Thursday, 28 February 2013

Creativity & Aging

Cerebus #295 (October 2003)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
DAVE SIM:
(from The Blog & Mail #413, 29 October 2007)
...the ability to make comics doesn't get taken away, but the ability to produce them quickly -- which is really the core element of successful comic books: not only being able to produce them but being able to produce pages in sufficient volume to hold an audience between issues -- does erode as you move from your thirties into your forties. The idea that you will always be able to produce comics at the same pace originates in the sense of immortality that everyone in their twenties and thirties possesses. "I will always be like this." Well, no you won't. The decision to do Cerebus as a monthly until I was 46 was a decision only a twenty-three year old could make... I can only reiterate that drawing comics in your forties is a very different deal from drawing them in your thirties... At the age of 51, I'm hoping that I have enough juice left to produce a bi-monthly title for an indefinite period of time but monthly is definitely beyond me at this point – and, really, was beyond me for at least the last two years of Cerebus.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Dave Sim: NYC Art Auction 'Post-Match Analysis'


Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (April 2008 to July 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.

DAVE SIM:
(from Kickstarter Update #143, 25 February 2013)
Much obliged to everyone who continues to donate to the Dave Sim Fund, helping (in a BIG way) to finance my as-yet-undetermined period of writing THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.  Still in the pure research phase, it's really sprawling all over the place, but is in a relatively neat and orderly form somewhere in the back of my head.  "Yes, I can do this. I'm pretty sure I can do this. I sure hope I can do this" (rinse and repeat).

I've had to get my slide rule out, trying to figure out how to allocate the money coming in. We are getting VERY close to the release of the GOLD LOGO SIGNED AND NUMBERED CEREBUS and GOLD LOGO SIGNED AND NUMBERED HIGH SOCIETY and I'm having to decide how many to print.  The more I print, the lower the per unit cost, but sales being down across the board in ANY book publishing, there's no way of knowing if I'd be printing a three-year supply (a good use of limited resources) or a ten-year supply (a bad use of limited resources).  Is the book business just plain DYING? Just resting its eyes?  If it IS dying will it continue to die at the same rate or is it going to expire quickly (leaving me holding the bag on a 20-year supply of CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY?  Just asking.

Right now donations [to The Dave Sim Fund] are about a third of the revenue stream, so, I mean, REALLY! THANK YOU!
Heritage Auctions at The Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, NYC
The auction of the "High Society Collection" in NYC last week was certainly the best news for the Dave Sim Fund since this Kickstarter campaign last year.  Lon Allen and I had the ambition to try to get the price-per-page up from the $700 area (generally) to around $1,000.  The average price at the auction was $1,700 with the most expensive going for $3,000. Very good news indeed. The $15,000 or so that the Dave Sim Fund will get out of that will definitely buy several months of STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND writing time (and maybe drawing time -- depends on how long it takes to write it).

Tim of A MOMENT OF CEREBUS faxed me:  "It must have been pretty exciting to attend and watch the live auction as the bidding went up."  Well, yeah, exciting is one word for it. More like riding a roller coaster without the roll bar locked into place.  The actual auction goes VERY VERY fast. Kathleen and Andrea, Heritage's auctioneers, are amazingly good.  I did Kathleen a sketch of Cerebus while she was reviewing her notes and I asked her if she got butterflies when she's about to go on.  Well, yeah, of course. Anyone who is really good at something has butterflies.  You don't want to just get by, you want excel.  The real level of excitement comes with the complete unknowns. The $240,000 bid for the Romita SPIDER-MAN cover for the death of Gwen Stacey had everyone's jaws dropping on ARRIVAL (very gratifying that the "NIGHT BEFORE" splash was next to it in the display case...

(and made a great news item for Heritage on the local CBS morning news show.  Ed Jaster did that interview and I watched it on his laptop when someone downloaded it for him, like, two hours later -- ah the modern Internet.  The starting bid on the SPIDER-MAN cover was $240,000 and the guy who had consigned it had bought it for $700.  Morning news gold.  I got to share in it a bit when Ed told me that he had committed me without asking -- but figured it was all right -- the producer of the news show was a huge CEREBUS fan and wanted to know when I would be doing sketches and Ed said "Dave's a pretty nice guy, I'm sure he'll be glad to do one for you and I'll send it over."  Which, of course, I did.  But I just did the quickie head sketch I was doing on the little Heritage Auctions notepads they had for people in the display room.  I'm doing it and I'm thinking.  This is a news producer at CBS New York City.  I should do a GOOD head sketch. And I told Ed as I handed it over. "This will be fine, he'll be delighted."  Yeah, but I was more talking to myself.  A REALLY GOOD full figure sketch might make the difference between a one-time item on the morning news and maybe getting the next three NYC Heritage Auctions on the morning news.  You really want to stick in their minds.  Live and, hopefully, learn.)

...but it was the auction of the first WATCHMEN cover -- a great unknown, that iconic smiley face button with the blood drop on it, how much would it go for?  It started, I think, at $19K and then just took off.  I was sitting next to long-time CEREBUS patron James Santangelo.  "Here we go," I said.  It topped out at $130K and everyone just naturally broke into applause. A record-shattering gold medal performance at the Indoor Comic Art Olympics.

In that context, you need to give yourself a good talking to -- YOUR pages are NOT going to do that.  YOUR pages are going to amount, in total, to a ROUNDING ERROR in that context.

There are different patterns to the bidding.  Sometimes its maxed out with the starting bid. Someone guessed exactly what everyone would bid, bid a little higher than that and then got it.  Some guys obviously intend to scare everyone else away with a Big First Jump.  Starting bid of $8,000 and the first bid is $14,000.  Sometimes it works, but most times it doesn't.  It's like pouring too much blood in the water, you just attract bigger sharks. 
Glamourpuss #16 (November 2010)
Art by Dave Sim

Tim asked:  "I was wondering if you had any 'post-match analysis' you'd care to share on AMOC?"

That's a very apt way to put it. After my part of the auction was over, I was dazed and wondering, Okay, why did that one go for YAY much and this one went for almost four times as much?  I'm still looking at the starting bid and finishing bid and looking at the page and trying to figure out what the bidders saw.  It's very much like a football match when the whole auction is over.  Albert Moy, a legendary art dealer and CEREBUS supporter asked me if I'd come over and see him after the auction and sign a couple of things for him.  Sure.  And I was signing some stuff for a couple of guys who had come in -- Abraham and Michael -- and I'm really in shock, to be honest. WOW! 17 HUNDRED DOLLARS! and trying to wrap my head around 17 THOUSAND DOLLARS and still do a plausible head sketch and make conversation with two guys who had come WAY, WAY uptown just to see me.  AND trying to remember "DO NOT WALK OUT OF HERE WITHOUT GOING AND SEEING ALBERT MOY!"

