When last we left Cerebus creator Dave Sim, he was contemplating a grim existence as his declining productivity and shrinking market place left him few recourses to make a living. Fortunately for all, he was saved from a life of dining on Fancy Feast by a Kickstarter campaign, the arrival of cover work from IDW, and an agreement to publish a print version of the digital High Society, whatever that is. And now, as he discusses in a post at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS, he’s found a new way to make money: selling artwork. But this being Dave Sim, there’s a whole campaign behind this plan. Sim has held on to a surprising amount of Cerebus artwork, and has no desire to sell it all; fortunately a small auction of 10 pieces at Heritage will, it is hoped, set up a pricing guideline so that future sales of IDW cover artwork will create an income:

A couple of weeks later, I thought, Maybe I’m being way too Rube Goldberg about this “how do I make a living in my fifties?” thing. Why not get basic and just do, say, four covers a month? So, I asked. Apprehensive that it would be, “Uh, no Dave — just MARS ATTACKS, okay?” Letting me figure out for myself that I’m a) too old and b) completely out of fashion. No, not YET anyway. They had, like, 19 titles for me to pick from. Warning me away from the franchises that tend to want to micromanage the property.

And then a couple of weeks later it occurred to me: hey, what if I auction the covers through Heritage? That was one of the things Lon and I went around and around about. You want to BUILD a market for your work. Put a bunch of pages in the catalogue, fine, but they also do weekly auctions. Get buyers used to the pages turning up on an on-going basis. This ties in with your next question, so go ahead.

As usual, Sim lays out his plans with more aplomb than we could muster to paraphrase, so you should read the whole post, really. Sim does ascribe the decline in his fortunes to what he calls “the political climate”:

I’m at the low ebb of earnings potential because of…let me be diplomatic…the political climate. I’m pretty sure the climate will change:  you can’t ignore the only 6,000 page graphic novel forever, I don’t think but it has been ignored for twenty years and there’s no sign of it being paid attention to. People love Rockwell. People hate Dave Sim. So, for me, it requires more of a process of pulling the wagons in a circle and keeping my powder dry. Keeping myself and CEREBUS from being destroyed in my lifetime and for as long after I’m dead as proves to be necessary. I think about it a lot. I’m making progress.

Indeed—the auction for Heritage is going well so far, and Sim will be in New York this Thursday and Friday to sign autographs.

We’re thrilled to tell you that the great Dave Sim will be attending both days of our Comics auction this week, February 21 and 22. He will be signing autographs and doing sketches for fans (for free). Come meet him in person!

The auction will be held at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion (aka Ukrainian Institute of America) at 2 E. 79th Street, New York, NY. The auction sessions begin at noon Eastern both days.

This Heritage action includes the original art to the first three WATCHMEN covers—all 12 will eventually be sold—making this one of the most significant comics art auctions in a while. The WATCHMEN covers are expected to go for six figures.

All of Sim’s fundraising is helping pay for the publication of , which actually looks pretty intriguing.



  1. Is this guy always so dramatic? So basically, to make a living, he’s doing work-for-hire and selling his art. Wasn’t that always an option? Why’d he have to basically threaten to shuffle off and die in the dark to do it? People do it all the time.

  2. ” you can’t ignore the only 6,000 page graphic novel forever, I don’t think but it has been ignored for twenty years and there’s no sign of it being paid attention to.”

    Eh. I tried the first CEREBUS phone book and was underwhelmed. A lot of folks talk about how great it gets later on, but…

    1. Why should I invest time in something like that when there’s so much great stuff out there which doesn’t require me to wade through the merely okay?

    2. Much of the praise of CEREBUS is that it becomes so artistically/creatively interesting and not that it’s a really outstanding piece of entertainment.

    Dave Sim seems like a great example in comics that everyone needs and editor and that doing high quality work isn’t enough in and of itself. You have to do stuff people actually want to read.


  3. @MBunge Cerebus is one of the few comics that successfully self published -for 300 issues no less. An amazing feat unequalled by anybody. It’s a testament to both it’s artistic and “stuff people actually want to read” (as you put it lol) appeal.

  4. “Cerebus is one of the few comics that successfully self published -for 300 issues no less.”

    Where’s the money? I mean, maybe Dave Sim lived life like a rap star with a posse and gold chains and “makin’ it rain” at the strip club every Friday night, but that’s not the impression I got. The impression I get is that Sim spend a long time publishing a comic that relatively few people read and which isn’t proving to be a perennial best seller in the trade market.


  5. Well, actually he was quite a “rapstar/rockstar” back in the day when he was younger:) Cerebus was one the closest things to rock in the comic book industry back then. Considering how many years ago since the last new Cerebus material -and that he and Gerhard have been basically living off that…i don’t know too many examples in the comicbook industry you’ll find that even compares. On the contrary it’s an industry that has a reputation for treating it’s artists abysmally.

  6. “Considering how many years ago since the last new Cerebus material -and that he and Gerhard have been basically living off that”

    I’d appreciate it if anyone can correct me, but my impression is that the last few years of producing Cerebus were like the Bataan Death March. The book wasn’t selling. They weren’t making any money off it. They were just bound and determined to see the thing through.


