100 Hour Tour: MillarWorld Forum
What follows are the posts from Dave Sim made to the MillarWorld Forum as part of his "100 Hour Internet Tour".
QUOTE (Bruno Batista @ Feb 14 2008, 12:06 AM): Right, here's the obvious first question. You've been pegged by many people as a misogynist. Is this new book an attempt to prove otherwise? Or completely unrelated, and you just had a story you wanted to tell starring a female character?
First of all, I'd like to thank Mark Millar for the use of his forum here to promote glamourpuss. I remember a dialogue he had with Brian Bendis in WIZARD magazine last summer when he was finally finished the huge CIVIL WAR project where he said that his most vivid recollection of working on CIVIL WAR would be of lying in a hospital bed, making marginal notes on scripts and puking into a bucket.
That to me is a very good example of exactly the level of dedication that I think we need to see more of here in the comic book field and which is definitely the foundation of my Shared Risk, Shared Responsibility, Shared Rewards program in bringing glamourpuss to market (the three month promotion campaign includes my commitment to the retailers to spend 100 hours on the Internet promoting the book: this is the last of the new message board venues I'll be hitting -- tomorrow I circle back to The Comics Journal message boards to resume the dialogue over there). If you couple Mr. Millar's dedication through his hospital stay with his choice to do CIVIL WAR -- even though in the NEAR TERM it meant he would earn a lot less money in the same year that CIVIL WAR was, in many ways, the primary "cash cow" for most stores around the world on new comic book day -- well, I think it means that all of us who make our livelihoods from the comic book stores owe him a very substantial debt of thanks.
In answer to your question Bruno, I've been "pegged" as many things in the comic-book field over the years. I don't see myself as a misogynist nor do I see my considered views as misogyny. In order to avoid getting dragged into political discussions, when my commitment is to 100 hours of promotion for the title, I made the decision early on to limit discussions of gender politics to the SEQUENTIAL TART message boards, so if you really want to pursue the discussion, I'd invite you to read the discussion in progress over there. I'm scheduled to be back there on Monday, but as it turns out that's a statutory holiday in Ontario so Lookin For Heroes (where I'm doing this) will be closed. If I can't find a venue that day, I'll bump theTuesday visit to The Comic Forums in favour of SEQUENTIAL TART.
If you do choose to check out the discussion over there, I think you'll find that discussion of anything besides gender politics quickly got knocked out of the way, so I think I'm being more than fair in giving two full days of my time to a discussion in which I have very, very limited interest, having discussed gender politics at length in the back of CEREBUS and in COLLECTED LETTERS volumes one and two and given that my goal here is to promote glamourpuss, the photorealism Alex Raymond School and related subjects.
Finally, virtually every comic book store in North America will be getting their COMICS INDUSTRY PREVIEW EDITION of glamourpuss No.1 with this week's Diamond Dateline. It is the complete issue one that will be shipping, God willing, in April. 300 stores -- 100 in Canada and 200 in the US -- have had autographed copies to show their customers for the last month. The fact that no one who has read it has deemed it even remotely misogynistic would seem to refute that as a possibility. However, if anyone still has doubts, I'd strongly urge them to ask to see the PREVIEW EDITION in their local store before choosing to order the book for their pull file.
Thanks for being so quick to post your question, Bruno, and I sincerely apologize that -- under the circumstances, that's the best I can do in reply. Hope it's sufficient.
QUOTE (Todd Gross @ Feb 14 2008, 12:48 AM): Do you have an end point like you did with Cerebus or will you keep going until you feel it needs to end?
Hi, Todd! Thanks for stopping by. A little of both actually. Mentally, I'm projecting that the whole project will run about 400 to 500 pages -- or about 20 issues on the bi-monthly schedule -- concluding sometime in 2011 but that's a very difficult thing to predict accurately when you're halfway through issue 2. I am committed to releasing the final collected version under one cover and once you get above 500 pages -- particularly on the glossy stock that I'm using -- binding becomes a bit problematic. The guideline is "When I've said as much as I have to say about Alex Raymond and the photorealism style he pioneered with RIP KIRBY, that's when the book will be done."
With the release of Tom Roberts' long delayed (and eagerly awaited) ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART I'm finding more to say all the time. But I am hoping I can keep it to 400 or 500 pages.
