Dave Sim back for more HARDtalk and Loren Visser has a question for us now. Loren?
Mr. Sim, we know you're a fan of Al Williamson and Mort Drucker, but what are your feelings about the work of some of the other EC artists, specifically Jack Davis, Johnny Craig and apparently nobody's favorite but mine, Jack Kamen? Thank you.
Oh, thank you for participating.
Jack Davis is a little different from the other two in terms of being a real stylist. You couldn't mistake Davis for anyone else (unless it was a really good Davis clone!). I'd have to say my favourite work of Davis' was his commercial work, like the poster for MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD, his Playboy cartoons, TIME magazine covers, record album covers and so on. One of those rare instances of someone whose colour work I prefer to his black and white work.
The cover to CHURCH & STATE volume one -- my part of it, the characters -- is heavily influenced by Davis. My crowds of people tend to look like Drucker crowds or Davis crowds or a mix of both. The reason for that is that both men were very adept at making people look different from each other, distinctive and like real people. You look at a Davis crowd figure or a Drucker crowd figure and you go, "I know that person. There are people who actually look like that."
Johnny Craig and Jack Kamen, I admire both of them because of the iconic realism of their work. It isn't photorealism like Raymond's RIP KIRBY or Stan Drake's HEART OF JULIET JONES, but it does come from the commercial art end of things. Either one of them would have made a great addition to Johnstone & Cushing, let's say. I'm sure you run into the complaint about Jack Kamen all the time that the work just isn't exciting in the way that Williamson is exciting or Krigstein is exciting. Kamen wouldn't be my favourite but he would be in very tight cluster surrounding my favourites for exactly the reason that he could make you believe what was on his page. The guy looks like a guy, say, sitting in a restaurant. The perspective on the table and walls and windows is 100% accurate, the folds in his suit are 100% accurate. The drapes look like drapes. The shadows fall where the shadows are supposed to fall. When you've drawn comics for a living as I have, I think you have to have an evasive personality not to acknowledge how difficult what Kamen did was. He didn't use tricks to suggest a restaurant while avoiding things like perspective and actual detail. He gave full value every time out of the gate. I'm getting paid good money for this so if Bill Gaines wants a guy sitting in a restaurant, here's what he's paying for. Here's good value for the money for the figure, for the restaurant, for the windows, etc.
It's a discussion you're never going to prevail in against most people, unfortunately. Guys like Kamen, Jim Mooney, Murphy Anderson are just never going to be fan favourites and the EC guys in particular get ranked according to very strange criteria by most people. Russ Heath. There's another one. I was talking on the phone with Russ a while back and we started talking about Williamson -- one of my favourites. And Russ said that Al's thin lines were too thin, they always broke up. Which was true. Which makes you wonder: in a medium devoted to reproduction, why doesn't every line showing up on the page count for more with fans? Russ would never put a line down that he wasn't 100% sure was going to be on the page when it was printed. But, he's always ranked below Williamson.
You keep loving Jack Kamen, Loren! I'm right with you!
How would you define mysoginist and why aren't you one? Also why do people think you are one? And why do you care enough to want to have 2,000 sing a petition saying they don’t think you are one? Who would you really like to have sign it in order to influence more people to consider signing it.
Eg if for instance Germaine Greer were to sign it then that would definitely make people think about it but I doubt that’s ever going to happen.
I recently went to a talk at the Sydney Opera House where Ms. Greer and three other well known women debated the topic "All women hate each other" for the Festival of Dangerous ideas and one of the other women told us that just because she was a feminist didn't mean she always took the side of a woman against a man. As she explained to us There are women ar$*holes just as there are male ar$#holes and she always sided with the person who wasn't an ar$#hole regardless of their gender.
Why do you think people think misogynists are "lowest, subhuman form of life in our society". Wouldn’t say rapists or child molesters rank lower than mere misogynists.
And what has Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond have to do with any of this ?
Dave Sim back at Bleeding Cool for more HARDtalk. Let's take a few questions from Silber Spy:
If there was enough money coming in to justify it, how many people would work at Aardvark-Vanaheim & what would their jobs be?
