Saturday 9 January 2016

Dave Sim: CAN4 Kickstarter Q&A

The following (edited and reordered) Q&A with Dave Sim originally appeared in the final hours of the Cerebus Archive Number Four Kickstarter campaign in November 2015.


Barry Deutsch:
Did you ever meet Mort Drucker?

Dave Sim: 

No, I never did.

Before they decided not to sign the petition, Mort Drucker was one of the only cartoonists that Seth and Chester and Joe and I agreed on as Toppermost of the Poppermost. And his best work the first STAR TREK parody. "Meaning -- it's no whip and chill but it does have a very nice flavor"

Barry Deutsch:
Heh, I wish HV was a NYT best-seller. I suspect it wouldn't change my life very much - a day spent drawing is much the same for every cartoonist. But it might be nice to be less broke, and have more readers. (Although maybe if my work was more noticed, that would be a pain in the neck, because of added responsibilities or more business stuff to deal with.)

Mo' money, mo' problems. But, as Sandeep said, "It would be nice to have SOME money and SOME problems." There's always a bright side. Being a Comic Book Pariah I don't get bugged as much as a Comic Book Superstar does. We live in North America. All of our problems are, at best, "problems".


Stuart Martin:
Hi Dave. I'm confused about the problem wrist - what's the current plan? Are you just waiting for some medical expert to chance upon on the MRI results hosted at AMOC? If you don't have much faith in medical expertise, why would you pay attention to e.g. surgery suggested by such a person? If however, you would be swayed by such suggestions, why not seek out medical advice straight away? Get it fixed! We just want the best artist in comics to resume work, dammit! (and not just headsketches :-)

I'm waiting for Dr. Troy to set something up in Texas with two specialists and/or for those specialists to offer a diagnosis on the current MRI. Dr. Troy is theoretically going to find me a neurologist to check on the possible Parkinson's Disease. I'm not sure what I'll decide but a lot is going to depend on whether the diagnoses and proposed treatments agree with each other. In the meantime, just resting it and -- occasionally -- two-handed typing to see how that part is coming along.

Michael Ragiel:
Lately everything about your health has been focused around your drawing hand, but it seems people have forgotten about the your other scare earlier in the year... your twisted and blocked bowel. I'm sure it has improved since there has been no recent posts. Has it improved? Have you adopted new eating habits?

That seems to be fine. I'm still fasting a lot of the time but I'm now eating bulkier food and varieties of food when I'm NOT fasting. I sort of adjust my diet to keep my face and neck from looking gaunt. More fats when I'm looking skinny. I also do 6 minutes of "ab crunches" -- sit-ups without actually sitting up -- after 4 of my 5 prayer times to keep the weight off my waistline. And I'm concentrating on my posture your more. I have to consciously "lean back" 20 degrees in my mind in order to appear upright. A lifetime of "hunching over" my mutant bowel, I suspect.


Michael Ragiel:
I know Gerhard won't sign the petition, but his work carried such a significant weight on Cerebus. He mentioned to me "all Dave has to do is ask". Would you ask Gerhard to contribute to future Kickstarter campaigns or for something else?

I think Gerhard's business is Gerhard's business -- He and John Funk both went to the same high school and I know John would be happy to drop off and pick up prints if Gerhard was interested in signing them. But that would have to be a separate pledge item -- Gerhard signature -- and he would have to decide what he wanted to charge. Too late for this one, but maybe the next one.

Barry Deutsch:
Hey, I have a boring "how'd you do this?" question for you, Dave, if you feel like answering it. Seeing the top graphic every time I look at this page has made me wonder about the "whudda fren' we 'ave in derrrrk-asss!" panel. Did Gerhard draw the bottles that the characters are holding? If so, did you pass the page back and forth - you do pencils, Gerhard pencils the bottles, you ink the figures, Gerhard inks the bottles - or did you do all your inks first and then Gerhard worked in the blank spaces you left for the bottles?

In the new Hereville book, I had a collaborator, my friend Adrian Wallace, who drew all the environments. (For pay and credit, obviously.) It was interesting (and I think the book looks great). Several cartoonists who heard about the arrangement independently said "oh, so you have a Gerhard now?"

The bottles the McGrew Brothers are holding, those are definitely Gerhard pen lines. The cockroach emblem on Dirty Drew's costume as seen through the bottle, I'm pretty sure those are my pen lines. It's a nebulous area that really came down to: Did I have time to do that? Because it's a creatively satisfying thing to ink with a Hunt 102, but it takes time. Gerhard is more than CAPABLE of doing it, so it becomes a self-indulgence if I do it: better I should put my time in on the things Gerhard DOESN'T do.

Lookit me, Ma! I'm Berni Wrightson!

That kind of thing.


Benjamin Hobbs:
What are your thoughts on The Guide to Self Publishing and/or Cerebus being used as primary texts in a college level course discussing comics or making comics? I taught a class dealing with making comics last spring and was considering using the Guide to Self Publishing as one of the texts for the class, but couldn't figure out where it could be purchased (or if it was still in print.) However, I still managed to work Cerebus into almost every lecture I gave, showing examples from the comic, and referencing the notebook pages that have been posted on AMOC.

