Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #310 (July 18th, 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.


UPDATE 27 JUNE 0625 HOURS EST – Overnight Off-White House cable traffic from Craig Miller at Win-Mill: He picked up a copy of COLLECTED LETTERS 2 at Lone Star (hi to all our long-time supporters at Buddy Saunders' chain of stores "Heap in the Tard of Dexus") (yes, I still have the Cerebus beer steins Buddy did a few years ago: they are the official Off-White House glassware – in fact the only glassware I have) and got an idea for a satirical review of it for FOLLOWING CEREBUS 11 making good-natured fun of the fact that most entertainment "scholarship" tends to imply knowledge of an artist or writer or director's motivation that is non-existent (which, given that no one even alludes to this elsewhere, had me chuckling). As he puts it:

"To be more precise, during at LEAST the last half of WRAPPED IN PLASTIC and SPECTRUM, John and I were very careful never to use phrases such as "Lynch intended…" or "this scene reflects Frost's belief that…" or "here Joss Whedon wants to convey…". Okay, something may have slipped through by accident, but at some point early on we realized we didn't have a clue what Lynch or Frost or Whedon or any other writer or director REALLY thought or what he could have been thinking when he wrote or directed any specific scene or episode. At most, we may have had an interview or quote here or there, but that's not proof. Maybe he was lying, or just kidding around, or being ironic, or sarcastic or just plain mistaken…"

Or he could have been referring to something else completely. That happens a lot. "Here's what Dave said in his 1982 COMICS JOURNAL interview which supports our opinion of a creative decision he made in 2002." Not even a thought given to the fact that the separation of the two by two decades might have some bearing on relevance.

I think Craig has to be careful here not to just make himself look indictable on the same charge since, for the vast majority of readers, this would be their first exposure to the idea.

My best suggestion would be to go really "over the top" with it and use his Philosophy Major background to drag in Descartes and Sartre and Kierkegaard and (for extra flavour) Manichean dichotomies. Then he faxes me the piece to proof-read and I fax back the real, mundane reason the book came out the way it did…and he switches completely to Psychology and the fact that this mundane reason might be it, or it might be a hidden Jungian animus expressing itself, Dave Sim's long-suppressed female aspect lashing out at Craig's insight into his underlying philosophy.

Alas, we live in a singularly humourless time period (particularly when it comes to anything having to do with Dave Sim) and I'm not sure people will "get it". Still, it's a funny idea. Maybe the thing to do is to just label it "Satire" over whatever title he chooses for it. His suggestion is that I could blow the whistle on it in issue 12's "About Last Issue" and he could run a sidebar explaining what he was trying make fun of which means he sees the same problem: how do you make SURE that people know this is supposed to be humorous? Particularly since a lot of the audience is apt to be made up of college students who – unlike Craig who has been away from it for years now and can see it for what it is -- are still playing the "definitive psychobabble scholarship" game for real. It also doesn't help that most scholars when caught with their "psychobabble" pants around their ankles retreat to the position that they were just being ironic. Maybe that could be the joke. Craig then starts researching his own hidden psychological motivations "WAS I being ironic? Or was I just being OSTENSIBLY ironic, my quasi-irony an insubstantial "Id façade" masking a troubled childhood unsuspected and unexamined (and consequently "not worth living"?) still seething beneath my facile (QUASI-facile?) humour and "humour" constructs like a festering cauldron of post-modernist…etc. etc."

Scribble in the margin: "Needs work, but I think you should go for it."

UPDATE 27 JUNE 0704 HOURS EST - Anyway, back to Brian Coppola and the CEREBUS THE ORIGINAL AARTVARK website:

I think you would have to admit that it took me a long time to express the opinion that the Cerebus art market wasn't dead it was just dramatically undervalued. The evidence was pretty plain to me. There are roughly 2,000 pages "out there" and from the time that you started actively charting the Cerebus art market in real time, it was really all you could do to find three of those pages (can we agree that convention sketches and pre-CEREBUS Dave art don't count?) on the market at a given moment, often in a given week and often in a given month and that most of those were being withdrawn because they weren't meeting their reserve.

