The last few days, I’ve been taking in an odd variety of influences.
To wind up for doing a Douchebags of Comics card of him, I’ve decided to read as much as possible as I can of Cerebus, and it’s a somewhat interesting experience. The deeper you get into the dark, strange world of Dave Sim’s brain, it become simultaneously fascinating and repulsive. Fascinating, because you can kind of trace the little mental labyrinths of self-justification he spent years building to justify his emotional and ridiculous reactions to things as somehow being the result of his hard-won wisdom and deep, crystalline understanding of the world. Within a few issues, his hostility and bigotry can be so completely repulsive that it’s very easy to start feeling, who cares, he’s just a psychopath, why am I spending my time trying to plumb these depths, but then you become interested in just how a brain can contort itself into the distortions that Sim’s assumed over the years, and then just when you’re starting to think hey, crazy or not, he’s certainly interesting, so how can I write him off as an artist? But then I think the clearest moments come when you see just how much of his babbling and rationalization was simply born of fear and self-pity, and it all becomes too pathetic to have much admiration for his artistic output. You can feel disgusted by him at that point, that he let himself be turned into such a reactionary little bigot, or you can feel sorry for him, since he obviously was struggling so hard to come up with what he thought was an intellectually valid rationale for his insanity that he made hundreds of comic books and endless essays essentially just to serve that purpose.
I’m reading Cerebus out of order, because it goes off on such massive tangents that it becomes difficult to follow it chronologically and stay engaged, but I’ve read enough *about* Cerebus, and enough interviews with Sim, that I’m able to understand the storyline more or less wherever I pick up. I just read the last 10 issues, and it was kind of fascinating. I’m also reading Jaka’s Story at the moment, I think it adds to the experience to juxtapose the different portions and see how far he wandered, and also to line up how he thought it was all making sense. I’m trying, when I can get ahold of them, to also read them in the format of the original issues, because the additional ramblings and nuttiness on the letter pages and so on is sometimes at least as much of a fascinating trainwreck as the book is.
Speaking of trainwrecks, I’ve also been watching Walking Dead. That’s something, too, that’s become kind of fascinating to me, because it’s just so bad, but in the presence of having so much potential. They have a huge cast, a world full of zombies, and 90-some-odd issues of source material to work with, and for some reason they can’t think of anything to do. They think that they should have the characters sit around on a farm for episode after episode.
Dave Sim can have 10 issues that are basically a cartoon aardvark wandering around his apartment and muttering to himself, and Walking Dead can have 8 or 9 episodes that are the characters sitting around a farm whining about a character that never even did much and nobody even remembers. It’s hard to decide which is a bigger example of writers getting far up their own asses. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, though, because the two things were made for totally opposite reasons, with the Walking Dead being a product that is as broad and dumb as possible with the characters in a transparent attempt at appealing to the broadest possible audience, and the plot inertia seems to be largely motivated by budgetary concerns, whereas Dave Sim’s inertia was in defiance of his audience, to the point where he was convincing himself that the negative reaction to his work was because God had put him here to deliver the work and the hostility (and often indifference) that he was being met with was somehow him being tested.
I guess I’m just interested in watching things go off their tracks.
Sometimes, to break it up, I watch things I actually like. This weekend, I watched How to Train Your Dragon with the boyfriend. It was the second time I had seen it, and his first. The movie is great. Then a few hours later, we watched Rosemary’s Baby, which is pretty much one of the greatest films ever made. It was the first time he had ever seen that, too, about about the billionth time I’ve seen it. It’s one of those movies that just never gets old.
He liked both of them, by the way. I’ve dated two guys in the past to whom I showed Rosemary’s Baby and had them dislike it. I should have known at that moment that they weren’t keepers, but for some reason I kept sticking it out a while longer with each of them.
I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t want to be *my* boyfriend, though, I mean in addition to my general awesomeness, I introduce my boyfriend to awesome movies like that. I won’t subject him to Cerebus or Walking Dead, though, although he *has* been subjected to quite a bit of listening to me rant about both of them. He’s such a good boyfriend, I think he even listens when I’m off on those tangents.
He was with me at Image Expo when I had a long discussion with a cartoonist friend of mine, Ed Luce, about Cerebus, and then later my boyfriend and I were browsing through some dollar bins, and without me prompting him my boyfriend found some Cerebus back issues and showed them to me. He’s never read Cerebus, he had just been listening to what I said before, and then later on was looking through bins for it to help me. Aw, come on, that’s an amazing boyfriend, right?