I'm fine with anything of mine being used for educational purposes or pretty much any purposes. It's the individual's karma at stake. At essence it comes down to your own motivation. If your motivation is educating others, I think that's unimpeachable. In other words: Get thee hence unto a torrents site and be well-minded as you download Dave Sim's work.


Daniel Callahan:
Hello. I'd like to buy the collected letters as a complete set. If you're looking for a way to sell these without up-front costs, consider Lulu can be used to sell any book that's in PDF format. Speaking of which, if there's an option to buy the phonebooks online, please let me know. Thanks!

I'm going to be taking a closer look at my "old docs" to see how far along I answered the mail on computer before going back to my typewriter and to offer those, digitally, on the next Kickstarter as COLLECTED LETTERS Volume Four and then also offer Volume One and Two if I can find the digital files for those. There really is a LOT of material stored on this little laptop, I'm just not sure how interesting most of it is in a "marketable" sense.

Benjamin Hobbs:
Just wondering if it would be ok to take the PDF of the collected letters volume three and have a single copy printed for my collection. (Printed using print on demand, or similar)
I received the PDF yesterday and am excited to read it, but I'm not excited to stare at my computer monitor while doing so. I was excited to see that the digital reward was sent out so quickly!

GO NUTS! Whoever thought computers were going to eliminate paper never tried to read anything on a computer. I also have a theory that computers are eating our pens. You notice how you can't find a pen ANYWHERE these days? The computers are jealous and eat them when we're not looking.


Drew Woodworth:
Any plans to put the rest of Cerebus on Comixology with all the back matter (letters, essays, etc)? If not, why? Thanks!

Actually, I was just going through a file and found a self-addressed FedEx manifest from Shari Tischler at COMIXOLOGY with their phone number. I phoned and, no, she doesn't work there. So I explained my name was Dave Sim and I had signed with them for HIGH SOCIETY a few years ago and have never gotten paid and did they ever sell any HIGH SOCIETY? She told me she would connect me with someone. I got someone's voicemail and left a message saying all of that over again. That was Friday. And that's my story with COMIXOLOGY to date and, in fact, all "outside digital entities" to date. Thanks for your support!


Jason Trimmer:
Can you believe it's been twenty years since the Spirits tour? I chaired a panel discussion at SPACE this year discussing the tour with Bob Corby, Steve Peters, Michael Neno, Max Ink, and Steve Snyder. I owe you a letter about it...

It would be helpful, I think, if you could post the COLUMBUS SPIRITS panel stuff to AMOC. It's the weird confluence in my life going on since I'm doing my BONE Commentaries as part of THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. And I'm just at the part where Jeff is backing out of the COLUMBUS stop.

He definitely never wanted to associate with amateur and semi-pro cartoonists which always dumbfounded me. "Jeff, you were down to less than 1,000 orders on BONE No.4 when YOU came to ME for help..."

I'm not sure what the lesson is. I understand he's trying to get an event going in Columbus along the lines of his own sensibility: ELITE cartoonists.

Maybe if I'd have been like that, I would have become a millionaire. He's a millionaire isn't he?

Daryl Davis:
I've been a fan of your work for almost 40 years now. Getting old sucks, by the way... I still remember meeting you on Staten Island at a signing in 1992, where I complained about my back hurting after standing in the long line to meet you. My back still hurts, Dave, but Cerebus still brings a smile (and I still have that sketch from that signing, now hanging on my wall above a Jaka sketch from the 2012 Kickstarter...).

Staten Island '92. That would have been one of the JIM HANLEY'S UNIVERSEs I'm guessing. I always loved Jim's business card. "JIM HANLEY UNIVERSE Jim Hanley, Figurehead". I'm pretty sure the Manhattan signing was the one where someone followed me outside for my smoke break and then asked me to sign the butt for him when I was done. Which I did. That was a "first and only".

Michael Canich:
long-winded dave sim story: in the late 80s/early 90s i used to send dave my crappy little zines. he was always seemingly enthusiastic about receiving them, was always supportive and had nice things to say. dave even printed me twice in cerebus, once as a single page, and went even so far to print 18 pages of my 24 hour comic. he always responded to my letters, even when i probably had no idea what i was talking about, or nothing particularly interesting to say. 

anyway, at some point (early 90s?) dave was on one of the tours, he stopped off at dave's comics in royal oak, MI and i stood in line for 2 hours to meet him. when i eventually approached the table, i introduced myself and he remembered me (i think i had stopped doing the zines at this point). i said, "dave, i don't want anything from you, i just want to shake your hand." dave seemed confused by this, since i waited in line, and insisted that i walk away with something. he drew a cerebus head in one of the comics and wrote: TO THE CANICH UNIT - PUBLISH OR PERISH!

i can't think of a more generous comic professional that i've encountered than dave sim. i don't think any of that work i sent dave was very good, but dave's insistent "never give up!" cheerleading kept me going for awhile. i stopped drawing for many years, and have only recently started getting stuff printed again. 

not a particularly cohesive tale there, i know. but i just wanted to throw it out there.
Oh, hey! Michael! Hi! See, they were never "crappy little zines" to me. I can picture your work clearly because you were really prolific. Everyone who sent me their work, it was always extremely idiosyncratic, interesting stuff. More about THEM and THEIR worldview than really polished, packaged corporate stuff could ever hope to be. I'd turn out to be their "audience of one". Even better.
My favourite story from the Dave's Comics signing was a guy who worked behind the counter who was taking a break and sat on a chair slightly behind me, staring at this long line of guys going straight through the shop and out the front door.

