Friday 26 February 2016

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. Now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I'll be running interesting excerpts from those letters each week.

There is a gap in my stack of letters between the last one and this next one. I hope to fill that in soon, assuming I can find it. In the meantime, here is one from September of 2005:

23 September 05

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for your letter of September 10. If you’re serious about being celibate this time, I’d really recommend not talking about it if you’re going to continue to socialize with the unfairer sex. If you think about it to any depth, I think you’ll realize it’s waving a red flag in front of the cows-who-think-they’re-bulls to do so. Fundamentally, what you are doing is telling them that they aren’t irresistible. Desperately needing (to the point of psychosis) to think of themselves not only as irresistible, but as objects of such profound fascination and slavering desire that men are driven mad in proximity to them is a core element of the largely mythological female “character”. It’s the downside of being warned about rapist when they’re too young to comprehend nuance and when they all still believe themselves to be radiant beings (Daddy’s Little Girl). And then, of course, there’re all the theatrics and histrionics that men go through in trying to get laid (I’ve never met ANYONE who makes me feel the way that YOU do) which also serves to carve the mythology in stone. It’s certainly true that Kitchener is the best place I’ve ever found for being celibate because the women in this city are universally repugnant to someone who is attracted to femininity, but I would certainly never say something like that out loud to one of them for the obvious reasons cited above. Their only reaction would be to say, “Wow, that’s a new approach”--again, because they’ve been raised to believe that everything men do is, however indirect and however masked, a sexual overture. With the exception of myself, they’re not too far wrong, I don’t think. It’s up to you, of course, but I think that all you can really accomplish by broadcasting your celibacy is to incite one of them to rise to the bait, which rather defeats the purpose of choosing not to fish. Try not to conceal your own motives from yourself if that’s what you’re doing. If you want to get laid and telling them that you’re celibate works, well, hey, go nuts--but it seems to me a little suspect to do that when you know the effect it’s going to have.

I’ve been of the opinion for some time that women aren’t actually attracted to men; they’re attracted to soap operas in which they need men to be cast as the principal characters (the best girlfriend, my adoring family, my best gay friend, my arch rival, the boyfriend, the would-be suitor, my best guy pal, my drinking buddies, my friends from school, my ex-lover who still adores me and will do anything for me, etc, etc.). The casting call is a 24/7 occupation with them, but to think that because she made doe eyes at you and struck a pose signals a level of attraction, to me, seems dramatically premature and excessive. Just as they need to believe that they drive men insane with desire, they also need to believe that they are amazingly nice people who attract friends the way you-know-what attracts flies. That’s where the “I don’t think of you that way” and “can’t we just be friends?” thing comes in and why they get so irritated and upset when you don’t want to be friends and why they become incandescent when you do. Again, it reinforces the mythology they have about themselves. Of course, secretly, they realize (if they’re at all attractive) that they take a back seat to their sexual equipment and that men really are only interested in one thing, so they use the equipment to snare the friend and then put the equipment into storage at that point. There are a lot of guys who are still friends with women they don’t really like because they’re still hoping to sleep with them at some point and they can’t bear the thought that they’re so typical of the male gender that they lose interest because no sex is forthcoming. So, they get swept up in the 24/7 soap opera with no means of escape from pretending that they think a way that they don’t think. I wanted to boink her a few times and her I am babysitting her cat. Oh, well, as long as it keeps her from thinking that I’m shallow and sex-mad.

Well, yes, as regards your experience with Jerri Dawn. All I’m pointing out--as an overarching truth in getting involved with women--is that these situations get complicated right away. There’s no such thing as just getting laid, there is always a soap opera attached to it somewhere early on where she puts the metaphorical thumbscrews to you and you have to pretend to think a different way from the way that you’re thinking and to react a different way from the way that you’re reacting. You have to demonstrate a willingness to jump through hoops and believe impossible things before breakfast because--if you do end up sleeping with them--that is what your life is going to consist of from that point forward: jumping through hoops and believing impossible things before breakfast. It’s really just a perversion of courtship where previously they attempted to lure their intended victim with home cooking and demonstrations of wifely and maternal aptitudes. Now it’s a matter of finding someone willing to sit still for a complete “masculinectomy” so they can stuff you full of all the things they’re going to need from you, like unquestioning obedience, a complete lack of demonstrable self-worth and the sincere belief that they are just as masculine as you are, so if you never actually exhibit any sign that you question if this is actually a sensible way to live, you just might pass the test.

