Friday, August 17, 2007

Cerebus the Aardvark

When I was in high school/early college I collected Cerebus comics, picking up back issues sporadically and regularly reading new issues as they came out monthly. In issue 112/113, Dave Sim ripped into a Christian who passionately tried to share the gospel with him (I think "There REALLY is a hell" was in the letter). He also posted a picture of a self-proclaimed witch. I dropped the series at this point, as my frail new belief couldn't tolerate it. That, and this was the tail end of the wordy "Walking on the Moon" series that lost a lot of his readers. That, and I needed cash for a new jacket.

Many years later, a friend of mine found an issue in the dollar box at a con and gave it to me, and I became curious once again. I went on Ebay and Lone Star and grabbed up the Swords volumes, then all the regular issues, and I've been reading it from the very beginning, in rapid fire succession rather than month-long gaps.

I don't know how to talk about Cerebus without getting gushy about it. Dave Sim is a masterful storyteller and a risk-taking pioneer. Reading it as I am, I am floored by the tightly knit storyline, in which characters and minor ideas from the past continuously have an effect on the story later. Cerebus is both riotously funny and shockingly tragic at times, sometimes turning on a dime from page to page. The ideas and events are thought-provoking, the pacing unprecedented.

I'm so glad I picked it up again, and this time through I find Sim's commentary far for enlightening and informative than irritating, particularly his thoughts on the comic industry and creator rights. I can still disagree with his take on religion (his early atheist ponderings eventually developing into monotheist or universalist), but now I can seperate that from my pure enjoyment of this series. That's part of growing up. Thanks Dave.

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