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Dave Sim is not... no, wait... actually he is.
May 6, 2008 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Comic book author Dave Sim is shocked, shocked, that anyone might have gotten the impression from his own words that he is a misogynist. So he's sent out a form letter saying that he'll only talk to people who will sign an online petition or send him an letter affirming that it's not so. Hilarity ensues.

Prevously: [1] [2] [3], (also a conversation between Sim and fellow comic book author Gail Simone, known for coining the phrase Women in Refrigerators).
posted by Karmakaze (158 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
LOLDAVESIM
posted by Artw at 12:05 PM on May 6, 2008


The research which most contributed to my “ideas about women” was the series of informal interviews I conducted with mothers and daughters – with mothers about their daughters, with daughters about their mothers, with daughters about their daughters, with mothers about their mothers. It was really the first time in my adult life that I spoke to women who I found physically unattractive and the first time I spoke to women with any motive besides getting them into bed.

Guy can't see other viewpoints: Film at 11.

I don't think I give a shit whether or not he's a feminist, but his writing gives me a fucking headache.
posted by rtha at 12:06 PM on May 6, 2008 [10 favorites]


BTW, whats the crazy level on Glamourpuss? On first glance it appears to be not-a-comic, so I gave it a miss.
posted by Artw at 12:07 PM on May 6, 2008


Or a misogynist, rather. Either one. His writing is painful
posted by rtha at 12:07 PM on May 6, 2008


rhta - The pre-crzy, post getting-the-hang-of-it bits of Cerebus are still good.
posted by Artw at 12:08 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Really, what do you expect from a guy who writes a 6000-page graphic novel about an Aardvark?
posted by pjdoland at 12:08 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's leave the earth-pig out of this, thank you.
posted by jtron at 12:09 PM on May 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


"I don't think I give a shit whether or not he's a feminist, but his writing gives me a fucking headache."

Repeated for emphasis.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:10 PM on May 6, 2008


The hilarity hasn't really ensued, but it's only 10 comments so far.
posted by DU at 12:11 PM on May 6, 2008


I can't tell which he abuses more: Women's rights or apostrophes.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:12 PM on May 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


I hope he draws better than he writes, because seriously.
posted by DU at 12:13 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm most offended by his callous and wanton treatment of quotation marks. It staggers the mind that this man considers himself an erudite and accomplished author.
posted by oddman at 12:14 PM on May 6, 2008


The rest of the hilarity is spread out over multiple blogs and, shudder, livejournal posts. I just decided to pick a representative example.

I haven't noticed a lot of complaints about the content of Glamourpuss, but I also haven't read it because it didn't sound very interesting, and I prefer my pinup-style art to be more vintage. this review was not too impressed.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:17 PM on May 6, 2008


I've signed a bunch of online petitions in my time. I signed the petition to get Uwe Boll to stop making movies.

I won't be signing this one.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:20 PM on May 6, 2008


Man, every time I think "well, maybe Sim is just tragically misunderstood" he goes and does something undeniably batshit like this.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:20 PM on May 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


I met Dave Sim's cousin, an Anglican minister, in a 1200-person Cree community in Northern Quebec while I was doing some radio instruction up there a few years back. He was more or less unaware that his cousin had met with any degree of fame (he recalled that his cousin "drew comic strips named after that dog in Hell"), much less completed a 300-issue saga about an aardvark with a sword.

Highlight of the exchange (paraphrasing due to crappy memory):

"So he's famous?"

"Well, he's well-known as a good artist, but also for having some pretty, uh, radical ideas about male/female relationships."

"I remember that his wife left him in the Eighties or something. He took that pretty hard."

"Yes, that comes through."
posted by Shepherd at 12:23 PM on May 6, 2008 [70 favorites]


The only problem I have with your comment, Shepherd, is that it isn't boldface, written in three-inch high letters, with a flashing row of lights all around it and a neon sign pointing to it reading "WINNING EXPLANATION".
posted by JHarris at 12:29 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can't tell which he abuses more: Women's rights or apostrophes.

I'm voting for italics. Half the damn article is in italics- I'm seasick.

It is my fervent hope that he never, ever gets laid again.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:30 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, every time I think "well, maybe Sim is just tragically misunderstood" he goes and does something undeniably batshit like this.

Well, the whole fascination of Dave Sim is that he has an eye for layout and the comic page that is quite simply unparalleled in the field. And at the same time, his views are repugnant and border on the insane. And you have to deal with that, as well as the fact that it had an undeniable impact on his work — which is still visually brilliant, but in terms of theme and message is repellent. I do think it's worth reading his comics, but will readily admit they're challenging and would not blame anyone who gave up any time after the first 4-6 volumes.
posted by graymouser at 12:33 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Although hilarity was entailed by the form letter, upon review, I must regretfully inform you that it did not, in fact, ensue.

(NOT ANTI-LOLMYSOGYNISTIANS)
posted by designbot at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


...this situation became untenable some time ago: something had to give.

AT THE SIM HOUSEHOLD, OVER TEN YEARS AGO

Dave Sim (DS): (going through his fan mail) "Dear Dave, I love you, let me blow you blahblahblah..." ok! "Dear Dave, how did you get so awesome?" Ha, don't bother asking for tips, you'll never be THIS awesome... "Dear Dave, what's the significance of the beatles parody characters in the Guys storyline blahblahblah, sincerely a fucking nerd." whatever... Dear Dave, I'm outraged at the misogyny in your books blahblahbl-... what? what the fuck is this about? Well, I'll just give this douchebag a piece of my mind.

Dave Sim proceeds to type furiously on his antique typewriter, muttering curses to himself as he does so.

LATER:

DS: There! One obvious idiot handled, and brilliantly so if I say so myself. Next letter. "Mr. Sim, your views on women are abominable..." You've got to be fucking kidding me!

LATER:

DS: Alright, next letter. "Go fuck yourself, Sim." The nerve! I swear, if I get one more of these, I'm gonna start a petition for people to agree that I'm not a misogynist. That'd show 'em! Alright, let's see. "Dear misogynist asshole," GOD DAMN IT! Alright, if I get 3 more of these in a row, THEN I'll start the petition. "You should be ashamed of yourself, Sim," whatever. "How dare you..." aaaannnnd "Where do you get off!" This is unbelievable! I really mean it this time, if I get 5 more of these in a row, i'm gonna start a petition!

10 YEARS OR SO LATER:

DS: Okay, if I get 2,376,452 of these in a row, something's gotta give and I will seriously start that petition. I mean it this time!
posted by shmegegge at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


I started to read the Tangent, but I left it in a huff. The huff had nothing to do with feminism, and everything to do with bloviation. Maybe that's why your administrative assistant quit, Mr. Sim.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:36 PM on May 6, 2008


Ok, I read his letter. He may not consider himself a misogynist, but I think he's definitely a cry-baby.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:37 PM on May 6, 2008


I honestly don't think he's a misogynist. I think he's freakin' crazy and so poorly socialized that he can't see that what he says might be taken wrong. I think he has zero concept of how interpersonal relationships work, be that between a man and a woman, a man and a man, a woman and a woman, or any combination thereof. He's broken on some fundamental level.

Somehow Cerebus remains excellent despite the deep flaws of it's creator.
posted by lekvar at 12:39 PM on May 6, 2008


I for one, will stand up for Dave Sim, as he requests in his letter. The man is not a misogynist.

He's a loon.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:40 PM on May 6, 2008


For those of you who had a hard time reading through the "his own words" link, you can find an easier summary in Dave Sim's Guide to Getting Chicks.


Just curious - has anyone been able to wade through enough of Sim's craziness to figure out why he is convinced that Mary Hemingway murdered her husband?
posted by tdismukes at 12:48 PM on May 6, 2008


For the record, I don't think Dave Sim hates women. No, instead he hates this concept of women that he came up with. Trust me, if these weird Female Void Women whose Sole Purpose is to destroy The Male Light actually existed in Real Life, you'd hate them too.

And the real reason Dave Sim's Administrative Assistant quit was because she was tired of reaching for the shift key on every other word.
posted by turaho at 12:49 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"feminist-homosexualist axis"?

Really?

Oh my.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:49 PM on May 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


It was really the first time in my adult life that I spoke to women who I found physically unattractive and the first time I spoke to women with any motive besides getting them into bed.

Well, I certainly won't be signing his little letter. Since I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to speak with someone who sees women that way, it's win-win.
posted by konolia at 12:50 PM on May 6, 2008


"All I got out of that research, I already knew: a) women want to be raped by rich, muscular, handsome doctors b) women are completely self-absorbed and, thus, see themselves in everything around them and c) feminism is no different from communism in that all of its literature is founded upon convoluted syntax, bafflegab and academic jargon which paints a false (albeit attractive) picture of an unattainable utopia which can be achieved – easily! – by everyone in the world simply and simultaneously (in both feminist and communist literature the “crux point” is invariable) changing their basic nature overnight. Acknowledging – (grudgingly) the small likelihood of so sweeping a societal change coming about on its own, “a rigorous and thorough program of (communist and feminist literature share an admiration for the euphemism) re-education may be called for.” That is, all “non-comrades, non-fellow travellers” must be subjected to unrelenting political indoctrination, sloganeering and brainwashing (“A woman's right to choose! A woman's right to choose!”)."

