Friday, December 21, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail: Addendum: "IN DIALOGUE WITH GARY GROTH" 10/07

October, 2007

Gary -

Okay, Gary, as promised I am through my mail for the first time in a long time so I can now address your latest salvo. I think it's regrettable that you don't want your points numbered so that the reader is more easily able to follow the discussion. I can only assume from that that you don't want the reader to be able to follow the discussion.

So. Let me do what I did with Michael B. just now and address your points in reverse order so that at least some of it will still be fresh in people's minds.

I already addressed the problem with posting the correspondence to the Blog & Mail, but I sincerely apologize again for doing so. As I wrote to you, I think any degree of unfairness you might see in my doing so can be corrected by giving you the last word for the period of three weeks or so between Blog & Mail sessions by making sure that your latest salvo is the latest one posted. I can appreciate that you find the Blog & Mail difficult to navigate. Personally, I find the entire Internet pretty much impossible to navigate particularly when I'm actually looking for something and always when I'm trying to understand its structure as I have been trying to do in anticipation of possibly promoting my upcoming Secret Projects if they ever get that far.

I do think I'm safe in saying that you are among friends here to a far greater extent than I am so if that's what concerns you – that this will turn into a "pile on Gary Groth" gig -- let me put your mind rest. You're a good Marxist-feminist and so are all my readers. If there are any exceptions to that rule, they learned long ago to keep it to themselves. I'm just reading into the record on an on-going basis.

Obviously I don't agree with you that you're shifting the discussion in more promising directions. What you are doing is trying to change the subject from Marxist-feminism and the extent to which it is a universally held system of belief in our society. There's only so far that we can go in the discussion because either a) everyone in our society is a Marxist-feminist or b) everyone in our society knows enough to pretend to be a Marxist-feminist because they see what happens to anyone who gets "off the reservation" as I have.

But, that having been said, the only names that I recognize on your list where you are asking me if these are members of the Extreme Avant Garde are Jeffrey Brown, Paul Hornschemeir, Sophie Crumb and Anders Nilsen.

I've written about Jeffrey Brown's work earlier on the Blog & Mail when he wrote to thank me for writing him up here and taking his side against whoever-it-was who wrote the time-to-chop-you-down-to-size review of Jeffrey's work in a recent issue of THE JOURNAL. The fact that he is primarily concerned with the "slight incident" in his work

-- here's what I did today, here's where I hang out, here's something that happened to me a while ago – would point in the direction of Extreme Avant Garde. The fact that he separates his work into larger works and slight incident works – juggling many different sketch books simultaneously and keeping them thematically separate -- would suggest to me (at the very least) a less extreme Avant Garde approach. Extreme Avant Garde to me is the people who just throw down on the page whatever comes to mind and can't sustain a narrative past two or three panels or, when they do, it doesn't actually "go" anywhere or say anything. I would still classify Jeffrey as avant garde because his larger works are still composed of slight incidents. Of course then he threw me for a loop with his Wolverine mini-comic that he gave me at TCAF – as Chester threw me for a loop when he said he was doing a Kirby monster page as his benefit piece for the Doug Wright Awards and then Seth decided to do one as well. Oh. I didn't know you guys were allowed to do that. I thought that was what Dave Sim was being indicted for and why his work wasn't any good: because it referenced super-heroes and mainstream comics crap.

I don't think it was intended ironically in the Dan Clowes "Dan Pussey" sense or the Chris Ware "pathetic super-hero" sense. The point seemed to be genuine homage. It was a really good Wolverine story and I say that as someone who never even bought BWS's Weapon X series because it didn't interest me. Chet's was a really good Kirby page. Seth's was a really good Kirby monster pin-up.