One of the things Albert wanted me to sign was the original cover for CEREBUS No.24 and he mentioned that he had sent a scan to Scott Dunbier for the CEREBUS COVERS book.  Which is great because it printed TERRIBLY and even the match print is washed out.  It's still in really good shape.  And Todd Hignite of Heritage came up and the three of us sat together and Todd asked, "So, do you want to do more CEREBUS pages?"

Man, I didn't KNOW.  And I STILL don't know.

I'm the kind of guy who CAN and DOES walk away from the blackjack table if I have a sudden run of luck. If that's what it is. Of course I haven't gambled in a good fifteen years, but that was always my nature. Walk away while you're ahead. Or way ahead as I see myself being with the ten pages.

It was like three sports guys sitting around after the big game and just wondering at it.  Why did that go for that much?  What happened with that one?  It was a seller's auction so I was very lucky.  I asked James at one point -- since he buys a lot of artwork -- if the pieces were coming in on the mark, under-performing or over-performing?  Everything was going for more than he had thought it would, a LOT more.  No idea why that was.

Tim also wrote: "Brian Coppola offers some reaction to the auction (he thinks they all over-paid!) over at his Artvark site (if you're interested)." I don't have to READ it, I wouldn't have expected Brian to say otherwise.  That's why I'm on the spot.  I'm SUPPOSED to be preserving the Cerebus artwork in perpetuity in THE CEREBUS ARCHIVE.  If I'd have known that the bump up in payroll taxes was going to be taking place in the US at the beginning of February, I wouldn't have gone near the February auction. WalMart had reported the WORST first two weeks of a month in a long, long time. If I could have pulled the pages when I read that in the financial section of the NATIONAL POST I would have -- in a New York Minute. And it would have been the WRONG call even though the internal logic was, as far as I was concerned, irrefutable.

You have to be careful not to let it go to your head.  FINALLY my genius is being appreciated! Yeah right. Was it a fluke? How much of a fluke was it? When your pages go for $700 and a page goes for $3,000 the odds are it's a fluke.  Will it fluke again or fluke the other way?  I faxed Steve and Debbie at Heritage this morning.  Three-page fax covering all the angles the best I can.  We still have a LOT to talk about.  And the next auction isn't until May in Dallas.  So I have 'til the beginning of April to make some hard decisions. Which is really starting to seem like trying to calculate how many face cards the dealer has in his "shoe" in Vegas.

You feel lucky today? Punk.
Glamourpuss #16 (November 2010)
Art by Dave Sim
Tim concludes: "My e-mail-shot the weekend before the auction resulted in 7 comics news sites running features on the auction of varying lengths, which I was pretty pleased with.  I've listed the sites with links on Saturday's 'auction results' post (if you're interested).  It might not have helped towards the final auction total, but it's all good profile-raising stuff."

It might NOT have helped or it could be the way the fellow or lady who bid $3,000 on the Cerebus changing into his suit page found out about it.  (I told James if I'd have known it would go for $3,000 someday, I'd have done a whole issue of him changing into his suit.) It's all so hidden from view.

Thanks, Tim, but the last thing I need to do is to read my own press clippings.

But I do seem to have backed into having my own NEWS SERVICE in A MOMENT OF CEREBUS. So thanks to Tim for that.  Which came in handy in this case because of the confusion about whether my going to the Heritage Auction qualified as a signing or not.  Um. It wasn't my intention, but it was borderline.  To me it was a private event and was only supposed to be publicized INTERNALLY by Heritage Auctions.  I still don't think that a misogynist should go out in public.  I was going as a consignee of my own work to see how the whole process worked.  But it was also a four-storey mansion filled with comic-book people.  I couldn't very well say, no, I won't sign an autograph for you.  Buddy has spent a CHUNK of change on me over the years and I haven't been to The City since 2005.  To me, that's just a little too Frank Sinatra for words.  Noah Fleisher, Heritage's crackerjack Park Avenue Public Relations Director for their NYC auctions, turned out to be the world's biggest CEREBUS fan and misconstrued what I had said to him on Wednesday that I was more than willing to do head sketches and autographs FOR THE BIDDERS and did a more general "come one, come all" announcement.  Natural mistake. This was less of a problem in NYC than it would have been elsewhere.  As Nate Oberstein said when I was hanging out with him (he, coincidentally arrived back in the City Friday night from a trip to California), "The only reason anyone in New York would go up to 79th and Fifth Avenue is if they lived there or they were going to one of the uptown Museums or they were passing through on their way to another borough."

So the handful of people who did show up over the few days were obviously REALLY dedicated and realized when they got there that it wasn't structurally a signing and were very cool about just sneaking over and handing me some stuff to sign, or giving me something of theirs and then sitting down and watching the auction.  I did want to clarify that the September 24th signing in 2010 at Cal Johnston's STRANGE ADVENTURES in Halifax is still THE LAST SIGNING.  BUT! If I have to be somewhere on business and people who are there know who I am and want a couple of autographs and a sketch, I'll be glad to do it for them.  I'll revisit the question of doing conventions or signings if we get 2,000 signatures on the I DON'T BELIEVE DAVE SIM IS A MISOGYNIST petition but, really, right now we're about 1,500 signatures shy of that after four years which means I'm not going to be revisiting the question until around 2028 when I'm 72.  And the fact that it took until I was 72 will definitely factor into my decision. "Let's check back when I'm in my 80s. Gum, gum, gum."

The only thing carved in stone with Heritage Auctions right now is the IDW covers -- which everyone quite liked when I showed them to people in NYC -- which will be in their weekly auctions.  Not being on the Internet, I have NO idea how you sign up for their weekly auctions but I'm sure you can find out at HA.com.  Remember, EVERY piece starts at $1.  The way we're setting it up is that when I get the printed copies of the comic book that I did a cover for, I'm going to sign and number 5 copies (HERITAGE 1/5, HERITAGE 2/5, etc.) bag and board them, put them in with the cover and FedEx the lot to Heritage which they'll hopefully get up on the site ROUGHLY at the same time that comic is in the stores. You bid on the package, the cover and the signed and numbered books.

The first one is the CEREBUS ATTACKS cover which I'll be FedExing to them as soon as I get caught up on all the stuff I've fallen behind on while I was gone (and all the stuff I brought back with me), so that should be up and offered for bids before you know it.