Hi Brian! Thanks for being here. I think I would still be the only employee. The problem with having employees is that you have to spend a LOT of time figuring out things for them to do. And in an art studio, your time is always better spent producing art. I did think about hiring people to speed things up on glamourpuss, but the problem there was that I LIKED doing everything on glamourpuss. I liked picking the pictures out of magazines, I liked blowing them up on the photocopier, I liked tracing them off on the light table, I liked transferring them to the artboard, I liked tightening them up in pencil, I liked figuring out where the type was going and what it was going to say. I could speed things up, but only by getting people to do parts of my job that I wanted to do.
I could have a secretary who took dictation, theoretically. Sit on the couch in the studio and read me letters and then I dictate an answer. But, there again, I usually need the three weeks or a month between when a letter comes in and when I answer it to figure out what I want to say. And when I'm drawing, I like to focus on drawing -- not answering mail.
The JUDENHASS style that you and I worked in on LOST KISSES #11 (silbermedia.com) has some potential. I do the master drawing and then mark up a photocopy illustrating what I need enlarged and reduced and where I want it pasted up. No one could get it 100% accurate as I see it. But theoretically I could look at a pasted up mock-up and say "Move this one down and to the right", "include the eyeball in this one". But, again, most of that is done on the light table moving things around until they look right to me. And as soon as whoever it was had a page done, I'd have to have another page done, or I just have someone sitting around twiddling his thumbs while I'm doing something else.
No, I do as much as I can on my own, but far more slowly than I ever did. I will never be fast enough again to be able to do my work and keep a bunch of other people supplied with work, I don't think.
Given that you had an amount of sales that income flow was no longer a significant consideration, how do you think that would effect your work?
THAT's an interesting question that I've considered many times. How much am I working because I need to bring in revenue and how much am I working because I prefer working to anything else? It occurs to me that that might be why God keeps me from being a success -- knowing that there are things that I'm here to do and if I didn't have to worry about paying my bills I wouldn't do those things. The tendency is always to think you're being punished. My faith tells me that it's just that I need to be turned in whatever direction I need to be turned. That is, what I'm having to endure in my late fifties is there to get me turned in the direction for my sixties. Or I AM being punished .
I think I would probably slow down quite a bit but keep doing THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. Really work to make each page a gem. The way I did JUDENHASS. Probably never get the story finished and that might be what's going on as well: God might need me to get the story done and knows exactly how comfortable materially I can be allowed to get before it becomes obvious that I'm just not going to get through it. I try to plod in a specific direction and stay focussed with the belief that God will work with whichever way I'm going and move me as he needs to. Which is why I don't let a non-stop onslaught of bad news get to me.
Whatever happens it happens for a reason.
It seems there's all this concern about the continuation of glamourpuss, but will there eventually be the issue of CEREBUS ARCHIVE about making that very issue of CEREBUS ARCHIVE?
Mm. No, I don't think so. You'd need a slide rule to figure it out but assuming a 1:1 ratio, the fact that it took 18 issues for me to cover 1972 to 1977, then you're talking 3 issues a year -- which doesn't work because there's so much more material 1977 forward than there is in the early Archive -- but even at that rate 1977 to 2012 is 35 years, or 105 issues. On a bi-monthly schedule that would work out to 16 years. So 2028 is when I would be writing about 2012. I would be 72 at that point. If you keep doing the math, I'm pretty sure it would get me up over 100 years old and still working on material from "10 years ago".
There are built-in limitations to preserving and annotating a 6,000 page story and 35-year career and I think I'm hitting them right around now.
[Silber Spy -- send in your mailing address to momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com so that Dave can send you a personalised / signed / head-sketched Cerebus back issue -- Thanks!]
Sandeep Atwal did do considerable production work on A-V's two recent titles; when he couldn't continue that, Dave Sim's workload bumped up considerably when he had to purchase and, with Sandeep's assistance, learn to use the computer equipment to take on that work, too. Perhaps it's no coincidence that it all became just too much effort. In addition, since CerebusTV was launched, according to Dave to promote glamourpuss and Cerebus Archive, the people working on that (Dave Fisher, John Scrudder, Oliver Simonsen, Max and Meegwun Southall) were part of A-V's hardworking advertising/promotion team. Sandeep at one point earlier this year also took on PR duties for CerebusTV, as well - and then worked maintaining the now-defunct Dave Sim art site and scanning negatives for the High Society Digital Project, until being forced out as a consequence of a restaurant fire destroying negatives, scanner and all his belongings and home.
