Tuesday, 31 July 2012

HARDtalk: The Dave Sim Interview (8)

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?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T... It seems to me you complicate the question with the juxtaposition of names and the compelled inference: if these books can sit comfortably side-by-side on my bookshelf, can't these cartoonists respect each other?  I think, as a society, we have -- to our great credit -- moved past the point of enforced respect and come to recognize the urge towards it as issuing from poisonous totalitarian impulses.

The left certainly came to this conclusion earlier than did the right and all of the cartoonists you cite are either leftists or left-leaning (or are widely perceived to be so).

So, insisting -- or even strongly suggesting -- that they respect Dave Sim and/or his work and/or his beliefs is anathema to left-leaning first principles.  I think we're all better served acknowledging that as both foundational and inescapable and, each of us, carefully staking out our own positions so as not to intrude unnecessarily on another's first principles.
I certainly respect each of them AND their work.  ALL have maintained ne plus ultra stature in the Avant Garde end of comics, literally for decades -- an almost impossible feat to pull off, given the changeability of the Avant Garde and its predisposition towards hard, sharp, abrupt turns in fashions and preferences.  Each of those cartoonists' work is represented in the Cerebus Archive.

I think what we are late recognizing as a society is that, having recognized the compelled or even suggested respect being totalitarian in nature, that really has only left us all with "tolerance" as the only workable default position.  In my own case, I would cite Kevin Eastman and Steve Bissette as good examples of tolerance in action as signatories to the "I don't believe Dave Sim is a misogynist" petition.

I'm a VERY orthodox religious person (although I wouldn't be in the eyes of most Orthodox Religious people).  So, on the surface of it, it would seem that Kevin and Steve would be among the least likely signatories to the petition since the publisher of HEAVY METAL magazine and the world's biggest fan of "over the top" graphic horror could hardly be said to have much, if any, "common ground" with religious people of any description.  And for good reason:  traditionally the greatest threat posed to them and their personal and professional life (I don't think it's too strong a term) PASSIONS comes from the orthodox religious and their traditional intolerance of anything that smacks of the diabolic and the infernal.
But Kevin is quite comfortable sending me each issue of HEAVY METAL as it comes out and I'm quite comfortable (except during Ramadan) thumbing through it looking  for anything to read and look at of non-prurient interest (of which there are many notable examples).  Steve is quite comfortable sending me his TEEN ANGELS book, his extensive and wide-ranging commentary on Rick Veitch's BRAT PACK and I'm quite comfortable both reading it and devoting an episode of CEREBUS TV to it.

I don't think Kevin believes that he's going to persuade me, through HEAVY METAL, to abandon my religious beliefs, go out and get myself covered with piercings and tattoos and swing by the HEAVY METAL table in San Diego with a big dirty bottle of Jack Daniel's in town ready to hit the town running with him and Simon.

I think he's also pretty confident that I'm never going to waylay him in a phone conversation with "Have you been SAVED, Kevin?"

Kevin and Steve tolerate who I've become and I tolerate who they have chosen to remain.

As soon as you get into "respect" then I think you move from the comfort zone of tolerance into the uncomfortable areas of "acceptance", "embracing" and "celebration".  The compelling need for tolerance is always easier to understand from the other side of the fence.  To be called civilized and tolerant, rightists need to find ways to tolerate abortion, as an example.  Well, yes, the leftists exclaim. And accept it, respect it, embrace it and celebrate it.  By the same token, leftists have to find ways to tolerate the Tea Party.  Boom.  Instant comprehension of the limits of tolerance.  The basis of civilized discourse is locating minimal standards of tolerance and adhering to them.

It would certainly be gratifying if more of my peers would publicly declare their tolerance of me and my work and my views by signing the petition, recognizing that that isn't the same as accepting, embracing or celebrating me and them.  I can't recall ever indulging in ad hominem attacks myself and I've tried to be tolerant of the ad hominem attacks to which I've been subjected for 18 years, but there did come a point where I needed to have it clarified publicly who is tolerant and who isn't.  I'm glad that Kevin and Steve chose the course they did.  I hope others will, as the years go by.

Okay, Eric and Dominick have been patiently waiting their turn.  So, let's give them the cliffhanger this time around:

Why did you opt to combine the fashion satires and the History of Photorealism in Comics in Glamourpuss?  Other than both the discussion of photorealists and the fashion satires being drawn photorealistic style, there doesn't seem to be any link between the two.

Good question.  I hope I can come up with a good answer!  Tune in tomorrow... SAME Moment of Cerebus Time, SAME Moment of Cerebus Channel!


Jason Pilley said...

"It would certainly be gratifying if more of my peers would publicly declare their tolerance of me and my work and my views by signing the petition..."

But the petition doesn't say "I tolerate Dave Sim and his works," it says "I do not believe Dave Sim is a misogynist," these are two very different things. Change the wording to "While I may believe Dave Sim's views are wrongheaded and deplorable I nonetheless respect his right, both as an artist and a truly great artist, to believe whatever he wants and to express those beliefs in whatever manner he chooses," I'd happily sign that.

M Kitchen said...

Jason, you REALLY think Dave Sim hates women? Really?

j_ay said...

So, another crack shows through on this absurd "petition"...
"on the surface", it matters what religion the undersigned are (and what they think of Dave’s) and also what their job is.
A signature is not just a signature.
But we knew that all along…

There is NO need, let alone a golden rule, that one needs respect someone AND their work. Or vice-versa. Unless it is deserved.
It’s so nauseating, and more of an internet kind of way of communicating, that whenever someone says something ’bad’ about someone’s work (i.e. "Bryan Hitch really, really should learn basic anatomy"), someone else needs to chime in, "but he’s a really nice guy!".
Not applicable.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

I'm confused. You are certainly entitled to your own opinion on the merits of Dave's petition, but I think you have misread his reply to my question. I can't see how you can reach your conclusions based on his answer.

Jason Pilley said...

"Jason, you REALLY think Dave Sim hates women? Really?"

Hiya - I don't think Dave Sim hates women. I do think Dave Sim thinks women are inferior to men. I think that constitutes misogyny and on that basis I wouldn't sign his petition, as much as I would like to.