I was very tempted to stay down there for a couple of extra days and go up to Westport to see the crash site, but I'm still really paranoid about HOW LONG I have to make the cash on hand last. It's 2013. Money EVAPORATES as you've, no doubt, noticed.

The ONLY work I took down with me was the 1603 version of HAMLET (which ties in by way of Leonard Starr's MARY PERKINS ON STAGE).  Did you know there were two versions of HAMLET?  The 1603 First Quarto which Eddie found for me online was completely revised the following year, 1604, with much of the material rearranged and  a lot of material added.  Which seems kind of...screwy.  With the expense of actually typesetting and printing a play (this was EARLY in the days of moveable type), why would you go to all that expense and then basically redo the whole thing the next year?  Anyway, Shakespeare was never my best subject (although I can still remember most of "The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth..." speech from A MERCHANT OF VENICE and "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks..." from ROMEO AND JULIET, grades nine and ten respectively) so I really needed to focus on it and the best way to focus on it is to a) make sure I have nothing else with me I can work on and b) basically perform it.  So, that's what I did, pacing around my room for two and half hours, getting completely lost and then following it again and getting completely lost and... fortunately... finding what it was I was looking for.  If it's in the 1604 version (which I also read) it's in a different form.  You want to know how dedicated that is?  The New York Rangers were playing the Ottawa Senators on the MSG (Madison Square Garden) network.  And I turned it off at the end of the first period.  For a Canadian who doesn't have a TV of his own?  THAT'S dedicated.
Glamourpuss #16 (November 2010)
Art by Dave Sim

When I got home, the fax machine had spewed pretty much all over the office.  As I was picking up the ones that had just landed I had a WTF moment.  "Typewriter type? I'm the only person on the PLANET who still uses a typewriter. Who could this be from?" It was from Arlen Schumer and IT WAS THE ORIGINAL POLICE REPORT for the car crash that killed Alex Raymond!!!! I could not have BEEN more surprised.  Wiped out a big chunk of my speculations in One Swell Foop, answered a number of others and posed a number of brand new questions.

HUGE step forward.  HUGE step forward.

Apart from that, I've got a lot of stuff to get caught up on. I'm sure the mailbox is stuffed and I've gotten compulsive about having a completely clear desk. NO unanswered mail.  But I am now on the other side of the New York trip and it's now completely uninterrupted work, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.  And I've still got three days of catching-up work and HOPEFULLY some writing I can get in before it's time to do my four IDW covers for March starting next Monday.

And, just for the record, the revenues from the Dave Sim Fund donations were $1,000 for the first month, another $800 up to February 14 and another $400 between Feb 14 and today.  A lot times it's paying for pretty prosaic stuff -- $500 (minimum) for the warehouse storage, $1,000 a month for heating, $800 every other month for municipal taxes, bookkeeper bills, accountant, printing bills when necessary, $1,000 for me, groceries, Federal taxes, etc. etc.  It may not SEEM like much, but it's a big psychological lift when I get a $500 bill in for something and there's $400 in donations.  "It will be FINE, Dave. CHILL! WRITE! They're paying you to WRITE!"

Okay, I'm off to the post office.

...And, again, THANK YOU for your $1, $5 and $10 donations.  I'm really starting to think that THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND is actually going to happen!

Back in a couple of weeks!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Varks Of The Endless

Eric Van Oosten's 'Digital High Society' Kickstarter Rewards (2012)
Art by Dave Sim

The 75 issues of Neil Gaiman's epic mythological fantasy Sandman were published by DC Comics between January 1989 and March 1996, and featured the seven 'Endless', who embodied destiny, death, dream, destruction, desire, despair, delight, and delirium.

Monday, 25 February 2013

IDW Covers: The Colonized #2

The Colonized #2 (IDW, May 2013)
Art by Dave Sim
DAVE SIM:
Chris Ryall's description of this one was (from his 11/20 fax):
"I love that first cover. If you want to keep a similar creepy '50s-movie vibe for the next one, that'd be great with me. For this one if there can be an alien and one of the humans (the lead guy with the bushy moustache in the #1 pages) being menaced by a zombie horse ridden by a zombie human, that could work for me. But, as always, I defer to anything else you might have in mind, too."
Thank God for Google Image! You can literally just type in "horse skeleton" and there you go: it looks like a giant colourful Lost Equine Graveyard. So I basically just picked the best angle they had -- a rearing horse and then went looking for "horse and rider" -- show jumping -- and found the one that was the closest to that angle and then tweaked it so the flesh and bone dovetailed as closely as possible. Then I drew the guy in the foreground and his rifle from Drew Moss' image in #1 adding in a battery powered lantern to (hopefully) add some dazzle to the exposed bones on the horse and rider. So, I did the guy first, pencil and ink, and then the horse and rider. Because the alien doesn't overlap the horse and rider, I did him third. I think the first folds I did on the space suit were on the left thigh with my Series 7 #2 brush and they landed just right. I don't know why, but they did. And that meant I could finish the rest of the space suit and helmet at a higher level of sharpness than I'm usually able to hit. Luck of the draw.

I used birch trees because birch trees are very versatile backdrops. You get a nice black and white pattern that you can either have "go gray" by rendering it as pen strokes or just use a solid black. A lot of it's going to fill in when it's reduced but there should be enough "fuzz" left to get the idea across.

On the "topper" piece, I tried to get an animation effect on the spotlights coming in to the left and through the "ALIENS" lettering. In retrospect, I think I should have extended the beam between the "A" and the "L" between the "L" and the "I" and the "I" and the "E". TECHNICALLY, the beam illuminating the alien figure occupies a "panel" between the "L" and the "N" which is what I stuck with, but it makes the previous light beam too short to register as that.

Live and learn.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

IDW Covers: Doctor Who - The Prisoners Of Time #5

Doctor Who - The Prisoners Of Time #5 (IDW, May 2013)
Art by Dave Sim
DAVE SIM:
I'm pretty far outside the loop "DR. WHO-wise". I did read in the paper that this is the 50th anniversary of DR. WHO -- I had no idea it had been going on that long! So, I gather that's what IDW is making artful use of.

We haven't gotten to STAR TREK yet, but Chris had asked me to do a generic-variant cover and had sent images from the recent movie. And I ended up just doing Shatner and Nimoy, which he bought for another book but explained that they have the licence for the recent movies so I need to do those characters. So, when DR. WHO came up and the photo reference hadn't arrived, I thought AHA! They'll be doing the most recent DR.! So I looked him up on Google Image and did that. No, DR. WHO is the other way round: they're doing them in order and I was supposed to do No.5 and No.6 and had ended up doing No.11. AARGGH! He bought No.11 though.

