Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #170 (February 28th, 2007)






Jeff Tundis' cover note attached to Jackie's letter seemed to me to illustrate the extent to which "misguided chivalry" has been used to paper over what could only, in my view, be accurately described as intellectual dishonesty:

And there you have it. This met with almost universal derision in the group. To reiterate my point from last night, it is not my intent to dissuade you from your anti-feminist pursuit. This is a fine example of what you are *right* about. Assuming you are correct, and the FoL completely misunderstood or wilfully warped your intentions, this is a clear case of putting personal feelings above principle – in no small part I would guess, to having your ex-wife on the Board at the time. However, this may not be the best example to use in an attempt to get people involved – and honestly, I'm surprised you would even think that was possible. Seems to me to be unusually optimistic on your part.

With all due respect, Jeff, you misunderstand. At this point, I'm not so much trying to find people to get involved with putting together a "female comics professional petition against censorship" – I know better at this point -- as I am in addressing a larger concern which, as I see it, is the extent to which feminists get a free ride in our society essentially by dividing society into feminists and misogynists. If you do something they don't like, you're a misogynist and, once labelled as such, it means that all of your viewpoints (once and future, declared and undeclared) are null and void and it validates the decision to ignore whatever you say -- essentially making society into a girl's high school clique where, unless you toe the party line, you can very quickly find yourself on the outside looking in, beyond redemption and, yes, a pariah.

It's very possible, as you say, that this is also a discussion about "personal feelings vs. principle" and the extent to which the gender opposite errs in favour of the former rather than the latter, but I still think (if true) "personal feelings vs. principle" is a very small aspect of the larger problem of the extent to which feminists get a free ride in our society. If you disagree with their politics, their tactics and their choices they accuse you of "finding a strong, independent woman a threat" and that brings the discussion to an end and leaves them to pursue their politics, their tactics and their choices without dissent or without having to properly defend them as men have to do. The only way as a man that you can refute the accusation of "finding a strong, independent woman a threat" is to treat her as a threat and get out of her way. The threat isn't from "strong, independent women" per se, the threat is from a group (which just happens to be "strong, independent women") who are using intellectually suspect leverage and intimidation to suspend debate or discussion of what they are doing to society and, consequently, getting a free ride to continue doing it. The proper response is "I don't find strong, independent women a threat. What I find a threat is when someone tries to intimidate me into not asking sensible questions about what it is that they're doing and the reasons why they are doing it. A sensible argument doesn't need intimidation to be accepted."

Jeff continues in his note:

The reasons would be as follows:

1. There is no member remaining of the FoL board of directors from 1996. The current members have no knowledge of this even, and some may have been in the 8-10 years of age bracket at the time. The old members, who have absolutely *no* responsibility to act in the manner you wish them to, will continue to ignore or insult you because of past history.

Well, I was in the 8-10 years of age bracket at the time that DC was shredding original artwork rather than giving it back to the artist. By the time I was 17, I was at least aware of the historical context and the different sides to the issue of returning original artwork and I developed my own viewpoint on the subject. I would not have considered, "But I didn't know DC was shredding artwork. I was in the 8-10 years of age bracket when they were doing it" an intellectually valid defence, but rather an embarrassing admission of fundamental ignorance. The concept behind a "female comics professionals' petition against censorship" doesn't exactly require a 75-page writ to explain. Here: "How about if the only comics organization with a large base of female comics professionals canvases their membership to see who would be willing to sign a petition denouncing censorship so that that petition could be used by the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund to keep some of our retailers out of jail?" There. Now everyone is up to speed on the issue.

When you say "the old members (a decidedly unchivalrous choice of words, but we'll let it go), who have absolutely *no* responsibility to act in the manner you wish them to, will continue to ignore or insult you because of past history," I hope you aren't suggesting that this is a reasonable defence for considering the amputating of discussion of an issue as an intellectually honest way of dealing with that issue? Certainly I can't make any of them compose a petition and I can't make them sign it – nor would I want to if I could: I have never advocated compulsion, I have only advocated on-going debate with an eye to reaching a sensible conclusion -- but don't you think someone, somewhere in the FoL context (past, present or future) should -- if they are to be treated as intellectually honest individuals worthy of being taken seriously -- mount some sort of reasonable defence for just amputating the discussion? i.e. "The Reason that it was Intellectually Honest of we, the 1996 Board of Directors of the Friends of Lulu, to simply stop discussing even the idea of a `female comics professional petition deploring censorship' is…" and then find something sensible to fill in the blank? It seems to me that your answer is no. And what I'm suggesting is that, given that your answer is no -- and the answer of the comics community is no -- the net result is a free ride for feminism. And, in my view, no one should get a free ride in a democratic society. And, further, I think the issue of a free ride for a political viewpoint is such an important one that I am willing to sacrifice what little there is left of my professional reputation and stature in the field on the altar of feminist totalitarianism in order to reinforce the validity of my own point: no one should get a free ride in a democratic society and if I'm the only one who elects to stand in your way, so be it You can't just amputate a discussion in the arena of give-and-take which surrounds ideas. Ideas are the driving force behind the way we make the choices we make in how to shape society. I mean, you can just amputate discussions – feminists prove that you can every day – but you can't do so and legitimately view yourself as intellectually honest.

2. What is the resolution? An apology is ineffectual, and would only come at the end of what could be considered harassment – if at all (which would be my guess). If the current members agree that their predecessors acted wrongly, then what should they do? The previously offered outlet is no longer available. If you have alternate ideas, perhaps the FoL could be encouraged to act, as this could still be useful to the CBLDF due to head back to court soon.

I have never asked for and I have no interest in an apology. You unconsciously strike an interesting note in suggesting that the pursuit of the resolution of a rational debate: a rational answer to a rational question is, in our feminist society, likely to be considered harassment and is yet another means by which feminists get a free ride. If you disagree with them too emphatically, you're harassing them which means that you have to withdraw your disagreement thereby creating the illusion of consensus, thereby giving feminists a free ride.

If you're talking about the "microcosm resolution" obviously the answer would be to put the question to the female comics professionals in the FoL membership – or female comics professionals generally – and see how many would be willing to sign a petition that the CBLDF could use deploring censorship. The offer of the four pages in the back of Cerebus for a membership drive was, in retrospect, an inadvisable quid pro quo. No one should have to be bribed into doing the right thing. They should do it because it's the right thing to do and I think helping the CBLDF to protect freedom of speech is in that category. If someone has a rational basis for disagreeing with that premise, I'll be glad to hear it. A female comics professional petition might not make a difference but on the other hand it might and, apart from cash and pro bono work by First Amendment lawyers, the CBLDF doesn't have a whole lot with which to fight against censorship in individual jurisdictions. Having spent years trying to come up with what might work in the public relations end of fighting censorship, the petition was the only thing that I came up with that seemed remotely plausible and remotely possible.

The "macrocosm resolution" in my view would only come when the use of amputation of debate becomes invalidated as a tactic. Particularly in the internet age with unlimited space and forums to debate every issue imaginable it seems only sensible that individuals can opt out, but that debate should always be kept alive with the idea of achieving some resolution (however remote the possibility). I have paid a terrible price for daring to do other than kowtow to the feminist orthodoxy but my position is the same as it has always been: feminism is no different from any other political movement or philosophy. It has to defend itself with sound reasoning and refute those questions addressed to it – (see The Fourteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast in my "Tangent" essay) -- if it hopes to survive and retain and build upon its present societal stranglehold. If my views are as self-evidently "crazy" as they have universally been declared to be in the comic-book field then it should be an easy matter to take, as an example, the Fourteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast and to demonstrate in simple, clear straightforward language why they aren't impossible and why, in fact, they are non-negotiable and sensible cornerstones for a society based on the complete equality of the genders.

As I said before, I did not pursue this personally because I do not wish to be perceived as your attack dog. If that seems to you a cop-out, so be it. This is not my intention, but I choose my battles and in this particular situation I chose to leave to others what I view as a confrontation with no beneficial outcome (Yes, I'm sure such a comment could lead to a lengthy discussion about Iraq, but that for another time). Claude and Craig are on the case, however, and at least one has *some* industry presence with which to apply pressure when the situation coalesces.

See, to me the "free ride for feminism" issue is much larger than that and it has implications for all aspects of our society. If the "0" and "1" of our society's trajectory is decided between "misogynist" and "feminist" (either/or) – as perceived by feminists and ruling out anything someone has to say if they have been judged a misogynist by feminists -- then I don't think there is much hope of a happy or sensible outcome for our society. I don't see it as someone being my "attack dog" because I think that presupposes that I am the only person opposed to feminism. Wacky Anti-Feminist Dave and His Crazy Misogynist Ideas.

Let me put it this way: somewhere back in the 18th century, some poor soul had to stand up in his place in the British Parliament and say, "Look – one way or the other I think that slavery is wrong." He had to say that in front of all of the other parliamentarians who would instantly have giant questions marks over their heads. "Slavery? Wrong? Slavery can't be wrong. Why, it's in the Bible. Whole chapters in the Old Testament deal with the proper treatment of slaves. The greatest minds in human history from Plato on down assure us that slavery is natural and inevitable." And he would be laughed at, derided, shunned and scorned for his trouble. Now, somewhere in that parliament there must have been a few fellows who thought, "Well, you know. I think he's right. I think slavery is wrong, too."

All I'm saying is that unless a few of those fellows get up the gumption to stand with that solitary chap and say, "I think he's right: I think slavery is wrong", that is, until you have a full and open and reasonable debate about slavery without the intimidation of the majority silencing the minority then you're never going to get rid of slavery, are you? You have to start somewhere if you're going to correct a wrong turn that society, with the best of intentions, has taken.

