Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #313 (July 21st, 2007)


Roberta Gregory to Craig Miller [with interpolations by Dave Sim]

Hi, Craig

Thank you for sending me the comp copies of FOLLOWING CEREBUS. I was away for a few weeks and just now got them.

I have no other way of contacting Dave than through you [This isn't true. The office phone number and fax number are both in the JAKA 'S STORY trade paperback]. Can you see that this Pets to him somehow?

I began reading the "Reply to Roberta Gregory":

I only got to the point right after his original letter to me where he states that I was on the comp list for CEREBUS, and since I only mentioned reading JAKA'S STORY, I must have thrown away the others unread because it would make me 'look bad' or whatever

[I wrote in FC 10: "There were strange omissions (from her strip), such as the fact that she nowhere mentions that she had put me on her comp list (at least I assume it was she who put me on her comp list) and that she had been on our comp list pretty much from the time that I met her (which as I recall, was the Seattle stop on the '92 Tour). Her strip suggests that she only read JAKA'S STORY and then issue 186, which sort of begs the question, `What did she do with all of the comp copies she got in the mail? Did she read any of them or throw them away unread? And if she threw them away unread, why didn't she say so?' And I think the obvious answer would that it would make her look bad. I read her work that she sent me. She didn't read my work that I sent to her. Idle speculation, but it seemed a strange omission. She also doesn't mention that I sent her several letters of comment over the years on those occasions when there was something in NAUGHTY BITS I wanted to comment on.]

That is a huge lie. I have NEVER received any comp copies of CEREBUS from him. EVER. I got the copy of JAKA'S STORY when he visited Seattle back when it was the latest book of his, several years ago, when he graciously gave me a copy. If he sent the copies via Fantagraphics they never made their way to me. They would have been put in the mailbox I have had there, and still do. If he sent them to my PO Box address in Seattle, every single one of them seems to have vanished through postal error. The US Postal Service is not THAT bad. Any copies of CEREBUS I read are the ones I paid for with my own hard-earned bucks.

[The earlist issue of NAUGHTY BITS that I have is issue #6 which is dated August, 1992. I know I never bought any myself so assuming that that was the latest issue that was out at the time of the Seattle stop, I think I made a tremendous mistake at the time in thinking that Roberta and I had swapped addresses and said that we would put each other on each other's comp list. Which tended to happen not infrequently. At various times I had reciprocal comp list trades with the Pinis, James Owen, Jeff Smith, Colleen Doran, Todd McFarlane and others.

I had completely forgotten having given her a copy of JAKA'S STORY (actually, the latest book at the time was MELMOTH which had been published in the fall of the previous year) and still have no conscious memory of it whatsoever. I think what happened is that she sent me the copy of issue #6 as a swap and perhaps thought that she should send something more besides that because the next issue I have is issue 10, dated October, 1993 followed by issue 11, dated January, 1994. The next one I have is issue 15, dated February, 1995. And on up through #22. I've gone through all of my two hundred or so unfiled comic books (pretty much 1997 on) and can't find any of the subsequent issues, but I know she sent me each one up to the last one.

So, I sincerely apologize to Roberta for my faulty memory of what happened in 1992 and take her at her word that she never got anything from me except the copy of JAKA'S STORY

I cannot describe how angry and betrayed I feel, that he would be misrepresenting me and making fun of me in print on something false like this. If he was planning on reacting this way, he should have at least had the decency to contact me to verify the facts he is using to try to make me look bad the rest of the industry.

[Again, I think it was an honest mistake -- which I did identify as "idle speculation" -- based on my having forgotten having given Roberta a copy of JAKA' S STORY in Seattle. I sincerely believed that she had been on the Aardvark-Vanaheim comp list all along and, in fact, made a point of mentioning that on many occasions -- that even though she's an extreme leftist feminist and I'm an extreme right anti-feminist, we both still traded our work with each other. At various points it was one of the few things that gave me hope about the female faction in the comic-book field. I sincerely apologize, again. It was entirely my mistake in misremembering what had happened. I wouldn't have contacted her to verify it because I was so certain that that was the case.

Having gotten Roberta's e-mail via fax from Craig at 6 am today -- July 19 -- I'm FedExing this to Jeff Tundis and requesting that he run it July 21 through July 28 in place of the Sixteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast. I encourage anyone who wants to download it and circulate it everywhere in the comics industry to do so

No wonder Dave pulled the Roast book, perhaps when he knew I would be involved in it. I had planned a piece that was going to be as (I believe) respectful as the piece I originally wrote for FOLLOWING CEREBUS but now I have absolutely no respect for this man. I don't even want to have to deal with him directly and I do not care what he has to say in reply. I am going to print this out and sent it to him by mail, at least so he knows what I think (so all the responsibility has not been upon you, Mr. Miller, in case you do NOT want to get in the middle of this) and I can at least feel I contacted him, not that I believe he would really care what I have to think. It is more for myself so I can feel I resolved this and moved on.