Dave Sim is -
- a misogynist
- A loon
- A water-boarder of the written word
posted by Ragma at 12:55 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


LOLONLINEPETITION

37 Dave Sim is a misogynist
40 Dave Sim is a misogynist and don't forget crazy too
41 Valerie Solanas
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:58 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


"It was really the first time in my adult life that I spoke to women who I found physically unattractive and the first time I spoke to women with any motive besides getting them into bed."

[Snorts derisively, rolls eyes theatrically, and walks away.]
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:58 PM on May 6, 2008


Excellent use of the batshitinsane tag.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:04 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would like to speak up for all the loons.
Dave Sim is a narcissist, crybaby, misogynist, asshole.
We loons reject and denounce him.
Thank you.
posted by Richard Daly at 1:06 PM on May 6, 2008 [17 favorites]


That goddamned petition just crashed my Firefox. Does it know I'm a woman?!

we of the howling void will crush them
for they bring light and reason
howl, my voidsisters
posted by lemuria at 1:06 PM on May 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


*munches popcorn*
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:09 PM on May 6, 2008


41 Valerie Solanas

I confess.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:10 PM on May 6, 2008


"All I got out of that research, I already knew: a) women want to be raped by rich, muscular, handsome doctors"

Isn't this a Sarah Silverman joke?

"I was raped by a doctor, which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl."
posted by whoaali at 1:10 PM on May 6, 2008


Just curious - has anyone been able to wade through enough of Sim's craziness to figure out why he is convinced that Mary Hemingway murdered her husband?
posted by tdismukes


Just a guess. Ernest Hemingway had been suicidal, and when he came home the last time Mary left the keys to his gun cabinet in plain view. Hemingway got his shotgun from the locked cabinet and killed himself. When questioned later about why she let the suicidal Ernest have access to his guns, she replied something along the lines of "A man should be able to get to his things if he wants to."

I don't think that translates into "murdering your husband," but I guess some people could see it that way.
posted by marxchivist at 1:14 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


What a mean old silly man! (giggle)
posted by Evangeline at 1:17 PM on May 6, 2008


The good parts of Cerebus are as good as anything I've ever read in comic book form. And then he went crazy, and it was all over.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:18 PM on May 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


At least this thread taught me the word "bafflegab".

So that's something.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:22 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The good parts of Cerebus are as good as anything I've ever read in comic book form. And then he went crazy, and it was all over.

I think that's an oversimplification, though. While the story of Cerebus went pretty far off the rails after Sim lost his marbles, from a visual perspective it was still the cutting edge in comics. Sim's panel work and perspective and desire to innovate in the medium didn't go away, which is what makes the later parts of Cerebus so damn hard to deal with: do you let them go away because of the repugnant views, or do you continue to look at the work of an undeniably talented artist?
posted by graymouser at 1:27 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


> While the story of Cerebus went pretty far off the rails after Sim lost his marbles, from a visual perspective it was still the cutting edge in comics.

I'll give you that, but it kind of made Cerebus the comic book equivalent of those "The plot and characters are terrible, but it looks great" movies.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:30 PM on May 6, 2008


For fans of watching OCD tracing a master at work, don't miss this The making of "glamourpuss" clip.
posted by cog_nate at 1:31 PM on May 6, 2008


Well, the whole fascination of Dave Sim Frank Miller is that he has an eye for layout and the comic page that is quite simply unparalleled in the field. And at the same time, his views are repugnant and border on the insane.

FTFY. Sim is not all that.
posted by The Bellman at 1:32 PM on May 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is Dave Sim someone I'd need to give a shit about to give a shit about?

Because as someone not tuned into the comic world and just reading about him here for the very first time, I'd be hard pressed to even want to care about him. He seems like one big ol' ball of crazy and I've got enough crazy.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:37 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Early Cerebus is as good as it's ever gotten in the graphic novel format. Later Cerebus approaches the same level of batshit as Jack Chick tracts. I've always been sad he went crazy because I miss sitting up half the night being utterly, completely, totally involved with the bizarre political adventures of an aardvark in a parallel world. Ah well. Gauguin was a shit too and probably would have been considered a misogynist if that wasn't the 1890s default.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:45 PM on May 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Good grief ... this dead horse again? In my humble opinion, Sim's work is far more significant than his feelings about women, however one may interpret them.

As for the term "misogynist", it's too inflammatory, over-used, and unspecific to be helpful in a meaningful conversation. It's a little too close to pointing at someone and shouting "Communist!!"

Moreover, we're talking about an artist, not a politician or policy-maker, so who cares? I don't dismiss Hemingway for his alcoholism. I don't even dismiss Sean Connery for his abhorrent view that it's OK to smack your wife. (I think that's grounds for a call to the police, but it doesn't affect my opinion of his work as an actor.)

Dave Sim's art and writing are amazing. I may not like every last bit of it, but vast sections of Cerebus are filled with wit and insight that ring in my heart.

I don't sign online petitions, but I will say that I have a lot of respect for Dave Sim. And I am really glad to see he's working on a new project.
posted by CruiseSavvy at 1:46 PM on May 6, 2008


Why is he writing all of this convoluted mess in subsets of formulas demarcated by brackets inside quotation marks? He's scrawling out an equation like ((Women + Emotion) * (Men - Big Muscles) = "Evil Blood-Sucking Night-Vixens") and expecting that to mean something. The whole thing has the rhetorical weight of an 8 year old boy proposing that women are robots or aliens.
posted by dosterm at 1:51 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


My paraphrase of Ragma's quoted excerpt.

": a) b) c) ( ) – ! – (“ ” ) – ( ) “ ( ) ” “ ” (“! ”)."

I will never feel bad at my inability to write clearly again; this fucking guy somehow got published and developed an audience.
posted by quin at 1:55 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


FTFY. Sim is not all that.

I still disagree. Sim really changed how people look at the comic page in a way that Frank Miller didn't. His best work displayed an understanding of the flow from panel to panel, and the best way to use them in storytelling, that was really new to the genre. He got the combination of words and images on paper in a way that very few artists do. And then he went and used that understanding to tell a story that really turned reprehensible in a number of ways. Miller never did anything approaching High Society or Church & State.

I'm not just talking about "I liked the stories he told, they were different." That became something of a given. But he was really finding ways to make things like text, perspective and panel layout both innovative and really integral to the comic whereas for most North American artists they were (and, for the most part, remain) static tools for telling a story. Go back through Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, then the first six trades of Cerebus, and you'll see. And my problem is that he remained so innovative after that — but the work is permanently tainted by attitudes that Sim began to write into the storylines and really poisoned both story and character.
posted by graymouser at 1:56 PM on May 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's important to note taht he wasn't *always* batshitinsane. Or at least it wasn't apparent for quite some time. And then there was a while when people were kind of hoping he would get better.

(also what graymouser said, though TBH that sort of thing goes as far back as Eisners The Spirit, which Miller is fucking up for us right now.)
posted by Artw at 2:00 PM on May 6, 2008


Having dispensed with the Hemingways (how many of you still think that Mary Hemingway – despite having murdered her husband – is a “strong, independent woman and a good role model for wives everywhere”? Show of hands. Almost all of you. Big surprise.)

what
posted by krinklyfig at 2:05 PM on May 6, 2008


Somebody is misogynist!?!

Quick. We must set alight the Rainbow Beacon! Call out THE OUTRAGE SQUAD!
posted by tkchrist at 2:06 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


For the record, I don't think Dave Sim hates women.
The man is not a misogynist.

Wait, what? I'm not familiar with the guy, but just scanning his "tangents" betrays a deep-seated animosity towards women:
If abortion is, as the feminists insist, a matter of a woman having control over her own body, then I think a public demonstration of a woman willing herself to become un-pregnant or willing her fertilized egg to detach itself from her uterine wall would settle the issue once and for all. At which point I would happily go along with the secular-humanist consensus view.

As an example, I firmly believe that feminism is a misguided attempt to raise women above their place, which I firmly believe is secondary to that of men. I firmly believe that homosexuality – not homosexualists themselves – belongs at the margins of society and behind closed doors.

No one wants to be a woman...[t]o 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 . . . ”

To me, taking it as a given that reason cannot prevail in any argument with emotion, there must come a point – with women and children – where verbal discipline has to be asserted, and if verbal discipline proves insufficient, that physical discipline be introduced. Women and children have soft, cushy buttocks which are, nonetheless, shot through with reasonably sensitive nerve endings. I believe that those buttocks are there for a very specific purpose intended by their Creator.
He's so clearly insane that his rantings fail to upset me, but I wouldn't deem him "not misogynist" simply because he's also a semi-literate lunatic. I completely lack knowledge of his work outside of this post, but I doubt that this sort of turgid haranguing can be contextualized in a way that changes his obvious sentiments.
posted by youarenothere at 2:07 PM on May 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


greymouser, did someone put you on loop? I get that you think the work is beautiful, and it's good for you that the message wasn't quite abhorrent enough to put you off, but for some people it did ruin the series, and the innovative comic design didn't fix that. It's complicated for you, maybe it's simple for others.
posted by emperor.seamus at 2:08 PM on May 6, 2008


CruiseSavvy writes "As for the term 'misogynist', it's too inflammatory, over-used, and unspecific to be helpful in a meaningful conversation. It's a little too close to pointing at someone and shouting 'Communist!!'"

