The one about Dave Sim

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200802271447 The one about Dave SimWhat do I think of Dave Sim? I think he’s one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists. You can use that as a pull quote, like this.

“One of the world’s greatest living cartoonists.”
–Publishers Weekly

Go ahead. It’s true. Through 30 years of Cerebus he proved himself a craftsman, writer and artist with a vision unsurpassed. His comedic timing, inventive storytelling, expressive lettering, humane, nuanced characters, and epic world-creation…all unsurpassed.

Like many great artists, Dave Sim is also a complex, nuanced human being. But alas, he’s also something of a philosopher, and as most agree, as Cerebus went on, it became increasingly engrossed with these philosophical concerns, to the detriment of storytelling dynamics.

And the bottom line is that, just as the anti-Semitism of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Richard Wagner will always be an asterisk to their great artistry, so will Dave Sim’s narrow-minded philosophical concerns always provide the asterisk to a great career.

That’s the short version. If you want more…plunge on, brave, brave Concorde.

Why even bring thing up? Well, Sim’s 100 Hours on the internet are wrapping up today with a Jason Bourne-like sprint across various message boards, so it looks like a good time to look back at what we’ve learned. Back in the olden days Dave and I were friends, or at least friendly, we spoke on the phone many times, hung out in person. I think about 12 or 13 years ago I became one of “the Usual Suspects,” coinciding with my involvement with Friends of Lulu. We had a rather pointed exchange at a WonderCon around the time of #186, and since then onceexchanged some awkward pleasantries at a baseball game, but that’s about it. I guess what follows is at least my attempt to air my own thoughts as much as anything.

One thing I don’t want to do is just throw up my hands and say “He’s just a nutter!” That may or may not be true — certainly a persecution complex and mother issues have come up on his tour. Whatever Dave’s mental state, its his actual achievements that make him worthy of some study. Plus, the reactions to his philosophical views are worth noting in and of themselves; in my opinion they’re even more interesting than Dave’s views, which, as recently stated, aren’t really anything all that new and radical. Everyone knows his philosophy is more of a crackpot personal worldview. Everyone (myself included) feels bad about it because we’d like to just enjoy the work. And it is quite possible.

But I do find myself annoyed at times by the double standard. Actions have consequences. If Dave Sim had said the things he’s said about women and gays about blacks or Jews, it’s doubtful he’s be considered quite the wise elder of comics he’s often accepted as. And to me, that’s worth examining.

Sim’s message board postings have been sprinkled with weariness at having to answer the same old questions, but he’s gotten off pretty lightly all things considered, and a pretty good case could be made that airing everything is the only way to begin to accept Glamourpuss on its own merits. But it’s not really clear what it is he wants to say or discuss at times. Just this morning on Panel and Pixel he wrote:

I’d take issue with the idea that my “controversial views” have been “widely discussed”. I think my “controversial views” have been widely ALLUDED to — labelled inaccurately as misogyny and homophobia — with all the attendant name-calling and character assassination that typically goes with it, but I think I’m safe in saying, also, it’s an enormous stretch to call that “discussed” let alone “widely discussed”.

That having been said, I definitely appreciate Neil being willing to go on record as recommending JUDENHASS. It would be nice to think that it would be a “plus” for the book and not a “minus” for Neil.

I’d hate to think that he stuck his neck out just so we could both get our heads chopped off by the usual suspects.


Compare that with this from the Tart board:

I answered yes the first time. I answered yes the second through the twentieth time. If you ask me a year from now, the answer will still be “Yes, I am a member of the anti-feminist party.” Don’t you think it’s time to either charge me with something and have me arrested or just accept the fact that not everyone in the world thinks like you? Just wondering.


It that’s Dave’s idea of a discussion, then just what does he want?

Is Dave getting a free pass or has be been damned for all times by the Feminist/Atheist cabal? I have to admit, sometimes I’m surprised when I see people asking Sim to write intros to their books, or he’s invited to things like the opening of a comics exhibit at the Norman Rockwell museum. Or when some indie comics show trumpets his appearance. Or when I see Neil Gaiman or Jeff Smith “teaming up” with Dave for a worthy charity. It’s not that I expect him to get a proper Amish Shunning. It’s just that there’s a lot more blowback in the “real world” when you associate yourself with individuals with “strong opinions”.

Amusingly, as I was writing this post, I was listening to the Hillary/Obama debate, and Tim Russert made quite a squawk over Obama’s church’s relationship to Louis Farrakhan. (Obama’s church has given an award to Farrakhan, the head of the nation of Islam.) Obama made it clear that he would both “denounce and reject” Farrakhan’s hate speech.

What kind of hate speech? Oh, stuff like this.


“Do you know some of these satanic Jews have taken over BET?… Everything that we built, they have. The mind of Satan now is running the record industry, movie industry and television. And they make us look like we’re the murders; we look like we’re the gangsters, but we’re punk stuff.”
“Justifiable Homicide: Black Youth in Peril (Part 3)” speech at Mosque Maryam, 11/11/07


“These false Jews promote the filth of Hollywood that is seeding the American people and the people of the world and bringing you down in moral strength…It’s the wicked Jews the false Jews that are promoting Lesbianism, homosexuality. It’s wicked Jews, false Jews that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic!”
Saviours’ Day, Chicago, Illinois, 2/26/06


In all honesty, I don’t see much difference between that hateful speech and this:

* “In one of those Poor Us studies for which the Emotional Female Void is notorious, it was pointed out that after a divorce, the average male standard of living rises… the average female standard of living drops… I think the…explanation is that the excision of a five-to-six- foot leech from the surface of a human body is going to have more of its own blood in its own veins. Unless the leech finds another body, it is going to go hungry.”


or

* “What the feminists and their ventriloquist puppet husbands are talking about doing with Government-Funded Daycare is raising children as if they were a herd of interchangeable swine. No surprise coming from a gender which has no ethics, no scruples, no sense of right and wrong.”


All quotes from the Dave Sim Misogyny page. You can find much more of this kind of stuff on Cerebus Fangirl’s page. To be honest, I kind of skimmed around in there. I wanted to devote some time to this but not TOO much.

To be fair, some of Dave’s most hateful comments have been in his “Viktor Davis” persona. And he doesn’t come right out and say whether this is his own personal philosophy. But there’s plenty of grist for anyone’s mill in the above links.

One of the interesting quotes from Sim regarding all this is that he seems to think (or once thought) that there was a real chance that all this would have a harsh blowback:

Cerebus is a very weird little commodity in the context of the Female Emotional Void Age. It’s too small to pay attention to and too big to ignore. It wouldn’t be that big a stretch to categorize Reads as Hate Literature against women. All it would take is for one woman to be disturbed enough by Reads to file a lawsuit, or a women’s group to file a class-action suit, in this Fascistic Feminist country and that would be the ball game, wouldn’t it?

Does that worry you?

Not especially. They could ban the book, seize the house and all the inventory, all the artwork, and burn it. Copies of it would still be out there. As long as I can have a pad of paper and a ball-point pen in my prison cell, I’ll be happier than a pig in shit. Clean and sober, three square meals a day, an exercise room to work out in. No monthly deadline. Sounds like a lot less pressure to me.


Yes, but then came Glamourpuss.

Sim, quite admirably, is devoted to promoting this book as part of his “shared risk, shared responsibility, shared reward” program. So now there is a problem with being the bold prophet of the truth about women. And that’s where things get more amusing. When Sim started his “100 hours” internet promotion, appearing on a dozen message boards to answer questions about Glamourpuss and Alex Raymond, it was inevitable that questions about his philosophizing would come up. But he said he would talk about gender issues only on the Sequential Tart board. There’s something inherently patronizing about quarrentining gender issues to the “women’s board” (and in fact the talk did leak out over a few places) but it was the second thread there were things got a little hot under the questioning of WolfenMoonDaughter, Reverend Smooth and Gail Simone. The quote I found the most interesting was this:

As I’ve tried to explain at considerable length, my interest in gender politics has been just about zilch for some time. If people want to read what I have to say about gender politics in COLLECTED LETTERS volumes one and two, or at cerebusfangirl’s website in my essays that she has collected there or in the CEREBUS letter columns, they’re welcome to do so. This is pretty close to three full days that I’ve spent on a subject in which I have no interest which I think, under the circumstances, is pretty open-minded of me.


It’s surprising that the guy who insisted that “Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist” be posted at the TOP of every blog post on his blog for nearly a year (until just a few months ago, in fact) suddenly had no interest in discussing this when he had a book to promote, but, perhaps that is part of “shared responsibility.”

I would argue that when a man who has very particular and peculiar views about women suddenly puts out a comic book that is a parody of women’s fashion magazines, trying to draw a line between the two is a very legitimate path of enquiry.

Margaret a.k.a. Cerebus Fangirl has helpfully archived all of Dave’s responses on this page so you can dig in to your heart’s content should you so desire. I don’t know how much anyone will desire, because in between all the very interesting (to me) observations on putting together comics and selling them to retailers, and the life of the self publisher, you’ll find zingers like this.

It’s one of the reasons that I never “lashed back” at Jill Thompson, Colleen Doran and all the others who were so Offended by “Tangent”. There was nothing — and is nothing — that I could do to them that would be a patch on what they had chosen to do to themselves.


Very decent of him not to lash back at people he’s offended.

The joker in all this is Sim’s ability to be polite and open minded. He ‘s very grateful for the help retailers Mimi Cruz and Nancy McCann have given him. Or this.

2007 HOWARD E. DAY MEMORIAL PRIZE:

It’s MR. BIG by Matt and Carol Dembicki of Little Foot Comics in Fairfax, Virginia.

Those interested in checking out MR BIG can do so at
www.littlefootcomics.com

I don’t know if they have Paypal over there, but the book is $10 plus $2 postage.

Sincere congratulations: Matt and Carol are coming up to Columbus for S.P.A.C.E. along with their two sons, one of whom is (two?) and the other is two months old. They’re both looking forward to leaving the boys with Carol’s parents (who live in Columbus) and…hopefully …joining me and the Yahoos for the big spaghetti dinner Friday night that we keep hearing about and which is being prepared in anyone’s room but mine.


Given Sim’s thoughts elsewhere about working mothers, this is hard to parse, but it seems sincere.

And then, after all this “biology is destiny” stuff, along comes Judenhass, the preview of which, anyway, looks like a heartbreakingly beautiful historical account of the Holocaust. Given Sim’s views on the natural role of women (the upsetting of which is leading to a bleak, dehumanized world in which more women than men enter college) the irony in a panel like this is gut-wrenching. (Click for a larger version)
Judenhass pg 03 tm The one about Dave Sim
Yes, it is terrible to be convicted of the crime of being born Jewish. As opposed to::

No one wants to be a woman.

If, prior to our life on this earth, we were presented with the option of being male or female, a short description of the functions of the male versus the female genitalia (with emphasis on menstruation, menstrual cramps, PMS, labour pains, yeast infections, et al) would most certainly result in so vast a number of us choosing the male “equipment” (what, is this a trick question?) that it is difficult, if not impossible, to envision any woman being born into this world at all.

To me, it seems less a case of penis envy (Sigmund Freud having lived in altogether too chivalrous a time period for such “plain talk” as I offer here) than it is one of vagina abhorrence from the standpoint of the “would-be tenant” in contemplating a role as “owner-proprietor”. Alas, for reasons known only to our Creator, (almost exactly) half of us come out on the losing end of the coin toss. If things seem pretty “even steven” (leaving aside the fact that a penis, self-evidently, constitutes an anatomical “presence” and a vagina, self-evidently, an anatomical “absence”) over the course of the first ten or eleven years in the life of a boy and a girl there does, alas, “come the day…”

It would take a very hard-hearted individual, indeed (someone like myself, for instance) to find anything amusing in the level of Mortification at the Sheer Cosmic Unfairness of It All with which a young girl must greet the news that every twenty-eight days or so for decades-upon-decades stretching as far into the future as a ten- or eleven-year-old can possibly conceive – that a “little friend will be coming to visit”. A “little friend” who (it seems) will be just as catastrophic and humiliating a mess as the one who has (just now) paid a first most unwelcome social call.

No one wants to be a woman.

Those of you who are masochistic enough to have stuck with this far, are probably asking, as sensible Laura Hudson did: “WHY?????”

Gail Simone and Heidi MacDonald, two of the strongest and most well-spoken women in comics, both make appearances, but honestly guys–I know Sim is a brilliant creator, but I have idea why so many people remain compelled to beat their heads against that particular brick wall, particularly when it only feeds directly into Sim’s sense of self-importance and persecution.


Yes, why indeed. Sim makes it clear that he doesn’t really want to think about anything because he’s made his mind up. (No wonder he avoids the Internet! Facts don’t seem to be of much interest to him on several topics.) And he hasn’t made a career out of “Frauleinhass.” Aside from a few loonies who follow him around the web, he doesn’t have followers or acolytes, and doesn’t even want them.

Well, I can only speak for myself, but it’s that double standard that bothers me. Why, 70 years later, remember the Holocaust? Because in the words of misogynist (but noted anti-anti-Semite) Nietzsche Santayana, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” You can’t just sweep 9 million murdered Jews, Poles, Slavs, Gypsies and gay men under the rug, and I salute Dave Sim for knowing this.

Tragically, as with anti-Semitism and racism, with anti-feminists, or misogynists, or crackpots or whatever you want to call them, the battle never, ever ends. Discussion, as Dave himself contends when it suits him, should be encouraged. I don’t want Sim to be thrown in jail or silenced or shunned or to stop cartooning. I’m not going to boycott the Norman Rockwell museum because they invited Dave Sim to an event. It’s not like they put on a show called “Dave Sim talks about homemaking.”