"Yeah, I'm really just in comics for the chicks" he sighed.

I couldn't stop laughing.

Bill Ritter:
"i can't think of a more generous comic professional that i've encountered than dave sim." I'll second that.

True story: Back in earlish/mid-2k there was a NY City Yahoo/Cerebus club meet up. Ended up being, maybe 10 or so folks. Dinner and chat was suggested, so we walked to close by diner/burger joint. 1 of the group didn't order, and when pressed admitted as doing the NY con on-the-cheap and didn't really want to spend the $15 or so bucks. Dave forced him to order and picked up his tab. Did so real subtle - I only was aware because I was next to the kid and heard the conversation.

The couple other times I've met Dave, at conventions in the 90s, he was generous with every fan. Conversation, sketches, hand shakes... And obviously he has supported the medium's creators in a seemingly endless number of ways.

Yeah it's another one of those aspects which make my life much easier than a Famous Person's. Back when I used to go out in public, I would come up with things like proposing a meet-up with the Yahoos in the NYC hotel lobby (the old Penn Station Hotel: Pennsylvania 6-5000). Absolutely NO danger of more than five people showing up. Make it the LOBBY just to be sure but... okay, here's my entire NYC fan base: garcon! Table for five. Even calling that "famous" is a stretch.

Jay O'Leary:
I first saw the aardvark in I wanna say a spawn and the whole comic was black and white. I was so amazed and stoked my mind was blown. I don't know why it stayed in my memory so much and I hope it is real. I saw the last kick starter and it all flooded back to me, all the memories I had as a teen. now I am taking a crack at the whole comic book art thing and man Dave this stuff is harder than it looks. I take my hat off to you and am honored to have the last project and this one and hopefully more to come. 

I think PART of SPAWN 10 was in black and white. I still have to give Todd major points for having the guts to tell Dave Sim, "You can write WHATEVER you want. Twenty pages of Spawny sittin' on the toilet, if you want, and I'll draw it."

Larry MUST have warned him that if ANYone would take him literally, I would.

Good luck with your tattoos and your comix. You're right! They sure don't draw themselves, do they?

Michael Hunt:
In the pre-kickstarter days when you were offering Cerebus and Jaka (!) head sketches on ebay I was fortunate enough to acquire a few. As I am sure you remember they were ball-point pen sketches on A-V stationary. All of them were done with so much more care and detail than I had expected they would be, but two of them particularity stand out. 

The Jaka sketch is simply beautiful, with her eyes just peering out from under her almost-too-long bangs and her long hair spilling over the shoulders of her flower-print blouse. Just beautiful. Thank you for that.

The other is Cerebus as Cerberus. When I requested it I did mention that I thought it might well count as three Cerebus head sketches and therefore outside the parameters of what was then being offered and so explained that anything you wanted to sketch would be fine by me if that was indeed the case. What I received was Cerebus as Cerberus as I had requested with the addition of the three heads being Cerebus as each of the Three Wise Fellows, with Loshie, Moshie, and Koshie saying, "Cerebus as Cerebus! What a cheesy way to get three head sketches for the price of but one. Nyuck nyuck nyuck!" I really would have been pleased with anything, but that was extraordinarily generous of you. Thank you. So, to my question: Has anyone else asked for Cerebus as Cerberus?

Not as far as I remember. But then I just had the embarrassing situation in Leamington of someone finding a double cover CEREBUS issue and me telling them it was the first one I had seen. And then Glenn Storrie -- who was there -- telling me that he had one. And I had signed it for him. Twice.


Jason Trimmer:
Congratulations on another successful Kickstarter campaign. I'm looking forward to reading your commentaries on these pages. For CAN 1 and 2, your notes were focused on analyzing the artwork, and you could be a little rough on your younger self. For these pages, are you finding more to appreciate in the artwork, or is there always something to critique? Either way, I enjoy reading them and think they are quite valuable to other aspiring (and professional) comic artists. 

To be honest, I look at the pages and just write about what I actually remember. So THIS time, that was Ger and I staying at the Hilton Hotel in Gainesville, Florida for a month. That was the predominant memory so that was what I talked about. It's a pretty mentally arduous process -- basically re-living January 1986 -- because I live alone and without outside stimuli. I zone out for however many hours it takes to write it and I'm 30 and zone back in and I'm 60. Whether I'm talking about the art or my personal life.

