Saturday, 18 February 2017

Carson Grubaugh's Cerebus Re-Read: "The Last Day"

Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day
by Dave Sim & Gerhard

(from Carson's Re-Read Blog, August 2016)
...By this point I have pretty much exhausted my relationship with Cerebus, for at least another ten years. I am not the kind of person who returns to things I have already consumed, especially not things as immense as Cerebus. I know what put Cerebus back into my mind, but I do not know why I felt the need to actually re-read it. That will probably reveal itself in time. I am glad I did. It has been an enriching and enlightening experience. I probably learned, and revealed more about myself in these commentaries than I did about Cerebus or Dave Sim, as is appropriate for any commentary on another's work. You can only ever really find out about what you bring to the table. I am very grateful that re-engaging with Cerebus led me the A Moment of Cerebus community and the opportunity to work with one of my heroes/influences.

Thank you to Tim for providing the venue and to everyone who took the time to read any or all of these. I hope they were worth it.

Most importantly, thank you, Dave Sim for pouring yourself into Cerebus with such relentless fervor for so many years. It is shameful that comics community has marginalized Cerebus to the extent that it has. I honestly believe Cerebus to be the greatest work of comic-art to date, and the most personal, intimate, vulnerable piece of literature or art I have ever encountered. Show me one other instance in which an artist/thinker's dramatic evolution was documented so carefully and openly within a single work. It does not exist... [Read the full review here...]


Jimmy Gownley said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to write and post these. If ever there was a series deserving of re-reading,
it is Cerebus. Great job.

On a weird, personal note. For years I wondered what I would be doing the day
issue 300 came out. It turns out I was at a funeral for a close friends father. I was
A little rattled when I stopped by the comic shop that evening and saw Cerebus 300
In my stack.

It's weird when comics bleed over into the real world like that. Someone
should come up with a name for it ;)

Jeff Seiler said...

I could comment on Carson's comments about Ger's involvement with and contribution to the issues that comprise "The Last Day", but that would probably get me banned forever from AMOC.

Suffice it to say, it (Ger's contribution) is a matter of record (at least, in print), but to repeat it might give me an ulcer, also.

I have, for the most part (really!) enjoyed reading these reads about Carson's rereads.

And, even though he seemingly got some stuff wrong (hey, who hasn't?), his heart has been in the right place.


And, I will admit that Carson probably was trying to be or seem ironic when he postulated that Ger had drawn most of "The Last Day", gastric ulcer notwithstanding.


The layouts, visuals, perspectives, details, Easter eggs, etc., of Ger's drawings of the room in which Cerebus spent his last day stand at the very tippy-top of the best such ever done. As well as some of, if not the, best line work he has ever done.

In my opinion, only his work on his "The Knick" exceeds it. Well, that and his drawing of my cat. ;)

For me, anyway.

One of my favorite prints by Ger is the horizontal, 360°, two-dimensional view of the room. In sepia-toned color.

Carson? Thank you for the fascinating reread, to which I will return many times over.

Ger? Thank you for so many great moments in your oeuvre and in real life, which I can (as they say) happily never fully repay.

Dave? I think you (and pretty much everyone else here) know where I stand.

And, again, thank you Carson!

Barry Deutsch said...

Thanks for this series, Carson; I've really enjoyed it.

dan said...

I've enjoyed them as well, particularly the focus on the art, which hasn't been a feature of the other rereads and reviews I've seen. Thanks, Carson.

Margaret said...

Carson - I've enjoyed your re-read posts, thank you.

Daniel Orviz said...

Thank you very much for your excellent and exhaustive work, Carson!

Carson Grubaugh said...

It was a lot of fun, thanks all for reading it!

Did Ger do all of the work in 290? I welcome any factual correction on this stuff because I really am very curious. I haven't read every bit of material surrounding Cerebus, as you have, so I am just going off of what I see in the lines. I could be totally wrong.

Ger's contribution to the book is unfathomable. The main reason I didn't spend much time on it was because of the insane consistency. I was looking more for formal trickery. Ger's amazing work anchors the whole thing, with the only variation being the nature stuff that stood out to me.

Most of my feelings about Ger are summed up in this commentary when I point out that Dave seems to take pleasure in finding new ways to make Ger's life difficult. Constantly pushing. That Ger stuck with that for the duration is bananas.

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...


Re: Shecky's comment about Ger and 290

I haven't read your commentaries, other than the snippets on AMOC.

