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Some time early in 1992, when it was still bitterly cold, a bunch of us went down to Boston for Dave Sim’s signing at the Million-Year Picnic. I shared a car with Barry and Kurt Busiek, which meant I kept quiet in the back while they kept up an argument about whether James Bond could strictly speaking be considered a superhero, and for the life of me I can’t remember who was on which side, or why. (I mean, sure, I guess: he’s an iconic figure in a starkly simple, expressionistically drawn moral landscape; more powerful than mortal ken, he lives in a world bent and shaped by the rules of his genre to at once enhance and conform to his role; he has his catchphrases, his signature style, and if he isn’t always wearing a tuxedo, well, the bad guys are usually all wearing the same sort of jumpsuit, so it’s easy to pick him out in a pop art “Where’s Waldo?” fight scene. On the other hand, his underwear is pretty much always under his pants. But I didn’t care to put a dog in this fight then, and I’m only taking it for a walk around the block at the moment. We were, after all, talking about Sim, and Cerebus, and Cerebus isn’t a superhero. So.) —I kept quiet, then, because I didn’t really care, and I didn’t know from Kurt Busiek at all, and I had this secret burning a hole in my backpack.

It’s traditional, after all, to bring something to be signed to a signing, and I had a doozy. The year before, I’d worked as a clerk for New England Comics, and I’d stumbled over a treasure: before he started his aardvark-headed Conan pastiche, Sim worked on a number of freelance art projects, among them the first issue of a Canadian small-press superhero comic called Phantacea. It was about—well, there’s this kid who walked with a couple of orthopædic crutches who really loves Baron Justice comics only his Scottish grandfather (“Laddie, have ye naught to do but read this smut?!”) doesn’t like him reading this garbage because it will give him ideas just like it gave the boy’s father ideas to dress up as a superhero and fight crime as Baron Justice only he doesn’t do that now because he’s the head of security for a mad scientist who’s building some sort of gravity train to alpha Centauri except this Romani master of electromagnetism who helped design the gravity train has decided it’s a misguided effort doomed to disaster and is determined to stop it any way he can even if it means going through the boy’s father to attack the train itself only the boy after he fights a mugger to save a little old lady (“Justice for all!” cries the caption box. “If a cripple can help—why can’t you?”) finds his father’s Baron Justice costume in the attic I think and he decides to put it on and fight crime even though the orthopædic crutches are going to make the whole secret identity thing problematic except oh my God! The train has launched! What will we do! See you next issue, pilgrim!

I don’t think there was a next issue. (Google: oh, wow. There was. There were several. Oh, my. It’s still sort of going on. Oh, goodness.)

Anyway. That’s what I had in my backpack. Phantacea #1.

So we end up at Million-Year Picnic and stand in the long line and the guy ahead of me is asking some really long convoluted question about Cerebus continuity (what had become of the false albatross, maybe), and Dave has signed whatever it was he was going to sign for the guy and he waves him along and it’s my turn. So I reach into my backpack. To his credit, he grinned and rolled his eyes when he saw the oversized bright magenta cover. “I really liked what you did with Jaka’s Story and Melmoth, Mr. Sim,” I said. “But I think I liked your earlier, funnier stuff better.”

Ha ha, right? He suddenly gets this serious look. “You know,” he says, “everybody thinks Woody Allen was kidding when he said that. But he was serious. That really happens. People really do come up to you and say that stuff.” He starts drawing a quick Cerebus head on the inside front cover of Phantacea #1. I make a noncommittal noise, something not unlike “Uh-huh.” The guy who’d been ahead of me says, anyway, about the Conniptins, and Dave looks up at me and says, “You going to let him take up your time?” and I kind of shrugged. I’d pulled off my great joke. I’m lousy meeting people I admire for the first time. My tongue was tied. Dave signed the sketch with a flourish and never got around to answering the guy’s question about Onliu Diamondback variants.

That’s my Dave Sim story. It was funnier then than it is now.

