Dave Sim Responds to Expressed Publishing Interest from Fantagraphics

[Recently, in the final issue of his own self-published glamourpuss, Dave Sim included an essay reflecting on the end of his series, and the possible end of his professional involvement with comics. The reaction online was widespread, and soon turned to discussion of the future of Sim's earlier work, Cerebus. On a comments thread on this site, Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson wrote, "I’d be perfectly happy to repackage the CEREBUS material in a more bookstore-friendly format than those fucking phone books and give the material the new lease on life it (or at least the first two thirds of it) so richly deserves." The A Moment of Cerebus site, probably the best current online location for keeping track of Dave Sim-related developments, has collected Thompson's public comments on his potential interest in republishing some of Sim's Cerebus material here. So read that first. Sim, arguably the most iconic self-publisher in comics history, has agreed to publish his response to Thompson here at the Journal. The smartest thing to do in a case like this is probably to just step out of the way and let the man speak for himself.

Thank you to Tim Webber of A Moment of Cerebus for arranging this to be published here on TCJ.com.]

DAVE SIM:
Okay, well, Kim. Howdy. The short answer to your question would be, “No.” Nothing against Fantagraphics, it’s more a structural thing. We’re talking about 16 volumes and 6,000 pages. Let’s assume we could “do a deal” and let’s assume further that we could have the deal done by this time next year. Even releasing one book a year — with the kind of contextualizing that you’re talking about — which would be extremely optimistic, I think… and I’d imagine with your long experience in publishing you would agree… at best we would be talking about a contract through to 2029. Given how quickly everything is changing in terms of technology and publishing — practically on a daily basis — that would be really foolish on my part. Whatever happens with Fantagraphics between now and 2029, I have a vested interest in. I’d have to see deep inside your financial statements. What’s your track record for paying royalties? Are you late? Are you getting later? Who do you pay and how often? Very messy, and I’d rather be drawing comics.

Again, I’m not singling you and Gary out — and tell him I appreciate his phone message offering to publish The Strange Death of Alex Raymond — I’m going through the same thing on the digital side. They want the whole catalogue. Well, of course they do, but same deal. It’s a massive project. It’s not “let’s throw it against the wall and see if it sticks.” I want to see what High Society does. Six months from now I’ll have a much better idea of what is and isn’t a good fit with the four companies I’m signed with.

(Interesting that you mentioned Barnes & Noble because they contacted me through John Scrudder and wanted High Society for their online side. They sent their contract and there were two clauses that were deal-breakers for me. I left a phone message saying, “These are deal-breakers for me.” John heard back from them: they still want to talk to me. But they didn’t call me. It might have to be tackled indirectly with one of the four companies I’m working with who does work with Barnes & Noble because their contract doesn’t have those two clauses. Interesting world.)

So, that’s the approach that I’m taking: one book at a time. Let’s try this and see what this does. Same way I did Kickstarter. But that doesn’t mean that I’m ruling Fantagraphics out as the publisher of Cerebus. I’m not ruling anyone out. Why would I?

Actually a publisher of Cerebus. I think we might be moving past the point where any intellectual property has the publisher. It doesn’t fit the structure that we’re moving into, I don’t think.

The Comics Journal #130 (July 1989). Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard.

Let’s take Fantagraphics as an example. What do they bring to the table that attracts my interest? This is difficult to condense, but basically, Gary and Kim have worked very hard to make Fantagraphics and all of its material “New York Times-worthy” and they’ve been very successful. Very successful, which is no small trick. So, I look at my catalogue and I go, “What have I got that’s New York Times-worthy?” My best guess would be Form & Void, the Hemingway book, or Going Home, the Fitzgerald book. My preference would be Going Home because I prefer Fitzgerald to Hemingway by a wide margin. He was more difficult to “do” and I was more sympathetic to the subject matter. But — in New York Times frames of reference — Hemingway is “way up here” and Fitzgerald is sort of “over there.” Which they, I suspect, kind of feel bad about because I think they secretly like Fitzgerald more than they like Hemingway. The idea of Fitzgerald as opposed to the idea of Hemingway. So they compensate for that by putting The Great Gatsby way, way, way up here with A Farewell to Arms and many of Hemingway’s other books. Which I don’t think is accurate, but that’s what makes horse races, right? The Beautiful and the Damned is, to me, a much better book, as is Tender Is the Night. But the point isn’t to try to jam something down the New York Times‘ throat. The point is to find a way to take Kim up on his offer — to include Fantagraphics as a key player in Cerebus‘ future based on what they have managed to do. They are the only “New York Times-worthy” heavyweights in the comic book field. Undisputed champions. “An thass no lie,” as one of Crumb’s black characters might say.

Form & Void is already annotated by me. So we have the book itself — 250 pages or so — and we have the back of the book. And we have about six inches of raw materials that went into it. All the stuff that I got from the JFK Library — Mary Hemingway’s original Africa diary typescripts — print-outs of the photos Thiessen took for Look magazine that I traced for many of the panels. How It Was, Mary Hemingway’s memoirs with all the stuff underlined that attracted my attention and how that varies from her original diary entries. The mystery of what happened to her original diary she wrote in Africa — and how I proved that it was handwritten and not typewritten by her in Africa. She typed it when she got home.

Well, it’s New York Times-worthy, I think, but I’m not in that world. And you really need to be in that world in order to benefit from the New York Times in some way. You have to think the right way politically which, relative to the New York Times, I couldn’t be further away from thinking that way and everyone knows it.

But before I get to the punchline, I have to document something Fantagraphics did very right…

“Let’s Twist Again or ‘The Fantagraphics Two-Step’” (from Cerebus #167, February 1993). Art by Dave Sim.

Yes, it was partly an accident. It’s not one of those things you could plan even if you were that crafty. Fantagraphics in the comic book field is the New York Times. Which is interesting because the New York Times is a newspaper and Fantagraphics is a publishing company. It’s apples and oranges, right? It’s the Comics Journal that’s the New York Times, right? In a way, but not in the most important way. The New York Times is the New York Times and the New York Times Book Review. That’s their split. And in terms of getting the Quality Lit Biz to function properly, it doesn’t work because there’s no “inside.” You can be “in” or “out” depending on your book. From the newspaper’s standpoint “in” and “out” are great. The more controversy the better it sells. But it means there’s no cohesion. No pantheon. Just the free-for-all turf war that Jules Feiffer described so accurately in Mailer: His Life and Times. Because there’s an “inside” to Fantagraphics, there’s a pantheon. Jaime and Gilbert, Dan, Chris Ware, Peter Bagge, and then tapering out from there. If you’re “in” there’s no way of telling if you’re on Olympus or one of the spear carriers because it doesn’t make a difference. “In” is “in.” So Drawn & Quarterly, as an example, isn’t a threat. It’s an ancillary pantheon. Gilbert can say in Previews that Chester’s Paying for It is the best comic book he’s ever read. And it’s no literary “log-rolling,” jockeying for position, the long knives aren’t out with guys cutting each other to pieces (with minor exceptions like Pekar vs. Spiegelman way back when). So there’s this unified coherent thing happening that is “New York Times-worthy.” Which is what The New York Times Book Review has always aspired to and has never been able to maintain for longer than a week or two before it all spontaneously combusts.

So, it would really be a matter of taking Form & Void and wrapping it in a New York Times-worthy blanket. Which is what Kim is talking about (I suspect) when it comes to contextualizing. I won’t come out very favourably in it. I don’t expect to. The IDW Little Orphan Annie collections are unreadable for me, because I want to read context, but I want to read Harold Gray’s context and what I get is Jeet Heer’s context. I’ve tried reading the first book’s introduction about a half dozen times now and I always end up going, “Oh for the love of Mike,” and quitting a half dozen pages in. Chester should be doing the research. As a libertarian he’d be a lot closer to Gray’s viewpoint. But Chester needs to be writing and drawing comics. And it’s a good trade-off for IDW. It gives them New York Times credibility and cachet wherever New York Times-worthy books are sold in massive quantities.

Elevator pitch: I think Hemingway was completely bi-sexual and knew how badly that would go over in the 1950s but forged ahead and documented it knowing that posterity would be a lot kinder in the fullness of time. Which it has been. But the discussion really seemed to have stopped with Mary’s book (not time yet) because of the collision-course with the perceived Ultra Macho Hemingway. It gets addressed in the biographies — most of which I read to that point (2002) — but tangentially and I think it’s central to who Hemingway was. That’s what Form & Void was all about, Charlie Brown.

So, the bottom line for me would be: I hope Kim isn’t talking about doing to me and Form & Void what Jeet Heer has done to Harold Gray and Little Orphan Annie. But my mind isn’t closed on the subject. “Sorry, Dave, you want to sell Form & Void where New York Times-worthy books are sold, you’re going to have to climb up in the cage and bite the head off the chicken (metaphorically speaking).” Well, so be it. As President Kennedy said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us also never fear to negotiate.” Let’s do so publicly. Completely publicly. The contract Fantagraphics is offering me, how Kim envisions the context being developed, candidates for doing the New York Times-worthy “contextualizing” (first salvo: please no Jeet Heer, as much as I like Jeet as a person and I do like Jeet as a person). Does Kim want to do it himself? Does Gary? Any time you have new thoughts on the subject, just post them here and I’ll respond to it.

But right now, I’ve got this 45-day press junket for the FREE DOWNLOAD OF HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL #1 COMING TO CEREBUSDOWNLOADS.COM GOD WILLING OCTOBER 10, 2012.

[Dave Sim is currently taking and answering questions from readers as part of what is being called the HARDtalk Virtual Tour. Go here for more information.]

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732 Responses to Dave Sim Responds to Expressed Publishing Interest from Fantagraphics

  1. Bmackay says:

    I feel the same way about Jeet Heer: how dare a whip-smart, well-informed and non-Libertarian writer try and tackle Harold Gray’s sanctified oeuvre. Where does that guy get off?! Shame.

  2. Joe Procopio says:

    Bmackay,

    Sim simply expressed an opinion for who he thought would be a better choice for writing an introduction to Gray’s work, tangentially making the point that matching explicative/introductory writing to the work it’s meant to introduce is a tricky business, one that Sim cares about.

    But please, feel free to continue to be reflexively histrionic about Sim’s every utterance with which you might disagree. You certainly have a safe chorus within to hide.

    –Joe

  3. Joe Procopio says:

    …and for what it’s worth, Brad, I liked your essay for the Doug Wright book.

    –Joe

  4. Why did I just read that? Just how much do I hate myself? I feel like Fantagraphics said, ‘hey Dave, you want a hotdog?’ To which Sim replied by reciting the entirety of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

  5. Bmackay says:

    It should be obvious that I’m jealous of Jeet: I want Dave to single me out as being “New York Times-worthy.” Seriously — as much as i enjoy this kind of old school TCJ back-and-forth, it’s tiresome to the extreme. Dave has been complaining about how he’s leaving comics because no one is interested in Cerebus et al., then when Fanta reaches out to him he weirdly (kind of) spurns them. And talks about the four other companies interested in re-publishing his work.
    Which is it?

  6. Jim Sheridan says:

    Dave remains a singular talent, one of the best. Some of the recent online analysis of his work with lettering and font graphics has been a great reminder of that. I’ve been delighted to be re-exposed to that because for the past five or six years, most of what I have read from or about Sim has not been his comics but discussion of his financial doings or his personal / political / religious views. I hope he finds the best way to continue the shedding of light on the excellent things done in the pages of Cerebus.

  7. Joe Procopio says:

    Well…let me start by saying I love Fantagraphics and have supported them every time they’ve asked for it (the Harlan Ellison nonsense, the “fund drive” a few years ago, etc.), and my couple of brief interactions with Kim (and Gary) at SPX have been extremely pleasant. I admire them and what they’ve done for our beloved medium. I also do not want to be seen as some head-in-the-sand apologist for Sim. Like most folks, I take issue with some of the themes of his work and the artistic inconsistency over its 300 issue span.

    That said, it can’t be much of a surprise that Dave “weirdly spurns” an offer from Kim et al. (which, in reality, he did not do, but rather said he had conditions that would have to be met to continue negotiations). I mean, c’mon…Kim basically says, we think you’re a bit of a loony, a third of your work is boring, you no longer have any business sense, and you suffer from a martyr complex. But hey, we’re happy to publish your books! Maybe not the best way to get somebody into your bed, is all I am saying. And that’s not taking into account the pretty breathtaking character assassination The Comics Journal performed on Sim a few years ago in its pages.

    But in all honesty, I really hope some kind of deal can be brokered between Sim and Fantagraphics. I think it would be mutually beneficial to both parties, and I think it would be important to the medium. Sim’s work may never be beloved by a mass audience (and I hope many of its themes will never be embraced at all), but it’s worthy of broader access and critical analysis for many years to come.

  8. R. Fiore says:

    Actually, to make the Cerebus literary segments “New York Times-worthy” as Sim calls it what he’d have to do is re-draw them so they don’t involve a talking aardvark and don’t take place in a sword-and-sorcery fantasy world that’s been conquered by a matriarchy. The “contextualization” issue with Cerebus is that it’s filled with references to and parodies of things that would be perfectly obvious to a dedicated comics reader at the time they were published but incomprehensible to anyone reading them now. I think Sim is correct that digital publishing is the most viable format for it. For instance, wherever you have a reference you could have a link to the Wikipedia article on it.

  9. Gentle Jones says:

    I think this is a wonderful discussion and I’d like to see it continue with Kim and Dave’s swords sheathed. The body of work is important and speaks for itself.

    And Dave is so even handed with his letter. I have trouble believing he is crazy. And even if he is crazy, he’s OUR crazy.

    LONG LIVE CEREBUS

  10. Bmackay says:

    I’m not a Cerebus fan (maybe little bits of Church and State), but I think Dave is a huge talent (and comics pioneer) who deserves to have an audience for his work. But, as he’s proven lately, he’s also temperamental and stubborn. This reply (to a curmudgeonly offer) sounds like he wants to take FBI up on the offer, but wants to make them work for it.
    Come on — if you value your work and your audience you’d do well to have Fanta and gang in your corner. Just ask one of Los Bros.

  11. BobH says:

    It’s kind of amusing that Sim interprets Thompson’s “contextualizing” as some detailed biographical essay like is done for reprints of some major strips. When I read Thompson’s comment, I figured he was talking about something like, I don’t know, getting people like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman and whatever other bookstore-recognizable names who have said good things about Cerebus to do an introduction or a blurb, maybe a one-page biography of Sim in the back. Something like what’s done with the PEANUTS reprints.

    And someone should tell him that he can (and probably should) just skip the essays in those ANNIE reprints and jump right into the first strip if he wants Gray’s context. The essays are a supplement to the strips, and I’m not sure why anyone would even do more than leaf through them until they’d read Gray’s actual work. Hell, they’re written by my brother and I don’t think I’ve ever read one all the way through.

  12. Iestyn says:

    I think it’s a fascinating response and opportunity to see things develop. Most of all i think it’s good to see a reasonable discussion of the future options and current complications facing comics in the move to digital

  13. Fran Macadam says:

    The sensibility Dave Sim refers to isn’t “New York Times” but “The New Yorker” …

  14. Bmackay says:

    I think Kim T is right when he talks about Sim being in the final throes of his martyr period.” Why else would a guy who is admittedly on the brink of financial ruin, ignore an offer of money from a big dumb movie studio for rights? See excerpt below from his post on Millar World:

    “I got a phone message from Paramount Pictures a couple of weeks back. Can I call and let them know if the rights to Cerebus are available? I just automatically delete it. It’s just a functionary. The Kickstarter thing showed up on someone’s radar screen and it was worth a post-it note for someone in the mailroom. Call this guy and find out how much he wants for his soul. Don’t go a penny over $75,000. That kind of thing. It’s not going to be talking about a HIGH SOCIETY movie. I’m not going to get final cut. “No one’s heard of you, no one’s heard of your character, here’s a wad of F.O. and go away money. You in or out?”

    You should be “IN.” Who cares what they do with the rights? It doesn’t affect your books — a movie is stand alone thing. Crazy stuff.

  15. Benjamin D. Brucke says:

    That stuff is SO crazy that, forty years after the fact, Robert Crumb still wishes he had hung up the phone when Ralph Bakshi called.

  16. Bmackay says:

    Crumb didn’t need the money. Sim does.

  17. Benjamin D. Brucke says:

    What price peace of mind?

  18. Iestyn says:

    Why do people always claim it’s mad not to sell your life’s work simply for money? Obviously selling yourself out is the only sane and reasonable thing to do.

  19. Bmackay says:

    I don’t think “selling out” is the only sane option: I think it’s all up to the individual. But when somebody is publicly espousing their lack of economic options, when they clearly have one (possibly big one) at their finger-tips, I call bullshit. If I was Dave’s financial adviser I’d tell him to snatch that up post-haste.

  20. Bmackay says:

    Dave Sim says he has no options and is considering moving to Alberta to work in the oil sands. Paramount calls inquiring about buying the movie rights to Cerebus – and he doesn’t return the call? That’s defeatist in the extreme. Even if you don’t want to sell them, if you’re flat-busted (or close to it) a simple call back seems like the least you could do.

  21. Luke says:

    As someone who was first introduced to Dave Sim through Spawn #10, and became a fan because of glamourpuss #1, and ended up buying 90% of the Cerebus phonebooks (along with the Guide to Self-Publishing) when my LCS was selling them at a buck apiece (waiting to find a copy of the first volume before I start reading it), I find this entire ordeal to be fascinating.

    I hope that this is not just a brush off from Sim because I find his “inside baseball” stuff to be really fascinating and this sort of negotiations would be interesting to see. I understand that this is a selfish opinion to have. But in reading glamourpuss I often found that I would find myself doing the research and tracking down the names and events Sim was talking about after I read the issue. That book was always the last one on my “to read” pile because it required the most mental effort.

    I also think it would be fittingly ironic to have a big Fantagraphics edition of Cerebus to archive and preserve that work much like, as I learned from reading glamourpuss, was not done for strips like Rip Kirby.

  22. R. Fiore says:

    What you ought to be doing before you begin is familiarize yourself with the comics that he was parodying at the time — Marvel barbarain comics, including the ones that incorporated Michael Moorcock’s Elric character, Moon Knight, the Marvel Secret Wars series . . . I’m sure others can think up more.

  23. Josh Simmons says:

    I would love to see complete Cerebus and complete Glamourpuss book collections in beautifully-designed Fanta editions, if only for selfish reasons. I’ve read pieces of Cerebus, but would very much like reading all of it beginning to end doled out in digestable chunks. I also don’t think it would take quite as long to publish it all as Sim estimates; Would two volumes of Cerebus a year be out of the realm of possibility? And if anyone, Fanta are the ones to do it. Look at the great job they’re doing with the Peanuts and Carl Barks and Popeye and Tardi books, fer example. Similar looooong, multi-volume projects. I hope it happens.

  24. Joe Procopio says:

    …or Oscar Wilde, 1980s British politics, and Marx Bros. movies. I’m sure others can think up more.

    Your welcome to your disdain, Mr. Fiore, but yours are cheap shots. Sim’s interests and ambitions were far broader than you intimate. And it’s worth remembeing that most artists who work in parody or satire tend to be highly topical, tied to their time. Some of it ages better than others…it doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t well done.

  25. Don Druid says:

    It’s a sharp piece Sim has produced here, and seemingly effortlessly. Sorry you didn’t get the go-ahead, but I’m glad I read this. Sim is one of those writers who it’s a pleasure to disagree with.

  26. Don Druid says:

    Chris Claremont in general.

  27. Don Druid says:

    If Sim’s first phone call was always to a “financial adviser”, he’d have done a lot of things differently, I think.

  28. BVS says:

    it might be my age but I always think of Sim and Jamie Hernandez in the parallel. remember the old L& R trade paperbacks? Jamie had but Sim still has his work tied weird dysfunctional collections. if fans wanted to evangelize about their favorite comic to their friends had to say things like
    “it’s really awesome, but the thing is, you actually want to not start with book 1 because that’s not really what the rest of the books are about, even though a whole bunch of the reoccurring characters are introduced there. so start with book 2, or maybe hop around, because your probably not going to read ALL of them… also when these reoccurring super hero fantasy element joke characters keep showing up, and they will throughout the whole series, just kind of ignore it, because even if you do read the whole thing is still won’t make sense anyways”
    Fantagraphics have done a great job of making Jamie’s work more accessible, I’d love to see what could be done with Sim’s.
    but any kind of new “complete Cerebus” project is beyond enormous. first I’d like to see that Alex Raymond book, or maybe an “Art of” book. some kind of new way to reintroduce Sim. it would be nice for there to be a single contained book someone could pick up.

  29. mateor says:

    Oh jesus. Enough of this, right?

    Some parts may not be as funny, but they aren’t necessary to enjoy the books. You can enjoy Gulliver’s Travels without boning up on the cutural stereotypes of the day, right? Buckky is just as funny if you never read Elric; I never have.

    How will you ever understand the Roach’s motivation if you never read Moon Night? Give me a break.

    Cerebus stands on its just fine, feel free to ignore that bit of received wisdom. If you feel like skipping the text pieces, go ahead. You can also start at High Society, no problem. At times it may feel like you are missing all this rich backstory; you’re not, not really.

    Just go for it, it’s fun.

  30. Bring Back Zot says:

    Judenhass is a terrific achievement and New York Times worthy. It was very under read in it’s initial publication, and belongs in public libraries and schools. Maybe Sim and Groth can work on publishing Judenhass in a large hardcover format, and see if that leads to any future collaborations.

  31. Jason Winter says:

    My sentiments exactly.

  32. BVS says:

    the phone books basically have 1 page introductions by sim and then the story begins. is also something to be said for contextualizing the actual world of Cerebus. explain the world with it’s different cultures, religions. why do some characters dress in contemporary clothes while some look medieval and some victorian. why is there an ardvark?
    a map and a character key in the back would help. even reading just 1 of the “phone books” is a significant investment in reading time. you can easily say little orphan annie is about a little orphan girl and her dog having adventures. it’s hard to tell some exactly what Cerebus is about.

  33. Briany Najar says:

    I’m into this approach.

    It’s a life story.
    How many, of all the lives you have engaged with, have you done so from start to finish?

    (…dark DNA…)

    But still, the market, yes. And something to do with structuralism…

  34. Briany Najar says:

    Sim’s comments are a great argument for the value of editors, producers, and general middle-man interference.
    He’s a brilliant, visionary creator, a very accomplished person, but the dude is tripping, no?
    FBI = NYT works great in metaphoric space but… it doesn’t exhaust the actual scenario.
    Does everything have to be integrated with that almost geometrically satirical sensibility?
    If all behaviour connected to the work must be a performance, then the artist needs broader idiomatic scope than this.

    The proposed paratext needs to offer nothing more than “previously in Cerebus” and a bit of intertextual orientation. Wasn’t that even the suggestion put forward? Just maybe, maybe an individual Neal Adams panel, no fuckit, that’s a seperate book. A critical companion.
    Hagiography (or, ahem, otherwise) comes somewhat later, when the dust has settled, with no right to reply. More new work first, and many happy returns. (Here’s to a hundred.)
    For now, the majority of potential readers just need navigational assistance, thus a relatively broad readership, thus the work stays in print. IN PRINT. there’s some fine lines in there (drawing-wise), and it’s all B&W. I would never ever buy that kind of art in some pissant 100 dpi format.

  35. Frank Santoro says:

    JAIME is his name.

  36. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    The problem of people not understanding all the references in Cerebus is a non-issue. How many of the various Alice in Wonderland references to Victorian-era poetry (among other things) would most readers “get” in the absence of books like The Annotated Alice? Sim is so good that one’s appreciation of Elrod, Moon Roach, Red Sophia, etc. doesn’t depend in the slightest on knowledge of the characters that they’re based on.

  37. Michael Grabowski says:

    Reading Sim’s glamourpuss editorial that set all this in motion, I was left wondering how Steve Ditko manages to survive and produce his comic.

  38. Michael Grabowski says:

    The thing with the extended Fanta book collections is that the first ones come out more or less on time and stay that way for a short while, then the gaps get longer. Probably a combination of weakening sales as the line goes on and diminished enthusiasm in the office as each year’s newer exciting reprint project gets rolling. When did the most recent Dennis the Menace book appear? The Prince Valiants seem to be slowing down already. The last couple Krazy Kat and Popeye books didn’t appear as regularly as the first several of each. Only Peanuts seems to come out rigidly on time, and that’s probably contractually enforced. With so many great books published every year, they couldn’t properly promote more than two Cerebus volumes in a year, and would that last past the first five volumes? If they really did all 16 books, it might not take 16 years but it’s not like they would give all of Sim’s books the push he thinks they deserve, and he’s right to point that out. Especially since he would go from taking 100% of the profits to giving some portion of that to FBI.

  39. Jayhawh says:

    This guy sounds hard to work with.

    Or sumpfin, tss tss.

    I do respect his desire to have integrity over income . You can have all the arguments in the world about whether or not it works, or makes life any better or not. I don’t know. I understand that sometimes to not sell out you have to be self defeating, but I don’t think I’d hold out that long. At some point I’d say, “as long as they can’t touch my original books, fine, I’ll take the $75,000 for the godawful embarrassing shameful movie that possibly will never be made.” But if his decision is to not do that (for really long convoluted reasons) then that is okay.

  40. R. Fiore says:

    I don’t know how someone who’s unfamiliar with 70s and 80s comics would understand Cerebus because I’m familiar with it myself. What I do know is that when I got to the later volumes where he was doing parodies of comics I wasn’t familiar with I found myself completely lost.

  41. R. Fiore says:

    I think it’s an apt comparison, in that with Jaime you have to go through that whole period before he found out that people found the real world stuff more compelling than the science fiction pastiche. The difference is that while Jaime had a great deal of development to go through he had a tremendous facility from the start, whereas with Sim you have to go through hundreds of pages of truly amateur material in order to understand what’s going on. By the time Sim finally fully developed as a cartoonist he was definitely comparable to Jaime in terms of pure chops.

  42. Andrew McIntosh says:

    What I assumed KT meant by context was to give the books a back-cover blurb and a “story so far”…I also assumed he meant that Sim would provide them.

  43. Stevie B says:

    I’d love for Dave Sim to have negotiated with Hollywood. The part where he explains everything goes into the public domain when he dies and so at that point their rights would be worthless would be, well, priceless to listen to. In that sense you think he should take the money and run, but it’s his call and I’m not going to berate the man for not wanting to swim with the sharks.

  44. Don Druid says:

    Or, you know, read the stuff Fiore suggested you read.

    Both approaches work. There’s no need to get flustered about it.

  45. Don Druid says:

    I still don’t get the general distaste for the Maggie the Mechanic stuff. As a reader who came at the books first in the ’00s, it seemed like a great way to set the stage for the Locas stories’ emphasis on death-ray science fiction, punk rock, thin bodies etc. as totems of an ideal youth that may or may not have ever really existed. New Stories #1, to me, proves how absolutely crucial that business remains to Jaime’s end of things.

  46. Don Druid says:

    Or, it can be complemented by that knowledge.

  47. Don Druid says:

    . . . the two-pager where Maggie blows a raspberry and tosses her own skinny-self, dream-job-having pseudo-past into the bus seat behind her, never to return, while gripping a half-eaten burger in the other hand . . . I don’t know if I’d have ever been pulled into those books without that, and everything behind it. To me, Jaime’s semi-linear stories keep asking the question: how good was it Back Then? Worse than you thought? Much, much better? And if better, is that even worse? Take away Maggie’s letters home in those first stories and the whole thing reads a lot more cynically to me.

  48. Paul Slade says:

    http://albert.nickerson.tripod.com/creatorsbillofrightsfables.html

    I hadn’t seen this 2005 exchange between Dave and DC before, but it makes interesting reading. Scoll down past the Fables contract DC sent Dave for signature and you’ll find his letter discussing the points that concern him.

    I admire Dave for sticking to his guns on these, but I can also see why DC decided that the game wasn’t worth the candle. For a big company with hundreds of projects in the works at any given time, getting into this degree of detailed to-and-fro with a mid-level creator over a measly three-pager would never seem to justify the investment of time and effort required. Things may be different with Fantagraphics, of course – both because they’re a smaller publisher considering a bigger project, and because the company culture there is likely to be much more sympathetic to Dave’s concerns.

    Fanatagraphics have done a beautiful job with Peanuts, Love & Rockets and other comparable projects. Many, many people still prefer to consume their graphic novels on paper, and Fantagraphics have the proven experience to help draw their attention to Cerebus in a format ‘civilians’ would find more appealing. If any publisher can pull off the balancing act required between making Cerebus accessible and respecting its integrity, then they’re the boys to do it.

    Maybe Dave should call Seth or Los Bros to discuss their own experiences with Fantagraphics in considering his decision. They could offer a creator’s perspective on working with the company and any pitfalls they may have found there. It would be a real shame if this moment passed without any concrete results, because the prospect of a line of Fantagraphics Cerebus editions – even an incomplete one – holds great promise.

  49. Luke says:

    Well, luckily I am familiar with most of those comics anyway, so no harm, no foul. I only started reading comics in 1991 or so but I have a real affection for the Bronze Age and back issue (and discount) bins.

    I had thought about starting with High Society as I have heard that suggestion before. I’m in the middle of another collected edition right now (something equally highbrow of course… classic Firestorm, heh!) but I am considering grabbing High Society for my trip to Florida this weekend.

    In any event I appreciate everyone’s comments. I am assuming that reading Cerebus will be like reading glamourpuss for me, where after I read a segment, I will find myself going and doing the research.

    Hmm, considering glamourpuss had no ads, I wonder how cost-feasible it would be to make my own hardcover bound edition through Houchen or one of the other comic bindery outfits. Food for thought.

  50. Those big phone books are intimidating. If Fanta were to put them out in a format similar to the Love and Rockets collections I would probably buy at least one of them. (Possibly several years from now 75% off on eBay. But still. I’d consider it.)

  51. Also, whenever I saw those big phone books in store they always looked really shop worn. Having worked in books for years, I can say big paperback books don’t hold up. Every time I’ve almost pulled the trigger on on of those Cerebus phone books, I’ve been turned away by a beat up cover and the appeal of just buying the comics for $1 each in the cheapo boxes at stores and cons.

  52. AACRO says:

    So with mutual compli-sults, Kim pokes Sim in the eye and Sim pokes Kim in the eye right back.

  53. Bmackay says:

    Let me be (more) clear: He doesn’t have to accept the movie offer. But he shouldn’t then publicly complain about his dire financial straits which resulted from the supposedly complete lack of interest in Cerebus. It’s disingenuous. It’s also a blatant ploy for sympathy and attention.

  54. Allen Smith says:

    Agreed. Cerebus takes some explaining to the uninitiated, so a comprehensive essay would be needed for some parts of the story. And, Sim is right about how long it would take to publish the whole thing again. But, still a good idea if some deal could be worked out. Better to have that material out there than not.

  55. Allen Smith says:

    I’m assuming Sim needs the money, don’t have access to his personal financial info myself. But, a movie wouldn’t affect the comics he’s produced, they’d still exist. At the same time, wonder if Sim shouldn’t try to dangle Cerebus in front of more than one studio, just to test the waters. No reason to marry the first person who asks you out on a date.

  56. Allen Smith says:

    Don’t know about that. Cerebus is superior to the comics it parodied. Who would willingly want to read Secret Wars? I mean, I got it when it came out, now it ranks with Ed Wood movies as being the worst written comic series in history, only without the charm of the Wood movies.

  57. N Savory says:

    Because when you’ve spent almost 30 years of your life drawing 300 issues, and 6000 pages, I say again 6000 pages, then it is more than about money no matter how broke you are.
    It is about your LIFE and what you’ve spent it doing. It should come as no suprise that given a choice you want what you have spent your life doing to be presented to the world in a specific way because it’s all you have.
    The whole beggars can’t be choosers thing is a load of bull. Better for it to be done the way Dave Sim thinks is right or not at all, and I applaud him for taking that stance.

  58. N W Smith says:

    AWESOME analogy! Bravo!

  59. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    The early-Jaime/early-Sim parallel is indeed apt and I agree that the earliest of Sim’s Cerebus stuff is a bit more amateurish than the earliest Jaime L&R stuff. That said, in Sim’s case the early Cerebus is by no means something that needs to be “slogged through”. Despite the limitations imposed by being essentially a Conan parody, most of that stuff is hilarious; indeed, I would argue that while the cartooning abilities of “early Sim” were a bit behind those of “early Jaime”, Sim’s writing was sharp and funny from the get-go and I still laugh out loud at some of those early issues.

  60. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    Oh certainly!

  61. BVS says:

    ooops, sorry.

  62. Tony says:

    Still, the sharks would have deserved a 1700 word speech touching upon immortal themes such as Hemingway’s bi-sexuality in response. Why must only we suffer?

  63. BVS says:

    I never understood why all but the last 4 of the phone books had black and white covers. Sim knows how to use color and how to make a great cover page.

  64. Sam says:

    I really like the specific sensation of reading the Cerebus phonebooks. They’re half an inch wider horizontally than the comics were. You can get both your thumbs on there and really hunker down and read a five hundred page story with no inky smears afterwords. Maybe I just have big thumbs.

  65. Knut Robert Knutsen says:

    Doesn’t sound that hard-nosed to me.

    It basically breaks down to Sim saying this:

    “I don’t know if either of us is interested in committing to doing the whole thing right off. Especially with the market and the formats in such a flux, plus my digital plans. I want to be able to be flexible about publishing in a way that precludes an exclusive relationship.

    Here’s what I think might be most “sellable” to the FBI Market demographic, the “Hemingway” and “Fitzgerald” sections of my later stories. For which I have loads of biographic notes and other extra material, especially Hemingway.

    Let’s work on that, if you’re interested, and see how it goes. ”

    Am I wrong or was that the general gist of what Sim wrote, once you got past his detailed reasoning and caveats and all that extraneous stuff?

    And If I’m right, I’m scared. I understand Sim-speak now? That can’t be good. :-)

  66. BVS says:

    it’s not that the Music for Mechanics stuff is bad. it’s super great. but for a someone coming in cold to read that one first then read the others, there is going to be a jaring moment of “hey what happened to all the rocket ships and dinosaurs”.

  67. BVS says:

    Fantagraphics as a publisher that exclusively caters it’s efforts to appeal to the New York times book review isn’t accurate. when was the last time Clowes or Ware published a new book with Fantagraphics? what about Peter Bagge? sure the Joost Swarte book, Flannery O’Connor book, Donald Duck books, and Love and Rockets are New Yorker/NY times worthy. but dal Tokyo? debatable, king of the flies? probably not, castle waiting? probably not, sexytime? nope, Prison Pit? definitely not.

  68. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    Agreed, the Mechanix stuff is wonderful, and to his credit, Jaime’s occasionally revisited that “unreal” side of things with a hint of ambiguity, e.g. Izzy growing to immense proportions when she got nervous about her book-reading event and then Maggie and Hopey arguing later about whether Izzy grows or shrinks when she gets nervous.

    And of course “Return of the Ti-Girls” went completely in the opposite direction, and embraced full-on superheroics, but because it’s Jaime, it touched on the “real” world of Locas as well, specifically the problematic nature of an “unreal” character like Penny Century in Jaime’s “real” world.

  69. R. Fiore says:

    The point is that you have this large segment that’s not representative of the larger work that has to be read in order to fully comprehend what comes after. In an ideal world what Sim would do is redraw, revise and condense the first volume, the way Herge did with the early Tintin (except with Sim the need is much greater). But then, none of us is as young as we were 25 years ago, or have the same capacity for work. On the other hand it is his life’s work, it’s something that has commercial potential, and it’s less work than doing something entirely new. It’s not unlikely that he could make a deal with the sort of publisher that would pay him a living wage advance to do it (i.e., not Fantagraphics God knows). I wouldn’t be surprised if DC/Vertigo would be interested in it, particularly if it came with a digital deal for the whole corpus.

  70. R. Fiore says:

    It’s curious how all this got blown up into an “offer” to publish. Kim wrote in the knowledge that if Sim were going to an outside publisher Fantagraphics wouldn’t be it, and what he was saying was that Fantagraphics or any number of other publishers would be willing to do the work of a publisher, but that Sim’s martyr complex wouldn’t allow it.

    One might also consider the possibility that Sim’s comments about working in the oil sands were facetious.

  71. Ian Harker says:

    Hey Gary & Kim, please take whatever funds you put aside for collecting Cerebus and collect and English edition of Kamui-Den instead. K? THX!

  72. Tim Hodler says:

    That’s a good point. Depending on how accurately Sim is describing Gary’s phone call about the Alex Raymond book, “offer” may be appropriate, but to be safe, I’ve made the headline less emphatic.

  73. Pingback: Dave Sim ante Fantagraphics

  74. MADdelaRosa says:

    Bravo, indeed. That summed up my feelings about this perfectly.

    …no, seriously, what the hell was that?

  75. horus kemwer says:

    The phonebooks are good value for money, but the material deserves much better, reproduction-wise. Several of mine have fallen apart, and I would spring for nice hardcover editions with high quality reproduction in a heartbeat – no contextualization needed.

    Of course, I realize the point is reaching a wider audience, etc., but even from the standpoint of long term fans, it would be nice to see the material in an archival format, and it would nice if it could be done in a way that treated the creator fairly (and, important, even if it’s really a different criterion, was perceived by him as such).

  76. R. Haining says:

    Or you could take these imaginary funds and publish the pre-Popeye Thimble Theater.

  77. Briany Najar says:

    Surely it has to be an oversized Leo Baxendale collection, with a special focus on the mid to late 60s work he did for Odhams.
    You heard it here first.

  78. Groth says:

    I left Dave a message telling him that I’d be willing to publish his Raymond book (assuming we could agree on terms, of course, admittedly a huge assumption). I did this mostly out of respect for his skill at and commitment to comics; and, to be honest, in order to help him out. The litany of failed strategies to make dough that he enumerated in that blog post was despairing, as was his inability to profitably continue publishing Glamourpuss himself. Basically, I was offering to jump into the breach if he’d find it helpful. Pragmatically, it’s a single book and a pretty simple prospect.

    Cerebus, on the other hand — ay yi yi. I suspect that Kim and Dave could negotiate the contract for that series of books (publicly!) until one of them drops dead, which would probably be a hell of a lot sooner than if they’d never started negotiating in the first place. Good luck to them.

    My offer to publish Glamourpuss as a single volume stands, though.

  79. I’ve bought several random Cerebus back issues from the quarter bins, specifically because the artwork looked fascinating. Cerebus is something I plan on reading through in completion eventually, but until that time I’m more than content reading about Cerebus creator Dave Sim’s exploits in publishing. This is fascinating stuff.

  80. michael L says:

    holy heck, i could not agree more. How long must the people be kept from Kamui-den? It’s disgusting.

  81. mateor says:

    I never read the Conan books either. I just feel like Cerebus gets enough flak about being impenetrable without having people recommend survey courses to enjoy it.

    Come to think of it, outside of Wolverine and Batman, I don’t think I read one comic being directly parodied in the book.

    I was up to date on the Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Mailer and Oscar Wilde parodies, but like I said, I think should you choose to the text pieces could be skipped. But I think that enough of those authors work/reputation has been injected into the zeitgeist that anyone contemplating reading a 6000 page funnybook could get along fine.

    There is enough dismissal of the work out there, it just rankled me to see it described as needing such homework to enjoy.

    It is funny and thoughtful, no prerequisites. If you can read someone’s personal vision while maybe not agreeing with it, you should be fine. If opinions contrary to your own anger you, maybe it won’t be for you.

  82. mateor says:

    Yeah, Glamourpuss and you guys seems a great match. I had many of the same reactions to that piece. (minus any publishing interests, obviously…)

  83. Kim Thompson says:

    I’m just back from SPX, and will spend at least the rest of the week catching up. To be continued. I would like to quickly say that my talk about “contextualizing” CEREBUS would absolutely not be critical/analytical but simply in terms of offering potential readers who are not already fans of the material a way in. Plot summaries or lead-ins on the flaps or back cover, character guides once the books get moving, perhaps even a discreet explanatory supplement about some of the parodied material that has now faded into obscurity for everyone and was always a total mystery for people outside the comics bubble. There are ways of making the material presentable for new readers that in no way compromise it or overlay it with untoward interpretation… just make it less, shall we say, opaque.

    I personally think that classic strip reprints on balance have a little too much historical and critical contextualization going on these days, it’s become exhausting… but you can just skip those pages. Anyway, that’s not at all what I’m talking about here.

    Dunno why everyone is theorizing out these endless schedules of a book a year or whatever. I don’t see any reason not to do two or three a year. (Slowdowns on classic strip reprints occur mainly because of the amount of difficulty and labor involved in finding and processing the material, not an issue in CEREBUS’s case. And we stopped doing DENNIS THE MENACE because it didn’t sell, simply enough.)

  84. Eric Hoffman says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Kim. Sim’s response ist not a “no” out of hand, but . . .

    To be fair, in my opinion Sim’s extrapolations miss the point; he instead uses an offer most struggling artists would salivate over as a springboard to criticize TCJ’s alleged NYTROB editorial agenda, a dead horse now well flogged.

    Also, surely Sim knows that FBI publishes more than one book a year when doing these types of books? The PEANUTS stuff comes out, what, four times a year, same with the Barks, etc. At four books a year it would take FBI 4 years tops to get through CEREBUS. To me this is not an insurmountable problem. It’s a non-issue, in point of fact.

    Finally, if I understand Sim’s comments, he suggests FBI would want to publish FORM & VOID on the basis that Hemingway is more “popular” than Fitzgerald. Okay . . . Since when? How many Fitzgerald movies are coming out this year and next? Four? Don’t see any Hemingway on the horizon. In fact, insofar as one can measure “popularity” or at least establishment acceptance of these authors, I’d say Fitzgerald currently has far more cachet than Hemingway does.

    Again, all this is really beside the point – FBI offered to publish ALL of CEREBUS. I think if anything HIGH SOCIETY would be much higher on your agenda than FORM & VOID. It’s not like all Fantagraphics publishes is courting NYTROB with Jeet Heer introductions, etc.

  85. Derik Badman says:

    Wanted to jump in, and say, Eric, I just started “Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah.” Your introduction is excellent, it provides a lot of great biographical/historical context for Sim’s reluctance to give away any rights/accept other publishers in re this post/discussion. (Recommended to all Cerebus fans out there, there’s an affordable Kindle edition out for those who balked at the paperback price.)

  86. Kristine says:

    Exactly. Paramount functionaries deserve some schooling too!

  87. nfpendleton says:

    As a fan of both Cerebus and FBI’s titles and publishing philosophy, it would be foolish if this public negotiation came to nothing. The work deserves the Fanta treatment and Cerebus needs a publishing partner now. Everybody wins if they let themselves – and that includes fans like me squinting from the cheap seats.

  88. Kim Thompson says:

    And I don’t think CEREBUS can or should be aimed at THE NEW YORK TIMES any more than PRISON PIT should be, but so far as I know THE NEW YORK TIMES has been quite catholic in terms of responding to, say, Grant Morrison or Frank Miller’s work, or Gary Panter’s or Robert Crumb’s, just as much as they do this semi-mythical “TIMES-worthy” group.

    There are 6000 pages of CEREBUS. I’d say an ideal mass market book length would be 240-300 pages, so we’re talking 20-odd books. I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t work through those in a decade, or about one third the time Dave took to do them in the first place.

  89. Garnet says:

    Agreed about Judenhass. The stuff about Israel at the end is too upbeat for many people’s tastes, but the pictorial history of casual anti-Semitism is a depressing, compelling second look at the sort of stuff most westerners only *think* they already know.

  90. Don Druid says:

    Yeah, I mean, everything else aside, I’d buy Fantagraphics CEREBUS, and tracking down undestroyed copies of those old phonebooks scares the crap out of me. Maybe that means CEREBUS isn’t “for” me as Kevin Smith put it about Gigli(?), but still, I’d buy that, and really, people who keep an eye on Fanta’s line would buy that. I think Sim could probably trust these folks to treat the material with the unobtrusive care Kim Thompson’s described, since they’re probably the people with the longest institutional memory and sense of . . . I don’t know, battlefield honor? about CEREBUS and Sim’s work. There’s no use in letting a good enemy go to waste, if I can use some serious hyperbole to describe what’s behind ‘The Fantagraphics Two-Step’ panel above.

  91. Eric says:

    Thanks, Derik. To clarify, given Sim and TCJ’s somewhat contentious history, however, I’d say publication of CEREBUS by FBI is regrettably a long shot, indeed, and given Sim’s uncompromising views on self-publishing Sim would likely consider licensing a betrayal of everything for which he stands professionally. Personally, I think Sim would do well to allow an interested publisher to keep everything in print; so long as he maintains the copyright, etc., what’s the difference? (Isn’t this what Jeff Smith did when he brought BONE to Image?) I’d say Sim’s already long proved his point regarding self-publishing. Let somebody else handle the marketing and distribution, and he can worry about cashing the checks. He’s earned it. This would allow him to finish the Alex Raymond book in his own sweet time, too.

  92. Michael says:

    I agree with the implied-via-snark sentiment here. Still, Alan Moore sells film rights and his work remains unblemished, because it’s just so vastly superior to the adaptions. They come and go, while his work remains. That said… if there ever IS a live action Cerebus film… and Peter Dinklage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Dinklage) is cast as the leading roll…. I might get in line for that. He would just nail it shut.

  93. Jason Winter says:

    I own all the phonebooks, and have enjoyed (and will continue to enjoy) re-reading them over the years. But the thought of having a collection of delux editions (hard cover, nice paper), makes me drool with glee! And a complete ‘Glamourpuss’ collection would be the icing on the cake!

