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".

Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:26 am

Well how much are your mini-comics? Wait a minute that's probably what the link is about, right? Let me see.

Okay, when I posted that your link disappeared. This is confusing. I think I'm way far ahead of where I'm supposed to be, so let me backtrack to where I left off two weeks ago. Kletz, you pick out ten dollars worth of mini-comics for me and I'll give you ten bucks for them at S.P.A.C.E. Whatever your best work is, in your opinion.

8:40 am:

Hi, Aeron...hope you get this more than two weeks later. Actually the decision needed to be made when I switches from bi-monthly to monthly. The original plan -- as with glamourpuss -- was to get three bi-monthly issues out on schedule. When I had done that, the next stage was to keep going. Around issue 13 there was enough money coming in on the book to justify me switching from commercial-work-one-month, CEREBUS-the-other-month to CEREBUS full time. That raised the question of "How long am I going to do this?" I didn't want to be in the situation of Hal Foster where he pronounced the last few PRINCE VALIANT pages he did "lousy" -- he had stayed on too long -- and at the same time I wanted to stick with the only successful thing I had ever done. Doing the book until my late forties seemed like a good compromise, so that's what I announced in 1979: 300 issues, monthly, until March 2003.

My math was off. The day I figured out -- some years later -- that it was ACTUALLY March, 2004 was not a happy one.

8:47 am

Greg Shantz: ...I consider searching for Truth and documenting that search as honestly as possible to be one of the most important things that we can do as a species...

The most important, I would say. Without a connection to Truth, God, the Infinite, whatever you want to call it, everything would just collapse.

I would agree with that to a degree but I think I'm safe in saying that we're still at a 50/50 split in society on the subject. Half of us believe that all truth is relative, all ethics are situational, all opinions have equal validity and for them Truth is deemed to be a highly ironic concept: something to be made fun of and eliminated from the debate as ideologically extreme.

Also I don't think "everything would just collapse" -- arguably we can get to the point where our own ostensible world (the physical world and all demonstrably factual scientific realities) would sag into a gray stew of nihilistic inconsequence but there would still be God, there would still be Higher Reality, there would still be the bedrock foundation of His revealed word in scripture and so on.

8:58 am

Greg Shantz: For Truth to exist, it needs consciousness. I'm not aware of any other beings more conscious than humans, so it would be in the interest of Truth for the human race to continue.

Hi Greg -- one of the foundational elements of my commentaries on the Synoptic Gospels is that they actually deal pretty extensively in higher consciousnesses and that much of what the Synoptic Jesus has to say is directed at them, forcing inferences in many cases. I prefer the wide open terminology "the ____s" as opposed to Guardian Angels, Higher Consciousnesses, spirits, Archangels, etc. although I think they're all represented in the Synoptic Gospels. Since the Gospels are directed at us, the physically incarnated, I think there was a (ahem) conscious decision made to just have that single blanket category. Sometimes there is a double blank in the narrative and I speculate that that indicates when God or an entity in direct proximity to God or YHWH or an entity in direct proximity to YHWH is speaking through one of the individuals in the narrative

(i.e. the blind man who hails the Synoptic Jesus "Have mercy on me, thou son of David" is actually God addressing YHWH on the core issue: is the Synoptic Jesus actually the Davidic Meschiach? The disciples chastise the blind man -- in Judaic terms its a blasphemous inference -- but the Synoptic Jesus doesn't. So, by negative inference, he's acknowledging the title. The blindness is actual and metaphorical. Help me to regain my physical vision AND confirm for me that you are the Davidic Meschiach)

Just my opinion.

9:08 am

Mike Hunter: Illegal? Is that true?

acebackwords: I honestly think that creativity is part of the human condition and that everyone displays a capacity and desire for it. If you think about it, the simple act of constructing sentences to communicate in a very normal, common way is a profoundly creative act relative to what's accomplished by other species on this planet. Speaking is so innate to being human, and so commonplace amongst humans, that it's easy to ignore the creativity required in expressing ideas, wants and needs to others. Is it enough creativity to satisfy what I think is required for a satisfactory life? I doubt it.

This touches on an interesting subject. Speaking as someone who made his living being creative, creating characters and developing interactions between them and doing it on a (relative to the field in which it was enacted) ENORMOUS canvas, on a daily basis I was reminded as I am reminded on a daily basis today of how dramatically simplified my own work is compared to the reality I'm attempting to resonate with.

In any given five minute period I can have an interaction with someone that would require a 400-page novel to do any kind of justice to. And that's one five-minute period in my life in a context where that's happening everywhere on the globe in billions and billions (apologies to Carl Sagan) of variations. God's handiwork, unfolding like the clockwork mechanism of manifold free will and replication that He intended it to be.

In the largest context, it's all over and done -- the history of planet Earth enacted itself, enacts itself and will enact itself the way it always has, the way it always is and the way it always will -- but here in our individual microcosms, we do have freedom of choice. We can consciously do things differently any second of any minute of any day: Bill Gates can keep all his billions to himself and lock himself away like Charles Foster Kane in Xanadu or he can give billions away to charities to try to improve the common good of all mankind (as he conceives of it). Evidently he always made that choice, but somewhere in his history it was still his choice to make.

