sim's personal misogyny became a public issue in the mid-90s following the publication in his series CEREBUS of a text feature about women." Scott had the chutzpah to say to my face that he hadn't actually called me a misogynist in the book. I don't see there as being a difference. I think it's just Scott trying to have it both ways: One Big Happy Comic Book Family which includes Dave Sim as long as he only uses the Misogynists Only toilet and water fountain in the bus station and understands that he can no longer be considered anything besides a really good letterer.

"Dave Sim. He did some great…lettering."

It's partly that and partly that he's really doing his level best to toe the COMIC JOURNAL party line (Seth, Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman and…Dave Who?) in the hopes that the JOURNAL will go back to taking him semi-seriously instead of as the cybernetic crackpot/object of fun they've been treating him as since REINVENTING COMICS came out. Basically Scott appears to have chosen to throw everyone overboard except the approved COMICS JOURNAL names in the interests of achieving a Big Comic Book Tent Consensus that we can all rally around but, knowing the COMICS JOURNAL, I don't think it's going to work.

It'll be interesting to see a) IF they'll run anything about his fifty-state tour or b) what they have to say about his tour and who they assign to write about it. Might make a good JOURNAL Gang Bang like the ones they did on Steve Ditko and me and LOST GIRLS. Five comics journalists caught his show in five different cities and here's the different ways they all thought it sucked.

If they do a puff piece or ignore him then that means either a) they couldn't find enough people to write nasty things about him and his tour and his family for a good Gang Bang or b) he's established enough of a beachhead to make Gary and Kim wary of him and that would certainly be a first. Gary might just do another interview with Scott: Gary seeking to re-establish him as a cybernetic crackpot/object of fun and Scott attempting make Gary part of his extended One Big Happy Comic-Book Family of Scott McCloud Acolytes.

That would be a very interesting traffic accident between the lines of which to read over the course of several dozen pages. Of course if Gary thinks there's any danger that he'd LOSE the argument-masquerading-as-a-discussion and actually have to become or even appear to become one of Scott's Acolytes (unthinkable!) he'll just assign the Managing Editor du Jour to interview Scott and then eviscerate Scott in an editorial or review in the same issue. Sure it's evasive but it's always worked for Gary before (as I recall, that was how he chose to handle REINVENTING COMICS).

18 MAY UPDATE: Chester threw me for a loop when he met me at the bus station and one of the first things he said was, "Scott McCloud says `Hi'". Wow. That was interesting: putting Scott McCloud at least ten notches to the right of where I figured him to be (that is, "Dave Sim didn't show up. PHEW. I can just continue to ignore both him and the fact that I once called him a misogynist -- but which I won't cop to now -- and pretend to myself that he's still happy to be in my Big Comic Book Family and understands that he's only allowed to use the Misogynists Only toilet and water fountain"). Of course, then Chet said, "He gave me the impression that he thought there might be some bad feelings between the two of you about something but he didn't say exactly what." So, he was actually only a couple of notches to the right of where I thought he was ("Gosh, Dave seems to be upset about something but, since I didn't actually call him a misogynist as he claims, it must just be some Crazy Dave Sim the Evil Misogynist thing and nothing that I, Scott McCloud Comic Book Guru and Patriarch of the One Big Happy Comic Book Family actually did or said. So I'll show him how Big a Man I can be by having Chester tell him "hello" and not bringing up a thing about how obviously crazy he is.") Then Chester mentioned that Scott's daughter, Sky, was named after the character Sky in I NEVER LIKED YOU. "Actually," he said, "the last time I saw Scott and Ivy, Scott mentioned that Sky was named after the character but Ivy said, `No, she isn't" and she mentioned who it was that Sky was named after. THIS time Scott mentioned that Sky was named after the character in I NEVER LIKED YOU and Ivy didn't disagree."

I laughed.

"I wonder how long it took them to fight that one out."

"What do you mean?" Queried Chester. I keep forgetting he's never been married.

