100 Hour Tour: The Comic Journal Pt 1

What follows are the posts from Dave Sim made to The Comic Journal's message board as part of his "100 Hour Internet Tour".

Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:59 pm: Okay. I think I'm in. I'm doing this courtesy of Lookin' For Heroes, 93 Ontario St. S. in Kitchener (since I don't have a computer or Internet access of my own). I told John Brenner and Duane that I would mention the store every couple of paragraphs...okay, not that often. I also had Recker ship them 25 copies of the first CEREBUS trade and have promised to sign a copy for anyone buying one during the month of February while I'm doing this. Come on down. We're right across from the Grand River Transit station.

Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:10 pm: Okay this is going to take some getting used to. Please bear with me. I'm going to be repeating a lot of stuff since the idea is to get the word out about glamourpuss. Particularly at this point, what I'm hoping to do is to persuade people to go into their local store mid-month when each of the stores should have a copy of glamourpuss No.1 that will be included with Diamond Dateline (Feb. 13). There are roughly 300 stores that should have an advance copy right now. I built my own Canadian mailing list from all of the stores listed in the various Yellow Pages at the Kitchener Library (about 80 directories) and then used the Fantagraphics "Brick & Mortar" list from the back of their catalogue from a few years back for international and US stores. It's a good list, considering it's a few years old. Good range of stores from specialty book stores to primarily super-hero stores.

Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:15 pm: Um. I really don't know very much about Japanese comics at all. Bissette gave me two volumes of GON way back when. I'm intrigued by the idiosyncratic drawing style and suggested to Craig Miller a while ago that I was thinking of doing a Manga style cover for FOLLOWING CEREBUS. He pointed out that if you do a Manga style cover and there's nothing about Manga inside people would be apt to take a dim view. I can't argue with that.

Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:19 pm: Judging by the subject matter in evidence...Garo is Japanese for porn? I've really moved far away from porn. Kevin still sends me HEAVY METAL magazine (thanks, Kev if you're out there). I feel like my eyeballs are melting when I flip through it. Especially the ads for Japanese porn DVDs.

Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:26 pm: John just poked his head in the door to remind me they close at 7 pm. So this is going to be a short session. I don't know what I was thinking. Well actually I do know what I was thinking. I was thinking of Harry Kremer who ran Now & Then Books from 10 am to 9 pm five days a week, 10 to 6 on Saturday. From my recent store phoning marathon, I found that most stores open at about 11 am and a lot of them don't open Mondays.

We still have half an hour and I'll be back tomorrow when they open. Duane's going to do as much of his work as he can during my prayer times and knock me off the computer when he needs to.

Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:34 pm: On the subject of the lettering on glamourpuss, I think the Joe Kubert font is better suited to the Raymond School work that I'm doing on glamourpuss. I got nominated for awards for lettering...and was fortunate enough to win a Harvey...but it sure wasn't for the straight narrative lettering. My lettering is idiosyncratic but Joe's is a pretty close match to Ben Oda who lettered most of the newspaper strips. Not Raymond's though. If I was at home I could refer to my copy of Tom Roberts' ALEX RAYMOND book I picked up today at Carry On in Waterloo and tell you the name of his two letterers. I'll make a note to look that up for tomorrow.

But, the biggest reason for using a computer font is that I'm able to edit the text right up to the last minute. Hand lettering you have a tendency to just "let it go" because there's no easy way white out whole passages and re-letter over the white out.

I can understand you not being thrilled at it, but it's really a "writer over letterer" debate. I'm judge, jury and executioner, unfortunately.

Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:40 pm: Oliver Simonsen is working on a computer animation film with a number of volunteers. I think that's the closest I would come to doing a CEREBUS computer game. Of course, the deal I have with Oliver is that when he's done with the film, I'll take a look at it and give it a "yay" or "nay" and even steer it to one of the studios that asked about the film rights to CEREBUS if I like the finished product enough.

I can't see any reason why I couldn't do the same thing with a computer game.

Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:47 pm: No, I don't think about dying at all except as a passing thought regarding inevitability. Anytime's fine by me. I'm never going to get done everything I want to get done, anyway.