9:19 am

Mike Hunter: However, there's a big difference between being set up so that your "only obligation in business is to make money," and it being against the law to seek profits by any means necessary [sic].

Those are actions which might raise the ire of bottom-line-minded stockholders: a CEO might be divested of his position, company execs given the boot. But they’re not automatically legally actionable.

Tom Dougherty: Yes they are. If a CEO deliberately avoids profit for the sake of the community or his workers-- and its not done for a tax write-off or advertising campaign-- they are subject to legal action. Stockholders may sue the director/CEO for compensation of their lost revenue. I'm sorry if I gave the impression that they go to "rape me in the ass"-prison, that wasn't the intent. Not all punishments under law involve arrest and prison time. This information is in the article I already linked, maybe you skimmed over it.

Allow me to further clarify: altruism/charity is not illegal and I never said it was, but there are incentives to avoid it. Any action taken that cannot be construed to increase profits or improve market share is illegal. If a corporate entity performs a public service, it must justify that action with an ulterior attempt to increase stock value. In essence, good deeds are irrelevant and are only pursued insofar as they happen to benefit stockholders.

And I would return to the Bill Gates example. It is certainly possible for a CEO to declare his own hands tied by his obligations to the corporation -- I don't WANT to lay off 10,000 workers, I don't WANT to do what I consider unethical things but the Board of Directors on behalf of the stockholders has a gun to my head.

At that point you can form your own charitable foundation which is a thing apart from the corporation where you made your money. Or, on a much smaller scale, you can take a smaller salary personally and give what you would have taken as a salary to charity.

In the case of Islam, this is more sharply defined as the zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam which mandates that the community has a share in each indvidual's wealth and that you are expected to give 3 percent or more of your total accumulated wealth to feed those who are not able to feed themselves. That's different from tithing in the Christian context which is usually based on income -- giving 10 percent of your paycheque to your church.

It poses interesting questions for me: does the CEREBUS artwork constitute accumulated wealth? If I had to multiply the 1,900 pages under my jurisdiction by the going rate for pages and pay 3% of that per year I'd be doing most of my work just to pay the zakat.

I don't sell my artwork and I pay the zakat on the pages that Ger has jurisdiction over that he pays me a share of. That's my rationale but I can't rule out that it will negate what I DO give to local charities (which is usually more than what I make personally) on Judgement Day.

In real dollar amounts relative to income, I'm way ahead of the curve of the Canadian average of $300 per year for charity, but I'm not a big believer that we get graded against the curve on Judgement Day. I see it as a Steve Ditko gig. A is A. Right is right and wrong is wrong.

9:34 am

Thanks, Mark! I sincerely apologize for not calling you when I got the copies to tell you that I wouldn't be able to make it down to Hamilton for the arts event. As you can see I'm booked solid for the month of February with the glamourpuss promotion...

[we interrupt this communique to remind everyone that ALL of the stores have their glamourpuss No.1 COMICS INDUSTRY PREVIEW EDITION at this point so you should be able to go in anywhere and take a look before making the decision to order a copy. For all you great retailers: the order codes are FEB08 3391 for the Comics Edition and FEB08 3392 and you will get a free copy for every 5 of either edition you order and a bonus 5% discount on what you would ordinarily get ON INITIAL ORDERS ONLY.

You've got roughly 14 days in both cases to make up your minds. Good luck]

[We've also got our first eBay entries of glamourpuss No.1's according to Jeff Tundis' fax from yesterday. All are COMICS INDUSTRY PREVIEW EDITIONS. 370023324016 is $9.99, 130198208700 is $3.99, 200200053289 is $0.99 and 180215657464 is $11.19 which gives you an idea of how exacting a science the valuation of comics preview editions are at this point in comics history :)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing you at S.P.A.C.E., Mark. I always wanted to do something for Blind Bat Press and I can safely say that it was the best $100 cover I ever did. MAJOR thanks to Dave Fisher for taking the cover photo that I used (and the alternative version that I used in glamourpuss No.1) (I sent him one of the comps) and to Bernie Mireault for that You'd Swear Marie Severin Did It colouring job.

I'll be signing however many copies you bring to S.P.A.C.E. so be sure to stock up!

See you there!

9:40 am

Hi. Wm. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your views with everyone.

As I've said all along, I'm more than happy to let each individual comics fan/collector/reader take a look at the COMICS INDUSTRY PREVIEW EDITION of No.1 at their local store and make up their own minds. As I've been saying lately, it'll take about 20 minutes to read the whole thing if you have serious doubts. I can't give you back the twenty minutes, but I can maybe save you the three bucks.

I've always been a big John Workman fan so -- even though I don't think you intended that as a compliment -- thanks for the compliment!

Chester is determined to get back to UNDERWATER sometime in the future so I think we'll have to consider it a temporary-but-extended fizzle (if that).

9:47 am

Thanks, Rantz.

1.) DISPLACED PERSONS in May. I'll look forward to it.