I stuck it out through Guys, looking back, and most of Rick’s Story, which I never got around to finishing. (The Spouse made it through Going Home, I think.) For all his faults (and they are legion), Sim’s the best fucking cartoonist on the North American continent, and up there in the pantheon of Best Ever Anywhere for All Time. His lettering, sure; his unparalleled ear for dialogue and dialect; his spot-on caricatures of Groucho Marx and Mick and Keef; his acerbically satiric edge and the loopy mysticism that kept leaking around the edges, making the world a bigger and weirder place than it had any right to be, to step away from the strictly speaking cartooning portion of the proceedings. His flawless compositions, his fearless bending and melding and splintering of panels, his design sense, his ability to make a whole page—a whole issue, a whole run of issues—work as a tightly considered unit in a staggering variety of styles that juggernauted from belly laughs to wailings and gnashings of teeth. His brilliance in scooping up the last of the Renaissance masters to painstakingly work out the perspective in all his backgrounds and cross-hatch them into things of beauty (Gerhard, take a bow, man; you more than deserve it). His quixotic stand for self-publishing in the face of all else, to step away from the cartooning again, and his not-so-quixotic stand for creators’ rights and the importance of the cartoonist over the importance of the property (and yet, while a lot is made of his influence over self-publishing successes such as Jeff Smith and Terry Moore, not so much is made of the influence his cartooning has had on folks like Alex Robinson, who wears it well). —There’s a simple, beautifully cinematic sequence in Guys that’s just a piece of paper blowing away from Cerebus; the paper stays in the foreground of each panel, and Cerebus and the background drop further and further away from us—it’s simple and wordless and flawless and perfect.

For God’s sake, the man figured out how to letter an echo.

So even if he’d snapped and murdered a busload of nuns, I’d say you ought to have High Society and Church and State and Jaka’s Story and Melmoth on your shelf, you want to be a serious student of comics. Of course, he didn’t snap and murder a busload of nuns. He snapped and started saying women were dark consuming voids who latch onto male lights of reason and suck away their vital essences for nourishment and so men are vastly better than women and here’s the long, painstaking, Ditkoesque proof.

—It’s a little more complicated than that.

There’d always been a tension between Sim the Polemicist and Sim the Novelist in Cerebus. Sim the Novelist used to win, hands down, every time, letting Sim the Polemicist out for a bit of exposition now and then, and otherwise keeping him confined to the Notes from the President and the letters column, where he got up to some mischief now and again, but otherwise stayed mostly out of trouble.

Now, in Jaka’s Story, Sim had indulged himself with illustrated set-pieces written in a rich pastiche of Wildean prose, rather than straightforward comics, as a technique to distance Jaka’s privileged past apart from the moment-to-moment comics storytelling of the all-too-quotidian present. Some think this worked really well and some think it stopped the story dead, but it was all still the work of Sim the Novelist. It wasn’t until the metafictional set-pieces of Reads, where he interspersed an argument and a bloody fight scene that lasted for issues with long text pieces—at first, a roman à clef of the comics industry staring a certain Victor Reid, whose creative life collapses when he sells out to a big publisher and gets married; then a not-so-roman with an even thinner clef: evidently autobiographical essays from the soi-disant Viktor Davis, who began to tell us what it was like, doing Cerebus: roads taken, and not. —Now, here, Sim the Polemicist was starting to leak through, but it was at least as a technique okay. Reads was the apotheosis of Mothers and Daughters, his blockbuster follow-up to the relatively quiet, contained novel-and-epilogue of Jaka’s Story and Melmoth. Old characters going back years were brought back into the plot, and threads left dangling for years were picked back up and held, tantalizingly, just out of reach. Reads begins with the four prime movers of the story-that’s-finally-being-revealed (Cerebus, Astoria, Cirin, and Suenteus Po—three aardvarks, and a human, and if you have to ask at this point, don’t bother) finally gathered together (again for the first time!) in one room; it ends with the aforementioned fight scene. Everything in the comic book was finally coming together. The momentum was almost unbearable. It only made sense that Sim the Polemicist was being sucked in along with it.

And some of the effects were brilliant—backstage comics industry gossip linked with the philosophical themes of freedom and creation; metafictional leaks and linkages between the prose bits and the comics they interrupted—but most notably the trick he pulled in issue 183: he started to write about how he’d been working at Cerebus one night in 1980, about a year after he’d announced that the comic would run for 300 issues to the general scoffing disbelief of the industry.

