Sunday, July 08, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #300 (July 8th, 2007)


We'll get back to Jeet Heer on Monday. This being Sunday, I thought we would skip ahead to the Third Interesting Thing That Happened in Toronto which was that I had mentioned to Chet the last time that I had been in town that I had meant to bring the (I hope) relatively finished portion of my COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK with me for him to read. "Well, why didn't you?" he asked. Just plain forgot, actually.

The thing that had brought them to mind actually was that I had been at the library and (as I do once in a while) I clicked on my Wikipedia listing after I had checked the progress on the website, Margaret's latest additions to the cerebusfangirl website and a quick scan to see if anyone on the Cerebus Yahoo Newsgroup had mentioned either me or Cerebus in the last 24 hours. No on both counts.

Anyway, I keep thinking that in the sporting manner of good Internet fellowship (I know it doesn't exist, I'm being ironic) I should go in and edit my Wikipedia listing sometime at least as far as the factual errors are concerned, to put in my parents' names and "born and died" dates, that kind of thing. But then I read the first two paragraphs and I get depressed and give up. Actually this time, I thought maybe I should just skim through and see if there are any, you know, GOOD parts. Well, no there aren't but there was a reference to my doing commentaries on Mark's Gospel and that I had asked Chet if I could use panels from his as-yet uncompleted Matthew adaptation as illustrations for my commentaries and that Chet hadn't given me an answer. That was kind of odd because I was pretty sure that he had said yes, but we just hadn't yet arrived at the best way to do them.

But…but…if it's on the Internet it has to be TRUE, right? Especially on Wikipedia where legions of individuals -- like the mechanical worker drones in THE MATRIX -- labour tirelessly day and night scuttling up and down the interface assuring that each and every fact is entirely and completely accurate.

Clearly I had misremembered and the outcome was yet in doubt. Maybe I could win Chet over by letting him read what I had written so far.

Well, it turns out that Chet is as delusional as I am. He thought he had said yes and I told him he better check my Wikipedia listing the next time he's using the Internet to scope out Asian call-girls in the GTA because evidently he HADN'T given me an answer yet. He could've sworn that he had but, hey, who are you going to trust? Wikipedia or your own memory? So, anyway, this time I brought him a FedEx envelope full of commentaries – roughly 80 pages covering the first three chapters or so of Mark. And then I came home and wrote him a long, long fax outlining the different ways we could do this and offering him carte blanche on the visual side of the project and told him I would phone him next week (earlier this week) to get his answer.

That spider-sense of his is really coming along. I could hear it jangling over the phone line. DANGER! DANGER! It was saying PARTICIPATION IN ANY CREATIVE PROJECT CAN SERIOUSLY JEOPARDIZE THE COMPLETION OF YOUR PROSTITUTION BOOK! AVOID INHALING! So basically he gave ME carte blanche. All I had to do was to tell him what panels I wanted to use and he would dig them up [the spider-sense kicked up at this again, but he just ignored it] and give them to Tiff Preney (Hi, Tiff!) or to someone to scan and I could letter them whatever way I wanted. And he had actually read at least some of the commentaries at that point so it's not as if he didn't know what he was letting himself in for.

So, now, using the 56-page perfect bound (DC's prestige format) package, I now have to figure out how many Chester Brown pages it needs to formally become a comic book. 8 pages? That might be too few. 12? 16?

Chet also pointed out that his Matthew adaptation is still incomplete. Oh, that's right. Where did you leave off again? "He was just getting ready to enter Jerusalem." Right. Much closer to the end than the beginning. Chet and I will never get bored with each other. That's because we're already so old that we just have the same conversations over and over again with only the faintest inkling on either of our parts that we've discussed all this before. Wouldn't the fact that it's incomplete pose a problem for me, he wanted to know – there's no trial scene yet, no crucifixion scene. I had to laugh. Chet, all those pages I gave you are formatted to 8.5 X 11 and there's at least 80 of them (actually there's 95 – I just checked) and that only goes up to the end of chapter three (actually closer to the middle of chapter four – now I know why people carry their laptops around with them: that's where they keep their equivalent of the memories I can only find in the office). By the time it's reduced to comic-book sized pages and your panels are included…

I came up with a better illustration: I just released COLLECTED LETTERS 2 roughly three years after I released COLLECTED LETTERS 1. If I release a COMMENTARIES ON MARK'S GOSPEL volume one next year sometime no one is going to be seriously looking for volume two until at least 2011.

It raised interesting questions now that my own glacial slowness of productivity is starting to match Chester's own. How long would it take him to do his prostitution book? Was his Matthew adaptation next on his list of things to do? Was there any way that I could be up to the point of the Synoptic Jesus entering Jerusalem in my Mark commentaries by the time he was ready to finish Matthew? Won't we all be walking around on the moon in rocket shoes by then and writing and drawing comic books with ray beams we shoot out of our surgically altered eyes, rendering the point moot?

He even surprised me and suggested that maybe I could do layouts for the rest of his Matthew adaptation. I'm still really, really ambivalent about that, particularly the Muslim part of me that just doesn't think it's right to actually draw any of God's prophets and messengers (although I don't have any hesitation about PUBLISHING Chet's drawings of the Synoptic Jesus. Go figure). At the same time I'm not entirely convinced that the Synoptic Jesus was a prophet or a messenger. In the Koran he's called the Messiah Jesus ibn Mariam, that is Messiah Jesus the son of Mary. Maybe Messiah is a term particularly picked out by God to be distinct from rather than co-equivalent with the Judaic term Meschiach. Sounds like it, but a whole different ball of wax. Maybe the Johnannine Jesus is the Meschiach and the Synoptic Jesus is the Messiah. I'm not sure that there was an appropriate title or word to describe the figure that was and is emerging from my commentaries on Matthew, Mark and Luke (still working my way through chapter eleven on Luke as of last Sunday – I can do about four to six verses in about two or three hours of steady writing depending on the number of layers of meaning that I can see within the text).

By that time I was babbling but the above was what I had intended to say. I'm pretty sure we never had THAT conversation before. After I got off the phone, I thought, maybe if I just indicate where the Synoptic Jesus should go and stick to roughing in the disciples and people in the background or maybe just getting out the old Gillotte 290 and inking tiny little fine lines like Chet used on LOUIS RIEL.

And then I thought, This is crazy. It's literally YEARS off in the future one way or the other. But still, with two pages and two panels left to go on my secret project while I was waiting for some white-out to dry so I could ink over it, I dug out my envelope full of photocopies of Chet's Matthew adaptation and took another look at the John the Baptist panels which I had re-lettered in the original Koin Greek.

And there he was: John the Baptist gobbling down a locust (CRNCH) and then some wild honey ("Hmnn?" I left in Chet's original lettering there) and cussing out the citizenry in Koin Greek. IS COMING THE ONE STRONGER OF ME BEHIND ME is what he's saying in the panel that I sent to Jeff .

This IS crazy. But, you know, I think maybe it's crazy in a good way. I'll let you know how it develops.

Coming up on the end of Hour Number Twelve on Day One of Blog Week.

For those of you keeping score at home that's


And that means it's time for some more Diet Coke. I finally decided to just throw in my cards vis-a-vis caffeine-as-a-drug this summer having decided that there's a reason that Arabs drink coffee that resembles liquid roofing tar and that reason is Intrinsic Sleep Deprivation which results from keeping up with your hour before sunrise and hour after sunset prayer times at the Summer Solstice.

Inshallah I will consume twice my body weight in caffeinated beverages and Inshallah I will not so much more resemble the zombie I am otherwise feeling like all day.

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