I don't know how old Jeffrey is, but it might be an age thing. At a specific age when you come in through the avant garde side (obviously influenced by Chester and Joe Matt – the cartoon Jeffrey Brown looks more like Chester than he looks like the real Jeffrey Brown) I think you assume that this is what you write and draw about. You do your I NEVER LIKED YOU and for a lot of them, that's what they stick with. Obviously Chester did that and THE PLAYBOY and then UNDERWATER and then LOUIS RIEL. It remains to be seen if that will prove to be the avant garde template. No one seems in a tearing hurry to do their own narrative about an historical figure or to do a narrative about something as esoteric as how language is learned OR (for that matter) to do their version of "My Mom Was A Schizophrenic": a dissenting viewpoint on a universally held societal view that merges autobiography and polemic. For the time being everyone seems to be doing I NEVER LIKED YOU…or Dan Clowes High Irony and Chris Ware High Irony stuff: comics as flat and lifeless as they seem to see life itself as being.

Paul Hornschemeir I really only know from a) STAND ON A MOUNTAIN, LOOK BACK which was a submission for the Day Prize in 2002 and which made the Short List that year and b) that he was theoretically debuting a new book at SPACE last year or the year before and that this was a major selling point of the show: Bob Corby was getting a lot of e-mails wondering if the new Hornschemeir book was actually coming out. So, in the ultra-cool, laid back world of indy and avant garde comics that really said something. The ultra-cool and laid back are not ultra-cool and laid back about Paul Hornschemeir which usually means you are way up at the top of the avant garde.

The fact that he called his publishing company I Don't Get It Graphics would point to a conscious awareness of the popular response to this kind of material which isn't a characteristic of the Extreme Avant Garde. The Extreme Avant Garde takes it as a given that if you don't "get it" that's an indictment of you and an example of how low and unimportant you are. Calling your company I Don't Get It Graphics means that you at least understand how the real world works and you aren't scrupulously occupying a spot as far away from the real world as you can get.

STAND ON A MOUNTAIN is a very impressive piece of work, technically. It's a beautifully designed and executed package. In terms of Extreme Avant Garde, looking at the book I have to keep referring back to the index to see if I'm reading a story and where the story starts. "Ex Falso Quodlibet" turns out to start on the first story page with that as one of the word balloons. It would be just as logical to believe that the story was called "IT'S BLASPHEMY" with a splash page with the character saying that, followed by a dedication page to an ex-girlfriend and then with the first narrative page. But, no, the "It's Blasphemy" page isn't listed so, presumably, it's just a pin-up.

But the fact that there's no way to tell points, to me, in the direction of Extreme Avant Garde.

The fact that the pages are beautifully pencilled, inked and with a single colour over them and obviously didn't just land on the page that way points in the direction of less extreme Avant Garde. If the images had been just slapped down on the page with no rhyme or reason to them – as if done by a three-year-old or Picasso in his later years -- then that would be Extreme Avant Garde. The subject matter is Extreme Avant Garde. 24 pages of an anthropomorphized fish missing his ex-girlfriend and feeling sorry for himself ("It is Sunday, and the question of what to do stagnates, goes dead, and muddies in the bath…becoming a different inquiry entirely: Why do anything?").

As a devout monotheist and former atheist, I see this a lot in the avant garde and Extreme Avant Garde: how depressing Sunday is. Back in the 60s when the earth was still cooling, we atheists used to attribute this to the oppressiveness of religious people who forced all the stores and things to close on Sunday, but of course, nowadays virtually everything is open seven days a week…and still Sunday is depressing for atheists. It has a different texture to it. The texture is separation from God. It closes with the observation "More and more…I recognized and embrace my capacity to forget. For, in the end, I think…it is the only true redemption." Yeah, well. Get ready for a lot of depressing Sundays for the next few decades in that case.

The rest of it is definitely Extreme Avant Garde. I don't get this, but isn't it beautifully done? Did I see Paul's name on a Vertigo book or something lately? Maybe I just imagined that part.

Sophie Crumb I only know from what she did in DIRTY LAUNDRY and the samples that you ran a few issues back. Certainly not enough to make an assessment.

Anders Nilsen, I bought whatever his latest project was at the time of the first TCAF (so, summer of 2005) because I happened to be at the Beguiling table in the tent when they announced that he would be signing for an hour. Well, it's not as if anyone was stampeding to get his autograph so I bought a copy of his book and got him to sign it to me and talked with him a little bit about writing and drawing comics.

