Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #387 (October 3rd, 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.


I got one of those questionnaires to fill out the last time I stayed at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto (did you know the Beatles stayed there on their 1964 tour? It's true) and I brought it home with me because I figured I was long overdue for talking about one of those annoying things that Toronto does best. The Canadian dollar absolutely tanked a few years ago, bottoming out at 62 cents on the US dollar back in 2002. The downtown Toronto hotels, seeing this, decided that they needed to put the price of their rooms up so that people were paying the same for a Toronto hotel room as they do for a New York City hotel room. So the price went, pretty much overnight, from around $100 a night to $300 a night. Now the Canadian dollar is within a nickel of the US dollar and…guess what?...they haven't reduced the prices on the hotel rooms.

Starwood Hotels people? This is what you need to look at. Everything else at the King Eddy is fine, wonderful. Couldn't be better. But the Canadian dollar is not getting its ass kicked around the block anymore. Instead, I am. Bring the price down to something reasonable and I'll stay there more often than just one night a year on my birthday.

Alec Longstreth sends along PHASE 7 #011 which has a cover price of $5.00 US. This issue is 53 pages long and concludes his "one year, one hundred page detour" from his five-part adventure series, BASEWOOD. If you're a Joe Matt fan and you really regret that Joe hasn't produced anything new in a while, it's worth picking this up. Alec's stuff really reminds me of Joe's.

[Biggest laugh I had at TCAF was when I was having lunch with Chet and Joe. As we were leaving Latierri Joe asked, "So are you seeing anyone?" Chet laughed. I explained, No, I'm still celibate, have been for almost ten years and…in fact…coming up September 9 it would be four years since I last masturbated. I couldn't wait to hear what he had to say to that. "No nocturnal emissions?" No, I don't know why, but I've never had a nocturnal emission in my life. I always wake up just when it's getting to the good part. He mulled that over. "But you still get erections?" Oh, yeah. Lots of erections, but if I ignore them they go away on their own. His reaction was immediate: "Well of COURSE they do with an attitude like THAT." What a great line. It was like Joe was offended on behalf of my erections for me ignoring them]

Anyway, Alec has got a great approach here: a fictionalized (at least I think it's fictionalized) visit to a psychiatrist.

PSYCHIATRIST: Hmmm…let's see…you had made a commitment to comics `on the same level as marriage.'

ALEC: Uh huh.

PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, very disturbing.

At this point I regret not having my fully word-searchable Cerebus Archive database, because I would be able to find my previous letter from Alec which he had sent along with his pencil roughs for page 7. He's just starting to do his first comic and he's reading one of my essays:

In one of his many essays on self-publishing, Dave Sim points out that…

Now, the reason that I wish I had my word-searchable database is that this was followed by something I've never said in my life. If I remember correctly what he had written was something along the lines of "…unless you have at least `three issues in the can' before you start publishing you will soon be off schedule." He had sent it to me in pencil form because he hadn't been able to find the reference and he wanted to make sure before he put it in. Well, I wrote back and told him, no, the only thing I had said along those lines was that if it takes you two years to draw three issues and after you have the three issues drawn you announce that you're doing a bi-monthly title and you release the three issues every other month there is no way any of the future issues is going to come out on time. Roughly, it takes you eight months to draw an issue, so by the time the first three issues are released you're still going to have two months worth of work to do on issue four and eight months worth of work to do on issue five so you aren't going to be able to do a bi-monthly book. He wrote back and thanked me and said he would correct the caption in the finished issue. So, I get the book in and what he's written is:

In one of his many essays on self-publishing, Dave Sim points out that if you are unable to produce a few "buffer" issues on schedule, you will not be able to release issues on time when your comic book starts.

Which completely misses the point even after I've made the point to him directly: THAT makes it sound as if "buffer issues" are the problem when the fact of the matter is the problem is productivity. If it takes you twelve months to produce an issue, all you can do is produce an annual. If it takes you six months to do an issue, all you can do is produce a bi-annual. If it takes you four months to do an issue all you can do is thrice-yearly. And that means you can't take any time off. To stick to thrice-yearly, if it takes you four months to do an issue, as soon as you finish issue one you have to start issue two and do it in the same length of time.

I mean, this is not rocket science, this is basic math. And yet there is some in-built genetic quirk in cartoonists who are that slow that just won't allow them to face facts. They have such hopes of someday making a living in comics that they just can't look at the odds against them based on productivity.

Even toying with the idea of doing an on-going series, I'm keeping very close track of how long it takes me to produce a comic book. And I'm going to keep track over the course of four months or so before I even hazard a guess. And I'm going to avoid the "Yeah, buts…" that seem to be endemic in the field. "Yeah, it took me two months to an issue, but I spent two weeks working on the Blog & Mail." Well, yes. But do I plan to give up the Blog & Mail? "Oh, heck no." Well, in that case it has to be factored in. Even deducting two weeks still takes it down to a month and a half. The best I can do is bi-monthly. After a month, I'd be two weeks off schedule. After two months I'd be a month behind.

The panel still shows Alec thinking "Bahh! What does he know?" (an arrow marked "hubris" points to the observation) and in the next panel he's thrown away the CEREBUS GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING "I'll TOTALLY be able to release issues on time!" (an arrow marked "famous last words" points to the observation).

Well, you know, it's not anything quite as exalted as "hubris", some large force in the universe that feeds on over-confidence. Like I say, it's basic math. He finally clues in at the end…to a degree…and in doing so, drives the psychiatrist crazy with his solution.

I hesitate to recommend this book, because, like I say there seems to be a genetic quirk in the slowest cartoonists that just won't let them look at how slow they are: so I picture all of these guys reading Alec's work and going, "Wow! This is great! I want to be just like this guy!" For the emotion-based there's certainly more than enough to feed off of here

[he can see the last issue of BONE on a shelf inside a comic-book store that's locked for the night and depicts himself pounding on the door "I've GOT to get it!" That night he literally can't sleep "It EXISTS and I have not read it…I can't believe BONE is FINISHED!" He goes to the comic store that opens the earliest and double parks … in SEATTLE! while he goes in to buy it. He starts crying before he even opens the book and continues crying "through the entire book"…IN A PUBLIC LIBRARY. ("Um…sir? Are you okay?" queries a security guard). "For almost a YEAR afterwards I couldn't go into a comics shop."]

I mean, okay, different strokes for different folks. I'm outside the loop and this is the way we're all supposed to be now. If more of us went to the public library to weep piteously through the last issue of BONE the world would be a much better place. But would it be possible to incorporate a few basic math capabilities in and around these gargantuan tear ducts? A little common sense when it comes to assessing your own productivity?

No, you're right. That was just heartless of me. Huh. MATH! As if THAT ever solved anything.

To be fair, Alec sent along a cover note that mentioned "I've settled in to a pretty comfortable schedule of two issues a year at this point, which I am fine with. This seems to be more acceptable in the zine world, as opposed to the comic-book world." So, there's hope for him yet.

Alec Longstreth, 5309 Lansdowne Ln., Mercer Island, WA, 89040 or e-mail him at

Tomorrow: The late Joe Gill


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.