Dave Sim’s October surprise — UPDATED!!!

201210050402 Dave Sims October surprise    UPDATED!!!

Update! A new response fro Kim Thompson! Scroll down for the amazing response!

All of this hoo hah seems to have died down so maybe it is not time to resurrect it, but for those who want a capsule recap, here’s the deal with Dave Sim and Fantagraphics. I have probably missed a point or two because I could only skim the most recent posts, but here it is to the best of my ability:

It all started about a month ago when Sim wrote an editorial in the final issue of GLAMOURPUSS that explained how hard it was to keep going as a cartoonist, with many sad facts and figure of the kinds below:

I was also slowing down in my ability to write and draw and I was trying to draw in a style that was really very far above my level of abilities. Bad combination in your mid- and then late fifties.

I tried selling both glamourpuss and Cerebus Archive as print-on-demand titles from ComiXpress, thinking that would help supplement my income. Not really. The built-in problem is how much it costs to ship individual books by mail in 2012. Too much, as it turns out. My royalties from sales of all the combined titles (38 comic books at the end there) was seldom more than $700 every three months or so.

Sim notes the Cerebus TV experiment and the slowed-by-fire Kickstarter for a digital HIGH SOCIETY as more projects to keep his brand out there, but…his end prognosis was grim, with time running out:

At the rate I’m going, I would guess I could get, maybe, another 15 pages done if my career lasts until November of this year or 30 pages if my career lasts until March of next year. I only have a rough estimate of how many pages I have left to go, but it is considerably more than 15 or 30 pages.

I’ve been dividing my twelve-hour working day into two segments: things I do to make money and glamourpuss. Now, I’ll be dividing my working day into things I do to make money and attempting to finish The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond. Then come November or March, I’ll be dividing my time between Doomsday Scenarios and attempting to finish The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond.  Even if I get rid of everything and quit, I’m hoping the last thing I’ll be working on that last day as 1-800-GOT-JUNK hauls everything away, will be a page of The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond which will then be sent to… someone, I don’t know who… as the last page of Dave Sim’s last uncompleted work.

A real life version of Cerebus’s “alone, unmourned and unloved”? ending? Perhaps. But many in the comics community (certainly the large number that contributed to the Kickstarter fund) felt there had to be another way…Sim always thought the Cerebus phonebooks would be his retirement fund, and then suddenly, they weren’t a sure thing any more. And then Fantagraphics publisher Kim Thompson stepped in with an offer to re-publish the collected editions of Cerebus in new, up-to-date hardcovers.

And then things got weird.

Just a brief history recap: Dave Sim’s Cerebus was an early pioneer of the self-publishing model, running for 300 almost monthly issues from 1977 to 2004. The first two thirds are pretty universally admired for their humor, amazing storytelling and finely detailed world building. About 2/3rds of the way through, Sim executed a long-planned turn to a more philosophical bent which became very strange, less linear and included many anti-woman viewpoints which some have found offensive. Warts and all, it remains one of the great sustained works of recent comics, and deserves as much as anything to be kept in print and available for new readers. Sim kept the books in print in a series of thick “phone book” sized volumes which are somewhat outdated in today’s market. (And there are a lot more big giant graphic novels these days, to boot, so “phone book” isn’t as impressive as it once was.)

That all seems pretty straightforward. But then you remember that Sim is the guy who says he doesn’t believe in contracts and once obliged people to sign a petition stating their belief that he was not a misogynist in order to continue to communicate with him.

So you could say Kim Thompson is a brave man.

It turned out Sim wanted to negotiate the whole thing in public on the Fantagraphics message board (the above link). The final thread ran to over 700 comments, but A Moment of Cerebus has helpfully indexed the most pertinent posts here for the masochists.

Now what is the October Surprise of the title? Well, the whole thing is meandered on in a hundreds of messages long discussion about what volumes would be published first, Dave’s worry that if Fantagraphics would publish him the New York Times Book Review would think he wasn’t Ernest Hemingway, and other odd shit that resembled in terms of straightforward negotiation a bunch of stoned guys trying to solve Fermat’s theorem.

