Sunday, 23 September 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #7

Eric and Dominick are up next for a couple of questions:

Did your having completed a 6,000 page twenty-six year narrative influence your decision to opt for largely non-narrative efforts (glamourpuss, Judenhass)?

I would say the biggest factor there was the extent to which I was being subjected to any number of situations around the end of CEREBUS that seemed the Large Chessboard make me doubt my sanity.  A condition which persists to this day but on a much lower and more manageable scale.  To the extent that in January of 2003 as I watched the metaphorical vultures closing in, I realized, "Drinking is going to go very badly with this"... and quit cold turkey January 31st (Norman Mailer's 80th birthday, as it turned out).  So that carried over into my creative life, I would imagine, after CEREBUS was done.  A sense that I needed to hew as closely as possible to realism -- and, if possible, Realism -- if I had a hope of making it through.  CEREBUS was already written, for the most part, in my head -- particularly that last year which I had been working on mentally since around 1979.  It was more a job of transcribing than writing so, even though I was doing fiction and very exaggerated fiction at that --  CEREBUS was always cartoon realism -- I was quite distanced from it as a writer.  It was already "as" written as it was going to get.  Leaving me to deal with everything that seemed to militate against the book being completed, That Last Year.  I actually have a That Last Year shelf in my office.  I really need to write a book about it someday.

Do you think those works were gestative during the years working on CEREBUS?

Well, as a firm believer in both free will and predestination, I think those books -- and CEREBUS -- were fully-formed when my grandfather was still in his mother's womb.  But, in the sense that I see you as meaning:  the conventional "physically incarnated" hatching out of our lives, yes, definitely they were gestating throughout my life.  I wanted to be Neal Adams when I grew up.  Or, at least, when I got taller :)  It's hard to communicate the extent to which virtually EVERYONE in my generation of comic artist wanted to be Neal Adams when they grew up.  It would be surprising if I would have done something else once CEREBUS was done.

It occurred to me for the first time a while ago that in a real sense most of CEREBUS could have just been a practice tee  -- a 26-year and three month practice tee, if you can believe it -- getting me ready for doing THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.  He died in 1956.  I was 112 days old when he died.  56 and 56 is 112.  I'm 56 this year.  It seems more than a little significant to me.  God grinds the axes he intends to use.

Okay, now we're off to THE BEAT for our next question... AND an exclusive news scoop relating to the Cerebus Archive:

Given the 35 years since Cerebus #1 first came out and your length of time in the comics’ industry and field, do you have any thoughts and opinions on the current state of the industry? Is it as dire as it seems, especially when someone like yourself who has managed to successfully self-publish 300 issues and kept 16 graphic novels in print and always seemed to have his finger on the pulse of the industry has to end 2 bi-monthly comics?

...and then I'm going to throw you a curve ball as we head off to TERMINAL DRIFT for a question from Isobel:

Hi Dave, Many people think they know the Truth, in a religious sense, but most religious people believe different things (even when they're basing their beliefs on the same texts.) What criteria do you use to evaluate claims of truthfulness? How do you sort through all of the different interpretations of the texts of the religions that you follow to determine which one to believe?  (I'm sorry for all the prepositional phrases in that last one...)

If you want to know the answers to those two questions hit the links to THE BEAT and TERMINAL DRIFT right now ... and I'll be back on tomorrow for more of your HARDtalk questions.

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!

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