Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Dave Sim: "I Did Everything Stoned"

Dave Sim & Gerhard, as pictured in Saturday Night magazine (2003)
Photo by Lorne Bridgman
(from Toronto's Saturday Night magazine, November 2003)
One day, shortly after Sim had been invited to appear at a comics convention in the eastern United States, an acquaintance gave him for or five hits of LSD. As a heavy marijuana smoker, Sim was not uncomfortable with drug use. "I had always done Cerebus stoned," he recalled, years later. "I did everything stoned." Curious about how the acid would affect his work and anxious for a release from the anxiety brought on by the impending public appearance, Sim took the drug. He liked the perspective it gave him. His work seemed effortless. When the acid's effect faded, he swallowed another tab.

That first day on LSD turned into two, then three. His behaviour began to alarm his wife. With the comics convention only weeks away, Loubert heard Sim speaking to people who didn't exist. After days cycling through moods of apoplectic rage and off passivity, Sim found himself in the psychiatric ward of Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital. (It was Loubert who had him hospitalised).

Sim came to realise he had experienced a breakdown brought on by a combination of stress and LSD. When he realised the hospital couldn't hold him against his will, he left. Soon after, the ideas and inspiration generated during the acid trip coalesced into a creative epiphany that spawned his life's work: he would use Cerebus to tell the story of a life.... The story of Cerebus would last 300 issues, he said. And it would finish in March 2004.

(Submitted by Paul Slade. Thanks!)


Travis Pelkie said...

Has it ever been said when exactly (time-wise and issue-wise) that this happened? I've certainly known about it, but never quite known some of the details before.

And am I wrong, or didn't Dave say at some point that he wanted the endpoint to be March 2004, but as he was still bimonthly at the time, it would have been something like issue 158 that was the last one? I swear I read that in an old Aardvark Comment.

Anonymous said...

In Swords of Cerebus vol. 3, Dave writes in his introduction to Cerebus no. 11 that he suffered a nervous breakdown after finishing that issue.

Was this the first manifestation of Dave's schizophrenia? It most often comes on in late adolescence and early adulthood. Dave would have been 23, but he was (by his own admission) a late bloomer.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, ddt

Paul Slade said...

Also from the Saturday Night article: "The idea to attempt the longest-ever story in comics grew out of an acid trip that began one June afternoon in Kitchener, Ontario in 1979."

Cerebus #11 carries a cocer date of August 1979, so all those dates do seem to fit together.

Kit said...

Dave has written that he was diagnosed as "borderline schizophrenic" while institutionalised at this time, yes.

Tony Dunlop said...

Thank God it didn't affect him the way it did Syd Barrett…

Anonymous said...

Dave Sim Advocate:

Nigella Lawson was barred from entry to the U.S. recently for what reason?