No, I don't think I'm selling out with glamourpuss, although I can understand people thinking that. It's a very light-hearted book since I'm a very light-hearted person these days. Fun and funny and pretty (the book I mean). There's obviously better uses for tens of thousands of dollars than buying Gucci, but I'm not buying Gucci...I'm drawing Gucci. You really have to admire what the designers are able to do aesthetically and I enjoy the challenge of capturing it in black and white.

Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:56 pm: Yes, there is a narrative. Glamourpuss is the title character AND the editor and publisher. She's decided that one-on-one therapy with Dr. Norm isn't working out for her so she wants to do her therapy in public in the form of a comic book. I'm trying not to nail everything down too tightly too quickly because that happens faster than you expect. Every decision closes off another avenue for the next four years or so (or further if I do glamourpuss sequels). I suspended all work on the book itself...even decision-making...for Dec Jan and Feb once the "go launch" decision was made. I'm looking forward to getting back to it. But, for right now...

...remember! Every store will be getting a copy of the CPE (Comics Industry Preview Edition) as part of Diamond Dateline for Feb 13. Go in and ask... politely!...if you can look at their copy of glamourpuss.

Okay, John's closing up...I'll be back here tomorrow. John says he opens at 10. Hope to see you all then!

Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:32 am: Okay, I'm back.

It was a lucky coincidence that Phil Boyle of Florida's COLISEUM OF COMICS (seven great stores to serve you in the Orlando area) happened to write his "Advice for Publishers" in the Sept 07 issue of COMICS RETAILER right when I was amusing myself producing pages of what would eventually become glamourpuss No.1:

"I have the option to sell more than 5,000 items a month from PREVIEWS to my customers, so why should I carry your product, especially on a non-returnable basis? What are you doing to bring new customers into my stores? Are you creating fans of your work outside the comic store? Are you creating an excitement about your work so that fans will be looking for your new book when it launches? Are you pushing those customers to ask retailers to buy copies of your book so that we can sell them to those new rabid fans? If you're taking out an ad in PREVIEWS and hoping that retailers will be standing in line waiting to hand-sell your book then you've brought your appetite and nothing more. Retailers will happily and eagerly work with publishers but it has to be a 50/50 split to make it work."

That was when glamourpuss became an intellectual exercise for me that eventually evolved into the 1,500 copy mailout of the FPE (Fashion Preview Edition) to the entire mastheads of a dozen North American fashion, lifestyle and women's magazines as well as 200 or so Indy friendly US comicstores, the 100 copy mailout of the CPE (Comics Preview Edition) to comic stores in Canada, the month-long phone campaign, the website (www.glamourpusscomic.com), the 4500 copy CPE insert in Diamond Dateline. Perhaps most important, signing off on trademark and copyright on any of the images in the first issue and on the website for any comic store wanting to use them in any way they see fit.

I agree with Phil Boyle and the watchword for Aardvark Vanaheim entering its 31st year is:

Shared Risk, Shared Responsibility, Shared Rewards.

Okay, there are two more pages than when I left last night so I'm going to scan through and have a look.

Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:18 am: Cory Fuka: I'm planning to make Rick's Comicon site my next stop. Hopefully tomorrow

Allen Rubinstein: "...exploring the subject without prior judgment..." Well, that's certainly what I'm trying to do. I've immersed myself in the fashion mags for a while and read everything Nathalie Atkinson has to say on the subject in the NATIONAL POST. It was only when I brought the make-ready copy to Toronto to show Chet and Siu Ta and only as an afterthought showed it to Peter at the Beguiling. "Oh, Nathalie is going to love this," quoth he. Turns out Nathalie is his significant other. Small planet, eh? She's given me some contact names in the T.O. fashion industry to send comp copies to.

Erik W.H. Taft: CEREBUS was really my personal Search for Truth, starting from the hard look John Lennon took at Elvis Presley (i.e. What happened THERE?) which led him to say when told that Elvis had died "Elvis died when he went in the army". Ultimately I decided that Elvis and Lennon both died when they signed their record contracts.

Having made my way through with my Lennonian integrity intact (in my view, opinions differ widely) and the world's longest graphic novel on my q.v. I don't think I have anything left to prove on the Lennonian Integrity front so I decided "Why not do something fun, funny and pretty?"

