Sunday, 21 September 2014

"Why Dave Sim Is Wrong About His Next Comic Book"

(from Bleeding Cool, posted by Rich Johnston, 20 September 2014)
...[Dave Sim] also talked about [in Weekly Update #48] his upcoming project first seen in the pages of glamourpuss, an examination of what Sim sees as the suspicious death of cartoonist Alex Raymond, told using a photorealistic style inspired by Raymond's work. I thoroughly enjoyed what I read so far. But Dave is rather worried.
...I’m just REALLY concerned about [IDW Publisher Ted Adams'] ambition to get this book on the New York Times Bestseller List. That’s a LOT of coin to lose betting that a 100% CLOSED-minded society is a remotely OPEN-minded society. Don’t get me wrong, Ted is more than welcome to lose as much of his money as he wants — and he’s pretty adamant that it’s his money and that he plans to back SDOAR to the hilt. Personally, I’ll just be more comfortable when Bleeding Cool is the only site that even mentions it and it tanks completely if we have that fallback position. We can sell 100 of these to major marginalized art buyers....
...Here's the thing. The Strange Death of Alex Raymond is a wonderful comic about comics, comic strips, cartoonists and opening a cold case, alleging foul play in the supposed accidental death of the superstar cartoonist of his day. It is a newsworthy comic that is experimental in its storytelling, rewarding in its experience and has a story in its construction of one master of the form learning to draw like another master of his form in order to tell his story.

It was just that it was cut up and hidden within the pages of glamourpuss when initially released, a parody of fashion magazines from a man who few people wanted to hear that from.

But The Strange Case Of Alex Raymond has the potential to be Dave Sim's From Hell. Ted Adams of IDW can see this. I can too. And New York Times bestseller lists, especially for graphic novels, are not that hard to get to the top of with the right project. And this is the right project.

Dave Sim might realise this too eventually, but only after publication. I just hope his negativity doesn’t harm the project in any way.

Because that really would be a car crash...

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Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (2008 to 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.


Stephen Benson said...

I agree, I wasn't remotely interested in Glamourpuss, except for TSDOAR, which even incomplete, is an amazing work.

As a side note, I've read comics for decades, and only on reading that, started to consider pen v. brush styles. "The brush is a lazy instrument" indeed...

But Sim's always done this - the industry satire stuff mixed into Cerebus generally left me cold too. Now after many years, I'm struggling through the last episodes, at present, completely uninterested in the sea of ostensible scriptural analysis... but that may change in a future reread. It's happened before, I dropped off during Jaka's Story, Melmoth and then again during Guys. But returned, often years later.

When I complete, I will have taken well over 10 years longer to read Cerebus than Sim took to create it...

Anonymous said...

It's possible that the SDOAR could be all the things that Rich Johnson says, and still not sell very well. I think that's really Dave's point.

In fact, everything that Johnson mentions that makes the SDOAR unique, also suggests that it may not find a significant audience, as Dave suggests.

Dave's marketing plan geared towards an exclusive audience is a prudent and yet innovative approach that I'd hope he pursues.

And I'd hope that the NY Times marketing strategy works too.

The SDOAR is in some way so uncompromisingly uncool -- telling the story of an largely forgotten artist who worked in a style now long out of vogue, and told reverently in that same dated style -- that it's cool. At the same time, that it's such an esoteric approach, and that the story has a meta-narrative, makes it modern.

And that is all quintessential Dave Sim I think. Pushing the boundaries in terms of narrative approach and marketing, while at the same time emulating and engaging with his influences. And, in typical Dave Sim fashion, it's a story where that important layer of meaning would be lost if it were in any other medium but comics.

A very innovative book no doubt. Perhaps it will be well served by the innovative approach to marketing that Dave suggests.

- Reginald P.

David Mosley said...

Whatever Dave may think I still say that glamourpuss was one of the best comics of the last ten years and that in no small part was due to The Strange Death of Alex Raymond. Seriously, I would buy a comic/graphic novel lettered by Dave Sim so something written, illustrated *and* lettered by him is right up there at the topic of my comics-to-buy wish list.

Based on the material that appeared in glamourpuss, SODAR has the potential to be one of the great graphic works of the 21st century and I agree with Rich Johnson that it would be a cultural car crash if it wasn't finished & published.

Travis Pelkie said...

Not to be nitpicky (yeah right!), but it's actually "Johnston" with a T. Although I'm sure Rich gets that all the time.

Hunter said...

If he thinks only aboout the US DM crowd, it will indeed sell little. But since this will certainly be translated and exported (unlike Cerebus) and Alex Raymond's reputation overseas is still very high, I'm sure that foreign sales will easily outpace US sales.