He [the Viktor Davis pieces are written in the third person; again, a distancing technique] 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.

It doesn’t work now, of course, since you know and I know he made it to 300 and right on time, too: March, 2004. But then: I yelled, I think. I gasped for breath. I’d been rabbit-punched. —What follows is almost a page describing the roller-coaster like motion of the ground beneath the reader’s feet, a recreation in prose of some of the trippy, looping effects he’d used in comics, when Cerebus had spoken with Suenteus Po in a magical, illusionary world. It was an impressive linkage of my memories of the comic with what I was reading right then with the very physicality of what I was feeling at that moment as I read: a truly magical evocation of presque vu, about the highest effect you can claw out of a reader.

“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. Raising 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?”

And then he says, “Bang.” Back in the comic, Cerebus looks up. “Something fell,” he thinks—the two most freighted words in the whole comic. And then, BANG!

It was all about to come together. Everything. The whole shebang so far. Questions were about to be Answered. And given what he’d just pulled off, I’d’ve followed him—Sim the Novelist, Viktor Davis, Sim the Polemicist, whichever—I’d’ve followed him over a cliff. I thought.

What he did, what Sim the Polemicist did, what Viktor Davis did, was rewrite the end of Church and State. That book ends with a creation myth, of the female light of creation being embraced and then smothered by the male void, squeezed until she shatters, sprinkling stars throughout the night sky. Now, though, Davis tells us that it’s a male light, shining bravely, and a female void, smothering sweetly.

And then, in the infamous issue 186, he tells us why.

Unbidden, the image of the Cerebus Theatre swam to the surface of Viktor Davis’ awareness. He turned away from his typewriter and allowed the picture to coalesce in his mind’s eye.
The Cerebus readership was there, composed in some (small? large?) measure of females with their male housepets. He squinted, endeavouring to see if any male was chafing at the invisible conduits and metaphorical tubing which drained his life, his essence, his energy as surely and as effectively as any fictional vampire. Cats’ eyes gleamed in the darkness, filled with malice. A couple of rows back an obese brunette was stripping away chunks of brain tissue from a thin, pale youth with a spotted face. His head lolled against his shoulder in her direction, his face radiant with ecstasy. He turned to her, his eyes half-lidded. He smiled and mouthed, “I love you.” She smiled back at him, indulgently. His eyes closed once more. She stuck out her sandpaper tongue, dotted with brains and blood, in Viktor Davis’ direction and then cackled loudly. The youth giggled quietly to himself.
To the far left, in the front row, the white husk of a heavy-set man in his early thirties squirmed in the direction of his Lady and Master, his features reflecting pain, confusion and fear. She held his forearm in front of her as if they were bound, one to the other, but in such a way that she was also holding him slightly apart from her. Viktor Davis could see that the fellow had been a quick meal—little more than a snack, by the looks of things. Traces of dried brain-matter, hard and uninviting, encrusted what little there was left of the top of his head. She looked very, very hungry. Every few seconds she turned around in her seat, the hunger in her gaze sweeping across the rows to her immediate rear. Females touched by that insatiable stare hunched a little closer to their own housepets, a menacing growl rumbling low in their throats.
Viktor Davis turned back to his typewriter.
“There is no cure for willful stupidity,” he typed and then sat back, cigarette in hand, to contemplate the words.

There’s more. You can read it for yourself if you like.

Issue 186 became something of a flashpoint. You either stuck with Cerebus in spite of it, because of everything else, or you dropped it like a hot potato. You got into knock-down, drag-out fights with people who did the opposite of what you did, if you were so inclined. It might seem these days as if almost everyone dropped Cerebus then and there, but that’s not quite right: things polarized between “I can’t read anything by such an evident misogynist” and “You shouldn’t let his admittedly odious philosophy detract from what he’s done as an artist.” And I’d have to align myself with the latter camp: certainly, I’m willing to put up with all sorts of backstage bullshit I’d never countenance at a cocktail party, say, so long as I get a moment of transcendent beauty every now and then. And Sim had delivered those, in spades. So I stuck with it: we, rather, since it was a communal house at the time, and comics were largely purchased collectively, and most of us wanted to see where he’d go, and how. We’d come this far. (Surely he couldn’t be serious, some of us said, even though we knew we were probably kidding ourselves. Surely this is some sort of joke. “What’s the matter?” said Viktor Davis. “Don’t you trust me?”)

