This is the thread where I try and summarise Cerebus

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Erm... not much. I'm slightly hampered as someone has my copy at the moment. Dave parodies Conan quite a bit. Red Sofia and Lord Julius appear, as do Elrod, the Roach and Jaka. The Palnu trilogy is Dave's first multi-part story. Mind Games I takes place. We learn a little about the Pigts and their worship of an earth-pig. Dave announces (in the individual issues) that Cerebus will be 300 issues long and that he will die in the final issue.

High Society

Cerebus is engineered to be Prime Minster of Iest by Adam Weisshaupt, Astoria and Bran Mak Muffin, in competition with a donkey which Lord Julius favours. The Regency Elf appears numerous times to Cerebus and reveals hidden things to him about who he is. Cerebus is briefly married to Red Sofia, and rejects Jaka for the second time.

Church & State

In short, Cerebus becomes Pope and ascends to the moon.

In long... there are yet more power struggles and Cerebus competes with the Cirinists to complete a perfect golden globe which will allow him to ascend to the heavens and meet Tarim/Terim. The Cirints are occupying a tower (constructed from some kind of stone heads) which is gradually getting bigger and taller, now dominating Iest. Cerebus sneezes fire for the first time. Thrunk returns, and is possessed by Weisshaupt before being destroyed by Cerebus. Cerebus marries and divorces Astoria (the famous 'rape' sequence that upset Deni so much). Astoria explains the ongoing conflict between Cirinists (Mothers - the feminists who want to 'protect' women from society) and Kevilists (Daughters - the feminists who want liberation for women). Cerebus makes it to the moon (via an encounter with the Flaming Carrot on the way, and later defeating Dave's first He/She/It analogy) where he meets George, who reveals he will die alone, unloved. Gerhard turns up during this. In the comicbook, Dave reveals that he has changed his mind and Cerebus will now end with #200. This has something to do with the death of John Lennon, apparently.

Jaka's Story

Cerebus is finally reunited with Jaka, to find she is now dancing in a tavern owned by Pud, and is married to Rick. Pud secretly believes Jaka will leave Rick for him, but daydreams about raping her anyway. Oscar Wilde lives next door to the tavern. Cerebus tries to persuade Jaka to leave Rick. Cerebus and Rick attempt to bond. Interspersed through this is a 'Reads' story (comics in Cerebus) written by Oscar which gives lots of information about Jaka's youth, including her abuse at the hands of Lord Julius and humiliation when Astoria is chosen by him in favour of her. Jaka reveals her love and patronage of the arts. The Cirinists storm the tavern, killing Pud, and take away Jaka and Rick. Jaka meets her nursemaid in the next cell, and is forced to reveal to Rick she has had an abortion without his knowledge. They are divorced.


Oscar Wilde dies.
In Cerebus news, distraught at the loss of Jaka he clutches her doll, Missy, in front of a bar. Various people he knows pass by but he does not respond.

Mothers and Daughters

This comprises Flight, Women, Reads & Minds , but I'll deal with is as a whole.

Cerebus snaps out of his stupor, and goes on a violent rampage against the Cirinists (aided by PunisherRoach). He encounters the real Cirin, who informs him the person he thinks is Cirin is actually Serna, an aardvark like Cerebus, who has kept her locked away to hide the secret. Astoria, Cerebus and Seneteus Po (the third aardvark) confront the fake Cirin. It is revealed Cerebus is a hermaphrodite, but had an accident with a knife as a child and is infertile. In a climactic fight, the throneroom where Cerebus breaks away and Cerebus and Cirin are cast into space. They go their separate ways and Cerebus ends up on an icy planet where he is told the true nature of things by Dave. He elects to return home.

In Reads , Dave adopts the persona of Viktor Davis and explains his failed flirtation with the mainstream via Dark Horse and Vertigo, while expanding on his theories about male and female behaviour. A lot of readers dropped out at this point, and it's when Dave started attracting the misogynist tag.

Somewhere immediately before #200, Dave points out he was only joking, and Cerebus is going to be 300 issues after all. He says it's to make you see how you would feel if something you loved was taken away before you were ready.


My favourite book, this one. The returned Cerebus lives in a bar run by The Beatles, and drinks with Mick, Keef, Marty Feldman and Bear. Norman Mailer and Eddie Campbell drop by. Cerebus shows his talents at Five Bar Gate (a hockey-like game), and also displays characteristics described as "acting like a chick". The Beatles leave the bar, and Cerebus sobers up and takes it over. Cerebus has an affair with Joanne, during which we are shown an unreal flashback where his affair with Joanne has taken place behind Jaka's back in a different life. Everybody leaves, but Cerebus believes Bear will come back for him. Cerebus feels that he should go to return to his home town. At the very end, Rick arrives leading to...

Rick's Story

Cerebus and Rick bond. Rick has an affair with Joanne, but receives a head wound at the bonfire. We first see Cerebus as 'the birdwatcher', who watches couples at it and pleasures himself. Rick's headwound starts to lead to visions with Cerebus as Thee One Trve Cerebus, and Rick starts writing Thee Booke Of Ricke to explain it. Rick leaves on completing it, having trapped Cerebus in the bar with a spell of binding. Dave appears to Cerebus and explains why it always happens to him. Dave returns Jaka to Cerebus as a final gift, and she breaks the spell.

Going Home

Cerebus and Jaka plan to return to Sand Hills Creek to see Cerebus' parents, but travel part of the way on a boat with F Scott Fitzgerald. Jaka is tempted to leave Cerebus to go to an island of artists. The Cirinists crewing the boat are convinced Cerebus is beating Jaka and plan to murder him on reaching land - Jaka spots this and rescues him. They leave for Sand Hills Creek.

Dave's commentary makes me want to read Scott.

