For those who feel that Frank Miller has rather polarised opinion in comic books this past week, well, you may not remember the Dave Sim Wars of the nineties. Creator of Cerebus, a comic that ran for 300 issues, redefined the medium, and still sells well in collections, a number of plotlines and essays marked him out to many as a virilent misogynist, a charge that he not only denied but refused to deal with people unless then signed a contract stating that they did not believe him to be a misogynist.
Well, it looks like Ross Richie has signed that statement.
It’s been promised for a while now. But Dave Sim’s Last Girlfriend, a book by Dave Sim and Susan Alston was meant to come out from Kitchen Sink back in the day, but is now scheduled to be published by Boom! Town, Boom!’s indie comix imprint, in August next year.
No figure in comics has been as polarizing as Dave Sim. His long-running series, Cerebus the Aardvark, is seen as one of the singular accomplishments in the history of the form. He has been a champion of self-publishing and of creator rights. But his unorthodox world views on religion and feminism, oft-espoused within the pages of his comics, are seen as regressive by many and have alienated a large swath of his audience. In these pages, you’ll see the collapse of Dave’s last romantic relationship, right before he declared himself celibate and began practicing his own blend of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. From surprisingly tender moments to bursts of rage, all the joys and pain of a relationship come through, unfiltered, from Sim’s undeniable talent to communicate.
Describing the authors as;
A pioneer of self-published comics and creators’ rights, Dave Sim is best known as the creator of Cerebus the Aardvark, a comic book published from 1977 to 2004, which chronicles its main character in a 6,000-page self-contained story. Sim’s epic is highly regarded for the scope of its achievement but also maligned by some for its views on religion and feminism. Upon his break-up with his last girlfriend, Susan Alston, Sim converted to his own amalgam of Western religions and swore off women forever. Susan Alston is a champion in the protection of comic creators and retailers. She was previously the Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. During this time, she was in a long-distance relationship with Dave Sim. Susan’s work has been instrumental in changing public perception of comics as an art form.
This is what she wrote back in 2008, on Heidi MacDonald’s blog comments.
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!
And while this does sound combatative, the book was promoted by Denis Kitchen on Cerebus TV, who brought it to Boom! to publish.
Bleeding Cool understand that the book is a direct reproduction of correspondence between Susan Alton and Dave Sim. Sim in his own words. Alton in her own.
Looks like we’ll need a new server to handle the traffic in August…