Endicott: I may not OVERTLY address the "stinky aspects" of the fashion world (I am trying to parody but also retain the "fashion voice" that virtually all of the magazines share -- there's a quiet suppressed edge of hysteria that's pretty funny in itself but the key to the humour is that it has to be suppressed. Extreme cheerfulness through clenched teeth) but I am aware of them. I went to Fashion Week in Toronto and saw my first runway shows. I think the profound unhealthiness of the models originates with television today. They looked seriously malnourished from ten feet away with very unhealthy skin texture to their faces. But up on the television screens they looked about ten pounds heavier and consequently FABULOUS. It was an arresting moment. "I'd rather look at them on television."

Sorry to hear about your mother.

Jeffrey Meyer: I can make it pretty good on my drastically downscaled and aesthetic lifestyle (I probably have enough saved up to see me through 15 years if I never sold another trade). I'm more concerned about the CEREBUS ARCHIVE's health in the long-term and -- thanks to Phil Boyle -- I now recognize the personal responsibility I have to be a positive force in the comics field. My savings all came out of retailer bank accounts. I owe them.

Haven't read Satrapi but I read all the NATIONAL POST coverage of the animated cartoon. I think it's a valuable contribution to modern Islam even though I'm sure we're miles apart in our views on Islam.

Joe Matt is great. He's a living example of Rory Root's credo that a good book will sell no matter how late it is. Very few people in that category. Joe, Chester, Seth, Dan Clowes.

Alex Ross is great. As Neal Adams said, he might've done work like that if the comic book field could have supported it back in the 60s and 70s. I'd say it's a gold star in our collective notebook that we are able to support someone like Alex Ross in what is, I hope and assume, princely style. I aspire to being the "black and white Alex Ross".


Oh, I sincerely hope so. Although I would never undervalue "money and chicks".

Paul O'Keefe: No, only in the stores. I'm hoping to list all the stores that do mail order on the "Where To Buy Glamourpuss" section of the website (www.glamourpusscomic.com) so people like Shaun O'Hern and Billy Beach who are nowhere near a comic store can still get their copies.

No, I've made Ger the open offer to do some cars in the book. He's really only drawing as a sideline now, where and when he's inclined. You can check out his "World Without Cerebus" commissions at www.cerebusart.com. He's thinking about doing them as prints or a portfolio. As I say the offer is on the table, open-ended.

The biggest learning process was using brush instead of pen (which is something of an Alex Raymond trope -- I just read in Tom Roberts' book last night that Raymond actually went back and forth between pen and brush pretty arbitrarily: this one for a while and then that one for a while). You can do a lot more with a thin brush than I every thought you could, but it has to be spontaneous, zen-like which is nerve-wracking.

Preney Print, unfortunately is defunct. I'm now printing at Lebonfon in Val d'Or Quebec.

Okay. I've got a prayer time at noon, so I might not get too much further in the next ten minutes, but I'll be back around 12:30 for the 12:30 to 2:30 stretch.

Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:05 am: Okay, I'm back.

I want to give another plug to LOOKIN' FOR HEROES here at 93 Ontario St. S. here in Kitchener for letting me use their computer this extensively in February. Anyone interested in buying a copy of the first CEREBUS trade, I've supplied them with a bunch of copies (I was pretty sure everyone in the Tri-Cities area who wanted one had one by now but John told me they actually sold three in the last couple of days since they arrived, so I've autographed them and put head sketches in them for the purchasers and much obliged)...

Also want to mention that there are 100 or so comic stores in Canada and 200 or so stores in the US who should have gotten their autographed copies of glamourpuss No.1 by now and who will be glad to let you have a look the next time you're in picking up your books.

Also want to give a plug for S.P.A.C.E. 2008 in Columbus Ohio where I'll be exhibiting all of the artwork from Secret Project #1, the one before glamourpuss, March 1 and 2. Jeff Seiler will also being selling copies of CEREBUS READERS IN CRISIS #3 for which I did the cover (of long-time CEREBUS reader Elizabeth Bardawill for her contribution "Crisis on Infinite London, Ontarios") as well as handing out the Day Prize. I'll be in late one of these days because I have to go to TomKar Awards over on Francis St. here in town to get the plaques done.