Form & Void

Jaka has to conduct some formal ceremonies as 'Princess Of Palnu' and we discover the Cirinists are routinely executing and dissenters. Heading across country, Cerebus and Jaka meet Ernest and Mary Hemmingway. We discover too much about Ernest and Mary's actual sexual behaviour. Ernest shoots himself. Cerebus and Jaka head out alone across country, hampered by Jaka's insistence on new clothes every day and her spoilt behaviour. Their relationship comes to breaking point in a tent in a blizzard, when all looks lost. Rick appears to Cerebus and tells him how to save himself - they get to a Cirinist lodge. They realise they must get away before their tent can be discovered (for fear of Cirinists finding the gun and framing Cerebus for the murder of Ernest) and take a secret Pigt tunnel to Sand Hills Creek. While passing through it, Jaka learns more of how she will be expected to behave in Sand Hills Creek and doesn't like it one bit. When they arrive, we learn Cerebus' parents have died, around the time in Guys he wanted to go home. He is ostracised by the village for failing to return, and in his grief tells Jaka "Go on. Get Out. Scram!" as Rick(e) foretold he would.

Dave's commentary does not make me want to read Hemmingway, and to shoot Mary.

Latter Days

Distraught, Cerebus starts walking. It later transpires he walks the entire continent. He becomes a shepherd but is chased away by the owner of the sheep for 'birdwatching'. While a shepherd he reads the entirety of the Reads piece, Rabbi. He lives above a tavern in the north, and becomes a permanent 'second' champion at Five Bar Gate (by which I mean he is the runner-up every year). This does, however, make him money. He decides he has had enough, and spends his money on a strip bar, which he hopes the Cirinists will find and destroy, him along with it. He is discovered instead by the Three Wise Fellowes (Three Stooges) who are adherents to the Booke Of Ricke and are searching for Thee One Trve Cerebus. They kidnap him and attach him to a strange machine while awaiting him to say the Trve Word Foretold By Ricke while reciting the Booke Of Ricke at him. Cerebus imagines he can escape as Rabbi. Cerebus breaks his leg. Eventually he says the word, and discovers that Cirinst opposition has risen since he was wandering and he is in the Sanctvary as foretold and described by Ricke. There is a loose collusion of men (hunting lodges) and he attempts to unite them as Spore, reliving many of the events of C&S (including the baby-tossing). He does this, and the Cirinists appear defeated. His adherents die of old age. It is shown to Cerebus that Rabbi was actually a Cirinist plot to drive him mad. Cerebus goes mad. Some time later, he is shocked back to reality with the arrival of Koningsberg, the Not-So-Good Samaritan (Woody Allen). Koningsberg's life story is told, then he leaves. Cerebus tells his story to a young woman, who is obsessed with the idea that Cerebus is only after her because she looks like Joanne. She looks like Jaka. (In the collected edition, the positioning of this is nowhere near as affecting as it was in the issues.) They are married.

The Last Day

Cerebus is old, and virtually bedridden. He wishes to see his son before he dies. We are shown the history, that he is the son of Cerebus and 'The New Joanne' (the Jaka lookalike in the previous issue) and Cerebus is actaully being kept away from him because of an alleged abuse incident. Eventually, She(p)-Shep (the son) arrives and there is a long discussion. Cerebus attempts to tell him that his mother was not like Joanne, but Jaka - but realises he is too late and the Booke Of Ricke contradicts this. She(p)-Shep reveals Cirin is still alive and working with Joanne - they have together created a hybrid lion using She(p)-Shep's DNA with which he intends to rule as a God, which he shows to Cerebus. An enraged Cerebus draws a sword to kill them both, but instead falls out of bed and dies. He ascends into the light, which may or may not be Hell.

Once the final phonebook comes out, I'm going to embark on a re-read. This may be updated at that point.

aldo_cowpat (aldo_cowpat), Thursday, 1 July 2004 12:01 (fifteen years ago) link

It's been pointed out to me by an ILC lurker that I may have Jaka's reliance on fresh clothes in the wrong book, and it may be shown in Going Home. Also in Going Home, while on the boat Cerebus has a vision of Ricke baptising people in the river.

My most glaring omission though is from Latter Days. Koningsberg's comes to Cerebus because he has brought Cerebus a book(e) passed down since the days of Rick(e). It is the Torah, the Pentateuch and Cerebus proceeds to interpret it as an argument between God (male) and YHWH (female). Over many pages. Many, many pages. In very small type.

Thanks Dave.

aldo_cowpat (aldo_cowpat), Thursday, 1 July 2004 12:56 (fifteen years ago) link

Bless you, Aldo.

I would love to read the actual essay / description behind this: "Somewhere immediately before #200, Dave points out he was only joking, and Cerebus is going to be 300 issues after all. He says it's to make you see how you would feel if something you loved was taken away before you were ready." I tried getting into Cerebus back around #151, but can't remember any talk about the series ending at #200.

David R. (popshots75`), Thursday, 1 July 2004 13:38 (fifteen years ago) link

Actually, thinking about it maybe I've misremembered the history here as well. Now I think about it, he doesn't say beforehand that he's going to finish Cerebus at #200.

He says round the time of #200 that he had made the decision I attribute to him to finish early and just hadn't told anybody, but that he had changed his mind.

Bollocks. Will look tonight and try and find the detail.

Flash of inspiration - he may cover this during the Viktor Davis sections in Reads now I think about it. Sorry, I'm trying to do all this from memory, and it's a complicated storyline... will confirm later.

aldo_cowpat (aldo_cowpat), Thursday, 1 July 2004 14:03 (fifteen years ago) link

Yes, that's exactly what I remember.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Thursday, 1 July 2004 14:24 (fifteen years ago) link

..what's this for? i think the religious struggle side of things in the first half needs to be covered more to make any kind of sense of the thing, but eh..

tom west (thomp), Thursday, 1 July 2004 14:49 (fifteen years ago) link

..what's this for?

