Tuesday, 2 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #14

Okay, another question from Eric Hoffman and Dominick Grace - and they have a couple of follow-ups, so don't get too comfy:

Your plans for digitizing seem to extend well beyond what everyone else seems to be doing with the digital environment, even though you're not particularly a digital/computer user yourself. Can you comment on how/why you decided to offer such a lavish, extensive digital version?

Well, I have to use my imagination in these situations, since -- as you say I'm not remotely a digital/computer user. I have to look at the structure and say, "Okay, what is possible here and what is it that people... POSSIBLY ...want?" It's guesswork, but hopefully educated guesswork. There's obviously a lot that can be done digitally that can't be done in a cost-effective way in regular publishing.  So, I really took CEREBUS ARCHIVE which wasn't viable as a comic book and grafted it onto the project.  Also the Archive itself and the Notebooks.  The idea of doing an audio book came late.  That had more to do with aptitude:  I can't ACT because I've never been able to memorize, but I can certainly READ and do the characters' voices.  George who's doing the tech stuff LOVES it, but that could just be him.  He's done a lot of audio work and hates doing it, but he loves working on my stuff.

It's a risk.  The default setting for everyone in the comic-book field is to hate Dave Sim and anything he does so I'm really inviting that by doing something I haven't done before.  But that's a plus with digital as well -- if you don't like it, don't listen to it.  Shut the audio off and just read the material.  The question will probably be answered in the space of a few weeks.  Everyone HATES it. Don't EVER do the character's voices again.  No problem.  It will make doing the CEREBUS Volume One a lot easier if I don't have to do it.  I'm thinking we could keep the Virtual Tour going through October and November so people can vent at me, since that seems to help.  Sometimes.  "I read someone tear Dave Sim a new one TO HIS FACE!  Now, I feel better."  What's your follow-up, boys?

What benefits do you think the package will provide?

That, I don't know.  That's perception as well.  I'm hoping that people will look at the covers scanned from the Dave Sim File copies at Paradise Comics, 20 pages of story, Deni's Note from the Publisher with her reading it, all the original ads, me "doing" Aardvark Comment in a David Letterman kind of voice, all of the notebook pages with annotations and all of the documents from the Cerebus Archive -- you know, a good 50, 60 pages of material for 99 cents and say, "I think I got 99 cents worth of entertainment out of that." We'll see, hopefully, before the end of the year.  Of course, then we do the collected version. Maybe the serialization tanks and the collected version makes a few bucks. Whatever happens, I'm sure I'll be as surprised as anyone.

What! ANOTHER follow-up?  I spoil you kids, I really do.

Suck it up, grampaw.  Are you thinking in terms not only of the casual reader but also of the historical record, using the digital project as a way of extending and making more public THE CEREBUS ARCHIVE?  

Well, that's certainly the point Sandeep and I got to in our discussions before the fire and which seems to be getting solidified as I'm coming to the end of three solid months of signing autographs and doing sketches.  We've got about $23,000 left out of the $63,000 with all the expenses and taxes taken off.  I've personally been paid about $9,000 for three months work (which is not going to make Mitt Romney whistle appreciatively in envy, I think we'll all agree).  So, it's, like, Quo Vadis time.  It seems to be an "either/or".  If the project completely tanks, just doesn't make anything but pin money from Comixology, iVerse, Diamond Digital, Graphicly and our own Cerebus Downloads.com, then it's not a way to make a living or make part of a living for anybody.  So, then we retrench to STRICT preservation by going back to the 1,140 people who pledged to Kickstarter in June and say, Sorry, it's a no-go.  There's just no interest to speak of, so now we have to accept that you're the last 1,140 people who are interested and we just have to come back to Kickstarter and say "we aren't doing that anymore".  That is, this isn't to finance prepping something for the marketplace.  The marketplace isn't interested.  This is strictly preservation.  You tell ME what I have to do for YOU in the way of signed prints and comic books and we'll put together the next campaign.  And if that only brings in, say, $8,000, then we're back to the landfill-and-I'm-out-of-here option.

We've put together as complete a HIGH SOCIETY package as possible, which I think we can add to with the collected version as we go along. We're very close to having EVERYTHING that has to do with HIGH SOCIETY preserved and annotated, which means we don't have to revisit it.  As Sandeep says, "One down, fifteen to go."  Yes, one at a time. Maybe we can get enough support to do for the CEREBUS volume what we did for HIGH SOCIETY. That would be "Two down, fourteen to go."

It's all one step at a time. But definitely the landfill site option is very much on the table. Depends on what happens two months from now, six months from now, eight months from now. The modern world isn't known for its perseverance or its attention span. That's life.
Now we're heading over to BLEEDING COOL for a couple of questions from Joe B. Pangrazio:

Do you have any love / affection / passion / enjoyment / whateveryouwanttocallit left for making comics? Or is it a matter of, "I've been doing this for more than 30 years, what else would I do?" Do you still talk to McFarlane or any of the original Image boys?

Hit the link to BLEEDING COOL for the answers to those questions - and I'll see you tomorrow for more HARDtalk.

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!


Anonymous said...

I'm interested in the archival material, but I have *no* interest in the audio. Judging just from the few audio tweets I've listened to, your voices aren't interesting or distinct enough.

1) Good audio books *do* need someone who can act.

2) Why adapt work so perfectly suited to one medium into another?

Kit said...

I am likewise interested in the archival material, and without having listened to the "audio tweets" (which, er, don't seem to be tweets?), think that the audio performance of both the comics and the text is a counter-productive idea that fails to enrich the work or the editorials or the letters, and is probably a waste of time that Dave could better spend annotating in text or drawing Strange Death pages.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the audio doesn't enhance the material - perhaps for first time readers - you can't improve on perfect. But as someone who has read Cerebus "front, back and sideways", I'm actually looking forward to the audio. Dave has that spectacular "DJ" voice. I do agree, though, that if it's taxing his time and he's not enjoying the process, it wouldn't be a great loss for the project for him to concentrate his efforts in other areas.

Anonymous said...

By the way, if the audio portion does continue, I would recommend having a little "Cerebus Score"; have someone compose some music for the background, so that the vocals are backed by a little ambiance.