Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #316 (July 24th, 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


Tuesday July 24 – ELEPHANTMEN WEEK continues here on the Blog & Mail and it is now officially "Ladronn's Cute Chick Tuesday" if you haven't already designated it as such on your Crackberry.

Page 17 of CONCRETE JUNGLE introduces us to Miss Vanity Case. Yeah – "Miss" (can you believe it?) (I'm not sure if that's just because Jeremiah Granger is as old-fashioned as I am) (you'd sort of expect a giraffe to be a little "stiff-necked" though, wouldn't you?). And she IS a cutie. White hair and – judging by the proportions Ladronn uses very or perhaps VERY early teens. She's Hip Flask's charming female assistant. I mean, the politically correct "beard" is that she's been assigned by the Information Agency to keep an eye on him "because no one else wanted the job" but how likely is that? We need someone to "keep an eye" on this gigantic mutated Hippo and the only one willing to volunteer in the entire government agency is the drop-dead gorgeous teenager. No, what we have here is Batman and Robin – Frank Miller's Batman and Robin where Robin is a girl in her VERY early teens. What does a gigantic mutated hippo need with a charming female assistant in her very or VERY early teens? My guess would be the same reason Frank Miller's Batman needed a female Robin in her VERY early teens: higher sales on his comic book.

I read the whole book and then doubled back to have a closer look at Vanity and I thought, "I know this face. Where do I know this face from?" And that was when it hit me. Colleen Doran. Not Colleen herself, but her girls' faces that she draws which are a) very VERY pretty and b) very VERY expressive. I learned more about drawing girls' faces from Colleen's inks on "The Applicant" than I learned anywhere else. Ladronn isn't quite in Colleen's league with the girls faces (it would be a surprise if he was) but Vanity sure dresses up the pages she appears on. He gets a little TOO cute late in the book with a shot of her wearing Hip Flask's overcoat and hat (the overcoat is a stretch but the hat is totally impossible. All you would see is the hat sitting on top of the coat not her cute little Vanity face peeking out from under it). I'll forgive him that one, though, because of the shot of the headlights catching her cute little tight-faded-jean-encased bum cheeks on page 31. I'd be willing to bet that was one of those "I can't believe I get paid to paint this" days.

The second book works very well. These guys know what they're doing: make the introductory book small enough to tempt people and let the last 9 pages and the pin-ups fish them in. Same thing here, only expanded. More stories, more pin-ups – a lot of the pin-ups end up being covers for the monthly comic.

IS it a monthly comic? The latest one I have here is March (#008) and they came in in April so they're either keeping the pace or staying pretty darn close to it.

The bad news (at least as far as I'm concerned) is that when we make the leap to the monthly comic, we lose Ladronn. Well, not completely: he does still provide covers and pin-ups and I assume he'll be back from time-to-time with new stories but you could sort of call it from the sidelines that this painting style is not going to be compatible with a monthly schedule.

This is where the earlier analogy I drew to Moore, Bissette and Totelben's SWAMP THING, Neil's SANDMAN and Bill's FABLES comes into sharper relief. I mean, I hate to be an absolute PURIST about these things but I don't think anything really compared to knowing that you were going to get Bissette and Totelben in every issue. Veitch did some remarkable stuff on the title, as did Alfredo Alacala, don't get me wrong but there was no doubt in my mind that there was a "bait and switch" going on. Same as when I was reading SANDMAN. It was not the happiest day of my life when I found out that Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III weren't going to be doing every issue. Again, don't get me wrong. I would never undervalue Kelly Jones' "Dream of a Thousand Cats" and P. Craig Russell's "Ramadan", Charlie Vess' "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Colleen's "Façade" but, given my druthers…

And Neil really established that as a Viable Option with SANDMAN. I'd be willing to bet that FABLES was an easier sell for Bill with that structure in place. DC didn't have to wonder if the artist or artists were going to "stick it out". If they didn't, you got new artists. An intellectual property could stand on its own two feet, consisting of a) the property and b) the writer-creator. And that's definitely what has happened with ELEPHANTMEN.

The good news in this case is the same as the good news in those previous cases. You get to see other artists' "takes" on HIP FLASK and the other ELEPHANTMEN. Justin Moritat gets the nod on the first issue and my first reaction is "Oh. Image Studio stuff." That's probably more to do with my age than anything. In the mid- to late-nineties there was this sudden profusion of guys who were all massively influenced by Michael Golden (or, more to the point, influenced by Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee and those guys being massively influenced by Michael Golden) right around the time that each of the Image Studios started putting out a profusion of books. As is usually the case they left the actual Michael Golden drawing ability (which was considerable) alone and just adopted the tropes – huge, huge eyes on the little kids and the cute girls, impossibly thin waistlines on the girls…and, uh, breast implants.

That last one I always found very funny (in a rueful, morbid "God, I am so old" way). All of the Image guys had grown up in the Golden Age of Breast Implants in girlie magazines so that was what they knew and that was what they drew: breasts wildly outside of natural proportions that looked like flesh coloured-soccer balls glued to the girl's chest. Breasts so unnaturally large (HOW unnaturally large were they?) Breasts SO unnaturally large that they formed cleavage even when they weren't being pushed together in a bra. Guys my age would just go "Oh. Implants. I wonder what they looked like when they were real?" Guys Todd's age would go "HUBBA! HUBBA!" I think if you go back and look at Michael Golden's work you'll see that he was in the former camp and not the latter camp.

Implant fetish.


So that's usually what I see. If you draw unnaturally large eyes, unnaturally thin waists and breasts like glued-on soccer balls then I just lump you in with that time period. No offence and nothing to worry about. I'll be dead a lot sooner than you will.

UPDATE 28 JUNE 0640 HOURS EST – Off-White House Overnight Cable Traffic from Craig Miller at Win-Mill who has faxed through transcripts from the June 27 Rush Limbaugh radio program "What Feminism Hath Wrought". I have to admit that I'm not a big Rush fan. He's just a little too relentlessly and acerbically and insultingly sarcastic for my tastes…

(which is probably a necessary thing to be when combating the excesses of feminism considering how impervious the members opposite have proven to be to anything LESS than relentless, acerbic and insulting sarcasm: I still tend to, foolishly, err on the side of believing that reasoned discourse -- restricted to purely factual distillations like the Sixteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast -- is still possible)

…so I'm just going to give you the Reader's Digest version, which is that the Virginia Pilot newspaper has reported a campaign in Hampton Roads to report and stop suspected sexual abuse "Campaign advocates recognizing, reporting suspected abuse". Part of the campaign consists of billboards showing an adult hand holding a child's hand and a giant quote "It doesn't feel right when I see them together."

"A national help line number is listed, and through it callers can get advice about what to do. Rebecca Odor [you couldn't make a name like that up] who directs the sexual and domestic violence prevention division for the state Department of Health, said officials hope to reach people who might feel uncomfortable reporting a relative or acquaintance to law enforcers."

"`We want to teach them to trust their instinct and, if it doesn't feel right, take action,' Odor said."

Craig's copied the "FEEL uncomfortable" and "doesn't FEEL right" into the margin and has written a note at the top

"Dave – Thought you might find this interesting. Oh no – I hold Jennifer's hand all the time when I'm out running errands. I'm doomed! If I go to Virginia, anyway…"

Oddly enough this ties in directly with ELEPHANTMEN #001 and a subject I had pretty much decided to steer away from, but the serendipity of Craig's cable would suggest that SOMEONE thinks I should have a go at it. So, okay. Where angels fear to tread.

Tomorrow on the Blog & Mail: Where angels fear to tread


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.