It came up here You'll also note this is a post-C&S question, hence I've been light on all but the main points in pre-#111 accordingly.

Anyway, the full story on the #200 story is indeed in the Viktor Davis bit in Reads.

December 8, 1980, at approximately 11:20pm, Viktor Davis had been sitting at his drawing board, hard at work on the twenty-fourth issue of Cerebus. Less than a year before, he had announced for the first time that the story line would run three hundred issues. He was in the middle of lettering 'Blinky Boar and the Strawberry Patch' and humming 'Strawberry Fields Forever' to himself when the local radio station interrupted its programming for a news bulletin.

'Possibilities for a Beatles reunion were dashed at eleven o'clock tonight when John Lennon was shot to death outside his Manhattan apartment building...'

That night, Viktor Davis decided that Cerebus would not run for three hundred issues. He decided that Cerebus would run for two hundred issues. Viktor Davis decided to keep this a secret, telling no one for fourteen years.

He would not announce it until issue one hundred and eighty-three, a year and five months before the end: November 1995.

Dave then continues for a bit about how the reader takes this news.

'I was just kidding,' he said. 'Cerebus goes to issue three hundred. Just like I've always said. March 2004.'

The reader and Viktor Davis regarded one another for several minutes, without speaking, across the strange, lighted rectangle. Calmly, Viktor Davis withdrew his pack of cigarettes from his hip pocket and selected one. Rasing the lighter in his right hand, he lit the cigarette in a quick, easy motion.

'What's the matter?' he asked, still smiling through a dissipating cloud of smoke.

'Don't you trust me?'

In many ways this is the best and worst of Dave. He has admitted in private conversation to me that it's entirely possible - that the way the final third sits is consistent with Dave having no real plan and having to come up with it as he went along, to a degree.

btw Andrew, Dave turned the Cerebus copyright over to the readers in #300 so this is free for reproduction.

aldo_cowpat (aldo_cowpat), Thursday, 1 July 2004 19:07 (fifteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
Summary of Cerebus: Dave Sim, technical genius and complete raving loon, tells lots of very funny jokes, produces one of the best graphic novels ever (Jaka's Story), then disappears up own arse.

Wooden, Sunday, 25 July 2004 11:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Although I really liked 'Minds' as well.

Wooden, Monday, 26 July 2004 02:18 (fifteen years ago) link

one year passes...
How much of a plan did Dave have at various times, Aldo? (or rather - how much of a plan did you think he had?)

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 12:17 (fourteen years ago) link

He claimed to me in *cough* a fax interview last year that he'd *always* planned it to run like this -- even the dopey meta stuff at the end of Mothers and Daughters (I asked him if he minded that Grant Morrison beat him to the punch, and he was like, "yeah, Morrison stole it from Chuck Jones anyway, so boo."). Incidentally, I think introducing himself as a character was the biggest mistake of the series, and probably heralds the start of the "I'll just make this shit up as I go along, plot resolutions are for voids" era of Cerebus -- altho' as Aldo sez, Guys is still quite fun.

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 12:58 (fourteen years ago) link

The meeting himself thing is one of the bits that I honestly think he DID plan all along, because it's exactly the kind of thing that a 1979 semi-underground comix guy on acid would come up with.

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 13:03 (fourteen years ago) link

Yeah -- to clarify, he told me he'd always (since High Society or abouts) planned to introduce himself as a characer. But after that is, I think, obviously much more extemporised.

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 13:11 (fourteen years ago) link

I think the version as it appears in Reads is very, very close to the truth. I think Dave did decide it would be 200 issues, and plotted for that. But, at some point not long before #200 (probably just before he started writing all the ice planet stuff in Minds), he changed his mind back.

"Heheh. Watta maroon." Dave is talking about Cerebus. Or is he? Dave is talking about us. It's our desire to know what happens next that brings Cerebus back to the bar. It's us that choose for him not to die.

This accounts for the jarring jump in story (mainly because there are no outstanding plotlines - everything that needs tying up, has been), and almost retreading of previous work. Old characters are reintroduced, sometimes (as in Mick 'n' Keef) for no real overall plot advancement,and the level of injokery (Seth, Eddie Campbell, Marc Hempel) is possibly even higher. Having said that, by the time Guys is over, the final books are at least roughly plotted - there are pieces very early in Rick's Story that don't pay off till Latter Days, for example.

Despite all this, the Jaka from the later books is entirely consistent with the earlier Jaka, and re-reading Jaka's Story in light of what came later if Dave planned it all from the beginning it's hard to see how it ever became hailed as a feminist epic (it actually reads in exactly the same way as some of the later post-breakdown light/void books).

There are some good essays out there on which chunks you can break the 300 issue plot into (personally, I favour the interpretation which says it's the same 100 issue story told 3 times but with variances in the main themes. 1-100 - Cerebus is manipulated in a male-dominated society, the reader is externalised and voyeuristic, an observer. 101-200 - the transition: Cerebus is manipulated as much as he manipulates others in a society fighting a gender war, the reader is a companion and participatory. 201-300 - Cerebus is stuck trying to manipulate other people to win minor victories in a female-dominated society, the reader is empathic and is Cerebus.), I recommend a good one I read which says the split is in fact at 150, and there's a 'light' half and a 'void' half. Also, Dave's answers to questions on individual books on the Cerebus newsgroup show that there were some constructs he introduced very early on that have very real and far-reaching consequences for much, much later (it can be argued, of course, that this is not necessarily inconsistent with plans for finishing at 200).

aldo_cowpat (aldo_cowpat), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 13:12 (fourteen years ago) link

I wonder how he would have "killed him off" at 200.

some constructs he introduced very early on that have very real and far-reaching consequences for much, much later

what are these, btw, for the benefit of someone who skimmed the later stuff?

also: acc. to dave, it's definitely hell (I think).

