Friday, 27 May 2016

Reading READS for the Last (?) Time

Cerebus #175 (October 1993)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

1) Erick:  No problem.  You've got to say what you've got to say and I've got to say what I've got to say.  Just because you say something I say ISN'T so doesn't mean that it ISN'T so.

At the very least, I hope that we can establish a template for exchanges between disappointed fan and creator.  There are creators who have disappointed me (no, no names) but I would hope that that fact wouldn't undermine their appreciation of my personal...and financial...investment in them and their work if I was as honest with them as you are with me.  The Internet is here to stay and we're badly in need of a spectrum of templates between Troll and sycophant.

2)  While READS is fresh in mind (just faxed the last of the corrections to Sean):  I really like the lengthy Victor Reid vs. The Receptionist at VERTIGO HORSE bits.  Never having been in that situation, it was pure comedy writing and I think it's one of the best things I've done in the "portrayal vs. reality" end of things. 

3) I think READS needs to be properly viewed as Dave Sim's "Apex Atheist Moment".  What I was COMPLETELY unaware of  -- which everyone besides God was unaware of, I think -- was "What happens when he gets to his Bible parody around 2000?"  God was certain that I would become an extremely devout monotheist (since that's what happened and God is omniscient).  Every other entity from God on down, I suspect, was betting that I was documenting my own dissolution and "lowballing" how bad an end I was coming to.  "He's this bad now, how bad is he going to be in 2000?"

4)  As a monotheist, the point I see myself missing in READS (because I was an atheist) is that "Be fruitful and multiply" doesn't come with qualifications or time limits.  My hand-wringing over overpopulation presupposes that the earth wasn't designed specifically for a human population.  It's (to me) the core atheistic flaw stemming from the idea that we're all ACCIDENTALLY here.  My supposition as a monotheist is that if we were ALL being fruitful and multiplying, we would solve the problems inherent in that because we would be getting where God intended us to go.  Because we're not being fruitful and multiplying (guilty as charged, your honour!), we're generally treading water and wondering why things aren't going better for us.

That and "subdue the earth" seem to me to compete for Job One.

5)  Karen Smith-Zulli, if you're reading this, I'm going to need a mailing address.  Every time I do a new printing of READS I owe Michael $250 (arbitrary amount) for his self-portrait as the M.Zulli character.

6)  Sean has written a pretty insightful (I think) contextual essay about READS.  I thought his observation that Orson Welles would have had a lot to say to Victor Reid was particularly astute in the sense of "you have to be really careful around business types if you don't own what you're doing."

7) It was very undiplomatic of me to craft hybrid names like Carl Berger and Karen Potts. In my defence I'll say that I wrote more Really Bad Autobiographical Things about Victor Reid (my middle name and mother's maiden name) than I did about anyone else whose name I hybridized.  It was and is I think a necessary conceit to warn against thinking of editors as your friend.  But, then, Alan Moore and Karen Berger were still getting on like a house on fire (as far as I know) when I was writing it.  They are not "chummy" now, I'd suggest, for exactly the reasons I was documenting in READS.

8)  I was deploring the absence of people posing the WHY? question and at the same time I was avoiding it myself.  Stephen Hawking's "I know what the universe is doing, I just don't know WHY it's doing it".  I documented a number of scenarios in which the human body incarnated as a "snapshot" of creation but missed the point that it implied a Creation Intellect to set it in motion: God.

WHY? did God create the universe?  My guess is "purification" coupled with "data retrieval".  The "well-minded" neutrinos return to God [see the last few pages of THE LAST DAY Prologue] and the "not well-minded" neutrinos get trapped in the collapsed stars they orbited in life and then get trapped in the dark matter/black holes that result.  "Taking out the trash".  Meanwhile God experiences everything, everywhere and accesses the experiences of the returning neutrinos.  I don't think there's much New that comes back to him, but the odds are that there are New things to contemplate given the near infinite variety of experiences in the universe.  I mean, those are just the STARS we're looking at.  Imagine the populations orbiting them.

