Comic Interview, Issue 67: July 1994

Comic Interview: July 1994


Dave Sim

Sim (in his role as self-publisher) has become a model of a “self-made man” in the comic book industry.
Sim (in his role as self-publisher) has become a model of a “self-made man” in the comic book industry. Comic Interview, July 1994

Since December 1977, Canadian artist Dave Sim has been chronicling the life of an anthropomorphic aardvark in the self-published pages of Cerebrus. It is a fictitious world populated by barbarians, politicians, religious leaders and people. From its beginning as a Conan the Barbarian parody, Cerebus has evolved and as has Sim, and his work stands as one of the best examples of a comic book transcending the confines of sequential art limitations. Cerebus is probably the best comic book being published. Moreover, though, Sim (in his role as self-publisher) has become a model of a “self-made man” in the comic book industry. A vocal proponent of self-publishing, he has helped inspire many young and talented artists and writers to seek alternative publishing venues, rather than slaving away with little recognition on the company-owned dross which dominates the market.

The following interview was conducted in June 1994 at Night Flight Comics. My thanks to Alan Carroll, Mimi Cruz and the entire Night Flight staff for setting up the interview, providing photos and all the other niceties involved. Plus the beer.

SLUG: Before we start, I just wanted to give you a chance to answer any questions you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview.

DS: Well, I’ve done so many interviews at this point that I always turn the questions into ones that I want to answer. That’s one of the skills you learn—you start off answering their questions and then veer into what you want to say.

SLUG: Fair enough. Bearing in mind that this is for an “underground” magazine and most of the people who are going to be reading this either can’t read or have never read comics, why don’t you give us a little background on Cerebus and if you can think of any reasons why these losers should be reading Cerebus.

DS: It’s a 6,000-page story about the life of the title character, and it’s trying to do a life as accurately as I can with all the ups and downs and sometimes it’s interesting and sometimes it’s boring but I try to make the boredom interesting and like most of the best of the, whatever you want to call them, cult comics coming out right now you can’t really describe it. If you try to do a Reader’s Digest version or a TV guide description of it, it just sounds really dumb. So I would suggest that the best thing to do would be to come into a comics shop, get a copy of Cerebus #0 from them (which gives an outline of the story) and a few excerpts from the large trade paperback collections), see if it looks like something interesting, and if it does, then kiss a lot of money goodbye because it’s expensive. At this point just buying all the trade paperbacks to get caught up on the story would run around $180.00 but, considering how much money you could spend on entertainment that doesn’t go anywhere. I figure that’s not a bad deal.

SLUG: Looking back on things 17 years later did you ever think you’d get to this point and when you started, what did you see yourself doing 17 years down the road (if anything)? 

DS: When I started I was trying to stay in the game just to see if I could sell enough copies to keep going and once I knew all I had to do was switch from bi-monthly to monthly and avoid all the shitty advertising work then it was a matter of “How far am I going to go with this?” Once I knew I was going to issue 300 and I felt comic stores and Cerebus could keep going it just seemed like this weird revelation. You know, I will turn into something just because I won’t go away. For a number of years I speculated and it turned out to be pretty accurate that people would try to explain Cerebus away or diminish it and comics, just like the music field, are pretty much the “flavor of the month,” you know. You have difficulty making an impact but the difference with Cerebus is it’s all one story.

Read more from the SLUG Archives:
Comic Reviews: July 1993
Concert Reviews: July 1993