Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #345 (August 22nd, 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.


The advantage that COLLECTED LETTERS has over Secret Project I is a track record. When I pitched Bill Schanes on intentionally over-ordering COLLECTED LETTERS 2 he had three years worth of orders for COLLECTED LETTERS I to look back on and make his assessment about. I have no way of knowing if the final orders he gave me on volume 2 were optimistic or pessimistic just as I'll have no way of knowing if the final orders he gives me on volume 3 will be optimistic or pessimistic. That's Diamond's business. But at least there is a track record to measure.

There is, however, no track record with Secret Project I. In the present context, it would be nice if the retailers saw it as my meeting Peter Birkemoe's challenge to come up with a self-contained work that he could hand to someone who was not a comic book fan to show them, "Here, this what the comic-book medium is capable of" and that the retailers would say to themselves, "This is something that will be worth investing in for the long-term." As I say, just looking around The Beguiling and Carry On Books in Waterloo, I don't see that as being remotely likely as a retailer reaction. When I was at The Beguiling, I asked Peter if he had ordered COLLECTED LETTERS 2. Well, yes he had and he hurried to the back wall to show me them next to the CEREBUS trades. Which made a different point than he intended because they weren't on the table at the front of the store where all high profile new releases go. In fact when he went to show me that COLLECTED LETTERS 2 was on display, cover outwards, it turned out that not only was there not a cover outwards display, there was another unrelated book by someone else covering them up.

Everybody sing: Oh what a STRANGE coincidence THAT was!

But give him his due, he did order a good half-dozen of them.

Apart from the Beguiling which is pretty unique as stores go, I think the retailer reaction across the board at this present moment in comics history would be to say, "This is not a DC or Marvel super-hero revamp, ergo, this does not exist." The retailers will order one copy each for their "CEREBUS customers" (if they even have any CEREBUS customers) and then forget about it. That is, in the comic store environment right now a given product is either 0 or 1. 0 is "not a Marvel or DC super-hero revamp" and 1 is "a Marvel or DC super-hero revamp." The former is ignored and the latter is examined with the close attention high priests used to bring to the examination of the entrails of sacrificial animals. How did the writer's last book sell? How did the artist's last book sell? How likely are they to actually get the book out (used to be you would add "on time" to the question. "On time" is now an industry joke. There is no chance the book will come out "on time". The core question is: "will it come out at all?" Have a nice day, Kevin Smith)

So, my overview at this point compels me to determine what my best course of action is. And I think my best course of action is to continue to produce my Secret Projects and to wait either for the environment to change or for me to come somewhere close, thematically – say within a hundred miles -- of a Marvel or DC super-hero revamp.

Good news, bad news again.

Three pages into Secret Project II? I don't think this is the one although this one has a lot more flexibility to be whatever I think I might like to turn it into. Things happened on page 3 that made it look a lot more commercially viable than what I had on page one. With Secret Project I, I stuck pretty rigidly to Peter Birkemoe's challenge and made it as "Real World-y" as I could and, as I concluded when the book was done, something that appeals to the Real World and the comic store environment are anathematic to one another. Three pages into Secret Project II, I think I'm safe in saying that this would be less Real World-y and therefore less anathematic to the interests of the comic-store environment and its patrons.

[and let me hasten to say that I in no way fault the comic stores for what they have turned into. They are scrambling for survival in a very hard world and their few, remaining reliable patrons have nearly universally decided that only Marvel and DC – and only the super-heroes at Marvel and DC -- exist, so the stores need to either reflect that belief or go out of business. If the revenues generated by "Independents" made it sensible for the stores to devote 10% of their time and money to the "Independents" ten years ago, the revenues today warrant their devoting perhaps 1% of their time to the Independents – and to adjust their own idea of what an "Independent" even is. Ten years ago, that would be Top Shelf or Slave Labor. Today that would be Image or Dark Horse.]

But "three pages in" is a very difficult place to assess the potential of a projected 49-page story. Looking on the bright side, even if at the end of Secret Project II, when the whole thing is done and ready to be printed and the website has been developed and the whole promotion campaign is ready to be launched, the comic store environment hasn't moved an inch away from Marvel and DC super-hero revamps as their exclusive interest, then I will have two projects "in the can" that will be ready to go when (more likely an unlikely "if" but let's be charitable and say "when") the environment does move. And then I can start Secret Project III and go through the whole process with that one. Then Secret Project IV and then V. What I'm hoping is that each successive project will prove to be less Real World-y than Secret Project I and at some point up ahead I can look at something that I've done and say, "This one I can picture selling in a comic-book store." And then I can release them in reverse order, starting with the one that is actually appropriate to what comic book stores are (Comic Book Guy: "Best Independent Comic EVER!") and progressively releasing the more Real World-y projects from there. Assuming that it will take me five or six or seven years to ultimately produce such a title (and I fully admit that an Independent comic with the cachet of a Marvel or DC super-hero revamp is completely conjectural and may not -- even theoretically -- exist) I will probably then have five or six or seven years worth of material to release with the whole creative process taking place between 2005 and 2011-2012 and the publication and promotion process taking place between 2012 and 2018-2022.

Worst case scenario? I just keep producing Secret Projects, the comic-store environment never budges from its exclusive interest in Marvel and DC super-hero revamps (just wait `til Wolverine comes back from the dead as a pre-adolescent lesbian ZOMBIE in 2010!) and none of the Secret Projects sees print until after I'm dead when they all enter the public domain along with CEREBUS.

Whenever that is and assuming that there is unlikely to be any interest in anything besides Marvel and DC super-hero revamps even then, in which case you might have to, as a senior citizen, make a trek to whatever university gets the Archive and read the various secret projects on disk.

Tomorrow: A Mom who wants to self-publish


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.