Cerebus #175 (October 1993)
Art by Dave Sim & GerhardDAVE SIM:
1) Erick: No problem. You've got to say what you've got to say and I've got to say what I've got to say. Just because you say something I say ISN'T so doesn't mean that it ISN'T so.
At the very least, I hope that we can establish a template for exchanges between disappointed fan and creator. There are creators who have disappointed me (no, no names) but I would hope that that fact wouldn't undermine their appreciation of my personal...and financial...investment in them and their work if I was as honest with them as you are with me. The Internet is here to stay and we're badly in need of a spectrum of templates between Troll and sycophant.
2) While READS is fresh in mind (just faxed the last of the corrections to Sean): I really like the lengthy Victor Reid vs. The Receptionist at VERTIGO HORSE bits. Never having been in that situation, it was pure comedy writing and I think it's one of the best things I've done in the "portrayal vs. reality" end of things.
3) I think READS needs to be properly viewed as Dave Sim's "Apex Atheist Moment". What I was COMPLETELY unaware of -- which everyone besides God was unaware of, I think -- was "What happens when he gets to his Bible parody around 2000?" God was certain that I would become an extremely devout monotheist (since that's what happened and God is omniscient). Every other entity from God on down, I suspect, was betting that I was documenting my own dissolution and "lowballing" how bad an end I was coming to. "He's this bad now, how bad is he going to be in 2000?"
4) As a monotheist, the point I see myself missing in READS (because I was an atheist) is that "Be fruitful and multiply" doesn't come with qualifications or time limits. My hand-wringing over overpopulation presupposes that the earth wasn't designed specifically for a human population. It's (to me) the core atheistic flaw stemming from the idea that we're all ACCIDENTALLY here. My supposition as a monotheist is that if we were ALL being fruitful and multiplying, we would solve the problems inherent in that because we would be getting where God intended us to go. Because we're not being fruitful and multiplying (guilty as charged, your honour!), we're generally treading water and wondering why things aren't going better for us.
That and "subdue the earth" seem to me to compete for Job One.
5) Karen Smith-Zulli, if you're reading this, I'm going to need a mailing address. Every time I do a new printing of READS I owe Michael $250 (arbitrary amount) for his self-portrait as the M.Zulli character.
6) Sean has written a pretty insightful (I think) contextual essay about READS. I thought his observation that Orson Welles would have had a lot to say to Victor Reid was particularly astute in the sense of "you have to be really careful around business types if you don't own what you're doing."
7) It was very undiplomatic of me to craft hybrid names like Carl Berger and Karen Potts. In my defence I'll say that I wrote more Really Bad Autobiographical Things about Victor Reid (my middle name and mother's maiden name) than I did about anyone else whose name I hybridized. It was and is I think a necessary conceit to warn against thinking of editors as your friend. But, then, Alan Moore and Karen Berger were still getting on like a house on fire (as far as I know) when I was writing it. They are not "chummy" now, I'd suggest, for exactly the reasons I was documenting in READS.
8) I was deploring the absence of people posing the WHY? question and at the same time I was avoiding it myself. Stephen Hawking's "I know what the universe is doing, I just don't know WHY it's doing it". I documented a number of scenarios in which the human body incarnated as a "snapshot" of creation but missed the point that it implied a Creation Intellect to set it in motion: God.
WHY? did God create the universe? My guess is "purification" coupled with "data retrieval". The "well-minded" neutrinos return to God [see the last few pages of THE LAST DAY Prologue] and the "not well-minded" neutrinos get trapped in the collapsed stars they orbited in life and then get trapped in the dark matter/black holes that result. "Taking out the trash". Meanwhile God experiences everything, everywhere and accesses the experiences of the returning neutrinos. I don't think there's much New that comes back to him, but the odds are that there are New things to contemplate given the near infinite variety of experiences in the universe. I mean, those are just the STARS we're looking at. Imagine the populations orbiting them.
I think God is particularly interested in relationships. Does marriage work? Does marriage work sufficiently for God to create a wife for Himself? And what form would that wife take? How much free will could he allow her? That's, I think, why God created the Father: working it out in microcosm (although on a huge scale compared to us: the Father created the Big Bang) and then trying to figure out if the bugs can be ironed out sufficiently to make a counterpart to Himself. I'm guessing no. But it's just a guess.
9) Sean has once again done an AMAZING job of restoration on this book. Scanning all the raw materials for the cover and getting him to reconstruct it from scratch makes it a real jaw dropper compared to what I mocked up and Gerhard threw together on computer twenty years ago.
The capo di tutti capo is the shot that Gerhard did of the Upper City seen through the Peacock Stained Glass window. No conscious recollection that he had used white Letratone on the Upper City.
It should all be "in there" when Marquis uses the new paper.
But, really, every page is like a revelation of what was actually there in the artwork or the negative.
10) Arresting moment when I mention that there's "nine years and eleven months" to the end of the book at the time I was writing 186. 9-11 had absolutely zero resonance with anything in 1994.
11) I was REALLY, REALLY worried that Love would arrive in my life and throw me off course although I only really admitted that in the last couple of pages. Considering that I connected with Susan "Dave Sim's Last Girlfriend" Alston about a month after writing 186 and was definitely Seriously Smitten for the first time in a while and that the relationship lasted the better part of four years, I think I must have sensed that "something was up ahead" and "single Dave" better get all this down on paper before I got dragged to the other side of the fence.
12) I know there are CEREBUS readers who buy every printing of the trades. Can someone let Sean know what printing of READS this is? WAS the most recent printing in 2001? It's one of the last holes that needs plugging.