But I do think people should examine their own feelings about the double standard. Gender issues aren’t like racial or religious prejudices. Everyone has a beef against someone of the opposite sex, whether a petty personal rejection or emotional torture or the loss of control in the throes of sexual desire or love. It can be easy to project these into universal statements of human nature. (After reading Sim’s comments on the Tart board, it would seem that most of his views come from his mother issues, but as I said, I don’t want to engage in psychoanalysis here.)

Sometimes, these beefs are expressed through petty personal slights. Other times, they take over entire societies which condone everything from female genital mutilation to “honor” killings to rape as the tool of ethnic cleansing to a woman being arrested for sitting next to an unrelated man in a Starbucks. I’m not trying to equate the petty with the cruel and inhumane. But until we understand the sources of these feelings and social conventions, we cannot help, we cannot cure. We cannot progress.

Dave Sim is no general in a war against women. He’s not even a foot soldier. He’s a talented man with a dark side. He’s also, as far as I can see, someone whose hypocrisy is a foundation of his philosophy. The ultimate irony is that Sim’s work ends up being the greatest repudiation of the hateful and/or ignorant views he’s expressed. The tenderness and wisdom of Jaka’s Story will last longer than any bullshit philosophy. I hope so, anyway.

Judenhass pg 04 tm The one about Dave Sim

Comments

  1. Excellent essay, Heidi, and your last point is the most poignant.

    Jaka’s Story changed my life. I made decisions in my life based on some of the lessons I learned from that book. Even though Dave revealed himself to be, well, Dave later in life, I’m still glad I read that book. And Melmoth. And Rick’s Story. And Guys. And Church and State. And High Society.

    What’s also very sad is that Dave’s darker side has obscured his true place in the history of comics as one of the reasons we have a graphic novel market today. Had he not stuck his neck out with the High Society collections back in the 80s, and later inspired the self-publishing movement that brought so many talents to the forefronts…who knows where comics would be today?

    But your essay is damn good, Heidi. You’ve captured the fundamental problem- how can we enjoy Sim’s work- which is pretty damn good at times- when the man has shouted so many repugnant beliefs?

    By the way, anyone know why Google Reader reads the quotes funny? In my reader, some of the quoted text looked like regular text, so it appeared that Heidi said the words that Dave Sim had said.

  2. Elektra says:

    I can’t enjoy Dave Sim’s work.

    I feel no obligation whatsoever to do so. It is tainted. It is repulsive.

    He will never get a dime of my money.

    The Simon Weisenthal Center could use my cash instead.

    “No one wants to be a woman”?

    Keep trying to convince us that is not misogynistic.

    How about:

    “No one wants to be a Jew.”

    “No one wants to be black.”

    “No one wants to be Hispanic.”

  3. I hate to be a nitpicky pedantic dope after reading such a cogent, well-reasoned, and heartfelt take on a complex and fraught issue; but “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” was actually written by George Santayana, who, AFAIK, hated neither the Jews nor the lay-teez.

  4. Ray–I’ve noticed that myself, not just on posts from the Beat but from other blogs too–I’ve gotten used to just making sure I closely read quotes and the paragraphs afterward so I don’t suddenly assume someone’s saying something they’re not!

    Heidi, thanks for this. I will confess to a complete ignorance of all of Dave Sim’s work, and thus make my entire comment and opinion moot, but it’s been fascinating to follow his recent career moves from the viewpoint of the classic “can you love the art if you hate the artist?” standpoint.

    One thing I have noticed, and it’s just an observation at this point, is that so much of what I’ve seen written about Dave Sim over the past couple weeks has been packed to the gills with qualifiers, and people almost going out of their way to commend Sim on the good things he’s done. Not sure why I find that interesting; it just suddenly struck me that no one needs to qualify the good/bad things done by most other comics creators (or people in general, for that matter), so maybe that’s the real legacy that will follow Sim around–the asterisk on his career, as you say–everything good or bad he does will be haunted by his opinions.

  5. This is a fantastic and thought-provoking essay. It REALLY makes you mull over the idea of loving an Artists’ work, but hating (or STRONGLY disliking) the Artist. Is this possible?

  6. Shawn says:

    It’s funny, to me, that so many comics readers will actively avoid Dave Sim’s work but will talk openly about their enjoyment of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories.

    Lovecraft, of course, was a adamant racist. He thought blacks (all non-white races, actually) were less than human.

    “When, long ago, the gods created Earth;
    In Jove’s fair image Man was shaped at birth. The beasts for lesser parts were designed; Yet were too remote from humankind. To fill the gap, and join the rest of Man, Th’Olympian host conceiv’d a clever plan. A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure, Filled it with vice, and called the thing a Nigger.”

    – From “On the Creation of Niggers,” a poen by H.P. Lovecraft

  7. The issues raised in your column seem to be issues all Cerebus fans have struggled with for a while now. I keep meaning to purchase Jeff Seiler’s ongoing comic series “Cerebus Readers In Crises” -he himself has been called “possesed” by Sim: yet, he is still a fan.
    Maybe “Cerebus” will enter the vernacular as in: I like the band “Rage Against The Machine” in a Cerebus-way:)

  8. Elektra says:

    Because Lovecraft is dead, and if we buy one of his books, we are not adding to the financial resources of a man who spreads bile.

    We have time and distance and and perspective and decades between our living reality and the living reality of the world of HP Lovecraft.

    Dave Sim is a man living in the 21st century spewing 19th century filth.

  9. Shawn says:

    So, I assume you’re just waiting for Sim to die to dive into Cerebus, then.

  10. Shawn says:

    So, I assume you’re just waiting for Sim to die to dive into Cerebus, then.

  11. Heidi wrote: “…is Sim’s ability to be polite and open minded.”

    Having met Dave Sim twice at conventions over the past 12 months, this was exactly my impression of him. And he never came off as being fake. I was at a launch for Rob Walton’s Rag Mop and there was Dave Sim getting Rob’s young daughter to do a sketch in his copy. Never acting crazy or spouting off his views. Yet you read the essays, the blog and on-line posts and you hear the stories and see….a totally different side of the man. The 14 year-old me sees the creator of Cerebus. The grown-up me can’t believe what he sees.

  12. Heidi wrote: “…is Sim’s ability to be polite and open minded.”

    Having met Dave Sim twice at conventions over the past 12 months, this was exactly my impression of him. And he never came off as being fake. I was at a launch for Rob Walton’s Rag Mop and there was Dave Sim getting Rob’s young daughter to do a sketch in his copy. Never acting crazy or spouting off his views. Yet you read the essays, the blog and on-line posts and you hear the stories and see….a totally different side of the man. The 14 year-old me sees the creator of Cerebus. The grown-up me can’t believe what he sees.

  13. Elektra says:

    Why no Shawn, I won’t. I read Cerebus back in the day, and regret ever giving that bigot one red cent.

    I’m not a Lovecraft fan either, but I can excuse the bigotry of a man born in the 19th century in a way I can’t excuse it in a man living in the 21st century.

    If you’re the type who can excuse it in someone just because they write a comic book you enjoy, then do so. But I don’t and I won’t.

  14. I agree with Ray, Heidi. Unlike the majority of Sim-criticism I’ve seen, this was both fair and insightful, in large part because it actually quoted things Dave Sim rather than imputing to him all manner of insanities and foul deeds.

    Two things:

    I read the Tart boards too (and participated in them), and I didn’t find any mother issues in what he said there.

    And I don’t get what you were originally saying about Nietzsche– that he was an “anti-anti-Semite?” He was against anti-Semitism in his life and works, but I’m not sure that’s what you meant.

  15. Shawn says:

    There’s no excusing anything. There’s just the ability to separate the person (and their beliefs) from the work.

    And as far as money goes, buying Sim’s books from a comic shop puts none of my money in his pocket. The comic shop has already bought and paid for the books. They get my money. Dave gets theirs.

  16. Well done, Heidi. It’s amazing to me how much more acceptable sexism still is in our society than racism, anti-Semitism, etc. NO unthinking personal prejudice ought to be acceptable to anyone with even a smidgen of creativity and integrity. And thanks for tying this into last night’s Democratic debate as well; it’s been harder and harder to even glimpse at the mainstream news piling on Clinton while giving a free pass to Obama and even, to some extent, to the Republican candidates. And I say this as someone who happened to pull the lever for Obama in the NY primary.

  17. Shawn: Are you sure that the same fans who refuse to read Sim are the ones who praise Lovecraft? Because if not, that criticism is completely invalid.

  18. Heidi:

    Very well done. Thank you for taking the time to put this forth.

    And Matt? As others have stated, I think the reasons for the qualifiers is how much Cerebus meant to many of us. To go out by yourself and commit to a 30-year publishing schedule, 300 issues, thousands of pages–and do it well–that is to be admired.

    Dave Sim’s views on women? Not so much.

  19. Elektra,

    I’m not at all trying to convince you that “No one wants to be a woman” isn’t misogynistic. It is, as well as factually incorrect, as exemplified by males desirous of sex changes (though I suppose they don’t get the “little friend’ no matter what).

    However, sexism is not racism. Dave’s problem, whatever it is, is with female biology. I don’t see it extending to anything else.

  20. Dan Z says:

    What do you purpose be done with Sim? Should he really be arrested and locked up?

  21. joffe says:

    its a difficult line to draw when you’re giving a bigot a free pass and when you’re condemning the art for the artist. I think you’ve done as good a job as any with your essay, Heidi.

  22. monkeytwohands says:

    heidi, you really hit the nail on the head at the end there; “hypocrisy is a foundation of philosophy”. Much of his energy is taken in railing against viewpoints that he recognises as delusion, but cannot see his own delusion.

  23. Elektra says:

    Shawn,

    The ability to separate the artist from their work has a lot to do with it as far as you are concerned, but not to me in this case. That is my right.

    Your values versus mine. Do what you want with your life. Cerebus has no intrinsic value for me. It is not in any way entitled to be bought by anyone. It is not a requirement that anyone read Cerebus just to prove that they know how to separate the art from the artist.

    If people stop buying Cerebus comic shops stop ordering them. And by the way, I didn’t get mine from a shop, I had a subscription.

    Simple math: Sim stops making money if a comic shop doesn’t sell it to a customer. There’s no more income, and I don’t contribute to his money making venture. That is my absolute right. No one has given me one single argument that in any way makes it an imperative that I give this man my money.

    If you want to buy those comics from the guy who states “No one wants to be a woman” and then goes on to explain all the disgusting things he thinks about women, you go right on ahead.

    I have no obligation to value what you value and there are plenty of other important books and comics and creations to learn from and enjoy. I don’t have to read the work of this bigot. His work has no value to me. It’s that simple.

    Dan:

    Arrested and locked up? That’s conflating it all, isn’t it?

    No one proposed he be locked up. I stated I didn’t like his work, find his views to be bigoted, and will not buy his work. No one anywhere, not even on the links Heidi provided, suggested Sim be locked up.

    Gene

    Just because sexism and racism are not the same thing to you, that doesn’t make them equally repulsive to me.

    If you have other standards, that’s on you.

    Dave’s problem with female biology is not one that originates from female biology. It originates in Sim’s twisted mind. Dave’s Sim’s beliefs have nothing to do with my body. They are not my responsibility. I don’t have to share in them by supporting his work.

  24. gene phillips:

    Elektra used the words “bigot” and “bigotry”.

    According to my dictionary, bigoted means “expressing or characterized by
    prejudice and intolerance”.

    I believe that can be applied for racism or sexism. Hence, the parallel Elektra draws between Lovecraft and Sim.

  25. Dave Sim holds controversial views regarding men and women, their respective failings and predispositions and the natural purposes to which each is best suited. That’s indisputable. He has set out at length his belief that recognizing those failings, predispositions and natural purposes and behaving consistently with them will, in his view, produce a happier and ultimately preferable society.

    What I find least convincing in the arguments of Dave’s detractors is (a) their vitriol (particularly in contrast to Sim’s consistently calm demeanor) (in the above comments alone, Sim’s views are called “19th century filth”, “tainted” and “repulsive”), and (b) the apparent inability of Dave’s detractors to apprehend any distinction between holding convictions that may or may not be in error and acting violently on them.

    The fallacious statements of moral equivalency and the arguments against straw men follow Sim wherever he goes: Dave and Hitler, Dave and racial oppression throughout the centuries, Dave and female genital mutilation. Even Heidi, despite her desire not to “equate the petty with the cruel and inhumane,” cannot resist these hugely dubious comparisons. Sim writes “No one wants to be born a woman” (in which he merely sets out a list of the natural difficulties with which women are indisputably afflicted) and Heidi opts to sets the statement directly in opposition to “the crime of being born Jewish”, for which millions died at the hands of a genocidal maniac.

    Please, folks, dial it down a notch.

    As far as I can see, Sim is neither personally engaged in oppressing anyone nor is he advocating their oppression. He consistently maintains the right of individuals (including women) to make their own decisions about matters of lifestyle choice and to act in whatever way they deem reasonable.

    A little reasonableness in the discussion of his views would be welcome too.

  26. Shawn says:

    Katherine F.:

    No, just generalizing. But I see very few people on comics-related message baord making the claim that they avoid Lovecraft because of his racism (while posting about how much they enjoy his work), while people wear their avoidance of Cerebus like a badge of honor.

    My point? The dead guy generally gets a pass, the alive one doesn’t.

    Lovecraft was a rabid racist, whose particular brand of hate surpassed much of what was considered acceptable at the time, and the fact that he espoused it so much in his writing was also beyond what most people in the 20s-30s accepted. He worked in a niche market that most people brushed off because it was “low art.”

    Replace “racist” with “misogynist” and change the time frame, and you have Dave Sim.

    Maybe decades from now, when Sim is dead and gone, people will be able to judge the work separately from the man. Maybe not.