Thanks, Mbakunin, I appreciate the honour that you do me here -- and that you did me at Chicago Con way back when! I certainly wouldn't stand in line to meet me. I usually do one sketch per customer and leave it up to them as to which one of the trade paperbacks they want it in. Those books cost a lot of money, so it seems like the least that I can do. I try to measure the length of time I'm making everyone wait against how good a sketch I can do for each person. At a big con like the one in Chicago, that can mean that the sketches aren't as good as I'd like them to be -- but they are at least recognizable as Cerebus (I hope). So, it wasn't mercy, generosity OR terror: more like sincere gratitude for the help you provided in letting my live out my dream of writing, drawing and publishing a 6,000 page graphic novel.
Personal appearances for 2008 can be accessed at the www.glamourpusscomic.com website [under "Glamourpuss Events"]. So far, S.P.A.C.E. in Columbus, Ohio, March 1 and 2; NYCC April 18 and 19 in New York City; MotorCity Con in Detroit, May 16 and 17. I'm trying to keep them limited while I make sure that I can actually get a bi-monthly comic out on time.
Reverend Smooth? Uh. I'm not sure that that was ACTUAL flirting. Most people know that I'm pretty devoutly religious and have been since 1996 so I think she was just seeing if she could embarrass me. I've been celibate for ten years (as of tomorrow, oddly enough) so, no, I won't be bringing ANYONE with me.
I'll leave it up to people who are interested (and I can't imagine why they would be) to check out the "glamourpuss Dave Sim" thread at SEQUENTIAL TART and make up their own minds as to whether she was actually flirting or not.
Thanks again: it was my pleasure and pride to do a comic book that raised you like a father.
Hi, Jefferson -- thanks for stopping by WAY early this morning.
1. No, as a matter of fact I plan to pretty scrupulously NOT revisit the CEREBUS universe. The book was planned all along to be self-contained -- beginning middle and end. There are three CEREBUS JAM stories that never got finished (or one reason or another) that I will be finishing at some point. But, my cardinal rule has been that only works that were completed between December 1977 and March 2004 qualify as being part of the CEREBUS storyline. The Cerebus Yahoo Newsgroup has had a lot of interesting discussions about what does and doesn't qualify.
2. I've done some work in the mainstream -- I did a portfolio in MARVEL FANFARE ("Original Sim"), a frontispiece in HOWARD THE DUCK magazine (No.8) I even inked a head in a CAPTAIN MARVEL story in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT while visiting Gene Day -- but certainly nothing substantial. I have some problems with the Marvel waiver when you pitch them a project that gives them title to it if they're working on something similar. I just don't have that level of trust.
I also don't have whatever-it-is-that-you-need to bring adult values to the things that rocked your world when you were a kid. Here at LOOKIN FOR HEROES they have a copy of the first JUSTICE LEAGUE I ever bought (issue 32) and just looking at it gives me a real frisson of enjoyment -- but I just don't have the thing that Alan Moore has that enabled him to channel that frisson of enjoyment into WATCHMEN. As soon as I try to think in those terms, I just go back to square one: wanting to look at the Mike Sekowsky artwork and remembering what it felt like to see it for the first time.
3. Comic fandom is great. If we had had the TwoMorrows catalogue of publications back when I was collecting, I'd have thought I had died and gone to heaven. Likewise these message boards. Back in the day, you were limited to talking comics with whoever lived here in town which meant maybe a half dozen people. The idea of a worldwide Comic Book Nation, linked electronically and in instant communication with each other: well, it really is the 1960s dream come true!
No, I'm 100% loyal to the Brick and Mortar stores. My theory is You dance with the one what brung ya. I owe my success and my ability to make a living in comic books to comic-book stores.
I do think that the online revolution offers a lot of hope for the future, especially because the Internet is an insatiable devourer of content. It gives the aspiring cartoonist a good crash course in the college of hard knocks -- getting a new strip or a new page up there three times a week or twice a week or whatever they can manage: getting instant NEGATIVE feedback if they miss a day or miss a week. The Internet, to me, fulfills the same function as mini-comics -- it lets you know when and if you get to be too big for the environment. Chester Brown very quickly became too big to just stay in mini-comics, Scott Kurtz got too big to just be doing PVP as an online strip.
There are problems, of course. I talked with one cartoonist at S.P.A.C.E. last year who built quite a large audience for his online comic but found there was little to no demand for a collected version when it was done: everyone had already read it and just wanted to know when he was starting another one. You can make some money selling t-shirts and stuff, but we all really want to make a living selling our COMICS. I'm not sure but it might be a two-stage process: do your graphic novel online and then actually get out and pitch the stores individually -- every place you can get to in your geographic area. "Would you carry this book if I printed it up?" "If not, WHY not?" It's the next stage of the college of hard knocks: is there a market for this book?
Thanks for your question -- no, it hadn't been asked on any of the other forums.
