A Moment of Cerebus Question

The site A Moment of Cerebus is asking for questions for the celebration in a few weeks of High Society being released digitally.  The have asked that questions be posted on other sites and they will then be answered during the celebration.  Here is my question as submitted…

As I understand it, your religious conversion has created some difficulties in your professional life with the people around you not understanding, and your desire to be somewhat more isolated.  My question is a two-fer:  First, how has your relationship with Gerhard changed?  (I understand he is no longer a partner in A/V and Cerebus, but I imagine that was more of a business decision, correct?) Second, has your new outlook and the reactions to it in the industry actually improved any of your relationships with other creators or friends?  Are they now assessing you differently and perhaps more objectively as a person?

If there is anyone else that would like a question asked, I’m sure we can submit more.  Let me know here…

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23 responses to “A Moment of Cerebus Question

  1. “Madane Bovary c’est moi” – Gustave Flaubert.

    How much of you is there in Cerebus and vica versa?
    Other than the Dave character who chews a carrot and draws panels do you ever appear in Cerebus in disguise or who do you think is the closest of all the characters in Cerebus to representing you or being as close to the real “you” as possible.
    Is there a real you? Do you think any of us are really ‘real’ in the sense that all of us put on a mask or persona when we are with others and never reveal our true selves to anyone else.

    If you hadn’t been succesful with Cerebus or hadn’t managed to make a living in some other way in the world of comics/graphic novels what would you have done with your life to make a living?

    • Okay, I would have to say that there’s very little of me in Cerebus or vice versa. Cerebus is a walking id and a very basic one at that. I mean, his appetites are prodigious as is his temper. I think that’s what most people find appealing is to read a character that really has no limits in the areas where we all are very much aware of our limits. No, I would take things that I was experiencing and would entertain myself — and hopefully — my readership by picturing how Cerebus would react to them. I’ve always had a pretty good eye for the intricacies of very human situations and I could avoid most of them or anticipate what I needed to do before it came down to “crunch time”. Cerebus wasn’t like that at all. He would manipulate people based on what they did or said, but he couldn’t see past today to tomorrow, let alone a decade from now.

      The “Dave Sim” character in the book is pretty much as close as you’re going to get to me in CEREBUS, but it’s definitely the creator of CEREBUS, not Dave Sim the guy. I find that most cartoonists are pretty uninteresting characters for the exact reason that they spend so much time at the drawing board portraying a reality that they see. I mean, apart from buying groceries when I need to, picking up the mail and taking care of life’s basics, eating, sleeping, fasting, praying, reading Scripture aloud, working is all that I do and all I’ve done for years and all I expect to do. I suspect that, for good or ill, that makes you a specific type of person and very different from what we would all agree is a human being. Just thinking that that’s a reasonable trade-off — “I’ll trade 98% of my life for the chance to sit in one place and make pencil and ink lines on white paper, as close to ‘cradle to grave’ as I can manage.” If you didn’t make money at it, you’d really have to describe that as psychotic behaviour.

      I think there is a real Me and a real You. I believe that’s what our souls are and I would agree that we are all of us — as we understand “us” — masks and personas and portrayals. I don’t believe that who we think our true selves are is actually our true selves, though. I think our understanding of “self” as with our understanding of everything else is EXTREMELY limited. Grab a piece of paper and write down “January 1st 2009″. Okay, now write down everything you know about what you did that day and the day after that and the day after that. I couldn’t come up with a single thing. So how could I maintain that I know anything about myself? I don’t even know basic facts.

      Although living in a linear fashion is strictly an illusion — in the fourth dimension everything has already happened — that’s why we live the way we do, as far as I can see. You only know today and you only know this minute so be the best person you can be minute by minute. Because you don’t remember too far back and you don’t have any idea what’s up ahead.

      Right?

      For having his question chosen, Gabe wins a CEREBUS back issue — probably a No.161 with the BONE Preview if they haven’t run out yet — personalized to him, signed by Dave and with a Cerebus head sketch. Got a question for Dave Sim? Post it here and you could win too if your question is selected.

      [Gabe — send in your mailing address to: momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com — Thanks!]

      Check out the rest of the HARDtalk Virtual Tour at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.