2.) I ended up doing a stint over there a few days ago, so it should still be up as one of the many "glamourpuss Dave Sim" threads. Checking my schedule in this mass of proliferating paper (where am I here) I might have a short "revisit" on the last day of the glamourpuss Internet campaign, Wednesday 27 February. It's marked as "Panel & Pixel or MillarWorld or IMWAN". Maybe I can do all three with prayer breaks in between each one.

By the way, IMWAN stands for Iron Man With A Nose. Not since the typo "Suicide Squid" became the basis for a series of online awards called the Squiddies...fill in the rest of that sentence as you see fit.

9:51 am

Wow. I didn't know I was considered to have ANY superlative skills in Comics Journal Land. Caricature AND cartooning? Be still my beating heart. Still not enough to crack the Top 100, but hope springs eternal.

Prayer time. Back around 1 pm EDST. See you all then!

11:09 am

Hi sinous -- thanks for participating here. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. But in the interests of clarifying the differences between us:

I'd take issue with your assertion that comics *should* be more than just pretty pictures in a couple of directions:

1) although I don't share all of Alex Ross's political viewpoints -- nor he, mine I'm sure -- I think he probably hit a very high watermark, possibly the highest watermark, in the idealistic FDR and (particularly) Eleanor Roosevelt Liberal political tradition which is the metaphorical nutrient soil in which the comics industry is founded with SUPERMAN PEACE ON EARTH. I think you'd have to be pretty cynical and jaded (a completely protected free will choice) to see that story in particular as just grown men in leotards.

2) I am loathe to criticize anyone whose work I can't do and Alex Ross is definitely in that category. I can look at it and see WHAT IT is that he's doing and particularly in his tabloid books and MYTHOGRAPHY book of his DC work, I can see HOW it is that he's doing it. But I can't do it and I freely admit that I can't do it. He is at a much, much higher plateau of the Leonardo dictum that "painting is seeing". If you can see clearly and break the image down into a series of colour problems, a series of layers of decision-making, colour density, dilution of colour, brightness of colour then you are UP THERE. I'm not.

Far from embarrassment or emptiness my reaction is one of awe and admiration.

thanks again for participating here.

11:17 am

That's an interesting example. As I said in the "What Are You Reading" section of the Feb PREVIEWS about Jeff Smith's take on the character, C.C. Beck would have had kittens at the liberties that both take with The Big Red Cheese (as he did with Don Newton at the time). It's interesting because C.C. Beck was definitely far over in the Chris Ware thematic end of comics at least in terms of his drawing style and being that resolute that in order for it to BE Captain Marvel it had to look as if it was drawn by C.C. Beck.

He certainly didn't abide by any tomfoolery about "realism" being added in to comic books. Anything outside of pure cartoon was bad comics.

I disagreed with the viewpoint then and I disagree with it today, but it's interesting how vehement the other team tends to be. Not only about the exalted and (to them) irrefutable purity of their viewpoint but their rock-solid conviction that realism is wrong, bad, evil, no-good, poo-poo, ca-ca.

Me thinks they doth protest too much. Just my opinion.

11:26 am

That means nothing to your team, but that isn't the same as self-evident meaninglessness, I don't think.

You can prefer utter primitivism, iconic simplification, and everything else that defines the simplest comics as the best comics, but choosing to ignore high water marks in other areas or dismiss them doesn't mean that there aren't high water marks in other areas.

The aspiration to do as faithful a representation of three dimensional reality in two dimensions is an authentic ambition -- and one that I'm interested in exploring in glamourpuss to the best of my abilities -- and the people who have been the most successful in doing so -- Alex Raymond, Neal Adams, Alex Ross and so on -- have achieved at a very high and rarefied level.

I think what your team is attempting to do is to win the same argument over here that you ultimately won in gallery art or fine art where there is still this Huge Question Mark about whether or not Norman Rockwell is actually an artist (let alone an Artist) while it is taken as a given that Jackson Pollock is An Artist.

That's lunacy to me, but I freely admit that your team won that one and there is no sign of that victory being revisited.

It makes me all the more determined to try to find a more balanced way of looking at things in comics lest the same thing happen over here.

11:38 am

UNCLE SAM is a good example. That wasn't written by Alex Ross it was written by Steve Darnell and it was a pretty innovative piece of work in the areas that sinuous is advancing -- larger themes and Content for what of better terms. It was an extended political cartoon painted in Ross' ultrarealism style.

There is a point, I think, where the photorealists do become enamoured of doing the most a) attractive and b) REALISTIC work that they can do. The top of the mountain, thanks to Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, Al Williamson, Neal Adams and others is very, very high up, indeed.

That is, it's very time-consuming. In cartoon or caricature you can have the character's eye one sixty-fourth of an inch out of place and it still looks like them. "Close enough for government work". When you are working from a photograph or tracing a photograph, the same doesn't hold true. It's a matter of microns between ending up with a "Sweet!" or "Yuck -- what's up with her left eye, dude?"

So a lot of the guys, I think, rely on scripters because they're putting all of their time into moving up the mountain, base camp to base camp.

