Friday, 7 August 2015

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. And now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I will be posting full paragraphs or pages of interesting excerpts from those letters every Saturday.

From a letter dated 13 November, 2004, from Dave to me:
Well, I'll take your word for it that you're a supporter even though -- and I mean no offense by this -- it isn't going to affect "Dave Sim going forward". There has been an interesting shift of viewpoint at the margins of my mail from "I think you're wrong, but I defend your right to say what you’re saying" to "I've agreed with you all along, I just wasn't aware that you were being drawn-and-quartered on the messages boards". It's a welcome shift but, since I'm not on the Internet it's just something (again) that I have to take at face value on a here-and-now basis. "Nice letter" being the way I would sum up my reaction. I've been assured for many, many years that everything is getting better and, at this point, it's just not in my nature to change the way I conduct my life in response to that. I think there's probably a real chance that much of the Cerebus readership that was offended by [issue #] 186 and "Tangent", having had time for both of them to sink in and having the inescapable face of insatiable feminism always before them, that some of them might very well be "coming around". But agreeing with me in a letter to me is very different from vocally advancing a viewpoint. There is no question that, if you speak up, you will become a pariah. it's been ten years for me and there's no end in sight. After ten years of "holding the fort" on my own, it just isn't sensible to stake any hope whatsoever on that changing anytime soon. My assumption is that I will be the one guy "holding the fort" up until the day that I die. If something happens that will make it otherwise, fine and dandy. But, I think it’s just one of those inevitabilities that become attached to deciding that this is an "until the day I die" circumstance. Once you make that decision, wishful thinking and looking the bright side go out the window. It has [sic] to, in my opinion. The hard realism of "the rest of my life" and meaning it just won't allow for any ifs, ands or buts.


Jim Sheridan said...

Please tell me your correspondence with Dave has better moments than this. Ugh. The Dave self pity / victim thing has been spun so many times. What a waste of space. I don't mean to insult you, Jeff, I'm just saying that Dave has shoveled this load a zillion times before. Who needs it? - Jim Sheridan

Jeff Seiler said...

Jim, I think you will find that the excerpts vary widely. And, remember, these early ones are nearly 11 years old.

What I am trying to do is, in a journalistic way, to cull a good cross-section of Dave's thinking, post-Cerebus.

I hope you will stick with it.

Jim Sheridan said...

Jeff, I was just being a whiner by whining about Dave's whining. I love this site and am always ready to read something by or about Dave and his work.

Apropos of nothing, I noticed a Dave Sim character type last week, the same way I sometimes spot artists drawing Kirby types. This was the man depicted on the April 6, 2015 cover of the New Yorker. I don't have the link here, but the guy looked straight out of Cerebus.

Jeff Seiler said...

Oh, please, someone, post it up!


Thanks, Jim!