I imagine that since this page was easily available to me, enough
Cerebus fans must see it that you get your fair share of flames. That's
not what I'm writing. I do think you are misrepresenting Dave's work,
and I'm presenting what I consider to be a well-reasoned response. If
you've seen enough of these before, feel free to delete this mail right
now; I won't mind.
I'm going to assume that you've read some of Cerebus other than the
infamous issue 186. You do seem to know a fair bit about Sim even if
you haven't read the rest of his work. In any case, the major problem I
have with your argument is that it is out of context with the rest of
Cerebus, and even with issue 186. The quotes which comprise the middle
two sections of your page, are, of course, not said in the book by Dave
Sim but by a character named Viktor Davis. You've probably heard this
point before, I know. My argument is that it is an important point...
that Viktor Davis is not Dave Sim. You should in any case address the
issue of Viktor Davis vs. Dave Sim to make your argument complete;
otherwise it simply appears as if you are taking quotes out of context
to suit your position. Clearly you believe that Dave has invented
Viktor to represent his own thoughts and you should explain why.
My guess at why is the following set of points:
*Viktor Davis is represented as the author of Cerebus.
*Passages in the introduction to the trade edition of _Reads_ suggest
that he is expressing his own viewpoints: "A casual reader... will have
gotten more than a lifetime supply of 'Dave Sim and What He Thinks'...";
"Most of my viewpoints are minority viewpoints."
*The devotion of an entire issue to Viktor Davis's thoughts without a
rebuttal in any form.
I'm probably overlooking some points so if you have taken the time to
read my mail and consider it please point them out to me. These by
themselves make a pretty strong case but there is other information that
Consider another quote from the introduction to _Reads_: "Victor Reid
and Viktor Davis proved to be fascinating and challenging companions for
the six months that I spent with each of them -- and for the fifteen
years I spent preparing myself to bring them to life on the page."
This, on the other hand, implies that Viktor Davis is as much a Cerebus
character as Victor Reid. The question is whether he put a character in
his place with views distinct from his. It is arguable from the case of
Victor Reid that he did.... Victor Reid is such a character. Consider:
Reid writes reads, the equivalent of comic books in Cerebus world. (The
portions of Cerebus dealing with Victor Reid are presented in the format
of reads, text pages facing illustrations.) I think we can both agree
that his story is about the virtues of self-publishing in the comics
world. (rather, the perils of not self-publishing.) I think we can
also both agree that Reid is not Sim. But to a degree he is identified
with Sim: both are comic book authors. The fact that Sim and Davis are
both authors of Cerebus is a degree or two of a closer identification...
but not a total identification. The fact that their names are different
may seem trivial, but it was certainly a purposeful choice of names. He
did not pull the name out of the air to protect himself from being
associated with unpopular viewpoints. "Viktor Davis" suggests his own
name and the name of Victor Reid, which in turn suggests that the new
character is at a point in between the fictional one and the actual one.
There is a character called Dave Sim. If you read any Cerebus past
issue 186, you know that in _Minds_ Dave himself talks to Cerebus. If
Viktor Davis is truly Dave Sim as he appears in Cerebus, why is he
called Dave in _Minds_? And why is Dave's attitude toward Jaka (a main
topic of discussion with Cerebus) so lacking in the misogynist attitude
expressed by Davis? Perhaps there is a rebuttal to Davis's position in
_Reads_ - perhaps the rebuttal is _Minds_.
In addition, the positions in Davis's rant are not reflected in the rest
of Sim's work. Cerebus has three primary female characters: Jaka,
Astoria, and Cirin. (Red Sophia first appeared back when Cerebus was a
Conan parody, and Sophia was herself a parody of Red Sonja. Sim tries
to give her more depth in _Minds_, which in addition to being a
continuation and counterpart to _Reads_ is an attempt to create
continuity between the first 25 issues of Cerebus and the long,
complicated storyline that followed.) Of these three characters, Jaka
and Astoria both are not portrayed as Davis's "voids". Through _Women_
and _Reads_ we see Astoria fleshed out, not a power-hungry woman
manipulating from behind the scenes but an idealist hoping to implement
a better way of life. This is a clear counterexample to Davis's
argument, who thought that women were controlling the men in power out
of "the insatiable Void Need for material possessions". On the
contrary, Astoria's goals were driven by her Kevillist ideals. She has
more of the "Seminal Energy" than most of the Cerebus characters...
maybe all of them except for Suenteus Po. Davis claimed that even the
exceptions among women were not as strong as the men, but Astoria
Jaka, also, is uncharacteristic of Davis's views. The comment in
_Minds_ from Dave is, "I can make her love you, but I can't make it
stronger than her need for happiness or her need for
self-preservation." Not "Her need for material possessions." Dave is
capable of seeing women as more than a void, even if one of his
And although _Minds_ criticizes marriage nearly as much as _Reads_, it
is for a different reason. The blame for the failure of Cerebus's
marriage lies squarely on Cerebus himself, a fact that Dave tries to
make clear to him. You claim that, "Sim seems to have similar
inadequacies relating to women to his satisfaction, but he shifts the
burden of agency in suggesting that because he is unhappy with his relationship with women, fault must lie with the women he is unhappy with (and, by extension, with all women)." But he says the same thing about Cerebus himself in _Minds_! If he really believes what Viktor Davis does, how could he ascribe a flaw like the above to Cerebus? No such flaw would exist in Viktor Davis's mind.
I'm somewhat surprised if you managed to read this far since I think I
got rather long-winded. Writing this gave me a chance to sort out my
own thoughts, since I just read _Reads_ myself a couple weeks ago.
Although I was initially disturbed by issue 186 I got a different
picture of Dave from _Minds_, and started to understand that Viktor
Davis is not the same as Dave Sim. Maybe I'm just rationalizing the
issue because I want to keep liking the book, but... I am a scientist
(or at least in training) and I can usually tell when I am rationalizing
something and when I have a valid point. Dave's work is filled with
puzzles. They are simple early on (the backgrounds to "Mind Game" back
in Cerebus Volume 1) and get more complicated. He likes parallel
stories, as in _Melmoth_, which I still have not completely figured
out. _Melmoth_ seems like one long non sequitur without an
understanding of the parallel storyline. _Reads_ is a similar parallel
story. "Each of the parts represents the other parts allegorically," he
says in the introduction. Cerebus and Victor Reid and Viktor Davis are
all playing out the same story, like Suenteus Po's heresy trial being
repeated over history. I think to view issue 186 as a simple misogynist
rant is to ignore the bigger picture.
The last thing I have to say on the topic is that I think the final
section of your page is inappropriate. The inclusion of unconfirmed
rumors with only tangential relation to your argument only undermines
your points to the view of an intelligent reader. It is as if you think
your main argument is not strong enough and needs backing even from
rumors. I think your argument would be stronger if you removed this
section, added the context of Viktor Davis, and explain why you think
Viktor represents Dave's viewpoints.
OK. I'm going to shut up now. I thank you for reading this far, and I
hope you will at least consider my points. If you still think you are
right about Dave Sim, I will be open to a rebuttal.