Monday, July 23, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #315 (July 23rd, 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


Monday July 23 –

HEY, GANG! It's ELEPHANTMEN WEEK here on the Blog & Mail. You KNEW you felt different when you woke up this morning, didn't you?

UPDATE 27 JUNE 1930 HOURS EST - Okay, so we had just hit pages 26 and 27 of HIP FLASK UNNATURAL SELECTION and I was now a full-blown fan of the book. The last 9 pages were pretty much a blur but definitely set the tone and the shape of the intellectual property.

I have to say that HIP FLASK has to count as one of the most amazing "bait and switches" ever perpetrated on the comics-buying/comics-reading public. The bait, of course, was this GIANT BAD HEAVY METAL MEETS JACK KIRBY RIFF war between humans and these mutated anthropomorphic creatures (called "Unhumans" and "Elephantmen"). KAMANDI told sideways, in a way. "The Island of Dr. Moreau" for the Pepsi Generation.

What you THINK you're getting is a really, really tired cliché about the mad scientist who mutates all these creatures and plans to use them to take over the world. Yawn. The switch was that it wasn't going to be about the war. The war was just the set-up, the actual story, the actual series of anecdotal stories, was going to be about What do you (you, as a society, that is) do with these creatures now that the war is OVER? Where and how do they fit in since they pretty obviously don't, you know, fit in anywhere?

Giant humanized hippos and giraffes and zebras, all trained to be mindless psychotic killing machines and now having to be acclimatized to and grafted onto human society. It works beautifully. As a reader, you've already (grudgingly) suspended your disbelief that it is even possible (in a Marvel and DC over-the-top kind of way) to take over the world with mutated giant humanized hippos and giraffes and zebras and rhinos and then, with the switch, you find that you don't have to. Here's Richard and Ladronn and Joe Casey looking back at you from behind the printed page and saying, "C'mon – take over the world with a bunch of mutated killing machine anthropomorphics? How likely is that?"

I mean, you "GET" all that in the last nine pages and then you get a series of pin-ups of HIP FLASK who obviously gets acclimatized as a detective. And they're gorgeous pieces, moody, evocative and (yes) definitely looking for all the world like a Big Screen Summer Blockbuster Motion Picture.

So Volume 2, HIP FLASK CONCRETE JUNGLE (volume one of HIP FLASK: THE BIG HERE AND THE LONG NOW) is quite literally a cakewalk. I mean, no doubt there is a lot of blood sweat and tears that went into this. These things don't just land on the page, but in terms of the way that it connects with the reader, the nearest analogies I can come up with are Alan and Steve and John's SWAMP THING, Neil's SANDMAN and Bill's FABLES. Once you "get" the context, you just want to see what the creators do with it next. Having nailed the context, all the creators have to do is to NOT SCREW IT UP. If it doesn't actually write itself, it's the nearest thing to it. The proof is that, at least for the foreseeable future, anytime I'm in a comic-book store, I'll be checking under "E" and not just waiting for the collections to come out…Yeah, you would THINK that I would be looking under "H" for HIP FLASK, but you'd be wrong. I'll be checking under "E"…

[er – for ELEPHANTMEN. It's a good example of how creative people can do really UN-rocket science like things with their intellectual properties that would give any marketing director the heebie-jeebies even to contemplate.

"Let me get this straight. You've built this brand, step-by-step over a period of years and now you want to…"

"Completely change the name. Or actually add a different name and use both of them."

(rifle shot sound of marketing director's pencil snapping in two)

Obviously the property per se evolved way beyond its point of origin which, I suspect, was "Okay, I've got this Raymond Chandler Hippo called HIP FLASK that I've been using as a mascot for my lettering fonts company. Now, how do I make that concept plausible when I turn it into an actual comic book?" And all three guys brought so much of their best game to the table that the original idea, the Raymond Chandler Hippo isn't really in the same league. Believe me I can relate – try turning the Funny Animal Conan into a political and religious satire. So, what to do? Well, you have to rethink it and call it something that's a little closer to the Big Screen Summer Blockbuster it's evolved into. What would you call it if it was an ACTUAL Big Screen Summer Blockbuster? ELEPHANTMEN. Yeah. I can see that on the trailer now. ELEPHANTMEN. Coming to a theatre near you. Summer 2009.

But, meanwhile, you've just spent years establishing that the brand, the core of the intellectual property is HIP FLASK the Hippo. And not only that, the collections are called HIP FLASK UNNATURAL SELECTION and HIP FLASK CONCRETE JUNGLE. The Big Story Arc is HIP FLASK THE BIG HERE AND THE LONG NOW. Or will it end up being ELEPHANTMENT THE BIG HERE AND THE LONG NOW? What you're doing is setting up an Abbott and Costello routine that stores are going to be living with for a long time to come.

"Hi do you carry the ELEPHANTMEN collections?"


"No, no, no. What I'm looking for are the ELEPHANTMENT collections."

"Well, uh, see that's what they're called. The comic book is ELEPHANTMEN but the collections are called HIP FLASK."

"Excuse me. Can you tell me where I can find the HIP FLASK comic book?"

"It's right over there, under `E'".

"HIP FLASK is under `E'?"

If you're laughing right now, you probably don't actually work in or own a comic-book store.

It's quite a book and we haven't even gotten to Ladronn's cute chicks yet.

[I mean apart from Sahara who appears late in the first volume and is pretty much just a regal-looking black version of H. Rider Haggard's SHE, a politically correct cipher in my books with all the personality of a NOW brochure. Even when she appears mostly naked or in a completely translucent gown to me she has absolutely zero sex appeal. According to the latest issue she was nominated as Best Female Character in the Glyph Awards which are awarded for the best in comics made by, for and about people of color which I think sort of makes my point for me.]

But be here tomorrow when I make up for that.

Tomorrow: Hey, let's talk about Ladronn's Cute Chicks!


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.