But almost all of us have since fallen away. Because it became clear: he’d built up that momentum not to finally tie it all together, but to sweep the board clean and start over: to clear the clutter he’d been working with and start poking around in a brand new worldview. Sim the Novelist, concerned with character and plot and world-building, had inexplicably surrendered the field to Sim the Polemicist, concerned with axes, and their grinding. He was rewriting. Revising. Revisioning. And his new worldview was based on mean, mean-spirited, and above all stupid logic:

“Men like Cars. Viktor Davis doesn’t like Cars. Viktor Davis is a Man.”
These observations were all true statements. Was it a syllogism? Or was there another name for it? Viktor Davis was uncertain. To the Reasoning Mind and to the Emotional Void, the fundamental structure was sound. They were all true statements, though they appeared contradictory. Using those three statements as a template, Viktor Davis had spent much of his adult life attempting to Reason with the Female Emotional Void. In each case, whatever success he had had (and he had had very little success) had been temporary. He considered his lack of success to be central to the Issue at Hand. Within the context of the Female Emotional Void, no general observation could be considered sound if there existed an anecdotal refutation.

One hardly knows where to begin.

At least Astoria got out while the getting was good.

Because that’s one of the stickier ironies: Sim, misogynist, is responsible for one of the greatest female comics characters ever: Astoria, the political machinator, the power behind Cerebus’ initial rise to power. Cynical, manipulative, self-assured, confident, competent, savvy, imperious, arrogant, idealistic, committed to fighting for women’s rights as part of a larger battle for equality and liberty, she’s the opposite pole to Cerebus’ capricious, hot-headed, stubborn, foolish, oblivious plunge through the plots a-swirl about them. In the climactic, board-sweeping confrontation of Reads, before it dissolves into the (brutal, pointed) fight scene, she has her apotheosis: “Po was right,” she says,

If I’m honest with myself, I’ve only ever wanted power for its own sake… Ostensibly, I wanted to destroy Cirin. As her protégée, I came to despise everyone she kept tabs on—everyone who she felt was a threat to her… I married Lord Julius solely to set up a Kevillist empire from within Palnu… I seduced Artemis and used him to execute matriarchal sympathisers… I seduced her son and made him a glorified errand boy… When you turned up in Iest, I engineered your rise to power. I surrounded you with Kevillists and our symbols. Ultimately, I even became the Western pontiff… A short while ago, the entire city bowed down to me—hailed me as the messiah.
Just look.
I haven’t even made a dent in her—

Power over others is an illusion, she decides; “a stifling, insulating, frustrating practical joke from Terim… or Tarim. What does it really matter whether it’s a god or a goddess who’s laughing at you?” She remembers a daydream she used to have, as a little girl: a little church, open to the skies. She has several thousand crowns, enough to last her the rest of her life, to build her little house. (She will be mindful of death, and disinclined to long journeys; she will have ships and carriages, but no place to go.) —And with that simple declaration, Astoria walks out of the room and out of the dispute and out of the comic book, never to return.

And if she does return, at some point in those later issues I haven’t seen yet, I don’t want to know. Because I like to think that this simple little goodbye is Sim the Novelist also taking his bow. He’s done. The Age of the Polemicist is at hand.

(That’s on a good day. On a bad day, I think Sim the Novelist is a bastard. I think he typed that line up there, “There is no cure for willful stupidity,” knowing that no Polemicist would ever have the gumption to turn anything he said back on himself—that’s one of the weaknesses of polemic. Sim the Novelist typed one last line, a poison pill, and then he faded to black. Bye-bye.)

So Sim reached his 300.

We used to sit around wondering what this day would be like. (Idly. Very occasionally. We had other things to do, too, you know.) We’d lock ourselves away for the better part of a week, we figured, with a stack of the Cerebus phone books to hand, and we’d read it through, start to finish, 6,000 pages of comics from a single creator, telling a single story, more or less.

And here we are, in March 2004. He kept his word. We should have trusted him, in that much, at least.

