Monday 18 May 2020

Wait, if I'm doing Aardvark Comment does this mean we're near the end of AMOC?

Hi, Everybody!

As I'm sure you are all aware, yesterday was Dave's Birthday. Here's my card to him:

Now back to:
Mail there, or just Fax: 519 576 0955. Or email me at and I'll take care of it.

Not "Adams" on left, Adam on right.
Adam Beechen's Hench is available from Amazon. (Which is were his website sends you.) Most recently, Adam wrote an eight-page story featured in the 'ROBIN 80th Anniversary Special' for DC.
[I read it, it's a good story -Matt]

Adam's question to Dave (which Dave wants reposted.):
CEREBUS continues to stagger me in many ways, but one of the most profound is its sheer size and the duration of its production. You did it. Like you said you would from the very beginning. Twenty-six years. Three hundred monthly issues. Like clockwork. All of those issues fit into the larger narrative framework, the characters are consistent (and if they change, it’s a sense of evolution, not an arbitrary left turn – It’s all motivated), and I never have the sense that you “took an issue off” here and there.
Your work on CEREBUS strikes me as a pretty unbelievable act of commitment, conviction, determination, sheer will, imagination and love. I work on a contract-to-contract basis. I write a script for this show as a freelancer, and then I move to that show and write a script for it. If I’m under contract to produce or story-edit a series, it’s for a limited period of a couple years at the absolute most. All of which suits me fine – I enjoy playing in other creators’ sandboxes. And I respond well to deadlines placed upon me, much better than I do to self-imposed deadlines. But after a few years on the same series, I can itch for new material on which to work. 
Of course, I’ve never sold a series I created, and I might feel otherwise if that were the case. I hope I get to find out. Even so, I’d like to tell so many different kinds of stories over the course of my career, featuring many different kinds of characters. I don’t know that I could come up with a “vessel” of a framework story that could encompass all of them, the way CEREBUS encompassed multiple stories of a range of styles (illustrative and textual), all the while maintaining the central thread of Cerebus’ journey. If I did, there would probably still be times when I wondered if the narrative grass wasn’t greener somewhere else. 
So, my question(s) to you becomes this (these): 
Do you have a sense of where that drive, that commitment, within you comes from? And how hard or easy was it to maintain over the course of the 26 years? 
Was there ever a time when you wanted to just walk away entirely before reaching 300? 
If so, how did you overcome it? Did you have mornings when you sat down at the drawing table and just said, “Ugh. I am just not in the mood for this.” If so, how did you fight through that? 
Was there a time when you thought, “No one’s forcing me to do this every day, every month, every year. I’ll just take a couple months off. Just a couple. I’ll come back rejuvenated and get right back into it.” If so, what kept you from heading down that path? 
Were you ever seriously tempted to step away from CEREBUS, temporarily or purposely, to pursue other projects that you’d either create or that someone else had created? 
In short, how did you cope with CEREBUS fatigue and outside distraction? 
If these are questions you’ve answered a hundred times before elsewhere, I apologize – I haven’t seen or heard those interviews – and I hope the way I’ve asked them here might give you a different approach or angle to answering them than you’ve had previously.

Dave Sim's answer to Adam Beechen's fourfold question above is being serialized this week on AMOC.  Link to PART ONE.  This is PART TWO.

Dave Sim
Dave Sim is the creator of Cerebus the Aardvark, which ran for three hundred issues from December 1977 to March 2004 (and is available digitally here.) His latest project is The Strange Death of Alex Raymond (a fundraising Edition is available, details on how to get it here. And there is a Kickstarter for the Remastered version of Cerebus #1. His OTHER latest project is the ongoing Cerebus in Hell? (Daily strips are posted here, and the next #1 is Green Dante/Green Virgil (which should be in stores by the end of the month)). And every Friday he posts a video "update".


MAJOR DIGRESSION: Someone sent me (through Powell's Books in Chicago) the new SPARRING WITH GIL KANE book, which I'm sort of reading. I only opened it because I thought that the first interview with Gil would be in there and I wanted to reread JIGSAW PUZZLE PIECE #2 to see if it was as I remembered it. 

Gary Groth did that first TCJ interview with Gil and it's THE definitive Gil interview (eclipsing the Alter Ego Gil interview which had been the gold standard for comics pro interviews  to that point and which had been typeset to look like a PLAYBOY interview --we were all children of the PLAYBOY interview back then) and it's not in there.

SPARRING WITH GIL KANE is mostly what I would describe as the later, excessive Gil Kane. 

Instead of starting with that great Gil interview, it starts with Gil at the point where he would literally say things like: he imagined himself looking down on all of his peers.  The book isn't without what I would call "accidental merits". I might write a review of it. This might be that review because it connects so strongly with what you're asking about, Adam, and I'm stuck in an SDOAR cul de sac for the moment. 

Partway in, I started skipping what Gary and Gil had to say and just reading what the other people had to say, referring to Gary and Gil's words only when I needed to get the context.  Skipping over those parts really improved the reading experience for me.  As an example, with the Gil and Gary parts included, the 1980 conversation with Denny O'Neil was a combination Quality Lit Biz attack piece and a People's Republic of Comics Journal Kafkaesque thought-police inquisition.  "Citizen O'Neil, you have been brought here and charged and found guilty in absentia of NOT BEING HARVEY KURTZMAN. How do you plead?"

