Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #320 (July 28th, 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


Okay. The premise in "See the Elephant" is that one of the Elephantmen, Ebenezer is having a smoke out front of Hooters (the "$25.99 Tuesdays" sign is very funny) and a little girl comes up and starts talking to him.

"Are you allowed in there?"

"Um…yeah, I'm, ah -- "

This is good and bad. For me, it works and it doesn't work. It's the racist analogy. Are the Elephantmen allowed in where girls are walking around with very little on? But, again, where it crosses over into the miscegenation theme it's a very awkward fit. We don't want YOUR kind looking at OUR women. But, that attitude goes too far back in history to apply to any context that includes a Hooters restaurant. Apart from little kids who have to be kept out by law, who WOULDN'T they let into a Hooters restaurant?

"Only my Mom told me that Dad wasn't allowed in there any more. She says its `immoral'. And he should be ASHAMED."

It's a nice idea, trying for the bait-and-switch. It isn't racism she's asking about, it's morality. What she was asking was `Does YOUR wife let you go in there?" But, it doesn't ring true. A wife who was that concerned about morality that she wouldn't ALLOW her husband to go into a Hooters (and I'm sure such wives exist) is hardly apt to talk to her eight-year-old daughter about it. I mean, unless the point is that feminism has reached such an extreme point of absurdity by 2259 that little girls are considered higher in the family pecking order than their fathers and consequently the father's "upbringing" is an appropriate mother/daughter topic of conversation. NOTE: she didn't OVERHEAR it, her mom TOLD her.

"Hey, do you pick your nose?"

Again, this just doesn't ring true. Little boys and little girls may ask each other a question like that but it doesn't seem natural addressed to a grown-up and addressed to a grown-up who is a complete stranger. One of the key elements of a kid that age is that they have so little life experience they really don't know what any grown-up is apt to do next so they tend to tread carefully. The question would very possibly occur to her about an elephant's trunk but it would be asked of the mother or father in private. And picking your nose is not a subject that a kid raised in a super-moral household where the father isn't ALLOWED to go into Hooters is going to ask casually about. Bodily function. Taboo. Think twice before asking once or suffer the consequences.

"I don't need to…I can put my nose in my mouth, check it out…"

"TA – DAAA!"
[big display lettering, big smile, arms thrown wide]

I don't think anyone's disbelief could be suspended this far. We're being asked to believe that the Elephantmen are regarded for the most part or at least by a significant part of the population the way black people were regarded by white people in the Deep South in the 1930s. So a little white girl comes up to this "big black man" and right away he does something extremely suggestive, something that involves the penetration of a moist orifice by a long appendage and goes "TA-DAAA!" right out loud like that.

It continues in this vein with Savannah making amiable fearless chit-chat

"You're funny.

"But my friend Chase says you guys are monsters.

"Are you a monster?"

You can try and convince me that an eight-year-old girl -- having been told by a friend of hers (and no one has greater credibility than a friend at that age) that these things are monsters -- is just going to fearlessly walk up and start chatting with one of them. In fact, Richard does his level best to convince the reader of this, but I just don't buy it. This is feminist indoctrination run amok: i.e. If only the Evil Patriarchy didn't oppress them so, little eight-year-old girls would be totally and completely fearless. Try taking any eight-year-old – boy or girl -- within spitting distance of a REAL elephant and see how fearless they are. You'll have to pry them off your leg.

"Hey, uh, listen, kid…where's your Mom?"

This is more than a little understated as well, as Ebony looks around and sees that at least one Hooters waitress is watching them. If the analogy is being a "big black man" in the Deep South in the 1930s try something more like:


Real loud and theatrical like that and hope it "plays" right in the vicinity. Because if it doesn't play right, you'll be lucky to just get a prison sentence out of the deal and not end up hanging from a lamppost. Deep South in the 1930s? Try anywhere in 2007. If an unaccompanied eight-year-old girl came up and tried talking to me? Two lines of dialogue, max, and then it would be time to get A! WAY! PRONTO! Just keep walking and don't HEAR anything, don't SEE anything from the vicinity of the eight-year-old girl. She belongs to somebody who is probably looking for her or will be in a few seconds and you really don't want to be standing there talking to her when that somebody shows up, whoever that somebody is. But what happens? He starts walking away and she runs up and TAKES HIS HAND. AND HE LETS HER. Oh, Richard, render unto me a BREAK! And they go wandering off, hand-in-hand. Richard, what PLANET ARE YOU LIVING ON?

"Ebony? Do you have a girlfriend?

"Uh, no. No, I don't have a girlfriend." He says, casually sitting down on a bench.

"Good. If you like, I could be your girlfriend. You kind of look like you need one."

Mom finally shows up, going ballistic.

"We were just talking, Mom…I'm his new girlfriend!"

"YOU JUST STAY AWAY FROM HER! If I see you around my daughter again, I'll report you!

"But, Mom…he's an elephant…and you said animals are our friends…"

"Oh – never MIND what I said, Savannah -- "

"Uh, sorry, Ebony. `Bye."

"I'm his new girlfriend?" Oh, that certainly sounds innocent enough. Sure, any and all mothers would just take that one in stride. No, Richard. "I'm his new girlfriend" is not an "If I see you around my daughter again…" line, that's an "Excuse me, can you call 911 for me? This creep is a child molester" line. Or, more likely, a just stand there and scream "RAPE!" at the top of your lungs line. Guilty unless proven less guilty. Innocent would be off the table in our society. "I'm his new girlfriend?" 10 to 20 with no possibility of parole for eight years. That would be my guess.

It's been a pretty sure-footed intellectual property up to this point but if (as I suspect) little Savannah grows up into big hubba-hubba Savannah (the "little Nancy Callahan" trick in SIN CITY) I don't think the proper groundwork has been laid. It also brings a sincerely depraved level of metaphor to Richard's avowed thematic interest in "Hot girls hanging around misunderstood male leads with deep, dark secrets" that could do without further scrutiny, I'm sure. I think I know what story it is I'm SUPPOSED to be reading here – "a child shall lead them" "only the truly young and innocent are good and decent enough to break through the wall of prejudice which surrounds us all" but I'm not sure what it is that Richard is advocating – and the problem with these kinds of stories is that they do constitute at one level or another a kind of advocacy. Are we supposed to be on Savannah's side? Is the point: "Say, let's all just lighten up a bit here people and let our eight-year-old daughters run around a lot more by themselves making friends with big, strange men as a way of breaking down these barriers between us."?

Sorry, Richard, I'm afraid I find that to be even weirder than breast implants and I find breast implants to be really, REALLY weird.

Tomorrow: Jeff Seiler checks in and then he has a question.

Monday: Looking at "See the Elephant" from the point of view of those women in Virginia


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.