Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #346 (August 23rd, 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.


Got a phone call a couple of weeks back. Female voice wanting to order LATTER DAYS (no store in her area would order her one) CEREBUS 0 and THE GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING.

"These aren't for you, are they," It's my standard line with a female voice on the phone. 100% success rate up until now. They are always for the husband or (more often) the boyfriend and usually for a birthday or anniversary present. The question is strictly pro forma so I can ask what the occasion is and personalize them. "To Ted, Happy Birthday from Vicky and Dave Sim". I amuse myself when I picture his eyes bugging out seeing his girlfriend's name and Dave Sim's autograph side-by-side and then imagine what the conversation must have been like when he opened it.

"You talked to him?"


"You talked to Dave Sim."

"Yeah, I just told you that."

"On the phone."

"Yes, on the phone, where do you think I talked to him?"

"And he was…"

"Really nice."

"Really nice." The guy, who has carefully hidden Dave Sim the Evil Misogynist from his significant other all this time and he's picturing how the phone conversation MIGHT have gone and (more to the point) how he figured the phone call would INEVITABLY have gone. She's wondering what the look is on his face and I imagine it's the same look a guy used to get when a .45 calibre slug would graze his scalp.

Hey, Happy Birthday, Ted, old sock!

But, this time I said, "They aren't for you, are they." And she said: "Yeah, they are."

"They ARE?" This time I was the one who was surprised. That was an absolute first. Then she mentioned that she had been reading COLLECTED LETTERS 2004 which pushed it WAY, WAY over the line into the UFO or Bigfoot category. My YHWH sense is tingling. All she had was a Mastercard and all I take is VISA these days. So I told her the amount and she said she would send a cheque. What was even weirder is she was calling from Canada. A female in Canada wanting to buy CEREBUS books. How likely is that? I assumed it was a prank and thought nothing more about it. Then I was more surprised when the cheque was in the mail a week later, along with a letter. Okay, what's the scam?

Dear Dave,

Here is the cheque for LATTER DAYS, THE CEREBUS GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING and CEREBUS #0. To refresh your memory, I phoned and you thought I was ordering these books for my boyfriend. I assured you that you do have a Canadian female reader.

I mentioned that I've been reading COLLECTED LETTERS 2004, and I suspect that you have visions of a Marxist-feminist army amassing on the West Coast, preparing to march across the Rockies and the Prairies towards Ontario and the Off-White House. I suspect you're disappointed to hear that there is no such army (I know you'd love the challenge). If there was, it would likely fall apart before it reached Banff, citing creative differences within the group.

There are all different kinds of armies. Marxist-feminists don't usually march but that doesn't mean they aren't an army. But, go on. I interrupted.

I found COLLECTED LETTERS by accident when I was searching for the last three trades. I'm looking to publish my own comics (er, um…sequential art) and I thought it might be full of advice. You know, secret comic-world handshakes and the like. I've read up to page 470 and what I'm finding is that, much more than learning the ups and downs of Diamond, you are having a tremendous influence on my work ethic.

I grew up in a family of girls, with a mother who couldn't cook and rarely cleaned, and was unable to teach us any usable skills ("It's your room, and you have every right to let it become a pigsty!") My Dad just hid in the front of the TV watching football and cartoons. I understand completely the need to pull oneself up by one's own bootstraps, because I'm often fending off advice about how therapy and belly-dancing and A's for effort will make my life complete. Meanwhile, my 35-year-old belly-dancing unemployed sister is still waiting for therapy to fix her, still lives with my parents, gets an allowance, and still expects the nicest digital camera for Christmas, plus a new computer when she needs it. It took years of doctors and therapists to give her the diagnosis of schizophrenia that she's been striving towards. Needless to say, I go to family dinners for their sake, not my own.

What I'm saying is: girls ARE silly. We are emotional creatures, unable to separate ourselves from irrational feelings brought on by hormones. Applied to the context of motherhood and housekeeping, these are the good, nurturing things. Once the children are grown, they don't need hugs and hot chocolate so much as they need logical advice. I didn't get advice until I got married, and it was my husband who taught me how to cook.