But I’m not rushing out to buy it. We haven’t bought a collection in ages. And I don’t know that I ever will, either. Don’t get me wrong: there’s maybe a handful of people on this planet who have ever worked in comics at his level. His work as a fantasist and a satirist and, yes, a novelist is astonishing. But that’s not enough—because he’s also a dreadful, didactic bore, a muzzy-headed chop-logician with the ever-shifting convictions of his courage. He lost the fight that mattered, with himself; in a very real sense, Sim didn’t make it to 300. —But he made one hell of an indelible mark on comics along the way.

Here’s one for you, then, Mr. Sim.

Even if I do like your earlier, funnier stuff better.

  1. Charles    Mar 24, 02:26 AM    #
    I have nothing useful to say here, but "Very nice."

    And it is indeed an impressive achievement, although I think I dropped out at about the same point you did.

    300, wow. A long time ago, that seemed like a long time from then...

  2. Wos waas a Fremda?    Mar 24, 06:32 AM    #
    Cerebus at 300
    So Sim reached his 300. We used to sit around wondering what this day would be like. (Idly. Very occasionally. We had other things to do, too, you know.) We'd lock ourselves away for the better part of a week,...

  3. --k.    Mar 24, 06:46 AM    #
    Oh, hey, thanks, Charles. --PS: Yours was the 1000th comment left on Long story; short pier (not counting atomized spam). I ought to buy you a drink or something.

    And I probably ought to cop to the fact that I named the thing "300" mostly out of inertia, and find this morning that I'd almost certainly been thinking of Jim Henley's squib from last night without realizing it. Not that it's all that unusual a title or anything, but hey. Henley links to this piece in the American Spectator (!), in which Brian Doherty notes Sim's end-state views of Cirinism and Kevillism without noting that they are, you know, the end state; they evolved over time. Plus he sniggers at the rest of comics for dismissing Sim due to his disdain for feminism. "Because of his very public animus toward feminism," says Doherty, "which shades toward pure misogyny in the eyes of many readers," so, not yours, then?--"the comics community at best damn Sim with faint praise..." --No, we don't, and it sure as hell doesn't "shade toward misogyny" in my eyes, at least--it bloody well is, with no apologies, and Sim himself says as much. The next time you set out to pontificate, sirrah, you might want to read up on the subject, first.

    But I didn't want to get into this last night, and I probably should have kept that in mind this morning. Ah, well. Anyway. Loose ends. How could there not be?

  4. Sebbo    Mar 24, 07:33 AM    #

    What happened to you this month? You're blogging with the strength of ten men all of a sudden. Keep it up like this, and you'll be a superstar by summer.

    To clarify: no, I don't just mean wordcount. I mean depth and insight and relevance and eloquence and all that good stuff

  5. Alas, a Blog    Mar 24, 09:19 AM    #
    The end of Cerebus
    Long Story, Short Pier has an excellent take on the 300th issue of Cerebus - not on the issue itself, which Kip has not read, but on the occasion. What's Cerebus, you ask, ann why is issue 300 an occasion?...

  6. Kevin Moore    Mar 24, 10:19 AM    #
    If not your best, certainly in the top ten. Great stuff. I say that despite having heard you say nearly all of this in conversation over the years—i.e., I didn't get bored.

    And as a cartoonist who came to Sim much too late for him to have much influence on me, I nonetheless find myself oddly stunned by the release of 300. Cerebus has been around since I was in grade school. Whether I read it or not, it was always there in the comics shoppe, puzzling and intriguing me. I didn't get into it until much later because for a long time I could not afford a phone book and Sim started reprinting back issues when I was in college. Still: always there, always would be—or so I thought. It's like telling me, "Hey, they blew up Pluto."

    So is Sim on suicide watch now?

  7. David Fiore    Mar 25, 04:56 AM    #
    Actually Kip, Sim does distinguish between anti-feminism and misogyny. He loves women you see--as long as they understand what they're about and don't fall for all of this propaganda which insists that they are actually fully-fledged human beings...

    Obviously, you and I know that's a crock--but Sim has never called himself a misogynist, and I believe him when he says that he does not consider himself a woman-hater.

    Presumably, Doherty has the same disease.