    Great article, by the way, Heidi.

  27. Lovely piece as always, Heidi. Fair and intelligent, and after reading so much bafflegab and nonsense the past couple weeks, may I say it’s a pleasure to read a cohesive essay for a change.

    I had a lengthy response to this, but I’m not going to post it at this time. Fact is, if anyone reads Dave’s fictional stats and anecdotal nonsense and says, “that’s the worldview for me, you betcha!” at this point, I’d have to say they’re too dumb to bother with. Thinkers think, feelers feel, Dave makes up whatever facts he needs at any given moment, perhaps in the belief no one will take the two minutes necessary to find the authoritative figures that prove him embarrassingly wrong again and again.

    I do find it interesting that virtually the only creators to refute some of this clear bigotry at the chats were females. I have to say, I am disappointed, but not surprised. Even the biggest names in comics seem very frightened to put forth any position that could conceivably lose them a reader, in public anyway. My mother taught me to stand up to a bigot, bless her heart.

    And regarding Dave’s seeming joviality, hmmm. Since I started rebuking Dave’s thin-air ‘facts,’ many of his former friends have contacted me, and it’s astounding how similar their stories are. They all felt belittled, bullied and betrayed at some point, and they ALL say the change happened at the drop of a hat…smiling one moment, venomous the next. Perhaps it’s just a part of Dave’s make-up, or perhaps it’s an astounding coincidence.

    I think Cerebus is a masterwork. I re-bought the first four collections a couple weeks back and found that my dislike of Sim’s mangled data-gathering didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book one bit. I hope it is rightly recognized as the funny, brilliant, and moving achievement that it is. In my opinion, few North American comics can touch its scope and ambition. And that didn’t happen by accident…I remain a huge fan of Dave’s talent.

    Good luck to him.

    Gail

  28. Pete:

    I think Heidi was more than reasonable. I mean, what do you say about a guy who writes about a gender “with no ethics”, or argues that women getting the vote has led us to our latter day problems?

    There has been a great deal of “reasonableness” here, if you ask me.

  29. Shawn says:

    Gail wins.

  30. Elektra says:

    Pete,

    Coming from someone who describes women’s body functions as something with which women are “indisputably afflicted” makes every single word you just typed extremely suspect.

    I consider none of these body functions that enable me to be a fertile female an affliction.

    Sim’s views are described my me as 19th century filth, because that is what they are. There is nothing unreasonable about this assessment. I call the thing by its name. Bigotry. Bigotry is a form of oppression. It is filthy.

    Sim’s repeatedly and openly expressing his bigotry in a calm voice is not an act of reason, and he is not entitled to my respect for being a bigot who manages not to froth at the mouth while expressing his repulsive beliefs.

  31. The Beat says:

    “natural difficulties with which women are indisputably afflicted”

    I’ll take buying a box of tampons every month over going bald and erectile dysfunction, thanks. Is that “dispute” enough for ya?

  32. Arggh! Erectile dysfunction has raised its ugly…

    (oops…better stop there…!)

  33. Nope. Heidi wins, because she just made me laugh almost to tears.

    :)

    You are my hero, H McD!

  34. Alexa D says:

    Maybe no one would choose to be a woman after hearing about menstruation, but I’d bet everyone would after hearing about multiple orgasms.

  35. Bravo. Very fair. And quite excellent.

    I’m just not that offended by the whole “no one wants to be a woman” thing. Like it or not, for better or worse (and it’s mostly for the worst) this is a man’s world. If you’re born anything other than a heterosexual male, chances are you’re going to have a much tougher time of it in almost every society on this planet.
    That’s not right, of course. In fact it’s terrible.
    But unfortunately it’s the truth.
    That may or may not be what Dave was really getting at, but I do think it’s part of it.

    When I first read the “no one wants to be a woman” passage a few years ago, I remember thinking that the big flaw in Dave’s assertion was his emphasis on the misery of menstruation as a deterrant to choosing to be female…and his omission of two things I happen to think are a big PLUS to being born female: The opportunity to create life within your body and (drumroll…) significantly longer lifespan.

    Again, great essay. Really.

  36. The Beat says:

    The truth? Isn’t it the truth because you ACCEPT it as the truth, James Brown?

    Some studies suggest that there are just as many mental and emotional differences between left-handed and right-handed people as there are thought to be between men and women. But you don’t see people not wanting to vote for Obama because he’s a southpaw. People see truth where they want to see it.

    But thanks for the kind words, Marcus. I don’t want the Beat to turn into the “gender studies” blog, people, so let’s try to stay moderately on target, and that goes for me, too!

  37. I’m curious: Has anyone told Dave that fetuses are female for the first few months of pregnancy, before the Y chromosome kicks in and the hormones start turning the distinctly Void-ish proto-genitals into his so-beloved Light? If no one wants to be a woman, why does everyone start out as one?

  38. Alexa D says:

    Excellent point, Michael!

    I think men would do well to remember that balls are nothing more than shrunken ovaries :)

  39. I can understand the description of Sim as “one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists.” There are some story lines, like Jaka’s Story, which are truly beautiful. There are other story lines, like Church & State, which are creative and humorous. Unfortunately, Sim’s talent is clearly limited: both “Latter Days” and “The Last Day” were esoteric and unreadable. “Reads” was at best a misogynistic rant. How would people feel about him if those books were the extent of his work?

    I’m disgusted by Sim’s public statements and writings regarding women. They are no more palatable to me than racism and bigotry. However, closer to my pocketbook, I regret purchasing around half of the Cerebus phone books–they simply aren’t worth the price I paid or the time I spent reading him. I believe his ultimate legacy will be that of a semi-successful mediocre writer/publisher who had a couple of hit books and a few shining moments.

    Incidentally, where are the props for Gerhard? A large part of my enjoyment of Cerebus was due to the intricately and imaginatively rendered scenes.

  40. Michael: be careful: one could spin this fact into that the Male chromosome conquers the Female and thus is born a born winner!

    See also: nipples

  41. Atlan746 says:

    Lets not forget about, who of you have ever read the the whole
    of Cerebus.
    If you don’t want want Sim’s strange Messages of Women,
    I would suggest the first half of Cerebus, in it you have
    a highly political Novel with “High Society” , a Eye opener
    in terms of Religion with “Church & State” and without a doubt
    on of the best Graphic Novels ever with “Jaka’s Story”.
    Forget about the second half, but if you don’t always remember,
    Cerebus isn’t coming out of it very good, he lives his last Day
    enclosed in a Room wanting to see his Son.
    I for my mind would have loved Sim to tackled the second half
    of Cerebus just like the first falf, but I guess he has gone some
    kind of crazy.
    Even assuming that, and I know almost knowbody read his
    Tora commantary, let me say it reads hilarious if get into it.
    That’s the joy about Sim, love him or hate him, his work is
    kind of ambigiuous, you can read it like you imagine it or
    like he does, he’s that open.

    And let’s face it, he did a fart Yoke in he last Issue,
    that’s got to count for somethint.

    by two bits.

  42. Good stuff, Heidi! I’m glad you did this–I hope the people dropping by and saying, “Why are you being so hard on this guy? He’s just old fashioned!” will see it.

    It is hard to separate the artist from the art, but perhaps supporting Sim’s work–the work that is moving and skillful, work in which he actually uses empathy rather than focusing all his attention inwardly–can be seen as encouraging his better nature. Or is that too Polly-Anna-ish and earnest? Judenhass does look beautiful, and it would seem a shame to me to reject it.

  43. I think there’s a major difference in distancing one’s self from someone like Farrakhan and Sim. Farrakahn is first and foremost a preacher; his convincing people of what he has to say is central to what he is doing and what is being celebrated; folks aren’t praising him for his three-bean chili recipe or his mastery of the ukulele.

    Sim is, in contrast, an artist. His job is not to be convincing, it is to make interesting work. And when he does his job well (as he has in much of his work) it doesn’t mean people are being won over to his world view. I’ve seen little sign that the few folks who are echoing his more vile beliefs were won over to those beliefs by him.
    The creative folks who are not distancing themselves from Sim have also not been embracing him because of those indeed ugly views he holds. They have supported him being a talented cartoonist, as well as other things he’s been effective at: an inspirational figure in the self-publishing realm, as a supporter of comics charities.

    Arguing against his beliefs almost seems pointless, because despite his erudition, they are often so fundamentally silly that it’s like arguing against someone who takes the position that the moon is made of cheese — their logic is not likely to convince anyone else, nor is your logic likely to convince them. And I think we can accept that Neil, for example, is not won over by Sim’s stances… but nonetheless finds some of what Sim creates as an artist to be quite worthwhile.

    (Besides, if there is any place for non-uniformity of thought or adherence to correctness, it is in the arts. The arts world is much more vibrant because it has people whose views do not echo mine.)

  44. Yes, it would be a shame (or shameful) to reject Judenhass because you feel offended by Dave’s opinions.

    That’s your choice, though.

    As for the rest, same old – same old.

  45. “Maybe no one would choose to be a woman after hearing about menstruation, but I’d bet everyone would after hearing about multiple orgasms.”

    Plus you don’t have to squirt sticky goo all over with every one. There was a time around puberty when I probably would’ve traded spontaneous erections and nocturnal emissions for menstruation.

  46. Elektra says:

    No, it is not shameful to not read Judenhass, when I can view Shoah, or give my money directly to the Holocaust Museum.

    What is shameful is the cowardly insistence of apologists for bigotry and discrimination, who try to cast women who stand up for their beliefs as doing something shameful.

    It would be shameful for me to support the work of a man who tells the world that I, as a woman, have “no ethics, no scruples, and no sense of right and wrong.” Coming from men like you, that means so much.

    Now we are going to be spoon fed the Holocaust as seen by Dave Sim, and if we object in any way to his hypocritical pretense of regard for human rights, we are shameful for not wanting to support the insincere bleatings of a man who treats more than half the human race as lesser beings.

    Do what you want with your money.

    But don’t you dare describe my stance for respect for women as shameful.

  47. A lot of talk about Dave Sim’s gender politics, but what of the gender politics of the people on this very board, that posted the following:

    I’ll take buying a box of tampons every month over going bald and erectile dysfunction, thanks. Is that “dispute” enough for ya?

    Heidi wins, because she just made me laugh almost to tears.

    Maybe no one would choose to be a woman after hearing about menstruation, but I’d bet everyone would after hearing about multiple orgasms.

    I’m curious: Has anyone told Dave that fetuses are female for the first few months of pregnancy, before the Y chromosome kicks in and the hormones start turning the distinctly Void-ish proto-genitals into his so-beloved Light? If no one wants to be a woman, why does everyone start out as one?

    Excellent point, Michael!

    I think men would do well to remember that balls are nothing more than shrunken ovaries

    Plus you don’t have to squirt sticky goo all over with every one. There was a time around puberty when I probably would’ve traded spontaneous erections and nocturnal emissions for menstruation.

  48. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Rev. Farrakhan plays the violin, not the ukulele.

  49. Alexa D says:

    @Oliver

    It means our gender politics are non-reductive. Every single one of those quotes is a satire of sexual and gender stereotypes. When I referred to multiple orgasms, I was showing that women’s biology entails certain positive traits that men’s biology does not have, while also commenting on the stereotype that men are overly concerned with sexual pleasure as an ultimate end (i.e. that if “real men” wanted the highest sexual pleasure, they’d choose to be women.) When I referred to “balls” as “shrunken ovaries”, I was using a biological truth to comment on the societal trope to use testicle size as a metaphor for bravery, strength, virility, and other traits praised by a male-dominated society.

  50. Thanks for this essay Heidi. It really seems Dave is trying damn hard to be targeted by Canadian anti-hate laws, hoping that some freaked out mom will call the cops and report the hate speech being spewed at her kids from the latest comic in their stack. I remember years ago watching local news reporting on a comic book called True North (which Dave did the cover) that was raising ire among parents for it’s graphic depictions of sex, never once bringing up the fact the anthology was a treatise against censorship, specifically against an anti-smut bill being introduced in Parliament.

    Perhaps riding that wave of free speech championship he got a little lost somewhere, he’s still baiting for a fight but he’s either so transparent or so patently ridiculous that no one really cares to lash out like he so desperately wants.

    I lost interest in his work sometime after Jaka’s Story (it became too rambly and incohesive) and now, seeing how off world he’s gone there’s just no appeal there anymore. His facts are groundless, his theories about women are silly if not downright harmful to those creators trying to gain a foothold into this industry, which some still blatantly claim to be ‘the last bastion of maleness”. It’s a sad legacy and one I’m sorry to see he’s not made any attempts to repair.

  51. Jim Sheridan says:

    Loved CEREBUS for the first half, have been very disappointed by many of Dave’s statements, which really can’t be apologized away just because some other of his statements have been less damning.

    The sad result is that when I saw the page about JUDENHASS in Previews today, all I could think were cynical thoughts about Dave using the Holocaust to get himself back in comicdom’s good graces. I am reasonably sure that my initial reaction was too harsh, but who knows?

  52. Steve Taylor says:

    If Dave Sim was selling enough comic books to build a mansion I could understand why any one would be the least bit interested in anything about him. As it is,…how really important is this guy? This has been my question from the beginning. Why cut him so much slack? I don’t see it. Why devote any time to him at all? It seems like his bullshit output is far greater than his comics output and yet,…47 responses. I don’t get it.

  53. Um… Steve? You’re talking about someone whose “comics output” consisted of an issue/month for a quarter century. Like it or hate it (or both), you have to give him credit for that. OK, so he went a few years without publishing anything… he’s still sitting on 6000 pages of work, so objective speaking, even if he tries really hard, it’s going to take him a while for his “bullshit output” to overcome that. :)

  54. I had been wondering about this. I should of guessed that your take on Dave Sim couldn’t be a simple thumbs up or thumbs down.

