Friday 16 October 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.
This week's letter from me, Jeff Seiler, to Dave Sim dated July 3, 2004, sent during Dave's vacation to Italy, where he stayed with Cerebus fan, Billy Beach:
July 3, 2004

Dear Dave,

Well, here it is, the second day of a four-day, holiday weekend and, having no family to celebrate with, no job (until I start on Tuesday), and little money, I decide to come down to the college and get some Cerebus work done. I just finished spending more time on the Yahoo Cerebus Group site that I ever have before. Mostly, I printed off you June answers and some of Billy’s postings that I had never read before, and then browsed some of the multitudinous other postings. I realize that, in one of my other letters, I was somewhat dismissive of the group, calling them a bit redundant and pedantic. Now, I think that I must revise that opinion a bit. I think that they get that way at times, but some of the discussions in June have been about some very interesting topics. It’s still not really my cup of tea, though. I much prefer these letters with you and the e-mails with Billy.

Yes, that’s right, I got a job. One of the few useful things my brother has done for me since he let me move in (okay, that sounded pretty awful, didn’t it?) has been to get me on where he is working his day job. I will, after two days of training, be slogging it out “in the field”, going door-to-door in 100 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures selling, ironically, energy. It is for an upstart company here in Dallas that is attempting to undercut the previous monopoly, TXU, by “guaranteeing” at least a 7% savings on monthly electric bills. Obviously, in this weather, that is an easy thing to sell, if one can get one’s foot in the door. So, I expect to be sweating off a lot of unwanted pounds to, hopefully, be svelte and ready for the new school year in about five weeks. I just hope that I can make enough money to tide me over to my first paycheck from the school district, which won’t come until the end of September. It’s a straight commission job, so I will really have to push it.

I have to say, it has been quite enjoyable here at the college this morning. Because of the holiday weekend, there is literally no one on campus. I can hear the fountain splashing and the birds singing in the courtyard just outside. Very pleasant. Of course, not as pleasant as Italy was, I’m sure. Speaking of which, I am looking forward to hearing how it went. I’m sure you enjoyed yourself.

Speaking of the holiday and Italy, did Billy share with you my e-mail about my first reaction when I realized that you would be there around the 4th of July? In case you missed it, I told him that when I realized it, my first reaction was, “Oh, I wonder how they will celebrate the Fourth of July?” (Talk about nationalistic egocentrism!) Then, of course, I immediately thought, “Geez, I’m talking about a Canadian and an expatriate Brit in Italy!” Had a good laugh on myself over that one.

Speaking of sales, I finally got a chance to see Keith [at Keith’s Comics, just across the highway from SMU, in Dallas] yesterday. Luckily, my hunch paid off when I was in the area, as he normally would not have been there. They were getting ready for big live Spiderman appearance there today, in connection with the new movie (which I hear is awesome, not that I can afford to go see it). Anyway, his exact words were, “I Dave is willing to go to these lengths, and you’re willing to put out that time and effort, I don’t see why we can’t give it a try.” He also asked me to remind you that for several years whenever he saw you in person, he always made a point of it to thank you for helping him to make money. (Which, I think, is a nice gesture?)

So, here is the initial response on his part:
(1) He has 40 Conan subscribers, but he would like to take up to 100 copies of Party Pack in order to attempt to “hand sell other customers”. He would like you to ship those directly to him, as would I, as I think it would be awkward for me to slug those over to him by bus.
(2) He does reorders Sunday nights as a rule, “and other times throughout the week”, so I will be popping in from time-to-time on Sunday afternoons.
(3) He didn’t think that he could make use of the “stat”, as he informed me it is called, so he asked me to keep it, in case he might be able to use it later.
(4) He made a point of mentioning that he currently sells six complete sets of Sandman monthly and, “with Dave’s push, we could make significant progress on Cerebus”. He has a nice, attractive display of the Sandman books, so I’m thinking that if you could send some back copies of the Sandman parody issues, it might make for a very profitable tie-in. Maybe if he gets some crossover interest, he could give me some names for autographed copies, as you previously mentioned. Also, a similar kind of stat, if one exists, might be helpful.
(5) He said that he could probably create some kind of kiosk for your books, similar to the Sandman one and the Alan Moore corner. (Kind of stands to reason that Alan’s stuff would be in the dark corner, eh?) I was thinking that if you have any stand-alone art that he could attach to such a kind of kiosk, it would certainly help.
(6) He also is interested in “several” copies of The Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing, as would I be interested in getting my hands on one copy. I am, of course, never going to be a self-publisher of comics [Heh!], but in the spirit of completism... Let me know what it costs for a copy for myself. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has several customers who are budding artists, so I think that the Guide would probably go over well.
(7) Lastly, but not least, he said that he will order a complete set this week.

I hope that helps some. I’ll check back with Keith when I go to get Following Cerebus, then every couple of weeks. Let’s hope it pays off. He did say that the phone books are relatively steady sellers, historically.

In other news, how ‘bout them Conservatives, eh? It was very interesting following the election from afar, as it will be to see how this affects Prime Minister Martin’s standing in the next term. I didn’t realize that he could have been unseated, as well. I mean we have a minority leader in Congress, but is a pretty weak position. Did your man in Kitchener win?

I am enclosing a clipping of an editorial that I read the other day and really enjoyed. It is very creative writing, pertaining to Vice President Cheney reportedly having used the F-word publicly in speaking about a political opponent. I didn’t hear anything about it, but I don’t always watch the evening news. Anyway, I thought it might cheer you. Of course, knowing you, you’re probably ecstatic to be back home.

I hope it’s not too presumptuous of me to ask, but I would love to hear about the trip from your point of view, as I will be sure to hear of it from Billy. Sort of a Rashomon thing, I guess.

I hope this finds you settling back into the routine fairly comfortably. I guess I really should get about to asking you some Cerebus questions again sometime, eh? Well, until then, I remain, steadfastly

Yours beyond 300



Anonymous said...

I was curious to see the response from Impris to Dave's letter to them, if there ever was one. I got the impression from a comment Jeff made that there was one.

I haven't seen any comments on the CAN3's at all on here. I picked up mine a few weeks ago. I think my favourite thing was actually the Diamondback deck. They look nice. Although, following the rules, you basically need two decks for three people to play, and more decks for more players, and it's a betting game, so you probably need three decks for it to be interesting. Also, the points system would be difficult to remember as there doesn't seem to be any rationale to it.

But again, it looks pretty nice.

A gripe about CAN3: it's too bad that most of the pages are from one sequence, because most of Dave's commentary is about the same topic, namely his attempt to draw in the style of Prince Valiant. A more varied selection of prints would have led to more varied commentary.

I guess that's mostly complaining, but there you go.

- Reginald P.

Jeff Seiler said...

Hey, Reg, the Imprimis responses are forthcoming. This was just the next letter in chronological order. Patience you must have, young Jedi.