And then, after it had been going on for a few weeks, this week Sim suddenly pulled out an old grudge about how the Comics Journal had once, nearly 20 years ago, published a cartoon comparing him to Adolf Hitler. He called this “the elephant in the room.”

An elephant he hadn’t bothered to mention for nearly a month of message board postings.

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.”

Whenever I read anything by Dave Sim I recall a message he posted somewhere to the effect of “no matter how much you think about this, I’ve thought about it more.” I also recall something he told me nearly 30 years ago when I interviewed him for Amazing Heroes, about his three favorite activities, “Thinking, drinking and drawing Cerebus.” Well, he only does one of those these days, but he sure does a lot of it.

As in every post about Dave Sim, you get to the point where you have to decide, “Am I going to talk about this on its own terms, or am I going to look at the bigger picture?” I will delicately suggest that perhaps Dave’s reputation has been damaged more by his own views and petitions than by a cartoon that no one but him thinks about every day. One person’s elephant might possibly be another’s teeny tiny tree shrew. As he himself put it:

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.

 

Gary Groth supported the former view:

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, read 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…..

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.

 

Retailer Brian Hibbs stepped in with some pragmatic observations:

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”.

 

As did Eric Reynolds:

The simple problem facing Mr. Sim is that the legacy of Cerebus rests in a short-memory direct market that is increasingly shrinking. Mr. Sim’s strategy as a self-publisher was absolutely brilliant throughout the life of Cerebus; he flat-out killed it. But the economy and market have changed. There is little doubt that the entirety of Cerebus could find new life in a series of collections packaged for a broader bookstore market. I think Mr. Sim, and Mr. Thompson, can agree on this. The question is whether Mr. Sim believes that Fantagraphics — or any other publisher — can offer him access to an editorial, design, marketing, promo, sales and distribution staff/network that will do his legacy justice. Forget The Comics Journal, forget Hemingway, forget Hitler, etc. Keep your eyes on the prize. Everyone wants the best, most fucking beautiful books possible.

Compounding some of the miscommunications here: Sim doesn’t use the internet and instead insists on having all the postings printed out and  faxed to him; he then writes a response and has one of his helpers type it in to the interweb:

Right now, it’s just all of these scattered discussions which, as with a cocktail party, you just circulate and see if anyone’s saying anything of interest to you. It’s different for me because I’m getting all this in the form of faxes so I’m skimming through everything and making note of ideas that I think might be able to be made into something. Sometimes just an observation that rings a bell and I don’t know why it rings a bell but it’s worth writing down to see if it rings again at some point (it is difficult FINDING these bell-ringer points when it triggers something, I’ll admit: it’s quite a pile of faxes at this point).

At this point, another favorite Sim tactic emerged: his use of airing other people’s dirty laundry as he makes some other point:

Also, in a strange way, my initial response to Kim’s overture originates with Chet [Chester Brown], back when Chris at Drawn & Quarterly hired a full-time publicist. I asked him if he was comfortable with that and he didn’t know what I meant. And I said, well, Chris owes you a lot of money and he’s paying someone a full-time salary to drum up publicity. That’s where your money is going. (I should say now that I only mention this because it was at least five years ago and I have no idea what Drawn & Quarterly’s financial situation is like today. It was getting much better at the time that Chet and I parted ways. There was a weird time period when they were going to lose their Canada Council of the Arts grant because they brought in a new rule that publishers couldn’t get their grant renewed if they owed their authors money and that got solved by just asking for another grant to pay the authors. Which happened. So, I was glad of that as a fellow creator, less thrilled with it as a taxpayer.)

Yep, pretty irresponsible of a publisher to try to drum up more publicity to sell more books to pay their cartoonists. Shocking, in fact. Bad publisher!