That's a textbook undervalued market.

A dead or dying market would see hundreds of pages flooded onto eBay all going begging for $200 or $300.

I think I was pretty patient considering that while CEREBUS art is your primary collecting interest, it is (albeit indirectly: only the commissions) my sole source of livelihood and that I think the former was starting to intrude on the latter and particularly in the case where you offered an opinion on the three solo colour commissions I had done to that point. It certainly wasn't anything illegal and it might not even have been immoral but it was decidedly unhelpful from someone who is, at least theoretically, a Dave Sim supporter. And, I think, technically it was outside of your bailiwick which was to chart the fortunes of Cerebus art on the open market. The commissions, in my view, aren't on the open market. If someone suggests that I do Dr. Strangeroach and I do it and then put it on eBay to see what someone will pay for it, that's on the open market or if I do them for someone specifically and that person chooses to Resell the piece at some point, then that piece is on the market and I think at that point they qualify as valid prey for whatever you want to say about them factually. "Dave did this one five years ago, the guy paid him $1500 for it, the guy just put it up for auction and it didn't meet its reserve of $150 – QED Dave Sim solo commissions are a bad investment. Or at least this one was."

Like the sketch that I did for your friend Will. If I do a finished piece and you put it on your website and tell people what you paid for it, I would think it would be out of bounds for someone to say, "Jeez. You sure overpaid for that." (And, having said that, I'll concede that I am a real dinosaur when it comes to propriety which is one of the reasons that I stay away from the Internet). If you commission a piece from me, it seems to me the only issue is whether you like it, whether you think you got good value for the money. What I was saying on the blog entry was "All that matters is what the guys who commissioned these pieces think of them and, unless they're lying to me, they're all very satisfied and happy campers about what they got." In fact most of them make a point of saying that I'm undercharging for what I'm delivering relative to what they're getting from other comic-book creators for the same money. That's certainly my intention when I do a commission. I usually have a good mental image of the minimum I can get away with and I always try to do something at least three times that good. Sometimes it turns out to be only twice as good and sometimes its four times as good (luck of the draw) but I couldn't sleep at night unless I thought I was delivering in just about that ratio. Same as your commissioned recreations of the issue 29 pages. I could have just traced the figures and copied out the dialogue and then "gone through the motions" without bringing any critical faculties to bear. Instead, I looked at the pages and said, "Okay, what was I TRYING to do back then that I just didn't have the chops for?" And to bring another twenty years of experience to the piece in question.

I also thought it was a nice gesture on my part (it offends my sense of propriety to say nice things about myself, but I am aware that the new Internet Theory is that you better get on there and say nice things about yourself because no one else is going to and that's going to leave nothing but negatives about you) both to copy the pieces at various stages "in progress" (which, I can assure you, is a real pain in the ass, particularly in the dead of winter and particularly when you're recovering from an illness) and to post them so even the people who hadn't contributed anything to their production could have a look. That's another "depends on how you look it" thing as well. I think you could successfully argue that as soon as I did that, I made PRIVATE commissions into PUBLIC pieces which then made it entirely within the bounds of propriety for the Alan Greenspan of Cerebus Original Art sales to pass judgment on them and find them wanting.

And I have to admit my first reaction (in seeing that was what had happened) was to say, "Well, screw it, then. I won't post the commissions at all." But that seemed wrong the more I examined it. Why punish people who are interested in seeing my work – and who have expressed sincere appreciation both for my copying the commissions in question and for Jeff Tundis doing the "FLASH" "in progress" supplements which obviously takes a lot of time for him to do and for which he isn't getting compensated -- for something they neither did nor said?

Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Story of my life.

Tomorrow: In conclusion, Your Honour…


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.