However, now I'm all organised and I have about 30 or 40 images of each DOCTOR to pick from, I've just revisited the scans for No.5 to revisit my thought processes.

My idea, is "glamourpuss by stealth." I'll do DOCTOR WHO so that I can draw his pretty assistant (he always had a pretty assistant). Going through them again, I'm moved to wonder "Why didn't I do NYSSA?" She's stunningly pretty. The answer is she was always in the background and hard to draw clearly. Then I found a clear shot of her but she had changed her hairstyle from tight billowy perm to a "big Hair" wave which doesn't look nearly as good on her -- and she's wearing a really unfortunate (in my view) outfit. There was another companion named Tegan, though, so I started looking at her.

The last image in the "No.5 DOCTOR" file was a head and shoulders shot of her with a pixy cut. I found it kind of endearing because she was too old for a pixy cut at that point. At a certain age it can let you hang onto "young" for a couple of more years, but either she was past that age or she just didn't have the right facial structure to support it. Maybe both. So decided to draw what I figured she had been hoping she would look like with a pixy cut. Put a couple of gleams in her eyes and... this and that... the miracle of pen and ink plastic surgery!

The DOCTOR himself, I found a good Al Williamson shot of him kneeling next to the Tardis in a  sylvan setting which definitely gave the vertical strips on his pants that Al Williamson quality. I even grafted in a characteristic Al Williamson spotted toadstool.

Of course at that size, getting a good likeness is all but impossible, but that's what magnifying glasses and brand new Hunt 102 nibs are for. It's actually a better likeness that I remembered it being. I still have a lot to learn in that area, though.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Dave Sim's 'High Society' Art Auction: Winning Bids

Heritage Auction's 'live' auction held in NYC on 22 February for Dave Sim's 10 pages of High Society original art resulted in total winning bids of $17,250 (excluding HA's 19.5% Buyers' Premium). Many thanks to all the comics news sites that featured the auction in it's last week, including: The Comics Reporter, The Beat, Comic Book Resources, ICv2, Comics Alliance, Forbidden Planet International Blog and TCJ.com.

Cerebus And The Woman-Thing

JUST A GUY NAMED JOE:
(from The Official Cerebus Facebook Group, 18 February 2013)
Check it out! I finally got a Dave Sim commission! Here's his take on my all-time favorite comicbook cover: Marvel Team-Up 68 originally by John Byrne! I thought people here would appreciate a look!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Dave Sim's Last Girlfriend

Dave Sim's Last Girfriend:
The Collected Letters & Faxes Of Dave Sim & Susan Alston

(Simon & Schuster, April 2016)
DAVE SIM:
(from a letter to Susan Alston dated 19 March 2004, reprinted in 'Dave Sim's Collected Letters 2004')
You certainly don't need any permission to print your own views on what you remember of myself or Cerebus, nor am I any kind of stickler for keeping my correspondence or personal memorabilia private. I would caution you against such a course of action only because Cerebus isn't really that kind of thing. I'm reminded of the memoir of Adele Morales of her marriage to Norman Mailer (which cost me an exorbitant sum when I found it in Chapters). I knew going in that it was probably not going to contain anything interesting, merely the salacious and the mundane and in that I wasn't disappointed. A good example was dinner with Edmund Wilson. Having just excerpted his F. Scott Fitzgerald parody from Discordant Encounters in the annotations to Going Home, I was on the edge of my seat to see what he and Mailer would discuss. All Adele remembered was that Wilson had a piece of food lodged in one of his teeth throughout the dinner and that that had repelled her. And that was all she had to say about Edmund Wilson. "Serves me right," I thought, remembering the sixty dollars or so the hardcover volume had cost me. "Serves me bloody well right."

...if you have something to add to any discussion of the creative side of the book or if you remember any of the conversations that I had with [Steve] Bissette or with [Rick] Veitch about various aspects of the comic-book medium or with Larry [Marder] about the business, that would be useful in its own way... But, as I recall, the start of those discussions was usually when you decided it was time to go to bed.

As well as being Dave Sim's last girlfriend, Susan Alston served as executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Colleen Doran: Surviving The Self-Publishing Movement

A Distant Soil by Colleen Doran
(Image / Shadowline, from April 2013)
COLLEEN DORAN:
(from an interview at Comic Book Resources, 8 February 2013)
...after getting battered around by the small press for awhile, I just didn't see why I should sign a contract with another one of these companies. They had no more qualifications than I did, so why should I bother to work with them? I doubted I could screw things up half as much. I spent some time asking around about how to self publish, and Dave Sim was particularly helpful with that. I took the plunge one day, ironically with funds from a legal settlement from one of the small publishers which ripped me off.

Self publishing was a great learning experience. I made very good money for awhile, too. When the distributor system collapsed in the mid-1990s, I took a serious hit, but then I went to Image, thanks to Erik Larsen.

I'm really glad I self published: I learned so much about the business end that I use to this day. I understand discount structures, the importance of getting books done far in advance, trade publishing, a great deal. Real nuts and bolts stuff. I actually learned to appreciate some of my publishing clients more, because I came to understand some of the rules they imposed: they didn't seem so arbitrary.

Self publishing isn't for everybody. It's very labor intensive in ways I don't think anyone who does it really likes. You put a lot of time and effort into packing and shipping product, for example. I'd rather be writing and drawing.

Of course, self publishing on the web is an option that did not exist at the time. You don't have to sink a huge amount of money into printing until you are sure you've actually got an audience to sell it to, which is a huge advantage.

But for print, when I started self publishing, it was a wide open market. There wasn't much competition, certainly not like there is now. It's ridiculous how deluded some people are about their success in the 1980s/1990s. It was a license to print money for awhile. A self published book like mine could sell tens of thousands of copies, more than many mainstream comics do now: it was no big deal.

It got to be a big deal if you held on to your audience after that initial rush. Me, Jeff Smith, Dave Sim, Terry Moore, few people survived. One day, there were a half dozen of us, then there were hundreds. And creators whose books sold tens of thousands saw their sales drop to a few thousand within a decade. It was harsh. I don't think some folks ever quite got over it, or understood what happened.

Anyway, the real test is not how well you do when there's no competition, it's how well you do when there is. No big deal to sell your fantasy comic when there's no alternative. Now there are so many fantasy comics, I can't count them all.

I consider myself lucky, not only to have new readers today, but to have so many readers who stuck with me. I'm very grateful.

