Monday, July 09, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #301 (July 9th, 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.


Jeet is a scholar squirrel in the classic mould (right, Jeet?) For those of you just tuning in, through the miracle of blog entries written entirely out of order we have now gone back in time nearly three hours to the Second Visitation of Something Interesting in Toronto: Chester's decision to reformat Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie strips into a virtual comic-book narrative form for Drawn and Quarterly's forthcoming volume. Personally, I think he has the cachet to pull it off, but personally, I think he is also going to need some "cover" in the form of introductory text explaining WHY he thinks this is a form that Harold Gray would have approved of and WHY he thinks he's made the correct deletions in order to avoid the endless redundancies you are going to get by reading strips that were intended to be read one-a-day by readers who might not read each strip each and every day. The "no child left behind" theory of comic-strip narrative, as it were.

My suggestion is that the indefatigable Jeet Heer is the perfect candidate to research those decisions and choices in Harold Gray's own correspondence (which long-time readers will remember is housed somewhere in the Boston area) (oops, make that long-time psychic readers – I haven't gotten to that part, yet) and to provide that "cover" if the "cover" is to be had.

UPDATE 25 JUNE 1540 HOURS – Okay, time for my mid-afternoon Oh-hey-that's right-it's-summer-even-in-Canada break. Back shortly after my banana bread and Diet Coke from the Manulife Building's Coffee Time kiosk and soaking up some rays in front of City Hall.

UPDATE 25 JUNE 1605 HOURS – Okay I'm back. See, and I knew that Chet wouldn't go for it because that sounds like "using" Jeet whereas I tend to see it as "making use of Jeet" in an area where it would be absolutely impossible to take advantage of Jeet: Little Orphan Annie scholarship. If it was for the sake of Little Orphan Annie scholarship, I feel safe in saying that Jeet would (cheerfully!) walk across red-hot coals carrying a Bengal tiger cranked on methamphetamine (the tiger, I mean, not Jeet). Chester even told me that Jeet has this lecturing gig set up at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and had this great idea that he and Chet could do it together and then go to whatever-college-it-is in the Boston area that has all of Harold Gray's papers and artwork.. And Chet, of course, wasn't interested because he's started to develop this spider-sense about things that are just going to end up being pointless distractions from his prostitution book having experienced a bunch of them ever since the collected LOUIS RIEL became a hit. What he often tends not to see is that for Jeet there is no prostitution book – whatever participation he's going to have in comics is going to be mostly on the scholarship side.

"Let me put it this way – if someone else gets to be known as the definitive Harold Gray/Little Orphan Annie scholar while Jeet is still alive and kicking, Jeet will be a very unhappy camper. I mean he'll be happy that the definitive scholarship exists but he'll be unhappy that it isn't his. So you would actually be doing him a favour by giving him this problem to solve: what way would Harold Gray have wanted his strips to be reprinted?"

And then Chet started discussing it as a problem separate from turning Jeet loose on it (which is fine – at least Chet stays on topic when I get provocative) and saying that he remembered an article in Rick Marschall's NEMO years ago where they had reprinted an Annie story, not from the original strips but from a condensed version that Harold Gray had done himself where he had taken out redundant panels because they ordinarily wouldn't have space for an entire Annie episode. Well, there you go, I said. As long as you aren't reinventing all that to shore up your own argument (that made him laugh) then you have your cover. The odds are that that would be one of the Cupples and Leon collections because as far as I knew those were the only reprints that came out during Harold Gray's lifetime. All that someone would have to do (and only Jeet would be that interested, but I didn't say that) is go through Gray's correspondence (if Gray was a letter-writin' cartoonist which I would think more likely than his being a non-letter-writin' cartoonist) and find out what he had to say about the condensed version at the time.

Did he condense it himself or was that done by the syndicate?

What did he think of what they did if it was done by them?

If he liked it, then it would be largely a matter of reading the original strips and the condensed version and to draw conclusions about where he erred and why. Did he take the chance of taking too much information out in order to avoid a redundancy or did he leave a redundancy in if it meant preserving a piece of information? Did he leave out whole strips or just individual panels?

Of course it isn't a fail-safe thing. This was during the depression and Gray was enough of a capitalist that even if he thought the redacted version of the story stunk on ice his loyalty to the syndicate and his gratitude for another revenue stream to keep him from having to peddle apples on street-corners could very much colour any observation he might have made at the time.

By that point I had pretty much exhausted Chet's patience I think, so I let the matter drop at least until we got to the Beguiling where I went through the whole thing again for Peter Birkemoe's benefit. The second time through we actually had some strip reprint books to look at whereas before that I had been guessing that the reduction on the Sunday page was different from the daily strips and my suggestion was that you should use the size of the lettering as the gauge. A casual reader going from the Saturday daily strip to the Sunday strip shouldn't have a sense of taking a step down or up in the reading "voice". This is certainly true in the IDW Dick Tracy reprints where the reduction on the Sunday strips is considerable compared to the dailies so the reading "voice" goes quieter on Sunday and then "speaks up" again when Monday rolls around. Of course that's the Letterer in me. Most people would rate page composition and "wasted space" as a higher rank of commodity when weighed in the balance. If you have to reduce the daily strips a LOT to get the lettering the same size as it is in the Sunday then you are going to have a lot of white-space on the daily side of the ledger.

That's true, but I think you'll find the effect on the reader (however unconscious) will be to treat a strip collection as more of a sustained narrative than as a "complete accumulation" if you make the effort to keep the lettering a consistent size. Dave Sim, minority of one. What else is new?

I also have an issue of CARTOONISTS SHOWCASE which reprints Al Williamson's SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN strips in that way – larger images but with daily strips running into each other and I have to say that I'm not crazy about it. I always assume that a strip cartoonist composes his strips as individual pieces of art that go from here over to there, not as panels 45, 46 and 47 of a 386-panel story. Of course Harold Gray is pretty unique in having all of his panels the same size and always having four panels of equal size in his daily strip, so if anyone thought of his work in terms of individual panels rather than individual strips, he would be the guy.

Next: Tuesday July 9 ALREADY? Where DOES the time go?


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P.O. Box 1674
Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

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