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 13:29 (fourteen years ago) link

My initial interperatation was that it was heaven, and Cerebus' resistance was a last example of his self-destructive 'not knowing what's good for him' nature - just like the little grey bastard to be dragged kicking and screaming to his own salvation. Dave Sim knows better than me, however.

chap who would dare to work for the man (chap), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 13:38 (fourteen years ago) link

At the time, Dave said he thought he'd "failed" if readers thought the ending was open to interpretation -- his point being that if Julius and Astoria, etc, were there, then it probably wasn't heaven.

Personally, I think it works better if it's left open to interpretation, but obv it's hard to stop Dave overexplaining about things.

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 13:47 (fourteen years ago) link

Dave has said that Cerebus realises it's not Heaven as soon he realises Rick isn't there, because Rick is the one person he knows would be in Heaven. We do see him in the bastardisation of a Holy Trinity (but with Woman (Jaka), Man [who turns out to be girly-boy] (Ham) and Girly-boy [who turns out to be man] (Rick), but Cerebus may be hallucinating by this point.

To cover some earlier points:

I suspect at 200 Cerebus would just have died on the ice planet. alone, unloved and unmourned.

As to some of the stuff which is introduced very early - I think the most obvious one is in issue #2, where Cerebus goes after the "Eye of Terim" which is protected by a succubus. And what do succubi do? They are the 'void' into which the souls of the male warriors are sucked.

Q1 continued: Also, the female succubus Khem is hiding out in "The Eye of Terim." Terim, of course, is later depicted as the female deity. Was the later use of the name Terim deliberately linked to the earlier use?

DAVE: I can't say with 100% certainty that that was the case. As I recall, the two different spellings of Terim and Tarim were accidental at first, in the same was that I had trouble bearing in mind that Cerebus was supposed to refer to himself in the third person and would later cover for it by saying that he referred to himself as "I" when he had been around the civilized areas too long. I was covering for not remembering how to spell Tarim by making it the masculine version of the deity's name.

Q1 continued: Similarly, is the demon Female (Void) sucking the souls out of the Male warriors, who at the end when released are depicted as Lights flying off into the night an intentional direct parallel to the similar description of the Void and Light that you presented in i186?

DAVE: I went back and reread the section and it seems clear to me in retrospect that this was me unconsciously documenting what would have been, at the time, my overwhelming and all-encompassing connection to the female half of reality which resulted from my first non-familial exposure to it as a result of being in my first boyfriend/girlfriend relationship for about a year by this time.

Certainly all of the central YHWHist female realities are there: the living thing in the middle of the earth that's a bright light, the rarest jewel, blah, blah, blah. And it certainly anticipates the ultimate conclusions I came to about the devouring, ensnaring nature of the light as presented in i's289/290 (is that the plural form?) about which, in my view, men would do well to remain always and centrally vigilant if they intend to shilly-shally on the romantic borderlands or (God forbid) plunge joyously headlong,as I did,into the Alice in Wonderland environs of the members opposite.

[Relative to 186, I think it's safe to say that my best amended perception of Reality is that males and females are both light and void. That is, that masculinity is represented in the light by the Spirit of God which "went in unto the light" and the "true light which lighteth every man that commeth into the world" (John's Gospel). Femininity is represented in the light by the empty facade of radiance (un-true light, if you will). Masculinity is represented in the void by the fact that it is the medium in which God exists.

I mean, that's my best guess,that the void is universally conscious and aware for the most part across untold trillions of light years interrupted here and there by pinpricks of empty facade radiance and that the void also constitutes the space between atoms and molecules. It's all one awareness which allows for the literal definition of God as an omnipresent Being. He is literally everywhere around you and inside of you. Boo!

Femininity is represented in the void as a vaginal nature, desirous of things to ensnare and transform. That is, apart from the facade of radiance, with the seminal light there was, literally (to quote Dorothy Parker) "no 'there' there." One of the descriptions of goddess nature is "everything she touches she changes." Well, true enough. All the Spirit of God wanted was to have a co-equal existence with the light and we see what that's led to. YHWH the transformative tar baby. Enter at your own risk.]

It seems to me that I was telling myself that very basic story as well, even way back at issue 2. Notice that all Cerebus has to do is pick up the Eye of Tarim and walk in a straight line to the exit. The thing is there are no straight lines in the female half of reality. They are,physically, mentally and spiritually,all curves which lead nowhere. Fun house mirrors and roller coasters. I was surprised that no one picked up on the analogous usage of "The path suddenly drops and the aardvark stumbles�" segment and the same trick that Viktor Davis played on the reader in i183, where the path suddenly drops away and then comes back when he announces that Cerebus is going to end at issue 200 instead of 300.

In both case, the one unconscious and the other conscious,I was attempting to demonstrate (first to myself and then to the reader) what reality is like once you enter the opposing camp where everything is made up of curves that lead nowhere. On the way in, it all looks perfectly straightforward. That's the trick.

Of course, this is Dave's retconning in full effect, but there are some interesting examples. You can find the Q&A sessions here.

aldo_cowpat (aldo_cowpat), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 14:09 (fourteen years ago) link

God for Dave exists in empty space itself? I guess the "right" interpretation of the ending would be obvious then. Doesn't Cerebus get devoured by the light (lights, voids-- as long as it's acting "female", it's bad)? (Although this makes me think of parallels to Sim getting devoured by his own brane.)

Chris F. (servoret), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 17:53 (fourteen years ago) link

I would forgive Dave almost everything if he'd answered one of those questions "Dude, do you know how much drugs I was doing back then?"

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 18:18 (fourteen years ago) link

i reread up to end of melmoth lately - isn't the end of church and state the notably 'feminist' bit, with the creation myth and "just remember your second wedding"?

i really need to read the stuff i haven't, which is mostly mothers and daughters, but also, hum, lots of the rest. well.

tom west (thomp), Wednesday, 18 January 2006 04:43 (fourteen years ago) link

I've only read the first volume or two and the occasional issue I'd buy when it was still coming out. My impression was that it seemed innovative and alive in its formalistic details (particularly the lettering), but the story reminded me of those young adult fantasy Myth books (with corny dad joke titles like "Myth-education", etc.)--sort of precious and cheeky. But I've always felt like I should read the whole thing out of some misguided notion of responsibility. What do you think?

kenchen, Wednesday, 18 January 2006 15:36 (fourteen years ago) link

After the first few volumes, anything but "precious and cheeky." Favorite book is Church & State II for its incredible energy and formal innovation, but in some respects it keeps getting better as it goes along. Despite the totally unreadable parts of the last two volumes and ongoing curdling of tone. I wrote a very long article in The Believer last year about wrestling with Cerebus in its entirety, and dealing with the hateful-wingnut aspects of it as well as its glories...

Douglas (Douglas), Wednesday, 18 January 2006 17:13 (fourteen years ago) link

Despite the totally unreadable parts of the last two volumes

Urgh, yeah. I finally tried to start following the monthly around the time he was doing the "Chasing YHWH" bit and it was an impossible task. Three months worth of text pieces detailing Dave's highly idiosyncratic, not to say schizoid, reinterpretation of the Bible? Yuck.

Did you flag a bit in carrying out your Cerebus project, tom?

Chris F. (servoret), Thursday, 19 January 2006 00:48 (fourteen years ago) link

Is there a link anywheres outside The Believer to yr article, Douglas?

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Thursday, 19 January 2006 01:05 (fourteen years ago) link

Three months worth of text pieces detailing Dave's highly idiosyncratic, not to say schizoid, reinterpretation of the Bible?

Which he believes is the only correct interperatation that has ever been made. And the only reason its not front page news around the world is because of those nasty women and gays keeping it supressed. You really have to laugh. (It's the Torah, BTW)

I would be interested to read that article too.

chap who would dare to work for the man (chap), Thursday, 19 January 2006 01:16 (fourteen years ago) link

He's quite sane-seeming in person. I mean, he's a big, weird nerd, but I've seen worse in the Michael Turner "Drawing Babes" class at the comiccon.

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Thursday, 19 January 2006 01:22 (fourteen years ago) link

Laura really needs to read Cerebus. At least some of it.

Special Agent Gene Krupa (orion), Thursday, 19 January 2006 01:29 (fourteen years ago) link

Having said that the first two thirds of Latter Days are pretty good. There's some really funny stuff in there, and some plot actually happens.

chap who would dare to work for the man (chap), Thursday, 19 January 2006 01:33 (fourteen years ago) link

I've never been sure if Cerebus farts after he falls off his bed and dies. There are worlds in a single Dave Sim sound effect.

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Thursday, 19 January 2006 01:55 (fourteen years ago) link

Chris (F) - i got to the point where i'd have to buy more of'em and i didn't have any money to buy'em with, is what happened

tom west (thomp), Thursday, 19 January 2006 02:22 (fourteen years ago) link

Unfortunately I don't have a plaintext version of the article in its final form--I kept tinkering with it after I started getting proofs in PDF. But I emailed a PDF to both Joe and Chuck; anyone who wants one can email me.

(And yes, Cerebus farts right before he hits the ground. About 60 pages earlier he'd prayed to God for one good fart. Which is why he thinks "Oh! Thank you God" as he expires...)

Douglas (Douglas), Thursday, 19 January 2006 04:24 (fourteen years ago) link

does anyone know what dave sim's relationship with psychedelic drugs is/was?

Special Agent Gene Krupa (orion), Thursday, 19 January 2006 05:16 (fourteen years ago) link

also, douglas, if you can send me a pdf of your article i'd be grateful. i've been corresponding with my grandfather about comics as art (as he is someone who remembers them as kids today regard cartoons.) i'd like to forward it to him; i remember reading it at the barnes & noble where I worked when that issue came out and I was like "oh, cerebus, how tempted I am to go buy the next volume of you..." but then whenever I would hold the trades in my hand at forbidden planet it was just like "$25??? are youfukin kidding???!" i dunno..that's really not that much money, i guess. but it's almost always in conjunction with like another $10-$15 worth of comics. fuckinay.

Special Agent Gene Krupa (orion), Thursday, 19 January 2006 05:43 (fourteen years ago) link

Sim liked acid when he was in his early 20s, stopped using after a bad trip that led to his wife and mother having him sectioned (he now thinks that this was because he was speaking THE TRUTH and they couldn't handle it, but happily agrees with the hospital psychiatrist's diagnosis of him as schizophrenic ["borderline schizophrenic" at the time, but he assumes that the condition didn't lessen afterwards, as he never did anything about it]). Had a coke/party lifestyle in the '80s, because it was the '80s. Smoked weed from sun-up to sundown from his teens to the '90s, when he started periodically attempting to give up, resulting in him cutting down drastically. Doesn't even drink alcohol in the 21st century.

It's definitely worth checking out Douglas' article in the original, because you get a Charles Burns Cerebus on the cover and a Tony Millionaire spot illo with the article! That said, I wouldn't mind the PDF too, 'cos I didn't want to pay $24 for an 80-page magazine and read it in a bookshop...

kit brash (kit brash), Thursday, 19 January 2006 07:24 (fourteen years ago) link

(and so I read it in...)

kit brash (kit brash), Thursday, 19 January 2006 09:50 (fourteen years ago) link

Douglas, that's a truly excellent article - it's helped me sort out my own rather muddled feelings about the series.

I'd love someone to write a book-length analysis of Cerebus one day, but I wouldn't envy the fucker.

chap who would dare to no longer work for the man (chap), Thursday, 19 January 2006 16:03 (fourteen years ago) link

i hope they bill it as the only correct interperatation that has ever been made

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 19 January 2006 16:21 (fourteen years ago) link

Arrghh, my appalling spelling comes back to haunt me.

chap who would dare to no longer work for the man (chap), Thursday, 19 January 2006 16:42 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh pooh, that's not a real email. My normal one is, er, paulisaacs at gmail, if anyone would like to e-mail me! (Much appreciated. I usually buy the Beleiever but they don't sell it in the UK!)

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Thursday, 19 January 2006 21:16 (fourteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
Has anyone else read this 60,000 word monster yet?

It's rather solipsistic and repetetive, but I don't know how one could write about Cerebus in any depth without this being the case. Anyway, I found it interesting.

chap who would dare to start Raaatpackin (chap), Saturday, 26 August 2006 01:28 (thirteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Can someone do me a favour and point me to a good - ideally fairly small (like 200-250 pixels max either way) pic of Prince Mick and Prince Keef from Cerebus - my copies of Church and State are in France so I can't scan it. I need it to illustrate a blog post tomorrow (attentive FT readers will be able to work out which).

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 19:02 (thirteen years ago) link

my copies of Church and State are in France

How chi-chi!

David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 19:13 (thirteen years ago) link

Richard Jones (scarne), Wednesday, 20 September 2006 08:00 (thirteen years ago) link

EXCELLENT. Thankyou.

Tom (Groke), Wednesday, 20 September 2006 08:13 (thirteen years ago) link

three years pass...

I have read huge chunks of this but have some gaps (haven't read anything after Rick's Story, for ex.) I have two random questions:

1) does Astoria ever appear again post-Minds? At the end of the four-way dialogue between Suenteus Po, Cerebus, Cirin, and herself, does she just leave and exit the narrative altogether?
2) when Cerebus returns to Estarcion after Minds, how come the Cirinists don't just kill him. Given how much trouble Cerebus caused her, I don't get why Cirin would just let him live out his days.

maybe I should just read Minds...

hoth as fuck (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 12 November 2009 18:30 (ten years ago) link

i think the answer to 2) is that she's terrified of him.

because she looks awesome, like in the face (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 12 November 2009 18:36 (ten years ago) link

1) Astoria's last appearance is in Reads, except for in hallucinations and possibly flashbacks.

You should check out Latter Days, the first two thirds are surprisingly good fun for late period Cerebus, and you don't really have to have read the generally interminable stuff between it and guys to understand it. The last third of the book is fucking batshit and really boring, natch.

I am flesh and blood. You are software and circuitry. (chap), Thursday, 12 November 2009 22:46 (ten years ago) link

good to know... so far I've avoided Reads and I'm conflicted about powering through the entire series, even though I seem to return to the ones I like the most (High Society/Church & State/Guys/Rick's Story) on a regular basis (like, once every couple years). this series is really kinda a tragedy, could've been so much bigger/better...

btw, I watched about 45 minutes of Cerebus TV yesterday (I don't know how much content he has runs in a continuous loop), and my only reaction is o_O

WmC, Friday, 13 November 2009 20:40 (ten years ago) link

Iirc you can die from a volvulus? Dogs certainly do all the time.

demonic mnevice (Jon Lewis), Wednesday, 18 March 2015 02:21 (five years ago) link

I didn't mean to say it wasn't serious, just that I can imagine a lot of people in comics have had serious medical issues without it making it to the press.

mh, Wednesday, 18 March 2015 02:28 (five years ago) link

Quite true

demonic mnevice (Jon Lewis), Wednesday, 18 March 2015 02:59 (five years ago) link

Sim is quite the self-publicist, in his own strange way, and tends to provoke fascination in those who know about him.

People always way overstate the unreadability of the first phonebook imo. It's a hell of a lot cruder than what's to come, but it's fun! I started with it, and it worked out fine for me. In fact I like it better than quite a lot of the post Jaka's Story stuff.

the joke should be over once the kid is eaten. (chap), Wednesday, 18 March 2015 13:16 (five years ago) link

Yep, agreed re: the first book. And I find High Society kind of overrated -- too many insider jokes, too much dull slastick. Church & State through Jaka is the imperial phase for me.

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 18 March 2015 15:18 (five years ago) link

Church and State is just so dramatic! Bran's suicide has to be one of the best Shocking Twists in all comics.

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 18 March 2015 15:21 (five years ago) link

Yeah, Jaka's story is the peak of his abilities. More or less a perfect comic.

the joke should be over once the kid is eaten. (chap), Wednesday, 18 March 2015 15:25 (five years ago) link

It's the only book where Dave applies the right levels of Dave to the story.

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 18 March 2015 15:43 (five years ago) link

I prefer both volumes of Church and State. the "punchline" of Jaka's story is a bit much

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 18 March 2015 15:45 (five years ago) link

I'll take High Society and Church & State over Jaka's Story. I appreciate it as a peak of technique but never particularly liked it.

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 18 March 2015 15:53 (five years ago) link

fwiw I don't think the first volume is bad or anything - it's enjoyable and absolutely gets better as it goes along, feel like it really hits its stride when Lord Julius enters the picture. But if you aren't familiar with 70s sword n sorcery tropes or have any idea where the book is headed a new reader might be befuddled at what the fuss is all about.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 18 March 2015 16:47 (five years ago) link

The old "Swords of Cerebus" version of the first volume is cool with Sim's original commentary from then (and before he went down that path). The Beguiled knock-off is great.

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 19 March 2015 00:23 (five years ago) link

Right now is all of it even properly in print?

Nope, several volumes are out of print. Sim has been Kickstarting limited edition prints of original art to fund restoration work on High Society and Church & State.

Dave talked about a deal with Kim Thompson to republish but that died when Kim did I guess.

No, Dave publicly dicked Kim around for weeks, making him jump through ridiculous hoops and negotiate in public (while also ignoring Eric Reynold’s upfront offer to publish the Death Of Alex Raymond book), at the same time that he was privately negotiating with Ted Adams to reprint the work that Kim was pitching to print. The IDW deal was announced 8 months before Kim’s death.

There's probably too much water under the bridge with Gary Groth - I have memories of TCJ being a real bone of contention because of an interview? - for it to happen with Fanta without Kim.

Sim always noted how he and Groth enjoyed each other’s company while they were tearing strips off each other in public; if Groth was interested in publishing Cerebus, I don’t think that would be an issue. He’s not, though.

The last Sim interview in the Journal was by Tom Spurgeon in 1996; this was some months after the “Dave Sim: Our Hitler?” op-ed under a Bill Willingham painting of Sim that Sim purchased and framed.

I think Dave's legacy will be as maybe the greatest letter that wasn't Eisner, and maybe even better than him.

Eisner or Kanegson?

Maybe if you started with HS and then did a prequel volume like they've done with Walt & Skeezix?

This is exactly what Kim Thompson was pitching; Sim instead, partway through the weeks of negotiations, insisted they start with Going Home, and get it a good review in the New York Times*, before he would allow them to reprint another volume of his choosing.

*or get it on the NYT bestseller list and displayed in a NYC gallery, or something – Shakey may remember better.

i would guess dave puts the whole thing up on the web for free when he dies, the end.

a) Considering how badly the “putting High Society in digital / on the web” went, there is no possibility Sim will develop a plan for this in the next few years.

b) Anyone in the world will be able to reprint it, because:

Cerebus will move into the public domain after Dave's death (or Dave & Gerhard's deaths, by another account).

Gerhard sold his entire interest in Cerebus back to Sim several years ago, in order to not have to deal with him in business again.

Access to the (surviving) Preney film will be a big question mark.

The digital restoration project that’s been going over the past year will obviously supersede this. Maybe the guy that owns most of the original art but won’t allow it to be scanned will open a gallery in his house, to compete with the one in Sim’s house.

It'll go on the web. And it absolutely won't (and shouldn't) be forgotten. It's too unique. Too exciting. Too problematic. It's the perfect book for the cannon.

oochie wally (clean version) (sic), Friday, 20 March 2015 03:11 (five years ago) link

Gerhard sold his entire interest in Cerebus back to Sim several years ago, in order to not have to deal with him in business again.

Did he relinquish his copyright in the work or just sell back his half of A-V? Dave's wiki page says public domain after his death; the Cerebus wiki page says after Dave AND Ger's deaths (citing a 2004 Village Voice story, which may have been sloppily fact-checked).

WilliamC, Friday, 20 March 2015 03:54 (five years ago) link

Well, 2004 was before they split, anyway. Not certain if they now pay each other a royalty-like share of C&S -> Last Day trade sales (for Ger from Dave) and art prints with characters, not backgrounds, in them (for Dave from Ger), but AIUI the intellectual property is 100% Sim’s now. (Hence him building a museum in his house, setting up trusts for his lawyer to get fans to run it when he dies, etc etc.)

oochie wally (clean version) (sic), Friday, 20 March 2015 04:28 (five years ago) link

Mea culpa sic, I had forgotten how one sided the 'deal' negotiations had been. That said, as that link shows, a lot of it is Dave indulging in Dave Classic Whataboutery - "Based on what I think about Fanta I think they'd only be looking for this market, and if they're looking for this market then this is the most obvious book if they're only willing to do a one book 'suck it and see' deal based on sales, which I assume they are, because why wouldn't you, right? And then if that was their logic, here's some other books published in that same ball park by other people and here's what I think is wrong with them; and I'd probably get treated the same way, so I don't think this is something I'll go along with."

Yeah, Ger sold everything to Dave. AIUI there aren't any royalty payments.

The Sim kickstarters aren't about funding reprints, they're about him living hand to mouth. The targets for income from each one were set on what he needs to get by and the extra raised has gone on other 'needs' - the first one paid for him fixing the foundations to the Off-White House, for example. The restoration is being done as a favour by fans with one exception thus far; some special prints were sold as part of the most recent one (CAN3) to fund some of the most time consuming work for 9(?) pages in very poor condition.

the bowels are not what they seem (aldo), Friday, 20 March 2015 08:19 (five years ago) link

It's one fan and one person who's never read Cerebus, and they're being paid.

oochie wally (clean version) (sic), Friday, 20 March 2015 14:20 (five years ago) link

They had to raise the very cheap rate for those 9(?) pages, hence the additional specific funding.

oochie wally (clean version) (sic), Friday, 20 March 2015 14:22 (five years ago) link

lol at whataboutery summary.

oochie wally (clean version) (sic), Friday, 20 March 2015 14:24 (five years ago) link

haha yes

which volumes are out of print? feel like I still see new copies of a bunch of these at the shop

Οὖτις, Friday, 20 March 2015 15:40 (five years ago) link

one month passes...

re-reading these from the beginning (I'm such a sucker) I never really noticed the implication that Bran becomes a Cirinist after he disappears in High Society.

Οὖτις, Monday, 20 April 2015 20:50 (five years ago) link

two months pass...

Sim still can't draw, and writing even is a struggle. He's just pulled out of doing anything other than signatures - which will take an unbounded length of time and some of which may be left-handed - on CAN3.