Well, some people are genuine, self-identified communists. It's not (just) a derogatory term. And some people do, indeed, hate women and resent them. I think this is pretty much a textbook example. That doesn't mean he's not a good artist.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:09 PM on May 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


tkchrist writes "Somebody is misogynist!?!"

That's not news or even funny. What's funny is the ostentatious demonstration he's making out of his victimhood.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:11 PM on May 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've always found Sim significantly more interesting and nuanced than discussions of him give him credit for (although he espouses many beliefs I disagree with and his writing routinely tacks a rhetorical course that I find just intolerable). I find a lot of his writing to be well crafted and genuinely interesting. To me he has always been one of those difficult cases where on one hand I think there's something to his complaint that people just want to jam him into a one dimensional box (wow that's a screwed up metaphor), but on the other hand, he seems like a genuinely difficult person. I have no pressing need to correspond with him, however, so I don't need to figure out if I think he's a misogynist.

BTW, whats the crazy level on Glamourpuss?

Based on a perusing number of example pages, it seems like pretty much contextless fashion images boxed in by commentary about the technical aspects of of the drawing, mixed with a lot of admiration of bygone masters of B&W brushwork. Plus relatively innocuous jibes at the world of fashion. So, fairly crazy, and "not a comic" seems like a fair assessment - although it sounds like well worth 3 bucks to me. I have always found Sim's writing about the history and craft of comics to be interesting and worthwhile.
posted by nanojath at 2:12 PM on May 6, 2008


I take back my earlier comment. It sure looks a lot meaner than I intended it. Its apparent that his significant contributions to the comic world should outweigh his current outburst of fuckery.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:15 PM on May 6, 2008


"Women and children have soft, cushy buttocks which are, nonetheless, shot through with reasonably sensitive nerve endings. I believe that those buttocks are there for a very specific purpose intended by their Creator."

Really? You both believe in a being as magnificent as a God would necessarily be, and also that before he (masuline pronoun, of course) was finished with his enormous and purposeful creation, that he topped it off with all these nice soft cushy buttocks for us men, his chosen creatures, to conveniently spank? That God would be concerned to give us such mundane conveniences rather than, oh, I don't know, a cessation of war, death, famine, and disease, or something silly like that?
posted by dosterm at 2:21 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dave Sim is just jealous because he doesn't have a conveniently-placed orgasm button. "Vagina abhorrence"? Really? Yeah, I hate having, what is it, three times as many nerve endings?

To me, taking it as a given that reason cannot prevail in any argument with emotion, there must come a point – with women and children – where verbal discipline has to be asserted, and if verbal discipline proves insufficient, that physical discipline be introduced. Women and children have soft, cushy buttocks which are, nonetheless, shot through with reasonably sensitive nerve endings. I believe that those buttocks are there for a very specific purpose intended by their Creator.

You know what else is shot through with nerve endings and oh-so-very-vulnerable? Clearly the Creator intended testicles to be easily removable as well. He's so crazy, I kind of want to send him "Hatchet vs. Genitals" and just... see what happens.
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:23 PM on May 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


It's not outrage, tkchrist, or at least not entirely. It's also disappointment.

For a while, this guy was a real artist with an incredibly wide range. Now, he's a real artist with an obsessively, bizarrely, unreadably narrow range. A lot of comics fans feel that as a loss.

Suppose your favorite musician gave up playing anything but the jaw harp. Or suppose your favorite restaurant quit serving anything except Kraft dinner. And then suppose they spent the next decade or so stridently denouncing anyone who looked back fondly on their older work.

You might be a little pissed off, for reasons that had nothing to do with politics.

(As far as the political end goes, I'm with youarenothere. It's hard to get sincerely angry at the man's beliefs when they're such a caricature. He reads like an op-ed column in The Onion.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:28 PM on May 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


I don't know why this guy is so upset that people are calling him a misogynist. I mean he absolutely revels in his hatred of women.
posted by whoaali at 2:28 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also never understood this whole "penis envy" thing. I do not envy those with a penis. I mean don't get me wrong, I'm pro penis, but the idea of having one permanently attached to me just sounds really uncomfortable. Flopping around and such, I mean no thanks.
posted by whoaali at 2:33 PM on May 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


I can't imagine why *anyone* would think he's a misogynist just because he declares that all women are incapiable of rational thought, want to be raped by rich muscular doctors, and thinks that efforts to get equal pay for equal work are identical to Communism, I mean, come on he's just telling the truth!

It really is astonishing what people can convince themselves is true sometimes. He is apparently incapiable of exercising rational thought on the subject of women, or viewing women without the distorting prisms of his own lothing for them. The phrase he coined, "vagina abhorrence", kinda sums up his entire position: women are icky. He then adds layers of rationalization to justify his contempt and lothing for women.

I couldn't actually finish all of his Tangents, not because I disagreed with his position but because it was so incredibly badly written. I can only hope that his art was better than his text, becuase that man can't write his way out of a wet paper bag.
posted by sotonohito at 2:36 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


In my life, I've known several amazing artists who were also serious jerks. I'd use a stronger word, but you get the idea. So I sort of came to terms with the notion that, if you don't want to arbitrarily limit your consumption of great art, you've got to evaluate the work on its own.

I love the bulk of Dave Sim's work; I think he's a genius. He's a jerk and he's probably batty, but that's his problem, not mine. I'm not going to let him get in the way of his work.
posted by Robson at 2:37 PM on May 6, 2008


> "feminist-homosexualist axis"? Really? Oh my.

Every time I read "Oh my", I think of George Takei delivering the line. Which is tangentially appropriate in this case.
posted by WCityMike at 2:40 PM on May 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


I still disagree. Sim really changed how people look at the comic page in a way that Frank Miller didn't. His best work displayed an understanding of the flow from panel to panel, and the best way to use them in storytelling, that was really new to the genre. He got the combination of words and images on paper in a way that very few artists do. And then he went and used that understanding to tell a story that really turned reprehensible in a number of ways. Miller never did anything approaching High Society or Church & State. . . . Go back through Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, then the first six trades of Cerebus, and you'll see.

First (not responding to the above) Hemingway and Gaugin and Sean Connery (how did he get in there?) didn't use their art as a soapbox for their bizarre and frankly dangerous ideas, so the comparison with them as "geniuses who didn't care were assholes" isn't really apropos.

In response to the above, I respectfully disagree. I read all of Sim through Flight and got about halfway through Women before I gave up. Oddly I came to him late in my comic book life, in law school in the early 90s, and if I recall correctly Women was coming out as I read it. I felt that one "should" read Sim to have some indie comic cred, but I found it an exercise in tedium -- punctuated with moments of surprising brilliance -- particularly after the first few hundred pages. Maybe it's just not made to be digested all at once, but the overwhelming effect, even before the batshitinsanity kicked in, was of a man obsessed with his own cleverness at the expense of his readers. (Especially in Melmoth, I just found myself saying "Good God, man, get over yourself!" almost every page.)

I see what people find innovative about Sim's art (less so his stories) but it never struck me with the power that Miller's work did -- certainly in Dark Knight but far more five years earlier in Daredevil. Innovation isn't always easy to see (who knew, when Warren Ellis started writing it, that one day every comic would look like The Authority), and maybe it's just because I was reading Daredevil in the 80s when it suddenly looked unlike anything else had ever looked before, but I never got that hit from Sim. In any event, my real point was that Frank Miller is unquestionably a genius of the form (are you going to say that Dark Knight and Sin City are not groundbreaking, like them or hate them?) but that his crazed neocon ideas make Sim look like My Little Pony. Not so much a criticism as an observation -- I think of Miller as Sim writ large.
posted by The Bellman at 2:47 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


A while back David Sim made some sort of bet with Neil Gaiman where he agreed to send out autographed comics (postage paid by himself) to everyone who sent in a letter requesting one. So I sent in a hastily scrawled missive telling him that my boyfriend was quite a fan of his work and I thought he was batshit crazy and the last package I received from Canada turned out to contain a broken vial of lead acetate powder but could he please send a signed comic even though I called him batshit insane?

Well a few weeks pass and Mothers and Daughers 14 arrives in my mailbox with the following note written on the cover:

To [hindmost]- No problem. I wouldn't know lead acetate if it was sitting across the table from me at breakfast. As to my being "batshit crazy" I'm afraid that feminist tactic has passed it's best before date. In the long term we'll see who was "batshit crazy," me or the feminists. I don't think you'll be very happy with the answer. Say Hi to [boyfriend] for me!

David Sim



I should note at this point that the words feminism, misogyny, feminism never appeared in my letter.
posted by hindmost at 2:48 PM on May 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Also: nebulawindphone -- thanks for your comment which adds some nuance to the discussion that I hadn't thought about before in terms of fan reaction.
posted by The Bellman at 2:52 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just came in here to say that I've never liked Dave Sim's writing.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:55 PM on May 6, 2008


hindmost: That story is really, really scary. I mean it's one thing to be broad message to the people crazy, but quite another to be one on one "here have some lead acetate" crazy.
posted by emperor.seamus at 3:00 PM on May 6, 2008


hindmost: On re-reading, that's actually less scary, but still fantastically wanky.
posted by emperor.seamus at 3:03 PM on May 6, 2008


It was really the first time in my adult life that I spoke to women who I found physically unattractive and the first time I spoke to women with any motive besides getting them into bed.

