Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #359 (September 5th, 2007)


Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist

1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.

2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.

3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.

4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.

5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.

6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.

7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.

8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.

9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.

10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.

11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.

12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.

13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.

14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.

15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.








Comics-based imagery first made its way into the Western World of painting and high- art during the 1950s, here in America, with the Pop Art Movement, which was ignited by a highly successful then-commercial artist named Andy Warhol. Although already successful as an illustrator, Warhol wasn't satisfied with his station as a commercial artist, feared being replaced by photographers in years to come, and wanted to be considered a "serious" artist more than anything else. Now, that would have been a much more difficult dream to realize if it hadn't been for the rise of Abstract Expressionism in New York; the earliest breed of post-war American painting, or "The New York School" as it had come to be known.

But, by the time Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Johns – the Pop Artists – took the floor, in the 1950s and beyond, they were debunking the perceptibly elitist aura of the high art realm (that created by the Abstract Expressionists) by inoculating it with a potent dose of perceptibly crass commercialism. My earliest impressions of what was going on with Pop Art in America during that time was that it was an elaborate satire of the bustling scene, an intention to expose its vanity, or to give it a jolt of electroshock therapy. From that perspective, I saw The Pop Artists as not necessarily wanting to glorify the images borrowed from popular and commercial culture, so much as they wanted to lay a stake to the claim of stardom for themselves, tear down established modes, and start from the ground up all over again, ridiculous as it may have seemed. I saw it as a cool-headed look at the power that loaded images had, to tear down, as well as to build up. From that point of view, Warhol's silk-screened painting of Dick Tracy wasn't necessarily intended to intone that Dick Tracy was an iconic ideal so much as he was throwing mud in the face of the wine sippers by importing loaded imagery with perceptibly crass origins, and calling it art with a capital "A".

Or was it?

By looking into it a little deeper, I discovered for myself that Warhol's wasn't a sarcastic, cynical or scathing wit. He was essentially an optimist. So why was he doing this? Placing perceivably banal, and commonplace imagery, mechanically reproduced with silk screens, with little or no further manipulation of the source material by the artist, in front of gallery audiences?

I think what happened was that a somewhat peculiar or awkward individual – an eccentric, if you will – who would not shrink back from making his dream of becoming a real artist a reality, rose to prominence. And when everyone ate it up, well…Warhol became a superstar. Warhol was the commodity, then.

As much as it may seem otherwise (and I fully realize that someone who hasn't seen my paintings might have to resort to using some imagination in digesting this commentary) that is not really what I am doing with my self-referential, comics-oriented paintings.

And I do not consider myself a "Pop" artist at all. Anyway, to do it now, in light of current trends and developments since the fifties and sixties, would be a useless endeavor. So, instead of making play over the ironies that bridge the fine-art realm with the commercial-slash-advertising-based art world (barriers that have just about as much efficacy today as the Berlin Wall), I am systematically re-contextualizing my own personal repertoire of comic-book art and iconography for consideration among the fine-art realm: re-contextualizing personal imagery into a more formal mode. But, it is crucial to note that, by default, by doing things this way (self-referentially) I must be a comic-book artist first, a painter second. Really, it is lending a sense of salvation to my original comic-book artist's identity, amidst my other dabblings: that the paintings aren't possible without the comic books to which they refer. I am exalting the Anubis imagery, with the paintings. I am calling it high art. I am reaching for the stars with my own earnings. Warhol was a borrower and an appropriationist. And while I have tried on appropriation for size upon occasion, and with painting, what I am doing with my mature style (I feel confident in having the black & white paintings considered signature works) is much more personal than that. I would go so far as to say, more private as well. It is much more a matter of craftsmanship over concept, which I will get into momentarily.

And in hand-transferring blow-ups of the Anubis xeroxography onto canvas, I have – as a matter of consequence, or if you would prefer, scientific discovery – come to compare it with a kind of calligraphy (vis-à-vis the black-and-white un-modulated acrylic paints as gross enlargements). Think of the calligrapher and his relationship to the craftsman. It is not entirely an unfathomable relation. Functional, not only for show, telling a tale of some kind…it would not be altogether unlike Chinese writing to make those kinds of paintings, I thought to myself some time ago. Albeit somewhat more complex, they would still be within that same frame of reference (and this says something about the fusion of words and pictures, beyond just words and pictures, too). This is what I see happening when I blow up panel fragments of the Anubis interior artwork something like 400% on a photocopier, and then make it six times bigger than even that by transferring it to a large canvas. The paintings have a certain sort of "thing-ness" about themselves, too which I find important to point out. It's quite a fine effect…

…but this is not what I would call Pop Art. Not the way I do it; not with my intentions.

In remaining true to my purpose, as a painter, I am considering myself primarily a craftsman (which, in part, distinguishes me from the Pop Artists' generation). As the entire process is being done by hand (as opposed to using silk screens) the modus operandi only reinforces the notion. Maybe I am more of a craftsman than I am even an artist – food for thought, at least. But my work's a brand apart in the sense that, unlike the flamboyant and unapologetic nature of the Pop artists – Warhol specifically – mine is a more quiet and introspective voice. I am more of a brooding, slow but deep, thinking soul. My mind is like a slow-cooking cauldron brew. I'm more of a craftsman, I would say. And there is some psychological weight that comes with that kind of a statement. What is a craftsman? Maybe we would be better off figuring that out by asking ourselves what a craftsman is not.

Tomorrow: What a craftsman is not


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:

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Or, you can check out Mars Import:

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Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.