    Dave Sim is a curmudgeon but has an undeniable knack for making comics seem vital. I think that’s why comic book people love him and hate him.

  55. John Tebbel says:

    Nice work, Heidi. I’m not a reader of Mr. S, never could get past the first page. No biggie, I don’t like Oreos, either. His 15 thoughts, or whatever, is a real hoot, thanks for the link. They are received notions, not a single one is even close to anything any feminist, me included (proud penis owner), believe, even a little bit. No, they are the rumors and shibboleths clung to by way too many guys afraid that someone getting something means they’ll have less. A “straw man” in political jargon, a bunch of bs that you can attack instead of the real things your “opposition” stands for.

  56. Well, Oliver, since you asked so nicely, my gender politics pretty much sum up as “gender is complicated.” It’s biologically complicated, it’s sociologically complicated, and for some people it’s psychologically complicated. So it’s probably not a good idea to make generalizations of any sort, and instead to treat people of both genders like people first, and deal with their gender second, if at all.

    Of course, I say this as “Crazy Eddie’s Last Hurrah,” a song about a man going on a bender and shooting his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, comes up on my playlist. Like I said, complicated.

  57. Alan Coil says:

    Daniel Warner—

    “I should of guessed”

    Wrong. I should’ve guessed. Short for should have.

    =====

    I am one who refuses to separate the work from the little boy. If he ever grows up and apologizes for demeaning so many people, perhaps then I’ll read his work.

  58. I’m really, really curious about rereading Jaka’s Story. Anyone who’s offended and got a used copy of that or any of his books that they want to dispose of, and wants to prevent $30 falling into Dave Sim’s male void- ahem-purse? Please email me! I’ll take ‘em! Seriously!

    As a fellow cartoonist (or would-be cartoonist) the opportunity to crib from Sim and Gerhard’s work is too good to pass up. There’s the feminist side of me that wants to turn away from the man and his views, and then there’s the feminist side of me that wants to acquire Sim and Gerhard’s storytelling and rendering techniques for my own feminist comics.

  59. I’m serious about taking those books off your hands. oystersalsa (at) yahoo…yadda yadda. Think of it as…RECYCLING for the POWER OF GOOD.

  60. Talon T M says:

    Heidi – That was a very well-reasoned column with a potful of erroneous conclusions. Sexism is NOT racism. And I noticed, as you later pointed out, themost extreme views are actually from READS’ over-the-top imagery as “spoken” by the *character* Viktor Davis.

    I think it would be good advice to stop and realize that Dave has targeted the craziest ideas of Feminism…he has NOT targeted Women. Many think he’s wrong, and many think he’s right, but he’s neither crazy nor a misogynist. And until someone confronts him with more than a few errant labels, Sim will hold the intellectual upper hand.

    Elayne – HEY! Long time no kiss. :) Would you tell these independent women that I’m not nearly as bad as the Legend has made me? As Dave says, this is the age of Being Easily Offended (as well as the era of Myths Gone Wild). Thanks, and take care.

    Jeff – Fight the Good Fight, my atheist brother. :)

    Nat – I thought you were dead.

    Pete – It’s like I’m looking into a mirror.

  61. Holy Hannah, Heidi. I have nothing to add. You really put it all out there. The only way that a person can’t find this piece totally compelling and understand the nuanced take you really MUST approach Sim with is if they haven’t ever read any CEREBUS. There’s just no substitute for reading some of it. It’s just so layered and different you have to see it.

    But this is really courageous for a woman like you to write, Heidi, and I really think you made the right point on Sim and it’s great to see you do it.

    I guess I can add one thing: I have said and will say that Sim is a misogynist. I don’t think you ever did that in here, but i could be wrong. If you ask me, he is. He would say he isn’t. It’s a term with a debatable definition, but I remember reading almost all the quotes listed above and getting the distinct impression they were coming from Sim.

    Also, if you read his daily prayer that he printed in Issue 300, it has several references to rejecting and avoiding women as if they were another species. That’s misogyny to me. He disagrees: fine. I still say he is.

    And I also still think he’s one of the best cartoonists of all time.

  62. Thanks for writing this very informative essay. This isn’t blog or news, this is print. And also why, 500 years from now, when comics scholars (levitating, with mental powers!) want to learn about comics culture in the early 21, they will read The Beat, not someone who calculates silly things with Windows calculator.

    Person above me: how is misogynist a term with a debatable definition? I’m not breaking off a beer bottle or anything, I just want to know what you’re thinking of. Any jargonic label does tend to self-inflate itself (insisted by one, denied by the other) but maybe I’m missing something else here specific to Sim.

    -Brad

  63. Steve Taylor says:

    Um,…Jason? There are plenty of cartoonists who have “put out” a ton more work than Dave Sim, every bit as good or better. I wish people would quit throwing that one out there. Okay! Bravo. The guy can maintain a work schedule. But how has his work resonated in comics history? It’s a blip on the radar compared with more popular works by people who haven’t, perhaps, had the same work ethic. It’s not like the aardvark has affected the culture. It was a cult book, at best. Seems like he’s better known for his far out thoughts than his talent or business acumen and then, only within a small bunch of professionals and quasi-industry types. I would venture to say that the average comic buyer wouldn’t have a clue who Dave Sim is,…or care about what he’s up to. Most of the people who comment favorably about the man’s aardvark output can still only cop to digging about half of it,… from what I’ve read.
    What ever. He sure gets a lot of ripple per rock thrown.

  64. Elektra-

    I was pointing out that Heidi decided to high light a quote where Dave Sim mentions the option of being locked up.

    What I really wanted to know (and this is a question for Heidi) is…what do you propose to do with Sim?

    It’s one thing to disagree with his view, many of us do, but it’s another to go so far as to feel like he should be arrested or not invited to various comic book events.

    I certainly don’t agree with many things he has said, as do many of you. What I’d like to know is what you think should be done about it. Simply complaining that he’s “wrong”, “weird” “nutter (is that even a word?)” or whatever else you want to label him doesn’t do much.

  65. Steve, I didn’t claim that Dave Sim was the Greatest Comic Creator Ever, or whatever straw man you’re railing against. I just pointed out that your comment that he puts out more bullshit than comics is simply ridiculous when you step back and look at at. It’s the kind of wild hyperbole that makes you sound like you don’t know (or maybe care) about the facts. Now, you just tossed out some claims about Sim’s utter insignificance that are also pretty shaky, but since they also demonstrate that you’re here to fight rather than to discuss anything, I won’t bother explaining why.

    P.S. Contrary to what you’ve probably assumed by now, I don’t particularly like the man, and I could probably fill a phonebook with the things I disagree with him about. I just don’t let that blind me to his accomplishments.

  66. Hey MacD

    Well-intentions, and well-written, but I think there’s a major flaw here. Namely the supposition that Dave ‘gets a pass’, or that so many people are willing to overlook his philosophies in favor of who he is as a cartoonist.

    For your and my generation, Dave is a significant, pivotal force who showed us as cartoonists things that could be done with storytelling and a comics page, and completely upended it all. He made Eisner’s intergration of typography as an element of the page seem like a beginner. He in many ways *invented* the modern approach of long-form decompressed storytelling.

    But outside of our generation? Those who were there as it happened? Massive amounts of those folks have never, and WILL never read Cerebus, or a single thing Dave has (or likely will) write or draw as a cartoonist.

    Is it because books like High Society, Church & State and Jaka’s Story were only good *then*, and fail to stand the test of time?

    No. It’s because in modern comics fandom, Dave is known as (for right or wrong, good or bad) “that crackpot who hates women”, and hence many (possibly the majority) will never examine his work. Watching (and occasionally participating in the discussion) in his ‘100 hour tour’ that became painfully obvious.

    If Dave ‘got a pass’ on his beliefs, or the current generation of comics fans and creators were ‘willing to look the other way’, then I think the aforementioned books of Cerebus would be not only selling a hell of a lot better than they are, but that the very mention of his name in a forum (or blog posting comments section, for eample…) would result in… if not a positive level of support for the man as a cartoonist, then at the very least, not an overwhelming level of negativity towards him. (again, deserved or not… that’s not the issue/question I’m raising here)

    If *that* is ‘getting a pass’, I pray to whatever mythical dieties are listening that I NEVER get such a pass.

  67. Jennifer de Guzman says:

    Dan Z, don’t be ridiculous. Nobody was suggesting that Dave Sim be locked up. Nobody even seems to think that’s an option except for Dave Sim. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the idea of freedom of expression? See, how it works is that somebody can express and opinion, and other people can express how they feel about those opinions. What to be done about it? Some people have decided that they will not support Sim’s work because of his opinions. Others, such as myself, struggle with separating the artist from the art. We discuss our thoughts. We don’t feel any need to DO anything to Sim. What would be the point of that?

    This is a discussion about what we THINK and why. If that’s too fluffy for you, maybe you can go do some sparring until you get less antsy about all this discussion of ideas.

  68. Well, I used to be a David Sim fan who got turned on to Cerebus by a Fan I knew in high-school. David Sim was was a pioneer who worked real hard. That being said, If you actually took the time to actually READ cerebus you will find that He expressed alot of his beliefs in his books through different character, the thing is that EVERY SINGLE ARTIST/WRITER etc. will do so, and alot of those opinions are unpopular and in someways DOWNRIGHT disgusting. That does not take away from the accomplishment of those people over the years, and the fact that their work is, Well, Awesome.
    John Byrne is a total Prick but that does not take away from the fact that Back in the 80’s John Byrne was one of the top elite artists. And If I had a chance to get something John Byrne (for Free) then I probably would.
    The point is, Dave Sym being a misogynist does not take away from the fact he started from nothing and worked his way to being a respected Artist and writer. His hard-work and sacrificed should be honored, the fact he does not like women is simply one facet of his personality.
    Later folks!

  69. Jennifer de Guzman says:

    I’m sorry. I usually try not to be that sarcastic. That just pushed my buttons, I guess.

    And I meant “an opinion” there.

  70. I second Gertler’s motion and raise him one… i say its a worse sin for artist to be boring than to be misogynist or antisemitic or racist…great artists often fly on different planes within the same work… Nietzsche would rattle off paragraph after paragraph of staggeringly brilliant and , yes, humane, work, but as soon as his mind wandered to the subject of women… you’d sense a bead of sweat on his brow, and a twitch in his eye, and all of a sudden, this 5 star writing, goes down to 2 stars for the duration of the tangent, the universally profound shifts to well-written nonsense… because it doesn’t penetrate to the universal core, but rather to the core of his own neuroses and insecurities…then he’d change subjects, and whooop! brilliant again… I never even read Cerebus but i sure as hell am going to now, i just ordered Jaka’s Story… I’d much rather read great work by an asshole then boring work by a saint any day of the week. Its interesting and educative to hear “wrong” thoughts, and political correctness is indeed a neutering force to art… as a huge comix fan, but someone who’d never read Sim’s work.. I’ll tell you, I’m bored silly by all the message board shenanigans, i could care less what sort of eloquent yet harebrained theories he spouts, and I care even less about the rebuttals… everyone would be better off spending that time reading some great comics, … sounds to me like his later work on Cerebus did get tainted by his tweakiness on certain subjects, and sounds like from the consensus that that art suffered, thus the punishment is dished out by the crime itself… he falls from artistic grace when on that trip,… but, to pre-judge new work that may come from totally different corners of his psyche is just silly. Shit you know how many fucked-up UNVOICED opinions by everyone’s favorite writers probably exist? Sim voiced them, and its his loss, because to some, the reek of shit fumed out by certain passages overwhelms the aesthetic nostrils to the point that one can’t smell anything else when opening a work of his…and that’s a valid response because its real…

  71. I think my favorite part of this is how many people seem to have bought Sim’s paranoia, despite Heidi saying quite the opposite of some of these comments.

    Yes, of COURSE we want Sim in jail. That’s why she proposed it repeatedly , “boy, that Dave Sim oughtta be in jail, for SURE!”

    And of COURSE Sim is a hack because of his opinions, that’s why she tore into his work so ungraciously, with all those pesky and sincere compliments about his work and gifts.

    Certainly, Cerebus should be ignored and sidelined, as she said when she called him one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists.

    And absolutely he should be shunned, which she clearly advocates when she says she doesn’t want him shunned.

    And of course, Dave Sim’s views are uniquely monstrous, as pointed out in her examples of other gifted artists with bigoted views.

    For Pete’s sake, can you people not read? She already made all those points, and quite articulately, as well.

    I have some doubts that the 100 did much good. Dave’s inexperience with the internet had him wasting much of that time with the same already-converted handful of posters over and over and over, some of whom are the same tedious shadow-dwellers who parse every awful Sim comment into palatability, who declare every ghost-town of a snoozy chat as some major artistic triumph. Many of the sites chosen for him simply have no traffic at all to speak of and had no real attendees other than the same handful that follow him everywhere. I say again he could have had higher traffic, exposure, and interest in five well-chosen, well-publicized chats. It’s hard to imagine what good talking to the same handful of long-time supporters over and over is actually going to do.

    I’m much more interested the idea of calling all the comics stores, and sending out the preview copies. To me that seems like intelligent guerilla marketing, and if it works at all, it may make some changes to how independent books get promoted.

    I wish the man no ill, and I hope glamourpuss sells a ton of copies, but no one’s advocating all this nonsense straw man hooey that some of these comments might have us believe.

    CERTAINLY Heidi isn’t.

  72. Brad: I just mean it’s very easy for someone to quibble about where the line of misogyny is… especially if you’re the one being accused of it. It’s the same with racism and all the rest. These are abstract concepts and you will always hear the argument, “Well, sure I said X but that doesn’t make me a RACIST.”

