Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Dave Sim: Pariah King Of Comics!

Cerebus #200 (November 1995)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
DAVE SIM:
(from The Blog & Mail, 20 February 2007)
Dear Dave,

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.)

So.

Write the introduction for Troy… please.

Yours respectfully,
Elizabeth A. Bardawill
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?

26 comments:

Jim Sheridan said...

Hey, but at least Dave never gives in to emotion.

I'd be curious to hear some ideas about what people think has kept Dave from grabbing some of the same kind of audience that has made American conservative commentators millionaires. Why would Glenn Beck or Anne Coulter be an A-list celeb while Dave is not?

M Kitchen said...

My hunch?

Because he didn't sign on to Time-Warner.

David Birdsong said...

Because unless your name is Neil Gaiman the term "comoc book" kills the deal every time.

Jim Sheridan said...

OK, but is it possible that the entire comic book community is so leftist? Superhero comics, at least, tend to be vigilante muscle guys and lots of T & A. Frank Miller sells.

The indie / literary/ non-superhero comic world certainly skews differently, I realize.

I don't know, I would still argue that, while there are obviously angry feminist / leftist critics of Dave's stuff, he lost more readers by moving into such ambitious areas as his Wilde, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and biblical forays than he did by taking his stance on gender roles. The two periods do overlap, so it is tough to prove.

I'd certainly rather read more about his ideas on his craft than his whining about being the Pariah King, though. It gets redundant and offers no insight. Your mileage may vary.

lylemcd said...

I'm not sure which is worse, Dave's determination to simply 'define away criticism' as 'being part of the feminist camp' (in the EXACT same way hard line feminists define any male criticism as 'part of the male hegemony') or his lack of reading comprehension.

The email he posted did NOT say he wasn't a pariah. It said he was no longer the KING or pariahs. Yet his rant has nothing to do with that. He seems to have 'read'/'heard' something that wasn't even remotely said.

Of course he'll dismiss me as being part of the feminist whatever whatever. It's always easier to dismiss criticism out of hand like that.

I also agree with whomever said Dave's loss of interest had nothing to do with feminism: it's because the comic book got boring as shit in the last 100 issues. I read them all, dutifully, every month. Just to see it end.

Lyle

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

"boring as shit in the last 100 issues"

We must have been reading different comics. I thought the last 100 issue were better than the 200 before.

Was there nothing there at all that interested you? Have you tried re-reading in the collected editions? Monthly 20-page installments wasn't ideal.

Anonymous said...

"I'd be curious to hear some ideas about what people think has kept Dave from grabbing some of the same kind of audience that has made American conservative commentators millionaires."

An interesting question.

I think the answer is that to make money in that market, one must appeal without deviation or ambiguity to traditional-family oriented, flag-waving, gun-loving, anti-abortion, reactionary, prurient, repressive Christianity.

Dave appeals to some of those values, but definitely not enough for that demographic.

As far as I can tell, Dave's views are inconsistent with the traditional family. As I see it, he thinks that marriage is destructive to men. For social conservatives, marriage is in theory the ideal, a civilizing influence on men that puts one in line with God's intention.

So on that one belief alone, he could not succeed.

Second, for conservatives, Dave would be "making up his own God", because he picks and chooses between the Abrahamic religions and has his own, highly esoteric and personal interpretation of scriptures. Also, Dave prefers Islam to Christianity.

I think the conservative talking-heads you refer to are probably sincerely conservative, but they shrewdly gear their message to excite and inflame their constituency. At the same time, they would be unlikely to challenge core conservative principles, even if they disagreed with some of them.

Dave's views aren't designed to appeal to anybody and he would be uninterested and incapable of doing so.

Reginald P

Jeff Seiler said...

For what it's worth, I know Elizabeth Bardawill personally (Hi, E. Ann!) and have spent time with her and her husband and, briefly, one of her two hulking sons. I believe that she is sincerely a supporter of Dave Sim and that what she wrote above was in no way an attempt by her, in representing the feminist agenda, to pull the wool over Dave's eyes. And, I agree with Lyle that Dave seemed to have misread what she wrote. Hell, he certainly has misread a lot of things I've written to him and he and I are so much closer in our beliefs than most of his fans, including Elizabeth. So, to sum up, please don't let Dave convince you to vilify Elizabeth. She really is a lovely, wonderful person.

