Oh my God!
A friend sent me the url for this discussion so I checked it out. I never realised that I'd stirred up such a hornet's nest with such an innocuous little story! I'm very sorry that some people think that I'm an "ass" and a "dick" for telling a funny wee story about Dave. I honestly didn't think that people would take it so seriously.
I happen to like Dave (although I've not seen him for years. Last time was when he was at my house about 15 years ago, after I'd arranged for him to give a talk at the local SF/comic group) and I also love Cerebus and describe it in THE NAKED ARTIST as a seminal work, which it was. I have a lot of respect for Dave in following his creative vision and some of his work on Cerebus is the finest I've seen in the comic medium. I have a framed ink drawing of Cerebus on my dining room wall that he did for me. The Naked Artist, though, wasn't the arena in which to discuss this stuff. I wasn't writing a book about creative geniuses. It was a book about funny stories.
I don't think that Dave has actually read the book. Otherwise, I can't imagine that he would be so upset about it.
Likewise, I think that the problem is that most people in this discussion have seen this story plucked completely out of context, taken from a book of intentionally silly anecdotes which I take many pains at pointing out aren't necessarily TRUE. In the book I state several times that these stories are urban legends of the comic industry and that, while they are myths, it IS true that they are TOLD. This was the only criterion that allowed entry. I need to restate this for clarity's sake: I make it plain in The Naked Artist that the stories are in there because they're TOLD, not because they're TRUE. The book is subtitled: COMIC BOOK LEGENDS. Does that telegraph it or what?
Some of you seem to be under the illusion that The Naked Artist is some sort of comic industry equivalent of HOLLYWOOD BABYLON or even THE NATIONAL INQUIRER. It's nothing of the sort. The stories aren't even "gossip". It's just a fun book collecting together many of the daft or outrageous tales that comic pros tell each other. Something that I thought fans would find fun to read. I avoid scurrilous stories of private sexual encounters and serious criminal activities - in fact anything that I thought would be devastating for those involved. I could have told a lot of those if I'd been writing that sort of book, which I will never do.
Dave and Jeff's "feud" (which is a tiny section of a book over 40,000 words long) is pretty well documented and, after reading Dave's account of the final few words (which seems to have caused all the heated debate), his version varies very little from mine. It's just a question of how that last particular interaction can be interpreted. Anyhow, THAT doesn't matter: all I was interested in was the tale. The book's about storytelling - telling a story with a punchline. I do go on to say that Jeff and Dave "teamed up" after this to participate in a tsunami charity auction so as to show Dave in a positive light, to show that he was "a good sport". I thought he was.
Perhaps, as has been suggested, I could have asked Dave for his side of it. In reality, after spending 4 or 5 years working on the graphic novel ALICE IN SUNDERLAND, I was longing to produce something quickly. I had the idea for the book in the shower one morning. I was thinking about some of the funny stories I'd heard over the years and it occurred to me that some comic readers would be interested and amused to hear them. I wrote it all, very quickly, over a month. This didn't give me much time to question many of the protagonists, though I did contact a few - most of whom supplied me with a few more about themselves that were worse. There's that one story about Dave that all the fuss is about here. There are many outrageous tales about, for example, Glenn Fabry - about 6 from memory. Glenn even gave me a quote to use on the back cover, which shows that he has a wicked sense of humour. I don't have Dave's email address, or I would have asked him. As his story takes up such a miniscule proportion of the book and it's all about a tiny storm-in-a-teacup anyway, I never tried. If I'd have known that the piece would be taken out of context and analyzed (with the emphasis on "anal") I probably would have done. Guys, it's not something to get worked up about. Debate Iraq or healthcare in America or something else that's actually serious.
I do make fun of Dave's "feminist/marxist" thing in one sentence. I think that's fair enough, as he does go on about this himself, in extenso. I don't imply that he's a nut job. I have a great Michael Netzer story in the book. Mike knows that he is the Second Coming. No, really. I actually think he is. I use the phrase "mad as a box of frogs" when describing him. Mike loves the book and he also gave me a quote for the back cover. I think here that I'm trying to make the point again - that this is a book no-one should be upset about, including the people in it.
To my mind, the most embarrassing story in the whole book is the Grant Morrison "India" one. Grant's seen the book. He thought it was hilarious.
I don't think that any of the creators I mention can have any beef with anything that I wrote about them anyway, since I tell more daft stories about myself than any other. The book should be available free online soon through COMICMIX if you want to check it out for yourself. Check out the reviews of the book by doing a simple websearch. They will ALL tell you that it's purely a piece of fun - nothing nasty, nothing malicious. If you think otherwise, that's your problem. I wrote this book with no cash up front, then went out to find a publisher. Fortunately, Joe Gentile at Moonstone loved it.
As I quote from Oscar Wilde in the introduction "There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that's not being talked about."
Hope that this isn't inappropriate - me barging in on a community discussion - but I won't be joining in afterwards, so please feel free to rip me to shreds.
And - oh, yes - there is a John Byrne story in the book.
Just thought that I should throw in my two pennies' worth in order to put the thing into perspective. A reality check, if you will. The Naked Artist isn't an attack on a creator I personally and professionally admire. It's a fun book that has people crying with laughter, or so I read. And that was its raison d'etre.
Best wishes to you all,
If anyone wants to email me privately, you can do it through my website: http://www.bryan-talbot.com