Answering L_nny, yes glamourpuss is a finite series that I guess will run about twenty or twenty-five issues and be collected in a HIGH SOCIETY or JAKA'S STORY sized volume sometime around 2012. This time out I'll be keeping the early issues in print and available.

Owen Harris: No colour, I'm afraid. I'm a black-and-white kinda guy. All of the glamourpuss covers will be monochrome for that reason -- and a light enough colour so you can see the line-work through it.

William Crump: On the subject of the old-style upright camera versus digitized: I'd have to say that there's some loss of quality but that could just be my prejudice against computers. Alain Matte and Josee Ste. Amour and I are getting used to each other and I have to say that I see very little difference between Lebonfon's work on the new printings of FORM & VOID and GUYS. FORM & VOID there were still able to use the original "flats" but are now digitizing the negatives (as they did with GUYS). Ultimately I'll have 16 disks instead of the thousand pound flame retardant metal cabinet and stacks of negs I have now. My concern is the change in technology that will follow disks and any loss of quality there when the disks get converted. A good analogy (?) the Kitchener Library converted all of their copies of the local newspaper, the KW RECORD, to microfilm back in the 60s and 70s and the microfilm's not exactly aging well and the newspapers themselves are long gone. They carried RIP KIRBY almost from the beginning (just to tie this in to Alex Raymond/glamourpuss).

It's a widely held belief that Preney went out of business because CEREBUS came to an end but it's really not true. They got caught in the "next generation of computers" crunch which has led to the collapse and consolidation of the printing industry. The outlays required to move to the next generation was just beyond their means and they had a very unsympathetic Bank which, when they sold the Dougall Street operation, basically seized virtually all of the money leaving them very little operating capital.

Quebecor (or Ronalds as it's known in the US) is now going through the end convulsion of that whole collapse and consolidation process with HUGE printing presses that need to be run 24 hours a day (three eight hour shifts) in order to remain profitable. The printers that were able to make that "next leap" Preney couldn't make can now do everything Quebecor can on machinery about one tenth the size and one tenth of the cost. It's a merciless business, printing.

Patrick D.: I'll look forward to seeing your strip in COMIC EYE. BlindBat Press is a shoestring operation, so I assume that I'll be buying my own copy (and one for Dave Fisher whose photograph of me I used for the cover). Are you going to be at the March 26 release party at the Victory Cafe? If so I'll see you there. Details at the Beguiling website or you can give Peter a call at 416.533.9168.

Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:46 am: Hey, Bill! Great to hear from you. Yes you were sorely missed and Mimi said she was going to give you a hard time about it. Is there any greater guilt than being trashed by Mimi? I just spoke to her the other night. She was relieved that her appearance in the film she was in -- and which Alan insisted they had to go and see at the Sundance Festival -- ended up on the cutting room floor. Alan can act out her part for you if you like. He did it for everyone at the signing. He's now holding out hope that it will be a bonus scene when the DVD is released.

Mimi looked through the website (www.glamourpusscomic.com) while I was talking to her and came up with the idea of getting her computer guy to download the flash animation intro onto DVD to play on the store televisions. That's why she makes the big bucks.

On a related Mimi note, I finally got to talk to Nancy McCann at Comics Unlimited in Westminster CA. "Mimi's Nancy" as she put it and that clicked right away. They even sound the same on the phone.

I should be coming to Vegas for the Retailer Summit in September and a couple of store signings at Alternate Reality and Cosmic Comics. See you there, maybe.

jacob lyon goddard: I had the Guide to Self-Publishing in the computer and was revising it a bit at a time unless I get someone to salvage everything and get access to another computer that might be it. Mostly the distribution and printing information needed to be updated. Peter at the Beguiling wants me to do it as a book, but I'm inclined to do it as a cheapie comic book again so everyone can afford one.

My religious beliefs in 40 words or less: equal weight to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. My observance is primarily Islamic -- praying five times a day, fasting in Ramadan, paying the zakat -- but I also spend Christmas reading John's Gospel and Passover reading Exodus.