QUOTE (JMann @ Feb 14 2008, 05:48 AM): Hi Dave. Just a few questions. Sorry if you've been asked any of these before:
1.- Will you be creating any part of the art digitally?
I won't be, no. But I do have a Technical Director and sometime collaborator on glamourpuss in Sandeep Atwal. I've given him a free hand to play around with the pages if he thinks of something interesting to do to make the book look more like a fashion magazine. Originally the "Dave Sim reaction shot" was at the top of the page with the glamourpuss "Platinum Action Shopping figure". Sandeep moved it to the bottom of the previous page and created the "STYLE has a new address" full pager. But, in terms of the drawings, no, the computer is a versatile instrument but it can't touch the fine lines you can get from a Gillott 290 (the pen nib used by Alex Raymond, Stan Drake and Neal Adams among others).
2.- How important/useful do you consider the internet as a means of doing business and promoting your work?
Critically important this time out in terms of promotion. Although I must say it took about three weeks of blanket coverage on the Internet before the majority of retailers I was phoning had heard of the book. The Internet has a lot of reach, but if you look at how many message boards there are and how many threads ongoing at any given moment, it really is a Here and Now promotion environment. I'm putting in 100 hours (50 hours so far) but all of that investment of time is going to become "yesterday's potatoes" pretty quickly as it slides down the list from Here and Now to five days ago, two weeks ago -- at the two weeks ago stage, the odds of someone looking far enough down on the marquee become very long indeed.
But that's why I'm concentrating the 100 hours into the solicitation month and staying "on message": Please go into your local store and ask to see their COMICS INDUSTRY PREVIEW EDITION of glamourpuss No.1. I don't want to get too much more complicated than that. We'll see how it works when the entire burden shifts to the retailers in the next two weeks: glamourpuss, success or failure?
3.- Will you be spotlighting any independent creators and comics in your new book, as you sometimes did in the past?
I've been thinking about it, but this time I'll probably stick with things thematically suited to glamourpuss, like maybe a selection of John Lustig's LAST KISS strips which would suit the fashion magazine, romance comic motif.
4.- Cerebus was a very personal work, but in the end your essays, letters and beliefs seemed to overshadow the story in the public eye. Do you sometimes feel that you overexposed yourself as an individual in detriment of your work, and will you continue to be as vocal and outspoken in the pages of Glamourpuss?
To be honest, in the Internet age I don't think overexposure is possible. On the contrary, even if you try to be "in people's faces" 24/7 you can only hit a relative handful no matter how much time you devote to it. The trade paperbacks, as the retailers assure me, are perennial sellers so I don't think there was a serious detriment. I'm very fortunate to be someone who is still making money at age 51 off of work that I did when I was 21.
And I don't really see myself as vocal and outspoken. I don't just accept something because "everyone agrees" about whatever it is. No matter what the subject, I assess it on its own merits and I have a very low threshold for what I see as specious reasoning. I think our society has gone way too far into the "overly sensitive" category and sees people with differing viewpoints as attacking society maliciously. I'm not like that. I think things over for a long time before I say something and I say it as calmly and as dispassionately as I can, explaining the progression of my logic from A to B to C. There are a lot of people who are (or at least act) as if they're mortally wounded by that and tend to call people vicious names (like misogynist or homophobe or racist) rather than addressing the actual subject.
I tend to see that portrayed woundedness and vicious name-calling as a tactical move most often used to avoid actually discussing the subject.
It's worked so far, but I think it's starting to wear a little thin for more people than just me.
I assume that if those people sincerely want to act mortally wounded and viciously call me names, they will do so WHATEVER I put in glamourpuss. That's why I sent out 4500 free copies: so everyone who wants to make up their own mind can do so and not have to rely on "I HEARD it's terribly misogynistic!"
5.- You're widely regarded as one of the best letterers in comics. How do you feel about digital lettering? Is lettering as an artform, as another dimension in the creative process, dying?
Arguably, yes. Except for the real purists. For me, the Joe Kubert Comicraft font is much closer to newspaper strip lettering than I could get on my best day, so there's that. The other thing is that I can rewrite captions and word balloons right up to the last minute. Greater control for the writer trumps lettering purism in my books ten times out of ten.
Thanks for the great questions.
No, not really. The advantage of working solo is that all of the decision-making is in your own hands from beginning to end so I was able to take exactly as much time as I wanted to work on the concept, starting with the basic desire to do Al Williamson-style illustrations from fashion magazines and then adding the "Origin of Glamourpuss" framing device, the fashion magazine parody aspects as they occurred to me. In any collaboration when you're shifting gears that many times, you start weighing the advantages of doing something you think is good versus having to explain the way you've reconfigured it since yesterday (on top of how you've reconfigured it since the day before). It's a far more versatile way of working.