I think God is particularly interested in relationships.  Does marriage work?  Does marriage work sufficiently for God to create a wife for Himself?  And what form would that wife take?  How much free will could he allow her?  That's, I think, why God created the Father:  working it out in microcosm (although on a huge scale compared to us: the Father created the Big Bang) and then trying to figure out if the bugs can be ironed out sufficiently to make a counterpart to Himself.  I'm guessing no.  But it's just a guess.

9)  Sean has once again done an AMAZING job of restoration on this book.  Scanning all the raw materials for the cover and getting him to reconstruct it from scratch makes it a real jaw dropper compared to what I mocked up and Gerhard threw together on computer twenty years ago.

The capo di tutti capo is the shot that Gerhard did of the Upper City seen through the Peacock Stained Glass window.  No conscious recollection that he had used white Letratone on the Upper City.

It should all be "in there" when Marquis uses the new paper.

But, really, every page is like a revelation of what was actually there in the artwork or the negative.

10)  Arresting moment when I mention that there's "nine years and eleven months" to the end of the book at the time I was writing 186.  9-11 had absolutely zero resonance with anything in 1994.

 11) I was REALLY, REALLY worried that Love would arrive in my life and throw me off course although I only really admitted that in the last couple of pages.  Considering that I connected with Susan "Dave Sim's Last Girlfriend" Alston about a month after writing 186 and was definitely Seriously Smitten for the first time in a while and that the relationship lasted the better part of four years, I think I must have sensed that "something was up ahead" and "single Dave" better get all this down on paper before I got dragged to the other side of the fence.

12) I know there are CEREBUS readers who buy every printing of the trades.  Can someone let Sean know what printing of READS this is?  WAS the most recent printing in 2001?  It's one of the last holes that needs plugging.


Anonymous said...

Question, Dave:

Your "nine years and eleven months" reminded me of the many instances in which you've noted the passage of time between events, and numbers correlating in some way to another fact. I've heard of (but don't know anything about) Numerology -- is that what you're demonstrating? Is this tied in with the "comic-book metaphysics" you'll be focused on in SDOAR? If so, how?

How are you assessing if the similarities are significant enough to have meaning? What's the screening process? Or do you start with the assumption that there IS significance, it just needs to be discovered?

Hope all is well up there in the 519!

Representing the 360 (Yo),

--Claude Flowers

Erick said...

In the Warriors of Spider written by W.Michael Gear he posed said that God - known as Spider created us to observe our life experiences so that he - Spider could grow from it.

Michael G. in Mission Viejo said...

Hi, Dave!

Got the postcard on Wednesday 5/25 in southern California. Stunning. I was surprised by how large it is, and pleasantly surprised that it sustained no postal damage on its way here. Thanks for offering a nice premium like that for those who can't afford an entire portfolio.

al roney said...

Back in the "olden times" when I was reading Cerebus as it hit the stands (say around 112/113 and up), I was far more religious than I am now...

...these days I'm vehemently opposed to "religion", but yet I firmly believe that there is a higher power, a God, or whatever we pea-brained humans need to call IT for our own comprehension. But Islam? Judeo-Christianity? Or any of these so-called faiths (men with silly hats?) dominating the planet. Pass.

I'm happy for Dave (not that he cares what I or anybody else thinks/feels, nor should he) that he's found his faith. I'm even happier that he really isn't that sort of guy that wants to use it to control others. A good thing.

Dave, I believe, respects our own journey in finding that truth or TRUTH.


Dave? You seemed to be one of those guys who was protesting a wee bit too much about God, religion and the rest. Church and State? C'mon man - you so wanted to believe.

A true atheist wouldn't devote so much time, effort, energy or his entire vocation - challenging, questioning, eviscerating etc.

I guess what I'm trying to say is your enlightenment, discovery, conversion, (I'm grasping here?) came as no surprise at all to me. Easy to say now I know.

It would have been a MUCH greater surprise if the Dave from issue 80, 150 or 186 was still the same guy at 250, 290 or 300.

I can't say I enjoyed all of Cerebus (I didn't - but I did read every single word and am going through another complete pass again - Jaka's Story) but I can say it was, by far, THE BEST literary journey I even embarked upon and, most importantly, the most honest.