Yes, here's someone whose opinion on feminism is going to be valuable.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:07 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Trivia: Dave Sim does not drive. I helped organize a comic book convention for my high school growing up. We got Dave as the featured guest. He insisted in a limousine to pick him up (in Grimsby I think) and drop him off. He was very removed and I was never that much of a fan, but I got him to draw a little Cerebus head on one of my short box lids.
posted by autodidact at 3:07 PM on May 6, 2008


I'm unclear on how "uppity women need to be spanked" isn't a misogynist statement.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:08 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Talented Artist Goes Batshit Insane, Film at, etc, etc.
posted by Avenger at 3:09 PM on May 6, 2008


"feminist-homosexualist axis"? Really? Oh my.

Every time I read "Oh my", I think of George Takei delivering the line. Which is tangentially appropriate in this case.

Are you implying that George Takei is some kind of feminist? Or some kind of WWII power?

Or... Oh my.
posted by rokusan at 3:10 PM on May 6, 2008


Oh! And I forgot to mention that Sim includes one of my all time favorite patriarch/misogynist oxymoron memes:
Women are evil, so they should be the people exclusively involved in childcare.
I've always gotten a kick out of the way people like Sim can simultaniously think that women suck, and simultaniously think that womens hould be doing pretty much all the work in childcare. Yup, no irrationality there at all.
posted by sotonohito at 3:17 PM on May 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


There's always this thread, when discussing Sim or whoever, of "great artists are frequently assholes" that has always made me wonder. Do we ever discuss great artists who aren't assholes, merely because they're less interesting/funny? I suppose first we'd have to decide who was a great artist, then decide how to measure assholishness. Perhaps the units of measurement could be termed "Sims". It seems a fitting tribute.

I did read High Society and some other earlier work of his, and I gotta say, it's possible I missed the layout/design brilliance that everyone raves over, but in terms of story? No. It was like being trapped with someone who was clever and sometimes funny but who also never *ever* stopped talking; in the end, he just wore me down, instead of drawing me in to the story. Also, I found his points about Politics and Church and all that far from subtle, and my head started to hurt from having his points hammered onto it for pages at a time.

You know what's really interesting about the craziness he exhibits? Why is it against women and not, say, porpoises, or clouds, or the Polish, or what have you? Why *do* so many men who "just snap" only turn the guns and knives on their wives and girlfriends instead of a random stranger? Crazy does not rule out misogyny, and there no saying the second one didn't come first.
posted by emjaybee at 3:19 PM on May 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


there's not a ten-foot pole long enough for me to want to touch this . . .
posted by tachikaze at 3:22 PM on May 6, 2008


First (not responding to the above) Hemingway and Gaugin and Sean Connery (how did he get in there?) didn't use their art as a soapbox for their bizarre and frankly dangerous ideas, so the comparison with them as "geniuses who didn't care were assholes" isn't really apropos.

See, Hemingway and Gaugin were selling their asshole ideas in their work. Hemingway's one long advertisement for the dignity of self-destructive machismo. Gaugin is like a tourist brochure for the Island of Noble Savages, where everyone's brown and naked and nobody thinks too much.

It's just that their asshole ideas made their work better. Really, would anyone give a shit about Gaugin's art if he'd treated his subjects as ordinary, reasonably intelligent people? It's the fact that he painted these impossible icons of simplicity and childlike wonder that makes his shit so good.

Dave Sim's asshole ideas made his comic much, much worse once he started taking them seriously. That's why people who accept Hemingway and Gaugin still have room to hate on Sim.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:32 PM on May 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


nebulawindphone writes "Suppose your favorite musician gave up playing anything but the jaw harp. Or suppose your favorite restaurant quit serving anything except Kraft dinner. And then suppose they spent the next decade or so stridently denouncing anyone who looked back fondly on their older work."

FWIW, Miles Davis sort of did this. I always liked his fusion music, but after he started down that line he refused to play any of his older material. I can understand this, because he didn't want to be preserved in history like so many other jazz artists, but rather constantly be creating new and interesting music. He was also kind of a misogynist, himself, and that became worse (or at least more pronounced) as his problems with heroin did. I always admired his dedication to his craft and his refusal to be mired in one style or replaying his "hits" over and over. But I'm also sort of glad I never met him personally, as those who did were not always left with the best impression.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:37 PM on May 6, 2008


It's just that their asshole ideas made their work better.

Would that also apply to William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg?
posted by tkchrist at 4:07 PM on May 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


I read Cerebus from start to finish. I had to know how it ended and needed to read all of it to understand how it ended.

There are any number of great artists who hold or held repugnant views or who did repugnant things. Does that diminish their work? Is "Der Ring des Nibelungen" a less remarkable work because Wagner was anti-semetic? Should we avoid Woody Allen movies because of that unfortunate business with his partner's adopted daughter? Should one avoid the Professor Griff period of Public Enemy because of his views?

One's reaction to a piece of art is, of course, subjective. If the beliefs or behavior of the artist is enough to effect one's ability to judge the art subjectively, then of course the answer to any of those questions is "yes."

For many people, Sim's beliefs and behavior have made it difficult - even impossible - to read his work without pondering the man behind it. In fact, when i re-read some of the "pre-crazy" period Sim knowing what I know now, it takes on a much uglier tone than it had when I first read it.

Reading Dave's letter, it sounds like he doesn't want people to hate him - to think of him as the lowest of the low. He wants to correspond with people who respect him. He wants people to say "Dave, you hate women, but that doesn't make you a woman hater" or maybe "Dave, you hate women, but that's ok." He's tired of being isolated - and is make a move that is bound to only isolate him more.

I have read nearly everything Dave Sim has written. I think he's a great writer and a great artist. Every recent thing I've read by him leads me to think that he is a misogynist through and through.

If he is, in fact, not a misogynist, one of two things must be true.

Either I have entirely misunderstood everything that he's written on the subject of women. Perhaps I missed a "j/k." Perhaps I missed the sarcasm tag several years back.

Or Dave is not nearly as talented at expressing his beliefs as I've previously believed. He has phrased his true beliefs about how women and men relate in such a clumsy way that most everyone whose read his work has been incapable of seeing his true intent.

I'll give Dave the benefit of the doubt and assume that I just don't understand him in the least. Of course, I don't understand that Time Cube fellow, either.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:35 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]



There's always this thread, when discussing Sim or whoever, of "great artists are frequently assholes" that has always made me wonder. Do we ever discuss great artists who aren't assholes, merely because they're less interesting/funny?


I think we just never talk about their behavior, because they're busy upholding the standards of a decent human being, which make that aspect of their lives unremarkable. Right now I can think of J.R.R. Tolkien as quite a nice man . . . otherwise, I got nothing.

Personally, I am extremely unsympathetic to the Genius-as-Monster trope. It offers an excuse for young "talented" men to treat other people badly, and it hasn't escaped my notice that those people are generally women. I refuse to believe that there is a free pass from society for the skilled.

A person's work isn't any less valuable for his beliefs or behavior, but nor is it more valuable, or his life somehow touched with divine right. Between George Herriman, Chris Ware, and dozens of other comic artists of skill and insight, I think my appreciation of comics is quite rich enough without picking up Sim's work.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:36 PM on May 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


Having never read Dave Sim can someone give me an example of how he's so innovative?
posted by empath at 4:37 PM on May 6, 2008


And on the subject of innovation: one of the key groundbreaking motion pictures, in terms of direction and narrative, was Griffith's Birth of a Nation. I think of Dave Sim's work in pretty much the same mental breath.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:44 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The guy who sends in envelopes with intricate conspiratorial connections drawn between George Washington, National Geographic Traveler, Asian architecture, and pussy has, for me, really expanded my conception of what will be shipped through the US post.

I also think he's schizophrenic.

"Do we ever discuss great artists who aren't assholes, merely because they're less interesting/funny?"

I think this is missing a word, but otherwise, yeah, all the time. I have tons of stories of meeting artists and musicians that I admire who were also way, way cooler than they needed to be in the context (Scott McCloud, Slash). Hell, I even totally reworked a planned hit-piece on Jordan Knight because the guy was so damn cool in an interview that I had my legs swept out from under me.
posted by klangklangston at 5:20 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Should we avoid Woody Allen movies because of that unfortunate business with his partner's adopted daughter?"

No, we should avoid them because they're pretty lame after, say, the mid-70s.

"And on the subject of innovation: one of the key groundbreaking motion pictures, in terms of direction and narrative, was Griffith's Birth of a Nation. I think of Dave Sim's work in pretty much the same mental breath."

Fair enough. I can't imagine anyone who's a film lover saying that you should never see "Birth of a Nation" or that it isn't worth watching at least once. And without my watching the original, DJ Spooky's "(Re)Birth of a Nation" would have been totally wasted on me.