I'm sure Alex Ross read Steve's outline and/or script and said, Yeah this is what I want to do. Why eat up a month or two months or three months of your own time, starting from Square One and then having to figure out how to get back up to your base camps. Fly in a script by helicopter drop it at the forward base camp and you can keep climbing from there.

11:47 am

Yes, it's one of those molar-grinding qualities of the Neal Adamses and the Alex Rosses of this world: the rock-solid knowledge that if THEY decide to do what YOU'RE doing they're instantly going to be better at it than you are.

If Alex Ross sits down tomorrow and says, "Hmm a fashion magazine parody drawn in Alex Raymond's various RIP KIRBY styles. Hmm. I haven't done any black-and-white stuff for the most part, let's see what that's like" his version will BURY mine six ways to Sunday.

That's part of the realism mountain. If you're in the game you have a pretty good idea of where you are (Way Way Down Here in my case). You put your blinders on and "run your own race" (as Danny Thomas reportedly counselled his daughter Marlo). I want to make it up to the next base camp and that's all I'm focused on.

Like Alex Ross's little whippy whippy cartoon caricatures of Captain Marvel in the MYTHOGRAPHY (or is it MYTHOLOGY?) book. One look and Jeff Smith must've known the last thing I want is for Alex Ross to do a four-issue miniseries of a cartoony Captain Marvel.

But Jeff ran his own race and definitely has the high water mark CM...if you ignore the sound of C.C. Beck's molars grinding in the great by-and-by (which I did and do).

11:52 am

That's an interesting question. I seem to remember Alex Ross saying somewhere or someone else saying somewhere that they would be interested in a LIFE OF JESUS by Alan Moore and Alex Ross. If it WAS Alex, Alan might have taken that the wrong way...or, more likely, was completely unaware of it since, like me, Alan isn't on the Internet.

Also Alex works almost exclusively for the Big Two and as far as I know, Alan is all done with the Big Two. If Alex really wanted to do something with Alan, the person to contact (I think) would be Chris Staros at Top Shelf because that seems to be the basket in which Alan is putting most of his eggs for the foreseeable future.

I'll certainly buy a copy.

12:05 pm

Did Chris Ware put that on his own website? I'd certainly like to think that he did. To me, that would put the comic field well up on the Fine Art field if he two sides were able to at least acknowledge each other.

Norman Rockwell did a SATURDAY EVENING POST cover that has come to be called "The Connoisseur" (he didn't title his own works) of a well dressed gentleman standing in an art gallery in front of a Jackson Pollock style painting. Rockwell did all the research into how Pollock did his pictures and worked very hard to "do" Pollock (doing the spatters with the same arcing arm movement, shortened up because the "painting" was inset in his own picture). He went to Paris in the 1920s to try to participate in the art renaissance that was going on and was summarily rejected as a non-artist, old fashioned, etc. I'm sure Pollock never referred to him or the cover except in deprecating terms.

He was always open to all forms of art. He preferred his own discipline (obviously) and he certainly never rested on his laurels -- at least up to the last years, each picture got better and better and more and more difficult to execute -- even as he was being dismissed by the Art World and even more troubling by the Commercial Art World at the end of his life.

A highly placed executive at the Rockwell Museum told me that she had been at SVA some years ago -- the School of Visual Arts, for crying out loud! -- and Rockwell wasn't so much as mentioned.

And yet he's far and away the most beloved American artist of his own or any generation.

And, to me, the greatest painter of all time...inside or outside of America.

12:07 pm

I appreciate the compliment but I'd definitely be the pilot fish on that one. You tell me what parts you don't want to do, Alex, and I've got you covered.

12:10 pm

Hi, Cory, welcome back. Is that the same GLAMOURPUSS that was on eBay last week going begging for a dollar? It was evidently a gay porn novel about a gay soap opera star. As I said at the time, adapting it might be my fallback position if this fashion parody/Alex Raymond gig falls through.

12:19 pm

Mike Hunter: I'm dubious about the "Glamourpuss" concept, but the preview pages suggest that the Dave Sim who returned has regained his equilibrium and his sense of humor without sacrificing his artistic genius (horrific views on women and Islam remain, evidently)...

...his responses to questions over at the Yahoo news group, on the other hand, were often awe-inspiring in what they revealed about Sim's attention to detail and the thought which went into nearly every aspect of Cerebus... even if that doesn't change my views on the last fifty-ish issues of the book..

I've always had my equilibrium as far as I know.

I've certainly been PORTRAYED EXTENSIVELY as being unbalanced, but I think that has more to do with people reacting to and adding to the Paper Tiger Dave Sim that has been constructed here on the Comics Journal Message Boards over the last fourteen years...with impunity because I wasn't on the Internet.

I'll leave it up to people to decide from this thread and the threads on all the other websites where I was an actual participant as to how much equilibrium I do or don't have.

Thanks for the link -- I've never prosecuted anyone for using images of Cerebus, so it's indirect. Hillary Clinton could use the Four More Years poster from 2000 on her website and I wouldn't say anything. Sorry you didn't like the last fifty issues of the book.

