Friday, 9 October 2015

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. And now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I will be posting full paragraphs or pages of interesting excerpts from those letters every Saturday.

This week, a letter from me, Jeff Seiler, to Dave Sim, in response to the 22 June letters:

June 29, 2004

Dear Dave,

Thanks for your two letters of 17 June and 22 June. It was good talking with you on the phone for the first time in several years, as well. I think the last time I spoke with you on the phone goes all the way back to before I wrote the infamous "gimme, gimme, gimme" letter that started the whole "send Jeff sketches and then Dave will send him a real one" thing. We've certainly covered a lot of ground since then, eh? Just as an aside, how much whiskey did you have to drink to get that deep, low voice? It’s just not a voice that I ever associated with the pictures I've seen of you.

In regards to your 17 June letter, first, I thought that your comments on using the library were interesting. My first response was, "Oh, I know! I can't believe how much I've 'stolen' from them so far!" But, to be serious, yes, in many cases the computers were free. For several years, Bill Gates and Microsoft have been giving computers to libraries for just the purposes for which I have been using them. I suspect that, apart from the tax write-off, Gates' magnanimity may have sprung from a Carnegie-esque motivation of purging whatever corporate-level sins he may have committed along the way to his billions of dollars of personal wealth. I am more than happy to tap that vein, if so. Coincidentally, the first time I used a Gates-donated computer was at an original Carnegie library, in Sedalia, MO.

I suspect that, were you to try your hand at the real world of work, you would be able to find something a little better than washing dishes. I'm sure the world of graphic design would find something useful for you to do, although your curmudgeonly ways might quickly lead them to echo your refrain of "just shut up and go home, Dave".

You asked about the light rail in Richardson [TX, where I lived in '04]. I assure you, should you ever see it in Kitchener, that you will enjoy it immensely if it's anything like here. They have two main lines, the Red and the Blue, that run all the way from Plano in the north to south Dallas, with five stops downtown (Red). The Blue Line runs from Garland in the east, through downtown, then, oddly, runs back east again to southeast Dallas. They are planning to run a line downtown up to my area in the northwest, but it will be many years before that’s accomplished.

The trains are nearly always on time, with schedules for every time and every day posted at each station, and the train cars are clean and well air-conditioned. Most of the stations are above ground, so they don't stop street traffic. In addition, there is an express train that runs from Union Station downtown through Arlington to downtown Fort Worth, with a shuttle that then runs to all of the museums and the historic stockyards district.

It is, in a word, remarkable. I have ridden trains in Europe and England and in a few cities in the States, but never have I ridden on a system that is to timely, clean, safe and comfortable, combined. I can buy a $40 monthly pass and ride it anytime, anywhere. Before my recent move that was forced upon me because of my summer situation, I could walk five minutes from my door to the train and wait no more than 20 minutes for the train to arrive, and then get to anywhere I needed to. I will miss that!

I will table our discussion of Canadian politics until after today's elections, except to remark on your having shaken hands with the Conservative candidate and promising him your vote. That cause me to remember that, back in Sedalia, MO, in 2002, I spoke briefly with and shook hands with John Ashcroft. I remember that he was remarkably brusque and, to me, came across almost exactly as the media like to portray him. You know that I am very conservative but, when I later heard that he had been appointed to his current post after losing the election, my first response was, "Uh-Oh".

Moving on to the letter of June 22: You are quite welcome for the Imprimis subscription. I have been receiving it monthly for several years. I first heard about it on the Michael Medved syndicated radio talk show and immediately called in. I took a chance by putting you in for it without asking you, knowing how much unsolicited mail you get, but I thought you might enjoy the surprise.

I had to go into my file to find the April, 2004, issue, but immediately recognized it by its title, "Rolling Back Government: Lessons from New Zealand". That was one of the best speeches they have ever published. Mr. McTigue's comments about privatization and elimination of government services and offices were very well-taken, especially the story about driver’s licenses. You might like to know that I specifically requested that they start your subscription with that issue.

I commend you for so quickly sending a contribution to Hillsdale College, after having just started receiving the publication. And, I must say, good letter to Mr. Jeffrey. I think that "acid test" is the mot juste in this case, as when I got to the end of that letter and read that you had sent him a copy of "Tangent", my response was "holy - - - -!". You certainly do like stirring things up, don't you? I would be very interested in reading his response to you, if you wouldn't mind sharing it.

I hadn't thought about Mrs. Reagan's role in choosing the eulogists. You make a good point. She was nearly forgotten by the public, as well, despite occasional magazine articles on "How She’s Holding Up". I didn't care a lot for her during Mr. Reagan's terms, for the very reason that you go on to state about politician's wives, and I certainly didn’t like the feud between her and Donald Regan, how she undermined him so much. But, I must say, she was a very faithful companion to Mr. Reagan and she deserves much acclaim for that.

Thanks for the insights into Mr. Mulroney. I admire him a great deal. I only hope that we will see another Conservative PM in the future who can live up to his legacy. As an aside, you mentioned LBJ and I thought you might enjoy this story about his legendary chutzpah:

During the height of the VietNam War, in order to boost troop morale and domestic support, Johnson went to VietNam to visit the troops. His return trip was extended to Europe, including the city of Rome and, more importantly, the Vatican City. The story, which I read in one of his biographies, goes on to say that he decided somewhat on the spur of the moment, to "drop in" on the pope, uninvited. Graciously, the pope granted him an audience and even went so far as to offer a gift to the American people of a 14th-century masterpiece from the Vatican vault. Johnson’s response of a gift in kind to the pope was a six-inch-tall bust of himself. Sort of boggles that mind, doesn't it?

If you can take another story, your comments about presidential wives reminded me of a story about Billary. This occurred during the health-care reform meetings that Hillary set up, but which Bill chaired. They were broadcast live on one of those politics-only stations, which kept the live feed on whenever they took breaks, only with just ambient sound. Just before one of the breaks, Bill announced something to the effect of that they were going to take a break, then come back and wrap things up, “so we can be done before the evening news”.

During the break, you could see Bill turn to someone beside and smile and make a little chit-chat. And then you could see Hillary come up behind him and whisper something in his ear in a very animated way. He immediately lost the smile, looked a bit chastised, then vigorously started nodding his head up and down. She went and sat down, and when the break was over, he announced, "Uh, well, we're going to keep going for a while here and get some more things done. The news can wait on us." Or something very similar.

It was so clear that the President of the United States had just been reprimanded by his wife for Forgetting Who He Was. I would be interested to see if that incident made it into his memoirs, but that would necessitate me buying it, which I firmly plan not to do.

I hope that you vacation [to Italy, staying with Billy Beach] was enjoyable and I look forward, as I said on the phone, to hearing all about it, from both of you. Anticipating that letter, I remain

Yours beyond 300

P.S.: I received your flyer today after I finished this letter. Nice flyer. I assume that it is slick so that it is photo-reproduceable? I'll discuss that with Keith. I'm not sure about the connection between Conan [Dark Horse version] and the Party Packs is, but I'll pass it along. I don't read any other comics, as a rule, so I don't know the current storyline in the latest incarnation of Conan. I'll try both approaches. I'm assuming that you enclosed the copy of Party Pack so that I could show it to Keith, rather than keep it for myself. If he doesn't want it, though, I may just keep it for my collection, as I never got a chance at it the first time around.

I forgot to ask before: Do you have any unsold copies of Latter Daies? If so, please reserve one for me and I'll send the money when I get work.

Yes, that's right: I'll write when I get work.


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