Glamourpuss will be collected as a self-contained phone book. Probably in 2011 or so if I stay at a bi-monthly frequency.
It's funny: after all these years I've finally finished my first graphic novel, Secret Project One at 48 pages. Everything else I ever did was a "phone book".
QUOTE (Geoffrey D. Wessel @ Feb 14 2008, 04:54 PM): Dave: So to get this party started, my first question to you is, what do you see as the chances of success at this stage of people trying to break in via self-publishing?
I think the chances are about the same although there has been such a dramatic shift in the structure of the field I think you have to be a good deal more organized and start earlier to make your book happen. Even in my case with a thirty-year track record of sales in the field I definitely needed to do a lot of advance work, sending out 100 advance copies of glamourpuss No.1 to stores in Canada and 200 in the U.S. and phoning each of the stores and talking to the manager or owner. I do think that's important in this day and age. You have to go directly to the retailers in a one-on-one context because their days are so taken up with just staying current with PREVIEWS. They just get one order in and the next catalogue comes in. It also means you have to compete at a much higher level. The odds of fanzine-level work like the first few issues of CEREBUS finding an audience in the stores are far, far more remote than they were thirty years ago.
QUOTE: Do you feel perhaps doing dry runs as a webcomic is a good first step?
Yes, I think there's a good case to be made for that. There are problems, as I mentioned earlier. One of them is that print has a different physical look than a computer screen. If you get used to doing your comics for the idiosyncratic medium of the computer screen, it tends to make for pages that are a little "off" when you go to print. Learning to draw comics is a feedback/adjustment/feedback/adjustment process that is on-going. Unconsciously you learn to draw for the medium you appear in. Ger and I learned all the ins and outs of white newsprint and its idiosyncrasies. Now I'm learning what slick paper does to my work and I'm making unconscious adjustments there, I'm sure.
QUOTE: How do you see print-on-demand services such as Lulu.com or Amazon's own version of it affecting not only the ability, but quality, of self-published work in the marketplace?
So far the retail community is very resistant which I can understand. Outfits like KA-BLAM have their own sales arms of all the books they print and those titles number in the thousands at this point. If those become seen as REAL comic books then that adds exponentially to the retailers' workload (not to mention making Bob Overstreet's life a living hell). Most stores have adopted an absolutist "No POD" policy. Personally I think that's a little extreme and the example I like to use is David Pedersen's MOUSE GUARD which started as a POD book (actually self-published since David was just using them as a printing service). He got 500 copies printed the first time out and any retailer could have bought all 500 from him just by cutting him a cheque (although because the per unit cost is much higher, they would probably have only gotten 30% off or so) because he could then have turned around and printed up another 1,000 with that money. Those POD MOUSE GUARD #1's are now going for $300 or so according to WIZARD magazine.
So my point to the retailers is: don't rule out POD, but limit it to, say, ten slots in your store where any POD publisher gets a week or two to prove he can move 10 books. If he doesn't move 10 copies, he's out of there and someone else gets his place. My argument is: if the 10 books sell out right away, you have a direct line to the source. Put another way, if POD on MOUSE GUARD had been viable at say 5 stores in his immediate area, I'm willing to bet those five stores could have made a fair amount of money before the Big Leagues beckoned. And I don't see any reason not to believe that there aren't a half dozen comics out of the thousands that KA-BLAM has on their website in that potential MOUSE GUARD category. You can't find them there easily, but if they walk in your front door, hey, it can be Real Opportunity Knocking.
Thanks for your questions.
QUOTE (Eduardo @ Feb 14 2008, 05:28 PM): How does it feel working back in the comic industry (if you feel like you left it for some time)? Do you feel the the Marxist conspiracy has made it difficult for you?
Hi, Eduardo...thanks for paying me a visit here.
It feels pretty good. Phoning three hundred retailers is a lot of work, but I've always been fascinated by what's going on that side of the business (self-employed people tend to have a lot in common) so it was nice to be able to get a sketched-in crash course in Comics 2008 over the course of January. And they tend to be the people in comics who attach the most importance to the fact that I did I monthly comic on schedule from 1990 to 2004 (and except for a couple of glitches in the late 80s from 1979 to 2004) as opposed to, say, the Comics Journal where delivering your work on time tends to be seen as being synonymous with being a "hack".
