Friday, 12 September 2014

Weekly Update #48: "You Are Not Connected To The Internet"

Hi folks!

Okay. Looks like "that's it" when it comes to "interactive" in these Updates.

Same thing that happened last week. Click on "Safari" and a notice comes up that I can't get to Google because "I'm not connected to the Internet". Go through the same drill four times and, no, this is that "rat trapped in a cage let's see how many times we can get him to push the little lever" thing that is a big reason that I'm not connected to the Internet as a policy.

So, sincere apologies, but I'm just going to type this here in the coffee shop and then fax it to Tim W. Oh, wait that isn't going to work. The PRINT function isn't working. If you have questions or comments, the address is Box 1674 Station C Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2. Which leads into our #1 item on the agenda:

  1. Office FAX COPIER SCANNER dies. Again. So, until further notice, these Updates will no longer be interactive. I'm just going to type, print and fax them to Tim W. (I can fax out but not receive faxes).
  2. End of Life Update: funeral home where my funeral is prearranged is closing so, change of venue: (get this:) WESTMOUNT MEMORIAL CELEBRATION CENTRE 1001 Ottawa Street South, Kitchener
  3. Menachem Luchins and the ESCAPE POD COMICS crew come through Big Time and all USPS copies are now on their way -- either to you or, you know, back to ESCAPE POD COMICS (we're all holding our breath)
  4. We've switched to our retailer patron's $10K donation to keep funding Sean and Mara's restorations between CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE and CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO. No CLEAR idea of how much longer it's going to be until HIGH SOCIETY is ready for printing. Keep watching this space
  5. Official Off-White House News Leak: Chris Ryall, IDW editor-in-chief: "We are completely into doing the CEREBUS COVERS BOOK. no matter what. [HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL]'s performance has no bearing on that."

1. I've experienced -- as of Wednesday -- the same partial shut down of the office FAX COPIER SCANNER. Not printing. Or, rather, printing in striped horizontal vanishing bands. Same as last time, I can fax out but no fax can come in. I take it as a given that this is going to be an on-going situation of having to buy a new machine every two or three months. So, I'm going to do that for as long as it makes sense to do so. I really only have it for printing out the Joe Kubert font lettering for THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, photo reference, etc., so a new machine every two or three months until I'm done the book, I guess. The office fax number is 519-576-0955. If the NEW machine works that should be LIVE and available come late Monday night.

Apart from that, today is the first REAL mail-answering day in a number of weeks. So good news on that score. If you've been waiting for an answer to your letter it should be coming to you in the next couple of weeks.

See, I also use the COPIER function to print copies of my typewritten letters for the Cerebus Archive and I can't do that with the machine on the fritz so, even though I've answered the letters on the typewriter (since I a.m.), mailing has to wait until I can print copies again. Again, God willing: Monday. Obviously, no promises.

2. Schreiter Sandrock Funeral Home on Benton Street where my funeral is prearranged has announced that it's closing so my funeral will now take place at (those of you old enough to remember a more rational world, feel free to LOL) WESTMOUNT MEMORIAL CELEBRATION CENTRE 1001 Ottawa St S.

Balloon animals and rubber castle for the kids! Interment via ferris wheel!

Interesting experience: for 10 years, I've been able to picture the room where the "visitation" would take place and now I won't be able to do that (I'm really not curious enough to take the bus all the way out there to see what the place looks like especially with a name like that -- the mind literally boggles) (that's where they're moving their offices so, I'm just going to go along with it. It's not as if I CARE what the place is going to look like where my stiff will be laid out.) (And, since Kitchener has alway been a uranium core feminist environment, what else would you call a place with Dead Dave Sim in it, but a "Celebration Centre"!)

Worth noting (perhaps): I've specified that my remains are to be kept in cold storage for a week before the funeral to allow interested parties to drive in from out of town if they're so inclined. Since AMOC is the only place where any information on my funeral will appear until the event itself, I'd encourage likewise interested parties to write down that funeral home name and address and call them if you hear that I've died since there isn't anyone in town who will know anything about it. It's not much of a casket, but it's paid for and it would be shame to waste it because everyone in town was going "Dave Who?" 

3. Many thanks to Menachem Luchins and his ESCAPE POD COMICS crew for breaking down the mass shipment of CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE for USPS and getting them out, like, within 24 hours. Unbelievable -- but only if you don't know Menachem. We are in COMPLETE agreement that we can't do this again next time. Fortunately, John Funk seems to have found the outfit my lawyer Wilf Jenkins was talking to me about who take mass mailings down to Buffalo and send them out by USPS (Wilf just remembered reading a newspaper article about them).