  94. Michael says:

    Whatever Parodies that exist in Cerebus are dwarfed by the chess-like application of each character, as related to the strategic unfolding of the narrative. To me, Lord Julius was Lord Julius, a bishop jockeying to be king, not a Groucho Marx parody (or homage, some times there’s a fine line). The first time a reader encounters the character of Lord Julius, parody (or homage) may be all that the reader sees, but once the reader gets a taste for how huge a player the character is in terms of the stakes of the world that he has been created for, the parody takes back seat, and then it gets in the trunk, and then it’s finally crapped out of the exhaust, where it remains as a diminishing tuft of dust, visible in the review mirror if one chooses to look, until it fades entirely, as if it never existed. Take Artemis, a character that people have described as “Dave Sim’s vehicle for parody”: 100 years down the road, no one will care who Moonknight was, but they will nevertheless embrace Moonroach as one of Artemis’ many personalities, because the parody is utterly not of consequence in light of the overarching narrative, where the actions of Artemis the character are of major consequence.

  95. Michael says:

    If I were to guess, I would say it’s because he also knows how to make a hell of a great black and white cover, and it just so happened to save a bundle in the printing process. I think the more reasonable question to ask, in this context, is “why suddenly start making the covers in color, at this late stage in the game?”

  96. Kit says:

    It would be a mistake to break either High Society or Jaka’s Story into smaller books, I think.

    Splitting up the first volume into “the crappier stuff” and the “getting pretty good now stuff” would be a great boon to themarketplace/new reader, as long as it wasn’t counteracted too much by the #1 and #2 on the spine for ppl that were buying blind. (And it would provide an opportunity to put all the non-collected bits of the story in place to get the page counts up to 300 – Magiking, and the Silverspoon strips, and the Diamondback story that explains the rules and whatnot.)

  97. Kit says:

    Arnold The Isshurian!

  98. I just wanted to say, as someone who has experienced a pretty broad range of experiences with both Dave and the work itself, I tend to agree with the general consensus of which volumes are the most marketable/new-reader friendly (HIGH SOCIETY, CHURCH & STATE, JAKA’S STORY, MELMOTH), but I also disagree (to a degree) with the assertion that the first book is just something that has to be slogged through in order to fully grasp the later, more mature work. (Someone closer to the project can correct me on this, but I was wondering if that may not also have been the reason the digital Cerebus project began with HIGH SOCIETY?)

    However, in reading those first twenty five issues, I almost NEVER go to the phonebook (and I own three, including a
    custom bound hardcover) or the single issues – I read the six SWORDS OF CEREBUS volumes, each of which had four issues (five in the last, I think) plus extra story material. But what got me was the short essays in between the chapters; pieces that gave context to the story, shared professional anecdotes, and served as a primer for beginning a career as a storyteller. They gave those books incredible value to me, and elevated the reading experience far above the one I experienced reading the phonebook.

    That same kind of treatment applied to HIGH SOCIETY, maybe meeting format choices in the middle, making them larger than the SWORDS books but smaller than the phonebooks, puts them in the size range Kim is talking about, and would be something incredibly easy to package and present. The quality inherent in the material is unquestionable – it simply needs to be repackaged for the marketplace of readers who simply need to be educated a bit about what it is, and offered the work in a form that appeals more the the current aesthetic. And to me, that’s largely the aesthetic Dave STARTED with in SWORDS, so it’s not even a big shift in thinking.

    I for one would wait in line to buy those books. And I bet a lot of other people would, too.

  99. Anthony Thorne says:

    I’ve been waiting years to dive into CEREBUS in the exact hope that someone would do nicely printed hardcover versions. If a Fanta series amendable to Dave (with everything done to his satisfaction) reached fruition, I’d buy every volume.

  100. Kit says:

    Still, Alan Moore sells film rights and his work remains unblemished, because it’s just so vastly superior to the adaptions.

    Alan Moore hasn’t sold film rights to any of his work since 1999, and only did once before that.

  101. michael says:

    Not to be a buzzkill, but as a fan of all things Dave Sim, I started boycotting FBI when they left him off the “greatest 100 cartoonists” list, because, after the way they ran him through the muck and more or less “sponsored” an industry-wide attack of his character in the pages of the Journal, the omission (The Omission) was pretty much the last straw in my book. Is there a single reader here with an ounce of knowledge regarding the history of the medium of comics that doesn’t think Dave belongs in the top 100? It’s beyond opinion, it’s is gapingly obvious. The only reason Dave shouldn’t be on that list would be that he’s above it. He’s too good for it. That would be an acceptable excuse for the omission. It’s like that line in Moneyball, when Beane is trading Carlos Peña to Detroit, and is asked why; his response: “he’s making the other guys look bad.”

    The thought of Fantagraphics now publishing anything by Dave Sim out of so called “sympathy” makes me want to throw up. FBI publishing Dave Sim should be seen as FBI scoring one of the industry’s greatest artists, not as “throwing ol’ Dave a bone”. Give me a break.

    Unless Gary Groth (et al) comes out with a formal apology along the lines of – “Dave, we were wrong in our efforts to marginalize you, diminish you, demonize you and viciously insult you in the pages of our own publication; and we were wrong to then utterly ignore you as if you have never contributed anything of value to this industry; and now, with our tail between our legs, where it belongs in light of our absurd, emotionally immature, thoughtless, knee-jerk, fear-based response to your work of art, we would like to offer to publish said work, giving it the packaging it so richly deserves, because we acknowledge that you would be a very welcome addition to our publishing history, to say the very least” – I can’t imagine where this “budding relationship” will blossom into anything positive/healthy for the artist.

  102. Eric Hoffman says:

    Thanks Michael for the historical perspective. Yes, certainly there is no love lost between TCJ/FBI and Mr. Sim. (And, as much as I disregard any “best of” lists, leaving CEREBUS out of the Top 100 was certainly politically motivated if not downright distasteful, as was the cartoon depicting Sim as a concentration camp guard. Wowza.) I think Thompson and Groth can defend themselves, but I should add that TCJ was a very early and encouraging supporter of Sim – Thompson’s key 1979 review comparing CEREBUS to the best of Carl Barks is instructive here, not to mention his expansive 2-part interview with Dave n’Deni in, what was it, 1982? – and they have granted him several major interviews since (notably Groth’s in 1989 and Spurgeon’s essential interview in 1996), not to mention allowing him to air his laundry in various letter columns, etc., etc. Granted, all parties benefited in a way from this contentious relationship – Sim made good copy after all and, well, no press is bad press, as they say. That said, I don’t interpret FBI’s offer as a “handout” so much as a impassioned interest in supporting a viable artist (both aesthetically and commercially) who has allegedly hit hard times. I don’t really think Groth and Thompson are slapping each other on the back saying, “See! We won, self-publishing doesn’t work.” They couldn’t, because Sim proved it does.

  103. R. Maheras says:

    During the first 14 years or so of Cerebus’ comic book existence, I was either living overseas, or I was stationed somewhere far from any comic book specialty shop. And since I’m the type of guy who has never been a big fan of serialized stuff anyway — especially long-term serialized stuff — to this day I have yet to sit down and read Cerebus.

    It’s on my bucket list, and if someone published it in a nice format, I might give it a shot. Fantagraphics has done a nice job with other vintage strip reprints, and I see no reason why they wouldn’t do a nice job with Sim’s magnum opus — regardless of past Blood and Thunder battles, and regardless of fundamental ideological differences.

    Regardless of who publishes it, I’d hope such a compilation would include Sim’s preliminary work on the strip, along with the pre-comic book Cerebus material published in various issues of The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom (now Comics Buyer’s Guide).

  104. Kim Thompson says:

    My, there is a lot of superannuated bullshit from Sim Inconditionals piling up here.

    CEREBUS barely missed the TCJ Top 100 list, mostly due to problems in terms of classification as to what constituted a single work, which scattered votes. It was on several lists including mine, as I recall. The accusation that it was a “political” omission is absurd, especially in view of the multitude of ink, much of it positive (or offering Dave an extended forum in interviews) spilled on Dave in the magazine. But the idea that Gary and I sat there, cackling, and kicked CEREBUS — one of my very favorite comics of the 1980s and some of the 1990s — out of the Top 100 just to be dicks remains an unsquelchable paranoid narrative, I guess.

    I am not offering to publish CEREBUS out of “sympathy,” I am offering to publish CEREBUS because it was, on and off (mostly on) a great comic by one of the great contemporary cartoonists, which up until now it appeared we had zero chance of publishing (given Dave’s self-publisher stance) so it wasn’t even on the table. If publishing it has as a side benefit allowing a great cartoonist to continue working, as opposed to leaving the field, that would be a bonus.

    Gary and I never, ever, EVER claimed that self-publishing didn’t work. That’s insane! There are plenty of people for whom it worked beautifully, for extended periods of time. (Including, obviously, Dave.) What Gary and I contested was Dave’s “self publishing is the only way to go, all publishers are rip-off artists, if you don’t self-publish you are a moron” hectoring.

    The idea that the JOURNAL sponsored or initiated the anti-Sim wave post-”Tangent” is fatuous too. The building horror at Dave’s bizarre gender politics existed before the JOURNAL reported or commented on it, and if you believe the JOURNAL was able to basically turn the entire industry against Dave you severely overestimate the JOURNAL’s ability to sway public opinion (unless I missed a tarring and feathering of Stan Lee over the last couple decades.) The JOURNAL provided an outlet for people to express their horror at Sim’s opinions. It’s de rigueur for unpopular people who are pilloried in the press as a result of their unpopularity to blame the press for fomenting this unpopularity. But people turned against Dave because of the opinions Dave expressed and how he expressed them. Given the firestorm they caused the JOURNAL would’ve been irresponsible not to address them. (Although I do think the Concentration Camp Sim drawing was excessive.)

    Will respond to Dave himself fully soon.

  105. Michael says:

    (responding to Eric Hoffman) – My thinking is that in order for there to be a clean slate – one that will allow for a positive progression between the two parties – Gary, Kim and co need to apologize (early support of Dave Sim’s work notwithstanding). Apologize: not with a sense of irony, or with a smirk, but with the sober understanding that they were wrong; that their reaction to Dave Sim’s work of art, and subsequent decision to use the pages of The Comics Journal to demonize the artist – was appalling on every conceivable level. In my relatively inconsequential opinion (relative to Dave’s), Gary – if anyone – as the leader of FBI, as the person from whom most of these actions trickled down, as the one who created the stage that welcomed half the industry to ‘either step up and hurl dung at Dave Sim or get out of our community’, needs to take ownership of his actions and apologize, not merely sweep it under the rug.

    I wonder how many people remember a period of time when associating with Dave Sim was like career assassination. Where do you think that came from? It trickled down from Gary, Kim and co. It was peer pressure on a staggering scale. I hope there are people reading this who remember that, and know that I’m not just being dramatic for effect.

    For me, the insult to injury came in the not-to0-distant aftermath of this sordid event, when the FBI community began to insult Cerebus fans – “anyone who would actually stick up for that nut” – as insane and/or as losers. “Anyone who actually continues to buy Cerebus has issues.” Dave doesn’t need me or anyone to stick up for him, but the fact that this peer pressure trickled down to the artist’s fans remains mind boggling to me.

    It’s likely that Gary and co will never own up to any of it, so the only scrap of justice that I see happening here is that Dave avoids FBI like the plague. They don’t deserve to publish his work in the absence of a real apology, and an authentic admission of a major ethical breech offered in an effort the clear the slate.

    I hope that Dave Sim’s work marches down through the centuries, and that all walks of life have the same opportunity that I’ve had to interact with his staggering achievement in art and literature. For me, the final book in the Cerebus story was a revelation in terms of being able to actually experience a work of art in the moment of reception, on all levels – cerebrally, physically, spiritually – rather than merely having an emotional reaction to a work, which is all I’d ever really known to that point. So when the idea that “only the first two thirds of CEREBUS is publishable”, or worse, that “The post-”Tangent” CEREBUS was impenetrable and boring” – is expressed by Kim Thompson (who, by the way, continues to refer to Dave Sim as a misogynist, belying an utter lack of insight into anything too far past his own a-hole) in the context of becoming Dave Sim’s publisher… (really?)… it strikes me as appalling, and solidifies my hope that Dave avoids letting FBI anywhere near his work.

    The reason I started off with “not to be a buzzkill”, is that I get that there could be a practical relationship formed, one that is of service to the artist, publisher and fans, win-win-win, but if I’m Dave Sim, I’m not seeing anything coming from either Kim or Gary that looks inviting; it’s just the same old, insulting crap, and I’d realize that this same win-win-win could come from another publisher, if the terms are right.

  106. I tried reading the first Cerebus phone book back in the early 90s, and it did absolutely nothing for me. Had a little more luck with the later volumes, but it was not a pleasant reading experience, really…more of a chore. I can’t imagine a little context would’ve been a bad thing.

  107. Kim Thompson says:

    CEREBUS fans don’t have very good reading skills, do they?

    I guess I’ll choose to be flattered at this idea that Gary and I single-handedly ruined Dave’s reputation, forcing scores if not hundreds of terrified former cartoonist friends of his to forsake him or face our terrible, terrible wrath.

    I know why Dave might believe this fairytale; it absolves him (and in a way, his ex-friends) of any responsibility for the situation. I don’t really know why Dave’s claque would, except out of sheer naive loyalty.

    I’ve come to realize the word “misogynist” is really inadequate to describe Dave’s beliefs and haven’t used it for a while.

  108. Eric Hoffman says:

    This is directed at Kim Thompson – I must apologize for assuming that CEREBUS’ lack of inclusion in the Top 100 was politically motivated. I wasn’t aware of the particulars you spelled out in your response, so I withdraw the “certainly politically motivated” statement. But please note, I was not insinuating that you and Gary ever said that self-publishing does not “work” – what I wrote was ” I DON’T really think Groth and Thompson are slapping each other on the back saying, ‘See! We won, self-publishing doesn’t work.’” You also have to realize that I am defending TCJ against Sim’s irrational defenders who decry TCJ’s alleged ill-treatment of Sim in saying that TCJ has long supported Sim’s work and given him ample opportunity to promote that work. I can only assume you are responding to Michael when you say the offer was out of “sympathy.” I certainly did not suggest that was the case, I’ve rarely heard of a publisher willing to publish a work on that basis alone, particularly during a Great Recession. Cheers!

  109. Dave Sim says:

    Hi, Kim. Hope you had a good time at SPX.

    Actually, I really like the background material on the strip reprint books. Max Collins is doing a phenomenal job on IDW’s DICK TRACY and they have a lot of supplemental material I had no idea about. Max is definitely worlds away from Chester Gould politically, but he realizes he’s there to present Chester Gould in his own frames of reference, not Max Collins’ Chester Gould.

    The introductory material — as you put it, “breathing new life” into the CEREBUS books — would be a quid pro quo for me — as I said, what Fantagraphics and you bring to the table is at least the POSSIBILITY of being deemed New York Times-worthy and that requires being New York Times-friendly which would require your (or someone’s) “value added” perspective. And FORM & VOID is all that’s on the table right now. I don’t picture Fantagraphics publishing either a glamourpuss collection or THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND (two different things), nor do I picture doing three books a year (which would still take us up to 2017-2018 with the same inherent problems: anyone signing a contract in 2007 on the assumption that 2012 would look pretty much the same as 2007 would have been in for an awful shock).

    I’m willing to stake what I consider one of my most literate books on the assumption that the print book trade isn’t just absolutely dying, which as we both know isn’t exactly a safe assumption these days, let alone in 2018 or 2029 (and my own best guess that if the print book trade collapses, the wagons will be pulled in a circle around the New York Times Book Review: the last stand) (which is not necessarily a safe assumption, either, but strikes me at least as being more comparable a risk to playing blackjack as opposed to slot machines). So, a couple of first thoughts:

    1) In order to make it New York Times-friendly, I don’t think the Fantagraphics version should be called FORM & VOID. Although there is a long and rich tradition of using Biblical passages as the titles for books (and Hemingway himself lamented back in the 1940s that “all of the good ones were taken”) that drops off a metaphorical cliff around 1970 and could be called, at best, “outre” in this day and age from the Times’ perspective. I was thinking of a redesign of the cover with the two full figures of Ernest and Mary Hemingway in their safari outfits against a “colour hold” backdrop of scenes from FORM & VOID’s “Africa Sequence” and the title, THE TRAGIC LIVES OF HAM & MARY ERNESTWAY: A GRAPHIC FABLE BASED ON THE TRUE STORY (or…BASED ON “THE TRUE GEN”) (…or…BASED ON “HOW IT WAS”) (each of the latter two being “inside” Hemingway references which might attract the attention of a genuinely interested reviewer) in whatever is the currently most fashionable New York Times friendly font and cover design. Which I assume you or the Fantagraphics designers would know inside and out.

    2) With Gary’s admonition firmly in mind that if we don’t make some progress early on this, we could be dancing in circles for too many years to count (don’t I know it!), I’m going to suggest we start at the end point and work backward. Let’s start with the assumption that we’ve negotiated the contract, agreed on terms, moved on to your introduction and batted that back and forth with me vetoing certain turns of phrase and you doing the same until we arrive at something WE HOPE the New York Times can live with and which endorses the material to a degree while also presenting as many politically correct caveats as is deemed necessary (and not just by US, I hasten to point out, by the people who are following this discussion and posting comments — they can end up doing a lot of the work for you since, by virtue of being regular “patrons” of THE COMICS JOURNAL and/or its website, they’re already fully aware of the political viewpoint and can often, I’m sure, find le mot juste thus saving you…or me…the trouble).

    (see, for me and Kim I picture this as falling somewhere between a quick game of intellectual ping-pong and a part-time hobby — I’M certainly not going to devote great swaths of my working life to it, nor do I expect Kim will. It might go somewhere or it might go nowhere).

    So. One of the last things we would need is the press release for the book which is always a major component in promoting it and nowhere more so than here. The goal is a positive or positive-neutral review from the New York Times that will make people buy the book. A HUGE task and we’ll see if we’re up to it. WAY at the end of the press release (or perhaps at the beginning? We’ll see how it evolves), your bio paragraph starts:

    “Multiple award-winning Fantagraphics editor single-handedly created Dave Sim’s career as a graphic novelist with the first major review in THE COMICS JOURNAL of Sim’s 26-year, 6,000-page graphic novel, CEREBUS, then in its infancy. Over the subsequent 24 years, Thompson…”

    The idea of a review making someone’s career will have appeal, I suspect, with many reviewers (though probably not at the New York Times who, having no shortage of examples where they’ve made a career with a review, take it as a given). Is it true? It’s true-ish and that’s all you really need for a press release. A press release is, by its nature, spin. Anyway, here we come to your writing challenge, Kim. How would you finished the sentence? “…found Sim’s work variously appalling, intriguing, insufferable, disgusting…” I mean, it’s a balancing act, because you’re my editor, you’re writing the introduction/preamble/whatever it is so you don’t want the people getting the press release saying “How can you work with this person in that case?” But, you also don’t want them to be saying, “You’re hiding something. According to Google search, this person is a NOTORIOUS MISOGYNIST.” Whatever you write in that space can only be one compound sentence at best. Two sentences would be pushing it. It’s a press release.

    And then the paragraph concludes “…in 2012, despite his reservations and qualms, Thompson volunteered to ‘breathe new life’, through his publishing company, Fantagraphics Books, into Sim’s monumental epic. Now, [8 months? 2 years? 4 years?] later, this book is the first result of his efforts.”

    Everyone is welcome to play along in the home version of our game. Just fill in the blank space as you think Kim should and post your suggestions. Kim might have no more difficult a task than cutting and pasting someone’s suggestion. It’s not as if he’s (I’m just being realistic) consumed with passion about the material, so, hey, whatever works. Remember it’s a press release so it can only be “tweet” length and it has to satisfy the New York Times’ political perspective without scaring away any potential reader unnecessarily.

    I got a phone message today from my “suitor” Emily (Hi, Emily!) at Barnes & Noble saying she had read my mention of her here and wants me to call her, saying that one of the clauses is “negotiable”. Well, not by me. It would have to come out or be a deal-breaker. BUT! It certainly indicates that you are being read by the right people in the book trade, so I consider pursuing this — at least until the end of the HARDtalk Virtual Tour when HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL launches October 10th at Cerebus Downloads (shameless plug!) — more than worthwhile.

    BTW, Kim’s 1979 review of CEREBUS #1-12 from TCJ No.52 can be found online at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.

  110. Kim Thompson says:

    That’s all fair, I appreciate that. Sorry if I misread the self-publshing comment. “Sympathy” came from Michael, who put it in quote marks and added “so-called” even though no one had actually used that term, or for that matter so much as implied that this was the motivation.

  111. Eric Hoffman says:

    This is a great review, and as I point out in my book CEREBUS THE BARBARIAN MESSIAH, it’s my view (others might disagree) that Thompson’s review arguably helped encourage Sim to move CEREBUS away from a strictly swords n’ sorcery satire into what became HIGH SOCIETY, etc.

  112. Kim Thompson says:

    After Dave’s 30th (I counted) reference to THE NEW YORK TIMES I started feeling like I was Shelley Duvall being confronted with the “All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy” manuscript in THE SHINING. I’m always pleased when one of our books is reviewed in the TIMES, sure, but the underlying idea that the paper is some sort of sine qua non stepping stone to respectability and thus the way to success is a single-minded focussed campaign to produce an object that conforms to their (I suspect mythical) expectations and needs seems completely wrongheaded, and a terrible way to start out.

    Dave, unsurprisingly, I see a pretty wide abyss here between what you’re interested in and my idea. Yanking out and repackaging a single story from CEREBUS into a mass-market-friendly format makes no sense to me on any number of levels — not the least of which being that I expect you to be an enormous pain in the ass to work with (I say this amicably; I assume you feel the same way about us) and producing a single book as opposed to a series is not enough reward for the seven levels of hell we’ll drag one another through. However, I am going to sit down and re-read FORM AND VOID and try to wrap my head around this idea.

    Just for clarity’s sake, my idea was to reprint the entire series in nicer-looking (no offense, but aside from the covers, which are lovely, the CEREBUS books’ non-comics pages look like a small-town insurance company’s in-house newsletter), more bookstore-friendly versions (chopping a few of the more unwieldy books in two or more pieces), explaining CEREBUS’s world more fully for readers who stumble into the 7th volume, using back cover copy to “introduce” potential readers to the series, etc… Obviously neither of us would want to contract for the entire run right off the bat, so a contract for the first four or six books which could then be renewed or not as either side saw fit, but hopefully both sides would be pleased with the results and WANT to renew.

  113. Michael says:

    To Kim -

    “I left Dave a message telling him that I’d be willing to publish his [Strange Death Of Alex] Raymond book (assuming we could agree on terms, of course, admittedly a huge assumption). I did this mostly out of respect for his skill at and commitment to comics; and, to be honest, in order to help him out.” -Gary Groth Sept 18, 2012

    I read this last line as “Sympathy”, quotes are added because I don’t recall Dave reaching out his hand and asking anyone to help him, and – in my opinion – it’s incredibly presumptuous on Gary’s part to think he is “helping (Dave) out” by offering to publish one of the truly great artists of his day, in comics or otherwise. In my relatively inconsequential opinion, Dave would be helping YOU guys out by letting you have the privilege of publishing his work on his terms.

  114. R. Fiore says:

    Keep this up and you might get a real Don Draper/Pete Campbell dynamic going here. Dave can be Don, we’ll be cool about it.

  115. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Hi Dave. Potential purchaser here.

    I used to have every issue of Cerebus. A few years ago, I finally got sick of hunting through longboxes when I wanted to read some comics, and sold off almost all my floppies with the intention of replacing them with book collections. With Cerebus, I got up to “Flight” before I finally gave up with Cerebus collections. Why?

    These books are horrible: crappy paper, ink that smears (in places, the black dialogue ballons with white lettering became literally unreadable), shit binding (the two-page spreads are ruined!). Plus, there’s all the missing material: issues #51, 112/113 (I miss that one the most!), “Like-a-Looks”.

    If the series came out in nice volumes that fit nicely on my shelf, with sewn binding that allowed the pages to open flat, so I could enjoy the two-page speads. I’d buy every single last volume. I’d even pre-order (I pre-paid for FBI’s Pogo Vol 1 more than a year in advance from the Book Depository).

    I want to give you my money. I won’t, however, shell out for one volume (like the Hemingway one) taken out of context of the rest of the series, no matter how nice the binding. I want everything in one place, easily accessable on my shelf. That’s why I ditched my floppies in the first place. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    Please give up on this bizarre idea of appealing to an imaginary “Times” audience. I’m pretty sure you’re miscalculating what that imaginary audience wants, and anyways, I’m pretty sure it can’t be calculated. Just give long-time fans what they’ve been wanting all along, as well as just enough “context” to keep new readers from drowning, and the books will sell themselves (too much “context” and most people’ll just skip it, defeating the purpose. A “Cerebus Companion”-type book would better cover that stuff for the people who want it).

    (Oh—I think “controversial views” would cover all the “notorious misogynst” stuff without ruffling feathers or inviting accusations of hiding anything)

  116. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Is there and EPUB version available? Outside the US, an awful lot of us don’t use Kindles…

  117. Kit says:

    Is there and EPUB version available? Outside the US, an awful lot of us don’t use Kindles…

    They’re doing PDF, CBZ, ePUB and MP4 (the latter presumably for the version with Dave reading all the on-page text, I guess.)

  118. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Really? Do you know where they’re for sale? Kobobooks, the Sony store and Barnes & Noble don’t list it, and the product page at McFarland’s site doesn’t mention e-versions at all.

  119. Derik Badman says:

    Andrew: They aren’t available yet. I believe Oct 10 is the date for the first issue? You can check here: http://www.cerebusdownloads.com/

  120. nfpendleton says:

    Today’s safe word is “Jeet Heer.”

  121. mateor says:

    What’s bad with my readings skills? I learned it from funnybooks, just like everyone else.

    It is hard to take your comments seriously when you are tossing around the same generalizations as the folks you disagree with. Can you see how someone might question your objective assessment of the work when you say things like that? I hope you do publish some of his work, but don’t know how I would feel if you were throwing “zingers” like these at the fan base.

    “Hey idiots, want to buy those books you can’t read? No seriously, love and respect the work, totally.”

  122. mateor says:

    Form and Void is great, but if you are seriously (and by you, I mean either one of you) considering pulling material from the middle, Going Home should be part of the deal.

    Aside from being maybe my favorite book, they naturally make a good pair. And gives Kim and Gary a platform to promote instead of just an edition.

    Although Dave, and I am a big fan and will absolutely buy anything that comes out of this, I could completely understand Kim’s reluctance to not start at the beginning.

    The fact that he is going to sit down and reread Form and Void is actually quite encouraging. I am sure that it is pretty much his worst case scenario, to publish a single book from the middle of the series, at a point where the public narrative is that is isn’t good or funny, simply hateful. I don’t agree with that narrative, but them’s the facts.

    His sitting down to read the book seems a striking gesture of good faith.

  123. Copper Man says:

    Somehow, someone make this happen. There are few objects I want to own as much as a really nicely printed & bound Cerebus.

  124. Kim Thompson says:

    Yes, precisely.

    I read the first chunk of FORM AND VOID last night, and it seems to me that it would be completely impenetrable to the theoretical CEREBUS newcomer who picked up the book as a result of the mythical glowing NEW YORK TIMES review. (I should ask Douglas Wolk how he’d review it if it were given to him and he had to explain it to a non-fan audience.) A one-eared humanoid hermaphroditic aardvark on a camping trip with his girlfriend and a depressed Hemingway figure and his wife, constantly making references to complicated events that occurred in the previous 250 comics? I say this not as an indictment of the work itself (it’s nice to be reminded of how breathtakingly skillful a cartoonist and clever a writer Sim is) but trying to adopt the viewpoint of these new readers we’re trying to attract.

    Speaking of those skills, Dave had at this point acquired an astounding panoply of devices to communicate tone and loudness and rhythm of voice, and many pages could be used as master classes in technique. Unfortunately, at this point he uses them so promiscuously that what used to be brilliantly convincing dialogue sequences are now baroque mannered fireworks of effects lettering. Those Jaka/Cerebus spats, while cleverly conceived and brilliantly executed, are exhausting to read for me, and I can only imagine how impenetrable they’d be for someone less conversant with that kind of comic-book effect. (Admittedly I’m also amazed at how popular Chris Ware’s books are, which display immense structural and graphic complexity, including those subway-map narratives.) And Dave’s use of emphasis and capitalized lettering for Mary Ernestway’s dialogue quickly becomes oppressive, a case of giving someone annoying speech patterns in a way that becomes grating to the reader. (That you spend the first 100 pages of the book being repeatedly irritated at a female character is also unfortunate in the context of you-know-what.) It’s a far cry from such simple early devices as signifying “upspeak” (the California-based verbal tic of ending sentences on a rise, making them sound like questions — remember?) by simply adding a question mark. It’s like Sim has turned into Jessie J., a pop singer some of whose songs I kind of like but whose tendency to stuff every song with trills, scat, stutters, squeaks, squawks, burbles and other vocal somersaults makes her unlistenable.

    But I will return to FORM AND VOID this weekend. Despite my reservations, much of it is dazzling and compelling. I’ve never said Sim wasn’t a great cartoonist.

  125. Michael says:

    To Dave: I’m so disenchanted. Why would you want to offer a “best of” ‘portion’ of CEREBUS, when it’s the overarching narrative that makes it so powerful. Who gives the remotest (expletive) about the New York Times? Are you seeking critical praise from your contemporaries? These people are dust in the wind; your work is immortal. You’re a “once in a lifetime” phenomenon, possessing skills so far beyond anyone in your class that you really aren’t even in a class, you’re above the class. Any publisher who is unwilling to take on CEREBUS in its entirety isn’t fit to wash your feet. Anyone who describes the first book of CEREBUS as “amateurish” isn’t seeing the bigger picture. It sets the stage for Cerebus’ ascension. In a way, Cerebus’ trajectory is a bit like the story in William Makepeace Thackeray’s “The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq”, with the first book of CEREBUS being every bit as important as the early farmhand days of Barry Lyndon. The fact that you were developing your skills throughout the book is of no consequence, because the energy of your line was already amazing and vibrant and howling off the page from the first panel, and your brilliance as a story teller and artist is immediately evident, and the fact that it only gets better from there is scary in a good way, and it makes High Society all that much more remarkable. Taking books out of this overarching context and offering them as stand alone doesn’t make any sense, at all, in my relatively inconsequential opinion. New readers should be able to experience the entire story from the beginning, not “drawn in” by the “good parts”. The entire work is beyond “good”. It’s a Great Work, and all that those two words entail.

  126. David Roel says:

    The idea of limiting the deal to one book is truly ridiculous, but even if you accept the idea of going with what is most likely to be intriguing to newcomers, Form and Void is not the one to start with. High Society, Jaka’s Story or Going Home are all better choices. The argument that Hemingway is more acceptable than Fitzgerald or Wilde just doesn’t wash.

  127. Eric Hoffman says:

    Well put, Andrew. I’m completely mystified by the need to isolate one portion of CEREBUS (and out of context, be highly idiosyncratic and, well, WTF worthy) as opposed to repackaging the series in a more “bookstore friendly” presentation – meaning some back copy, better paper and maybe an author biography or something – as a whole as Thompson has offered.

    This is quickly getting nowhere.

  128. Eric Hoffman says:

    Mateor, I don’t know where Thompson said he was reluctant to start at the beginning. Did I miss something?

  129. Aaron says:

    As someone who has read the entire Cerebus run, I think starting with Form & Void would be a huge mistake. There’s a good reason why the Digital Cerebus initiative is starting with High Society – that is far and away the most popular and accessible of all the stories. It is still my favorite. Church & State comes close; but since Dave himself broke it into two volumes for (I assume) reasons of size, there’s no reason it couldn’t be divided into three or more logical sections. Jaka’s Story is another masterpiece that easily stands alone and is accessible to a non-fan. Sure, you would need some sort of synopsis/dramatis personae up front, as well as a “debaffler” section at the end, like Fantagraphics did with Krazy Kat, to explain all the in-jokes and topical references.

    After that, I think you re-evaluate how it’s working. The next volume in the series – Melmoth – is problematic because the story of Cerebus is almost wholly absent; it’s the first one where I started to suspect that Dave was getting tired of the character, and wanted to work on other subjects. You can sell it as an allegory based on the life of Oscar Wilde, but it’s not really a Cerebus story in the way that most new readers would expect. The next four books – Flight, Women, Reads, and Minds – are much more clearly a sequel to the story that ends in Church & State, and could be done as a second group if the first set of books were successful.

    Starting with Guys, Cerebus starts to get ever more inward-looking and inaccessible. The gender politics start to infect the story in a way that causes serious continuity errors with existing characters like Jaka and Rick (who have radically different personalities than they did in Jaka’s Story), and the philosophical/biographical/literary elements start to push Cerebus to the sidelines as was done previously in Melmoth. By the time we get to Latter Days, the transformation is complete, and Cerebus has become nothing more than a brand, a delivery vehicle for Dave’s thoughts on various subjects. I see Form & Void as a perfect example of this; it is much more about Ernest and Mary Hemingway’s marriage than it is about Cerebus. It might be possible to stitch together a coherent conclusion to the story with heavy editing, but I can’t imagine Dave would ever allow it.

    I hope Dave will realize what an opportunity he has here, and take the helping hand that’s been offered. Freedom is important, but as someone said, it can also be another word for “nothing left to lose.”

  130. Michael says:

    Just to cover my tush, when I say who gives the remotest (expletive) about the New York Times, I mean in THIS context. I think it’s an excellent publication.

  131. Kim Thompson says:

    Actually, I feel it absolutely must start at the beginning. CEREBUS is a very complex story and everything builds on what’s come before. The liability is of course that the first several issues are crude and jokey, so you’re not leading with the best work, but if you don’t make these available the stuff that follows is a lot harder to make sense of. That’s a curse of serial comics created by a developing cartoonist. Jaime’s “Locas” series suffers from a little of this, although he got good very, very quickly.

  132. Kim Thompson says:

    Yes yes yes yes and yes.

  133. darrell says:

    Form and Void is a great book, A+. Coming Home is a bit better. Among the photos he traced for the Africa sequences was a photo by Chris Ondaatje, Michael Ondaatje’s brother.

  134. Kim Thompson says:

    I don’t think acolytes like this Michael person are doing Dave any favors. Weirdly, the narrative seems to have morphed into “pusillanimous publisher ready to cut apart and excerpt Sim’s masterpiece” whereas actually Dave is the one who wants just to release one book and I want to release all of it.

    I think you’ve got to have gone back for seconds of the Dave Sim Kool-Aid to believe his genius is apparent from the very first page of CEREBUS. Sim got good, and he got good pretty fast by cartoonist standards, not THAT fast.

  135. Eric Hoffman says:

    Sim hit aces (artistically) once Gerhard jumped on board, I’d say.

  136. Ian Harker says:

    Release them as 2-Volume box sets. That way you can lump in the first volume with High Society, do Church & State as 1 set, and lump Melmoth in with Jaka’s story.

  137. Eric Hoffman says:

    Not a bad idea, that.

  138. Ian Harker says:

    I’d buy those for $50

  139. Michael says:

    The “Radical Differences” in Jaka and Rick’s personalities don’t have anything to do with “serious continuity errors”, Aaron. It was intended, therefor not an error. The characters evolved. It was depressingly realistic, if you will, in terms of the human condition, etc. And it was almost sickeningly brilliant the way Dave would bring back the “old Rick” for a moment, triggered by something Cerebus said, only to have the “current Rick” quickly replace/shut out that programming. And the “shadow dialog” between the two characters, not to mention the seething roar of subtext, implied or otherwise, was just such a wonder to behold.

  140. Jason Winter says:

    How about an abridged version? Just kidding.

  141. BVS says:

    “Jaka’s Story is another masterpiece that easily stands alone and is accessible to a non-fan” people keep saying that, and at house parties hosted by comic book fans I often see that lone jaka’s story TP up on the book shelf. I say it’s not true. after reading Eddie Campbell’s How to be an artist, I deceded to hunt down the graphic novels that he mentioned that I haden’t read. thus Jaka’s story was my introduction to Cerebus. I could tell it was good and I enjoyed it, but it also felt very lost. pretty much everything Cerebus and Jaka talk about I had no clue what it meant. until they showed uo I had no idea why there were weird hooded crossbow weilding nuns executing people. it was like picking up uncanny x-men #245 without having read a single other x-men comic. totally baffling.

  142. Kim Thompson says:

    Yes, except $50 box sets aren’t exactly the way to break into a new audience unfamiliar with the work.

  143. Paul Slade says:

    You’re not helping, Michael. And the person you’re not helping most of all is Dave Sim.

  144. Aaron says:

    You are right that you can’t just pick up Jaka’s Story cold, but a proper introduction/synopsis would help. That’s what I find so appealing about the idea of a reprint project; it could make the stories accessible to an audience that would be intimidated by the idea of reading a 6,000-page saga. If they were available in regular bookstores, that would also make it easier to find the earlier volumes if you needed to.

  145. Kim Thompson says:

    There’s a really weird tunnel mentality among people who’ve been totally immersed in CEREBUS for decades that later (or even middle period) books can be picked up and read cold by anyone and make sense, or that readers will just be able to let the references to earlier stories roll off their backs and pick things up as they go, full-immersion style.

    Frankly, I was reading CEREBUS issue by issue for years and years and as we got into triple digits I’d get lost myself and have to go back and refresh my memory.

  146. Ian Harker says:

    Maybe true, but neither is the first book of Cerebus!

  147. Ian Harker says:

    Oops, my reply ended up in the wrong spot. Was a reply to Kim’s comment about box sets.

  148. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Thanks, but we’re actually talking about Eric Hoffman’s “Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah”, a book of essays about Cerebus, rather than the digitized Cerebus.

  149. Kim Thompson says:

    But Michael says CEREBUS was a masterpiece from the first panel of the first issue!

    I agree that a book featuring CEREBUS’s weakest material (the first few issues) is a problematic entry point, but it’s one of those Catch-22′s: Early material weak, later material makes no sense without earlier material. You know what I’d maybe do? Release the first two books at the same time.

    By the way, I never addressed Dave’s concern that we’d be uncomfortable with (what we and nearly everyone else feels to be) the more problematic content of the later part of the series. (Thanks to Tom Spurgeon for reminding me.) The short answer: No. I might at that point incline to include at least a little something addressing and/or framing the controversy, but maybe not even that.

  150. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Kim: Or you could do what his French, Italian and Spanish publishers are doing (and actually what Dave did himself) and start with “High Society”, and then pop out the earlier stuff after a couple of the more easily digestible have come out. It’s a strategy that appears to have worked in the past.

  151. Michael says:

    Sorry to break the news to you, but these are my opinions. Yeah, his genius is evident right out of the gate, Kim. And to Paul Slade – I’m absolutely sure that I’m not helping Dave on any level, in his mind or otherwise. The last time I tried to “go to bat for him” (in the pages of Blood and Thunder – which landed a quote from my letter in that issue’s indicia, something about a ‘swirly nimbus’), Dave wrote me a letter explaining that I was no better than you guys (FBI community), and that he thought I was literally (as in, LITERALLY) under “demonic possession” – his words.
    So, believe me, I’m not expecting a pat on the back from Dave. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he told me to F.O.

    As far as being an acolyte is concerned, I’m not going to go to bed tonight clutching my pristine copy of Cerebus 289/90 (The Single Greatest Comic In The History Of The Medium), because, you know, I might get salty tears all over it and ruin it. Give me a break. These are my opinions. I think FBI should have zero access to Cerebus or anything else Dave produces until you guys apologize to Dave, sincerely. The way you behaved was bullshit. Comparing him to a nazi was bullshit. You guys don’t deserve to publish his work. The end. That’s really what I think. Sorry.

  152. Briany Najar says:

    Form and Void is the one that ended with issue 265, right? The same issue that contains Tangent.
    So, would Tangent be in the theoretical new edition? It does have logically entwined within it at least one direct reference to the story, a fact which makes it highly germane to the book, so why not pop it in there?

    [Speaking of "tangents"...]
    It’s not in the old edition, I know, and I keep wondering what Sim’s attitude towards that piece of writing is nowadays: does he stand by it, in totality?; would he want to edit it?; has it become (partially or in whole) anachronistic, by his own standards?
    I wonder this particularily in the light of Sim’s active role in encouraging (if that isn’t too mild a word) people to sign a petition refuting the claim that he is (cue: inverted fanfare) a misogynist. The standard response to that claim being, he’s just anti-feminist. See, not every disparaging comment in Tangent is about feminism, there are actually statements made about the female gender as a whole. I can, on Sim’s behalf, think of one possible reconciliation of those statements (if they were sincere and are stood by) and the negation of misogynist status, but it’s a skin-of-the-teeth deflection that verges on semantic nit-picking. Pointers to any relevant defense, qualification or retraction of those particular components of the essay, from the horse’s mouth, would be much appreciated. Obviously, such pointers would be a tremendous help for anyone who’s in two minds about signing the petition.

  153. Paul Slade says:

    So, as far as I can see, Kim is saying Fantagraphics would be happy to publish the whole of Cerebus in a series of bookstore-friendly, high-production volumes at the rate of two per year. The introductory material would be a “previously in Cerebus” piece in each volume, perhaps some outline of the characters involved, and only a passing mention of Dave’s “controversial views” (or some such innocuous phrase) where that cannot be avoided.

    The suggestion is that both parties start with a four-book commitment and take it from there. With some goodwill all round and Fantagraphics proven expertise in design and marketing, the resulting books promise to bring many new readers to Cerebus and considerably ease Dave’s financial woes – perhaps to the point where he’d be free to pursue whatever future self-published projects take his fancy.

    Concentrating on those fundamentals, Dave – and leaving aside the New York Times obsession and the question of Hemingway’s sexuality for a moment – is there not some merit in that idea?

  154. Nikola Nehajev says:

    Actually, I kept wishing for director’s cut when reading Church & State and have yet to go past that point.

  155. Groth says:

    Wow.

    A few points:

    1) Sim sycophant “Michael” is an idiot, all of whose accusations are baseless and stupid. The Journal has probably given Sim more space to air his views than any artist we’ve ever interviewed. In fact, I asked Dave if he’d grant us an interview after Cerebus 300 and he declined! In the most recent issue of the Journal, I ran the best critical assessment/appreciation of his work ever written (by Tim Kreider) — which was specifically commissioned by me. The reason Cerebus didn’t make the Journal’s Top 100 list is because none of the critics who participated could agree on what store line qualified. splitting the vote; that said, it’s not “beyond opinion” (inelegantly put, as Mitt would say) that Cerebus belongs in or is even too good to be part of the top 100 comics ever produced; there’s a lot of competition out there. Citizen Kane (or Vertigo) it ain’t. The proposition that the Journal single handily turned the comics world against poor Dave and that Sim’s essays about women and politics or his jeremiads against publishers per se or the disastrous consequences of his self-publishing proselytizing had nothing to do with it is self-serving, scapegoating twaddle. In what universe, other than Ayn Rand’s, is “sympathy” a pejorative? And since when don’t even great artists need help once in a while? Dave basically postulated (in his fatalistic entry titled “The End?”) that his career would end in either November or, more optimistically, in March 2013. That would indicate to me that he could use some help. How presumptuous of me to offer it (in a private voice mail and fax no less).

    That said,

    2) I’m still open to publishing Dave’s Raymond book (not the complete Glamourpuss, as I mistakenly said earlier). I’m happy to sit back and watch the negotiations over Cerebus. I’m in no hurry if Dave isn’t. (I can’t think of a less efficient way of negotiating a contract than on a message board thread, by the way.)

  156. R. Fiore says:

    I’m reminded of Terry Gilliam’s anecdote about how he was called into a meeting with Warner Bros. executives for directing the first Harry Potter movie because J.K. Rowling insisted, and just when he’s beginning to get excited about the project he stops himself short and says to himself “What the hell am I thinking? They’re never going to give me this!”

  157. Briany Najar says:

    ” (I can’t think of a less efficient way of negotiating a contract than on a message board thread, by the way.)”

    Heck of a way to thrash out that press release, though.

  158. Michael says:

    Gary -

    Yes, you helped to create a culture of animosity toward Dave Sim. No question about it. Offering him space in the Comics Journal to air his views after doing what you did is like stabbing someone and then offering them a chance to describe why you shouldn’t have. Basically, all you did was provide him an opportunity to respond to your attacks. It’s your attacks to begin with that I’m referring to. You were utterly a part of the culture that ostrisized Dave Sim. That’s exactly what it was: ostrisization. Don’t even try and suggest he brought it on himself, that is preposterous. Maybe you should ask yourself why he declined to be interviewed by you? Do you think it might have something to do with the fact that you were very disrespectful toward him and his work?

  159. Dave Knott says:

    I agree that Sim’s obsession with receiving some form of validation from The New York Times is somewhat baffling. Furthermore, I don’t think that Fantagraphics would be the best publisher in terms of achieving that particular goal. Pantheon or another publisher backed by a major literary publishing house would probably best serve that purpose. Whether or not such a publisher would actually agree to publish Cerebus or accede to Sim’s requirements is another matter…

  160. Kim Thompson says:

    I’ll accept that we were “part of a culture that ostracized” Sim, not that we single-handedly engineered said ostracization. There seems to be a belief among Sim fans that if that wicked, wicked COMICS JOURNAL hadn’t brought all this gender-issue stuff in CEREBUS up and bullied the entire industry, Dave would have retained all his cartoonist friends and ended CEREBUS’s run in triumph and glory.

    I’d be curious to hear of a single media outlet that was MORE respectful towards CEREBUS than THE COMICS JOURNAL.

  161. Kim Thompson says:

    I’d have to re-read HIGH SOCIETY to get a sense of the degree to which it’s compromised by not having read the preceding issues, but that’s certainly not a bad idea.

  162. Kim Thompson says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. I was about to sit down and offer a quick summary for Dave to chew on and now I don’t have to. Everyone have a good weekend!

  163. Derik says:

    Oh sorry. Reading this through RSS loses a lot of the threading. Fwiw Kit was also referencing the digital Cerebus.