E. Ann Bardawill, Writer of Fiction said...

Wow.
Blast from the past.

What can I say, guys... it's like I'm part chick or something.

Also... you are following Troy Little in twitter, right?

Troy Little said...

Wow indeed - and all this not so long after my 'Moment of Cerebus' contribution piece... coincidence???!!!

I for one (the one in question to be precise) appreciate Elizabeth's efforts on my behalf (and without provocation) to champion my humble little comic with 'The Master' in a vain attempt at garnering a written Forward out of him for the collected volume of 'Chiaroscuro' that was coming out from IDW. She was doomed from the get go, but damn she's got some tenacity for trying!

I myself attempted a few times to persuade Dave to write the Forward, via mail and one time over the phone but no dice. So I opted to not include on in the book at all.

A few years later I attended Dave's "The Last Signing" at Strange Adventures in Halifax. After a long wait I brought up my hardcover edition of 'Chiaroscuro' and asked him if he would simply write the words "The Forward" and sign his name on the cover, figuring it'd be the closest I'd get and a one off joke only I would appreciate.

Well, it was 3:30 AM and he instead wrote: The forward Dave Sim, as opposed to the backwards Dave Sim".

Well, I tried. :)

Anonymous said...

@Lyle

I think Dave was reasonably responding to what she was saying.

She was joking about the Pariah King comments, which Dave seemed to get (he says he's chuckling by the end of her letter and was "still" chuckling by the end of his response.)

It would not have made any sense for Dave to have taken the "pariah-king" argument too literally, as you have done, as it wasn't meant to be taken literally.

Her serious point was that his pariah-dom wasn't bad enough that Dave should not write the introduction and his pariah-dom shouldn't outweigh whatever other reasons there were to do the intro.

And since that's her point, it's not unreasonable to conclude that she simply doesn't think that Dave's pariah-dom is that big of a deal.

Dave disagreed and backed that up with an example.

He was a bit blunt at the end there, though with some humour, probably because, you know, "no means no" the first time and he really didn't want to be repeatedly asked to do something that he had already politely declined to do and had the courtesy to explain why the first time.

All in all, I think a pretty reasonable response to, let's call a spade a spade, pestering.

-Reginald P

Jim Sheridan said...

I'd argue that Dave's self-absorption and emotion (call it his female side!) overwhelm his response. Consider how he reads the quotations from the Comics Journal he cites - Carla Speed MacNeil says twice that Dave is an important figure in comics and a big influence on her, which Dave completely ignores so that he can only focus on the negatives she also cited and thus wallow in self-pity.
The woman said twice that Dave is "worth poring" over and influential. She does say criticizes his beliefs.

I guess you have to praise everything about Dave, or else you are part of making Dave a complete pariah.

However, as Reginald P. noted, "Dave's views aren't designed to appeal to anybody and he would be uninterested and incapable of doing so."

Anonymous said...

"The historical record is there of how I was treated prior to 1994 and how I have been treated since 1994" -- I don't think record that shows what Dave thinks it shows. Maybe people snubbed him personally or something, but his professional trajectory (declining sales on "Cerebus") continued as usual before and after 1994. I don't think he was ever the Pariah King anywhere but in his mind (or "mind"), and I've never seen any example of such. Dave has a strong ability to rewrite the past (or, I suppose more accurately, to reinterpret the past in light of his latest thinking (or "thinking").

(And I would certainly defend the use of "bizarre and obsessive" as legitimate in a review of an artist's work. Dave sees "Cerebus" as having objective value to the universe, and people who don't agree either are simply wrong or just don't get it.)

As for "without one single feminist addressing or refuting a single one of my ideas" -- there are plenty of addresses and refutations around, but Dave simply rejects them as insufficient. What he seems to want is someone to accept his premises and still refute his conclusions.

"I assume that there will be more support for my views as we go along" -- I don't think so, but then time will tell, won't it? Already Dave has likely beaten one of his own prophecies: that he would die broke and ignored, the work itself largely forgotten. I think "Cerebus" will always be for a minority audience, but people who appreciate the comics medium will always find it worthy of study.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, mmd.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that McNeil's comments could reasonably be interpreted as insulting, in that she essentially says that Sim is masterful in form, but deplorable in substance.