After a six-year hiatus, Colleen Doran brings A Distant Soil back to a comic-book store near you via Image Comics/Shadowline with #39 in April 2013. A frontrunner of the '80s indie comics scene, A Distant Soil was more recently derailed by illness and the loss of film negatives. Colleen Doran's sci-fi/adventure series originally broke several barriers both in creation and subject matter. Doran was one of the first women in the indie comics scene to write and draw creator-owned comics and A Distant Soil broke ground by featuring openly gay characters as series stars.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Dave Sim Appearing At New York Auction Thursday/Friday

HERITAGE AUCTIONS:
(from HA.com, 20 Febraury 2013)
We're thrilled to tell you that the great Dave Sim will be attending both days of our Comics auction this week, February 21 and 22. He will be signing autographs and doing sketches for fans (for free). Come meet him in person! The auction will be held at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion (aka Ukrainian Institute of America) at 2 E. 79th Street, New York, NY. The auction sessions begin at noon Eastern both days. Mr. Sim has consigned ten key pages from comics' first 500-page graphic novel, High Society, to this auction. You can browse and bid on them here.

Comic Arts Patrons #1

(Click image to enlarge)
Own a piece of Cerebus! Dave Sim is auctioning 10 pages of High Society original art at Heritage Auctions. Internet bids can be placed until 21 February, or you can bid in person at the live auction held in the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, 2 East 79th Street, New York on 22 February. The pages being auctioned are:

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Comic Arts Patrons #2

Own a piece of Cerebus! Dave Sim is auctioning 10 pages of High Society original art at Heritage Auctions. Internet bids can be placed until 21 February, or you can bid in person at the live auction held in the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, 2 East 79th Street, New York on 22 February. The pages being auctioned are:

Monday, 18 February 2013

Photorealistic Pin-Up #2: JFK

John F Kennedy (1917-1963)
Art by Dave Sim (Glamourpuss #17, January 2011)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Dave Sim Discusses 'The High Society Collection' Art Auction

When Dave Sim announced in early February that he was auctioning some of his original Cerebus art from High Society via Heritage Auctions, I was worried. In his essay The End?, which appeared in the final issue of Glamourpuss #26 in 2012, he had outlined a 'Doomsday Scenario' in which a combination of falling sales on the Cerebus graphic novels and little prospect of other paying comics work, would force him to liquidate Aardvark Vanaheim and seek work in the Alberta tar sands. Had things really got that bad for him? I immediately faxed Dave 10 questions seeking clarification, and in the answers below, Dave explains his motivation behind the current art auction, his prospects in the comics industry, and thoughts on preserving the Cerebus Archive.

The 10 pages of High Society artwork being auctioned are reproduced below, together with links to Heritage Auctions, where you can place your online bid until 21 February. Alternatively you can bid in person at the live auction being held on 22 February at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, 2 East 79th Street, New York.
Cerebus #26 Page 10 - Cerebus #29 Page 9
A Moment Of Cerebus:
How did you select the 10 pages for The High Society Collection art auction?

Dave Sim:
I sent a copy of HIGH SOCIETY to Lon Allen, the consignment director at Heritage Auctions. A stand-up guy and early signer of the petition. Which blew me away. I only met him once when Pete Dixon brought him to town. Anyway, I sent him HS with all of the pages in the Cerebus Archive marked with a check mark in the upper right and left corners of the pages and asked him to list his preferences. Which he did.

Did you think these would be the most appealing to potential bidders, or were they just your least favourite pages?

Well, no, you can't really DO that: least favourite pages. Heritage is the third largest auction house in the WORLD right behind Christie's and Sotheby's and surging like crazy in the last year or so. Lon has years of expertise as to what sells and what doesn't -- not just good pages but pages that will look good on the catalogue page which is often -- but not always -- the same thing. Giving Heritage "least favourite" pages would be like going into the Stanley Cup finals, thinking, Well, let's just hang back and see how this goes. It's the Stanley Cup finals. You give it your absolute best. Like Mitch Williams (to mix a baseball metaphor in here) "I pitch like my hair's on fire."

What was the motive for the current auction? Are you just "testing the waters" of the original art market place, or is the auction part of your "Doomsday Scenario" as outlined in your essay The End? in glamourpuss #26?

Well, in a sense, when you're 57 years old in the comic-book field, everything is a Doomsday Scenario. I set this in motion by calling Lon and finding out if Heritage was interested, which they were. Very. So, that was very gratifying. But you have to start early. It's a long process of negotiation and I knew that would be the case. I set that in motion and then John and I did the Kickstarter campaign which didn't require AS early a start. It was successful but I guessed the money wouldn't last much past the end of the year with all the overhead and that was what happened. Lon and I weren't ready for the November auction which is what we originally planned. There was still some negotiating to do. But we were ready for the February auction. Lead time. Everything is lead time.
Cerebus #30 Page 13 - Cerebus #32 Page 16
Will you be selling any other pages in the foreseeable future, or is this it for a while?

I HOPE this is it, period.

In between winding up Kickstarter and moving the Heritage Auction along, Ted Adams at IDW -- another signatory to the petition, which is why I trust him implicitly -- sort of cautiously mentioned that they were doing MARS ATTACKS month and was I interested in doing a variant cover? My reputation -- which bears (and always has only borne) a vague resemblance to me -- precedes me. Everyone expects me to bite their head off whatever they're asking me. Heck, Ted, it sounds like fun. Is that really what they pay for covers these day? Wow. I was impressed.

A couple of weeks later, I thought, Maybe I'm being way too Rube Goldberg about this "how do I make a living in my fifties?" thing. Why not get basic and just do, say, four covers a month? So, I asked. Apprehensive that it would be, "Uh, no Dave -- just MARS ATTACKS, okay?" Letting me figure out for myself that I'm a) too old and b) completely out of fashion. No, not YET anyway. They had, like, 19 titles for me to pick from. Warning me away from the franchises that tend to want to micromanage the property.

And then a couple of weeks later it occurred to me: hey, what if I auction the covers through Heritage? That was one of the things Lon and I went around and around about. You want to BUILD a market for your work. Put a bunch of pages in the catalogue, fine, but they also do weekly auctions. Get buyers used to the pages turning up on an on-going basis. This ties in with your next question, so go ahead.
Would you prefer to hang onto all your original art, and if so, why? Once you have a high resolution scan, what is the merit in holding onto the original art? Do you see this as your pension fund to sell at a future date, or would you prefer to keep the Cerebus Archive as complete as possible as part of your "legacy"?