    I doubt Eric’s book will appear in epub. Seems pretty rare for academic presses to do that. I was actually surprised there was a kindle version

  164. Another suggestion: how about a large, nicely-printed art book reprinting all the covers? I really miss those in the phonebooks, and have only a handful of the original issues–but, from everything I’ve seen, they were some of the most beautiful parts of the comics. They could be reprinted without the superimposed text, to showcase them more as works of pure cartooning art.

  165. R. Fiore says:

    I think leaving Sim off the Top 100 was a black eye for the Journal, but nobody ever died of a black eye. (I personally put Melmoth on a Top 10 of the 1980s list as I recall, which is one tenth of a Top 100 of a century. I didn’t participate in the Top 100 thing.)

    Dave Sim was ostracized because (1) he stopped doing the sort of material that made him popular and (2) he came to espouse ideas that most of his potential readers found repugnant.

  166. Tim Webber says:

    Kim/Dave,

    In order to bridge the “pretty wide abyss” (as Kim put it) between your two positions, there has to be compromise on both sides, with each getting a little of what they want, but not everything.

    My suggestion would be to contract for an initial four volumes reprinting the entire GOING HOME storyline (comprised of Going Home Vol 13 and Form & Void Vol 14 – splitting each into two books). I think is how Dave originally intended them to be presented anyway (ie as four separate books) but I could be wrong. THEN, if both parties are happy with how those books turned out, go right back to the start of the series and run through the entire series in sequence.

    The benefit to Kim is that the GOING HOME arc is pretty self-contained, and would serve to introduce Cerebus and his world to new readers relatively easily. It would only need minimal explanation of the back-story and offers Kim sufficient potential reward for the “enormous pain”(!) of working with Dave. There are minimal ‘parody-source’ problems (a point concerning a lot of commentators here). It’s Dave and Gerhard at pretty much the peak of their powers, showing the new audience just how good the artwork gets.

    The benefit to Dave is that the Hemingway book is included within that larger sequence. It’s not committing to a long-term deal (release them two at a time, six months apart, and you’re done within a year). Cerebus gets the backing of the Fantagraphics PR juggernaut and bookstore exposure it needs/deserves.

    It’s a win/win for everyone.

    Also, my vote would be for Dave to annotate each and every book in the Fantagraphics reprint series (as he started doing with Book 2 in my proposed sequence). Surely having an author’s commentary is the ultimate debaffler.

    Disclosure: I run the A Moment Of Cerebus site, but I’m not privy to Dave’s thinking on this in any way.

  167. Martin Wisse says:

    That’s what I did; started reading High Society in the comic shop, bought the book, then bought the rest of the then existing phone books up to Melmoth iirc. It works because it’s a complete story and one that’s easy to understand, being basically a loose adaptation of The Inspector-General.

  168. MeMeMe says:

    Sim’s obviously insecure about not being liked by the serious book-buying public that’s embraced the Fantagraphics and D&Q stable, so he makes with a bunch of mumbo jumbo about the New York Times, implying that the reason they don’t like his work is because their noses are up in the air instead of the fact that, say, it’s about a sword-fighting aardvark.

  169. R. Haining says:

    I remember reading a story about the author James M. Cain. He was being interviewed at his home and the reporter asked him if he thought Hollywood had ruined his books. Cain glanced over at his copies of his novels on his bookshelf and said, “They look okay to me.”
    I know it is difficult for an artist to surrender control of his work, but an adaption is just that, an adaption and not the work itself. If Mr. Sim is seriously approached about the movie rights to Cerebus he should consider it a means to the end of giving him the freedom to concentrate on his work.

  170. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Tim, I think you’re misunderstanding. Dave put F&V forward as what he thinks would be the best volume based on a number of mistaken assumptions: (a) that Fantagraphics would be aiming the book at the NYT, and (b) that the NYT audience would be most attracted by Hemingway’s appearance in F&V.

    He’s not insisting that it is his best book, or that the book represents his work best, or anything like that. He’s presenting the book as being potentially the most PR-worthy because of Hemingway’s appearance in it. He called it his “best guess” at a shot at the NYT.

    Once Dave realizes that the NYT is not the target audience, and that the actual target audience will not be warm to F&V in isolation (even with a different title), I’m sure he’ll propose a different volume to start with (I’m hoping High Society—why miss with a winning formula?).

  171. Nate A. says:

    Tom Spurgeon pointed out that the NYT is less important among readers of literary fiction than The New York Review of Books (which also reviews graphic novels). Is Sim maybe conflating the two? This isn’t to say that a big NYT feature on a graphic novel wouldn’t be good publicity, but, rather, that its place in the cultural landscape is different than pretty much everybody commenting seems to be acknowledging.
    As for the early lack of polish and the later controversial aspects of Sim’s work, it seems to me this could actually redound to his benefit with respect to its sales with the literati, though probably not in the way he wants. To wit, it would give the body of work an air of “the outsider artist” driven by a singular vision. People eat this stuff up. Just go to the Darger or Finster exhibit near you. It will be incredibly popular, and thick with tweed and skinny jeans in equal portion.

  172. Tim Webber says:

    Given Dave’s stated position:

    “…FORM & VOID is all that’s on the table right now…” and
    “…nor do I picture doing three books a year (which would still take us up to 2017-2018…”

    …I just can’t see him committing to a straightforward sequential reprinting schedule – no matter how much we might all want that. My suggestion was just trying to reconcile the positions set out by both parties.

  173. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    That was my first reaction too. But I think for Sim “New York Times” is simply shorthand for “literary respectability” of the sort now enjoyed by Clowes, Ware, Seth, etc. He could just as easily have invoked The New Yorker as his shorthand.

    The “outsider artist” option is certainly intriguing, though I don’t really see it happening with Sim. I love me some Henry Darger, but I’ve occasionally wondered whether his work would receive the same attention that it does if he weren’t an “outsider”. In other words, what if turned out that Darger had gone to art school or had some formal training? And more importantly, what if he had given interviews or talked about his work in a public forum? Would people still like his stuff as much or react to it the same way? Or does at least some of his popularity stem from the idea that he was this uneducated, isolated loner producing this crazy epic entirely on his own terms and solely for his own pleasure. (As an aside, the one aspect of Darger’s life that always seemed truly in the “realms of the unreal” to me is that his landlord just happened to be Nathan Lerner, a prominent photographer who was very connected to the art world, who “discovered” the large body of work of this outsider genius in his own building shortly before the artist conveniently died and could say nothing on his own behalf).

    So in the absence of interviews or any real documentation outside of the work itself, Darger presents an ideal “blank slate” for fans and critics who can impose their own interpretations (e.g. Darger critic John M. MacGregor’s preposterous claim that Darger was a kind of suppressed serial killer). With Sim, there is a wealth of interviews, self-reflective writings, etc. and so refashioning him as an “outsider” would mean engaging with that material. But doing so would reveal Sim as an idiosyncratic, largely self-taught crank, but ultimately one who emerged from the same cultural milieu that some of his peers of the late seventies and early eighties did (e.g. the Hernandez brothers, Wendy Pini, etc.), independent cartoonists who completely sidestepped the mainstream comics world (while still being very much influenced by it) to produce vital and highly personal work but not really “outsider” material as I generally think of it.

  174. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    You could of course argue that plenty of “outsider” artists have engaged with the larger world, given interviews and talked about their work, e.g. Daniel Johnston. But my feeling is that once that process is underway, such artists cease to be perceived purely as “outsiders” and simply become another part of whatever “scene” embraces them. Daniel Johnston’s days of self-released/distributed cassettes are long behind him and he’s since worked with “real” producers, collaborated with others, done signings at comics shows, etc.

  175. Kim Thompson says:

    My idea was that each volume would be released in a basic mass-market softcover edition that would comprise only the stories and the fairly minimal contextual get-new-readers-up-to-speed stuff I’ve suggested, and a hardcover edition with supplementary material from the period that would include very specifically the original comic book covers, non-300-issues stories and art, etc. The softcovers would comprise THE COMPLETE CEREBUS #1-300; the hardcovers would comprise THE COMPLETE CEREBUS PERIOD.

    Incidentally, when we kicked out the original LOVE AND ROCKETS magazine covers from the new-format LR reprints beginning with MAGGIE THE MECHANIC (we’d always run them in the first book reprint series) there was always the underlying long-game intention of then eventually putting out an all-covers LR book, which we’re now doing.

    There’s a delicate balance between providing readable mass-market books that aren’t cluttered up with ephemera and incidentals on one hand, and making as much as possible of the material available to collectors and fans. There’s two solutions to that problem right there.

  176. Tony says:

    So when is L&R (or Hate, or Eightball) getting the “as much as possible of the material available to collectors and fans” “COMPLETE () PERIOD” hardcover treatment?

    Because they already have the “mass-market books that aren’t cluttered up with ephemera and incidentals” since long ago.

  177. Paul Slade says:

    You may well be right, though I fear the result would be that Dave ends up painting himself and his body of work into a smaller and smaller corner. There’s the real opportunity for a “with one mighty bound he was free” breakthrough here, and I think most of the posters here are imploring him not to let that go to waste.

  178. Groth says:

    Michael-

    No, you’re still full of shit.

    First, Sim wasn’t ostracized; he was marginalized and ignored. (If you think people were sitting around plotting on how to banish him from the upper echelons of comic book society, you’re even stupider than I thought you were.) This marginalization was almost entirely due to a) the increasingly shrill political commentary in the pages of Cerebus that incrementally alienated his then-comparatively-enormous readership, b) the probability that the stories themselves became more incomprehensible (I’m not 100% sure of that because I stopped reading it), and c) when his self-publishing shuck was finally revealed as such; not coincidentally, when his commercial viability ended, much of his social network of admiring fellow self-publishers and self-publisher wannabes vanished. Sim was instrumental in his own career suicide. My God, a few years ago, he even refused to speak to anyone who didn’t sign a “petition” confirming that the signer did not think he was a misogynist! I can’t imagine a more efficient way of marginalizing oneself than jettisoning any friends who wouldn’t sign a statement attesting to your specific character traits! In true face of all this, you can write, “Don’t even try and suggest he brought it on himself, that is preposterous.” You really are a dope.

  179. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Tim: He was saying he wasn’t willing to commit to a long-term contract for the whole series. Kim later said the same thing—signing for four or six books, and then renogotiating afterwards based on how it goes. Dave hasn’t responded to that yet, but, read in context, I don’t see “…FORM & VOID is all that’s on the table right now…” as being a “F&V or nothing” type of proposition. I don’t see Dave suggesting anywhere that a series of optional contract renewals is out of the question—it seems like it hadn’t crossed his mind as an option, and one book was his “counter-offer” to the idea of signing away the whole series.

    Of course, nobody can read Dave’s mind, but I don’t see anything he’s written here that suggests he wouldn’t be open to the idea.

  180. Hi Kim–

    but even if you do that, there is still a pretty substantial market left there for an all-covers book (just like you’re doing for L&R, which is where I got the idea–and I do hope you’re doing the back covers too!)–that is to say, everybody who already has the phonebooks. It could make for a nice book, that you could put out sooner. (And there could be differences, e.g. the art book reprinting the covers without issue number, logo, etc.). Anyway, just a suggestion.

  181. Nate: You (or Tom) must be mistaken. I subscribe to both, and there are exponentially fewer reviews of comics/graphic novels in the New York Review of Books than in the NYT. (Also, there are significantly fewer reviews in it of “literary fiction;” I’d say the largest percentage of review pages is dedicated to books about policy, collections of critical essays, etc.) Maybe you mean the New York Times Book Review? That one does review comics regularly, but it’s just a section of the Sunday NYT.

  182. Nate A. says:

    Andrei,
    I was quoting Spurgeon, and he makes an explicit distinction between the Review of Books and the Sunday supplement. But he also qualifies it by saying that he hasn’t read either in past few years.
    Daniel,
    I agree that Darger and Finster are inapt examples, and that Daniel Johnston is closer to the mark. The most apt would be Fletcher Hanks. But I want to stress that I don’t think Sim is an outsider artist (or a Fletcher Hanks) anyway, for the reasons you point out, but mainly because he traffics in a level of self-reflection and meta-criticism that is anything but naive. What’s more, he has self-consciously developed his craft.
    I brought up the outsider artist thing because Sim is concerned about marketing, and outsider status is a good marketing gimmick. Yeah, Sim was a giant in the self-publishing/independent comics scene of the 80′s and early 90′s, but that’s sufficiently small potatoes relative the culture industry entire to market Cerebus as a sort of North American visionary art. Hell, that the whole thing was run out of the man’s home seems good enough for promotional copy.
    The thing about Cerebus is that it is the product of a singular vision, and I think trying to market it as anything but would be disingenuous (not that you can have ingenious marketing, but you get what I mean). Outsider gets close enough to the mark. It sells. I say why not?

  183. Pingback: The perfect place to start Cerebus | Wis[s]e Words

  184. Kim Thompson says:

    The totality of L&R Volume 1′s comics are collected in the first seven of the “small” LR collections, and the totality of L&R Volume 1′s covers will be collected in the covers book, so that’s really taken care of (admittedly not in hardcover — but the 15 original collections, most of which available cheaply second hand, collected everything, and are available in hardcover).

    Post-L&R Volume 1, things get complicated because of the non-actual-L&R comics stuff the Bros. did between that and Volume 2; Jaime’s work is all neatly reprinted in order in subsequent books (admittedly sans covers) but Beto’s various series and one-shots make his difficult (although the LUBA hardcover did take care of almost all the Luba-world stuff to date).

    All of the Buddy Bradley HATE was collected in six hardcovers and has now been condensed into the two BUDDY DOES… softcovers. The non-Buddy stuff (from the late color HATE issues, HATE ANNUALs and HATE JAMBOREE) will all be collected in a PETER BAGGE’S OTHER STUFF collection in 2o13. The Buddy HATE ANNUAL stuff will be collected in two books eventually. More to the point, we need to get the non-Buddy NEAT STUFF material back in print someday.

    I’m sure a COMPLETE EIGHTBALL will happen someday. 2014 is EIGHTBALL’s 25th anniversary, by the way

  185. Kim Thompson says:

    It’s possible Dave may have been using NEW YORK TIMES as a synecdoche for the entire hi-falutin’ East Coast literary establishment including THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS and THE NEW YORKER (despite his Rainman-like incantation of the TIMES specifically), but either way this high/low paranoia seems outdated in an age when THE NEW YORKER non-ironically critiques Lady Gaga and Eminem.

    Top ten reasons I’d love to do the CEREBUS series.

    (1) It’s, on the whole, great work by a brilliant cartoonist, and great work like this should be made accessible to as many readers as possible.

    (2) Our doing it might make the difference between Dave continuing to do comics and working as a ditch digger, apparently, which I think would be a loss for comics.

    (3) It will make Dave some money (sort of a corollary to point 2).

    (4) It will make us some money.

    (5) This repackaging would be a fun editorial challenge for us.

    (6) It would ratchet up Fantagraphics’ ultimate goal of publishing every first-rate 20th century cartoonist by one more.

    (7) Clearly a number of Sim fans, and people who think they might be Sim fans if they didn’t have to suffer through those phone books, would be very pleased.

    (8) It would make a number of heads explode within the field, for a variety of reasons.

    (9) I’d like to have these books in a row on my own shelf myself.

    (10) I can’t deny the lovely symmetry of having been the one to really ignite Dave’s rise over three decades ago with that TCJ review and ending up being the one consecrating his magnum opus in a definitive, mass-market-friendly, first-rate edition.

  186. Jason Winter says:

    Yes Please!

  187. Christopher M says:

    Seriously – for many, the response to Sim’s current financial woes would be either “who?” or “good riddance.”

  188. bad johnny got out says:

    If you want something that’s New York Times friendly, but also take-it-out-of-context friendly, I’d suggest Rick’s Story. The narrative tricks it uses to subvert reader expectations would kill those two birds with one stone. It’s the volume I recommend to all my postmodern friends.

    Rick’s Story would play even better if the 1990s were coming back — that’s the era I remember as the nostalgia-for-the-Beats-era era. (But if Fantagraphics and Dave Sim are getting into bed together, I guess the 1990s are not coming back.)

  189. Olly Hill says:

    Softly softly catchy aardvark. Slightly worried that the main objective has been derailed by pettiness. This platform however remains a fascinating way to reach a conclusion.

  190. michael (not that one) says:

    Number 7 oughta be number 2.

    Just today I was in Half Price Books and saw that someone had recently sold their ratty old Cerebus phonebooks. I was psyched, because I’ve been meaning to start reading Cerebus since 2007, but have trouble finding used/cheap copies of the things. And here they were, only 15 bucks each. But these were in lousy shape! I don’t know if the owner was a freak, or if the phonebooks really do just have poor binding, but it was enough to deter me from Cerebus yet again.

    Pleeeeeeeeaaaaasse, Dave, Fanta, publish these books! The world needs them. As it stands now, coming in fresh to Cerebus is an onerous undertaking.

    Also, fuck reading anything — but especially comics — on screens. But that’s IMO of course

  191. Dave Sim says:

    I’m getting regular summaries faxed to me by Tim Webber — who I think is going to be a big help here since he’s a huge CEREBUS and Fantagraphics fan. Unfortunately, right now I have to divide my time between finishing up the Kickstarter pieces, promoting HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL (free download of the first issue at cerebusdownloads.com October 10th) and doing some paying work.

    I think Tim’s suggestion is a good one, so let’s expand the negotiations into a 4-book deal (with 4-book advance, presumably) covering GOING HOME and FORM & VOID. Is it possible to have that as a headline item (i.e. “FBI and Sim reach agreement in principle for a 4-book publishing deal: welcome ‘real time’ input from all interested parties here at the TCJ site”) using a few good quotes from the discussion so far? It would be nice to have our progress measured in that way. If we deserve a headline, we’ll get a headline.

    Because of “past history” between us, as we’ve seen, it’s very easy to slip from “more light than heat” mode into “more heat than light” mode and that — when that happens — the temperature tends to soar pretty quickly. I’m concerned about this because I think it poses the danger of driving away people who might be helpful to the discussion but who have (as I do) a very low threshold for “flame wars”.

    I’m certainly interested in Kim’s suggestion of how the typography and presentation of the books could be improved upon and this might be another good starting point, welcoming any interested party (FBI designer or otherwise) to post suggested cover designs using images from the interior pages, as well as text page designs and back cover copy, etc. I think we’ll “know it when we see it” and I can certainly redraw the images so they are, in fact, new covers once we have something we can all live with. The focus is obviously on the mainstream bookstore market as opposed to the comic store shelf and appealing to mainstream buyers as opposed to the core CEREBUS readership.

    I also appreciate Kim’s insight into the Chris Ware/Dave Sim “lunatic extremes of intricacy” creative impulses and what I think is Kim’s even more valuable insight that it sits in his own graphic novel preferences “blind spot”. That is, he doesn’t take it as a given that it’s “bad comics” because it isn’t his personal preference — but that doesn’t make him like it or consider it “good comics”. To me, that’s the kind of dispassionate “contextualizing” we’re looking for.

    Douglas Wolk is a good fulcrum for further discussions, I think, since his piece on me in THE BELIEVER in 2005 really constitutes the “highest statured” and most recent assessment of the 6,000 pages in the liberal press (far below THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW and a kind of junior partner to McSWEENEY’s, so basically “third rank”). Best-selling horror writer and Stephen King collaborator Peter Straub gave me a copy of the piece and really wanted my feedback on it. So I read it a few times and thought it over and told him, “I think what he’s saying is ‘What if Adolf Hitler once more walks among us but instead of being a mediocre painter, he’s now this brilliant graphic novelist?’ while avoiding actually saying that it’s me he’s talking about.” It’s half a loaf. At least he seemed to imply I’m a brilliant graphic novelist.

    Is that a fair assessment of Wolk’s views at the time…or of his current views? No idea but I think it needs to be acknowledged that that’s our starting point — that’s as moderate as the liberal view of Dave Sim has gotten in the last eight years. Has it eroded or improved since then? Or is it roughly the same? That potentially tells us how promotable the work is and how it needs to be promoted.

    Right now Tim and I have to be back at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS. That’s right! Tim is running AMOC (sorry, sorry, bad pun).

    Okay, I’ll check back in later in the week.

  192. mateor says:

    Starting with high society would work, although if you are considering splitting books already, the last 6-7 issues in the first phone book are where he really starts hitting his stride.

    The beginning of High Society does give one the feeling that there is a bunch of missing back story, though. I had read High Society through Mothers and Daughters before I ever read the first 25 issues. At which point I realized I hadn’t missed much (context-wise, some of those later issues are pretty great- High Society didn’t come from nowhere).

    With the proper introduction, High Society would be a great place, from a publishing point of view. That is why Dave is starting there himself, with the digital initiative.

    Perhaps a Dave Sim drawn recap, 5 pages of sketches, context and jokes?

    The first 25 issues could later be bound up as (wait for it…)

    Cerebus vol. 0

  193. Anthony Thorne says:

    This feels like good news, though I can imagine the caveats that are running through the heads of those who wants a chronological reissue series that begins smack at the beginning. The implication for new readers (barring any problems in negotiations or the process of making and selling the books) is, if these sell, it makes future editions of HIGH SOCIETY, CHURCH AND STATE and all the others more likely (hopefully). GOING HOME and FORM & VOID aren’t the complete Cerebus, but they’re a decent chunk of it and with their designs planned to match whatever else hypothetically comes down the pike, we could hopefully end up with a shelf of the complete series in nice new editions just as Kim had suggested.

    The Amazon reviews for GOING HOME and FORM & VOID are generally positive, so as a Cerebus newbie I’m (kind of) okay with buying these rather than buying them all chronologically, but I think Tim has the right idea in hoping that the reissues will double-back and start at the beginning if these do okay. Many people who read a press release (if Gary and Kim and Dave are all in agreement) will surely be wondering what the chances are that they’ll be left with an incomplete collection. I’d recommend noting in the press release how the series will hopefully be a comprehensive one if this initial dip in the water works out. If the question isn’t at least half-answered up front, people will ask it, so you may as well take a step at addressing it.

    I’m in for these (ideally in hardcover). If these four volumes do okay, the beginning volumes hopefully won’t be that far away.

  194. Allen L. says:

    This is easily one of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever read.
    It seems to me that Dave considers himself an AUTHOR whose work should sit side by side with the legendary greats who have graced the literati of yore. And he believes that F&V is his entree to the top hat and Sardis world.
    I call bullshit and reality check.
    Dave, F&V is a nearly impenetrable series. It’s ambitious and it’s well crafted and it would serve as a deterrent to anyone looking to read a book which would ABSOLUTELY be advertised as one of the singular and perhaps great achievements in modern literature. An author writing and drawing the same character for 26 years? In a continuous storyline? That served as a polemic on gender politics as well as societal observations and religion? Talk about review bait.

    Holy hell, man.
    How delusional are you?
    Your view of the NYT as the giver of life is from someone who is living in a bubble.

    Here’s what you do. For your career. For your fans. And, like it or not, for your life’s work and legacy.

    Let Fantagraphics print, at once, the original Cerebus issues, advertised as a prologue to a greater work.

    That greater work would be High Society, followed by C&S.

    Beautiful hard bound editions of all.

    Trust me. If the NYT got their hands on HS or C&S, they would review it and laud you much more as an innovator and creator than they would F&V, which they would review from the vantage point less of YOU than of Hemingway. You would become nothing more than another Hemingway biographer. Which is NOT how the world should be seeing you. Nor Cerebus.

    Do right by your creation. Stand out of its way and let it thrive. Sometimes I think you are your own worst enemy.

  195. Tim Webber says:

    …of course, to really understand the GOING HOME arc, at a minimum you need to have read JAKA’S STORY (vol 5) to set up the Cerebus/Jaka dynamic… and then you could release the Wilde/Fitzgerald/Hemingway box set.

    For the record, I would love Fantagraphics to publish THE COMPLETE CEREBUS sequentially in order, in well designed hardbacks. Rereading Dave’s original article above and follow-up posts (here and here) and I just don’t see that as what he wants right now.

    Reading between the lines, I think there is an element of Fantagraphics having to prove themselves to Dave that they are serious about being able to promote ALL of the Cerebus volumes and not just the obvious HIGH SOCIETY and CHURCH & STATE arcs… but I might be wrong.

    Disclosure: I run the A Moment Of Cerebus site, but I’m not privy to Dave’s thinking on this in any way.

  196. Speaking as a longtime Cerebus fan, I’ve had much more success getting people to read “Cerebus” by starting them with “High Society.” “Going Home” is a much better book, but I think more people will read it if the previous volumes come out first. Without the stake in the characters that comes from reading the earlier books, I don’t think Going Home has as much impact.

    Dave, would a four-book deal for “High Society,” “Church and State,” and “Jaka’s Story” be something you’d find acceptable, with the intent that if both sides are happy with the result, reprinting volume one and the post-Jaka volumes can follow (perhaps as a series of four-book deals)?

    As a fan of both CEREBUS and of the beautiful book design work Fantagraphics does, I’m really hoping some agreement can be made. Plus, as a Dave Sim fan, I’m hoping that this might make it more likely that THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND can be completed.

  197. Tony says:

    Thanks for the lowdown and that final 8Ball tease. I was in no way implying that Fantagraphics has been negligent in keeping its classic essentials in print, on the contrary, I’m aware of all those previous and current editions and configurations of the material. However, I’m lazy and not a fan of rummaging for out of print hardcovers, and what I have in mind is a more “archival” re-presentation. Sort of like DH is doing with Creepy and Eerie, you know, THE LOVE & ROCKETS ARCHIVES, THE HATE ARCHIVES (or even THE PETER BAGGE ARCHIVES), with all the original magazines and comic-books arranged in chronological order between hard covers.

    I realise I’m asking for the highest of high-end treatments, for outright enshrining, and that may never happen for those books, but anything that goes in that general direction would be greatly appreciated.

  198. Kim Thompson says:

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Like Dave, I have other pressing things to attend to (I still have my post-SPX hole to dig myself out of, and I was in a deep hole before SPX to begin with), but this last exchange has been very encouraging so far as I’m concerned. We will reconvene. Thanks to the various friends of Fanta and Sim who greased the skids on this exchange, and even to wackadoodle Michael whose crazy gibberings were such outliers I think they nudged everyone else toward reasonableness.

  199. sammy says:

    I dont know why everything has to be so complicated. Start at the beginning. Like Allen L. says, its much better to just put the work out there to speak for itself, then to try to imagine what potential readers want. Many reprint series start the beginning, and rarely is the best material in the first book: D&Q’s Gasoline Alley books, Fantagraphics Peanuts, Thimble Theatre, Buzz Sawyer, etc. Sign a contract covering four books, see how the process goes. Fantagraphics always work closely with their authors on production and design, so you know you won’t be shut out of the decision process or that the books wont represent what you want as an author. The books will probably sell well even if they are never reviewed by The Times, or The Believer or whoever- don’t underestimate the size and enthusiasm of the comics buying community. Hell, you might think that that market is tapped out, but just judging from the comments on this thread, its obvious many comics readers want to read Cerebus, but not in it’s current “phone book” format. I don’t think any publisher can predict which of their books will be literary hits, and its no use trying to. But Cerebus being published by Fantagraphics is as much a guarantee of quality reprints, artistic control, and wide distribution as you can get.

  200. mateor says:

    Ahhhh…I am glad that my suggestion to include Going Home is on the table. That is a Great book. My wife made some prints from the phone book that is up on a wall still. Might have to replace that when a collection comes out that does the line work justice.

    I stand by this as a good idea, but I would think that the digital initiative doesn’t necessarily preclude new editions from Fanta.

    I think that new editions starting from High Society would be the best thing to happen to the work since 2005. I think, from my outsider perspective, it would be the best thing for the work.

  201. Tony Dunlop says:

    “Also, fuck reading anything — but especially comics — on screens. But that’s IMO of course”

    YEAH! Are you by any chance under 40 years old? If so, you’ve just improved my outlook for the future of the human race – just a little.

    And “Going Home” is brilliant, IMO a much better starting place than F&V. The “drunk Scott” scenes are Sim at the top of his game. Also, I’m not sure how much background on Jaka a new reader would need in order to understand who she is – by this point she’d become *cough* something of a spoiled-princess caricature.

  202. R. Fiore says:

    Just for grins, here are the things from the Comics Journal Top 100 list that I think Cerebus would rank ahead of as a work of comic strip art:

    Palestine by Joe Sacco
    The Mishkin saga by Kim Deitch
    The theatrical caricatures of Al Hirschfeld
    From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
    Paul Auster’s City of Glass by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli
    Tantrum by Jules Feiffer
    It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken by Seth
    A Contract with God by Will Eisner
    Hey Look! by Harvey Kurtzman
    Bringing Up Father by George McManus
    Sugar and Spike by Sheldon Mayer
    Caricature by Daniel Clowes
    V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
    Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse
    Jack Kirby’s Fourth World by Jack Kirby
    Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
    The “Pictopia” story by Alan Moore and Don Simpson
    Dennis the Menace by Hank Ketcham
    Los Tejanos by Jack Jackson (alias Jaxon)
    The Dirty Plotte series by Julie Doucet

    Things from the top 100 that I haven’t read deeply enough to know whether they’re better than Cerebus or not:

    Cages by Dave McKean
    Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
    The Alec stories of Eddie Campbell
    The Passport by Saul Steinberg
    The short stories in Rubber Blanket by David Mazzucchelli
    The Lily stories (Daddy’s Girl) by Debbie Drechsler
    Why I Hate Saturn by Kyle Baker
    The Hannah Story by Carol Tyler
    The Bungle Family by Harry J. Tuthill

    The first of those comes in at No. 27, not that I ever quite understood the ground rules for ranking in that survey. For one thing, if you’re going to consider the entire run of a comic strip like Krazy Kat or Pogo as one entry, then you do that whenever possible, i.e., Cerebus is a single entry, Locas is a single entry, Palomar is a single entry, etc. The entirety of Cerebus is better than “Flies on the Ceiling” alone but not better than Locas as a whole. This manner of ranking puts cartoonists who don’t do long series at a disadvantage. I would rate the oeuvre of Kim Deitch over that of Dave Sim, but not the Mishkin stories over Cerebus as a whole.

  203. Dominick Grace says:

    The Top 100 list was interesting and generally includes stuff I’d agree belongs on such a list … but it did seem to have unclear criteria, what with stuff ranging across single eight-page stories, entire careers, serially published comic books, comic strips, political cartoons, sketchbooks, anthologies (rather than works by single creators or creative teams) and standalone works (or at any rate works that might have been published serially but were conceived as single, closed works) all considered. How can one possibly come up with a set of criteria to evaluate that sort of range meaningfully? No wonder Love and Rockets is on the list five times (!) and Cerebus isn’t. Well, at least nothing shorter than eight pages (IIRC, anyway) made the list!

  204. Paul Slade says:

    Yes, I think that’s true.

    High Society is the first Cerebus volume to show Dave as a truly accomplished writer and artist working at a fully professional level. It’s a self-contained story, requiring no more than a couple of hundred words of prose to get readers up to speed before they begin, and lays the groundwork for almost everything that follows. Just as important, it’s hugely entertaining in a way which even the most casual reader cannot fail to appreciate, and that offers a strong incentive to plunge deeper into the story. Never underestimate the power of some damn good jokes – particularly when they’re a well-executed as the ones Dave stages here.

    I imagine these considerations were the ones that rightly decided Dave to start his own digitisation process with High Society, and I can’t see why the same logic wouldn’t dictate that that any Fantagraphics reprint programme should start at the same point.

    I think Kim’s idea of publishing both High Society and Cerebus The Barbarian simultaneously at the outset is a good one. Each reader could decide for themselves which order they wished to buy these particular two volumes in, and either choice would work just fine. Either you start right at the beginning and read on through, or you get hooked via High Society and check out the (at that point fairly minimal) backstory later.

    Readers then enter year two well-primed for Church & State’s further development of High Society’s themes, and then you’re off to the races: one volume added every six months, printed in simple chronological order. That way, new readers could be guided into the saga’s growing complexity in a gentle step-by-step process, always having the information they need to understand each subsequent instalment. The alternative is to throw them in at the deep end and – all too often – watch them drown.

  205. Ed Brubaker says:

    If this is going to happen, and as one of that generation of readers who discovered Cerebus during High Society, after reading about it in Epic magazine, I truly hope it does, the only good way to do it is to get to High Society as soon as possible. I’d suggest a “Swords of Cerebus” edition of the 8 or 10 issues before High Society, where the book really started finding its own voice, and then three months later, do High Society is two volumes.

    That gives you three books in less than a year to see if you hate each other on a business as well as personal level, and allows readers to start closer to the beginning of the saga.

  206. Eddie campbell says:

    “Many reprint series start the beginning, and rarely is the best material in the first book: D&Q’s Gasoline Alley books, Fantagraphics Peanuts, Thimble Theatre, Buzz Sawyer, etc.”

    But they didn’t start at the beginning of Gasoline Alley, just the year in which Skeezix arrived. They didn’t start at the beginning of Thimble Theatre, just the year in which Popeye arrived. The ten years before that were left untouched. What you are saying is a good argument, but for the opposite of what you meant.

    ( unless I have missed a note of irony.)

  207. Christopher Woerner says:

    If it hasn’t been suggested, what about a monthly Kickstarter-esque page rate or regular charge? This is where Scott McCloud’s micropayments would be useful, if technology can be stretched that far yet. How much would subscribers to “Death of Alex Raymond” have to pay for monthly installments of however-many pages Dave got done as an internet project and is there a way to translate that into a page rate for Dave? He finishes a page, it’s uploaded and our account is charged. Perhaps individual subscribers could adjust whether they see the new page immediately or wait a week, month or year.

  208. Ed Brubaker says:

    I would also love to see excerpts from Sim interviews in the Journal, or articles about the period these issues were coming out, putting the work in its proper context. It was a groundbreaking book, and deserves permanent library quality editions.

  209. I can’t imagine GOING HOME and FORM & VOID without JAKA’S STORY and MELMOTH. I came into CEREBUS with MOTHERS and have read the entire series from beginning to end several times. I would love to see the entire series in a nice case wrapped hardcover set with covers.

  210. I was going to comment in supportof the idea of starting at the beginning that despite the earliest stories building up to the point of mastery – which everyone seems to agree really began with HIGH SOCIETY – they are also the ones I tend to reread the most, but NOT in the phonebook format. I reread them in the six SWORDS OF CEREBUS volumes, primarily for the commentary between individual issues. They were at once a personal history, a recounting of his professional development as a storyteller, and a primer on what was going on in the stories. As a comparison, it would have been like reading personal notes from Carl Barks in the middle of the UNCLE SCROOGE reprints. The critical stuff is good – but those notes in Dave’s own voice were and are invaluable to me. That’s exactly the sort of content I would hope for in the new volumes.

  211. Eric Hoffman says:

    Definitely conflating, which is why I (somewhat fatuously) referred to it as the NYTROB.

  212. Eric Hoffman says:

    Kim, for what it’s worth, I personally think that’s an excellent way of going about it.

  213. Eric Hoffman says:

    I’m trying to figure out how you could possibly go about splitting up either of those volumes into 2 volumes. GOING HOME might be easier, with the preliminary section and FALL AND THE RIVER but, as I recall, the latter is significantly longer. This sounds like a bad idea.

  214. Eric Hoffman says:

    I’d say #6 is reason enough alone, the rest is just icing on the cake. And #10, yes, you truly were instrumental in CEREBUS’ early success.

  215. Eric Hoffman says:

    OK, so based on Dave’s post below, he’s referring to the New York Times Book Review which, to be fair, also includes reviews of children’s books, so I don’t see how it can be seriously argued that the supplement is somehow synonymous with literary respectability, at least with regards to how Dave has framed it.

  216. Eric Hoffman says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. Looking at other FBI books on my shelf, CEREBUS is a very good candidate for a “retrospective” edition similar to the hardcover edition Kim describes above – including reproduction of covers, introductory essays or afterwords, a “story thus far” recap, back copy with praise from major industry players, a bio of Sim, etc., etc. There’s certainly much potential for a repackaging of the serious and if anyone is going to do it right, it’s FBI.

    But I fear Dave is getting off on the wrong foot here with his imagined NYTBR-framed FBI audience, and his suggestion to only repackage the most “literary” of the books (meaning books featuring modernist authors). (How is FORM AND VOID more “literary” than say LATTER DAYS? Didn’t the latter include a 100-page unpacking of the Torah, for crissakes?)

    I’m hopeful, nevertheless.

  217. Sammy says:

    Goddamn it, your right Eddie! But I still think the reprints should start at the beginning for all the boring and obvious reasons!

  218. mateor says:

    Yes. People forget the end of that first phone book is really strong.

    I will be happy with the four book Going Home/Form&Void. But this way is the best case scenario.

  219. Ryan Cecil says:

    Just another nerd in his 20′s here, adding his vote to “publish it in smaller books, from the beginning, in hardback or even softback.” Everyone who cares about Dave Sim will die and he will be forgotten if his work is left in those phonebooks. I’ve always kinda wanted to check him out, but I barely know how to start. Fanta publishing it from the beginning, with some context (introduction or essay or something), will really make it interesting for a lot of potential readers.

  220. Ed Brubaker says:

    I agree that if it’s about money, I would happily subscribe through Kickstarter or paypal or amazon payments or whatever, to just about any comics Sim wants to write and draw for the rest of his life.

  221. Josh Leto says:

    Further thought on the “if his work is left in those phonebooks” tack: After Dave Sim dies, someone will publish the series in archival form without his specific issue-by-issue input. If I was the author, I would rather see it done with my input.

  222. michael says:

    I was going to keep chugging away until someone called me a “wackadoodle”. Thank god it’s over.

  223. Adriano Moraes says:

    “wackadoodle”

    hahahahahaha

  224. michael says:

    Gary -

    Sorry for the delayed response, I know you’ve been losing sleep over this. I was in Canada visiting my son over the weekend, and I own a copy shop/cyber cafe in Washington State, and I’m sure your hands are more full than mine, so you know how it is. Anyway: Are you incapable of arguing your points or securing your stance without insulting the opposing party? Because I’m really getting tempted to tell you to go screw yourself, regardless of your points/stance.

    If the way the dialog between Dave and Kim is advancing is any indication, it’s obvious that I’ve wasted this space griping about something that just doesn’t matter any more, and for that I apologize, mainly to Dave and Kim. At this point, I’m just salivating at the possibility of gorgeous Cerebus reprints.

  225. Ed Brubaker says:

    Yeah, hasn’t Sim said that when he dies Cerebus becomes public domain immediately?

  226. Bmackay says:

    That’s how he’s set it up apparently.

  227. mateor says:

    Which is great, assuming that the Archives aren’t scattered to the wind like he is predicting will happen by year’s end. Even if that is exaggeration, I hope he takes this offer seriously.

    Forgetting all gripes about the phone books quality (endearing, inadequate) it sounds to me that there is a real danger that Cerebus will be out of print. Like, soon.

  228. PeteG says:

    Just thought I’d drop in to say that I’m yet another long time Cerebus fan who would like to see some high quality Cerebus volumes – ideally hardbound. If it can’t be Fantagraphics then let it be someone else if Dave no longer has the means to self publish a print version of the Cerebus books. It would be a disservice to the books to go digital only IMHO.

    As noted upthread, though, it seems the idea, on Dave’s part, to start with Form & Void/Going Home is just as much a challenge to Fantagraphics willingness to support Cerebus from start to finish as it is Dave’s idea of appealing to some imagined NY Times literary sensibility. In other words, I think Dave wants to see just how enthusiastically Fantagraphics is willing to support Cerebus by seeing if they’re willing to start their publishing venture with the section of Cerebus that probably has had the weakest sales history. If Fantagraphics can market and sell the Form & Void/Going Home successfully then they’ve already met about the biggest challenge they’re likely to have with any other part of the run of Cerebus. What better way for an author to test the ability of his prospective publisher to market and sell his work?

    Personally, I’d rather see any new publishing venture begin with the Cerebus and High Society volumes only to quickly move on to Church & State but I think I can see where Dave is coming from.

  229. Stevie B says:

    In the spirit of never going to happen let’s throw it out there anyway, what sort of kickstarter publishing deal type thing would it take to have Sim redo the early Cerebus, with Gerhard on backgrounds?

  230. Michael says:

    This is off topic, but I just read the TCJ review alluded to in Kim’s post above (http://www.momentofcerebus.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/cerebus-1-12.html), and this cracked me up: “In the latest issue, Sim has adopted the use of zipatone and seems to have gone a little nuts with it.” I think most people who at one point discovered zipatone can appreciate having absolutely no restraint with it for the first several weeks. Anyway, great article, I loved the tone throughout. Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.

  231. But those are just the ones that the NYT bestseller list tracks, not the ones that the NYT itself reviews. Mr. Sim is thinking of the latter, I think.

  232. Chris Duffy says:

    But why redo them, Stevie? The story and art were a good match. Sim and Gerhard’s art with those stories…? Seems like a weird lie. I think just publish them at the same time as the better, later stuff (or close to). By the way–I read these stories in junior high and high school. I was PERFECTLY HAPPY to read Cerebus’s early issues–and as I got older the strip got more sophisticated. It was fun. Is anyone considering the fact that a lot of kids will find this material (esp in libraries) and have the same experience?

  233. Christopher M says:

    Honestly, I think all of the comics you’ve listed are better than Cerebus. And I’m not much of a fan of a number of those stories.

    For those who are that hung up on the “Top 100″ list thing, trust me – it’s far from obvious that Dave Sim is one of the one hundred greatest cartoonists of the twentieth century, or that Cerebus is one of the one hundred greatest stories of twentieth century cartooning. There’s a reason Cerebus is always praised as “groundbreaking,” a term which is hardly interchangeable with “good” – the thing is a mess, on a host of levels. If you like it, that’s great, but don’t assume that everyone else has some obligation to like it, too, or that it must belong to some imaginary canon.

  234. Ed Brubaker says:

    Yeah, that was my experience, too, Chris. Cerebus was my first black and white comic, I think. Other than a Mr Natural some friend of my mom’s gave me for Christmas once with no idea what it was.

  235. Iestyn says:

    I think as well, if we’re talking accesibility to a mainstream audience, rather than a literary audience, then satirising political campaigns and the church and beaurocracy in general is going to have far more appeal than a satire of the lives of literary figures.

    I also think that as those books are much less visually coded and more easy for the non-comics literate to appreciate widens the posibility of success.

    I do wonder though that Dave is sitting on High Society because he wants to test the digital waters with some purity of response? In otherwords, is he keeping them back to see whether, without pushing the paper versions, digital will bring in enough buskness?

  236. Kim Thompson says:

    Dave: Now that we seem to have come to some sort of agreement on the basic idea of format and such, we do need to go back and unpack this line from you early on. (By the way, when we’re saying “four books” I’ve been assuming the first 50 issues = the first two phonebooks cut into two books apiece.)

    “I’d have to see deep inside your financial statements. What’s your track record for paying royalties? Are you late? Are you getting later? Who do you pay and how often?”

    I have no idea what “see deep inside your financial statements” means. There are certainly no “financial statements” we have ever or ever plan to share with cartoonists or licensors, or pretty much anyone other than the IRS and our bank, so that’s a little mystifying. That’s just not the way it works.

    Our “track record for paying royalties” is I expect the same as pretty much every other alternative publisher who’s not actively circling the drain, which is that we pay our cartoonists and creditors more or less on time at least to the point where everyone is satisfied. Generally you can tell publishers with a bad track record by the fact that cartoonists (a) stop working for them, (b) sue them, and (c) bitch about them in public or through the grapevine. As someone active in the field for 35 years, Dave, you saw plenty of examples of this (and subsequent collapses) over the the 1980s and 1990s; you should know the warning signs. But there is no magic formula, or set of documents that you can reasonably request or ask to be given, that allows you total security on this front. So if any prelude to striking a deal with a publisher includes any sort of “deep” look into their financial infrastructure that somehow would reassure you of their stability, there is no publisher in the world who’s gonna agree to that.

    I understand a cartoonist’s trepidation at the idea of entrusting his work to a publisher who might (a) collapse or (b) quit paying him (a.k.a. any publisher) — the latter being usually a prelude to the former — but when you sign on with a publisher that’s a leap of faith you have to take, buttressed by what you can tell about the publisher from information that’s out there already. Feel free to contact any of our cartoonists one by one if you want, but again, the fact that they keep giving us their books (or, if not that, working with us in one capacity or another, be it re-releasing older work or designing books for us, etc.) is kind of Exhibit A.

  237. R. Maheras says:

    Really?

    If true, for that fact alone, the man has my utmost respect.

    I can’t even begin to tell you how pissed I am at how the copyright system has been politically manipulated and hijacked by special interest groups during the past 35 years — some of who previously built their empires exploiting public domain material.

  238. Kim Thompson says:

    I have less of a problem with the “lives of literary figures” angle (if anything I agree with Dave that that part might be MORE generally accessible in many ways) than I do with the weaving in of the Cerebus story itself with its (by then) utterly baffling (to a new reader) complexities. Honestly, if as a new reader you try to read FORM & VOID it will make absolutely no sense to you, and you’ll slam it shut and go get yourself an Advil way before you get to the specific Hemingway stuff. It’s like starting with BACK TO THE FUTURE II. Worse, it’s like starting 50 minutes into BACK TO THE FUTURE II.

  239. Jeffrey Goodman says:

    I guess the question for me, as a long time Cerebus reader (since #18, but having tracked down a copy of every issue except for 2), and a supporter of Mr. Sim’s publishing venture, having bought 2 copies of each phone book by subscription, when you could really only get them directly from him, in the hope that such support would keep the books a-coming…I ask myself was all that support for naught? I know it sounds selfish and a tad self-serving, but now I must wonder if this FBI deal comes to fruition and we have the option of finally getting to enjoy Cerebus in more permanent hardcover editions…well, can I trade in one of my complete sets of nearly mint condition, signed and numbered first printings for an HC set? Seems like a fair question at this juncture, no?

  240. Kim Thompson says:

    A fair question, but no. (If I’m stuck with my three different versions of BLOW OUT you’re gonna be stuck with your phonebooks.) If they’re mint, first edition, and signed, you can probably get more for them on eBay than via a theoretical quid-pro-quo trade anyway.

