Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dialog with Dave Sim: Part 3 Karen's response...

First, I must say I’m very flattered you asked! It’s not often I get asked about my perception of this whole comic book experience.
As for Amelia’s “birth” moment, I remember it exactly as Jimmy does (and perhaps, oddly, with more clarity than the birth of our own children, since I was heavily drugged during their birth…and Amelia’s inception, not so much). If your question is a larger “What on earth did you think about this 180-degree turn?” then that requires more thought.
Jimmy had been plugging away at Shades of Gray for years. But toward the end I could tell it was becoming less joyful and more of a burden. He was ready for a change, that was clear. Was I surprised that this change came in the form of a little girl cartoon character who had absolutely no resemblance in style to anything I had ever seen Jimmy draw before? Yeah, a little. What I remember being struck by is how naturally Amelia’s art style came to him. Unlike Shades of Gray, which seemed like so much WORK to draw, the style of Amelia seemed much more intuitive to him. I’m not saying it’s not work, there just appeared to be no struggle – as if this style was always the way he should have been doing it.
The book being in color was, for me, a no-brainer. I was dragged…er, I mean, introduced, to black & white comics and the self-publishing movement when I met Jimmy. I always said that gave me a unique perspective because I wasn’t a part of it, I was an outsider looking in. And to me, the average consumer, kids books were in color. Period. So if Jimmy wanted to do a kid’s book, it had to be in color. Period.
I never discouraged him from doing it because there never was never a need to. We weren’t married at the time, we didn’t own a house, we didn’t have kids, so what the hell? If you’re going to attempt to do something crazy, you might as well do it when you’re in your 20s and your responsibilities are minimal.
And sure, I enjoyed (and still enjoy) the experience, even though this journey has been incredibly stressful and times and the hardest thing I can imagine (next to taking care of newborn twins. That wins first prize, hands down).
I’m not an entrepreneur my nature, so if left to my own devices, I’d probably be looking at a very basic highway kind of drive through life. Jimmy enjoys the scenic route. And admittedly, it’s a lot more fun. In fact, it’s been a blast. I have a lot of great stories and some of the best times of my, and our, lives have been at comic book shows & events, and I’ve met some really dear wonderful friends through it all. In the time between Shades of Gray and doing conventions for Amelia, I really missed the comic book people. I was actually eager to get back into it.
Beyond that, I’ve gotten a lot of out of it professionally. A person learns a lot of skills when self-publishing. I have ten times more confidence now than I did before Amelia. I know how to design publications and all about working with printers and paper samples, etc. I can organize events, speak decently in public, and can work through just about any problem. So I’ve gotten a lot out of this as well.
Lastly, I’ll add that Jimmy is a cartoonist. Not just because that’s his job, but because it’s an intrinsic part of who he is. I guess in some alternate universe when he held up that little sketch of Amelia I could have said, “No. Absolutely not. I’m not doing this anymore” but to what end? I might as well have asked him to turn into a different person. It simply wasn’t an option, nor did I want it to be.

I will now thank you again for asking me to be a part of the discussion and gracefully bow out so that Jimmy can continue to get his geek on...

Karen Gownley

Ok, so there you have it! Thanks Karen. Ok, now I'd like to ask Dave one.

I started reading Cerebus when I was 14, and I always took it for granted that you would make it to issue 300.

I mean, why wouldn't you?

Now that I've produced over 1,000 pages of Amelia Rules!, I honestly can't comprehend how you did it! My question is; over the course of 26 years, 300 issues and 6,000 pages of Cerebus, was there ever a moment when you really, sincerely thought you were not going to make it? And if so, how did you work through it?

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