Monday, 7 July 2014

The 'No Butt Crack' Guarantee

DAVE SIM:
The ferocious need to make money earlier this year came with an "answered (however unspoken) prayer" when a friend of mine, Rudi Schweitzer, asked me to do a cartoon for an ad he was going to run on the back of the local GRT Grand River Transit buses for his plumbing business, Schweitzer's Plumbing. The "No Butt Crack" guarantee was his idea and we're going to be franchising it to other plumbers. I thought it was a great idea, particularly for housewives and working women who maybe don't want to admit it, but, that's what they're going to be thinking. I hope the guy doesn't have his butt crack showing.

It's been on the road for the last week or two and neither Rudi or I have seen it. I must look like one of those trainspotter kids, every time a GRT bus goes by. Is that it? Is it on the back of this one?

16 comments:

Travis Pelkie said...

You'd think this would be ass low ass you could go, butt I think there is still a long way to go before bottoming out.

This picture seems to exemplify the mindset that we anal retentive "gotta have it all" Cerebus/Dave related collectors have.

And I think that's all the puns I can pull out of my rear for this.

Paul Slade said...

Come on, Ontario readers! We need a photo of one of these buses with Dave's ad on show.

Eddie said...

Im just glad he didn't use a photo-realistic style!

Travis - Ahh these kinds of jokes aren't all they're cracked up to be. Once you start, you'll see you're getting behind in a whole lot of other things. Better to just turn the other cheek.

Anonymous said...

How is he going to fit three mint-condition, CGC slabbed buses in the Cerebus Archive?

-Jimmy Gownley

Anonymous said...

This post and yesterday's provide an interesting contrast between Dave's art styles. As I've said before, one of the things that's interesting to me is that Dave has chosen to devote himself to an art style for which he displays little natural talent. "Interest doesn't equal aptitude," Dave himself has said.

Compare the fluid lines of today's ad with the stiff, lifeless, meticulous rendering of yesterday's cars. The ad gives me the sense of a cartoonist noodling around and having fun; yesterday's car panels give me the sense of a guy trying really, really hard to draw accurately.

One of Dave's recurring problems is perspective. He doesn't draw depth -- that is, objects receding into the page; rather, he draws in layers, one thing behind the other. Look at the plumber's left arm and armpit (and what's with that weird ridge running down the edge of his back?). (In all fairness, I think he got the plumber's left foot and calf right.)

Look at the heels and soles of the plumber's shoes. They aren't in line. Those shoes are twisted like corkscrews. Look at the wheels of the car, and compare them with the struts across the bottom. They don't line up. Look at the taillights of the top car; the car is crooked. Look at the front bumper of the lower car; you shouldn't see that much of the grille. Dave often locates his vanishing points too close to the panel, yielding distortions such as the triangular car in the first picture.

Dave has never drawn well -- the malformed faces, the weird claw-like hands, the necks like Slinkies where heads don't connect to bodies. We can see the value of Gerhard (by far Dave's superior at photo-realism): his backgrounds ground the cartoony figures in reality.

But in Cerebus, it doesn't matter, because Dave's lack of drawing facility is secondary to what I see as his greatest strength: his layouts, and the control over timing that gives him. From High Society to perhaps as late as Going Home (the last couple of volumes, especially, show signs of Trying Too Hard and an artist who is obviously not having fun -- as Dave himself has described the period), Dave displays a complete mastery of what elements to put where on the page to achieve the dramatic or comedic effect he wants.

(Dave's other great strength is his dialogue. Not his monologues where he lays out his Great Themes, which are florid and overwritten, but his conversations between two or more characters -- they flow; and even when they're not naturalistic, they have the rhythm of the second speaker having listened to the first speaker and responded, rather than the second speaker just waiting his turn to speak his line from the script, as in so many comics.

So I find it interesting that Dave would abandon what he's good at for something that he isn't good at. He even abandoned his much-praised hand-lettering for a computer font. But that's where he wants to go, and nobody can say he can't.

