I havenít seen this much excitement around CEREBUS and Dave Sim since issue #186. Iím sure youíve heard of Simís twenty-page discourse, which Dave said is his last word on gender issues, entitled Tangent. Just as issue 265 of CEREBUS came out, the message boards and USEnet were abuzz with the latest gossip on Dave. People who didnít have issue 265 were wondering what was going on and clamoring for someone to post it online.
Within twenty-four hours The Comicís Journal (TCJ) provided Daveís diatribe on their website. The entire text was transcribed and uploaded at no cost for Dave. I find this amusing because Gary Groth, co-owner of TCJ, and Dave have never gotten along too well. Then Gary gave Dave all this free publicity. Heh. But I digress. So Daveís Tangent was up for everyone online to read, and it seemed more people read Tangent that month then usually read CEREBUS.
To tell you the truth, I only got though the first couple of pages in Tangent. Iíve read though the entire prose sections of Jakaís Story, Reads and even the biblical prose in Rickís Story. I enjoyed them all. Tangent, on the other hand, I could not stomach. It wasnít the content that got my panties in a twist, it was the writing which was below par for Dave. It read like something that he hadnít really thought too much about, but typed it out one lazy afternoon while drinking some (Canadian) Coors. Iíll give Dave credit though, he didnít charge us extra for it. CEREBUS was a "double issue" thanks to Tangent, but it was the same price: $2.25.
It seems that I wasnít alone in my dislike of Tangent. It was the major topic of conversation for the online comic community for the next week along with discussion on Dave and CEREBUS. As surprising as it was to me that people could read the entire thing, it was the ideas contained within Tangent that most people wanted to talk about. Daveís opinions in Tangent ran contrary to the current politically correct opinions. I think the best way to counter ideas you disagree with is to come up with your own logical argument. However, only a couple people refuted the points contained within Tangent, while many more offered excuses for Dave's opinions.
There were only two rebuttals to Tangent that I found online. One was posted at TCJ website by Anne Elizabeth Moore entitled "Report from the Homosexualist-Feminist Axis: A Refutation of Everything Dave Sim Has Ever Written Based on the Reading of a Single Sentence By Miss or Mrs. Ruthie Penmark." Because she opens with lines such as "...I feel confident we can begin from this point of mutual agreement: Dave Sim is a total nut-job" and "...if you can't acknowledge that Dave Sim is a total nut-job you are more than likely a nut-job yourself." I got about as far in her diatribe as I did with Daveís. Insulting the audience isnít a good way for her to get and keep the audienceís attention. Just ask Dave.
There was only one other person who attempted to logically counter Tangent: Sarcastic Girl (edited to note, old link is gone, the essay is now up here on the TCJ site). She wrote an open letter to Dave in her online zine. It was very well written, funny, and rationally thought out. I read the entire thing. I didnít agree with some of what she had said, but at least I could read it and enjoy it. She only refutes the first part of Tangent due to time constraints on her part.
While these two ladies did the logical thing and countered DaveĎs arguments, others thought they had to give excuses for why Dave would write Tangent. If it makes them feel uncomfortable, theyíll come up with reasons why the person acted like they did. From mass murders to rap stars, people wonder why someone does something that goes against the norms.
Daveís ideas in Tangent ran against the grain and are far from the norm, so people searched for reasons why he would say stuff like this and how he could believe it. When most people think of Dave Sim, they think of the Godfather of self publishing, the man that has been doing it for himself for the past 22 years. When a legend such as Dave starts spewing ideas that people donít like, they tend to wonder why he is saying that kind of bile.
Usually it was Daveís mental well being that was called into question. Of course, many people didnít put it so delicately. They used such terms as crazy, loony, insane, mad, etc. The reasons were almost as diverse: working on one title for so long, he never recovered from the nervous breakdown he had back in the late seventies (circa issue eleven), he is a schizophrenic, his ex-wife leaving him turned him anti-women, among others.
So all comes down to how big of a lunatic Dave Sim was or is or became. Why canít people just read the essay, disagree or agree, and get on with life? The reasonable thing to do would be to write Dave a letter (or even a column) on why you disagree (or agree) with the points Dave brings up. Instead many people sat there like a five year old kid saying how they didnít like it while pointing at the other kid calling him a poophead. Or in this case, an unbalanced mad man.
What is really sad is the only way for CEREBUS to get notice is when Dave does stuff like this. I only saw one column (by Warren Ellis) which mentioned Daveís CEREBUS: Four More Years Campaign versus a multitude of columns on Tangent. Both Dave and Gerhard have been doing consistently good work on CEREBUS for the past gazillion years, but what gets noticed is Daveís essayís on touchy social subjects. I only hope that all those people that picked up CEREBUS #265 for Tangent will wonder what the first twenty pages with that funny looking guy in a rabbit suit was all about and pick up the CEREBUS phonebooks.
From the Cerebus Fangirl Site found on the web at: http://www.cerebusfangirl.com contents maybe printed for later reading if you so desire, just don't copy it and say it's yours though.