201210050416 Dave Sims October surprise    UPDATED!!!
There’s another thing that always pops up in Sim discussions: a wild-eyed acolyte who disrupts things with his defenses of Sim. As a long ago veteran of the Usenet wars, it is fascinating to see new recruits in the battles. And there’s also the faithful amanuensis, like the Moment of Cerebus fellow who annotates the posts. Sim has some loyal followers. He should be very proud of that.

Although the Comics Journal thread has been shut down, Sim is taking it up over on A Moment of Cerebus, and here’s the new bombshell—after a long, long discussion of shipping dates, clone tools, Diamond phone calls, work schedules and more:

Now, I know what everyone is going to say:  SIGN A DEAL NOW AND FANTAGRAPHICS CAN DO THOSE BOOKS.  Well, no.  Those are the two best-selling trades.  If I sign a deal for them, it’s not going to be a “First guy to cut me a cheque for $3K gets them”.  Actually that wouldn’t be the case with ANY of the trades.  I would definitely pitch every publisher in comics on them and look at what I was being offered and what made the most sense.  I’m more than willing to negotiate for CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY but in the opposite of “in a hurry”.

Which is what I knew right away when Kim brought it up.  Which is why I knew there was no need to hurry through this negotiation we’re doing here.  I have NO idea when the next printing of HIGH SOCIETY is going to be done. I know I’m doing that one, because I’ve solicited for it and it’s a viable profitable proposition.  Not even factoring in what will happen with HIGH SOCIETY’s sales after HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL and HIGH SOCIETY DIGITAL are well into serialization, or after serialization when there’s a collected version on the market.  It only makes sense to wait and see what it does before making other plans.  I have NO idea when the next printing of CEREBUS is going to be done.

Or if I’m doing it.  I’m certainly open to negotiation.  But the negotiation is going to be one book at a time unless someone can give me a good reason to do more than one book at a time.

In other words…he was just yanking Kim’s chain all along.

Observation: Dave Sim may be better off being a self-publisher.

Another observation: Perhaps the failure of GLAMOURPUSS was not due to a vast worldwide conspiracy, but because people did not know what to make of a book that was a parody of women’s magazines—by a man who strongly disapproves of working women—bagged with an examination of the life and death of cartoonist Alex Raymond. Maybe Dave Sim thinks a little TOO MUCH about all this?

Or as Ed Brubaker put it:

Anyway, it’s too bad this discussion ended up being about Sim’s views and an article from 20 years ago, instead of the new hardback editions of Cerebus I would have loved to support. And it’s sad to me to see a cartoonist whose work gave me so much joy acting like his career is over now, when there are clearly plenty of options for keeping Cerebus in print and publishing new work.

 

Final notes:

That Alex Raymond bio looks great and I would read it.

The Digital High Society is moving forward, despite the fire that destroyed much of the work on it, and so many will be able to experience it in a different way.

Sim is doing a blog tour and he’s answering questions here at the Beat in this thread. I believe it’s still open.

UPDATE: Thompson has responded with a concise, directed statement of issues:

For simplicity’s sake, and I hate to sound intransigent or curt but it seems to be the only way to focus this, there are three non-negotiable criteria on our end. (1) We will not start anywhere other than at or near the beginning of CEREBUS (i.e. no later than HIGH SOCIETY); the FORM AND VOID idea is DOA. (2) There is no “deep” examination of Fantagraphics’ financials, your opening demand, in the cards. (3) The misogynist/gender-issues/shunning-of-Dave aspect CANNOT be part of this discussion and WOULD not be part of the promotional context for the series if it were to come to fruition; bringing it up is a lose/lose proposition. So if any of those conditions present an insurmountable bar for you, the negotiations are stone cold dead and that’s it.

One further observation from me on all of this: Sim seems to be unable to process the concept that a publisher might have, as its base goal, a desire to partner with a creator for mutually beneficial reasons. I agree that history shows that such publishers are not always the norm, but I don’t think it’s impossible to figure out who’s who either.

