Sunday, 9 November 2014

Why Aren't More People Talking About Dave Sim?

(from Bleeding Cool, 8 November 2014)
So Dave Sim went and wrote this, for A Moment Of Cerebus,
I did want to mention that the ONLY complete sets of CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO BONUS PRINT FIRST RELEASEs -- all 21 -- will be sent to... Rich Johnston of BLEEDING COOL. Although people don’t seem to “register” the unbelievable and unwavering level of sheer courage that Rich Johnston exhibits in being the ONLY (I repeat: ONLY) comics journalist to a) mention me b) mention my work c) mentioned them both favourably, this, again, is one of those things that doesn’t go unnoticed by me in the toxic political climate which continues to dominate the comics field and the direct market.
a) That's very, very kind of you and I don’t feel deserving. Obviously I’m not going to object, I’m not an idiot.

b) But I'm not courageous about that at all. I have never had an objection expressed to me for anything I've written about Dave Sim. I've had threats against my life, assault against my person and plenty of lies told with the aim of belittling me and that’s all part and parcel of the job. But I've never had any criticism about writing about Sim, at least none that I've been aware of. I haven't signed his pledge, I like some of his work much more than others, but I do consider Sim to be one of the few genuises that comics have created in the English speaking world. And have never had a conversation that has seen that be a point of contention.

c) Because, yes, he does seem to be ignored by the kind of people who shouldn't be ignoring him. As kind as Sim is, I am not a journalist. I'm an entertainment reporter specialising in comics. But some of you folk reading this are journalists. And you're letting your side down.

I mean, seriously, even if you hate the man and his work, it's surely worth writing about right? Such as...

So JUDENHASS will go into the public domain when Lou gets around to uploading a downloadable version of it to the website. You want to print 30 of them? You want to print 3,000,000 of them and give them away to high schools worldwide? With my blessing! Please! Don’t even think of crossing my palm with silver! BELIEVE ME! Anyone making JUDENHASS available anywhere to anyone for any reason, is more than payment enough for me. MORE than enough! SO! Potentially MILLIONS OF COPIES are about to circulate, nu?

Pardon? AM I smiling? What do you know? So I am. Yes, and that was a philosophical shrug of my shoulders.
There you go. Story. Or at least, the start of one...

(from The Comics Reporter, 10 November 2014)
I get that everyone in comics thinks they should be covered more, and has an idea of what that coverage should look like, but for curiosity's sake I did a quick search of articles that mentioned "Dave Sim" on this site and came up with a mere 28 in this calendar year. I'll try to do better.


Jeff Seiler said...

Wow! *That* may just be the bigger story:

"An entertainment reporter specialising in comics" who just happens to have a conscience when it comes to reporting on something or someone that/who is just the least bit (!) newsworthy.

From a former print newspaper reporter (yeah, I know--a dinosaur), I have to say:

Good on yer, Rich.

Anonymous said...

I've got to ask: what is currently newsworthy about Dave Sim? Cerebus has been over for ten years, Strange Death isn't out yet. What's there to write about? Dave putting Judenhass in the public domain? "Cartoonist of minor fame lets anyone print a copy of his failed comic" isn't going to make Dave's hometown paper. "Cartoonist has home renovated"?

This isn't likely to change in the foreseeable future. We can expect some coverage of Strange Death in the comics press when it launches, but what's the hook for the mainstream media? "Cartoonist of minor fame launches comic-book biography of forgotten newspaper cartoonist"?

I think that perhaps the reason that "people don’t seem to 'register' the unbelievable and unwavering level of sheer courage that Rich Johnston exhibits" is because writing about Dave Sim doesn't require any courage. Nobody ever lost anything from writing about Dave Sim (except loons like "Talon TM" or Michael Battaglia (was that his name? Were they the same guy?) who demanded capital punishment for anyone who didn't prostrate themselves toward Kitchener five times a day -- and all they lost was posting privileges at The Comics Journal's website).