But I also like Heinlein books despite his being a total dipshit about a fair amount of stuff, ditto Ditko and any number of Silver Age writers. And I generally hate Bendis and Millar, despite them paying attention to all the proper political shibboleths.
posted by klangklangston at 5:27 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are any number of great artists who hold or held repugnant views or who did repugnant things. Does that diminish their work? Is "Der Ring des Nibelungen" a less remarkable work because Wagner was anti-semetic? Should we avoid Woody Allen movies because of that unfortunate business with his partner's adopted daughter? Should one avoid the Professor Griff period of Public Enemy because of his views?

There's a difference between being a productive artist who has unpleasant views and being a productive artist who uses one's product as a vehicle for one's unpleasant views.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:29 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


In my life, I've known several amazing artists who were also serious jerks. I'd use a stronger word, but you get the idea. So I sort of came to terms with the notion that, if you don't want to arbitrarily limit your consumption of great art, you've got to evaluate the work on its own.

I've heard this sentiment before, and it always makes me blink a little. 'Cause you know, life is finite, and there are more amazing artists out there than we can possibly take the time to admire in the time we have. So ultimately we do have to arbitrarily limit our consumption of great art somehow, and it seems to me that "avoiding the assholes" is at least as good a tactic as any other common method, e.g. "exhibit preference for pre-20th century work" or "spurn postmodernism."
posted by bettafish at 5:32 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


From the message board discussion between him and Gail Simone:

Although Dave Sim and gender politics are considered to go together like ham 'n' eggs, I have very little interest personally in gender politics.

What? What the hell did I slog through those thousands of lines of text about them to see if I was missing the punchline for? Sim went way, way, off the rails. Took his great comic with him, then got religion.

Now his previous, addmittedly fantastic, work is the only thing standing between him and the gibbering lunatic on the corner who told me the government is after his testicles last week.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:43 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


But I also like Heinlein books despite his being a total dipshit about a fair amount of stuff, ditto Ditko and any number of Silver Age writers. And I generally hate Bendis and Millar, despite them paying attention to all the proper political shibboleths.

Random aside: ditto to your first two sentences, but Bendis and Millar, paying attention ...? I dunno. Bendis seems to alternately really grok and really NOT grok feminism, and Millar writing anyone not a straight white man tends to make me cringe because you know something horrible's going to happen when he tries to have them say something "edgy" in his "trademark" Millaresque dialogue (not to mention the "LOL, black people get Downs syndrome?! I didn't know that!" incident). Or maybe the problem is more that neither Bendis nor Millar can admit wrongdoing since Quesada inculcated them into the frat party atmosphere at Marvel.

Superhero comics are weird. But admittedly, this all seems comparatively normal politiking compared to Sim...

[/random aside]
posted by bettafish at 5:48 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


It was really the first time in my adult life that I spoke to women who I found physically unattractive

But Dave, certainly you said at least a few words to your own mother?

and the first time I spoke to women with any motive besides getting them into bed.

Uh...
posted by oats at 6:01 PM on May 6, 2008


Pope Guilty: There's a difference between being a productive artist who has unpleasant views and being a productive artist who uses one's product as a vehicle for one's unpleasant views.

I don't think Sim falls into the later category. If one avoids reading any of Sim's extra-Cerebus essays, the work doesn't really present a message that neatly matches Sim's views on men and women. Indeed, in the last 40 issues or so, the men come out looking much worse than the women in my opinion. Not because they are characters that embody a specific world view, but because the characters are fallible, weak humans mortals who make short sighted, poorly thought out decisions, frequently in the heat of the moment.

Indeed, if you aren't familiar with Sim's world view, it is possible to read much of Cerebus as a pro-feminist value tract (particularly "High Society" and "Church and State"). In fact, if you don't let his outside-the-work loopiness color your interpretation of the work, I would go so far as to say that Cerebus the comic does not present the same messages as Dave Sim, the madman.

Now, one could argue that since many of Sim's screeds were included in the letters column for his comics that he was using his art to propagate his message. The work itself, however, is no more or less misogynist than most comic books.

Which, of course, is to say that it is misogynist.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:02 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Having never read Dave Sim can someone give me an example of how he's so innovative?

Sim is master of bringing all the various elements of comics into something greater than the whole. I know that sounds trite, but when he was ON (with the help of an artist named Gerhard), the writing, dialogue, pacing of story, panels, art, backgrounds and most importantly, lettering were unparalleled. UNPARALLELED. I think it was Neil Gaiman who described as as watching someone learn to play every instrument in the symphony and after doing that, putting it all together to wrote a piece of music.

Here's an early page, showcasing some of his writing. Here you get a feel for his comedy writing and dialogue.

Over time, he started putting negative space to work really well, see here, here, and here

Here's three pages from a climate fight between major characters. The art is gorgeous, the panels and transitions great and there's several years of weight between this confrontation that give it an emotional impact.

The rest, I'm just gonna link to and let you decide on your own.

Cerebus as pope

Cerebus pisses off Red Sonya

Who has a husband?

Face off

Doorway

Boom!

Three more pages.

In short, Dave Sim is crazy as shit, but Cerebus was, at times, breathtakingly brilliant.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on May 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


"So ultimately we do have to arbitrarily limit our consumption of great art somehow, and it seems to me that "avoiding the assholes" is at least as good a tactic as any other common method, e.g. "exhibit preference for pre-20th century work" or "spurn postmodernism.""

That's fine if your priority is to not be around assholes, rather than if your priority is to see great art.

"Bendis seems to alternately really grok and really NOT grok feminism, and Millar writing anyone not a straight white man tends to make me cringe because you know something horrible's going to happen when he tries to have them say something "edgy" in his "trademark" Millaresque dialogue (not to mention the "LOL, black people get Downs syndrome?! I didn't know that!" incident)."

Fair enough—like I said, I try to avoid them, generally, because I think that their dialogue is risible and their characters are flat. But I thought, especially with Bendis, that they were supposed to be as PC as comics got, and just happened to be goddamned hacks with too much influence.
posted by klangklangston at 6:48 PM on May 6, 2008


I can't imagine why *anyone* would think he's a misogynist just because he declares that all women are incapiable of rational thought,

Because that line of thought seems to directly contradict some of the female characters in Cerebus.
One of the reasons that fans were so pissed by these anti women writings is that they seemed to come from outta the blue since several of female characters were richly three dimensional.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:52 PM on May 6, 2008


Brandon's right - "breathtakingly brilliant" captures Cerebus at its peak perfectly. The fact that a guy who'd soon be revealed as such a jerk could have such impeccable comic timing is one of the wonders of creativity. And no one in comics was playing with panels, space and word balloons like he was; it was gorgeous and deeply engaging while reading effortlessly. Both volumes of Church and State felt light-years ahead of anything else being published at the time.

Still do, actually. First 4 or 5 phonebooks are must-reading for anyone who thinks they like fantasy and comics. 6 through 8 are just as good for folks interested in comics as a literary form. Skip the text in 9 but be sure to linger over the fight at the end; it's great storytelling. Then drop the series completely whenever the realization that it's a load of horseshit hits you, which will be shortly, if it hasn't already.

But man, the 2nd through 5th phonebooks are some of the greatest comics ever created.
posted by mediareport at 7:37 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


You drew a great comic, but do they remember you as Dave-the-creator-of-Cerebus? No.

You help write Creator's Bill of Rights, but do they remember you as Dave-the-revolutionary? No.

You live a monastic life of fasting and celibacy, but do they remember you as Dave-the-divine? No.

But you slag off women publically and crudely, and they remember you as Dave-the-asshole forever.

Life's so unfair, eh, Dave?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:10 PM on May 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Years ago, when the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was defending one of my books, I had dinner with Dave. I was pretty shell shocked at the time, and was on good behavior because I was dating someone new who was involved with the CBLDF and because Dave was funding a lot of the legal battles the CBLDF was fighting that year. (It was a rough year for comics.)

He never once looked me in the eye. Not once. He spent much time staring at my boobs...a phenomenon that wasn't terribly uncommon in the comics field, but one which I had never encountered with any of the pros. He talked to my cleavage when he spoke to me at all. He seemed astounded that my book had been published by women, despite the fact that my sister and I both have very feminine names.

He was an absolute prick to the woman who was having the dinner, whom I later found out he had been dating, although I don't know if they were at the time. I left the encounter amazed at how childish and petty he seemed, for someone who was touted as one of the most brilliant people in comics.

Compared to pros like Neil Gaiman who writes amazing female characters and voices and is an absolute darling in person, I was astounded that someone like Dave could write the characters he did and be such an ass in person.

I don't know what happened to send him over the batshitinsane wall, but something, somewhere in his brain snapped, and he went from writing like he adored strong women to despising and denigrating them.

It's actually pretty tragic.

That said: Get over yourself Dave. A fucking petition? Really? Like your misogyny is a surprise? Honestly dude, people have been saying it to your face since at least 1992. Then again, those people were women, so I guess it was pretty easy to ignore the talking boobs.
posted by dejah420 at 8:15 PM on May 6, 2008 [13 favorites]


I have the first three phonebooks, which I bought as they came out, and enjoy them very much.

