Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Deni Loubert: A Publisher Who Changed Comics

Deni Loubert & Dave Sim, 1982.
(Photo by Alan Hose)

HOPE NICHOLSON:
(from Five Female Publishers Who Changed Comics posted at Nerdophiles, 4 May 2017)
As a small press publisher and owner of the company Bedside Press and as a comics historian, the intersection of publishing industry and comics is fascinating to me. I was delighted and thrilled as I went into the rabbit hole of research to consistently see female leaders in publishing companies throughout the decades. These women are dedicated, driven, and were completely committed to pushing innovative boundaries in comic book publishing. They're an inspiration to everyone who works in comics...
Deni Loubert: Aardvark-Vanaheim / Renegade Press (1977-1989)
Publishing in Canada is hard. With a sparse population base and increased cost of materials, relatively few comic publishers have been able to be successful in Canada. Any that have must be particularly notable, and Deni Loubert’s work is definitely among them. Starting off in science fiction fandom, Deni was eager to publish her zine Cerebus when she met a cartoonist named Dave Sim. Together they formed the publishing company Aardvark-Vanaheim, whose first project was Sim's new comic Cerebus, named for Deni’s zine. Deni took the reins of the publishing company, forming printing connections, and distribution relationships with the newly created comic shop market across the country, and into America. Soon, they added new titles to their publisher, such as the gritty crime drama Ms. Tree and the energetic Neil the Horse. When Deni left Aardvark-Vanaheim, many titles followed her to her new company Renegade Press until they closed due to low sales in the late 1980s, along with many other small press publishers.


Hope Nicholson is the owner of Winnipeg comics publisher Bedside Press and a comic book historian. Her new book "The Spectacular Sisterhood Of Superwomen" is out now from Quirk Books.

Deni Loubert was Aardvark-Vanaheim's publisher for the first 70 issues of Cerebus. Deni and Dave Sim were married between 1978 and 1983. After their divorce, Deni moved to Los Angeles to start her own comics publishing company, Renegade Press, which closed its doors in 1989. She was inducted into the Joe Shuster Hall of Fame in 2010.

21 comments:

Jeff Seiler said...

This is wrong in so many ways.

Pay attention, people.

Michael Hoskin said...

There's a passing reference to Sim in Nicholson's book when she brings up Neil the Horse.

For those of you who get excited to see Dave's name listed in indices.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Jeff: I would be most interested to hear which parts you feel are wrong.

-- Damian

dan said...

I can't be the only one who saw the headline and thought this was an obituary, can I? Don't do this to us, AMOC!

whc03grady said...

Nah, Damian. We can figure it out for ourselves.
"Publishing in Canada is hard."
Probably true.
"With a sparse population base and increased cost of materials,"
True.
"relatively few comic publishers have been able to be successful in Canada."
Given the "relatively", we'll say this is true.
"Any that have must be particularly notable, and Deni Loubert’s work is definitely among them."
Sure.
"Starting off in science fiction fandom, Deni was eager to publish her zine Cerebus when she met a cartoonist named Dave Sim."
True.
"Together they formed the publishing company Aardvark-Vanaheim, whose first project was Sim’s new comic Cerebus, named for Deni’s zine."
True.
"Deni took the reins of the publishing company, forming printing connections, and distribution relationships with the newly created comic shop market across the country, and into America."
True, right?
"Soon, they added new titles to their publisher, such as the gritty crime drama Ms. Tree and the energetic Neil the Horse."
True.
"When Deni left Aardvark-Vanaheim, many titles followed her to her new company Renegade Press"
True.
"until they closed due to low sales in the late 1980s, along with many other small press publishers."
True.

Hmmmmm. Maybe Jeff does have some 'splaining to do.

Alright,
whc03grady.

Tony Dunlop said...

Actually, Deni's fanzine was called "Cerberus" (after the well-known Hell-Hound who guarded Styx - they didn't want to use the Hell's Angels after what happened with the Stones) but there was a spelling goof. Other than that this is consistent with most of what I've read about the history of A-V/Renegade over the years.

Bill Ritter said...

I think there is some error by brevity. In addition to Tony's comment, I believe Deni's unintentionally spelled Cerberus fanzine had already had Dave had working on it. Cerebus was the mascot, and reflected the barbarian-aspect of the fanzine. (not so much science-fiction).

I believe that the titles that went to Renegade Press less followed as they were ushered. I recall Dave not having an interest in being creator and publisher, and even when Aardvark-Vanaheim had branched out into publishing other work it was Deni's interest, not so much Dave's.

I don't see too much overly technically wrong (sorry Jeff); rather, over-simplified and and overly-brief in its summary.

Dave Kopperman said...

The Cerebus/Cerberus thing was also the only factual error I noticed. I think the elision regarding the full details is understandable in the context of a short bio of Deni Loubert, publisher.

Anonymous said...

No, no, no. Pay attention, people. This is wrong in so many ways.

Alright,
whc03grady.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Let me quickly rush to the defense of Jeff Seiler here [that sound you hear is Jeff falling over backwards in disbelief!]...