I remembered filing it under "N" in my alphabetical graphic novel shelves but I just went down and looked for it and it wasn't there, so that turned out to be a false memory. I couldn't find it in any of the "neither fish nor fowl" magazine sized stacks (I'm pretty sure it was magazine sized) so I can't give you a very accurate assessment. I think it was an allegorical rather than…

…oh, wait. Double checked and it was in with graphic novels just in the wrong place, so, yes I did give it the benefit of the doubt even though it was saddle stitched. It's pretty thick.

It's got a "Waiting for Godot" quality about it that would put it in the Avant Garde end of things. The fact that the narrative is reasonably sequential would keep it out of the Extreme Avant Garde category (which is why I had it in with graphic novels instead of "neither fish nor fowl") but the fact that it doesn't make any kind of conventional sense would push it back in.

It's all unanswered questions.

Where did the guy come from? Why is he talking to his teddy bear as if it's a sentient being? It seems to originate in Moebius' more esoteric material and has the same kind of open-ended "Hey, it can mean whatever you want it to mean" quality that just looks like laziness to people looking for conventional narrative and which is the defining quality of art for people in the avant garde. "It represents man's alienation from himself, his search for meaning in a world where there is no meaning. The reindeer and the dogs represent his intrinsic animalistic nature that he's resisting but which he will ultimately be forced to confront even if he's still unable to participate in it or restrain it." The whole Comparative Lit 101 scam. Art isn't actually about art, it's about being able to sound as if you see great depths that other people don't see. I Don't Get It Graphics.

The last part ventures near conventional narrative when the guy runs across the crashed helicopter with the mortally wounded pilot and has to deal with being asked to shoot him because he's suffering. But that's a very sharp turn from everything that's gone before so it's very difficult to say that DOGS AND WATER is a graphic novel or just a "U Decide" avant garde experiment. That part is what I gave it the benefit of the doubt over. Without that part, I would have put it in the "neither fish nor fowl" category.

Okay, moving backward from there, you agree that the last two Presidential elections were close but assert that even the roughly 50% who voted Republican don't share my "more outré views". Well, that's really the question. Do they not share my view that the Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast are Impossible or do they recognize that in a society that has been transformed into a Marxist-feminist dictatorship, you better see the Empress's New Clothes if you want to get elected? I dare say that in most Republican families it is taken as a given that the husband is in charge while it is also recognized that that is not a view that is easily sold to a lotus-eating population that believes men and women are interchangeable. Just because my views are considered "outré" doesn't mean that they aren't accurate.

Well, to the women, liberals, Marxist-feminists, homosexualists and the Extreme Avant Garde, you could add socialists, environmentalists, tree-huggers, global warming devotees. They aren't enemies, but they are the opposing viewpoint and they do all seem to "clump together". It's an incoherent melange I'll grant you, but it's also the melange that is directing our society. It's the place we're going if we aren't actually already there. The rubric "politically correct" covers it admirably. I don't think empirical evidence supports the views of the "incoherent melange" but the fact there is always a different sky that's falling in the consensus view of the "incoherent melange" -- in the 1970s it's that we're running out of oil, in 2007 it's global warming – means that they can always run ahead of the empirical evidence refuting whatever their last delusion was. Twenty years from now, we'll have an ironclad case against global warming but they won't be talking about that anymore the same as they no longer suggest that we only have a twenty-year oil supply. It isn't a conspiracy. It's grasping at straws when straws are all that you have left. The left wing anti-globalization riots such as you had in Seattle are a thing of the past. You folks are pretty much out of gas and you now have to sit and discuss facts instead of relying on alarmism.

Oh, and my manipulation of you and Chester wasn't particularly clever, I don't think. You're both pretty predictable.