I don't think there's an actual Marxist conspiracy just as I'm sure Hillary Clinton doesn't actually believe there's a Republican conspiracy. The "other team" (whatever side you're on) behaves in the way that it behaves and tends to seem to be in the way. I think I've gotten pigeon-holed in the comics field but that probably has more to do with me not being on the Internet so it becomes very easy for people who disagree with me to define me because I'm not there to set the record straight. If you want to know how you are discussed at the party when you don't show up, just read the Internet coverage of people who aren't on the Internet.
The retailers really have been the saving grace for me, though. Successful businessmen and women know that bringing your personal politics to bear on what you'll carry and what you won't carry in your store is a good way to go broke in a hurry. They keep the sixteen volumes in stock and reorder them as needed (when they have lots of money left over as they do when someone like Mark Millar writes something that sells a LOT of copies, like CIVIL WAR ( Most of them thanked me for being such a good "profit center" for them over the years. And I thanked them for keeping my books in stock.
QUOTE (michael blackburn @ Feb 14 2008, 05:48 PM): Hi Dave, First, thanks for Cerebus. I stayed with you all the way through, and the highs were as high as comics have gone. I was following your participation on the TCJ site, but didn't bother contributing since you were buried in questions. Things seem quieter here, so here goes:
1) Why does Ontario get a stat holiday in February but we don't in BC?
It was part of the platform that Dalton McGuinty ran on in the last provincial election. One of those easy populist vote-getter things. Wait until Gordon Campbell is running for re-election and I'll bet there'll be a February stat holiday in Santa's sack.
QUOTE : 2) Regarding photo-realism: Although I appreciate the craft of photo-realism in comics, I have never been able to enjoy them. I feel that comics are a story-telling medium, and there is something about the "exactness" of photo-realism which seems, TO ME, to undermine that emphasis on narrative and subjective perspective. A photo-realistic depiction of Louis Riel and life on the Red River Settlement, for example, couldn't possibly engage me the way any given page of Chet's does. I'm trying to explain this clearly, Dave, because it's at the heart of what I didn't enjoy of the latter half of Cerebus -- not the advocacy of beliefs which I do not share, but because the emphasis on large blocks of text took away from your massive strengths in narrative cartooning.
So: what am I missing? Why is text + photo-realistic art of interest to you as a cartoonist? Is there a difference, in your mind, between "blocks of text accompanied by illustrations" and "cartooning?"
Well, there will be text bits in glamourpuss, but it is going to be mostly comics.
It's just a personal preference. To me Alex Raymond, Hal Foster and Milt Caniff started this whole thing rolling -- super-hero comics come directly from the Raymond/Foster/Caniff realist Schools -- and hit very high water marks in their work. I think the highest water mark was arguably Neal Adams' work. Since then we seem to be sliding back down into representational work (the Image guys basically distilling Art Adams' high water realism work into a series of quasi-realistic tropes), impressionism, primitivism. As long as there's a lively a vibrant realism end of the field, I can enjoy all the other disciplines for what they are: what Chester Brown brings to the Harold Gray style, how he's refined it and expanded it is a good example. But when realism disappears -- as it seemed to do for a few years there -- then I become concerned. If you look at Fine Art, the erosion went pretty quickly from being considered the top of your field the more realistically you could paint to realism being seen as third rate behind the "flinging a pot of paint in the face of the public" boys (as Ruskin famously remarked about one of Whistler's Nocturnes).
It was quite an experience spending several days at the Norman Rockwell Museum as one of the artists featured in their Graphic Lit exhibit and to see people looking at Rockwell's pictures on the wall, beaming from ear-to-ear, talking and laughing and enthusing. As opposed to the mortuary-like environment that most art galleries have become in our Realism Sucks age.
Give me Norman Rockwell or give me death.
3) My dream "after Cerebus" project for you was a novel-sized comics biography of the Marx brothers. Obvious, I know, but I'd definitely get excited about it. Any interest?
No, I love writing the Groucho voice and to a lesser extent the Chico voice and in terms of their actual work, I'd stick with DUCK SOUP and NIGHT AT THE OPERA but their actual lives were pretty disinteresting to me. Harpo was a wonderful human being (which tends to make for boring biography), Groucho continually married girls in the same basic age group with all of the troubles attendant upon that and Chico was a notorious gambler and womanizer. I'll take what's on the screen, thanks.
4) Hardcover editions of the Cerebus books, with colour covers included. Likely?
Unlikely verging on impossible. I had breakfast with Terry and Robin Moore in Stockbridge, MA and asked them if it was worth doing the STRANGERS IN PARADISE hardcovers.
"Yes," said Terry. "Once."