    I’d rather not fight over where the line is, so I just said that Sim doesn’t think he’s a misogynist and I (a fan of his for about 15 years now that has followed just about all of CEREBUS a lot of his output in interviews, essays, etc) think he is.

  73. this is how I solved the puzzle: I will happily download a free scanned copy of Glamourpuss when it comes out.

    oh, and Dave Sim Loves The Cock, just like T0m Cru1se.

  74. Steve Taylor says:

    Jason (…et al,…)
    I didn’t claim that Dave Sim was Worst Comic Creator Ever,…or whatever strawman you think i might be railing against. Which,…I might be. BUT,…certainly, never said out loud! I’m not here to fight any more than anyone else. Apologies if I came off that way. Mine is a legit question. One that Rantz has gone a long way towards illuminating in his/her post.
    For what he’s accomplished, in the large scheme of things,…which i view as a limited thing in the grand history of comics,…why would anyone put up with this guys shenanigans? Why does the mere mention of this guy’s name guarantee such a lively comments section?
    Well,…
    alrighty, then.
    I’m starting to get it.

  75. Fanboy Menace says:

    Great article, Heidi.

    I’ve long heard about the strange and misogynistic views of Dave Sim but never have been enough a follower of him or his work to know what it was all about. Many thanks for taking the time to write an intelligent, well-informed, and thoughtful examination of Sim’s unusual and unfortunate philosophy. I have nothing but respect for the accomplishment that is Cerebus, but why must there also be ‘the crazy’?

  76. There are many men who are anti-feminist, they just don’t write about it in public places. Granted some of his views are out there and probably thought out way too much but being anti-feminist is not anti-women.

  77. Great essay, Heidi. It’s material like this that makes The Beat my favorite site to check every morning.

  78. I don’t really feel like Sim should be locked up. Nor do I think Heidi feels that way.

    The main point I wanted to know is, if you feel strong enough about his views, what do you do? Should he not be invited to various events? Or asked to write intros to books? Perhaps people should stop buying his books? Or maybe there should be on going discussions online about his views?

    I’m not saying those things should be done but I also don’t see Sim as having much of a real world threat. He’s a guy in Canada who self publishes a comic. He’s already stated that he’s not changing his views and this stuff has been agrued over and over again.

  79. Great, thoughtful essay, Heidi.

  80. @Alexa
    That’s the worst psychobabble I’ve ever heard.

    @Michael
    Yes, It does appear to be complicated
    The posts I’ve read in this very forum make it appear as Dave is not the only crazy one. In fact my quotes of posters in this very board appear to show an attitude that’s been given a free pass for as long as I’ve lived. People are proud when more women are entering colleges than men, when they should be troubled -what is wrong with this picture? Maybe there are bigger questions at stake than Dave Sim’s “mother issues”.

  81. chris7crows says:

    @DanZ:

    “Should he not be invited to various events? Or asked to write intros to books? Perhaps people should stop buying his books?”

    If you do feel strongly about his views then the answers are: No, he should not be invited to events or asked to write intros, and no, you shouldn’t buy his books. Those are all tacit endorsements of his point of view.

    There is, however, a long distance between all of those things and censoring any discussion of his point of view, online or otherwise.

    @Oliver

    I’m not troubled by the fact that more women than men are entering college because there is no reason to be troubled by this.

  82. Great post, Heidi.

    To be honest, while I have heard of the controversy surrounding Sim, and I am familiar with Cerebus, I have not sat down and read either his philosophy on women or his work. I know, with the stuff I write about on my blog, it’s a little shocking that I never touched on the topic before.

    But I will say this:

    There has been a great deal of coddling, protecting, and willful blind eyes turned away from rampant misogynists in sectors of this industry. It has disgusted me deeply.

    If Gaiman is guilty for supporting Sim, there are a lot of people out there who are just as guilty.

    Sim, by virtue of his apparent outspokenness, just seems to have the biggest spotlight shined on him. He’s just not “cuddly” (sorry, Dave). He solidifies his views within quotable words, instead of committing a series of actions that friends can explain away and cover up.

    But I would argue that it is exactly those men who actually act upon their misogynist thoughts, unconsciously, destructively, impacting other women’s lives, impacting the lives of women within the comic book community — those men who have long histories of such behavior, yet whose actions are only spoken of in whispers — who are far more a danger to females than Sim’s comments.

    And until I see those persons brought into the spotlight and talked about and chastised for their actions, I just don’t have the heart nor the energy to get too upset or even delve in the Sim situation. Not because what Heidi wrote about her concerns are not justified — because they are! — but because I, by virtue of my own experiences, have my attention directed elsewhere.

    That said, I realize that Sim’s Cerebus has come highly recommended, and plan to read them at some point. By necessity of being a blogger covering current comics culture, I have had to not only read but purchase with my own money books connected with people I despise. I am all “toughened up.” I can handle Cerebus. My only question is, what collected volume shall I start with; would it make more sense to just start from the beginning, or is there a particularly good arc I should try first?

  83. Fanboy Menace says:

    It’s funny, if you are going to develop an irrational prejudice you would think you could at least try something original like being anti-squirrel or something. The best part is that the squirrels don’t know when you are talking trash on them.

    There is also always the off-chance that Dave Sim is doing this as his ultimate artistic statement. A satirical philosophy. Upon his death a letter will be released stating, “haha, totally fooled all of you! I totally love broads! Suckers.”

  84. Val,
    I’d stay start at the beginning. The awfulness doesn’t really get started for a long, long time. He starts to hint at it with the Astoria-Jaka continuum, but I don’t think his views really got wacky until midway, anyway, and there’s a lot to enjoy.
    While much of it can be read as a standalone, characters appear and reappear and you appreciate them more if you know where they came from.
    Plus, it’s fun to watch his art progress. Start at the top. Go straight through. Live it, love it.
    It’s completely hypnotizing AT LEAST through MELMOTH.
    It’s not like anything else you’ve read. Not at all.
    BR

  85. “I’ll take buying a box of tampons every month over going bald and erectile dysfunction, thanks. Is that “dispute” enough for ya?”

    Yeah, but … bald and erectile disfunction usually happen later in life … just like sagging breasts.

  86. Edward Ward says:

    Valerie,
    I’d agree with BradyDale to start at the beginning, but I’d give that recommendation with the caveat that the first volume is pretty awful. It’s only about halfway through that it starts getting ‘good’. The second volume is where you will start to see all of the qualities that make people fall in love with his work. It is fun to watch his art and writing grow though, and even though book 2 (High Society) could be read as a standalone you’ll appreciate it a lot more if you know where all of the characters came from.

  87. Edward Ward says:

    Valerie,
    I’d agree with BradyDale to start at the beginning, but I’d give that recommendation with the caveat that the first volume is pretty awful. It’s only about halfway through that it starts getting ‘good’. The second volume is where you will start to see all of the qualities that make people fall in love with his work. It is fun to watch his art and writing grow though, and even though book 2 (High Society) could be read as a standalone you’ll appreciate it a lot more if you know where all of the characters came from.

  88. Edward Ward says:

    Valerie,
    I’d agree with BradyDale to start at the beginning, but I’d give that recommendation with the caveat that the first volume is pretty awful. It’s only about halfway through that it starts getting ‘good’. The second volume is where you will start to see all of the qualities that make people fall in love with his work. It is fun to watch his art and writing grow though, and even though book 2 (High Society) could be read as a standalone you’ll appreciate it a lot more if you know where all of the characters came from.

  89. “If no one wants to be a woman, why does everyone start out as one?”

    This would be a great line at a seminar … it would elicit a standing ovation … but it’s kinda silly.

  90. “If no one wants to be a woman, why does everyone start out as one?”

    This would be a great line at a seminar … it would elicit a standing ovation … but it’s kinda silly. Kinda like Dave’s comment that “No one wants to be a woman.”

  91. Edward Ward says:

    Yeeks.

    Sorry about the multiple post.

    Not sure what happened there.

  92. The Beat says:

    ED can happen at any time and any age, but it’s usually never happened before.

  93. Just like you need to be there when Mary Jane tells Spidey, “Face it Tiger, you hit the jackpot,” you also need to be there when Cerebus tells Jaka, “Cerebus would kill a yak for your supper.”

  94. Alexa D says:

    @Oliver

    That’s because it’s not psychobabble, it’s literary analysis. You called me out on my gender politics based on something I wrote, so I explained my thought process from when I wrote it. Now, if you want to tell me that I fail as a satirist, then I can’t disagree with you. But to flat out dismiss my explanation as “psychobabble” just makes you look petulant.

  95. Steve Taylor says:
    “… [H]ow has his work resonated in comics history? It’s a blip on the radar compared with more popular works by people who haven’t, perhaps, had the same work ethic. It’s not like the aardvark has affected the culture. It was a cult book, at best …”

    What’s wrong with that?

  96. Jackie Estrada says:

    Dave has got to be as happy as a clam right now. He’s accomplished his goal, which is to have everybody talking about him.

  97. I’d imagine his goal is to have everyone buy Glamourpuss. It remains to be seen whether that’ll happen.

  98. Katie Moody says:

    Matt,

    I’m going to disagree with your statement that “being anti-feminist is not anti-women,” as I feel it’s splitting semantic hairs. There’s so much noise and politicization of the term that many think it means something pernicious, so let’s start on the same page. Check out any given dictionary … feminism is simply “a doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” The end.

    If one’s position is in opposition to that– in opposition to the equality of the sexes– excuse me if I can’t see how that position could possibly be pro-women.

    (Interesting to think of how “feminist” has been twisted over the years into something with negative connotations.)

    At any rate, I’m going to see if my local library has a copy of Jaka’s Story available. Judenhass sounds amazing, but I’ll wait to hear if Sim’s social politics are in the picture before giving it a look.

  99. Poor Dave Sim. What a wreck– every time I read his actual quotes, it just comes off like…I don’t know. The sort of sex-loathing I’d expect to find in the genuinely deviant. His actual words are so messed up…& can’t even dignify it with the well-thought out response you’ve given here. Cerebus is great (capital G Great, even, at many points) & I don’t let him tarnish that– it is the best argument for art surpassing the artist that I can think of.

  100. Excellent and thoughtful article, Heidi.

    I’ve been wrestling with the Dave Sim Question a bit myself. I discovered Cerebus at about the time issue 20 came out, and followed it faithfully until around 160 when I lost interest, but then bought the trades bringing me up to 200 (MINDS), which I figured was a good enough stopping point.

    I suppose the best way to deal with the situation is to simply look at Sim’s work on it’s own merits, when the question is whether to recommend or buy one of his works. And when the topic concerns his bizarre and irrational opinions about sexuality, make it clear that I think those opinions of his are bizarre and irrational.

    That said, it is also up to each of us to work this question out for ourselves. I respect Elektra’s position to never buy another Sim work. I also respect the option of collecting his entire output in recognition of his important historical contributions to graphic storytelling.

    As for his current output? I looked at the preview copy of GLAMOURPUSS proferred to me by the nice hippy-lady who co-manages Hally’s Comics in Fort Collins. I think I’ll take a pass on that. But I probably will pick up JUDENHASS, if for no other reason than that my elder son is 1/4 Jewish and this seems a needful thing for him to learn about.

    (Although I also note the irony involved in the anti-semitism/ anti-feminist juxtaposition, and appreciated the “Frauleinhass” coinage. I was going for something more like “Maedelhass” and had an inspiration for doing a spoof cover, but unfortunately — or maybe fortunately — I just don’t have the time.)

  101. “Maedelhass” sounds too much like “Edelweiss.” Then again, maybe that would be a good thing.

  102. As humans, we possess the greatest evolutionary adaptation this world has ever seen, the brain, and this created the greatest tool the world has ever seen, writing (with all its permutations, comics included/especially, as I am of the faithful). The ability to transmit thoughts, knowledge, and the collected experience of our world from one generation to the multitudes of subsequent generations is a weight, a force, which I wish more people would consider at greater length. Consider the length of time mankind has existed in an evolved form and its developments over time, 4.5 million years, compared to the developments of mankind since the invention of writing, 7,000.

    When someone chooses to express themselves through the medium of writing, they are attempting to tap that power. As a consequence, their words must then be considered lest this power slip its bounds. Shakespeare popularized the story of The Merchant of Venice, debatably evocative of the anti-semitic attitudes in Europe that 280 years later the world saw loom in its worst shadow as a people carried out the enacted beliefs of Mein Kampf.

    Once a creator looses an idea to the world, it should come with the expectation that their idea will encounter scrutiny, especially if it reaches a level of celebrity. If those ideas are found to be contrary, offensive, wrong, or dangerous, then the need arises for those ideas to be repudiated, not simply by one voice, but by a multitude, couching the failings of those arguments with many voices in order to illustrate their unsuitability, if only to ensure they can never become the justification for the worst mankind is capable of.

    Dave Sim’s work, both his comic work and the pulpit he built upon his success, is not on par with Mein Kampf, nor with the Bard’s I think, but I feel there is significant cause within the framework of his status in the industry that it should have done to it exactly what Heidi, Gail, and others have done and hopefully will continue to do; brought it up to bear under the light, found it wanting, and enumerated its failings.

    Kudos, Bravo, and a tip of the cap Heidi. This is why I read those other comic blogs maybe once a month, and The Beat twice a day.

  103. Fine, thought-provoking piece, Heidi, for which much thanks.

    Me, I’m not inclined to see this as a question of “separating the art from the artist.” Making that separation would impoverish my understanding of the art.