I have about twelve volumes worth of correspondence, my side. Volume Three "Pretty Girls and Other Subjects" includes all of my form letters to Neil Gaiman's fans when he mentioned on his blog I'd send a free copy of CEREBUS to anyone who asked and I got about 2100 responses over a month or so. I still have the back cover to do but Claude Flowers has the contents all ready to go. I think the Alan Moore "Dialogue: From Hell" is available on the Internet somewhere as well as in the book they released marking his 50th birthday.

glamourpuss will be roughly HIGH SOCIETY sized, 500 pages or so.

Erik W.H. Taft: 1) Well I found it gratifying that none of the retailers hung up on me when I phoned them and this has certainly turned out to be a more civilized "on-line appearance" than I was led to believe it was going to be, so maybe I was wrong?

2) Not an extended bio. I'm really trying not to think beyond glamourpuss at this point. I did just get a phone message from Art Clokey's son about my offer to do a Siu Ta: So Far style strip about his dad. I have to get back to him sometime this week.

Paul Slade: Glamourpuss is really occupying all of my attention between now and 2012 so I've fallen behind on sending the 1972-present files to cerebusgfangirl for scanning (which she tends to do in the winter, spending the summer months on her motorcycle). I was going to get back to her about that now that she has a fax number and then Chester Brown and Rob Walton came up for a visit. Chet had just been to Boston University with Jeet Heer (hi, Jeet!) to look at the Harold Gray archives and said they're in pretty deplorable shape. A lot of rubber cement problems where the cement has dried and word balloons are falling off the originals and getting out of place. He said he wished he lived in the Boston area so he could put the time in to putting everything in order and at least putting all the pieces of individual Sunday pages in plastic bags so it's all in one place. I thought of Margaret because she's in the Boston area and has the necessary archivist instinct. Maybe she could put together a team who could get the work done tag-team style with the cooperation of Boston U? The Cerebus Archive isn't falling to bits, so I tend to think it's a "first things first" gig. Let's preserve Harold Gray's archive and leave the scanning of the Cerebus Archive (where the original letters are all in individual plastic magazine bags with backing boards) for a less urgent time period. Any volunteers out there in The TCJ Boston Universe?

Fernando Ramirez: I wish you and...your brother was it?...would go back to doing your own comics. I was very enthusiastic about the couple of issues that you put out and have them preserved in the Cerebus Archive in the Spirits of Independence section. Hey, I knew the name right away ten years later, right? Never write off comics completely. Just picture the number of guys who walked away just before DARK KNIGHT and WATCHMEN came out.

Thanks for showing up, Fernando!

Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:01 pm: Bob Corby: Hi, Bob. No problem. We're all busy these days. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Secret Project One: the first creative work in twenty or thirty years (he reckons) to make Neil Gaiman cry at the end. Just getting the phone message from him made the nearly three years of production time worthwhile. See it for yourself at Bob's S.P.A.C.E. show. No details before then (March 1) but feel free to bring your video camera and stream video of the artwork. No minors allowed into the exhibit area unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Fernando Ramirez: Back again! I'll be overprinting on issue one by 50% no matter what the final numbers are and going back to press as necessary. Yes, it's expensive but it's all part of the Shared Risk, Shared Responsibility, Shared Rewards program with the retailers. If I don't have the confidence that I can sell another 5,000 or 10,000 over the next year or so, how can expect them to? If I can't sell them I'll send them to the retailers to give away as promotion.

Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:14 pm: Bill Willingham: We'll arm wrestle for the check. So, speaking as a local what's the best restaurant in Vegas? Also do you ever go to the casinos and just chow down on unlimited shrimp while pretending to gamble? I'm thinking of writing a book called COMICDOM BABYLON so dish the dirt, Bill.

Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:18 pm: Okay. That'll be it for this session. I have to head back for my afternoon prayer and a tuna sandwich maybe (with Ranch dressing instead of mayo). Back around 3:30 for the 3:30 to 5 pm stretch.

Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:29 pm: Sorry, Duane's got a reorders and order corrections on the Marvel and DC books that came in yesterday and he has to put them through to Diamond before 5 pm and then he's done for the week so I might not get to everyone before Lookin' For Heroes (93 Ontario St. S.) business intervenes. First things first.

manpen: Wow! Forbidden Planet UK. You bet that I'm interested. Nice looking site. Jeff Tundis does all the heavy computer lifting for me. I just "video type" but I'm sure someone will let Jeff know about this and he'll send something formatted for you. Thanks also to the Veitchmonster for comping glamourpuss on comicon. I'll be heading over there tomorrow after I drop off the Day Prize info at TomKar. Thanks for showing gp to your customers...uh...manpen.

William Crump: I forgot to jot down a little note as to what you were asking about (it takes me forever to get back to the forum so I just write little cheat notes to myself. I'll get you after Duane's done for the day.

Al Nickerson - I LOVE glamourpuss in the same way that I love everything written in that "fashion voice" because it's so intrinsically feminine. It really is a "best female voice" because virtually everyone reading Vogue or Glamour or Elle or Marie Claire is either female or gay.

Women don't have to try that hard to maintain perfect equanimity in all surface and subtexts around heterosexual men because (as a comedienne once said) "men are like bears with furniture". Virtually no subtext. No, I have a definite affection for it.

Aeron: The length of the CEREBUS storyline was a matter of how far am I going to go now that I know I can sell enough to keep going. I picked 156 issues for very obscure reasons through my 1979 experiences I discussed with Alan Moore. Then I decided to go monthly and rounded it off to 300. I didn't want to be in the situation of Hal Foster who pronounced the last few PRINCE VALIANT pages he did "lousy". I figured I could work at peak efficiency into my forties.

Dominick Grace - Yes, I just found out that grammar has the same root as glamour. The origin is in the 8th RIP KIRBY strip where Rip talks Honey into going undercover as a model and she says "Gee. Imagine. Me a glamourpuss." It's a very cute word. The "puss" (slang for face at the time) takes the elitist edge off of the glamour. A glamour girl who can see the intrinsic humour in being a glamour girl.

Okay, Tom Dougherty's questions are going to take a few minutes so I'm surrendering the keyboard to Duane. Back soon.

Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:30 pm: Hmm. Okay. This is the last hour or so before closing so...one of the things I didn't consider is what happens when I move over the the Comicon site tomorrow. I haven't checked if there are additional questions since I left for my sunset prayer...I guess I'll leave it up to each individual as to whether they want to move over there and repeat their questions or just leave the questions hanging until I get back (the theory is that I do a website a day and then circle back to see how the thread is coming along -- every eight or ten days? Something like that)

Anyway, apologies to Kenny Penman at FP UK for missing his name at the bottom and just seeing his user name. I'm new at this. And thanks again for your very generous offer (I almost didn't send out any International copies to the stores on the Fantagraphics list -- it was $6.40 for each one and I could imagine the company credit card wilting under the strain: looks like I made it back on the one or two copies I sent out to Forbidden Planet!)

And thanks to Bill Willingham for the Sunset and Vines invite. Arm wrestling for the check is a lot more fun but I'll gladly switch to freeloader mode.

Okay Tom Dougherty: on the question of free expression and creativity, I think there might be a difference of opinion on that along liberal versus conservative lines going way back. I think that foundational conservative opinion of fiction is that it's part of the problem. "It's difficult enough to differentiate between reality and fantasy without making fantasy into a job description". Needless to say I'm not in that category but I do understand the concern and (since there's no control group) I can't say definitively that the world wouldn't be better if we just stuck to the genuinely factual...but I can't say that it would, either.

As to whether corporate capitalism is a plus or minus factor in creative expression. I tend to think that small scale capitalism functions better and more compatibly with creativity than does corporate capitalism. At the same time, thirty years into the CEREBUS experiment, I have to concede the point that business sense and creativity tend to be mutually exclusive more often than they're coexistent. I thought everyone could be made into a self-publisher if they would just apply themselves but the percentages favour the view that artists are not publishers by nature. As with feminism, the percentages are unknown. I think the fact of successful self-publishers means that self-publishing can never be ruled out absolutely (i.e. artists should never publish their own work makes about as much sense as all women should be wives and mothers exclusively -- whether we're dealing with a small minority or a large minority or a handful of anecdotal exceptions remains to be seen)

Interesting point on the irony of a marginalised environment like the comic book field addressing an elite environment like the fashion industry. Well, yes, but I'm comfortable enough with CEREBUS as an achievement (as I said before) that I'm willing to just have some fun at this point. I may have to work really, really, really hard on glamourpuss for years just to show up in a tiny corner of the fashion industry as a court jester. Well, that's kind of funny too, I think.