I've made a mental note to ask him what he meant by that the next time I see him. Of course SIP sells a lot more copies than CEREBUS does so it might not be viable in my case. I wouldn't include the covers -- I like the "phone books" (or graphic novels as I like to call them. I know, Crazy Dave Sim, eh?) to read without breaks between the stories.
David P Banks has done a "quick and dirty" book of the covers scanned from the printed copies (if you REALLY really want all the covers). It's expensive because he's just doing them one at a time as he gets orders for them.
Thank YOU, Michael, and all of the readers like you who made "demanding, engaging" CEREBUS possible.
Sorry my Luddite self doesn't know how to separate questions and answers in the body of the text so it looks as if you're talking to yourself up there.
Thank you for your hospitality, Mark!
You know in that WIZARD interview you had a job trying to explain exactly what a risk you were taking on in doing CIVIL WAR so I thought I'd take a go at it: It's very easy in retrospect to say "Think of the Big Payday" at the end but that doesn't factor in the sheer amount of groundwork that has to go into plotting one of these giant pan-company storylines -- just getting yourself into the dugout so you can get to the on-deck circle so you actually get up to bat at some point. As you said, you couldn've made a lot more money doing 20 issues of ULTIMATE FF in the same length of time just touching base with your editor on a completely linear one-book narrative. I'd be willing to bet that would hold true if you broke both down into hourly rates. Yes, a nice big payday on CIVIL WAR, but if you look at the number of man-hours?
Don't know if that worked, but believe me folks, anytime we have a huge success like CIVIL WAR, we are ALL indebted to the guys who quarterbacked the whole thing when there are many easier ways of making a living in the funnybook business.
Good luck on Kick Ass Wednesday, Mark. For me that's Finally I'm Done the glamourpuss Promo Wednesday. All done kicking my own ass in a manner of speaking.
Some very nice pieces there. It makes me feel like a comics celebrity just knowing that a Superstar Wizard Top Ten artist like John Cassaday knows who Cerebus is. Lots of "click and see" fun, here, John...thanks for sharing with all of us. Say, do you ever miss working at Wildstorm?
Oh, hey, Patrick -- much obliged. As you can tell, I couldn't do it myself!
Oh, thank YOU for all your support. Hope you think the book is worth adding to your subscription file.
Geoffrey D. Wessel: Dave thanks for answering my first batch of questions, now here's more: You said above that "we seem to be sliding back down into representational work (the Image guys basically distilling Art Adams' high water realism work into a series of quasi-realistic tropes), impressionism, primitivism" with regard to photo-realistic art. However, is that really still the case? When you look at a certain segment of the more known artists, i.e. John Cassaday, Alex Ross, Bryan Hitch, maybe even Steve McNiven to an extent (if you take a gander at this board's Creative subsection, you'll see examples by an Australian gent who I say definitely qualifies as photo-realistic!), and who knows else will be coming up, they're considered top of the field, yet how does that gel with the "Realism Sucks" era as you put it?
Well, I think the key to that is your "certain segment" qualifier. The Raymond School, as filtered through some primary adherents (it was said that Julie Schwartz used to say he wanted everything in his books to look as if it was drawn by Dan Barry) used to BE the comic-book field, and now it's something of a specialized interest. And the more realistically you draw, the more time it's going to take to do a page so you have a much higher "burn-out" rate than you do with guys a step down on the realism scale. How many times has Adam Hughes or Frank Cho done a monthly title and for how long? Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson probably never made more than $35 a page on anything they did with DC so they had to follow the dictum: first you get good, then you get fast, then you get good and fast. And to put food on their families' tables, roofs over their heads, shoes on the kids' feet, braces on their teeth they needed to produce x number of pages to Julie Schwartz's satisfaction every month.
Compare that to today where a top name realist guy can make his reputation onthe X-MEN or something similiar, do four or five issues and then make a good living doing prints, commissions, selling his originals, living off his royalties from the five issues, royalties off the collected version. The way the business was set up made marathon guys, the way the business is set up now it favours wind sprinters.
No question: John Cassaday, Bryan Hitch -- Alex Ross, to me, is in a different category since he's a painter. Love his work to pieces, but the Raymond School is definitely black and white, brush and pen to me. Arguably the days of that style dominating the field, let alone being exclusively what the field is made up of are long gone. I consider it part of my job description on glamourpuss to talk that side up a bit and get as many people excited about Raymond, Prentice, Drake and Williamson as I can so we can have some more people working in that vein over the next few years and into the future. It's a very SPECIFIC end of comics, with a very SPECIFIC aesthetic. Personally, I'm not prepared to say that RIP KIRBY was this weird fifty-year aberration. "We'll not see its like again". Well, maybe. But we can TRY, eh?