Jay O'Leary:
Well I just wanted to thank you again for a huge memory I get to own a piece of the art that made it and taking the time to talk with us. as an artist it means alot to see that people I look up to and would only dream of achieving what they have are still human. thank you for letting me help archive your work for others to enjoy for years to come. or as long as they still print things on paper. I'm old school no computers for me but every one in the industry gives me a bad time for that but I think it gives character. good luck and see ya in a couple months for the fifth archive sad I missed the first two.

Diamond definitely has all of the UNsigned CEREBUS ARCHIVES in stock. One of the things I have to get organized is including the "back issues" in the next PREVIEWS ad, with the order codes. The plan is to keep them always in print because we've had a LOT of late arrival CEREBUS fans wanting to get caught up. It just doesn't LOOK like an "always in print" item.

Good luck with your own campaign. If I knew how this worked, I'd pledge for yours as well -- and I hope some folks here will take up the slack for me.

Larry Wooten:
I wanted to ask if you were planning to release the other pages of Selling Insurance as future bonus prints?

We're sort of at the mercy of what's available based on what people have given Sean for the CEREBUS ART DRAGNET. The only complete EPIC story in the Cerebus Archive is "The Girl Next Door". I'm hesitant to put a complete story up because people then have to decide whether to make a 3-print pledge. That seems even more "fan-cruel" than the Bonus Prints themselves.

Andrew Lohmann:
I was thinking about using my head sketch balance to get the head sketch for this Archive, but am just realizing that it is not available. Are the head sketches nixed for the remainder of the Archives?

The head sketches ARE nixed for the foreseeable future. If I can get my right wrist in shape for ANY kind of drawing -- either through treatment or surgery or just letting it rest and heal for a year or two -- that drawing is going to be done on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. Sorry about that -- and thanks for your support!

Michael Ragiel:
I liked the business size card that came as a surprise added bonus in the CAN1 with " This card has been issued to one of the two hundred and sixty-one people helping keep a dead aardvark on life support in May of 2014". There was no mention in the last two CAN's and this current one, but any chance of resurrecting the business like card? I can't remember if it was just for only the first Kickstarter campaign.

I had forgotten that! That's actually a good idea. Another YOU ARE HERE for the folks still standing. HERE'S HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN YOUR CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER FOUR vicinity. With the card getting darker or lighter depending on how many more or fewer people there are.

Michael Grabowski:
Greetings, Dave. Best of success to you today in communicating with us and, God willing, seeing the backer total and pledged amount rise. I wish I could participate more but I'm saving pennies for CAN5. In the meantime, I wonder if a good digital reward to offer in the future would be pdf editions of just your commentaries on the prints? I would love to read up on that history even if I generally cannot afford the portfolios.

I appreciate your good wishes. I'm really trying to avoid duplicating any of the material on these Kickstarters. That would just open the door to THE COLLECTED CEREBUS ARCHIVE MAMMOTH HARDCOVER book. Of course there's nothing to prevent a generous CEREBUS fan from scanning the commentary and sending it to you. Everyone is at different stages in their financial well-being as we go along. If you haven't got the bucks and you can find a way to get the material for free in the meantime I have no problem with that.

Matt Dow:
Question, How much would it cost to get a digital copy of a specific page from the Archive? Meaning, how much to have Sandeep scan, and Sean and the Good Doctor to "fix" a page from much later in the series? Or is this a "can of worms too far"?

Not out of the range of possibilities but WAY DOWN THE LINE when everything has been scanned and inventoried and WILDLY EXPENSIVE because of the aggravation for all concerned. The Feel-Bad Hit Movie of 2015! A CAN OF WORMS TOO FAR!

Michael Hunt:
Have you seen any of the Pen & Ink series from BOOM Studios? They are oversize (11 x 17) reprints of original black and white art from issues of selected series. They have heavy stock covers, the interior art is smaller than 11 x 17 to make room for commentary from the artist(s) along the bottom of the pages, run 48 pages, and retail at $14.99. Image also recently published a 32-page black and white 17 x 11 reprint of Black Science #1. At $19.99 retail it was not quite as nice a package as the BOOM Studio stuff, but still very very pretty to look at. I mention them as a possible revenue stream for you going forward. I know I would pay $19.99 for a artist edition of any single issue of Cerebus. With IDW's experience publishing artists editions it seems like a natural fit. If you would like to "test drive" one then let me know and I'll send one to you.

No, I haven't seen them. My gut instinct tells me to stick with this CEREBUS ARCHIVE Kickstarter format -- and branch out into GoFundMe with "always available" digital material to finance the scanning side the the restoration process. Just as there's "only one taxpayer", there's only one CEREBUS fan and I'm trying very, very hard not to tax their CEREBUS budgets too heavily -- while keeping all of the necessary "End of Life" preparations moving forward. The biggest problem would be shipping -- either selling them individually or selling them through IDW or another publisher. CEREBUS ARCHIVE seems to be the Goldilocks spot, triangulating the size of the audience, average budget and real-world realities of how much it costs to move stuff around in 2015. That could change.