      • It’s interesting to think that, as a physical being, we are born without a conscious mind (pure subconscious); so the habits of our parents and anyone in our immediate environment pour freely into the subconscious, over and over, until it all finally foams up, crusts over, and creates the conscious mind. No way is that “you”, it’s really just “them” in a “you” mask. So the question is, then, who ARE you? I can’t agree with Dave more, here, that the answer to that question is, we are our soul.

      • The only part I would disagree with Dave about is that people who keep diaries from Samuel Pepys to Michael Palin (to give two broad examples) are able to refer to them and say on January 1st of such and such a year I was doing and thinking the following or at least that’s what I wrote down on that particular day. That’s why one good way to know yourself is to keep a diary and in many ways Cerebus and all the readers letters that he answered would be Dave’s way of remembering exactly what he was doing anytime between 1977-2004. :-)

  2. Dusquene Whistler

    As someone who can absolutely demolish a corporate contract(Fables), do you bang your head on the desk when you hear Alan Moore say he “didn’t really read” the Watchmen contract?

    • DAVE SIM: ALAN MOORE AND CONTRACTS
      Hi, Dusquene — thanks for participating in the HARDtalk Virtual Tour.

      Mm. No, I don’t really bang my head on the desk about ANYthing and never really have even metaphorically. Wait, I think I did it as a sight gag on CEREBUS TV at the end of signing and numbering the glamourpuss issues. No, it’s just a sight gag. I have zero visible response to anything. Even internally it’s just a matter of “NOW what?” I have an internal GPS system for where I’m going. Which insurmountable pile of work I have to deal with next. And I have a limited number of access points: escargot mail, phone messages and faxes. I just assume it’s bad news and most times I’m not wrong.

      But, in answer to your question, it must be said by SOMEONE (and it might as well be me) that Alan probably made more money in any quarter of any year since 1988 off of WATCHMEN than I made in my entire career which — depending on how you look at it — made signing that contract an extremely wise move on his part. Even if nothing else he was able to buy a Very Nice House in England where you have to be Indescribably Wealthy to buy even a “Not Very Nice” house.

      Life is a process, not an event.

      At the time I knew Alan — circa 1988 — he was able to talk to Terry Gilliam on the phone, quite lucidly and reasonably, and explain to him that he had designed WATCHMEN structurally so that it could not be made into a movie. If you include all the necessary structural bits, it’s too long. If you leave all the structural bits in but take out all the nuances and episodic niceties it’s just a series of meaningless vignettes. Terry Gilliam being a very accomplished filmmaker understood exactly what Alan was saying and withdrew from the project — with, I’m sure, completely undiminished enthusiasm for it as a creative work.

      I didn’t see the WATCHMEN movie — I’m the antithesis of a “movie person” — but from what I heard about it, they fell into exactly the pitfalls Alan had outlined in the latter instance. What Alan hadn’t anticipated and what I doubt anyone could have anticipated twenty years ago was the extent to which filmmaking as an art would decline in those 20 years. Particularly feature film making. Who needs a viable script? Who needs nuance? We’ve got at least TWO DOZEN WICKED COOL SCENES HERE. That’s AT LEAST EIGHT MORE THAN THE LAST FIVE MEGA-HIT SUPER-HERO FILMS HAVE HAD! We’ll just string them all together and blow everyone out of their seats.

      Unfortunately, 21st century Rotten Tomatoes (both specific and metaphorical) hit the source material at least as hard as they do a shoddy adaptation. But that does explain why I just deleted a recent phone message from Paramount Pictures. Uhh. No. Things are difficult right now — making them ridiculously impossible is no “way out”. Millions would disagree, I know. I think Alan would know exactly what I mean.

      Okay, that concludes the second stop of the MOMENT OF CEREBUS HARDtalk Virtual Tour. We’ve got an autographed personalized headsketch on a copy of CEREBUS No. 161 — one of the GOOD issues :) — going out to Dusquene. Feel free to submit more questions and I’ll be back — well, maybe not “before you know it” but when I’ve got all the fully pencilled and inked Cerebus drawing for the Kickstarter partners done.

      [Dusquene- send in your mailing address to ‘momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com’ – thanks!]