How much of Cerebus was planned out in advance, and to what extent?
More and more as I went along. It's a definite luxury as a writer to have twenty-six years to develop the ending on your story! The last year or so was pretty much just a transcription job of what I had been polishing mentally since the early 1980s.
I ask merely because I remember the indicia for "Church & State" when I was buying it in issue form way back when, and the ending suddenly shifted from issue 100 to issue 117 (or whatever it ended up being, working from memory here). That's a year and a half's worth of extra issues in the storyline. Obviously some fluidity is needed, but how much and how rigidly did you stick to your initial story plan for the book?
Oh, in that case it was the steep learning curve in writing a "phone book" (as opposed to a graphic novel). When I allocated 500 pages for HIGH SOCIETY, I thought I could tell the history of the WORLD in that much space. The original plan was to do half the political storyline and half the religious storyline. That was when I figured out that the political storyline alone would fit, but I'd have to dip into my bag of tricks. So, on CHURCH & STATE, I basically doubled the page count/issue count -- 1,000 pages and fifty issues instead of 500 pages and 25 issues. Then I realized I was still coming up short by about 200 pages. Between those two experiences, I learned to LOWBALL the content and flesh things out rather than trying to fit as much in as I could. Everything worked fine from JAKA'S STORY on, except for the Hemingway Africa Sequence in FORM & VOID because I didn't get Mary Hemingway's diaries (nor did I know that I needed them) from the JFK Library until I was already started. Even doing the Chris Ware multi-multi-tiny-tiny panel trick, it still spilled over by about 10 pages and I didn't have ROOM with 800 pages to go on the 6,000 page storyline. Back into the bag of tricks having Cerebus "come to" on the side of the mountain (having to skip how he and Jaka got up there).
The last three years on the book that was all I kept thinking: "That better not happen again."
Is the single issue a dying art? The business seems ever so more geared towards TPB/graphic novel/phonebook sales anymore, undoubtedly influenced by sales of everything from Sandman to manga to, yes, Cerebus. Despite releasing glamourpuss in issue form with a planned compilation release in 2011, do you think the Cerebus phonebooks may have contributed to the write/print-for-trade-paperback decompressed style, both creatively and business-wise, that has become the norm now?
Yes, and I may -- in Robin Williams' immortal phrase -- have to "smoke a turd in hell" for my part in it. Secret Project One is a self-contained, beginning, middle and end 48 pages and it's something that I'm pushing for and which I did in response to a challenge from Peter Birkemoe of Toronto's legendary BEGUILING store for a "self-contained inexpensive squarebound book" that he could give to a civilian and say, "This is what comics are capable of." It seemed a sensible goal so I went with that. The more I think about it, the more I think Peter is right. And I think we'd be giving the entire retail community a big "leg up" if more writers and artists would devote three months or six months to doing that. Forget super-heroes. In the real world, super-heroes are not mainstream. Do something that your average man or woman on the street can relate to. And hand it to them when they wander in with their comic loving relative or by accident on their own.
Where do you see the next Big Thing from the self-publishing end coming from? It's been quite some time since the runaway, mainstream successes of TMNT and Bone and there doesn't seem to be anything on the horizon that can/will replicate that. What are your thoughts there?
Well, the key is that those were both enormous surprises. Even Ralph DiBernardo of JETPACK COMICS who bought 150 copies from Kevin and Peter back in 1984, he wondered, "I sure hope I can make some of this back." Ninety bucks. Picture what 150 pristine mint copies of TMNT No.1 would go for today? Yeah, Ralph. Ninety bucks. Got you covered, boss.
And BONE. When Jeff gave me the first three issues at the Capital City Trade Show in '93 and asked me to read them and give him any help I could, I read them in departure lounge at the airport in Madison and I thought, "Wow. Those were really good." And then I thought, "But it's kind of in the 'all ages' category. Will the indy crowd even LOOK at an 'all ages' book, let alone BUY it?"
Uh, yeah, Dave. That's really not going to be a problem here.
It's always unpredictable. MOUSE GUARD was unpredictable. CEREBUS and ELFQUEST were unpredictable.
Watch the skies! And the indy rack in your local comic store.
Eagerly await these answers as well...
Eagerly await them no more...they're HERE they're HERE! Even if I don't know how to separate them out. D'OH!
FIVE copies? SERIOUSLY?!! Wow, really GETTING somewhere here now. I really can't thank you enough, Mbakunin!