Michael Hunt:
I also am fortunate enough to have the original unpublished art of JFK and Caroline you did for Glamourpuss. Would like to offer this as a bonus print? Please let me know and I will scan it and get the file to you.

Not sure if it would be a good bonus print, but from a "completist" standpoint, it would be nice to have in the Cerebus Archive. So, yes, THANK YOU! You can send it to Sean at the CEREBUS ART DRAGNET address!

Al Roney:
Super Happy to back CAN4 and best of luck with the restoration project, your hand and everything else going on. Anyway, during one of your vids I noticed the framed cover of Church and State Volume 1 in the background. Is there a chance that it, or any of the other phone-book covers, will be available as a Bonus print, standalone - anything? They'd look spectacular on the walls of my Man Cave!

All of the oversized -- larger than 11x17 -- pieces WHEN they're offered, will be offered as MegaDigital Prints. We called them Macro Prints here, but Mega is a better descriptor because of the megabytes size of them. Using your example of the JAKA'S STORY 114 or trade paperback cover. Scanned at 600 dpi, you don't have to limit yourself to "size as". How big is your wall? You could probably get it printed 2 ft by 3 ft at FedEx Kinko's on particle board for about $50.

See, that's what I mean. If we were to get them done at Kinko's here and then package them and mail them it would probably be a base cost of $175 - $200. With only a TINY FRACTION of that going to profit/restoration money. Bad use of YOUR limited funds. With a digital print, there's no overhead. You can order it, e-mail it to FedEx Kinko's in your town and they'll probably turn it around overnight or in an hour or two if they aren't busy.

We're looking at the two-page spreads, trade paperback covers, SIX DEADLY SINS plates, Silverspoon CBG pages. My HOWARD THE DUCK inside front cover.

Exhaustive selection and no overhead. As Lord Julius said, "You have to admit, it's an attractive combination."


Benjamin Hobbs:
Just caught up on this weeks youtube/AMOC update. Several years ago I was one of those rare individuals that owned a Cerebus shirt. (He doesn't love you, he just wants all your money) [still available from Graphitti Designs] I wore it until there were holes in it. I considered buying a new one, but I found the shirt resulted in WAY too many conversations with stoned Best Buy employees about "that guy who was in Spawn."

Which brings me to another point. There's an untapped audience to target for future campaigns. Stoners-who-work-in-retail-who-remember-Cerebus-from-that-one-time-he-was-in-Spawn. The tagline could be "Help restore the Spawn spin-off series that was SO ahead of it's time that it premiered 15 years before Spawn!" I think it would work. But it MIGHT be too much of a niche audience.

It's really more of a joke in that way. I could picture doing a joke t-shirt: a little SPAWN 10 cover inset with DUDE! OVER 20 YEARS AGO! YOU'RE SCARING ME! Or you could do an OLD CEREBUS with "OLD FART" written over him. But who is going to buy and/or wear it? Wouldn't it be scary if Jay O'Leary is the ACTUAL GUY you were talking about? The seriously weird confluences that are going on, it wouldn't surprise me in the least!

Drew Woodworth:
I had one of those Cerebus T-shirts, as well. I miss it, but would totally buy a new Cerebus t-shirt if one was available. Crazy idea and probably a logistical nightmare, but what if dedicated Cerebus fans set up as Aardvark-Vanaheim at local cons and sold tpb's, merchandise, etc? The con scene seems to be thriving.

You know, I think with all the weird confluences going on you might have hit on one of the vectors that seems to be taking shape now that Wes Hagen of THE COMIC BOOK WAREHOUSE here in town has agreed to take the entire Recker Distribution inventory off A-Vs hands. The "CEREBUS Underground Railroad" for real.

What's the BASE COST for a "long box" of "one of each"? The comics are free but what does it cost to bag and board them and the long box itself? Wes is guessing around $30. Well, okay what can we charge CEREBUS fans for a signed and numbered decorated, shrink-wrapped long box that Wes takes to a convention he's already going to in his van? $50?

All YOU have to do is go to the Con and pick up your CEREBOX.

My mind is a playground.

Barry Deutsch:
In my experience, it's difficult to make money selling comics at comic-cons nowadays. I can sell about 50 graphic novels at a convention, and that's pretty good for a cartoonist at my level - but even so, it's often not enough to cover the cost of (table at con + travel expenses + lodging). Plus, there are the inevitable "what the hell happened" conventions at which sales are low for no discernible reason, so that's a loss you have to cover. And airlines charge for checked baggage nowadays, so getting materials to and from the con costs more than it used to. Plus, Cerebus fans tabling at cons won't have Dave as a draw.

The people making money at cons today are mostly there, not to sell comics, but to sell prints. Prints cost very little to make or to transport compared to comic books, and the successful print makers do very well at cons. But it's a highly competitive field - I went to ComiKaze in LA, and there were many dozens of people there tabling with their prints (And relatively few people there with their own comic books). The printmakers who do best generally specialize in prints of the currently popular TV and movie characters are.