12:24 pm

Yes, to reiterate although Dave Sim and gender politics are seen to be a ham and eggs combination, my interest in gender politics is a very, very small part of my thinking and has been for some time. Since it seems to be a central interest of everyone else, I thought I would devote two complete days to talking around in circles about everything I've already said over the last x number of years.

I'll be back there on Tuesday (February 19: 10 am to 6 pm EDST except for prayer times) for those interested.

12:31 pm

It's certainly a HUGE challenge: what would Jimmy Corrigan and the Super-Hero look like done photorealistically?

I notice Alex addresses Chris Ware as "Mr. Ware" above his signature. As I said before, I hope Mr. Ware took it in the way it was intended.

I wonder whose idea it was at NEW CITY? And if they intended it as a tribute or if they were going, "This should REALLY bug the chicken soup out of Chris Ware. 'nyah nyah Chris, this is the sucky environment that you're ACTUALLY IN!"

Hard to tell. Like trying to insult me by comparing my work to John Workman's.

Or like me saying to the avant garde guy a while back, "I see absolutely no sign of craft in your work" and he took it as a compliment.

12:38 pm

Well, you know I don't really see the analogy with Ezra Pound. The Nazis, like Pound and like his defenders, were Socialists, National Socialists. The only difference between them and traditional Marxism was who they wanted to take the money away from and who they wanted to give it to.

Marxists want to take money away from industrialists and managers and give it to workers. The NATIONAL Socialists wanted to take money away from non-Germans and give it to Germans. Which they did. Even as late as 1942 you could leave Nazi controlled territory whenever you wanted, you just couldn't take anything with you.

For the record, I don't want to take anything away from anyone and give it to someone else. I'm not a Socialist.

But I do appreciate you all asking me about my metaphorical poetry.

12:44 pm

Heidi MacDonald: Is there, like, a SCHEDULE of Dave's message board appearances, or is he just going to show up at little trafficked boards every day and wonder where everyone is for a while?

Sorry, Heidi, I had a very distorted idea of how the Internet works with all of the hype about instant communications. I figured if I went to a message board, started a thread and started writing this would INSTANTLY be known by everyone who was interested EVERYWHERE in the world.

I also hadn't realized that SEQUENTIAL TART was verging on moribund. As a non-Internet person I figured if I had heard of a website it must be pretty high in Internet Public Consciousness.

Not to mention the fact that they had the highest ad rates of any of the websites I advertised on.

What I EXPECTED was what I found this week at Brian Bendis' JINXWORLD and Mark Millar's MILLARWORLD.tv. An Absolute Beehive.

Live and learn, eh?

Okay, prayer time again. I should be back around 3:45 EDST.

Hope cerebusfangirl's schedule helped you as much as it helped me.

1:54 pm

No, you didn't bore me. I just start at the top and go down one posting at a time. This is my last appearance at tcj.com and I have no idea if I'll get to all 12 pages (most of page 12 has to be my answers from today) but I'll be at Comicon tomorrow, SEQUENTIAL TART on Tuesday, etc.

If you REALLY want to ask a question, you can post it over there right now and presumably have a better chance of me getting to you.

I can't control who shows up and who asks questions and in what order.

I'm also trying to answer each question thoroughly -- otherwise I'm pretty sure of being charged with being evasive. So there is a "damned if you do damned if you don't" quality that obtains. Evasive vs. Not Getting to Everyone.

I'm dancing as fast as I can.

2:03 pm

Cory Fuka: WWDSD? Dave Sim would limit his internet access to 100 hours on select message boards.

Uh, well yes. Pardon me, but your phrasing seems a little funny. Again pointing in the direction of "damned if you do, damned if you don't".

I'm "limiting" my Internet participation to 100 hours, but -- trying to be fair to myself -- that's 100 hours more than I've ever done before and it's all being done in one month, so it means that I'm putting in a good eight to nine hour day just answering questions from people and promoting my new book glamourpuss.

Yes, I'm doing it on "select" message boards, but I DID include SEQUENTIAL TART and a full eight-hour day of gender politics even though my interest in gender politics is pretty much nil. I also took Gail Simone's advice and added Brian Bendis' site and Mark Millar's site -- which I doubt that I would do if I was really the misogynist everyone over here is determined to paint me as.

However doing that did mean that I went from three visits to each site to two visits to each site.

Had I not, it wouldn't surprise me if people would say, "Gail Simone suggested he do JINXWORLD and MILLARWORLD so naturally he ignored her. What a misogynist."

Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

I'm not complaining, I'm just saying.

2:06 pm

Thanks, Cory. That's me at the reception at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA, November 10, 2007. The flower is a Remembrance Day Poppy which, like many Canadians and Brits, I wear between November 1 and Remembrance Day, November 11 (Veterans Day in the US).

2:12 pm

Uh, not very much. The fashion magazines tend to be more feminine than feminist (as you note) and feminine subjects interest me a lot more than feminist ones.