No further word on Secret Project One. I'm going to get Jeff Tundis to put the countdown clock up again at glamourpuss Bulletins, counting down to the Big Reveal of the SP1 website URL at (hm, when?) HIGH NOON EDST on February 29. HIGH NOON on Superman's birthday. Yeah, that's the ticket.
And of course your wife and kids gave you the number five, "Oh, DAD...REALLY!" look, eh?
Hi, Ken, thanks for stopping by. Well, let's see. In the comics end of things, as soon as I got Tom Roberts' ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART, I read the entire RIP KIRBY section and the "Last Day" section about his fatal car accident in September 1956. It's a toss-up now if I'm going to read about his military service in the Navy during World War II next or the FLASH GORDON stuff. It's a great book. There isn't enough RIP KIRBY for me but I know that I'm in the minority when it comes to black-and-white versus colour, so I understand the large volume of colour pages and illustrations that were included. And most people are FLASH GORDON rather than RIP KIRBY people. There are a couple of illustrations from the RIP KIRBY period that gave me my money's worth -- one for the auto body shop Raymond used with an achingly pretty Honey Dorian in what appears to be a period Chanel suit. Stands to reason he would do his best chops on an illustration for someone associated with his other great love: sports cars.
In the non-comics end of things, I just read Pauline Kael's RAISING KANE essay on CITIZEN KANE packaged with the original shooting script (with a scene that takes place in a brothel! One of those "Let's give them something to take out so they'll leave everything else alone". Kael is an interesting reviewer and she sure knows her movies inside and out, many interesting points about the way the movie is received now versus how it was received then (which she guesses was in the "Front Page" newspaper comedy/drama tradition which we tend not to have a frame of reference for). The only place where I REALLY disagree with her is when she calls the Dorothy Comingore character, Susan Alexander a "twerp" and says that it begs credibility that Charles Foster Kane would fall in love with her. That's her feminist bias, I think, that always assumes a Great Man is looking for a mate who can go toe-to-toe with him in a life made up of knock-down-drag-out screaming matches. Bogart and Bacall are a good example.
No, speaking from experience, when you're making your play for Great Man status (as I spent most of the 1980s doing: I ended up backing into it and could never get back out) what you're looking for is someone who can take you away from all that just by being there. Usually Absolutely Feminine, guileless, sweet. Susan Alexander in other words.
Sorry, Ken, forgot the "all time favourites" answer. The Great Man days are far behind me...now I'm well into my Senile Old Bint years.
In comics, I'd have to go with Bill Sienkiewicz's STRAY TOASTERS. You can read the whole thing or you can read any three or four pages and get full value for your reading/viewing investment of time. I like his and Frank's ELEKTRA ASSASSIN, too, but mostly as the precursor to STRAY TOASTERS.
In text, I read Scripture constantly -- the Torah, The Gospels and the Koran -- but, for entertainment purposes, essays by Gore Vidal (HOMAGE TO DANIEL SHAYS is "top of the line") and the late Norman Mailer (CANNIBALS AND CHRISTIANS, PIECES AND PONTIFICATIONS, ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF). Same deal, full value for your reading time even if you just read five pages or so. I reread THE ARMIES OF THE NIGHT of his, about the March on the Pentagon pretty regularly. OF A FIRE ON THE MOON about Apollo 11 is a little too long to re-read frequently but is, pound for pound, probably the best prose you can get without a prescription.
Okay, we're down to the last twenty minutes. Just signed and did a sketch in a HIGH SOCIETY for Mel (not comic-book Mel: Elmira Mel -- he's got a comic store up in Elmira called THE BOYS OUT BACK) and now he's picking up a CHURCH & STATE I. John comes in and says, "It never rains but it pours". Kyle wants a CEREBUS trade. So I've got my work cut out for me tomorrow.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank Mark Millar again for giving me a great venue here. I think this was a great spot to finish off Stage One of the glamourpuss Internet Campaign. Tomorrow I'll be back at the Comics Journal Message Boards' "glamourpuss Dave Sim" thread to see if anything's been happening since I left WAAYYY back on January 30. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, 0730 Seattle time, a more reasonable 1030 EDST here in the snowy polar east.
Thanks as always to John, Duane, Richard and Jake here at LOOKIN FOR HEROES at 93 Ontario St. S. in Kitchener across from the Grand River Transit Terminal. Hard to believe I'm only going to be here for two more New Comics Days (only one if the books come in on Thursday two weeks from now). All this month we're offering the first CEREBUS trade at $25 instead of the usual $30 with an autograph and sketch ("I want five bucks off -- somebody scribbled in his one.").
Hope to see some of you over at TCJ tomorrow.