Monday, 30 July 2012

HARDtalk: The Dave Sim Interview (7)

Why do you seem to care so much what the comics community thinks of your work?  As an artist, isn't the act of creativity done for its own sake, irrespective of the public's reaction to/acceptance of it?

Very much depends on what you mean by "care".  I care about my work, whatever it is at the moment.  If I'm typing a letter I try to type a very good letter.  If I'm doing a head sketch I try to do a very good head sketch.  If I'm writing or drawing a comic page I try to write and draw a good comic page.  I think it shows clear evidence of where my actual priorities are that that didn't change when, overnight, I went from "frequent multiple award nominee" and one of Ken Viola's COMIC BOOK MASTERS to "comics' 2nd or 3rd best letterer, exclusively" after the publication of issue 186.
The Masters Of Comic Book Art VHS, front and back cover (1987)
Director Ken Viola
My reaction wasn't then -- and isn't now -- "Oh, how deeply wounded, emotionally, am I by this rejection by my public."  It's "Do you really believe this politically-based 180-degree inverse reaction to my and Gerhard's work is intellectually sustainable in the long term?"  Dave Sim and Gerhard's MINDS, GUYS, RICK'S STORY, GOING HOME, FORM & VOID, LATTER DAYS and THE LAST DAY are ALL -- apart from the lettering -- of little to no critical value "because Dave Sim went bat-s--t insane"?

It's certainly proved sustainable over the decade -- 1994 to 2004 -- from the publication of 186 to the publication of issue 300.  And it's certainly proved sustainable over the 8 years since the last issue saw print.  But, I think the whole construct is getting a little...wobbly...along about now, and I think the Internet is a big reason behind that.  Men and women who were BORN in 1994 are 18 years old today.  They've been reared on "computer proof" -- Google it and judge it yourself.  They can access issue 186 for free at Torrents (READS volume, pages 227 to 246 inclusive) with the click of a mouse and judge for themselves.  Which I welcome them to do.

They don't rely on any -- not naming any names -- esoteric comics propagandist vehicles to tell them what to think.  They are also quite used to being told that people are "bat-s--t insane" and usually find -- as they find with Hitler and Nazi analogies -- that the problem USUALLY isn't the creative work itself, it's the over-heated rhetorical dramatics of trolls opposing it largely for emotion-based reasons...and counting on the fact that no one will actually examine the work itself but just trust to "what they've heard".  That doesn't work nearly as well today as it has for the last 18 years.

(As an illustration of the difference from "back then" to "now" bear in mind that back in 1994 when 186 was published, the term "troll" in its widely-understood "Internetian" sense didn't even exist) the people who were in their teens, 20s and 30s in 1994 are -- starting very recently, now that they are in their 40s, 50s and 60s -- to have to face the question:  "You all turned troll or silently watched while the trolls destroyed the careers of the two creators of the world's longest graphic novel...over THIS?"  
The Masters Of Comic Book Art (1987):
Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby, Neil Adams, Berni Wrightson,
Jean 'Moebius' Giraud, Frank Miller, Dave Sim, Art Spiegelman, with author Harlan Ellison
Okay, you've got a related follow-up question here someplace.  Let me shuffle through my thoroughly disorganized pile of papers here a minute.  Ah!  Here it is.  The next one on your list.  No wonder I couldn't find it.  It was hiding right where it was supposed to be.

My CEREBUS volumes sit comfortably on my shelves next to books by Moore, Ware, Clowes, Spiegelman, Los Bros Hernandez, etc.  Is the respect of your peers important to you?

Another very good question!  "Is the respect of Dave Sim's peers important to him?"  "Will Commissioner Gordon arrive in time to save the Dynamic Duo from King Tut's nefarious double death-trap?" Tune in tomorrow... SAME Moment of Cerebus Time. SAME Moment of Cerebus Channel and find out!

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