Friday, 21 September 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #6

One of the big attractions for me of Cerebus was your innovative experimentation with the formal aspects of comics medium. Were you conscious of / influenced by any other comics creators in this regard or did this desire to experiment come from within yourself independently? Do you see any current comics creators who possess the same willingness to experiment with the formal aspects of the comics medium as you did with Cerebus.

To be honest, I think formal experimentation is probably overrated and passé. But, then creative people tend to undervalue the things they're good at with relatively little effort. I'm not bragging -- as Muhammad Ali said, It ain't bragging if you can do it. Lettering is like that for me, playing with the formal structure of the medium is like that for me, being funny is like that for me.  The Woody Allen Syndrome, with the aliens in STARDUST MEMORIES (I think it was) saying, "We really like your movies -- especially the early, funnier ones".  And when he really presses them for what he can do as an individual to improve reality, they say, "Tell funnier jokes." In Woody Allen's frames of reference, omniscient aliens make a good stand-in for God, so he's telling himself something that he already knows.  And he can't bring himself to do it. I can't bring MYself to do it. It seems frivolous. I did audio tweets of the HIGH SOCIETY characters to promote HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL. John Scrudder has them and will make them available to anyone who wants to re-tweet them. One at a time, all at a time. I don't tweet so I'll leave that up to him and Melanie.

Anyway, that's what I ended up doing for three days or so. Basically as a comedy writer. I need five of these by seven o'clock.  So I have to do five of them. I think they're pretty funny, but I'm aware of myself sitting there with this incredibly grim look on my face, listening to the playback.  WRONG reading.  WHY is it a wrong reading? It's the Rodney Dangerfield character, but it's off somewhere.  Record it and record it. Oh, the emphasis is on the ADVERB. I had it on the NOUN. I'm thinking, this is no job for a grown-up. As I say, frivolous -- and I suspect Woody Allen looks at it that way.  "If I'm going to spend a year making a movie I don't want it to be inherently, structurally frivolous. I want to actually SAY something."

I think formal experimentation had its day. Today, I'm pretty sure it's the early dawn of the Computer Colour Age and that we won't be going anywhere but further into it. What I mean is, today's top creators are determined, as an example, to make muzzle flashes look exactly action adventure film muzzle flashes. Which is WEIRD in a way, because movie muzzle flashes are incredibly fake, incredibly exaggerated. Which movies started doing because that's what they're supposed to look like. They're FAKE but they're AWESOME fake. It's cinematography. The lighting guy, the colour choices, CGI tweaking brought to the comics page. I'm not a movie person, I'm the exact opposite of a movie person.  But it's DAZZLING and they're getting WILDLY accomplished at it. The pencilling and inking are secondary, if not tertiary to that. If you want to do "a movie on paper" -- and that's what they want to do and what the audience is hungry for -- the formal aspects of the page become not only beside the point but, in fact, detrimental to the desired effect. "No, just break the page up into panels that are widescreen movie proportions and WORK THAT THANG!"

Howard Shum's FUSILLADE was an amazing example of that.  His collaborators -- they're all Howard's stories with different artists including Howard himself -- they're all 3D animation guys at DreamWorks and places like that.  But they want to do comics.  But the comics they want to do are action movies. I can't leave FUSILLADE sitting out anywhere I can see it or I'm forever compulsively thumbing through it.  Not READING it, because it's like DIE HARD 5 or whatever.  The first time you read it, you've pretty much gotten everything out of it.  I'm not casting aspersions -- even the least well-thought of action movie is INFINITELY more popular than anything I've ever done. But, that cinematography-on-paper-thing, MAN!  Have they come a long way with that and they keep moving further and further and further and deeper and deeper and deeper into it.  It's what comics now ARE. Breaking up the page is just, well, hey, whatever, Grampa.  Knock yourself out.  I'm glad I did a lot of things with it but I don't think anyone is going to be remarking on it apart from die-hard CEREBUS fans five years from now. You have avant garde comics like Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly which are like avant garde movies and you have everyone else doing action movies. Experimenting with formal structure. I just don't see it having any real presence in the future.

I hope I'm wrong.
So where are we headed now? We're going over to BLEEDING COOL for a question from Old Angel Midnight:

I'd like to sign the 'I don't believe Dave Sim is a misogynist' petition but I don't have enough information. My question is:  Mr. Sim, do you believe that women are inferior to men?

Okay, everybody over to BLEEDING COOL (scroll down to post #20) for the answer. And I'll be back here on Monday for more HARDtalk.

Already signed up for the HARDtalk Virtual Tour are Bleeding Cool, Millar World, Terminal Drift, Canadian Comics Archive, The Comics Journal, The Beat and Mindless Ones. Add your question for Dave Sim at one of these fine websites before 10 October and if your question is chosen (they'll need to be tough, interesting questions!) you'll receive a personalised, autographed copy of a Cerebus back-issue, with a Cerebus head-sketch by Dave Sim!


Jason said...

I believe Dave Sim has said on several occasions he thinks it was a mistake to allow women to vote. It's a shame he didn't mention that small matter in his response.

M Kitchen said...

Jason: You should phrase that as a HARD TALK question, and maybe you'll get an answer!

Adam Ell said...

Hell, I'll go a step further and say only people who own property should be allowed to vote.

Alek Trencz said...

He's also said that women don't know right from wrong. It's in part one of Tangent.

Tony Dunlop said...

I'll go further than that and say only people who have successfully complete a year of calculus should be permitted to vote.