Similar things have been said about Normal Rockwell or Robert Bateman -- technically highly-skilled but in substance shallow, empty, or worse. Paul McCartney gets the same criticism. These aren't the comments of fans. Movies where special effects are praised are often disparaged for a lack of underlying message.

These types of comments are not praise, but are a special kind of insult.

I think it's generally understood that when you especially compliment technical skill, execution, or the surface characteristics of something, but are silent on its deeper merits, that it is an implied insult. When, after praising technical merit, you go on to explicitly disparage the underlying substance of a work, I don't think you can mistake the comments for anything but an explicit insult.

I mean, no one wants to be told that they have an admirable and influential skill in stringing together deplorable ideas.

You may think that such comments are warranted in Mr. Sim's case, but to deny or not understand that this sort of comment is understood within our culture to be an insult is more than likely wilful blindness.

-Reginald P

Anonymous said...

"this sort of comment is understood within our culture to be an insult is more than likely wilful blindness." -- I couldn't disagree more. I think some people confuse criticism of their artwork with personal insults. Dave once analogized to going into somebody's living room and criticizing their decor, but it's not the same thing. When you're deliberately putting a work out for public consumption, your audience has the right -- perhaps even the duty -- to engage your work with more than superficial approval. You may be insulted if I say, "I don't think your work is very good," but it is not an insult; it is an artistic assessment. It implies a panapoly of aesthetic criteria, and is the beginning of a good conversation.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, NME

Jim Sheridan said...

To be clear, plenty of people have made personal insults of the "Dave is a jerk" variety, rather than "I find his skills as a creator lacking."

Of course, this IS because Dave has at times made his creation a soapbox.

Reginald, I will agree that sometimes the combination of praise-plus-insult really results in an insult, but I don't see any people who criticize Norman Rockwell as lightweight still arguing that he is essential and important.

Maybe McCartney and Rockwell are bad comparisons because no one finds them offensive, just lightweight. I have never heard anyone call Dave lightweight.

Carla McNeil does not say anything like "Because I find Dave's views reprehensible, I don't think anyone should read his work." She does say people SHOULD check him out. That does not equate to pariah treatment in any way.

Anonymous said...

@damian

You made a straw-man argument. I was discussing a very particular type of criticism which I believe can be reasonably taken as personally insulting. I did not say all criticism of one's work is personally insulting, far from it. If you want to respond to the argument I was actually making, you'll have to explain why the particular type of criticism I was discussing is in fact nothing more than neutral and unaffected criticism.

By the way, I found your sentence structure to be exemplary and your arguments to be well ordered, but your underlying ideas are ultimately bizarre and indicative of mild psychosis.

No doubt, as you point out, my assessment of your work will be a springboard to an enlightening conversation, as you will attempt to remove the elements of your work that get weird and mildly deranged.

-Reginald P

Anonymous said...

@Jim

I don't think it's necessary to have a perfect analogy to make my point. My basic point, which I think the analogy makes clear enough, is that sometimes a mix of compliments and insults is nothing but an insult.

It's best to look at the particular comments for what they are to decide.

I can't agree that McNeil's comments amount to a recommendation of Dave's work -- far from it. All of her "praise" is in reference to technical skill and form. But she really damns him by saying his work contains "everything that popped into his head" and that those ideas were "bizarre" and "obsessive".

These comments get personal because saying that the "ideas in Dave's head" are "bizarre" and "obsessive" is clearly an attack on his mental health. It's also an attack on his work in that it says that he lacked any sort of filter.

As an aside -- you may think that because Dave mixed his views into his work, an element of the personal in her criticism is fair or even unavoidable.

I disagree. She could have said she "profoundly and fundamentally disagreed" with Dave's views, which took up too much of the book, and which seriously detracted from her enjoyment of the book. Now, that would also be a negative assessment of the book, but it could hardly be called shunning or ad hominem. But she said that Dave "merged" with Cerebus, and that his ideas were "bizarre and obsessive".

Back to the main point: In essence she says Cerebus is the technically exemplary unfiltered rambling of a weirdo or mild psychotic.

I would expect that most people would not run out and buy someone's bizarre and obsessive ramblings in order to focus on the nuanced lettering, exemplary pacing, skill, and technique of said bizarre, obsessive and unfiltered ramblings. They might buy Cerebus out of morbid curiosity on McNeil's description, but that's hardly any kind of recommendation on the merits.