Whereas if you just read what Denny O'Neil had to say, it's a very lucid explanation of how the mainstream comic-book field works and how, in fact, publishing and editing work per se (not just in comics) in the real world in 1980. O'Neil responds by dealing with the comic-book field's structural underpinnings which, for Denny O'Neil, was the lived experience of a comics-writer-turned-mainstream-writer-and-comics-editor.  You can't divorce the creative field from the business field -- Elvis and Colonel Parker -- past the fanzine level. The creative and business side interact by definition. O'Neil is ten years past Green Lantern/Green Arrow but with nothing to apologize to ANYONE for when it comes to creating and facilitating and enabling quality work (not in the least, as the relatively new editor on the then-new Mckenzie-Miller Daredevil). He's balancing his interior Elvis and his interior Colonel Parker the same as Gil Kane is, just in different ways.  It isn't Who's right? Or it shouldn't be in order to bear fruit in the reader. It's Which balance most resonates with the interested reader?

Credit where it is due, though. The fact that O'Neil, here, is as sharp and concise about the balance between art and commerce is because Gil is the first artist in comics to speak primarily about these sorts of structural issues.  What comics are structurally, which virtually no one else was doing at the time. Or since. Which means that you get very good structural observations from the other participants in SPARRING WITH GIL KANE.  Usually with elements of "why I don't think I should be automatically ruled out as a candidate for your pantheon"  as a minor key (the pantheon is Gil's and Gary's idiosyncratic focus) and "Hmm. That's interesting. What would my version of that be?" as a major key.     

Robert Crumb (1986) sums up the Gil Kane conundrum neatly:  "I have to admit that listening to you [Gil Kane] talk is much more interesting than looking at your work, to me." 

(Jeez, who let "Grandpa" format this thing...)

And Dave's response to Al Nickerson's response to Dave's last response (THIRD BASE!):

And then:
Al Nickerson is a comic book artist, writer, and self-publisher. Al is an alumnus of the School of Visual Arts. He has been a professional comic book artist since 1994 for folks such as Warp Graphics, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Archie Comics. As an animator and designer, Al worked for Sesame Street, MTV Animation, Nickelodeon, and Marvel Entertainment. He has self-published creator-owned comic books including THE ARGGH!!! CHRONICLES 2000 EDITION and NIHILIST-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS. Al is currently self-publishing THE SWORD OF EDEN graphic novel (

May 16, 2020 

Hi Dave,

In Will Eisner’s Sequential Art class at SVA, I was very much aware of how Will was interested in discussing the making of comics, the history of comics, and the business of comics. He was always passionate about the form and very optimistic about the future of comics (Sequential Art). And, yet, his students (or me, anyway) knew very little about Will’s family life. As a student, I didn’t even know that Will was a parent. Not that that was any of my business, of course. But, it is interesting what sort of topics one is willing to share and discuss with others… depending on the particular audience.

Will Eisner was very much an artist and very much a businessman. If people know anything about Will, then they know what I mean. 
Concerning the stuff I added to THE SWORD OF EDEN graphic novel: As I tell my students, if you’re gonna put stuff in your comics, then it should have some meaning to either you and/or the reader. When I’m putting graffiti on walls or drawing people in a background, I’m going to make sure that the graffiti will have meaning (to me, at least), and the background figures will be of people I know.

Making comics and graphic novels should be fun.

During the 1990s, back in my drinking days, the Liquid Lounge was the name of a good-friend’s bar in Hoboken, NJ. The Liquid Lounge was a great and fun place to frequent. It wasn't just a cool bar with 1970s and 1980s memorabilia, but it was an art gallery, as well. So, yeah, I wanted to (and did) mention the Liquid Lounge in THE SWORD OF EDEN graphic novel.

(Despite my fond memories of the Liquid Lounge, I am thankful that God has taken the desire for drinking alcohol away from me.)

“Never fall in love with a bar.”

Also in the 1990s, “Dead Jelly” was the name (but never really used) of my and some friends’ band.

Yeah… there’s a lot of me in THE SWORD OF EDEN.

Thanks for the suggestion to contact the Jack Kirby folks.

On May 11th, I sent a Facebook message to Randy Hoppe (who I actually knew during my days of hanging out in Hoboken). “Rand” is the “Co-founder at the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center.” I sent him a link to your YouTube video review of THE SWORD OF EDEN. I have yet to hear back from him.

On May 12th, I sent a message via Twitter to Jillian Kirby, Jack Kirby’s daughter who oversees Kirby4Heroes (“A campaign by Jillian Kirby honoring her grandfather, Jack Kirby, by supporting the Hero Initiative”). I have yet to hear back from her.

I like the idea of your Kickstarter backers suggesting billboard ideas. (I wish I had thought of that.)

I’m very much looking forward to THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND graphic novel. The artwork that I’ve seen looks fantastic. I don’t know the story of how Alex Raymond had died. This is going to be a very enjoyable and educational read for me.

I would imagine that the desire to tell this story is due to your appreciation of Alex Raymond’s artwork, and an interest in the circumstances leading to his death. It’s wonderful seeing such a story told through a graphic novel. No costumes. No capes. Just real history.

I pray that all is well, Dave.

Solus Christus.
in Christ Jesus,
Al Nickerson Romans 5:8 (Revised Standard Version) 8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

Which Dave hasn't seen yet, since I haven't sent it up yet.

Next Time: Dave's response to Adam part three.

1 comment:

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...

So, I tracked down the interview with Gil Kane that Dave was looking for. It's from The Comics Journal #38 (February 1977). Here's the (to me) fucked up part. The Comics Journal started out as The Nostalgia Journal, and changed names with issue #32. And didn't go to a magazine format until issue #37. Making issue #38 (the one with the interview with Gil Kane Dave wanted) the SECOND issue of The Comics Journal as we know it. (But this early in the proceedings, it's fairly obvious that The Comics Journal was just a fancy fanzine.)

(And, YES I scanned and sent Dave the interview...)