  7. Most self-publishers would have killed for the the numbers they were getting even towards the end lol Sure all art, indie movies, books, music etc could stop being alternative and go mainstream and make even more money.

  8. Is Cerebus worth reading/entertaining? I’d place “High Society,” “Church & State,” & “Jaka’s Story” alongside the best comics of the 1980s.

  9. “Most self-publishers would have killed for the the numbers they were getting even towards the end lol”

    1. Do you know what those numbers were?

    2. The homeless guy who has to cover himself with newspapers while he sleeps envies the homeless guy who has a refrigerator box to live in. That doesn’t mean the guy living in the cardboard box really has it that good.

    You can be as arty and indy as you want. I certainly salute Sim for doing it the way he wanted it done. But we should all understand there can be and often is a big downside to that sort of thing.


  10. There’s a huge downside to integrity period -for sure. But considering that Dave lives in one of the nicest neighborhoods there is in what is probably a million dollar home all paid for….he’s hardly homeless.

  11. @MBunge: Don’t even bother “wading through,” then. The second, third, and fourth Cerebus phonebooks (“High Society,” “Church & State I,” “Church & State II”) are some of the finest comics I’ve ever read (yes, as pure entertainment, not merely as political statement or creative curiosity), and you won’t be lost by skipping the Conan pastiche that the book started out as.

  12. @MBunge: “Do you know what those numbers were?”

    Plucking a random issue from the Comichron archives, #287 (just over a year before the end) sold 6805 copies through Diamond, which would usually put it around position 200-250 on the sales chart. That’s at a level better than most lower tier Image/Dark Horse/IDW/Dynamite/etc. books.

  13. As many have above have said, High Society, Church and State and Jaka’s Story are all high water marks in comics, both from an artistic and entertainment standpoint. Essential reading for any fan of the art. We’re talking something like issues 26-136 or so.

    Things started getting a bit wonky with Melmoth. The artistry was still there, but it got a bit dry.

    Picked up nicely again with the next plotline, Flight, which began to unveil much of the backstory Sim had been teasing us with for 150 issues. That plotline (along with Women, Reads and Minds) took us through issue 200 whereupon the “plot” portion of Cerebus was basically done.

    Sadly around issue 186 Sim went on an anti female rant, declaring women to be “voids” consuming the substance of the masculine or something like that., that caused him to sever ties with many of his allies in the industry, most notably Jeff “Bone” Smith. Smith and his wife appears in that very issue, thinly disguised. This was around the time that Sim had a religious conversion.

    The last 100 issues are gorgeous to look at, but difficult to read. Things hit a low-point in Latter Days when Cerebus spends 20 issues or so reading the Torah with his acolytes the Stooges while ranting about Woody Allen (I kid you not.)

    I really wonder how Cerebus would have ended if Sim had written the ending when he was in his 20’s. The Sim who wrote High Society was not the same Sim who wrote Latter Days.

  14. Y’know, for someone who’s gone on and about the dangers of the feminization of males in modern society, Sim is just a huge drama queen.

  15. Sim is a dramatic crybaby, but to echo everyone here, Church & State, High Society, and Jaka’s Story are some of the best comics ever created.

    I have no idea why Sim is afraid of Cerebus being ignored. The only thing that will keep it ignored is keeping the comics locked in those antiquated phone books that don’t hold up.

  16. To qualify some of the above, being “indie” or “arty” or even “full of integrity” does not always mean ” good.” That is as true for Dave Sim as for anyone else.

    Some of Sim’s work will hold up forever, some might get ignored. Heck, critics and readers slam the last 10 chapters of “Huckleberry Finn” but still praise the first 31 chapters. People still praise Miller’s “Dark Knight” while his “Holy Terror” is in the bargain bin.

  17. Poor Dave Sim said a lot of assholish misogynist things. Now it’s a conspiracy how people hate him for all the assholish misogynist things he said. Dave Sim is one of those smart guys who can’t get out of his own way and for a while it was OK, but now it doesn’t work anymore and he has to find a “logical” reason that explains it where the answer isn’t that he’s just a miserable person who hates women because they don’t all just keep quiet and let him always be right and have sex with them anytime he wants it. Voids…

  18. To my knowledge Dave never fulminated against women for not letting him “have sex with them anytime he wants it.”

    He doesn’t think they should have been given the vote, among other things. I would assume that alone ought to be enough, so why make up stuff?

  19. Dave Sim comes off like one of those chip-on-the shoulder types, who’s eager to paint everybody with the same brush. ..Some men have issues with particular women but that’s no reason to suggest stuff like denying them the right to vote. As a matter of fact, I know this one girl I’d be quite happy to see hand-pick the next president, if she’d just stop talking about her hamster.

  20. He has since “clarified”/reneged, or however you want to put, and said he’s not against women voting. And hey he’s a huge admirer/fan of Margaret Thatcher among others. oh yay:) lol

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