Friday, 17 February 2012

The Wrong Thing

The Beavers (Quack #4, Star*Reach Productions, 1977)
Art by Dave Sim

(from page 58, The Cerebus Guide To Self-Publishing, 2010)
This is a tough point to understand. It is possible to work for two years on something (I did a weekly strip for two years before I did Cerebus) and have it be the wrong thing. If it's the wrong thing, nothing will happen, no matter if you get a Xeric grant and a circulation of 20,000 copies. If there's something in the back of your head that keeps gnawing at you while you're developing one story, start putting the one that's gnawing at you down on paper. I was convinced that I was either a newspaper-strip artist, a political cartoonist, or a short story comic-book writer/artist through most of the 1970s. Then I decided I was an inker. Early on I decided I was a Playboy cartoonist because they paid several thousand dollars for one cartoon and that sounded good to me. Cover all of my expenses with one cartoon and then do whatever else I wanted with the rest of the month.

The key was that I was trying all of the options that were out there. I pursued each of them with great determination. I never quit on anything. But nothing "happened". At any point, I could have been working on a super-hero series I created for a publisher (Revolt 3000) or drawing and lettering a story from someone else’s script (Phantacea) or doing political cartoons for the local paper. In each of those cases, it went for a little while and then it died, usually in a period of a few months. Each thing told me, "Well, I guess that wasn't it." The difference with writing and drawing and self-publishing Cerebus was overwhelming. Things got in the way, but I could go over, around, or through them. That’s what told me that Cerebus was "it".

You can find out more about Dave Sim's pre-Cerebus career in the bi-monthly magazine, Cerebus Archive - back issues are always available from ComiXpress.

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