Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #408 (October 24th, 2007)


Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist

1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.

2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.

3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.

4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.

5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.

6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.

7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.

8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.

9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.

10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.

11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.

12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.

13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.

14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.

15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.


It's an interesting experience not having a table at TCAF. Basically I can do whatever I want which involved taking in some of the panels but mostly just wandering around and looking at all the books and artwork that were for sale. I saw most of "Finding Nemo and Searching for Skeezix" with Peter Maresca being interviewed by Jeet showing off the new oversized Little Nemo collection and previewing the Little Sammy Sneeze collection. The premise of the latter strip is pretty funny, a little kid who sneezes with such volcanic ferocity that it has the effect of an earthquake in his immediate vicinity. Of course one of the recurring visual gag punch-lines was this little kid getting his ass kicked by one of his elders so hard he would go flying across the room. One of those "disconnect moments" for civilians such as when an image of Ebony comes up in a SPIRIT slide show or Connie comes up in a TERRY & THE PIRATES presentation or one of the "Crumb Girls" in an R. Crumb slide show. It's an effect that always interests me because the comics environment either isn't aware of how far out of step it is with all other forms of entertainment when it comes to this stuff

[you will never find any of the old racist Bugs Bunny cartoons in a commercial release from Time-Warner as an example and Chester and I are verging on having a big argument about whether the Jack Lemmon film HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE where he plays a cartoonist has been "deep sixed" by the studio that owns it because of the title – which I maintain is the case (another example of better living through feminist dictatorship) -- or if it's just mysteriously unavailable at the well-stocked video store he patronizes: "You're lucky the store clerk didn't report you to the Metro Toronto Police just for asking about it" I teased him ]

…or it's chosen to just ignore carved-in-stone Political Sensitivities in the interests of more thorough-going scholarship. I mean, I agree with that. I really loathe all forms of Marxist-feminist revisionism for whatever reason it's being perpetrated. But I can always hear (or imagine I hear) a sharp intake of breath in one of those moments. I even pointed it out from the audience since Jeet was making a great point of Winsor McKay's profound love for small children and up on the screen this little kid is getting his ass kicked. And Jeet answered that it was a different time period and that there were different standards then. Well, yes, I know that, but…but…oh, well, there's no arguing with Marxist-feminists when they have such long practice at holding two completely contrary opinions simultaneously.

Apart from my one-hour signing (and thanks again to all five people who showed up) the only other thing I was scheduled for was the Tribute to Rand Holmes panel Saturday morning with Jeet Heer and Rand Holmes son, Ron. Very small turnout – the place really emptied out after the Finding Nemo panel -- but among the audience members were Robert Fulford, Chester and Chris Oliveiros, the Drawn & Quarterly publisher. The panels were all held in the second floor chapel (or "chapel" as the boys would have it in the program booklet). Odd to think that it's less than a hundred years since the day when no self-respecting gentleman's college would be without its chapel. Jeet started things off by explaining that the artwork in the presentation featured nudity and explicit sex, so if anyone was of a strict religious persuasion and was apt to be offended he suggested that they should probably leave before we got started. So, I got up to leave. Which I think might have gotten a laugh, but my hearing's so bad, I might have imagined that part.

Ron had a lot of artwork done in powerpoint format and since I really only knew the oversized "Collected Adventures" tabloid collection (which I bought new at Now & Then Books back in '72) and the comic-book sized "Hitler's Cocaine" second issue it was quite an eye-opening experience to see all of the alternative newspaper Georgia Straight covers Holmes had done during the same time period in that same amazing, meticulous Wally Wood style (Georgia Straight is a play on Georgia Strait, the body of water between the mainland and Vancouver Island) On stage, I basically just described how difficult the Wally Wood style is to do and attempted to point out the feathering on one of the covers but (I've had this problem before) you can't get it with slides or scans or enlargements. So I tried to describe it as best I could.

I had no idea that Rand Holmes was a real Daniel Boone back-to-nature type. I knew he had bought a place on a remote island off British Columbia (north of Washington State on the "left coast" for the geographically challenged among you) only because I had gotten an invitation earlier this year to a retrospective that included the notation "Please RSVP if you plan to come as this is a remote community and transportation and accommodation need to be pre-arranged." Had this been back in the "gravy train" days I would have been there like a shot. Alas, it was about four months into having to run this whole operation solo and there was just no way I could justify the expense.

It turns out that Holmes used to work on his comics for six months of the year and then basically would just live off the land for the other six months of the year. Since my idea of "roughing it" is black-and-white television, I found that pretty impressive. There is an "Art of" book in the works right now and Ron talked about that a bit, as well as showing slides of Holmes' later paintings which he had switched to pretty much completely from comics work in the last decade of his life.

After the panel, I was standing and talking with Chester and Chris and asking if they were interested in grabbing some lunch somewhere (a complete novelty: I never eat at conventions until the day is over) and Ron came up right at that point so I invited him to come along. So we got a chance to talk to him some more about his dad and look at his own artwork (he had a sketchbook with him). He had a big meticulously crafted picture book of photos from the Rand Holmes retrospective on Lasqueti Island that I hadn't been able to get to. Everybody in their homespun clothing, a big communal meal laid on for a few dozen folks, the whole thing looking like every hippie commune from the 1960s I had ever imagined. I pictured me in the middle in my sports jacket.

"Hey, how about that George W. Bush, eh? Doesn't he have this whole Iraq thing by the short-and-curlies or what?"