Whew! Wasn’t that fun? Have a great weekend!
201210050417 Dave Sims October surprise    UPDATED!!!

Comments

  1. Calvin Reid says:

    Nice recap but really, nothing about this convoluted exchange is a surprise.

  2. Wonder what Sim’s “things I do to make money” are? Teaching? Advertising?
    Anyone know?

  3. Kevin says:

    Fax mu-chine? What is this strange device? And does it come with a touch screen?

  4. I don’t, call me a cynic but this whole negotiation in public with Fantagraphics has just screamed to me as a way of getting Sim and his work back in the public discussion. Just some new way of marketing, with the addition of some (nearly completely forgotten) controversy to help stir up the rabble. How many new readers have either read through the stream of comments or read articles like this one, who’d never heard of Sim or Cerebus are now searching out the phone books to see what the fuss is about?

  5. Great piece, Heidi.

  6. I agree with Hibbs that it’s difficult for critics to destroy the reputation of an artist–hell, it’s hard enough for an ARTIST to destroy the reputation of an artist. Just look at Roman Polanski, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Director the year after he fled the country rather than face criminal charges for drugging and anally raping a 13-year-old girl–and then won another Oscar 20 years after that.

    That said, I bought the first 6 issues of glamourpuss,. I would almost certainly have bought another 20 issues of material just about Alex Raymond and his contemporaries in the drama comic strip world, but the glamour magazine parody stuff was racing toward toxic and I jumped off.

  7. Thank you Heidi! I began to follow the original posts on this a few days ago over at A Moment of Cerebus. Ed Brubaker articulates my feelings in a nutshell as well. I would have loved to have seen all of Dave’s books in a nice hardcover format too.

  8. Hibbs:
    “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.”

    Well, if you’re already a reader, that may be true. But I personally, while I consider myself quite well-read in the classics of comics, have not read Cerebus, and it’s Sim’s more objectionable opinions and behavior such as on display here are what’s keeping me from giving it a go. There’s so many good comics to read, and many other creators I’d rather support.

  9. Snikt Snakt says:

    Sim sounds as nutty as Ditko…

  10. Someone at Fantagraphics once called one of my former Disney colleagues a corporate parasite. When the colleague laughingly mentioned this to me I said, “Oooh! That might mean they’re interested!”

    The correspondence that followed between me and Gary resulted in the beautiful Barks and Gottfredson reprint books everyone is enjoying now. Not only did I find Gary to be the most straightforward, honest, generous, and easy business negotiator I’ve ever worked with, but the books are absolutely stunning; a gift to the comics community and the project I’m most proud of out of my whole career so far.

    So, what Eric Reynolds said: it’s SO worth just letting it go! Especially for a story as good as Cerebus and a publisher as skilled as Fantagraphics, and since the people who were involved in the slight at the time either don’t care anymore or don’t remember it. I’m not saying the book is more important than the relationship between the interested parties, but in this case the relationship isn’t even bad. We want to buy nicely published hardcover Cerebus books, Mr. Sim!

  11. It speaks volumes about Sim’s mindset that he takes comics creators not having signed his petition as evidence that they therefore must think he’s a misogynist. It can’t be that they don’t know about it, or haven’t given it a moment’s thought, or have better things to do, or simply don’t care about signing pointless online petitions, no: if a comic creator hasn’t signed his petition, he says of them “I guess he/she thinks I’m a misogynist.”

    Cerebus was bar none my favorite monthly comic for a huge portion of its run and I eagerly anticipated the fascinating comics history sections of Glamourpuss, but Sim’s pathetic martyr act is tiresome. At this point he just seems to want the implication of respect given by others interacting with him, but only on his terms. That’s fine, but while he portrays himself as a ruthlessly logical arbitrator of his own life he fails to recognize that his lack of perspective causes him to behave more like a depressed teenage girl than a man worthy of respect.

