Saturday, 9 July 2016

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Okay, I’m going to break with my standard for these posts and (briefly) return to posting my letter first (which, by the way, does include a dialogue between Dave and me) as a way of leading into Dave’s response. I think that it’s the only way this makes sense. All of this centers around the (now) ridiculous row that arose from the idea of posting the "I don’t believe Dave Sim is a misogynist" petition. Oh, and I should add, this was all by fax, which Dave (and others, but not me) wanted to do for (I think) the purpose of communicating more quickly. I found it to be more difficult, as I did not own a fax machine. I *still* prefer writing letters, although I did move on to typing them on the QWERTY thingy, rather than writing them out by hand. Although, my most recent letters to Dave have been handwritten. ANYWAY, here are the exchanges from May 9th, 2008.


[From me:] 
Dave---Here is what I posted on the Yahoo [Ed: the Yahoo Cerebus chat group, the immediate precursor of AMOC; it still exists, albeit in a moribund form] group. The first part is a post by Larry H. I had been away for a week, due to Internet access restrictions. I think that my response stands well without elaboration to you, at this time. Please send your response to fax number XXX-XXX-XXXX, ℅ [Ed: name deleted]. [Jeff] T. emailed me instructions for faxing via email, which will make it much easier (and less expensive) to exchange faxes with you, but I haven’t yet had time to set that up. Maybe next week.

[Ed: What follows is the Yahoo chat group post by Larry H., which I prefaced with the heading “Man, oh, man, oh, man”. Larry posted:]

Ordinarily, I’d concede your point, but when the original posting comes with a “only answer in this particular form, and I won’t be replying to any responses”, followed by Seiler’s caution not to respond at all until we’ve been apprised of the associated disclaimers (of which HE is, of course aware, but hasn’t yet deigned to let us in on), then even you, Rick [Rick S., a regular poster at the Yahoo group], have to acknowledge that it’s more humorous to see the dodging being done by those “posing” the question.

Mix liberally (heh) with the fact that a few weeks ago, those of us who chimed in with actual discussion over the nuances implied in the question (the implied question being, “Do you believe those who DO think Dave is a you-know-what have solid ground for thinking so?” and the more interesting question being, “If we really learn and internalize and apply the lessons Dave promotes in {title of book not to be mentioned ever in this context on the Internet}, does it not make it harder to deny the applicability of the you-know-what to what Dave is?”) were told in no uncertain terms that we were doing irreparable harm to Dave and ruining this list [Ed: Larry was referring to the chat group with the word “list”.]. So, no, I’m not stepping in that one again. Sort of.

Even though the quick-easy answer to the question is that I don’t believe Dave Sim is a misogynist.

Larry H.


OKAY. So, then, continuing my fax to Dave about Larry’s post, I went on, thusly:

-----Head; desk. Pound repeatedly until I internalize the lesson.

Don’t put something up like what I did last Thursday and then take a week off. Okay: First, I waited to “deign” to tell everyone because I was deferring to Margaret to put the “wiki” (as Dave called it) up, as she was the first one to whom Jeff T. passed the baton. She emailed me that she would try to do it on Saturday (May 3rd) and would let me know. Well, she put it up, but not in the format that Dave wanted it (although she did put it up in a way that is accessible by non-group-members, which *is* what Dave wanted).

Here is the actual text of what I wrote to Dave when Jeff T. emailed me all of the correspondence between Chet [Ed: Chester Brown] and Dave, and Dave and him [Ed: Jeff T.]. In that email exchange between Jeff T. and me, I volunteered to put the “wiki” up and Jeff T. told me that he had first passed it on to Margaret. In the meantime, here is what I wrote about that to Dave, with his response embedded in text:

“Hi, Dave! I received and have read the lengthy correspondence between you, Chet, and Jeff T. I suspect he [Jeff T.] was willing to send it to me because he knew how I would respond--with this fax.

[Ed: The fax to which I referred:] “Re: Your fax to Jeff T. dated 24 April: I don’t know what you mean by a ‘wiki’ at the Yahoo group, but I’m more than willing to do that in his stead.”

Dave responds: “When it’s up and running I’d like it to be open to everyone--not just the group (if possible on the Yahoo Newsgroup home page?). Maybe?”

Me: “I could use the form letter…”

Dave: “Not necessary?”

Me: “and create a ‘poll’ at the group that would just let people sign their name *if they affirm* the statement, ‘I don’t believe that Dave Sim is a misogynist.”

Me: “Given the discussions between you and Chet and Jeff T., I would suggest adding, ‘or a sexist’ to the above prompt.”

Dave: “Check.”

Me: “I would create the ‘poll’ or ‘wiki’ so that no one could comment or confabulate. Just affirm and sign.”

Dave: “Check.”

So, I think it’s pretty clear that that’s what Dave wanted to be done with this. Margaret’s very well-meaning attempt includes a place for affiliation *and* for posting anonymously, which I think I can say is precisely *not* what Dave was asking for.

Regardless of the fact that so many people here are going to jump all over my pointy little head for posting this, I *must* say that I had agreed to put the “wiki” or “poll” up the way that Dave had requested it. And, I have yet to find a way to see the results of the iPetition thus far, although I have seen that someone’s very inappropriate response was deleted by Margaret. [Ed: I was wrong here. As of the writing of this letter, there were 52 signees at the iPetition.]

Dave had a very good point with what Jeff T. wrote, not because what he wrote was bad, but because in just the first incarnation of what Dave wanted, it was already changed. The fact that Margaret’s iPetition allows for comments *and* anonymity, is just a further illustration of what Dave was talking about.

In Dave’s response to Jeff T., he said that Jeff T. could feel free to post his version, but that it was not the version that Dave was requesting. I’m sure that he would say the same to Margaret about her iPetition, but it’s not what he wanted.

I’m going to copy this post and put it in a fax to Dave today. I’ll let you guys know what he says.

Please be aware that I am not attempting to censor anyone here, nor am I trying to squelch a free and open discussion (as has clearly occurred, in spades) of the questions that *you guys* want raised, but am only pointing out that the result of the iPetition has gone exactly in the way that Dave predicted that it would *and* has not accomplished what Dave wanted.

And, before you jump on me for my statement to Dave, “no comment or confabulation”, you should know that the reason I said that (and, I suspect, why he agreed) is that allowing for comment and confabulation would have taken this thing exactly in the direction in which it has gone.

So, now; fire away.

Jeff Seiler

P.S.: On the iPetition site, one must enter full name and email address. Then one may click a button to post anonymously. And then there is a box labeled “affiliation”, which effectively works as a comment box. Thus far, only I have commented with, “I do not believe that Dave Sim is a misogynist or a sexist.” I do think that my points above stand, though.

P.P.S.: I read your comments to Rick S., as well. I thought sharing your fax to me might clarify things.


Dave’s response, by fax, dated 9 May, 2008, 15:45 p.m., CST. This was sent to my then girlfriend’s work fax number, as I did not have a fax machine. Thus, Dave’s handwritten note to her at the top of the letter:

“Hi, XXXX! Jeff said I should fax this ℅ you. I don’t want to get you in trouble at work, so if this is in any way a problem, feel free to tell me to knock it off. --Dave”

To: Rick S. and Jeff Seiler

Hi, Rick and Jeff:

Dead silence all day and then you both came in literally seconds apart.

No, I don’t really need to see a lot of this, but a sampling is always nice Archive-wise. I’ve just spent four days on one page for glamourpuss No. 3, so that’s obviously more where my attention has been.

I think it’s working pretty well so far. The people who have believed that I have all of this incredible support in the comics field, close friends in the upper ranks of creativity and publishing, etc., can see that my total support amounts to 50 people. So, that’s good. That’s reality. That’s what I’m looking for.

On the other side of the fence, it shows that there are 50 people who don’t believe that thinking the Impossible Things [Ed: The 15 (now 16) Impossible Things To Believe Before Breakfast) to be Impossible Things means that I hate women. That’s good, too. That, as well, is reality. I mean, it seems to me that’s where Gail’s [Ed: I believe, here, that Dave referred to comics writer Gail Simone, who is an avowed feminist, and who once, I’m proud to say, actually apologized to me (in a personal email) for haranguing me on the Internet when she had misunderstood or misinterpreted something I had posted.] peculiar profanity-laced profession of theatrical hilarity is coming from: like Heidi MacDonald, even one person not absolutely shunning me constitutes a personal affront to THEM. “Look at how funny I find you! Look at how I’m laughing at you!” But, it doesn’t read as funny, it reads like computer rage. So, that’s good, too. Everyone who won’t count themselves with the 50 is basically saying “Gail is right” or having to confront that this is the sort of person they’ve chosen to enable by remaining silent, this is the voice of the Comic Book Consensus, by abstention.

The most important thing is that anyone on the Internet is able to sign the statement or not sign it. The other important thing is that people can take their names down if they change their minds as the discussion -- er, “discussion” -- evolves.

The bottom line for me was: there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I looked at the pile of 60 or 70 letters that had built up over the last three months and I realized NONE of those people was willing to stand up and say that they didn’t think I was a misogynist. So why would I invest three or four days of work answering all of them?

Well, it turned out I was wrong. Out of the 60 or 70 form letters I sent out, 5 or 6 people WERE willing to say that they don’t believe I’m a misogynist. I was able to answer all of those letters in an hour or two and then spend all of my time writing and drawing. When I consider how many hours I would have wasted on the other 50 or 60 people...

...yes, I think this is working very well, indeed.




Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

I think the best use of Dave's time was always writing and drawing.

-- Damian

Steve said...


Hasn't this poor horse been flogged enough?

Reminds me of a verse in Proverbs, something along the lines of 'someone who keeps repeating a matter will separate even close friends'.


Craig Johnson said...

To be fair these letters are from 2008, Jeff's re-presentation of his communications with Dave at that time.

Also to be fair to Dave, his replies tended not to be of the knocked off, one line sort - I only wrote in three or four times, and each time received back some very densely typed pages in reply, into which clearly a lot of thought had gone. No other comics creator that I'm aware of treats his or her fans like that, and I can well believe 50-60 hours of work lost to "just" answering the mail. If people wouldn't offer Dave the respect to sign the petition, then it's perfectly fair IMHO for him not to offer up hours of his time to give them the respect in answering their messages so thoroughly.

I always felt guilty in writing to him that I was dragging him away from creating comics!