Friday, June 22, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #284 (June 22nd, 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.


Here's a little bright light in the Pariah King Darkness that showed up late in March. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA (which has me humming James Taylor's "Sweet Baby James" all day whenever I read it even though I'm not sure if the line is "From StockRIDGE to Boston" or "StockBRIDGE to Boston"). Naturally, being the Pariah King of Comics I smelled a trap when they asked for the loan of High Society and Church & State Vol. 1. Usually in that case it's a set-up. I'm supposed to get all excited that someone wants to exhibit my artwork and then I find out that they just wanted copies of the books to flesh out an "Other Graphic Novels You Might Enjoy" part of the show while the actual artwork that's exhibited is the usual Fantagraphics suspects. So, I basically gave them the Comic Shop Locator number and suggested they find a store in their area who can order the books for them. Then intentionally forgot all about it.

Well, no, they did want to exhibit artwork and they actually wanted to exhibit a fair number of pieces. I gave Brian Coppola an exclusive on the story for his CEREBUS THE ARTVARK website which I hope he has run by now so you can click over there for all the details. God willing I hope to be there for the opening November 10. When I told Margaret at SPACE that there was a Cerebus Event coming up right in her home state of Massachusetts SHE WAS SINCERELY PUMPED! So pumped, I didn't have the heart to tell her that the party's at her house.

(I kid, I kid – Stockbridge is clear on the other side of the State so unless all you Yahoos are into driving the equivalent of the distance from Boston to NYC on the Massachusetts Turnpike it's still going to be a cerebusfangirl road trip)

It is extremely gratifying, given that Norman Rockwell was the Pariah King of Painters most of his adult life, looked down on and sneered at as a magazine illustrator by the likes of Jackson Pollock. Fortunately he had a few years there where people with a lick of common sense could see the difference and actually began to treat him with the respect he deserved all along and, of course, today the ranks of those who look down on Norman Rockwell are probably as thin (but no less vocal) as they've ever been.

Gives a Pariah King hope, it does.

Okay, it's Brian Coppola's exclusive so please go read about it over there and goose up his number of "hits" for this week.

<< Nothing up there yet, but in case you missed the post about this from April 25th - here's the url: - Jeff >>

What else have we got here? Oh, Verne Andru's 420 Chapter 001. Verne who was one of the Phantacea crew on that short-lived publication gave me a call out a clear blue sky to ask me about how I started Cerebus since he was starting his own comic book. We talked around rather than to the point and I think he hung up a little dissatisfied with me – but he had said he would send me a copy of the first issue and he did.

I just got off the phone with him (he lives out in Vancouver) and told him I'd be doing a short review and that I had called to find out how the book was coming along. Good. He had tried to do it sequentially, as comic books are done, but he's also doing it as a movie. He has a finished script and the idea is that he would storyboard the movie and do a thirteen-part comic book from the storyboards at the same time. Of course movies don't tend to work that way…

(he told me when he was working at Nelvana that Frank and Ollie had come up from Disney to…I don't know…advise in some way? They had said that the policy at Disney was always to start with some insignificant scene from the middle of the film and to do that one first. They said the first scene on the screen in a Disney animated film was usually the last one finished. Which makes sense. If your characters are going on- and off-model and you don't have all the elements of the look of the production in place quite yet you want that buried in the middle of the film where people, already used to all of your characters, aren't going to notice if things are suddenly a little "off" because at that point they're immersed in the story and aren't really looking at it as a mixture of different kinds of creativity but as something that is Happening and Unfolding Before Their Eyes)

…so he's had to move off of the comic book and onto the storyboarding of the film full-time (he's up to issue 005 in the story-boarding end of things). Once the film is story-boarded then he can double back and start doing the comic again. Optimistically? He thinks he can get #2 out sometime this fall.

