Sunday, 9 October 2016

Dave Sim: An Artist No More?

Dave Sim's Right Hand
(August 2015)

(from an interview at Comic Book Resourses, posted on 3 October 2016)
...I haven't been able to draw since February of 2015. There's something wrong with my wrist that makes drawing impossible, particularly at the level I was drawing at doing The Strange Death of Alex Raymond. I could maybe do head sketches of Cerebus, but I'm just trying to keep the wrist as stabilized as possible...

...The left wrist is in the worst condition, now. I definitely have what Charles Schulz used to have, which is essential tremor in the left hand. I'm hoping to keep it out of the right hand by keeping the right hand in a brace and really babying it. We're talking about such a fine, delicate spot in the wrist that I really don't trust anything that a doctor would tell me about it. Unless they treated Al Williamson or Neal Adams or Stan Drake, somebody who did those really tiny, fine little lines, they're not treating somebody who has the same occupational needs...

Dave Sim's Right Hand
(October 2015)

(from 'Comments' posted on A Moment Of Cerebus, 8 October 2016)
...I've got an actual tremor in my left hand when it's rotated roughly 120 degrees out of its "rest" position. I'd attribute that more to the fact that I use my left hand for pretty much everything these days.

The right hand is stabilized. I've always got the brace on it and I don't use it when I don't need to (which is most of the time -- this is the only time I type with it, switching to left-handed exclusively when the right wrist tightens up). The clinic in Chicago offered a few possibilities of what it could be in their written report and I have their MRI scan. I WAS going to go to Texas and have someone else look at it, but "T", my art patron, wanted me to send him the Chicago results to show to the specialist he knows.

Well, no.

If I see the specialist in Texas and compare what HE says with what the Chicago clinic says. And then get a third opinion and compare Texas and Chicago with that one and there's any point of intersection, between the three then -- THEORETICALLY -- there's some basis for saying, "Okay, that's possibly it." If the three opinions are completely different, I'm inclined to think they're just guessing.

That's the last I heard from "T". From which I infer: "No Chicago results, no specialist".

So that's where that rests.

But, jumping on from there... 

I definitely have pain between the two joints on the middle finger of my left hand. Arthritis, I infer. Which raised the question: well, let's say that I get a diagnosis on either hand. What am I going to do about it?

Drugs? No. Definitely not. Surgery? No. Definitely not. Steroid injections? No. Definitely not.

That pretty much exhausts the possibilities.

I was a writer-artist and now I'm a writer.

Fine by me. 


Erick said...

Dave, I am sorry to hear that your hands are continuing to have problems that prevent you from drawing. It seems that you are searching for a diagnosis/treatment that would preclude the most commonly prescribed remedies. While that is not what I would choose to do, I do not fault you for taking such an approach. I have had family members who decided against traditional and or aggressive treatment - albeit for life threatening illnesses, for fear of what they may lose in the process. While I disagreed in most cases, I understood. As far as i can tell, you are not facing a life threatening illness, but you certainly are facing a life altering event.

I wish you the best no matter what course you decide on

Anonymous said...

While I wouldn't wish to intrude, I wonder what the objections to 'traditional' treatments are in this case. I can see why surgery would not be desired because of the potential complications, but in the case of most meds for most people, there are very few that would be an issue here, depending on the exact diagnosis/treatment.
As to steroid injections, I can attest that they are about 50% useful. I have had 4 now for 2 different issues, and they worked on 2 of the issues, but not the other 2. In this based on the pics in the post, it honestly looks like they would want to combine injections and oral meds (oral steroids as well as some kind of nerve pain med like gabapentin)
Generally any side effects from those are rare and very minor--increase in blood sugar-usually lasting the term of the treatment or less, and muscle soreness--usually lasting only the first few days after starting.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Sigh -- Dave's his own worst enemy sometimes. I would maintain that, contrary to his self-description, he was always "an artist who writes" rather than "a writer who draws". This is like amputating a major part of his creativity. A real shame, but let's hope he continues to write (and collaborate) as best he can. I still hope to see Strange Death someday.

-- Damian

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the resistance to treatment. At the worst, drawing will still not be possible, which seems to be what Dave has settled into accepting. At best, drawing will be possible again and Dave can fully do what he presumably enjoys about his work. So, I agree that he seems to be his own worst enemy, choosing to be contrarian even in cases where there is a strong possibility of coming out ahead

Jeff Seiler said...

Just as an aside, Anon., at least Damian (with whom I disagree about 98% of the time) signs his name when he denigrates Dave. I have no problem with negative input here about Dave (so long as it is not deeply personal nor fictitious), but I do have a problem with negative input posted anonymously.

As a flipside, I am regularly castigated as blindly supporting and cheerleading for Dave, 110%, (which I don't do--just ask Dave), but I always sign my full, real name.

Just sayin'.

And, may I add, each person's decisions about their personal medical treatment, or refusal thereof, is their own to make, so long as they are of sound mind. Ergo, leave it to him.

Do I wish he could get rehabilitative or fully corrective treatment? Sure! But, I also fully understand his mistrust of medical treatment in Canada, specifically, and elsewhere, generally. And, the kind of treatment he would need, most likely, if he got it in the U.S., might likely bankrupt him.

Again--his decision.

Jeff Seiler said...

Oops! Most likely -- might likely...

Take your pick!

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Sheesh, Jeff, you don't have a thin skin; you have no skin. I do not think a rational person would judge the above comments to constitute "denigrating Dave".

Jan Hikikomori Karlsson said...

If it were me that had Dave's skills and his current problems with his hands I would look at it this way:

1. The problems with the hands is stalling the ability to draw, but writing is still possible.
2. Having surgery (or whatever other treatment is required) would have two generalized outcomes:
i. The surgery is successful. Artistic abilities restored enough to draw, or is fully restored.
ii. Surgery is unsuccessful. Artistic abilities are not restored, writing abilities are maintained (there are many people that write without the use of hands).
3. If outcome (i.), then work writing and drawing can continue. This is a positive outcome.
4. If outcome (ii.), then work writing can continue but work drawing is not generally possible. This is not a negative outcome, it is the staus quo.
5. If, as Dave appears to be saying, the ability to draw will never be restored without medical intervention and he is resigned to just writing from now on, then having the surgery and it being unsuccessful would make no difference to his current creative situation.

Logically, if one has two options; Positive Change/No Change, then going with positive change option should be preferred.

As Dave's writing abilities would not be adversely affected (again, many people are able to write without the use of their hands. Terry Pratchett, prior to his passing, was still able to write despite his inability to type. Dr Hawking is still able to write despite his well known difficulties.) and Dave has resigned himself to just being a writer from now on, then, surely, he has nothing to lose by having medical treatment?

al roney said...

If it were me I'd have the surgery - but I'm me and Dave's Dave.

That said, if finances are tight (and it seems they are), and $ is needed, Dave's ability to write AND draw increases his ability to earn immensely.

While he can earn from writing alone, it's usually a one and done proposition, and a pretty stacked field. The ability to draw, and do it well? Not so much.

People will, and have, paid Dave for drawings, sketches, commissions etc.

A writing sample? Not gonna happen.

Get it done Dave, if not for anything else but that added layer of financial security.

al roney said...

I'd add to my comment above that instead of "surgery", to start with the least invasive procedure and go from there...

...and FWIW Jeff, I saw nothing wrong with what Damian wrote at all.

Honestly, if Dave were my friend I'd probably tell him to knock off the BS and get his damn hand fixed - there's too much talent there to let it just wither.

He could then tell me to kiss off and that would be fine too. We're all adults now aren't we?

Sandeep Atwal said...

I think Dave should learn how to draw with his feet.

Tony Dunlop said...

Actually, remember what Matisse did late in life? Sort of what Dave's already doing, with CIH?

Jeff Seiler said...

Hmm. Interesting comparison, Tony. Very insightful.

Tony again said...

Aw, shucks.

Dave Sim said...

Well, okay good example: At the clinic the doctor told me he was giving me a steroid injection. Well, okay. I know enough to be wary but let's actually experience it. Told me that the wrist would feel numb and then a few hours later it would start to hurt -- like a flu shot. Well, I've never had a flu shot, but okay, I'll take your word for it. Well, we skipped the few hours of numb and went straight to REALLY REALLY painful.

So, right away: what you said was going to happen DIDN"T happen. And you didn't say "Some people have this happen and other people have that happen." No, it was THIS is what's going to happen. And you were wrong.

And then "T" in Texas goes (completely incredulous as a surgeon) "WHAYYY (Texas accent) would they give you a steroid injection? You want to get a DAAYAAAgNOWSIS FARST!"

Well. Okay. That isn't what happened.

It just seems like crackpot juju stuff when you can't even get the basics right.

No offence to those of you with abiding faith in crackpot juju stuff!