      Check out the rest of the HARDtalk Virtual Tour at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS — http://www.momentofcerebus.blogspot.co.uk/

  3. Hi Dave,
    Many people think they know the Truth, in a religious sense, but most religious people believe different things (even when they’re basing their beliefs on the same texts.) What criteria do you use to evaluate claims of truthfulness? How do you sort through all of the different interpretations of the texts of the religions that you follow to determine which to believe? (I’m sorry for all of the prepositional phrases in that last one…)
    -Isobel

    • No, problem. “Prepositional Phrases R Us”.

      Well, to be honest, Isobel, I don’t try to evaluate claims of truthfulness because I don’t really read interpretations for the most part — that is religious “commentaries”. The closest I come to that is my NEW BIBLE DICTIONARY which is definitely Christian and has a Christian bias to most of what it is talking about. At the same time, it has hard facts, which is what I’m looking in it for. What the original word is in Aramaic or Hebrew or Koin Greek. If it’s a geographic area, I just want to know what the best current knowledge is of where it was when it used to be called whatever-it-is in The Bible. “Assyria” let’s say. What countries today make up the geographic area of Assyria at the time the Prophet Isaiah is referring to it?

      I stick strictly to Scripture — or as strictly to scripture as I can since I don’t know the ancient languages the Scriptures were recorded in. Islam, for example, is quite vehement about the fact that the Koran needs to be recited in Arabic to be understood. An english translation of the Koran is considered a commentary in Islam, not Scripture. Having read a variety of translations, I have no problem taking their word for it. But I still read my english translation aloud before my prayer times — I get through all 114 Suras in the average month. I’m banking quite heavily on the fact that there’s a “close enough for government work” aspect to it in the eyes of God, but that could be a completely futile hope.

      I consider, as an example, Paul epistles to be commentaries even though Christians definitely consider them Scriptural, or, at least, canonical. They just don’t “cohere” to me although you’d have to go a long way to find more edifying works in the english language as written by the translators of the 1611 King James Version. There’s a Rhetorical Majesty to them — like Shakespeare on steroids (Shakespeare was, reportedly, one of the translators). But, to me they seem to be scripture for the “scripture averse” and the Prophetic averse. I find Christians who quote Paul more often than they quote either the Synoptic Jesus or the Johannine Jesus to be…I don’t know how to describe it…spiritually evasive? At the same time, I thank God on my knees five times a day for Paul’s epistles because I can’t picture how Christianity could have made the necessary jump to Greece and Rome without them and without him. So that’s an intricate “scripture vs. commentary” — as you put it “claim of truthfulness” — that I’m sure I won’t find the answer to until Judgement Day.

      I read an Interlinear version of John’s Gospel and John’s Revelation, alternating between the two on Sunday. I don’t really read the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and John unless I need to look up a quote from the Synoptic Jesus because someone has quoted him to me in a letter and wants an answer. “Okay, word for word, what does the original Koin Greek — the earliest versions of the Gospels — say that he said?” If you read, as an example, a word for word translation of the Johannine Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman in John’s Gospel, chapter 4 it reads just fine. The Samaritan woman starts out speaking awkwardly — it’s just Koin Greek, the words aren’t being selected for Divinely Inspired Universal translation as Jesus’ are, she’s just a Samaritan woman having a weird conversation — she appears to THINK he’s a weird Jew hitting on her. But as soon as Jesus speaks to her, she starts speaking the same way. I’m sure the same is true in French, Swahili, German, Dutch. That, to me, is God speaking. And his adversary speaking through the Samaritan woman. No matter how you translate it, word for word it will read fine, because it’s God or someone appointed by God to speak THROUGH the Johannine Jesus. And, by God’s permission, God’s adversary or someone delegated by His adversary to speak through her. I’m just a human. I can only SUSPECT things on that level based on what I read. Over and over and over. I’ve written my own commentaries on that conversation, but no one is interested. Maybe some day.

      Or — I have to allow for the possibility, acceding to my Christian side — the Johannine Jesus WAS God. Muslims would hold the former view — Jesus was just a prophet and servant and just recited what he was told to say — Christians the latter view. I doubt THAT one will be answered to anyone’s satisfaction before Judgement Day.

