Sunday, 5 February 2012

Bigger Blacker Kiss

Bigger Blacker Kiss (26/27 October 1990)
Art by Dave Sim

24 HOUR COMICS ALL-STARS (About Comics, 2005):
(from the introduction to Bigger Blacker Kiss)
Dave Sim, whose 300 issue run of Cerebus is hailed as one of the high points of both vision and dedication in the North American comics field, is a key person in the history of the 24 hour comic. He published not only his own 24 hour comic but also several of the other early examples in the back of Cerebus. By doing so, he exposed a much larger audience to a challenge which had mainly been known to a few comic book insiders. Dave's visual style for this story is minimalist: one character, few panels and no backgrounds (for most of the run of Cerebus, another artist drew the backgrounds). However, as a work of character study, it's intense and unblinking. Completed in under fifteen hours Bigger Blacker Kiss is an achievement in speed, but not endurance. Staying up for fifteen hours is no feat, but with the decades that Sim dedicated to chronicling the adventures of an aardvark, he has nothing to prove to anyone on the endurance front. The title was an intentional reference to the Howard Chaykin adult comic book series Black Kiss, which had been compiled into a single volume named Big Black Kiss.

(from the introduction to Bigger Blacker Kiss in Cerebus #142, January 1991)
Here it is. My twenty-four hour comic produced in just a little over fifteen hours. What a rush. Seriously, if you are a cartoonist you have to give it a try. Makes you feel as if you have the strength of ten Grinches plus two. I'd like to dedicate it to Audrey (whose phone number I got and never used, which prompted the first few pages), Angela (whose hair I used), Gerhard (because doing a 'solo album' is always going to be a bit offensive no matter how innocent the intention), Monique (for not interrupting), Eric (for the black hash) and the Adolph Coors company for the sustenance around 12:30am. Oh, and to Lil Reid for the carrot cake because man does not live by Coors alone. Thanks, grandma.

(from Now I'll Ask You One... David Branstetter, 29 July 2011)
Depending on who you ask, Bigger Blacker Kiss was "before the misogyny thing". I think, for the Scott McClouds of this world it's all one thing. Dave Sim does an unsympathetic treatment of a female character (read: not outright unquestioning portrayal of women as Absolutely Good and Noble, Universally, Period) because he hates women. Well, I don't think so. Particularly since 1970 I think there's a lot to be said about the difference between who women have chosen to be (generally and specifically) and how they perceive themselves. That's what good writing is: here's the portrayal and here's the actuality. The woman in the story is on a downward slide into oblivion but still thinks that she's a dominant figure. So we see how she is and see how she sees herself and see that Big Trouble is the only possible result and then the kicker: she's pregnant and thinking that this will improve everything. I don't think the story is far-fetched or misogynistic or sensationalistic. I think it's a good example of how the drift of our society is in one direction and our perception of society is that it is rising exponentially. The character's personal Big Trouble is also society's Even Bigger Trouble - Bigger, Blacker, Kiss.

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