There's really no control group on your question 4. My reasonably intense involvement with the Direct Line Group on the '92 Tour and through the Trade Shows and the Spirits stops -- back then? The biggest question was "Who would be the first national chain of retail stores?" Logistically, I don't think it could happen mostly because of the staffing problem. People who are interested in comic books and who are also good at retail are few and far between. You can't just hire a warm body and put them behind the counter. And on a percentage basis, anyone who has an aptitude for comics and retail is ultimately going to want to open his own store. New England Comics has seven stores, likewise Coliseum of Comics. Lone Star has five? Six? The most common story is "a store too far". They went from two to three and the third one just never caught on so they went back to two. Or they had one, opened a second store it never worked or they had the staffing problem and went back to one. It would have made an interesting article in COMICS RETAILER (now defunct unfortunately) to have a dialogue between the New England guys, Phil Boyle and Buddy Saunders. How do you make it work.

One of the more interesting of the retail phenomena is exemplified by Shinder's in Minneapolis. It had been there for 95 years and was always one of the top book stores and comic book stores in the city and it went out of business a while back. As Greg Ketter of Dreamhaven said, no one in town experienced even a blip in sales when they went under. Their comic book customers just stopped buying comic books. That's why retailers wake up in cold sweats from time to time.

Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:58 pm: William Crump: finally found your last message! This is like a video game. I have to say that the scanning has come a long way and whatever flaws it might have are miniscule and will be ironed out before you know it. Even though I'm getting all of the negs scanned at Lebonfon as I bring out a new printing of each trade (next up READS) I'm still going to hang onto the negs since they really are the closest to the original artwork. There might be nuances that future scanning will be able to pick up that we have no idea about. The last thing I need at age ninety is someone yelling in my ear trumpet "YOU THREW THE NEGS AWAY!???! HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID!!"

Say "Hi" to Ron Crum at Comics & Collectibles (4730 Poplar Street in Memphis). We had a very nice chat and he was really gung-ho about promoting the book.

Some loose ends:

Jeet Heer: Hi again, Jeet. Photorealism is a high wire act. Raymond, according to his long-time assistant (in Tom Roberts' new book) used to spend three days penciling a week of dailies and a day and a half inking them. It's very difficult to sit there and work on every little detail of the face and the eyes, labouring over it to get it right. There's the photo, there's the face. Erase and draw, erase and draw, erase and draw. And then when it comes time to ink you have to just go in splish splash swoop slash. Otherwise it doesn't look right -- it doesn't look as if Al Williamson did it. It's too tight, too laboured over. That's where the thin brush comes in. Deep breath and swoop using your whole arm, no time to stop and think. 100% confidence or as close to 100% as you can get. That's why you need to work on a strip for years before you genuinely develop that confidence. I'm using too many lines for classic Raymond School but I've only done 30 pages. You have to do 100s of strips to actually develop the confidence. Hal Foster admitted that he envied Raymond's brush line and admitted he couldn't get to that level. Considering the time Foster put into learning to draw that's quite an admission.

StanleyLieber aka RE mini-comics genius: Letters page. I've been thinking about it, but it's very tough to keep confined the way I do letters pages. I really just want to practice Raymond School so anything that doesn't involve that tends to land with a dull thud on my mental desk. Maybe a single page.

When's your next issue of your magnum opus coming out. I've been as patient as can be, Ray -- er...Stanley.

Trevor: Not selling my artwork either CEREBUS or glamourpuss although I've promised Bill Schanes a glamourpuss original a la the Toronto and New York ones on the website Events section for the charity auction at the Retailer Summit in Vegas. Save your pennies if you're a retailer.

JackBaney: Thank you for Sharing The People's Glorious Revolutionary Spirit of Self-Effacing Jocularity. See everyone at Comicon tomorrow!