Put aside, whether you agree or disagree with her. That's not my point.

The only point I am really making -- and it actually amazes me that there is this much resistance to the idea -- is to recognize that the comment is insulting. Maybe it doesn't amount to making Dave a pariah, but it's much closer to shunning than personal endorsement or neutral critique.

It amazes me that reasonable people will not concede the entirely reasonable point that the comments are clearly insulting.

I think I've captured the sum of McNeil's comments, while you have ignored half of what she has said.

-Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

"It amazes me that reasonable people will not concede the entirely reasonable point that the comments are clearly insulting." -- I know that you *feel* the point to be "entirely reasonable", but it is not an objectively obvious and uncontroversial point. I fear that, as so many of Dave's defenders (or "defenders") do, you are conflating your "defense of Dave" reflex with your "argument is a rational process intended to establish a proposition" reflex.

I maintain that praising a work's technical proficiency while ignoring (or even decrying) its content is not an insult. Rather it is, as Dave advocated, taking from a work what you like and leaving the rest.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, pm

Jim Sheridan said...

Reginald P, when you note that "But she really damns him by saying his work contains "everything that popped into his head" and that those ideas were "bizarre" and "obsessive," I must confess, I read her words through the filter of my own reading and experience.

I've read all of Cerebus and as many of Dave's other writings and interviews as I can find, and am finally reading Collected Letters for the first time.

I endorse "Cerebus" to anyone who reads comics and have given "Church & State" as a gift to at least 5 people I can think of.

I will also say that I too find many of Dave's ideas bizarre. The concept of YooHoo is a clear example.

I will also say that I am intrigued by it as a result. I think Alan Moore and Steve Gerber are pretty darned bizarre also. I love their work. I welcome it as a break from the very non-bizarre writing I see coming from many writers. In endorsing Dave, I too would use the word bizarre, certainly to describe much of the later stuff.

When a talking aardvark, surrounded by Foghorn Leghorn, the Marx Brothers, Mick and Keef, and Oscar Wilde, journeys through the journals of Hemingway and Fitzgerald and their wives, only to end up re-interpreting the Bible, we are in bizarre territory.

The shifting nature of the book over those 300 issues does give credence to the idea that Dave often incorporated whatever interested him at the time. I don't think when he was writing issue 25 that he knew he would end up satirizing "Spawn" and unpacking The Book of Genesis by the time he finished.

In mainstream terms, Dave's discussion of gender does enter the bizarre also. I have not heard of anyone else endorsing the spanking of women. It would be worth testing that one out - if you read Dave's idea of the merits of spanking women to a random sampling of listeners, would many find it normal? Different? Alternative? Bizarre?

Is Dave obsessive? The last two phone books certainly seem like the work of someone who is obsessed. Personally, I think it required some obsession on my part to finish reading them! Certainly the repetition of a number of key ideas and phrases throughout Collected Letters shows what I would call obsession.

If your point is a semantic one, I will admit that I have not looked either word up in the dictionary; I also realize that "obsessed" probably has a clinical psychological definition that is more serious and troublesome than the usual conversational use of the word. I don't know if calling him "remarkably unusual" and "astonishingly focused on certain topics" differs all that much.

Jim Sheridan said...

(continued)

However, I am also considering the context - a comics creator discussing a comic creator in a comic journal. Who else do I think of as bizarre and / or obsessed? Joe Matt, Seth, Chester Brown. In that great "Not Funnies" article that was the cover pieces in the New York Times Magazine back in 2004, most of the cartoonists interviewed explained that they felt that they were indeed hooked; they had been caught up in comics and could not let go. They all do visit certain pet ideas repeatedly in their comics. I, and plenty of other readers of The Comics Journal, would probably not take those terms as a total dismissal. Robert Crumb is bizarre. Chris Ware seems pretty obsessed.

And I think that that is key. While there probably were some readers who reacted so strongly to some of Dave's statements that they did say that the guy was not worth reading - well, Cerebus did not make that magazine's Top 100!! - Carla offers a statement to that readership: hey, the guy gets bizarre and obsessive (and as a result this magazine has slammed him), but he is still worth checking out.

She says it to an audience that probably is full of people who have read Dave's stuff and might feel as she does. Maybe some of them, like plenty of folks here, were turned off by the last 100 issues - whether it was due to the gender discussion, the religious discussion, the absence of the old funny Cerebus, whatever. The Comics Journal audience (and staff) might be the very ones to remind that, hey, even if that comic went in some directions that were too much for you, you cannot deny the man's talent.