  241. Ed Brubaker says:

    Funny, I just picked up a Swords of Cerebus off the shelf for 5 bucks, original cover price, at the comic store today. I was looking at Form and Void and trying to see if I’d be willing to start with Cerebus there, and when I put it back on the shelf, noticed one copy of Swords vol 2, which I immediately grabbed. I totally agree, I have ingrained memories of years of reading and rereading those issues and Dave’s notes before each chapter.

    I think all the way through Church and State, Cerebus is just so much fun, even when its serious. There’s great things in Jaka’s story and Melmoth, and after that, but those first 130 or so issues are my favorites. Even the letters pages were fun.

  242. Briany Najar says:

    Is someone who’s just started reading Going Home (or Form and Void), with no previous experience of Cerebus the Aardvark, really going to want to move forwards in the narrative, or are they going to want to go back a way?
    Personally, I think that if a volume comprising some late, in media res section of the series is released, it’s going to need to immediately be followed by back-story before continuing on. Not looking likely though, that.
    This 4 book project is going to be really tough to get through. I hope Sim appreciates the huge compromise that’s being offered and loosens up a bit, even if only for the sake of his own ouevre.
    (He’s got an ouevre, that guy.)

  243. Briany Najar says:

    The notes need to come after the comics though (they’re at the beginning in the Cerebus Bi-Weekly reissues), cos some are a bit spoiler-y.
    They certainly do make great supplemental reading. The biographical ups and downs and the detailing of creative epiphanies and technical progress (like when he points out the page where he starts using a dip-pen) bring home the sense that it’s not just the little grey Earth-pig who’s set out on an intrepid journey into the unknown. An extremely, acutely intimate dynamic symmetry existed between the author and the work.

    Woh, I just totally span out trying to contemplate that whole scene. 26 years of it, committed to by a 23 year old.

  244. Jeffrey Goodman says:

    I’m not really looking for cash, just a more ‘permanent’ collection of the run. 3 copies of Blow Out? That’s hardcore! I really dig that film, too! Glad I never picked that up until the Criterion. Must have learned my lesson subconsciously with Cerebus, eh?

  245. Stanley Lieber says:

    Oh, I know. But I keep getting confused about the end goal: financial success as a result of appealing to readers, or [definition missing] success as a result of appealing to the very specifically imagined political sensibilities of the New York Times Book Review. I do think the two are conflated at our peril. At the very least, raw sales figures seem to indicate that properties successful in one or the other realm exhibit divergent qualities. Is there really that much overlap? If not, why do we care about the politically hostile, financially self-defeating pitch to NYTBR?

  246. Stanley Lieber says:

    Signing Dave’s petition was and is a deal-breaker for me because I don’t agree with what it says. The final volume of CEREBUS explores the consequences of signing documents that compromise one’s vision of the truth. So, it was peculiar that the petition should arrive immediately, chronologically after a bunch of material that explained why signing such documents is always a bad idea. CEREBUS is fiction, but the resonance seems odd. Is Dave having a laugh?

    I received my own numbered form letter asking me to sign the petition in response to a care package and a note of encouragement I sent at the inauguration of GLAMOURPUSS:

    http://img.stanleylieber.com/src/14479/img/1345432474.jpg

    Nobody else here seems interested in reconciling the fact that Dave asked not to be contacted by people who have yet to sign his petition. But this is an important point, and, indeed, as Dave states above, the not-yet-two-thousand-names on the petition serve as all the evidence he needs to confirm that he is unwelcome in society. So, what is happening here? One supposes Dave is making an exception for the Internet tour since comments were openly solicited. Comments were received, and Dave continues to answer. The self-declared embargo also seems flexible enough to accomodate potential publishers. Publishers respond, and so Dave attempts to conduct a negotiation in public. It’s strange. This petition is important enough to burn every bridge except for the one he’s suddenly decided to walk across. (To be sure, “Dave Sim Seeks Publisher” can’t be an easy headline to anticipate.)

    It’s heartening that so many pros are speaking out in support of the work. For what it’s worth, CEREBUS is still my own favorite comic.

  247. Tim Webber says:

    Kim,

    I think there is some confusion about which books are “on the table” for negotiation. Dave said:

    “I think Tim’s suggestion is a good one, so let’s expand the negotiations into a 4-book deal (with 4-book advance, presumably) covering GOING HOME and FORM & VOID. “

  248. zack soto says:

    But: pretty much everyone agrees that’s an awful, or at least probably misguided idea.

  249. Anthony Thorne says:

    Misguided or not, if it gets the series started and the other books come afterwards, I’m fine with it. The idea is to find some middle ground that Kim and Dave can come to some sort of agreement on, hence Kim earlier offering to read FORM & VOID and Dave then expanding the notional agreement to include GOING HOME with it. Nothing has been settled yet but that’s the lay of the land until we discover where all this is ultimately going. I don’t know if Kim’s remarks about FORM & VOID above are mitigated by that hypothetical, baffled new reader digesting GOING HOME right before it.

  250. Tim Webber says:

    Well, it’s Dave you need to convince. One side unilaterally deciding something is not negotiating. So Kim, is this a ‘red-line’ issue for you? Dave has taken a step and is now offering you two ‘phonebooks’. It’s your turn to compromise and take a step closer.

  251. Stevie B says:

    Oh, I am in complete wish fulfilling mode fantasy land. My ideal is to have the stories rewritten too. I don’t know if it is a weird lie, but I know a lot of major artists tweak earlier material to better fit with later stff. Here and Eddie Campbell readily spring to mind, Chester Brown as well now I think for a few more seconds. But I guess I am someone who would need to buy this stuff again. And I’m not sure kids will have the same process with collections as those of us who grew up with the periodicals. Those books are there to be devoured in days if the will is there. We never had that option. But really, I was just airing the dream I think was first aired in the letter columns way back when. I doubt very much it is on the table, but he’ll, if the table is even within my aim I have to throw it out there… :)

  252. Stevie B says:

    Need a reason to buy this stuff again, that should be…

  253. mateor says:

    Not a fair question. There must be a million examples of this phenomenon in your media collection. We buy a printing, not right to the work in perpetuity.

    I didn’t get my cassette tapes turned into CDs or MP3s.

    If you bought those books in the hopes that they would keep coming, I think the bargain has been paid. Not that there would be any recourse if they had stopped.

  254. Fart Barfunkel says:

    I fail to understand how your purchase of one version of a book entitles you to any future “updated” version of that book, especially if it comes from a different publisher.

  255. Jeffrey Goodman says:

    Well, at least Kim thought it was a fair question. I did ask Dave Sim once, while phoning in an order, if he thought there was a possibility of Cerebus being issued in hardcover editions and he figured that it would be of too much expense and too little interest to make it worthwhile, at least as I remember the conversation. Now that it looks like it could happen, guess I just have to resign myself to being ahead of the times. Of course I realize that a trade-in would be absurd as I, too, have double and triple dipped way more than I probably should admit, but I wanted to give it a shot. Mom always said it never hurts to ask…after all the worst that could happen is they say no, nu?

  256. Dave Sim says:

    Sorry I’m not making it back here more often. Tim’s unexpectedly getting more interest from other websites which means more HARDtalk questions to answer at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.

    I’m far from an expert on the Quality Lit Biz, but I do have a good snapshot of where Hemingway and Fitzgerald are perceived to be and — unless things have changed substantially in the last few years — Fitzgerald is a “non-starter” for THE NEW YORK TIMES. So, if we’re starting with GOING HOME, the Fitzgerald book, I think we have to shift focus from attracting the TIMES’ attention to just going for good reviews generally in mainstream newspapers. How many review copies does Fantagraphics send out, generally, and to whom? would be a pertinent question here.

    I certainly have no idea how Douglas Wolk is perceived right now in his own career. Ascendant? Descending? Treading water? or, as I said, whether he still views me and my work the same way as he did back in 2005. I mean, I have to be flexible on how my work and I are going to be portrayed. Worst case scenario: “Dave Sim: The Adolf Hitler of Graphic Novelists?” hopefully WITH the question mark on there. Whether Wolk writes it or Kim writes it or Gary writes it, is really immaterial: it will need to be worked on, whipped into shape so as to be brought to a form that will generate interest, coverage, criticism and, most importantly, sales. MAINSTREAM sales if possible. And it has to appear likely to do so to ME, since it’s my book(s) that are at issue. I have to SEE how I am being launched into the liberal press before I agree to be launched that way. It’s not going to be a situation of sign the contract and have the introduction/preface/whatever come as a complete surprise to me.

    Also, splitting the two books into four, means that we’re going to need four introductions, not two which is going to slow things down considerably. There are hidden benefits in that we can structure the introductions/prefaces as NEW YORKER articles — that is, of a comparable length and complexity to an extended piece in THE NEW YORKER (that’s just a shorthand description to help whomever ends up doing it/them to understand what we’re driving at and) (hopefully) (compel them to bring their “A” game to the proceedings — any writer worth his/her salt knows what a NEW YORKER article is and what level of effort and thinking has to go into it).

    Ed Brubaker offering his comments here (Hi, Ed!) gave me the idea that he might be a good “contextualizing” candidate. For one thing, he has really good comic-store cred with his work for the mainstream companies and he definitely “comes from” the Fantagraphics end of the field. The first issue of LOWLIFE which he gave me twenty years ago lists his favourite comics on an editorial page and it’s a shopping list of Fantagraphics titles and CEREBUS. I pulled it out and reread it the other morning and he was REALLY GOOD even when he was pretty much a longshot Fantagraphics’ wannabe. “You’re a Good Man, Chester Brown…or What’s Wrong With Comics” being a very accomplished piece of work (if also the most ill-advised approach to getting Kim Thompson to publish your work). If I’m not mistaken, he’s also established a toehold or a foothold in mainstream writing in the Real (or, if you prefer, “real”) World. If we actually pay him a professional magazine rate and get him to write what is basically a “contextualizing” of Dave Sim and CEREBUS for the first volume, drawing all of the threads together: Sim, CEREBUS, Fantagraphics, Scott Fitzgerald, the mainstream press, misogyny/feminism and also saying some good and original things about each — well, depending on whether he NAILS IT — I mean, REALLY NAILS IT in my opinion (and my opinion is the one that’s going to count — they’re MY books), I’d be happy to give him points on the volume in addition to the Real World magazine he’d get for putting it on his front burner for long enough to do a thorough job of it.

    I think we REALLY want to avoid the “can you write an introduction for free so we can use your name on the cover?” hack piece which is what most introductions amount to. Finding four of them is going to be no easy task. And he can’t be asked to write the piece “on spec”. Would he be willing to write an outline “on spec” and maybe a good, grabby first paragraph?

    I’m hoping I’ll have more time for this come the middle of October when the HARDtalk Virtual Tour ends (or slows down, anyway) and HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL has been launched at cerebusdownloads.com. Until that, I’ll just check in as I can get to it.

  257. Aaron says:

    Dave,

    Can you clarify why you are insisting on starting with GOING HOME, when the majority of posters in this thread are in favor of starting at the beginning, or at some point during the first phone book? Do you really think that Fitzgerald and Hemingway are the only way CEREBUS will get noticed by mainstream book reviewers, and that they are the gateway to a bookstore audience? Isn’t that a question better answered by Fantagraphics, which after all has extensive experience at getting their material into bookstores? That is the main reason for using a publisher, after all.

    I’m just not sure if this is a real disagreement between you and Kim, or if you somehow haven’t noticed that he’s talking about starting in a different place.

  258. Leigh Walton says:

    It’s crazy; I buy pizza from this place on the corner at least twice a week, and when I went by today to get another pizza, they wanted me to pay for that one too!

  259. Brian Payne says:

    Mr. Thompson wrote that ‘Generally you can tell publishers with a bad track record by the fact that cartoonists (a) stop working for them…’ Which makes one wonder why exactly did Clowes, Sacco, and Ware all leave Fantagraphics for Drawn and Quarterly. Yet, I kind of infer that these are the cartoonists to which he is referring to in parenthesis in the following quote ‘…the fact that they keep giving us their books (or, if not that, working with us in one capacity or another, be it re-releasing older work or designing books for us, etc.)’ but that is merely an assumption and we all know what they say about assumptions. Nevertheless, Thompson’s suggestion that Sim “contact” them is a good one. However, that hypothetical conversation is still contingent upon those cartoonists willingness to talk business honestly with him”out of school” if at all.

  260. Kim Thompson says:

    Huh. I thought the “starting with GOING HOME” notion had been squelched; we must be talking at cross-purposes. To be clear, I have zero interest in starting with GOING HOME, really none whatsoever. Either the first phonebook or possibly HIGH SOCIETY. Also, I’m not at all interested in racking up a new celebrity intro writer for each volume. (For the first one, sure.)

  261. Kim Thompson says:

    It’s my fault, I missed the “covering GOING HOME and FORM AND VOID” line in Dave’s email, maybe through wishful thinking (or because seemingly everyone else seemed to agree that was a terrible idea). But the four books I meant was CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY each split in two. And yeah, it is a redline/dealbreaker. I wouldn’t start with any book after HIGH SOCIETY, so if that’s a redline/dealbreaker on the other side for Dave who wants to start with a later book or no deal, we can call it a day.

  262. Matthew says:

    Dave, I don’t undersand.
    It appears you don’t want to sell “Cerebus”, you’re trying to appeal to some imaginary “higher taste” crowd by marketing Form & Void as a seperate, sort-of biographical work of Ernest Hemingway, when what everyone wants is nice, high quality collections of Cerebus, not Hemingway.
    I don’t know if you’re just simply tired of Cerebus and want to somehow re-brand yourself, but this isn’t the way to do it (if you’re really set on that, then out out a collected editions of Glamourpuss and the Alex Raymond book)

    You’re attached to the thought that as soon as anyone will hear anything remotely about misogyny, they’ll avoid you like the plague, when that’s not the case.
    While there will always be “haters” (in any fandom), most people I think don’t care one way or another.
    Hell, Mel Gibson is clearly anti-semetic, but his movies still sell.
    The reason your books don’t sell as well as they used to has nothing to do with being called a misogynist, its because the Cerebus books aren’t the greatest quality, and pretty difficult to get ahold of for the average comic fan or someone with a little curiosity in a bookstore.
    The reason that Glamourpuss doesn’t sell as well is well, its an odd book. Its wonderful (in my opinion), but it really takes the concept of comics to its limits, which is clearly not for everyone.
    Judenhauss is the same thing, the topic itself is quite dark and some people don’t even want to get into that territory, but the people that are interested in that kind of thing may not have ever entered a comic book shop, but they do go to Chapters (bookstore in Canada), Barnes & Nobles, etc.

    I’m not saying self-publishing is dead, but if you’re in a position where money is tight and you wish you could work on what you love to do, I think its time to let someone else takes the reigns on the publishing end, and for the love of God, do not market Form & Void as a completely seperate book, Start with a 4 book deal with Fantagraphics starting with High Society; maybe create some original “recap” pages to cover the first book, if they sell well (which I’m sure they would), then release the first phonebook as a “Cerebus 0″. Then if both you and Fantagraphics are happy, negotiate the rest of the series.
    Really, this notion of some “New York Times” appealment is nonsense, no one cares about that in the slightest, all people want are nice archival editions of Cerebus, and you to continue to do what you love.

  263. Kim Thompson says:

    Note that neither Chris Ware’s or Joe Sacco’s latest books were done for Drawn & Quarterly, and Dan Clowes actually left Fantagraphics for Pantheon/Random House to do several major books before moving to Drawn & Quarterly. When cartoonists (or creative people in general) are free agents, and in demand, they often move around — for reasons that are nobody’s business unless the cartoonists themselves feel like discussing it. I don’t think Joe left D+Q because they weren’t paying him, and I don’t think Dan left Pantheon because they weren’t paying him either.

    The point is, if a publisher is gathering a chronic reputation for late or non-payment, you’ll hear about it at some point.

  264. Kim Thompson says:

    Also, for anything other than mainstream super-heroes and the like, the “pamphlet” format is dead.

  265. Scott Grammel says:

    Immediate instapinion based on reading the last two posts to this thread: Mitt Romney will fly on Air Force One before Fantagraphics puts out the quality Cerebus reprints everyone’s pining for out here.

    For my part, I started reading Cerebus around issue #21, I think, when the drawing was no longer clearly amateurish and/or bad-Barry Smithish, then was quickly rewarded with the high pleasure of reading High Society, followed by the considerably dimmed enjoyment of Church and State, by which point Sim had shifted his focus from creating enjoyable individual issues — albeit within a larger framework — toward book-length (arc-length?) unities. The pacing slowed notably and, though longer, I retain memories of almost none of what transpired within that arc, whereas my happy memories of High Society are still over-flowing. Jaka started, I quickly got stuck, finally took it as a sign, and stopped reading the series completely and without regrets ever since. So, yes, my personal interest in the larger project is nonexistent at this point.

    Still, too bad if my hunch above is correct. Lots of other people obviously feel differently.

  266. mateor says:

    OUch.

  267. Brian Hibbs says:

    As a retailer, I’m going to back you up on this, Kim: reprinting CEREBUS really needs to start from at or near the beginning if it’s going to be a commercial success among graphic novel and book readers.

    -B

  268. Aaron says:

    OK, so this is why negotiating on a public forum is a bad idea. Fun while it lasts, though.

  269. Scott Grammel says:

    P.S. I was writing my post, it seems, while Kim was composing his last two, including that perhaps decisive “call it a day” one. As it looks now, my opinion seems thunderingly obvious if not moronic.

  270. Dave Knott says:

    The thing is, and Sim himself has stated this repeatedly, Cerebus as a whole is one large sustained story. He had the idea of a 300 issue closed narrative in mind since (I believe) the High Society issues, or early Church & State at the latest. Every storyline after that was written with the idea of working in service of a basic framework that he had planned out early on, although only Sim can say how much the framework itself morphed over time. Starting anywhere but the beginning would be absolutely detrimental to attracting new readers. It would be like (to use an admittedly poor analogy) asking a new Harry Potter reader to start reading with the fifth book of that seven book series.

    I suppose the counterargument is that there are other long series which are immediately accessible to new readers starting at a later point in the narrative (the Narnia books or the Palomar stories). I don’t think that Cerebus falls into that category. The later storylines were almost impenetrable even to long-time readers of the series who had been following it for literally decades. It’s difficult to imagine what someone would make of Cerebus coming straight into the later narratives without preparation. Sure, the Hemmingway and Fitzgerald analogues are clear enough, but the fictional world which they inhabit and the rest of the characters (including Cerebus himself) would make no sense at all.

  271. Eric Hoffman says:

    Actually, McFarland does list an ebook ISBN but they themselves do not sell electronic books. The only vendor I know of is amazon.com’s kindle. I can ask McFarland but you may have to buy a print version.

  272. Eric Hoffman says:

    I think Sim’s idea is to “test the NYTRB” waters with what are to him the two most “literary” of the CEREBUS storylines (altho that’s debatable) then if they are a resounding critical and commercial success, go back to beginning and publish the remaining books. I can speculate as to whether or not this represents Sim being difficult for difficulty’s sake, intentionally derailing negotiations because he has no intention of going forward, setting the reprints up for disaster as publishing GOING HOME or FORM & VOID first would remove its context and make it, for most audiences unfamiliar with CEREBUS (presuming the editorial staff at the NYTRB is unfamiliar with it) completely “impenetrable,” thereby removing himself from the obligation of having the rest of the books reprinted, or if he is being sincere and genuinely believes this is the best way to proceed. Well, I suppose we have to take him at his word. It seems abundantly clear he has no intention of changing his perspective of FBI courting NYTRB audiences (whoever THAT might be), and because Thompson (rightly) doesn’t want to start anywhere but at the beginning (maybe HIGH SOCIETY at the latest), well, it was fun while it lasted, folks.

  273. Pingback: Random Thoughts! (September 25, 2012) | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources

  274. Iestyn says:

    Yeah. I think this is key as well. If you’re looking for mainstream readers to accept Cerebus then you have to consider that mainstream people *HATE* coming into the middle of things with a backstory that won’t be explained.

    This is always the problem i have with convincing anyone i know to read comics “what do you mean there are 300 issues before this? What happened before? how do i find out about that? Who’s this, who’s that etc. etc.”.

    I think if Dave wants to stand the best chance he really needs to recognise the issue of accessibility to the characters rather than acceptance via recognised literary figures.

    I also have to say that the concern about whether a talking aardvark will limit the appeal to mainstream audiences misses the whole move to fantasy in the mainstream reading and viewing public. Over here in the UK Lord of the rings was voted the best book ever written. All this talk is very reminiscent of 70′s and 80′s sci-fi and fantasy fans attitude of resistance because normal people don’t like us. I think that this has changed a whole lot and that there is a lot of enjoyment in the mainstream, of fantasy and the fantastical within normal life.

    As a complete aside, i think that Fantagraphics could really do with considering a collection of Dalgoda, because that was fun and beautifully drawn. Just saying.

  275. Kim Thompson says:

    (1) I think Dave sincerely believes the GOING HOME strategy would be the best way to proceed. I would never cite a lack of sincerity as a failing of Dave’s. (2) Moving to accepting the idea of another publisher (let alone his longtime nemesis Fantagraphics) doing a CEREBUS edition is a huge enough shift that I wouldn’t rule out a second shift from “start with GOING HOME” to “start at the beginning,” especially given the overwhelming chorus from fans, other cartoonists, and retailers favoring the latter option as the only sensible one. (3) If Dave remains adamant, there ARE other publishers one of which perhaps might be open to his release strategy where we aren’t. Calling IDW and Top Shelf! (I doubt those uppity bastards at Drawn + Quarterly — who probably fit Dave’s semi-imaginary profile of NYT-validation-hungry prigs than Fantagraphics does — are interested, fellow Canadians or no.)

  276. Iestyn says:

    This says it all. The idea of appealing to newspaper reviewers in literary circles is clearly missing that most people will want to start at the beginning and read to the end. If Cerebus is Moby Dick then why would you sell it from page 250 to the end and then eventually publish 1-250?

  277. Kim Thompson says:

    It’s been considered (I’m very fond of the series myself), but it would have to be re-scanned and re-lettered and re-colored from scratch, which is a pretty tall mountain to climb in terms of production labor and expense. Especially with two creators, Jan Strnad and Dennis Fujitake, who are not exactly household names as it stands.

  278. Iestyn says:

    To Anthony Thorne. But the question is really, will publishing those books actually lead to the publishing of the earlier books? Or, will they be so impenetrable that the sales will be so low that we will never get past those first 4 books.

    Which i think would be a real shame because the whole point is that this is a whole story not some series of vignettes tied together that can be easily ripped apart.

  279. Iestyn says:

    Hi Kim

    Damn, I’d love that book to death, but then i want someone to re-release Neil the Horse and Wordsmith, so god knows my advice would be the best route to bankruptcy there is. (I bet most people don’t even know EITHER of those sadly.)

    There should be a kickstarter for those for definite!!

  280. Briany Najar says:

    I have a suggestion.
    Sim badly wants to take a pop at literary credibility with his Hemingway bit. Everyone else (more or less) wants to give (most of) the epic saga of Cerebus a chance in the mainstream (or thereabouts) marketplace – which is a much more fantasy-friendly environment than it was before Jackson’s LOTR, the Potter books and Game of Thrones.
    The idea of 4 books seems to be approved by all involved.
    How about this for a 4-book deal:
    1, Form and Void (it’s 15 issues);
    2, Cerebus #s 14 to 25 (starting with the Palnu story, optionally including the Silverspoon sequence;
    3, High Society part 1;
    4, High Society part 2.
    Sim parades his erudition and maybe gets a pat on the head from the big Other, the readers get a view of where it’s going followed by where it came from. If it works out, FB get to go on with Church & State (hopefully) and if it doesn’t, at least they gave it a shot and got their logo on some great comics.
    G’wan!

  281. Briany Najar says:

    #’s 1-13 (and maybe some bits from elsewhere) could be later released as a sort of prequel or whatever.

  282. Tony says:

    Tell that to Adrian Tomine.

  283. nrh says:

    For what it is worth: as a casual but regular comics buyer who tends to buy hardcover books at his local shop, started reading Cerebus in high school and gave up for lack of funds (which he now has thanks to jobs), I would totally walk down to the corner shop and buy #1 and HIGH SOCIETY on day of release. Probably wouldn’t buy FORM AND VOID or GOING HOME.

  284. nrh says:

    Sorry, not clear: I would plan to buy those eventually, but would not buy them if they were published first. Would really want to be caught up with the rest of the series before buying the new books.

  285. Kit says:

    Sim wrote out a bunch of his thinking on the Fanta/Form & Void issue here: http://momentofcerebus.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/hardtalk-virtual-tour-10.html

  286. Lou Copeland says:

    I think the best way to test the waters with an outside publisher is to move forward with a hardcover Cerebus companion volume like what was being negotiated with Erik Larson/Image in ’06/’07 – a book that would feature all the side stories like the color Epic Illustrated stuff. It’s one book, It’s previously uncollected material so it’ll sell well, and it has the benefit of not diluting sales of the phone books if either Dave or the publisher decides to walk away from the larger project. Once even a single hardcover volume comes out that reprints Cerebus proper I’m pretty sure that would be the nail in the coffin for the phone books and most of the unsold backstock of them (there’ll probably be light sales to those that want to finish the series in the format they started with).

  287. Jeet Heer says:

    I’m reluctantly putting my two cents here despite Dave’s explicit desire for me not to be involved in the project. I wish this project well and thought it might be useful to have another point of view.
    1) One thing I agree with Dave is that I’m the last person who should be writing the intros, partially for political reasons (to use Dave’s language I’m an avowed & proud Marxist-Feminist-Homosexualist) but actually more importantly because the intros need to be written by someone sympathetic to Cerebus as a project and steeped in the milieu out of which it emerged (the direct market ground level world of the 1970s and 1980s).
    2) I think Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman would both be great to have in terms of writing introductions — they know the comic book culture that Sim came out of very well but they’ve also have a large audience outside comic book culture. Actually Chester Brown also comes to mind as someone who could really champion Cerebus in an interesting way.
    3) Aside from Moore & Gaiman, I think Tom Spurgeon would be good — a really cosmopolitan critic with a foot in comics culture. Also Sean Rogers would do a fine job — he’s doing research right now on the Canadian comic book world of the 1970s, so would really be able to place Cerebus in his background. I think some of the younger genre-friendly critics at TCJ — Seneca, Jog — would be interesting as well. I’m not sure how familiar Dave is with their work but he should thi
    4) In terms of the potential audience for a re-issued and reformatted Cerebus, I think the thing to realize is that the non-comics world that occasionally reads comics is very diverse. I doubt if Cerebus has much appeal to the fans of Philip Roth or Alice Munro but it would be of interest to the fans of Chabon, Lethem, “The Game of Thrones” or Lord of the Rings. I think the major achievement of Cerebus is the world-building that Sim did — and there is a huge appetite in the general public for elaborate world-building fiction.
    5) Because of reason #4, I think the place to start with the reprinting is fairly early in the run or perhaps the beginning. Even though the initial stuff is Sim still learning his craft, it does contribute to the elaborate world-building that really comes to the fore with High Society & Church and State.
    Anyways, I hope this all gets sorted out — I would love to see Cerebus redone in more reader-friendly format and for Sim’s place in comics history to be more fully recognized.

  288. Tim Webber says:

    Dave Sim offers some ‘post match commentary’ in his answer to today’s HARDtalk Q&A at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS (actually written yesterday just before Kim’s ‘deal-breaker’ post), in which Dominick Grace calls him out on his negotiating tactics with Fantagraphics, literary respectability, and working in the Alberta tar sands. Not to be missed.

  289. Lou Copeland says:

    Of course, such a book would probably take a lot of production work.

  290. Jeet Heer says:

    As a further thought, it seems to me that Moore and Gaiman would be especially good because they are also master world-builders. If you could get Moore and Gaiman writing about Sim as a great fantasist and Chester Brown writing about Sim’s cartooning prowess, that would be contextual material that would really open up Cerebus to many new readers.

  291. Michael says:

    Hi Stanley,

    When you say the petition is a deal breaker, what are you referring to specifically – Fantagraphics publishing Cerebus? Also, why would you think he’d make this effort just to “have a laugh”? Doesn’t it seem a bit weird to make that level of effort just to “have a laugh”? I think it’s obvious – at least in my mind – that he was attempting to use reason to attract other reasonable people to his side of the fence. The guy needed some support for God’s sake. It was like a witch hunt. I can’t imagine how rough that must have been. Just try and remember what was happening and then put yourself in his shoes. That level of animosity and directed/focused negativity would have killed a lot of people. It’s hard enough to be judged negatively by a small handful of people in your life, imagine if it was all of your peers and you were getting it from all angles all day long. Tell me that wouldn’t make you a little desperate. Talk about amazing grace, God really gifted Dave with some thick skin. The fact that he was able to navigate through that incredibly dark time in his life while maintaining his sanity and dignity is … beyond my scope of imagining, honestly. At any rate, if I was a peer of Dave’s and he asked me to sign that petition it would have been a no-brainer.

    The good news is, now it (the reaction to the misguided perception that Dave is a misogynist) seems to be a non-issue, which is fairly wonderful to behold.

  292. Michael says:

    That’s an interesting compromise that seems to have a decent amount of win. Both parties kind of get what they want, and the old fans all get what they want (the series starting from the middle of Cerebus book 1), and new readers, as you mentioned, get a peek ahead. That said, I’m really hoping that Kim wins his point on this, and I say that just as a fan who would love to start fresh from the beginning with some high production-value collections. For me, it’s not so much about the covers and the liner notes as it is about seeing Dave’s incredible line art on high quality paper stock instead of cheap newsprint (or equivalent stock). I still don’t understand (at all) the value of launching this in the middle of the series with Form and Void, but then I’m certainly no Dave Sim, and I am guessing that he knows something I don’t. =)

  293. Michael says:

    To Kim and Dave -

    Forgive me if this has already been addressed:

    This may be getting (way) ahead of things, but, have either of you considered the size (as in page dimensions) of the potential publication? I was just thinking of how incredible it would be to have the books exist as over-sized volumes (even slightly over-sized), as opposed to reduced down to typical graphic novel size.

  294. Anthony Thorne says:

    That would be cool, but I get the impression we can’t count our chickens here until they’re all hatched. If Dave and Kim reach even half an agreement (something which seems very up in the air) it’d be lovely if Dave welcomes further feedback regarding page size, what the fans want, etc etc etc. I’d certainly buy those slightly oversized volumes.

  295. Dave Knott says:

    Setting aside all of the fascinating Fantagraphics/reprint discussion in that link… this:

    “A doctor living in Texas has offered me $10,000 to fly down there and to document my religious views with a film crew and the whole works, including his minister and I’ve accepted.”

    Now THAT is a project for which I’d gladly pay to see the end result.

  296. David Roel says:

    That’s an excellent plan. If we’re “going for good reviews generally in mainstream newspapers”, starting at the beginning works a lot better for that. The quality of those fifty-one issues (I’m hoping #51 is included) speaks for itself.

  297. Paul Slade says:

    Yeah, because Texas ministers publicising their views on Islam ALWAYS works out well.

  298. I am exactly one customer with a buying power of somewhere under $30 but here is what I would buy. I would buy a collection that starts at the beginning. And If i liked it, I would buy more. I’ve actually been on the verge of buying the 1s existing “phone book” about once a month for the past 10 years or so but every time I see one it is badly shop worn so I hold off. An nice new edition with Fantagraphics strong production values that starts and the beginning. I would buy that. I promise. No one should plan out their publishing strategy on my $30 but that is all I have to offer.

  299. Adam says:

    I agree with starting at Church & State.

    If you’re going to sell me on crazy, you’ve got to romance me first.

  300. Adam says:

    er, I meant High Society. I’ll show myself out.

  301. Eric Hoffman says:

    I commend Heer’s astute observation concerning the current popularity of “elaborate world-building fiction” – that’s an angle I hadn’t considered.

  302. Anthony Thorne says:

    How much of Fanta’s output gets sold through the book trade, vs. how much of it gets sold through online e-tailers like Amazon, BookDepository etc etc? Many of the quality physical bookstores also now have their own graphic novel sections. Would a Hemingway-themed Cerebus volume be placed alongside the literary biographies, or would it be popped in amongst the other Fanta and Drawn and Quarterly graphic novels, to be browsed by graphic novel fans who would prefer a straightforward chronological reprinting? Does attention from the New York Times/New Yorker supersede intensive coverage from online sites like AVClub, ComicsBeat, TCJ and the many others that cover and promote quality new releases? (Some of these questions are rhetorical). Fanta is going from strength to strength with their deluxe books (or so I hope) and they seem to know what they’re doing. Dave has multiple graphic novels of material, with years of discussion and fan recognition behind them, that have never been collected in deluxe, well-printed volumes up to now. Dave recently discussed throwing in the towel due to finances and sales and the ebb and flow of the market. Kim offers to step into the breach and resurrect the complete series in quality print editions with a spark of extra attentive care to make both sides happy. It seems like a perfect synchronicity. I am sadly not holding my breath that this will reach fruition. If these end up not being printed – with me being able to spend real money on them – I’ll dream of the volumes hereafter and page through them occasionally in my sleep.

  303. BradM says:

    This the savviest bit of pre-press hype I have ever seen. Kudos all around!

    And kudos Jeet for pointing out the world-building appeal of Cerebus. That’s what initially drew me to the series; not the in-jokes and political commentary.

  304. Stanley Lieber says:

    I read the work, I read the essays, I read the petition: they don’t fit together. The biggest problem is that the non-fiction writing in particular exhibits most of the qualities railed against within both the body of CEREBUS and within its own text. Whatever your view of their efficacy, you have to admit that “gut feelings,” homebrew numerology and taking your marching orders from a literary compilation of uncertain origin and translation are not reason. If you look at the material and think that someone has unlocked the secrets of the universe (“wow, this guy really gets me!”) you are looking at the parts of yourself which have been consumed to that point. This is just how language — or, if you will, fiction — works. The mind reacts to stimulus, the mind recognizes itself. More to the point, having read the work, I’m convinced that Dave does in fact experience feelings of hatred towards his conception of “femaleness.” Obviously, the only mind I can read is my own, but when emotional arguments are framed in emotional language, I’m left to conclude that emotions are being expressed. The petition itself represents precisely the kind of bargaining Dave typically derides women or feminized males for engaging in, and something very similar was depicted in a negative light in THE LAST DAY. Is this just a coincidence?

    The reason I think this is interesting is because all of this stuff just sort of falls away in the face of negotiations to publish his work. I haven’t checked the petition recently, but did Gary and Kim really sign?

  305. Kim Thompson says:

    I think they should be the same size as the original comic books, no larger, no smaller. I can’t think of any instances where a comic book or graphic novel has benefited, AS A READING EXPERIENCE, from being reprinted at a larger size than it was originally created for. (Artist’s Editions and such are a different matter.) can think of cases where reducing the work has benefited it, or at least not harmed it while allowing it to fit in a more accessible format, but CEREBUS, particularly the later issues, has pages so dense and close to illegibility already that they couldn’t sustain any reduction.

  306. Kim Thompson says:

    Everyone got my NEW YORKER / Lady Gaga point exactly backwards. They like Gaga, as well they (in my opinion) should:

    http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/musical/2009/04/27/090427crmu_music_frerejones?currentPage=2

    In the last several decades THE NEW YORKER has cheerfully embraced the “low” arts, pop, rap, television, etc. (but treating them intelligently and respectfully) — Pauline Kael’s early, controversial embrace of muscular, vulgar films back in the 1970s being something of a bellwether. But THE NEW YORKER still carries with it an aura of stuffiness and snootiness, especially among those who don’t read it. The underlying idea that you need to curry favor with them by forsaking the lowbrow or pulp qualities of your chosen medium to receive favorable notice (say, by back-burnering your talking aardvark in favor of an exploration of Hemingway) is just wrong. This is true for the NEW YORK TIMES as well. Dave’s NEW YORKER / NEW YORK TIMES idée fixe is wrong not just in terms of his conviction that you might somehow need their imprimatur to succeed but in terms as to what you need to do to get noticed and accepted by them in the first place

    That said, I’d be fine with starting with FORM AND VOID if, once I read it, I thought it was a strong book that could stand on its own to new readers. But based on what I’ve read so far, and what other people have told me, it fails spectacularly in the latter department.

  307. Eric Hoffman says:

    Well, I don’t read either the NEW YORKER or the NYT, except passingly (say, in the waiting room at the dentist’s office) or a weblink to a particular news story/review, etc., and even I know from that very limited exposure that neither would hold up their noses to CEREBUS, Hemingway/Fitzgerald or no. In my experience, the Times Book Review publishes reviews of far less “literary” efforts of even the least Hem/Fitz-laden CEREBUS tomes.

    OK, OK, I’m belaboring the point. But I don’t think any of us are going to change Dave’s mind, particularly based on his recent responses to Mr. Grace at Tim’s website.

  308. Stanley Lieber says:

    THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS and THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS publish articles about (sometimes multiple) books by the authors of other books. The material in the back of GOING HOME and FORM AND VOID reads a lot like these articles, both in tone and relative depth. Dave’s commentary on his own work would not seem at all out of place. An appearance in either of these publications might not guarantee sales, but would be interesting from the standpoint of establishing a comics creator both as the object of study and the source of critical thought about the subject itself.

  309. Michael says:

    Yeah, that’s totally sensible, I felt a little ridiculous asking to begin with. And reading experience aside, as much of a master as Dave is, it is probably a no-brainer to think that he was rendering the pages with that specific reduction size in mind, so the final pages are “as intended”. It’s hard to improve on greatness. Thanks for responding to my question.

  310. Michael says:

    Here’s a thought about a compromise:

    What if the agreement is thus: you (Kim) agree to publish FORM AND VOID first IF, and ONLY if, you can ALSO obtain the rights to publish the first volume “CEREBUS”. And you will then agree to publish GOING HOME, if and only if you can then publish HIGH SOCIETY. At that point (once all four works have been published), you will have utterly been able to establish pretty much everything you need to establish, in terms of your working relationship, how you handle the books, and how the overarching series will be received, and you can then set out to bridge the gap between HIGH SOCIETY and FORM & VOID/GOING HOME, and – here’s the beautiful part: you can then determine if you want to publish the remaining, “impenetrable” (your term, respectfully, not mine) portions of the story.

  311. Michael says:

    In short, you agree to publish what Dave wants if you can publish what you want. Briany Najar suggested something very similar earlier in the dialog, so if this idea gets any legs under it, thank Briany.

  312. Kim Thompson says:

    No. With the possible exception of holding back part or all of the first 25 issues so as to lead with stronger material as has been suggested, and has been done with some foreign editions, the only way it makes sense to reprint CEREBUS is in order. “Starting with GOING HOME” is a 100% dealbreaker, full stop.

  313. Kim Thompson says:

    The one exception to this is syndicated cartoonists, working for a now ridiculously tiny format, a number of whom are clearly thinking in terms of how the strips will look when published at a reasonable size in the eventual book collections. CALVIN AND HOBBES, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, or DOONESBURY strips aren’t so much being “enlarged” for their book versions as reduced horribly for their original syndication and then finally released in their proper size in the books.

  314. Van Smith says:

    Wow. When I have a free month or so I would like to read through all of this. Meanwhile, I just wanted to say, “Ancillary pantheon” – great band name. :)

  315. Michael says:

    Well, I couldn’t agree with you more in terms of starting at the beginning, and I say that merely as a fan, not as someone with a clue, and, honestly, you’re being totally reasonable, from the vantage of a publisher, anyone reading this would be absurd to think otherwise. That said, I have a feeling Dave knows something that he isn’t letting on; his own publishing instinct is fueling his ideas, and I wondered if you’d ever consider the possibility of co-publishing with him, were he open to that, just to see how his instinct on this matter plays out? That way you’re not taking a complete loss if it doesn’t fly.

  316. Tim Webber says:

    Oops. Forgot to mention that Dave slipped this into that HARDtalk answer:

    “I’m also in the advanced stages of negotiation with one print publisher and hope to have an announcement of a deal for A book — that is, ONE book — October 5th or 6th.”

  317. Paul Slade says:

    “Hatched” hell. Conception would be a start.

  318. Briany Najar says:

    What?! My idea made loads more sense than that. You savagely butchered it!
    (I’m not serious.)
    It all seems academic now anyway. A tantalising dream.
    Bizarre. Either some publisher does F&V, Sim changes (o-ho) changes his (teehee) his mind (pff-Ha!) or some time passes, as does Sim, and it becomes a hideous free-for-all with new chapters by a bunch of fans.
    H’mph.

  319. Michael says:

    Just considering the positives that might come out of this dialog (assuming no Fantagraphics publishing relationship forthcoming) – one that leaps to mind is Drawn & Quarterly and/or Pantheon becoming aware of Dave’s willingness to consider working with a publisher, and becoming potential suitors for the series. At the very least, there has been a willingness to be open to the idea of working with a publisher expressed, and that could lead to something closer to what Dave has in mind then what Kim is willing to offer. Totally hypothetical of course. Dying to hear what Dave has to say on the subject, now that Kim’s position has been clarified.

  320. Briany Najar says:

    I wonder which particular media organs Dave Sim inextricably associates with D&Q and Pantheon. The result of that equation would, I suppose, determine which book he was likely to offer them.
    Hey, what if it’s Dark Horse? Maybe then the earliest issues would get the treatment.
    Perhaps Image could do an all ‘Roach compilation.

  321. Michael says:

    Briany – I would think D&Q and PANTHEON actually edge a little closer to what Dave is looking for, but Fantagraphics is the entity that made the offer to publish, and they would likely do an awesome job for all the reasons Dave sited initially. It’s not like Dave sought them out, however. No offense meant here, but I think your effort to mock Dave’s desire to have certain books published for specific reasons is a tiny-little bit unfair.

  322. Briany Najar says:

    Hmm, I don’t know if you’ve misread me or vica versa, but when I said about media organs and publishers I was thinking of Sim saying this:

    Let’s take Fantagraphics as an example. What do they bring to the table that attracts my interest? This is difficult to condense, but basically, Gary and Kim have worked very hard to make Fantagraphics and all of its material “New York Times-worthy” and they’ve been very successful. Very successful, which is no small trick. So, I look at my catalogue and I go, “What have I got that’s New York Times-worthy?” My best guess would be Form & Void, the Hemingway book, or Going Home, the Fitzgerald book.

  323. Michael Grabowski says:

    This is why Dave Sim had to be a self-publisher. He has a specific marketing plan in mind for what a republication strategy would be, and the universal response is “Bad idea, Dave.” Which, granted, it might be, but if he had the means now to pursue this plan on his own, no doubt he would, the main hitch being that the NYTROB crowd wouldn’t likely touch a self-published work no matter how he promoted it (short of buying ads in those pubs to make the editors notice him).

    But what editor at any independent comics publisher in 1981 would have said, “Why, sure, Dave, we’ll commit to publishing your 25 issue, 2-year-long story about politics & power. That sounds great!” I suppose Kim Thompson might have if Fanta had publsished Cerebus alongside L&R but even then I wonder if their cash flow would have kept up with Dave’s monthly schedule. And here we are, telling Dave that’s the book he has to start with (which he clearly knows, given the digital strategy he’s pursuing.)

    What’s clear about the disconnect here is that Dave is considering this as an opportunity to pursue a “mainstream” book-comics-friendly audience while the position most advocated here is a repackaging (into smaller books? Other than Vol. 1, why?) to present it to newer, curious comics audiences. That divide in intended reader probably makes the choice of text irrelevant.

  324. Shelley Hackneyed says:

    Ah, the classic reply: “I’m far too busy leading my rich and rewarding real life to wallow in the online argument that I started, an argument that consumes only my opponents.” When did we see the most recent internet retort that showed originality, 1993?

  325. Eric Hoffman says:

    I’m quoting from Dave Sim’s reply to a question concerning the viability of the phonebooks posted at the Canadian Comics Archive website from a day or two ago, as I feel it most pertinent to the ongoing discussion here. I’ll withhold any comment and let the answer speak for itself:

    ‘From the time that I got in a mock-up of the HIGH SOCIETY volume from Preney back in 1986, that was it for me. Sharp square corners, black and white cover illustrations — Gerhard photocopied his cover, 11 by 17 and sprayed the back with adhesive and then pasted it down tight . . . Two of the European publishers did hardcovers of HIGH SOCIETY and they just did nothing for me. Too “rounded” and bumpy with that weird corner effect you get. Nasty sort of “feel” to them. Part plastic and part paper sort of feel. One printed the illustration on the cover and one did a dust jacket. I wasn’t going to say no — it’s their money on the line so they have to have confidence in what they’re selling, but we didn’t set any box office records because it was a hardcover. . . . . $30 comic books are not exactly in my comfortable price range any more, if they ever were . . . But . . . I try to keep an open mind. I’ve got sixteen books to work with, so if I sign with someone and nothing happens with two or three of them, no real harm done. Just wait for the rights to revert to me and next time I can say, “You can really save you and your customers some money — doing hardcovers doesn’t make any difference.”’

  326. Kim Thompson says:

    Most of what Michael G. says here is wrong or misguided. It’s true that a publisher with a mass-market bookstore distributor, a PR department, and a reputation would likely have an edge in getting a book noticed by the New York Establishment that has become such a fixation here, but an energetic, critically-acclaimed self-publisher could surely crack them as well. Sim launched into “High Society” only when CEREBUS was an established, money-making success, as I recall: I’d have had no more qualms about publishing that than we did about publishing Gilbert Hernandez’s “Poison River” issues of LOVE AND ROCKETS (which took a lot longer than two years to get through). The “cash flow” thing is moot: Within the direct-sales market, if you’ve got a comic book that sells enough to make money and you have any kind of credit with your printer, cash flow ceases to become an issue, at least in terms of being tied to that comic. (The dynamics are far different for bookstore sales and for books in general, of course, for reasons too complex to go into here.) The reason to make the books thinner for a new audience is partly to avoid high cover prices (you CAN sell 500-page $30-to-$40 books but it’s hard, particularly for someone who’s basically a new artist to that market, and particularly if it’s not a standalone book), partly to avoid scarily bulky books, and partly because what would be the point (from retailers’ and distributors’ perspectives) of just maintaining the exact same breakdown as the phonebooks and essentially releasing them with new covers and slightly better paper?

