Tuesday, March 7, 2017

in appreciation of the chester brown/dave sim whore feud

Chet Brown and Dave Sim are feuding about "whoredom" (i.e., petty comics grievances) again and it is currently my everything.

This is what I want, this is what I need: two of Comics' most unhinged deviants, debating the relative merits of paying for sex on a Sim-fan wank blog for my motherfucking edification. Just two intensely unattractive, emotionally stunted men's impotent attempts to own one another on a bunch of microblogs and pretend like they're having a debate about sex, which they both definitely have all the time with real human women that they either pay or do not pay, each according to his own thoughtful practice. On one side we have a libertarian Canadian who lives in your basement and grooms himself with a cat brush; on the other we have a 60-year-old man who is plainly out of his ever-loving mind. This is Deep Comics--intensely strange, obsessive, and petty behavior--and I am here for it all fucking day.

Oh man, where to start with "Dave Sim" by Chester Brown. Let's begin w/ the fact that it was prompted by two Patreon updates in which Brown meditates on an old Dave Sim quote, as one does. Chet lays down the first gentle own--something about how if Sim is bored at a party, it's "certainly not God's fault." (??) I really dunno what he's talking about, but I think we can all agree it sounds like a normal meditation on God and Dave Sim for one to share with one's Patreon community. Classic Chester. Anyway his Patreon updates were picked up and reposted by a Sim wank blog (maybe the the most comprehensive wank blog I've seen this side of David Foster Wallace fandom) and then considered, at great length, by Mr. Sim himself in the comments. (That guy's google alerts must go deep.) Sim immediately turns it up to 11, starting with "Chester is not my friend" and continuing down the line of "I can't believe Chester refused to sign my (totally normal) petition about how I definitely don't hate women." Sim's first of many comments in that thread (which sadly I haven't had the chance to savor yet) concludes by referring to Brown as "Comics Most Famous Whoremonger," which frankly seems like a stretch. Comics Most Famous Whoremonger is plainly Frank Miller, but then again what do I know.

Ugh, there's simply not time to give this feud the rich appreciation it deserves, so here's a quick rundown of some of the other things I love about "Dave Sim" by Chester Brown:
  • It begins with a lengthy analysis on the topic of whether or not he and Dave Sim were in fact once friends, which rivals "I Never Liked You" in its evocation of melancholic middle-school loserdom 
  • Chester's using the word "whorephobic" now!! Guess he finally read the work of at least one sex worker
  • An analogy in which Brown compares selling sex to being gay (stone-cold logic)
  • An intensely creepy defense re: how the women that Brown pays for sex don't have "dead eyes" (rather, they have "light" in their eyes) (*distant screaming*)
  • When he tries to zing Sim by saying "He does not have a rational argument." Oh yeah, Chet? Exhibit A: the Dave Sim petition you refused to sign--aka pure rationality. (Also enjoy that how this indicates that Brown thinks all his own super intense psychological hangups are "rational")
  • Lengthy exegesis from both sides of walking anime pillow Joe Matt's stance on prostitution 
  • Chester Brown quoting Paying for It panels like they're Bible verses (my #1 personal favorite)
    • e.g., "In addition, in the scene in which I first tell Seth and Joe about my first experience with a prostitute, Joe’s reactions aren’t about money, but about love (panel 52:6) and how it’s supposedly “cold and clinical to pay for sex.” (Panel 52:7.)"
  • Also apparently Dave Sim has said Cerebus was the inspiration for Brown's embrace of prostitution (could not dream up a better origin story...desperately need this to be true)
  • Lengthy comment thread following the post (all men, obviously)
  • Sim's use of the word "whoredom" (objective, rational)
  • Chester Brown: "Misogynists don’t necessarily hate women." ????????
  • Also Chester Brown: " I explained that to him at length, not just in person but also in a series of faxed letters (which have been posted somewhere on the internet)."
A SERIES OF FAXED LETTERS. I mean, come on. Is it possible this entire feud is not in fact an argument between Chester Brown and Dave Sim, but rather consists entirely of fan fiction I wrote in my sleep or something? It's just so perfect.

I'm probably forgetting something, but anyway you get the idea. 

Obviously, the ideas expressed within this so-called debate are stupid. As ever, Chester Brown's "advocacy" for legalizing and destigmatizing prostitution is extremely Chet-centric, and his characterization of actual prostitutes (who definitely don't have "dead eyes," no no no) is creepy as all fuck. (It's really something that he argues this so badly. Like there are a lot of good reasons that sex work should be legalized, and he manages to articulate none of them?) Dave Sim is an elderly, egocentric woman-hating lunatic. That Brown sees Sim as a worthy adversary in his debate on legalizing prostitution--which he's constantly finding new ways to litigate--pretty much says it all. The feud between these two broken baby men isn't any more an argument about decriminalizing sex work than Paying for It was an argument for decriminalizing sex work. Funny thing, isn't it, how everything from Brown's love life, to his spiritual life, to his friends and adversaries somehow comes down to paying for sex. Funny too how most of Comics insists on going along with this delusion. 


  1. Pretty sure Sim's not using google alert, or google anything. He'd find out about this stuff from one of his many online enablers via fax or carrier pigeon or whatever.

    I didn't understand the last sentence in this post. How is Comics going along with this delusion?

    1. Oh man, is Sim a luddite too? This story just keeps getting better.

      The last sentence, yeah, I didn’t say that right at all. I’m just puzzled by the people who seem to think Paying for It or Mary Wept are seriously constructed arguments. My impression is there’s a pretty sizeable Comics audience that thinks of Brown as a sort of intellectual…? (Certainly that’s how his books get covered in mainstream press.) That last book I saw so many interviews where people were asking all these real Bible questions. I don’t know if people just confuse his eccentricity for scholarship or what. He’s in some respects a good cartoonist; that probably confuses things. I remember a letter (?) Tim Kreider wrote to TCJ that was basically like “Why is everyone pretending like there isn’t some weird deep-seated psychological shit going on here?” and that’s very similar to my own feeling about Paying for It. it’s crazy to me that so much discussion is shaped around accepting his arguments on their own terms instead of taking a deeper look at his insane vision of Whore World. I guess sometimes people focus on his misogyny and creepiness, but that seems a little different. Anyway there’s an old roundtable at Savage critic that lays all this out much more clearly.

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