9/19/2008

Dave Sim...

...is pretty hard to like. His series Glamourpuss is brilliant and this totally rarified weird thing. Godard-ian in how it approaches popular media, Glamourpuss uses fashion design and culture as a jumping-off point for an extended rant about the history of comics illustration, complete with impressive replicas of the art, and a half-funny, half-pathetically out-of-date parody of mid-high-end fashion magazines.

But...he's also a dumbass. Not because of the endless debates about misogyny and women and blah, blah blah,--we shouldn't allow only left-leaning artists to have silly views--but because his arrogance on the topic offend the reader more than the views themselves.

Undoubtedly, Glamourpuss is in part, a response and or further dealing with his past discussions of men's superiority--although what most of them read like, is someone who is annoyed by postmodern Feminism and thinks it has more weight in our culture than it does--because it's at least in theory, a very sympathetic satire on how women are exploited and messed-around with due to and because of fashion, fashion magazines, and the super-capitalism that the magazines support. It's very unsophisticated, it's the kind of "concern" for women that "sensitive" guys in high school who haven't gotten laid yet have for women as a gender, but dude is trying!

And so, I open issue #3 and start reading and very quickly get to this: "And if glamourpuss walks, her alimony cheques are going with her and this funnybook is toast. Word--as glamourpuss' Obama supporter friends put it." It's not that it's an Obama joke there, but that a) It's hopelessly out of date with contemporary slang and b) it's getting kinda racist. Somehow, it's weirder and sadder to read it because of the out-of-date thing, which makes his satire seem pathetic. Sure, somewhere out there, some liberals feel real hip and cool for voting for a black guy and maybe, maybe they affect some pathetically out-of-date (if ever existent) sense of negritude when talking about Obama, but most people don't.

The racism of the joke, like Sim's misogyny, comes out of some weirdly out-of-date sense of protecting those unlike him. The joke there is that white people who say "word" are silly and are racist for co-opting "black" slang (and therefore, his joke is on the side of black people), which would be right if Sim's sense of whiteness and blackness wasn't so dumb and unmoving. It's sad the same way the reference to "Access Hollywood" on the cover or David and Victoria Beckham on a page inside are...as some old, creepy dude referencing them because it's the extent of his interaction with current pop culture. The same thing is said for "word" because like most dudes in their fifties, especially a fucking Canadian, his interaction with black culture probably like, begins and ends at In Living Colour or something.

I won't not read the book and I'm not even angry or offended--as I said, liberals whose art I like get to say dumb stuff all the time--but it's a little pathetic and that just makes me sort of uncomfortable. Opening Glamourpuss or old issues of Cerebus, one just has to remember they're re-entering the world of Dave Sim and that's why we read comics, especially creator-driven comics, to be immersed in a comic book creators' idiosyncracies.

3 comments:

Brandon Graham said...

I always liked Sim. Even if and when I've disagreed with what he says because it come from what feels like a man outside of the mass of the comic industry.

He's a talented dude that is talented enough to piss people off and STILL sell them his books. That's on some "I come with skills and I leave with your motherfucking respect" shit. Personally I'd be a little saddened if he lost his 1980's stank.

I guess what I'm trying to say is,
You think word is outdated slang?

word....?

brandon said...

Brandon-
Yeah, I'm gonna review Glamourpuss and talk about why he's brilliant--I do it at the begining a bit--and yeah, I love him for being this obnoxious guy with weird opinions, but sometimes it bums me out? He reminds me of Jim Goad if Goad were a pussy.

Also arguably, Sim just says about women and sometimes black people what most mainstream comics artists/writers internalize. By the way... how I became this guy that talks about gender shit in comic books I'm not really sure but it keeps coming up...

"Word" I guess isn't like out of date, as it is like "Yo" or something, something of a signifier of like, an earlier era. It's certainly no longer connnected to black people which is what Sim's kinda joking about.

I think it's mainly MY issue with his work and not Sim's problem (something most of his detractors don't seem to get....).

You been reading 'Glamourpuss'? What do you think of it?

Brandon Graham said...

I've only got the first galmoupuss. I liked it. I really enjoy seeing how much he's drawing and talking about in it what he wants to. And how far from his magnum opus it is.

I need to get more Sim books. I haven't even read the Light and the Void book that pissed everyone off so bad. Maybe I'd like him less if I had.