    The Lovecraft example in the thread is apropos: racism not only informed Lovecraft’s life, it also informed and shaped his art. (For evidence of this, see, e.g., “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family,” a.k.a. “The White Ape.”) I read Lovecraft, when I read him at all, knowing full well that he was an ardent racist and in no way anxious to defend him from that charge. The dread of otherness that informs Lovecraft’s fiction is a symptom of his racism, though it also makes for interesting, intense, nightmarish fiction that can be read from a variety of other perspectives. I’d say this applies to Sim’s stuff, certainly during the second half of CEREBUS (though I confess to having read only a part of it). For this reason I don’t think Sim’s “philosophizing” is separable from his art. I’d say we’ve got to take it all, the whole package, and read the art against the artist, and vice versa.

    But there’s one POV I like to express here that runs contrary to the opening of your post. I don’t think Sim’s art, taken as a whole, is that good. I don’t think he continues to be a comic book creator of stature and importance. I don’t think that there’s something in CEREBUS, taken as a whole, that compels us to revisit his work in spite of his prejudices. I think CEREBUS is a vehicle that Sim should have realized he was outgrowing over 20 years ago. I think CEREBUS, taken as a whole, is a flailing, inconsistent, self-indulgent mess, even though some part of it, particularly in the early 1980s, were terrific and eye-opening and fresh and wonderful. I think the writing in CEREBUS’s second half is often gaseous and wearisome, sometimes nigh-on unreadable.

    I say all this even though I am, frankly, stunned at some of his visual gambits and his craftsmanship in the later CEREBUSes. He continued to get better as a craftsman, as a maker of comics pages and of scenes, as a letterer and designer. He continued to try to push what comics could do, in terms of invoking some kind of psychological interiority and complexity. He continued to try new things. If nothing else, the way he sought to liberate and fully realize the role of written text in comics is impressive.

    I refer here to his use of ballooning and display text, not to his insistence on incorporating long-winded and poorly-edited typeset text within the comic. The long-winded textual passages in CEREBUS, from what I’ve seen, are terrible: a full-on plunge into Sim’s solipsism and disregard for editorial finesse.

    CEREBUS, taken as a whole, is dispiriting because of the way it so clearly demonstrates the disconnect between growing formal mastery and searching, meaningful content. It’s also dispiriting because the work becomes, over the long haul, acidic and unpleasant in a way that is pointless and unedifying. It becomes a comic with graphically and formally spectacular elements that nonetheless reads poorly and comes off like a willed attempt to exhaust the goodwill that Sim had built up earlier in the series’ run. And, as a series of GNs, it’s incoherent, leading me to conclude that Sim, pronouncements of a 300-issue plan notwithstanding, didn’t know what to do with it at times, and that he should have abandoned the monthly and developed another vehicle more consonant with his changing intellectual interests.

    So, I’d say CEREBUS isn’t that great, and, moreover, that Sim’s personal outlook greatly contributed to its decline. Ultimately, it’s one of the most disappointing comic book series I’ve followed for any length of time. Pity.

  104. Kenny says:

    “r when some indie comics show trumpets his appearance. Or when I see Neil Gaiman or Jeff Smith “teaming up” with Dave for a worthy charity. ”

    Did I miss something or are Dave Sim and Jeff Smith suddenly friendly again after years of acrimony?

    This piece was a whole lot of whining over nothing. If Dave Sim doesn’t like women, fine, why should it bother anyone? Let him exist in his empty little life by himself and just ignore him.

  105. Great post, Heidi. Well worth the read.

  106. The Beat says:

    “Sexism is NOT racism.”

    I’ve seen this a few times here. How do you figure that?

  107. Heidi sez:

    ‘“Sexism is NOT racism.”

    I’ve seen this a few times here. How do you figure that?’

    Maybe because a gender is not a race, but an aspect of biology that transcends race (even keeping in mind that race itself is something of an artificial construct, realizable only by concentrating on dominant but certainly not exclusive physical characteristics).

    Even as gender transcends race, so too does what Thurber called (humorously to take away the sting) “the war between men and women.” Dave Sim has made a faulty philosophical estimation of that war, but just because he’s wrong does not convince me that there is no war. On certain outposts it can be settled with reasonable accords and cease-fires, but if Sim has had one insight that outlasts most of his bullshit, it is that the war goes ever on.

  108. Gail said:

    “I do find it interesting that virtually the only creators to refute some of this clear bigotry at the chats were females. I have to say, I am disappointed, but not surprised. Even the biggest names in comics seem very frightened to put forth any position that could conceivably lose them a reader, in public anyway. My mother taught me to stand up to a bigot, bless her heart.”

    “Virtually” seems the wrong word here: on the Tart boards alone, both I and “Stanley Leiber” tried to ask Dave pointed questions, but he simply chosen to ignore them, as he did most of your statistics questions. I guess one could say more women than men took issue, but does that prove that most male respondents are sexist or that they just didn’t bother asking, given that on most boards Dave said he wouldn’t discuss gender politics or that he wasn’t very responsive on the one where he claimed he would discuss them?

  109. Talon T M says:

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    The Beat says:

    “Sexism is NOT racism.”

    I’ve seen this a few times here. How do you figure that?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    They are two different words. :)

    OK, they’re similar in that they describe people who discriminate…but in some cases, discrimination is a good thing. Such is the case with sexism, where gender interchangeability is an undesirable thing as opposed to “diversity” concerning racism.

    I discriminate when I dated…I only dated girls. Blasphemy, I know, but that’s sexism. I, like Dave, have no problem with men or women getting a certain job, as long as no standards are lowered in order to make it happen. If strength is a factor and 90% of men can meet the standard while only 30% of women do, that IS discrimination, but it’s necessary, and it’s a good thing. Likewise, I’d guess the percentage of men who can breastfeed is pretty low.

    Both gender differences and gender similarities should be celebrated, not cheapened. Dave (and I) have problems with Marxist-feminist Law (and Policy) which create illogical and idiotic situations that not only are unfair to men but are also unfair to deserving women.

    Now, whenever this is stated, the old “bafflegab” about “men whining about unfairness” gets thrown into the mix, but if it’s “whining” when men do it then it’s equally “whining” when women did it…or ARE doing it concerning Dave’s opinions.

    And lastly, the main problem is that it’s just too easy to fire off a bajillion nasty-names (sexist, racist, misogynist)…the other side should really take a long hard look at Sim’s posts on this internet tour thread, and contrast his responses to the “emotional” vitriol coming from the other side. I’ll tell you right now that it’s opened the eyes of many people…

  110. Sam Greenfield:

    I disagree on the later CEREBUS books. It’s true that most readers would be well advised to skip the notorious “Cerebusexegis,” but I love his hat-tips to the world of film/vaudeville comics like Milton Berle and the (nyuck nyuck) Three Stooges. True, he is evoking feelings for a bunch of MALE comics, but it’s a strong evocation nonetheless, IMO.

  111. The Beat says:

    >>>I’ll tell you right now that it’s opened the eyes of many people…

    Of that I have no doubts.

  112. Pete– nothing to add, just liked your post.

    Heidi– are you gonna respond to my Nietzsche question?

  113. Well done Heidi! You have captured the essence of the external Dave Sim. I have to say though, as Dave Sim’s last known girlfriend, that this was not the rhetoric/speak/persona he used in my presence in the almost five intimate years that I spent with him (1994-1999). He was a very contemporary thinking and emancipated guy. Yes, he had feminists issues, not unlike the anti-male rhetoric from us in the 80’s, (and yes he had mother/sister/girlfriend/wife issues from his past) – but a true misogynist – not in my opinion. We discussed such things at great lengths – but I could never keep up with him on any subject – he is a brilliant well-read person, and would obsess about certain subjects for weeks at a time, reading everything he could find about whatever he wanted to know about.

    He supported my efforts as the Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, oftentimes coaching me for media interviews or writing my ‘stump speeches’ for convention appearances etc. He adored my little dog, Smutty Nose, and pampered her like a baby! He was a very romantic guy too; he would call me on the phone and sing me Frank Sinatra songs. Sometimes he ‘cooked’ for me! He was very fair about equally dividing time between his home and mine (500 miles apart). Sometime we would decide to connect at Cons.

    His oratory did change after he started reading the King James’ version of the bible. But not at the beginning. At first he would read me passages in complete jest, his inflections and emphasis on certain words and phrases (taken out of the intended context) would have laughing so hard I had to wipe back my tears! Then, suddenly, he stopped reading to me from the bible, even though I asked him to. The bible traveled with him everywhere after that, never far from his eyes. We broke up within a year or so from the start of his relationship with the bible, when his love affair with god began. Was I dumped for god?

    I am not defending him; he did disappear into his own void for days at a time, and came out elated and refreshed. We agreed not to communicate when his hair started to grow and he began to snarl. I used to track them on my calendar, every 30-45 days, like a menstrual period! I am not sure what he did there, perhaps became his evil twin Viktor Davis. Is he bi-polar, a schizophrenic? Maybe. I’ll reveal more when I publish my own book, “Dave Sim’s Last Girlfriend” – coming soon from Denis Kitchen’s press!

  114. The Beat says:

    Gene: according to the readings I did, (and I am no Nietzsche expert) the Big N was very much opposed to anti-semitism and decried that element in Wagner’s writings, for instance. Sadly, his sister, who was married to a virulent anti-semite, took over his papers after his death, and edited them to look like Nietzsche SUPPORTED anti-semitism. Which wasn’t the case.

  115. James Van Hise says:

    Dave Sim has seemed to go out of his way to alienate people, including in business. His company publ;ished the first 14 issues of JOURNEY by William Messner-Loebs but his predatory business practices (he charged Loebs a $400 a month “office fee” as part of the publishing expenses) that he took his creator owned title to Fantagraphics. Sim was so furious over this personal slight that he threatened Loebs over the phone (this was reported by Gary Groth) and Loebs found the entire experience so unpleasant that to this day he won’t talk about Dave Sim.

    I was turned off by Cerebus during the Pope Cerebus storyline when Cerebus committed rape, with a smile on his face. While I realize that this was supposed to show how currupt he’d become due to all the power the character had been given in his position, it made Cerebus very unappealing as a character thereafter and so I stopped buying it. I was thus spared having to read Dave Sim’s screeds published in later issues.

  116. Steve Taylor says:

    Allright,…rich!
    Hit me!
    Educate my ass!
    Exactly how has the aardvark affected the culture?
    What would be the impact of Dave Sim’s efforts on the history of comics and cartooning?
    Not just the period of time that he did his most significant work,…but the whole deal.
    Perhaps he’s really moving into his “golden-age,” now, with “Glamourpuss” and “Judenhass”
    But, that doesn’t count yet.
    Just, the aardvark book.
    Tell me what is wrong with that question?
    Outside of this forum and very few others, I have never heard the man’s work discussed on any level,….by anyone,…comics fans or artists or writers.
    I’ve yet to read anyone’s thoughts on how they were inspired by the works of Dave Sim.
    I don’t mean people who have worked for the Comic’s Buyer Guide or the Comic’s Journal.
    I’m talkin’ yer everyday people who are moved by the art of cartooning and comics.
    It’s not a put down of Sim’s work.

    What have I missed?
    It just seems to me that if the guy was that influential or that important,…I’d have heard something more than his bullshit thoughts on women and christianity,…or what ever,…and I would be reading stuff about how inspired people were by his accomplishments. Which, beyond the fact that he drew 6,000 pages,…or however many,…and that he was a pioneering force in self publishing,…I am having a devil of a time determining.

  117. SuJo,
    Thanks a lot for your cogent recollections.

    Heidi– Thanks for the clarification.

    James,
    IMO Cerebus was always a pretty unlikeable character who was always willing to do anything to anybody who gave him shit (or whom he thought gave him shit). The most one could say would be that he wasn’t casually malicious when sober, and that he did have a dim sense of personal honor, as well as being funny in his various attempts to cope with getting and keeping power. So the rape scene seemed to me congruent with past actions.

  118. Wow, this is still going on!

    I find many of Sim’s statements about women abhorrent, and he obviously has a lot of anger and power issues that he’s working out. But we live in America and people here get to say all kinds of crazy stuff.

    While I’ve never read Cerebus, I don’t have a problem separating the artist from the crazy. Hitchcock had all kinds of sick issues with women, but his movies remain untarnished. Mel Gibson seems to have issues with Jews, but I still went to, and enjoyed, his movie Apocalypto. I can watch John Wayne movies without thinking once about his reactionary politics. I can appreciate the artistry of Leni Riefenstahl while acknowledging that Nazism isn’t the greatest idea the world ever came up with. And I suppose if I were ever confronted with a painting by Adolf Hitler I would be able to judge it as a work of art and set aside the whole trying-to-conquer-the-world thing.

  119. Katie Moody – “(Interesting to think of how “feminist” has been twisted over the years into something with negative connotations.)”

    Feminism has become anti family, it has cast a negative light on stay at home mothers and has fostered the divorce problem in this country. Also, the whole issue of support for abortions also makes it hard for some people with certain beliefs to get behind anything under the veil of feminism. So, I dont think people view feminism as simply as you put it.

  120. Steve Taylor says:

    Many of us,…masculine and feminine,…look at feminisim exacly as simply as that:“…a doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”

  121. Dave whined endlessly that no one would look at his facts.

    When someone did, it was found he pulled them out of his ass.

    That’s not vitriol, it’s just scrutiny. If Dave, or Talon, can’t read a simple chart, and the evidence says they can’t, it’s hardly the fault of those who can.

    It would have been much smarter for Dave not to continually post made-up statistics and then moan because no one looked at them.

    If the theories can’t stand scrutiny, then just admit it’s all gut feeling nonsense and quit pretending the numbers are on your side.

  122. Matt:

    Whoa! That’s your view of feminism? Anti-family? That is your view, but to say it has fostered the divorce problem…well, I’d need some proof as to that.

    Better in my view to think of feminism as pro-family, where people of both genders get to pick their life-paths.