Of course, it's much easier to make money going to a local con, since then you don't have to pay for airfare or lodgings.

Duly noted.

I was up half the night last night designing the FREE CEREBUS colour flier for Wes which will be discussed in next week's Update. I'm picturing local CEREBUS volunteers pitching the FREE COMIC BOOKS! angle using the flier at conventions. That is, not being set up THEMSELVES, but basically just directing people (waiting in line to get in?) to the FREE COMIC BOOKS! at the COMIC BOOK WAREHOUSE booth. CEREBUS THE WORLD'S LONGEST GRAPHIC NOVEL being a secondary consideration behind FREE COMIC BOOKS! And handing out free comic books. Free BAGGED AND BOARDED comic books.

If you've got 40,000 FREE COMIC BOOKS, you can afford to throw them around a bit. And, at the show, you'd only have, say, 500 free comic books. When they're gone, they're gone. But, presumably they're going home with 50 or 60 people who never heard of them.

Still working on it, mentally. As we all are. Wes is dropping by Leamington on his way back from the Windsor comic show next week to see EXACTLY what this entails.

Barry Deutsch:
Actually, if it's free comic books, then many cons have a table for things people are giving away for free. You don't have to pay anything to use it, and given the obvious high quality of Cerebus compared to most of what's out there, I'm sure people would pick up copies. So if the idea is to give comics away and find new readers, that might be a fruitful approach to experiment with.

Yes, but we're trying to TRIANGULATE -- to get people TO the COMIC BOOK WAREHOUSE booth, not just to the "free stuff" table. The same as I don't think we want the fliers ON the "free stuff" table. We want people -- CEREBUS enthusiasts, preferably -- handing people FREE COMIC BOOKS fliers (and a free comic book) and pointing out the COMIC BOOK WAREHOUSE booth. RIGHT THERE! "Greatest comic ever done in my opinion -- FREE! Right at that booth!"

One of the questions is "what do we insert behind the backing board" that promotes the CEREBUS trades, and Wes' retail warehouse outlet?


Lee Thacker:
No questions from me, but I wanted to wish you all the best for a hopeful full recovery of your drawing arm, the completion of TSDOAR, the continuation of Cerebus Archive editions and the restoration of (for my money) the best comic book series of all time. Ooh - I just thought of a question (although I think it's been asked before) Any plans to put all of the Cerebus stories not published in the comic into a handy 'gatherum' book? Oh, and EVEN numbers are WAY better than ODD numbers!!

Another Celebrity Cartoonist! I always find it reassuring when you send me TALES FROM THE WEDDING PRESENT [Lee does the official comic book for the band of that name in the UK] material because it always seems that the band is at the same level in music that I am in comics. Just famous enough to be called "famous" but always just "hanging on by their fingernails". How IS the band doing and how is your relationship with the band these days?

The only real plan right now is to get the 6,000 pages scanned and restored and try to keep everything in print. When you're juggling 16 chainsaws the last thing you should be thinking about is how to get another chainsaw in the air. :)

Lee Thacker:
Good point regarding the chainsaws metaphor. To answer your questions, the band have been very busy this year, playing 25 gigs (so far), appearing on Radio 6, releasing a well received album and two comic books! They're not exactly 'hanging on by their fingernails' but are certainly not in the same 'fame bracket' as, say, The Rolling Stones! I'm six pages away (just need to get the inking done) from completing issue 9 - available mid December all being well. I've managed to continue to get three issues completed each year and I'll send you the next batch of three as soon as issue 9 is completed.

How old are the members of WEDDING PRESENT getting to be? What's that like -- getting to that age and NOT having the Rolling Stones money?

Lee Thacker:
David Gedge is the only remaining member of the original band and he's now 55 years old. He's always written all of the songs and retains the rights to all of the recordings. He now runs a 'cottage industry' style set up, selling records and merchandise at gigs and on a website. They don't have the wealth of The Rolling Stones but I think they're doing okay financially. I've never discussed money with David - he tends to 'pay' me with new records, putting me on guest list for gigs (plus 1 for Kirstie!) and merchandise. They still have a dedicated fan base all over the world, mostly made up of balding forty-somethings and their wives, although a lot of their teenage children are also Wedding Present fans! The line-up has changed many times over the past 30 years and the other members are considerably younger than David.

This will probably only be of interest to Dave and Jason, but I thought I should clarify how David Gedge ‘pays’ me for my comics work. As I said, I can request any of The Wedding Present records/merchandise and David puts me on the guest list for any shows I want to attend. However, all profits from the comics are split three ways: David, me and Terry (who co-writes the stories and came up with the idea). There’s no written contract. The whole venture is based on friendship and trust and David is a very trustworthy fellow, completely removed from your regular ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ star. He chats to fans before and after gigs too. We currently print 250 copies of each comic and we each get paid when ALL of the comics are sold out. So far, only issue 1 has sold out (we did a print run of 500 for that one) so at some point I should get a modest sum for the rest of the issues. David pays the printing costs and schleps them around the world to sell at gigs. I’ve also designed a few t-shirts for the band and created the artwork for their most recent album (under the name of David’s ‘other’ band ‘Cinerama’).