    I’m mystified at the few hardcore holdouts (including Dave) who don’t seem to understand that to a new reader –what we agree we are pursuing here, yes?– FORM AND VOID is completely and utterly impenetrable due to the accumulated back story. I understand and sympathize with Dave’s “best foot forward” impulse, but c’mon.

    Anyway, the ball is very much in Dave’s court. How ’bout we all quiet down until he weighs in again?

  327. nfpendleton says:

    Exactly. That, and the ridiculously gorgeous art of Sim and Ger (I started reading during Church & State with issue #88).

  328. nfpendleton says:

    I don’t quite understand all the disparging of the phone books. I love them – the size, the thickness, the paper. I actually was disappointed when he started doing the color covers. And I miss newsprint comics in general.

  329. Kim Thompson says:

    Sure, but you is not who Dave needs to sell his books to at this point! Today’s retailers, distributors, and potential new readers want books that look like books. The amateurish design, newsprint paper, and weird box-like bulkiness are anathema to the new readers and disseminating middlemen Dave needs to reach all the way up and down the line.

  330. Lou Copeland says:

    I think Dave’s making a bad assumption here.

    It seems to me the audience that he’s previously serviced with the phone books will be split in two unequal parts – the bulk of his audience (and the comics buying public in general) will want inexpensive, convenient entertainment and are gonna go digital. There’s a smaller minority that care about presentation and who aren’t going to settle for anything less than sturdy attractive hardcovers on good paper with optimum reproduction.

    I think Dave’s wrong in assuming he can license out the books as many times as he wants until he finds a sweet spot. In my opinion if he goes about reformatting Cerebus he’s got one chance to get it right. Entertainment companies in general, and mainstream comics publishers specifically, have made a fine art over the last two decades tricking consumers into buying umpteen versions of the same works, and consumers are getting a lot more wary and a lot more savvy. Personally, I’d absolutely love to upgrade my yellowing phone books with nice hardcovers that will last the rest of my life, but I’d be very cautious about buying a single hardcover volume of Cerebus. Unless I felt a reasonable degree of confidence that the entire series will be published in matching unified volumes that look nice lined up together on the shelf.

  331. Scott Grammel says:

    I’m not sure exactly what “disseminating middlemen” means here, but aren’t both Marvel and DC putting out their Essential and Showcase lines of thick, black-and-white, newsprint, softcover collections basically for “new readers” on a still regular basis? Not anything that would make the imaginary high-brow lit type cock an interested eyebrow at, no, but of course I find the notion that Cerebus would ever appeal to such chimerical to a laughable degree anyway.

  332. Michael says:

    I’m guessing the negotiating process has gone private to avoid all the communication confusion and flotsam/bs foaming up around the periphery?

  333. Kim Thompson says:

    Disseminating middlemen = distributors, wholesalers, and retailers.

    I suspect the ESSENTIAL and SHOWCASE series are more intended toward fans past and present than “new readers” per se (a theoretical reader who’d never read a super-hero comic), and in any event this crummy cheap aesthetic works a lot better for super-hero comics than something more seriously intended like CEREBUS.

  334. Kim Thompson says:

    Not that I know of. I’d certainly prefer it at this time, but Dave is the one who insisted on conducting it publicly and I’ve received no private communication from him.

  335. Michael says:

    It was Yom Kippur yesterday. He’s strictly Christian/Muslim, I know, but Yom Kippur is THE holiest of all holy days, so maybe he’s just honoring that and laying low for a bit. I know it was Yom Kippur because the wonderful people who make the bagels for my cyber cafe/copy shop (Copylicious) are Jewish and didn’t bring me my usual load Wednesday morning. By the way, I have the best bagels in Bellingham, WA by far. Oldschool Brooklyn deli style. Shameless plug.

  336. Andrew McIntosh says:

    nfpendleton: Really? You like the fact that all those two page spreads that looked beautiful in the floppies are now obscured by binding that won’t let them lay flat? You like the smeary ink that makes some of the dialogue literally illegible?

  337. Groth says:

    This is fascinating, like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

  338. Kim Thompson says:

    Let’s be fair, some of the double page spreads instead have been separated out to avoid being lost in the gutters, so there’s a big white space between the two halves instead. (Converting double pages from flat pamphlets to books with spines is often a Catch-22 headache, admittedly.)

  339. Andrew McIntosh says:

    I’d much rather half “a big white space between the two halves” than missing out on the artwork entirely. And wouldn’t sewn binding solve this, anyways? I’ve got plenty of books on my shelves that open flat, and don’t have great big white spaces between the two pages.

  340. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Waitaminnit…”some of the double page spreads instead have been separated out”…do you mean in actual Cerebus volumes? Which volumes does that happen in? The last volume I bought was Flight, after which I got so frustrated with it I stopped buying the phonebooks.

  341. Michael says:

    Well then don’t sign the petition, man. It’s not that complicated. The only thing complicated is your overarching point. I don’t mean you any disrespect, but… I still don’t understand what you’re getting at, here, exactly. What is your motivation? What are you attempting to achieve?

    On another note: when I responded to you before, I had no earthly clue that this petition was something ongoing, or current, and on top of that, I thought it was something that only Dave’s peers were being asked to sign, I didn’t realize that it’s an ongoing, current petition. So… needless to say, I have totally signed that petition, and happily so. I’m going to link it on my facebook page and make an effort to draw attention to it in my local community. End of story.

    In my opinion, Stanley, any reasonable human being, after reading Dave Sim’s work as an artist, and getting an idea for the McCarthy-esque crapstorm he went through because of a widespread, bs emotional REACTION, will sign this petition. It’s a no-brainer.

  342. Dave Sim says:

    I’m afraid I’m going to tax everyone’s patience with the “too long” reply to Jeet Heer’s post above, but I hope you’ll all bear with me:

    Hi Jeet! No, I meant that I didn’t want you writing the preface/intro itself — a good idea can come from anywhere and I appreciate you pitching in. The “world builder” angle is a good one because it’s a point of commonality for comics and literature, something not very many people do and something that tends to get an automatic salute where it comes to light. And obviously I’m need of as many automatic salutes as possible.

    On the Marxist/Feminist/Homosexualist: with the passing of Gore Vidal (RIP) I think we can finally put that last one to rest as well. It was Vidal’s own invention but proved to be a distinction without a difference to pretty much everyone besides Vidal. I was willing to do my bit as a huge fan of the man’s writings (primarily his essays) but it just was never going to stick. Homosexual or gay will do fine. I definitely don’t consider myself a homophobe. To cite a recent example, one of the pledge partners for Kickstarter who paid to have a 45-minute phone conversation with me — and who is the publisher of a glossy photography magazine in New York — mentioned that he’s the agent for a photographer who was a long-time habitue of Andy Warhol’s Factory and just wondered off the top of his head if I would be interested in doing a photorealism comics story for a project he’s working on with this fellow and I said sure. What I pictured was a good anecdote or two that could be covered in, say, five or eight pages. The thing that really appealed to me was that this fellow would have photographs of all of the individuals involved in the anecdotes, as well as Factory background photos that could be mixed and matched. Here’s the people in the anecdote, the best photos I can get of each, here’s the room the anecdote took place in. He could even model gestures and postures himself. This is what Andy was standing like when he said this line, here’s what Viva (or whomever) was standing like when she was listening to him. I could pencil it and send it to him for his comments and suggestions and hopefully it would make a bit of a splash when it came out for people who were there at the time. And, obviously, it would be a real challenge for me as a photorealist. Of course my interest would be primarily in Warhol the artist, rather than Warhol the homosexual and I’d hope for an anecdote leaning towards the former rather than the latter, but I’d be happy with whatever I could get.

    On the Feminist side, well, no I’m not a feminist per se. But, I think that pointing out that 50% of the world’s population is responsible for 100% of the world’s births and that that fact represents a structural flaw to feminism is just pointing out a structural flaw to a political movement. It doesn’t mean I hate women. The replacement birth rate has dropped for five successive years and that means society is on a collision course with oblivion. There is some yet-to-be-determined percentage of the female population that needs to be primarily engaged in giving birth to and rearing children in order to move the replacement birth rate back up to a point where we are actually replacing instead of exponentially losing population. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the driving forces behind the economy collapsing. Population drives the economy in a real way. If your population is collapsing so is your economy. I don’t pretend to know WHAT percentage of the female population needs to be so engaged to move us back in a more sensible direction, but I think we are way PAST whatever percentage that is, in the wrong direction. Nor am I (pace Margaret Atwood’s HANDMAID’S TALE) suggesting we need to pass laws forcing women to give birth. No, it would have to be completely voluntary and I don’t see any sign of it even becoming a topic of conversation although I think it’s a conversation we are long overdue for having as a society. If that makes me the “Adolf Hitler of Graphic Novelists” then it’s just something I’ll have to accept as the price of being in the situation to bring up subjects that I think need to be looked at that no one else is willing to discuss. Winston Churchill took a lot of flack for warning that Germany rearming in the 1930s was no small thing, but he was eventually proved right. It was no small thing. 90% of women being out in the workforce, in my view, is no small thing.

    On the Marxist thing, well, we live in Canada (Jeez, eh?) Marxism is a fact of life up here and is always one election cycle away from becoming THE fact of life up here — witness Bob Rae’s surprise election as Premier of Ontario in the 1990′s and Pauline Marois’ recent win in Quebec. We’re both in the same boat in a lot of ways — you continue to write in THE NATIONAL POST, where you are the token leftist 9 times out of 10 and take a substantial amount of grief for it on the letters page and here I am at the TCJ website as the Geek Conservative or “Adolf Hitler of Graphic Novelists”. We persist. I always read your stuff in the POST (I liked your book review in THE WEEKEND POST last weekend although I disagreed with a lot of what you were saying.

    To this day, you’re the only person who’s ever mentioned me in the POST: in one of your Seth articles where you quoted me saying at lunch (with Dylan Horrocks, Chet, Seth and Peter Birkemoe) something about Seth being accurate down to the smallest details. He had pulled a pen out at lunch and it was, of course, a 1930s style pen. Seth just ISN’T going to pull out a Bic, you know? But, that’s a good sign of the kind of person you are. Unlike so MANY Torontonians you don’t have your Liberal Screens up. “Dave Sim, Conservative. Couldn’t possibly have anything to say except dire evil.” No, you heard what I said, made note of it, remembered it and used it later.

    On the subject of Neil Gaiman. Well, obviously Neil COULD do an amazing job on “contextualizing” Dave Sim just by expanding and updating his “300 Good Reasons To Resent Dave Sim” essay from 20 years ago, but that seems unlikely…

    (Or, maybe, SEEMED unlikely. I mean, how likely was it until two weeks ago that Dave Sim would be sitting and chatting amiably at the TCJ website about being described as “The Adolf Hitler of Graphic Novelists?” I digress)

    …because he HAS New York Times cachet and you don’t attain to that by straying too far — if at all — from Liberal Othodoxy. He was nice enough to mention HIGH SOCIETY and CHURCH & STATE in his Times interview at the beginning of the summer, but that didn’t really involve getting into the “Adolf Hitler of Graphic Novelists” thing. More like “let’s leave aside WHO wrote these books for which I have a sentimental attachment from thirty years ago when they were first being serialized” which the New York Times was perfectly content to leave sitting where it was. And, if there was anyone up there who had heard of me, presumably they knew how the game is played well enough to not VOLUNTEER any information or suggest that maybe — after 30 years — it might be worth mentioned Dave Sim in association with the two books in some other vein that “just in passing”.

    I mean, I understand. It’s like the Hollywood Blacklist of the 1950s but on the other side of the political fence (and in a much smaller and — generally perceived to be — less consequential environment). Any conservative or liberal COULD have spoken up in favour of Blacklisted individuals in the 1950s, but everyone knew it would be political and socio-economic suicide to do so, so no one did. I’m (at least) 385 people AHEAD of that situation with the “I Don’t Believe Dave Sim is a Misogynist” petition at ipetitions. That represents a lot of progress, to me. I can get by with 385 friends for the rest of my life and then leave the ultimate verdict to posterity as posterity has had the last word on the Hollywood Blacklist.

    That having been said, Neil has worked tirelessly to Become Neil and I don’t think any of us (least of all me) could fault him for not wanting to throw away all that hard won Quality Lit Biz cred on a (likely? possibly? inevitably?) Quixotic gesture of solidarity doomed to have no other effect than his own self-immolation. If all that would result is Neil getting thrown into the “Adolf Hitler of Graphic Novelists” Hoosegow with me, it’s difficult to see what Larger Purpose would be served for any or all of us. It would really depend on how Neil’s reading the Political Climate and the Political Temperature relative to Dave Sim. Again, I couldn’t fault him for erring on the side of caution with the dire results I’ve been living through for 18 years right there in front of him.

    (Also, you’re — I don’t know if it’s consciously or not — baiting a trap for him Quality Lit Biz-wise even suggesting that he self-identify as a “world builder”, comparable to poet Robert Lowell trying to trap Norman Mailer into self-identifying as “our greatest journalist” in ARMIES OF THE NIGHT. Tolkien has the highest cachet in the “world builder” category in the Quality Lit Biz — but in a spear-carrier rather than Pantheon capacity — whereas Neil, unless his foot slipped sometime when I wasn’t looking after ANANSI BOYS made #1 on the NYT’s bestseller list (which I don’t think it has), is still on track for loftier heights than Tolkien. Possibly Kafka or Poe? “The Really Quite Cheerful Rather Than Tediously Morbid English Nanny Kafka/Poe Who Dresses Like Lou Reed”. Whatever the still-forming consensus I’m sure it’s still being tested line by line — here a little, there a little — on the New York Times eye-chart.

    Okay, I really need to get to some of the other questions but I’ll be back tomorrow or Saturday to talk about Alan Moore and Chester Brown as the possibilities you’ve suggested. And then get to my answer to Kim (which is still being worked on).

    Again, sincere apologies of the un-Internet-like length of this one.

    Okay, back to A MOMENT OF CEREBUS HQ to answer more HARDtalk Tour questions.

  343. Anthony Thorne says:

    Dave, your long posts here make for fascinating reading. I’d imagine that Fanta/Kim could rumble up positive quotes from numerous cartoonists for the back of any hypothetical Fanta edition of Cerebus (the fact that a number have popped into this thread to follow along says something). I think that many of us here are keen to buy a complete run of Cerebus in nice new editions, but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if we get our wish. Again, would much prefer a chance at buying a full run of the comic (newly printed) than an isolated dip mid sequence! Thanks for being patient with our nagging opinions about all this.

  344. Briany Najar says:

    In my opinion, Stanley, any reasonable human being, after reading Dave Sim’s work as an artist, and getting an idea for the McCarthy-esque crapstorm he went through because of a widespread, bs emotional REACTION, will sign this petition. It’s a no-brainer.

    Really? Even if they’ve read Tangent?
    http://www.theabsolute.net/misogyny/tangents.html
    What kind of reaction do you think a writer should expect (and be prepared for) when they write and publish statements declaring that females are unreasoning beings, unable to discern right from wrong, and, in the same essay, strongly imply that women shouldn’t have the right to vote?
    Can you point to an imstance of Sim backing down on, or clarifying, those statements? As I said earlier, I’m interested to know his current position in relation to them. The only motivations I’ve seen him give for folk to sign the petition have nothing to do with his opinions about women and do come across as emotional bargaining of some sort.

  345. Michael says:

    Briany…

    I’ll never get used to this. It is so baffling to me.
    Let’s just agree to disagree if it comes down to it.

    Dave Sim’s “comments” are part of his body of work. Why does he need to clarify anything beyond the initial work? Why would he or should he? Why should he have to “back down” from anything?

    Let me ask you a question: can you point out an instance when Dave Sim has claimed to be a misogynist? Ever?

    If Dave was truly a misogynist, don’t you think he’d be forthcoming about it? He’d be unapologetic and put it right there on the table. Everyone accepts that Dave has integrity, and that he is fiercely honest…

    So…

    why lie about misogyny?

    Can you explain that?

    The answer, my friend, is that he doesn’t consider himself a misogynist, and, my guess, here, is that he knows himself a little bit better than you do.

    Wouldn’t you agree? Briany? That he knows himself a little better than you do?

    I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to disrespect your views, but from my vantage, it seems that you’re just not seeing past your own emotional reaction to Tangents. Maybe you should re-read it with the understanding that Dave is focusing on the darker tenets of Feminism, not on women in general. Just read between the lines for God’s sake. Penetrate into the work. Don’t react to it, THINK about it. If you can go into it, into the work, not just flit around it like a mosquito looking for blood, I can guarantee you you’ll have an entirely different view of it.

  346. Larry says:

    So Dave, Neil Gaiman, the most famous living creator of comic books, in the New York Times, the most prestigious and widely read newspaper in America, puts you on a list of only five people responsible for the “best comic books he’s ever read,” and you somehow interpret that as his capitulation to a McCarthy-type witch hunt aimed at you? Can you not see how paranoid this makes you sound? Does he elaborate any more on his selection of the other four people’s work than he does on yours? Does the interviewer ask him anything more about the other four people than about you?

  347. Michael says:

    You know what, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that I’m a far cry from being fit to be Dave Sim’s spokesperson. At any rate, thanks for hearing my thoughts and sharing yours. Enjoy the day!

  348. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Michael: Re: comment 73633:

    Many people responding to this thread or otherwise concerned with the future of CEREBUS have some previous history with Dave or at least are aware of some of the details of previous “controversies” that have emerged in proximity to his public statements. Like the petition. Like CEREBUS vol. 9, ‘Reads’, which, beyond simply attacking feminism, presented a roman à clef snapshot picture of some private stories from the comics industry and took thinly veiled shots at some of the people who later, coincidentally, spoke out against it. Contrary to the narrative Dave presents about his social and career problems all stemming from his opposition to feminism, he’s never shied away from attacking people in print and airing their dirty laundry to make a point. Incredibly, he then presents an expression of shock when the consequences of those actions are that the treatment is returned to him. Dave does get attacked unfairly, but also sometimes you are reading the words of people who know more about him or have a more extensive history with him than simply taking a casual tour through CEREBUS. When Gary Groth calls him a crank it’s from the perspective of a guy who has had cartoons about himself drawn by Dave’s own hand and thousands of words about himself published in Dave’s own magazine. Likewise for some of these other people.

    Some people react differently when attacked. Dave continues to take shots at Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman in print, while they simply mention him as a great cartoonist who influenced their own work. Of course, nothing Dave could say about them, in print or not, could put a dent in their careers, right? How dare they say nice things about him. This imbalance of power cannot stand. Dave seems to interpret their support as further evidence that the world is against him. More of the “total radio silence” Dave finds himself forced to respond to.

    Anyway, I’m sure none of this matters to you. I wrote the above comments for two reasons: 1.) Dave asked a few years ago in an online question and answer session what had ever happened to me. He seemed surprised that I had stopped writing to him. One of the reasons is because when I did finally write to him again, I received the petition form letter. I couldn’t agree with the picture of reality painted by the petition text so I didn’t sign it. As a consequence of not signing it I honored Dave’s request to leave him alone. If he reads what I’ve written here, now he knows the answer to his question without me violating his request. 2.) The petition, as I understood it, should preclude this entire enterprise of negotiating with Fantagraphics, and it’s worth pointing out the contradiction. If Dave wants people to take the petition seriously — that is, as something more than a temper tantrum, emotional bargaining of the lowest sort — then its premise should be able to withstand cursory examination. You can get your feelings hurt on his behalf or you can step up to the plate and evaluate the hard questions.

    Or, we can ignore the hard questions and type a bunch of stuff that makes us feel good about CEREBUS. (Still my favorite comic.)

  349. Kim Thompson says:

    In case anyone is wondering, Canada’s population is still growing every single year, so this “exponential” population loss claim is a bit mystifying. Unless maybe we’re just losing the, uh, right KIND of people, if you know what I mean, cough cough.

    I agree that Dave’s citing Neil Gaiman’s volunteering CEREBUS as one of his five favorite comics ever as evidence of Neil’s cowardly capitulation to the Liberal Axis is pretty hilarious.

    The Hollywood Blacklist analogy is of course preposterous, self-aggrandizing and offensive.

  350. Michael says:

    Hey Stanely,

    I can’t agree with a single word that you’ve posted. But I have already put my money where my mouth is by signing the petition, and I’m going to stop posting here unless I have something constructive to offer regarding the reprinting/packaging of CEREBUS. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and listening to mine.

  351. Kim Thompson says:

    Some might argue that calling women “a gender which has no ethics, no scruples, no sense of right and wrong” clears the misogyny bar. (Replace gender with “race” and pick a race to link it to, and see how that reads.) If Dave has since rescinded this, or argues that it’s being quoted out of context, I’d be curious to know.

    I don’t particularly care about Dave’s gender issues in terms of publishing CEREBUS. A good work of art with unpleasant bits in it is still worth publishing and supporting, so long as they don’t overwhelm the whole.

    I signed the petition with the written caveat that I don’t think Dave is a misogynist by definition because I don’t think he HATES women, he just dispassionately believes they’re inferior and are driving society to its doom. Which admittedly hinges on a narrow, etymologically-based interpretation of the word “misogynist.” (But I’ve seen people who are anti-gay argue they aren’t “homophobes” because they’re not AFRAID of gays, so there you go.)

  352. nfpendleton says:

    I, too, love books that look like books – and tend to buy them (often from you). I’m just saying that the old phone books aren’t as vile as they’re made out to be.

    I like the new (annual? semi-annual?) Comics Journal form also, which isn’t that far a cry from those Cerebus volumes.

  353. nfpendleton says:

    I’m not saying they’re perfect. I guess it’s more that they were/are so very different than other books of their time. Maybe nostaligia plays a part, but I still like to flip through them from time to time. I just simply don’t find them as offensive as many apparently do.

  354. Kim Thompson says:

    It’s not a matter of me or you or anyone on this message board finding the phonebooks “offensive,” it’s a matter of whether their format and look makes them appealing to the regular non-comics-direct-market book-buying industry and public. (Spoiler: The answer is no.)

    The traditional Eurocomics 48-page 8 1/2 x 11 hardcover color format is a perfectly lovely format, but the U.S. market hates that format for whatever reasons. American publishers dodge this by shrinking the books, bulking them up by combining them, etc. This isn’t a referendum on the inherent goodness of the original format, it’s a pragmatic response to existing market conditions.

    It’s true that (more expensive) sown binding on softcovers can resolve the gutter problem and allow them to lay flatter.

  355. nfpendleton says:

    @Kim – Which is why I’m total in support of you crazy kids cutting a publishing deal, and have been from the start of this thread. Those new editions are bound to be beautiful. But I won’t be pitching the old editions any time soon.

  356. Briany Najar says:

    Dave Sim’s “comments” are part of his body of work.
    Tangent is a “non-fiction” essay. It’s not part of the Cerebus corpus and is signed by Dave Sim, as opposed to the Viktor Davis writings which can be taken as “in character”.
    Why does he need to clarify anything beyond the initial work?
    Because he doesn’t want people to call him a misogynist.
    Let me ask you a question: can you point out an instance when Dave Sim has claimed to be a misogynist?
    So what? That’s not a criterion of being one.
    The answer, my friend, is that he doesn’t consider himself a misogynist, and, my guess, here, is that he knows himself a little bit better than you do.
    Have I claimed to know him at all? I haven’t even claimed to know whether or not he considers himself a misogynist.
    Maybe you should re-read it with the understanding that Dave is focusing on the darker tenets of Feminism, not on women in general. Just read between the lines for God’s sake.
    Lines like the one Kim Thompson quoted above? Most of it is about feminism, the abortion debate etc, but there absolutely, categorically are statements about women in general within that essay.
    Read it:
    http://www.theabsolute.net/misogyny/tangents.html
    then, maybe, you can come at me with an argument that’s logically sound.
    Or, better, point me at Sim’s own reflections on his anti-women statements. I’m sure they’d make interesting reading.

  357. John Herndon says:

    Are you Stan Lee?

  358. Michael says:

    It’s so hard to bite my tongue.

    “The Hollywood Blacklist analogy is of course preposterous, self-aggrandizing and offensive.” Kim… it’s not preposterous, it’s a very fitting comparison. I witnessed it myself, I was there. Other people have witnessed it, they were there. Several hundred of them were willing to sign a petition and explain why.

    I say this without intending to take away from your work and your character: you are in complete denial on this one point if you don’t see that this is an apt and suitable comparison. I would argue that it was even worse than he described, because it was All Directed At Him, as opposed to a movement that was directed at “whomever” when “convenient”. It was pure focus fire on Dave Sim, and it was purely a response to the body of his own work, or a portion of it.

    I wouldn’t wish it on my most dire enemy, and I certainly don’t wish it to continue for the person on Earth whom I most admire. I would posit that the only preposterous notion is that he’s brought it on himself. Do you think that he’s brought it on himself? Is he in control of how people choose to react? If he did bring it on himself, what is “it” that he’s brought on himself? Something other than what he’s describing?

    By downplaying and reducing his struggle to “offensive self-aggrandizing” behavior, what you’re really downplaying is the reality he is addressing, in my opinion. I know you think I’m “nuts”, but can you honestly – Honestly, within yourself where no one else is looking or judging – tell me you don’t think there’s a remote kernel of truth to what I’m saying here? And I know I’m not the only one saying it, but just for the sake of this dialog, I’m asking you point blank.

  359. Stanley Lieber says:

    A few years ago women were bad because they just want to have babies.

  360. Stanley Lieber says:

    Are you serious?

  361. Stanley Lieber says:

    If you were on the “Hollywood Blacklist” you couldn’t get a job working on a movie. Dave turns down contracts and offers to publish his existing work. If you were a Communist you could get yourself hauled in front of a Congressional committee. Dave can’t get arrested.

  362. R. Fiore says:

    Wanna hear something wild? I was Googling the W.H. Auden line about the “strange excuse” with a thought it might be relevant here – and the fifth citation that came up was about Cerebus! It reminds me of the anecdote either Tim Geithner or Ben Bernanke told about the times when things were really rocky and he gets e-mails from five different people with the Teddy Roosevelt quote about the man in the arena and he says to himself, “This can’t be good.”

    On the question of misogyny, here’s the thing: While taking the position that women are not equal in essence to men does not necessarily require or indicate a hatred of women, this is a distinction with a difference that doesn’t matter very much. For one thing, it presumes that one half of the population is entitled to sit in judgment of the other half. The reaction to this position on a visceral level is just about equivalent. To characterize the female gender as Those Irresponsible Bitches Who Are Destroying The World Through Shirking Their Duty To Breed Which Is All Their Fault Plus They Ruined The Economy and then add But I Don’t Hate Them is not going to mollify anyone.

    Anyway, what Sim is promulgating is not misogyny but a kind of masculinism, which is to say a self-created mirror image of feminism. And the truth is that feminist theorists will take positions about men that are every bit as derogatory and unreasonable as the things Sim says about women, and they are indulged in this to a much greater degree than Sim is. The principal reason for this is that masculinism and feminism are not equivalent, because of both where they begin and where they end. It is true that we had a revolution in gender privileges and the status of women, but as with many revolutions, the reforms have left a large measure of the previous privileges in place. (Indeed, the indulgence of intemperate feminist opinions is in part a consolation prize for getting half a loaf.) Secondly, while feminists will propose onerous measures to enforce gender equality (which proposals will typically be respectfully noted and ignored), the goal is equality. Sim on the other hand is complaining against a setup that is on balance in his favor to begin with and demanding it be jiggered to put him in a position of dominance. Egalitarianism is a principle that’s nearly universally accepted across the political spectrum in the modern world, and enlisting God as a company goon against it isn’t going to do you any good (unless He happens to actually intercede).

  363. Michael says:

    Apologies Kim for not being thorough enough to notice that you had signed the petition.

  364. Kim Thompson says:

    Fiore for the win. Yes, exactly.

    I am sure that many slave owners considered their slaves mentally and morally inferior, and thought it would be insane to grant them the same rights as are granted to Whites — but did not hate them, or Blacks in general. (Incidentally, the idea among right-wingers that it was catastrophic for the course of the country to give voting rights to anyone besides White Males is clearly an unspoken thought every time you see one of those polls that indicate if only White Males voted, pretty much every single member of the government would be a Republican.)

  365. Kim Thompson says:

    Am I still on there? Dave, disagreeing vehemently with my caveat at the time, asked me to remove my signature/comment and I told him there’s no way for me to do this, he had to have whoever manages his petition remove me for him. Never checked back to see how that worked out. So I don’t know if I’m still there or not.

    I believe Tim Kreider tried to do more or less the same thing but was blocked for some technical reason that didn’t seem connected to the specifics of his comment.

  366. Stanley Lieber says:

    Note: Using the M word in relation to Dave will trigger thermonuclear response from some quarters, but it’s notable that even so assigned, the appellation doesn’t negate any of the nice things said here about Dave’s work, or the fact that FBI wants to publish it.

  367. John Herndon says:

    Yes I am. I was curious to know who you were after reading some of your postings. I googled your name and what I found said Stan Lee’s real name is in fact Stanley Lieber.

  368. Michael says:

    Wow….

    Okay, to Paul Slade and whomever else thinks I’m “Not Helping Dave”, I’m going to tell you to shove off and completely withdraw my support of FBI publishing Cerebus, and fully revert back to my initial thoughts on the subject (which changed when I saw that Dave seemed to be on board with the idea). I don’t see where this is a good idea. AT. ALL. There is zero objectivity/neutrality here, and total/complete animosity and negativity being directed at the creator in question.

    If Dave reads this at all: I know you’re the man, you’re the one who ultimately makes these decisions, and your track record for being on top of what you’re attempting to do speaks for itself, but I just want you to know, if you’re going to work with a publisher, I’m going to hope and pray that you can work with someone who understands and appreciates you on every level, because what I’m seeing here on tcj.com is abysmal and I think it could be damaging to your legacy.

    I am done posting here.

  369. Dominick grace says:

    Kim, you are indeed still on there, at number 251.

  370. John Herndon says:

    Yes I am.

  371. Dominick grace says:

    Different Stanley Lieber lol!

  372. R. Fiore says:

    Well, that’s not necessarily the way Dave sees it, is it.

  373. Stanley Lieber says:

    Crux of the problem.

  374. J Lundberg says:

    Judging from the answers to your comments it doesn’t seem to me that you are helping Dave, even though it is clearly your objective. I don’t think there can ever really be any chance of “objectivity/neutrality” with regards to his political/religious views on women and the world in general. Nobody, however, seems to think that is a real hurdle to publishing Cerebus, the work in itself recevies praise from everybody. I.e. there is no ” total/complete animosity and negativity”.

    I don’t know, but I can’t think of any publisher who would understand and appreciate Dave on every level. And I don’t think it’s necessary. All you need is the commitment to do the work right, which it seems to me is what Fantagraphics is offering to do here.

  375. Kim Thompson says:

    I’m not sure how any commentary on the message board other than mine or Gary’s would be in the slightest relevant to our publishing CEREBUS. We don’t control these crazy kids. I didn’t particularly want to get into the whole misogynist thing (I think it’s as irrelevant to releasing CEREBUS, at least the first half of it, as Mel Gilson’s views on Jews are to putting out a MAD MAX DVD box set) but it got dragged in by other hands, including Dave’s, and now he’s actively volunteering Pat nonsense like how Canada will be brought down by Canadian women’s unwillingness to breed, which given the fact that Canada’s popular is growing cannot help but drag along tricky questions as to the implications of that remark. Pat Buchanan might be able to help.

    That said, if ANY other publisher wants to jump in and offer Dave a deal, one that meets Dave closer to where he wants to be and/or is from a publisher who won’t make snarky comments about Dave’s beliefs (or even, who knows, shares them), I’d be perfectly willing to cede the playing field. Chris Ryall? Terry Nantier? Chris Staros and Brett Warnock? Whoever does BOOM! Studios (who after all already have a Dave Sim title in the pipeline)? Join in the negotiatin’! I won’t even care if you steal all my great ideas about format and such.

  376. Kim Thompson says:

    I think the only thing Dave is less likely to find than someone who agrees with his opinions is someone who is “neutral” vis-à-vis his opinions. There’s a few masculinist ultraconservatives out there. But anyone with an IQ above room temperature is going to have an opinion on his opinions, pro or con.

    I don’t see any problem with thinking Steve Ditko’s opinions in MISTER A and AVENGING WORLD are wackadoodle-plus and not just wanting to publish these works, but actually HAVING published them. at one time.

    If Dave’s position ends up being he’ll only let himself be published by someone who occupies the same tiny sliver of opinion that he does, it’s not that he’s being rejected by the comics field, it’s that he’s rejecting the comics field. (But I don’t know that this is, or would be, his position. It’s just Michael’s recommended position.)

  377. sammy says:

    Clearly, PictureBox should do it.

  378. Sam says:

    Why would Sim want to negotiate a publishing contract on a forum thread? Maybe because he’s a troll? Maybe we’re just feeding a troll? Maybe this man is not serious about negotiating a publishing contract? Maybe he’s just trolling a concerned group of peers and passionate fans who share a serious interest in his personal well being and artistic legacy? I don’t know. I sure hope not! Because that’d suuuck.

  379. JohnK (UK) says:

    This is getting a bit lairy now, I think. Come on, Kim Thompson’s spot on but I think his patience is being tested here. It isn’t necessary to agree with the author to publish his work nor even to read and enjoy it. You can admire and respect an artistic achievment without agreeing with the author or with the views that the work expresses. (Why yes, I do enjoy Steve Ditko’s work also).

    I’m up for buying CEREBUS from the beginning in a series of nice hardbacks. Affable Alan Moore and Chortling Chester Brown would be nice to have on the introduction front. If not, then judging by Terry And The Pirates Vol.1 and Alex Toth’s Zorro Happy Howard Victor Chaykin does good introductions. Yes, I am serious…hey, thanks for thinking about it though!

    The very best of luck with this. CEREBUS deserves the fine Fantagraphics treatment and Dave Sim deserves to be rewarded for his artistic efforts. I still don’t agree with his views, but as I say I don’t think anyone should have to. Fingers crossed for a succesful outcome, guys!

  380. John Herndon says:

    lol Okay lol

  381. Larry says:

    Thanks … although, as the time stamp would imply, my comment came between Anthony’s and Kim’s. (It’s because Kim is responding to my comment that I hoped it could be moved.)

    (I’m typing this from a different computer, so if this comment ends up being moderated, it obviously doesn’t need to be published.)

  382. Andrew McIntosh says:

    @Kim: Sorry, I didn’t realize we were talking about softcovers (and I’m pretty disappointed that we are). Although, given the number of two-page spreads, do you think not lying flat would have no impact on reader/reviewer satisfaction?

    In my case, I sold off my Cerebus collection with the intention of replacing it with the phonebooks. I set myself a budget to buy one a month, but after I got to Flight, I gave up, even though Cerebus is one of my favourite comics. The ruined spreads was one of the biggest factors for me. Take a look at pages 42-43 of Flight—the focal image is right smack in the middle of that spread. It’s like cutting the nose out of the Mona Lisa.

  383. Anthony Thorne says:

    Agreed. I haven’t been following this thread to jump into discussions pro and con about Sim’s views. Cerebus is Cerebus, and an interest in buying (or publishing) the complete works should be worth something without taking an additional stand . JohnK’s final paragraph sums things up well. All fingers crossed! There’s still a debate to be had about the Sim commentary and extras that could appear in each volume. It’d be fascinating to get full Sim annotation of the thinking and design process (including his approach to lettering and the inclusion of those other comics parodies) and anything else he thought of interest in shedding light on the work.

  384. Kim Thompson says:

    Actually, we’re talking both. (This thread is now so long –it’s got more entries than issues of CEREBUS now, and is heading toward 400– it’s got flashbacks and reruns):

    “My idea was that each volume would be released in a basic mass-market softcover edition that would comprise only the stories and the fairly minimal contextual get-new-readers-up-to-speed stuff I’ve suggested, and a hardcover edition with supplementary material from the period that would include very specifically the original comic book covers, non-300-issues stories and art, etc. The softcovers would comprise THE COMPLETE CEREBUS #1-300; the hardcovers would comprise THE COMPLETE CEREBUS PERIOD.”

    If you’re doing a simultaneous hard- and softcover it could make sense to thread-bind the softcover too, which would solve the spreads issue.

  385. Kim Thompson says:

    Perfect for the hardcover editions!

    If Jacques Tardi can illustrate Céline books, Fantagraphics can publish CEREBUS.

  386. Andrew McIntosh says:

    I remember reading that.

    Are you not into the idea of doing simultaneous hard- and softcovers, then?

    My fantasy Cerebus collection would be formatted more-or-less exactly like the Carl Barks Library. Just the right size & length (600-page hardcover comics just aren’t comfortable to hold), hardcover with no dustflap to rip or get in the way, pages that lie flat. Since it started coming out I thought it was about as perfect a series design as you could get—I have yet to find something to bitch about. The only thing I’d change with Cerebus would be to cut down significantly on the text portions—I just want the comics.

    I don’t know how economy of scale (being Disney) works into pricing the Barks books, but I assume Cerebus being in B&W would cut costs (significantly?) Are there cheaper-yet-still-nice papers that work well with black-and-white (and are not shiny and glossy)?

  387. Scott Grammel says:

    You keep giving us hope and then, dammit, you go and post again!

    Fool me once, etc.

  388. Scott Grammel says:

    How my “reply” to Michael didn’t get placed below his latest last post, I don’t know.

    Since I’ll never do it, I’ll just toss out the suggestion that someone copy out this whole thread, edit it, and turn it into a variation on those epistolary theatrical pieces that usually feature sitting actors reading from scripts. Because of the format, neither extensive acting ability, training, or rehearsal are usually necessary for at least a minimally satisfying performance.

    Maybe a fun con evening event, the proceeds benefiting local feminist/socialist/homosexualist charities?

  389. Briany Najar says:

    Michael Battaglia.
    You signed the petition twice.

    Apart from that I’d like to quickly reaffirm that: Cerebus is largely wondrous; I hope that a bunch of nice and lovely robust hard copies get made which find a lot of good homes and I hope that Dave Sim is willing and able to make some more comics that only he could make. Also, I hope that he is ultimately recognised for the astoundingly massive dedication he’s given to his work, and the excellence of his craftsmanship. Those two things are a heck of a lot rarer and more remarkable than having crazy, bullshash opinions about billions of people you know extremely little about.

  390. mateor says:

    Booorrrrrrrring….

    Nah, I’m just kidding. tl;dr

    If you could type this up into a 6,000 page funny book I’d probably love it, though.

  391. mateor says:

    Yes. I must have an IQ below room-temperature, because I don’t have any opinion on what he may or may not believe. I have little to no Canadian census figures with which to support or refute either of you gentlemen, I stopped counting babies after I had mine. But yeah, I couldn’t care, outside of the fact I find his thoughts interesting.

    But care? Have an opinion on/of? No. Impacts my life zero, seems to impact others lives zero.

    Cerebus is the bomb, though.

  392. Dave Sim says:

    Sorry for the delay in getting back here, some problems have come up with the 2012 publishing schedule which I’ll talk about once I wrap up my remarks (part 1 above) to Jeet and Alan Moore and Chester as “contextualizers” (potentially).

    The problem that I would see with getting Alan Moore to write any kind of Quality Lit Biz introduction/buffer piece about Dave Sim and CEREBUS — even if he was interested, which I would doubt — is that from the perspective of the New York Times/Quality Lit Biz people Alan and I would be seen as comparably problematic at different ends of a specific spectrum. The liberal press in general and the New York Times in particular are really founded on the idea that we have advanced as a society so that we no longer believe in superstition.

    A bit of a simplification, but that’s how they would see Alan as a person, I would think. Superstitious.

    Just as they would see me as (how would I put this?)…tribal? The way they view the Torah, the Gospels and the Koran. They’re fine as Bronze Age to pre-Medieval myths that you can read if you’re interested in that sort of stuff and what it reveals about the primitive psyche — the 1611 King James Bible as filtered through and informed by Shakespeare. BUT! (they try to be as polite as possible BUT! what they really want to say is) Get a grip! These are stories we made up around the campfire back when we were very young and very stupid as a people and before we had pop-up toasters and now that we have pop-up toasters, they aren’t needed anymore. They certainly aren’t a basis for any kind of system of belief. Systems of belief need to be scientific EXCLUSIVELY in nature. Why read something from 6,000 years ago when you can read Philip Roth who is writing about here and now and has something to tell us about ourselves?

    The view that that’s what literature IS — finding the people who are best at writing fiction, making up interesting Jungian things that we can see ourselves in and learn something about ourselves from. When millions upon millions of us buy it — well, unless it’s HARRY POTTER or SHADES OF GREY — that tells us that we’ve found something of great value to us as a people. And then intelligent people review it and we have a dialogue about what we’re learning and we improve. But mostly we’re just entertained. Writers are court jesters, unless they actually come up with something. Anything “east” of there is, you know, L. Ron Hubbard territory! Ick.

    Neil can write AMERICAN GODS and you realize that he’s mining the same vein as Alan, but that he doesn’t believe it. It’s just a good idea for a good story. The New York Times GETS that and APPROVES of it.

    Alan, on the other hand, BELIEVES it.

    Alan believes in necromancy and believes he’s a necromancer. The “Dialogue: FROM HELL” that I did with Alan was two people discussing these things who believe that they are actual things, not just story ideas. It’s a very popular discussion that I’ve given permission to reprint several times (not really thinking permission is necessary — if you see something interesting in it, feel free to pass it on). But from the New York Times’ perspective and — I suspect — from Fantagraphics’ perspective, it would be a matter of, “Oh, now REALLY!” Not altogether different from asking the Times or Fantagraphics to take seriously an in-depth discussion about who is stronger, Thor or the Hulk?

    No, since my goal is to try to engage that environment, I need to find a buffer — something that will engage with them. Neil could do it because from their perspective, he’s on the right side of the schizophrenia divide. Alan would just alienate them in a different way.

    Particularly because he has the appearance of being “anti-movie” or (even worse) Anti-Movie! Which comes pretty close to sacrilege in the New York Times’ universe. You can be “anti-movie” in the sense that you disapprove of summer blockbusters but “anti-movie” comes dangerously close to “anti-CINEMA” and that IS New York Times sacrilege. Films — GOOD films — are good for us. Like a good pop-up toaster, they make us better as people and enhance our lifestyles. Edifying in a way that superstition and tribal adherences can never be. No, someone who has his name taken off of movies adapting his work introducing someone who just automatically deletes a phone message from Paramount Pictures inquiring if the rights to Cerebus are available? That’s just many, many levels of crazy to the environment in question.

    Okay, I promise to get an earlier start on this tomorrow (Saturday the 29th where I am) and get to the Chester Brown part of Jeet’s question. See you then.

  393. Tim Webber says:

    Neil Gaiman: 300 Good Reasons To Resent Dave Sim:

    “… Dave is unique, which is a shame. He’s seen how powerful the periodical comic is as a medium, and decided to go the distance. 300 issues of Cerebus. In a world in which artists can rise to prominence having drawn a handful of comics, this demands a level of commitment from the readership which is positively unheard of, and it demands a level of commitment from Dave that’s positively insane. We’re talking rolling huge rocks up impossibly steep hills here. Dave Sisyphus.

    Dave Sim is the conscience of comics. It’s a lousy, thankless job, and if he wasn’t doing it we wouldn’t have to invent him. We’d probably just be pleased that he wasn’t around to bug us. Remember: Jiminy Cricket was squashed by a wooden hammer by the end of chapter four in the original Collodi novel of Pinocchio. Were there a wooden hammer large enough, and he did not live out in Kitchener, and were there no fear of societal retribution, Dave would probably have been squished long since…”

    Read the complete article at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.

  394. David_R says:

    I’m utterly transfixed by this, but it really seems like you (dave) don’t want to do this. Since you’re getting so hung up on the intro part, might I suggest an analogy? I started reading Gaiman’s Sandman in trade paperback in the 90′s, and I remember the introductions well, even though for the most part, I didn’t know anything about the authors. The thing that made them successful was that they understood the work they were speaking about, and were able to write a crackling introduction. In the way Moore would be able to do with you.
    I’ve read only bits of Cerebus (those big books are intimidating), but have followed your career with great interest, and would buy a repackaged edition. I think I understand your bunker mentality, the years of struggle, etc, but look around, everyone on here has rallied to you, to the merits of your life’s work, warts and all (and all life’s work has warts). You were the one who claimed you were in dire straights financially. Why are you getting hung up on minutia?

  395. Briany Najar says:

    I should have made this clear originally: I’m assuming that Michael (if it’s even the same Michael) signing the petition twice was an honest error and nothing else.

  396. MZA says:

    dave, you are one of the few people on Earth whose motivations get more opaque with repeated exposure to public scrutiny. Do you want to get published by Fantagraphics, or do you just enjoy being courted by a former enemy? Is this a contract negotiation or a sophisticated troll?

    It’s not that I don’t enjoy your rambling comments on religion, feminism (and liberal thinking generally), and commerce. You’re an interesting and long-winded man, and your views on contemporary culture are a welcome dissent from the dominant discourse of those you call “court jesters” — Neil Gaiman et al.

    However, this is a hit-it-or-quit-it moment for you. You say you would like to engage a New York Times-reading audience. That doesn’t seem like an admirable goal to me, but I can see how the successes of your Neil Gaimans, Daniel Cloweses, Art Spiegelmans, etc. might be appealing to you. Isn’t the real goal, though, to put your work in front of any audience, period? If it is true that your financial trouble has put you in danger of quitting comix for good, it seems counterproductive to pursue an imagined demographic that may or may not materialize. Is “people who like good comix” not good enough for you?