I think a free ride for any viewpoint in our society is always a mistake, whether that viewpoint is that "slavery is a good thing" or "you must never disagree out loud with feminists because that means you're a misogynist or a Nazi or a redneck". Twelve years later on, and still we haven't had a peep out of anyone else here in the comic-book field. I can understand the fear of consequences from daring to stand up to totalitarian feminism – I'm a living example of what facing those consequences head-on is like and for most men in the comic-book field, the warning has obviously been sufficient -- but the only thing I think we have to fear (besides fear itself) are those viewpoints we are unwilling to confront and to examine and to question because of that fear. A free ride for a political viewpoint can only lead in the direction of totalitarianism based on that viewpoint, in my view. And if we aren't already there with feminism, I think we are well on our way.

I appreciate that you pick your battles, Jeff. I'd be interested in what battles you think are more important than holding women in our society to basic standards of intellectual honesty in debate to which the rest of us are required to conform in the name of common sense.

Tomorrow: A bit more unpleasantness and then you can all forget about the free ride for feminism in our society until the 25th of March.

There's More for YOU

In Today's Blog &…



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.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #169 (February 27th, 2007)

Hey! It's "Feminists Get a Free Ride in Our Society" Day here on the Blog & Mail! Okay, all you feminists! Fingers in your ears and…(REAL LOUD, NOW!)





From Cerebus #206


I'm not sure if I'm taxing the reader's patience with this stuff but I'm certainly taxing my own. This issue wraps up the "Dear Friends of Lulu," and next issue wraps up "Why an Aardvark?" All apologies are duly rendered for the Don Quixote tilting-atwindmills digressions. I hope to be back to normal by 208:


Friends of Lulu
4657 Cajon Way
San Diego, CA 92115

January 23, 1996 Dear Dave:

Your letter to Friends of Lulu (FoL) made us realize that some people have misconceptions about our organization. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to clarify who we are and what we're all about.

As indicated in the enclosed brochure (which, by the way, was given out by exhibitors at several of the Spirits of Independence stops), Friends of Lulu is open to both women and men, professionals and nonprofessionals. The only requirements for membership are a commitment to our goal of getting more women and girls involved in comics and payment of the nominal. membership dues. Friends of Lulu was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in early 1995 and now has over 250 members, a third of whom are men. We have active chapters in both New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and regional chapters are springing up in other areas as well.

We think that getting more women and girls to read comics is vital to the future of the comics medium. Increasing the number of female readers has been an area of concern for decades, even during periods when the industry was seeing increases in sales. Back in the heyday of comics, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, females made up half the comics audience, and numerous genres (but primarily teen and romance comics) were aimed at them. By narrowing its focus to primarily teen-age boys over the last two decades, the industry has turned its back on the segment of the population that by far does the most reading and buys the most books.

FoL's efforts to increase the readership of comics are aimed at all levels of the industry. We encourage publishers to produce comics of a wide variety of genres to appeal to a broader readership. We also challenge them to continue to improve the quality of their comics, with well-written stories, interesting characters, and appealing art. We encourage retailers to carry a wide variety of titles and to make suggestions to customers of titles they might try. We also encourage retailers to make their stores more inviting to customers, which is just good basic business sense.

One of the things we're doing to back up our suggestions to publishers and retailers is conducting surveys of readers (both male and female) to determine what sorts of existing comics are most often read by women and girls, and what females say they would like to see both in new comics and in the retailer environment. The bookmark you saw (one of four versions) listed some comics titles that were gleaned from the initial use of that reader survey at comics shows earlier in 1995, including the Alternative Press Expo that you attended in San Jose. The bookmarks list titles that received multiple mentions by the females surveyed. The publishers of a number of the books listed were contacted to help defray the costs of printing the bookmarks. Those publishers that responded are featured prominently on the bookmarks and turned out to be all self-publishers and small publishers. (By the way, these bookmarks were a project of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of FoL.) We are in the process of tabulating the surveys from additional conventions where FoL had booths throughout the year, and the results will be sent to comics publishers and the comics press sometime this spring.

FoL also conducted a survey of retailers, asking them what sorts of comics have the highest female readership and what sorts of promotions have been successful in bringing more females into their stores. Those survey results are also being tabulated and will be supplied to publishers, retailers, and the comics press this spring.

FoL has many other projects in the works, all of them related to the overall goals our members have set for themselves. Those of us on the Board of Directors love comics, and we want to see the medium continue. Advocating censorship of any kind would not only be against our firm belief in freedom of expression but is diametrically opposed to our goal of expanding the comics market.

We on the FoL board have nothing but admiration for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and think it is a vital element in the comics industry. Many of us have made contributions to CBLDF and have supported various of its fund-raising efforts. Furthermore, many prominent people in the comics industry are both FoL members and active supporters of the CBLDF. We think comics need both these organizations, each with their separate but complementary goals, if the medium is to survive.


Friends of Lulu Board of Directors:

Anina Bennett Heidi MacDonald

Jackie Estrada Liz Schiller

Deni Loubert Martha Thomases Cheryl Harris


Aardvark-Vanaheim, Inc.
Box 1674, Station C
Kitchener, Ontario N2G 4R2

24 January '96

Dear Friends of Lulu:

Well, as someone once said, you've answered everything except my question.

I believe there is a great potential for the Friends of Lulu and the CBLDF to be separate organizations with "complementary goals." That was the point of my letter and the core of my question.

I probably shouldn't have been surprised by the fact that your answer arrived over seven names (the Board of Directors is my assumption). I shouldn't have been, but I was. I was making what 1 thought was a seriously intended proposal and made clear (I thought) that — leaving aside the possibility that the Friends of Lulu in toto might endorse such a proposal — there might exist a faction within the group of some number of female professionals willing to participate in a document which made clear that they view the First Amendment to the Constitution as taking precedence over individual tastes and preferences in literature.

"Advocating censorship of any kind would not only be against our firm belief in freedom of expression but is diametrically opposed to our goal of expanding the comics market."

I guess I just find this confusing. Maybe it's just me. Although there have been rumblings of censorship and advocacy of censorship from people I have talked to about FoL, I take you at your word. You don't advocate censorship. It was not n y intention to accuse you of advocating censorship. What I was doing was sketching the parameters of a simple program which might assist in the fight against censorship. I am alarmed by the Planet Comics bust in Oklahoma. In examining what I can do to assist the retailers and their customers to defend their First Amendment rights, the answer I came up with was "not much." I can continue to donate royalties and payments for various "outside Cerebus" projects to the CBLDF. But in terms of directly affecting the situation in Oklahoma City, the answer, alas, was "not much." I did an interview with a student newspaper in Oklahoma in which I tried to state the case for freedom of expression. But, beyond that, addressing letters to the local daily newspaper or alternative paper or what-have-you would be an exercise in futility. No one has heard of me or Cerebus in that context. My words would carry no weight —most likely I would just be viewed as another "smut peddler" jumping to the defense of other "smut peddlers."

Because Friends of Lulu has a roster of female professionals as active members, because censorship has been linked historically with . . . if there was a valid synonym for "feminist," I would use it here . . . feminist movements, because we are very short of resources in the comic-book field which have a snowball's chance in hell of swaying mainstream public opinion to the cause of creative freedom in the comic-book field . . . I took a stab in the dark. As an outsider examining the situation board — a non-American, non-CBLDF board member, a non-Friends of Lulu member.

Having put my case as eloquently as I could, I find it very disappointing that the reaction amounts to little more than the regurgitation of platitudes capped by a rhetorical cul-de-sac that amounts to little more, in my view, than "We're going to sit this one out, Dave."

The fact that no effort is (evidently) going to be expended even to determine if there is a level of interest within the ranks of the 160 or so female members of your organization to assist in ending censorship and that your seven-member board views the offhand 'enunciation of a "firm belief in freedom of expression" to be sufficient when two retailers are apt to be imprisoned possibly for a total of eighty years (to me) belies your expressions of support for the retail community.

I mean, come on!

Sincerely, Dave Sim

P.S. This letter will be printed with your reply in a future issue of Cerebus — along with any further comment you would care to provide.


A Fax from Friends of Lulu

Date: 1-24-96

This fax is for: Dave Sim

Number of pages besides this one: 2

Here is the refaxing of the letter that you requested. I also put a copy in the mail to you yesterday via snail mail.

What sort of deadline are we looking at for our "reply to your reply"?



I'll have to paraphrase my reply. So certain was I that I was asking for the merest crumb of consideration that I didn't hang onto the original letter. I basically offered four pages in the back of Cerebus, for a Friends of Lulu membership drive, in trade for a mention in their newsletter of a proposal for interested female professionals to compose and sign a petition or statement expressing their support for the First Amendment as preeminent over their personal dislike of comic books that could be seen to exploit or degrade women. I also pointed out the deadline for each issue of Cerebus and expressed a willingness to debate the issue month after month with the FoL executive until some compromise could be achieved. I did advise that phrasing along the lines of "anyone interested in this stupid proposal by that misogynist pig Dave Sim can write to . . ." would be unacceptable so far as the newsletter mention was concerned. Some weeks later, the following fax arrived:


A Fax from Friends of Lulu

Date: 3-17-96

This fax is for: Dave

Number of pages besides this one: 0

Dear Dave:

Thanks for your offer of four pages. We are grateful, but we would prefer not to accept. We will not be continuing this correspondence.


Friends of Lulu Board of Directors


So that's that. I'd like to thank the female comics reader who wrote to me expressing her support for the First Amendment as taking precedence over her personal likes and dislikes. And.. . well ... that's that.