Yeah, I’ll be happy to draw a cover for your mini (you mean digest, I think--each folded typewriter sheet making four pages, right? A mini is usually considered to be one typewriter sheet folded to make eight pages). You send me a layout and the necessary photos and when I get around to it, I’ll get around to it. I’m not sure what it is that I’m going to be doing next, but I’m trying to keep “Everything Else” confined to one or two days a week so I can actually think in terms of what I want to do, rather than what others want me to do.

Thanks for the clippings. Yes, it’s interesting the number of times I find my views intersecting with those of Charles Krauthammer. The idea of massive retaliation against the Palestinians any time there’s as rocket attack against Israel--particularly a blind response that is automatic and, thus, non-negotiable and in fixed 5:1 ratio seems to me the only way of dealing with any Muslim threat. If you remember, back in “Islam, My Islam” [Ed: a seven-part essay in the back of Cerebus in the early 2000’s, before and after 9-11], I suggested just such a scorched-earth methodology was what was missing from the US withdrawal from Lebanon after the Marine barracks was bombed. You have to establish disproportionate ratios commensurate with your firepower. If you have ten times the firepower, [then] you have to kill ten times the number of Muslims as they have killed of you in order to establish preeminence. As I think I said in “Islam, My Islam”, there are two natures in the Muslim, the Actual Muslim and the Tribal Arab. If the Actual Muslim can be reasoned with, the Tribal Arab cannot and if you respond to the Tribal Arab in a Tribal Arab fashion--that is to say, ruthlessly and cruelly--you will eventually compel him to act like an Actual Muslim. It may take years, but ultimately you will compel him to act like an Actual Muslim. The Israelis have been getting it backwards for a number of years in their prisoner exchanges, offering a hundred freed Palestinian terrorists for every Israeli soldier that is freed--and sometimes just the remains of deceased Israeli soldiers. To me, that sends exactly the wrong message and grants disproportionate leverage and self-delusion to the enemy in negotiations. Of course, I think Sharon has finally realized that there’s more theatre than battlefield to the whole equation and that abandoning Gaza so the world could see what the thugs look like when the Marxist gangsters pour into the resulting vacuum does more to demonstrate the core point than anything he could have done in a conventional sense at the negotiating table, the UN, or the White House. And, once the Israelis have themselves surrounded by the security fence and if they continue to import their workers from civilized countries, then you just leave the mad dogs to tear themselves and each other to shreds. I don’t imagine it will take much more than twenty years for the Marxist Palestinian terrorists to wipe each other out, down to the last man, woman, and child in the Tribal Arab pattern and then produce an Actual Muslim, a genuine partner for peace. On my optimistic day, I think it could happen in ten years, but realistically, it’s probably closer to twenty. I can’t think of a better investment of the West’s time and energy and resources than to support just such a program with state-of-the-art sensors and missile technology.

Interesting the City Council mess that you’ve got down there [in Dallas, in 2005]. The fact that Lee resigned before Jesse Jackson could show up and organize a boycott of the Dallas Cowboys or something is a good vital sign. Although, I really wish the mayor would have countered the accusation that no white council member’s car had been searched by saying, “Oh, by all means. Let me put forward a motion that this council be adjourned so Councilman Lee can search my car. All in favour>” You know--”I’ve got nothing to hide. There are a bunch of candy wrappers and McDonald’s packages on the floor in the back seat, but in the interests of the Dallas City Council glasnost and perestroika, I will gladly bare my personal messiness to public scrutiny.”

Okay. gotta run.



Jeff Seiler said...

The "mini" Dave referred to here turned out to be "Cerebus Readers In Crisis", (his title, his lettering, his logo--incredible logo), but Larry Hart's art and my (true, or semi-true, story). It turned out not to be a mini but, actually, an 8" X 11" comic; magazine format. Which, despite Dave's forewarnings, stood out and worked.