    It sounds like you think Cerebushas to be presented in a very specific way, or else it will fail — that a liberal audience will have to be fooled into thinking that Cerebus is essential reading for liberals. You must be tripping, Dave Sim. Cerebus is great comix, a great personal work written & drawn in an idiosyncratic style. That’s its selling point. Have some faith in your work, man. All the little grey guy needs is a graphic design upgrade, a couple good back-cover blurbs, and a chance for new readers to jump on at the BEGINNING of the story. Don’t get tripped up by trivial details — get that book on the shelf, get it done.

    Fantagraphics seem to be v. good at what they do, and they make v. handsome books, but obviously they’re not the only players in the game. Shop it around. Nobody will be hurt by a Cerebus bidding war; everybody will be hurt if this unique comix masterpiece goes out of print.

    –mza.

  397. Briany Najar says:

    RE: Alan Moore and his beliefs vs writers of Jungian insights.

    From what I’ve read, Alan Moore’s metaphysical ruminations actually seem to be quite neatly harmonious with Jung’s theories. When he talks about ideas, fictional or otherwise, existing and interacting on their own plane, the theory seems to dove-tail quite happily with Jung’s Collective Unconscious.
    Moore often frames his ideas in a more subjective mode than Jung, but then, Moore is supposed to be an artist and Jung is supposed to be a scientist.
    In recent times, Moore has been a speaker at gatherings (conventions?) of scientists and contemporary thinkers and the impression about him one recieves from the mainstream media (in the UK at least) is that of a rationally speculative, if somewhat eccentric person.
    Nearly every time the matter of his devotion to Glycon arises, it is accompanied by his own acknowledgment that the deity is a construct of human creativity.
    The ways he talks about, and applies, Western Tradition magical concepts seem very much on the paragmatic side of things and – unsurprisingly really, considering his cultural background – absolutely concordant with Jung’s views about those methods of symbolic apprehension.
    I can’t say whether or not he actually harbours genuinely superstitious tendencies but, if he does, he’s done a pretty good job of diverting attention away from them.
    One other thing: if you asked Alan Moore and Dave Sim to write a paragraph each about the nature of belief, I think the two pieces of writing would go in quite different directions.

  398. R. Haining says:

    I stopped reading Cerebus early in the Church & State storyline. I found the story had slowed to a glacial pace and I think the baby throwing incident had more of a negative impact on me than I realized at the time (Mr. Sim uses this as sample page on his website so I don’t think I’m spoiling anything to new readers).
    I have mixed feelings about all this. On the one hand, I admire Mr. Sim’s artistic integrity and would like to see anyone who pursues his vision with his level of commitment prosper, even if I might not agree with part or all of his vision. And as someone who has seen his share of botched reprints over the years, I’d like to see any artist see his worked reproduced with the care that Fantagraphics puts in their products.
    On the other hand, I know that any publisher has limited resources. As a Fantagraphics customer, I am concerned that dealing with Dave Sim will take up time, energy, and funds that could be better placed elsewhere. This public negotiation has already taken up so much time and space. To use Mr. Groth’s image, how long can you watch a train wreck in slow motion before it ceases to be fascinating and it starts to become annoying. I would hate to see any of Fantagraphic’s current projects delayed or you not pursue new projects because you’re dealing with a creator who seems to be dead set on making himself more trouble than the project is worth.
    Finally, I’ll confess this whole thing has me curious enough that I would like to read the whole Cerebus saga, but wanting to read something and wanting to own something are two different matters. Customers, like publishers, have limited resources, and I cannot see myself spending the roughly $500.00 (paperback) to $750.00 (hardcover) that the I imagine the project would cost.

  399. Michael says:

    Dave!

    Ah, this is just a beautiful piece of writing. What a marvelous way to start the weekend! I’m not sure how to say this… thank you for being you? It’s an expression of my gratitude for your existence, which in a way is an expression of my gratitude for my existence, since we’re on Earth at the same time.

  400. Larry says:

    Dave, just to test your theory about the NYT’s perspective on the Magus, I looked up the last major NYT article to quote him, which discusses the Watchmen prequels and was published in February. Here are the sections that deal with Moore specifically:

    Mr. Moore, who has disassociated himself from DC Comics and the industry at large, called the new venture “completely shameless.”

    Speaking by telephone from his home in Northampton, England, Mr. Moore said, “I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that they are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago.”

    Some admirers suggested that more nuanced reactions were possible. The novelist Jonathan Lethem admitted in a telephone interview to “an instinctive, protective scorn” of any effort to revisit Watchmen.

    “That story was absolutely consummate and an enunciation as complete as any artwork in any realm,” he said. “And it’s just inviting a disgrace, basically, to try to extend any aspect of it.”

    Yet, Mr. Lethem added, the referential nature of the original Watchmen — which was inspired by earlier superhero characters and drew upon a grab bag of influences, including the Bible, the sonnets of Shelley and “The Threepenny Opera” to tell its story — begged for the graphic novel to be reinterpreted.

    “In the greater scheme of things,” he said, “there’s an ecological law, almost, that it ought to be.”

    Not to Mr. Moore, however. To him Watchmen is not a proud reminder of the role he has played in legitimizing comics as a serious storytelling vehicle. Instead it evokes memories of what he says were “draconian contracts” he signed with DC in the 1980s that give him little control over the work he created, and his gradual falling-out with the publisher over the film versions of “Watchmen” and another of his graphic novels, “V For Vendetta.”

    While he was unaware of DC’s specific plans for Before Watchmen, Mr. Moore said he has over the years resisted overtures from the publisher to approve sequel or prequel projects.

    Still, Mr. Moore said he was unlikely to stand in the way of Before Watchmen or to fight the project in court, where he said DC Comics would meet him with an “infinite battery of lawyers.”

    “I don’t want money,” he said. “What I want is for this not to happen.”

    Mr. Gibbons does not share those feelings. Though he is not participating in Before Watchmen, he said in a statement: “The original series of Watchmen is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC’s reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire.”

    But Mr. Moore was unconvinced, saying that the endeavor only weakened the argument that comics were an authentic form of literature.

    “As far as I know,” he said, “there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to ‘Moby-Dick.’”

  401. Larry says:

    Not only does Alan get the last word in the article, but NYT-approved (TM) novelist Jonathan Lethem is quoted as calling Watchmen “absolutely consummate and an enunciation as complete as any artwork in any realm,” and the reporter him/herself describes Watchmen as “legitimizing comics as a serious storytelling vehicle.” Nowhere is Alan described as “superstitious.”

  402. J Lundberg says:

    Up until this part – Dave “explaining” (or “Explaining”, or Explaining, etc.) – how NYT understands (or “understands”) Alan Moore, I was unsure, but now I really “really” don’t think he knows what he is talking about here, at all (“at all”).

    I think he needs to get out of the way, and actually trust someone else – a publisher, any publisher he finds trustworthy, (i.e. succesful) – and let them decide how to relaunch Cerebus.

  403. Dave Sim says:

    Well, Tim’s TCJ update arrived this morning with the somewhat mournful (understandable, given Tim’s devotion to both Fantagraphics and CEREBUS) cover note: The crowd is getting pretty ugly over at TCJ.com and I sense a lynch-mob mentality developing. I suspect we’re now just down to the hardcore participants who just want to verbally fight with you. I’m wondering if your time could be more productively spent elsewhere. Your call, obviously.

    Well, as I said when I got here, quoting President Kennedy, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” There are LIMITS — as an example I don’t think it is possible to negotiate…or sensible to pretend that negotiation is possible…between freedom-loving peoples and either Seyed Ali Khameini or his hand-picked president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But, I think it’s excessive to try to relate such Large World Real Issues to a bunch of people sitting around chatting about a big fat 6,000 page funnybook. If there weren’t intemperate remarks being hurled here and there, I doubt that we would know what website we were at :). I try to keep my own remarks well on the safe side of temperate and that’s really all I can do and just chalk up political differences to political differences and overheated rhetoric as attributes of some individuals. Some people have brown eyes, as well.

    I DID hope there might be a voice or two expressing gratification coupled with appreciation that, as an example, Jeet Heer (who is probably the furthest to the left in the comic-book environment) and Dave Sim (who is probably the furthest to the right in the comic-book environment) were able to clarify their differences while also remaining focussed on the subject at hand: said 6,000 page funnybook. I mean, that’s the mental image I’ve always had of the comic-book field in general, people respectful of differing and particularly minority viewpoints, my confidence that the Angels of Our Better Natures will prevail more often than not in those situations and we accept that it’s a given that political differences between people will always exist and that it is a given that people of good will and good conscience will always assess the available facts and come to radically different conclusions. And that that’s how it should be.

    That’s what democracy is all about, Charlie Brown.

    I myself am gratified that the temperature seems to have dropped considerably here on the Internet, just plotting my personal experiences with it, from the (Tim, let’s be SENSIBLE: metaphorical) lynch-mob psychology that took hold after No.186 and then “Tangent” (compelling Bill Willingham to give me a phone call out of the blue: “Are you aware of just how BADLY you’re being tarred-and-feathered on the Internet right now?” Well, yes, more by the complete radio silence that had descended around me than by anything of which I was specifically aware. Bill did say that anytime things seemed to be calming down, Kim Thompson would be right in there whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Well, you know, I’m a) a believer in free speech and b) not interested in getting either e-mail or Internet access. Both of which are true to this day. Whatever Kim or anyone else said or however they said it was entirely up to them. I appreciated Bill’s call, however. As I later appreciated James Owen writing me a letter and apologizing for his part in the metaphorical tarring-and-feathering where he became the only person to this day to ask my forgiveness of what he had said. Well, I have no idea what he said, but I certainly forgave him — and made my response to him the lead letter in DAVE SIM: COLLECTED LETTERS 2004. Realizing that asking forgiveness is a humiliating experience for most people — and I’ve NEVER had ANY interest in humiliating ANYone, I’ve never suggested it, let alone insisted on it.

    During my online promotion tour for glamourpuss back in 2008, the temperature seemed to have come down a number of degrees. But, I did insist on sequestering the discussions of feminism. I’m interested in feminism as a political movement and the various ways it expresses itself. I read a LOT of politically correct news items and commentary. But, I don’t think EVERY discussion needs to have feminism at its core. But it became obvious that there was a division in the comic-book field which I would describe as liberals and Real Liberals. And it seemed to me that the Real Liberals were deluding themselves that those self-identifying AS liberals thought the same way they did: that they believed in pluralism and open discussions and tolerance of minority viewpoints and that this was what 98% of the comic book field was like. I mean, I thought that way, myself until the evidence suggested that the percentages were far, far away from where I thought they were. I wanted, for obvious reasons, clarity of what my situation was.

    Given that all I was REALLY interested in was clarity, I finally thought the best recourse was the petition. If you think I’m a misogynist, that’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion. If you don’t think I am, please sign the petition so I know and can limit my social contacts to people who are not deeply offended by my existence. But, as an example, when early in the petition’s days I was asked by Chester on behalf of Seth and Brad McKay and Jeet Heer to participate with them in judging the Doug Wright Awards, I said a) I wouldn’t be able to go to the ceremony because that would be offending against the consensus view that I am, at one level or another, Adolf Hitler and consequently unsuited to human company of any kind. And I would only help judge the awards if each of the participants would sign the petition (there was a non-comics “civilian” judge on the jury, to whom I was willing to extend a “bye”: no need to immerse them into a political dust-up with which they were unfamiliar). Chester, Seth, Brad and Jeet all declined. All right well — there it was: clarity. Which moved me to wonder, if you think I’m a misogynist — the Adolf Hitler of Graphic Novelists — why are you asking me to judge your awards and attend your ceremony? Conversely, if you DON’T think I’m a misogynist — the Adolf Hitler of Graphic Novelists — why won’t you sign a petition to that effect?

    And that’s where that one stands. But I have to say that I have been gratified that there hasn’t been that impulse to force feminism into every discussion about HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL and discussions of other publishing opportunities for me and CEREBUS that I saw in 2008. Those INTERESTED can (I hope Tim can post a link here) go to BLEEDING COOL and read my answer to “Old Angel Midnight” for my best current thinking on the subject of whether men are superior to women, his/her question.

    Okay, Monday is a non-fasting day — one in ten — when I allow myself a cup of coffee so I hope to make a day of it in here, typing like the wind and covering the question of Chester possibly writing an analysis of my art and then finally getting to my answer to Kim.

    All THAT having been said, I now have to deal with Kim’s compelled inference that I’m a racist.

    It’s entirely true that Canada’s population is expanding but I think I need to point out that the statistic on “five successive years of replacement population decline” was from the United States, while Canada’s expanding population is two-thirds attributable to immigration. I would guess the statistics are comparable for both countries. So, I think the same problem exists: presumably half of those immigrants are and will continue to be women. If when those women arrive they are immersed in a culture that takes it as a given that ALL men and ALL women are out in the workforce, then we still have the same problem: half of the population is responsible for 100% of the births, and women reared to believe that ALL women being out in the workforce is a universal constant (with a handful of exceptions being made allowances for) then you have a declining replacement birth rate built in to your society.

    Now, granted, the immigrant population is going to “break” differently.

    Orthodox Muslims, Orthodox Jews, devout Hindus, traditional Asian cultures and (particularly in the southern US) Spanish Catholics are going to retain, in some unknown percentage, traditional (and I dare say) normal replacement birth rates north of 1.8 children. But, the plain fact of the matter is that feminism definitely takes hold in a big way where it occurs and one of the qualities attached to it is having fewer babies and having them later in life so I would guess that whatever “break” there is is probably going to diminish in its presence in our society pretty quickly — in the first or second generation of females. So, it seems to me that falling back on immigration to putty over the cracks in replacement birth rates is just kicking the can down the road and ignoring what we’re actually doing as a society.

    I have no problem with keeping going this way. We live in a democracy and that democracy is VERY EMPHATICALLY saying that ALL women and ALL men should be out in the workforce. Women who are strictly wives and mothers are in the minority and we, collectively, believe that constitutes an improvement so it makes sense that we keep going that way. And we’re definitely moving in that direction faster and faster. I’m the only one who sees a problem here. But, when I see a problem I tend to point it out rather than asking myself “What might people do to me if I talk about this?” I think that’s the problem with what I see as the false dichotomy between “feminist” and “misogynist” — that you can only be one or the other. It leads people to view an observation like mine about replacement birth rate and ask if this is something that is going to make feminists happy. And if it isn’t, then only someone who hates women would say such a thing so I’d better not say it. I daresay we’re going to discover things on a daily basis that don’t make feminists happy but which are “elephant in the room” Realities.

    Or I could be Adolf Hitler and a racist and a misogynist. Everyone’s going to have a different opinion on that.

    Hopefully, Monday — being one of my one-in-ten non-fasting days when I allow myself a cup of coffee — I’ll be able to get a lot of caffeine powered work done, including replying to Jeet’s suggestion about having Chester possibly write an analysis of my artwork for one of the book forwards and then getting to my reply to Kim.

  404. Groth says:

    Not that I know anything about contract negotiations, mind you, but wouldn’t it make sense to stop writing thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of words chattering about who can or can’t write world-building, politically correct introductions, and nail down a) the format and b) the terms? Just a thought. It almost looks like Dave is engaging in what Seth calls avoidism, i.e., talking about everything but a contract.

    If I were Kim, I’d refuse to say a word about feminism, world population, or Joseph McCarthy, and focus on the contract.

    Brilliant idea to do this in public, by the way. If other publishers join in —which no publisher in his right mind would, of course— it would turn into the contract negotiating equivalent of the cabin scene in A Night at the Opera.

    Dave is such a world-builder that I think he’s trying to build another world right here.

    I earlier referred to “Michael” as a dope; but does anyone else find that little love note kinda creepy, all about how Dave’s existence validates his existence and what a privilege it is to share the same planet with him? Whoa, baby. If same sex marriage is legalized in the US or Canada, I see a proposal in Dave’s future.

    If Dave wants to publish his Alex Raymond book, he should call me.

  405. Tony says:

    Kinda?

  406. Iestyn says:

    Hi Dave

    Having read a number of tngs repeatedly here and also agreeing that people should talk openly about their opinions without getting emotional, here are my passing thoughts about different matters.

    I think conflating the contractual conversations with the matter of your prior experiences confuses business and private matters. Whilst i can appreciate that the work has a strong personal attachment and your experiences have informed your existence since then, that is not something that would inform a business decision. It hasn’t harmed Ayn Rand’s standing, sales or influence.

    Also, the number of artists whose careers haven’t been derailed by far worse things; like rape, paedophilia or murder; is inumerable. Let’s think Michael Jackson here.

    I think that a lot of people will simply not have signed that petition because they are not invested in whether you are a misognyst or not. It ‘s a personal choice of mine that i try very hard not to involve myself with the opinions of people who I like around the subjects of politics, religion, race or class, mainly because i find that 1) language tends to muddy opinion and 2) what they think is, to me, much less important than how they behave or what they achieve.

    I’m a strong believer in the thought that the hippies had it all wrong and that we don’t need to love each other and be like brothers to get along. What we need to learn to accept is that people think and behave differently to each other and that is acceptable, but only when no individual is harmed.

    I don’t think your views are HARMING anyone, but they do hurt other peoples’ feelings. In the grand scheme of things this does not make you hate those people, it means you believe something they dislike. In a rational society when views cannot be reconciled and when opinions offend then those individuals should simply agree that they differ and leave the point there. That’s on ALL PEOPLE INVOLVED to let things lie.

    This is where the last thing that’s botheirng me, you’re not like Hitler, that’s literally offensive to all those killed by him. Anyone making the conparison needs to grow up.

  407. Groth says:

    I posted my comment before I saw Dave’s long commentary on the Canadian population issue and his animadversion against working women (cross posting as it were)

    I laughed and I laughed.

    Unless the Doug Wright Award nominees were all men, Jeet, Chester, Seth, and Brad McKay have some explaining to do.

  408. Michael says:

    Wow Gary, if you find my “little love note” to Dave “creepy”, you might want to call the cops on me after reading my blog entry regarding my love for Dave Sim:

    http://immortalgenius.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/why-is-cerebus-so-important-to-me-part-1-of-3/

    I was merely suggesting that my existence is all that more wonderful due to the existence of the people I find inspiring. It was the nicest possible thing I could think to say in that moment. I thought it was a great piece of writing and I was gushing in response. Okay? Get a freaking grip. If you want to look to why this thread is a slow-mo train wreck, go to the nearest mirror in your home. Take some ownership for the negativity that you’re tossing around in here.

  409. Hey Dave -

    Since you brought up my letter to you in this venue, it might be a good place to respond, since I can answer why I wrote it. It had less to do with anything I may have said specifically than it did with my participation overall in what was, as you and others have correctly assessed, something developing into a metaphorical tar-and-feathering. It had a lot to do with the nature of the venue itself: on the internet, it’s very easy for the brakes to fail, and sometimes even tempting to just release them on purpose. What made it unfair was that you weren’t present to argue your point of view, and a lot of the things that were said by those of us who know you personally were being leveraged against you by those who don’t. Things I would have had no trouble arguing with you over in the company of oh, say, Steve Bissette, after which despite what could be huge and vehement differences of opinion we would still have gone to dinner together, were being repeated and augmented and added to by people who seemed more interested in setting you on fire. That became more and more distressing to me, and as I said above, whether or not I said anything in particular that I came to regret, and despite the fact I didn’t believe myself to be part of a lynch mob, when someone started handing out the torches I didn’t decline to pass them along – and that is shameful. Asking forgiveness for doing something one feels was shameful isn’t humiliating if your motives are honest – and I think mine were. I appreciate your accepting my apology, and I hope that good things continue to happen for both you, and your work.

  410. Kim Thompson says:

    Part of me wants to not get mired in sociopolitical arguments, but it’s hard when Dave just blandly states things that are not factual. If “the statistic on ‘five successive years of replacement population decline’ was from the United States,” I don’t know what that means because the United States’ population continues to grow every year by a rate that hovers around 1% (as it has for decades). So this “exponential” population loss that needs to be combated by more women staying home and pumping out babies does not exist any more for the U.S. than for Canada.

    “We live in a democracy and that democracy is VERY EMPHATICALLY saying that ALL women and ALL men should be out in the workforce” is simply so obviously and clearly not true, regardless of how many all-caps words you throw in, that it’s virtually impossible to argue against.

    Iestyn’s finger-wagging comment amuses me: “This is where the last thing that’s botheirng me, you’re not like Hitler, that’s literally offensive to all those killed by him. Anyone making the conparison needs to grow up.” Hitler has been referred to 12 times on this thread… 11 times by Dave, once by Iestyn. Dave probably ought to wait until someone does compare him to Hitler to deny that he’s like Hitler… and maybe, come to think of it, Hitler is a low bar to set for oneself to be unlike.

  411. Kim Thompson says:

    Hey, at least Gary just said you were creepy, not under demonic possession.

  412. Michael says:

    Why should he have to wait? In 1995, The Comics Journal #174 depicted him as a nazi warden overseeing a concentration camp with emancipated, dead bodies around him. Wonderful stuff, Kim.

  413. J Lundberg says:

    Whatever agreements are ever made, whatever else happens ever anywhere, just, please (“please” Please “Please” PLEASE “PLEASE”) let this never ever stop. (“ever”)

  414. Michael says:

    Not to be totally humorless here, but Dave’s opinion was valid, and it was based on a personal correspondence that changed my life for the better. Gary’s opinion is pure insulting drivel, wrought from negativity and has no redeeming value, social or otherwise.

  415. Michael says:

    I was eating a mouthful of an apple when I read this, and I laughed so hard I thought I was going to have to give myself the heimlich.

  416. Kim Thompson says:

    Actually, I completely agree that that image crossed the line in terms of fairness and taste; I wouldn’t have run it. But ya know, that was 17 years ago.

  417. Iestyn says:

    The point I was trying to make is that Dave really should stop making that comment. Sorry if it didn’t come across but I’m trying to point out that Dave needs to just let all the ‘and everyone thinks I’m a misogynist and I’m the Adolf Hitler of comics’ cease. Whilst i’m certain it must have FELT horrendous that has nothing to do with the business of getting a decision on Fanta doing new versions of Cerebus. He’s revelling in that statement like a badge of honour and it’s sounding really juvenile and petulant. Just agree to disagree on personal matters and discuss business.

    Although having said that and now read Michael’s comment i had forgotten that. That was a pathetic call out.

  418. Kim Thompson says:

    Affirming that someone’s opinion that you were under demonic possession was “valid” may be the creepiest thing posted not just in this thread, but in the entire history of tcj.com.

  419. Michael says:

    The quotes, caps, parentheses, context… it’s fucking beautiful, Lundberg. I’m still roaring. Excuse my french. I haven’t laughed this hard in ages.

  420. Michael says:

    Well, I bet a sincere apology to Dave from the appropriate parties would go a long way to clearing some of this air, but who am I to say for sure? 17 years or a month ago, it’s the kind of wound that doesn’t heal over time: the printed and published kind.

  421. Kim Thompson says:

    I agree. At this point it seems like 90% of the public statements about Dave being (or not being) a misogynist and/or like Adolf Hitler are coming from Dave. I don’t think anyone really gives a shit any more.

    The way I see it is that in the wake of the original controversy CEREBUS went into a commercial death spiral that has endured to this day, and there are two ways of spinning this. (1) CEREBUS turned so unsavory and ingrown that readers naturally started gravitating away from it or (2) an industry-wide boycott/shunning mainly engineered by Fantagraphics/THE COMICS JOURNAL caused it. If there are two possible reasons for a debacle affecting your life, and one reason was caused by yourself and the other by malevolent outside forces, it’s human nature to incline toward picking the latter.

  422. Iestyn says:

    Unless you claim to be a reason based individual who looks without emotion at all such situations.

    I also think that Dave doesn’t really seem to blame Fanta, that’s his fans. Dave blames the whole of society and its fear of hearing opinions it can’t stand. I also surmise that to be his drivng force for seeking quality lit acceptance as the route to avoiding being shunned for his opinions.

    Still, i’m pretty bad at reading meaning into conversations and worse at digging them out of written statements.

  423. Jason Winter says:

    Or at least see if we can keep it going for 26 years!

  424. Kim Thompson says:

    And reprint it as a series of phonebooks.

  425. Briany Najar says:

    “17 years or a month ago, it’s the kind of wound that doesn’t heal over time: the printed and published kind.”
    I know what you mean, Michael…

    Taxing the limits of my own not-inconsiderable imagination, I have no doubt that had I a “little friend” who paid me such “visits” – in a desperate attempt to cling to what remained of my sanity in the aftershock of the full extent of the horrible news “sinking in,” I am certain that I would very quickly set about the business of manufacturing a fairy-tale world for myself in which I was – in all other regards – indistinguishable from a gender which does not . . .

    . . . leak?

    No one wants to be a woman.

    In my view, women want too much to be loved unreservedly for them to be entrusted with “setting a course” for a child’s development. Coupled with their misbegotten female notion that the source of their own unhappiness has always been “not being allowed to do exactly what they want exactly when they want”, they strive to create happiness in their children by letting their children do exactly what they want exactly when they want.

    To me, taking it as a given that reason cannot prevail in any argument with emotion, there must come a point – with women and children – where verbal discipline has to be asserted, and if verbal discipline proves insufficient, that physical discipline be introduced. Women and children have soft, cushy buttocks which are, nonetheless, shot through with reasonably sensitive nerve endings.

    I believe that those buttocks are there for a very specific purpose intended by their Creator.

    We are, as men, perfectly aware that the vast majority of women are incapable of providing for themselves, let alone providing for their offspring. This is the underlying motivation in the development of welfare as we know it and the use of discrete euphemisms like “welfare” and “mothers’ allowances” instead of “bovine charity” and “bimbo subsidies”.

    Considering how dramatically limited the female intellect is, yes, I think that men are very much to blame for allowing a profound misapprehension like that to flourish in the female “brain”.

    And so on…

  426. Briany Najar says:

    Although the formatting of the blockquotes doesn’t make it clear, that was 5 seperate extracts from the text, not 1 continuous passage.

  427. R. Haining says:

    So, Dave Sim thinks negotiation is not possible between “freedom-loving peoples” and Iran. And what is the alternative? A military air strike? Most analysts agree that such a strike would only set back Iran’s nuclear program by several years at best. Does he think the United States should invade and effect regime change? That hasn’t worked out so well for us in the past decade.
    We don’t even have definitive proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. (My guess is that they’re moving towards nuclear capability as opposed to building an actual weapon.) And don’t tell me we shouldn’t wait for a mushroom cloud as proof. I’ve been through that movie before and I didn’t like it the first time.
    I’m appalled that Mr. Sim would bring up such a serious matter in a discussion of what he himself terms a 6,000 page funnybook.
    I need to retract something I wrote in a post this morning. I stated I would not want to own the complete Cerebus, but I would have liked to have read it. Now I don’t even want to read it. I always try to separate the art from the artist, but in this case I don’t think I can. However, this does make me understand better why someone I know won’t listen to the music of Richard Wagner under any circumstances.
    Mr. Sim is not stating outright the United States should go to war, but he is expressing a mindset that will inevitibly lead to war. And I’ve seen my country lose so much in blood and treasure in the last decade that I cannot let a war monger go unanswered.

  428. Andrew McIntosh says:

    “Replacement population decline” refers to declining birthrates, and, yes, they have been declining, and Sim’s arguing (in his typically verbose and nearly opaque way) that relying on immigration for population growth/replacement is a mistake.

    Exponentially? Dave needs to look up the word—even as hyperbole it misses the mark.

  429. Kim Thompson says:

    Let’s squelch this political debate here. Not the place. In any event in this case Dave’s opinion parallels that of much of the Republican party as it stands right now, so there’s a zillion forums where this can be debated. I’ll ask the moderators to delete any attempt to continue this, uh, tangent.

  430. Kim Thompson says:

    Yes. The problem is that Dave doesn’t seem to want to say that. When I pointed out that Canada’s population wasn’t declining, he didn’t make that argument, but switched it over to the U.S. So sure, the birthrate among native Americans (I mean people born in America, not Native Americans) is low enough that it’s not replacement-level, and immigration is what’s fueling the growth. The question is, so what?

    Pat Buchanan might have some opinions on that.

    So might, coming from a very different angle, Jeet Heer.

  431. Michael says:

    In all fairness, Kim, I said it was valid, not accurate, can we make a distinction please? The fact is, it was shocking to read, but it gave me the kick in the butt I’d been needing at that point. I utterly believe Dave’s intentions were positive, because the results were positive. I know you will have a laugh at the idea that referring to someone as “demonically possessed” in earnest can be seen as “constructive”, but, it WAS constructive in the context offered, even Constructive, not merely “constructive”. Gary’s comments, by contrast, are just valueless drivel, in any context.

  432. Jeet Heer says:

    It really seems like the discussion has gone off the rails, so perhaps it would be useful to return to some first principles.

    1) An archival Cerebus project would be great to have whether from Fantagraphics for another publisher. As I think Sim has mentioned in an interview, the phone book incarnation of Cerebus isn’t flying off the shelves but there is likely to be an audience of fans both new and old that would buy a properly repackaged presentation of the same material. So this is a book series that 1) would have an audience 2) would bring in some money to Dave Sim without being an onerous burden of time away from his other interests and 3) be a real service to comics history (because Cerebus is an important comic which deserves to stay in print).

    2) As a matter of good negotiating strategy, Gary is exactly right that you guys should settle the big questions (format, terms, which books to reprint).

    3) I’m not sure what Kim had in mind in terms of contextual material but I would think it wouldn’t be the type of historical background available in the Annie books, the Carl Barks library, the Floyd Gottfredson library, the Rip Kirby books etc. In all those cases we’re dealing with cartoonists who are dead and Sim is (thankfully!) very much with us. I don’t want to put words in his mouth but I suspect what Kim meant by contextual material is something different. Partially it might be a matter of the simple look of the books — the way Covey, Grano & company design books itself is part of the context of the books.

    4) I’m not sure what the point of all the political discussions we’re having here is. Lurking behind the discussion seems to be the assumption (perhaps on Sim’s part and that of his allies) that whoever publishes Cerebus should share Sim’s politics. There is the further assumption that the best person to write an introduction to Cerebus is someone who is broadly simpatico not just with Sim’s aesthetic aims but also his politics and very idiosyncratic worldivew. But if we think about it, there is no necessity for politics and publishing to be in alignment in this way. Chris Oliveros is far from being a libertarian, but that doesn’t prevent him from doing an excellent job keeping Chester Brown in print. Fantagraphics publishes cartoonists with a diversity of political points of view: Carl Barks was classical conservative and Peter Bagge is a libertarian, as is (if I remember rightly) Rick Altergott. I actually don’t know the politics of most Fanta cartoonists (or most cartoonists in general). In literature, James Laughlin during his distinguished tenure at New Directions published many writers of the right (Ezra Pound, Celine, Mishima, Kenner) but also many liberals & radicals (George Oppen, W.C. Williams, Guy Davenport). Aside from his first two books, William F. Buckley almost always worked with liberal editors and publishers. As a Hemingway expert, Sim is probably aware that Maxwell Perkins didn’t necessarily agree with the politics of his authors (who in any case had divergent politics).

    5) For that matter critics and other readers don’t have to be in sympathy with a writer’s politics to enjoy it, especially if we are talking about a work of imaginative literature. Simply as a matter of fact, a critic or historian or analyst can be fair to an artist despite ideological disagreement. Hugh Kenner was a conservative Catholic in the National Review mould, but he was wonderfully appreciative of Louis Zukofsky and George Oppen, left-liberal Jews with a strong Marxist past. The socialist Irving Howe was equally insightful, and even good-naturedly affectionate, when writing about Kipling. And Fredric Jameson’s Marxism hasn’t prevented him from being a persuasive advocate on behalf of Wyndham Lewis, who can fairly be described as a fascist fellow traveler. Back when he was a radical, Christopher Hitchens wrote very good appreciations of several right-wing authors (Anthony Powell, Waugh, etc). Speaking for myself, I’ll say that I have a very high regard for all sorts of writers and cartoonists whose politics I don’t share: Harold Gray, for one, also Ditko, Barks, Bagge, and Chester Gould. Not to mention T.S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, and countless others).

    6) All of the authors mentioned above are writers who have politics that are far more repugnant to most people than Sim’s (here is Larkin’s political manifest: “Prison for strikers / Bring back the cat, / Kick out the n*****s – / How about that?”). Yet they remain in print and have an audience (as do on the opposite end of the spectrum communist writers like Neruda and Sartre). So I suspect that if Cerebus doesn’t have the audience Dave Sim would like, it’s not primarily because of politics. It may very well be because of format and accessibility. The types of people who would like an epic world-building graphic novel aren’t going to like the format Sim is offering it in (and may very well not want to step into a comic book store). So the best move forward for Sim is to negotiate with a publisher like Fantagraphics (or someone comparable) who can bring Cerebus out in a more accessible & popular format.

  433. R. Fiore says:

    I think what hurt Cerebus as a commercial proposition was far less the opinions expressed than the long stretches of prose that came to dominate the stories. This is simply not something people buy comics to read. The funny part is that when I would dip into Sim’s notes at the end of the collections I’d often wind up reading the whole thing, but when it came to his prose fiction my basic reaction was “fuck me if I’m going to read this.” The next biggest thing was that the Cirinist takeover section of the saga was depressing and went on forever. Next, when he starts interpolating comics about Oscar Wilde or Ernest Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald or the Three Stooges or Woody Allen he was addressing material to a readership that wouldn’t be interested in it, and he didn’t reach the kind of readers who might have been interested in it because it was part of an endless Cerebus story. While his opinions didn’t help, I truly believe that in the sections that he dramatized in comics form his storytelling instincts compensated for them a great deal. When he depicted a character, male or female, he depicted them as characters.

    To refresh everyone’s memory, the way this starts is, Sim writes and essay saying in effect that he can’t make a living from comics any more and he’s going to have to find another way to make a living. A publisher reads it and says I think I could publish your back catalog profitably and it might even make you enough money to stay in comics. Beyond providing the ways and means, all a publisher has to offer is his knowledge of what sells in the market and his expertise in selling that gleaned from his own experience of putting up his own money to do it. If you don’t value or trust that knowledge, or want to fiddle around with it until it’s meaningless, there’s no reason to go forward.

  434. R. Haining says:

    Agreed. My apologies, particularly for the last sentence. This is a place I go to get away from world affairs, but I was taken off guard by Mr. Sim’s comments and had a very viseral response.
    I should have stuck to my central point, that by engaging in gratuitous political commentary, he alienates people (even if his point of view is embraced by one of the major political parties). As Mr. Thompson points out, there are other forums to discuss these matters and I hope Mr. Sim uses them if he wants to express his political views.
    On this site, he should stick the matter at hand.
    What was that again? Oh, yeah! Funnybooks!

  435. mateor says:

    Jeet, Gary.

    God bless your efforts to retrack this thread. Let’s get back to discussions on format, introductions and so forth. If i remember (it is a long thread) Dave is illing to start with Going Home and Form and Void. Kim is willing to start no later than High Society.

    There is no movement allowed or entertained by either side. So we’re close!

    The only point of this thread is to entertain and occasionally parse census figures. I keep coming by because i try not to miss opportunities to express my admiration for Cerebus. For years i felt like the only guy in the room.

    I took my wife to SPACE one year, and we went to the Cerebus-fanatics live reading of select chapters. We were the ONLY ones in the audience, and I got pulled aside twice and asked if i knew where I was. Good fun.

  436. Eric Reynolds says:

    Can’t Dave and Kim just hash this out via emails published as blog posts (if they insist on negotiating publicly), to eliminate the peanut gallery?

  437. Anthony Thorne says:

    On the subject of the Fanta archival editions that hopefully will be allowed to go ahead, I’m struck by the design choices Dave might be able to make. I don’t know if this appeals but it would be great if Dave was given the chance to design and draw cover artwork for those hypothetical hardcovers that covered the entire front, spine, back and flaps with one illustration (possibly a redrawing of a key event from the storyline) with the blurb and possible critic quotes on the back drawn with his own typographical skills as part of the illustration. (I’m thinking of the stunning example from Cerebus I saw on another website a few weeks back where the sound of rain was drawn in phonetic form on a window, and also in large to receding format across the floor depicting the light from the window entering the room. Truly brilliant). Crumb drew new illustrations for the COMPLETE CRUMB volumes and lettered the introductions in his own hand. Imagine hardcover volumes with the comics in chronological form, the covers reproduced in colour in the back, Dave’s own annotations, new cover artwork and whatever extras Kim and Dave could surprise us with if the two of them embarked on a proper collaboration. I’ve followed Fanta’s output for a long time and I feel that editions like that would be good sellers. I’d also think that multiple volumes released in this way would overall sell better than just one or two or a few flung at the NYT literati scene. I’m not sure what maximum size Kim is contemplating per volume but I’d be keen to see volumes up to the thickness of the Jim Woodring FRANK hardcover, maybe a tad skinnier.

    I guess we’ll know whether this is a pipe dream in a day or two.

  438. Ed Brubaker says:

    Agreed. I managed to track down some more of the old Swords of Cerebus, and have really been enjoying rereading them, and the long intros before each issue by Dave. It’s too bad there’s no discussion about publishing them going on in this thread.

  439. Ed Brubaker says:

    I was agreeing with Eric.

  440. I agree – that’s why I brought them up a couple of times. If there was a serious thought to splitting up the phonebooks into more SWORDS-sized chunks, those kind of intros (to each volume at least, as opposed to each chapter/issue as in SWORDS) are just the sort of thing that makes the material accessible to new readers. The long-term fan club may see it differently – but I think this is sort of what Kim has been driving at from the start: if I put the CEREBUS phonebook and the six SWORDS OF CEREBUS trades in from of a completely new reader who’d never heard of the book or the character (or Dave, for that matter), I think the SWORDS books would be more accessible. I’d feel the same way about steering a new reader towards them on a bookshelf. A two-volume HIGH SOCIETY with those kind of intros? A three or four volume CHURCH AND STATE with those kind of intros? Yeah, I’d be waiting for a store to open to get those.

  441. Adriano Moraes says:

    “I am sure that many slave owners considered their slaves mentally and morally inferior…”

    I can’t help but feel…
    WHAT? Where that came from?
    aren’t we supposed to talk about Cerebus publishing through fantagraphics?

  442. Adriano Moraes says:

    I actually think the whole idea of ‘discussing a publishing contract online’ while embraced by Dave Sim and swalloed ( maybe not the right word ) by EXTREMELY PATIENT Kim Thompson actually may have discouraged any other potential publisher.

    Can anyone see someone else besides Fantagraphics going through this?

    I think Dave Sim just closed his options to a single one this way.

  443. Adriano Moraes says:

    Dave Sim… you’ve made your bed

  444. Adriano Moraes says:

    I actually highly admire Kim Thompson on the position he is on the industry exposing himself to all this crap based exclusively upon his passion and respect for Dave Sim’s work.
    I understand the full closure he is fighting for he ‘first to recognize’ to ‘the one who kept this important work’ but…

    GODDAMNIT

    so much you can do for the one who is too difficult when you are trying to help.
    It is a big frustration for me as a fan. I just want a good printing of a nice sophisticated book of Cerebus as, obviously, Dave Sim can’t afford by himself.

    This whole online discussion is ridiculous. It is far ore about Dave Sim’s ego than anything to do with his readers

  445. Adriano Moraes says:

    well, obviously, unless someone can see Karen Berger going through this.
    Maybe I am wrong

  446. Christopher Woerner says:

    What about maintaining the large ‘phone book’ approach but pick and choose issues and sequences. Dave Sim the writer with integrity who sat down for twenty six years to create these pages shuts up and contributes promotional copy upon demand, writing short narrative blurbs to connect the material (“Cerebus and Jaka make their escape after a harrowing experience in a snowstorm…” Willfully take choice pieces of the work out of the 6000+ page context while keeping the accomplishment implicit, and the goal of them all being in print explicit.

    “Origins of AV Comics” A thick book of what appears to be stories of varying lengths about a grey aardvark done by different creative teams. Cerebus #1, Cerebus #3, the first Jaka appearance, the Palnu trilogy, the funnier sequences building up to Election Night and Cerebus’ Six Crises, waking up married to Red Sophia, all the Lord Julius/Duke Leonardi appearances, the trial of Astoria, the like-a-look from Going Home, the Three Wise Fellows, “This Aardvark, This Shepherd” and #300.

    “Son of Origins of AV Comics” Cerebus #5, Astoria’s Trial in context, and the conclusion of Church and State. The end of Melmoth and much of the Iest-centered material from Mothers and Daughters. Reads without the text pieces and Cerebus’ chat with Dave, as well as their meeting in Rick’s Story. The middle section of “Latter Days” and #289/290.

    “Women of AV Comics” Specifically Jaka. There’s the three-parter before Weishaupt dies, prime emotional moments from Jaka’s Story and the waitress from Melmoth. Scenes from Mothers and Daughters, Going Home, Form and Void, as well as the Last Day.

    “The Art of AV Comics” The Mind Games issues, dream sequences and Gerhard’s two-page spreads. That’s pretty much all you need.

    “The Writing of AV Comics” The text pieces from Jaka’s Story, Melmoth, Reads, Going Home, Tangent and the Cerebexegis.

    “The Comics of AV Comics” The Roach appearances, Mick and Keef’s multiple appearances, the Flaming Carrot crossover.

    Basically pick and choose from the 6000 pages without regard to which comic book Dave and Ger were putting together that month. Oscar Wilde meeting Lord Julius vs. Cerebus taking a piss. Print the pages as they originally were, word balloons if a character was speaking in the ‘art book’; Woody Allen in the Cerebexegis – but tease the idea of the larger story by maintaining the large collected versions. “This is what a Russian novel in comic book form looks like.” Dave was effectively a different person at different parts in the series which would give the books more of an anthology feel while maintaining the obvious title character. Then the series could be brought out in complete ten-fifteen issue collections.

  447. Adriano Moraes says:

    This is just personal politics against what makes sense that is all

  448. Adriano Moraes says:

    On tis position I;d be completely on Gary Groth’s side: “let him make up his mind. Yes or no so he doesn’t waste our time’

    And everybody’s else while we are at that

  449. Adriano Moraes says:

    Obviously there are other publishers interested on the work itself.
    How many are willing to go through this crazy online nightmarish process?

    Having a whole peanut gallery giving opinions about details. even more strange when it is basically ‘you life work’. Maybe you can go and ask a few informed opinions of people you respect in the industry but this crap here?
    It was simply made to play old politics with fantagraphics ( whatever Dave Sim may claim otherwise STILL come as that ) , scares the crap away of other publishers and overall simply serves to bury Cerebus once and for all.
    It is the WORST possible way of negotiating when you come as a diva instead of a normal person.

    Dave Sim couldn’t make a better service of destroying his own work.

  450. Adriano Moraes says:

    Dave Sim sorry to say despite your high level of talent you are delusional.
    Your whole NY Times is just ‘where did that come from?’ Not because I am a lower uninformed intelect but simply… Alan Moore is actually highly respected by it. You get articles over articles about Watchmen, whatever his new book is he will get a NY Times Review, if a movie come out of his books he gets a comment. Nobody is bringing him up as ‘superstitious’. Truth be said nobody ever questioned his personal believes because it simply never came up.

    All the same if you really want to prove and pursue your point instead of these vague accusations would you mind bringing up the specific articles of the NY Times that made you so uncomfortable?
    Without specifics a lot of arguments reveal themselves to be fallacies and ways of hiding your own insecurities, you know?

  451. Adriano Moraes says:

    I don’t get the whole sissy stuff of ‘what are they going to say about my believes’.
    God fucking damnit.
    Go there say whatever it is and fucking deal with the reaction. If they say wrong defend your opinions for crying out loud. Come back into the fucking world outside your mind!
    How come you letting these ridiculous fears lead the way you handle your business instead of simply thinking ‘what is best for my work, what is best for the readers i cultivated over all these years, what is the fucking best?’

    What do i see as a fan?
    Instead of getting a good quality print of Cerebus I am getting a phonebook because the author doesn’t take me into consideration while negotiating for better options.

    Because he is afraid Ny Times will say ‘his religious believes are not ccol’.
    Which end of the day, for real, they won’t and never gave a shit about anyway

    You very good at pissing off fans you know

  452. Adriano Moraes says:

    there is a pretty sad and pathetic side of this argument revealing a person afraid of the rest of the world and making up reasons against getting back into it…

    Nobody needs to be a pariah to be independent.
    That is a personal option.

  453. Will M says:

    The Public Forum is good. It’s how we learn as a Species to be Better. A Necromancer told me that once. :)

  454. Andrew McIntosh says:

    He didn’t switch to the US. He took the declining birthrate numbers from the US, and the poplation-increase-due-to-immigration numbers from Canada and, “guess[ing] the statistics are comparable for both countries”, combined them.

    He later goes on to say:

    “But, the plain fact of the matter is that feminism definitely takes hold in a big way where it occurs and one of the qualities attached to it is having fewer babies and having them later in life so I would guess that whatever “break” there is is probably going to diminish in its presence in our society pretty quickly — in the first or second generation of females. So, it seems to me that falling back on immigration to putty over the cracks in replacement birth rates is just kicking the can down the road and ignoring what we’re actually doing as a society.”

    …saying basically that falling back on immigration only delays the inevitable, as feminism (a contagious disease—it’s a “plain fact”!) will spread to the immigration populations, forcing ALL women to work and, voila, birthrates decline to inevitable disaster.

    Now you don’t have to buy any of it to see where Dave would take offense to the “right KIND of people” crack (although it didn’t seem to me that you were actually launching that accusation at Dave, he does seem to have taken it that way).

  455. Glen says:

    The Montreal publisher “Drawn and Quarterly” might be a good fit for Dave.

    http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/

  456. Dominick Grace says:

    As a long-time Cerebus fan, I can say that I, for one, would welcome Swords-style intros/commentary. I don’t have some of the earlier phone books which provided little or no such ancillary material because, having all the original issues, the phone books didn’t really add anything substantial to what I had already. I really missed that added content. The later phone books, the ones which added annotations not included in the comic itself, I do have.