Okay, time to take a closer look at the note from Jackie Estrada to Sgt. Claude Flowers in response to his questioning the lack of response both from Jackie and Heidi Macdonald to my (by now) five months old, every 25th of the month "Feminists get a free ride in our society" reminder as well as the lack of response from the current directors of the Friends of Lulu.. I'm going to get Jeff to preface this with the full text of "The Last Word" from Cerebus No. 206 just so there can be no mistaking what it is that Jackie's referring to.

I doubt that anyone currently in the Friends of Lulu would even know what Dave is talking about.

I haven't been involved with FoL since 1999 and don't have all the records or paperwork, but as I recall, back in 1996 Dave issued a challenge in Cerebus to FoL to "prove" that the organization wasn't made up of anti-First Amendment feminists by coming out in support of the CBLDF. In that challenge he made a number of erroneous statements about the organization. For instance, Friends of Lulu has always been an organization of women and men, adults and kids, professionals and non-professionals, not of "all female comics professionals." The FoL Board of Directors wrote to Dave (via fax, which is the only way he would communicate) thanking him for the opportunity to clarify what the organization is and to correct the misinformation he had printed. We then pointed out that under FoL's non-profit charter, the group could not do fund-raising for other non-profits (which is what he in fact asked FoL to do for CBLDF). We also pointed out that most of the FoL board members were also members and supporters of CBLDF.

Dave then sent a fax expressing his disappointment that FoL didn't come back with some kind of confrontational response so we could get a "rivalry" going. The FoL board simply refused to play that game since Dave had no interest in knowing what FoL was really trying to accomplish, which was to get more women and girls involved in creating and reading comics. CBLDF is a separate organization with separate goals, period.

I have no idea why Dave is trying to revive something that happened 10 years ago and was a non-issue even then. There is no "story" here other than Dave wanted to get some attention.

Jackie Estrada

Okay, I don't think you have to go over my initial overture from 1996 with a magnifying glass to determine that I wasn't asking the Friends of Lulu to do any fund-raising for the CBLDF, that all I was asking from the very beginning was that they canvas their membership to find out if there were any female comics professionals who would be willing to sign a petition deploring censorship that the CBLDF could use (attached to press releases sent to media in jurisdictions where they were fighting censorship prosecutions, etc.). I was well aware that the Friends of Lulu was not a female comics professional organization exclusively and I never said anything to the contrary. I did assume (and I think I had a solid basis for the assumption) that there would be a relatively large roster of female comics professionals in the membership of the Friends of Lulu and that that organization would be the best means to contact as many of them as possible with my suggestion through their newsletter. I still think that's a solid assumption. I also assumed that anyone who would join an organization like Friends of Lulu would be in the "activist" category and, thus, more likely to participate in the sort of petition that I envisioned.

At this late date—with the close-to-zero response that I got to my overture, from the Friends of Lulu, from the female comics professional community and from the Cerebus readership—I think it's very easy for Jackie to misremember my suggestion as a challenge to "prove" (why the quotation marks?) that FoL wasn't made up of anti-First Amendment feminists since I think that's very possibly what I ended up proving entirely by accident.

No, my thinking at the time and the reason that I didn't retain my follow-up fax was that it seemed to me a very straightforward "freedom of speech" issue. Issue 186—where I had made it obvious that I was not, personally, a feminist—had been published less than a year and a half before. I think it's safe to say that the Friends of Lulu was (and is) primarily made up of feminists. What I was saying with my suggestion was: "Look, I'm not a feminist and I'm opposed to feminism. You're all feminists and vehemently in favour of feminism. You're not going to convince me of your viewpoint and I'm not likely to convince you of my viewpoint, but can we at least agree that the important thing is that the First Amendment right to express a viewpoint is the more important issue at stake and that whatever either of us can do to protect the overarching principle of freedom of expression—yours, mine and everyone else's—as an absolute in the comic-book field is an inherently good thing?" I sincerely believed--given that the vast majority of the 1996 FoL Board were American citizens--that they would see that that was what I was saying: that the defence of First Amendment freedoms always needs to be proactive and needs to be fought from both ends of the political spectrum.

The reason that I'm reviving this now is to illustrate another large point that I consider of comparable importance to freedom of expression: that feminists get a free ride in our society and I think the complete amputation of any dialogue on the subject of a "female comics professional petition against censorship" ten years ago with nary a dissenting voice to be heard (or ANY voice to be heard) illustrates that point admirably. The fact that I titled that column "The Last Word" illustrates, as well, the extent to which I allowed myself to be a party to giving feminists a free ride in our society. No one was willing to discuss my suggestion (which I still think is a good one if for no other reason than I think that a lot of censorship results from "misguided chivalry"—the notion that women need to be protected from explicit content and that obscenity prosecutions are the best way to achieve that. It seems to me that we need more female voices to counterbalance that supposition. "No, I don't need to be protected from any form of freedom of expression and I'm appalled that you would think that I would be." That kind of thing) so I just accepted that there would be no further discussion and did so without uttering so much as a peep for the next ten years.

It was only when Mimi Cruz recalled the whole thing to my mind by suggesting that I had been intentionally rude to Jackie--that I "wouldn't talk to her" as her husband Batton Lash told Mimi (ultimately I had allowed that what I saw as an intellectually dishonest response by her and the FoL board the year before may have coloured my reaction to her at Will Eisner's 80th birthday party in Florida)--that I started wondering at that "Free Ride for Feminists" syndrome. "How do they keep getting away with this stuff: being intellectually dishonest and still somehow always managing to hold down the `victim' slot?"

I have to admit that I can't believe that people are still able to get away with dismissing me as "just wanting attention" as Jackie attempts to do here. The last thing I need is to get more personal attention of the kind that I've gotten for the last twelve years from the comic-book field. I don't know how anyone could still think that my opposition to totalitarian feminism is some kind of whim or some kind of game to make myself the centre of attention. I do want attention, but what I want is attention to and for the issues at stake: that there is a group in our society that has been getting a free ride by having the luxury of closing off debate by demonizing men and casting society in "0" and "1" either/or frames of reference: you are either a feminist or you're a misogynist and that anyone who disagrees with them or dissents from their political program is in the latter category and if you are in the latter category you are dismissed, shunned and vilified. It seems to me that the last twelve years in the life of Dave Sim make a pretty strong case that that is what's going on in our society.

Tomorrow: Jeff Tundis weighs in on the discussion

There's MORE for you

In Today's Blog &



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.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #168 (February 26th, 2007)

Here we are with The Last of the

Honking Huge Letters than came in

While Dave Sim was sick and the

Unfunny Headers that introduce them:

Letter from Romeo Burruel of Philadelphia. Remember the guy who gave up his job as a chef to do his comics and music full-time? I called him a couple of years back because I was answering the mail on a Friday or Saturday and his was the last one and the phone number was right on it, so I decided to break precedent and just give him a call. As it turned out he was so stunned to hear from Dave Sim that everything I said to him went in one ear and out the other which sort of confirmed for me that it's always better to send a letter. No matter how stunned you are to get a letter, you'll eventually get over it and be able to actually read the damn thing.


I can't begin to tell you what a gentleman you are.

I just happened upon your blog note this morning, (3:00am), and… well, I read it and ran to my sleeping, live-in Asian girlfriend in the next room, woke her up and showed it to her.

And she didn't even complain about being woken up at 3:00 am to read the Blog & Mail. You really should get a DNA sample from her in case we need to clone her in the next fifty years or so. We may not see her like again upon this earth.

She was the one who answered the phone that day. It was after noon, I was on the porch putting gesso on some plywood to paint what turned out to be the most important paintings of my short artistic `career' and my life.

It was a time when I was at my most disciplined, healthy, optimistic and clear and I was definitely rising. I was completely aware of my faults and qualities, how much time had gotten away and how much more I would have to put in to reach the prize. What I didn't know was how close I was.

She didn't live with me then in my tiny studio. Then, I had gotten out of the kitchens, dropped out of art school, and was working as an assistant/apprentice handyman for one dude who bought burned-out houses cheap and rebuilt them himself. He didn't do the prettiest work, but it was strong and sturdy and it worked when he was done, (an ancient Zen quality). I only had to deal with one person, who happened to be a great influence and man himself. I was trying to rid myself of the various defilements, which had plagued me my whole life and kept me from health and happiness, and figure out how to become a stronger and better person. I had given up everything I knew and tried to adopt a blessed simplicity, to begin to listen to the gentle whispers of the perfect wisdom of the Buddhas.

I was reading Buddhist scripture religiously, with love, faith and respect, meditating and doing a series of chakra aligning exercises called `the ancient secret of the fountain of youth', developed by an old mountain yogi long, long ago. No one was calling me because I hadn't cultivated any friendships in the five years I'd been in Philly. I had no flubbed relationships hanging or family that I cared to have contact with. Hell, it was only recently that I'd gotten a phone. I had three issues of a comic under my belt and seven pages of the next, which indicated the quantum leap I had been striving for. I was preparing to paint my first serious series of paintings. My girlfriend was perfect. She demanded nothing, asked nothing, expected nothing. I could go days without contact and she would still be there, (across town), if I needed some contact. I was…happy. Still wrestling with the occasional cigarette and night-of-the-hopeless-six-pack, but for the first time in my life I was happy. Content. In this shoe box of a studio in West Philly, alone, I had attained the Zen "Wabi', the perfection of the calm, quietude of poverty. My cup was beginning to fill and though I didn't know it, it was very soon to overflow.