No, I went through your list of people where you asked (or I thought you asked) if I thought they had "gotten the memo". My original point still stands, actually: everyone is aware that you not only called me a Nazi in your magazine but you also held a Nuremberg Trial of me in (San Diego was it? Or was it Wondercon?) where the charges were presented against me and I was declared guilty to the exuberant glee of the assembled multitudes. Well, obviously a trial where you are indicted and found guilty in absentia without prior notification and without even the pretence of being allowed to mount a defence has far more in common with the Star Chamber or Stalinist show trials (which is to be expected, I suppose, from an extreme leftist like yourself) than it does with Nuremberg. Do you still think that such public vilification with no opportunity for a defence is, itself, defensible?

See you don't want to address my arguments. You want to frame my arguments for me and say that my vilification has nothing to do with my "courageous stance against lowering standards among firefighters to accommodate weakly skirts" by which means you now allow yourself to not have to address whether the lowering of standards for firefighters (or policepersons or soldierpersons) is a good or a bad idea. Because it is certainly the basis on which we are running our society. Everyone except me endorses and whole-heartedly approves of the idea of eroding standards when it comes to public safety in the name of political correctness. I'm not going to believe in a lunatic assumption just because everyone else does.

No, the conversation we had about Carol Kalish, I said, "I agree with you about Carol. I think she was a very dangerous woman whose choices were ultimately going to prove to be very beneficial for Marvel and very unhealthy for the comic book field. I think even the Marvel executives realized how dangerous and obsessive she was and that was why they moved her out of Direct Sales and into the Friends of Old Marvel fan club revival. Her heroine was the Faye Dunaway character in Network for crying out loud. Even moving her into the fan club wasn't going to work, she was plotting to take everything over from there." And you, embattled as you were on all sides for taking a run at Saint Carol, said, "Can I get you to put that in writing?" And I said, no, of course not. There is a decent interval which needs to be allowed to elapse after someone has died before you criticize them in the sorts of terms that you were using. That decent interval hadn't elapsed at that point. I did say that when a reasonable length of time had elapsed – it's now fifteen years after our conversation so I think I'm safe in saying that a reasonable length of time has elapsed – I would be glad to put it in writing.

I don't know why it is that you're missing that basic human part that everyone else seems to have and recognize. I only wish you could be made to recognize that violating that, you really have only yourself to blame for the long-term animosity which resulted. Likewise when you ran Colleen Doran's sexual harassment experiences with Julie Schwartz in the same issue where you ran his obituary. When your managing editor at the time phoned to get confirmation from me, I told him to please ask you to give your head a shake and not do this. There was nothing to be served in not leaving the subject alone for another six months or a year considering that you had left the subject alone for a good ten years at least at that point.

I have no idea who Dan Nadel or Todd Hignite or Alvin Bonaventura are. I know who Douglas Wolk is because he wrote the article about me in THE BELIEVER that he reprinted in his new book. I don't understand the "who's so avant garde that he even likes the 1970s super-hero work of Jim Starlin!". Wouldn't that make him NON-avant garde? Yeah, I know, you were "being ironic". I guess I don't understand that either. It's always so hard to tell what you people are actually trying to say because you're always using sarcasm or "being ironic" instead of just saying what it is that you mean. All I can do is repeat my original assertion: I don't know if THE COMICS JOURNAL's kingmaker model is sustainable, but I think it's a safe bet to say that you managed to crown The Brothers Hernandez, Dan Clowes and Chris Ware in succession as the kings of the avant garde, roughly over a fifteen-year period and that this was the source of your Publishers Of the World's Greatest Cartoonists claim. Can you follow Chris Ware with the Next Chris Ware? Is Ivan Brunetti The Next Chris Ware? is another way of putting it. If Ivan Brunetti is, indeed, the next Chris Ware, can you follow Ivan Brunetti with the Next Ivan Brunetti in another ten years or so?

See, you extreme leftists always use such extreme sarcasm as if extreme sarcasm can alone refute a valid point. I never suggested that Chris Ware would be sweeping floors or working at McDonalds right now if he hadn't been championed in the COMICS JOURNAL. I assume he would be making a good living in the arts somewhere, but I would also maintain that the only way you could be made to be the next Daniel Clowes, as Chris was, was to be published by Fantagraphics and to be boosted and promoted by THE COMICS JOURNAL with glowing reviews, etc.

