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Dave Sim: Cerebus wraps, interview at Onion AV Club

Dave Sim is interviewed at The Onion AV Club this week. Especially cool because Sim jumps to freaked-out conclusions about questions and is gently spanked by the interviewer. Repeatedly.

Re: Dave Sim: Cerebus wraps, interview at Onion AV Club

What I like the most about Dave Sim is how we all treat him like our molesting uncle- We turn a blind eye to his social maladjustment because "he's family" instead of having him medicated. Then again, I never liked Cerebus, so I don't feel a need to overlook these things due to being one of those drooling fanboys who'll no doubt come leaping to his defence after reading this.

I'm not saying he's a ***** up, that's for psychiatric professionals to decide. But if looks like an aardvark and quacks like an aardvark...

Re: Dave Sim: Cerebus wraps, interview at Onion AV Club

Shepherd's picture

I can't say I read Cerebus. Actually, I dropped long before the infamous "Tangents" issue, finding Melmoth a little heavy going and pretty self-indulgent. But I look forward to re-reading his stuff now that I'm a little bit older and a little bit wiser -- around the age that Sim was when I stopped reading, come to think of it.

It'll be fascinating to see what history says of Sim. I don't think of him as the embarrassing uncle, though -- more like a genius with some very wacked-out opinions.

As an analogy, I offer this: one of the world's greatest chefs, who is renowned for cooking brilliant meals and is a genius of cuisine, having run his own small independent restaurant for years and having, in many ways, actually SHAPED the world of cooking and restauranteurism, suddenly develops the habit of putting a slab of rather off-smelling meat -- maybe even rancid -- on your salad plate. The main course is still delicious and more or less untouched, but the rancid meat is sitting right next to it.

Do you still eat the main dish, the work of genius that sits before you? Or does the slab of rotting flesh just to the side turn you off? There's no wrong answer, just matters of taste.

Again, I look forward to seeing what people say of Sim in a decade or so. He really did a lot to shape comics -- and more than anyone generally acknowledges for the world of lettering alone -- but his tendency to let increasingly gonzo personal issues overshadow his crative output may relegate him, unfairly, to the role of footnote.

I'm not a huge Dave Sim fan. I posted the news story above, and I still think it's hi-freakin'-larious the way the interviewer has to keep calling the fire department to get him down from the tree. But I also think he's a genius. It's a hard thing for me to reconcile.

Re: Dave Sim: Cerebus wraps, interview at Onion AV Club

Well, Michael Jackson made some damned fine tunes in his time and we all enjoy Billie-Jean when we hear it. He's still a sick pedophile. I assume Sim will have that same air about him as the years progress.

Re: Dave Sim: Cerebus wraps, interview at Onion AV Club

I think of Sim as a supervillain. One of those grand-opera types like Doctor Doom or Magneto who is not only crazy enough to cull 9/10s of the human population, he's intelligent enough to make you wonder, just for a second, if that wouldn't be the right thing to do.

Sim's a genius. So were Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. But all three suffered from a superiority complex: because they had such sweeping vision in their chosen fields, they automatically assumed they were right about everything else, too. And they all developed an outrageous set of core beliefs. In Sim's case, most famous is his misogynist cosmology that gets play in the READS trade paperback, but there are a lot of other weird ideas lurking around his essays and influencing the comic (though rarely dominating it as they do in READS).

Sim's problem is compounded because he has a keenly developed ability to reason from a given premise, and the sheer ENDURANCE to bury opposing viewpoints in a crush of words. He proceeds from premises that have basis in his personal experience (the only basis that matters to him) and are virtually impossible to DISprove. The problem is that he confuses undisprovability with truth, and sheer exhaustion with assent-- he'll write a dense 20-page essay, and assume that when nobody takes the time to refute every single goddamned point he makes, it's because they can't, not because they've all got better things to do.

But it is also true that to be a truly great writer, you must think as no one else around you does, and Sim at his best is definitely a great, great writer. You spend enough time reading his comics, not his polemical essays, and the insights tend to be what stay with you.

Re: Dave Sim: Cerebus wraps, interview at Onion AV Club

Sim is a great debater. I'd hate to have to debate what he says in person, because he is skillful with his words. However, just because one can debate a point, doesn't make one automatically right. There is no evidence (beyond anecdotal) for his claims, and he hasn't presented a testable theory. The mark of a great debator is to never open yourself to possible refutation. However, the mark of a good scientist IS to present a testable theory to prove the ideas one makes. In the end, the scientist has the better tool to understand the truth BECAUSE he opens himself up to refutation. Dave Sim has managed to create a self-contained argument that has not one iota of scientific truth to it.

I love his work though. His social satire is wonderfully biting. He should really stick to satire because I think it's there that he shows his real strength.

Re: Dave Sim: Cerebus wraps, interview at Onion AV Club

scarfman's picture

I think the difference between Cerebus and Tangent is, though both are satire, one he realizes that it is and the other he doesn't.

Paul Gadzikowski, scarfman@iglou.com since 1995
http://www.sff.net/people/scarfman/new.htm New cartoons most days

The judge asked whether I was a real doctor.