Tangent, not so much.
posted by flabdablet at 8:19 PM on May 6, 2008


And no one in comics was playing with panels, space and word balloons like he was

I think Matt Wagner's Grendel was doing some pretty interesting stuff too, though he played more with grids and color as opposed Sim's playing with everything.

Also, the beginning of Going Home (vol 13) was good and it seemed like Sim had sorted his issues out and was maturing nicely. Then he started that crazy talk again and I couldn't stomach anymore. Never did finish the series.

The weird thing is that Sim is right, in the sense that his gender writings do describe a particular kind of woman. The "problem", of course, is that that women are individuals so attempting to describe them as a particular type is just stunningly ignorant. Or insane. I keep wanting to shake him and say "Dave, stop dating the same type of chick! You don't mix well with them, let it go man! Oh, and you should used the character of Michelle more."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:29 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


People like Sim are always a delimma for me -- I'm not conflicted about to feel towards a garden-variety gay basher or racist or misogynist. And, on the other extreme, I can only feel sorry for someone like Bobby Fischer, who seemed obviously mentally ill. It's the edge cases like Sim -- where I really can't tell if they're in need of help, or just being assholes -- that I never know how to deal with or feel about. I suppose I should just be glad that Sim, luckily, isn't my problem in real life.
posted by tyllwin at 8:33 PM on May 6, 2008


>It's just that their asshole ideas made their work better.

Would that also apply to William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg?


Well, to tell you the truth, I could live without Ginsberg. Maybe I'm not the best one to answer that question.

But Burroughs? Absolutely. If he hadn't been such a weird, obsessive, cantankerous junkie sonofabitch, I can't imagine anything of his being worth reading.

Out of curiosity, why those two?
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:51 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I feel like I missed a memo or something. When exactly did we start expecting our artists to be something other than artistic?

I don't give a damn what anyone that makes stuff I enjoy thinks.

For instance, I like several of the posters on Mefi Music. I've never bothered, or even considered while listening, their viewpoints on things in the blue. To say I like someone's music, unless I read on the blue they are a UFO conspiracist nut, is to me absurd.

Why anyone here (who even knows who Dave Sim is) would give 2 shits about what he thinks about women is a total mystery to me.

People who overly worry about their artists' motivations seem to me to be people who are afraid they won't be able to identify propoganda when faced with it.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:13 PM on May 6, 2008


I've never heard of this guy before. And he's either crazy, totally disgusting, or both.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:10 PM on May 6, 2008


I really, really like Sim's and Gerhard's artwork on Cerebus, at least from mid- to later issues. I read it up to a point, but later issues had so much writing, much of it strained and hard to read. The artwork seemed to drop off altogether.

He's certainly a voluminous writer, but I can't get quite far enough into it to find offense. Sounds kinda like Proust meets Time Cube guy.
posted by zardoz at 11:58 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's funny, Ynoxas, because I missed the memo you obviously got about how being able to draw a picture made it OK to be a shit-dribbling retard.

And in Sim's case, i'll echo those people noting that one reason his hatred of women is such an issue is because it basically took over his art - Cerebus ended up shifting to a batshitinsane manifesto of Why Women Are Evil. It's not some weird fucked-up quirk of Sim's, it became integral to his art. It's as if Roman Polanski went from making movies to fucking a 13 year old to making movies about how great the world would be if only middle-aged guys could fuck 13 year old girls and arguing that anyone who objected was evil.
posted by rodgerd at 1:20 AM on May 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why anyone here (who even knows who Dave Sim is) would give 2 shits about what he thinks about women is a total mystery to me.

Yeah, what rodgerd said. The asshole behavior permeates the latter part of the art in this case - and probably lots of other cases that wouldn't fit your overly simplistic, dualistic view of art and motivation. You can't avoid the stench. That was the issue for many of his formerly delighted readers, including me: his art and his misogyny fused in ways it was impossible to ignore.
posted by mediareport at 5:51 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Women and children have soft, cushy buttocks which are, nonetheless, shot through with reasonably sensitive nerve endings.

This remark suddenly reminds me of Solanas' routine in I, A Man about "squishy asses," the one where, at the end, Solanas dismisses her john by announcing "I gotta go beat my meat."

I'm fully on board with the view that Sim's produced some of the most visually brilliant comics of our time, but in every other way he's pretty much the male Valerie Solanas.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:30 AM on May 7, 2008


I still have issues 2 and 4 through 50-something in a box somewhere, along with a pack of Diamondback cards. Wonderful stuff, but even at that point I could see the crazy train a-comin'.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:52 AM on May 7, 2008


One night, on a call with kittens for breakfast and my boyfriend, with the overall topic being (of course) comic books and (I forget quite how we got on this one) women/menstruation/Diva Cups/etc, I said that's it... I'm gonna do a comic book, too. And it's going to be called Douche Squad! And the DS! girls are going to get called in to fight against the GREATEST male superheroes ever, right? So there's Superman, and he's all supermanny, and just when you think he's gonna win, one of the Douche Squad! girls is going to pull out her tampon and throw it at him and Superman?

"Oh man. No way. [looks down, dejectedly] No. I don't get paid enough to put up with this."

And he stops fighting and flies away.

Because ewwwww, girls, ewwwww, tampons, etc. So icky it can defeat Superman!

But I've just changed my mind. I know who she's going to throw the tampon at now instead of Superman...

Also, I'm changing the comic's name to Vagina Abhorrence. Thanks, Dave Sim!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:55 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, I started reading this with the full intent of jumping on the "fuck Dave Sim" bandwagon along with everybody else, but then upthread you guys had to start talking about the mainstream hacks, and now I'm all like, damn. Because Sim is indeed crazy is shit, and he seems to be pretty sexist and homophobic and generally a creep, but at least he's interesting.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:59 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Pretty sexist"? That's kinda like calling Grant Morrison "pretty hot" or "pretty smart" -- a vast, vast understatement.

(and just once more, for emphasis, a la George Takei -- OH MY)

Now, while I haven't read his older stuff, having glanced at Glamourpuss last week when el boyfriendo threatened to buy it, I have to say "so. not. impressed." If this is the culmination of a lifetime of good work in the comics field, well... it's kind of sad. And interesting though he may be, it sure as shit isn't showing up on the page in Glamourpuss. Hell, it looks like clip art to me. You might as well read MNFTIU.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:08 AM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: Thanks for reminding me about Wagner. Absolutely right in both Grendel and Mage, where he really let the panels go altogether.
posted by The Bellman at 7:09 AM on May 7, 2008


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.
posted by Dave Sim at 9:14 AM on May 7 [    pick a reason to flag:     ]
                                                                           [ offensive/racism/sexism ]
posted by WCityMike at 7:21 AM on May 7, 2008


> Are you implying that George Takei is some kind of feminist? Or some kind of WWII power? Or... Oh my.

No implication; in October 2005 he outed himself as a gay man happily married for 18 years to his partner Brad Altman.
posted by WCityMike at 7:24 AM on May 7, 2008


If this is the culmination of a lifetime of good work in the comics field, well... it's kind of sad. And interesting though he may be, it sure as shit isn't showing up on the page in Glamourpuss.

We-eee-elllll...I dunno. Mind you, this is in no way a defense of Sim as a person, or even as a comics creator, really, but re: Glamourpuss -- when I was at Big Planet this past weekend (FCBD being about the only time I ever find myself in a comics shop anymore) and glancing at the pamphlets, that book was the only one that jumped at me. It stood out. And that's all about cover art and color -- it says nothing about the content -- but still: it did exactly what a cover is supposed to do.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:35 AM on May 7, 2008


Given that Sim has Cerebus falling into the public domain after his death ... hmm. If enough fans got together and worked for long enough, that could lead to a very interesting rewrite.
posted by WCityMike at 7:36 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seeing's how I *am* at the comic book store every Wednesday, I will look at it again, oh kittens. I'll even promise to look at it with an open mind uncorrupted by the vacuous, absent horror of my faulty, guilty vagina. But it didn't really grab me when I looked at it previously...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:53 AM on May 7, 2008


(The comic book, that is. Not my vagina. If it was capable of grabbing people, well... I think we'd have the premise of a very terrible horror flick on our hands...)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:55 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, I'm not saying Sim's not saying you have a guilty vagina, or anything of the sort -- that is exactly how Sim rhetorically rolls, and thus I dub him "choad." However. People like him make the medium an interesting place in a way that, frankly, some douchebag who writes and/or draws Iron Man or whatever just doesn't. Which is to say, in that Power of the Will way wherein talent is married to insanity/vile social agenda.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:05 AM on May 7, 2008


(That would be Triumph of the Will. What the fuck? I need more coffee.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:12 AM on May 7, 2008


Hey, if Vagina Abhorrence gets off the ground, I totally want to write a character. Can I have Ms. Anthropy? ;)
posted by dejah420 at 8:22 AM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I like Douche Squad much better as a name...
posted by Maias at 8:29 AM on May 7, 2008


It's Douche Squad!, Maias -- you've got to have the ! for extra awesomeness. Scientists have proven, much to the dismay of grammarians and English majors everywhere, that exclamation points condition the brain to be ready for more awesome. ;)

dejah420, she's yours if it ever happens. Also, I'm totally working in a comment somewhere about someone smelling like Teen Spirit.