Hi, Dave Sim here again, ready to take a HARDtalk question from M. Keener:
Any chance of a digital edition of the SELF-PUBLISHING GUIDE (say, via Amazon Kindle)? I'd imagine it would be a lot less involved, as far as digital pre-press goes, and it would surely be helpful to new cartoonists.
That was certainly the theory when I did the revised version for the Direct Market. People were clamouring for it, I was told, and then it turned out not to sell especially well. I agree with you that digital is potentially a lot less difficult but it is a "how many hours in the day are there?" kind of thing. So, what I'm trying to do is to get the best-selling work, HIGH SOCIETY prepped for digital and out there first in serialized versions and then in collected versions and see what they do on the various platforms I can get them onto. If HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL (available from CerebusDownloads.com) can establish an on-line digital presence and generate enough revenue to help me keep going, then I'll branch out into the other trades.
Of course the SELF-PUBLISHING GUIDE would be very easy to do because it's just type. But where do you put it and how do you make people aware of it? What do you price it at? How difficult is it to get it onto the various platforms? How much revenue does it end up generating to justify the time you put into putting it up there? I do want to write and draw comics, as opposed to spending all of my time trying to figure out how to get all of my material onto the Internet. I haven't drawn a page of comics since June because I'm trying to do what you're theoretically supposed to be doing -- getting out there and promoting yourself and your work. In my case HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL. If it doesn't work, then I'm looking at: well, okay, there's four months of my life I'll never get back. What do I do NOW that I think is going to generate money?
[M. Keener -- please send in your mailing address to 'momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com' so that Dave can send you your personalised / signed / head-sketched Cerebus back issue -- Thanks!]
Dave Sim back again for more HARDtalk and Mini City Comics asks:
Hi Dave, This is a question about the innate artistic spark. Do you believe that all artists contain a "finite" spark of creativity? In other words, there is only so much greatness in each individual to create "transcendent" works. I remember studying literature in college and several professors commenting that many American authors seemed to create their greatest work at a very early stage in their careers; they quickly flamed out in regards to high artistic quality. Hemingway was one of those authors mentioned. How do you see this concept? Thank you, sir.
Hello, Mini City Comics. Thanks for participating.
I think we ALL contain only so many attributes. I think the "spark" -- if, by that, you mean "the light that lighteth every man that comes into the world" as per John 1 -- is probably of much longer duration than our physically-incarnated selves. Immortal? I don't know. If it's a small piece of God then that would make it immortal. But, that's strictly theoretical. It could be a spark created by God which is only intended to endure so long.
In terms of creativity, yes, I think the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of that. With certain notable exceptions most people in every field do their best work in their twenties. Look at The Beatles. Paul McCartney is going to be 70 next year and -- with the exception of some Wings material he did in his 30s -- he's known for what he did between age 21 and 27. That material exists on a much higher plateau in the popular imagination than anything he did after that. I console myself that I, at least, OWN what I did in my 20s. CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY are owned by me. But it is definitely a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways.
I think it comes down to the basic purity and innocence of youth, coupled with the Age, coupled with idealism that hasn't taken too many "late hits on the field" to that point. Everything seems possible so, in a real way, everything IS possible. You get your turn and it goes by very fast and suddenly it isn't your turn anymore. I'm reminded of Tom Petty's song "You're Jamming Me" where he wants all of the famous people who have come along SINCE him to get "taken back". "Take back Joe Piscopo." Of course, the flaw in that thinking is that they were a lot of guys thinking "take back Tom Petty" when he came along! "I was just getting somewhere with my music and now everyone's talking about this Tom Petty idiot all of a sudden." BE the age you are. BE appreciative of the people who are getting their turn and making their mark and be vocal about it. As you wanted your predecessors to be appreciative of you and to be vocal about it.
Thank YOU, Mini City Comics.
[Mini City Comics -- send in your mailing address to 'momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com, so I can send you a personalised / signed / head-sketched Cerebus back issue -- Thanks!]
Dave Sim here again for a HARDtalk question from Cory Foster:
If I might be permitted a second question (you needn't send another comic for an answer, I'm just curious as an artist): Was there any conscious impetus toward the evolution of Cerebus' design as a character? The transition over the years from an aardvarkian elongated head and snout to a more circular and pig-like design is one of the more interesting in the comic. Was this just a natural evolution, or did you find drawing his head as a circle to be easier and less time consuming (important for a 6,000 work)?
Thanks for coming back for seconds. No, there really wasn't a conscious decision. Particularly in comics, the process of evolution takes place because of the sheer volume of drawings involved. The abrupt change from the elongated snout took place because I was starting issue 3 and -- not having worked on the book for a month while I did commercial work to pay the bills -- I just pulled out issue 2 and looked at the cover to see how to draw him: not realizing that I had consciously foreshortened the snout because he was looking into the background, three-quarters rear view. I'm not sure how long it was but it was a good few issues until I had a reason to check issue 1 and 2 again -- the interior pages -- that I went "What's up with the long snout?"
The same was true with the evolution through HIGH SOCIETY. The long pointed ears and the tiny, tiny mouths and the eyes also tiny and floating in the middle of this sea of grey. I never really looked closely at it, so I didn't realize I was changing the way I drew Cerebus. You tend to look at the last few pictures you did and work from that. As long as he's consistent on page 2 and 3 -- because they're facing each other in the comic book -- that's all that really matters.
You'll notice that with most cartoonists. You look at the first appearance of a character and then look at them five years later on and it's as if the character is revising himself or herself into an archetype in your unconscious mind and coming out on the page that way. Then they tend to get locked into a specific look and stay that way, as if they're communicating themselves to you and you finally "get it".
Of course, I was also aging Cerebus in the last fifty issues particularly, so that process started over a lot of times. I'd just be getting somewhere and it was time to make him fat or cut his hair really short or make him REALLY old.
Dave Sim here again for more HARDtalk, and Sweet Cheezus has a question for me:
Aloha Dave, As with all who are responding to your invite, I'm a long time fan of the Earth Pig born. Both art and story have kept my interest right to the end.It is the satire that I love the most and your ability to use this as a device to comment on what interests you, i.e. High Society and Church and State as a satire of government, Reads a comment on the Comics industry, Hemmingway, Fitzgerald et al. As not only an Atheist but an Anti-theist I particullarly enjoyed your views on Christianity and Judaism; I'm quite inclined to tossing babies of off porches and and kicking cripples of roofs. That being said, I'm curious; was it your self imposed limit of 300 issues that did not allow you time to comment, via satire, on Islam ? Or, as Islam seems to be your personal preference on the Imaginary Friend theme, did you not satirize it out of respect for the Prophet (so called ), a fear of being be-headed or just plain hypocrisy? Thanks for your time and for THE best comicbook series I have ever read.
Well, my intention with CEREBUS was to satirize the Bible when I got to issue 280 or so. The same as I intended to satirize Hemingway when I got to 250. I hadn't read the Bible and I hadn't read Hemingway. Hemingway was the Top of the Literary Pyramid and the Bible was the Best Selling Book in History. That was the frame of reference I had. If I had any awareness of Islam at the time I was planning this, it was strictly as a Middle Eastern religion that I pictured as being in the same basic category as Hinduism, Sikhism and Zen Buddhism (which was the only one I was actually familiar with, having read Deni's copy of ZEN MIND BEGINNER'S MIND which she got when she was involved with a Buddhist in California in the early 70s). I had no idea that there was any link, let alone an extensive link, between the Bible and the Koran. I also hadn't realized how difficult the Bible was going to be to distill. 8 or 10 issues seemed like a lot to devote to it, but that was all the room I had left myself.
Of course, when I got there the satire idea had already gone out the window. Dave Sim does his own version of THE LIFE OF BRIAN. I was still trying to figure out what the Bible was SAYING, so I could do a parody of that. And when I read what received wisdom was as to what it was saying, I was pretty sure it wasn't saying that. That was when I thought, "Well, I can just document what I think it's saying and have Cerebus express it and it will come across as a parody because it's so diametrically opposed to received wisdom."
By the time I was carving the end of the book in stone in my mind, the satirical aspect was really down to Cerebus thinking that everything he had done with the Bible was going to make his life easier and improve life generally. That was always the core of the humour in the book: taking really complicated nuanced things I was dealing with myself and giving them to Cerebus -- who always had a strictly fascistic, ruthless dictator response to anything. Lawyers are a problem? Kill all the lawyers. And then wondering why that DIDN'T just fix everything. Why it just caused more problems.
I'm definitely very sensitive about Islam. The Innocence of Muslims. Once you do The New Adventures of Jesus and The Life of Brian you can't go back to a time when you DIDN'T do them. That was YOUR revelation from God. That was YOUR prophet and that was what you chose to do. And what you chose to allow to be done. I was a huge Bill Cosby fan and his "Noah" routine was very funny. But it was mean-spirited against religion for those who are mean-spirited against religion which Bill Cosby isn't.
Well, none of that has happened with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Islam. Yet? I don't know, but it a) does seem like it's just a matter of time and b) it won't be me doing it. I'm not sure how many Jews do blasphemous and/or heretical humour. I suspect it's just a Civilization Formerly Known As Christendom thing. I kind of HOPE that's the case. We'll see how it hatches out. Certainly, as long as there's YouTube and people who hate Islam it's hard to see how it WOULDN'T happen. But, then YouTube has been around for years and so far it hasn't happened yet. Which is kind of strange. Strange in a good way.
Thanks for your question.
[Sweet Cheezus -- send in your mailing address to 'momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com' so Dave can send you a personalised / signed / head-sketched Cerebus back issue. -- Thanks!]
Dave Sim here taking your HARDtalk questions, and Bunnuelista asks:
This may sound like a rehash of Old Angel’s question, but there, I felt that you replied to a question about what *you think* with an answer about what *God knows*. I think I speak for a lot of comics fans when I say that I think you’re a great cartoonist, I would hate to see you leave the profession, and I’d love to sign the petition if I could.
The problem is that I’m not convinced that you’re not a misogynist. I’m also not convinced that you *are* a misogynist, and I would like to believe that you’re not, but there’s some strong evidence to the contrary. That evidence has nothing to do with birth rates in North America, feminism’s intellectual foundations, or with the false choice between feminism and misogyny. It has to do with statements like these:
“a gender which has no ethics, no scruples, no sense of right and wrong”
“No one wants to be a woman”
“This is part and parcel of women being the silver medallists in the human race”
“Considering how dramatically limited the female intellect is”
Perhaps you have some kind of contextual justification for each of these statements, but, taken together with a lot of other statements like them, they certainly raise enough reasonable doubt that I can’t bring myself to sign the petition. Are you willing to repudiate the following inference (inaccurate though you may deem it to be) from your writings about feminism: that you consider women incapable of rational thought...
To a degree it sounds like a rehash of Old Angel Midnight's question, but then I don't think anyone is going to be entirely satisfied with my answers to ANY questions.
That having been said, this is pretty close to the end of the Virtual Tour, so I can't think of a better way to end it on my way back to solitary confinement.
I'm inferring (perhaps incorrectly) that you think I pulled a "bait and switch" moving from what "I think" to "God knows" as a way of evading the question. I don't think I did, but I might be wrong about that. I sincerely believe both a) that ALL of our perceptions of reality are extremely limited and b) we are inclined to not admit that and to say things are definitively factual that are, in fact, just opinions. I try very hard not to do that. To answer your questions, within the limits of my knowledge but in light of my strongly-held opinions, as directly as I can:
I don't think anyone, with obvious exceptions like the mentally handicapped, is INCAPABLE of rational thought but I do find that thinking rationally is a very easy habit to get out of if you don't stay focussed on it. As our society has become increasingly feminized over the last four decades, it seems apparent to me that people are using "feel" and "think" interchangeably. I'm often asked how I "feel" about a given subject or idea. I don't "feel" about ideas because I don't think feeling leads to wise and beneficial decision-making.
Do I feel that women are incapable of rational thought? No, because I want women to like me and I have a very strong feeling that they won't like me if I don't feel the way they feel I should feel about them.
Do I think that women are incapable of rational thought? I see that women tend to value feeling over thinking. They are, I'm sure, capable of rational thought about, say, abortion but, because they are women, how they feel about abortion is of far greater importance to them than what they think about it.
Here's what I consider a rational way of thinking about abortion:
1) It's been almost forty years since Roe v. Wade and we are living in an age of exponential growth in scientific knowledge. There is no scientific view we adhered to in 1973 that we simply refuse to revisit because of ideology BESIDES abortion. There seems to me a clear and present danger of ending up looking like the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages with Galileo. If you use coercive force to suppress the theory that the earth goes around the sun because your ideology won't allow for it, that's only going to work until it becomes inescapably factual that the earth goes around the sun. In the case of abortion, to whatever extent Best Current Science supported the view that a developing fetus is an undifferentiated clump of cells in 1973, that view is becoming less supportable as we learn more -- practically by the day -- about fetal development.