"Married people do that all the time: fight out whose version of an event is the accurate one. I doubt that Scott convinced Ivy that Sky was named after the character in I NEVER LIKED YOU, it just became a trade-off. She'll agree with Scott's version of who Sky is named after but now Scott owes her one. He'll have to give in on something and go with her version of events even though he knows she's wrong on something else."

Chet laughed and we started talking about his new graphic novel instead.

See, if you want to get down and dirty about who is crazy and who isn't, married people are basically crazy the way that I just described. Reality has nothing to do with what actually happened it's just a series of victories and defeats on a one-for-you, one-for-me basis. It's why married people age faster than everyone else. When you choose to be crazy on a day-in, day-out basis – trading off reality for falsehood and falsehood for reality and having to keep track of which is which (the agreed-upon reality versus what you actually know to have happened)-- it really puts the miles on you.

I would like to get Scott's current media list from his tour to possibly help promote my secret project so if he reads this or someone else tells him about it, I hope that, just like married people, we can trade the fact that he thinks I'm crazy and I think he's crazy and meet somewhere in the middle where reality – apart from me being interested in getting a current media list – has nothing to do with it. Just as if I was a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal or something! If you think I have a snowball-in-hell's chance of hearing from him, I bet you're right. But in the same general spirit as his saying "Hi" through Chester:

"Hiya, Scott!"

What else have I got here?

"PAGES 125 AND 256". What in the heck does…

Oh, right, I'm up to page 592 in THE THURBER LETTERS, James Thurber's collected letters that Jeff Seiler gave me in Columbus. Funny how when I get to the place in a book or a magazine article or in collected letters of people who are turning 50 that it's all pretty much "downhill from here". "The Challenging Years" the section I'm on is called. He's still drinking himself cockeyed once every ten days or so at the age of 57 so it gets pretty inadvertently grim in the same way that Fitzgerald and Hemingway's collected letters got. Same way that the recent biography of Wally Wood went. If you can't give up the sauce in your forties you are pretty much guaranteed to be heading for a singularly unhappy ending. See, they know that and hit the sauce even harder to try to forget it.

Thurber only had one eye from the time he was six – absolute miracle he didn't lose the sight in both eyes in the bow-and-arrow incident (didn't want to know about it and mercifully there are no details on it) and eventually went completely blind. Never once did he consider that maybe getting @#$%-faced in speakeasies where God alone knew what the stuff you were drinking was made from wasn't the best idea in the world for someone who only had fragmentary vision to start with. Never once. That's a pretty potent level of alcoholism.

Anyway, the letter on page 125 is to Ann Honeycutt who, through two marriages, he never quite "got shed of". It's a good example of where alcoholism comes from and how it mixes badly with sexual desire in men and romantic desire in women. You can see, reading between the lines, that the liquor is destroying him and destroying her. It's an ancient story well – albeit "accidentally well" – told between the lines: men looking to get laid, women looking for love and both staying at it too late in the evening fuelled by booze. He tries to be disarmingly, charmingly and seductively honest, then provocatively overt (this was 1930, after all), then morosely disenchanted all to no avail: all he manages to transparently demonstrate is what it is he's actually looking for and that he will either sulk or turn dangerous if he doesn't get it. Not exactly the stuff of Prince Charming but he seems to think he's playing his cards close to the vest instead of telegraphing his punches from over yonder in the next county.

The thing is, both of them don't realize that, by this point, it isn't about sex or romance, it's actually all about the booze. He actually knows he isn't going to get laid and she actually knows she isn't going to find love but as long as they pretend to themselves that that's what it's about they can actually exacerbate and entrench their own alcoholism and pretend to themselves that that's not what they're doing. If "stealth alcoholism" was a capital crime they would have both been hanged at sunrise before Roosevelt became president. "The Wandering Years" the section this excerpt appears in is called.

Tomorrow: Thurber's letter


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:

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Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.