My habit right now with the fashion magazines I get is to go through them back to front looking for Alex Raymond/Al Williamson looking models and folding down the top corner to mark the spot (an average of three per magazine so far). Then I read the magazine and fold up the bottom corner anytime that I read something that I think will make a good vehicle for humour or parody. Top corner for drawing, bottom corner for writing.

I'm looking forward to getting back at it full time when I get back from S.P.A.C.E. March 3.

Thanks for checking in.

2:15 pm

Well, as I say, there's the ostensible world which is really made up in its entirety of wave/particles flying in loose formation and which doesn't actually exist but seems to...

...and the Real World which is permanent but has no physical properties -- ostensible or otherwise -- but which is all that will remain when this world passes away. That's really the whole thrust of scripture -- the Torah, the Gospels and the Koran -- as I read it.

2:30 pm

Hi, Pat! What no plug for THE CLAWS COME OUT? Find something to say in answer to this and plug in a scan for the nice people. Tell Ted Adams thanks for the comp copy. I actually ordered one for myself at Carry-On so now they have one on the shelf. I told them I'd pay for it (after all I got a free one) but Sherry said If it's still here a year from now, we'll talk about it.

Good attitude.

Anyway, I think that KaBlam and ComiXpress and the others are a great idea as an intermediary stage. I recommend that novices take photocopied versions of their comics into a store where the owner or manager doesn't know them (and consequently isn't obligated to be polite) and say, "Give it to me straight. Would you carry this comic book and if not why not?" Give the retailer time -- book an appointment or something -- and listen to what they have to say.

IF you get past that stage, then I think KaBlam and ComiXpress make a lot of sense at the next stage: which is testing the market. You're right, at the cost-per-unit, giving a store even a small discount means that you won't make any money. But it seems to me at that juncture, the point isn't to make money, the point is to find out if the book will sell. If you drop off ten copies at forty different stores and three weeks later only two of them have sold a copy, well, there's your answer.

If you go back three weeks later and most of them are sold out, well, THERE'S your answer.

So for the total cost of say $200 that you will never get back, you can save yourself a $1200 printing bill, a $2,000 PREVIEWS ad, etc.

It's the Direct Market equivalent of Elmer Wexler saying to the teenaged Neal Adams who wanted a critique of his Johnstone & Cushing wannabe advertising tryout piece, "It would take me all day to tell you what's wrong with this."

You can do like Neal did -- in the showing the retailer stage and in the testing the market stage -- and go, All right, let's figure out what's wrong and fix it. Or you can get all devastated and sulk and give up writing and drawing comics forever. $200 at a time, if you have the ability and the work ethic, eventually you will probably produce something that the stores where you test it are able to sell ten each in three weeks.

Or if you haven't the ability or the work ethic you will have a box full of comics that you did that you will be able to give to people for as long as the supply holds out.

Either one of which I really wish had been an option back in 1973 when I was starting out.

See you at SPACE!

2:39 pm

Endicott: Dear Dave, May we have your impressions of your tour of the Internet fora? What sticks in your mind as interesting questions or remarks? Alex

Uh, sure. It's very difficult moving around although I've just started getting the hang of the "top of the page" thing and making note of what page I was on and clicking on that to get back there. That makes it a little faster, but it's still a lot of clicking for someone who doesn't ordinarily click.

I think things like [and here's a good example. I think it's Cory but I'm not going to click over there and go searching because I know how long it takes me to get back] the photo of me, then Tyson, then two boxers then Oscar Wilde -- and that's the quote. That's interesting. That's over in the direction of comics: the idea that the visual and literary are both valuable ways of expressing an idea. Or the photos or drawings that people use as a representation of themselves. A therapist would have a field day!

It's a lot of hard work, but I figured it would be when I told the retailers I was committed to 100 hours of promotion. It's very time-consuming in the same way producing comics is. I sit here and type for the better part of eight hours and produce enough text to hold someone's attention for...what? Twenty minutes? Half an hour?

I'll have to see what my gut instinct is after I've been away for a month or so as to whether I'm going to come back for the April release of the first issue.

Not for a whole month, though, I don't think.

Thanks for asking, Alex.

3:16 pm

Mike Hunter: To Dave Sim, this message board tends to "go quiet" on Friday. Don't take it personally if you're not thronged with questions and comments.

Oh, I had no idea. So everyone's going to be saying "Oh, of COURSE he'd show up on Friday when the message boards are dead!"?

Jeez I can't win for losing, can I?

Mike Hunter: Here are a few questions that missed getting answered your first go-around: I'd not heard before of your interest in those "photo realist" comic strip artists. For how long have you admired their work?

I think the earliest point was when I was first collected the RIP KIRBY newspaper strip in September of 1970 (it had been in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record practically from the beginning). So I had this binder with acetate sheets and I thought about doing a cover illustration for it, copying one of John Prentice's panels. I could tell by looking at the art that that was an "easier said than done" thing and -- except for Neal Adams -- I could see that Prentice's art was on a much higher plateau than virtually everything I was looking at in the comic book field.

The inking was incredibly simple but incredibly difficult at the same time and I had never seen those two together.

