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Dave Sim

Page history last edited by Daniel M 8 years, 6 months ago

Born: May 17, 1956, in Hamilton, Ontario

 

Dave Sim is a comic writer and illustrator, as well as an independent publisher and owner of his own press, Aardvark-Vanaheim. He is known primarily for his epic comic series Cerebus, spanning 300 issues and nearly 30 years of continuous work, for being a strong promoter of independent publishing in comics, and for his controversial social views.

 

Biography

 

Dave Sim was born in Hamilton, Ontario, to an automotive factory supervisor and a school secretary. At age 2, his family moved to Kitchener, where he remains today. Sim read DC comics as a boy and was unimpressed with Marvel. He dropped out of high school to become a cartoonist and illustrator, without any formal art training. While managing independent publisher Aardvark-Vanaheim with his first wife, Deni, whom he had met through her brother, Sim began drawing a mascot for the press that would become Cerebus. Sim soon began a monthly series about the character, starting in December 1977.

 

In the late 1970s Sim identified as a secular humanist and was using LSD and marijuana. He had a mental breakdown, which he later claimed was a false transcendence, and was hospitalized; he credits the event with inspiring him to make Cerebus a 300-issue series. He also describes the series as his attempt at a Russian novel, a longform work of literature. As his work progressed in Cerebus and he performed more and more research, Sim's opinions on social matters changed and he began to alienate many of his readers with his newfound beliefs. He became convinced of a "Marxist agenda" and "feminist-homosexual axis" that dominated society and opposed traditional family values. He now lives in Kitchener somewhat reclusively, and follows a personal brand of religion that is a mixture of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim teachings; he describes himself as "mostly Muslim" and prays several times a day. 

 

Career

 

Sim's first work was as a cartoonist, performing work for fanzines including his own, The Now and Then Times. He also created a newspaper comic strip called The Beavers, which ran in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and also made an appearance in Quack!, a funny-animals comic. It was soon after marrying his girlfriend Deni and beginning work with Aardvark-Vanaheim press that he began publishing a regular comic series called Cerebus. Originally Cerebus was a parody of Conan the Barbarian and other hack-and-slash fantasy characters, including parodies of other Robert E. Howard creations like Red Sonja and other fantasy characters like Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone, The episodic feel of the first several issues soon gave way to connected story arcs, beginning with issues 14-16, known as the Palnu Trilogy.

 

The publication of issue 26 was the full transition into a continuous, unbroken storyline centered on Cerebus. The rest of the series follows Cerebus as he rises to and falls from power, both as a state official and as pope, then as he fights with various other governments that seek control of the area. As Dave Sim researched other areas and gained other interests, the series followed suit, with digressions and forays into the lives of Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway, all of whom appear in the comic as renamed supporting characters; the series also became more philosophical, and dealt with issues of womanhood and motherhood, masculinity, religion, and social concerns. The story arc Reads contained many prose passages written by a male character that were accused of being fiercely misogynistic, though Sim himself described the position of the character as "anti-feminism." The comic itself delved more into these issues in such a way that it was more and more difficult to separate the character's thoughts from Sim's own, and an essay titled "Tangent" published in the back of issue 265, explicitly authored by Dave Sim, removed any previous thought of separating the author's words from the character's--in the essay, Sim identifies a homosexual and feminist conspiracy to undermine male authority and traditional family values that are necessary for society to flourish. The gradually increasing emphasis of utilizing Sim's own beliefs into his creative work led to a decline in readership and sales, and the culmination of the series in 2004 with issue 300 was met largely with silence from the comic community.

 

After Cerebus, Sim began other personal projects, including a self-translation of a Greek copy of the New Testament and public readings of the 1611 King James Bible. In 2008 he published Judenhass, a personal reflection on the Holocaust and the need to remember its events; the artwork was photorealistic, Sim having traced several archival photographs as part of the project. Also in 2008 Sim began publication of another ongoing series called Glamourpuss, which is meant to be a parody of women's fashion magazines, a historical survey of photorealistic art and illustration, and a humorous superheroine comic. He means to finish publication with issue 25 and collect the series in one volume.

 

Work 

 

Sim is well known for his art style, which features easily identifiable caricatures of famous people and a continual experimentation with comic form. For example, several issues of Cerebus contained bizarre panel layout and pages being rotated throughout, so that the reader is forced to turn the comic gradually upside down and then upright again with the turning of the pages. Sim is also noted for his skillful lettering, which sometimes puts additional emphasis on the action or emotion the words are trying to convey to the reader.

 

As noted above, Sim has addressed many themes throughout his body of work, mostly owing to religion and conviction of belief; feminism; masculinity; isolationism, misogyny, and misanthropy; and maturation of character.

 

Bibliography

 

  • Cerebus. Collected in sixteen volumes; 1977-2004.
  • Judenhass. A 56-page single story about the Holocaust. 2008.
  • Glamourpuss. Currently ongoing series. 2008-present.

 

References 

 

  1. "Dave Sim." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Sim
  2. "Cerebus the Aardvark." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebus_the_Aardvark 
  3. "Dave Sim Bio: The Early Years." Cerebus Fangirl. http://www.cerebusfangirl.com/artists/davesimbio.php
  4. "The Merged Void." The Dave Sim Misogyny Page. The Absolute. http://theabsolute.net/misogyny/sim.html
  5. "The One about Dave Sim." Comics Beat. http://www.comicsbeat.com/2008/02/27/the-one-about-dave-sim/ 

 

Further Reading

 

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