As I wrote elsewhere, while I was writing the letter to you, I mentioned that I really had no idea why Chester refused to do an interview with you and he wasn't very forthcoming when he told me about it. As I was typing my speculation that it might very well be that he wasn't interested in explaining why he, too, isn't Gilbert Hernandez, my Gary Groth Alarm went off in my head. Gary's going to jump all over that speculation. Hm. That's true. So what's he going to do? He's going to phone Chester to find out if that's the case. Hm. That's true. So what's Chester going to do? Chester's going to say that that isn't the case. Hm. That's true. So what's Gary going to do? He'll ask Chester to reconsider. Hm. That's true. So what's Chester going to do? Chester will agree to do the interview to prove that my speculation is unfounded. Hm. That's true. Well, I want to read the interview, so let's leave it in. I don't think I manipulated either of you. I honestly told you that that was my best speculation as to why Chester had turned you down for an interview. What you were both going to do after that was completely predictable, but you still made your own choices.

Are there any specific individual artists or aesthetic categories (Old Guard?) that are on my side? No, I don't think so. Everyone understands the consequences of not capitulating to Marxist-feminism just as everyone understands the consequences of being seen as being too friendly with someone who has openly declared his opposition to Marxist-feminism.

I made the overture to pick Will Eisner up at the airport after he had agreed to buy me dinner as a celebration of my having made it to issue 300, but I don't think Will had any idea of the whole "Dave Sim the evil misogynist" thing. I was just one of the new guys and I had done something that he could respect and was willing to buy me dinner over. He also had a stature that made him immune to approbation of any kind. His own cachet and irrefutable credentials in the field would supersede his having dinner with Dave Sim. But everyone would just naturally assume that it was only out of ignorance owing to his age that he would do so and that I was taking advantage of that. There's a good case to be made for that, but having dinner with Will was more important to me than what people would think of me engineering having a dinner with poor duped Will Eisner. There was nothing else that anyone could do to me since I was already universally shunned.

I made the same offer to Neal Adams and then that turned into taking him and his wife and son to Niagara Falls. Same kind of deal. Neal Adams is still going to be Neal Adams whether he gets associated publicly with Dave Sim or not. I was happy enough to just leave it at that. It was one of the best days I've ever spent. I also pitched him on the idea of doing a huge magazine piece for FOLLOWING CEREBUS about it, being careful not to encroach on his time or space and he was fine with that as well. He told me the story about Lou Fine being pussy-whipped and I have no idea if he did that as a way of indicating that he was aware of the war I was fighting and here's something he had to contribute or if it was just coincidental. Socially, in person, I avoid controversial subjects for the most part. If someone wants to talk about feminism, I always say, I'll be happy to talk about it, but I don't think you'll be very happy when we're done. Some people can leave it at that and some people can't. The ones who can't I will usually never hear from again. That wasn't the case with Neal and Marilyn and Josh. It isn't the case with Suley Fatah (of the DRAWING THE LINE book) and his wife Julie. It isn't the case with Mimi Cruz and Alan Carroll of Night Flight Comics. Very much to my surprise, recently, it turned out not to be the case with Roy and Dann Thomas.

Apart from that, ambitious indy creators are, I'm sure, always weighing whether I can do more good for them by plugging their books on the Blog & Mail than the detriment they will suffer for being linked to Dave Sim. Mimi Cruz told me just recently about driving Scott McCloud to a radio interview in Salt Lake City and Scott admitting that there are a bunch of people in the comic-book field who shun Dave Sim and that he's one of them. He figured that Mimi Cruz as a Strong, Independent Woman would be in the same category so this would be an "us Dave Sim shunners" conversation. He told her that I was mad at him for doing an interview in my hometown and not mentioning me. That was news to me. I saw his write-up in the NATIONAL POST and I knew he hadn't mentioned me there (the subject was graphic novels and he made sure to mention Seth – because he was in Canada -- and made sure not to mention me). So, it's very possible that he actually drove through Kitchener and stopped to do a radio interview. Well, you know, that's pretty high grade (as Mimi put it) "18th century, grade six shunning". He also told Mimi that he invited all my friends out for dinner in Toronto and didn't invite me and she sort of blew up at him at that point ("Boy, is he ever lucky Alan wasn't in the car with us!"). "Well, why would you do that" and Scott said something about being afraid that I'd try and punch him like with Jeff Smith. And Mimi pointed out that it was Jeff Smith who had claimed to have threatened to punch me. The only thing I was guilty of doing was saying, "Is that right? Well, hey bring it on." And she insisted that Scott already knew that and then was dumbfounded to realize that, no, Scott was convinced that Dave Sim was seriously unstable and he just went around punching people.

