September 19th, 2012
Dave Sim, who since the death of Will Eisner has been probably the greatest living all-round comics creator, is releasing his classic graphic novel High Society as a Kickstarter-funded digital version on October 10.
To promote this release, he is doing a virtual tour of comics sites, including Mindless Ones, on October 10, answering interview questions. However, he’s doing it with a twist — he wants us to post the questions we’re asking here *now*, in advance of the blog tour, and leave comments open for readers to ask questions, some of which he will also answer. Anyone whose question is chosen will receive a free autographed back-issue of Cerebus, with a personalised head sketch.
For those who don’t know Sim’s work, he wrote, drew (with able assistance from background artist Gerhard for much of the run), lettered and published the 300 issues of Cerebus, possibly the most ambitious work in comics history, and to my mind at least the best. Ranging from Marx brothers pastiche to Biblical exegesis, via a portrayal of the death of Oscar Wilde and a parody of Sandman, Cerebus has influenced and inspired everything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to From Hell, from Rick Veitch’s dream comics (in which Sim frequently appeared as a ‘guest character’) to Spawn (when McFarlane wanted the four best comic writers he could think of to write an issue each, he chose Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Sim and Alan Moore). Cerebus is one of the works which has changed how I look at both the comics medium and the world.
Since finishing Cerebus in 2004, Sim has published the magazines Following Cerebus (a general interest comics and pop-culture zine, despite the name) and Cerebus Archive (a round-up of things that his fans might find interesting), the short graphic novel Judenhass (about the holocaust) and the just-finished 26-issue series Glamourpuss (an idiosyncratic look at fashion magazines and the history of photorealist strip cartoons).
Also, from two weeks after the Sim interview, we will be doing a Great Mindless (Re)Read of Cerebus, with various Mindless Ones reading through each phonebook at roughly fortnightly intervals. Some of us know and love these comics already, others have never read Cerebus at all. But we’ll be writing about them together.
Here are the questions we’re asking:
You’ve turned to computer lettering using a Comicraft font, rather than hand-drawn lettering, in your recent work — given that a lot of your best work in Cerebus had the lettering integrated into the panel design, has this provided any interesting challenges from a craft point of view?
Glamourpuss is rooted in — and in part an examination of — the ‘photorealist’ work of Alex Raymond, Stan Drake and so on, but some of the best stuff you’ve done has been in a Mort Drucker influenced style. Have you any plans to work more in that style?
I found the Following Cerebus issue where you interviewed Will Eisner, Neil Gaiman, Paul Pope, Frank Miller and others about their creative processes absolutely fascinating. Would you consider doing an expanded version of that in book form, talking to other artists and writers about how they create graphic novels? I’d particularly love to see an extended discussion between you and Eddie Campbell on the subject.
In Judenhass, you argue that the Holocaust was a necessary, predictable consequence of a culture that considered it perfectly acceptable to make casually anti-semitic remarks. Many people have pointed out parallels between your remarks on women and the remarks about Jews that you quote in that book. What defence, if any, do you have for that?
What’s been the biggest difficulty you’ve encountered in no longer working with a background artist? Have you considered hiring someone to replace Gerhard? (Not that anyone could replace Gerhard…)
Looking back over the 300 issues of Cerebus with eight years’ hindsight, is there anything you’d change about it now? Is there anything you think stands up particularly well?
Now, one thing we’d like to emphasise here. Dave Sim is almost as well known for his personal views as for his comics work. We at the Mindless Ones do not endorse or agree with those views. We disagree with him about feminism, about his interpretation of the Bible, about the War On Terror, about… well, everything to do with politics, society and religion really. Except for one thing — we believe in free speech, and so does he.
So we’re not going to stop you asking about those views if you want to, but I would *ask* you to bear in mind a few things — firstly, that you can find someone whose political views you disagree with to argue with simply by adding an elderly relative on Facebook, but you don’t get to ask a question of one of the greatest people ever to work in an art-form every day. Secondly, if you’re going to ask about that stuff, please ask about his actual views, rather than what you think he might have once said. And finally, please be polite.
Bearing that in mind — add your questions below.