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March 27, 2004

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Joshua Macy

Fell off near the beginning of Jaka's Story, myself. Just stopped caring, even before he went nanners.

Carlos

Do you know what's worse than staying on the bus until issue #300? Staying on the bus because you have a friend who sees *reflections* of his own (massive, Sim-like) personal problems in the pages of Cerebus, and following along just so you know what the hell he is talking about. And then having to explain where Sim got *this* neat idea from, and *that* addle-pated thought from. "Graves' _White Goddess_. Ellmann's biography of Wilde. Some popular account of gnosticism, probably not Pagels, considering. No I will *not* learn to play Diamondback."

Greater love hath no man, I tell you.

Then there is the "attractive woman comes back to your apartment and folds the cover of a Cerebus bound volume in half as she is paging through it" predicament.

At least Sandman never gave me a headache.

C.

jholbo

Carlos,

You have my sympathy.

Was the predicament with the pretty lady yours or your friends? I must say, I am not particularly fastidious about keeping my bound volumes in good condition. But it seems like strange behaviour to fold the cover of a book in half - any book. I wouldn't do that to a cheap airport throwaway paperback. (Not that they are so cheap these days. Damn things cost.) Ah, well.

Russell Arben Fox

I was never a regular reader, so no doubt I should keep my mouth shut; perhaps there are many examples of Sim's genius out there waiting to show me up. But just speaking for what I've read with my own two eyes, I never saw anything in Cerebus that wasn't present (in cleaner form too) in The Watchman, or any number of comparable comics. Seems like his accomplishment is more a function of the size of his vision, than the clarity of its execution.

Carlos

My predicament. She had a certain careful carefree carelessness which I later learned extended to relationships.

It was the first volume anyway. Ah, well.

C.

Bruce Baugh

Russell, there are two things about Cerebus to consider.

One is that he did a lot of this stuff first. High Society is a peer to Frank Miller's run on Daredevil and Alan Moore's early issues of Swamp Thing, and more or less pulled its artistic vocabulary out of the void. Now there's an irony. Anyway, there just hadn't been anything like it before in comics, even though you can look at precedents running back to various works by Will Eisner, Paul Gulacy (on Master of Kung Fu), and so on. But Cerebus was a huge step forward in the presentation as well as the stories told.

(And I still think there's precious little to compare to the high lunacy of Petuniacon and some other moments in High Society.)

Second, while Sim undoubtedly went way spare, the comic never stopped being beautiful. Other long runs tend to get lumpy in art as well as story, but the quality of the presentation never did let up. I don't like a lot of what Sim and Gerhard did, but they never did it poorly or thoughtlessly, so nearly as I can tell.

They also managed this with an essentially unprecedented degree of professionalism with regard to timeliness and such.

Doug Muir

I've noticed that when people who stopped reading _Cerebus_ reminisce about the Good Old Days, they tend to home in on "High Society" -- issues 25-50 IMS, published around 1982-3. Petuniacon, Cerebus' election, his brief but eventful "Six Crises" career as Prime Minister.

The wuffa-wuffa farmer guy... yeah. I still clearly remember the panel where Cerebus decks him. Man, those were great issues. Remember the Monty Python commander? ("It's all one sentence..." "Cerebus finds the time goes faster if he counts the adverbs.")

Russell -- what Bruce said. You want to keep in mind that _Cerebus_ got started around 1978, when Alan Moore was still doing Chee-Z four page EC comic ripoffs and Frank Miller was hoping that Chris Claremont would accept him as backup artist on "John Carter, Warlord of Mars". The first golden age of _Cerebus_ predates _Watchmen_ by four or five years. And Sim really started hitting his stride a year or two before either Moore (on "Swamp Thing") or Miller (on "Daredevil") made their big breakthroughs.

Also, as Bruce says, in 20+ years the comics never stopped being lovely to look at -- well, except for when Sim cluttered them up with pages and pages of ugly, stupid text -- and they were delivered on time, month after month after month.

Which is pretty damn impressive for a book that was entirely self-published. IMS Sim had a better on-time rate than most major comics companies. For years, you were pretty much certain to find _Cerebus_ at the comics shop on the appointed day; _Superman_ or _X-Men_ might be, whoops, a week delayed, but the little grey guy would be there. It was quite something.

It actually makes the whole thing that much more painful. Sim was brilliant, and in some ways still is; Sim turned into an obnoxious and tedious troll, and probably always will be. That just sucks.


Doug M.

Bruce Baugh

And not just beautiful, but technically innovative: there's so much stuff with the lettering, the panel layout and composition, and so on that just hadn't been before. Or since, in many cases. The folks who really use lettering so fully are a select bunch - Ken Bruzenak (who isn't as legible as Sim), whoever lettered the Engelhart/Rogers run of Batman, and not many others. The text itself became art.

Doug Muir

IMS Sim was awarded several Eisners for lettering. Also IMS, he started refusing them after a while.

As I said, Bruce -- it just makes the whole thing suck that much more.


Doug M.

Ray

I re-read "High Society" and "Church & State" more often and with more pleasure than "Watchmen," "V for Vendetta," "Swamp Thing," or anything by Gaiman. Funny and loose beat rigid control. (Moore and Gaiman might agree -- they got good taste.)

I bought "Guys" for the degradation. That's the only post-Ascenscion aspect of Sim I can really follow.

But I probably could've gone further if he'd stuck to dialogue and action instead of switching to prose parodies. That, more than ideology, was the ruin of a great cartoonist.

Stephen

Those of you who quit reading Cerebus during Mothers and Daughters are missing out on a lot of great stuff that came later on in the series. Some of the later books in the series, particularly "Guys" and "Rick's Story", are brilliant. I go back to them over and over and there's something new for me there every time. "The Last Day" (the final 10 or so issues) is mesmerizing. I hope people that gave up on Cerebus halfway through will go back to the phone books someday and find out what they missed.

Len

I agree 100% Ray. I disagree with many of Sim's views and concede, to some extent, he's a bit of a nut. But to denigrate him as "an obnoxious and tedious troll" is simply unfair. He believes in what he beleives passionately. He's been a staunch defender of creators' rights since day 1. His passion comes out in the pages of Cerebus. While his views may be disagreed with - the mastery of Cerebus - as a comic book - the combination of words and pictures - is unquestionable. And if you can see past the views that you disagree with, i.e. acept that his view is simply not your own, you're in for an amazing treat no matter WHICH volume of the series you pick up.

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