  12. Yeah, I dunno. It’s not that I think Sim is sane — the very point is, he’s a genius who was actually diagnosed with borderline schizophrenia circa 1980 — but I do think pieces like this already have an inbuilt self-fulfilling prophecy of “Dave Sim is wrong”.

    Does he make mountains of molehills? Absolutely. Still, I kind of doubt the Hitler sketch would be so dismissed by you guys if it was, let’s say, an insulting image of Louise Simonson, to take a random example. If we were talking about Louise Simonson negotiating with a publisher who had once portrayed her in an over-the-top insulting way, I doubt many of the tut-tutters would be saying “Get over it, Weezy. That was 20 years ago. No one cares.”

    It’s not that I really have much sympathy for Sim. It’s not that I agree with (many of) his views. It’s not that I think his bad rep, instead of the economy, is largely responsible for his current financial problems. I don’t. And he is paranoid.

    But I just don’t think the opposition to Sim is much better. I mean, a self-described “a long ago veteran of the Usenet wars” doesn’t really seem wholly superior to Sim’s recent online antics. Heidi, you’ve merrily drummed up controversy far beyond reason and common sense, for many years now. It’s not that I have a problem with your shock tactics. It’s not that I disagree with you (on much). But, yeah, this is like Howard Stern calling out Mel Gibson for being shocking.

  13. There’s a Mr. Show sketch about dealing with the problem of performance artists defacing the American flag and one of the solutions is to put the flag in a box where nobody can get to it.

    The idea of mass market publications is that they reach a “mass” market. For instance, if I want to get a copy of the Walking Dead. I can go to a comic store. I can go to Amazon. I can go to a bookstore. I can get it digital. There are any number of formats. There are reprints. It’s my choice how I can get it. But it’s readily available.

    Yes, he’s doing digital. But that market is still catching up to printed books, which are still in favor with much of his potential audience.

    Whereas, I continue to get the feeling that Sims almost doesn’t care if new (or existing) readers can get access to his books. Like the flag in the box.

  14. The man spends way too much time in his own head.

  15. Someone so talented and skilled, yet so strange. I wouldn’t mind him being strange if it didn’t affect the work, or the work being out in front of people.

    Dave, direct your energy into producing good work, and in getting that work out where people can see it! Not in engaging in strange fax-message board arguments.

  16. he deserves what he gets.

  17. Ben There says:

    Who is Dave Sim?

  18. Ben There says:

    Dave Sim is one ‘industrious South Korean college student on a Red Bull bender with a high-quality image scanner’ away from total irrelevance.

  19. Ditko is staggeringly sane and rational compared to the snakes slithering around in Dave’s head. Good for Brubaker for seeing this issue with absolute clarity.

  20. I stayed out of the TCJ thread for a variety of reasons (largely because the additional voices were not helping to get any goal achieved.) Allow me to make a suggestion for any publisher that wants to approach Sim about doing a Cerebus book: The Color Cerebus. This would collect the Cerebus stories which have appeared in color: The four Young Cerebus stories from Epic Illustrated, the 3-pager from Anything Goes, Spawn #10, and the Animated Cerebus portfolio. Assuming the portfolio is reprinted as a wide-screen storytelling, 3 sheets to a page, that’s around 60 pages of story material there.
    The advantage to this would be:
    * Sim seems reluctant to license out the first couple volumes of Cerebus. The stories listed here do not generally need the reader to be versed in Cerebus backstory. As such, it can be read by the Cerebus newcomer (although the silent nature of many of the stories means that it may not be the ideal introduction to Cerebus.)
    * Except for the Spawn tale, none of these stories are (to the best of my knowledge) in print, or have ever been in a book (and the Spawn story was reprinted in a high-priced Spawn book not particularly targeted at the Cerebus readers.)
    * A color volume is the sort of thing where the financial resources and experience of an outside publisher would help create something that Aardvark Vanaheim might have difficulty publishing… particularly if the publisher has a history of doing quality reprints of color work where the original seps are no longer available.
    If someone works that out, I promise to buy a copy.