      In the same sense, I’ve never read The Hadith, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) because they’re non-scriptural. They’re just what Muhammad, as a man, had to say about various subjects. Only the Koran is Scriptural — God or Angel Gabriel speaking through Muhammad — although much of Islam holds that there is “prophetic tradition” and include not only the sayings of the Prophet as scriptural or quasi-scriptural, but the words of the Caliphs, Muhammad’s successors and in the case of elements of the Shiites, the sayings of one of his wives, Aisha. In fact, she’s the primary source for many of the Hadith. But, for me, it’s the 114 Suras and that’s it. Could be a fatal flaw I’ll regret on Judgement Day. Should have read The Hadith.

      I’m not an authority on any of this so far as I know. I just read The Bible the same way you would read a novel, cover-to-cover. The Law and the Prophets, the Apocrypha, then the Gospels and the Epistles and John’s Apocalypse. And then re-read it and re-read it. Got my NEW BIBLE DICTIONARY for missing facts and other opinions and decided, “No, I don’t think that’s what it’s saying, but I can understand how you could think that.” But I did want to know what the answers were which, to me, were left hanging. So I read some other religious texts. Just the first few pages. No, this is interesting but it has nothing to do with what I’m curious about. Then I read the first few pages of The Koran — a really weird edition that actually starts with CLOTS OF BLOOD — the first Sura revealed to Muhammad — which is Sura 96 in the Koran. And I went “Oh, okay. This is it. This is the same voice from The Law and The Prophets, the Gospels and John’s Apocalypse.” And, for me, it answered the questions I had. This is the end of the novel I started reading back at Genesis 1. Except it isn’t a novel, it’s Truth, to me.

      My best guess is that everyone doing what I did will see different things, that that’s part of what Scripture is for. What you see tells you who you are and, more importantly, tells whomever you have been delegated to by God — your guardian angel or whatever — who you are. That’s a guess on my part. It’s the Word of God and coupled with self-improvement — what YOU see as self-improvement to what you think is God’s standard — puts you on the right path. If you’re an atheist just consider it a long book to read and just ask yourself “If I DID believe in God, what do I think he would want me to do?” That’s a good guideline for anyone to get them on the right path. Of course, I could be completely wrong and I freely admit that.

      Thanks for your question — I’m always surprised anytime I find a woman who’s interested in ANY of this, let alone a nuance like “claims of truthfulness” and interpretations.

      For having her question chosen, Isobel wins a CEREBUS back issue — probably a No.161 with the BONE Preview if they haven’t run out yet — personalized to him, signed by Dave and with a Cerebus head sketch. Got a question for Dave Sim? Post it here and you could win too if your question is selected.

      [Isobel – send in your mailing address to ‘momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com’ – thanks!]

      Check out the rest of the HARDtalk Virtual Tour at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.

  4. Tony Dunlop

    Dear Dave,
    I mentioned over on M of C that I’d jump at the chance to buy heirloom-quality hardcover volumes of the Cerebus saga. It seems clear that Aardvark-Vanaheim/Dave Sim does not have the resources for such an undertaking. I’d like your assessment of some of the chief obstacles to such an undertaking, assuming for the sake of argument that a sufficiently-capitalized publisher wants to do it (and that you do, too. Also if the idea doesn’t interest you, why not?).

  5. I have a question…with all the talk with Fantagraphics et al, it seems that getting a delux type archive quality book out there would be good. Given that the phone books will fall out of print eventually and the reality is that after you are gone, anyone can do anything to your work. Wouldnt it be preferable to get a better quality version out there as close to the original intent as possible? Shakespeare, marlow, Woodhouse and even some of the more modern writers had thier works altered or lost after thier deaths and even now, it is difficult to determine what the original text contained in comparison. These stories are an artistic legacy that should be given every chance to find audiences now and for decades to come. You seem at times to dismiss the merit. Many authors have felt themselves and thier work marginalized in thier lifetimes only to find acceptance and acclaim long after thier death. Doesnt Cerebus deserve the same opportunities?

  6. birdsongdr@yahoo.com

    Dave,

    High Society was never my favorite Cerebus novel and I don’t believe it is yours either. If I am wrong then please disregard this question. What I would like to know is what is you favorite of the sixteen Cerebus novels? When I say favorite I don’t mean which one you think is the best, but that does bring up a second part to my question, actually several additional parts – Which one is the best in terms of art or writing or lettering. I think everyone has their own opinion in each of those categories, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say what part of Cerebus is your best work. I do recall that you were very fond of the Africa sequence in Form & Void, but that is about all I can remember. Let me see if I can state it a little better…

    What is your favorite Cerebus novel and where in all sixteen volumes do you think you see your best writing, your best art, your best lettering.

