|Cerebus #281 (August 2002)|
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Dave Sim Comes To Halifax, 20 September 2010)
...At a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival this month, [Woody] Allen was quoted as saying this about growing old: "I think things get worse and worse. I see no advantages of aging whatsoever. You become shrivelled, you become decrepit, you lose your faculties, your peer group passes away."
In this, Allen and Sim's opinions parallel.
"The plain fact of the matter is is that life doesn't get any funnier as it goes along," writes Sim, in response to the suggestion that people are more fond of his early work. "The ability to do humour effectively in your 20s and 30s really comes from a fundamental ignorance of how mordant and depressing life is."
Sim is now 54 and quite devout, incorporating in his worship a mix of elements of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. He no longer uses a computer, preferring a typewriter. He still creates and publishes comics, including a 56-page graphic narrative about the Holocaust and anti-semitism called Judenhass and the ongoing "fashion and pop-culture parody" glamourpuss, as well as a web TV series at cerebustv.com.
My interview with him was conducted by fax. I compared his work and public persona to Allen's -- since both have been steadily and inexorably devoted to their craft, both incorporated much more humour in their early work and then became more serious, both have endured criticism for their personal beliefs and choices, and both are fans of the Marx Brothers. Sim had both praise and serious criticism's of Allen's work.
The praise: "The line from Allen's Stardust Memories. 'We like your movies, especially the early, funnier ones.' And telling him when he asks what he can do to make the world a better place, 'Tell funnier jokes.' It's a magnificent piece of writing, totally cruel, totally cold, but totally fair ---and self-directed. I can definitely relate."
And the criticism: "His job in the totalitarian construct is no longer to write funnier jokes but to make Scarlett Johannsen (sp) sound like a genius, as he attempted to do with Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow. He's not very good at it. He keeps wanting to write women who sound like women, but that's not what the Marxist-feminists are looking for. They're looking for transformational rationales that will make their husbands and boyfriends go, 'Oh, WOW! YES! YES! THIS is what women are ACTUALLY like!' They mistook Annie Hall for a genuine creative expression instead of the serial womanizer tactic it was."
Sim remarks that Allan has had an easier time of it that he has, from the press and public, and muses that other comic creators, specifically Bryan Lee O'Malley of Scott Pilgrim fame, are never questioned or assessed based on whether their work is autobiographical -- many see the stubborn aardvark as Sim in fur with a sword. "Is [Hope Larson, O'Malley's wife, also a cartoonist] the girl in the film? The question never came up as far as I know."
As Sim completes what he calls The Last Signing, the question of whether his beloved creation Cerebus will ever make a return will certainly come up. He does, in fact, have plans.
"The only way I would revisit the character -- and here's a Coast exclusive for you -- is if I was to do a miniseries or graphic novel, Cerebus: The Afterlife, which I have a few mental notes floating around in my head about. I might have to wait a few years. People were squeamish enough about seeing Cerebus in his old age, not wanting to think about getting -- or being -- old. Speculations on an afterlife would really push some hot buttons, I think."