Although I haven't read "Tangent", I really couldn't disagree with the anti-feminist thoughts I have read. The suburbs are filled with disrespectful kids who aren't even allowed snowball fights at school. They don't learn how to deal with each other because they're not allowed to fight things out. They're rewarded without being expected to compete, creating a sense of entitlement.

I think what impresses me the most about you is that you do what you need to do without compromising. That's the most frustrating thing about relationships. My husband and my daughter get my time first. My comic ambitions come second, reluctantly. So I find myself frequently watching movies with my film-buff guy, wishing I could be at my drawing table. And, after the movie, lying awake trying to sleep, thinking about my comic book. This is my life and I choose it, but at the same time I am extremely envious of your solitary lifestyle. What I wouldn't give for uninterrupted thought.

Reading your letters, I've become a lot less squishy, and far more proactive. While I used to spend days labouring over single panels and congratulating myself for moving forward, now I can roughly pencil four pages in a day (of course, inking will take much longer).

Oh, okay. I know this scam. This is Donna Barr's "actually Dave Sim IS a feminist since he's helped so many women cartoonists to self-publish." I certainly helped Donna Barr to self-publish. All I had to do was to explain the basics to her and boom she was a self-publisher. It's the flip side of Roberta Gregory's "Feminist? What's a feminist?" scam. Either we're all feminists in spite of ourselves (including Dave Sim) or feminist is just a term that has no meaning. Like I say, scams. Sorry, I interrupted there again. Go on.

I'm planning for a 256-page book, which is nothing compared to 6,000 pages, but considering what I juggle, for me it will be quite an achievement. I've roughly pencilled almost a third of it, and I find the quicker pace does more to improve my drawing than agonizing over small details ever did. It helps the writing of it, too. I find drawing my characters' journey is like walking it. It's like the difference between plotting a course on a map from A to B, and getting on a bicycle and actually travelling the distance. It's a very organic process, and more and more I find the characters themselves making decisions. It reminds me of your notebook for MINDS where you rehearsed your side of the conversation. You can prepare and prepare, but in the end it's up to the character, if he's a fully-realized character worth reading.

I appreciate that in the age of e-mail and "the internets" you are practicing the old art of letter-writing. And that you were doing it for 12-14 hours a day really shows your ability to focus. You work on your task until it is completed. I find it far too easy to be distracted, and have spent years going in circles. Your discipline sets a good example, and you've achieved the kind of success that people should strive for, regardless of what the super-hero crowd says. You've made a living doing what you wanted, you don't censor yourself, you don't sell out, and through strength and stubbornness you've found a lifestyle that works for you. Fame and fortune is for vain movie stars, not for artists who work for the sake of the craft.

I look forward to reading the rest of the series. I knew absolutely nothing about Ernest Hemingway before reading FORM & VOID and I'm glad for it. My reaction to his death was probably similar to the first audiences to see Hitchcock's PSYCHO. They weren't expecting that shower scene. Wow! The African sequences were just beautiful, particularly with the lion just barely seen in the bushes. And, as contemptible as she was, I still felt for Mary with her inability to aim. How embarrassing to be a woman sometimes. Especially when we try to do manly things. Life is complicated, even for the bad guys. They don't usually end up that way deliberately, they're just too stupid or weak to leave or change when they should. Ham or Mary both, either of them should have just walked away.

Or changed. There was nothing to prevent Mary from saying, "I'm tired of trying to be a man. I'm not a man, I'm a woman" and becoming a good wife. They tried making her into Ham's "kitten brother" boy sex companion on safari and that didn't work so good. What would have been wrong with trying it the old-fashioned way?

Likely I will write again, although typed next time (I'm saving for a new computer). I had to use capitals, otherwise it would be completely illegible. When I'm ready I'll send some of my comic work for your opinion. You can send the books to [address deleted]

Thanks for your time. Sincerely, Cristin K.

Tomorrow: Dave Sim responds to The Donna Barr Scam.


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.