    Wishing you the best as always and I am excited about the new digital Cerebus. Congratulations on the success with the Kickstarter campaign.

    David Birdsong

    • The Pride of Nashville, Tennessee! Thanks for showing up, David.

      You know, I have to say that I don’t really think about the CEREBUS storyline and the trade paperbacks very much. Obviously, the last ten years that Ger and I were working on the book were accomplished under a storm cloud that hasn’t diminished one iota since 2004. There’s a certain poisonous backlash that takes hold so you become half-convinced yourself that you’ve produced this incredibly flawed work. What a sad waste of 26 years of my life! That kind of thing. You look at the fact that you’re 56 years old, this is the cloud you’ve been under since you were 42 and, looking ahead, the general “received wisdom” view just isn’t showing any signs of changing. So, for all intents and purposes, there you are. I’m still very optimistic that there WILL come a day when the work will get a fair hearing but I’m now pretty sure that won’t be until long after I’m dead. So, given that I won’t live to see it, it seems best to just put CEREBUS in a mental box in the back of my mental cupboard and, you know, move on.

      That having been said, when it came time to do a new printing of RICK’S STORY…last year? The year before?…they all run together at this point. I was taking original pages over to Sandeep’s place 8 or 10 at a time. I wasn’t going to LEAVE them there…

      (I have to interrupt myself to say: I also half-convinced myself that I was as paranoid as everyone has been saying I am. I had to consciously convince myself with the HIGH SOCIETY negatives that I was just being paranoid not wanting to take them all over there so Sandeep could scan them at his leisure. It would be needlessly onerous to force him to take a bus down to my place every day or so, pick up 10 negatives and take them back, scan them, bring them back to the house, pick up another 10. Well, I’ve learned the opposite lesson: STAY paranoid. Not OVERLY paranoid. But don’t take foolish chances that seem like a bad idea.)

      …but he could scan 8 or 10 pages in an hour or so in addition to whatever else we had to talk about or needed doing. So, I’d go to the off-site storage location, get the next 10 RICK’S STORY pages, and bring them back to the house before going over to Sandeep’s place. And I read them. It’s only 10 pages, how much time can it take to read them? And I was REALLY impressed. This is REALLY good material. All the layers of complexity, all expressed in the layout, the lettering, the composition, Gerhard’s backgrounds. It’s all pulling together.

      But, it wasn’t in any way validating. I mean, there is Reality. Reality is always there. And Reality, in the comic-book world, in the general world and among a lot of CEREBUS fans is that RICK’S STORY is crap. Or, if it isn’t crap, it’s considered WAY inferior to HIGH SOCIETY. Just of interest to no one and nothing. Since my goal was to arrive at Truth or at least Reality, I can’t really avoid that. That’s the context of the thing that I created. HIGH SOCIETY is good and the rest of it is crap.

      I assume the rest of the books are the same, so there’s really no point in me looking at them or remembering them vividly. Just enough to answer questions or refer to them if I’m doing a commission or something.

      I have the same thing with glamourpuss. I’ll reread an issue or end up looking at the original art for some reason — looking for something. And, I’ll go “This is really good.” And then my auto-default “This Is The World You Live In, Dave” sense kicks in. “Oh, right, this is crap.”

      Check out the rest of the HARDtalk Virtual Tour at A Moment Of Cerebus.

  7. Hi, Dave Sim here again for a question or two from our host Taylor:

    As I understand it, your religious conversion has created some difficulties in your professional life with the people around you not understanding, and your desire to be somewhat more isolated.

