|Cerebus #200 (November 1995)|
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from The Blog & Mail, 20 February 2007)
Okay. I'm pissed.
Not in a "too many fermented beverages in too short a period of time" sort of way, but in an "I'm fed up to the teeth with this" sort of way.
(I'll try to keep this relatively unemotional and blessedly short.)
This whole "Pariah King" thing? It's over. You've been usurped. Big time. Rick Olney has now taken that title and it looks as if he's going to be hanging onto it for many, many years to come.
You're deposed, Dave. It's over. I mean…honestly! That was ten years ago, okay? Did you hear me, young man? You. Are. No. Longer. The. 'Pariah. King'.
My point is - go ahead and write the introduction for Troy Little's Chiaroscuro. The first edition. If comics were kids, Chiaroscuro would be your artistic grandchild. That introduction belongs to you and to no one else.
Where comics, and the quality thereof, is concerned, you have plenty of hard-won street cred. Respect for you as a comic artist and advocate far outweighs any negative sentiment still lingering. (Trust me on that. I Googled it.)
Write the introduction for Troy… please.
Well, nice TRY, Elizabeth (I was chuckling pretty good when I came to the end of your letter) but I'm afraid it just doesn't work that way here in the real world. I can certainly understand you comic-book feminists wanting to change the history of the last twelve years and "wish away" or "declare null and void" the idea that Dave Sim is a pariah (now that I'm here to hector you all on a daily basis so that the feminist choices of the last decade or so vis-à-vis Dave Sim are starting in retrospect to look a little…shall we say…tactically inopportune?), but I'm afraid the evidence just doesn't back you up. The historical record is there of how I was treated prior to 1994 and how I have been treated since 1994 - all shunning, all vilification and all without one single feminist addressing or refuting a single one of my ideas whether in issue 186 or in "Tangent" or Collected Letters or any of my other writings on feminism. The point that your team missed and which your team continues to miss is that the net effect of shunning and ostracism when it is used in place of reasoned discourse and refutation - especially over a period of years - is cumulative. It would certainly be nice for your team if your recent Google search could completely undo the last twelve years like some weird feminist magic wand but, again, it just doesn't work like that. Want me to refute your charge that I'm no longer the Pariah King of Comics? No problem. How about this from Carla Speed McNeil's interview in the latest Comics Journal [#280, January 2007] (how's that for up-to-date?):
NASO: That reminds me of Cerebus. A lot of people complained about the way the story turned out. But it is Dave Sim's story.
McNEIL: Yeah, it is his story and the man's work is still worth poring over for technique. He's one of the most skilled people we've ever had. It's just that at some point he merged face-first with his own work and everything that popped into his head ended up on the page, however bizarre and obsessive.
See: "bizarre and obsessive". Those are not terms that denote respect or "street cred", Elizabeth. Those are terms of ostracism and shunning, patronization and condescension - the exact way that you treat a pariah and the core of the Feminist Party Line in the comic-book field relative to Dave Sim. If anything, any "street cred" that I have comes from the fact that a certain number of guys - still cowed and intimidated by your team and the implied threat that ostracism and vilification can be used on them as well and consequently still silent on the subject of Dave Sim - are starting to realize that you can tell feminists that they're full of s**t even if there's only one guy doing it. In a democratic society, freedom of speech is (at least theoretically) for everyone, not just for feminists, homosexuals or those who believe the genders are interchangeable. I assume that there will be more support for my views as we go along and people clue in that feminists have never been able to refute anything that I've said about them and their movement. In fact, Craig R. Johnson, managing editor of www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com actually went public with challenging the Friends of Lulu for ignoring both me and him and the points that we're making (as we will see when we get to February 25 and the next instalment of "free rides for feminists in our society" here on the Blog & Mail). That was unexpected, very gratifying and a lot sooner than I would have thought possible considering the implied feminist threat against anyone speaking out against feminism. Back at the CSM interview:
NASO: It stopped being about Cerebus.
McNEIL: Very much so. Cerebus was one of my formative experiences. It will always be in the back of my head how brilliantly [Sim] pasted a conversation how many nuances he was able to get out with his approach to lettering. The man is incredibly expressive, but we're leaving aside what he chooses to express…
Well, of course you are, Carla, because you can't even begin to refute what it is that I'm saying and have been saying for twelve years. Instead of "leaving aside what he chooses to express" why don't you (oh, I don't know) refute the "Fourteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast"? Why don't you refute seven of them? Five of them? Three of them? Pick one, Carla, and refute it: "This is not an impossible thing to believe, this is the sole sensible and legitimate way to conduct our society." Well, you can't. So all you can do is toe the Feminist Party Line in the comic-book field and treat Dave Sim and his work (like "The Fourteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast" as contained in "Tangent") as if both are self-evidently clinically insane. It's the only feminist recourse. "This guy has us nailed dead to rights so all we can do is establish that shunning him, ostracizing him and treating him and his work like a colossal failure is the only sensible way to behave and hope he kills himself or he just gets forgotten on our say-so." So far, it's working like a charm. Everyone has fallen into lockstep and gotten with the program. Even the people who disagree just shuffle nervously on the sidelines and don't dare utter a single word in my defence. Hey, I'm completely at peace with that. I've got twelve years of historical record to back up my version of reality: feminism is indefensible so all they can do is attack someone personally who dares to question feminism. Twelve years so far and I assume there'll be another good twelve years of this. "Poor, sad, failed Dave Sim" being the enunciated universal consensus and everyone else shuffling nervously and silently on the sidelines.
But, let me ask you this: How do you think that's going to make your team look in the long run when the historical record actually gets examined and men discover that in a democratic society they have a right to free speech and to express an opinion on what was done to Dave Sim, Elizabeth?
Exactly the way you'll deserve to look, is my guess.
Anyway (I'm still chuckling gleefully away to myself, Elizabeth) feel free to give it another Orwellian revisionist try anytime the mood takes you and I'll bet I'll have a half dozen "poor, sad, failed Dave Sim" Feminist Party Line examples of ostracism and vilification to match whatever you happen to come up with to prove that I've only been imagining my "pariahdom".
Thanks as always for writing. I look forward to writing the introduction for the second edition of Chiaroscuro and (please try not to take this personally) I really don't give a tinker's damn what you think about my decision to pass on the first one. How about that, eh? A man who doesn't care what a feminist thinks of his choices.
What if it catches on, Elizabeth? Won't THAT be fun?