Issue 1 included an inside back-cover drawing of me (because I had already drawn the front cover and, selfishly, liked it so much). Issue 2 has a front cover drawing of Cerebus fan Billy Beach and the comic contains a story written and drawn by Billy referring to Dave's visit to Billy's house in Italy, at Billy's request, in the summer of 2004. It contains, to my knowledge, the only image extant of Dave submitting one of his daily prayers to God.

Issue 3 features the illustrious Elizabeth Bardawill (Hi-ya, Bitsy), drawn by Dave on the cover, with an hilarious story by her inside, along with several others. Sold out. Hope you got yours, cause it's gonna be worth somethin'.

This was way back when, when Dave had so much much time on his hands that he was (quasi-religiously) attending City Council meetings in Kitchener and, then, reporting on them to me in bi-weekly letters. So, I gave him sumpthing to do. (As he has since done, repeatedly [and, ironically] for me.)

Anyway, if anyone still wants a copy (NOT signed by Dave, but affixed with my illegible scrawl) of Cerebus Readers In Crisis #1, I still have around 50 (unsigned) copies squirreled away somewhere. Give me a coupla weeks and I should be able to find them.

Or, hey! Just find out Larry Hart's current mailing address and send him the bucks you woulda spent on the comic. After all, he started the whole damn thing. "Well, I can draw...".

For what it's worth, Cerebus Readers In Crisis got sequentially better with each issue, published annually, as an anthology with some very talented artists and writers (not me). They are all out of print, although you might find copies available online at Lone Star Comics. Buddy (the owner) generously pre-ordered multiple copies of each issue and you can find them at his website,

Issue 4 has two brilliant stories written and drawn, individually, separately, by Steve Peters, and Max Ink. The latter has his characters, Blink and Sam, on Juno with Cerebus. (Personally, my single favorite story out of all of the CRIC anthologies.) The former was a forerunner of the Dave Sim and Me trope, recounting exchanged letters in a way I can't do. Visually; through some great art.

If you're very, very nice to me, monetarily (and, you know, just nice), I might be able to scrounge up a few copies of CRIC #4.

Tread carefully.

They're becoming increasingly valuable...

Eddie said...

Hey Jeff. I have #2, but would be interested in getting copies of any of the other CRIC issues you might have to spare. Unless the participants wanted to post their excerpts on here.

Unknown said...

I would qualify this letter -- ten years later on -- with GREATER EMPHASIS that if this is the way you react to women (i.e. you're not a boyfriend and you're not a husband) the only ETHICAL way to live is to STAY AWAY FROM THEM and definitely DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH THEM. Otherwise you're just casting yourself as THE VILLAIN in her soap opera. Except for real. It's not a role, it's who you've chosen to be and you WILL pay the price.

Unknown said...

On the subject of CAN4, I still haven't heard back from John. It's worth pointing out that it took MORE than six months to get CAN3 into the Pledge Partners' hands. I'm very loyal to -- and patient with -- the people that I work with. TOO loyal and TOO patient and I think that's the situation here. Sandeep and I talked about it in our weekly meeting and I think the answer is to "assign" Sandeep and Fisher to John Funk and just say, Okay, this time next week everything is going to be done. Sandeep and Fisher KNOW how to do that so, John, pick them both up at home, take them to GEPS and the three of you get busy. And then "debrief" Sandeep and Fisher: is this a hopeless situation? Or can you whip things into shape as you are with the warehouse. I can promise you this: we will know SOON (i.e. well before April 18th).

Unknown said...

The BIGGEST problem we're facing right now is the amount of scanning that needs to be done, which was ONE kind of problem when we were looking at nine SECONDS per scan -- the original scanner purchased -- and ANOTHER kind of problem with the scanner Sean ended up needing: which is close to three MINUTES per scan.

So, we're looking to launch a fundraising effort designed by Sandeep -- while we're figuring out if the CEREBUS ARCHIVE program is salvageable (I think it is, maybe just not with John) -- in the next few weeks dedicated PRIMARILY to raising money for scanning.