[It isn't true that I "pulled the Roast book". Roberta is referring to a publication called the DAVE SIM CELEBRITY ROAST book which Jeff Seiler, Jeff Tundis and Oliver Simonsen had started developing and soliciting contributions for as a benefit for the COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND before notifying me that they were doing so. I was notified by phone by Jeff Seiler July 11 and faxed this to Jeff Tundis July 13 to forward to the 20... count 'em 20... cartoonists they had already gotten confirmation from:

"Dave Sim was not notified of this project until 11 July at 9 am in a phone conversation with What Comics Vice-President, Jeff Seiler. Mr. Sim sincerely regrets the COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENCE FUND and the First Amendment freedoms upon which it is founded being used as leverage to force him to indirectly endorse (by inference) -- under the masquerade of entertainment — the revival and extension of slander, abuse and vilification of his name and reputation which have been the comics industry norm since the mid-1990s.

"As a firm believer in those First Amendment freedoms, he does, however acquiesce in all particulars to the fundamental right of the participants to legally engage in the activities upon which they have embarked without notification to him.

"He will have no further comment on the DAVE SIM CELEBRITY ROAST either before or after publication and has suspended all of his own current projects pending the result of the DAVE SIM CELEBRITY ROAST publication."

As you can see, I put no impediment in the way of the DAVE SIM CELEBRITY ROAST being produced or published, I just said that 1 would have no comment on it either before or after the fact. I assume that there is still sufficient interest in such a publication -- the venom directed at Dave Sim runs deep in the comic-book industry -- that the UNAUTHORIZED DAVE SIM CELEBRITY ROAST would probably find any number of willing participants and eager readers. The situation remains the same: I will have no unilateral comment on such a publication before or after the fact. In the same way that I had no unilateral comment on Deni's contribution to I HAVE TO LIVE WITH THIS GUY. I didn't read it because it didn't interest me. To date no one has asked me a direct question about any of the contents of Blake Bell's article just as no one has asked me a direct question about the various smear pieces that have appeared in THE COMICS JOURNAL and as I assume no one would ask me about any factual basis to the contents of an UNAUTHORIZED DAVE SIM CELEBRITY ROAST. It is in the nature of some people to indulge in character assassination just as it is in the nature of some people to take character assassination at face value as unvarnished fact.

I still have the greatest respect for Roberta Gregory and her talents but I do think it is intellectually dishonest to say, at any time, "I do not care what he has to say in reply" or "it is more for myself so I can feel I resolved this and moved on." With all due respect, both of those views reflect a dangerous form of solipsism which seems to be a core element of all extreme leftist Feminist "thinking" -- that someone can just unilaterally "resolve" something on their own terms while completely ignoring that there is a dissenting and opposing viewpoint. My own view is that no one should ever feel so "angry and betrayed" that they are unwilling to find out what the "other side" of the argument is.

I was not making fun of Roberta nor was I trying to make her look bad to the rest of the industry. It was an honestly expressed speculation which turns out to have had no foundation in fact. Which is why I have apologized for that speculation while trying to explain the honest mistake in which it originated

I AM throwing out the comp issue FOLLOWING CEREBUS with his reply to me, unread beyond that paragraph where he claims he was sending me comp copies all along. I don't want to read any of what he has to say, if this is any indication of what is in his reply.

[Again, with all due respect, I think it is intellectually dishonest -- and a core element of extreme leftist Feminist "thinking" -- to always take the first opportunity to take personal umbrage and to allow -- or rather use -- hurt feelings both to disengage from a "frank exchange of viewpoints" and to, then, unilaterally use those hurt feelings to justify the disengagement. It's obviously advantageous in a solipsistic sense, allowing the "wounded" party to claim resolution where none exists - in the same way that the 1997 Board of the Friends of Lulu can claim that they "beat Dave Sim" because they unilaterally decided to stop discussing the idea of a Women In Comics petition opposing censorship, but in both cases my fully developed argument in favour of my view still stands unchallenged and unanswered. 1 read Roberta 's strip and replied to it. Roberta read exactly one paragraph of my four-page response and then unilaterally disengaged. I hardly think that any fair-minded person would call that an intellectually honest response.]

I have work to do and I do not need to be the target of somebody who obviously really could use some therapy and I do not need to be poisoned by their mean-spirited attitude any longer. I only care about the opinions of those in the industry for whom I have respect and Mr. Sim has now lost all of mine.

I would never stoop so low as to trash a colleague in print based on something that is not true, that he could have easily contacted me in all these months to verify, if he was truly surprised that I had never mentioned reading those comp copies he claims I was sent.