Well, "legacy" in quotation marks pretty much sums up the current status quo, but, yes. The essence of the Cerebus Archive is the original artwork. Like the Andy Warhol Museum. What's the point of the Andy Warhol Museum? The paintings and the prints. The pages aren't stored in the house but the house, all the contents of the house and the off-site storage are considered the Cerebus Archive. That's what I see as my job to preserve. MY work and OUR -- Ger's and my -- work. No scan can do justice to original artwork although the technology is getting better. I don't think it will EVER be as good as the original art.

When we had a number of pieces in the Norman Rockwell Museum's COMIC LIT show that toured for years, I went to the opening in Stockbridge. Rockwell signed a PILE of prints before he died and they're using those at least partly to buy paintings back. Which was very foresighted of him. You see behind the scenes: this is how you do this. You create currency that will appreciate over the years that you can use to get the work out of private hands and into the hands of those charged with preserving your -- in Rockwell's case -- LEGACY.

In other words, you don't build the Cerebus Archive by selling HIGH SOCIETY pages. But I'm at the low ebb of earnings potential because of...let me be diplomatic...the political climate. I'm pretty sure the climate will change:  you can't ignore the only 6,000 page graphic novel forever, I don't think but it has been ignored for twenty years and there's no sign of it being paid attention to. People love Rockwell. People hate Dave Sim. So, for me, it requires more of a process of pulling the wagons in a circle and keeping my powder dry. Keeping myself and CEREBUS from being destroyed in my lifetime and for as long after I'm dead as proves to be necessary. I think about it a lot. I'm making progress.

Finishing off your previous question: I realized, God willing I'm going to have 48 IDW covers a year to sell. So, that's the fall-back position: Lon gets a cover a week pretty much through 2013 for his weekly auctions. I don't own the images. It's work-made-for-hire. It's really just a way to practice and learn photorealism and stylized realism. Once it's done it's a lesson learned, percolating through me during the three weeks I'm writing THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND and then applied to the next batch of covers and (ultimately) to the STRANGE DEATH pages when I'm at the point of doing them full time. And -- potentially, anyway, we'll see how it goes -- it means I don't have to sell CEREBUS artwork or STRANGE DEATH artwork or glamourpuss pages.

But I have that option (in reverse order of preference) if the economy continues to just limp along.
Cerebus #36 Page 1 - Cerebus #39 Page 17
Have you ever regretted selling a piece of your original art?

At a specific level, I regret having sold ANY of it, which is why I try to structure things so I don't have to. I envy people who have ALL of their own work. I think Wendy Pini still has all of ELFQUEST. I think Jeff Smith still has ALL of BONE. The Walt Simonsen THOR book IDW did was only possible because he had all the artwork. Good for Walt! I wish I could say that about HIGH SOCIETY.

Is it that you feel a bond toward it, or could you care less about it once it's printed?

Well, as I say, it's off-site so it's not something that's -- with apologies to Burt Bacharach -- "always there to remind me". Personally, no, I don't have a bond with it. It's just bad art. Things I tried to do well and was successful with to... a degree. 75%-happy-with-it pages, 50%-happy-with-it-pages. Some 90% happy with it. Mostly 95% happy with what Gerhard did pages, which is a different thing. The best analogy I could come up with would be Barry Windsor-Smith and "Red Nails". Barry isn't happy with it. It's like, "I know how to do all that much better now." The proportions are off. All you can see are the flaws that you couldn't see when you originally did it. But I saw it when I was 17 so I'll always see it as a 17-year-old would see it. "THIS IS BLOWING. MY. MIND." But to Barry it's just bad Barry art.

But, yes, definitely -- it's the work he's most known for in comics. For me, there should be a Gorblimey Museum or a promise of a Gorblimey Museum where you can go and see all of "Red Nails" on the wall. Or rotating 10 pages at a time. And that isn't going to happen. "Red Nails" was purchased in its entirety. So, it's in private hands. That means only one lucky guy gets to see it. Well, CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY are my "Red Nails" and I know that. You have to be able to stand back far enough to see what everyone else sees the way they see it and be... responsible... towards that. If I sold all of the CEREBUS artwork and STRANGE DEATH artwork and hung onto the glamourpuss pages -- my personal preference -- posterity would take a dim view. Like Lewis Carroll annotating thoroughly all of his treatises on mathematics and preserving the material. Get a grip. ALICE IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. That's what people want.

The political climate I referred to is at its worst in Kitchener. On top of which even the people who know what I did look down on it. Not with any animosity. It's just a comic book. Weird thing to do for a living. I know the guy who pretty much runs Heritage Kitchener. I know the Mayor. It's just not something we could have a conversation about. So, preserving it to a future day when that... POSSIBLY... isn't the case is a pretty much insurmountable task. But, then so was producing it in the first place, right? One example of insurmountable follows another. As Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his notebooks, "Learn young about hard work and good manners and you'll be through the whole nasty business and nicely dead again before you know it."

It came as an enormous surprise to me that I still had 190 pages of HIGH SOCIETY when I had to go and get them for Sandeep to scan. Just a PILE of artwork. I thought it was like CEREBUS where I have maybe two dozen. That was what made me think: Well, okay, you've got about 170 pages more than you thought you did. It's a good representation. What's 10 pages going to hurt?  It was a very unhappy first step though.
Cerebus #44 Page 1 - Cerebus #50 Page 1
Are there any pages/illustrations you absolutely would never sell?  If so, which and why?

Never say never. Another massive hit to the global economy like September 2008 and I could be trading HIGH SOCIETY pages for loaves of bread in my 70s and 80s.

I think you mentioned during HARDtalk interview / HARDtalk Tour that Gerhard still had an ownership interest in his Cerebus art. Does this factor into your selling timetable at all, or do you control when/where it sells?

It factored into the decision to do HIGH SOCIETY pages. Those pages are mine so I have control there of when/where it sells.

For tax reasons, the artwork is considered the property of Aardvark-Vanaheim and is valued based on the raw materials that went into it which Aardvark-Vanaheim paid for. So, basically $5 worth of illustration board, ink, tone, border tapes, etc. When I bought Gerhard's 40% of the company, we basically did "one for me, one for you" on paper. We both have a complete inventory of the artwork with every other listed page highlighted in yellow. It was a way of avoiding trade-offs -- oh, I wanted THIS page or I'll trade you all of THIS issue for all of THAT issue. I forget if Gerhard has the yellow pages or I do. The idea is if someone wants to make an offer on a page or cover, he or she makes it to whoever has "jurisdiction" over that page or cover. The "jursidication" guy says a) okay, it's yours.  b) he gets paid and c) he pays the other guy whatever he considers a fair share of the offered price (bearing in mind that he'll be on the other end of that if the other guy sells a page). We did that with a few covers that Gerhard had jurisdiction over -- wide range of prices, to establish the principle: these don't have a fixed value until someone makes a solid offer. Ger looked at what I had done and paid me what he thought my part was worth on THAT cover. That's the way it's stood since 2006. I haven't sold anything I have jurisdiction over and neither has Ger. We're both old enough to think "You know, I will probably live to see the $20 loaf of bread and the $40 jug of milk." 


Have you kept a scan/photocopy of all the non-'comic page' illustrations you do? I'm sensing the potential for an ART OF DAVE SIM book from IDW after the CEREBUS COVERS books.

It would be nice to think. Like I say, people love Norman Rockwell and people hate Dave Sim. That's going to be reflected in the level of interest for however long that proves to be the case. Could be "all better" now, could be booming like a skyrocket -- everyone loves me or loves my work, could be tanking -- Dave who? Chris Ryall, the editor-in-chief,  really likes the covers I'm doing for IDW. REALLY likes the covers I'm doing for IDW. Right now, that's the middle of the circle around which I have my metaphorical wagons. I really don't want to do anything with IDW which has the potential of them saying "WTF?" when they look at the sales figures. The impression is that the COVERS books will do land-office business. If they DON'T do land-office business, I'll still have my cover rate and whatever I can make from Heritage auctioning them. It's buying me time to do THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. I really can't ask for more than that.

The prices on the HIGH SOCIETY pages are already about as high as I thought they would end up, so there IS cause for optimism. I can't even guess which page will go for the most. But, that's what makes horse races.

Bottom line: if the covers deal with IDW maintains itself and they hit a certain price point in the Heritage Auctions, yes, these will be the LAST "High Society Collection" pages you will be seeing.
Now, YOU guess what that means. :)

Own a piece of Cerebus! Dave Sim's High Society Collection of original Cerebus art is being auctioned by Heritage Auctions. You can place your online bid until 21 February or bid in person at the live auction being held on 22 February at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, 2 East 79th Street, New York. The pages being auctioned are:

Saturday, 16 February 2013

"The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond" Update - February 2013


Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (April 2008 to July 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.

DAVE SIM:
(from the Kickstarter Update #141, 14 February 2013)
Okay, I'm making some progress on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND but there will be a period of time where HIGH SOCIETY and CEREBUS being brought back into print will be taking precedence.  George [Gatsis] is finished his months-long meticulous tweaking of the digital files and everything is up to snuff. Now we have to coordinate with the printer and get an idea of how many copies Diamond wants (that I will be signing and numbering). If you're interested, you should mention it to your local store owner and tell her or him to watch for word from Diamond when the books are all actually printed and ready to ship (I'm guessing the beginning of April at the earliest -- but it's hard to tell). Gold Logo HIGH SOCIETY, Gold Logo CEREBUS -- the signed and numbered ones.

I appreciate the donations to the Dave Sim Fund -- $1, $5 or $10, it all helps. It all tends to come in right after one of these updates, so I'm trying to figure out how to do more frequent updates. :)

The bottom line on this Kickstarter campaign is that we are about $3K in the red (the total tax bill came to about $10K and there was $7K left). So, at some point John and I are going to have a serious discussion about whether it's really possible to do Kickstarter. With this first one, all of the money basically paid me to do all the pledge items for three months and then pay to ship all of them, get the HIGH SOCIETY pages scanned and... that was it. Of course a lot went wrong. Learning experience.

So -- right NOW -- I'm trying to get really basic and just do regular covers and variant covers for IDW (which is actually quite a bit of fun) and then auction the original art through Heritage Auctions, so I should have a good idea of how viable that is as an economic model as we go along here in 2013.
Glamourpuss #15 (September 2010)
Art by Dave Sim
Still no idea how LONG THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND is. Every time I read it through from the beginning, it's a lot better than I tend to think it is, which is a good sign.  Lots of research materials from Eddie Khanna. He seems to have an unnaturally good eye for what it is that I'm looking for. I'm being really thorough since it's my full-time -- 12 hours a day -- job. As an example I read a 186-page book yesterday from about 3 pm to midnight and got maybe three or four captions out of it. But, that's a luxury that YOU'RE helping to pay for. So far, I'm not having to say "Um, the bank account is dropping like a stone -- have to figure out something to make money at."  It's dropping, but not like a stone. So, I can just go item by item in my head. "I need to find out about...THIS". Like the Grace Kelly material Eddie I had a dialogue about in the last few issues of glamourpuss. Okay, I have to fit this into the actual narrative. Which means reading the "state of the art" biography which varies a lot from Wikipedia and movie sites. Wikipedia is good, but anything that I read that I'm going to use, I want to check with actual BOOKS. Check a Wikipedia listing and LITERALLY go, "You're s--ting me!" (and I don't usually swear). Find another state of the art biography. Read the relevant section. Uh, yeah, seems it really DID happen. Read all the stuff around it. Seriously creeped out. Put the book back and go home. Sitting there going, You can't just get creeped out. You have to read ALL of it. Which I did. 15 or 20 captions out of 500 pages. So that's been a couple of 500-page books just in the last month. But, that's really only two days each because it's my full-time job. And I read VERY fast when I'm working. That hooked up with a movie. So, I borrow that at the library. I'll just sit back and watch it. And I'm pausing it every 45 seconds and sitting there going. WHAAT? Did I really just hear that? Yes, yes I did. Which led to another movie. Again, only a dozen or so captions out of each, but WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN first. Then mull it over. Clear image of the structure in my mind:

THESE parts go in the narrative, THESE parts go in the annotations at the back (literally thinking of calling it TMI [Too Much Information] -- don't get in the way of the forward momentum, the jaw-dropping stuff, but if you're someone who likes MORE jaw-dropper after the original jaw-dropper, well, here you go).

I can't emphasize enough how much of a luxury this is, as a writer.
Glamourpuss #15 (September 2010)
Art by Dave Sim

I dread Eddie's packages coming in in a way because I'm always thinking: what if this just drives a Mac truck through my thesis? So far, exactly the opposite. As an example, the "Unnamed Section" is still the "unnamed section" and I was leaning in the direction of just dropping it. "It's kind of grafted on, it's going to be controversial. I'll make it another book if need be." I mean, Eddie wouldn't even Google it on his work computer. Not really. But he is thinking -- as Arsenio Hall used to say -- "Things that make you go HMMMMM." And just in the last week while I'm hooking everything up, boom, there's a reference to it, boom, there's another reference to it. As another example I was thinking "Okay, I read something about this years ago, what was that book called?" Buried in a biography. I know it's there if I SEE the book title. I read it in the early 90s. Turns out that there was now A WHOLE BOOK on the subject. I thought it was a real stretch. "Here, here's my proof:  this paragraph in one book on this person that no one else has previously referred to." Turns out everyone was just waiting for the subject of the book to pass on and then they started leaking like sieves.