Your conversion to religion and adoption of the various disciplines, renunciations, prayers hit me fully. With my newfound insights I realized your troubles with women arose from your own mind, but heartily applauded your resolution to formulate and pass on and resolve those difficult things we all wanted to say anyhow. They say a great being will rise to a great height above a great number of people and cut off the delusions of a great number of people. Your struggle and fight was to attain that place where you became your own self-realized being unattached and unaffected. An island that no flood could overwhelm, even the flood of perverted `feminism'. I always saw feminism as women's bid to adopt the atrocious behavior and habits of the most atrocious of the males, not interested in becoming self-realized and teaching others the same, but only to learn how the men `possessed' and `controlled'. Not interested in any real progress but just to secure a place on the boards so they too could play stupid power games. Ah, well. I guess like the Jews when they became Israelis, women too solve their grievances by adopting the behavior of their `tormentors', real or imagined. The slave becomes the slave owner, instead of working to abolish slavery. None of this is my real point or interest, though.

It is the stop after all the worldly ignorance, the true nature of reality. That is what I took from your essays and your life: the practice of giving, morality, patience, vigor and concentration. Those are the perfections of wisdom. Those are what I had realized and was trying to fold into the very fabric of my being when I produced The Quantum Leap Pages. The seven pages that were the hardest, took the longest and were the most rewarding, the pages that brought me face to face with my own limits. Just how long this was going to take, (my life), and just how much I would have to devote to it, (my life). Well…there was the answer, staring me in the face. I decided I would do some painting. And then the phone rang. It was the Master calling and he was looking for Romero. I'd almost forgotten I was using a pen name as I struggled to place the voice…etcetera, etcetera.

Maintaining the discipline was difficult, but rewarding. The universe began to respond in undeniable ways some might call `magic' or `supernatural', but I knew it to be the unveiling, the revelation of the true nature of reality itself. Events corresponded perfectly, completely with the pages I would read in the Prajnapramita, (The Perfection of Wisdom). I had only to turn to a page at `random' and it would be as if the interior monologue that was running in my head and the events of that day up until the very moment my eyes fell across the passage was answered by that passage. I was attaining trances and bliss. VISIONS, man, VISIONS of the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas who neither came nor went, but nonetheless, appeared. Appeared in the imprint of a halved potato stuck in a mix of paint and pressed to a sheet of tracing paper, defining the three realms and my unfortunate place therein. Appeared in the patterns of a torn cloth from an old sheet, holding in one hand a jar of red ink, burning and in the other a small light bulb, also burning. Appeared in the morning rays of the sun thru the blinds, moving across the wall to spell out the letter A, which is significant of the ultimate condensation of the perfection of wisdom, with attendant Bodhisatva. Appeared in a series of paintings, painted with the single pointed focus of Zen, unconcerned with any academy lessons, and completely unaware of the personal lessons pointing directly to the soul of this man that they later revealed. Some `miraculous', `magic', supra-normal experiences, Dave, and all the while the books were acting as guide.

Can you imagine it? If you can't then my writing is still inadequate, but that is why it will take a lifetime to show. And why it's so important. The explication of the grand revelation. Thus Spake Zarathustra! Siddhartha!!

So anyway, right after you called, my old man whom I hadn't any contact for thirty years decides to drop by and mooch off me for the next three years, seriously depleting any extra cash I might have had, and any extra joy, or hope, or happiness with his perfect unending ignorance.

Not intending to be too provocative, but I might have been the Master (or "Master") on the phone and I might also have been your mooching old man. I mean, I hope I did all the good for you that you perceive me as having done and that I did it with no negative aspect attached, but (maybe it's just my sense of humour) the sudden appearance of your mooching old man seemed a little too metaphorically apropos for me to at least not offer the suggestion. Don't know how I might be mooching off you, but maybe on a higher plane of reality or something.

He's leaving soon, and I'm picking up the book again and the future seems possible. I think I can make another go of it. It sure would have been good to get that letter you said got sent back.

Actually it was just a printed-out copy of the Blog & Mail entry so there was nothing in the letter you hadn't already read.

But, I'll take the mention of it and milk it for every ounce of inspiration I can now, because that's all I've got. I'll have to sell something to afford a copy of the `…Letters', but it's always great to find out you're still here and working. I think of Bukowski visiting Fante on his sickbed, an old man telling Buk that `bitterness comes to all.'

I dunno, maybe we can keep it at bay. That's the struggle. Where Cerebus ends, I begin. You had your disciplines and qualities long before I ever did. I'm a late bloomer and a newcomer, but I arrive with the revelations you left with. I just have to master the weighty resolve, now. It's my last chance and only hope.

Hey! Maybe you're metaphorically me and your old man is metaphorically you ("I arrive with the revelations you left with"). Maybe you're mooching off of me!

To chisel and dig and chip away at the thing until what you are left with is, as Alan Moore says, "…truth itself".

Knowing you're up there still smiling and still sending out the support is a great thing. A Buddhist mantra attributed to Avalokitseshvara, the Bodhisattva, the Great Being, is, Tadyatha ohm, gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi, svaha. Which more or less means, `it is like this; go, go, perfectly go, perfectly and completely go, enlightenment, build the foundation'.

Neat, eh?

I'll say. We should set it to music and maybe write a separate chorus for "the mooching old man" to sing.

Thank you for the foundation.



John (not-sure-if-he'll-keep-the-pen-name) Frizzelle

4404 Walnut St. #1F

Philadelphia, PA. 19104


Well, my letters keep getting returned but maybe one of you Yahoos will have better luck. Send John a few bucks for some of his comics. They're really good.


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. Cerebus #1-25 $30.00 STAR00070

High Society #26-50 $30.00 STAR00071

Church and State I #52-80 $35.00 STAR00271

Church and State II #81-111 $35.00 STAR00321

Jaka's Story #114-136 $30.00 STAR00359

Melmoth #139-150 $20.00 STAR00431

Flight #151-162 $20.00 STAR00543

Women #163-174 $20.00 STAR00849

Reads #175-186 $20.00 STAR01063

Minds #187-200 $20.00 STAR01916

Guys #201-219 $25.00 STAR06972

Rick's Story #220-231 $20.00 STAR08468

Going Home I #232-250 $30.00 STAR10981

Form and Void #251-265 $30.00 STAR13500

Latter Days #266 - 288 $35.00 AUG031920

The Last Day #289 - 300 $25.00 APR042189

Collected Letters - $30 FEB052434

Dave Sim's blogandmail #167 (February 25th, 2007)

In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the

Most Merciful:

There is no God but God

& Muhammad is His last messenger and seal

of prophets.

Almighty God

One God having One Name, One Face and One

Aspect which is God:

Glory to God in the Highest, Glory to God Most


God Who is the Most Gracious and the Most


Great is God and there is no other god but He.

Almighty God, I thank You for having revealed

Yourself to men.

I thank you for Your Presence in the world

and Your presence in my life

through Your Living Word, preserved for all

time within Your Sacred Scriptures;

Your Living Word which is like unto a shining

beacon, illuminating the path You have made

straight before me.

Almighty God, I thank You for the book of Genesis,

I thank You for the book of Exodus,

I thank You for the book of Leviticus,

I thank You for the book of Numbers,

I thank You for the book of Deuteronomy.

I thank You for these books and revelations which

You imparted to Your great prophet, Moshe

Peace be upon him.

I thank You for the book of Joshua,

I thank You for the book of Judges,

I thank You for the book of Samuel,

I thank You for the book of Kings,

I thank You for the book of Isaiah,

I thank You for the book of Jeremiah,

I thank You for the book of Ezekial,

I thank You for the book of Hosea,

I thank You for the book of Joel,

I thank You for the book of Amos,

I thank You for the book of Obadiah,

I thank You for the book of Jonah,

I thank You for the book of Micah,

I thank You for the book of Nahum,

I thank You for the book of Habakkuk,

I thank You for the book of Zephaniah,

I thank You for the book of Haggai,

I thank You for the book of Zechariah,

I thank You for the book of Malachi,

I thank You for the testimony and the records

of these prophets and messengers to

Your Chosen People,


Peace be upon them.

I thank You for the Gospel according to Matthew,

I thank You for the Gospel according to Mark,

I thank You for the Gospel according to Luke,

I thank You for the Gospel according to John,

Peace be upon them

I thank you for the testimonies and the records

of Jesus, the Lamb of God,

Peace be upon him.

I thank You for the Acts of the Apostles,

I thank You for the Epistles of Paul,

I thank You for the testimony of the disciples,

I thank You for the Revelation of John.

Peace be upon them.

And I thank you for your glorious Koran.

Almighty God, after the instruction of Your

last messenger and seal of prophets,

Muhammad, peace be upon him,

who counselled that a man must submit himself

to the Will of God, wilfully and peacefully, I

renew my vow (this morning) that I do so: that

I submit myself to You and I submit myself to

Your Will. If it be Your Will, please grant that

I might be brought to the fulfillment whish

You intended for me from before my birth.

Glory to God in the highest, Glory to God

Most High, God who is the Most Gracious and

the Most Merciful, Great is God and there is

no other God but He. God Who created all

the worlds and all the heavens, God Who is

the only Source of salvation, God Who is the

only Hope of redemption, God Who is the only

good, God Who is my only sanctuary, God

Who is my only safe harbour from the storm.

Glory to God in the highest, glory to God most


In excelsis Deo.

Almighty God, I thank you for allowing me to

be born in Canada in the last half of the

twentieth century: pampered, coddled,

insulated, sheltered and protected

from so much of the world's genuine hardship

& pain, misery & strife, famine & poverty,

disease & dispair, hunger & need, want &

dread, fear & violence, suppression &

oppression which are the yoke & the burden

under which so much of the world's

population yet labours.

