Glamourpuss with Dave Sim
Glamourpuss is -
David Sim, publisher, writer/artist, specialty lettering
Michael Allred, cover (#19), Dave Sim (# 20, 21, 22)
Sandeep S. Atwal, graphic design, digital production, research assistant
Lettering in Glamourpuss produced using ComicCraft’s JOE KUBERT lettering font
Publishing House – AARDVARK-VANAHEIM INC.
Glamourpuss #19 features a salute to rectangles: a glamourpuss exclusive and with its red cover featuring a naked woman looking into a mirror holding a fizzy drink, her breasts covered with the classic black bar. It’s a difficult book to ignore.
Glamourpuss covers are always cheeky, the models tongue sticking out and eyes crossed. The title is only a few years old, the first issue was printed in 2008 and it’s not what you might first think.
Initially, back when issue one came out, I picked it up because I though it was a comic book about fashion. Turns out it’s more MAD magazine meets an education in comic book how-to.
All those years back paging through the first issue one, particular panel struck me – a drawing of Sarah Jessica Parker from her Lovely perfume campaign. I picked it up immediately and now I’m hooked.
Glamourpuss – The high fashion comic that’s so six months ago – features heroine Glamourpuss, a highly fashionable top-secret agent. The premise of Glamourpuss is three-fold: a parody of fashion magazines, a history of photo-realism in comics and a surreal super-heroine comic. It features 24-pages of black and white story and art.
Almost four years later and the independent title published out of Aardvark-Vanaheim Inc. is still going strong. Dave Sim is after all the guru of self publishing.
After a few weeks of back and forth, Sim and I finally sat down to discuss his adventure into Glamourpuss. It was a muggy day in June when we met at the Metropolitan Hotel at Chestnut St. and Dundas Ave. in Toronto to discuss Glamourpuss and were she’s headed in the future – when she gets out of jail for allegedly smuggling cocaine that is.
CBD: What inspired Glamourpuss?
DS: The real inspiration was the great photo-realists, particularly Al Williamson. I did a sequence late in Cerebus (Cerebus the Aardvark 1977 – 2004) called The Girls of Fruitcake Park and I had done models and traced them out of fashion magazines and inked them in an Al Williamson style, I thought ‘wow I wanna do a lot more than this!’ That was really the primary motivation. I sat down and did the first three fashion pictures that looked like Al Willamson drawings to begin with and I was just doing it for my own pleasure, but I was enough of a comic book guy that it was like – I have to turn this into a comic book.”
CBD: And how do you choose the images from magazines which end up in Glamourpuss?
DS: That really just comes from the sensibility of having looked at and adored Al Williamson’s art all of these years and Alex Raymond, Neal Adams and Stan Drake. I go through the fashion magazine and all of a sudden I go ‘her’. One of the guys who’s an art collector and a huge Williamson fan like I am, saw the first issue on the wall and went – ‘oh I know her from Al Williamson!’ I said ‘No, you know the polka dot dress.’ Al Williamson does the large black polka dot dresses as a motif and that’s why when I saw that in the fashion magazine that was it – ‘it’s gotta be her, she’s gotta be in Glamourpuss.’
CBD: Where do you get your magazines; do you have any subscriptions?
DS: I had a subscription to Glamour for about a year because when I went back and looked at the magazine, I hadn’t seen one since 1998 when I broke up with my last girlfriend and it was amazing. Some of them would be bold and some of them have gone really downhill. Cosmo’s incredibly skanky, it was like ‘oh, man!’ I felt dirty just reading it in the way that I used to not reading Playboy but Hustler or something like that – ‘this is really skuzzy.’
And then the magazines themselves started to migrate so you couldn’t rely on one magazine. So I would go very far field when I’m doing superhero parodies; I’d go and get Paris Vogue because they have the weirdest pictures in there. They all look like superheros or being’s from another world so half your job’s done.
