Saturday, 6 March 2010
Dave Sim vol. 1
I've been reading the ol' Cerebus lately. If you're not familiar with Cerebus, please take a moment (or 540) and look for some black and white phonebooks at your local comic book store filed under C for Cerebus or S for Sim.
Dave Sim is a unique individual in the field of comics, which is a field of unique individuals. He is a very polarizing individual, which again is not that unique in comics. But what IS unique is that he is polarizing for his views, not necessarily his art or writing. In fact, most people agree he's a great writer, a decent draftsman, an accomplished caricaturist, and one of the best letterers in the business. What's most remarkable is his pure dedication to the genre.
This is a good summary for the uninitiated:
In the late 80s he became one of the rockstars of comics. He was publishing Cerebus like clockwork, making sure every month the adventures of a cartoony aardvark in a starkly illustrated world filled the minds of independent comics fans. He was staunchly independent, becoming a pioneer for self-publishers. Without him, the black and white boom that launched a thousand careers would be as forgotten as Comico Comics. But it had an impact, and more importantly proved that you could make a living doing this, that you could do it without working for a company, and you could do whatever you wanted.
Here he is around 1988-89 talking about his comic. At heart, like most great creators, he is talking about himself...
Cerebus DID whatever it wanted. The story would parody pop culture, comics, comics artists and writers, politics, society, swords and sorcery (SO popular at the time) and pretty much anything flying under Sim's radar. Many of the stories are fantastic and really just push the creative limit from the styles to the layouts to the incredible backgrounds Gerhard added that brought a depth and poignancy to the stories in the most subtle way.
Dave Sim let young talent and rising stars fill back pages of his comics. He was at play in his own kingdom, beholden to just one thing: the fulfillment of his obligation to keep producing issues (he began in 1977 and finished in 2004; only Mark E. Smith may be the only other person I know still crankin' em out). An obligation that he ultimately did fulfill. But this task ended up destroying his fan base, alienating him from the comics community and pushing misogyny to its limit and creating his own religion. But more on that later...
Before I go, here's a little interview on (I believe a local Canadian show). It's my favorite, despite the hackneyed morning show style of the interview, unlike some others it does have some heart. It was also 1994, the year everything began to unravel: