Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Cerebus-Ending Crisis: Can We Keep Going? - Part 1

A Portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints with Exclusive Commentary by Dave Sim
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel 



In answer to our Kickstarter Survey Question "Do you have any suggestions for future Cerebus Kickstarter campaigns?" Greg G of Los Angeles, California wrote:
I have two: 1) for the portfolios, for God's sake let Dave choose the ten pages he most wants to talk about for each book, rather than going with the ten earliest. Ten earliest makes zero sense...

1) Thank you, Greg, for this opportunity to clarify the situation with my commenting on the first ten pages of each trade paperback -- a comment/concern you had in common with John M. of Olathe KS, Russel D. of Naperville IL and Barry D. of Portland OR (and thanks to all four of you for your continuing financial support as Pledge Partners!) -- and how that affects and pertains to the more generally imminent "CEREBUS-Ending Crisis" we're in and have been in since July of this year.

[Essentially, in July we got to the same point we had gotten to in July 2012 when I decided that it just wasn't possible to keep going. Just before the first Kickstarter, which then made it APPEAR to be possible to keep going and which continues to APPEAR to make it possible to keep going. APPEARANCES can, however, be deceiving as I had to inject $40,000 of my own money into the company just to pay the bills and get us out of July. Which was something that I had resolved not to do in 2012. I was willing to keep Aardvark-Vanaheim going as long as there were sufficient AARDVARK-VANAHEIM revenues to do so. That $40,000 plus revenues from Diamond and the $27,000 from the CAN5 Kickstarter got us through August, September and half of October, when again, I've had to pay bills from a "line of credit" I have on my life insurance: the money that is supposed to pay for nursing care if I a) live that long and b) need it and c) finance Aardvark-Vanaheim when I'm dead ]

I apologize in advance for how much space and time it's going to take to reply to your suggestion.

First, I'm afraid I don't "want" -- in the sense of "have a desire" -- to talk about any of the pages. Or CEREBUS itself for that matter. When I look at CEREBUS I just see this really unfortunate... let me go out on a limb, here: masterwork... that Gerhard and I created at the exact wrong moment in human history: the onset of the feminist steamroller.

I can't -- nor would I want to if I could -- separate CEREBUS from its context. CEREBUS was, as you suggest, created as a work that aspired to the stature of Literature (in your point 2) which I'll be getting to in the coming days).

I appreciate VERY MUCH your recognizing that.

Like any work of intended Literature it was created to reflect and comment upon the world I was born into. Unfortunately, it also reflected and commented upon the world that was thrust upon me at the age of 14 and the world I inhabited for the 26-year history of its creation: the dawning years of the Feminist Theocracy steamroller.

That intention was -- and is -- one thing.

The other thing is that I created CEREBUS as an aspiration towards Truth. And if I couldn't attain to Truth (and, really, who could besides God?) as my attempt to attain to Reality. One aspect of that Reality is, I'm pretty sure, inescapable: that my honest reaction when I'm writing the NOTES for a CEREBUS ARCHIVE Portfolio or when I'm responding to people's comments here on A Moment of Cerebus or answering your suggestion (and thank you for taking the time to make it) or, in fact, when I see anything having to do with CEREBUS or think about CEREBUS anywhere or under any circumstances is:

"This is really sad: that something as sincerely intended and the product of a lot of metaphorical blood and literal sweat (though, admittedly, no tears) like CEREBUS is viewed this way. But this is the way it's viewed. As an object suitable only for the malice and knee-jerk dismissal which is so characteristic of feminism."

That is, the SITUATION seems to me to be sad. It doesn't make ME sad, because it's all I've really experienced for so long that I don't really remember my life being otherwise. But it seems to me societally sad, bespeaking the erosion of society from a structure based on multi-faceted discussion -- the bear-pit of contending philosophies -- to an imposed, totalitarian, unidimensional feminist fantasy.




Anonymous said...

Mr. J here. If you would like for me to shuffle off this mortal coil and disintegrate and leave most of my money to you...within the next few weeks, well, then, let me know.

I am familiar with but, of course, don't particularly like, a few witches who could do the job.

Just say the word.

I'm tired.

Travis Pelkie said...

Considering this is 14 parts, I'm hoping that the tl;dr summary is "things aren't bright, but we can keep going if y'all keep pledging for the Kickstarters and buying the newly remastered books and CIH?".

Which I intend to do.

D.H. Sayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D.H. Sayer said...

Is it as bleak as all that? IMO, there are plenty of literary masterpieces not getting their due, but I can't help feeling they will eventually be recognized--Cerebus among them. Maybe I'm naive but when I feel a work is superlatively strong, I always think the world will "catch up" someday. (Interesting that a lot of them have to do with "gender dynamics" or whatever euphemism you want to use, eg. Darconville's Cat, Thomas Bernhard, Mamet's Oleanna (though Mamet is already well-established, I feel this is clearly his best work and is largely ignored, as he has been ever since he rejected "liberalism"). But then again my own personal cheerleading project for Carol DeChellis Hill hasn't advanced a lot despite the fact that she wrote what many consider to be "feminist" work. In any event, I kind of shrug at other people's lack of recognizing genius work and consider it their loss, though I understand this doesn't help the creators of the work all that much. My eternal gratitude for their work is a paltry offering I know, but,at the risk of sounding solipsistic, I can say it does wonders for me on a daily basis :))

Dave Sim said...

Mr. J - Ahhh. I think we're all here "for the duration" and we just don't know how long the duration is going to be. I hope you're here for as long as you want to be here. But, then, I hope that for everyone.

As my Dad used to say to my maternal grandmother when she'd ask how much of her money she could afford to spend: "You tell me how long you're going to live and I'll tell you how much you can spend."

I appreciate your making Aardvark-Vanaheim, Inc. the prime beneficiary of your Estate -- as I would appreciate ANY CEREBUS fan mentioning Aardvark-Vanaheim, Inc. in their will.

And it IS an Aardvark-Vanaheim "thing". Restoring and Preserving CEREBUS however long and however much money that ends up requiring. Some days it seems possible and a lot of days it seems impossible.

Dave Sim, personally, I'l live with whatever I end up with.

Dave Sim said...

Travis - Yes, basically. But also trying to convey how much this is a "for the CEREBUS fans" thing. It's one of the more intimidating aspects of being "famous" -- as opposed to famous or Famous -- to see just how important something you've created is to your core audience. And that it's my responsibility to keep it alive. Which is tough with something like CEREBUS which seems determined to be dead a lot of the time!

Dave Sim said...

D.H. Sayer - I'm going to infer from that that you consider CEREBUS "genius work" -- so Thank You! Sincerely!

There are different degrees of it. I've been an "audience of one" for a number of people where I go, "Oh come ON! SOMEone else must be interested in this!" And then you find out, well, no. No one is. So you just have to be the best "audience of one" person you can. And count yourself lucky that -- while you aren't on any bestseller lists -- so far, you have enough people to keep going.

Good luck with your own personal "projects"!

Carson Grubaugh said...


I am surprised that your bleak view of the future of Cerebus comes in the midst of the biggest revolt against feminist influenced political rhetoric I have ever seen. I suspect that if promoted correctly Cerebus could be an iconic work for the current flight from the Left and anti-SJW trends that helped Trump win. (This is said with full awareness that Trump's success is largely due to using feminists 'Calvin-ball' rules against them and is thus kind of an ass-backwards, drag-em-down-to-our-level, victory for the anti-structure/objectivity aspects of feminism.)

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

I have no doubt that Dave (and Dave 'n' Ger) worked very hard on Cerebus. I also agree that it is over 6,000 pages and took almost three decades to produce. These are objective facts. "Cerebus is a masterwork" is more controversial, and "Feminists done killed it" is ludicrous.

Dave said a while ago that Cerebus to him is like the first-stage rocket booster: it got him where his is now, but it's only interesting to other people. He's also advanced the argument that you must be a good custodian of your work. As I said before, I think this series will be interesting, and I'm still hopeful.

-- Damian

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Carson: While I'm correcting the record, I should mention that your claim that the recent USAnian election was "the biggest revolt against feminist-influenced political rhetoric I have ever seen," may be true, it's not a very large claim.

There's a Republican myth being created right now that the whole country rejected Political Correctness and swung undeniably behind the conservative message. This is not true. The real figures show that Donald Trump got about the same number of votes as did Mitt Romney in the last election, while Hillary Clinton got fewer votes than did Barack Obama in the last election. So it would be an accurate opinion to say that the Republicans didn't win the election as much as the Democrats lost it.

Nor is the claim that the public as a whole has embraced Republican principles supported by facts. Half the voters didn't even bother to show up; of those that did, slightly fewer than half of them voted for the Republican candidate.

(Full disclosure: Not a Hillary Hyper, not a Trumpkin, not a Bernie Bro; not even a USAnian, so I didn't have to make a choice.)

While I like discussing politics, while I of course recognize that this isn't my blog to administer, I would like to request that people who would like to discuss, say, the recent election email me rather than comment here. One of the strengths of this blog has been that discussions -- even fractious ones -- tend to stick pretty close to Cerebus and Dave.

-- Damian

Jim Sheridan said...

Dave said of Cerebus:

"But this is the way it's viewed. As an object suitable only for the malice and knee-jerk dismissal which is so characteristic of feminism."

There are people much better informed than I am who could weigh in on this. I followed Cerebus in the early 1980s. College interrupted my comics reading; I stopped Cerebus around issue 112 or so. I got the bug again around 2004 and started getting the phonebooks. I was not spending a lot of time on the Internet; I was not a reader of The Comics Journal; I was pretty unaware of the book being controversial in the fandom / readership world for a while. As I got more into comics discussion, I learned of the controversy.

I know there was and is PLENTY of bile directed toward the gender views in Cerebus; however, and maybe it's because I don't look for it, that doesn't seem to be the sole discussion of the book anymore.

That recent Washington Post article copied to this site was not a feminist screed. The interest shown by IDW with its Cover Art book doesn't seem to show malice. The interest shown by the Fantagraphics people a few years back when Kim Thompson was trying to get Cerebus re-published didn't seem like an expression of feminist malice either.

Maybe the passage of time has allowed some people who found the gender discussion in Cerebus objectionable to step back and consider it more carefully? I know a lot of people use "Understanding Comics" as a real primer for discussing the medium, and it uses Cerebus as a reference for elements of design; I don't think it mentions any gender stuff.

I'm hoping!

Dave Sim said...

Carson - You might be right. A lot of the "man and woman in the street" commentary that I read seems to be that what impressed Trump voters was that he said what was on his mind. "At least it's out there." whether it's immigration or Islam.

Personally, though, I don't think we're "there" yet as a society. We have WAY too long a list of things you're not allowed to mention -- let alone advocate -- to describe ourselves as "freedom of speech" folks.

People have been telling me, off the record, for years that things are getting better in that area. I just don't see it.

But! You might be right.

Dave Sim said...

Jim Sheridan - Those are notable exceptions and I'm the first to acknowledge notable exceptions. Because, for me, they Glow In The Dark: no "controversial" reference; no "polarizing"reference; no "misogynistic" reference. To quote Krazy Kat: "Will wundas nevah seize?" Anytime it happens, it's a complete Wonder for me.

Extrapolating that into a "new normal" is a whole other thing, though. And I've had a lot of experience with that, as well. "This anecdotal exception refutes all that came before it."

Things REALLY don't work that way. Quite the contrary: it takes way more refuting to kill a lie than it takes to establish a lie.

Jim Sheridan said...

Dave, those notable exceptions are pretty notable though!

The Washington Post, Fantagraphics, and "Understanding Comics"? If you get approval from all 3 of those, really, I think you're doing better than most comics out there. The Washington Post is very respected mainstream "smart" media; Fantagraphics is artsy "smart" comix publishing; "Understanding Comics" is a primary book that will be read by anyone studying comics in academics.

All 3 are aces in liberal circles. All 3 are very mainstream. All 3 are very successful. They're better known than some of the sources that may have been more critical of Cerebus.

I know there are large pools of bile in the internet, but it is easy to be fooled by the appearance of popularity or noise on the internet.

The opposite is true too. I could be completely wrong because I have NOT followed this issue for as long as you and plenty of people here have; I have not walked a mile in your shoes. I'm not trying to be contrarian: I just see some pretty major sources that treat Cerebus seriously.

I have not read the collection of critical essays collected by Eric Hoffman yet, nor have I read the "Conversations" book, but these also seem to be important in terms of an author gaining critical /academic acceptance. There is a body of work devoted to Dave Sim as serious artist, not just criticizing Dave Sim as crazy guy.

Even Douglas Wolk's "Reading Comics," which struck many sour notes, still argued that you HAVE to read Cerebus to see comics at its best.

It's easy for me to say, and I do NOT see things like sales numbers or acceptance / rejection letters, but I do see plenty of evidence that Cerebus is taken seriously, is seen as pivotal in comics, is not just an object of malice for feminists.

Jack said...

Dave, I know the misogyny topic has been done to death, but I'm not sure you've ever addressed this... If you really believe that women have "no ethics, no scruples, no sense of right and wrong," then why do you even mind being called a misogynist? If someone accused me of hating people whom I considered to be completely amoral, I wouldn't mind, regardless of whether I actually experienced the emotion of hatred when I thought about those people. I mean, would you object to being called a Nazi-hater? "Our totalitarian society is smearing me by saying I despise Goebbels! That's not so; I only think he was a total sociopath!" I just don't see it.

Dave Sim said...

Jack - It's because "misogynist" implies an emotional reaction. And I don't have an emotional reaction to anything. I don't hate women and I don't hate feminists. I don't hate anyone or anything.

I don't think it's sustainable to have 86% of the women in any society out in the workforce. Your replacement birth rate plummets and instead of swimming you start to sink.

I don't know what is a sensible number of women to have in the workforce that keeps the replacement birth rate at a sustainable level but I'm pretty sure it's much less than 86%.

The fact that we, as a G7 society, aren't even looking at that seems to me a core problem.

And no, I'm not talking about banning women from the workforce. I think it will be up to women to decide how many women we can afford to have in the workforce and how many women we need to have "being fruitful and multiplying" and who gets to be which.

But, in a Feminist Theocracy, I don't anticipate us having that Very Necessary Discussion until at least a hundred years after I'm dead.

That doesn't make it any less necessary.

Jack said...

I posted something that seems to have disappeared, so I'll try again.

If "misogynist" means someone who emotionally hates women instead of just someone who has an extremely low opinion of women, then I guess I can see your objection. But would you agree that you have an extremely low opinion of women? In addition to the "no ethics or scruples" thing, you've said that women will eventually give the vote to cats, which seems to imply that you think they're complete idiots.

Joshua Leto said...


Did you really intend to say: "And I don't have an emotional reaction to anything."

Do you believe that you are emotionless? Have you ever felt an emotion? Depending on your perspective on the theories of psychology, this is entirely possible but extremely rare. I have attempted to remain emotionless in many situations, and find it impossible, so I'm fascinated by those who can do so by will or design.