  21. Todd VerBeek says:

    I hate to say this, but one consolation is that Dave Sim’s work will outlive him.

  22. Adriano Moraes says:

    As far as I know this whole waste of time made Dave Sim lose me as a reader and supporter.

    And as I pointed before:
    It is not JUST Fantagraphics. If that is the way he deals with business he closed his doors to every other publisher. Who will want to go through this and TO CLOSE THE deal says ‘NO FUCKING WAY’?
    Doesn’t he respect people’s time?

  23. Chris Hero says:

    I read the entire thread over the past few weeks because it was train-wreck fascinating. The Michael guy was clearly the star of that thread, though, and once he was banned, the good times couldn’t continue to roll. I

    don’t think anyone remembered or cared about that dumb cartoon. I also think anyone getting upset with it now is woefully ignorant. Groth has always been incendiary towards people he doesn’t like; getting upset with that now is a waste of emotion.

    I agree with Mr. Doan; Ditko is completely sane compared to Sim. Ditko adheres to a strict, consistent code of ethics. Sim only has a moral code so he can be a martyr. That said, he’s a very good artist.

  24. R. Haining says:

    You’re missing the point here. It is not that Dave Sim had the right to be upset with the Comics Journal over the cartoon in question. It is that, by entering in a public negotiation with Fantagraphics, the implication is that he has put the matter behind him. To bring up the matter two weeks later, he was not only yanking Kim’s chain, but the collective chain of everyone who participated (myself included).
    As a newcomer to the “Usenet wars” and someone who lost interest in Cerebus around issue 70, I came into the debate with few preconceptions. I started off making a goodhearted (if wrongheaded) suggestion to Sim to sell the movie rights to Cerebus to finance his work and ended up not having any respect for him. I think the man is ethically challenged and he should stick to self publishing as, after this, no publisher should deal with him.

  25. Adriano Moraes says:

    some millionaire must be paying him to post stuff on fantagraphics site for laughs. That is what it sounds like….

  26. Scott says:
  27. Ed Brubaker says:

    Looking at the trailer they released for the digital High Society, it looks like it’s going to be quite a package. Like the “Artists Edition” version of a digital comic. And say whatever you want about Sim and Cerebus after a certain point, but High Society is a great work of art. It’s one that’s very unique to both comics and its era, and I wonder how some of the parodies will come across to any new readers or younger readers.

  28. “It is not JUST Fantagraphics. If that is the way he deals with business he closed his doors to every other publisher.”

    Fantagraphics is a special case in that it’s a company with whom Sim has a history of various forms, both directly and in playing the intramural game that is the comics specialty market. I suspect that if a mainstream bookmarket publisher had approached Sim, the discussion, although not without its frictions, would have gone much differently. And Sim is certainly under no obligation to make life easy for those who want to publish him; he has clearly made decisions in the past which value his independence over income, as is his right.

    As a publisher who has dealt with Sim, albeit over much more minor matters (the inclusion of his 24-hour comic “Bigger, Blacker Kiss” in the volume 24 Hour Comics All-Stars), I found him easy to deal with actually beyond expectations (he called for his royalties to be sent to The Hero Initiative, which simplified a number of things), and a minor bit of friction years later actually lead to an even better situation. Of course, Sim is going to be much more protective of matters regarding his huge key work… but the potential benefits for a publisher who could find a way to work with him is quite large (if one can find an audience for Cerebus, there’s a lot of books to sell them.)

  29. And now, proving that dealing with Sim is not inherently impossible: IDW has announced a book collecting the Cerebus covers.

