Dave Sim's blogandmail #409 (October 25th, 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.
I asked him if he still had the negatives for the HAROLD HEDD material. "Oh, yeah," he said. "Somewhere." There had been a lot of Last Gasp's printers go bankrupt over the years and in that situation (as Chris Staros and I found out with Preney) you just make sure you get the negatives out of the environment and under your own roof as fast as you can. I pictured the mound of cabinet drawers that dominated the library downstairs for months and the folders I still haven't gone through. And I only had one title to be concerned about. Same situation with Bob Chapman at Graphitti Designs and the "Young Cerebus" negatives he rescued from Epic Magazine…or the WATCHMEN negatives he had when DC was getting ready to do the deluxe anniversary edition. "They're here somewhere." Subtext: Listen, Dave, if you want to fly out here and go through the metric tonne of negatives I have sitting in piles looking for the Young Cerebus stories, you just let me know and I'll have a nice lawn chair waiting for you out in the warehouse.
I hate to be Johnny One Note about this, but it really does point in the direction of self-publishing. It was pure happenstance that Bob was in the right place at the right time to rescue the Young Cerebus negatives. When Epic Magazine became a moribund property for Marvel Comics, the negatives became expendable from the corporation's point of view. All the more so because the material was creator owned. A corporation's first question is always going to be "What's in it for us?" particularly when it comes to storage space and prime Manhattan real estate and looking at the remains of Epic Magazine, it didn't take a PhD in business management to figure out that the answer was "Not a whole lot". Marvel probably pays per square foot in rent what I pay in property taxes on the average room here at the Off-White House.
The situation was very different with Preney Print. Having sold the vast majority of my artwork over the years, I was always aware that Cerebus' future was housed in those negatives and the Preney Brothers were made aware of that. They invested in the flame retardant cabinet that houses the negatives to this day because of my emphases on the subject. They knew they were personally and professionally liable and, given that A-V was their biggest customer, took steps to minimize the risk to whatever extent that was possible. When their own bankruptcy became imminent, they focused on the negatives and made sure that they were a top priority…and that communicated indirectly to the From Hell negatives as well. After Kim and Ger and I had unloaded all of the negatives and stacked them in the library and Ger's former studio, I snapped Kim a salute and told him he was relieved of his command. It wasn't a joke. He heaved an enormous sigh of relief that the weight of those negatives was off his shoulders for the first time since the 1980s and we all went out for a coffee.
So where does that leave Ron Holmes and Rand Holmes' legacy?
It's not the easiest of situations that Ron Holmes finds himself in. It could be worse but it could be a lot better. My suggestion to him was to put together as close to a COMPLETE ADVENTURES OF HAROLD HEDD book as he could with what was there and then figure out what wasn't there and see about tracking it down. From there I suggested Print on Demand for the sake of testing demand. If the demand is there, you can always go to a prestige hardcover coffee table format up ahead. If the demand isn't there then you don't want to get caught with a printing bill for 1,000 hardcovers and orders for nine of them.
From what Ron Turner told me, this isn't an especially unusual situation. Not naming any names, he told me a couple of anecdotes about several famous underground cartoonists who never bothered to get divorced although they left their wives decades ago and now Ron is having to deal with these not-quite-ex-wives with nothing to support his own position but the handshake agreements he had with the guys in question and his word that he paid them for every copy in his warehouse (the shift to books from periodicals finally put an end to his being able to pay the cartoonist for the whole shot at the time of publication and that's caused some ruffled feathers as well among some of the guys who liked doing business the old way). It comes with the territory, but it's another example of how being a "free artistic spirit" with no interest in "boo-jwah" oink-oink The Man legalisms like Legal Final Decrees can look like the most ethical way for a sincere revolutionary cartoon equivalent of Che Guevara to go through life and end up, instead, causing enormous headaches for someone it has no business causing enormous headaches for. Where do you think the not-quite-ex-wife is going to go looking for her "fair share" of the money that was spent on dope back in the early seventies? Your dope dealer?
Surprisingly, Ron isn't bitter about any of this stuff. He reminisced about Rand: how he had come and lived with Ron for a period of time after he broke up with someone, things like that. I hope Ron and Ron can work something out because, at the very least, I think Ron Turner can fill in a lot of the blanks in Rand Holmes' life story as chronicled in the proposed "Art of" book that no one else can. I told Ron that at the tribute I had said that I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Spain and Crumb and all those guys first saw Rand Holmes' work: what it was like for all those bred-in-the-bone EC Fan-attics to see a fellow underground cartoonist who could actually DO (as opposed to fake) Wally Wood. And not just a cover or a one-time "what the heck" panel. No, Rand could DO Woody page after page after page. All that meticulous feathering and the beautifully spotted blacks, the clean edges, the double lighting on faces.
"Oh, they were jealous," Ron said, laughing. "You better believe they were jealous."
Well, if anyone is interested in contacting Ron Holmes or Rand Holmes' widow Kathy and getting on a mailing list for information about the forthcoming book or maybe buying a print or two, I'm sure the interest would be appreciated. I mean, don't be a pain in the neck, but if Rand Holmes and Harold Hedd were as important to you as they were to me and Chester and Chris, it's always nice to hear it when you have as much of a personal stake in it as Ron and Kathy do. Looks like they haven't changed the email address, it's still firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if anyone wants some copies of "Hitler's Cocaine" or ZAP's or any of the other undergrounds Last Gasp published, they are still in business and completely computerized. You want 20 copies of ZAP #8, Ron will be able to tell you in a few seconds whether he's got them and where they are.
And thanks to Ron for being another old coot in this business that I had so much to talk about with. And (like I say) on his nickel! You can't beat that with a stick.
Tomorrow: Last few notes on TCAF
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