It's a very interesting way of doing a comic book promoting a rock band. It would seem to me worth documenting how you and David Gedge have this set up and how you arrived at that way of doing it -- pitfalls/what works/what doesn't -- and making it available to other cartoonists and bands as a template. Eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel. Virtually ALL bands are heavily reliant on the "merch" to keep going these days.

I think you should also do well out of my "Hail and Farewell, Mary" pass to try to help self-publishers. An AUTOMATIC WINNOWING system that separates the wheat from the chaff. You're on schedule and have been for three years. That puts you head and shoulders above just about every self-publisher.

Lee Thacker:
Very simply, David Gedge asked me if I’d be interested in doing it. I’d contributed to a fanzine the band published in the late 80s/early 90s called ‘Invasion of The Wedding Present’. The other two main contributors to the ‘Invasion of The Wedding Present’ fanzine (who were WAY better cartoonists than I was at the time) were also approached about illustrating some stories for TFTWP in 2011 with the idea being that the comic would be illustrated by a range of different artists. I think only one of them managed to turn in a story in the time it took me to illustrate three or four so it became clear pretty quickly that I was going to be the sole illustrator of the comic. I thought we’d just publish one issue and that would be it, but I’m currently working on the tenth issue!! 

‘One For Sorrow’ (my 800 page magnum opus) was something I worked on in complete obscurity/isolation for four years. Self promotion time! ‘One For Sorrow’ is still available here. I was in my early thirties and somehow managed to produce 200 pages of comics, record two albums’ worth of my own musical compositions, hold down a full time job, party every weekend and stay in a serious relationship (22 years and counting) with my beloved Kirstie Wilson. Every year for the four years it took to complete, I followed much of the ‘Cerebus Guide to Self Publishing’ advice, mostly the discipline of using a calendar to record my daily output of finished pages. I even put completed pages up on my bedroom/studio wall as they were completed. I still use this 'timeline template' for creating comics.

Now I’m in my late forties and it’s as much as I can do to complete 60 pages of comics a year, although ‘Tales From The Wedding Present’ has a lot more panels per page and is more challenging in terms of drawing ‘real’ people and locations. I also have to scan the artwork, create the covers, do the digital lettering, pdfs and other boring mechanical stuff myself. I annually set a self-imposed deadline for myself for each issue, giving myself 4 months to complete each issue and I’ve been trying (and succeeding so far!) to stick to April, August and December releases. 

I’m fortunate enough to a) get 13 weeks of holiday time a year (I’m a primary school teacher) b) have a very supportive girlfriend and c) no children (‘that I’m aware of’ – one of my favourite Dave Sim quotes).

Yes, even as I was urging you to consider a more general "how to cartoon for a rock band" thing, it seems to me that it's a pretty unique circumstance in a lot of ways: most particularly your productivity. It's really true that clocks and calendars work the best of all. I really didn't make any headway until I started writing what I got done that day in the little square on my calendar. 

Something that definitely works is doing a panel a day. I mean, how hopeless as a cartoonist are you if you can't do ONE. PANEL. a day. Steve Peters did a bunch of work that way, marking the date in the corner of each panel to make SURE he stuck with it -- or, at least, had numerical evidence when he "missed".

I'm definitely thinking of doing that with SDOAR IF I'm ever able to draw again.

The fanzine you're talking about was modelled on the old EC covers (or at least #1 was). Did David Gedge KNOW what EC was? Was he an actual comics fan or did a comic book just seem to him like a good, general, pop cultural idea to associate with the band?

It sounds as if Kirstie is a big part of making it work as well. You have to SHARE a cartoonist with his work to a far greater extent than most wives/girlfriends have to SHARE their husbands/boyfriends with "outside entities". Jack Kirby is Jack Kirby in a lot of ways because he spent virtually all of his marriage at the drawing board -- with Roz's blessing.

Oh, and I still consider ONE FOR SORROW to be THE best "first-time" semi-pro graphic novel EVER!

Lee Thacker:
I definitely consider Kirstie to be my own 'Roz', although I'm NOWHERE near as talented/prolific as Jack Kirby (obviously!) 

David Gedge has always been a comic book fan as far as I know. I don't know if he was into the EC comics (I discovered them quite late in life myself too, but the IDW Wally Wood Artist's Edition is one of my most prized possessions. I'm determined to draw a page for one of TFTWP issue based on his '22 panels that always work') , but he was definitely a devout follower of the Lee/Ditko era Spider-Man and the Lee/Kirby FF, as well as DC superhero comics from around the same time. 

Thank you so much for your kind comments (and your support when it was first released back when the earth was still cooling) about 'One For Sorrow'. 200+ copies sold and counting... :)


John Scrudder:
...What is YOUR paradise after the curtains fall? 

I really, really don't think about Paradise, John. I think it exists but that we're such simplistic beings, trying to explain Paradise or show it to us would be as difficult as explaining to a caterpillar what a butterfly is or what it would be like to be one.