I'm not saying I want to be called bizarre and obsessive myself, though the fact that I am typing this at 12:25 is testimony to the fact that I am! Maybe I will just wave my freak flag high - as Dave does. I just won't complain so much when other people notice my flag.

Jim Sheridan said...

(continued)

However, I am also considering the context - a comics creator discussing a comic creator in a comic journal. Who else do I think of as bizarre and / or obsessed? Joe Matt, Seth, Chester Brown. In that great "Not Funnies" article that was the cover pieces in the New York Times Magazine back in 2004, most of the cartoonists interviewed explained that they felt that they were indeed hooked; they had been caught up in comics and could not let go. They all do visit certain pet ideas repeatedly in their comics. I, and plenty of other readers of The Comics Journal, would probably not take those terms as a total dismissal. Robert Crumb is bizarre. Chris Ware seems pretty obsessed.

And I think that that is key. While there probably were some readers who reacted so strongly to some of Dave's statements that they did say that the guy was not worth reading - well, Cerebus did not make that magazine's Top 100!! - Carla offers a statement to that readership: hey, the guy gets bizarre and obsessive (and as a result this magazine has slammed him), but he is still worth checking out.

She says it to an audience that probably is full of people who have read Dave's stuff and might feel as she does. Maybe some of them, like plenty of folks here, were turned off by the last 100 issues - whether it was due to the gender discussion, the religious discussion, the absence of the old funny Cerebus, whatever. The Comics Journal audience (and staff) might be the very ones to remind that, hey, even if that comic went in some directions that were too much for you, you cannot deny the man's talent.

I'm not saying I want to be called bizarre and obsessive myself, though the fact that I am typing this at 12:25 is testimony to the fact that I am! Maybe I will just wave my freak flag high - as Dave does. I just won't complain so much when other people notice my flag.

Jim Sheridan said...

sorry for the repost!

Anonymous said...

@ Damian:

Reading your comment only validates my earlier view that while the form of your writing is outstanding, your ideas are weird, erratic, neurotic, and schizophrenic.

-You-know-who

Geoffrey D. Wessel said...

@Reginald P - "It seems to me that McNeil's comments could reasonably be interpreted as insulting, in that she essentially says that Sim is masterful in form, but deplorable in substance. [...] These aren't the comments of fans."

Allow me to introduce you to this thing called The Internet, where it is law that "fans" must actively despise the very thing they are a fan of. At great length. Repeatedly. Especially in "comment forums," i.e. Bleeding Cool, Gallifrey Base, etc.

Seriously tho, I don't see much needing reconciliation with Carla Speed McNeil's comments; also, having read CEREBUS in issue form since the time I was 12 years old (and I'm 40 now) I can tell you Dave Sim has always fancied himself a Great Outsider, from whatever angle you choose to look at it. I'm one of those who feel, frankly, his "Pariah King" status is wholly self-inflicted, and self-maintained as well. But, y'know, whatever works for you.

--- Geoffrey D. Wessel

Anonymous said...

I'm another "one of those who feel, frankly, his "Pariah King" status is wholly self-inflicted, and self-maintained as well." He didn't seek to work for Marvel or DC, so the fact that he didn't work for the biggest two publishers can't be attributed to pariah status. Indeed, they both asked him to work for them ("HTD" at Marvel and "Fables" at DC), and ultimately didn't because he found their terms unacceptable, not because they found his views unacceptable. He's the one who turned down invitations to conventions Now he's working with a (smaller) publisher in the field. It doesn't seem that his screeds cost him work or opportunities. His sales did go down, but they were declining before Issue 186 and continued to do so as his entire chosen field imploded in the 1990s.

The overwhelming majority of people read Dave's essays and judged them to be wrong. Dave maintains that his ideas (or "ideas") are so blindingly and obviously correct that the only explanation for their rejection is willful blindness and/or a conspiracy to silence him. But (let us say mildly) those are not the only possible explanations.

But it strikes me as very bizarre to say that you can't praise Dave's technical skill without also approving of his content, and that to do so is insulting. That looks to me like a tactic designed to silence critics of Dave's thinking (or "thinking").

-- Damian T. Lloyd, srp