Friday, 3 August 2012

HARDtalk: The Dave Sim Interview (10)

In the past you were a strong supporter of the COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, famously donating over $100K of royalties from the SPAWN/CEREBUS crossover.  Do you now regret giving away that money, given that you are having to now raise around $100K to fund the CEREBUS DIGITAL 6000 project?

Do I wish I had an extra $100K to do the digital scanning required?  Sure!  Do I wish that I still had the Spawn money? That's a different question.  The Spawn money was Poison Pill Money if ever there was any.  I was still playing "chess" with the...opposing sensibility...from the Creator's Bill of Rights discussions.  Tundra had pretty much run its course which was, at one level, all of the people who had been in the meeting rooms at the Northampton Hotel, lining up with Kevin Eastman to prove Dave wrong (that's an oversimplification, but it's a complicated question).

Which they hadn't: pretty much everything I said was going to happen happened, largely attributable to the fact that when "this thing that we were all working on" switched from the Manifesto to the Bill of Rights it switched from a structural document of where the various levels of responsibility begin and end (artist/writer, publisher, distributor, store owner) to more of an industry document (labour vs. management: we are labour and this is what we believe).

Image was, for me, the next test of my "creator's rights" perceptions.  I was aware that I was being marginalized -- being right never makes you popular, particularly when you end up proving other people wrong -- and that was taking shape around "Dave's always so NEGATIVE about everything".  So, when Image happened I wanted to be supportive even though I suspected how that was going to go.  I definitely endorsed the IDEA of seven major creators leaving Marvel and starting their own company.  I did the "Cerebus as Spawn" drawing for Todd McFarlane and I was pretty much the only professional who had anything good to say about them -- publicly or privately -- that first year.  And when Todd asked me to write an issue of SPAWN -- carte blanche: whatever I wanted to write: 22 pages of SPAWN sitting on the toilet, Todd would draw it, THAT freedom was critically important although pretty much overlooked -- I jumped at it.
It DID require willfully ignoring what I was pretty sure was going on behind the scenes: some of the partners were employing other creators under work-made-for-hire.  Leaving Marvel and starting your own Marvel didn't strike me as a vast improvement.  But, I saw that happening with the Bill of Rights: "the right to FULLY own what we FULLY create".  That's basically work-made-for-hire in a nutshell: unless you create everything you can be employed as a field hand and end up owning nothing.  MY view was "we also PARTLY own what we PARTLY create".  If my work is on a page, I have the right to reproduce that page without asking pretty, pretty please may I?  I don't think jeopardizes, say, Todd's ownership and control of SPAWN.  We swapped reciprocal rights.  He can use Cerebus without saying pretty, pretty please May I? And I can reproduce SPAWN 10 without saying pretty, pretty please May I?

Anyway, the $100K was a Poison Pill, because the only way the field -- already being trained to believe that everything Dave Sim does and says is wrong -- could react was: HAH! Dave Sim is corrupt!  He wrote a super-hero comic JUST FOR THE MONEY.

So the cheque came in, I endorsed it and wrote "For deposit only THE COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND" and sent it to Denis Kitchen and then publicized that fact.  That kept me on the right side of the Creators' Bill of Rights discussion -- creative freedom is critically important and retaining my right to reproduce my own work while allowing the person who pays me to also reproduce that work is also critically important -- and fighting censorship of creative works, legally, is also critically important.  Pawn takes rook -- your Queen is in jeopardy.

Okay, you've got a question here that makes a good follow-up.  Let's make that the cliffhanger.

Could you explain how your views on free speech have evolved over time and whether your evolving views in this area is related to switching your charity of choice from the CBLDF to the HERO INITIATIVE?

Okay, good cliffhanger.  Does Dave Sim have "evolving" views on free speech comparable to Barack Obama's "evolving" views on gay marriage? Can the Boy Wonder reach the scene of the plane crash before The Outsider springs his trap? Tune in on Monday, SAME Moment of Cerebus Time, SAME Moment of Cerebus Channel!

1 comment:

Layne said...

I'd be curious to hear Dave Sim talk about his choice to end glamourpuss; whether the satire portion had become a creative straight-jacket or artistic dead-end (Speaking for myself, it was incredibly frustrating that half or the book was some of the best comics I've read, and the other half often a tedious slog), if he considered continuing the series and expanding the Raymond material, or relaunching with it as the book's sole focus, and if there was a concern that the decision may alienate the audience.

Yes, it's absolutely the artist's right to distribute his work as he sees fit, but as someone who supported the book from the beginning the abrupt cancellation left a bad taste in my mouth. I presume the 7 or so issues worth of Raymond material from glamourpuss will be reprinted in the The Strange Death of Alex Raymond; as a fan who invested nearly a hundred dollars in those 7 or so issues worth over the past few years, the presumption that I'll be willing to buy those comics again (Great though they may be) to get to the resolution rankles.

Hope that didn't come over as too gripey, I've really enjoyed these questions and answers.