Also, I would speculate that it's a long, long ways away. Even if you're one of the "2 out of 100" neutrinos/souls that manages to escape the hydrogen/helium duality of physical incarnation and head back to the site of the Big Bang -- "from God we came out and to God we are returning" as it says in the Koran -- just imagine the number of solar systems/stars/planets between here and there "as the crow flies". And even travelling faster than the speed of light, each of them is millions of light years away. Your neutrino journey is still going to take you millions of years to travel and you will see The Next Star right up ahead for a good chunk of those millions of years.

Do you do a fly-past?

Or do you make a pit stop? Essentially having millions of years to choose: giving up your hard-won neutrino state and physically incarnating again and taking the risk of being trapped by bad decision-making into the hydrogen/helium duality all over again. With no guarantee you'll come back out.
The original Koine Greek specifically identifies the Johannine Jesus as "the one who IS COMING into the world" -- a very different meaning from the usual translation "HAS COME into the world". I wondered if that's who Jesus was: a very, very advanced neutrino presence from a different solar system who elected to make a pit stop here and incarnated as the Son of God, or son of God (depending on your system of belief) at God's behest. And that the physical incarnation of "immigrant" neutrinos is on a more exalted plane than those of us who just "hatch out" from the souls that were "on board" the earth when we got all the way out here.

I've got enough on my plate praying five times a day, fasting, reading scripture aloud and working 12 hours a day. If it leads somewhere, great! If all I can do is atone for the first 40 years of my life with the next 40 (20 so far and counting), break even and really not have much to show for it. Well, God's will be done!

John Scrudder:
What is your position on the Syrian refugees and this whole terrorist attack on Paris...

Re: the Paris attacks. They believe that they're doing the will of God. I'm not God so I couldn't tell you if they are or not. I don't listen to music or drink myself and I advocate not doing so but that's all I do. For all I know that's being "wimpy" in the defence of God.

I do think that everyone who went to the Eagles of Death Metal concert to prove just how HARD. CORE. they are got a major lesson in what REAL. HARD. CORE. is. Eagles of death metal? I've got your eagles of death metal right here. Sorry if that's insensitive. How sensitive is Death Metal?

Re: the refugee thing, I don't know. Our new prime minister is admitting 25,000 before the end of the year. It reminded me of Chester Brown after 9/11 saying that he thought we should wait and see if they do something like that again instead of overreacting. We have to accept that there are people who think that's a logical way forward. If the West DOESN'T do anything about it, in a way it's very...Christian. Turn the other cheek. Which would be the Most Christian thing the society formerly known as Christendom has done in a long while.

All of the G7 leaders except for Cameron are pacifists by nature, I think.

John Scrudder:
What do you think the short term affect and long term affect would be if we found out religion (all of it) were completely false. What if we didn't have these people 'fighting for the cause' What if we didn't have nations that have been warring for thousands of years because of religious beliefs. I feel, in a way, that perhaps we would all be better off without religion. The questions of the great unknown would remain the same. So what's the problem? Would you stop trying to be a better person if you no longer believed in God. I'm trying to be a better person and I'm not putting my faith in the hands of a deity in the great beyond. What a F----d up world we live in.

We're only partway through. God, I think, created all this to allow us to explore ALL of the possibilities. I think we're the rebel spirits that couldn't get away from God fast enough because we were convinced we could do SOOOOOOO much better than He could and he engineered a way -- the Big Bang -- to get us all the way out here and prove to ourselves that we're wrong.

He was and is right, I think.

We miss the point that we don't know what happens when we die. God does know. For all we know those people who died in Paris are ecstatic with their reward because they died Making A Point that He knew needed to be made. "In my Father's house are many mansions."

Just consider the world that he created for you as an atheist KNOWING you would be an atheist. All the pleasures he's given you to enjoy knowing you would turn your back on him. The word in Koine Greek for "God's grace" translates more directly as "undeserved kindness".

As it says in the Koran, "God will not wrong you so much as the husk on a dates stone."

God allows things like Paris to happen as a warning, I think -- "Better this, now, then what would come later if this DIDN'T happen." If Paris is the "soft option" then things are getting Really. Hard.

I'd say have a little sympathy for an Omnipotent Being who knows He's right and still has to watch His creations suffer AT THEIR OWN HANDS because they just won't TRUST Him. Nothing He can do.


"Thus endeth the experiment in going out in public".

I think we need to have honest exchanges of viewpoint and I don't see that in society. Too much isn't working to keep acting as if doing everything the same way IS going to work.

But, I was thrown out of society so anything I say is completely beside the point.

That's a wrap! Drive safely everyone! 

Dave Sim's previous Kickstarter Q&As can be found here: CAN1 and CAN2.


Anonymous said...

Once again: Dave was not "thrown out of society". He left of his own free will.

-- Damian T. Lloyd

trail of bread said...

At least one person bought High Society from Comixology - me. So that should be, what, 25c due to Dave?

Funny that you talk about David Gedge - i've always mentally linked the pair. Making their own way doing their own stuff