Through these sufferings are the dust of this

earth -- from dust they came and to dust they

will return -- still I know that I have been

spared them, only by Your Grace and by Your

Mercy, and I am profoundly grateful to You

for that.

May God's will be done in the earth, and on

the earth, as it is in all the worlds and all the


Glory to God in the highest, Glory to God

Most High, God who is the Most Gracious

and Most Merciful, Great is God and there is

no other god but He. God Who created all the

worlds and all the heavens, God Who is the

only Source of salvation, God Who is the

only Hope of redemption, God Who is the only

good, God Who is my only sanctuary, God

who is my only safe harbour from the storm.

Glory to God in the highest, glory to God

most high,

In excelsis Deo.

Almighty God, if I am worthy of forgiveness

in Your Eyes, I ask forgiveness of my many

sins, transgressions, iniquities and vanities

which are abomination before your Eternal

Laws, Morals and Ethics. If I am worthy

of forgiveness in Your Eyes, I ask forgiveness

for all my sins of commission and of

omission: those sins which I have

committed and which I commit, out of

wilfulness, out of ignorance,

out of spite, out of misery, out of

self-absobtion, out of self-pity,

out of self-destructiveness or out of

misundertsanding or

misconstruing Your Living Word.

Almighty God, I accept all consequences and

repercussions of my own choices, decisions,

self-imposed inadequacies, actions, deeds,

words and works. For God is the Sure Judge

over all the earth and all the worlds and all

the heavens, slow to anger, measured and

temperate in Your Judgements, sparing and

merciful in Your chastisements.

Glory to God in the highest, Glory to God

Most High, God who is the Most Gracious and

the Most Merciful, Great is God and there is

no other God but He. God Who created all

the worlds and all the heavens, God Who is

the only Source of salvation, God Who is the

only Hope of redemption, God Who is the only

good, God Who is my only sanctuary, God

Who is my only safe harbour from the storm.

Glory to God in the highest, glory to God most


In excelsis Deo.

Almighty God, I commend into Your Care and

Your Custody, my soul, my mind and my

heart, knowing as I do so that free will is

God's greatest gift to man. And while I

entrust myself only to You and while I trust

only You, still I know that there are choices

and decisions which lie before me in my life

which are mine alone to make. If it be Your

Will, please grant that those choices and

decisions might be informed by the common

sense, the good judgement and what wisdom

You have seen fit to bestow upon me, by Your

Grace and by Your Mercy.

Glory to God in the highest, Glory to God

Most High, God who is the Most Gracious

and Most Merciful, Great is God and there is

no other god but He. God Who created all the

worlds and all the heavens, God Who is the

only source of salvation, God Who is the only

hope of redemption, God Who is the only

good, God Who is my only sanctuary, God

who is my only safe harbour from the storm.

Glory to God in the highest, glory to God

most high,

In excelsis Deo.

Almighty God, I also renew my vow (this

morning) that I will never again marry and I

will never again cohabit with a woman. I vow

further to exercise all caution , all restraint, all

common sense, all good judgement and what

wisdom You have seen fit to bestow upon me,

by Your Grace and by Your Mercy and to

exercise all these to the utmost in all of my

dealings with womankind.

Glory to God in the highest, Glory to God

most High, God who is the Most Gracious and

the Most Merciful, Great is God and there is

no other God but He. God Who created all the

worlds and all the heavens, God who is the

only Source of salvation, God who is the only

Hope of redemption, God who is the only

good, God Who is my only sanctuary, God

who is my only safe harbour from the storm.

Glory to God in the highest, glory to God

most high,

In excelsis Deo.


Dave Sim Cerebus Scripture readng bible dvd Judges Item number: 250088198921

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #166 (February 24th, 2007)






Dear Dave,

I wanted to write to you and wanted to say something other than "I love your stuff" or "dood you're a natzie seriusly." I don't know what you do with your time but I thought I'd send this your way. I don't care about getting stuff signed, or things like that, though I responded to the "free signed copies of Cerebus" offer when I heard about it from Neil Gaiman's blog, and enjoyed receiving my free comic, having sent a paper letter, which I do a couple of times a year. I've been reading your proxy blog lately and was impressed with the sort of mindscape and base of faith you apparently think and live from.

My experience of you is purely through having borrowed the first Cerebus phonebooks in 1997 from Dave Whelen, my room-mate-at-the-time-who is very into comics, claims to have been at one of your "do's back in the day", and is good friends with some of Toronto's not-overly-successful-I-don't think-but-what-do-I-know-about-comics self-publishers (Mark Oakley of Thieves and Kings, Jeff Wasson and Chris Howard of Dressed for Success, Tara Tallon of Galaxian, Greg Bettham and Stephen Geigen-Miller of Xeno's Arrow and that ilk.) I ordered "that" single issue of Reads to see what the big feminist fuss was about, because everyone was going on about it, but obviously hadn't thought enough about it to say anything sensible about it to me. Upon reading it, I had no immediate, simple response to it, despite thinking that the thoughts and feelings shown in it were unaccountably rare and not at all without merit. And then I forgot about it all for a bit.

Now, years later, I was missing borrowing Dave's Cerebus phonebooks, as he's moved in with a girl who lives far from here (in the intervening time I'd bought Jaka's Story, Rick's Story and Melmoth, which don't seem like great "reminding myself what they early Cerebus story was about" choices) so I've started buying them a couple each month at The Comic Book Store. Yesterday I picked up High Society (and Ragmop) from the store, checked out some YouTube stuff with you and Rob disagreeing about the Three Stooges, and was reminded that I've always wondered what you thought about some specific things that are of interest to me.

No real segue: My background was a strict, unthinking Plymouth Brethren, fundamentalist Christian one, and I've moved on quite a bit in some ways since then, into having a strong interest (some would focus on "belief") in God, the bible and so on, but not trusting any group of religious people to do anything good (I just assume they'll waste all of their time claiming to be right, damning others for being different from they, fighting over who gets the scraps of power and special titles and funny hats, and stuff like that.) I've also largely given up worrying about doing things that are "wrong", focusing instead of not doing things that are harmful, evil, bad or lacking in virtues such as integrity, kindness and honesty.

For that reason, I am quite interested in what the bible and other stuff like that means to you and what you've been thinking about it lately.

Religiously, I'm personally most interested in things like (bold font used in case you like to skim long things you find boring and irrelevant to you. Sorry if it seems condescending. I'm a high school teacher. Most people skim when they read, nowadays):

the idea that Christian (and perhaps other) fundamentalists have gone wrong by operating from a "right/wrong" and "secular/sacred" paradigm, rather than the "good/evil, across the board" one that exists in the bible, and that this practice trivializes things, and subverts what should be "are we doing any good at all?" and "Did we do any harm we should own up to?" discussions into stupid "I don't admit that I did anything wrong, though" and "But, is what you're doing The Right Thing?" non-discussions. I know you're focused on "attempting to eliminate my own wrong behaviours and change them into right behaviours." I think the "right/wrong" paradigm there puts you at risk of trivializing what you can actually do, but that's just me. I think the use of the very word "right" reveals a focus on correctness, while "good" has a focus on worth, on excellence. You wrote, lettered and drew Cerebus very well (adverbial form of "good") rather than merely very correctly ("right"). I wrote a whole big thing that goes into this topic in more detail and makes this point better. I got the idea because of hearing "devout" people continually needing to translate and misquote the "good's" "well's" and "evil's" and "bad's" of scripture into "right's" and "wrong's" in order to make their points, which were not easily made, using the original wording. This interested me. When zealots and fundamentalists continually misquote a particular scripture in a predictable way, it tells you a lot. Also, every single pregnant teen says her job is to teach her child "right from wrong." No thought of excellence there, just "what are the boundaries we may or may not be transgressing?" Good can make right kind of obsolete (or, completely taken care of), as deep, intuitive understanding can make a discussion of basic facts unnecessary.

I think I see what you're driving at but I think in a lot of ways it amounts to hair-splitting sophistry. "Good" and "right" versus "bad" and "evil" and "wrong" (and "illegal" and "immoral" if you want to include those). For me to get bogged down in trying to determine the proper term for what it is I'm trying to eliminate from my life and what it is that I'm trying to incorporate into my life strikes me as a real basic God's adversary kind of distraction. I can be diplomatic and tell someone that I don't share their view of a specific behaviour, rather than telling them that I think that behaviour is evil, but essentially what matters to me is my innermost response to it because God knows my innermost response so that's all that really matters. If you were coming to me for advice (which you don't appear to be) I would say "My best advice is to start with the things you're doing that you either know or strongly suspect are evil or wrong. Pick one and stop doing it." If you tried to turn that into a discussion of the nature of evil and wrong and is it the same as illegal or immoral and is it subjective or objective, I'd say, "Look, you're making this needlessly complicated. Everyone has things that they do that they know or strongly suspect are evil or wrong. By getting bogged down in debates over nomenclature and definitions, all you're doing is distracting yourself from what you already know you should do and avoiding cutting a specific bad behaviour out of your life. Don't pick the bad behaviour you most know you should get rid of or the one that you're the most in love with. Pick one that you won't really miss, but pick one and get rid of it." Stop finding intellectual evasions for embracing behaviours you know are wrong and just…get rid of them.