[Late addition: but what was really weird was that Mimi was, at least partly, hacked off at ME over this. Why? Because the way she looked at it this was a completely aberrational thing: that there are all these hundreds and hundreds of people who support me and instead I'm giving way too much attention to a handful of "shunners" like Scott McCloud and Jeff Smith. It's hard to get a word in edgewise, but I tried my best to assure Mimi, no it's completely the other way around. Believe me, if I had hundreds and hundreds of people who support me, I think I'd know about it. Thirteen years later on, I think there would be some sort of paper trail for that and there just isn't. At the very least when I finally bought my own copy of the Trilogy Tour issue of the COMICS JOURNAL and finally showed everyone – less than two months ago as you're reading this -- exactly the extent to which Jeff Smith misrepresented what I said about him: who did I hear from? Michael Zulli. One phone message. He hoped I was okay. I'm okay. I'm fine. Thanks for the call, Michael. Does that sound to you like hundreds and hundreds of supporters?

I'm way beyond getting hacked off by now – what would be the point? – but I am getting kind of picky about keeping the record straight since there are all these weird little convulsions starting to happen whereby various people are trying to revise what happened and what continues to happen so that a) it didn't happen the way that it did and b) if it did, it stopped happening a long time ago. No. I mean, nice try, but no. You people will have to go even deeper into a state of schizophrenia than you already have but the facts are still going to be there after you go around the bend and come out the other side. Bryan Talbot never contacted me to get my side of the story. Just took Jeff Smith's word as gospel truth. How are you going to change that fact? How are you going to make that into decent human behaviour? How are you going to make that my fault?

What depths of psychosis are you collectively willing to stoop to in order to justify that act on the part of Bryan Talbot: criminally libelling someone and not even giving them advance notice, let alone an opportunity to defend themselves? How you people live with yourselves, I don't know, but that's your problem, not mine.

I came up with an analogy for her: up until 9/11 I always thought that there was a good-natured rivalry between Canada and the United States. On the American side I think there is. On my side there always was. But what I saw after 9/11 was that virtually everyone on the Canadian left (Liberals, NDP, Bloc Quebecois) were some seriously vicious American-hating bigots and as soon as I saw that I started distancing myself from those people and I started writing about it (see the updated notes in LATTER DAYS page 465)

The difference in this case is that I don't see that happening in the comic-book field. Consequently people like Scott McCloud and Jeff Smith feel justified in shunning Dave Sim and believe that everyone believes that's the right way to be. And at that point, that just becomes accepted. If you want to fit in in the comic book field, anytime the subject of Dave Sim comes up, just say something about how he's crazy or unstable he is or what a misogynist he is to prove that you belong. And if people start saying those things and you disagree don't say anything out loud to defend Dave Sim also so that you belong. Or make sure that you say emphatically how much you disagree with his opinions – without specifically saying what it is that you disagree with i.e. don't say that you believe that public safety standards should be eroded when it comes to hiring policepersons and firepersons and soldierpersons – before damning him with faint praise.

Well, no, folks that isn't going to stop it. The same as it wouldn't stop American bigotry in Canada if I just smiled pleasantly anytime one of the Marxist-feminists started trashing our closest ally and largest trading partner. No, if one of them gets started, I just say, "I think America – and Americans – are great. I'm a huge supporter of George W. Bush." Will they ever speak to me again? Of course not. But who would want to be on good terms with people who hate America? If they choose to sulk and pout and shun me because I support America, that's their choice. If they want to just avoid the subject and talk about other things, that's their choice, too.

