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Cerebus the Aardvark
#1
I'm not sure if such a thread exists; the search here has turned up nothing so far.

Surely one of the most influential and controversial comic book series of all time:  at once a landmark in self-published independent comic books, and a testament to the pitfalls of complete control over one's creation leading to overindulgence and ultimately creative self-destruction.

I don't know if I myself have much to say that hasn't already been said, or analyzed, or over-analyzed about Cerebus, but I'd enjoy any discussion about it.

Speaking for myself, Cerebus came along at just the right age of me exploring comic books as a medium, forming a set of philosophies that influenced my world view going forward, and then confronting me with the distinct possibility that the person who created all this was self-deluded about so many things.  It's always left a real impression on me.

This is the best overall review of Cerebus the Aardvark I've found for those both familiar and unfamiliar with the series: I've checked out a few of this Overlord/Strange Brain Parts reviews and, gimmick aside, he seems pretty legit.




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#2
I have the issue of "Spawn" where he meets Cerebus and they discuss the state of the comic book industry, circa 1993.
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#3
My favourite Cerebus memory was when his publisher gave out a bunch of free comics at my local Con, then forged my mailing list signature onto a creepy MRA petition to remove all references to misogyny in critical evaluations of Dave Sim’s work.

Oh hey, I found it. It’s even dumber than I remember. Sim wants you to sign an affidavit that he’s a good guy before he responds to correspondence.

http://momentofcerebus.blogspot.com/2012...ition.html
“I feel a connection with you. A man connection. A mannection.”
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#4
Ha ha, WOW.

Cerebus is one of those works that I think a lot more people have read about than actually read, and I include myself in that number. I want to read it for myself one day, but I'm willing to wait until I've outlived the author so that my dime doesn't go to an asshole.
"Looking at the Trump administration, I'm starting to think I was too hard on the characters in Prometheus."  --  MrBananaGrabber
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#5
I barely survived the first volume.
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#6
I’m also in that category. The story of the series and its trajectory is so uniquely bonkers I can’t help but want to experience it first hand. But I suspect there are more productive ways to spend six months of your life.
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#7
Good points. I once attempted L. Ron Hubbard's posthumously published "Mission Earth" novels. I made it as far as halfway through the second of the ten before I gave up. There was no "there" there.
"Looking at the Trump administration, I'm starting to think I was too hard on the characters in Prometheus."  --  MrBananaGrabber
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#8
I haven't revisited them in years, but I really really enjoyed the first 3 (well, 2 1/2?) "phone book" volumes - 25 years ago.  The first one was a really fun parody of sword-and sandals standalone adventures, as summarized in the video.  Gradually it started weaving in parody of other genres, and started crossing over with other independent comics, which introduced me to some pretty weird & wild series from other artists.  At the time I found High Society an absolutely brilliant parody of modern politics.  Church & State part II is where things started to feel like they were going off the rails...

I stuck with it till the bitter end because it was a fascinating real-time 1st hand account of a person going utterly insane.  That is really what it is, sometimes amazing in its WTF-ness, but ending up entirely self-indulgent and spinning in circles to justify & re-justify his opinions, and being utterly boring.

So if any of that subject matter is generally your thing, Cerebus is still really really good in each of the genres it tackles, and you might still consider it worth checking out.

Side anecdote: my first job out of Uni was at a small video game company that employed a bunch of comic/genre artists.  It's the main reason I started getting into comics at that time - these guys would talk about all the great stuff going on in the medium at that time.  I was always curious about the Cerebus phone books taking up a huge swath of the shelves at the comics shops, and without really knowing anything about them, finally picked up vol. 1.  I really liked it!

I mentioned that I had started reading Cerebus to a guy at work who knew Dave Sim personally.  I said I was really enjoying it so far.  The only thing he said was "Dave Sim is a misogynist" flatly.  I blinked a few times, taken a bit aback.  "I... guess I haven't reached that part yet" I said.  Kind of coloured the way I viewed the series after that.
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#9
Man, I haven't thought about Cerebus in ages!  I remember really loving the first few volumes when it was mostly just a Conan spoof, but it got infinitely more fascinating as Dave Sim slowly lost his mind.  It made for some loooong stretches of boring dialogue-driven issues, but at least the creator had a vision and a unique voice.  At the time I was a indie snob with comics and loved how Sim stood up for creators rights and owning your own work.  He and Richard/Wendy Pini (of ElfQuest) were like heroes to me for going the self publishing route and thumbing their noses at DC and Marvel.

Christ, I remember the HUGE dust-up in The Comics Journal over the infamous issue 186, all the accusations of misogyny, etc... what a mess that was!  I think even Gaiman denounced him... and Gaiman is like the sweetest guy on the planet.  Ouch!
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#10
This is definitely one of those cases in which separating the art from the artist kinda doesnt work out; I mean, the moment Sim went full nutjob on this, there was no going back.
Its like Sim looked at Gilead from The Handmaidens Tale, and not only thought "This makes sense", but went "Hold my beer, I can top this" as well.*
At least he got a term/trope called for it (Cerebus Syndrome).


