Friday, 21 October 2016

Cerebus Cover Art Treasury -- The First Reviews Are In!

Cerebus Cover Art Treasury
by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(IDW, 2016)
Buy at or

(from a review/preview posted by Dan Greenfield, 17 October 2016)
This is one of the most fascinating comics art books I've seen in a long time. Rather than being an Artist's Edition, this volume from IDW is a collection of original cover art and notes by Dave Sim and Gerhard. It's brilliant stuff, whether you're a hardcover Cerebus devotee or not... [Read the full review/preview here...]

(from a review by Ian Jane, 18 October 2016)
One of the most influential independent comic books of its day, Cerebus The Aardvark, by Dave Sim and Gerard, ran from December 1977 until March 2004 for three hundred issues spanning six thousand pages. It is, in retrospect, an absolutely massive project and a fascinating look at how comics evolve. The story started as a parody of Barry Windsor-Smith's classic run on Conan The Barbarian for Marvel Comics but soon turned into something more, taking on politics, religion and all manner of social issues. The single issue format was soon passed over in favor of massive storylines (starting with the classic High Society run) and all of it done under Sim's own Aardvark-Vanaheim, Inc. brand. Not only was the series a massive artistic achievement but it also played a huge part in the creator's rights movement that would eventually lead to publisher's like Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics, among quite a few others, becoming increasingly big players in the comic book industry.

This three hundred and fifty four page book, as you could probably have guessed, reproduces each and every cover art image from all three hundred issues of the series. It's fascinating to look through it, to see how that simple image from the first issue, clearly poking fun at Conan, changed over time. The second issue was swiped from a Jim Steranko S.H.I.E.L.D. cover, the third another Windsor-Smith swipe and the fourth clearly influenced by a John Buscema Sub-Mariner cover. Frank Thorne pitched in for issue seven, and issue twenty-two borrowed heavily from a Marshall Rogers Detective Comics cover piece. Soon enough he switches over to water-colored cover pieces, which obviously have a very different look than the penciled and inked earlier covers.

As the series evolves and becomes more serious, so too does the cover art. The parodies of superhero and sword and sorcery books become replaced by more elaborate and dramatic pages, sometimes laying the art out sideways on the cover – something that was pretty unusual to see during this era of comic book history. The artwork becomes much more polished, occasionally the series uses black and white covers in place of the traditional color pieces, and the political leanings of the storylines start working their way to the front as it inevitably became a selling point for the series. Sim also experiments with using photographs on the cover in place of illustrations a few times (and for almost the entire Going Home run later in the series), and really just doing a lot of interesting, creative and unique things with character design and layout. If you hung out in comic books stores, especially during the eighties, Cerebus always stood out. Even if you didn't read it, you saw a lot of these covers and odds are pretty good they've stuck with you. The fact that they are so very different from the vast majority of what was coming out from other publishers at the time is a huge part of why they resonate with some of us the way they do... [Read the full review here...]


Lee Thacker said...

I'm really looking forward to finally receiving this! I pre-ordered it on Amazon for £36.39. It's now listed for £67.99!

Michael A Battaglia said...

I wonder how many people will be seeing Cerebus for the first time when seeing this volume? I can imagine it would be wildly intriguing to someone who has never encountered it before.

Jeff Seiler said...


Hmm? What's that? Oh, no, that's not Sump-Thing. It's the sound of me wading through my drool on the way to the store.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Jeff, for all our differences, sometimes you're a pretty funny guy. Thanks for the laugh.

-- Damian

Jeff Seiler said...

Damian; despite all of our differences--

Thank you.

I live but to serve.