Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #373 (September 19th, 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.


It's interesting to see the first tentative steps being taken by the ComicsPRO organization. That's in the latest issue of COMICS & GAMES RETAILER which jumps the queue this time out before I get down to answering the mail.

Joe Field weighs in with "Hating the Waiting" which adopts a kind of scattershot approach but seems to recognize that the "waiting for the trade" model has become nearly universal and is an unhealthy development in the long term. I agree. Joe adds the new wrinkle that the comic stores are, in actuality, helping to finance mainstream bookstore sales (their primary competitor) by letting serialized books "hold on" in comic stores until publishers and creators can cash in with the collected hardcover/trade paperback sale. He makes the excellent point that it took Brian Bendis 100 pages and five issues of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN to tell the same origin of Spider-man that took 12 pages for Stan Lee and Steve Ditko to tell in 1962. Joe frankly states that the publishers "fail to deliver complete and satisfactory reading experiences to die-hard completist fans."

I'm HOPING that brings him closer to my side of the argument on self-contained 48-page all-in-one, beginning-middle-and-end comics which is what I'm working on – although I can be talked into serializing at least Secret Project #2 -- but I'm not sure that Joe would see it that way. Yet, anyway. Maybe I can persuade him. What he's written here seems more a plea to Marvel editorial to compel creators to tell more story in the pages they have, as Lee and Kirby and Ditko used to so that a) die-hard readers are generated and b) die-hard readers are retained. A worthy goal, but I don't think you can get there from here.

That is, I think the argument will fall on deaf ears at Marvel and DC. With the graphic novel collection "driving the bus" the economics of the field are pushing in the other direction and economics are what decide the issue: when you need a car factory and when you don't need buggy-whip factories anymore. Brian Bendis isn't going to change his way of writing funnybooks and his editor isn't going to tell him to as long as he keeps clocking the numbers he is, presumably, clocking. I'm not sure an editor would even know how to tell a writer how to get more story into each individual instalment a la Stan Lee 1962. I think that particular density of story is now in buggy-whip factory territory. And I'll plead guilty to my share of the blame for that. It's called "pacing" and it's very different across 500 pages than it is across 12 pages. I don't think it needs to be that much different across 100 pages than 12 pages – you should be able to produce 5 jam-packed 20-page segments, otherwise I agree that the reader is getting less value for his or her money. In my own defence, I always tried to have Previews and letters pages in the book – often equivalent in page count to the story pages -- when the pacing dropped well below the "jam-packed" threshold. With Marvel and DC comics all you get are more ads.

But Brian Bendis' story density? Alas, these are the proverbial things you can't change (as opposed to the proverbial things you can change), and I think it's time for retailers to learn to tell the proverbial difference.

I'll get back to the "things you can't change" theme tomorrow but I think ComicsPRO retailers particularly need to learn the difference and in a hurry since they are still in their narrow window where they haven't proved to be a failure…yet. I like to think that ComicsPRO genuinely aspires to be something different. Even though, like me, you'd think most of them would know better by now: that nothing can be done to promote anything in the stores that isn't a Marvel or DC super-hero revamp flavour of the month. Still, you can tell that, like me, they will never stop trying to make it happen and thinking up ways that might make it happen. Even though it never happens.

A lot of them are on their third or fourth go-round with this, having started way back with Gary Colabuono's Direct Line Group of America's largest retailers in the early 90s. At this point I think they can identify whole-heartedly with Bob Burden's jape: "I've been around the block so many times I feel like my turn blinker got stuck." If I'm not mistaken they spun off from another larger group because the larger group wasn't doing anything, just whining.

That IS what tends to happen.

The DLG started when they all just decided to go to dinner with each other at one of the trade shows without a Marvel or DC rep shepherding them and picking up the check. It sounds pretty basic but it was heart-stoppingly refreshing at the time.

"I'm pulling down a healthy six figures a year, how about you?"

"Yeah, me too."

"What do you say we buy OUR OWN dinners and just talk amongst ourselves?"

They went and had dinner and Marvel and DC and Diamond and Capital City sweated bullets. What are they talking about? Why aren't we in there with them? What are they planning to do? But, ultimately, that's all they ended up doing was having dinner and enjoying making Marvel and DC and Diamond and Capital City sweat bullets. Ultimately, I think they provoked Marvel into buying Heroes World which set off that whole catastrophe, with publishers going exclusive with Diamond and which ultimately led to the demise of Capital City which, I think I'm safe in saying, wasn't in the DLG's best interests nor was it what they were trying to accomplish but, well, with great power comes great responsibility (a.k.a. use it or lose it). Going to dinner was a show of strength that just made Marvel nervous enough to buy Heroes World. I don't think we want to provoke something like that again.

Tomorrow: Phil Boyle of Coliseum of Comics, another COMICS & GAMES RETAILER columnist





If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

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P.O. Box 1674
Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

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