Thursday, 27 September 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #11

Today we have a couple of 'Kurt Busiek' related questions from the HARDtalk Home Team, Go ahead:

Kurt Busiek made an interesting observation recently about “the debt we owe” to you (and others) in terms of creating awareness of the importance of creator ownership. The evidence he used was that the majority of comics-derived films are of creator-owned properties. Is this what you envisaged when you helped establish the Creators Bill Of Rights? If not, what were you hoping to achieve with it?

Did Kurt really say that? That's very nice of him! He's a very talented guy.  I guess he thinks I'm a misogynist or he would have signed the petition by now. If you're talking about "what Dave Sim is owed" I certainly don't think that way. I've always had more of the sense of being BLAMED for creating awareness of creator ownership or over-emphasizing it or making people feel guilty about their own views. It -- creator ownership -- is a royal pain a lot of the time, because there are no easy answers or "one size fits all solution", awareness of it, the whole ball of wax. Mike Kitchen gave me a tour of the animation company he works at in Toronto and I told him I envy him in a lot of ways, just sitting there all day, drawing and solving technical problems.

"Yeah," he says, "But you don't own it."

"Yeah," I said, "But you get to walk away from it at the end of the day and forget about it 'til tomorrow."

The grass is always greener, I guess.  I thought we could have a substantial percentage of the field devoted to self-publishing to counterbalance the assumption that "Ottists is SO Stupid", the line I gave the Bill Marks character in CEREBUS No.92 (I think it was).  Michael Zulli actually got t-shirts made up with that line on them and gave each of us one at the Toronto Summit.  I've still got mine. Never worn it, of course, but I've got it because it was a very funny moment when he pulled them all out. 

My view was always "A certain number of us are going to have to do this on our own or we're just going to reinforce the assumption that we're all hopeless, helpless flakes who need businessmen to push us around."

What I didn't understand or anticipate was that, in a lot of way, the Internet was going to change that.  I couldn't have anticipated people like Danielle Corsetto with GIRLS WITH SLINGSHOTS and Scott Kurtz with PVP who were able to build a career one building block at a time and then get help where they wanted it but without surrendering autonomy and control, which are the key elements of self-publishing.  I could have saved myself a lot of aggravation if I HAD known that autonomy and control were just going to migrate onto the Internet.  Live and learn.
Do you have any thoughts on Kurt Busiek’s recent idea for Marvel and DC to back date their current work-for-hire contracts to 1931? Kurt hypothisied that this was an affordable solution for them which, at a stroke, would put the Hero Initiative out of work, as it would give a small royalty payment to many of lesser known comics creators who could badly do with the money?

Anything along those lines is a step in the right direction, but a lot would depend on HOW small the royalty turns out to be, how many people get it and how much DC and Marvel can afford it.  These are not "gravy times".  The best results happen when guys like Clifford Meth with Dave Cockrum and Gene Colan, or Neal Adams with Siegel and Shuster, goes and talks businessman to businessman to a Marvel or DC exec who can "do the deal".

But, it eats you alive. It's emotionally and physically draining on your life. I don't think I'm exaggerating.  Which is why people tend not to do it more than once or twice.

I'd like to see more done with Kickstarter, to be honest.  Raise $40,000 in a month so the guy can work on a dream project for a few months or part of a year and still be able to pay his bills.  You'd have to dole the money out, though.  A big wad of cash can be worse than poverty for someone who has never had to deal with it.  "I'll give it to my grandkids."  Well, no.  :)   It's not FOR that.  Now we have to go out and get you ANOTHER 40 grand so you can pay your bills and do your work.  "No, I'm fine. I'd rather my grandkids have it."

When I bought a piece of artwork -- a great BRENDA STARR daily -- from Ramona Fradon at one of the Paradise Shows, I asked if she ever thought of doing an autobiographical graphic novel.  "Do you think anyone would buy it," she asked.  Well, now it's a different question.  If she does a cover and two sample pages and someone does a Kickstarter campaign for her, can she raise money to work on it?  I think the answer would be a resounding "Yes!".
Okay, now we're headed over to CANADIAN COMICS ARCHIVE for a another question from Paul Slade:

I see Amazon lists Susan Alston as your co-author of Dave Sim’s Last Girlfriend. To what extent was she involved in preparing the book, and how?

Hit the link to CANADIAN COMICS ARCHIVE to see the answer to that question. More HARDtalk on Monday -- same time, same place.

Already signed up for the HARDtalk Virtual Tour are Bleeding Cool, Millar World, Terminal Drift, Canadian Comics Archive, The Comics Journal, The Beat and Mindless Ones. Add your question for Dave Sim at one of these fine websites before 10 October and if your question is chosen (they'll need to be tough, interesting questions!) you'll receive a personalised, autographed copy of a Cerebus back-issue, with a Cerebus head-sketch by Dave Sim!


Michael A Battaglia said...

I am so appalled... I am so embarrassed. I had erroneously thought that the petition was something from Dave's past that was only just recently brought to my awareness, not a current thing, and then I just assumed it was something that Dave sent out to the people he was interested in having sign it, I had no clue that I could actually go online and sign it until I saw this link. Dave, I have no idea if you will ever see this comment, but not only am I going to sign it right now, I'm also going to print out a copy of the form letter and sign that and mail it to you. I'm so utterly sorry to have missed the boat on this.

R. Cole said...

As to whether Dave Sim is "misogynistic"... one should take into account that although Dave Sim draws on elements of Christianity, Islam and Judaism for his own religion, it is really in an orthodox sense none of them.

In the same way that Cerebus is unique in his misanthropomorphy, Dave's own attitudes to the role of the sexes and what constitutes their unique riffs on the human condition, are much his own.

Tolstoy's observation in Anna Karenina that happy families are all the same in their happiness, and therefore boring, while the unhappy are endlessly unique, constitutes the source of endless fascination by some with Dave Sim's often depressive expressions about human relationships.