Sunday, 22 January 2017

Swords Of Cerebus Vol 1: Cerebus #4

Published between 1981 and 1984, Dave's six Swords Of Cerebus volumes were his first attempt to collect the book in a more permanent form. He gave each story included in these volumes a prose introduction, explaining where the book stood when he’d been working on that particular issue and how he was thinking of its prospects at the time. This example's taken from Swords volume 1. Also check out the full 'Swords Of Cerebus' Introductions Index.

I particularly like this intro for Dave's remarks about one day doing a story "with Cerebus, Elrod and Lord Julius locked in a closet" which would "write itself". I dare say he was just joking about this idea at first, but the thought evidently stuck in his mind. June 1983's Cerebus #51 trapped the three characters (together with Duke Leonardi and the Priest Roach) in a cramped ship's hull rather than a closet, but the core idea remains the same. Just as Dave hints here, their dialogue and constant bickering in one unchanging location proved more than enough to carry the story unaided. The result was one of the funniest issues in the book's whole run, and we can see the seeds sown for it here.

A panel from Cerebus #4:
"It was the most popular issue I had done to that point," says Dave.
"Everyone I talked to suddenly developed a Foghorn Leghorn voice and spewed my own writing at me."

Next week: Marshall Rogers and Diamondback. 


Travis Pelkie said...

It's always neat to see how Dave reacted to his stories at different parts of his life. Thanks for posting these.

Also, and I'm no expert, but wasn't the shift of the "characters in a closet" bit an homage to a Marx Brothers movie? I'm not even sure which one it would be. Somewhere I have all but The Cocoanuts on VHS, taped off of TMC years ago, but I didn't watch all of them yet.

Steve said...

Isn't this just what we all miss?

The funny Cerebus?

(That's a joke, son, you know, a funny bone.)


crazyyears said...


In A Night At The Opera the boys stow away on a passenger ship bound for New York. There is a scene in which they are hiding in barrels below deck. It would appear that is at least in part an inspiration for this issue.
--- Michael Hunt

Jeff Seiler said...

But, Dave, I still, I say, I still do the best Elrod voice; right, son? Intonation, that is?

(Responding to what you wrote about people coming up to you and "doing" Foghorn.)

Jeff Seiler said...

If'n ya don't, ah *say, if'n ya don't *agree* with me (that is, answer in the af*fir*mative), ah might just hafta make a tee-hee aboutcha wee-wee...

Nobody wants that, son.

Anthony Kuchar said...

Hi Dave,

My parents say hi back, by the way. I was asked by one of my old Brock friends to do a presentation for the Brock University Philosophy Club and I picked the topic of "The Philosophy of Cerebus".
I'm probably going to talk about feminism, post-modernism, religion and satire. I know most of the people there and it's a pretty open minded group.

Any thoughts as to what I should say to some University Students who have never heard of Cerebus before?

Unknown said...

Travis & Michael Hunt - It's definitely an homage to the stateroom scene in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA ("I'll lay even odds you can't get in the room"; ) and the movie that opens with them singing four-part harmony in barrels below deck. Is that A NIGHT AT THE OPERA? My knowledge of Marx Bros. films is fading fast.

Jeff - When it comes time, I'm going to talk to Oliver about speeding up your voice and the animation with it and see if that works. Yours isn't a BAD drawl, it just isn't Foghorn Leghorn or Senator Claghorn. Whenever I watch the Elrod scene in the movie, I always think, "It's too slow." It's particularly noticeable with Elrod's body language in the animation. The point of the character is that no one can interrupt him because he talks in this uninterruptible FAST stream. Mel Blanc obviously did the best voice since he did both on radio and in animation. By the time we get there, the technology might exist to just use Blanc's voice programmed to Foghorn Leghorn and tweak it from there.

Unknown said...

Anthony - Well, let's see: I would definitely suggest a very strong TRIGGER WARNING! in front of anything that isn't hardcore Feminist Theocracy ideology (which is pretty much all of it).

In that case, I suppose it depends on whether the Philosophy Club at Brock is about actual Philosophy or "those Philosophies we are allowed to discuss in 2017" (i.e. Feminist Theocracy philosophy).

If it's about ACTUAL Philosophy, then I think a good jumping-off point for a lively discussion would be the schism between pagan/secular philosophy and monotheistic philosophy because that's a lot of what CEREBUS documents: the point at which a civilization divides between the two and they have a head-on collision and the latter steamrolls the former...

[very much to the former's astonishment in the case of our civilization: the Greeks prided themselves on having cornered the market in defining the nature of objective reality. But if you compare the Greek- philosophy accepted definition of, as an example, Logos with the Logos in John chapter 1, you really couldn't get more of an "apples and oranges" dichotomy. Use the word-for-word translation of the first verses of John 1 and just read it cold, like that. And then pose the question: Okay, what is that saying PHILOSOPHICALLY? If you're an adherent of Aristotle or Plato or Socrates and you're hearing John 1 for the first time, what is it that you're hearing? ]

Whether or not that would be a fruitful avenue for you to pursue would probably depend on how many monotheists and how many secular/pagans you're talking to (and whether people are willing to admit to being either). Also, are you able to discuss both without bringing your personal philosophy into it? (whatever that philosophy might be).

2,000 years later, it's still pretty sensitive on both sides.

"Well, that's what CEREBUS is like."

Jeff Seiler said...

Dave--Fair enough. It's not like I'm lookin' to get paid.

Just immortalized, son.

Butcha can't beat Blanc.

Well, I mean you *could*, but that would getcha arrested.

And nobody wants that, son.

Jeff Seiler said...

BTW, I could try a redo, following your direction...

Probably would have to pay more than the $35 I paid last time, for recording studio time...

Unknown said...

Anthony II - You really don't have to quote that much of it to get a lively secular/pagan philosophy vs. monotheist philosophy discussion going:

In beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was toward the God and God was the Logos. This was, in beginning, toward the God. All through him came to be and apart from him came to be not-however one. Which has come to be in him life was, and the life was the light of the men and the light in the darkness is shining and the darkness it not overpowered.

That's John 1:1-6.

6-18 further clarifies and refines the discussion.

Among the problems you're going to have in a Feminist Theocracy and universities as Feminist Theocracy hotbeds is "the light of the men". They just won't sit still for it. "What about the light of the WOMEN?" Uh, well, the text says "the light of the men". It just won't wash, I don't think. In a Feminist Theocracy, all conversations have to go in purely feminist directions. If not, it's a misogynist conversation and it has to either a) stop or b) be stopped.

It rules out genuine philosophical discussion by its very nature.

But, hey, good luck!

Unknown said...

Jeff - I appreciate the offer, but it's more of a "general condition of the CEREBUS movie" thing at this juncture. Top of my list of things to ask Oliver for when he's actually got a finished movie to show me is: "Can you speed the whole thing up, dialogue and everything, by about a) 20% and b) 15% and send me copies of the movie at those two speeds respectively?" After I watch both of those, I suspect my next request will be somewhere around one or both of those. i.e. "Can you speed the 15% one up by another 6%?"

Once the overall speed is what I think it should be, then I'll start looking at the individual scenes.

It wouldn't surprise me to find out that -- with your voice speeded up 21% -- you're the perfect Foghorn Leghorn!

Thanks for your Hamlet gag, by the way. It needs work but I'll see what I can do with it!

And the check's on the way for your C&S II proofreading!

Travis Pelkie said...

Ya know, I thought it was Night at the Opera, but then I thought to myself, "but why were they on a ship if they're at the opera?" And then I thought, "well, Marx Brothers."

Unknown said...

Travis - In NIGHT AT THE OPERA, the opera company is coming from Italy, I think, to perform in NYC.
Kitty Carlisle is the lead singer, as I recall. The "Comme si comme sa" number is my favourite Chico shotgun piano scene number.

The other one, they go through customs using Maurice Chevalier's passport. You have to be able to sing like Chevalier to get admitted. "If a nightingale could sing like you..." Harpo does a flawless imitation and turns out to have a record player under his coat. ANIMAL CRACKERS?