I guess that about covers it.

Thank you for sending me the comp issue.

[Again, I sincerely apologize for mistaking the arrival of comp copies from Roberta as being a reciprocal exchange, having forgotten that I had given her a copy of JAKA' S STORY in Seattle in 1992. I'm not sure if it's therapy that Roberta needs -- I would certainly never be so blatantly rude as to suggest such a thing about someone I have only met once and exchanged a handful of "chit chat" observations with -- but I do think there is "something missing" that is critically necessary to being a functional member of society if your response is to immediately disengage from a discussion at the first sign of hurt feelings. I can't even imagine losing ALL respect for anyone -- even Rosie O'Donnell or Madonna if you want to go to ludicrous political extremes -- over any issue or disagreement and I certainly can't even begin to imagine what my life would be like if I was capable of being that way.

Why is it that the people who are the most obsessive on the subject of Aretha Franklin's R-E-S-P-E-C-T -- that is, extreme leftist Feminists -- are so incapable of extending just such a base level of human respect to anyone who doesn't share their own peculiar political viewpoints?

Again, I encourage anyone interested to circulate this exchange of viewpoints to do so -- or to cut and paste it back into a "Roberta only" e-mail if you're an extreme leftist Feminist disinterested in exchanges of viewpoints -- as widely as possible in order to counter any advantage I might have over Roberta in having a regular publication and daily blog in which to air my views.

And, considering that I have just now been made aware that Roberta sent me far more comics material than I ever gave to her, I would be happy to send her any and all of the CEREBUS trade paperbacks and both volumes of COLLECTED LETTERS if she expresses an interest in having them


Saturday July 21

UPDATE 27 JUNE 1700 HOURS EST – Seriously, 1700 Hours. You missed my "Not Enough Caffeine in The World To Keep Me From a 1525 to 1700 Hours Power Nap". Fortunately I didn't. It happens with this 14-hour day stuff. Every once in a while I just have to fall asleep kaboom.

Speaking of which, with two US military guys calling in one 24-hour period, you'd think I would have asked one of them "All week I've been typing 0704 HOURS or 1045 HOURS and that's not right, is it? If you have minutes included it's just 0704. You only use `Hours' when it's rounded off to the hour as in 1500 Hours and 0700 Hours, right?" And I bet they would have agreed that, yes, it is wrong to do that. Oh, well, I'm 53 pages in doing it the other way, so let's just pretend that never occurred to me.

UPDATE 27 JUNE 1504 HOURS EST – So you remember back a while ago when I was getting paranoid about dying broke and I started phoning around trying to drum up business and one of the places I called was Richard Starkings' Comicraft, the lettering font folks to see what they would pay me to pimp my lettering style(s) to them? And when I talked to Richard he said they usually pay people with a free font of their own style in exchange for a piece of art for their HIP FLASK comic book? Remember what a RELIEF it was for me to find out that although it was pretty much a lock that I was now DEFINITELY going to die broke at least I would die with a Comicraft lettering font in my style and the opportunity to draw a picture of an anthropomorphic hippo who was also a futuristic private detective?

Well, in that case you can well imagine my profound level of near-ecstatic ambivalence carrying this honking great box full of books and comics back from the post office that I had just paid customs charges on. Now, I was easily a good NINE DOLLARS closer to dying broke then I had been when I walked in there. What luck!

Anyway, I put the books in with the mail. Two oversized hardcovers and a bunch of funnybooks with the Image logo on them and I didn't really plan to crack them open (literally in the case of the hardcovers – they were shrink-wrapped) until I got to that layer. But, at some point I ran out of reading material and I thought, well, okay, let's start at the beginning which in this case was HIP FLASK UNNATURAL SELECTION, a roughly forty-page-plus over-sized introductory hardcover, fully painted colour.

[You must have seen the ads for these. There's a full colour one on the back cover of this month's COMICS JOURNAL (an ad placement which is -- in itself -- just, you know, too rib-ticklingly perverse for words considering the kind of avant garde `Oo-la-la' limp-wristed en Euro-extremis material the JOURNAL has been reviewing and interviewing people about lately and pretending their readership is actually interested in. And here's this ad on the back screaming "BLADE RUNNER MEETS TAXI DRIVER: GRITTY, REAL, AND POISED FOR SOME SERIOUS EXPLOSIVENESS". "MORE LIKE WATCHING A HIGH-BUDGET BLOCKBUSTER FILM THAN A COMIC BOOK" "TOTALLY KICK ASS"

STICK THAT SIDEWAYS UP YOUR WINE-AND-CHEESE PARTY, FELLAS! That's one high-priced brand of witticism, but my hat's off to Richard for deciding "What the hey!"]