*The only other guy in comics that I think went that far of the deep end was Steve Ditko, but he was uncommonly profesional and quiet about it, with his objectivism only showing in his creator work when he wanted it to.
"Dictatorships foster oppression, dictatorships foster servitude, dictatorships foster cruelty; more abominable is the fact that they foster idiocy."

Xbox Live Gamer Tag: Strider Ryoken / PSN: Kenryo81 /Steam: Ryoken81
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#11
Okay, I ordered ish 186, so I can see what the fuss is aboot.
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#12
This thread reminds me of a Twitter Thread from Jeet Heer comparing Sim to Jordan Peterson:

https://twitter.com/HeerJeet/status/965667287893069824
“That which doesn't kill you wasn't done right.”—Khaya Dlanga
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#13
(08-07-2018, 05:53 PM)michael shaver Wrote: This thread reminds me of a Twitter Thread from Jeet Heer comparing Sim to Jordan Peterson:

https://twitter.com/HeerJeet/status/965667287893069824
Hah, wow. I'd heard furtive mentions of Sim's craziness before, but I had no idea it extended to creating a full-fledged religion for himself.
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#14
I'm not familiar with Heer, but that thread's a terrific read.
"Looking at the Trump administration, I'm starting to think I was too hard on the characters in Prometheus."  --  MrBananaGrabber
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#15
(08-07-2018, 03:57 PM)bradito Wrote: Okay, I ordered ish 186, so I can see what the fuss is aboot.

It probably wouldn't have the same impact as being a reader of the series at the time, where it kinda came out of nowhere and slapped everyone in the face.  (I regarded Cerebus the series & Dave Sim as pretty progressive up till that point.)  Again I haven't revisited it in years, so the content might even seem tame by today's standards, but as I remember it it's still some pretty nasty stuff.
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#16
Now I'm all excited.
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#17
If Dave Sim got his start in today's era, he'd be a hero to the alt-right and incel movements.

The constant deadlines couldn't have helped his deteriorating mind, when you think about it in hindsight. The guy vowed to never miss a monthly issue's deadline, and I think he pretty much held up his end with one or two exceptions. To produce that level of quality artwork to fill a whole issue every freaking month had to have been madness. How could he have had a live outside of the drawing board in those first few years? Sure, he did eventually hire Gerard to do the background art, but still.... Dave's artwork is pretty complex and detailed. He couldn't dash out quick drawings like Jeff Smith could with Bone.

Not that I mean to defend the guy.... it's hard to defend somebody who thinks of all women as "The Void".
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#18
Has anyone ever interviewed his ex-gfs? I'm sure they must have some stories.
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#19
The Pinis managed to make Elfquest comics for 40 years without becoming assholes. Steady employment doesn't cause that.
"Looking at the Trump administration, I'm starting to think I was too hard on the characters in Prometheus."  --  MrBananaGrabber
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#20
Steady employment, no.... insane schedules that no reasonable human should be expected to live up to for such extended periods of time? I buy it.. at least as one possible reason he went so batty.

The Pini's had each other, for starters. They weren't all alone all the time. They're more outgoing, enjoyed going to cons and cosplaying, took a lot of breaks between issues and arcs, and eventually opened the doors for other artists and writers to carry the heavy load of ElfQuest through the 90's and 00's. In short, the Pini's had some JOY in their lives and weren't torturing themselves for their "art".

Sim.... not quite so much. As much as it pains me to say it as a fellow introvert, but Dave just spent WAY too much time alone at the drawing board without anyone to bounce his thoughts off of except himself. After a while of that shit, even the craziest thoughts seem normal. That absolutely could have been a contributing factor for his meltdown.

Speaking of the Pini's ... they came out of retirement a while back to finally draw and write the final ElfQuest arc: The Final Quest. After decades of letting hacks run the ship, it's amazing to see genuine Wendy Pini artwork in a new book again!
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#21
I was about to say Erik Larsen and Savage Dragon, but I just checked some of the latest issues and oh boy...
"Dictatorships foster oppression, dictatorships foster servitude, dictatorships foster cruelty; more abominable is the fact that they foster idiocy."

Xbox Live Gamer Tag: Strider Ryoken / PSN: Kenryo81 /Steam: Ryoken81
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#22
I got ish 186 of "Cerebus." It's a few pages of him floating through space then it just stops being a comic book and is a dozen or so pages of some bullshit single-spaced essay about the differences between men and women. I bagged out after the first page.
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#23
You must finish reading it. For science.
"Looking at the Trump administration, I'm starting to think I was too hard on the characters in Prometheus."  --  MrBananaGrabber
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#24
I feel like after the first page, I pretty much get it.
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#25
FOR SCIENCE.
"Looking at the Trump administration, I'm starting to think I was too hard on the characters in Prometheus."  --  MrBananaGrabber
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#26
Oh no, you can't just jump off that roller coaster as before it's climbed it's first hump!

Also, part of the story behind the story is the Letters page. It's an open dialogue of crazy, especially when everybody writes in (and Dave responds) to discuss WTF was with #186.
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