  30. Frank Meneses says:
  31. The problem I had with this whole fiasco was that, while it seemed like a genuine interest from Fantagraphics was there, Thompson seemed to feel the need to be constantly aggressive towards Sim. Read over the thread again and you’ll see lots of attacks on him, and while he can have whatever view he wants in his head, that isn’t really the approach a professional should be taking with a client he supposedly wants to work with. It just supports the position that the Fantagraphics guys are royal dicks and I don’t really blame Sim if he just wanted to jerk them around a bit. While it was a bit much for Sim to bring up the cartoon again, there had already been plenty of airing of Sims views in the thread and the fact that the Fanta-guys can’t even bring themselves to say “It was out of line, sorry” shows they support the whole perception that they are saying isn’t a problem. At that point it became obvious it was just a contest to see whose is bigger. As someone said above, if it was another of the greats of comic history who was attacked in such a vile way they probably wouldn’t be expected to just let it go, but since it is Sim he should just see the error of his ways.

    Anyhow, I’d rather see none of Sim’s effort feed into the pockets of Fantagraphics given the antagonistic history. I’d prefer if IDW stepped up to the plate, and given recent events, that may be in the works.

  32. What amazes me about Groth’s comment here is that while I was a constant and (I think) thorough reader of CEREBUS back in the day, I had no idea what ‘Dave-Sim-is-Hitler-analogy-comment” Groth referenced. Groth states that it appeared in response to the incendiary issue #186, but the comment wasn’t originated by Sim, though he did respond to it.

    I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out how Sim responding to a comment “did far more to cultivate… the Sim-Is-Hitler public persona.” Did anyone remember this lettercol exchange before Groth mentioned it as a proximate cause that inspired the offending cartoon?

    I don’t think that Sim is “responsible” in any way for fomenting the intellectually lax “Sim-Is-Hitler” meme, even with the consideration that he could have chosen not to print the originating comment in the CEREBUS lettercol. I can imagine that many people who didn’t like Sim’s views would have made comparisons between Sim and Hitler had Sim never printed that comment, or any similar comment, and also if THE JOURNAL had never printed the offending cartoon. Comparing one’s enemies to Hitler has spawned its own “law,” if one can fairly call it that.

    But if you ask me what did the most to spread the Godwinian comparison– some little comment in the CEREBUS lettercol, or the fullblown cartoon in the JOURNAL– well, obviously, the JOURNAL cartoon had the greater effect. Such is the power of the image: *seeing* a comics-celebrity like Sim in Nazi attire will always sear its way into the cerebral synapses in the way that a verbal debate cannot. I don’t imagine that the JOURNAL’s low sales prevented the dissemination and discussion of the cartoon in many quarters that paid no attention whatever to the lettercol referenced.

    MORE on the blog.

  33. Let’s suppose an analogous situation, but with Groth as the subject.

    Groth writes an editorial that, surprise of surprises, at least one of his readers doesn’t like.

    That reader writes a letter to the JOURNAL, calling Groth “an aesthetic Nazi.”

    Groth decides to print this letter in order to refute it, as I presume Dave refuted the letter in which one of his readers called him a Nazi.

    I think the idea of Groth-as-Nazi is such a striking piece of satire that I commission a Bigtime Artist to do a sketch of Groth in jackboots, maybe strutting in front of a barb-wire fence in which a bunch of superheroes are confined. Maybe Nazi-Groth says something like, “Our good friend Doctor Wertham was entirely too EASY on you.” I print the sketch on my blog.

    Miracle of miracles, though my presence on the web garners far less attention than that of COMICS JOURNAL, the image of Nazi-Groth creates a little controversy.

    Now, if I understand Groth’s logic above correctly, then it follows:

    Any responsibility I might bear for the dissemination of the Nazi-Groth image is far less than the responsibility Groth himself bears for:

    (a) Printing the offending letter publicly in order to refute it,

    (b) Penning an essay so offensive that it moved a reader to call him a Nazi,

    (c) Both of the above.

    Isn’t logic wonderful?

  34. Damian T. Lloyd says:

    Late to the party here, sorry! But Sim actually did put women in a concentration camp: “Fruitcake Park” in the “Latter Days” book of “Cerebus”.

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