The reason I ran this AMOC post is that it is very rare for either Cerebus, Aardvark-Vanaheim or Dave Sim to get mentioned anywhere, so it is always a noteworthy event, no matter what is said. However, even I was struck by how superficial this piece by Hope Nicholson was in relation to Deni Loubert. The inaccuracies are by the omission of details rather than what was actually said.

Dave Sim has previously commented on AMOC about his relationship with Deni and a couple of quotes have always stuck in my mind:

"I have to admit to getting a rueful chuckle out of 'when he started not to trust me about stuff' considering that she formed Tabby Dreams --later called Renegade Press on the wise advice of Bob Burden -- behind my back. Basically contacting all of the Aardvark-Vanaheim cartoonists and telling them she was leaving and were they coming with her? And all of them chose to go with her. And not one of them -- each of whom I had hand-picked to publish -- so much as contacted me to find out what was going on. Which made me (to say the least) a little more amenable to the deal Deni and arrived at: that I wouldn't contest any of the cartoonists jumping their contracts. Although I still wanted to publish FLAMING CARROT even though Bob had plotted with Deni behind my back."
http://momentofcerebus.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/deni-loubert-it-was-him-me-against-world.html

"Eclipse and A-V -- later Renegade -- published TOO MANY TITLES and died of cash flow starvation. Deni went out of business owing Preney $250,000 which -- oddly enough -- is about how much money they were short when they finally went out of business a few years back. I'm just saying. I never owed Preney anything because I kept the business side confined and kept well within my means."
http://momentofcerebus.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/back-forth-steve-bissette-dave-sim.html

Follow the those links if you want to read more on this topic.

As an aside, I don't think I've ever read anything from the creators published by Renegade Press about that experience. It would be interesting to hear their views... or is this all now ancient history that nobody is interested in?

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Of course, Dave Sim is an unreliable narrator. We know, for example, that he didn't hand-pick Jim Valentino and normalman, because he said that he thought A-V should publish Don Simpson's Megaton Man and Deni thought they should publish normalman.

It is strange that Dave gets a rueful chuckle out of creators published by a company choosing to deal with their publisher, instead of being loyal to another creator published by that company who is divorcing the publisher. The business of it is so straightforward as to be (ha!) self-evident. I think that sometimes Dave has strange requirements of fealty, eg. his insistence that his fellow creators somehow owe it to him to sign his petition.

As to the last quoted paragraph: The Comics Journal at the time, among others, diagnosed the problem accurately but to no avail. Keeping ahead of the cash-flow crunch by publishing ever-proliferating titles was a mug's game.

-- Damian

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

...or maybe Jeff was taking issue with Hope Nicholson's openly flagrant feminist agenda! It's so hard to fathom the twisted mindset of 'The Seiler'.

[Sorry Jeff. Cheap-shot. I'll stop now.]

Glen said...

Dave looks like Greg Allman in this photo.

Culpa Direct said...

I like where the article says that as editor-in-chief of Eclipse Comics, cat yronwode "was responsible for" Miracleman. Go, Dr. Ironcat!

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

C.D.: I think I know what you mean. I always hated seeing on the back of a record album "Yma Singer appears courtesy of OmniGrab Corporation". No! OmniGrab only exists because people want to hear Yma.

Cat Y. deserves credit for standing up and being counted when it mattered, defending the much-overblown "birth" issue of Miracleman against pearl-clutching would-be censors. But the people responsible for that were Moore and Totleben.

-- Damian

Michael Hoskin said...

Culpa, that's an inexact quote:

"In the early 1980s she joined Eclipse Comics as editor-in-chief where she was responsible for comics that aspired to be more literary and complex than most other comics. The dark superhero morality tale Miracleman by Alan Moore & Neil Gaiman being one of these..."

The actual quote isn't wrong, so far as it goes.

Jeff Seiler said...

I have picked myself up off of the floor of the airplane on which I was traveling yesterday, Tim. That was a completely isolated incident from your defense of me, as I always turn my cell phone completely off.

But, thanks! And, yeah, I was put off by the feminist agenda, somewhat, but mostly by the inaccuracies.

To Damian, I will say that, yes, sometimes Dave misremembers events in his recounting of them. As the old saying goes, there are always, only, three versions of the truth, after the fact.

But, having acknowledged that, I would much rather trust Dave's word than that of a publisher who at least helped to bankrupt the company which was printing her publications.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Jeff S.: I would never expect you to take anyone's side against Dave's, but I still must ask what inaccuracies you see in the story. The Cerberus / Cerebus bit has been noted. What else is incorrect?

-- Damian

Jeff Seiler said...

Damian, please note that my initial comment did not indicate that the post was incorrect, but, rather, "wrong". I meant that in the sense of "bad". However, if you read the full article closely, you will note that there are words left out of sentences, poor sentence structure, and typographical errors. One major typographical error is the misspelling of "Vanaeheim" in what should be "Aardvark-Vanaheim".

Actual inaccuracies have already been discussed here by others.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Jeff S.: I would never choose to compete with The Seiler on proofreading! But I think I understand your objections: there's nothing really incorrect in the article, you just don't like it.

-- Damian

Tony again said...

Well, it is very poorly written, by someone who either has no grasp of basic sentence structure, or just doesn't care.