Thursday, 20 December 2012

Doing The Right Thing

(from a letter to Jamie D. Buckley, 17 June 2004, Dave Sim's Collected Letters Vol 2)
People who try to "live their dream", in my experience, tend to be seduced rather easily by whatever seems the most dream-like in their vicinity. I'm scarcely pointing fingers in this situation - for a period of time in the late eighties, barrelling down Highway 401 in the back of a stretch limousine while having sex with my girlfriend and drinking a good vintage Dom Perignon champagne seemed to me that was "living my dream". Of course, nothing could have been further from the truth. Anything that makes you feel as if you've just consumed an entire chocolate cake in one sitting isn't a dream, it's a nightmare. At the same time that I was doing that, I had a script for the first issue of Ricky Robot written by Jerry Siegel, the man who created Superman. I had drawn a two-part Cerebus preview of the character and I was well aware that I was pretty much his last chance at the brass ring. No one else would publish his work besides Eclipse Enterprises, which had likewise printed a token offering, The Starling. Both scripts had circulated everywhere in the burgeoning direct market.

In retrospect, I certainly wish that I had foregone any number of sexual episodes, any number of girlfriends, any number of binge-drinking nights and drug-smoking and drug-snorting days and used half of all that completely wasted time, money and energy to give at least an honest try at bringing Mr. Siegel's creation to market. It would have required a certain amount of problem-solving, rounding up a certain number of creative volunteers to collaborate on the artwork, all of us doing the jobs required as a hobby, just, basically pitching in. And in the end, it probably wouldn't have sold beans. It wasn't very good. It was mawkish and sentimental and outdated for the 1960s, let alone the 1980s. And, of course, it wasn't Superman, which is the problem Mr. Siegel faced all of his life, from the time that he found out that he had signed his creation away and  there was no getting it back. That sort of lightening never strikes twice.

But, there's no question that anyone making a living in the comic book field - in whatever decade - owed Jerry Siegel a monumental ethical and spiritual debt which none of us - together or separately - could ever begin to repay, but which none of the cartoonists and publishers of my generation, very much to our ineradicable shame, ever made more than a half-hearted attempt to repay [in] the only way that would have meant anything to Jerry Siegel: One more shot at the big time.

So, I hope you understand my point. "Doing the right thing" is infinitely more important than "living your dream".
Ricky Robot: The Creation Of Ricky
Cerebus #64/65 (September/August 1984)

Written by Jerry Siegel, art by Dave Sim

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you had any talent at all wouldn't you have done the same thing?

David Birdsong