It's an interesting book as you would imagine it would be in that it's a storyboard AND a comic book evolving simultaneously. It's maybe a little too far over into the tradition of "Sex, Drugs and Rock `n' Roll" for today's comic-book audience (even Last Gasp isn't setting any box office records these days and they wrote the book on "Sex, Drugs and Rock `n' Roll") with not enough "eye candy" to sustain it on a comic-store shelf. It could just be me since Sex, Drugs and Rock `n' Roll as theme leave me pretty cold these days. Not as cold as MY GOD THEY'VE RAPED AND MUTILATED AND DECAPITATED MY GORGEOUS WIFE AND GAY SIDEKICK AND GRAFTED THE BODY PARTS ONTO COMMISSIONER GORDON! But, you know, pretty cold.

It also has a movie kind of pace to it which has a tendency to just strike the comic-book receptors as "way too slow". Is that insurmountable? I don't know. I could THEORIZE a film that moved at a comic-book pace or a comic book that moved at a movie pace but I'm not sure if you would even know if you had done it properly (if you did it) depending on your frames of reference. It would be especially hard to picture a financial success in either case. The best you could hope for is a critical success that "made a few dollars". A movie-paced comic book isn't going to outsell CIVIL WAR and a comic-book paced movie isn't going to outsell SPIDER-MAN (the movie version, I mean, which is movie paced). Of course I'm also the guy who once explained in meticulous detail why the comic-book field could never attract a writer to the writing side of comic books who was on the same plateau as Neal Adams was on the drawing side of comic books. And, a few years later, Alan Moore came along and blew that theory rather definitively out of the water.

It's interesting watching someone labouring behind the page on "HOW do I do this?" Verne obviously knows movies and he knows movie pacing and he knows comic books and he knows comic-book pacing and he's obviously picked the former over the latter. There are interesting moments when the word balloons fall in the wrong order. Everyone is posed in the panel (that is, on the "screen") as they would be in movie storytelling, a natural segue of one shot to another but, as a comic book, it leaves someone standing on the wrong side of the person they're talking to. That leaves the unsolvable problem of "duelling word balloon tails" that look like crossed swords, or running the conversation out of sequence.

In comics, the writer calls the shots (literally in most cases) by who speaks first and to whom. Unless you're working the Marvel method where the fact of who is on the left and who is on the right is going to dictate who speaks first and the writer has to work within those confines depending on where the penciller has put the characters relative to each other (and how much of the panel is left over for words). There is no comparable boundary in film-making.

Most of the first chapter is about Hal, he's our point of identification, so he dominates most of the panels as would the star of the movie. But that means we're mostly looking at him "square on", head and shoulders and since he's just a fat guy who drinks a lot and smokes a lot of pot it raises the question: WHY are we looking at this guy this much (and) WHY isn't he doing anything interesting? Well, that's what ACTING is and that's usually what storyboards not only don't supply but aren't supposed to supply. In comics you can see more clearly in the overall page when you turn to it that there are four or five large panels with this big fat guy doing nothing. The impression – that the "camera" is moving around to accommodate him and to indicate his dominance in the context – is far less subtle in six panels on a page than it is in six seconds in a film. Watch a movie on fast forward and you'll see the same effect – the camera favouring the star -- but with sound, acting, pacing and camera movement you don't notice it as readily.

The comic book is definitely taking off slowly which Verne is aware of. I would suspect as he gets more issues out the same thing is going to happen that happens with anything else that has the air of a new form about it: you will gradually forget the form and just look at the substance, you'll become immersed in the story. Coincidentally enough, the first chapter is called "I Can't Wait That Long".

While all you lucky people ARE waiting you can check out black and white "webisodes" – detailed animation layouts – at and and see what the other half of the project is like.

Coincidentally, Verne told me on the phone that he had been in Gananoque visiting Gene Day September 22, 1982, the day before Gene died,. He said Gene had seemed really down about comic books, recommending that if Verne had any other options he should look into anything besides comic books as a way to make a living. I explained to Verne about Gene having been thrown off of MASTER OF KUNG-FU shortly before and how that pretty much tore his guts out (which Verne had not been aware of). I say this is coincidental because in a few days I'll be presenting David Day with Gene's posthumous JOE SHUSTER HALL OF FAME AWARD. And I finally come to 420 in the pile of mail for this week's Blog & Mail.

I'll be checking in every time Verne sends me another issue and letting you all know how he's coming along.

Tomorrow: A.P. Fuchs checks in!



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.