9 August 2004

Letter to Dave Sim

My response to a challenge from Cerebus creator Dave Sim via Neil Gaiman's journal, offering fans a free signed issue of Cerebus and saying that most people will be too lazy to send in a letter. I'll let this sit here a couple of days, re-read it a few times, and then send off for ma' free issue o' Cerebus!


I hate to write under such circumstances, being challenged and all--and even worse becoming a member of that group of letter-writers who insists you're wrong about this issue or that (a large enough group). But you sent out the invitation accusing us all of laziness, or at least you had Neil Gaiman send out the invitation, and the last thing I or anyone would want to be is remiss in this affair.

I will have to insist that you're wrong though on this point about the passivity of your or others' fans in general (offering a free Cerebus as incentive) and Internet users in particular. Appreciation of art work is always that of a consumer--we listen to music, read a book, etc., and no matter how actively we attend to the work or how demanding the work is we're still just consumers for that period of time. Some people never, and I almost never, write letters or go to conventions or get involved in any of the fan activity beyond just taking it all in. That taking-it-all-in is the main point and is, as it is, passive.

And certainly, after a certain point, a fan letter is just vanity on the part of the letter-writer. You wouldn't be the "phenomenon" that you are unless there was a large contingent of people touting the virtues of your work. Maybe it's a flawed assumption, but I suspect that many of your fans know that you've Made It and feel that their input is not needed. Silent fans are the fans of a mature art. Should their silence be considered passivity?

Oh yea--the free issue! Gaiman said that it'd be one of the Sandman parody issues. Neat-o. Although ... ya know, the very first issue I ever picked up, the one that hooked me all these years, was 102 (September 1987). Pretty nice one, that was. But anyway, Sandman parody! Cool.

And I'm looking back: in 102's Note from the President, you had one of your classic entries. One of those that'll-stay-with-me comments. If I may quote you here:

Heidi MacDonald takes issue with my opinion that all changes to a creative work by an outside individual are arbitrary, venturing the opinion that we have to draw the line somewhere without explaining who "we" are (though I could hazard a guess at the faintly-less-and-un-talented) why "we" "have to" draw the line or what line it is "we" are drawing, what "we" intend to keep penned up inside of it or what "we" intend to demarcate. Aside from that, her reasoning is flawless.

I miss those notes of yours. Maybe that's what's missing: the active arguments and discussions that would go on at the front and back of Cerebus. Maybe. Anyway, thanks for all of the pithy observations, for the years you dedicated to a dream that others can enjoy (passively or otherwise), and for the free signed issue of Cerebus (whichever number you see fit to send, I'll appreciate it 100% ... hell, maybe even 102%). Hope you're enjoying retirement!

Scott D. Strader

[ posted by sstrader on 9 August 2004 at 9:33:51 PM in Culture & Society ]