CBD: Is there a particular fashion designer you like to draw or perhaps a type of woman?
DS: That changes as well. In 2008, Michael Kors – every ad that Michael Kors did was like this Stan Drake dream comic come true and I’m going ‘this is my guy’. And then I guess he must have fired his photographer, he went and got somebody else and all of a sudden they were real nice ads but they didn’t look like Stan Drake panels. At this point I do migrate – Nine West has great ads right now. Guess does some interesting stuff.
It’s interesting in a way because it’s like I’m pirating something, but at the same time I don’t credit the person. And it’s fashion so it’s like, if it’s last month it’s dead meat ya know, it’s of no use to the photographer or anyone else. So it’s like ‘that’s the nicest looking dead meat I’ve ever seen in my life. Can I borrow that and turn it into a Stan Drake page?’
CBD: Can you tell me a little about the technique you use – tracing the images and then transferring them to an art board and then inking.
DS: Basically over the course of the first three years I began to divide the process into two stages. The first is tracing the photograph as accurately as possible – tracing it in reverse on a light table – and then when I transfer it forget about the photograph. Now I start focusing on Stan Drake panels and Al Williamson or Neal Adams or whoever it reminded me of and treat it as the raw material for that drawing.
I get into awful trouble where I’m sitting there going – ‘I can’t get the eye.’ It’s like of course you can’t, it’s like sixty-fourth of an inch wide and it’s perfect. It’s a supermodel, so it’s an absolutely perfectly shaped eye. It gives you great reverence for God’s handy work. It’s like ‘man-o-man I can’t even draw that and God created that’ – It’s just absolutely amazing.
CBD: Can you explain the cross hatching technique you use?
DS: Cross hatching is like a bottomless pit. You can go finer and finer and finer with the pen. I’m already training myself to use an absolutely brand new Hunt 102 pen nib so it’s the absolute sharpest it can get. Then you can do vertical, horizontal. Then you go ‘if I just do one diagonal it’ll look so much better.’ And then you get that done and you go ‘if I just do the other diagonal it’ll look so much better’. And now I’m going how do you get in between the diagonal and the horizontal and that’s when you know you’ve pretty much lost your mind.
CBD: Can you tell me about drawing the diamond rings for the Billionaire pre-nup issue?
DS: (Laughing) That’s great, only a female would ask that. I got the first one done and I went – ‘no no no this is billionaire diamond rings’. So I took the nicest diamond ring and I enlarged it about 20 or 30 per cent, just the gem, and kept the ring the same size.
That’s one of the processes of discovery that went on with Glamourpuss, finding out stuff that is really cool to draw in the Al Williamson, Stan Drake, Neal Adams sense. Diamond rings is one because of all the facets the more you copy. Here’s the grey area so you cross hatch that. Here are the sharp reflections so you put that in black. Same thing with the perfume bottles. Man, now I know why women like perfume bottles some of those are just absolute works of art in themselves, you look at it and go that would look really good — Ya, but it’ll also take about a day and a half to get all those facets in there. Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes it’s not.
I haven’t done a perfume bottle in a while – thanks for reminding me. I will do a perfume bottle coming up real soon.
CBD: You do most of the covers yourself. How did the Michael Allred cover come up?
DS: That actually started on CerebusTV. I did a segment on Michael Allred and I did Madvark (Sim’s Cerebus the Aardvark as Allred’s Madman) not realizing that Michael is this world-class collector of other characters as Madman. And he’s like ‘I gotta have that, I gotta have that’. And I’m like ‘make me an offer’ and he’s like “well, Laura doesn’t want me to spend any money but she’ll let me trade.’ So I said ‘will you do a Glamourpuss cover?’
I said specifically ‘do a fashion picture, just get a fashion magazine, just make it a recent fashion magazine’ and he sends me a nude with a rectangle on it! And I went ‘oh.’
The comic book field is hopeless for that – ‘nothin’ better than a naked woman, unless it’s a skin-tight spandex costume but I like naked myself.’
