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if you’ve ever listened to an interview with dave sim, you’ve probably heard him talking about why he ended up doing comics, why he chose it as his medium or whatever.  the blame doesn’t always lie with him for this repeated topic.  i’ve listened to a boatload of interviews and chat with the dude and this is a subject that just seems to come up a lot.  i’m like anyone else, probably, and i have some serious reservations and mixed feelings about dave sim.  but the dude definitely deserves to be asked about comics.

one of the reasons i love interviews with him is that he has thought-provoking things to say about his own work.  the dudes from comic geek speak have chatted with him a bunch of times in going through and reviewing his collections of CEREBUS indivually, and the things sim remembers from making the books–the insight he shares on his formal methods, processes and concerns–they’re awesome.  he’s done thousands and thousands of pages and it’s clear he was thoughtful about it all the way through.

what he says in response to this recurring question about why he ended up making comics is pretty awesome though.  one of dave’s big-time fans and followers was a dude named ken viola, who’d been a roadie to the rolling stones during some choice years of their career.  viola says keith richards once said to him that when he first discovered and listened to american rhythm and blues, ‘it was like [his] black and white world turned color.’  the line’s supposed to be a nod to the famous transition in WIZARD OF OZ, i think.  dave sim says that when he first discovered comics, this happened for him, too, and when it did he knew he wouldn’t be able to do anything else but make comics.

i’ve had that feeling two times.  my first was with STRAY BULLETS and my second was with BERLIN.  i rarely go back and look at those books anymore, but they’re the two books that completely convinced me that comics could be about fucking anything, no matter how high-flying or mundane.  those two books took the way i felt about comics–and i loved comics already–and opened the door to a lifetime of examining what comics could do.

what i get from keith richards’ line–and from how dave uses it for himself–is that when you find the thing you’re meant for, the thing you’re gonna dedicate yourself to–your sine qua non–you feel your world expand.  for me it wasn’t just comics; it was black-and-white comics and it was comics with unrestricted subject matter.  any time i look back on those reading experiences of BERLIN and STRAY BULLETS, i get a half-nervous feeling like i’m still having them for the first time and i can remember what it was like before–but just barely.

but that’s the thing about those moments when, as in WIZARD OF OZ, you step into the color.  you can never pretend you haven’t seen it.  you’re changed.  dave sim knows.  and what the fuck would dave sim have ever done with himself if he hadn’t found comics?  you can’t even speculate about that.  that’s how it is for me, too, though i don’t claim dave’s accomplishment.  black-and-white comics have been my world since that one moment, and i don’t think i could ever go back to a world without color.

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