We'll definitely be talking to them to find out what their arrangement is. As far as John can see, it's really a difference of about $10 (mass shipping them across the border and breaking them down there) versus $20 (mailing them direct from Canada).

So, on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO, we might just offer them as two options: your copy can go out at the same time as the Canadian and International from here or you can wait until the bulk shipment is put together and shlepped down to Buffalo.

I had sent Menachem a cheque for $1500 drawn on the A-V US$ account and he said the total shipping came to about $1200. I suggested that he take everyone out for dinner (including Sarah and the kids) and send me a cheque for the balance because of his trouble. And he says (he says) they couldn't go out for dinner in Huntington Station because they don't have a kosher restaurant. THEY DON'T HAVE A KOSHER RESTAURANT IN HUNTINGTON STATION? I thought it was, like, a New York State bylaw that you HAD to have a kosher restaurant anywhere closer than, like, Albany (or maybe Rochester maybe) to NYC. Couldn't be more surprised. We'll keep you updated as the situation continues to unfold.

Seriously, many thanks to Menachem and crew for all of their help Above and Beyond the Call of Aardvarkian Duty. I had a long and enjoyable conversation with him Wednesday night on the phone.

Even more seriously, I had a major "D'Oh!" on the Kickstarter CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE numbers after the fact: because we included the postage costs with the various different pledge levels, that got included in the total. So, I'm mentally calculating our overhead and our costs to get our profit margin and "ballparking" on that basis and -- obviously -- I'm way south of where I should be. So, that's one of the things that we'll be attempting to fix on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO with a parallel registration site so that we can crunch ACTUAL numbers in a way that Kickstarter isn't set up for. I wish we could just LAUNCH right now, but there is a certain amount of "homework" that needs to be done once we're ALL the way through this first one. Fisher has finished editing the video, so...

We're getting there. But, no, it won't be soon. Soon in 2014 means the day after tomorrow or five minutes ago. In this case it means "On the Friday when I STOP saying 'Soon'". 

4. Sean is keeping me updated on the restorations work -- or was until the fax machine went on the fritz. He got quite innovative right away: short START [two-line message] END faxes duplicated three or four times on the page. Usually one and sometimes two of them come through loud and clear. VERY weird that I can fax him back a full page and there's no problem with it. I can fax OUT no problem. It's INCOMING that's a problem. As I said to Sean, I think God is trying to tell me something but I'm not sure what. Coupled with the inability to access the Internet in the coffee shop, I suspect it's "Communication is fine. Conversation? No, you don't want to be doing conversation online. That's just going to eat your life."

If that IS God's point, it might be a very good one: I've been typing this for an hour and I'm almost done. Most weeks I'm creeping up on the two-hour mark by the time I've read and answered a bunch of comments and then started typing what I have jotted down in my little notebook here.

Many MANY thanks, as always, to "TF" our retailer patron. Without you, sir, this would have been about the week that I'd have to pull the plug on Sean and Mara temporarily while I wait to find out if any cheques came in to the mailbox in the last two weeks. 

5. Needless to say, I found Chris Ryall's reassurances very… reassuring. I have to admit that I was taken completely by surprise when he started his fax, "Amusingly enough, I was reading your latest Update at the exact moment that Lauren handed me the fax saying there's a new Update." (I figured I better warn him). CHRIS RYALL READS THIS STUFF?

I didn't know if he had some sort of signal that tells him that someone mentioned IDW/him or both somewhere on the Internet (which would make a lot of sense for an editor-in-chief when I think of it) (and probably won't work with faxes scanned in, so somebody might want to give him a "head's up"):

Anyway, he's going to be sending me a full communique on the COVERS BOOK(S?) and THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND at some point.

This might be a good place to mention that IDW has a lot more confidence in STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND than I do as a commercial property -- which is kind of an odd reverse of the usual author/publisher relationship. MY take is that we can sell maybe 100 copies in an Artist's Edition if I have enough time to actually construct a market that size through Heritage Auctions (building on the "glamourpuss original art auctions" that Dave Fisher and I are still in the early days of starting to construct).