Point taken re: making things more interesting in a non-OMGSUPERHEROES way, kittens. I'm all for that. But it makes it sad for me when people whose work I enjoy turn out to be, say, rightwingers.

*coughcough* a certain Buffy actress *cough*

And it's not like I'm going to stop watching Buffy reruns incessantly because of her alone. As someone, though, who knows how cool comics can be, it makes me angry that some dipwad like Sim can color the perceptions of potential female readers who haven't been lucky enough to have an in-house comics library and encyclopedia (that'd be the boyfriend) to show them what's really out there in all its glory.

There's this persistent stereotype of the Comic Book Guy. You know it, I know it. And HELLO, ? (see also). These kinds of things are not helping bring women into comic readership. Sweet jeebus, go back to our weekend conversation about Buffy sales figures, kittens. It's kicking so much ass, it's already run out of bubblegum, and I'd hazard a guess that there are an awful lot of first-time women comic readers picking it up to push the numbers that high. If you converted just a small percentage of them to other non-Whedony titles, that'd be pretty cool, yeah?

Acknowledge Sim for past good work, fine. Even strong female characters (or so I'm told). But I can't get behind someone who's degenerated into such a whackjob no matter how much good stuff he's done in the past. Because I don't want to Godwin the thread, I'll use another Austrian as my example: "Hey, Egon Schiele's a pretty good artist. And who cares if he's harboring underaged girls in his cottage?"
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:51 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whoops. Screwed up the link -- the ? link goes to the Open Source Boob Project.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:53 AM on May 7, 2008


Point taken re: making things more interesting in a non-OMGSUPERHEROES way, kittens. I'm all for that. But it makes it sad for me when people whose work I enjoy turn out to be, say, rightwingers.

*coughcough* a certain Buffy actress *cough*


Wait, what? I...it better not be Eliza Dushku. Because. I mean. No. No. Just no. I couldn't take that; I'm sorry.

There's this persistent stereotype of the Comic Book Guy. You know it, I know it. And HELLO, ? (see also). These kinds of things are not helping bring women into comic readership.

Well, and to a degree Sim is totally living into the persistent Comic Book Guy stereotype. And I would agree that his books aren't helping to make comics a friendlier place for women. But on the other hand, what he's doing is far less insidious than Porn!Face! and rape as a story trope overused to the point of cliche and female characters who look different from panel to panel because the "artist" is tracing different pinup photos (each featuring a different model) for each pose. Because Sim is clearly an outlier who is not meant to represent the mainstream of the medium. Whereas some sexist horseshit from Marvel or DC is meant to represent the mainstream of the medium. Sim makes his sexism explicit (even if, in his mind, he's somehow not a sexist), but these guys are just sexist and don't seem to fucking realize it at all. To me, they are the bigger problem, and by far.

Sweet jeebus, go back to our weekend conversation about Buffy sales figures, kittens. It's kicking so much ass, it's already run out of bubblegum, and I'd hazard a guess that there are an awful lot of first-time women comic readers picking it up to push the numbers that high. If you converted just a small percentage of them to other non-Whedony titles, that'd be pretty cool, yeah?

Yes and no. I think it'd be cool if there were more titles out there that they would like, were they to be exposed to them, and I'm not sure how many of those there are. Honestly, the average comic book is kind of a piece of crap. (Obviously, NOT COMICS-IST)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:48 AM on May 7, 2008


> Wait, what? I...it better not be Eliza Dushku. Because. I mean. No. No. Just no. I couldn't take that; I'm sorry.

Buffy herself.
posted by WCityMike at 9:54 AM on May 7, 2008


Oh. Whew! Yeah, who cares. Weakest part of the show.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:10 AM on May 7, 2008


Um, I'n not really seeing where Gellar is actually a Republican. From the Buffy link, I see that Gellar (or someone else in the same 'graf) likes "conservative clothes"; and there are a couple of people on a freeper board who say she is. I mean, there are famous people that, over the years, I have said are gay, but it doesn't actually make them so.

Not that I care that much, to be honest. Depends on what kind of Repub she is, and how active she is, and where her money goes. But she ain't talkin', I ain't gonna look for it.
posted by rtha at 10:12 AM on May 7, 2008


I was actually thinking of Emma Caulfield when I wrote that. If it was Dushku, I'd have broken it to you more gently, kittens... ;)

female characters who look different from panel to panel because the "artist" is tracing different pinup photos (each featuring a different model) for each pose. Because Sim is clearly an outlier who is not meant to represent the mainstream of the medium. Whereas some sexist horseshit from Marvel or DC is meant to represent the mainstream of the medium. Sim makes his sexism explicit (even if, in his mind, he's somehow not a sexist), but these guys are just sexist and don't seem to fucking realize it at all. To me, they are the bigger problem, and by far.

Ok, yes, agreed. Pornface tracers are insidious and evil and in the long run, far worse than Sim.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:26 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Out of curiosity, why those two?

Can't speak to Ginsberg, but in The Job Burroughs gets into some deeply misogynistic territory (all women should be pithed and used as incubators for instance). This is a book of interviews, so presumably he's presented his personal views in some of it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:26 AM on May 7, 2008


"Should we avoid Woody Allen movies because of that unfortunate business with his partner's adopted daughter?"

No, we should avoid them because they're pretty lame after, say, the mid-70s.


YOU NEVER UNDERSTOOD INTERIORS!!!

/ob Kevin McDonald
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:28 AM on May 7, 2008


Burroughs doesn't seem to have been *nearly* as screwy as Sim with regards to women, incubator theme or no. For one thing, I think that even though he did have a handful of relationships with women, his primary identification as a queer man made women more a non-entity than an actively-despised one. If you read the Ted Morgan bio of Burroughs, he comes off as not entirely unlikeable with regards to women.

Ok, ok, he accidentally shot his wife, but damn, after reading about her, I think I might have considered it myself, were I him. Heck, he even married a refugee when he was living in Europe to get her a visa to enter the States, and they remained friends for years afterward. Can you imagine Dave Sim doing the same? He'd probably make her sign a "Look! I am not a misogynist! See? I am helping this emotional void gain Canadian citizenship out of the kindness of my heart!" document first.

Sim's viewpoint on women seems to be coming from the predictable (and dare I say boring?) "the bitch screwed me over" angle, if I'm getting his personal history right. Was he this wacky before he got divorced?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:39 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't be bothered to read enough of his awful writing to tell whether he likes women. Next.
posted by w0mbat at 12:17 PM on May 7, 2008


Sim's viewpoint on women seems to be coming from the predictable (and dare I say boring?) "the bitch screwed me over" angle, if I'm getting his personal history right. Was he this wacky before he got divorced?

A pretty long time before he actually accomplished it, he declared it his life's ambition to write, draw and self-publish three hundred issues of a comic about a barbarian aardvark. Without casting the slightest aspersion, as I happen to think this is a perfectly noble ambition on the face of it, I do think it's safe to call that "wacky."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:00 PM on May 7, 2008


Speaking of Matt Wagner's Grendel, is the new series he's doing about Hunter Rose any good?
posted by homunculus at 1:21 PM on May 7, 2008


"But I can't get behind someone who's degenerated into such a whackjob no matter how much good stuff he's done in the past."

Really? I mean, get behind how? Recommending his books? I think that there are some pretty clear caveats involved for any recommendation of Sim's work. But plenty of comic book folks have turned batshit over the years, and that hasn't really impacted my appreciation of their prior work. Just for an example, I try to avoid anything new that Frank Miller's involved with, but there are a couple of his books that I still consider essential for comics fans (Dark Knight). But I've also been clear when dealing with recommending things to my girlfriend that, y'know, his art in the Elektra Returns book is amazing, and he has an unerring sense of pacing and paneling, but his writing is just absolutely moronic, both in his characterizations and his dialogue. Similarly, Yellow Bastard (the only worthwhile Sin City book to my mind) has writing so retarded that it should have to wear a safety helmet. I still enjoy it. Or Tom Simonton, who does some amazing oil work with brain-numbingly stupid stories.
posted by klangklangston at 1:32 PM on May 7, 2008


Yes, "get behind" as in "recommend." I have a hard enough time convincing some women I know that comics can be awfully cool as it is. Wading headfirst into an argument about feminism at the same time doesn't make it any easier, and just seems to bring out the "see? why would I want to read comics, they're all written by women-hating losers who live in their moms' basements" anti-comics argument.

If people wonder why, almost stereotypically, women tend to go for things like Sandman instead of Batman, well -- I think a lot of that is unsurprising. Neil Gaiman is a wonderful writer, the artists (Jill Thompson in particular) did some wonderful female characters -- yes, Death is hot, but she's not Power Girl... etc

(And now I'm trying to remember if my boyfriend had me read The Invisibles or Sandman first... I think the Invisibles, off the top of my head)

I tend to recommend both of those and Alan Moore's Promethea to my women friends who think they might be interested in comics. There's sex and violence and all kinds of nuttiness in Promethea, but it doesn't objectify women or treat them as brainless things, either.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:08 PM on May 7, 2008


Well, hmm. My take on Burroughs is that he's into dehumanizing everyone.