And then we started talking about a Complete Harold Hedd volume and how that might sell. I guess Rand had to sell some of his artwork toward the end there but the oversized Harold Hedd has clean enough reproduction that you could probably get away with filling in the blanks with scans from it. Then we got into the whole Ron Turner at Last Gasp, Denis Kitchen at Kitchen Sink thing. Rand Holmes went from one to the other at some point and I guess Denis was pitching Kathy (Rand's widow) to have the same kind of relationship he has with the Eisner and Kurtzman Estates. Ron didn't know what the situation was with Ron Turner. Well, I said, I'd be happy to muck in a bit if he thought it would help

(one of the advantages of being Crazy Dave Sim: I told him if he wanted he could tell Ron Turner that Dave Sim was ranting and raving and foaming at the mouth at TCAF about him ripping off Rand Holmes. Chester and Chris laughed) It was a very enjoyable lunch and certainly made me wish that I had actually met Rand Holmes at some point.

What we finally agreed on was that I would write Ron Turner a letter and Chris could do the same and just see what that did. So this is what I wrote:

28 August 07

Hi Ron:

I met Ron Holmes, Rand's son, last week at TCAF – I was part of a panel saluting Rand on his induction into the Doug Wright Awards Hall of Fame – then went out for lunch with Ron and Chester Brown and Chris Oliveiros of Drawn & Quarterly. Basically Ron was asking my advice on what the estate should do about Rand's posthumous relationship with LAST GASP and the now-defunct KITCHEN SINK. He said that youh ad contacted the family a while back when they had the celebration dinner/fundraiser out on the island but he was kind of vague as to what it was that you had to say.

Evidently Denis Kitchen is pushing hard to become the same kind of rep that he is for the Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman estates, both in terms of intellectual property rights and original artwork. What I told Ron is that I think he has to get a clear statement in writing from you as to where everything stands as you see it and where you see it going from here and then he and the estate have to look at that and see if that aligns with their own thinking.

I frankly told him that this is why I push for self-publishing. My best guess is that you deal with the HAROLD HEDD material the same way that most underground material is dealt with and has been dealt with from day one. You print up a batch and when those are gone you print up a batch more and you pay people when you can afford to do so. I told him that thought it was unlikely that there were untold tens of thousands of copies being pumped onto the market that you haven't paid royalties on and that it's just as likely that you ran off a thousand back in 1982 and those are still trickling out the way most underground comix are still trickling out. Ones and two's here and there when someone who is interested notices that he (or she) is out of them. Or the reality could lie somewhere between the two. My point on self-publishing is that if you don't have access to the actual orders, print runs and profits then you have no way of knowing what is actually going on.

He and the estate do seem inclined to put out a definitive COMPLETE HAROLD HEDD COLLECTION at some point. My advice there was to do a POD version first to test the waters. If you get orders for a grand total of 28, then you're probably best to just leave things as they sit, with Ron printing up a batch when he runs out of the current batch and maybe get something in writing about getting custody of the negatives if (God forbid) something happens to Ron or LAST GASP.

I'll be writing about the situation on my daily Blog & Mail which has a time lag of roughly two months between when something happens and when I actually get around to writing about it. I do move things up to the head of the line and out of order if they seem like they are in the This Calls for An Emergency! category. I don't see this situation as being like that. It seems to me just another "Here's why I think you should self-publish" cautionary tale for cartoonists. If you're at all worried that someone is ripping you off, self-publishing is the only way to make sure that that isn't the case.

I'm not sure if I'll hear from Ron again – people come to me for advice all the time and when they don't get the advice they want that's usually the last I hear from them – but it does seem like an important enough issue to warn cartoonists about. If you want to contribute anything to the piece, as I say, you have at least a good month-and-a-half to do so. I'll let you know if I do hear from Ron or the estate. I told him I would be happy to at least send you a fax on this (I still don't have e-mail: one of the last hold-outs) and discuss it on the Blog & Mail but apart from that I figured it was just a matter of everyone putting their cards on the table and seeing how everything shakes out that way. At that point, I can't see me or anyone else having anything valuable to contribute.

Hope you're well and that you're still able to make a go of it in these dry-as-dust days. I might be contacting you about the protocol for reprinting Jaxon's "Testicles the Tautologist" from SKULL No. 3 as part of a series of "Where the humour in CEREBUS came from" articles in FOLLOWING CEREBUS. I haven't heard back from Craig Miller, the publisher (who is a real All-Mainstream Guy) but I thought I would give you a heads up .


Ron called a few days later and we ended up talking for a good hour or so (on his nickel!) about our experiences at the opposite ends of the 1970s. Unexpected names we had in common like Mike Friedrich whose Star*Reach experiment really constituted the bridge between the underground and the Direct Sales market ("He used to come around here a lot and pump us for information about printers, discounts, all the technical nuts and bolts"). It turned out that the situation was pretty much as I guessed it was. All of the Last Gasp books were basically done on a handshake deal and (this I had not known) the artists were paid in advance for the entire print run on a given issue. He had finally sold the last of the oversized COLLECTED ADVENTURES OF HAROLD HEDD the year before and still had a few hundred of the comic-book sized #2 in inventory. He went through the sales history for the last few years and it was pretty meagre. By way of comparison, he went through the sales history for the latest issue of ZAP – which is really the gold standard for undergrounds – and it wasn't a whole heckuva lot better. This is Crumb, Spain, Shelton, Mavrides we're talking about here.

Tomorrow: It Always Comes Down to the Negs, doesn't it?


If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
P.O. Box 1674
Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

Looking for a place to purchase Cerebus phonebooks? You can do so online through Win-Mill Productions -- producers of Following Cerebus. Convenient payment with PayPal:

Win-Mill Productions

Or, you can check out Mars Import:

Mars Import

Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.