  457. Kim Thompson says:

    I agree that upon closer reading Dave’s notions here, if daffy, are indeed daffy in a non-racist (or non-anti-immigrant) way, and I apologize for the implication. The concern about “real” Americans not breeding enough to keep them from being eventually swamped by “others” is a racist, nativist trope but it appears to have only a surface similarity with Dave’s more general Fear Of An Underpopulated Country.

  458. Kim Thompson says:

    Precisely right. Right now the big hurdle is simply Dave agreeing to abandon his “start with FORM AND VOID” notion, which is the on/off switch for everything else. (He also has to realize he’s not going to get a “deep” analysis of Fantagraphics’ fortunes and financial structure.) If those are dealt with, it’s format, schedule, and negotiation of a specific contract — the last of which would by the way NOT be conducted publicly.

  459. Ed Brubaker says:

    It was interesting seeing how often Kim Thompson gets mentioned in those Swords intros, too.

  460. Kim Thompson says:

    I’m gonna be a contrarian here: I think this public negotiation while unorthodox has been useful, if only because a number of my convictions about the project have been buttressed both by committed CEREBUS fans and by comics readers whose theoretical interest in Sim’s work has been thwarted by the current format the work appears in, which I think has got to impact Dave’s thinking on it. (I think Dave would also have to be heartened by e.g. R. Fiore’s full-throated support of the work as a whole — and the fact that no one really seems to give a shit about the “misogynist” thing insofar as it impacts this project.) I actually think if I’d had this same negotiation/argument with Dave privately we’d be much less far along.

    It’s also been undeniably entertaining. If Dave and I had negotiated privately, the world wouldn’t have had this thread to enjoy.

    And it’s thrown open the doors to other publishers to throw their hats into the ring if they so desire by clarifying Dave’s willingness to even consider a publisher for his work. I am not kidding when I say I would be perfectly satisfied if this whole thing achieved nothing more than Dave deciding he couldn’t work with us but some other publisher stepping in and succeeding in a project like this.

  461. Kim Thompson says:

    Lots of intro material and such in the hardcover iterations, sure. But the mass-market-intended softcovers should stay lean and clean. Let the work speak for itself, albeit with minimal contextualization (back cover, flaps, BRIEF scene-setting intros, etc.) to help new readers basically sort out what’s going on in the story — and, yeah, a qualitative “read this ’cause it’s great” famous-person intro (Gaiman, Moore) in the first one. The dual format, soft- and hard-, allows us to have the intros/commentary/original covers paraphernalia cake (in the hardcovers) and NOT eat it (in the softcovers) too.

  462. sammy says:

    butt out eric!

  463. Gotcha. I think the fact you have a pretty clear idea of what you want to do and the fact you would clearly be making a considerable commitment to these books (planning for hardcover AND softcover editions, with slightly differing content, is no casual choice) is significant. You obviously respect the material, and while Dave certainly has his own clear picture of what he thinks would work, at some point a creator (in a publisher-creator relationship) has to cede some control to what the publisher believes will best help the book sell.

  464. Paul Slade says:

    Back on Sept 20, Dave asked Kim how he (Kim) would complete the following sentence in a press release announcing a Fanatgraphics Cerebus project::

    “Multiple award-winning Fantagraphics editor single-handedly created Dave Sim’s career as a graphic novelist with the first major review in THE COMICS JOURNAL of Sim’s 26-year, 6,000-page graphic novel, CEREBUS, then in its infancy. Over the subsequent 24 years, Thompson…”

    Would it be worth fulfilling that request, Kim? Just in case doing so removes one more small log jam in this whole affair?

    Also: Of all the things I’ve learned about Dave Sim in the past 30 years, the most shocking – and disappointing – yet is the revelation that he uses smiley-face emoticons in his e-mails. I mean, Dave – really.

  465. mateor says:

    This seems well-intentioned. But so silly. Those books were written to be collected like they are, at least post-church and state.

    I think changing the contents in any way compromises the vision. I guess i can understand splitting them for commercial reasons. But if there ever was an example of “written for the trade” it’s Cerebus.

  466. Michael says:

    I love the fact that you’re embracing the positives. I was sure that once Gary deemed this to be a slowmo train wreck, that it would “become so”, due to the trickle down effect, and I was even thinking “hey, that’s just a blessing in disguise for Dave”, for reasons expressed earlier; but your positive focus, as expressed here, is definitely needed in order to make this happen, right? I think it’s fair to say that it’s the very least of what is needed, as in you have to have that FIRST in order for the next steps to be taken. What I came away with, after reading this post, is that you are intrinsically intertwined with Dave, he’s practically family at this point, given the dearth of time, affection and “infighting” that has occurred – almost 40 years either together in the trenches, or across the field, but on that same field, the one you both know like the backs of your hands. Correct me if I’m wrong, but part of your effort to reach out from the beginning came from a place within you that had little if anything to do with dollar signs, but more from a realization that you care about this guy. Obviously the money matters, but there was a greater motivation at the onset, is what I’m guessing here. You guys have history, major history, dating back to a period before many of your patrons were even born. If I’m right about what I think I’m picking up on here, then let me formally apologize to you for creating friction from an ignorant vantage. If I’m wrong, go @#$% yourself, of course. =D

    By the way, who knows how successful the High Society downloads will be? I’m guessing it’s going to do GREAT, as in “beyond what is hoped for”, and I’m certainly going to be email blasting 100′s of people to try and turn them on to this opportunity to experience CEREBUS on their ipads, computers and etc., and I hope that everyone reading here will do the same to help get the word out. Consider: it’s only .99 cents an issue, with all those juicy extras, AND the capacity to see Dave’s marvelous line-art on a gigantic monitor? O.o Or conveniently on your ipad or phone? AND the first issue is FREE? If anyone really wants to help Dave, let’s at least get the good word out there.

  467. Kim Thompson says:

    Well, the “single-handedly created” part is silly, as is the “Multiple award-winning editor” part. I couldn’t release such braggadocio with a straight face. I’m not sure what Dave wants me to “say” in the press release other than I think the work is great, which we do in every press release anyway. Certainly the contentious relationship we’ve had since and/or Dave’s gender-political issues are the last things I’d want to put in a press release, if the implication is that we want to delve into that.

  468. mateor says:

    I have been rereading the individual issues, and it is striking how much uncollected material there is. I bought the Collected Letters books, but would rather have read Aardvark Comment. There can’t be any profit in reprinting the promotional samples of other cartoonist’s work, though.

    I understand and agree with the lean softcovers vs. inclusive hard covers idea Kim proposes. But how inclusive are you thinking? Something like Swords of Cerebus individual intros, with production notes by Dave, could be done for both versions, providing the needed context for newer or lapsed readers.

    But for he hard covers, I would love to see things like Aardvark Comment, as well as the long-form conversations found in the later issues. I am thinking specifically of Dave and Chesters deep discussion of Louis Riel as well as his talk with Alan Moore about From Hell.

    I think either of those pieces would have highlighted TCJ issue 300.

    I would also think that Cerebus and TCJ both making 300 issues before submitting/capitulating to,the digital age ccould make for some interesting comments from Kim. Dave has said he feels like the self-publishing road map he produced has no relation to a networked world. There is a certain synergy that could be exploited.

  469. Michael says:

    I hope that you guys and other people who are reading this, and who are in a position to do so, will consider offering Dave banner space on your websites to help promote this. It’s less than two weeks away, so now would be a really good time to do that.

  470. Dominick grace says:

    Dave seems to think so, since he’s referenced it at least once since first putting it out there. But really? I find it almost impossible to believe that Dave really thinks Fantagraphics would even consider using a press release that came off like this; it’s an aspect of this discussion that makes me question how serious Dave really is about it. As others have noted, the are far more profound isues to be addressed, notably the basic question of whether there’s room to manouevre between Dave’s insistence on Going Home/Form and Void and Kim’s that it has to start at least as early as High Society (I’m inclined to agree with Kim on this one, though I’d pick it up regardless of where it started).

  471. Kim Thompson says:

    I appreciate the thought, but there are plenty of cartoonists I like personally but I wouldn’t publish because I don’t find their work good or interesting enough to publish, or I like it fine but don’t think it would sell. I actually gave my 10 Reasons for Wanting to Publish CEREBUS back about a week ago on this thread (search for the word “synecdoche”); us possibly making a few bucks is undeniably one factor, but it’s one of many, and there are clearly easier, less labor-intensive and more likely-to-succeed schemes by which we can make money than this.

    There are plenty of first-rate cartoonists who’ve been driven out of the field by commercial failure, or their inability to make a living by cartooning. (There are others who are forced to spend most of their time on money-making non-cartooning jobs and whose output is thus severely reduced.) As a comics fan, I think it’s a real shame when this happens, and this seems to be an instance where we could maybe actually help prevent it. If you’re looking for the cornerstone motivation behind this offer, that’s it. In a weird way the main goal of this has little to do with CEREBUS per se but rather the idea of allowing Dave to keep creating new work, responding to his public statement that he might no longer be able to. (This was reason #2 on my list, in fact.) This has nothing to do with friendship or sympathy or pity, and everything to do with keeping a superior cartoonist working, for the common good of the art form and the field.

  472. mateor says:

    I looked at it as Dave wanted some idea of the promotional thrust, publically stated. I can’t tell if he thinks that the possible public tar and feather he expects is a bad idea or not, but it does seem like he is curious if it will happen.

    An “Are you planning on vilifying me and disputing my opinions in the back copy of my work?” kinda question.

    Which Kim has given zero indication that he wants to touch it at all. Which i think is probably impossible and we should at least acknowledge it will be mentioned, and how.

    But i do not think Kim has been difficult or ill-intentioned about it. Just a little unrealistic. It will have to be discussed, even if you just acknowledge the work as ” controversial” in the back copy. Which I, as a Cerebus fan, do not think is enough.

  473. Kim Thompson says:

    I think the entity that’s releasing digital CEREBUS is perfectly welcome to buy a banner ad on our site, and it would probably be a wise investment on their part. I suspect Dave is as uninterested in accepting any kind of charity as we are in offering it. (I’d trade a banner ad for some of the phonebooks, though.)

  474. Michael says:

    “…everything to do with keeping a superior cartoonist working, for the common good of the art form and the field.”

    Excellent stuff, sir.

  475. Aaron says:

    I’m going to try and keep this focused on the issue of when to start a reprint of Cerebus, because that seems to be the main sticking point at present, but Dave Sim’s personal views cannot be irrelevant to the discussion, because he mixed his personal views with the Cerebus story to a degree not found in the works Jeet Heer cites in points 4 and 5 of his post above (http://www.tcj.com/dave-sim-responds-to-the-fantagraphics-offer/#comment-74916).

    I personally found it increasingly difficult to avoid the feeling after issue #200 that Cerebus was less and less a fictional narrative and more a vehicle for Dave Sim to articulate views and arguments that he would not have been able to publish on his own. In an earlier Post on this forum, Sim describes himself as “being in the situation to bring up subjects that I think need to be looked at that no one else is willing to discuss.” It would have been one thing if he confined these subjects to the letters page or to interviews, but after #200 they increasingly became the focus of the Cerebus story itself, to the extent that Cerebus himself starts to vanish. For example, the extended analysis of the Torah that takes place in Latter Days is ostensibly done by Cerebus himself reading from a fictional manuscript, but the veneer is so thin that I can’t even call it an allegory. Here, Sim is literally taking his own words and putting them in Cerebus’ mouth. I think this, more than anything else, accounts for the declining sales of Cerebus after issue #186. It wasn’t so much that people disliked Sim as a person as that they disliked what he was doing with the characters and the story. I wanted to read about Cerebus, not Hemingway or Fitzgerald or Woody Allen, etc. I stuck with it, hoping that at some point Sim would come back to the story itself, and he finally did in The Last Day. By that time, however, most readers had dropped out, and I can’t blame them.

    So, as has been said many times: I think you have to start from the beginning, because if you start with Going Home you are already into the phase where the story has taken a back seat to the social/political/literary commentary. Unless you get readers hooked on the story first, there’s no way they’ll stick it out for the other stuff.

  476. mateor says:

    Oh, and some of Dave’s absolute BEST art is in the sadly forgotten Rick’s Story. I don’t know if it was the burgeoning religious awakening, but the images are utterly dazzling.

  477. Larry says:

    As someone who stopped buying individual issues of Cerebus during Jaka’s Story (although I kept buying phonebooks for a while), I agree totally that the preponderance of prose was a commercial liability. I also agree that the comic’s treatment of Jaka, Cerebus, and even of “Dave” the character continued to exhibit a sensitivity and nuance that seems at odds with the authorial voice in “Tangent”.

    I might also add that I started reading Cerebus almost solely because of the encomia heaped on it in the Comics Journal.

  478. Larry says:

    :p

  479. Brian Payne says:

    Since there are already the original comics themselves as well as multiple editions of the phonebooks in circulation I for one see Sim’s Alex Raymond book being published as a much more immediate concern than the Collected Cerebus. I sincerely hope that Sim will give serious consideration to Mr. Groth’s offer especially if no other option is readily available.

  480. Kim Thompson says:

    I don’t think a discussion or even mention of Sim’s gender-issues controversies in the back of early volumes of a CEREBUS reprint project (or the attendant promotion) is any more desirable, or even necessary, than a disquisition on Steve Ditko’s libertarianism would be in a SPIDER-MAN reprint. It’s a bridge we can cross when/if we hit the point where it begins to impact the actual work, but obviously we wouldn’t sabotage or undercut Dave within the book itself, or within official (or for that matter unofficial, personal) statements or releases. I mean, I don’t argue with Pete Bagge’s libertarian opinions as presented in his REASON collection.

    I think a beleaguered and demoralized Dave is vastly underestimating a fairly huge industry-wide reservoir of love and respect for at least the first half of CEREBUS, and the degree to which this kind of reprint presentation would allow readers, retailers, and distributors to shake off their queasy feelings about the latter part of the run and the gender-issues controversies and just focus on the beautiful, intelligent work again. (And new readers could encounter it without that clutter.) I think it would be a relief to everyone to be able to enjoy and discuss Sim’s work without having to deal with that again. A clean slate, if you will.

    Dave needs to stop picking at that scab.

  481. Briany Najar says:

    There is a part of me who thinks that Dave Sim sees all of this internet-based discussion as an economical bit of crowd-sourced publicity and little more. He does, after all, have a couple of going concerns at the moment – and at least one of those is at direct cross-purposes with any other reissued form of Cerebus #51-100 being widely available in the next few years. (As much as he may naysay the commercial potential of hardback editions, apparently slapping a gold embossed version of the logotype onto the standard phonebook is a sure winner.) What with the squint-eyed tactical approach to things that Sim seems to take, I can imagine him wondering what use the internet is, and concluding, from his disengaged position, that viral marketing is its most salient utility.

    Other parts of me are still full of hope, clinging to the possibility that the work will be well served and widely appreciated – and that as a consequence dinner-party conversations about Dave Sim will be propelled in the direction of his phenomenal artistic achievement, rather than towards the other thing that he tends to be known for.

  482. Briany Najar says:

    Not #51-100: I meant #26-50.
    D’oh.

  483. Michael says:

    ” I’d trade a banner ad for some of the phonebooks, though.”

    I think it would be a great deal for Dave, he would be able to secure the space on trade rather than paying out of pocket, and your site gets a lot of diverse traffic, which I’m sure would add up to sales.

    Are you making this offer facetiously or in earnest?

  484. Michael says:

    @ Kim

    I tried to post this in the portion of the thread where it was relevant, but it doesn’t seem to be showing up as a reply, so I’ll just post it here:

    “I’d trade a banner ad for some of the phonebooks, though.”

    Just for clarity, are you making this offer facetiously or in earnest?

  485. R. Haining says:

    I don’t think you’re being fair to divas here. In all my years of reading Opera News, I cannot recall one incident of a soprano (or even a mezzo-soprano) asking an opera company to engage in an online, public contract negotiation.

  486. Inanimate James says:

    The first thing I ever read by Dave Sim was “The Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing” about a decade ago.

    I am just now getting (back) to Cerebus (I am 2/3 of the way through ‘Minds’) which I am reading by getting my local library to buy them (partly so other people can discover them, partly because I don’t have the shelf space at home!).

    But I would certainly be interested in any hardcover edition when it comes time for me to get my own copies.

    Also, when this forum thread gets compiled into a book I’ll buy that too.

  487. nostalgebraist says:

    As for the early lack of polish and the later controversial aspects of Sim’s work, it seems to me this could actually redound to his benefit with respect to its sales with the literati, though probably not in the way he wants. To wit, it would give the body of work an air of “the outsider artist” driven by a singular vision. People eat this stuff up. Just go to the Darger or Finster exhibit near you. It will be incredibly popular, and thick with tweed and skinny jeans in equal portion.

    Exactly. I was going to post something to this effect, but you’ve said it better than I could have.

    I think Dave Sim is underestimating the extent to which outside status and overall idiosyncrasy can help rather than hurt you in left-leaning literary hipster circles. Look at the subtitle to Wolk’s essay in The Believer: “Dave Sim’s 6,000-plus-page Cerebus is a deeply misogynistic graphic novel about an anthropomorphic hermaphrodite aardvark. And it’s an absolute masterpiece.” Sim’s attitude seems to be that a statement like that is heresy among the sort of people who read (say) The Believer, and would immediately incline them to put down the magazine in a huff and read no more. But of course the subtitle is intended to do the opposite, to draw them in — and it succeeds.

  488. Kim Thompson says:

    In earnest.

  489. Christopher Woerner says:

    Sure, but the trades aren’t selling.

    There are precedents in the comics field, the Smithsonian collection, Spirit collections, Origins of Marvel Comics, for a big book of comics to be popular and inspire interest in the larger work. If Fantagraphics or anyone else stepped forward to publish something, it would be a reconfiguration of what Sim intended anyway, so go for the gusto. What’s the alternative, 6 or 10 issue collections? Pricey packaging? How will those grow an audience?

    How about promoting the completed epic – in phone book or Swords format – with a similar big book ‘o’ comics that includes all the scenes that people thought were really awesome when they discovered the aardvark comic book? Cerebus as a Marx Brothers Movie which includes a Three Stooges short, a Woody Allen monologue and a Warner Brothers short complete with Duck Amok tribute. Because those all depended on their aesthetic purity for enduring popularity.

    Dave Sim the self-publisher gets validated by other publishers for his years of effort in the only way they possibly could, Dave Sim the writer has to defend stuff he cranked out years or decades ago anyway, Dave Sim the artist has already been paid for the pages, and Dave Sim the letterer struts his stuff.

  490. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Sounds like an awful lot of extra work to me, especially when there’s already an audience who has been patiently waiting for a decent complete Cerebus collection for years, like Dave promised way back when the series was still ongoing. It sounds like throwing away a sure thing on a gamble.

  491. Michael says:

    Wow, has anyone tried to go back and reread this monolithic tomb? I just did. There were points where I laughed so hard I cried. The corners of my eyes are still moist. I mean, has anyone just sat in front of their monitor yet, laughing so hard you lose all of your wind, and all that’s left is your throat clicking like a broken cricket? I mean, just the raaaaange of “stuff”, when you mix it all together, it’s like a new kind of comedy. This is not to take away from anything or anyone, or to belittle the process unfolding. I’m just sharing the weird trek I took, just now, sifting through this cavern of apotheosis, despair, levity, bait tactics, insults, praise, inspired pep talks, moments where someone throws in the towel but then catches it before it hits the ground and waves it vigorously like a victory flag, only to throw it in again, etc. I mean, just… you know? Wow.

  492. Michael says:

    Tome, I meant.

  493. Jeet Heer says:

    Eric is, as always, right on the money. This would be much easier to read and also much more productive (in the sense of leading to an actual contract between Sim & Fantagraphics) if it were done as a dedicated blog between Dave & Kim (with other publishers perhaps being allowed to intervene). There could still be a comment section but it should be distinct from the negotiation between Dave & Kim.

  494. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Jesus, I thought you were talking about Cerebus, but you’re talking about the comments here, aren’t you? I’m no the stoically unemotional robot that Dave would like us all to be, but I can’t say I’ve had any emotional reaction to it all other than excitement at the prospect of finally having a decnet Complete Cerebus, exasperation at Dave’s ever-tangential prose, and bewilderment at the stuff this Michael guy keeps gushing out.

  495. Andrew McIntosh says:

    That seems to be the way Dave’s operating, anyways. Has nobody noticed how Dave keeps telling eveyone he only gets fax updates from Tim?

    As in, he’s not actually reading what’s posted here, he’s only getting edited updates. Which, I think, explains a lot of the disconnect between the content of Dave’s posts and what’s being discussed by everyone else here. If Tim’s only passing on what he posts at A Moment of Cerebus, then Dave’s not even getting all of what Kim’s writing—it’s all edited.

  496. Tim Webber says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I understand your concern and I’ve no idea if Dave is actually looking at the TCJ.com site on his trips to his coffee shop cyber cafe (I hope he is).

    Dave asked me to send him by fax any comments posted by Kim or Gary (which I have been doing – unedited). Worried that he was missing out on everyone else’s comments, over the last few days I’ve been sending him everything (unedited).

    The brief daily updates I post at A Moment Of Cerebus are really just to point people in this general direction (and I doubt Dave looks at these anyway).

    I did suggest Jeet’s idea some days ago to Dave, but he said he’d prefer to keep the discussion going here, so that more people participate.
    – Tim

  497. Michael says:

    No, I’d never speak about Cerebus in that manner, or any of Dave’s writing for that matter. His entries here represent one of about two people who seem to be reasonable and totally non confrontational here. The other would be Ed Brubaker (who, by the way, would be an excellent choice for contextualizing, in my opinion. He’s a great writer, a long time fan of Cerebus, has been in the industry for a good while, has great range, and walks that line between mainstream and alternative perfectly (not to mention between Fantagraphics and Dave Sim perfectly). He’s neutral, non-confrontational, and he’ll write something that is full of win for everyone, and he’ll get a little boost to his own name by association. I think it’s a no-brainer, but, of course, I have absolutely no say in any of this.)

    I don’t agree – at all – that Dave’s prose is ‘tangential’, it’s exactly on target. If anything, it’s providing the only sense that something is actually happening, and it is certainly like an oasis in the midst of the rest of this. That’s just my take, of course.

    I’m much more excited about the digital stuff than the print stuff, for a multitude of reasons, the foremost being that digital High Society i’s only ten days til launch, as of this writing.

  498. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Thanks for clearing that up. I hope it didn’t come across as accusing you of anything—what Dave chooses to read or not is entirely up to him, and there’s nothing stopping him from stopping by tcj.com himself. His responses did seem, to me at least, to be out of sync with what was being discussed around here, though—the kind of “out of sync” that’s not explained away by saying he simply skipped over what he disagreed with. For one, I get the impression he thinks there’s an awful lot more fighting going on here than there clearly is: e.g. “The crowd is getting pretty ugly over at TCJ.com and I sense a lynch-mob mentality developing”—I mean, REALLY?!?!?

  499. Paul Slade says:

    http://comicsbeat.com/high-society-negatives-go-up-in-flames/#comment-190735

    Dave addresses himself to the question of Cerebus intoductions and the challenges facing new readers in a new Hard Talk Virtual Tour answer at the link above (scroll down to Sept 30). He’s also pretty clear in that answer that it’s still only Form & Void that’s on the table here.

  500. Tim Webber says:

    Andrew,
    Just to be clear, Dave was quoting me. It was me who said, “The crowd is getting pretty ugly over at TCJ.com and I sense a lynch-mob mentality developing,” as that was my impression, for example Kim implying Dave was a racist (for which he has since apologised.).
    Tim

  501. Paul Slade says:

    “I’m also in the advanced stages of negotiation with one print publisher and hope to have an announcement of a deal for A book — that is, ONE book — October 5th or 6th.” – Dave Sim, Hard Talk Virtual Tour pt 9 (Sept 26, 2012).

    I wonder which publisher Dave is talking about here? And which book? And how the deal – if agreed upon – would factor into all our ruminations here?

  502. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Tim—Oh, that’s right, he was quoting you. I think it’s disappointing that, in this “open” discussion, such things are being said behind closed doors (at least, they would have been if Dave hadn’t chosen to bring that out in public).

    I’m glad that Dave, anyways, is determined to stick to his guns and keep this all open.

  503. Paul Slade says:

    I thought that “lynch mob” remark of Tim’s was unjustified too.

    In fact, there’s been enormous goodwill expressed towards Dave and his work throughout this discussion, fuelled by everyone’s desire to help that work reach the widest possible readership. If nothing else comes of it all, I hope Dave might find at least find enough encouragement in the thread it to boost his spirits.

  504. Larry says:

    I also think “lynch-mob mentality” was a rather dramatic overstatement. Throughout this thread, Kim (as opposed to Gary, in his more effusive moments) has struck me as eminently reasonable and obviously admiring of Dave’s achievement in Cerebus. And he also uses the possessive with gerunds, which I particularly appreciate.

  505. Stevie B says:

    Just out of curiousity, given that R. Fiore mentioned above that most of what a publisher brings to the table ” is his knowledge of what sells in the market and his expertise in selling that gleaned from his own experience of putting up his own money to do it”, does it make sense for Kim to be discussing this in public? I mean, in a sense isn’t the publisher giving away what they bring to the table? And going further, giving it away to a rival, given that Dave Sim is a publisher? I mean, I’m loving reading this comments section, but I’ve got to ask, where’s the value in the public negotiations? Who profits?

  506. Kim Thompson says:

    Given how emphatic Sim was about the Alex Raymond/Stan Drake material NOT being on the table for Fantagraphics, I’d guess that’s what it is. Presumably it’s not CEREBUS material, since obviously negotiating away some CEREBUS material for a single book in the midst of talks about a complete reprinting would be a bad idea.

  507. Kim Thompson says:

    Call it the Penn & Teller syndrome. I’m so confident of our unique skill and ability to execute this properly that I don’t mind revealing the tricks. But since my #1 priority here isn’t really for us to reprint CEREBUS but for CEREBUS to be reprinted, if another publisher swept in and made Dave a better (or more palatable to him) offer that would cause this to happen I’d be fine with that.

    As late as two days ago based on his Newsarama posting Dave still seemed pretty unshakably adamant about only FORM & VOID being on the table, so my best guess is that the Fantagraphics deal ain’t gonna happen, to be frank. I expect Dave is preparing a zillion-word response that will show up sometime this week and effectively put the kibosh on this for one reason or another, leaving only a tantalizing what-if description of what the Fantagraphics CEREBUS could have been to torment CEREBUS fans for years to come.

  508. Stevie B says:

    Oh, and a question to Dave Sim for his HardTalk thing. Is it still the case that the entirety of Cerebus will be released into the public domain upon your death? Has the deal with Gerhard changed or affected that in any way?

  509. Stevie B says:

    I tend to agree. I think Cerebus and Dave Sim’s achievements are very much of a time. I can see sound historical reasons to keep Cerebus in print, but not so much commercial ones. I’ve said above in this thread that as a consumer I’d need a damn good reason to buy this stuff again, and I doubt I’d buy much after Church and State. That said, having just finished reading The War of the Trenches, which was, by the way amazing and thank you very much, it would be nice to see Cerebus in that format, or many of the other formats discussed above. So what else by Tardi is good, if you’ll forgive the thread jacking?

  510. Kim Thompson says:

    I’m kind of the wrong person to ask, since I’ve been avoiding the (few) books of his I think are relative clunkers (or likely unappealing/baffling to non-French audiences), and basically think every one we’ve published so far is awesome for one reason or another. It becomes a matter of tone and theme, and what floats your boat in that regard. For someone with as consistent a style and approach as Tardi, the diversity of his work is really pretty amazing. If I had to put the books we’ve released so far in any order of preference I’d be stumped. Especially if you’ve already started with WAR OF THE TRENCHES, which is the kind of reflexive go-to masterpiece. Try an ADELE, try a Manchette noir book… In my experience the extremely idiosyncratic YOU ARE THERE has the highest “miss” ratio for American readers (and it’s among Tardi’s own least favorites graphically), but there are those for whom it’s a top favorite.

  511. R. Fiore says:

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Raymond book published by someone like Abrams or Pantheon. That’s where I’d take it first if I were Sim.

  512. Dave Sim says:

    Well, once more I find myself in the situation of having to sheepishly beg the indulgence of everyone who has “tuned in” today to see what I might have to say about Jeet Heer’s suggestion of Chester Brown as someone who could “contextualize” Dave Sim and CEREBUS.

    Unfortunately, it becomes necessary, again, to make sure that we’re all (at least roughly) on the same page.

    I’d like to PROFUSELY thank the individual who mentioned that he would prefer that we drop specious analogies to Adolf Hitler because it diminishes the monstrosity of Hitler’s crimes — I was wondering how long it would take someone to say that. TOO long, as it turned out.

    Well, of course, I agree — as I agreed eighteen years ago when Gary and Kim first chose to depict me as a concentration camp commandant in the page of THE COMICS JOURNAL, I’ve agreed every day since then and I agree today.

    Unfortunately, that puts me in a very, very, very tiny minority of people in the comic-book field all of whom were fine with Gary and Kim’s commissioned drawing (unless someone just decided to draw it on his own, which seems somewhat unlikely) when it first appeared, every day since then and who are, unless someone can present evidence to the contrary, completely fine with it today. To the tune of 99.97% of the comic-book field (depending on what you guess the population is) — basically “everyone except 385 benighted individuals in Dave Sim’s ‘evil’ thrall who have signed the petition.”

    If anyone reading this sees a different percentage and/or construct and has evidence to support it, I’d welcome your input on the subject.

    As all of you have seen this past weekend, Kim (presumably with the concurrence of Gary) is completely unrepentant, which is rather what I gathered the situation was and is. “That was seventeen years ago.

    Well, yes, but then, the considered intellectual viewpoint at which we arrived some decades ago, as freedom-loving peoples — and with which I wholeheartedly and intellectually agree — is that there is NO statute of limitations with anything Nazi-related. Nor should there be. Just as we, as freedom-loving peoples, arrived at the intellectual viewpoint some decades ago that there is — in terms of judicial culpability — no difference between Adolf Hitler and (particularly!) a concentration camp commandant: you were there, you saw what was going on and you either participated or turned a blind eye to it, and so you are culpable. There are certainly specious intellectual rabbit holes into which those under the glare of those accusations retreat, as is the case here — “He/they deserved it. He/they brought it on themselves. Everyone else was doing it.” But I don’t think anyone past the age of five would credit any or all of those rabbit holes as being intellectually or ethically defensible. Nor should they attempt to do so, in my opinion. I’m sure many disagree with me on that.

    So, I was certainly surprised when one of the individuals responsible for labelling me as being co-equivalent with a Nazi concentration camp commandant was suddenly — quite publicly — talking about publishing my work and breathing new life into it. It was, as I saw it, a lose-lose situation for me, as all of my situations relative to the comic-book field have been for the last 18 years. If I failed to respond, it would just be another example of my long, long shopping list of prejudices and bigotry and hatred. Here’s Kim offering to help me and because I’m a COMICS JOURNALphobe (as well as a misogynist and a racist) I won’t even respond.

    And if I did respond then I would be reinforcing the legitimacy of me being depicted as a concentration camp commandant, 18 years later. Otherwise why was I negotiating with them/him? As James Thurber put it, “My World and Welcome to It.”

    Well, you do get to a “nothing to lose, really” point, so I responded, attempting to stay focussed on the discussion of what — if any — CEREBUS book I would contract with Fantagraphics to publish. And, well, here we are.

    See, it doesn’t seem to me possible to play “elephant in the room” with this one just because it begins — as it has now begun — to get uncomfortable (for everyone besides me and the signatories to the petition) because today’s political climate — or, rather, Political Climate — is very much a core issue. If we attempt to play “elephant in the room” with my shattered reputation (and my reputation IS shattered) and just ignore it on the back cover of a Fantagraphics-published CEREBUS volume and in whatever “contextualizing” we choose to go with –

    (which I have expressed a total willingness to adjust myself to: whatever “contextualizing” is needed to make a metaphorical concentration camp commandant palatable to the liberal press, from the NEW YORK TIMES and THE NEW YORKER on down, and to hopefully make the book or books a mainstream hit or hits — anyone has a good suggestion, I’m all ears)

    – all we’re doing is kicking the can further down the road. If the book IS a hit, which we all, presumably, hope it will be and which we are all, presumably, working toward, then it will welcome a magazine piece or slate.com essay wondering, disingenuously and poisonously, “What just happened there?”

    Now, I’m fine with that as long as I know how it’s being presented and see it working or “working”. I’m not, as an example, willing to be the concentration camp commandant who proves FBI’s bona fides as a good Absolutist First Amendment publishing house. I’m not marching through Skokie, Illinois to advance the cause of neo-Nazis and the ACLU and First Amendment Absolutists everywhere. I’m a graphic novelist with well-considered opinions on a number of subjects which dissent from the popular consensus. Who, for his troubles, has been associated with the image of a concentration camp commandant.

    We’re a very small and — to the real world — uninteresting and parochial environment. We can discuss all of this at whatever length and to whatever level of intricacy we think befitting our subject and no one but ourselves will notice or care.

    Moving WAY ahead of our present discussions to the possibility of future Quality Lit Biz “hit-dom”, I doubt that today’s Political Climate changes appreciably however high up you go in either the popular media or Quality Lit Biz — I would LIKE to be proven wrong about that, but having seen no evidence of any, even incremental, contrary movement, I think I can be forgiven for entertaining sincere doubts, even though I’m, by nature, a very optimistic person.

    And since I can’t imagine being depicted and perceived to be any lower than I already am and have been for 18 years here in the comic-book field (and, again, if anyone can think of anything lower than a concentration camp commandant, I’m open to alternative Daves I could picture as being lower than myself today), it’s hard to see what I might have to lose.

    So, by all means, let’s find a Larger Arena and really hash out this rock-solid, carved-in-stone Today’s Political Climate presupposition: that if you aren’t a feminist, you’re analogous to a concentration camp commandant. And let’s make no mistake, since I’m unwilling (and I apologize for that, but I AM unwilling) to help all of you play “elephant in the room” on this one, that IS our point of departure. We start from Dave Sim being analogous to a concentration camp commandant, we start from the universal acceptance of that view in the comic-book field, we start from the fact that that is our Entrenched Reality of 18 years duration and we build from there in whatever direction seems sensible.

    That’s why I think our first stop on the long road ahead is for Kim Thompson to finish the sentence “Over the ensuing twenty-four years, Kim Thompson watched as Sim/CEREBUS…”. I mean it would have to in some way include his being the ringleader of the tarring and feathering of a decade ago, and then proceed to how his thinking on the subject evolved to the present day, or we’re just playing “elephant in the room”. I mean, aren’t we? Or am I missing something here? That’s not a rhetorical question.

    And, along the lines of Today’s Political Climate, I think I’m safe in saying that — while I’m certainly willing to DISCUSS the idea of Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore or Chester Brown or anyone else you can come up with “contextualizing” me, I think you’re just playing “elephant in the room”, trying to convince me that a) Today’s Political Climate is any different from what it has been for the last 18 years and b) that any individual of that stature in the Quality Lit Biz is going to risk getting…incinerated?…in that Political Climate by associating with Dave Sim, CEREBUS and our “non-elephant in the room” starting point.

    I think the best we can hope for is to say (as I’m saying here): “Anybody got a good first paragraph?”

    So, to summarize:

    1) Kim finishes the sentence as it will appear in the press release.

    2) Anyone at all in the comic-book field — PRETEND you’re Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore or Frank Miller or Chester Brown or Chris Ware — is more than welcomed by me to captivate us all with a Hemingway-like “Write the truest sentence you know.” Once it’s written, in whichever voice you choose to write it, we can run it up that person’s personal flagpole and see if they salute. Or write it in your own voice, or the collective voice of the comic-book field as you perceive it (and where it’s at odds with the 99.97% view that I see if you think that’s a fruitful vantage point to imagine).

    I’d also like to correct another participant here: I’m not now and I wasn’t then emotionally hurt by the depiction. I saw it then and I see it now as an insupportable intellectual position which speaks volumes about the grotesque misdirection required to keep feminism from being examined dispassionately and on the basis of solid evidence.

    But eventually, as Malcolm X once said, the chickens come home to roost.

    And here they are, now.

    Okay, HOPEFULLY tomorrow, I can explain where I think Chester Brown would work and where Chester Brown wouldn’t work in contextualizing Dave Sim for THE NEW YORK TIMES/THE NEW YORKER/the liberal press/whomever.

    See you then.

  513. Kim Thompson says:

    It’s a little eccentric, obsessive and insider-y for Pantheon. My money would be MAYBE on Pantheon, but quite possibly IDW (who after all also publishes collections of some of work in question).

  514. Stevie B says:

    Well, if you say you’re only publishing the good stuff that makes it easy for me. I’ll just add the lot to my Christmas list and see what I get bought! Cheers Kim.

  515. Michael says:

    @ Briany:

    I really (really) do not appreciate your employment of the phrase “I know what you mean”, in this context. As if we are anywhere near “on the same page”. We are a far, distant cry from “on the same page”. Do you really think that cutting and pasting text from something Dave wrote over a decade ago – pasting it into this context – is going to somehow “bring me over to your side of the fence”? I don’t want to be disrespectful to you, or your sensibilities, but trust me, you don’t want me over there. You and people like you are spiritual zygotes. A zygote needs blood and darkness to survive. ANY form of light whatsoever will be an instant death. I’m practically bathing in light. So you don’t want me over there, it’s that simple. As far as your opinions regarding the man who is Dave Sim are concerned, I will offer this to you: you do not (cannot) see his work from the inside out, or even in the round. You have no earthly idea how to penetrate into the work to experience the spirit of it, which, by law, is really the only way to truly experience ANYTHING; and as such, you have no earthly idea of what led to the work, the trajectory of the work, the ripples created by the work or where they spread, the body of the work, or the body that houses it. So in order for me to have anything resembling a dialog where we meet “half way”, I would need to compress my 4-D understanding down to your 2-D “reaction”, which is informed entirely by your cluster of habits that you think is you, but is actually just a storm of cyclic mental mutterings that blot out who you truly are: a living soul of God; a sentient, cognizent reality that is every bit as much a part of this universe as the sun that nourishes your physical body.

  516. Kim Thompson says:

    I thought I was clear, but evidently not. I had nothing to do with running THE COMICS JOURNAL at the time of the concentration-camp drawing, I felt it was way out of line then (as I feel it’s out of line now), but it wasn’t my call to make. I can’t really be “repentant” about something I had no control over, but I can say I agree it was excessive and in poor taste.

    Dave seems to want the “Kim Thompson watched as…” line to be some sort grand mea-culpa revision, which is pointless for two reasons, first because (with the near-singular exception of that cartoon) I really don’t have any particular problem with the public response I and many others had to Dave’s published statements (I think he said a downright astounding number of idiotic and hateful things that fell well outside the range of socially acceptable discussion and was justly called on the carpet for it), and second because to hinge a reprint project’s PR on re-fighting precisely the battle that seems to have finally burned itself out and which would best be left undisturbed –the whole POINT of this is, forget the whole dumb gender-wars fracas and rediscover the brilliant work in CEREBUS– seems to me a classic, 180-degree, crazy-wrongheaded approach. So I’m not going to let myself be bullied into a finishing a theoretical press-release statement I’d have no intention whatsoever of using, along the lines of “Kim Thompson watched in dismay as the years went on and Dave Sim gradually crawled further and further up his own asshole, both in terms of turning CEREBUS into impenetrable gibberish and spewing forth bizarre and loathsome socio-political opinions that made him, not unjustifiablly, a pariah in the field — all the while mourning the lost promise of the first half to two-thirds of CEREBUS’s run, hoping that someone could someday dig these brilliant works out from under the detritus of Sim’s conceptual and philosophical death spiral of the 1990s and present them in the way that they deserved.” This would not be a good way of launching the project. It’s like Mel Gibson withholding a re-release of THE ROAD WARRIOR until everyone not only apologizes for calling him an anti-Semite lunatic, but makes this apology a centerpiece in the publicity for the re-release.

    Really, if Dave thinks rehashing or addressing this in the context of the public rollout of this project is a sine qua non, then we have a deal-breaker and everyone can return to their corners and Chris Ryall, step up to the plate.

    The fact that Dave has so pointedly refused to address the start-with-GOING-HOME-vs.-earlier-stories issue at all (except to repeat his commitment to it a couple of days ago on another forum) leads me to believe that even if I acceded on the “we all apologize to Dave for calling him a misogynist nut for a decade and a half” thing to his satisfaction, he has no intention of backing down on that point, and we’re just one deal-breaker away from a second, equally conclusive deal-breaker lurking right behind it.

  517. KenParille says:

    Michael wrote:

    “I don’t want to be disrespectful to you, or your sensibilities, but trust me, you don’t want me over there. You and people like you are spiritual zygotes. A zygote needs blood and darkness to survive. ANY form of light whatsoever will be an instant death. I’m practically bathing in light. So you don’t want me over there, it’s that simple. As far as your opinions regarding the man who is Dave Sim are concerned, I will offer this to you: you do not (cannot) see his work from the inside out, or even in the round. You have no earthly idea how to penetrate into the work to experience the spirit of it, which, by law, is really the only way to truly experience ANYTHING; and as such, you have no earthly idea of what led to the work, the trajectory of the work, the ripples created by the work or where they spread, the body of the work, or the body that houses it. So in order for me to have anything resembling a dialog where we meet “half way”, I would need to compress my 4-D understanding down to your 2-D “reaction”, which is informed entirely by your cluster of habits that you think is you, but is actually just a storm of cyclic mental mutterings that blot out who you truly are: a living soul of God; a sentient, cognizent reality that is every bit as much a part of this universe as the sun that nourishes your physical body.”

    Wow.

  518. Briany Najar says:

    OMG, you totally blew my mind(!) Your New-Age style of brow-beating leaves me shamed and humbled(!)
    Only now do I see how your having a crush on Dave Sim brings you to truly objectiv insights about the nature of reality and text that my measly being can only twitch before in abject self-loathing.
    So anyway, what do you, in all your depth of cogniscence, think about the things that Sim printed and published about women (not just feminists) in Tangent? (of which the quotes I posted were a small and arbitrary sample.)
    http://www.tcj.com/dave-sim-responds-to-the-fantagraphics-offer/#comment-74845
    http://www.theabsolute.net/misogyny/tangents.html
    And, why do you suppose he avoids addressing these kinds of statements that he’s commited to record and chooses instead to use something which could be seen as emotional blackmail as a method of coercing signatures for his petition?
    I’ve no doubt that you would have the most acutely wise answers to these questions, seeing as your position on the man and his writings is in no way compromised by any kind of special bias whatsoever(!)

  519. Larry says:

    How can you construe Kim’s saying “I completely agree that that image crossed the line in terms of fairness and taste; I wouldn’t have run it” as “completely unrepentant”?

  520. Kim Thompson says:

    Yes, perhaps we should revisit Dave Sim’s “demonic possession” diagnosis.

  521. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    A very good point, and one I was hoping someone would make! BTW, I would love to see English versions of these. The illustrations are beautiful and I think there’s be a market for them, despite the author’s totally deserved reputation for anti-Semitism, a topic that is always included (as it should be) in any discussion of Céline’s work.

  522. Larry says:

    Scooped by the man himself.

  523. Knut Robert Knutsen says:

    Dave Sim, I think pretty much everyone would agree that the “Nazi”-thing was silly and if you put up a petition that said “I don’t think Dave SIm is a Nazi and it was not right of FBI to publish a cartoon portraying him as a Nazi Concentration camp commander, even as hyperbole.” you’d get a lot more people signing the petition.

    The “not a misogynist” bit? That’s just too extreme a demand to make. That view is not based on some irrational prejudice but on rational, reasonable readings of your muddled, barely coherent and highly speculative anti-feminist rants about the Devouring Rapacious Female Void and the horrors of Merged Permanence.

    People get along despite considerable differences of opinion all the time. I’m pretty sure people didn’t distance themselves from you because of some “false opinions” about you being a misogynist. These were your readers, who abandoned your comic because your misogynist screeds overpowered the narrative of the comic. I stuck it through until the end despite that, but it would never occur to me to sign that petition. People didn’t stay away from you because they thought you were a misogynist but because 1) you wouldn’t shut up about it in the story pages of Cerebus and it derailed the comic and 2) you’d do things like demand people sign a petition that you’re not a misogynist.

    Why? Because having people sign that makes you FEEL better?

    If you really believe that you’re not a misogynist, wouldn’t it be far more productive to write an essay putting your controversial comments in what you think is the right context and explain why all of us are mistaken in understanding those comments as misogynist? Showing through rational examination of your own views and how they were presented why you are right and we are wrong in characterizing them as misogynist?

    Certainly if that perception is (as you seem to feel) the bane of your career and that perception is false, showing that it is false is the most productive use of your time.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us will gladly say that no, we were not turned off by rumors, we were not turned off by innuendo. We were turned off by reading your books, your fiction, because your misogyny and other issues interfered with the quality of the work . But we would still like to see the book collected again, provided with context for the new reader and allow new readers to be challenged by your ideas.

    Personally I’d recommend skipping anything in Cerebus written in prose, but I still think that new generations of readers should be subjected to both the genius of the first half of the series and the ideas you presented mostly in the second half, unpalatable as they may be to me personally.

    Maybe readers will be turned off again as they reach what for most of the readers was a breaking point, but maybe the context provided and the awareness that at that point the material might be more challenging of ones views, will be sufficient that new readers will follow it more closely to the end.

    I think we all in here support a solid, wider release of more permanent editions of Cerebus. I know I’ll probably shell out for some of the books even if I already have everything in Phone Books or single issues. And none of us want to use this opportunity to kick you while you’re down or paint you as a hypocrite or use this opportunity to humiliate you, belittle you or question your integrity.

    This is a simple business decision: You have a publisher who is prepared to publish your books in well-thought out editions (both hardcover and softcover), without adding or subtracting material in ways that would interfere with your moral rights or undermine your integrity as an author. You have fans who are willing and eager to support your work in such a format by buying it and recommending it to new readers. Certainly up to a point.