2) Likewise the absolutist pro-choice position. If a woman has the absolute right to terminate any pregnancy and we can determine gender at an earlier and earlier stage of gestation, then what about sex-selection abortion? Does a woman have the right to terminate a pregnancy because she's found out she's pregnant with a girl? Are we, as a society, obligated to endorse that action and decision-making -- because we believe that any limitation on abortion is misogynistic by definition -- whether we agree with that or not? Well, isn't aborting a fetus because it's a girl misogynistic? I think it is. Profoundly misogynistic.
3) Unlike slavery -- where, after abolition, certainly within forty years of abolition, pretty much everyone came around to the idea that slavery had been a bad idea from the outset -- that isn't happening with abortion. The abortion debate hasn't budged more than a single percentage point from square on 50-50 in the last forty years.
4) I don't think you can RATIONALLY tilt a Social Reality that splits 50-50 in EITHER absolutist direction. That seems to me a RATIONAL thought to keep central to the discussion. If you THINK about abortion and the 50-50 divide the 50-50 becomes central to the solution. Whereas if you insist on just FEELING about abortion, then have to either ban ALL abortions because abortion is murder (as 50% of the population FEELS) or you have to -- as we do in Canada -- allow all abortions no matter what without limit or qualification (as 50% of the population FEELS). RATIONALLY, I think you have to come up with a 50-50 solution for a 50-50 Reality which I would suggest is to mandate that abortion be a proposition question on the ballot in ALL local elections. The result holds for whatever the election term is.
5) That is, the jurisdiction is either "pro-choice" -- unlimited abortion -- or "pro-life" -- no abortions -- for the election term. Basically the way the United States still is, post-Prohibition. They are far fewer "dry" counties than "wet" counties but there are both and the decision is arrived at democratically.
6) The benefit I would see is that the onus would be on the "pro-choice" and "pro-life" camps to campaign during each election cycle. Since it is an issue people tend to FEEL strongly about, I think it would assist in boosting voter turnout, which I think we would all agree is an inherently good thing.
To me, that's neither feminist nor misogynistic. It's rational. I don't know why anyone wouldn't see it as rational. On a 50-50 question, both sides have to be accommodated. I would definitely consider women's reactions to the proposal to be a good litmus test of whether women are capable of rational thought.
...devoid of ethics...
Actually, I modified the line from a Jack Nicholson movie, AS GOOD AS IT GETS, where he played a writer who was asked how he could write such authentic, true-to-life female characters and he says something along the lines of "I just write a male character and remove all reason and responsibility." I think that was unnecessarily glib, but I sure did hear it from a number of people when the movie came out (I never saw the movie myself). "This sounds like YOU, Dave!"
I think women often APPEAR to be devoid of ethics -- as they would to the character Jack Nicholson was playing -- but that, I think, tends to issue from a difference of female emphasis. Love, I think, is preeminent for women and is far more central to female nature than it is to male nature. I had written JAKA'S STORY at that point and that was definitely the point I was trying to make about Jaka. She loved dancing and she loved how she looked and she loved both of those more than she loved Rick or the baby they were going to have. She made what would appear to be an unethical choice except in terms of her emotions. She was following her heart.
Coincidentally, Tim Webber sent me a copy of Posy Simmonds' graphic novel, GEMMA BOVERY which I read the other day when I thought the Virtual Tour was done. So I get to do a book report for Tim here and also, hopefully, answer your question. It's a very well-integrated piece of work, probably the closest merging of the novel and the graphic novel that we have. It's definitely a female story -- Chick Lit (I really wish we could come up with a better term that doesn't sound as condescending as Chick Lit: I don't intend it as a condescending term) -- because it's emotion-driven, particularly love-driven. I don't see that as pejorative, I see it as how women see the world. Gemma makes a number of unethical choices in the book, but she makes them for very female reasons. The book strikes false notes for a male reader (maybe just this male reader?) because the male characters all have their love lives at the forefront of their thoughts and their conversations. They get together and the first thing they want to talk about is what happened last night or yesterday with whomever. Pour their hearts out to each other. If there's an emotional crisis in their lives, their jobs suffer. Which is definitely, I think, how women are and which is definitely how women like men to be and want men to be, in my experience, but not how men tend to be. In my experience women follow their hearts. If Gemma feels under-appreciated, she is going to look for appreciation elsewhere. Who loves me and how much do they love me? Now that definitely looks unethical -- cheating on your live-in boyfriend. But if you follow your heart and that's what your heart is telling you to do, that's what you're going to do.
