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January 18, 2009 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Cerebus: A Diablog. Every week or so,Laura and Leigh read, review, and discuss an issue of Dave Sim's seminal comic series Cerebus.
posted by Alvy Ampersand (34 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome. I'll probably reread the issues alongside these. Thanks, Alvy.
posted by Donnie VandenBos at 12:19 PM on January 18, 2009

I just recently acquired copies of the whole Cerebus run. I have a thing for the minute documentation of madness in art (e.g. I'm a big Philip K. Dick fan); this will be an excellent read-along resource. Cheers, Alvy.
posted by penduluum at 12:20 PM on January 18, 2009

Alvy, you forgot to start this post with "I don't believe Dave Sim is a misogynist."
posted by rokusan at 12:34 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, this thread is going to be fun.
posted by empath at 12:36 PM on January 18, 2009

you forgot to start this post with "I don't believe Dave Sim is a misogynist."

"Don't make me tap the sign Comics Reporter link."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:44 PM on January 18, 2009

For some reason, despite never actually having READ Cerebus -- I think partly it's sort of daunting, being, like, 300 issues over 26 years and whatnot, and also that I've never been a genre-fantasy fan at all (cannot get my brain to really Get Into It with VERY few exceptions; about the only one I can think of off hand is Slayers, which is more fantasy-parody, and, I guess some of Miyazaki's stuff -- like, I guess Princess Mononoke is kinda fantasy, but for some reason I never think of it as such; perhaps because I like it, heh) -- I find stuff ABOUT it really, really interesting. I think it's Dave Sim; such an interesting character. Not someone I think I would ever want to meet ever, but neat to read about, y'know? Still, though, I'm thinking I'm gonna have to put this in my RSS feed. Thanks!
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 12:45 PM on January 18, 2009

Not someone I think I would ever want to meet ever

Me and friend talked to Dave Sim at a small press expo. He came across as very smart, quietly passionate, patient and friendly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:57 PM on January 18, 2009

That's cool... I'm only going from 2nd and 3rd hand, like Interviews and whatnot, and I seem to remember hearing that he doesn't like doing interviews, so that probably puts him on edge, too, where he might be more likely to come off as a jerk. Which, is admittedly a silly thing to base off of, as, well, even the biggest jerk in an interview has at least someone who thinks they're a pretty good guy.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 1:15 PM on January 18, 2009

Cerebus: A Diablog

"Diablog"? Oh, man. That word needs to stop existing, right now.
posted by gurple at 1:24 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]

> I seem to remember hearing that he doesn't like doing interviews...

If I had reason to expect that most interviews of me would include, "What the hell is wrong with you, man?" I'd stop doing them too. I doubt this had anything to do with whether he's a personable, approachable guy when not asked to discuss comics, politics or women.
posted by ardgedee at 1:33 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Interesting, I wish there was back/forward/issue menu, though.
posted by porpoise at 1:51 PM on January 18, 2009

"...when not asked to discuss comics, politics or women."

Thank god you didn't include bacon, or there'd be nothing left for any of us to talk about!
posted by rokusan at 1:58 PM on January 18, 2009

Previously, just to point it out (look, there are tags!) - Glamourpuss is fairly interesting, by the way, and much more about nature and history of (B&W, ink) comic illustration than anything else. On which subjects Sim is worth reading and very tolerable. The copies are not exactly flying off the shelves of my local emporiums, though, so I wonder how long it will last.
posted by nanojath at 2:11 PM on January 18, 2009

Cerebus: Awesome, or Awesomest? Discuss.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:12 PM on January 18, 2009

I interviewed Dave Sim once, about 14 years ago, and he was friendly, affable, etc etc etc. We were talking about the efforts on behalf of comics publishers to get graphic novels into mainstream bookstores (it was less of a given at that point) and he eventually said something like, "Frankly, I don't really want them to carry my books." I asked, "Do you think that makes you sound a little, I don't know, churlish?" And he just laughed and laughed and laughed. He couldn't have been nicer. This would have been just on the cusp of his apparent descent, though.
posted by Joey Bagels at 2:25 PM on January 18, 2009

Oh, this is the perfect thing to make me dive back into the giant stack of Cerebus I have. I got the first 170 issues or so as one big lot on ebay, dirt cheap because some of the covers had water damage. I got distracted by other things after 80 issues or so, and the thought of reconnecting all those tarim/terim threads in my head is pretty daunting after being away from them for a year.

I was very skeptical about all the hype I'd heard about the series before I read them, but there were many issues I found to be absolutely stunning, not to mention laugh-out-loud funny.
posted by the bricabrac man at 2:51 PM on January 18, 2009

For those who are interested, up to and including Cerebus #31, "Chasing Cootie", it was one of the most clever and tightly written comics available. His satires of fantasy tropes and superhero comics were tremendous fun.

#32, "Alliance", marks the introduction of Astoria (well, she has a small out-of-character intro in #31, but that's quickly disposed of). The tone and the quality of the book changes dramatically at this point, for the worse in my opinion. The relationship between Astoria (Sim's first non-trivial female character), the quality of his work and Sim's subsequent misogyny, seems obvious, but what it all meant to Dave is a matter of speculation.
posted by SPrintF at 3:32 PM on January 18, 2009


(I had to comment in this thread, didn't I?)
posted by cerebus19 at 4:37 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Are there not enough post-nutso Dave Sim comics that we have to go back to the early ones and start making shit up?
posted by Artw at 5:00 PM on January 18, 2009

Sim-Related: The Comics Reporter presents "Name Five Comics-Related Conversations You Never Want To Have Again."

