Cerebus Vol 3: Church & State I
by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from an AMOC Comment, 28 January 2016)
I am thrilled to be reading the new edition of Church & State Vol 1 (and thus re-reading C & S Vol 1) this week. I have to force myself to put it down when I get the chance to dig in. Like High Society last year, the pages are just lovely to look at in a way that they haven't been before. Pure white space and solid paper really bring out his linework, and when he does go for detail in his backgrounds in the first half of it, they really look exquisite. Not drawing backgrounds probably ensured Dave would be able to complete the series on time, but I think something was lost because there's some great work of his there in both HS and C&S.
I read the original comics 30 years ago, re-reading them every few months as the story got longer. I read the volume itself a few more times in the 80s and 90s. My last thorough re-read was 13 years ago, though, so this new edition gives me a reason to pick it up again. So I have probably read parts of this as many as ten times. It still holds up, and in some ways I think it's superior to High Society. Combined with Vol 2 it has a Dickensian scope (to match its Dickensian bulk) as we see more interactions and character arcs that don't include Cerebus (although it dissatisfies in not necessarily completing any of those other character arcs). The humor is more subtle and often gets completely out of the way so the story can develop.
Probably the only thing that bugs me are the occasional faces that Dave left blank. Did he forget to draw those? If it's deliberate, it's still distracting and a misguided choice given his skill at otherwise showing good expressions on cartoon-real faces even at a distance. It really pulls me out of the reading experience and it's one of the few instances where I wish modern Dave (or especially 1987 Dave) had stepped in to fix young Dave's mistakes.
I hadn't planned on buying this new edition until Sean's posts demonstrated what kinds of improvements they have been able to make over past printings. I hope we get to see some convincing updates on the progress on Vol. 2. In any case I can't wait to read it, and I hope that a quality printing of both volumes generates some newfound enthusiasm among Cerebites for these books because they're just as great to re-read as HS and Jaka's Story.
Congratulations to Dave and thanks to Sean and Mara for producing a truly quality edition of this seemingly under-appreciated book.