    And Steve Taylor, Cerebus was an important part of my comic book life. I was introduced to it by a fellow cartoonist, and we discussed it/hashed it out, and responded to the wild letter pages and editorials. And we admired Sim for publishing the book on his own; that was uncommon at the time.

    I think if you read it, you could decide for yourself if it is a major work of comic
    art. I think you may be right as to whether it has affected the general culture, but within comic book circles I think it still resonates.

    As this lengthy discussion illustrates.

  123. The Beat said: “Aside from a few loonies who follow him around the web, he doesn’t have followers or acolytes, and doesn’t even want them.”

    Loonie eh? I’ve been called many things, but never a loonie. And Dave does appreciate the help that Jeff, Lou, myself and other provide him as far as web support, archiving support, etc. At least that is what he tells me on numerous occasions in various ways.

  124. @Matt: “Feminism has become anti family,” You forgot to insert the phrase “described by those who are opposed to it as”. Hope that helps.

    “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” – wise bumper sticker

    On the difference between sexism and racism: This is a question that comes up all the time when discussing anti-discrimination legislation covering sexual orientation. I’m routinely told (usually by people of color, of which I am not one) that being (for example) Black isn’t like being Queer. And they’re right. Neither is being Female. To cite one big difference: most Black people grow up in a whole family of other Blacks, most Queers have no peers in their families, and most Females grow up in mixed families. Also, most Males have Female mommies, while most Whites don’t have any Blacks in their families, and most Breeders don’t even think they know any Queers. All of which adds up to some different dynamics from one to another.

    On the other hand, there’s one thing all of these have in common, which is that they spring from ignorance and discomfort with The Other. And because of that, it does make sense to draw comparisons between them, and to use what one knows about this prejudice to understand that prejudice. Heck, it’s been my experience of homophobia that’s motivated most of my active opposition to sexism, anti-semitism, racism, and the usual shopping list of -isms. I’m sometimes surprised that any vanilla het goy boys get it at all… they must be remarkably empathic.

  125. Steve,

    I’m going to defend the Aardvark, but cautiously, as when I defended it previously, Dave seemed to agree with you that it really hadn’t had much of a critical impact and didn’t seem to be well-regarded.

    That surprised me, because, as a fan, I have to say I think it’s a towering achievement. yes, I did lose interest at one point. But the collections up to that point are likely the most re-read comics in my experience, barring Bagge’s HATE, possibly. And Lynda Barry’s stuff, maybe. But it’s stuff that is richly funny and rewarding, and even if it hadn’t had an impact outside of a sphere of comics readers (which it may well have), it’s still endlessly ambitious and hugely entertaining, and that’s quite an achievement in itself, I’d say.

    None of my opinions about Dave’s ‘facts,’ detract from my respect for the man’s talent and work.

  126. Some music-industry wag once commented that the Velvet Underground never sold very many records, but it seemed as if every person who did buy them went out and started a band. Dave Sim’s work is important and influential in that sense, even if his phonebooks were to go out of print and every existing copy collected dust in the closet, underneath a copy of White Light/White Heat.

  127. Alexa D says:

    @Todd

    FYI, Hitler’s art was pretty flat and unremarkable, really. It’s fun to psychoanalyze them, though. Like, in most of his floral still-lifes, the flowers are drooping and already starting to die; his female nudes were really awkward and simplistic; and there was one sketch he did of a German Shepard dog that had terrifyingly bad perspective.

    (Morbid curiosity + Google = Opinions on Hitler’s art)

    Eddie Izzard summed up Hitler’s career best: “I can’t–get–the fucking–trees–FUCK! I will kill everyone in the world!

  128. Steve Taylor says:

    Okay.
    So,…Dave Sim is the Sex Pistols or Ramones of indie publishing. Is that pretty close? Or,…the Lou Reed of comics? The G.G. Allin of,…oh,…never mind.

  129. Hey, Jason:

    Speaking as a “vanilla het goy boy,” can you explain why exactly it’s so surprising that any of us might “get it?” Or why we would have to be “remarkably empathic” to do so, as opposed to just averagely so?

  130. Alex D:

    I totally buy that Hitler was a sucky painter. But you have to admit his filmography is incredible.

  131. Alexa D says:

    Man, Hitler’s been in more movies than Jesus, Dracula, and Godzilla combined.

  132. Unpopular says:

    Heidi’s post is probably as close to a “fair shake” as Dave Sim is going to get. Quite refreshing.

    Anti-Feminist not equalling Anti-Woman springs from the way Feminism is looked at now more so that what it actually is. However, not supporting the goals of Feminism doesn’t make you anti-woman no matter how you define Feminism.

    What I see from behind my keyboard is a lot of folks quick to throw out the term misogynist. You almost never see “misandrist” used. Unfortunately, Feminism is equated with misandry instead of being equated with just being pro-woman.

    I read the “Fifteen Things” and I found them amusing. I couldn’t really disagree with them either.

    I believe the problem lies wherein neither side can politely discuss this topic because both sides have too much invested in it to allow for compromise.

    Also, it seems to me that Gail is masking a general dislike for Dave Sim with a vehement dislike for his liberal use of “statistics”.

    “Elektra” has every right to not give Dave Sim money even based on such silly reasoning.

    Hopefully this is the end of the Dave Sim debates.

  133. Sorry, Unpopular, but from where I sit feminism does not equate misandry (gotta admit, I had to look that up on Wikipedia).

    I think the discussion has been quite civil, for the most part.

    And I’ll take Gail at her word.

    And, no, this is not the end. I’m all for a free discussion, and no one person gets to designate where it stops. Except for Heidi…it’s her blog.

  134. Dave Miller says:

    I have very mixed feelings about this entire post (editorial and comments).

  135. Because there have been so many posts here and elsewhere which reference figures like Hitler and Big Brother, I think it’s proper to print something of the reasoning Sim puts behind his theories:

    From CEREBUS #272, where Dave expatiates on his “bottom line” (his words) for feminism:

    “I believe that the vast majority of women would like thinfs to go back to the way they were in the ‘olden days’… I think the vast majority of women should be encouraged to do their part to make things go back to the way they were in the olden days and to make the small, virtually insignificant minority of middle-aged and older women recognize their abberational (and rather unbecoming) minority status.”

    He does also add that “tolerance should be the societal norm” for dealing with that minority, so no, I don’t think “Dave Sim, Gulag commandant” will really fly.

    What we have hear, if one can get past some of Sim’s irrational queasiness toward feminine biology, is the somewhat romantic idea of women being designed primarily for homemaking. Perhaps this is what Heidi refers to as Sim’s “mother issues;” I don’t know. But it should be noted that this sort of homemaker-archetype isn’t entirely the creation of evil misogynist males, who are unlikely to be the majority of book-buyers who propelled Phyllis Schafly (or her modern counterparts) to best-seller status.

  136. To Gail:

    You write, “Dave whined endlessly that no one would look at his facts. When someone did, it was found he pulled them out of his ass.”

    I’m probably coming into this way too late so I understand if you don’t want to clarify exactly which of the points Sim was trying to make were blown away by your (presumably correct) statistics, but I can’t help but be curious since I’ve seen you say this two or three times now as I’ve lurked during Dave’s 100 hour tour. I haven’t seen either party’s statistics nor do I know whether their sources are reputable, so all I see (and all many others commenting here see, I suspect) are dogmatic assertions that Dave’s been debunked.

    If you feel like restating at all, I’d be happy to hear it.

  137. Steve Taylor Says:
    02/28/08 at 5:16 pm

    “Allright,…rich!
    Hit me!
    Educate my ass!”

    Ok … a snarky response to a simple question … You claimed that he hasn’t had any large influence on comics in general. So … what’s wrong with that?

  138. Unpopular says:
    “What I see from behind my keyboard is a lot of folks quick to throw out the term misogynist.”

    Throw it out?? The word “misogynist” is a macro on their keyboards.

  139. To Gene:

    You wrote, “What we have here, if one can get past some of Sim’s irrational queasiness toward feminine biology, is the somewhat romantic idea of women being designed primarily for homemaking. Perhaps this is what Heidi refers to as Sim’s “mother issues;” I don’t know.”

    I believe Dave has written fairly extensively about growing up with a mother who worked outside the home. I don’t want to put words in his mouth but I believe it would be fairly accurate to say he felt that his mother’s loyalty was to work over family and that he had been cheated to some extent by her lifestyle choices. Perhaps this is what Heidi meant by “mother issues”?

    In any case, I would not personally be inclined to dismiss everything about Sim’s views (as some have done) simply because one of the driving impulses behind his beliefs might be a personal experience, nor would I load the argument with freighted terms like “mother issues”. I suspect just about all of us have arrived at one or another of our personal convictions via a subjective experience, as opposed to imbibing received wisdom on the subject. And statistics (from either side) may be made to say almost anything if we’re ignorant as to how they were gathered.

  140. Alexa D:

    “Eddie Izzard summed up Hitler’s career best: “I can’t–get–the fucking–trees–FUCK! I will kill everyone in the world!”

    I laughed out loud at this (known as LOL in some parts of the world), which is not good since I’m at the Day Job.

    I imagine an actor (on something like SNL or Mad TV) dressed as Hitler. He grows increasingly frustrated before throwing away his brush and palate, then hurls a canvas across the room. Cut to footage of German troops marching into Poland.

  141. “Also, it seems to me that Gail is masking a general dislike for Dave Sim with a vehement dislike for his liberal use of “statistics”. ”

    Then you’re not too perceptive. And ‘statistics’ are great. They just shouldn’t be completely and authoritatively wrong time after time after time.

    Sorry.

    Gail

  142. Pete, probably the easiest thing to do is check the Sequential Tarts chat.

    For YEARS, Dave’s been cying about how no one will look at his “hard numbers” and “documented percentages.”

    But it turns out, he’d made every one of them up, every one. They were debunked in five minutes, but authoritative figures from the NCES and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Then, to defend his theories (many of which were actively against the tale of the real figures) he made up a NEW figure from thin air. I’m pretty sure this is why he never actually wanted to debate, not in any real way.

    Once would have been a mistake, maybe. But it was ALL utterly fictional.

    I don’t want to pollute Heidi’s column, but the ST chat lays it all out in detail.

  143. Pete,
    Yeah, I think we’re agreed that one can’t necessariy dismiss an artist’s ideals even if one dismisses the way he got to them (re: false statistics etc.) That’s why I wanted to quote his opinions as to why feminism was a bad thing, showing that in his mind he’s not simply “bigoted” against women but has rather an unrealistic idea of what their purpose in life should be. To me this is a little different than simply his wanting to keep the slaves on the plantation, though others’ mileage will vary.

    I didn’t remember him recording recollections about his mom working outside the home but I can’t say I’m surprised to read it.

  144. Steve Taylor says:

    rich,….
    are you still here?
    Put on some tea water.

  145. Unpopular says:

    “Sorry, Unpopular, but from where I sit feminism does not equate misandry ”

    I don’t believe that it does, but in the world at large when a lot of people hear Feminism they think “Man-Hater” rather than woman supporter. I was saying that’s a bad thing, in case there was some confusion about that. I was also saying Anti-Feminism doesn’t mean misogynist even though I get the impression that Dave Sim feels that’s the sort of attitude he’s faced with time and time again.

  146. Pete:

    Dave’s mother worked part-time as a secretary at the school he attended (which he quit in the 11th grade). From my recollection of what he told me, his parents had a pretty conventional relationship. Her job was second to her husband’s; she worked at the school where her children were, home when they were home. Dave did have some lingering issues about how the females in his family cowered and then rallied around his father’s heart attack. When his father was in crisis, Dave was put in charge by the ‘females’ (mother & sister) when his Dad recovered his charge was dismissed by the ‘females’ who then took over – Dave had some very serious lingering problems with this, it came up more than a few times in our relationship.

  147. Sujo,
    You might be just the person to ask this question.
    I just got around to skimming through the tart site that Gail mentioned.
    And my impression: this is her big victory? I figure if you want to prove
    Dave crazy in any conventional way you’d probably have an easy time of it -but this??? Having said that, Dave Sim lists a bunch of numbers -saying
    even how we’ll eventually have 100% female employment, obviously this isn’t to be taken literally -but he lists other numbers off the cuff while he’s at it, as if to see if people will cherry pick what to take figuratively and what to take literally.
    Also, he states in same forum how he is 100% for free will -while appearantly elsewhere he has quipped that giving the women the right to vote probably was a mistake. A contradiction? or is he not the first person with a sense of humor where this trait has gotton him in trouble more often than not.
    I guess my question is: Is Dave Sim a cheeky person who lives in his head a lot?

  148. Haisan says:

    One issue I have not seen addressed here is the link between Dave’s strange ideas about sex-gender and the decline in the quality of his writing. Cerebus issues 20-140(ish) were really incredible.

    But starting with the Normalroach “Fucking Cunts” issue, something seemed to change with the quality of Dave’s writing. It became much less story-related and much more internal (which seems very odd for the supposed “male” section of his story… one would think the male world would be more narrative and less internal).

    Dave has talked about his psychological issues before, his breakdown, etc… I wonder how much of Cerebus 160-280 was some sort of bipolar thing, or perhaps low-grade schizophrenia.

    That said, CEREBUS expressed a lot of different opinions over the years. But my favorite gender-related comment Dave made over the years was “Men and women deserve each other.” Just cynical enough for me.

  149. Rantz asked, “Is it because books like High Society, Church & State and Jaka’s Story were only good *then*, and fail to stand the test of time?”

    Yes, that’s it exactly. Sim has always been the court jester of the mainstream comics world, a paddler in someone else’s pool. He has had precisely one effect on the comics industry (the trade-paperback collection), and no effect on the comics medium. CEREBUS will become increasingly irrelevant until it is completely forgotten. Sim himself won’t have an asterisk by his name in comics history; he will *be* no more than an asterisk in comics history.