But, I'll say this: if you don't actively try to stop people like Scott McCloud and Jeff Smith by telling them they are flat out wrong in what they are doing, they are just going to assume that you agree with them and continue doing what they're doing]

How would I characterize my side? My side is rational. Here's the facts. As long as you are running your society on the basis of the Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast, then you have already admitted that the genders are not equal, which is why you have to lower standards if you want any kind of female representation among police, firefighters or soldiers, which is why 95% of alimony is paid by men to women, which is why you have to skew standards and accept more women at universities even though by the fifth year of the hard maths and hard sciences there is virtually no female representation left from classrooms that started out 60% female. That's my side, Gary.

The Extreme Avant Garde I addressed earlier.

Eddie Campbell, I'm sure, still holds out hope that he will attain to a prominent stature on COMICS JOURNAL Olympus and that certainly isn't going to happen if he goes around defending Dave Sim. He got his nose out of joint back in the original Jeff Smith dust-up and, egged on by Steve Bissette, rather archly suggested that he should challenge me to a duel or a boxing match or something for me suggesting that I might date his daughter, Hayley. It was a joke. I assumed they both knew that I had been celibate for a period of years at that point (it will be ten years in February). I wasn't about to date anybody (no offence against Hayley). I basically returned fire in what I thought was a similarly arch manner by asking them both what planet they were living on. A daughter in our feminist society dates whomever she wants and Daddy, if he's smart, doesn't attempt to say a word about it let alone talk about duels or boxing matches. That's certainly true but as is the case with most things in our feminist world you aren't allowed to address it directly. You can joke about shooting Dave Sim or punching him out – that's just good old-fashioned comic book fun -- but you can't joke about the fact that fathers don't have word one in any discussion of what their daughters are or aren't going to do even though that's a fact.

I find that level of schizophrenia – the inability to perceive accurately the dichotomy between what a father can actually do and what a father deludes himself he can do – to be just another element of where our society has gone seriously off the rails and everyone but me is pretending we're still choo-choo-chooing along on the same track we always were.

Roger Langridge, too. Being published by Fantagraphics, as far as I know, was the most prominent that he and Andrew ever were. He isn't going to burn that bridge based on handful of freelance jobs he's done for Marvel or DC or whoever. There's nothing I can do to help him, so he certainly isn't going to have any sense of loyalty to me.

Well, you know, I could take a cheap shot at you for lumping your feminine side and your love of firearms into a paragraph where you're describing ME as scary, but that's all it would be is a cheap shot. You know: "at least I don't have to shoot off a .357 to prove my masculinity. That's scary." I know that you've always treated your firearms responsibly that whenever you and the boys decide to shoot some stuff up for the fun of it, you go out in the wilderness to do so and as far as I know you've never come close to having an accident of any kind. I have zero interest in firearms myself and that would put me, I think, on the side of most people in the comic-book field but trying to make use of that would just be, as I say, a cheap shot. So I won't do it.

I would say that between the cartoon of me as a Nazi commandant at a concentration camp for women, the Nuremberg Stalinist show trial you held where I was tried in absentia and not even told that it was going to take place, the mass evisceration that was organized in the aftermath of issue 300 and Kim Thompson egging people on to greater and greater excesses of vituperation against me – to which a huge number of people enthusiastically responded – on the Comics Journal message boards, yes, I would say that the COMICS JOURNAL has done more than its fair share to destroy my career and assassinate my character. There's really nothing extreme leftists like yourself like better than figuring out who needs to be destroyed and collectively destroying him. Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Mao, they were all into that stuff. It's misdirection. As long as we can make this guy over here the problem and make an example of him, we don't have to explain why this whole Marxism thing isn't actually adding up in any sensible way.

