Saturday 16 May 2020

Ya can't keep a good Aardvark Comment down! (Al Nickerson, Adam Beechen, and Jacob Parker)

Hi, Everybody!

As promised, the continued return of:
Mail there, or just Fax: 519 576 0955. Or email me at and I'll take care of it.

Last time
, Dave received and replied to letters from Adam Beechen and Al Nickerson.

And I have more back and forth, but Dave wants me to space it out, SO:

Dave Sim: Like seriously, if you don't know who this is, scroll around for a couple of hours and you'll get the gist...

Okay, FINE!
Seen here last year. (Photo by Khanna.)
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".

In answer to Al Nickerson, he says:

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 (

Al's response:

Al's Book: The Sword of Eden
April 27, 2002

Hi Dave,

In regards to your question concerning Will Eisner and when I had first heard Will mention his passing on Superman: I can’t pin down an exact year, but I was a student of Will’s during my last three years at SVA. That would have been from September of 1986 until May of 1989.

Other than the exact year, I do recall the conversation. At that time, I was unaware of the history of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster struggling with getting anyone interested in Superman. This was one of the reasons that I was so impressed by this tale by Will. Being a young college student, I was shocked that anyone could have passed on such a property.

Trust me. Will did talk about this in class during the late 1980s, and at least on one occasion. I even asked a bunch of my former college buddies.

Solus Christus.
in Christ Jesus,

 Al Nickerson 

Matthew 10:32-33 (Revised Standard Version): 32 So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Mr. Beechen. (He told me to call him "Adam".)

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 Beechen's response to Dave:

ADAM BEECHEN­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­                                               
Los Angeles, CA

April 25, 2020

Dear Dave:

Thank you for your most recent reply. Your proposal as to how to handle questions from Al Nickerson and myself sounds reasonable to me, and I appreciate you running it by me.

Thanks also for being willing to entertain these questions from me. I’m asking not so much as a self-publisher as I am as a writer who is curious about what went into the creation of your unique series, both at the outset and along the way, and in the ways your perceptions (and those my fellow readers have related to you) of it may or may not have changed since you finished it.

So, obviously, that encompasses a lot of questions and sub-questions thereof. I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I’ll start with one (that has a couple of “subs”), and you can tell me if I’m asking too much.


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.

Okay. I think this went pretty well for a first foray. I’ll look forward to your response… provided it isn’t, “Puh-LEASE… Ask me something IN-teresting…!”

Thanks again for this. Be well and best wishes,

And Dave responds (in a multi-part response running for today, Monday, and as many days as it takes...)

Oh, and:

Seen here in 1984.

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".

5 May 20

Hi Adam!

It's very hard to explain what you're asking about because it hinges on how Dave Sim Put His Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces together and -- while I've described all of my Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces before and a lot of this is going to be very familiar to you and everyone else reading it on AMOC familiar with my work -- it's hard to convey to someone else how Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces Not Their Own fit together. Your Adam Beechen Jigsaw Puzzle pieces are your Adam BeechenJigsaw Puzzle pieces and my Dave Sim Jigsaw Puzzle pieces are my Dave Sim Jigsaw Puzzle pieces.

The good news so far as answering your questions is that I've needed to take a couple of days to figure out how to keep making THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND happen with only 80 or so patron/financiers, So, I can go into a lot more depth and swerve through a major digression without throwing myself off-schedule: since I can't move off of square one until I know where the next square is.

Also, the idea behind these DAVE SIM TL:DR exchanges with other professionals
is, at least partly, to keep my Dialogue Counterparts (like yourself) and their professional and self-publishing credentials in the AMOC public eye. In this case by having Matt Dow repeat your fourfold question under your header with each installment. What did Adam ask Dave? Oh, right.

I'll start by numbering my Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces and elaborating on them a bit asserting at the outset, that each one led into the next and connected with it and built on it.

JIGSAW PUZZLE PIECE #1 I interviewed a lot of comics artists in my teens. I was a big fan of the PLAYBOY interview which was in-depth and "in his (or her) own words" so those were the kinds of questions that I tried to ask. Berni Wrightson was, in my world, in the Elvis Presley category, so finding out that not only wasn't he -- or anyone else I interviewed -- Elvis Presley-rich but that they weren't rich at all was, to me, as a teenager, seriously effed up. I wouldn't have figured that out if conventions with their informal and casual access to comics professionals over the course of two or three days hadn't become popular enough to reach even to Toronto.

Later I would figure out that the reason these guys weren't rich was twofold 1) comics weren't that popular and 2) the companies hogged most of the money that was there. But that seemed to me more of an excuse than a reason. The music business hogged most of the music money but Elvis Presley was still rich. So, it went from an abstract problem -- "Why aren't guys who are this unbelievably talented rich?" -- to a personal problem when I decided I wanted to do comics for a living. "How do I keep from being as non-rich as these guys were?" i.e. How do I become, in terms of career success, the Elvis Presley of Comics?

For most people with an awareness of Elvis Presley's history 1956 to 1970, the answer to that one was "You need a manager -- you need to find your Colonel Parker." I was sophisticated enough to know that that wasn't the answer I was looking for. The "Colonel Parker Elvis" got stuck making really bad movie musicals with bad music in them -- the most lucrative use of Elvis' time in that time period -- which permanently damaged Elvis' credibility in the field he pioneered, rock and roll. LESSON: The most lucrative thing you could do wasn't necessarily the best option creatively.

JIGSAW PUZZLE PIECE #2 Gil Kane's first COMICS JOURNAL interview arrived at an opportune moment when I was in the middle of thinking about all of this stuff: when the concept of an Elvis Presley of Comics had already transitioned, for me, from an abstract to a personal problem because of my career choice. One particular observation of Gil's shifted that ambition 180 degrees from a Pop Culture ambition to a Literary ambition.

And (since we're doing the Aardvark Comment...):

 Dave's response:
 Okay, there you go.

Next Time: Oliver and more links than you can shake a stick at.

1 comment:

Manqueman said...

This post raises a huge question, now that one thinks about it.
What's known is that Superman was initially done as a strip, not a book. In that format, shown to syndicates which all rejected it. Eventually, it ended up at National, But the huge unknown is: Who saw it before it reached National?
So I can completely believe it stopped by Eisner. On the other hand, the reference to the Wonder Man debacle is... complicated. Dunno of what relevance having Siegel and/or Shuster testifying that they sent it to Eisner would be to the real issue at trial: Whether or not Fox's (apparent) rip off of Superman was legal or not. Given that the Wonder Man affair was (apparently) the one true black spot on Eisner's career, I can completely understand being shown S&S' Superman work before National not being prominent in his recollection. Eisner's career was a textbook example of how one should be managed by a comic book creator. (tl;dr: Don't take shit from publishers, specially when it comes to ownership of one's material. Owning your work is the goal. And if you decide to sell out, hard to beat Pentagon money.)
Given Eisner's career and human nature, I can completely understand seeing the submission not being one of his more important memories of the Golden Age. One of those things that he wouldn't deny but would have little interest in noting. Not sure Eisner was all that interested in comics history beyond the extent that it involved him and his career. (Not a dig; completely understandable.)