by Troy Little
(from The Blog & Mail, 17 January 2007 )
Troy Little sent me a POD version of volume one of his graphic novel magnum opus Chiaroscuro (which, hopefully, you can check out at the website above):
Then life happens again and I find myself the proud pop of two beautiful twin girls (3 months old!). Well, I thought maybe I'd see if I could find a publisher for my book as my time is all but eaten up. So here I am, a small POD run of graphic novels being sent to various publishers. I figure it can't hurt to try, if all else fails I'll just publish it myself. I have enclosed two copies, one for you and one for Gerhard.
Which brings me to the crux of this little note. I'm trying to gather the usual round of quotes and such from industry people for the next edition of the book. I would be very honoured if you would consider writing the forward.
I'm sure you're thinking again, "Man, this guy just keeps making bad decisions". Personally, I don't think so. As a major inspiration to my own work (which is fairly obvious) I would be proud to have your name in my book and I'll defend it to my dying breath!
Of course you're under no obligation to write anything, I can only recall seeing you do this for Strangehaven but I repeat, it would be truly be an honour to me if you would consider it. If you have any thoughts or questions on the idea I can be reached at [phone number deleted].
I wish you all the best and thank you and Gerhard once again for 300 glorious issues of Cerebus.
Well, I appreciate the tribute, Troy - particularly that "stand-alone most brilliant work" comment - but you have to realize that this Pariah King thing is no joke particularly if you're out there shopping for a publisher. See, you have to qualify anything that refers to me or Cerebus with "disturbing" or "troubling" or "challenging" or "controversial" or "thought-provoking" or other liberal euphemisms for clinical insanity that indicate that Cerebus needs to be shunned and, if possible, outlawed or you risk being tarred with the same brush. I mean, you really do. It's okay to say unqualified nice things about Cerebus here because this is really only read by the Yahoos and a handful of other folks who are actually open-minded (or looking for examples of my insanity to cite to others), but go and take a look at any reference to Cerebus anyplace else on the Internet and you'll get the idea. There is only one allowable way to think of Dave Sim and you don't want to associate yourself with that universal perception. These folks don't mess around when they set their sights on you. They will, literally, hound you to your grave. In my case, they're more than welcome to do so because it will only show in sharper relief what sort of people they are as opposed to what sort of people they portray themselves to be both to themselves and to others and Cerebus is already out there in quantities that would be very difficult to eliminate (which isn't the case with Chiaroscuro). You shun Cerebus right into the quarter bin in your store and that just makes it more likely that some kid with more brains than money is going to pick it up and not understand that being in the quarter bin is an insult. He's just going to assess it in his own frames of reference. The classic new Cerebus reader: "I had no idea what was going on, but I was hooked."
All that having been said, I was really, really impressed with what you have done with Chiaroscuro. There was definitely the same slow pace and, yes, you certainly have learned every one of my lettering and pacing tricks (Jeez, I thought the Box Office Poison-era Alex Robinson was the consummate Dave Sim magpie) in spades. But, there's a world of difference between knowing the moves as an intellectual exercise and being able to execute them flawlessly which was the case with your work (and with Alex's Tricked) as I got further and further into your book. I could see the narrative tricks that you were using but the point was no longer, as it had been in the issues #1-4 that you had sent me, the tricks themselves - "hey that works really well" - but rather the trick was doing what it was supposed to be doing: drawing me as the reader further into the story. That's probably the most difficult trick in the world to manage, to turn someone who does this stuff for a living into just another reader and, again, you definitely managed it in spades.
Obviously, it's a long story that you're telling here and the twin baby girls (congratulations, by the way) is not exactly the best harbinger I could imagine of this ever getting done, so I'm kind of at a loss for advice here. I'm almost tempted to suggest that you take the Scott Berwanger approach and just finish the story wherever and whenever you can grab a few minutes to work on it and figure that the goal line might have just been pushed somewhere up ahead where the girls go off to college in 2025 or so (trust me, Troy, it will be here before you know it).
Tell you what: let's give you a fighting chance at life, first. You find a publisher or self-publish volume one without an introduction or with an introduction by someone else and when you're established (say, on your third printing or on volume two) I'll do an introduction for you then if you still really want me to. At that point, given the level of ability you exhibit and the wide success and popularity I expect you'll have, having Dave Sim write an introduction for your book can just be written off as a strange eccentricity on your part instead of career suicide. Deal?