    Let me interrupt there, Taylor, if I may. It really wasn’t what I would call a religious conversion because I didn’t become A Jew or A Christian or A Muslim. I see the three revelations as sequential. So, in the sense that I converted to Monotheism, yes. Might seem like a hairsplitting difference, but it’s an important one to me. Secular and atheistic people aren’t going to understand, nor do I expect them to. I don’t really bring it up myself unless someone else does — as I think is apparent in this Virtual Tour. You want to talk about funnybooks? I LOVE talking about funnybooks. You want to talk about God, I LOVE talking about God. I certainly don’t have a desire to be as isolated as I am — it’s the only way that I can think of to accommodate what I see as the false dichotomy between feminism and misogyny. Only 380 people have signed the “I Don’t Believe Dave Sim is a Misogynist” petition at ipetitions. That’s pretty much a near-universal consensus that I’m a misogynist. A misogynist shouldn’t go out in public any more than would, say, a criminal under house arrest. So that’s what I do. It would certainly be nice to go to a convention, but not under the circumstances. Or to go into any other comic store besides Paradise Comics. As I said at the beginning of these HARDtalk interviews: I am where I was put. It’s up to other people to change their minds if they want to. Otherwise I’ll make do with 380 friends — which is quite a few friends, actually.

    Sorry to interrupt.

    My question is a two-fer: First, how has your relationship with Gerhard changed? I understand he is no longer a partner in A/V and Cerebus, but I imagine that was more of a business decision, correct?

    Uh, no. It was actually quite personal on his side. “Do I have to get a lawyer and sue you?” stuck in my mind uttered in an uncharacteristically loud Gerhard voice. “Uh, no. I hope not,” I said. I paid him what he asked for his 40% of the company but we haven’t spoken in the five years since he decided to pack it in.

    We didn’t really have a relationship, per se. We worked on the same thing for a couple of decades. There was a novelty to it when we were first working together. Travel had worn off for me as a job perk, but for Gerhard it was a real novelty. Fly to California and get met at the airport and the guys who meet you buy you as many drinks as you want. That’s pretty cool if you’ve never been out of Kitchener and you like to party. It was fun to watch someone experience it for the first time. But, by the time it had worn off for him, it was just the job we did together. He wasn’t a comic fan. Comics are my life. I’m an urban guy, he’s Mr. Outdoors to the nth degree. There was nothing we could do in the way of socializing that would interest both of us.

    Second, has your new outlook and the reactions to it in the industry actually improved any of your relationships with other creators or friends? Are they now assessing you differently and perhaps more objectively as a person?

    Mm. You’d have to ask THEM on that last question. I was pleasantly surprised when Mike and Blair Kitchen (of SPY GUY and THE POSSUM respectively) and their wives and kids showed up at The Last Signing in Halifax. I mean, it’s a good three-day drive from Ontario to Nova Scotia and they live about an hour down the highway from me. I think it originated when I answered a letter of Mike’s and suggested maybe his wife could make us dinner sometime. He does an interesting book and he did that great cartoon in CEREBUS READERS IN CRISIS, wrote me an interesting letter, he and Blair have both signed the petition. You know, why NOT go for dinner, if he’s interested? So, I think the choice to drive all the way to The Last Signing was to see what sort of friction there might be.

    “YOU’RE NOT GOING TO ACTUALLY EXPOSE YOUR WIFE AND KIDS TO DAVE SIM ARE YOU?!” People actually said that to him and Blair. I don’t know what they thought I was going to do. Beat Erika and Rochelle senseless and eat the smaller kids? We all got along fine. The last vacation I took was when CEREBUS ended and I flew to Italy to stay with Billy Beach and his wife and two kids. Billy also signed the petition. I LIVE in absolute and total peace and quiet so a good vacation is a that non-stop family thing. Don’t worry about making conversation, you’ll be lucky if anyone can HEAR you most of the time. What are they doing now? Screaming their heads off. Aren’t you, like, worried? Shouldn’t we see what they’re doing? Oh, no, that’s just “doing gymnastics on the living room furniture” screaming. A nuance with which I am, to say the least, wholly unfamiliar. I do a day or two visit in July and then again just before Christmas.

    Thanks for the questions Taylor.

    For having his question chosen, Taylor wins a CEREBUS back issue, personalized to him, signed by Dave and with a Cerebus head sketch. Got a question for Dave Sim? Post it here and you could win too if your question is selected.

    Check out the rest of the HARDtalk Virtual Tour at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.

    • I signed the petition today, having really chosen to let it sink in and decide if i believed the statement and wanted to affix my name to it. I left a very long winded note in the comments too. Your definition and the reactions to the whole issue swayed me into signing the petition. You go Dave!