But as far as that goes, yes, I'd say that I wouldn't like his books so much if it weren't for that particular nasty streak in his personality. Part of what makes his writing fascinating is how thin the line is between "person" and "soulless automaton," what with the clones and the robots and the brain control rituals and the opium sex zombies and all. It wouldn't be the same without 'em.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:51 PM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Interesting, though, that only 47 people have signed the petition, none of them the more famous comics folks that Sim prides himself on continuing correspondence with. Matt Feazell the exception, if you (a) count him as famous and (b) that's the real Matt Feazell.
posted by Shepherd at 3:23 PM on May 7, 2008


"Wading headfirst into an argument about feminism at the same time doesn't make it any easier, and just seems to bring out the "see? why would I want to read comics, they're all written by women-hating losers who live in their moms' basements" anti-comics argument."

Well, yeah, you probably shouldn't be trying to use Sim for the "here's some entry-level comics" recommendations. But if I had a pal who was just getting into cooking, I wouldn't recommend trying to make omelets before they knew how to scramble eggs. Or if someone was interested in Daniel Clowes, I'd hand 'em Ghost World before I gave 'em Velvet Glove or David Boring.

"If people wonder why, almost stereotypically, women tend to go for things like Sandman instead of Batman, well -- I think a lot of that is unsurprising. Neil Gaiman is a wonderful writer, the artists (Jill Thompson in particular) did some wonderful female characters -- yes, Death is hot, but she's not Power Girl... etc"

Neil Gaiman tosses out a lot of foppish, pretentious twaddle and it's a shame that he's the default option for women getting into comics. Just sticking with Vertigo, Hellblazer and Swamp Thing both had better women characters. I'm trying to remember what first got my girlfriend into comics—I know that a large part of it was being sick, home from work, and reading what I had laying around. Oh, yeah, Transmet. That was the first thing that she poured through. She's now had enough comics to be enjoying Busiek's Superman (and Astro City). There's a progression within comics, just like there is with any other medium, where formal aspects start out as strange and get more and more familiar.

And a lot of Promethea struck both of us as what men think female wish-fulfillment looks like (similar to Tom Robbins books).

But hey, we also hate Buffy.

And that ties in with something that comes up a lot in comics discussions—a lot of the gendered assumptions actually prevent people from finding great stuff. There's a fair amount of girlish manga that's absolutely fantastic even as it's wildly silly (my only beef with the conventions of manga is that less seems to happen in more pages in most Western comics, but I'm a trade man anyway). I do think that Sandman has an advantage by not being all titties-titties-titties, but there are plenty of other options for that which avoid that without slapping women into this false dichotomy of having to choose to like Sandman because it's the comic that girls like.
posted by klangklangston at 4:03 PM on May 7, 2008


"Matt Feazell the exception, if you (a) count him as famous and (b) that's the real Matt Feazell."

Not the real Feazell? Why, that's cynical.
posted by klangklangston at 4:04 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


And a lot of Promethea struck both of us as what men think female wish-fulfillment looks like

Really? I find that interesting. In what way? What stands out for me, having not read it in a while, is that Moore did a pretty thorough exploration of some fairly abstract magical/Kabbalistic concepts within the body of an interesting story that showed female characters both strong and flawed, all while mocking some of the usual tropes (the "science geniuses" a la Fantastic Four are pretty much jackasses, as I recall, sort of swooping in on the scene without doing a whole heck of a lot).

I do think that Sandman has an advantage by not being all titties-titties-titties, but there are plenty of other options for that which avoid that without slapping women into this false dichotomy of having to choose to like Sandman because it's the comic that girls like.

I think I picked up the few issues sitting around because I really liked the McKean covers...and then made my boyfriend bring over more back issues from his parents' attic so I could read the whole thing. Going in, I had no idea that it was the default "comic that girls like," but looking back, I can understand why. Stardust is really the only Gaiman book I can think of that's overly foppish, but even that wasn't bad bad. And hell, I even liked the movie. (I never like the movie for anything written, I really don't).

And now that we're back from the comic book store, where I did take the time to read through Glamourpuss, I can say for certain -- not impressed.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:21 PM on May 7, 2008


Just had an interesting thought. Replace "women" with "blacks" or "Jews" in Sim's rant and I'll bet a lot fewer people would be willing to declare that the art can stand on its own even if Sim is an asshole. My only point in this particulr thought is that misogyny is the single most acceptable form of bigotry that exists, which is both predictable and disturbing.

Which isn't to say that the "I view the art separately from the artist" comments don't have merit, just that I think such sentiments are limited by the form of vileness that the artist practices.
posted by sotonohito at 4:53 PM on May 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Waaaaaaay back when -- like, in high school, way back when -- a (girl!) friend of mine got into reading Sandman because she saw me reading it and thought it looked cool. I expect this was happening simultaneously, with other high school/college guys and other high school/college girls, over much of the western world. In my friend's particular case, this led all the way to reading Shade, The Changing Man, which she came to prefer because (much unlike Sandman, toward the end) it actually came out on occasion; and it also led to her going out of her way to get me to accompany her to the comics shop, because the guys in there were creepy as fuck and she was afraid to walk in by herself. I don't think she reads any comics at all now, but I know she digs things like "Smallville" and "Battlestar Galactica," and probably would read comics still were there more comics that appealed to her and were most comics shops not full of creeptastic mouthbreathers. This brief flirtation with the medium, followed by pulling back to get the same stuff but (generally speaking) better from other media, and without interface with the dregs of modern society, is a path I expect has also been more or less duplicated by most women who got into comics because of books like Sandman.

But I don't think that's because of sexism in the books (or even sexism in the shops): I think it's because the average mainstream comic is just so goddamn fucking terrible. It's hard to convince anyone -- gender aside -- that comics are great when there are so many actual comics that seem to say, "Hey, look at me: I'm really not very great at all. In fact, I blow."

(And even more tangentially than that: Better woman characters in Hellblazer and Swamp Thing than in Sandman? For real? Don't get me wrong, I agree that Gaiman has become precious beyond belief, but the first two thirds or so of Sandman kind of aren't, and the women are both prevalent and well written. Swamp Thing I don't get at all, because while Abby is a great character under Moore, that's not really the majority of Swamp Thing, which is generally worthless otherwise...leaving Wein and Wrightson aside, of course. And I'm hardpressed to even think of any woman characters in Hellblazer who weren't just plot devices, but I also have barely read it in years. Kit was a fairly fleshed out character, I guess, but nothing much to write home about.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:09 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


What got me into comics was a huge tome we had in the house of reprints of the origin issues (Golden and Silver Age reboot) of most of the DC heroes. The thing was like a phone book and by the time I inherited it from my brother, it didn't have a cover any more. I'd love to find a copy of that, now.

Then I went to college and had access to a huge comic book library (they bound them every 20 issues like journals and had most major titles since the 60's.) I got to do a lot of backreading; it was great. They did have Cerebus, but mostly I just skimmed a little.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:08 PM on May 7, 2008


Were it not for Sim's plugs in Cerebus, I would never have found Jeff Nicholson. Which would have been a loss.
posted by flabdablet at 8:08 PM on May 7, 2008


My only point in this particulr thought is that misogyny is the single most acceptable form of bigotry that exists,

Please. If we're doing victimolofy, homophobia has it beat hands down.
posted by rodgerd at 1:20 AM on May 8, 2008


Swamp Thing I don't get at all, because while Abby is a great character under Moore, that's not really the majority of Swamp Thing

Gee, the way I remember it, Rick Veitch did a short pretty good run and then it ended. Forever. No one ever wrote another issue of Swamp Thing, Karen Berger didn't sell anybody out, and Doug Wheeler is just one of those boogeyman names used to frighten children. Am I misremebering?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:47 AM on May 8, 2008


Gee, the way I remember it, Rick Veitch did a short pretty good run and then it ended. Forever. No one ever wrote another issue of Swamp Thing, Karen Berger didn't sell anybody out, and Doug Wheeler is just one of those boogeyman names used to frighten children. Am I misremebering?

Well, you left out the part where DC didn't shit puppies over Rick Veitch's Jesus story (which was so good that I totally remembered to mention it when outlining good ST runs) and instead actually published it, and after it appeared to huge critical acclaim, Neil Gaiman and Jamie Delano came on as co-writers and did alternating arcs for several years, netting the book the best press it ever had, and comics never sucked again, and Eliza Dushku was totally my girlfriend, and also there were cookies.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:18 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


You'll laugh, but I teared up at that. For reals. God I am still sooooo angry at Karen Berger even though she's done so much editorial good since then (and she probably bears less of the blame than I give her). The wreckage the decision to cancel that issue caused...
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:49 PM on May 8, 2008


My experience was similar to kittens for breakfast's gf.

Since Sandman I've read Joe Sacco's books and Carla Speed McNeil's and have otherwise given up on comic books. Most of them do indeed blow.

(And I agree with kfb on the women in Swamp Thing and Hellblazer, too, though I read them anyway. )

X-Men had some ok women, though the mutant-ness of the characters seemed more defining than their sex. (Nightcrawler was my fave when I was a young 'un.)
posted by small_ruminant at 3:49 PM on May 8, 2008


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