Dave's attempts to be Alex Raymond are as primitive (meant not pejoratively, but descriptively) as his early attempts to be Barry Windsor-Smith. But I think we (including Dave) agree that Dave got a lot better from the early issues of Cerebus -- first his Windsor-Smith impression got better, and then when he cast off the shackles of another artist's style he grew better in his own style.

And this is why I'm still interested in Dave Sim after his magnum opus is over. I think it will be very interesting to watch Dave improve his Alex Raymond impression -- and I think it will be fascinating when he casts off Raymond's shackles and draws in his own photo-realistic style. Given his pace and his age, we're in a race against time: will Dave live long enough to rid himself of his ten thousand bad photo-realistic drawings so he can produce his good photo-realistic drawings? Who knows? But I think the process will be fun to watch, and rewarding to study.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, lrt

Anonymous said...

@ Damian

As I don't want to be seen as silently endorsing the view...

Your comments are totally ridiculous. I wouldn't even know where to begin. I'll just say that, in my view, it lacks the remotest vestige of good taste or common sense to say that Dave Sim has never been good at drawing on a blog that has been passionately dedicated to preserving the illustration of Dave Sim. I mean, recent posts have been specifically about preserving his line work.

For that reason, I'm going to suggest that your judgment in posting your last comment is seriously off. You should try to identify whatever misbegotten inclination that moved you to hit "publish your comment" and expunge it from your soul.

And since there is a big subjective element to the enjoyment of drawings, and since the vast majority of us here subjectively enjoy Dave Sim's drawings very much, I would suggest that your opinion on this subject in this particular space is obviously unwanted and of no value.

- Reginald P.

Sandeep Atwal said...

Well said, Reginald.

BillZilla said...

I didn't find it to be of no value. I found it more interesting than most of the things I've read on the internet in the last 24 hours. I don't agree with Anonymous' estimation of Dave's talents, but it's clearly a well-considered opinion on their part. I definitely don't think they should have "expunged" the need to criticise Dave simply because most of us happen to enjoy his work. The criticism didn't come of to me as malicious or ill-informed in any way. Who is it hurting? Dave? I sincerely doubt it.

Eddie said...

This comment and previous ones provide an interesting look at Damian's commenting styles.

As I've said before, one of the things that's interesting to me is that Damian has chosen to devote himself to a daily blog for which he displays little natural respect or affinity for. "Interest doesn't equal affection." But it does seem to equal unhealthy obsession.



Compare the snarky comments today with the stiff, lifeless, meticulous rendering of all his previous comments. The comment gives me the sense of an unknown guy trying really, really hard to post something critical to say and get attention.



One of Damian's recurring problems is perspective. It's a Daily Blog. It's an ad for a plumbing company. He doesn't draw depth - rather, he draws in snide remarks and haughty condescension, one thing behind the other. Look at his comment on the plumber's left arm and armpit ("and what's with that weird ridge running down the edge of his back?"). In all fairness, he didn't even mention the great drawings of the piping and sink.

Look at his knowledge of Dave's quotes and writings and work. Look at his knowledge of Cerebus. Damian often locates his nitpicking too close to the panel, yielding distortions and acting like an armchair quarterback or restaurant food critic.



Damian has never commented well -- the snarkinesss, the weird obsession, the similes like Slinkies where heads don't connect to bodies. We can see the value of Reginald (by far Damian's superior at blog commenting): his explanations ground the comments in reality.



But on A Moment of Cerebus, it doesn't matter, because Damian's lack of comics creating ability is secondary to what I see as his greatest strength: his punctuation, and the control over timing that gives him. From 2014 to perhaps as early as 2013 (the last couple of posts, especially, show signs of Trying Too Hard), Damian displays a complete mastery of what punctuation to put where in the comment field, to achieve the dramatic or snide effect he wants. Even though he forgot to add an enclosing bracket on the following paragraph.



(Damian's other great strength is his grammer. Not his monologues where he lays out his Great Critiques, which are florid and overwritten, but his responses to a post -- they flow; and even when no one pays attention to them; they have the rhythm of a blog commentator having read the daily post and responded, rather than the someone just waiting his turn to speak, although they show that too. Did I mention he forgot to add an enclosing bracket on this paragraph?




So I find it interesting that Damian would abandon what he's good at for something that he isn't good at. He even abandoned his much-praised "I'll buy Dave a fax machine" sensibilities. But that's where he wants to go, and nobody can say he can't.


Damian's attempts to be critical are as primitive (meant not pejoratively, but descriptively) as his early attempts at commenting. But I think we (including Dave) agree that Damian got a lot better from his early posts on A Moment of Cerebus -- first his Comics Journal impression got better, and then when he casts off the shackles of another critic's style he will grow better in his own style.



I don't think it will be very interesting to watch Damian improve his impression -- but I think it will be fascinating when he casts off his Dave Sim shackles and draws his own 300 issue comic and gets his own daily blog devoted to him. Given his pace and his age, we're in a race against time: will Damian live long enough to rid himself of his ten thousand bad blog critiques so he can produce his own Good Comic? Who knows? But I think the process will be fun to watch, and rewarding to study.



David Philpott said...

What kind of cost are we looking at from CGC for 3 buses ?

I agree with Sandeep well said Reginald and Eddie.

Anonymous said...

I never offered to buy Dave a fax machine.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, pfd

Anonymous said...

Though I did forget to close my parentheses.)

-- Damian T. Lloyd, llb

iestyn said...

In fairness to Damian - he isn't critising Dave or his choices, nor is he saying the Dave can't draw. Even though he slides his argument that way in description, it seems to me he means more that Dave struggles with realism and the necessary trappings to support realism - fealty to perspective and accurate anatomy.

He said that he finds it interesting that someone who can cartoon so fluidly would opt to drop that style to learn how to draw in a manner that they have confessed is difficult for them.

I personally always prefer cartooning as that is what I am a fan of so have some sympathy with Damian's opinion. I also think that using the idea that Dave draws with incredibly thin lines is not a definition of being good at drawing.

I personally like everybody to be free to express their opinion and think Reginald P bit back a little too hard, each to their own.

Eddie on the other hand made me laugh out loud. I think humour is always preferable to taking offense. I see it as far more open minded to not take something to heart but to let it fuel creativity.

But now I'm sounding pompous.

I personally would love to se Dave do some cartooning on a story as I think his character work and body language is sublime.

Dave F. said...

All of this on a post about a "No Butt-Crack" display ad...?!?

Good. Grief.

I'll check the main Charles Street bus terminal in downtown Kitch from time-to-time and see if Grand River Transit is carrying the signage and will snap a pic. Fingers crossed...

crazyyears said...

I sent a short, polite email to info@schweitzers.ca inquiring as to whether t-shirts might become available of the "No Butt Cracks" design.
They replied that it was possible and, "If we see a genuine interest from enough fans, we can place an order."
So maybe a few of you should send your own short, polite emails to info@schweitzers.ca.

--- Michael Hunt

Jason Winter said...

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I wanted to put my two copper bits in.

Mr Sims current style has been pretty hit and miss with me. There have been some successes, The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond Vols 1-4 cover for instance, but a fair portion of the work doesn't quite get there. One of my gripes is an overuse of fine lines. I personally feel that Alex Raymond and Al Williamson were more sparing in their use, whereas Mr Sim tends to go a bit nutty with it, particularly his crosshatching. Also, in outlining his subjects, I think he should try for thicker lines, which might give the work a little more body. But I believe the principle problem stems from the fact that Mr Sim is not a very strong draughtsman. There's a wonderful guote from Ingres;“A thing well drawn is already passable well painted." And I think that applies to inking as well. Mr Sim lacks the technical skill to completely pull his drawings off. Still, it's fascinating watching him try.