Just to personalize this a bit: I knew after Deni and I separated that I would never get married again. It was a structural thing, having very little to do with Deni herself. I didn't need someone in my life 24/7 and didn't want someone in my life 24/7. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that if that is the person you are -- self-contained -- you really need to stay away from women. All you can do is hurt them either a little or a lot if you definitely don't want to marry anyone.
In that situation, a woman is apt to behave unethically because she wants to provoke a reaction -- she wants to make you jealous so that you'll reconsider and realize you want to get married. You love her far more than you think you do. Well, no. I wanted sex and companionship and I was willing to trade romance, intelligence and humour for it. But that was no good -- that was a very cosmetic form of an essential, core aspect of women. I was still wrestling with that at the time I wrote "Tangent", thinking myself to still be "between girlfriends". It wasn't until years later when I had decided on celibacy as a core aspect of my life and had lived that life for five or six years that I could see what had actually been going on: I was being unethical and consequently seeing a lack of ethics where it didn't exist. I was giving a bogus temporary kind of ersatz love and then wondering why I was getting a bogus, temporary ersatz response. The only thing that resonates with women is authentic love. Everything else just results in seriously crossed wires and emotional pain.
...intellectually limited, inherently inferior to men (silver medallists)...
Yes, I believe that women are intellectually limited in the same way that Lawrence Summers intended it when, as the president of Harvard, he pointed out that in the graduate maths and sciences, all of the participants were men. I might be misremembering but I think his point was that -- given that this was a fact, and it is pretty clearly a fact -- this should have some effect on where they were putting their limited funding. And, of course, the firestorm that landed on him with hob-nailed boots (to mix a metaphor) didn't want to look at the facts. It was an entirely emotional response. One woman in the audience said when she heard him say that, she felt physically sick. Well, why would you feel physically sick? You either look at it and say, um, Mr. Summers, I don't think your statistics are accurate (and then do a more accurate study) or you look at it and you say, Huh. How about that? Then you ask a pertinent question (hopefully). Something like "So when does this kick in? At how many years of study does the last female math student or science student fall away so that the discipline becomes all-male?" or "What's the highest in the construct a woman has managed to attain to?" or "How does this compare with other universities?"
And Summers, to me, did exactly the wrong thing: he caved when the facts were on his side. He suddenly started talking about throwing money at the problem, investing a million dollars or something in developing a greater female presence in the higher maths and sciences. He still had to resign, but presumably that was why he was eventually welcomed back in at the Treasury Department in the Obama Administration (I seem to recall he had been Clinton's Treasury Secretary).
There are fields that don't have a large female representation and never will. Comics is one of them. I went through the PREVIEWS catalogue just at random when someone had written to me about that, and there were maybe a dozen female professionals -- mostly writers, far fewer artists. I don't think that makes the comic-book field misogynistic. It means that writing and drawing comics is something boys do, to the tune of say 99%. They're far more interested and you have to be REALLY interested to do the amount of drawing required. Women tend to be cartoonier artists. There are very few Nicole Scotts and Colleen Dorans. I tend to see that more as a credential for Nicole and Colleen than as some horrible injustice that needs to be righted. How would you change it? Where do you go to find the 8,000 female super-hero artists you would need to find to achieve numerical parity -- or Equality, as women put it.
There are more men bloggers than women bloggers and the men bloggers have larger audiences than the women do. Oh. I can't say I'm surprised. "Oh." about sums it up.
I think it's a mistake to look at that and see misogyny.
I wouldn't say "dramatically limited" at this point unless you're talking about the maths and sciences. There, I'm pretty sure it's "dramatic" and it's structural. You will always have more men than women chess masters. That's another "dramatically limited" example. But, there are a lot of women out there competing at a very high level in a lot of male fields -- sorry, "traditionally" male fields. I'm a big admirer of Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel. They are definitely exceptions but they are EXCEPTIONAL exceptions. I would never suggest that we would be better served having someone else at the steering wheel in Germany and calling the shots on the EU financial mess. "This is a job for a man, not a woman." This is a job for whomever can get themselves elected, democratically, to do it...and then do it. The jury's still out on how many right and wrong choices she's making, but she seems to be making more right than wrong choices in a situation where there isn't a lot of wiggle room.