  150. I have to admit, though I read (and loved) the essay, I didn’t read all the talk backs, so I apologized if my ideas have popped up already. My biggest problem with Dave Sim’s sexist writings is that it’s an educated sounding argument that only uneducated people will buy into. Any man who has lasted long enough to make it into the pantheon of intelligence (I.E. you make the rules, you don’t follow them, take from that what you will) has found that, on a case by case basis, there are just as many smart women as there are smart men. smart woman having faced the hurtles of people thinking woman can’t accomplish anything, smart men having faced the hurtles of any guy that reads can’t get laid.

    The issue isn’t proving Dave Sim’s argument wrong. There are so many holes in it that it’s actually kind of too easy (my favorite being that every time a stat supports his claim he clings to it like a blanket, but every time it doesn’t he either questions the stat or goes into conjecture which he makes sound like a stat). the issue is two things, one, you want Dave Sim to know he’s wrong, and two, you want Neil Gaiman to bitch slap (Irony of slogan intended) the guy for having these feelings intstead of being his buddy. But that actually adds to the frustration, as I have a really nasty feeling that Dave Sim might be a nice guy. As opposed to guys that share my point of view that I want to kick in the nards (John Stossel of twenty twenty I’m looking in your direction).

    Anyway, I can’t finish Cerebus. I’ve tried after reads but it just don’t work. Sorry Dave, call me a guy that has been corrupted by the female homosexual axis (I hear they have meetings at Ikea) but there’s a lot of talented writers out there, mast of which don’t think woman shouldn’t be allowed to vote. I’m sorry, but you’re last on the list after I’ve finished off with them.

    Cheers.

  151. Re: HPLovecraft. From what I’ve read of him, in later life he repudiated many of his earlier racist thoughts. Or so I’ve read. It could be merely his supporters apologizing for the hideous things he wrote and said in youth.

    Sim, on the other hand, is saying and publishing these pernicious things toward the end of his life and seems to have cemented them in his twisted thoughts. As with Will Eisner refusing to apologize for his painfully racist character Ebony White, Sim seems bound to death to adhere to his own filthy and poisonous ideas.

  152. Bryan Uhlenbrock says:

    “…toward the end of his life…”? Know something the rest of us don’t, James? Care to share any hot stock tips or horse race winners? Dave could well have several good decades left to him, and I’m probably not alone in hoping that’s the case. And regarding your careless swipe at Mr. Eisner, I’ll only say that I think you grossly misrepresent his feelings concerning that particular character. Taken in the context of its time, Ebony White was a far more subtly-nuanced character than the Steppin Fechit stereotype you evidently perceive it to be.

    By the way: great essay, Heidi.

  153. Bryan Uhlenbrock says:

    “…toward the end of his life…”? Know something the rest of us don’t, James? Care to share any hot stock tips or horse race winners? Dave could well have several good decades left to him, and I’m probably not alone in hoping that’s the case. And regarding your careless swipe at Mr. Eisner, I’ll only say that I think you grossly misrepresent his feelings concerning that particular character. Taken in the context of its time, Ebony White was a far more subtly-nuanced character than the Steppin Fechit stereotype you evidently perceive it to be.

    By the way: great essay, Heidi.

  154. Ebony White was a nuanced monkey. A classic racist cartoon penned by a racist.

    Dave Sim is over 50 years old. Unless he lives to be over 100 (doubtful, cigarette smoking twit that he was), he’s only got twenty or so years left in him. Less, if we’re lucky.

  155. Bryan Uhlenbrock says:

    Okay, deep breath here Bryan. Don’t forget your mantra:

    “I Will Not Debate Haters On The Internet. I Will Not Debate Haters On The Internet. I Will Not Debate Haters On The Internet. I Will Not Debate Haters On The Internet.”

    There. I feel better already…

  156. Logan Proudfoot says:

    Dave Sim is a genius, pure and simple. The quote cited in the piece was a hypothetical one, that if each individual was given a choice before being birthed more people would select the plumbing with less maintanence issues. I think that is a valid point.

    Being anti feminist doesn’t make one anti women. I don’t believe Dave is anti women, more accurately he is opposed to the outlandish and silly beliefs of hardcore lefist feminists.

    What makes Dave anti women is actually his applying his feelings toward one woman, his x wife, on a broad scale to women in general.

    You go through a messy, hurtful divorce and then use the mass media at your disposal to adress the way it has made you feel and suddenly you hate women. I’m sure dave felt like he had had his lifesblood sucked out of him when the split occurred and that was what he was refrencing.

    Frame his words in that context and maybe there will be some understanding. Most likely not. Most likely the continued marginallizing of Dave Sim will go on and I will be summarily thrashed for still respecting the man and his work AND having the BALLS to state it.

    Dave is guilty of one thing, having conservative views in a field that is dominated by liberals and liberal thinking.

  157. hello it is test. WinRAR provides the full RAR and ZIP file support, can decompress CAB, GZIP, ACE and other archive formats.

  158. Billy Bob Tweed says:

    Elektra comes across as being very, very shrill.

  159. PyraKat says:

    Has the thought occurred to anyone that it’s possible that Sim’s published comments about women/religion/etc. may just be a very, very clever way to extend and expand upon his fifteen minutes of fame? How much discussion would he generate these days, were it not for these “opinions”, which (pardon me for being cynical) seem carefully crafted and designed to provoke all sorts of highly emotional responses? Adopt a controversial point of view, and you’re guaranteed an internet audience. To some, any publicity is better than none. This guy may well be having the last laugh, at the expense of everyone who takes him seriously.

  160. Ruby Vroom says:

    I havn’t taken the time to read every single post, but it seems to boil down to two groups: the “I won’t support Dave Sim by reading any of his work because I strongly dissagree with his views” and the “I love Dave’s work/Dave is a genius *but*…”

    I think we’re letting Dave’s own PR get in the way of his work, which, in my opinion, should stand alone, without being judged on the ethics of what Dave may have said outside the book. Now, that said, Dave chose to make his viewpoints part of the Cerebus storyline, most notably in “Reads,” which I took to be a rather juvenile stab at being provocative, although there was an almost desperate undertone to the narrative. In Dave’s characters, he seems to strive to present a resonating sympathy that makes his characters so wonderful, so that even when they do horrible things, there is an implicit understanding between reader and character. When Dave steps outside his characters, his views, usually filtered through a character, becomes shockingly unrefined, unbridled, unfiltered and unsympathetic. They are violent challenges: a challenge to prove his theories wrong, a challenge to not be offended by what he says, and, quite plainly a challenge for someone to punish him for what he obviously (whether he admits it or not) feels are outbursts of naughty behaviour (he has goaded feminists on the whole to imprison or execute him for voicing his opinions.)
    I believe, and I do, that Dave’s work needs to be appreciated outside of his personal views, especially when they present little interference to his body of work as a whole. If you can stop your knee-jerk reactions to inflammatory propoganda, his work speaks for itself, and also illuminates much “self commentary” that artists are incapable of leaving out of their work. If each character in Cerebus, and I believe this is true of every artists’ work, is a self-portrait of a section of a self-portrait, we can gather that not only does Dave have “mother issues,” he also struggles with some sort of problem with homosexuality, an intense dislike of his own femininity or female-like traits, severe trust issues, and the usual brand of misogyny that men who have gone through unpleasant divorces always seem to exhibit.
    Is he a misogynist? Most people say yes. But, I ask, is misogyny in mind or behaviour? It seems a great many people who know or have known or have spent any time around Dave describe him as a likable guy. Then again, just because a person may harbour an intense and ugly hatred of someone or something doesn’t mean they run around with hairy palms acting like Mr. Hyde. My personal definition of misogyny is intense *envy* of femininity and resentment at the power it holds. Dave seems to really like feminine women, and perhaps all this excess aggression, validated with his schitzoid theories, is a very frustrated attempt to deal with his inability to come to terms with this. Then again, there is the phenomena of the unself-actualized homosexual who cannot help but be frustrated by women because he is in fact in unconciously competing with them for the affections of another man, and Dave’s rants could possibly be a very complicated exorcism borne of a semi-genius, theorizing noodling brain.
    Again, which ever it is, whatever the reasons, Dave’s misogyny, or lack-there-of, is not a reason to discredit or dismiss his work. Operating under that premise, we’d have to discredit Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work because he was a womanizer, or reject automobiles because Henry Ford was an anit-semite, or the Constitution because the Founding Father’s were whore-mongering slave owners.
    Your thoughts?

  161. I Love the way you write…thanks for posting

  162. Not many people think the same way as you. That includes me.. sorry :)

  163. it appears to me that a guy made a technical masterpiece and people seem to be more interested in his personal beliefs regarding women. while it’s obvious that his beliefs seep into the content and do so quite heavily at times, the technique seems to be largely overlooked. this would be like an architect designing and building the most intricate and amazing building that pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible but then we focus on all the phallic symbolism and the fact that there are no women’s bathrooms. it’s way easier to jump onto issues that require only an opinion than to study and analyze the master builder/designer.

    his work is the perfect combination of talent and practice. he displayed a mastery of the form that is almost unparalleled and could very well have been the technical pinnacle of the form thus far. this can be argued, and that’s fine. but it seems that articles like this one seem to dominate the discussion of dave sim.

    it is like harping on the fact that michael jordan appears to be a complete sociopathic asshole (a view that has become accepted in hushed tones… don’t want to upset the cash cow) than to watch film of him and understand the evolution of his post game or to study his practice routines.

    the conversation here is too easy. many people not only don’t have to read his work, but can take pride in the fact that they haven’t, in order to have an opinion.

    perhaps my comment is best left for a space that isn’t specifically focussed on sim’s feminist views. if that’s the case, i’m sorry. but i just thought i would say this. take care. – nfn

  164. on the subject of jordan, just in case someone thinks his being a sociopath can be separated from his basketball playing and sim’s feminist views cannot be separated from cerebus:

    jordan’s mania has been largely credited with his succeeding to the level that he did. it is a fine example. take care again.

  165. OILSHEIK says:

    As a Muslim man I agree with Dave Sim`s views.
    Thankfully here in the Middle-East men still have not become metrosexual.
    Same with China and Russian men.
    That`s why American women prefer us because we are men, and not manchilds.

  166. “That`s why American women prefer us because we are men, and not manchilds.”

    Riiiiiiight.
    Also what a stupid and immature comment. It something that a 13 year old trying to sound tough would write on the internet.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Speaking of difficult people best kept at a distance, Heidi writes an absorbing essay over at The Beat, and posts some deathless quotes about what women really want. […]

  2. […] So then Heidi MacDonald weighed in. […]

  3. […] [Analysis] Heidi MacDonald parses the contradictions of Cerebus creator Dave Sim. […]

  4. […] Heidi MacDonald has a great post up dissecting Dave Sim. […]

  5. […] Follow up… Posted in Comics, Misc. Crap by Smith Michaels on February 28th, 2008 Heidi MacDonald on Dave Sim. A must read… […]

  6. […] Oh, it’s Dave Sim time again Published February 28, 2008 criticism , dave sim , gender , h. p. lovecraft , race Heidi’s post yesterday has kicked off another debate about Dave Sim, particularly relating to new new book Judenhass. For the record, I pretty much agree with her. […]

  7. […] – Heidi MacDonald do BEAT [em um lngo e belo post] se pergunta se é possível separar Dave Sim, gênio da HQ independente que publicou CEREBUS por conta própria durante 25 anos, de Dave Sim, porco chauvinista com problemas maternos mal-resolvidos. […]

  8. […] Meanwhile, Heidi at the The Beat discusses her conflicting feelings about Dave Sims’ work. Exhaustive Alan Moore interview compendium. […]

  9. […] Meanwhile, Heidi at the The Beat discusses her conflicting feelings about Dave Sims’ work. […]

  10. […] THE BEAT » Blog Archive » The one about Dave Sim (tags: comics) […]

  11. […] Sim, who often refers to women as “Emotional Female Void” and men as “Rational Male Light”, feels his reputation as a misogynist is ill deserved. In his letter Dave asks “What sort of friends and fans allow a friend or the person they are a fan of to be called the lowest, subhuman form of life in our society with impunity?”. The Dave Sim Misogyny Page is chock full of his quotes on gender and Heidi McDonald has an interesting piece on the subject in The Beat. […]

  12. […] Over at the Beat, Heidi McDonald posts an introspective about her feelings regarding Sim and his work: Dave Sim is no general in a war against women. He’s not even a foot soldier. He’s a talented man with a dark side. He’s also, as far as I can see, someone whose hypocrisy is a foundation of his philosophy. The ultimate irony is that Sim’s work ends up being the greatest repudiation of the hateful and/or ignorant views he’s expressed. The tenderness and wisdom of Jaka’s Story will last longer than any bullshit philosophy. I hope so, anyway. […]

  13. […] Calling Sim a misogynist is not libelous. It is the truth. A misogynist is someone who hates women. And the man who wrote, “It wouldn’t be that big of a stretch to categorize my writing as Hate Literature against women,” in Issue #186 of Cerberus, speaking in his own voice, is most certainly a misogynist. For years and years, Sim has been spewing out this bile. And rather than take his lumps and be the man he thinks he is, he instead wants to set terms and alienate everyone in the process. These are not the actions of a civilized person. […]

  14. […] For many, perhaps most readers, the revelation of Cerebus‘ brilliance came first, and Sim’s crazypants gender revelations second. Those of us for whom it went the other way round had a very different experience. I’ve had disagreements with both Heidi MacDonald and Gail Simone over the utility of engaging Dave Sim about gender issues – I think there is none — but then, I belong that second group; I’ve always lived in a world where David Sim was a Genius, BUT. […]

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