OTOH (no pun intended) if he didn't have to find someone who could do an MRI without a doctor's referral then maybe he'd make some progress.

arbiter of sorrow (aldo), Tuesday, 7 July 2015 12:42 (four years ago) link

does he not have a doctor's referral because he has eschewed the advice of all general practitioners?

Upright Mammal (mh), Tuesday, 7 July 2015 14:00 (four years ago) link

Yes, that's why he doesn't have a doctor's referral.

arbiter of sorrow (aldo), Tuesday, 7 July 2015 14:01 (four years ago) link


Upright Mammal (mh), Tuesday, 7 July 2015 14:01 (four years ago) link

three weeks pass...

1. make a complex and flawed monolithic masterpiece
2. wait a decade for insane fanbase to metastasize
3. profit or maybe don't

let's not get too excited w/ the ouches (forksclovetofu), Friday, 31 July 2015 16:49 (four years ago) link

that is insane

tbh every time this thread is bumped I expect it to be because Dave has died

Οὖτις, Friday, 31 July 2015 16:52 (four years ago) link

If there is going to be a museum rather than the off-white house it should be a Ghibli Museum-style reproduction of the hotel/house Cerebus occupied while Pope. With a statue of him on the roof speechifying

Brakhage, Friday, 31 July 2015 17:58 (four years ago) link

tbh every time this thread is bumped I expect it to be because Dave has died

― Οὖτις, Friday, July 31, 2015 5:52 PM (4 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink


Chuck_Tatum, Friday, 31 July 2015 21:13 (four years ago) link


arbiter of sorrow (aldo), Friday, 31 July 2015 21:49 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 20:25 (three years ago) link

surprised he didn't make the Hillary:Cirin connection (and given the state of things recently I would be inclined to throw in Putin:Lord Julius as well)

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 20:27 (three years ago) link

Well, Hilary is Cirin if you're Dave Sim. Not sure otherwise.

Did Sim ever reference the Clintons in Cerebus?

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 09:16 (three years ago) link

In the comic, I don't think so, in text pieces, yes.

Shakey δσς (sic), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 14:35 (three years ago) link

Well, Hilary is Cirin if you're Dave Sim. Not sure otherwise.

well, yeah. this is all in the context of the comic. I'm confident Sim would equate Hillary with a vindictive, ideology-bound grandma in charge of a nanny/police state

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 15:29 (three years ago) link

five months pass...

I just finally got around to reading "Reads" (thx to a certain unnamed online resource), which I had avoided for years, and man this really was the point of schism wasn't it. Although I think not so much the raging misogynistic content (though that is definitely unappealing) as for the injection of Dave Sim Omnipotent Author into the narrative. As parodic and self-referential as the series may have been up to that point, it was still functioning within an established, consistent storytelling framework - and the whole abrupt breaking of the fourth wall that extends into "Minds" and reappears periodically not only seems totally unnecessary it actually derails a huge part of what was interesting and appealing about the book. Just.... why. Such a terrible aesthetic decision. And reading these issues with all of the "Letter from the President" and other marginalia included really does make the comic content feel like just a small part of a picture of a guy losing his mind than a coherent piece of artwork. Such a bummer.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 11 January 2017 22:32 (three years ago) link

feel more like a small part

that should say

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 11 January 2017 22:33 (three years ago) link

also afaik Dave Sim is not dead yet

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 11 January 2017 22:33 (three years ago) link

Incidentally, I think introducing himself as a character was the biggest mistake of the series, and probably heralds the start of the "I'll just make this shit up as I go along, plot resolutions are for voids" era of Cerebus -- altho' as Aldo sez, Guys is still quite fun.

lol aldo otm 10 years ago

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 11 January 2017 22:37 (three years ago) link

er Chuck Tatum I mean

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 11 January 2017 22:37 (three years ago) link

Am tempted to buy the first couple digital phonebooks, the early art looks so beautiful here:

I picked up a phonebook at my folks' house a few weeks ago and forgot how annoying Roach and the two moustache brothers are (I tended to skip over their panels). Though Astoria is still an incredible character, even if the idea of Dave writing an interesting female character now seems mindblowing.

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 12 January 2017 13:10 (three years ago) link

"SMASHIE BASHIE BAF BAM" from when the brothers are getting pummeled by sacred wars roach is still funny to me, idk why

All the Kitchen Staff Supervisor stuff is still classic (Sewage, sewage, sewage)

I'll probably recommend HS and both C&S volumes for a while to come

The beaver is not the bad guy (El Tomboto), Thursday, 12 January 2017 13:42 (three years ago) link

And I always liked the stupid accents, especially "smartaguy aardawark"

The beaver is not the bad guy (El Tomboto), Thursday, 12 January 2017 13:44 (three years ago) link

Such a terrible aesthetic decision.

Inclined to agree in hindsight, though at the time I really really enjoyed Minds - maybe because his smaller-scale aesthetic decision making was about as good as it had ever been at that point. A really technically accomplished, beautifully rendered book, whatever the shortcomings of the storyline/themes.

chap, Thursday, 12 January 2017 15:52 (three years ago) link

the artwork/lettering/everything is certainly incredible

Οὖτις, Thursday, 12 January 2017 17:18 (three years ago) link

"SMASHIE BASHIE BAF BAM" from when the brothers are getting pummeled by sacred wars roach is still funny to me, idk why


builds character

Οὖτις, Thursday, 12 January 2017 17:19 (three years ago) link

Did his smaller-scale aesthetic decision making ever dip? Even during the unbearable Koningsberg stuff it was well drawn and lettered (you could argue that walls of text meant less space for his amazing Big Letters...)

Andrew Farrell, Thursday, 12 January 2017 20:12 (three years ago) link

Eh I think in later books his layouts can be too busy and he can sometimes overdo it a bit with the wacky lettering.

chap, Thursday, 12 January 2017 22:37 (three years ago) link

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