No, I'm not going to cave the way Lawrence Summers did. Reality is too important to me. If every woman on the planet has to hate me and I have to spend the rest of my life in solitary confinement because I won't let go of Reality, then every woman on the planet will just have to hate me and I'll have to live the rest of my life in solitary confinement. There are far, far, far worse fates.
...No one wants to be a woman...
Well, that was an exaggeration, but I think, as an example, of that weird thing of actresses wanting to be called actors. It comes and goes, but the people who are stuck on it will make a point of calling an actress an actor a dozen times in a 500-word review. What are you, you know, compensating for? Chairwomen wanting to be called chairpersons or "chair". I mean, when you'd rather be a "chair" than a "woman", I think that's saying something. I don't see too many actors who want to be called actresses. It seems to point in the direction of not wanting to "self-identify" as female.
I had the "actor" discussion with Siu Ta (before it became clear she wasn't going to sign the petition and that was it for hanging around her and her husband John). If actors and actresses are all actors, then why have Best Actress and Best Actor awards? Why not just a Best Actor award and Meryl Streep has to compete against George Clooney? I think it's an inherently silly discussion. It's trying to create the impression that calling someone an actress means that you are being intentionally malicious or misogynistic or something. I think it rather suggests that women tend to think that any label or title that identifies their gender is pejorative, that forty-two years later they're still trying to come up with things we all need our "consciousness raised" about. I find THAT condescending and contemptuous. My consciousness is just fine as far as I'm concerned. Likewise its elevation. This is about where I want it -- as close to Reality as I can get it. If you act and you're a man, you're an actor. If you act and you're a woman, you're an actress. No, I don't want my consciousness raised to the point where I look at both of them and see actors.
...unclean in their bodies.
Well, it definitely says that in the Koran, but I don't think that's true. I shake hands with women if it's called for socially. Even during Ramadan. I think, if anything, women are cleaner because they're so self-conscious about it. Men really don't have anything comparable to a yeast infection. If we did, I'm sure I'd be a lot more scrupulous about my personal hygiene. I never get within two feet of anyone, so I don't even really think about it.
Mierille Sillicoff (sp?) had a column in the NATIONAL POST a few Saturday's back where she was talking about her period being quite a heavy flow and she had these pads that she always bought which were quite bulky, but did the job. Those were the ones she went for every time. And then they stopped making them and she couldn't find anything comparable. She mentioned the advertising that's trying to make tampons and pads, you know, "part of your exciting lifestyle!" Coupled with not being able to find what she was looking for, this seemed to her "a bridge too far". It was an interesting column -- talking about how there's a whole AISLE for feminine hygiene products in the pharmacy now. Well, I'm not likely to know that unless she writes a column about it, am I?
I was sort of pointing in the same direction, I think. I don't talk to too many women who were exactly thrilled the first time they menstruated. No matter how much Mom tried to cushion the blow -- "You're a woman, now" kind of thing -- it was "Seriously. Every thirty days. For the rest of my life." It's hard for me to imagine a different reaction, having nothing to compare it to and picturing: okay, how would I react to finding out that I will just have blood and menses leaking out of me for a couple of days every month. Need that hot water bottle if it's a bad one. Midol or stronger.
That seems to me an area where you should admit that men and women are very different instead of trying to make it "part of your exciting lifestyle!"
Okay, I'm going to answer the last question tomorrow and then head back to solitary confinement. Sincere apologies if you're still grievously offended by me and thanks for at least considering -- however briefly -- signing the petition.
[Bunnuelista -- send in your mailing address to 'momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com' so Dave can send you a personalised / signed / head-sketched Cerebus back issue. -- Thanks!]
There are fields that don't have a large female representation and never will. Comics is one of them...
That's culturally specific. In Japan, the country which has long had the highest per-capita consumption of comics, there is no such divide. One could make the argument that it's because there is widespread representation of both genders that comics are so successful there---or, conversely, that a lack of diversity has kept English-language comics in the ghetto.