The next time I'd describe as a watershed was when I redrew my earlier attempt at T. Casey Brennan's "Picture This" script. This time I was looking at Al Williamson's SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN strips in Ed Aprill's zine CARTOONIST SHOWCASE (#12). I was looking at the same thing, I realized. Simple but difficult. Instead of just piling cross hatching onto everything, I'd actually look. That's ONE LINE. The hatching on the cheek is ONE, TWO THREE lines. "Less is more". It isn't detailed, it only looks detailed. I couldn't match that illusion but what I did end up with was "much less messy" than the earlier version. That was my first step up the realist mountain.

Mike Hunter: Are you eventually planning to do comics employing your more "cartoonish" approach? (While your photorealist art is dazzlingly skilled, I feel caricature is a pretty significant strength of yours.)

I don't know, to be honest. Two issues in, I'm not really thinking "What next" and my caricature magpie skills got quite a workout on CEREBUS. Just on Woody Allen, I got to use Crumb, Feiffer, Drucker and so on. Right now the only thing I haven't done nearly enough of in scratching my artistic itches is "pretty girls in my best Al Williamson style".

I think I know why Williamson always had that huge grin in his photos. .

Mike Hunter: In "Following Cerebus" (a magazine I love, though I could never get into "Cerebus"), you use publicity photos of Sarah Michelle Gellar as a taking-off point to comment on the tactics by which a woman employs her appeal, power dynamics between her and some actor she's posing with. What is your thinking about the world of fashion, and the way models are depicted in its photography?

Well, it's funny because as with anything else, when you're in there looking closely you see things you don't see otherwise. There was this one shot of a model who was quite beautiful but looking at the camera in a really adversarial way -- and she's standing on one leg, like a stork. And I picked up on the fact that this was a power play between model and photographer. I mean, he's the photographer, she has to do what he tells her to do but she's giving him attitude so he's going, "Okay, honey -- you don't want to do it my way, I'm going to make you look like an IDIOT."

And it does, it looks idiotic, but the photographer is good enough at what he does to know how to make it look idiotic in a way that the photo editor is going to go for.

But that's really the exception. Most of the time I'm just looking for my own aesthetic as formed by Alex Raymond and Al Williamson -- and when I FIND it, it's like Christmas, brother! Like the shot on the glamourpuss' Top Five Promises on the Flip Side of Diamond PREVIEWS. I forgot they were giving me a comp editorial page. I'm in the middle of the retailer phone campaign. I don't want to lose momentum. Grumble grumble.

Go downstairs and flip open one of the magazines checking for bent down corners. OH WOW! THIS ONE! Oh, man -- LOOK at her. Look at the outfit, look at the shoes, look at that HAIR -- look at the intertwining of the arms. Yeah, let's do THIS one!

Retailer phone calls? WHAT retailer phone calls?

Mike Hunter: Do you think being so packaged is positive or negative for them, and in what way?

Again, I don't know how to separate out my answers, so there are a bunch of answers up there in the body of the text. Sorry. Luddite on Board.

I think it's positive for them. There you are one of the most beautiful and desirable women on earth and here comes a world class photographer to make you look twice as good as you actually look if he can manage it because it's your shared livelihood. I mean, you talk about natural beauty you can keep the Rockies as far as I'm concerned and just give me really good fashion photos of really beautiful women wearing really beautiful clothes.

Where I think it's negative is that women tend to be more gullible than men when it comes to thinking, "If I just [buy that outfit/wear that makeup/own that luggage] I'LL look like that." Or I'll look more like that than I do.

I mean there isn't really an equivalent for men (assuming that most of the readership of GQ is gay). Even if I look at GQ, I don't look at a male fashion model and think, Wow -- if I buy that suit and tie I'll look like him. Buddy has movie star hair, plucked eyebrows, weighs about ninety pounds soaking wet by the looks of him and is prettier than the last ten women I ogled downtown. I am none of those things, never was and never will be. I don't remember ever looking at men's fashions in PLAYBOY. The girls and the interviews and the articles and the departments and the fiction (in descending order of preference).

So, in a way fashion magazines are these really unhappy lies that women tell themselves that can only ultimately make them feel bad and cost them way too much money -- or leave them feeling as if "IF ONLY" when there's no "IF ONLY" to it. Photoshopped Kate Moss is Photoshopped Kate Moss and regular women are regular women.

But in terms of Photoshopped Kate Moss making real Kate Moss feel better about herself if she was strung out on heroin at the shoot, yeah I would assume that 's a short term positive for real Kate Moss.

3:31 pm

Mike Hunter: S'more questions: As someone in the unique position of having one foot each in the religious terrains of Christianity and Islam, Do you think free-speech rights should be limited when something like those "Danish Muhammad cartoons" can result in such a bloody and violent reaction by a minority of Muslims?

No, definitely not. That's one of those areas where we all have to be heroes, in my view, like Ezra Levant running the cartoons in his magazine in Canada. If you get a brick through your window or you (God forbid) get shot, that's the price that has to be paid at this point in history.

Ultimately the basic human self-realization will sink in to Radical Muslim minds just as basic human self-realization eventually sunk in to the Southern rednecks who were lynching peaceful blacks on television. "My God, how did we get to be like this?"

