Tuesday, 16 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #24

There have been opinions expressed that Cerebus was a product of its time (ie the blossoming direct-market) and that 300 issues of a self-published comic couldn’t happen now in today’s market-place. Do you think that is true, or is it more due to a lack of ambition by today’s cartoonists?

I don't know. We'd have to wait and see if it started to happen and see how the market reacted to it.  I assume I've poisoned that well to a large degree.  The comic-book field is bitterly disappointed in me over how CEREBUS turned out, so I think that would definitely be a Sword of Damocles hanging over anyone making the attempt:  certainly anyone announcing it.  "Oh, great.  Another guy who's going to go bat-s--t insane in twenty years.  No thanks.  I'll save my money this time."  In terms of the marketplace, itself, no I think that's a separate thing.  If you do something like THE WALKING DEAD, that catches fire in that way and you're able to produce it regularly and it's self-published?  People will buy it, people will tell other people, stores will over-order.  Self-published or otherwise.

I don't think you can call not wanting to do a 6,000 page graphic novel over 26 years a lack of ambition.  It's like saying the only reason to not climb Mount Everest is sheer bone laziness.  There are a lot more good reasons NOT to climb Mount Everest than there are reasons TO climb Mount Everest. Common sense for one.  People die on Mount Everest.  Why do something that you really don't have a good reason to do that people die doing?  Obviously, Neil Gaiman looked at it and said, mmmm, maybe 75 issues instead of 300.  Is that a lack of ambition on Neil's part?  You have to experience creating something on a regular schedule and sticking to that schedule and looking at what it takes out of you and do the mental trigonometry implied.  How long do I want to do this?  How much of myself am I going to allow to be eaten up by this, given that THIS much of me gets eaten up when I do THAT many pages or that many issues.

I think, in a general sense, that as a society we aren't facing the extent to which computers eat lives in the same way, so that militates against it happening again.  Just having e-mail and a Facebook page and you are probably talking about eating up 10 to 15% of your working time right there.  If you aren't someone who can "transition" from cyberspace to writing and drawing comic books smoothly or easily -- which I suspect most people can't:  they answer their e-mail, play a video game, watch some porn, watch some YouTube, that is, they're cyberspace junkies in denial -- then that's going to severely limit the body of work you end up producing.  Particularly the "denial" part.  You MEAN to just look something up with Google -- 10 minutes -- and the next time you look at the clock it's an hour later.  Well, you might get a few mini-series done in the average decade, but that's going to be it.
Right! Everyone head on over to TERMINAL DRIFT for this question from David Birdsong:

High Society was never my favorite Cerebus novel and I don’t believe it is yours either. If I am wrong then please disregard this question. What I would like to know is what is you favorite of the sixteen Cerebus novels? When I say favorite I don’t mean which one you think is the best, but that does bring up a second part to my question, actually several additional parts – Which one is the best in terms of art or writing or lettering. I think everyone has their own opinion in each of those categories, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say what part of Cerebus is your best work. I do recall that you were very fond of the Africa sequence in Form & Void, but that is about all I can remember. Let me see if I can state it a little better… What is your favorite Cerebus novel and where in all sixteen volumes do you think you see your best writing, your best art, your best lettering.

Hit the link to TERMINAL DRIFT for the answer to that question... and be back tomorrow for more HARDtalk. Same time. Same channel.

13 comments:

Adam Ell said...

I like RICK'S STORY. So there's one.

Xtphr said...

Obviously, Neil Gaiman looked at it and said, mmmm, maybe 75 issues instead of 300.

When Sandman started, Gaiman expected it to run a not-unprecedented 20-some issues. This got revised to 'about 40', then 'less than 60', before finally blowing out to the 76 actual issues. (Dave's forgetting the glow-in-the-dark special.)

Anonymous said...

PS Neil is still revisitng Sandman even now. He did the Endless Nights with 7 collaborators so that's another 7 stories. And JH Williams III is illustrating a prequel which Gaiman is penning so it doesn't look like 75 or 76 is the final number anymore.

Tony Dunlop said...

You're not going to believe me, but I just had a feeling he was going to say Rick's Story (either that or, based on recent...discussions, Form and Void) before I surfed over there. Really, I did.

I like Rick's Storya lot but I don't think I get it yet. But I'm going to keep trying. A lot of, as the great King Missile once said, "mystical sh*t" going on that needs to be not thought about in order to "get." Know what I mean?

Dominick Grace said...

There's some brilliant work in Rick's Story, no doubt about it. Not my favourite, to be sure--the Bible parody stuff bogs me down somewhat--but there are amazing sections and stunningly good art. How Rick's perceptions are depicted is brilliant.

Rocky Cole said...

"...most people can't: they answer their e-mail, play a video game, watch some porn, watch some YouTube, that is, they're cyberspace junkies in denial..."

There can only be one.

Anonymous said...

Rick's Story is indeed quite stunning. I know a lot of folks like the "earlier funny ones", but I think the latter work is the most sublime of comics and genius in the very real sense of the word.

The story part of Rick's Story was the hardest for me to comprehend and when I get time to read the entire storyline again I hope it will be clearer than it was the other two times I read it. After several years of Bible study I think I may have a new perspective on the last few books in the series.


David "The Pride of Nashville, Tennessee" Birdsong

Michael A Battaglia said...

David Birdsong said:

"Rick's Story is indeed quite stunning. I know a lot of folks like the "earlier funny ones", but I think the latter work is the most sublime of comics and genius in the very real sense of the word."

I can't tell you how cathartic it is to hear another human being express this opinion. I couldn't agree with you more.

JLH said...

I have a hard time separating "Guys" (my favorite of the books) from "Rick's Story". They're, to me, as part of each other as "Church & State 1" is with "Church & State 2".

BenoƮt Leblanc said...

Rick Story succeeds on many levels, and I can't understand why anyone would deem it an inferior work. If nothing else, it has the most stupendous lettering I've yet seen in a comic, and Dave never ceased to experiment with his storytelling. The triangle between Cerebus, Joanne and Rick was pretty funny even as it was painful to witness, and was something rarely (if ever) seen in a comic-book. The return of "the guys" at the end was a cruel and beautiful twist (story wise), and the whole sequence with Missy and the return of Jaka is one of the high points of my comics reading in the 90s. Altogether an excellent chapter.

Tony Dunlop said...

Hmm...moderator, is there a policy on "spoilers" in these threads? Perhaps there should be...?

Anonymous said...

David Birdsong says, in a spoiling way...

Cerebus has been dead for 8 years.

Michael A Battaglia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.