  8. JAMES WALEY

    Posted on FB today by Blair’s wife Rochelle, thought you’d like to know …

    A NEW LIVER, A NEW HEART
    Bryan Hunt | October 4, 2012

    “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

    Many of you know a young man in our church called Blair Kitchen. He is a husband and a father of 3. Blair has a liver disease, which has plagued him for years. He has been hospitalized numerous times and his condition has deteriorated to the place where he needs a new liver. Blair is on the donor list, but the list is long and there is no guarantee when the next suitable liver will become available.
    I am a part of the same small group as Blair. Every meeting we hear the latest updates on Blair’s condition and we get the chance to lay on hands and pray for him and his family. Another member of our small group is Joe Biggar. Joe recently felt prompted to begin the process of being tested as a possible liver donor for Blair.

    The human liver has remarkable regenerative capacities. In a living donor transplantation, a piece of the healthy liver is surgically removed from a living person and transplanted into a recipient, immediately after the recipient’s diseased liver has been entirely removed. In a typical transplant, 55 to 70% of the liver is removed from a healthy living donor. The donor’s liver will regenerate approaching 100% function within 4–6 weeks of the procedure. But there is a significant risk to both the donor and the recipient.

    To be an organ donor you have to go through rigorous testing. First of all, you need to be a compatible blood type. Secondly, your liver needs to be a comparable size with the recipient’s. Thirdly, your liver needs to be dividable. Up to 70% of the donor’s liver is removed and some livers can’t be divided in the appropriate location.

    Joe has gone through all of these tests and has been found to be a suitable donor. The operation date is October 17th.

    Although, we will all pray like crazy and believe that Joe and Blair will come through strong and healthy, there is a chance of complications. Joe knows these risks, yet has chosen to go ahead with the procedure, because he loves his friend and wants him to be restored to health.

    What a picture of the gospel. Jesus knew that he would need to lay down His life – for you, for me. He gave us His heart – pure, healthy and eternal, for our hearts – sick and dying with sin. We call it the great exchange. ”God made him who knew no sin, Jesus, to become sin,” that would be our sin, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:21. We have been given Jesus’ righteousness. He gave us a heart transplant and unlike Joe, He knew for certain that it would be unto death. He took our sick and dying heart upon himself. He gave us everything in return.

    Pray for Joe and Blair. Pray for their families. Pray that Jesus is glorified through their bodies on October 17th. Pray that the gospel is proclaimed through their lives. Worship the God who gave you a new heart.

    • Hi James,
      I’m of two minds, I’m afraid. I dearly love the guy and when I think of him dying, the first thing I think is “No more THE POSSUM?!?” Followed by how rough it would be for Rochelle and the kids and the rest of his extended family who love him dearly (just, unlike me, not PRIMARILY for THE POSSUM). I visited him in the hospital in Toronto back in July — him hoping that he would be out in time for our biannual Sim/Kitchen families get-together, which wasn’t to be — and got to read the first few rough pencil pages for the next issue. Laughing out loud. He’s one of the world’s natural funny cartoonists. At the same time, personal belief system, I really hate Frankenstein medicine. I can’t picture it for myself but, from what I understand, the decision is out of your hands. You can’t decide NOT to. One of my nightmares — wanting to “go” and instead being made to “stay” because there’s a 100% consensus that “stay” is better than “go”.

      Just to elaborate a bit: my personal view is that the reason behind our dreaming and waking lives is that that represents metaphorically our own graduation into the next life. Every day of our physically- incarnated lives we go into an hours-long hibernation that seems sensible to us while we’re going through it and then as soon as we wake up, we realize exactly how bizarre and incoherent it was and how much better our waking lives are (at least in terms of coherent, sequential experience — we’ve all had the experience of wishing we could have stayed in the dreamworld a while longer). If true, it would certainly cast the “tragedy of death” in a different light. It’s not really a tragedy, it’s something that we should welcome as the natural order of things. Of course, that depends on having confidence there is a next a life and this it is so much more coherent than this one that no one, coming fully awake, would think “Gosh, I really wish I could go back there again.” Any more than we would prefer our dreaming life to our actual life.

      And, of course, that would make “Frankenstein medicine” look very strange from “the other side”. Understandable given the limited understanding of reality we have on “this side” but just another aspect of the incoherence. How could I have thought that a transplant or a heart bypass or a pacemaker was a sensible thing? How could I have gotten that far from reality.