    Your misgivings are about hypotheticals that make little sense to anyone but you anymore. And the idea of selling Hemingway or Fitzgerald excerpts does both you and the series a disservice.

    FBI aren’t offering to publish your books as a “freakshow” (although you seem to presume so). They are offering to publish your books because you are one of the greatest American cartooning geniuses in the medium’s 100 year history and your books deserve to be known and read. Even if at points it does become the comic book equivalent of Finnegan’s wake: Unreadable genius.

  524. Iestyn says:

    *uncomfortable cough*. Awkwardly discuss colour of walls or anything else

  525. Scott Grammel says:

    Lest anyone bemoan that Sim has taken these theoretical negotiations from real possibility to down-the-rabbit-hole nuttiness, I’d suggest that they reread his very first paragraph way, way up above, and just think for a short moment how very far from reality his demand “to see deep inside [Fantagraphics] financial statements” always was. When, highly unsurprisingly, Kim quickly and unequivocally stated that there would absolutely be no such access proved, Dave neither agreed to drop the request nor again insisted upon it, but simply moved on to another topic.

    Serious negotiations? Hardly.

    Still, I’m sure we’re all glad to hear that Sim hasn’t been emotionally affected by that old TCJ cartoon of him. We otherwise might’ve been concerned on that front.

    Even before this last Sim post, I’d started feeling like one of the crowd in the carny waiting for the geek to come out and bite the head off another live chicken. I didn’t have wait too long.

  526. Kim Thompson says:

    The positive thing about the concentration-camp cartoon (from my point of view) is that it’s so clearly over-the-top, tasteless and, frankly, indefensible that it lacks any real bite: It auto-destructs. Given much of the stuff Dave has said and written over the years, it’s hard to move the bar so far that one would respond to any specific swipe at him with a “Whoa, that’s going too a little far there,” but the cartoon manages to do it. That Dave seems to think it actually may have caused people to believe he’s in some way “like Hitler” (and that this is a viewpoint that needs to be addressed or corrected) says more about Dave’s megalomania and paranoia than it does about the effect of the cartoon.

  527. Briany Najar says:

    I don’t think it’s the specific views espoused that spoiled Cerebus as much as the ensuing formal imbalance – and the sense that the Cerebus project had become derailed (if not abandoned, in all but name) in favour of work that the artist had precluded himself from giving an appropriate vehicle to due to his former commitment.

    I wonder if Sim would be satified by the substitution of “misogynist” with the term “extreme sexist”.

  528. Kim Thompson says:

    “A little too far,” not “too a little far,” dammit. “Don’t type annoyed” is a good corollary to the admonition “Don’t drive angry.”

  529. R. Fiore says:

    Says the guy who blew Julie Doucet to bits. I’m reminded of the line from the Woody Allen movie: “You’d think nobody was ever compared to Mussolini before!” The public figure Sim reminds me the most of is Cat Stevens. The orthodox Muslim is actually not a whole lot more compatible with the contemporary western norms of the status of women than Sim’s. What we tell orthodox Muslims in the States at least is that you are free to follow your religion’s strictures voluntarily, but we will not impose them for you and if some of your relatives want to escape them we will protect them from you. Kim was off base way back when in equating the status of women in traditional societies with racism. American racism at least has its roots in the justification of slavery, which has to rationalize treating people like livestock. While traditional societies don’t grant women equal rights, women do have an honored position in the society on the society’s terms. Slaves don’t have an honored position in a slave society. The thing is, I don’t know that women have as much of an honored place in Sim’s cosmology as they do in traditional societies.

    It ought to be noted that the likes of Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore or Chester Brown don’t typically do more than a brief cheerleading preface for a book. The kind of people who do “contextual material” are usually either (a) working journalists, (b) academics, (c) people who have written a book about the author, or (d) amateur enthusiasts.

  530. Briany Najar says:

    Although I haven’t actually seen that cartoon of the Nazi Sim, from the way it’s been described it sounds more like a satire on the furore around Sim than a judgment on the man himself. A sort of “let’s get things in perspective – and also have a wry cartoony smirk at the situation before us” kind of gesture.

  531. Larry says:

    At lunch today, I read Tim Kreider’s article in TCJ, in which he says that the Fitzgerald half of “Going Home” (which I haven’t read) is (if I have the quote right) “as good as anything Sim ever wrote.” Why not publish that as a one-off? In the interest of getting the ball rolling …

  532. JohnK (UK) says:

    “Extreme sexist” sounds like someone who belittles women from the end of a bungee cord. I like it.

    You know how Michael is about Dave Sim? That’s how I am about Kim Thompson after his performance on this thread. Pucker up, big guy you sold some Tardi books at least!

  533. Kim Thompson says:

    I think that’s right. If the last third of CEREBUS had been coherent and legible as opposed to a series of impenetrable screeds with interpolated aardvark action, any questionable philosophical underpinnings would’ve been cheerfully ignored, glossed over, or accepted by the readership. (Including me.) That readers abandoned CEREBUS over philosophical disagreements and/or his “demonization” is a myth Dave embraces, but if CEREBUS had continued to be actually entertaining I doubt any of this would’ve mattered a whit.

  534. Mike DeLisa says:

    Agreed as to all except maybe Los Tejanos by Jack Jackson (alias Jaxon).

  535. mateor says:

    Can’t we just go back to discussing the celebrity intro-material?

  536. Andrew McIntosh says:

    Dave quotes Kim’s, “But ya know, that was 17 years ago”, but ignores that, in the same post, Kim says, “I completely agree that that image crossed the line in terms of fairness and taste; I wouldn’t have run it.”

    You know what? In the indicia in TCJ #174, Gary is listed as the Editor and Tom Spurgeon as the Managing editor. Kim’s only listed as one of the “Contributing Writers” to the issue. He’s also accusing Kim of conspiring with Gary to commission that caricature of Dave by J. Wong (pretty unflattering in other ways, too, with several layers of chin on Dave).

  537. Stanley Lieber says:

    Re: comment-76112:

    What did CEREBUS’ drop in circulation between 1994 and 2004 look like compared with every other title published during that same period? Was the drop roughly proportionate, significantly disproportionate, wildly disproportionate?

  538. Stanley Lieber says:

    Spoiler: Any objection to be described as demon possessed is interpreted as evidence of being demon possessed.

  539. Anthony Thorne says:

    “We start from Dave Sim being analogous to a concentration camp commandant, we start from the universal acceptance of that view in the comic-book field”

    Dave, c’mon – most of us here could currently give a shit about the earlier controversies, have no interest in rehashing them, and many more people love and respect your work, hence the post count on this thread (over 500). I’ve followed commentary about this reprint negotiation on several other sites, and they have also discussed your work with a tone of warmth, hoping for the best. Put up a petition if you like (as suggested earlier) saying that you’re not as described in that old TCJ cartoon, and that the cartoon was out of line, and I’ll happily sign it, as would many others. As I stated earlier though (and I don’t know if you ever read it) I’m new to Cerebus and am looking for a quality entrance point to the whole series. An isolated excerpt from late in the run doesn’t cut it for me, and nor do the currently available badly printed phonebooks. If a Cerebus reprint series starts at the beginning, I’ll buy every volume that appears. If this negotiation here however doesn’t even advance beyond ultimatums raised over past rhetorical battles, my interest in following the series as a new reader is probably done.

  540. Stanley Lieber says:

    This is the trick: Not all women HAVE to be feminists, it’s just that all living women (and most men) ARE feminists, so it’s acceptable to just refer to them as “women.” See?

  541. Stanley Lieber says:

    Agreed.

  542. Olly Hill says:

    I’m still waiting for the flying monkeys to circle overhead. What started as a lively contractual discussion rapidly went downhill after social/political personal views were dissected. shit, i can get that sort of misinformed hysteria from any ‘funny animal’ youtube clip.Why should personal views be held up as a representative of any persons artistic output? Sure, it colours the discussion but i would like to think i am adult enough to discern between the two. for the record(as if it means anything at all) i enjoyed the early part of cerebus, touches of peake, pop culture references and bloody good artwork. it became slightly dull after. hardly the point to start publishing for the new reader. Mr Sim appears, with regard to his posts here, not interested in publishing anything, in short to use a playground analogy we have here in england, a pricktease. as for that michael chap, the common sense by-pass operation appears to have been a complete success!

  543. Kim Thompson says:

    That’s a point no one’s brought up. All alternative-comics pamphlets dropped like stones in that period. (You will notice that they’re all cancelled or no longer being continued in that format.) CEREBUS’s decline might not even be particularly egregious by the standards of other long-lived pamphlets whose authors were not embroiled in gender-issue controversies and/or shunned by 95% of the industry. I don’t feel comfortable volunteering specific numbers for any of our titles or cartoonists, but I bet there’s a retailer out there who followed the Diamond figures assiduously enough to be able to weigh in.

  544. Briany Najar says:

    What, so feminist men are women?

  545. Iestyn says:

    I know a lot of women who would get very angry being lanelled as feminists. Which is what’s really funny, the whole idea that anti-feminism makes one a pariah, i know plenty of women who are anti-feminist because they think its too extreme and man hating.

  546. R. Haining says:

    Since Mr. Sim quoted President Kennedy with apparent admiration in an earlier posting, I think we should look to the Cuban missile crisis as an example of the usefulness of private negotiations. If both sides had maintained their public stances and not entered into the secret agreement that defused the crisis, the results may well have been catastrophic (even with the participation of the first class of the X-Men).

    Mr. Sim has a grievance against the Comics Journal over a cartoon that was published a number of years ago. I have not seen the cartoon and it is not relevant to the matter at hand if Mr. Sim is justified in the feeling the way he does. What is relevant is that discussing the matter publicly, he creates a situation where the the only options appear to be that either Mr. Groth and Mr. Thompson have to perform a public Mea Culpa (which I would put in the No Way in Hell category), or Mr. Sim has to say, “Oh, forget about it, guys. No hard feelings.” (Same category).

    If the matter had been discussed privately, hurt feelings may been addressed directly and the matter may been able to be addressed obliquely in the press release announcing the project. For example, “While our relationship with Mr. Sim has been contentious at times, and the rhetoric may have become overheated on occasion, we have never questioned his talent or his importance to the medium. Therefore, we are proud to announce,” and so on. But whatever words you chose, you may have been able to find a way where all sides could preserve their sense of personal honor and integrity.

    But since this is public negotiation, I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Thompson set a deadline for Mr. Sim to address what he believes are the core issues and what he believes are the deal breakers. If Mr. Sim does not do so, it should be clear to all concerned that he is not serious about this matter.

    After all, do we really want the responses to start climbing into the four digits?

  547. J Lundberg says:

    Well, now that youy mention it…

  548. Kit says:

    Well, of course, I agree — as I agreed eighteen years ago when Gary and Kim first chose to depict me as a concentration camp commandant in the page of THE COMICS JOURNAL, I’ve agreed every day since then and I agree today.
    ….As all of you have seen this past weekend, Kim (presumably with the concurrence of Gary) is completely unrepentant, which is rather what I gathered the situation was and is. “That was seventeen years ago.”

    Dave, you don’t seem to be reading the thread clearly – Kim has said more than once, including in the very post to which you link, that he had nothing to do with The Comics Journal at that time, disagrees with the cartoon, and wouldn’t have run it then or now had he had a say.

    We start from Dave Sim being analogous to a concentration camp commandant, we start from the universal acceptance of that view in the comic-book field, we start from the fact that that is our Entrenched Reality of 18 years duration and we build from there in whatever direction seems sensible.

    We don’t start from there, though – literally everyone in this thread with the probable exception of Groth has either never seen the Jeff Wong cartoon or thought it was over-the-top, unhelpful to the debate in that chunk of that issue, and generally dickish.

    If one single cartoonist in one single daily newspaper draws a local politician as a hippopotamus in bondage gear, the entire pool of voters don’t automatically think of that politician as a bondage-keen hippo for evermore, or indeed seriously at all.

  549. Kit says:

    Yeah, me too, I only went through the direct comment thread.

  550. Kit says:

    Give it up for Optic Nerve!

  551. mateor says:

    Why would commentors on this thread spend their time recommending private negotiation? Are you trying to comment this thread into non-existence?
    The last third of Cerebus is just as interesting/entertaining as the first 2/3s. If the exegesis isnt for you, I can understand. But the rest is great, great cartooning.

    Try it, you’ll like it.

  552. Michael says:

    Kim Thompson said:

    “The positive thing about the concentration-camp cartoon (from my point of view) is that it’s so clearly over-the-top, tasteless and, frankly, indefensible that it lacks any real bite: It auto-destructs. Given much of the stuff Dave has said and written over the years, it’s hard to move the bar so far that one would respond to any specific swipe at him with a “Whoa, that’s going too a little far there,” but the cartoon manages to do it. That Dave seems to think it actually may have caused people to believe he’s in some way “like Hitler” (and that this is a viewpoint that needs to be addressed or corrected) says more about Dave’s megalomania and paranoia than it does about the effect of the cartoon.”

    The positive thing about depicting Dave as a Nazi warden in a concentration camp strewn with emancipated bodies…? No, Kim, there is NO positive ‘thing’ about it, and there is NO WAY to reduce the scope of the decision to house something like it from appalling, regardless of whether or not you were “just a writer” at the time. Look, you are now offering to publish Cerebus… and you were okay with TCJ #174 then, and, as far as I can tell, you’re okay with it now, and you’re wondering what the problem is?

    “Dave is a Paranoid megalomaniac”. Same old bs that you’ve been spouting for almost two decades, and it’s just as false as it ever was.

    Degrading Dave Sim may have been “acceptable” when you were just part of the audience, but this is a different context, and you are living in a dream world if you think this is acceptable behavior from a prospective publisher when dealing with the creator in question. I can’t believe I’m the only one to say this.

    If Dave is indeed desiring to work with a publisher, I hope – and I really do – that he rises above this absolutely reprehensible ghetto and is able to interact with a publishing company that is comprised of decent human beings – meaning human beings who treat him with decency. A publisher who won’t allow the proceedings to devolve into puerile pack behavior, spewing out degrading commentary, attacking the creator in question. And it’s not like the cat’s away and the mice will play, is it? This is trickling down from the top; the very publisher in question is the source of it. Who else does this? This isn’t open negotiating, it’s open season on Dave all over again. It’s very disappointing.

  553. Andrew McIntosh says:

    “you were okay with TCJ #174 then, and, as far as I can tell, you’re okay with it now”—except for all those times he said he wasn’t okay with it, that it was unfair, and that he wouldn’t have run it himself.

  554. Michael says:

    My wording was a bit much. I think each incarnation – that is to say – each human being – is ultimately very incredible, including you, Kim, regardless of what you think of that. This is all about context, THIS context, but I don’t ultimately desire to create stress or to belittle another person or organization on any level, under the surface of this context. I am just super protective of Dave Sim, and I realize the absurdity, given that he doesn’t need the protection, and I’m probably the last person on his list that he would want it from. I honestly just want to see him be free from this demeaning dialog, and I do believe it is largely trickling down from Fantagraphics leadership. I’m sure there is another publisher that would be more like a clean slate, and, as someone who, for whatever reason, happens to have a lifelong passion for Dave Sim, I would very much like to see him treated with the utmost dignity, or, in this context, even the slightest modicum of dignity. I very honestly do not believe he is ‘bringing it on himself’, and am quite sure that, in a different (non Fantagraphics) context, this would all be a non issue. That’s where I’m coming from.

  555. Anthony Thorne says:

    If Dave maintains any interest whatsoever in letting Fantagraphics reprint Cerebus sequentially from HIGH SOCIETY onwards – and lets us know about it, hopefully sooner rather than later – I think we’ll all be pleasantly surprised at the amount of positive dialogue we’ll hear from both Fanta and Dave. If he doesn’t, then the ‘demeaning dialog’ you detect from Fanta (and I’m not getting into whether it’s there or not) surely doesn’t have long to run.

  556. R. Haining says:

    While there are areas where a public negotiation (really, more of a public commentary on negotiations) may be useful in this matter (format, introductions, what material should be reprinted first), there are areas where it is not. In fact, as I tried to make clear in my previous comment, a public stance can lead to rigidity on both sides and be counterproductive.

    As to trying to comment this thread out of existence, the point of any negotiation is to reach to reach an agreement (or not). Therefore, reaching a conclusion is part of the very nature of a negotiation.

  557. Tim Webber says:

    Kim has made very clear that, “I had nothing to do with running THE COMICS JOURNAL at the time of the concentration-camp drawing, I felt it was way out of line then “. I am wondering if Gary Groth feels he owes an apology to Dave, given that he was editor of The Comics Journal at the time and now stands to benefit financially should Fantagraphics publish Cerebus.

  558. Michael Grabowski says:

    Except for the part about Kim being co-publisher of The Comics Journal, regardless of his day-to-day or long-term uninvolvement in production or editorial.

    I was really turned off as a Journal reader when that cartoon was published. I kept buying & reading it, but it really didn’t reflect well on the publishers at the time (or now) that there wasn’t some sort of published recognition or perhaps even an apology in a subsequent issue that that cartoon didn’t speak for them. It seriously tops anything they ever published to make Ellison look foolish (or Fleischer for that matter) and it was beneath them.

    Further, while the magazine’s coverage of Sim may not have done anything directly to turn off his then-current audience that Dave wasn’t already doing himself, its cartoon & coverage may have deterred any TCJ reader unfamiliar with Cerebus at the time from reading the comic or the phone books, even the ones everyone likes.

  559. Michael Grabowski says:

    Of course it also doesn’t reflect well on me as a continuing Journal reader then that I didn’t write in to say “hey, don’t you think that cartoon was a little much?” I do have that regret, and that lack of any such published reaction from most if not all TCJ readers then might be part of the deafening silence of the comics audience at the time that Dave is going on about somewhere above here.

  560. Box Brown says:

    Let me just throw this one out there: Retrofit comic would release Cerebus in mini-comic form. One mini-comic per month for 50 years. I’ll let you see all my finances (fits on one side of a sheet of paper)

  561. Stevie B says:

    There were people who wrote in and said the cartoon was a bad idea, and The Journal printed the letter. I think Kim is capable of defending himself, but I would point out that there is a damned if you do damned if you don’t aspect of Kim being co-publisher; TCJ and Fanta got a lot of stick over the fact that Fanta published TCJ and could direct editorial policy; we’re getting into territory where you’re suggesting a publisher interfere in editorial policy. I’ve always respected what I’ve thought of as fantagraphics very hands-off approach to TCJ editorially. And hell, if we’re arguing about a cartoon, why not drag the ultimate cartoon controversy into it all!

  562. Larry says:

    I embedded this question in an earlier thread, but just in case it went unnoticed: in his TCJ 301 article, Tim Kreider says that the Fitzgerald half of “Going Home” (which I haven’t read) is (if I have the quote right) “as good as anything Sim ever wrote.” Why not publish that as a one-off? In the interest of getting the ball rolling …

  563. Larry says:

    I don’t know how TCJ is run, but generally, in the magazine publishing industry, the title “publisher” refers to the person who runs the business end of things. Not only is a publisher not usually involved in day-t0-day editorial decisions, but any such involvement would be a breach of journalistic ethics: you can’t risk letting business interests influence editorial content. There are a few 198s-era issues of TCJ online, and on their mastheads, Kim is listed as head of ad sales — absolutely the last department you want involved in editorial decisions. (At one magazine where I worked, I had a colleague who had been at BusinessWeek. There, he told me, people on the editorial staff weren’t even allowed to *talk* to people on the business side.)

  564. Briany Najar says:

    Has Dave been getting all of Kim’s messages? I’m wondering, because he hasn’t given any indication (as far as I can recall) that he’s necessarily aware of Kim’s refusal to start with the Going Home tetralogy.
    Part of yesterday’s HardTalk post, if it was actually written in the last few days, is somewhat disconcerting:

    “That’s why I’m taking the projects one at a time: HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL first and now that my part of it is done, the Fantagraphics GOING HOME 4 volume project.”

    http://www.momentofcerebus.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/hardtalk-virtual-tour-13.html
    It seems like he’s either blissfully out of the loop or just refusing to acknowledge Kim’s position.
    I don’t know, maybe he’s just taking the opportunity to have a bit of a chin-wag, regardless of any theoretical deals.

  565. Paddy Lynch says:

    This is horsesh*t. Kim mentions that he’d be interested in publishing the FIRST two thirds of Cerebus in a more’ ‘bookstore friendly’ fromat and Dave declines and then harps on about how much the literary (comics or otherwise) world wouldn’t appreciate Form and Void.

    Sorry for coming late to the party, BTW.

  566. Kim Thompson says:

    I think it’s clear that my goal was to re-present the totality of CEREBUS in a way that it will reach a whole new audience that it has been locked off from due to the way it’s been presented to date, completely setting aside the idiotic gender-issues controversy that has clouded appreciation of Sim’s genuine achievements. Dave’s goal, it turns out, was to get what he thinks is his best book reviewed by THE NEW YORK TIMES (oblivious to the fact that it’s utterly impenetrable as a standalone work) and to get everyone in general but me in particular to apologize, grovel and recant for what we’ve said on the gender-issues matter over the last 15 years (oblivious to the fact that spotlighting it all over again will do nothing but drag him back into his crazy-pariah status as people previously unfamiliar with it are confronted with it). He had a chance to basically start virtually with a clean slate as an artist (and stripped of his reputation as a nutty polemicist) and essentially reboot here, and instead he wants to endlessly re-fight his old battles.

    I never thought there was more than a 20% chance of this ever coming off, really. But I thought it was worth a shot, for the reasons I have exhaustively listed in this thread, including my tremendous respect for Dave’s work. And, frankly, I wanted to squelch the paranoid, self-pitying “I have to leave comics now because everyone has rejected me” narrative Dave has been promulgating.

    Exeunt.

  567. Tim Webber says:

    The ‘managing editor’ of that issue of The Comics Journal was Tom Spurgeon, who had this to say about it today at The Comics Reporter:

    “I thought the Nazi cartoon in the offending issue was unnecessary, but Gary outranked me….

    I really enjoy a lot of Cerebus and I think Dave Sim is a first-rate cartoonist. He’s been extremely kind to me on several occasions. I very much respect his accomplishments. I’m sorry to have contributed to any pain he’s felt.”

  568. Dave Hartley says:

    That’s a pretty dishonest misrepresentation of what Tom Spurgeon says about the issue of the cartoon through selective quotation.

  569. Tim Webber says:

    Apologies. Not my intention, but I can see how it reads that way.

    The key elements for me were that Gary overruled Tom and Tom’s apology.

    However, Tom also states:

    Don’t get me wrong: I was fine with it running. I still am. If I wasn’t fine with it, I would have quit. If I was no longer fine with it, I’d say so. I don’t think anyone on planet earth thought that TCJ was claiming that Dave Sim was seriously a Nazi death camp commandant, or had the equivalent moral standing of one. If anyone would like to present someone who came around to hating Dave with Nazi-appropriate passion because of that cartoon, please write.

    I recommend everyone goes and read Tom’s full article.

  570. Briany Najar says:

    It didn’t really convey Spurgeon’s overall thrust, did it?
    Here’s a complimentarily biased selection:

    “Dave didn’t have a problem working with the magazine on a two-part interview including giving us the rights to make a cover just a couple of years after the offending Nazi cartoon.[...]
    I was fine with it running. I still am.[...]
    I don’t think anyone on planet earth thought that TCJ was claiming that Dave Sim was seriously a Nazi death camp commandant, or had the equivalent moral standing of one.”

    http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/dave_sim_fantagraphics_negotiation_devolves_into_backbiting/

  571. Kim Thompson says:

    Yes, you should go to comicsreporter.com to read the whole thing.

    I thought the cartoon was tasteless and over the line, as I’ve said, but not beyond the pale. My perhaps weasely position is that I wouldn’t have run it but I wouldn’t apologize for having run it, either, which seems to be exactly Tom’s position. And it occurs to me that if you took perhaps Dave’s most infamous quote (which both Dave and his claque have always scrupulously ignored) describing women as “a gender which has no ethics, no scruples, no sense of right and wrong,” and if you changed this to refer to Jews as “a [race] which has no ethics, no scruples, no sense of right and wrong,” and then told people this was a quote from a 20th century book and asked them to guess which one, I have a pretty fair what the #1 pick would be. (If Dave ever wrote a book about his gender-issue battles, “My Struggle” might not be an inappropriate title.)

    Dave bringing up and re-fighting this particular battle will never rebound to his benefit. Ever. But he’ll never figure that out. Ever.

  572. Briany Najar says:

    Oop. There you go. Beat me to it.

  573. Briany Najar says:

    “Oop. There you go. Beat me to it.”
    Referring to Tim Webber’s update about Tom Spurgeon’s post.

  574. TUCK! says:

    Really, forget (re-)publishing Cerebus. Someone cartoon this thread and give us all comics’ version of Nixon/Frost. Or whatever.

  575. Tim Webber says:

    Kim,
    Don’t assume that I agree with Dave here, but a ‘gender’ is not a ‘race’. This is no arguement for running the Nazi cartoon, which I thought was pretty shameful (but I still buy Fantagraphics books anyway).
    Tim

  576. R. Fiore says:

    “Gender” and “race”: See the distinction. Don’t see the difference.

  577. Brian Hibbs says:

    “but I bet there’s a retailer out there who followed the Diamond figures assiduously enough to be able to weigh in”

    Well, I threw out most of the industry hardcopy a long time ago, so I can’t look it up but yes, that sounds about right. I have no recollection of CEREBUS dropping out-of-proportion to other indy B&W comics.

    In my very considered opinion, what caused CEREBUS’ sales to drop, more than ANY other factor was what we now call “waiting for the trade” — CEREBUS was pretty much the first book that you KNEW there was going to be a TP collection (After a certain point), so if you didn’t care so much about the text pieces and letter cols it was “cheaper” and “better” to wait for the books.

    Also, CEREBUS was increasingly being WRITTEN for the trade — with single conversations sometimes taking 3 issues. Starting with the release of the book of “Rick’s Story”, I can see a sharp drop at the beginning of each new arc, as readers “wait for the trade”.

    With all due respect to our hosts, I don’t actually think that the average consumer cared (or knew!) what THE COMICS JOURNAL thought about CEREBUS (or Dave Sim, more specifically). In fact, I can see in my store records (those I have going back to 1989), CEREBUS always out sold TCJ by roughly double. Specifically I can see that in ’96 I sold 19 copies in the first four weeks of TCJ #184 (the Sim interview issue), while CEREBUS #205, which came out the following week, sold 42 copies in its first four weeks on sale. (Just for grins, we sold 33 copies of that month’s BATMAN, and 51 copies of UNCANNY X-MEN)

    The “concentration camp” picture isn’t easily found as I write this — googling “dave sim concentration camp” (and then trying to add “comics journal” in a second search) — doesn’t find the picture in at least the first ten pages of image search.

    I personally believe that it is actually really difficult to “ruin” an artists “reputation”, because it is the ART, at the end of the day, that people remember. Dave’s got a marketing problem right this moment, but it has little to do with “controversy”, and a lot more to do with his last two projects not selling as well as anyone would have liked. THAT is how a *market* marks an artist’s “rep”.

    I strongly hope that CEREBUS eventually gets reprinted in a higher quality format. I think I can sell it.

    -B

  578. Erik Aucoin says:

    I’d subscribe to that!

  579. Tim Webber says:

    Sorry to keep banging on about this, but if I’m reading all of Dave’s posts correctly (and you know as much as I do) some sort of apology to Dave for the Nazi cartoon from Fantagraphics would go a long way in breaking the current log jam in ‘negotiations’:

    What we have established today is that:

    1) Kim felt the cartoon was “way out of line”, but he wasn’t involved in running The Comics Journal then… but if he was, and he had run the cartoon, he wouldn’t apologise anyway.

    2) Tom thought the cartoon was “unnecessary”, but was overruled by Gary, is “fine with it running”… but has apologised for “any pain [Dave’s] felt”.

    3) Gary (who has remained silent on the issue) did run the cartoon and (I assume) is/was fine with it… and presumably won’t be apologising anytime soon.

    Hmmm… to make any progress, I think (at a minimum) we’re short one apology here.

  580. Kim Thompson says:

    Which one of us is Nixon and which one of us is Frost?

  581. Kim Thompson says:

    I think I agree with pretty much all of this, including that Sim’s readers and the general comics readership as a whole either were unaware of or didn’t give a shit about THE COMICS JOURNAL’s comments on Sim. GLAMOURPUSS’s failure probably has everything to do with the general collapse of the pamphlet form and its own rather bizarre contents (I find the “fashion” half utterly unreadable, and suspect the Raymond/Drake half has an intrinsically limited audience) than any residual “Tangent”-based shunning.

  582. Kim Thompson says:

    10 more and we’ve hit 600 (or twice CEREBUS), baby!

  583. Iestyn says:

    I say one for every page published!

  584. Michael says:

    “He had a chance to basically start virtually with a clean slate as an artist (and stripped of his reputation as a nutty polemicist) and essentially reboot here, and instead he wants to endlessly re-fight his old battles.”

    By your own admission, you were “part of the culture that ostracized Dave Sim”, how is this any different, here, now?

    As a publisher, I wish you would just keep your focus on “enriching the field and industry”, and “keeping a great cartoonist in the public eye”, and just ignore everything else. Don’t get caught up in politics or ideas that you don’t agree with. It seems like you have a need to let people know that you don’t agree with Dave, or that you think he’s insane (paranoid, megalomaniac, idiotic, etc.). A publisher should go to bat for their best creators (in this case, one of THE best). Maybe you can just take a more dispassionate stance on his views (just say “no comment”), let it roll off your feathers, and keep your focus on what you ARE passionate about: publishing an awesome cartoonist and enriching the field.

    You’re the leader here, this is YOUR forum, and YOU are the publisher in question, so everything that you’re doing and saying trickles down. If you consider just running a slightly tighter ship, and if you just keep your eyes on the prize, and keep your focus on purely positive aspects, completely shifting your focus from anything negative right on over to the positive, then maybe good things will start to come of this dialog. It’s going to require being less stubborn, and really just being the bigger person, if you can somehow find a way to clear the air from past (and, frankly, current) transgressions. You have to bear in mind that Dave doesn’t sit in front of a computer all day long, he has a small window of time to write, and on top of that there is a middle man conveying information to and from him. Yes, he chose this forum, so you can employ the ‘he made his own bed’ phrase if you want, but if you consider just meeting him halfway, and utilize a positive focus that is unwavering, by remaining dispassionate on the views, and engaged in the act of publishing a great cartoonist, as you proceed to keep your eyes on the prize, then maybe, bit by bit, something starts to take shape. Swivel your focus from what you don’t like about what’s happening, to what you want to have happen, and KEEP it there. And why not go ahead and complete the sentence? Make it fun, make it honest, make it happen. Play ball a little, man. What have you got to lose?

  585. Michael says:

    Oi vey.

  586. Larry says:

    I agree with this, too — as per my previous comment about ceasing to buy the individual issues but continuing to buy the phone books. I also agree with Kim’s previous remark about Dave’s “climbing up his own asshole.” I think that the decline in the Cerebus pamphlet’s sales was, as the philosophers say, overdetermined.

  587. Brian Payne says:

    I’ve never understood how anyone can prefer the first half of Cerebus to the second as in my opinion it was every bit as good if not better than the first. In fact, I’d rank Minds, Guys, Going Home, and Form&Void in my top five”phonebooks” list and as some of Sim and Gerhard’s best work.

  588. Brian Payne says:

    Actually, to clarify and amend my comment above, I can totally understand matters of personal preference but actually fail to understand how anyone can like “the first half to two-thirds of CEREBUS’s run” yet dismiss the second or final third i.e. Guys, Going Home and Form and Void.

  589. Briany Najar says:

    The keystone to this whole stack of moodiness is Dave’s self-published comments about women. Is he going to apologise?
    Promulgating the idea that women literally can’t think straight is far more insidiously consequential than running an editiorial cartoon which deploys an analogy between one kind of bigot and another.
    TCJ aren’t canvassing for signatures on a petition saying they don’t hate Dave Sim, and they’re not denying existence of the cartoon. The cartoon is a petty triviality in all this.

  590. Stanley Lieber says:

    > Hmmm… to make any progress, I think (at a minimum) we’re short one apology

    This should have been outlined in the terms Dave laid out in his first post.

  591. Stanley Lieber says:

    We now shift from extracting suitable terms to publish CEREBUS to extracting an apology from Kim and Gary.

  592. David Groenewegen says:

    I’m a long time fan of Dave’s work, and despite some of the claims in this thread, wrote at least two complimentary reviews of Cerebus in TCJ in the years after the Tangent issue. Bought every issue until 300. Re-read it last year, and still think it is great, even if I don’t agree with all the views expressed therein.

    But I never bought an issue of Glamourpuss because (a) I don’t buy any comics in pamphlet form anymore. There isn’t a shop close enough to me to make it worthwhile for one. (b) I found the fashion stuff dull and a one note joke. (c) I could never figure out why Dave wanted to be an Alex Raymond imitator. He’s one of the great artists of the last thirty years. And (d) part of me expected there would be a trade one day.

    So, no shunning. Just waiting for Dave to work on something that interested me. I have been following this in the hope that it will become possible. Dave would be a great loss.

  593. David Groenewegen says:

    This thread reminds me of the old TCJ message board. In both good and bad ways. The Sim threads in those were always doozies as well.

  594. Michael says:

    It’s long overdue, deserved, and completely warranted. There is no ‘clean slate’ without it.

    I don’t see why Kim and Gary are incapable of humbling themselves enough to show even the slightest modicum of desire for reparation. It would probably be good for them on a number of levels to simply offer a sincere apology. If they don’t see that they’ve done anything wrong, then they are the worst of all possible options to publish Cerebus, unless Dave is willing to overlook the fact that the people potentially responsible for getting his work into the public eye think that he’s a “paranoid, idiotic megalomaniac”, and have no reservations whatsoever for trashing him on their own website forum.

  595. Stanley Lieber says:

    Would you agree this looks like an ambush, then?

  596. Kim Thompson says:

    Actually, I’d publish all of it, even the later parts I don’t like. It is ultimately a single work, you either commit to publishing a single work or you don’t.

  597. Kim Thompson says:

    “As a publisher, I wish you would just keep your focus on “enriching the field and industry”, and “keeping a great cartoonist in the public eye”, and just ignore everything else. Don’t get caught up in politics or ideas that you don’t agree with.”

    Well, yes., sage advice, Yoda. But who’s the apparently bipolar jackass who more than anyone else on this thread has insisted on repeatedly and shrilly bringing up the entire history of Dave’s opinions and the misogyny controversy and his history with Fantagraphics, and basically done his level best to derail the conversation and scotch the project on that basis, while pretty much everyone else was trying to figure out a way to make it work in that dispassionate, focused way you’re now touting?

  598. Briany Najar says:

    Dave Sim?

  599. Kim Thompson says:

    Wrong, try again. Dave completely (and laudably) avoided the issue for almost the entire length. He only started tipping into it when he brought up Gaiman, and then the crazy opinions and self-martyring started to come out, and the wheels fell off the bus.

  600. Michael says:

    Why, is that what YOU think, Stanely? And by “this” do you mean “the point of this thread”? If so, (either way) I would say it’s an absurd question. I don’t think there was an intention to ambush. To me, it just looks like the results of stubborn people who are a bit on the puerile side of things, and who aren’t willing to take a more professional track, and who aren’t willing to offer the simplest modicum of decency in the guise of an apology that is long over due, deserved, and warranted, really, whether there is publishing or not.

  601. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Michael Re: comment-76904:

    What I meant was: Do you think Dave ever intended to let Fantagraphics publish CEREBUS, or is this just a fun way to once again point out that they called him names.

  602. Stanley Lieber says:

    (I know the answer already.)

  603. Stanley Lieber says:

    I brought up the petition because I thought it was hypocritical to demand people sign the petition but then consider working with publishers who hadn’t. I think I might have been the first to breach some of these topics. Sorry.

  604. Michael says:

    That’s two different questions from my vantage, so let’s take out the word “or”. As far as both questions are concerned – 1. Do you think Dave ever intended to let Fantagraphics publish CEREBUS; 2. is this just a fun way to once again point out that they called him names –

    The short answer is “no”.

  605. Paul Slade says:

    Back on September 6, I spotted Kim’s original offer here on tcj.com and wrote to A Moment of Cerebus drawing Tim’s attention to it and suggesting he ask Dave to reply. The result, I felt sure, would be an on-point productive discussion which led smoothly into the Fantagraphics Complete Cerebus starting publication next year.

    Mind you, I’ve been wrong before…

  606. Groth says:

    “I am Gary Groth and I approved that political cartoon.”

    I still do.

    Just for the record.

    Let me take you back to that lovely day in late 1994 when I made the decision to run that political cartoon. Let me start at the beginning.

    Sim writes an essay in Cerebus 186 advocating, among other proposals, the annulment of most meaningful rights to womankind. He runs responses in subsequent issues of Cerebus, one of which compares his essay to Mein Keimpf (and by extension, him to Adolf). When we decided to devote a part of the Journal to this, I think the cartoonist and I discussed a direction for the image, and we decided that the letter in Cerebus comparing Sim’s piece to Mein Kampf was a good jumping-off point.

    Running the cartoon was, in the context, fully warranted. Sim had written and published what may be the most hateful, bigoted, and incendiary text ever to appear in a (North) American comic. This, in my opinion, required a vigorous response. I won’t argue that the cartoon was subtle, but I don’t believe subtlety was what was required in the context. I do not remember either Tom Spurgeon (who was managing editor of the magazine) or Kim (who co-wrote the lead journalistic article surveying comics professionals) objecting to it at the time; if they had, yes, I would’ve overruled them. I felt that strongly about it. Is it tasteless? It was certainly aimed at a repugnant target, and that any “tastelessness” (how genteel! Let all our political cartoons be tasteful above all else) was appropriate in the circumstances.

    To recap: Sim prints “Reads” in Cerebus 186; he runs letters about it in subsequent issues, one of which compares it to Mein Kampf; inspired by that letter (written by Chester Brown’s then-girlfriend, by the way; small world), we extrapolate the concept, and run an editorial cartoon commenting on his position re women.

    Consider this: TCJ, as has been pointed out, sold half of what Cerebus did. (That sounds about right: Cerebus probably sold around 20,000, the Journal around 9,000). Surely, a greater proportion of Cerebus readers cared about Dave Sim and Cerebus than that of Journal readers. It was Sim who first published a Dave-Sim-Is-Hitler analogy comment in a forum that would have far greater impact on Dave Sim’s livelihood than the Journal — his own comic, erad exclusively his his own fans. Logically, then, Sim did far more to cultivate what he perceives as the Sim-Is-Hitler public persona that he believes currently exists (which, keep in mind, only exists in Sim’s head). So, we have several layers of lunacy at work here: the first is that there’s wide perception of Sim-as-Hitler (which there isn’t) and the second is that the Journal was solely responsible for this when it was in fact Sim’s own Cerebus that was, logically, far more responsible.

    It’s all deliciously ironic when you think about it.

    To those of you who are lobbying to “extract” an apology from me for running the cartoon (and throw the artist who exercised his own conscience to draw it, Jeff Wong, under the bus along with it), I don’t think so. Thanks for asking, though.

    Given that Sim himself was the first person to publish a Dave-Sim-Is-Hitler analogy, his hurt feelings over the cartoon (and revisiting it to rationalize scotching any deal_ seems particularly disingenuous. (In his very line he writes, “OK, well, Kim. Howdy. The short answer to your question would be, ‘No.” Nothing against Fantagraphics.” That’s pretty definitive: nothing. Nothing wold include mean political cartoons published almost 20 years ago. But in the unlikely event that this were a deal breaker, he should’ve said so immediately rather than spending a couple weeks ”negotiating.” In fact, it looks more and more like Dave’s willingness to “negotiate” and his demand to do so publicly, was disingenuous from the getgo. Has anyone considered that if Sim is going to make an announcement about publishing a book with another publisher, that those negotiations obviously weren’t conducted in public? Why, if Sim were so mortally offended by the political cartoon, did he continue to work with the me and Journal, giving us the longest interview in his career, and writing essays for the magazine? It is a fact, albeit a peculiar one, that Dave and I have continued to have a civil relationship notwithstanding our divergent views on social and interpersonal matters.

    I’ve spent one hundredth the amount of time Kim has here, but it’s still more than I should’ve. I have authors who have signed contracts for books with us that require and deserve my attention, and I have little to no interest in debating the “tastelessness” of a cartoon I printed 20 years ago and which I stand behind foursquare.

  607. Tony Dunlop says:

    “Says the guy who blew Julie Doucet to bits.”

    Say, I must have missed this. I’m a big fan of both Dave’s and Julie’s. Where did Dave write about her? (If she was satirized in Cerebus either I’ve forgotten it or it went over my head…)

    And while I’m temporarily delurked; Not that anyone cares, since I’m not a writer, artist, or publisher, but I did sign the petition a few years ago. Having been – very happily – married for ten years now I’ve definitely seen some of the stuff Dave described in Reads close up. But really, now, at this point nobody gives a flying f*ck but Dave himself. I just don’t get why he keeps bringing it up, unless he really isn’t serious about getting Cerebus published.

  608. Briany Najar says:

    Have you read Tangent? It really is wonderfully grotesque.

    I just don’t get why he keeps bringing it up,[...]”
    Because he wants more supplicants to sign his register of people who would rather advocate extreme sexism than risk offending the delicate ego of a man who made a good comic.

  609. DanielT says:

    In the unlikely event that Fantagraphics does end up publishing the complete Cerebus, please do a compendium volume that includes all the stuff not in the 300 issues and make this article the last piece (I’d love to see Crumb illustrate it the way he did Pekar’s talking head pages).

  610. Dustin Riccio says:

    I can’t believe I’ve read this entire thing. Should I assume my No-Prize is in the mail?

  611. R. Fiore says:

    It was in one of the last books, Latter Days I believe, though I don’t have my Cerebus books where I can easily get at them and can’t give you any specifics. I referred to it in my review of the end of Cerebus. I remembered that her Cerebus effigy was terminated with extreme prejudice, but I had to Google to try to confirm the means, which might not be 100% accurate. I interpreted it as a reflection of Sim’s resentment of female cartoonists he felt had no talent being more highly regarded than he was.

  612. Kit says:

    You’re the leader here, this is YOUR forum, and YOU are the publisher in question, so everything that you’re doing and saying trickles down

    This is Tim and Dan’s forum. Why don’t you let what they’re doing and saying trickle down to you?

  613. mateor says:

    Oh man. I think anyone who has followed this thread and considered my contributions at all (i.e. no one, most likely)can see I am solidly pro-Dave.

    But come on. No one owes anyone anything. Publishing is business, if the cartoon is that big of a deal then there will likely BE no deal.

    If Dave requires an apology, then he needs to man-up and say so instead of this total weirdness from some sort of sock-puppet.

    Cerebus is my favorite comic ever. I find it as intellectually challenging as anything i have read in print. I whole-heartedly support anything that brings it to new readers and new attention.

    I do not dispute that Dave’s reputation has been sullied, and to an unfair degree. But i disagree that is has been shattered. Shattered connotes an irreparable state that I don’t believe in.

    Get the work out there. Let the new readers decide,for themselves. I think the comics world is ready to acknowledge Dave Sim as a comics savant behind one of the seminal works of the medium. The vision, substance and integrity is on full display. The artistic vision is singular and powerful.

    I consider the publishing offer from FBI to be the best chance at the public reappraisal Cerebus so richly deserves. I would have liked to see it happen.

    These weird step-in demands from non-principles are off-putting road blocks. Dave, if ever there were natterings from “The Light”, these are they.

  614. Tim Hodler says:

    Just so everyone knows why he isn’t answering any lingering questions, Michael won’t be commenting on this thread any longer. This is probably an overdue development, I realize. Anyway, I think he’s made his positions sufficiently clear. Thanks for your patience.

  615. R. Fiore says:

    Short version: To Dave, Kim is Sinn Fein, Gary is the IRA, and Dave thinks of them as in cahoots.

    Summary of the discussion:

    Firefly: It was silly of me to lose my temper on account of that little thing you called me.

    Trentino: Little thing I called you? What did I call you?

    Firefly: (Chuckling) Gosh, I don’t even remember what it was.

    Trentino: Well, do you mean “worm”?

    Firefly: No, that wasn’t it.

    Trentino: I know, “swine.”

    Firefly: Uh-uh. No, it was a seven letter word.

    Trentino: Oh yes, “upstart.”

    Firefly: That’s it. Upstart. Mrs. Teasdale, this man is impossible. My course is clear. This means war!

    Mrs. Teasdale: Oh!

    Trentino: You runt!

    Firefly: I still like upstart the best.

  616. R. Haining says:

    After looking back it is nearly impossible to escape the conclusion that Dave Sim did not enter into these negotiations in good faith. He avoids the central issues (in particular whether starting with Going Home was a deal breaker for him). Two weeks into this process he brings up a cartoon that was printed nearly twenty years ago and implicitly makes demands (an unequivocal apology) that no reasonable person would expect any self respecting journalist to accede to.
    I cannot believe that Mr. Sim was ever serious about entering into a contract with Fantagraphics if he feels that Mr. Thompson was a “ringleader of the tarring and feathering of a decade ago.”
    As I pointed out in an earlier posting, publishers have limited resources. By engaging Mr. Thompson (and to a much lesser degree, Mr. Groth) in this charade, he takes away time they could have spent working with talented artists (not mention tracking down Pogo proof pages). By doing so, he does a disservice to his fellow artists. He also raises, then dashes the hopes of his fans who long to see his work reprinted in a nice format.
    I started off feeling sympathy for Mr. Sim. Now I feel it would be poetic justice if he winds up working in the tar sands in Canada.
    It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s going to wind up doing it.
    And since Mr. Sim’s hands are metaphorically dirty, they may as well be literally dirty as well.

  617. Briany Najar says: