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 (sixteen 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 (sixteen 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 (sixteen 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 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes, that's exactly what I remember.

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

Although I really liked 'Minds' as well.

Wooden, Monday, 26 July 2004 02:18 (sixteen 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

i'm less than thrilled myself

Kate (rushomancy), Saturday, 18 July 2020 23:48 (two weeks ago) link


Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 18 July 2020 23:50 (two weeks ago) link

I just think that, by now, I’ve seen so many longform fantasy & sci-fi narratives (especially on tv) wiggle themselves into tidy but very boring places when they finish, that Sim’s complete collapse starts to seem heartwarming somehow

Also I visited Kitchener once and felt like I could forgive anyone who managed to make something even 2% good from Kitchener

Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 18 July 2020 23:57 (two weeks ago) link

i've seen so many people collapse in a similar way to dave

so many

i'm tired of seeing it happen to people i care about :(

Kate (rushomancy), Sunday, 19 July 2020 01:19 (two weeks ago) link

Collapse of narrative, I meant. Dave’s health problems are obviously awful.

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 19 July 2020 09:40 (two weeks ago) link

The cartooning is amazing, the text is bonkers

― bat ain't Thad (sic)

This is just about all of later Cerebus? I remember the non texty parts of Latter Days being quite fun. Going Home is a mammoth slog with a scattering of masterful sequences.

chap, Sunday, 19 July 2020 18:20 (two weeks ago) link

i sometimes wonder if committing to write and draw and sell a comic book a month, every month, for 25 years, while on paper an admirable career goal, might perhaps have had certain downsides sim may not have been aware of at the time

i sometimes wonder to what extent sim's advocacy of creator-owned comics prefigures today's influencers, wherein everybody is not just a creator but a personal brand

particularly when i see the stress and strain influencers are under, and yes yes we're all under stress and strain, Things Are Fucked right now, and yet

do you think any amount of money, any amount of money at all, could induce me to trade my current career for a career consisting, really, of playing video games on the internet?

no, not at all, because "playing video games on the internet" is so fucking much _harder_ than some people seem to give it credit for.

thinking about dave sim makes me very sad.

Kate (rushomancy), Monday, 20 July 2020 01:39 (two weeks ago) link

Dave, who refused to consult a doctor when he damaged his wrist and became unable to draw*, is now concocting his own COVID-truther conspiracies in his daily strips. eg: the numbers of cases are unreliable because they are tallied by university undergraduates who are too distracted by having friends or using the internet to count accurately, and also simultaneously it's all been made up by American medical schools to get all those huge government research grants that are going around.

* (instead going to the US to get a private X-ray, then posting it on a blogspot and asking if his commenters had any ideas)

Steppin' RZA (sic), Friday, 24 July 2020 11:36 (one week ago) link

Why do people keep giving this arsehole money?

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Saturday, 25 July 2020 01:33 (one week ago) link

tbf it's only 133 people who keep giving him money, as of his latest kickstarter.

Steppin' RZA (sic), Saturday, 25 July 2020 06:13 (one week ago) link

Why do people keep giving this arsehole money?

― Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison)

i nominate this sentence for the "capitalism in 2020 summarized in one sentence" award

Kate (rushomancy), Saturday, 25 July 2020 12:46 (one week ago) link

Finished Jaka's Story which, it turns out, is still pretty amazing.

Jaka is shown to be absolutely vile and self-centred, there's one bit I hadn't quite picked up on before that shows she knew all along Pud was bankrupting himself over her and Rick, and was happily letting him do it - only ultimately acknowledging it when it appears not to matter any more.

Mrs Thatcher is incredible when she shows up, she's the most successful and convincing use of lettering to create a voice in the book up to that point. I swear you can HEAR the dialogue.

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Saturday, 25 July 2020 15:06 (one week ago) link

Jaka's Story was always my favourite.

chap, Sunday, 26 July 2020 10:18 (one week ago) link

Melmoth is quite fun, or at least the Oscar Wilde parts are (something which I suspect will be repeated when we get into Hemmingway and Fitzgerald. The rest is inconsequential, except for marking the start of the Roach becoming an incoherent mess that confounds rather than entertains.

This decline continues across Flight and Women which are very much These Are My Gender Politics interspersed with the most boring Roach yet. Cerebus is finally a fully fledged alcoholic (for a short period at least) but it's sparse moments that hold the attention such as the revelation that Sir Gerrick is Cirin's son, which shows just how much of Astoria's life has been playing the game.

It's Reads next. Pray for me.

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Monday, 27 July 2020 17:34 (one week ago) link

I started buying new issues right around Melmoth. Women was where I realized the book was no longer for me.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 27 July 2020 17:50 (one week ago) link

I remember Flight being incredibly exciting after the slow pace of the preceding two books.

The Hemmingway/Fitzgerald stuff, otoh, I remember as tedious and pointless.

chap, Monday, 27 July 2020 18:06 (one week ago) link

yeah, the magic is not repeated from Oscar

(partly because iirc Sim had read and admired Wilde, and just decided that Hemingway and Fitzgerald were the two Big American Writers he needed to give the same treatment to, but did not actually read Hemingway until he started writing a planned 400pp book about him)

Steppin' RZA (sic), Monday, 27 July 2020 20:34 (one week ago) link

I read it month-by-month as Sim analysing why self-proclaimed messianic figures are deluded, and handed-down texts are an impossible method of crafting a moral code. Instead it turned out he was writing himself into a messianic prophet who proclaimed himself to be the one true interpreter of at minimum one of the three core handed-down religious texts in history.

Someone asked why he was wearing a bit of rubber on his finger in a recent youtube:

Steppin' RZA (sic), Tuesday, 28 July 2020 09:12 (one week ago) link

Also, here's a minute of Mick and Keef from a feature-length animated Cerebus movie being created on spec, that Dave will either approve or decline only after the entire thing is completed, and will not look at any test footage or excerpts.

Steppin' RZA (sic), Tuesday, 28 July 2020 09:17 (one week ago) link

did not actually read Hemingway until he started writing a planned 400pp book about him

Yes, and decided he hated him when he did.

chap, Tuesday, 28 July 2020 09:26 (one week ago) link

Dave Sim otm on that, at least.

Andrew Farrell, Tuesday, 28 July 2020 09:27 (one week ago) link

Finding a small piece of rubber in a taxi is a personal sign from God specifically telling you that you were right about everything and should keep doing the same things you're already doing.

The handful of fans obsessed enough to not only read your inept third-hand blogspot, but to read the cut-and-paste RWNJ satire strips on it, are "Online Trolls" if they think you used to be an admirably talented artist.

Steppin' RZA (sic), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 04:06 (one week ago) link

Also, if they don't want their google account linked to their comments on a weirdo anti-science blog, even to say "this is a bad post," then they are one person pretending to argue with themself by also posting comments in defence of Dave.

Steppin' RZA (sic), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 04:09 (one week ago) link

If Dave knew how to work a computer properly (or maybe he does - he mentioned a laptop somewhere?) then I'd suspect it was actually him.

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 08:32 (one week ago) link

I bailed on the current Kickstarter - because, let's face it, it's going to be worse than we can even imagine - but will admit to being tempted by the hardcover High Society depending on price.

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 08:39 (one week ago) link

that Dave will either approve or decline only after the entire thing is completed,

I'm going to predict decline.

chap, Wednesday, 29 July 2020 09:37 (one week ago) link

I'm going to predict that it's never completed tbf.

then I'd suspect it was actually him.

He used to post in the comments occasionally, but he certainly doesn't have the self-awareness to criticise himself for not understanding science or maths.

Steppin' RZA (sic), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 18:09 (one week ago) link

I think it will be completed, but Dave will be in no state to make a decision by then (dead or complete mental collapse).

Science or "science" or science or 'science' or science or science? (Yes, I am most of the way through Reads thanks for asking.)

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 19:56 (one week ago) link

Reads is really a book of two halves. The comic and the text. The comic has Suenteus Po and Astoria explaining why they're bored with how the storyline has turned out and are leaving, and the good bit which is the comics version of the fight in They Live. Make no mistake, it's a masterpiece as it records the small gains of evenly matched opponents cut by cut, punch by punch.

The text though. Whooo boy.

It's clearly after a breakdown. Dave spends the first half at least of it alienating himself from the comics community, calling them all liars. He then throws Deni Loubert into the pile - and I'm sure it's no coincidence that the first mention of her allegory is opposite a detail from the rape of Astoria. Real people flit in and out; Neil Gaiman is presented as an arch snob, the Jeff Smith incident is alluded to several times, and he (possibly) blames Alan Moore (and therefore massive amounts of doobage, in the closest to reality he gets anywhere here) for opening his eyes to how nothing he's ever been told is true and he needs to make his own reality. So he does.

He tells us he has done for a long time, since High Society even, and he has hidden it because he knows there will be a backlash. He retells the story George tells us in C&S, and he will retell us in both his Torah commentary and in 289/290. He then just goes into a rant which he himself basically agrees is misogynistic, it's just the 'evil' part of "Dave Sim is an evil misogynist" he disagrees with.

He says Cerebus will finish at #200, then on the other side of a lecture about objective reality that he's kidding. But I'm not so sure. This feels like hurtling towards an end, and to put all your cards on the table about what you think - particularly when you admit it's going to make you unpopular - feels like a final confession rather than a statement of intent. (More on this after Minds). Then there's the deniability aspect Dave creates between Victor Reid, Victor Davis, Dave and Cerebus himself - a luxury he only affords himself - to create doubt on the objective reality of anything written in the pages and who actually has said it or believes it.

It's surprising actually how little controversial material there actually is, it's effectively all in the final text section and it's nothing we haven't seen before or will see again. That said, having paid attention to it, there's nothing on the text that impacts the story and you can read Reads the comic on its own (actually there's probably an argument that if the meta-continuity is important enough then you should also be reading Notes From The President and the letters pages responses but I'm not going there yet).

In the end it was pretty interesting but not something I'm sure I'll repeat.

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Saturday, 1 August 2020 17:59 (four days ago) link

Minds plays out like a prettier version of C&S2. Big infodumps (including 'the potted history of pretty much everything that happened up until Dave started "explaining") but where it gets interesting - bearing in mind that in Reads Dave at least entertains the idea that Cerebus is him, or one of the versions of him - is the navel-gazing about exactly why you're alone and unloved. At this point it's still a negative as far as Dave is concerned so he does care that he seems to sabotage his own life so much although by the same token this could be the turning point, this is where he realises he's always going to be like he is and no SUCKING VOID will ever change that.

This definitely feels like the END end though and my guess this time round is that Dave realised at about 190 (and had the suspicion around 185) that he didn't have enough for a round 200 and was going to be a couple of issues short. This stopped it from being perfect and flawless therefore he could never complete his ascension - so having had to cobble together a couple of issues of content the only way to resolve his problem is to go back to Estarcion. In the context of the day, Cerebus is still making money and he's not a complete pariah yet so it makes more sense to continue with an existing property (and the chance to make it perfect and flawless at 300 after all). I also think this is at the heart of why he and Ger get so far behind.

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Saturday, 1 August 2020 20:40 (four days ago) link

nah, he was trolling.

(and they didn't get behind until one hundred issues later (seven years!), significantly because Gerhard walks out on Dave for a couple of months before being persuaded to return for the final year.)

Steppin' RZA (sic), Saturday, 1 August 2020 20:45 (four days ago) link

{walks out on as in quits the book - he'd stopped working in the same room, or socialising, with Sim years before.}

Steppin' RZA (sic), Saturday, 1 August 2020 20:47 (four days ago) link

I was thinking more of the time Sim and Ger were away somewhere (Bahamas?) and the reality of how far behind they were kicked in and they worked all day in the sun. Wasn't that about the 220s?

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Saturday, 1 August 2020 20:50 (four days ago) link

(There might have been a Bahamas excursion in the 220s that I don't recall, but since Dave was reading the Koran, the Bible & the Talmud, and consequently adopting an ascetic lifestyle at that time, I'd be mildly surprised.)

Steppin' RZA (sic), Saturday, 1 August 2020 21:03 (four days ago) link

Maybe I'm misremembering.

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Saturday, 1 August 2020 21:07 (four days ago) link

Wait so what is this comic about

all cats are beautiful (silby), Saturday, 1 August 2020 21:49 (four days ago) link

the Koran, the Bible & the Talmud.

Steppin' RZA (sic), Saturday, 1 August 2020 22:12 (four days ago) link

Definitely not the kind of things that are causing a clusterfuck on other boards. No siree Bob, no.

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Saturday, 1 August 2020 22:43 (four days ago) link

My recollection is that they went and holed up in an American hotel somewhere, if not Hawaii, specifically in order to catch up when they were months behind at the end of Church & State btw. Getting away from distractions of regular life and belting out issues in 2-3 weeks until they were back on schedule.

Steppin' RZA (sic), Saturday, 1 August 2020 22:59 (four days ago) link

You're probably right. My recollection was that they thought they could take a break - something about Ger discovering yachting as well? - and pretty soon realised they had to work like crazy the whole time they were away That Hawaii shot looks like a hotel and I'm sure I remember photos of a cabana. But my memory isn't what it was and I can digging out floppies.

Mud... jam... failure (aldo), Saturday, 1 August 2020 23:04 (four days ago) link

After spending five years on Church & State, Sim and Gerhard took a few weeks off. Sim decided they would do a double issue between Church & State and Jaka's Story, as they would only have to do one front and back cover, and one letters page.[18]

visiting, Saturday, 1 August 2020 23:09 (four days ago) link

That was for a breather, yeah - but they were shipping late for months at one stage.

(The Big Bang double-issue at 289/290 was also so Sim could catch up when Gerhard had quit both drawing and his part of the business paperwork - it's the only solo issue after #64.)

Steppin' RZA (sic), Saturday, 1 August 2020 23:19 (four days ago) link

Absolutely nothing anyone has said in this thread has made this book sound remotely appealing.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Sunday, 2 August 2020 00:41 (three days ago) link

i dont really think thats what theyre going for

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Sunday, 2 August 2020 00:49 (three days ago) link

why its good: sim and gerhard had, between them, an ability to present action, conversation, and world on the page unmatched in comics

why its bad: see above

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Sunday, 2 August 2020 00:56 (three days ago) link

it's a conan pastiche where the lead character is an aardvark and then, for a decade or two, it's about how women eat your brains
simple as that

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Sunday, 2 August 2020 01:36 (three days ago) link

Am nearly certain the Honlulu pic was from issue 98, first issue of Cerebus I ever bought.

ringworm, Sunday, 2 August 2020 06:49 (three days ago) link

And the editorial was about quitting smoking weed.

ringworm, Sunday, 2 August 2020 06:51 (three days ago) link

Absolutely nothing anyone has said in this thread has made this book sound remotely appealing.

― Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison)

I'm very attached to it, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone without a mountain of caveats.

chap, Sunday, 2 August 2020 12:18 (three days ago) link

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