It's been that kind of experience.

Eddie and I keep freaking each other out: "You couldn't make this stuff up." At least I couldn't and I think we'd all agree I'm not an unimaginative person.
Glamourpuss #15 (September 2010)
Art by Dave Sim

I'm still in the situation of getting by on the IDW covers money and your donations, but I have contacted Ted Adams about IDW possibly doing THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND as a monthly comic and, yes, he's up for it. Should we have a phone conversation? he faxes back. No, I'm still writing it. It's WAY off in the future. To do it as a monthly title I need to have the whole thing finished up to...I don't know what page. Covers, text stuff at the back, letters, etc. Because monthly you're talking about Running Ahead of the Freight Train. And "RAFT" when you're 57 is a world of different from when you're 47 which is the last time I did it.  How much of a head start do I need to have on the freight train to keep from just getting chewed up in the wheels six months down the road? NO ONE is going to sit still for me saying "Um, the freight train has caught me, so no monthly comics until I get an even longer head start." Everybody be getting serious whiplash. YOU CAN'T JUST LEAVE US HANGING LIKE THIS! As you all peer in at the Dave Sim hamburger whirling around in the freight train wheels, waiting for the hamburger to reassure you in some way.

Uhhhh.

But, the point is:
This is what you're helping pay for. 12-hour days to get me into the on-deck circle. I really, really appreciate it. Okay, I'll be back in a month (or earlier, maybe, I don't know).

Friday, 15 February 2013

Comic Arts Patrons #3-5

Own a piece of Cerebus! Dave Sim is auctioning 10 pages of High Society original art at Heritage Auctions. Internet bids can be placed until 21 February, or you can bid in person at the live auction held in the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, 2 East 79th Street, New York on 22 February. The pages being auctioned are:
(Click image to enlarge)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Dave & Deni: Parental Approval

Cerebus Archive #14 (June 2011)
Art by Dave Sim
DAVE SIM:
(from Cerebus Archives #14, June 2011)
The thing about fornication is that it accelerates (and, I now believe, derails) the whole process of what would otherwise be called courtship. Obviously Deni was concerned that all it was was fornication and (good test) asked if I wanted to come over to her parents place and meet the family on Boxing Day and watch Yellow Submarine on their colour television (we were both Beatles fans, Deni lifelong and me mostly from working at Now & Then). Sure! I said, eager to solidify the boyfriend / girlfriend thing and having NO idea how big a step meeting the family is until I was over there and meeting the family. They were all at the dining room table eating lunch when we arrived, her younger brother Michael greeting me with, "So this is the new one." Her younger sister Karen, wearing a John Lennon t-shirt, was obviously physically more attractive than Deni so I was instantly in a pre-Hannah & Her Sisters enactment (it was certainly a relief when the movie can out. Oh, so it ISN'T just me going through this -- I seem to recall that Mia Farrow had a much prettier sister). Deni's parents seemed stand-offish but that had more to do with the family dynamic with which I was unfamiliar -- the kids at one end of the table and the adults at the other end of the table carried on separate and distinct conversations.

Most relevant to my present point, however, is that I'm pretty sure her father had me sized up as an unsuitable candidate for son-in-law pretty quickly -- which I'm sure was a 100% accurate assessment. Deni was a flighty and unfocused residual hippy who seldom lasted long in any job and here was this high school dropout making $75 a month working in a used bookstore and who wanted to be a professional cartoonist. It wasn't a good match. We had basically the same flaws and I brought nothing to the table.

But the thing was we were -- even way back then -- well past the point in our society where a father's opinion meant anything. Deni would get involved with whomever she wanted to get involved with and her father was in a "like it or lump it" situation, like all fathers post-feminism.

It's a major conundrum. If your ambition as a society is to have as many successful and lasting marriages as you can have -- and I can't think of a more accurate definition of what most women would see as the ideal society -- the evidence is clear that that happened far, far more often when a suitor needed to ask the father's permission to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage and that it was only when daughters started making their own choices the divorce rate skyrocketed. Fathers instinctively protect their daughters from long-term harm, but only if they're expected to and allowed to.

But, of course, that doesn't conform to the romantic ideal of love at first sight and so on. In that context -- as we see in fiction from the Bronte sisters forward -- any father who doesn't rubber stamp his approval is the villain, the enemy of true love. Which is absurd. No father wants to hurt his daughter emotionally but that -- more often than not -- conflicts with his deep desire not to see his daughter hurt more seriously. I assume Ned Loubert knew that Deni could only get hurt out of an involvement with me. It was just a matter of time. Of course, Deni and I would both have been outraged if he had expressed disapproval but that's just the difference that results from shifting society 90 degrees out of whack, removing fathers from their traditional role as the sole voice of reason and sober assessment in the maelstrom of emotion-based female decision-making.

As I say, it's a conundrum because women are understandably loathe to surrender any part or their perceived absolute control over their romantic lifestyle choices. They don't want to be chattel -- either their father's or their longed-for husband's. However, the evidence of the last four decades suggest that the more absolute control women insist on having over their romantic choices the less absolute control, on a percentage basis, they are going to end up having over their desired outcome (stable, long-term marriages).

I point this out as a repentant serial fornicator with no further stake in either the fornication game: every serial fornicator is well aware and takes full advantage of the fact -- though loathe to admit it -- that the odds of getting a lot of sequential no-obligation sex (that is, sex that leads away from rather than to marriage) from a variety of women over short periods of time (from one-night stands to a few years of on-again off-again dating and "dating") go up exponentially the more women have absolute control over their romantic decision-making. The last thing the love 'em and leave 'em bad boy want is for women's fathers to be reintroduced into the equation even as advisers, let alone final arbiters... because that leads directly to rather than away from marriage.

It's an either-or situation that, it seems to me: women don't want to face: that absolute control leads most often to heartbreak either immediately or in a few years time while the surrendering of SOME control leads to a stable and enduring marriage.

Had Deni allowed her father to vet her choices, I'd guess she'd be happily married today.

But certainly not to me.

Deni Loubert was Aardvark-Vanaheim's publisher for the first 70 issues of Cerebus. Deni and Dave Sim were married from October 1978 to August 1983. After their divorce, Deni moved to Los Angeles to start her own comics publishing company, Renegade Press, which closed its doors in 1989. She was inducted into the Joe Shuster Hall of Fame in 2010.