      Still, speaking from “this side” I really do want to read THE POSSUM comics for many years to come and if Blair has made a decision that will allow me to do that, I’d have to view it as a guilty pleasure on a very high plateau. I’d rather that Blair have many more years of our present physically-incarnated existence just so I can read more of his work. :)

      As I’ve said elsewhere on many occasions, I don’t pray FOR things. It seems ridiculous to me. God is the creator of the universe. I hardly think He needs a verbal post-it note from me to remind Him what it is that I think He needs to do. My faith tells me that God ALWAYS does what is best and, by definition, God — having the Highest Possible Overview — is the only one who knows what that is. Sometimes His decisions are going to make me happy and sometimes they aren’t. God’s will be done.

  9. The first Cerebus thing I read was Rick’s Story. I started their because it was the least expensive one I saw used. I can’t say if that is the reason why, but I’d probably rank it 5th in my favorite portions of Cerebus (above it Minds, Jaka’s Story, Last Day, & Going Home).

  10. Dear Kitchen Family,
    I had no idea that this was being endured behind the scenes. Now that I do, I thank and praise God for your wonderful local support family of our fellow Christians – who have surrounded you with such love – fully living out Jesus’ command for us to bear one another’s burdens. This is an example of living faith that transforms lives through love, not only for each other, but for the whole world of our fellow human beings. So often we are beaten down by “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and tempted to believe God no longer cares. But our needed reconciliation to one another from our deep alienation from God, creation, each other and even ourselves, begins to be transformed into our living in the Kingdom of God – by actions like Joe’s and yours.

  11. Hey everyone,
    Blair Kitchen here… I’m typing from Toronto General Hospital 7 days after receiving the above mentioned liver transplant. I know in my heart, without a doubt, that God’s hand was in this, and the process of prayer and seeking God’s will in my life and the lives of my loved ones over the past years has brought me closer to seeing God’s glory. Never once was I afraid of not making it through the operation, because I believe Paul’s words “to live is Christ and to die is gain”. In my case, I believe God has more planned for me than with him at the moment, but either way, it’s about what God wants and not about what I want. I strongly believe in asking God for things, like I would like my own children to come to me. God wants a relationship like I want a relationship with my kids… respect, love, compassion… everything. It’s made me realize, just as Jesus gave his life for us, knowing he would suffer death, Joe risked his life for me, knowing there was a possibility of death, and no matter how much I say thank you to Joe, paying him back is just not possible. In the same way, trying to pay Jesus back for his sacrifice is futile, so instead we are to live in humble gratitude each day, thankful for these gifts.
    I also struggled with the ‘frankenstein’ surgery. It wasn’t until I was forced to struggle all the way through with it that I realized how many people could be blessed through an act like this, and if we have a chance to share lovefull acts that can effect people’s lives positively than that’s a good thing. Sometimes we try to over think things.

    Anywho… I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m doing well (still feels like I was run over by a truck, but I think the truck is slowly backing off of me one tire at a time). Joe is doing REALLY good and was sent home after 5 days!! (praise God). Thanks for all of the kind wishes and prayers.

    • Blair, we all figured when we didn’t hear anything for a bit… that you just might be “playing Possum.”
      Any of us will can and will be confronted by some of the challenges common to humankind, but it is not the circumstances that differentiate but the choices we make in response. What Joe and you have chosen is God’s love, to give and receive freely. This is an inspiring example to us all, when so many of us are consumed with conflict and hatred, of how we can instead be reconciled and transformed to live out God’s Kingdom, beginning here. This is God’s perfect will.

  12. Legacy question time. How will you want to be remembered in the years and decades to come after you are gone? I know there will always be controversy surrounding you to a degree, so leaving that aside, how do you WANT to be remembered? Or is that even important to you? Is is just that the work stands for itself, or as long as you are remembered by the people you knew personally is that all that matters? Also, there are times where you sound not so much bitter in what you have said on line and in interviews, but lonely. Are you? I know the semi seclusion is your choice to be able to work and worship freely, but are there regrets in that lifestyle for you? Being happy in life is the only goal that matters in the temporal existance. Have you reached that point yet? I know the quote “call no man happy untill he is dead” but I dont believe that people shouldnt assess thier own progress either.
    Thanks for doing the virtual tour by the way. It has been fun and interesting. I look forward each morning to the new Q&A, and hope you continue it for a good long while!

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