As you can see with the C&S II situation, we're having to GET WAY ahead -- and STAY WAY ahead -- of the actual "revenue producing" application of what is being scanned (to the tune of $15K with C&S II). Sandeep, I think, has come up with a REALLY GOOD "low cost to the consumer" program. But, we'll find that out after we launch.

And remember, in the wise words of Steven Wright, "If at first you don't succeed...skydiving is probably not for you."

Jeff Seiler said...

Eddie--Email me at

and I can give you details on getting one copy each of CRIC #1 and #4. I have no more copies of #3, other than my file copies.

Anonymous said...

People can grow. From his 20:54 comment, Dave has changed his mind since this letter and would no longer advise Jeff to lie to people to get what he wants out of them. That's an improvement, ethically speaking.

Dave's naive and uninformed view of the Middle East is shaped more by his interpretations of holy books than by the past millennium-and-a-half (on the short side) of history and of the actual conduct of the peoples involved. His belligerently adolescent "kill 'em all" proposition marks him as not one of the Good Guys, but just one of the Other Guys. No surprise that his views "intersect[] with those of Charles Krauthammer", as that armchair warrior has been regularly and consistently wrong (and has regularly and consistently misrepresented his past) for 15 years.

-- Damian

Jeff Seiler said...

Damian, I will let Dave defend himself here, should he choose so to do.

However, your thinly-veiled insult of me shall not stand.

However shallow, crass, craven or just plain unprincipled I might be (which, I happen to think, is not much if at all), I. DO. NOT. LIE. TO. PEOPLE.

Thus, again, I humbly advise you to crawl back under your rock.

Jeff Seiler said...

And, by the way, referring to Mr. Krauthammer as an "armchair warrior" is a (I would guess) deliberately snide, insensitive, crass, and uncaring remark, since (as I'm sure you well know), Mr. Krauthammer has been confined to a wheelchair for most of his adult life.

I, too, am permanently disabled, as defined by the Social Security Administration and various doctors. Got any wisecracks about me, Damian?

Tony Dunlop said...

I've been disgusted by Krauthammer's "kill 'em all" screeds for years, and I never knew until just now that he's living with a disability. Surely, Jeff, you don't think that puts his views beyond the reach of sincere disagreement?

Tony again said...

Sorry, that should be amoral kill-em-all screeds.

Jeff Seiler said...

No, Tony, I believe that anyone who openly, publicly publishes a viewpoint is or can be subject to sincere disagreement. What I also believe is that what Damian was/is doing is not sincere disagreement. And, I was taking him to task for using the phrase "armchair warrior", a thinly-veiled reference to a physical disability. I would take the same umbrage to anyone who called me a gimp. I came by my disability honestly, through athleticism (and maybe genetics), as did Mr. Krauthammer. Well, the athletic part, in his case.

As to "kill 'em all", I fully agree when it comes to ISIS. Carpet-bombing is too good for them, just the most efficient means to a necessary end. They are the most repugnant thugs I've ever heard of, and I remember Pol Pot.

Tony one more time said...

Sure, as long as you honestly acknowledge that carpet-bombing will inevitably kill an awful lot more innocent bystanders than murderous scumbags; hence my use of the adjective "amoral."

Jim Sheridan said...

"Armchair warrior" is NOT a slur against the disabled. It's a very common term in the United States for someone who happily sits back and advocates that people go to war without ever thinking of placing himself in that situation.

We also use the term in sports; an "armchair quarterback" is someone who sits in his Lazyboy recliner spewing opinions at the game on TV while eating a bucket of fried chicken.

An armchair is not a wheelchair in the U.S. We have a Canada / U.S. language barrier.

I didn't know Krauthammer was physically disabled either.

Jeff Seiler said...

Okay, I will admit to being a tad bit oversensitive about the armchair remark. And, I'm quite familiar with the armchair quarterback term, as well as Monday-morning quarterback. I had not read the term "armchair warrior" before, but it seems to be related to the previous terms.

Damian just really gets my dander up. Dave has responded, "don't ignore him," so I won't. But, I will try not to take his remarks personally, even when they seem to be meant that way.

Tony Dunlop said...

Actually, the biggest "armchair warrior" is Dick Cheney, who is, as far as I know, still fully ambulatory...