Thursday, 25 April 2013

365 Days Of Cerebus: Church & State Vol I

Cerebus #78 (September 1985)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard 
(Click image to enlarge)
(from 365 Day Of Cerebus: Part 3, posted at Multiversity Comics, 2 April 2013)
...the last chunk of the book, starting around issue #76, are some of the best comics I’ve ever read. Period. #76 and the death of Weisshaupt is one of the best stories Sim has told as a writer, flipping a lot of Cerebus on its head as Weisshaupt gives Cerebus some hard truths, and the follow-up Odd Transformations (featuring Cerebus having a lucid dream amidst his depression post-Jaka sequence) is some of the best visual storytelling Sim has done yet, a definitive mark for the series and Sim as a creator. A lot of storytelling aspects we appreciate today have been present in Cerebus long before (as we discussed last time, with the drunk issue for example), but these stories really push the barrier for Sim as a creator in a different way, one that makes him a definitive artist, someone whose work needs to be studied and emulated in a mandatory fashion. Here is a creator whose talent at the beginning of the series didn't compare to where it is eighty issues in, someone who just drew and drew and worked at it everyday who at this point is using the medium in ways a lot of modern artists aren't even bothering to try, and it's absolutely colossal.

It’s a combination of all of this, though, that makes Church & State I such a great entry into the overall Cerebus series. It's got pretty much everything you could want from an average comic book series, let alone from Sim; the mix of humor, storytelling, commentary and darker subject matter is what will ultimately come to define Cerebus as a series, and it’s all present in this book. It's only really visible in hindsight, but both Cerebus (the first book) and High Society rely on crutches for Sim, where there are great moments and some bits of artistic brilliance, but it's an uneven mix of the two. Now, past the fifty issue mark, Sim really seems to be hitting his stride as he learns to balance various elements of storytelling here to create one incredibly solid volume, and I can only hope the next one keeps its pace...

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