I think that covers just about every single Metafilter comics discussion, ever, with Sean T. Collins' number one covering about half of them.
posted by Artw at 5:09 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Rev. Syung Myung Me - early Cerebus, as discussed by the blog, is very much in the Fantasy Parody camp - then it gets to be a bit more of it's own thing, Sim starts getting Gerhard to do the backgrounds, and IMHO it improves immensley. Then he goes mad.

The fantasy pasrody stuff is pretty lame, IMHO, but the blog appears to be an excesise in shoehorning critisisms of his later work into critisisms of that early stuff, which it really doesn't deserve.
posted by Artw at 5:14 PM on January 18, 2009

(Well, maybe that's just the latest post, earlier ones seem a little more grounded.)
posted by Artw at 5:18 PM on January 18, 2009

Way to overthink a plate of aardvark.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:25 PM on January 18, 2009

I'm sorry, that was snarky and dismissive. The thing is, the glory days of Cerebus are long behind us and at a certain point, you have to separate the artist from the art. Gauguin was the king of the assholes. Having the Fitzgeralds over for dinner would lead quickly to a distressed anonymous AskMe. Hemingway was no treat. Van Gogh was just a little unstable; John Lennon was no prize of social interaction; Kipling's thoughts on interracial socializing are far from comfortable; I won't watch Woody Allen movies anymore and, hey, surprise: Janis had substance abuse issues. None of that diminishes the work that they created and going back over it, over and over and over again with the fine tooth comb that is early 21st century gender analysis is painful to watch.

Yeah, Dave Sim went nuts in a very public way and it's horribly uncomfortable now. Before all that happened, he wrote a very very fine comic called Cerebus. It was good then. It's still really good. He's not so happy and not so much fun. But his art is worth looking at. It happens. People are crazy and flawed and fucked up and, you know, brevis. Art, supposedly, should be longa. Step back from the lens of personality and look at the work on its own.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:48 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]

Step back from the lens of personality and look at the work on its own.

posted by LogicalDash at 8:45 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Everything you need to know about Cerebus, you can read about in the High Society "phonebook" (the unofficial term for the massive Cerebus collections), and if you have the time and patience, both Church and State phone books.

After that, he's pretty much just dicking around, to greater or lesser effect... his homage to Oscar Wylde, Melmoth, is far more poignant than his homage to Hemmingway, Guys.

But, here's what you must truly remember: Cerebus has a fate. To die, alone, unloved, unmourned.

I really and truly think all of the heart-breaking lunacy in the latter years was the artist's best attempt to fulfill Cerebus' destiny. Dave Sim really, really is that subtle, that deep, and is capable of that kind of long-term plan. This notion adds an extra dimension to the Bad Craziness that appeals...
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:05 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have to say, too, I'm a little curious about what exactly Glamourpuss is -- I checked out the website, but that didn't really clear anything up, and the other main link I found was dead, heh. The Wikipedia article was a bit skint as well. Anyone fill me in on that one?

I DID see the preview for Judenhass and that was, at least from the first pages, really good. I'm thinking I"ll have to pick that up next time I'm at the comic shop.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 10:13 PM on January 18, 2009

There's a conversation between Dave Sim and Alan Moore here.

I believe that type of interaction is what the term Folie a Deux was invented to describe.

Although, I'm not sure if they're crazy or I am, after reading that.
posted by empath at 11:06 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]

I don't understand the need to fetishize this guy- anything after Church and State is laughable. When he was good, he was very, very, good. Must we go further?

I have the same problem with Frank Miller (whoreswhoreswhoreswhoreswhores...) Meanwhile, Dave Lapham is a friggin' genius and Jeff Smith is still criminally unknown
posted by eclectist at 12:01 AM on January 19, 2009

Look ... it's perfectly OK to argue that the opinions, philosophy, or personal failings of an artist should not necessarily be taken into account when judging the quality of their art ... unless that artist, you know, deliberately puts their opinions, philosophy, and personal failings into their art as a key element. Then the two become inescapably intertwined, you know?

Saying that Sim's creation should not be judged on the basis of his misogyny is a little ridiculous when, for example, issue 185 is pretty much explicitly devoted to explaining his thesis that women are all essentially mindless succubi who exist only to drain energy from men. Likewise, it's hard to brush aside his crazy religious views when the final plot arc of the story is all about his crazy religious views.

Look, I think he produced some great stuff at one point, but the dude went crazy, and the crazy infected his work. He put it in his work himself. You can't separate it out, because it's right there. It's like, sure, you can watch Gotterdamerung without worrying too much about the fact that Wagner was a prejudiced asshole, but if you watch "Triumph of the Will" you're going to notice a little bit more than Leni Riefenstahl's cinematography, you know?
posted by kyrademon at 2:10 AM on January 19, 2009

the dude went crazy

I see his Wikipedia article mentions a diagnosis of "borderline schizophrenia". But do we really know that his wimmin-hatin' is the product of mental illness - as opposed to just being a rancid misognyist?
posted by Joe Beese at 7:58 AM on January 19, 2009

We should have celebrated the Poe bicentenial with a peice on what a brain-damaged pedo he was, because obviously that's the most significant things about him.
posted by Artw at 8:53 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

...his thesis that women are all essentially mindless succubi who exist only to drain energy from men.

One man's thesis is another man's wet dream.
posted by rokusan at 9:45 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

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