The ideas of grace and forgiveness, which I think, after showing my Grade 12 Creative Writing class The Fisher King, are concepts which modern kids (and their parents) don't get at all. The idea that you usually don't earn a position of grace, that falling from grace to disgrace often isn't your fault and may have little to do with you, that dealing with a fall of that kind often requires someone (not just God) to show grace or kindness or forgiveness to you when you can't earn it and perhaps don't seem like a good first choice to offer it to, that their offering is almost always for their own reasons and has nothing to do with you, all of this seems like something they've never even heard of. At least our religious "leaders" growing up told us properly-structured myths with characters who experienced or understood that stuff, even if they didn't themselves show an understanding of it. They demonstrated an odd idea that we try to earn grace through works.

Well, I discussed this a little while ago in a discussion on Paul and frankly I don't come from that tradition of non-culpability and complete ineffectiveness in being deserving of God's grace. In my view, you're better served saying "If I was to make myself more worthy of God's grace than I am today, how would I go about doing that?" If you have any kind of insight into yourself at all, a whole desktop full of options should appear right away. Not "how can I make myself worthy of God's grace"—for the sake of argument we'll accept the Paulist argument that you can't—but "how can I make myself more worthy of God's grace?" The journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step. Your Grade 12 Creative Writing class and their parents, to me, have their own row to hoe. If you want to introduce the concept to them, hey, give it a try. But don't suggest it to them as a substitute for taking action against your own bad choices. It is always going to be easier to fix what's wrong with yourself than to fix what you see as being wrong with others. You don't have to talk yourself into it or deal with any evasions if you choose not to. "This is the behaviour I want to stop." Then you just stop it. In my experience God will meet you halfway and give you the help you need to stop the behaviours you can't seem to stop on your own. In my experience, He hasn't much interest in my opinions or recommendations of how to fix the behaviours and bad decision-making of others. "Um, I'm God, Dave. I'm an omniscient being. Trust me. I'm already on the case. Just, uh, stick to your own plate here. You seem to have a fair amount to deal with on your own without worrying about anyone else's plate."

The unchangingly Eternal view of God, vs. the Living, Receptive and Reactive to Us view of God. I grew up with a strong slant to the latter, and now sometimes wonder what's the point of even telling Him anything that matters to me. He seems to do whatever he's going to do anyway, and my concerns and His are pretty different. I think I'm getting one-sided in the opposite way, now, probably largely because following God mostly just keeps me from having sex when I've spent my whole life trying to do things like that in what I saw as His way, or in a way that would make sense, given How Things Are, and what He Meant When He Thought Of Them as far as I could understand things.

Well, I don't think Understanding God or Knowing God has any part in what we are here to accomplish. Fixing Ourselves is what I see us as being here to accomplish. Is God Unchangingly Eternal or is God Reacting to Us minute-by-minute. I would assume both. That is, the nature of God is Unchangingly Eternal and Remote but the extent to which that Nature assists us depends on our willingness to move unquestioningly towards it. Again, in my view by intentional self-improvement and the avoidance of backsliding and making submission to God's will—not understanding God's will or knowing God's will but just submitting yourself to God's will, unquestioningly. You can, in my view, and should improve your life by moving closer and closer to your own perception of God and those behaviours that you think would earn favour in the sight of God (keep it hypothetical if you want). But, in my experience, no matter how close you move to God you are still not going to Understand or Know Him. Your effort to improve will be assisted by Him. That's all that's important. Not Understanding or Knowing Him, but Fixing You. God isn't the issue, you are.

Why religious people are helpless before fanatics. Anyone who is more extreme in any nasty traits (judgmentalism, joylessness, pettiness, stuff like that) always wins the all-important "more `into it' than thou" crown, and anyone who is more in possession of any good traits (in particular, ones that don't mess with other people) is seen as nice, but not serious, important or effectual, until he or she starts acting like the fanatics, or else leaves in disgust, which makes them an infidel/heretic.

Yes, but that really has nothing to do with Fixing You, does it? There's no question about it that fanaticism does tend to express itself in really unpleasant ways. So, it seems to me the best thing to do is to choose not to be a fanatic yourself. And having chosen to not be a fanatic, then ask yourself which of your wrong behaviours you're willing to get rid of today or which wrong behaviours you have to get rid of again because you've allowed them back into your life. It's going to be a lot easier to get rid of a wrong behaviour you let back into your life two days ago than it is if you let it take up residence for another six months or a year or two years. Your plate—like everyone's plate—is full already and it will probably take most of your life to clean it. You don't have time to worry about what's on the plate of hypothetical fanatics, do you?

The inevitable tendency for people who have serious problems with groups to go off on their own, where they are of no use whatsoever to the groups, who desperately need their influence, and where they hermit up and get kind of dried up, self-focussed, eccentric and disconnected from "people" in general (talking about me here, not you.) I think having your brain stirred up and stimulated by the company of other people is important. I think a life that is centred around getting holy is a selfish one, focussed as it is on bettering yourself. I don't ever go to church anymore. I was kicked out for writing a parody of one of their outreach pamphlets. I work and associate with fairly irreligious people for the most part. My "religious" friends I relate to not much at all. I argue with unthinking fundamentalists and encourage just-starting-to-think ex-fundamentalists online. I write stuff and put it on my webpage. I made a fairly popular animated flash cartoon lampooning church politics in my church, just so there would be one. People see my stuff and I seldom know about it. I am increasingly alone in my way of living. Is this just part of getting middle-aged?

Well, I think that isolation is healthy. In my experience conversation is to communication what chewing gum is to eating. It's certainly a lot of fun to be out somewhere sitting at a table full of people indulging in various vices and having the fitful stop-and-start objective/subjective misunderstanding of what you're trying to say and what the other person is trying to say. But, compared to sitting in a room and forming coherent thoughts and taking positive action in your own life and not doing wrong things and doing right things, well, to me there is no comparison. I don't think I would ever have become celibate or chosen not to masturbate if I had continued having an active social life and canvassed all my friends as to whether I should or shouldn't. In our society sex and masturbation are Inescapable Givens. The average North American wouldn't give up masturbation anymore than they would give up breathing. When the world's morals erode (as I think they have) then the more time you spend in the world, the more you're going to grade your own behaviours against the curve and cut yourself way too much slack. Whereas if you make your decisions in isolation and you read Scripture and pray a lot you're going to realize that this isn't a game and I think the natural tendency at the point is to aspire to God's approval on the basis of God's word which means you'll tend to err on the side of right rather than the side of wrong. To me it's almost a given that you're going to choose wrong over right if (like most North Americans) you're taking your guidelines from pop music, movies and television and the hedonistic excesses and relativistic morality of your immediate circle of atheistic friends.

As to the rest of this passage, again, I don't think arguing with people is particularly helpful when you have your own plateful of stuff to deal with and a very short lifetime in which to do it. Write your own exam and don't worry about anyone else's. You can't pass their exam and they can't pass your exam.

Young, not-so-young, middle-aged, advanced middle-aged, senior citizen…you still have the same full plate and the same exam that you've been writing (or avoiding writing) all along. "I've been writing my exam for almost thirty years now. Maybe it's time I started giving up some of these behaviours that I suspect or know are wrong." That's a good choice at thirty or forty or fifty or sixty or seventy, in my view. The best time to change the way you behave that you think needs changing is today, however old you are or whenever today happens to be.

envying prodigals, people who have had it both ways. People like Cain, Jacob and the prodigal son, (and you) who learn about foolishness, mistakes and excess, and also about forgiveness and grace in ways that people who are "raised right" and never stray have not the slightest clue about. No wonder Esau's and prodigal's elder brothers don't know how important forgiveness and cutting people some slack is, as they don't feel they've ever required it. And they don't learn anything from people who've tried both ways, either. Celebrities who turned their backs on a religious past, rebelled in a big way and then embraced religion in a way that worked for them are legion (heh) including Alice Cooper, Dave Mustaine, Tori Amos and many others. People are dubious as to what change they "undersent" as you point out. I haven't really lived a life with much excess or foolishness or big sin of any kind in it. I haven't needed big forgiveness. I've lived carefully and small. I'm ashamed of that, but I'm not changing much as I age, it seems. I respect (for good or ill) your right to claim having tried taking both hedonism and religion quite far, and to have leaped in, no holds barred, into the arena with both, at different times your life. Therefore, I think your insights are potentially pretty valuable to someone like me.

Well, good. I hope you're right. All I can do is tell you what worked for me and hope that it will work for you if you choose to give it a try.

As to feminism, one reason I'm interested in what you have to say is that I am in most ways, (I feel this especially after reading Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job with his "the beta male invents fire, the alpha picks it up, waves it around, and gets credit for having invented it, as well as the 3rd degree burn, the beta male's defining trait is imagination, which he lives in, not getting the stuff the alpha, in reality, does") a classic case of the domesticated Beta Male. I live single and alone, feeling that I'd never submit to the cell-phone-based tyranny that my male friends are under, yet somehow also realizing that my generation and the ones following it lack fathers in a very real sense, and that I am continually "fathering" the disenchanted daughters of missionaries when they've boinked a black guy, fatherless or poorly-fathered children I teach English and History to, my sister (whose father's shortcomings I know as well as she, obviously), young guys who need help writing, recording or editing their creative stuff, beaten housewives and troubled women of every kind. If I'm in a bar, depressed women gravitate to me. I used to gravitate to them too. They used to tell me everything, and I thought this was intimacy and trust, as I knew their bed-partners weren't privy to this stuff. Now I know they'd talk to a street lamp. Also, I wasn't ever their bed partners. I'm perpetually in the role of saying, "Yes, that stuff was bad. How awful. What a bastard. It sucked. Now stop whining and do something good. Go ahead. No excuses, no disclaimers, just start doing stuff. Don't be timid and don't be so careful. Take risks right now. Screwing up is part of it." I think that's a big part of what father's are supposed to do. There's already a mother there to say, "be careful. Be nice. Don't screw up or make a mess"

Well, yes. I think it comes down to what women are using their free will for and what men are using their free will for and the way we've allowed our society to change for the worse. The "confidant" situation you describe is not unusual and we've all been through it. Basically what it amounts to is feminists looking for a kind of absolution. They are aware (however unconsciously) that men are ahead of them in the societal pecking order and they are aware that Nice Guys are higher in the pecking order than the thugs they fall in love with who beat the crap out of them and borrow money and cheat, etc. etc. So, essentially what they're ostensibly looking for is an honest assessment from someone above them. "Here's my whole life from the last five years in a nutshell. What do you think?" Which is, of course, perfectly disingenuous of them since the Nice Guy they're talking to usually wants to get into their pants. Consequently he becomes a party to their self-deception by being less judgmental. MOST of the time the only honest thing to say to unrepentant self-destructive sluts is "You have the life you deserve. Your misfortune is all of your own making. God is not mocked." Which is why they seek absolution from horny Nice Guys instead of actual Nice Guys. As is the case with everyone, they know what the problem actually is, they know what behaviours they indulge in that are wrong/evil but most of the time they're just marking time since they know they have no intention of giving up anything that they consider fun. That's what makes them strong, independent feminists.