The best vital sign lately was the Saudi authorities, in the space of a few days, sentencing a rape victim to 100 lashes for immoral behaviour, 200 lashes when she ratted them out to the media and then a completely commuted sentence -- with prison sentences for the rapists. That's the GLARE of the Western media that not only keeps everyone up to date on these things but also holds up a Large and Highly Polished Mirror that the subject can't look away from. It was unprecedented in Saudi Arabia and it happened overnight. "My God, how did we get to be like this?"

Mike Hunter: Aside from adaptations of the Bible and lives of saints, both reverent and irreverent, with a relatively few exceptions there's been a lack of substantial work in comics dealing with peoples' spirituality and religious faith. Since the last two are such an important part of your life, have you considered trying to describe through the art of comics your personal experiences while praying, fasting, etc.? (I found reading your account of fasting for Ramadan fascinating and illuminating.)

Well, I have to be careful in those areas because I'm definitely no Christian's idea of a Christian spokesman or any Muslim's idea of a Muslim spokesman. I'm just a Weird Infidel in traditional Muslim frames of reference. "Islam, My Islam" was my automatic reaction to 9/11 -- I HAVE to write this as a Westerner -- followed quickly by "Why Canada Slept." As far as I know both are posted at Margaret's www.cerebusfangirl.com website. And of course there are all the Sunday Editions of the Blog & Mail fully archived.

My faith is really a text and not a comics thing -- with tangential exceptions like Secret Project One.

Mike Hunter: Do you think it's even possible to adequately convey these numinous experiences, which are sometimes subtle, sometimes bone-jarringly powerful?

No, but I think you're obligated to try while also keeping yourself from descending into the Gibbering Religious Fanatic cliche -- which is quite a balancing act most of the time. It's hard not to believe that God Did This To Me in no small part because he wanted me to share it with other people. Particularly if you're Dave Sim and you have a history of "sharing" your experiences.

3:34 pm

Hold that thought, Stanley...it's prayer time. I'll be back for a last half hour or so on the other side of 6 pm. See you then!

4:27 pm

Stanleylieber: Dave, Do you know anything about the specific techniques used by Alex Raymond, Stan Drake, etc., to adapt photos into line drawings? What's your experience been in (I assume) trying to apply some of those same techniques for the art on GLAMOURPUSS?

The information is kind of sketchy. A couple of anecdotes about Raymond accusing Drake of tracing photographs and then Drake explaining to Raymond how much more elaborate a process it was and Raymond being won over. Another anecdote about Raymond arriving at Drake's studio and saying "What's this marvelous thing you're doing expressions?" Well, it seems to me that at one level or another the two anecdotes contradict each other while having enough veracity to be enticing.

Drake DID do a lot more with expressions than Raymond did, particularly with Eve Jones. Did he do it by tracing photos?

Tracing photos isn't a big "cheating" deal to me -- there's too much work for me to think I'm dogging it. But traditionally in art tracing has been seen as cheating.

It's a little disingenuous since there are examples of "flopped" images in Raymond's strips that point in the direction of tracing -- often not even photos but other illustrations. Prof. Mendez is pretty thorough in tracking down things like that since he's an omnivorous illustration fan with an encyclopedic memory.

It's an interesting subject, anyway.

4:29 pm

That's a great one. Issue #298 of the 300-issue max-series. A great jumping on point for new readers!

4:33 pm

I also wouldn't rule out that a lot of people have enough media to keep track of as it is and the last thing they need is to open the graphic novel can of worms. Particularly with the exponential growth. The NEW YORK TIMES seems to have capitulated but only so far as the Top Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly guys are concerned. I'm not sure that isn't a political thing, pulling the leftist wagons in a circle -- you're on the same extreme leftwing as the NEW YORK TIMES? Okay, you're Art. Come on in and grab a rifle.

4:39 pm

The key point to me is the "somewhat". By the end of his life everyone had pretty much talked him into the fact that he was old hat, cliche, hackneyed, etc. He ended up selling the "Breaking Ties" cover for $900. I think it was the first Rockwell to crack the $1m barrier.

It would have been nice if he could have experienced that in his lifetime. Jimmy Carter awarded him a high civilian honour of some kind in the last year of his life, but as I pointed out to the Museum Executive who pointed that out, that wasn't the art world. That was the White House.

Massachusetts named him the Official State Artist while I was down there. Wonderful. That was only, like, thirty years too late.

4:46 pm

Okay, I'm seriously running out of time here and I have to post my announcement at Comicon that I'm going to be back there tomorrow...so let me just say thanks for the hospitality and encourage anyone who didn't get an answer to repost their question at Comicon or any of the other website I'll be at over the next two weeks. Check and see which one has the shortest list of "to be answered posts" and add yours to that one.

I'm really not being evasive, but there's only so much that can be said in a full working day of typing. Just check the list of forthcoming sites and put your question there and I'll try to get to it.

The sooner you put it in, the more likely it is that I'll get to it.

Thanks Journalistas! Hope to see you elsewhere on the Internet.