Saturday, July 07, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #299 (July 7th, 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.


The Second of Three Interesting Things That Happened in Toronto Whose Coming Was Foretold To You:

All three of them involved chatting with Chester (as I said last time, we don't JUST complain at each other about our old man aches and pains). The first one came up at lunch at Peter Pan where he whipped out a pen and grabbed a napkin and started showing me the way he was planning to lay out the Little Orphan Annie book for Drawn & Quarterly

[Not to be confused with the Complete Little Orphan Annie series that someone else is planning. The goal with the Drawn & Quarterly volume is to produce a single volume combination history of the strip, biography of Harold Gray and one complete story from the hey-day of the strip. The guiding force behind the project in one sense or another is Jeet Heer who is either the pre-eminent Annie scholar on the planet or definitely in the top five. Chester of course is a Little Orphan Annie/Harold Gray fan but something of an Annie scholar himself (but self-admittedly not in Jeet Heer's category). Jeet and Chris Oliveiros (I would guess largely at Jeet's insistence) wanted Chester to design the book and even though Chester would rather be working on his prostitution book, Chester agreed.] [Actually, oddly enough, I've got a letter from Jeet that's down about six fathoms in the mail pile so he might very well be the fourteenth or fifteenth person who actually reads the Blog & Mail and I imagine a) he'll be very interested in this and b) Chester hasn't said a word to him about it.]

So Chester whips out his pen and starts blocking in these panels in rough and asking What do I think of this? Basically what he envisions doing is blocks of three panels across and four panels down on each page. The Annie daily strips are all four panels across, so the strips would be starting and stopping in the middle of each line. Then the Sunday strip (whose panels are larger than the daily strip panels) would start where the daily left off so you would have pages that would be mostly black and white daily strips and then a colour Sunday strip would start in mid-page.

UPDATE 25 JUNE 1456 HOURS EST – Prayer time. Hold that thought.

UPDATE 25 JUNE 1518 HOURS EST – And he admits to me frankly that he's shown it to a few people and so far he's the only one who likes the idea.

My first reaction is that the audience for classic comic strips is not exactly huge and it does tend to fall along very proscribed collector lines: people want the strips as they appeared at the time. Six daily strips on one page (or two pages) followed by a Sunday page, chronologically exact. But, of course, whomever it is that is doing the Complete Little Orphan Annie, that's their stomping grounds. They have to hope that there's enough interest to sustain the pre-classic 1929-to-whenever strips where none of the characters looks or acts quite the way that we're used to and hope that there's still an audience by the time they get around to 1932 or 1934 or wherever it is that Little Orphan Annie became Little Orphan Annie Classic.

What is being planned with THIS volume is "leading with your best shot" – here is a PEAK Little Orphan Annie strip as well as biographical and historical information. One- stop shopping for someone looking to have a nice visit with Annie but not necessarily interested in, you know, adopting her (so to speak).

I said, Basically what you're talking about doing is turning Harold Gray's comic strip into a Chester Brown comic book. Give Chester points he didn't even bat an eye at that. Yes, basically that's what he's doing. He had even gone so far as to edit the strip to take out the redundant panels that proliferate when you're reading a series of strips that used to come out once a day and which were intended for a mainstream audience that wasn't (let's face facts) widely regarded in corporate newspaper offices for its collective level of rocket science genius.

So, what DO I think of this? Well, if he was asking me personally, my call would be six daily strips followed by the Sunday and running the Sunday in black and white as they've chosen to do with the Dick Tracy reprints at IDW (you're in that mail pile, Ted, I promise! Please, don't leave me off the comp list for volume three!). I'm a collector when it comes to strips. I don't buy that many collections, but when I do I want them all and I want them in order and I want them in black and white so I can actually see the artwork.

But (I said, getting as long-winded as I try not to be) I thought the larger point in this case was "What would Harold Gray have wanted?" Chet's got one way of looking at it, no one agrees with him but everyone trusts him implicitly as the designer of the book. Personally I think he has the credentials to pull it off. He's not only the world's foremost but the world's ONLY Harold Gray clone and he has brought himself to quite a prominent position as an authority on Gray's storytelling. He basically wants to BE Harold Gray, as Seth adroitly pointed out when he interviewed Chet on stage at last year's Doug Wright Awards. That's a pretty unassailable position from which to announce "This is what I think Harold Gray would have wanted."

The only REAL problem with that, of course, is the problem with everything in the avant garde of comics. Everyone lives in terror (whether they admit it or not) of what the COMICS JOURNAL is going to say. When the time comes and even Fantagraphics' own cartoonists have lived on an unassailable pedestal for long enough (a period of time solely determined by the COMICS JOURNAL oddly enough) then it's time to find a pretext to tear them down. There were at least two references in the May issue indicating that Chris Ware's alarm clock as an Unassailable has (as it always does with the COMICS JOURNAL: abruptly and inexplicably) gone the way of all flesh. Chet has been an Unassailable longer than Chris Ware has been published which means all they're really doing is looking for a pretext. What could be better than Failing the Drawn and Quarterly Little Orphan Annie even as Seth Rose to the Occasion on Behalf of the Fantagraphics Peanuts? (Seth took a body shot in the latest JOURNAL as well, but no matter. He might be finished as a cartoonist as far as the JOURNAL is concerned but that doesn't mean he can't be used as a cudgel to beat another cartoonist – particularly his closest friend! The JOURNAL THRIVES on that kind of stuff).

Well, I didn't say any of that (the May issue of the JOURNAL with the newest set of tectonic avant garde shifts hadn't come in yet for one thing) but I got a little provocative in another direction:

Why not sic Jeet Heer on the problem?

Monday: Jeet Heer? Doesn't he write for the COMICS JOURNAL?

Tomorrow: COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK by Dave Sim with comic-strip illustrations by Chester Brown


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

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