People who are interested in my photorealism art are a mere handful of people, a pimple on the butt of the CEREBUS audience (which itself isn't huge these days), as I see it. Brian Hibbs' observation on how many copies of Dave Sim's new project he's going to order (when I was working on JUDENHASS and hadn't announced it). "Depends on if it's CEREBUS: THE HA-HA YEARS". Which is, I think, a good way of putting it. This , as far as the market is concerned, is all Dave Sim is good for.

And THAT only potentially.

It BETTER be. HA. HA. If it's not? Kill it.

Anyway: lesson learned. Go through Heritage Auctions and find people who buy the ACTUAL photorealists, send them a preview/catalogue of the glamourpuss art auction material and try to engage them there -- with the fashion stuff AND pages that won't be used in STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. Complete firewall, of course. I don't know who they are, but Heritage contacts them directly.

THEN! THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND PREVIEW ROUGH CUT ARTISTS EDITION. Same firewall group. Send them print-outs of a bunch of the pages in advance of the auction. No one else -- except IDW and Eddie Khanna -- has seen or will see the work at that point. That is, the initial print run of Book One would be 100 signed and numbered copies (with tipped in bookplate, tracing paper preliminary signed and personalized -- maybe photorealism drawing of the purchaser or spouse on #'s 1 to 5, the whole nine yards) and they would be auctioned and IDW and I would split the proceeds.

THAT I have confidence would bring in enough revenue to make doing the book worthwhile after deducting the cost of the 100 copies.

And then IDW is welcome to try to market (how do I put this delicately?) DAVE SIM'S NOT-CEREBUS THE-HA-HA-YEARS CRAP PROJECT to the stores. I think that's the only realistic expectation. I mean, come on, only Rich Johnston even TALKS about Dave Sim (and thanks, Rich, but…you know, it is what it is, right?). That isn't going to change, I don't think. The needle on that dial isn't going to budge. The same force that sold 10,000 copies of JUDENHASS and then dropped to Absolute Zero and has stayed there ever since will, I'm pretty sure (not seeing any variable in the equation) do that to Book One of THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. I'm fine with that. If you can do a book for 26 years and have the last 10 years of it completely ignored, trust me, you're fine with anything.

Let me say that I deeply appreciate IDW's confidence in me and SDOAR. All I'm saying is that I don't want them to take a Major Bath between what they THINK the book should do and what the book is GOING to do. My way, they'll at least make a few dollars off the 100 copies and I'll make a few dollars off the 100 copies (and, I'm pretty sure, auctioning ALL of the artwork before the market kills the book BANG DEAD -- so right after the 100 copies have been auctioned) and then we can be 100% realistic about Book Two and Book Three and Book Four, etc.

We'll have a fallback position.

"Right. We can sell 100 copies of this book through Heritage Auctions and that's the ONLY place we can sell it." And we just DO that. No hand-wringing. No "Oh Why Oh Why Didn't This Wonderful Piece of Work Sell Better?" Uh, three guesses and the first two don't count.

Or we can sell another 400 copies or 1,000 copies.

I'm just REALLY concerned about Ted's ambition to get this book on the New York Times Bestseller List. That's a LOT of coin to lose betting that a 100% CLOSED-minded society is a remotely OPEN-minded society. Don't get me wrong, Ted is more than welcome to lose as much of his money as he wants -- and he's pretty adamant that it's his money and that he plans to back SDOAR to the hilt. Personally, I'll just be more comfortable when Bleeding Cool is the only site that even mentions it and it tanks completely if we have that fallback position. We can sell 100 of these to major marginalized art buyers.

Okay, one hour and forty-five minutes. Back to answering the mail.

I'll try again next week, but I suspect this is the "new normal". "You are Not Connected to the Internet". Whoa. Fine by me.

Sorry to anyone who had questions or comments for me.

That address again is: Box 1674 Station C, Kitchener, Ontario, CANADA N2G 4R2!

Bye for now!

Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by donating at or via Paypal.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (2008 to 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.


Anonymous said...

Has anyone suggested to Dave that he's accidentally tapped the "Wireless Off" button on his computer without noticing? Such a thing has happened to more computer-savvy individuals than he.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, pda

Tony Dunlop said...

Even if that's what happened, it was certainly G-D who made his finger "slip," nu?

Anonymous said...

I do not think that is the case.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, skp

Anonymous said...

Dave: This projected death of yours better be decades off in the future. The field is badly in need of your experienced, conservative voice to sound a note of defiance and hope against the decline and decay of our civilization.....


Mark Rake