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October 2, 2012

Dave Sim/Fantagraphics "Negotiation" Devolves Into Backbiting

imageIf you want to catch up with what's been going on in that comments thread about Dave Sim and Fantagraphics negotiating a potential working relationship, you can start here. I don't really understand much of that. Dave didn't have a problem working with the magazine on a two-part interview including giving us the rights to make a cover just a couple of years after the offending Nazi cartoon. He worked directly with me, who was that issue's managing editor (I either wrote, helped write or contributed heavily to the editing of the main article; I'm on the road, I can't look it up), and it never came up. We've spoken maybe a half-dozen times cordially since then, and it's never come up. I believe my number's on the web site somewhere if he'd like to talk about now.

I thought the Nazi cartoon in the offending issue was unnecessary, but Gary outranked me. Don't get me wrong: I was fine with it running. I still am. If I wasn't fine with it, I would have quit. If I was no longer fine with it, I'd say so. I don't think anyone on planet earth thought that TCJ was claiming that Dave Sim was seriously a Nazi death camp commandant, or had the equivalent moral standing of one. If anyone would like to present someone who came around to hating Dave with Nazi-appropriate passion because of that cartoon, I imagine most people -- by which I mean people that didn't have a personal or rooting interest in Sim Vs. Fantagraphics as its own thing and could therefore apply "that's a dick move" standards -- saw it as as a hyperbolic comment on the issues raised/rhetoric involved, or perhaps as a forceful response to the ugliness of Sim's view as explicated in a then-recent editorial that women were inhuman monsters with a proclivity for sucking the life force out of men's heads. (If I'm remembering that wrong, someone please tell me.) I wasn't a fan of the cartoon because I thought it was silly, sort of tasteless and it distracted from the far more fascinating issue which for me was that people were touring with Dave Sim despite objecting to the material presented in Cerebus #186. This struck me as odd and, according to my view of things at the time, very, very comics. I'd probably think something different now. It's been years.

I really enjoy a lot of Cerebus and I think Dave Sim is a first-rate cartoonist. He's been extremely kind to me on several occasions. I very much respect his accomplishments. I'm sorry to have contributed to any pain he's felt. His comic was one of several that meant the world to me at one time in my life. Still, I suspect this latest "negotiation" was entered into in somewhat bad faith by Sim, perhaps unintentionally, and as a result it quickly become a launching pad for longstanding grievances -- grievances I further suspect are more "exclusion from Top 100" oriented than "you compared me to a Nazi" oriented. (I edited the Top 100 issue, too! I am Dave Sim's greatest enemy!) I think Kim Thompson has been patient and generous with his time on this. My main takeaway is that Dave has other options than going to work on a fishing boat or whatever he was saying he'd do in the course of abandoning comics altogether. I'm happy for this. (I expect we'll see some sort of publishing deal come out of this, just not with Fantagraphics.) Comics is better for having Cerebus in it. According to the "I quit and will never publish anything again" standard, just about any reasonable publishing option is going to be a better outcome, unless there are conditions one can argue have to be met or there are grievances to be aired that one can assign trumping moral force. So, okay.
posted 2:35 pm PST | Permalink

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