So, anyway I started reading it and right away I figure I've got the range. It's HEAVY METAL. It's not, you know, TERRIBLE HEAVY METAL (not ALL of it, anyway) (and there's a LOT of terrible HEAVY METAL I've flipped through over the years since Kevin put me on his comp list so it's not as if I don't know the difference) but it's, well, HEAVY METAL.

Page two dialogue: "One must wonder if this is how God felt on the sixth day."





Next panel: "…or in the incalculable moment when He decided to give the earth a son, needing nothing but His own omnipotence to create."



The nice recovery is followed by a two-page spread that puts it into another ho-hum category: Ridley Scott's ALIEN. Gritty, battered up, dimly-lit futuristic space-barge looking interior. Lots of greasy-looking cables and pipes snaking all over the place. Innovative in 1978 (I saw it in the theatre the night it opened, so, NYAH!) but seriously WAY beyond cliché in 2007. Next two-page spread. Yep, here's the ALIEN right on schedule.

"Commence embryonic termination immediately. Prepare a new ovum screening and let us move on to Phase Two. When God created Adam…"

"Let us"? "LET us?"

You're losing me, here, guys. Next page, ALIEN. Page after that [yawn] ALIEN. Page after that. Oh, hey, that's pretty good. Branding the infant hippo with a laser. But there's a ghost image/light expulsion of the brand projected to the left of it and someone has put some serious time into making it look exactly like a high-tech laser-meets-hippo-hide searing emulsification effect. Look a little closer. Look A LOT closer. All three panels. Some SERIOUS time. This is so far beyond the context of the previous pages, I am seriously thrown for a loop.

Next page, ALIEN. Next page. Two-page spread. ALIEN. Okay, the branding must've been a fluke. Next page. HEAVY METAL. Next page BAD HEAVY METAL. Next page BAD HEAVY METAL. Next page BAD HEAVY METAL MEETS JACK KIRBY. Next page…

oh, hey this is good. Futuristic tank coming up over a rise at twilight. Same deal as the branding. Ladronn (finally check for the name) has put in some serious time getting the light right. Don't want to kill the detail on the tank but you want to get exactly the right air density of high-powered lights through battlefield smoke. Look a little closer. Look a lot closer. Still looking. Still looking. Two pages out of eighteen but the two pages on their own are almost enough to make me buy the thing (at 46 Honking Dollars Canadian!). That isn't a joke, by the way, and I seriously don't have a precedent for this. 23 bucks each for those two pages on a book that is so far out of my thematic interests that it is really just 46 bucks for two examples of really cool comic-book pages. I don't buy ANYTHING just because it looks like a cool comic-book page!

Next page GOOD HEAVY METAL. Particularly the muzzle flashes on the mounted guns on the UN combat helicopter (seriously delusional. The UN? As in the United Nations? piloting something that looks like it eats Blackhawks and Cobras for breakfast? This is going to give Greenpeace serious palpitations. Keep the inhaler handy). Next: two-page spread. AVERAGE HEAVY METAL (nice understated mortar explosions, though). Next two-page spread. BAD HEAVY METAL MEETS JACK KIRBY (again). Next page BAD HEAVY METAL. Next page AVERAGE HEAVY METAL followed by…um…what would you call this? INTERESTING HEAVY METAL?

It's a medical evacuation of a seriously wounded anthropomorphic elephant from a combat zone. Okay, this is the third time I've been thrown off. SERIOUSLY thrown off. BAD HEAVY METAL MEETS JACK KIRBY doesn't usually concern itself with medical evacuations. BAD HEAVY METAL MEETS JACK KIRBY can't even SPELL medical evacuation. Here I go again. Look closer. Look still closer. Nine soldiers involved in the medical evacuation with two civilians trailing, one with an IV drip and one carrying a huge container of whole blood. Yep, that's what it is all right. All of them SERIOUSLY HUSTLING with an enemy combatant. What the heck IS this?

The next two-page spread is all muted pinks and earth tones with red highlights. The battle long over, earth-moving equipment is excavating the site. SAY AGAIN, HOUSTON? The next two-page spread is all muted pinks and earth tones with red highlights. The battle long over, earth-moving equipment is excavating the site. COPY THAT, HOUSTON, BUT I DON'T THINK I BELIEVE MY OWN EYES.

"What is that…ANOTHER one?"

"Looks like a human female…"

"That brings the count to OVER two hundred."

"What in God's name were they doing here?"

That's where it happened, all right. As of pages 26 and 27 of UNNATURAL SELECTION I was now (and remain) seriously, irretrievably, incontrovertibly HOOKED on HIP FLASK.

Tomorrow: The Sunday Edition

Monday: You thought it was just another week, but it turns out to be ELEPHANTMEN WEEK on the Blog & Mail (hope you got your ELEPHANTMEN WEEK greeting cards out in the mail!)


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.