Dave labels himself "the Pariah King of comics", but more accurately he's "the Recluse King of comics". He wasn't drummed out; he left. Dave laments that nobody defended him after he published his misogynist / anti-feminist views. But actually, everyone defended him; everyone who wrote about The Infamous Number 186 and after said something like "Of course, Dave is free to say anything he likes ..." What Dave really objects to is that everyone didn't agree with him. If he doesn't want to associate with people who don't share his self-assessment, that's his choice, but it's not anyone else's fault.

It seems Dave never gave up on "dreaming of nubile young groupies gathered in the street below chanting, 'Dave Sim! Dave Sim!'", only he's realized it won't happen in his lifetime and now pins his hopes on being acclaimed after his death. I think the well-read comics fan's or historian's bookshelves should contain Cerebus right between Peanuts and Captain America. But I just can't see the day when people make pilgrimages to the Off-White House. Dave is not and never will be James Joyce. I think Dave is wasting his money on his "Museum of Me". But it's his money -- donated by his fans, to support whatever he wants to do.

And, as I have said before, I think that will be Dave Sim's greatest legacy: to prove that it is possible to carve out a niche that gives you the maximum possible creative freedom. You don't need an editor, you don't need a publisher, you don't need an endless parade of gate-keepers or bean-counters. You can create anything you want, and you are limited only by your talent and your ability to strike a chord with readers.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, abs

David Birdsong said...

Here are a few things to write about:

High Society Digital Audio. I'm surprised Marvel and DC haven't already started doing something like this. We have not seen the final package yet, but it is as innovative as anything going on with comics right now. The versions that are available as downloads are overloaded with bonus material and very rewarding for the long time fan. I like comics that I can hold in my hand and I do not care to read them on a screen, but a DVD box set of Dave reading the book on my TV is unlike anything else around right now and someone ought to catch a clue. I don't especially want versions of the 1960's Marvel comics read by Stan Lee, but having them on a DVD or Blu-ray in high resolution with bonus material (the latest version of Miracleman comes to mind) would be something I might be interested in, especially since buying the originals is expensive and the reprints have been less than consistent over the years.

Kickstarter. Here is a fine example of man that may be long past his glory days using a modern tool to preserve and present his work in a way no one else is doing (Yes, I know there are other comic projects on Kickstarter, but this one stands WAY out). This again is something I think other comic creators ought to take note of. Got an out of print magnum opus? Raise some cash on Kickstarter and get the work back into the hands of your fans and perhaps give it to them better than they ever had it before.

The kind of man Dave Sim is is also worth writing about. I have a personal interest for certain, but apparently so does everyone else that reads this blog and contributes to Patreon or perhaps is merely curious about what he is up to since Cerebus ended. I have no doubt there may be fans that have no idea this blog exists and wish they knew about the Cerebus Archive portfolios and the fact that Diamond has enough of a market to order them means there is a interest out there.

And finally Damien, not everyone agrees that Dave Sim is a misogynist. I know you know this and I wish you wouldn't write it down like it was "settled science" thus attempting to end any argument against your blanket statement. I really don't feel like arguing the whole thing again, but I wanted to make it clear that "Dave Sim is a misogynist" is not written in stone.

David Birdsong said...

Sorry that should by " interest out there."

And also sorry for the "Damien" instead of "Damian."

Wut choo expec' from a country hick?

Anonymous said...

David: I specifically wrote "misogynist / anti-feminist views" to forestall exactly that argument. You can pick which side of the slash you agree with.

I think your "personal interest" in "the kind of man Dave Sim is" colours your evaluation of its newsworthiness. I suggest that the most appropriate venue for such writing is right here on AMOC. I don't think you would be happy with more general articles, as I fear they would confront the "misogynist / anti-feminist" divide in a way you don't like.

I don't think High Society Digital is newsworthy since, as you point out, it's not out yet. When it's released, perhaps, but that seems more worthy of promotional press releases than news articles.

But I think your middle suggestion is great! I've read "how to crowd-fund successfully" articles before, and they're often shy on actual facts and figures. Dave's campaigns have been explicit, right down to donor and dollar numbers. I would be most interested in an article that combed through the AMOC posts, Kickstarter updates, and Patreon posts and put all that together.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, sst