Quick Placemarker

Quick Placemarker

Hi there everyone!

I’ve been horribly ill (just a flu/sinus/fever thing–but still!) for about a week, which explains the lack of Roy Thomas posting that you’ve seen here. I think I should finally be able to get that series under way by later tonight or tomorrow–but, in the meantime, here are a couple of responses to items from the letterc…uh…comment-threads!

1. Plok: Point very well taken, re: Dave Sim and his seemingly-unrepentant/unexamined brand of “Canadian Self-Loathing”… I’m positive that you’re right about the man’s private views (and I know a lot of people like this too, sadly)–I suppose what I’m trying to argue (actually, this is what I’m always trying to argue, in just about ANY context) is that the text of Cerebus is far wiser than its creator… Sim probably just thought it would be funny to make a super-Canuck roach that was allergic to cold and snow (i.e. I’m sure he never really meant it to be read as a critique of the very idea of a stable canadian identity/perspective), but it worked so well with the rest of what I wanted to say about the Roach as a figure of media-manipulation that I had to go with it…

2. Mr. Golding: I’m not sure how well this clears things up, re: “Councils of Perfection”, but I guess what I was going for, with the pun, was a way of invoking the impossibility of satisfying the ethical demands placed by the narrative upon the superhero protagonist (in the case of that essay, Animal Man) AND the way those ethical demands reach out beyond the text to impress themselves (in equally impossible terms) upon the “readers/creators-by-committee”, which is something like a narrative COUNCIL, no?

3. Also–thanks for the many welcomes back, both on Motime and through email/Facebook (and I know I owe some responses to some of you!)

now–let’s see if I can read some Roy Thomas comics!

good night friends!



  1. I think I believe that in some way he did consciously mean it as a Can-Am commentary, Dave…but your point about texts being wiser than their authors is well-taken. Sim is so amazing in High Society (and not just in High Society of course, but that happens to be what we’re talking about) that you don’t see, as you unfortunately do see in his various prose efforts, both within Cerebus and without it, that he’s not a particularly deep or even coherent thinker. But his art, his dialogue, his lettering, his comics! Very skillful stuff indeed. So who cares if you and I agree he’s probably a bit of a Barroom Blowhard? I’d probably find Wagner no Freud in conversation, but then again I don’t see Freud’s opera being worth sitting through, right?

    But it’s not deconstruction (rather, not what people think of as D*E*C*O*N*S*T*R*U*C*T*I*O*N) it’s just acknowledging that there’s a reader as well as a writer — brass tacks, any writer is like…like…like a blindfolded furniture mover, or something: they stack shapes up against other shapes purely as an efficiency, and then when they remove the blindfold they discover they’ve made a deeper comment on space and orientation than they perhaps intended to (although I’d argue: usually they don’t make a commentary that’s at odds with what they intended — or else what does “the text is wiser than the author” really mean…). T.S. Eliot did it in Four Quartets, and I certainly won’t argue that Dave Sim doesn’t do it in Cerebus. Well, I won’t argue that everyone doesn’t do it everywhere! But I will say that (since you say the thing is a work in progress) your title rings incredibly true here to me, and especially in light of what I said in your comments…I don’t know, is that title of yours itself actually an example of the text being wiser than its maker? Forgive me, I take a liberty: but the title “Barbarism Begins At Home” when applied to any self-avowedly conservative Canadian…gosh, what a world is there. And to apply it to Dave Sim and Cerebus…

    I want to read that paper!

    Because I think what I’m seeing here (both in the implication of the title, and in the wonderful stuff you’ve written underneath it), represents a great opportunity to approach precisely that well-known phenomenon you reference, of the text being wiser than the author, of the author’s intention (or even wish) not being able to conquer the author’s meaning, of the text having multiple motivations inside it that can only be disentangled by reading it, if they can be disentangled at all…well, all that, but did anyone ever apply it to being Canadian, or being a self-loathing Canadian, or being a person grappling with their Canadian-American self-image, or (you know, much less!) with independent comics from Canada that riff on and parody the corporate comics produced by a guy (yes, Roy — you see all these things come together) who from the very heart of a massive corporate system was trying to work his fanboy (read: consumer, or citizen) will on it? And who would ever have imagined Roy’s Conan would have travelled so far, or raked so much money, anyway. Only Roy could have thought so at the beginning, with his weird blind faith in what he loved. But: Dave found something to talk about and change (and challenge?), there, too, and I don’t know, it’s kind of fascinating. Within the progress of the funny aardvark, a parody, then an engaged attack, then a (kind of dumb, though brilliantly rendered) political theory, and then an over-the-top, far more disengaged out-and-out ridicule, then a battle with evilly dismissive parental forces, and then finally a full-on philosophical manifesto. And so many unconscious motives running through it, eh? And then Dave’s personal progress from marginal guy to rock star to self-wounder…

    I really think you’ve got your hands on a winner, here.

    Oh! And TM Maple. You know, he isn’t terribly well-integrated into your thesis as it stands, this TM Maple guy. Not that your treatment of him has no meaning or application, I don’t mean to suggest that…but, the text being wiser than the author, perhaps? There’s the odd dot here, that I think you haven’t connected. Roy was a “professional”, and Dave was an “independent”, and TM was a “fan”…and I wouldn’t be surprised if an examination of Cerebus the work (particularly given this title) might illuminate them all. All these positions and orientations, all these desires. Lot of “desire” in Cerebus, that gets fulfilled, frustrated, thwarted, forgotten, transformed…blown away…talked about, too. Pillaged, perhaps? No, I go too far there…silly of me. But, the text is wiser than the author, you said a mouthful! And I think this topic is a tremendous showcase for it.

    But pardon me, please; I ramble. A high-spirited day, plus some beer, was involved. But anyway I’m down for the long haul with this essay, I’m absolutely riveted, and I hope you’ll forgive me, Dave, if I got a little overstimulated in these here comments. Not too much critical analysis of Dave Sim and Cerebus out there, strange to say; so I’m overjoyed to see some at last.

    Cheers and apologies (and eagerly waiting to see what’s next!),


  2. awesome stuff, Plok!

    I’d be a fool not to carry this discussion forward into the paper-that-eventually-gets-written (where were you at the MLA Conference? You don’t get many interesting questions from the floor when no one has read the text you’re discussing!)


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