Thank You.

whc03grady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
whc03grady said...

"God was certain that I would become an extremely devout monotheist (since that's what happened and God is omniscient)."

So much for free will :/


Dave Sim said...

Hi Claude - What Eddie Khanna and I have assembled is a massive pile of facts that seem to interconnect and relate to each other and what I'm doing is writing a story that connects them OR points out the connections between them (depending on your point of view).

The FLOOD of facts has tapered off, but we're still finding new things that need to be investigated. The King Features text serial, JAN AND BILL, that Stan Drake illustrated before his nervous breakdown being the most recent Eddie turned up and which is occupying most of his time (it's arguably the longest running serialized narrative in human history, dwarfing CEREBUS).

Once I'm done my RIP KIRBY Commentaries (I'm working on January 1950 right now) then I start going through the pile of facts and picking out AAA+ material first (This HAS to be in there!). Then I look at the final inventory of AAA+ material and decide "Okay, is this IT?" That is, does it make sense going through and looking for AAA- and AA+ material? Or would that constitute "gilding the lily"?

I won't know until I get there.

If that IS it, then I would start photocopying images that distill the points, pasting up pages and getting someone -- or several someones -- to draw them.

But not until I'm 100% SURE that this is ALL of SDOAR in raw, sequential form.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Claude again! No it isn't Numerology. A genuine Numerologist would have kittens, I'm sure. It's a matter of 9 and 11 having meaning now that it didn't have in 1994. So when I see 9 and 11 twenty-one years later establishing the distance between CEREBUS 186 and CEREBUS 300, I note it, having completely forgotten it.

Dave Sim said...

al roney - Thank YOU!! Jeez, I can't ask for a better credential than that!

Dave Sim said...

Mitch - I don't consider free will and determinism mutually exclusive. Far from it. Presumably God as the only omniscient Being experiences Reality as a single event. Time, our fourth dimension, is a single event to God. When Satan shows the Synoptic Jesus "all the kingdoms of the world" as the KJV puts it "in a moment of time", the literal Greek phrase is "in puncture of time".

So, for God, all existence from the Big Bang to the Big Dissipation is a single snapshot. My entire life and your entire life are enacted as a single snapshot/event. This is what we will do because this what we always did. I became a devout monotheist because I always became a devout monotheist. I was an atheist from here to here and a devout monotheist from here to here. I could decide today to change my mind and become a heroin addict and spend all my money on heroin. If I do, that's what I always did.

That is, what God has engineered for us is a context where we experience time as a series of events and he's given us free will. You could go to the bank right now and take out half of your money and give it to the Catholic Church. That's free will. IF you did that, that would be something that you always did. That's determinism.

The point (I think) is what do you do CONSISTENTLY and HOW consistent are you? I can't remember the last time I missed a prayer time. I'm not even late very often. Well, okay, that's part of my Record. 17 years of praying five times a day.

Is this what God wants me to do? No idea. I'm not God. This is what I THINK God wants me to do, so this is what I do.

Gandhi's one ambition in life was to die with God's name on his lips. Presumably, bullet-riddled, that's what he did. Because that's what he always did.

Dave Sim said...

Mitch - It's a distinction between Life as Comedy and Life as Tragedy. For God it's a Comedy because he knows how it turns out. "All's well that ends well". Bad things happen because of bad free will choices. Each Bad Event can be traced to bad choices. If you make enough bad choices, you stay HERE when the sun collapses on itself instead of returning to God. On Judgement Day that will be inescapably apparent to each of us. You turned away from God and enjoyed the life He gave you to the full. Knowing exactly what you were doing ("Came not your warner to you?").

OR You turned back to God and are now returning to Him.

It was your choice to make because he allowed you free will and decision making every second of every day that you experience life. At any point you could have changed your mind and didn't or changed your mind and did. If you live to age 84 and never change your mind, then what you will see (I think) on Judgement Day 84 years of missed opportunities. A lot of "punctures in time" completely under YOUR jurisdiction and control.

Choose wisely is my advice.