Of course, the Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast are still impossible to believe and everything that you do against me is really just pyrotechnics to try to distract from that fact. It isn't a "repellent screed against womankind", it's the plain unvarnished truth of where we've gone wrong as a society.

Well, according to Bill, he was told to go "over the top" with the caricature of me. Of course Bill has been kind of all over the map with me the last while, so I don't know how much to go by what he tells me about anything, so sincere apologies if, as you say, you just left it up to him and that's what he came up with.

I think I said that you printed me in THE JOURNAL as a cross between "comedy relief" and a "freak show". I'd stand by that statement since I didn't appear anywhere on the COMICS JOURNAL TOP 100 and, as far as I know I've never been denoted as having any stature in the field at all from the COMICS JOURNAL's perspective. I mean, I think you should at least admit that there's a kind of disconnect represented by Dave Sim being the "most interviewed" individual and Dave Sim and CEREBUS appearing nowhere in the Top 100. If the fact that I was interviewed that often is supposed to connote some kind of stature, then why wasn't I on the TOP 100? Conversely, if I wasn't on the TOP 100 then why was I interviewed that often? I think the only sensible thesis that fits those two facts is "Freak Show". Or "comedy relief". Take your pick.

Further to the same subject, I really think you aren't seeing yours and the JOURNAL's approach to interviewing accurately. You can't express "whatever the hell opinions" you want to in a construct where the ostensible journalist is also a competing publisher and adversarial in virtually every area and interest that you could imagine. I mean, you used to be very upfront about it. THE COMICS JOURNAL is the yardstick against which everything is to be measured. If you disagree with that, as I did and do, you aren't so much going to be interviewed as badgered for your dissent. The message is always the same. We are the Best, our cartoonists are the best therefore what we are attempting to establish here is what sort of spear-carrier you can be relative to the World's Greatest Cartoonists, taking it as a given that since we don't publish you, the best you can be is a spear carrier. Not being by nature or inclination a spear carrier, I didn't play the game, the result of which was that instead of being a spear carrier I could only be what I am to this day in THE COMICS JOURNAL, variously a non-entity, a figure of fun, a freak show, comedy relief, a pariah, a geek: that is, any context that could be found for me that reinforced that I wasn't good enough to be Gilbert or Jaime or Dan or Chris' spear carrier. If you check all of the references to me on the COMICS JOURNAL message boards, I think you'll find that they fit in those basic categories. So, you know, mission accomplished for the most part.

The only two pieces that I know of on CEREBUS between issues 41 and 263 was "Bite Now, Sucker" where Cerebus was included in a roundtable basically dissing me for everything that I was doing with him in the book at the time and pushing me to go back to the first eleven issues and start over (the Kim Thompson Theory: everything after issue 11 sucks) and a review of MELMOTH which was generally favourable but concluded "lose the aardvark" (The Dave Sim Should Be Gilbert Hernandez Theory: we can picture Gilbert doing a biographical piece on the death of Oscar Wilde, but he wouldn't have an aardvark in it, therefore that's what's wrong with MELMOTH, therefore the solution is to stop doing CEREBUS and just do things like MELMOTH without the aardvark).

There might very well be more than those two, but the publications side of the Cerebus Archive is really the weakest part and very far from complete. Of course, most of the people reading this will be on your side already, as I said, so I assume if there's a favourable review in THE COMICS JOURNAL that I've forgotten, you'll have ostensible CEREBUS fans lined up around the block eager to make me look bad. No worries on that score.

I'll put a note with this to have Jeff Tundis hang onto it and post it after your response has come in. I haven't actually figured out how many Blog and Mails I've got here this time but I would guess at least three weeks' worth which means that if you get your response to Jeff in the next few days, you can have another go at eviscerating me and the bonus of no one on the Cerebus Yahoo Discussion Group taking issue with anything you have to say.

Hope you and your son are still able to get in a soccer game or two.



October 30, 2007

Dave -

Feel free to post your latest letter on your blog any time. I don't know when the hell I'll have time to reply -- my next two weeks are murderous -- but I will, I will.



(As of December 21st, 2007 there has been no further response.)