He’s this nice religious guy and he sends me a nude with a rectangle on it (laughs). So I don’t know what to do, I haven’t done superheros in a while, everybody wants superheros cause it’s the comic book scene. So, it’s like League of Extraordinary Hosebags and then I made the mistake of mentioning it to Sandi and he goes ‘do it, do it, do it’ and it’s like oh right, so I get in trouble.
CBD: Hosebags eh, is that going a little too far?
DS: I don’t know. I stopped going to clubs way late at like 47 back in 2003 and I still miss that whole environment. So I sit down and I watch the videos. I watch Much, MuchMore and MoreJuiced and it’s like ‘man-o-man’ it’s getting pretty skanky at this point. I mean over the edge. But it’s great, you know, the choreography and they get it going. They’ve refined that hip hop beat so it’s like ‘this is really good.’ I can just picture this in a club.
At the same time you go, I’m 55 years old, we haven’t stopped, we’re still going further in that direction. It’s like ‘do it like a dude, grab your crotch like a dude’. I’d call that going over the edge. It’s like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears – whoever gets skankiest first wins. You know, it’s like you guys where mouseketeers, Annette Funicello never did this. I would have liked it if she did.
I was doing so good till then wasn’t I?
CBD: I read a book called Female Chauvinist Pigs, by Ariel levy, and the conclusion was that women are throttling up on power, sexuality and essentially ‘acting like men’ to further themselves in their careers but really they are modeling themselves after these superstars who essentially are modeling themselves after sex trade workers as sex objects.
DS: Well yeah I definitely agree with that. There’s a lot of elements to it. There’s this video that I was watching, you know – ‘Do it like a guy’ and they’re showing them pouring shooter after shooter and it’s like women don’t weigh as much as men. You don’t want to be hitting the booze like a barfly when you’re a girl all of 19 – 20 years old.
As Robin Williams used to say ‘oh don’t go there Mr. Williams’.
CBD: The opposite can be true too, I’ve seen girls do shot after shot and tear up the town afterwards.
DS: And again we’re both talking basically about the same thing which is erosion. You can increase your capacity for alcohol, but you’re really mortgaging your future. And you see the same thing in Toronto, in Ontario removing the prostitution laws and now making them sex trade workers and we have to protect these women. And it’s like, you know, every condo building is just riddled with prostitutes and now they become this force in society. It’s like the videos now. Wait until these people are invading the legislature.
CBD: What can we expect from upcoming issues of Glamourpuss?
DS: Thank you for asking, you’re the first comics reporter who has ever asked me about Glamourpuss and I was convinced it must be a scam – Toronto and a girl?
We have Glamourpuss 22 coming out and you’ll notice that instead of it being the fourth annual swimsuit issue, it’s not the fourth annual swimsuit issue and that’s because I’ve decided to go off in a completely different direction. I’m doing a Zatanna parody, Zutannapuss.
There’s also a Glamourpuss 22 incentive cover and this is probably very destructive of the comic book field, but we’re all just trying to keep ourselves alive. So, for the Zutannapuss number one cover you gotta buy four of the regular ones to even get the number one cover. Now is that absolutely evil or is that absolutely evil?
So here we have splash page for 22. Somebody had asked Neil Gaiman about Glamourpuss and Neil had (reportedly) said “oh I like his story.’ Which is like ‘gee thanks Neil, that’s a real vote of confidence’, so I have this female horror story which is going on right now.
From here I don’t really know what I’m doing next now that Glamourpuss is in jail for potential cocaine trafficking. She’s not going to be getting out for a while so I have to keep coming up with new idea’s.
Be sure to catch Sim Friday’s at 10 p.m. for new episodes of CerebusTV where readers and fans get a sneak peek into upcoming issues as well as other hot topics in the comic book field, like creator interviews.
Look for Glamourpuss #20 on comic book shelves Wednesday July 27.