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The Hero Who Feels Sorry for Himself
Excerpt from ¡Journalista! for September 20, 2007
(Note: Red text indicates a dead link.)

 

"Of course, I don't take the COMICS JOURNAL at face value as journalism. Far from it. It's Tabloid Journalism of the vilest Marxist-feminist sort, the comic book field's answer to Pravda and all you have to do is find yourself outside of their high school girls' clique and you know the full extent of what that means for you and for your career. Just ask anyone who has gone through it."
- Cerebus creator Dave Sim

 

"No one ruined Dave Sim's career but Dave Sim, and he ruined it meticulously and deliberately over a period of close to a decade of variously offensive or unreadable issues of his comic."
- Kim Thompson, writing on The Comics Journal message board

 

Panel from Cerebus #66, ©1984 Dave Sim.

 

For myself, it was the phrase "No one wants to be a woman" in Sim's essay, "Tangent," that really convinced me that it was impossible to take Dave Sim The Thinker seriously. Had he simply not yet given up drugs when he wrote that, I wonder?

Set aside for a moment that it's virtually impossible for a man to watch a woman have a good, hard orgasm without the occasional twinge of jealousy, regretting his own inability to experience such a thing with as much obvious intensity. The fact is that there's an entire industry devoted to helping men become women, at least to the extent possible under current medical technology. One of the cartoonists that Sim himself used to publish has undergone this very surgical treatment — the former Arn Saba, now Katherine Collins, creator of the Aardvark/Vanaheim-published Neil the Horse. No one wants to be a woman? Really?

What Sim is actually saying, of course, is "I don't want to be a woman, and because I have become a monomaniacal, unimaginative crank, I am going to project this feeling outward upon both men and women everywhere." Sim has offered such obvious intellectual limitations up for public view hundreds of times in the past decade or so, often framed in the most combative and withering language that he can muster. I'm occasionally guilty of this behavior myself, to be sure, but I at least understand the resulting backlashes as being responses to my own actions — if I didn't want the fistfight, I wouldn't keep throwing the first punch, now would I? Alas, Dave Sim seems incapable of accepting such responsibility, and the fact that he expects anything other than open contempt for his pathetic "poor little me" sobfests says volumes about the man, none of it good.

On several occasions, I've attempted to refute the notion that Dave Sim is actually insane. He's a Grade-A crackpot, to be sure, but lots of people maintain crackpot opinions, on any number of subjects, while remaining fully sane and productive members of society. Let's face it, if you were to kill every man and woman on Earth who secretly believed that the opposite sex was actually a separate and malevolent species, you'd probably wipe out some two-thirds of both genders of the population. That said, every time Sim bursts forth with yet another attempt to blame anyone other than himself for his relative notoriety and obscurity, it becomes that much more difficult to swim against the tide in defense of the man's sanity. I find myself wondering yet again whether perhaps Dave Sim isn't just plain bonkers, and that I've been wrong all this time.

 

Panel from Cerebus #71, ©1985 Dave Sim.

 

My apologies for dredging up the topic of Sim yet again. I do so because I believe him to be one of the finest and most skilled cartoonists currently working in the English language, and Cerebus to be one of the most awe-inspiring achievements in the graphic-novel movement, however crude the opening volumes or how flawed are the concluding volumes with rank crackpottery. I consider his relative outsider status to be a genuine shame. It's partly due to the fatally sharp divide currently running between the artcomics and superhero factions of the North American industry, which leave little room in the middle for everything else, but it's also partly due to the often obscurantist rivers of comic-book culture running through the Cerebus story cycle, which can be a barrier to new readers not properly steeped in such culture. Mostly, however, it's Sim's own ideas and decisions that keep him in the shadows, and that's the biggest shame of all.

 

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