Fathers have been effectively neutralized by mothers, as far as I can see. If you take it as a given that the most important thing for a girl is to be strong and independent and to do whatever it is she wants—which is the core of the feminist position—basically by the age of nine you will have already produced an unrepentant self-destructive slut. If you subscribe—as we do in our society—to the view that letting girls do whatever they want without disapproving of it makes you a good feminist and not letting girls do whatever they want makes you an evil patriarchal misogynist, then you have essentially made all fathers complicitous in making unrepentant, self-destructive sluttishness the societal norm by making him understand the situation as an either/or. Either you agree with this degradation and approve of it and stay married and have access to your kids or you disagree with this degradation and disapprove of it and essentially lose your marriage, possessions and access to our children under Feminist Family Law. So, I'm too comfortably smug about playing around in religious topics, would love to be thrown off-balance by whatever Dave Sim thinks about any of these, and conversely am at a loss as to pursuing intimate relationships with God and women alike. Being me seems frequently to preclude being close in certain ways to either of those. I don't really have anyone else to be but me, after all, and there are limits to how much one can and should change.I've chosen to avoid intimate relationships with women because I believe marriage is the only valid, moral, God-fearing option and marriage has been poisoned under Feminist Family Law. You either stand back like a good feminist and let your daughter do whatever she wants (i.e. become an unrepentant self-destructive slut) or you lose your daughter because you're a patriarchal misogynist for thinking it right for you, as her father, to tell her what to do. As long as that legal dichotomy of feminist origin exists—you are either a feminist or a misogynist—it makes no sense for men to participate in that Alice in Wonderland feminist world that I can see. I'll find out on Judgment Day if that's the case or if my assessment was wrong.

There may be limits as to how much one can and should change, but this looks to me like you are choosing to just stop writing your exam. As with exams in our world that really doesn't make a whole lot of sense that I can see. You have three hours to write the exam and you choose to stop writing after an hour and set your pen down and sit there complacently with your hands folded on your desk. "Man, you've only GOT seventy or eighty years and you just sat there wasting the last ten or twenty of them!" I mean, what do you think your final grade is going to look like if that's what you choose to do? When the Bible says "There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" on Judgment Day, I think that'll be coming from a lot of folks who are standing there with 5 out of the 890 questions on their exams answered. " 5 OUT OF 890! AND I JUST SAT THERE WITH MY THUMB UP MY WHATSIT FOR THE LAST THIRTY-FIVE YEARS!! WAIL WAIL, GNASH GNASH!!"If you choose to respond to any of the above stuff, I solemnly swear to read each and every word of your thoughts on the subject, and to actually think about it. Be as nice as you can. Proverbs advises avoiding a wrathful man. I am writing to you anyway, despite your having a reputation for a certain flavour of wrathfulness.Mm. No wrathfulness here, Mike. I'm just, you know, sitting here writing my exam. In fact, its time for my afternoon prayer. Five prayers a day without fail. Ever, uh, thought of giving that a try before you give up writing your exam permanently? It really has worked for me.

Making no attempt at appropriate social mores in this letter,

(signed Mike Moore)Mike Moore (not the documentary director one)

Tomorrow: The Feminists catch a break as the "Society Gives Feminists a Free Ride Day" the 25th falls on a Sunday this month and there's still one more Honking Huge Letter to go that I'll be answering Monday so there's a two-day reprieve until I address Jackie Estrada's letter to Claude Flowers on Tuesday! As for tomorrow, Jeff Tundis had a great suggestion. Why don't we run Dave's Prayer again? Hey, sounds good to me!


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.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #165 (February 23rd, 2007)

Continuing our series of Honking HUGE

Letters and Terrifically unfunny bold face

Headlines…This letter I insert my answers

between paragraphs. Amazing but True!

Hi Dave.

Thanks for the blogandmail. I'm not really in a position to purchase extra copies of the phonebooks but I appreciate the time you put into communicating with your public this way. It's been largely fascinating and worth my time to read it, too, including the Sunday editions.

Glad to hear it. Yes, I have to admit I wondered how this could work if I'm just talking to the Yahoos and they already have all of the phonebooks (most of them anyway). But there does seem to be a spillover effect whereby people at least hear that I'm doing a blog, so they start talking about Dave Sim and that leads to talking about Cerebus and innocent bystanders get compelled to pick it up and check it out. At least that's my latest theory based on my little sales surge over Christmas.

Funny, you and Eddie Campbell have both started blogs at about the same time, so each morning I have to decide whose I'm going to read first, just like 10 years ago when both Bacchus and Cerebus competed for "top of the reading pile" when both comics came in on the same week. I'd prefer you both to be making more comics with your time (it's as if the backs of your respective books have become the fronts, these days) but you each express ideas about comics and life really well so I'll take that and enjoy it too.

Thanks, again. Does Eddie do a daily blog (unlike this here illusion of a daily blog)? I know what you mean, I'd far rather have some new issues of Bacchus or another Alec graphic novel than more of Eddie's blather but I agree, speaking as a world-class blatherer myself, that he can blather with the best of them and if I was on-line I'd be checking to see what he has to say every day. In my own case, the working theory is that if I can produce enough of these Blog & Mails in a short enough period of time that that will give me uninterrupted working time on my secret project while assuaging my perhaps misapprehended notion that I am obligated to keep my name in the public eye in order to sell Cerebus trades. I had actually produced three weeks worth of Blogs in about five days and was preparing to have a nice Christmas holiday and then some uninterrupted working time when I ended up getting sick for a month. Now, I've just produced the Blog & Mail for Feb. 9 to February 26 between January 29 and today, Feb. 2, so I hope to get some work done on my secret project, maybe even two to three weeks. Of course, then I remember I've promised Stephen Lapin a page for his comic and an introduction for James Turner's Rex Libris collection, and that starts whittling away at my working time. Then there's the cover I promised Jeff Seiler for Cerebus Readers in Crisis #2 and for which I checked and I have absolutely no reference. So reference has to be dug up. Have to finish my Ultimate Spider-man #100 cover. And don't even discuss finishing the Cerebus Archive, resorting all the non-issue 1 to 300 artwork onto shelves, getting new correspondence boxes as well as sorting and filing (and throwing out duplicates) of the 6,000+ "flats" of negatives that are still occupying the Off-White House Library and Ger's old studio as they have since they first arrived last summer in Kim Preney's rent-a-truck. I do despair on occasion of ever actually getting back to my own work and actually finishing this here comic book for you nice folks. At the same time I'm getting seriously unhappy about my library looking like an abandoned rail yard. At some point I'm going to crack and just work on that part full-time until it's done (as I did with the Cerebus Archive 8-and-a-half by 11" and smaller documents 1972 to the present).

It'll be interesting to see if I finish my secret project before the moment that I crack or after. I'm hoping "before". It would be really nice to have an actual funnybook out there in the stores before the end of the year. My secret assistant has actually registered a domain name for the book to preview it when I get to that point. I say that in the hopes that it will make it sound as if publication is far more imminent than it actually is.

My favorite "thread" has been your Ditko discussion. He was the first artist whose work I could recognize and identify by name as a young comics reader in the late 70's. (Infantino was next, then Kirby). Not having any "company allegiance" – I just loved comics – I thrilled at finding his art in seemingly random selections of Charlton, Marvel and DC comics at my grandma's 7-Eleven. The separate discovery that my favorite character, Spider-Man, had been more or less created by Ditko (when Marvel's Pocket Book reprints appeared in '78-'79) was a glorious stars-aligning moment for me. Eventually I grew up but I always enjoyed seeing more Ditko work and even some of his recent imagery generates that same early thrill, although his stories have gotten so ponderously abstract and didactic that I have a tough time engaging with them. However, I haven't read any of the packages in a while so I'll check out what Robin Snyder has available and put something on the "to-read" list.

Having gotten in the big box of Ditko material I ordered from Robin Snyder and still only being partway through it, I'll be revisiting the subject soon (and thanks to everyone who said how much they enjoyed it). It took me a long time to read The Mocker and I had a fair amount of difficulty following it because I was sick at the time, but I would definitely recommend it as a good dense, self-contained graphic novel.