  8. --k.    Mar 25, 05:38 AM    #
    Well, he ascribes to women qua women a whole slew of characteristics which they have whether they know it or not and then blames the downfall of the world from grace precisely on the overabundance of those characteristics. —But: though I do not have the cite in front of me, I'd lay money (not much, but I don't have much) on the fact that Sim did, indeed, proclaim himself a misogynist, somewhere in the howling blizzard of his ancillary notes and essays. He's said a lot of things, though: one could argue he's progressed from misogyny into full-on misanthropy (but mostly because he hates what he sees as the feminisation of the world), and I understand his gnostic variant of Judeo-Christian Islam (his footnote to the Book, perhaps) focusses on female Sofia to distract itself from the gross physicality of the world created by the male demiurge YHWH. Or something. Andrew Rilstone has read more than me, so listen to him, for sure. (Mental note: make sure to answer Rilstone's points about Moore and LeGuin when you get a chance. We cheerfully [well, some of us] follow the latter two over their respective cliffs, but balk at Sim's, despite Sim's obviously great technical mastery. Why?)

  9. J. Pinkham    Mar 25, 10:10 PM    #
    I have to disagree with the assessment of Dave Sim as "the best fucking cartoonist on the North American continent." First off, I'm going to assume you are limiting your judgement to living cartoonists, thus the present tense in your statement. Otherwise people like George Herriman and Winsor McKay would be kicking Sim's ass all over the place. But even on the basis of living cartoonists on the North American continent, I would suggest that these folks are better:

    * Jules Feiffer (one of Sim's inspirations) -- more politically and socially relevant, smarter, funnier
    * Will Eisner -- more technically innovative
    * Alex Toth -- just because
    * Sergio Aragones -- funnier
    * Will Elder -- funnier, better draughtsmanship
    * Al Jaffee -- funnier
    * Steve Purcell -- 100 times funnier than Sim, better draughtsmanship

    Probably others, but those were some who came to mind.

  10. J. Pinkham    Mar 25, 10:11 PM    #
    One final note on that objection: I own all 300 issues of Cerebus, an official Cerebus stuffed animal, and the Animated Cerebus portfolio, so I'm not writing from the position of a knee-jerk Sim-basher.

  11. J. Pinkham    Mar 25, 10:14 PM    #
    That is, I own all 300 issues in either issue or collected form. I don't actually own all 300 of the individual issues. Just clarifying that little boast in the interests of honesty.

  12. --k.    Mar 26, 04:48 AM    #
    Maybe I should have said "cartoonist qua cartoonist"?

    So "funny" and "smart" and "socially and politically relevant" doesn't obtain.

    And meself, I think Sim stretched the boundaries and possibilities of comics more than any one of those folks you name. Eisner is the only cartoonist up there who makes this a squeaker—Eisner was the foremost giant on whose shoulders Sim stood, granted; Eisner was the one who made it at all possible in Yankee comics for someone to come along and go further—but I think, in the end, that it's Sim who opened things up more, and added more new ideas and techniques and possibilities to the cartoonists' quiver. And there's no way Elder can touch Sim's ability with caricature and body language (much more fluid, much more evocative; to say nothing of Sim's lettering); and, I mean, "Buck Naked, Texas Ranger!" leaves me gasping for breath every time I hear it—Sam and Max is one of my all-time ever faves—but Steve Purcell isn't even in this game. Sorry.

    But man. Aren't you the little Simian fanboy. Heh.

  13. David Yaseen    Mar 27, 05:54 AM    #
    Add me to the chorus of approbation. Wonderful post.

    I often wonder if the whole misogny rigamarole was an excercise in varying scope--whether Sim was/is taking an assessment he felt was true for him and extending it to the rest of the world. Admittedly, the work doesn't bear out such an interpretation, unless construed unreasonably broadly, but the near-perfection of much of his other work makes great claims on my doubt-benefitting apparatus

    The most charitable way I can reasonably apprehend the sins of Sim is that, being unquestionably Excellent at so many things, he needed to fashion a fixed anchor for himself in the area where he was lousy.

    I'll read to the end anyway.

    Thanks for the thoughts.

