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Dave Sim Replies To Fantagraphics’ Offer to Republish ‘Cerebus’

Following Dave Sim’s announcement of a “Doomsday Scenario” departure from comics, Fantagraphics publisher Kim Thompson made a public offer to repackage Sim’s classic Cerebus series in a “more bookstore-friendly format” to bring the work to a whole new audience. Perhaps appropriately, Sim also responded publicly – and suggested that the entire thing remain open to everyone.Sim’s Doomsday Scenario was outlined in the editorial that appeared in the final issue of his glamourpuss series; he described it as “selling my Cerebus original artwork as slowly as possible, and looking at ways to liquidate the Cerebus Archive itself, up to and including just sending all of it to a landfill site or paying 1-800-GOT-JUNK to haul it all away, selling the house, liquidating the last of my RRSPs and my life insurance policy and just… disappearing.” Thompson’s response to that was to suggest that someone else take Cerebus on, and give it a “new lease on life it… so richly deserves”:

Heck, such repackaging might very well pay Sim enough that he could spend the next several years drawing up whatever the hell he wanted in terms of new projects and not have to worry about making a dime off of them in the interim. (If he’s got too much of a terminal hatred for us, I suspect IDW or Top Shelf would step into the breach too.) But I think he’s too deep into his Final-Station-of-Dave-Sim-the-Martyr narrative to even consider such an idea.

That turned out not to be the case; instead of outright rejecting the idea, Sim hedged his bets slightly. After initially refusing the idea (“I’d have to see deep inside your financial statements,” he explained as a reason why he wasn’t immediately drawn to the notion. “What’s your track record for paying royalties? Are you late? Are you getting later? Who do you pay and how often? Very messy, and I’d rather be drawing comics”), he moved on to suggest that traditional publishing was nearing an end – “I think we might be moving past the point where any intellectual property has the publisher,” he says, without much explanation – he does an about-turn at the last moment:

But my mind isn’t closed on the subject. “Sorry, Dave, you want to sell Form & Void where New York Times-worthy books are sold, you’re going to have to climb up in the cage and bite the head off the chicken (metaphorically speaking).” Well, so be it. As President Kennedy said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us also never fear to negotiate.” Let’s do so publicly. Completely publicly. The contract Fantagraphics is offering me, how Kim envisions the context being developed, candidates for doing the New York Times-worthy “contextualizing” (first salvo: please no Jeet Heer, as much as I like Jeet as a person and I do like Jeet as a person). Does Kim want to do it himself? Does Gary?

It’ll be interesting to see what – if anything – happens next. Sim’s suggestion seems to imply a playfulness more than a genuine desire to proceed, and assumes that Thompson would be more into the idea than he seems so far if anything were to actually happen. But stranger things have happened in comics publishing in the past, so this might be worth paying attention to in upcoming days.

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