One less-examined area of Ditko's output is his turn-of-the-80's Marvel work. I don't know if that represented a compromise on his part of his own ideals – I can't imagine it as anything else, given the hardcore anti-compromise stance of his own work – but I still remember it somewhat fondly. I think it was mostly fill-in stuff, but he did have a run on Captain Universe in Marvel… Spotlight? This is from distant memory, not research. (The internet makes it easy to do the research but also absurdly easy to get derailed and I want to write this letter first.) Anyway, Captain Universe was sort of a "Green Lantern For A Day" kind of hero where a universal force would settle on some ordinary person in peril and he or she would suddenly have a star-spangled blue and white uniform and super powers with which to do good. I don't even know if Ditko plotted or just drew them but there were some interesting variations on who got to be heroes – very ordinary people, and one criminal type – that explore the question of exactly how would/should an ordinary person be heroic if given a very limited opportunity to be so.

That was too late in the day for me. Around the time that Cerebus went monthly I was really only looking at work that could directly inspire me on the book and dropped out of comics reading entirely for a good decade or so. I mean, I used to look through everything Gene Day was working on in photocopy form, but I wasn't even reading Master of Kung Fu, for crying out loud.

Following Cerebus #9 was a great pleasure to read. I simply order the thing from my supplier (Westfield Comics) when it's solicited and it's one of the few items I select automatically without checking the solicitation or price tag so I had no idea it had a Neal Adams interview or that it would cost me $9, but the result was worth every cent. I appreciate the standard Comics Journal-type interview when conducted by a good interviewer (lately Dirk Deppey's been the most reliable) but reading your interview with Neal points up what is lost when the dialogue is simply between critic (or "critic") and artist rather than artist-to-artist. I'm not an artist so the discussion of line work and brushes and pen nibs can leave me behind but it's something I try to "study" so long as there are some decent examples – of which you provided plenty – alongside the discussion. The tales of artists battling ignorant editors and publishers are great to read because you both get the joke of the situation while the Comics Journal guy tends to need the punchline explained. On top of all that, the Niagara Falls narrative (and the cover) really makes me want to see the place for myself sometime. Anyway, thanks for the best issue yet of Following Cerebus, and I hope you have the opportunity to produce more like that.

Thanks again. It was pretty much a year in the making so it's not something that I'm going to be doing all the time—er, you do want to see some comics out of me at some point, don't you? But there's no question that it's great to have Following Cerebus as a vehicle anytime I get a bee in my bonnet like a book-length discussion with Neal Adams. Of course, I also try to balance that with minor participation issues. Craig and John are very good at doing magazines in their own way and, strictly as a reader I always want to see more of their work as well. We try to strike a balance between Dave and non-Dave content.

Still, you've also zeroed in on one of my motivations. As I've complained to Gary before, when the interviewer doesn't write or draw, they usually don't pick up on a natural connecting bit with their next question. I was reading the Frank Thorne interview that Gary did in the latest issue and they got to the part where Frank was a major Alex Raymond clone in the early fifties when he was drawing the Perry Mason newspaper strip and touched briefly on his one unpleasant meeting with Raymond and discussed another artist who kept persuading Frank to stop trying to be Alex Raymond and to just draw like himself. Well, I'm a little more interested in that. When did Frank first see Rip Kirby and to what extent did he have to completely transform his drawing style to "do" Alex Raymond? I mean Al Williamson's response to Rip Kirby was disappointment. He just wanted to see Raymond do Flash Gordon again. It seems to me that Frank Thorne's reaction was what I was looking for from these other guys in the Raymond camp/school/lineage. What was it that you saw and why do you suppose did it have that impact on you? What couldn't you "get" no matter how hard you tried? And now difficult was it to stop doing Raymond when he made that choice? I might have to see if my phone number for Frank is still the same one and call and do something for Following Cerebus, as well as running all of the drawings and letters he sent me in the early days of Cerebus. Those drawings and letters—and, of course, his gorgeous cover to issue 7—are one of the big reasons that I try to stay in touch with young cartoonists and give them feedback. Frank was unbelievably generous and enthusiastic at a time when he was experiencing his phenomenal Red Sonja success. When you're not sure if you're actually playing in the big leagues or just doing a fanzine with a colour cover, that kind of feedback is really indispensable.

Speaking (or writing) of what you're producing these days, it was a treat and a surprise to see the first Siu Ta strip online a while back. I have no idea what it's about but it was great to see some new Dave Sim characters and backgrounds in a narrative form without that @#%& aardvark in the way. If your secret project involves drawing comics, I look forward to purchasing and reading it because I definitely miss seeing new art from you each month.

Yes, the secret project is definitely comics. It's actually Terminally Compulsive Comics in that I really want to see if I can do a 40-pages-or-so comic book that I consider to be as close to flawless as I can make it, having spent 26 years doing comics on a deadline where you make it as good as you can in the time allotted for it. Of course I didn't expect it to go THIS slow (three years in March and maybe 20 pages in). I'll definitely be thinking of something that I can do considerably faster, I think, after this one (God willing) is done. Maybe I'll do it in Eddie Campell's style—that's a fun, quick one to work in.

Have you ever heard of, or read, God Knows by Joseph Heller? It's the story of King David, told in the first person as he lies on his death bed recalling his life and wondering where it all went wrong. I read it 8 years ago, before I became a Christian (7 years ago), sat through 9 months of sermons on 2 Samuel (7 years ago), and read through the bible myself (4 years ago). Thinking about it on this side of all that, and factoring in Latter Days and The Last Day, I'm struck by the similarities between the David story and the Cerebus story. Probably more to do with the archetypes involved – the son leaving the father, finding a new father figure (Saul/Lord Julius), difficult rebellion against that father figure, the first wife (Michal/Sophia), the problematic "true" love (Abigail/Jaka), the disastrous illicit love (Bathsheba/New Joanne), the prophet (Samuel, Nathan/Rick), the rebellious son (Absalom/Sheshep), and a the troubled relationship with God (YHWH in David's case?) – than any deliberate effort on your part, but my recollection of Heller's book is that the great tragedy of David's life is not dissimilar from what your conclusion for Cerebus seems to be. If I might spoil the ending for you (which the first pages of the novel give away anyway), a very old and impotent David is being serviced by a virgin and the last line is "I want my God back, and they send me a girl." Anyway, seeing as how I and 2 Samuel are coming up on your reading schedule, if there is one thought from this letter that I'd like to see your response to, it's your take on the David story and perhaps whether you see any useful parallels between Cerebus and David.

I definitely had David in mind, knowing the sort of absolute power and authority Cerebus was going to achieve—and certainly my first experience at reading about David and Absalom, having had Cerebus and his son in the back of my mind helped clarify the tone I was looking for. Apart from that, I personally have always found David's Psalms more than a little histrionic. I mean, he really had the best and most comfortable situation you could hope to have in the context of his time, the blessing of the YHWH (and, presumably, God), wives, concubines. And yet a good 70% of the time he's whinging at God about how unendurable his life is and how much help he needs and how much he hopes he deserves help and how much he hopes he gets help and how unhappy he is and "crying down tears all the day". Jeez, buddy, get a grip. Old Cerebus on his own praying to have Sheshep come back, that was definitely inspired by David's whining as well as Cerebus taking umbrage at whether he actually "wept sore" or if it was all an act. Old Cerebus alternating between being too cold and too hot, that was definitely inspired by "David could gate no heate". Yes, Abishag (the virgin) was a bad trade for where David presumably had been expected to end up. No, I haven't read the book but I'll keep an eye out for it.

Lastly, are your commentaries on Mark something you plan to publish or keep to yourself? I ask because I think it would be interesting to see a book that combines your commentaries with Chester's Gospel of Mark. (I really wish he would reprint what he's done and complete Matthew at least.)

I go back and forth on that, to be honest. Yes, I definitely intend to publish the commentaries at some point but I'm not sure if that would be in the form of a book (I thought it might be attractive to take say a dozen pages from Chester's Matthew adaptation and re-letter them in the original Koin Greek as illustrations. I definitely picture the Synoptic Jesus as Chester's Matthew, rather than Chester's Mark). He does plan to finish Matthew, but then it's been four years since he finished Louis Riel and he's still at the "page breakdown" stage with his prostitution book so, like, don't hold your breath, eh? Mid-January when I was wondering if I was actually in the exit ramp, one of the first things I thought was to get Sandeep to come over and download the Mark commentaries thus far and just dump them here on the Blog & Mail, so they are definitely and no question a first priority for me, right at the front of my mind at all times even when it's been months since I've been able to work on them. So, have no fear on that account. Dumping it on the internet is a very tempting approach. There was an article awhile back in the paper about a (German? Russian?)(mathematician? Physicist?) evidently, who had been completely ostracized and discredited by his peers for decades, but he had actually solved something like 30 unsolvable problems and he was so irritated with this idiotic treatment that he had gotten that instead of publishing his work in a scientific journal he just dumped it on the internet. Evidently after everyone had a look at it, they wanted to give him the Nobel Prize and he basically told them what they can do with their Nobel Prize. I can definitely relate to that (flattering myself that my Mark commentaries will prove one day to be in the same category, coupled with my Torah commentaries in Latter Days): "Here you go."

Once again, thanks for staying in touch, as it were, with the blogandmail, Following Cerebus, and any reply you might send directly. I know that you see it as part of your responsibility to the Cerebus project, but I don't, so I appreciate the extra time you spend on all this when you'd (rather clearly) prefer to work on your secret project, your commentaries on Mark, your photorealism studies, and your commissions.(signed)

Michael Grabowski, Lake Forest, CA

"permission to use however you like is granted"

Thanks Michael and Stay Tuned to the Blog and Mail for any and all late-breaking developments. I appreciate your support.


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.