  14. coprolalia    Mar 29, 08:50 PM    #
    Cerebus the Aardvark finally hit 300 issues -- long story, short pier has a fantastic essay on the series....

  15. Peter da Silva    Apr 1, 02:09 AM    #
    For years I kept buying Cerebus. It was often the only thing that kept me reading comics at all, until one day I realised I hadn't even bothered to open the last few issues. I just quit going down to the store, because I knew there would be two, then three, then four issues of Cerebus in my subscription folder and I'd be forced to buy them, then I'd look around at the other books and maybe find something I actually wanted to read. There often was, but not often enough, and finally that wasn't enough to drive me to drive downtown. For all I know there's a couple of back issues of Cerebus sitting there waiting for me but... I don't care. I don't even feel guilty: I've bought hundreds of dollars worth of comics I don't actually want to read, just because I kept hoping that Dave Sim would wake up and realise that he had gone from writing comics to illustrating claptrap.

    Not only did he end up ruining Cerebus the comic, he ruined Cerebus the character. Every bit of personal growth Cerebus achieved in the hands of Sim the Novellist was thrown away, not just ignored but forgotten. Maybe this was deliberate... he said Cerebus would die "alone, unmourned, and unloved", but I never dreamed that Sim meant to apply this to the comic and the writer as well as the aardvark himself.

  16. Jim McPherson    May 7, 09:47 AM    #
    Yes, PHANTACEA does still exist. Have a gander: Starts on http://home.istar.ca/~jmcp/index.shtml

  17. BobbyN    Jul 11, 09:01 PM    #
    Saying that Sim 'ruined' Cerebus somewhere along the way isn't that clear cut - in my view.

    Cerebus was always Sim's vehicle to publish whatever he saw fit.

    Bottom line is, if he really catered 'exclusively' to popular consensus & political correctness, he would have adjusted his story to correlate more to popular views.

    He didn't.

    As he stated in 'The Comics Journal 2004' - Cerebus was his attempt at finding his own truth (or somewhere along those lines.)

    Again - while i don't adhere to all his views, i love most of his work & respect him for the fact that he stood by his task while under fire for the better part of 15 years & openly debating anyone who wished to logically discuss alternatives to his views.

    As far as i've read in Sim's writing - he's more than happy to sharpen & explore viewpoints... it's just there doesn't seem to be a lot of rational counter-argument.

    I commend Sim's work for it's technical brilliance & his own honesty in the sharing of his viewpoints... whether i agree with every word or not.



  18. --k.    Jul 12, 05:41 AM    #
    Indeed, BobbyN, Cerebus was pretty much ever and always precisely that: Sim's creation. When "ruining" Cerebus is spoken of, one usually means rendering what one had enjoyed into something one can no longer enjoy. That this was always Sim's prerogative doesn't lessen the sting.

    That said, I should hope the respect I have for what he's done and by extension himself goes without saying, as having already been said at some length.

    Insofar as your perceived dearth of rational counter-arguments to Sim's polemic: there's only so far one can get when one attempts to engage on anything approaching a middle ground something like this—

    "Men like Cars. Viktor Davis doesn't like Cars. Viktor Davis is a Man."

    These observations were all true statements. Was it a syllogism? Or was there another name for it?

    —before one starts barking at the moon oneself. Do you know your Belbo? I mean specifically what he says to Casaubon, that night in Pilade's, toward the beginning of the book, about the four different types of people: morons, cretins, fools, and lunatics. Here:

    A lunatic is easily recognized. He is a moron who doesn't know the ropes. The moron proves his thesis; he has a logic, however twisted it might be. The lunatic, on the other hand, doesn't concern himself at all with logic; he works by shortcircuits. For him, everything proves everything else. The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.

    Then, some of our greatest and most timeless works of art were created by lunatics. (I should know. I'm a fool.)

  19. Anton Sherwood    Aug 14, 01:28 PM    #
    What, someone read all that prose?

  20. I.Dall    Oct 15, 12:36 AM    #
    "Minds" is properbly the best graphic work i have read in my life.
    Then again, I spend a lot of time reading pre - industrial litterature: so I may have built something of a resistance to long rambles on cosmology and why women are stupid (though not, usually, evil: Sim would also have shocked most of our ancestors).

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