BUT, if you're talking about Gerhard's contribution to 289/290 (that was the double issue first part of The Last Day), then Ger only drew either two or four pages of that. (If I recall correctly.) He was mostly doing the layout for the room that Cerebus dies in, that ended up being the 360 degree cover for the rest of the series. Because he was SERIOUSLY talking about quitting at that point, and Dave figured he could copy the cover for the backgrounds for the rest of the series if Ger did.

But from 291 to 300, Ger was there.

Matt Dow
(I bet Shecky read your commentary wrong. he does that...)

crazyyears said...

I'll add my appreciation to that of the others. I'm sad to see the series end. Maybe you would be willing to tackle another series...? I mean we can talk about other comics here, right?

--- Michael Hunt

Travis Pelkie said...

Yeah, that's how I read, Matt, that Shecky (I like it! May I also call him that?) incorrectly read into what Carson was saying and thought he was downplaying Ger's (tremendous!) contributions. I thought Carson was pointing out that a lot of 289/290 was Dave, and it's nice to know who contributed what. So thanks, Matt.

On a side note, when was it made public (and where? Yahoo group?) that Ger almost quit before the end? I've heard it referenced in the years since (almost *gulp* 13!), but I don't remember hearing it at the time, or even within a year or two of the end.

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...


His full name is: Shecky McAsscrape. You can call him Mr. McAsscrape ;^) (WHY his name is Shecky McAsscrape is a LONG story I don't feel like telling...)

Um...when did Ger almost quitting become public? Either the Yahoo group, Following Cerebus, or one of the times I was hanging out with Dave and Ger. (Bob Corby's Small Press Alternative Comics Expo (S.P.A.C.E.) (2004 to 2006), The "Ye Bookees of Cerebus" art show in Olean, NY (2005), The "Ye Bookees of Cerebus" art show in Salt Lake City (2006, the weekend Ger told Dave he was quitting (I SWEAR I had NOTHING to do with it!) (Seriously.) (Sorry everybody...)))

But I FEEL that the story WAS told in print. ("The Last Day" annotations by Dave, maybe?)

Sorry for the poor recollection, I'm either getting old, or the one-year old is eating my brain.

Matt Dow

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...

grumble grumble *goes and gets "The Last Day"*




Yup, Travis, it was "The Last Day" annotations. Dave starts talking about Ger quitting on page 243, and gets to Ger doing pages 20, 21, 24, and 25 of 289/290 and Dave telling him to finish the covers of the room on page 247. And finishes up on page 250.

I've seen (one? two? of) Ger's pages in "The Ye Bookees of Cerebus" art show. He drew the page with the ACTUAL aardvark on it. (Page 25 of the phonebook.)

Matt Dow
(All the page numbers from "The Last Day" are from my first printing from 2004. I don't know if the page numbers match subsequent printings. Because my's a first. Signed by Dave and Ger. Nyah. Nyah.)

Travis Pelkie said...

Hmm, I got the issues as they came out, so I didn't get the phone book, so that's probably why I didn't see it prior. (Although it may have been in the issues, but I think that was mostly Islam, My Islam and the Chester Brown dialogue. It's been awhile!) Thanks, Matt!

Shecky McAsscrape. (should that be McAssscrape, though? Shecky would know!) I'll have to remember that.

And for anal retentive purposes, I have to point out that in the first image here, that really should be the last 10 issues, not last 9.

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...


The annotations to "The Last Day" first appear in the collected Last Day.

But I believe that the story of Ger almost quitting also shows up in "Following Cerebus".

It's McAsscrape (pronounced: "Mick-Ass-Crap". The "e" is silent. Unlike Jeff, HA!)

Re-read the first image. Old Cerebus doesn't show up until...(291. 292. 293. 294. 295. 296. 297. 298. 299. 300. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Son of a biscuit.) Nevermind, you're right. (Of course, Carson's right too, the last nine issues ARE "all of Cerebus, stuck in his room, having a hard time being old." It's just that the tenth issue is ALSO "Cerebus, stuck in his room, having a hard time being old.")

Matt Dow

Travis Pelkie said...

Ah, of the ye olde clan McAsscrape of fame and fortune. I see!

I'd almost say nine issues is correct, as 300 is mostly Cerebus in the afterlife. Although he does become stuck in his room at that point!

Geez, imagine poor O'Truely having to clean up withered-up old aardvark once Cerebus's body was found. Probably needed a big ol' spatula!

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...


You really need to see the NON-canonical "Cerebus vs Iguana vs Beer" it starts right after 300 in the room.

I really need to remaster it, and make it readable...

Matt Dow
(One of these days...)

Travis Pelkie said...

I think I've seen parts of it somewhere, Matt. Love to see it, though!

Carson Grubaugh said...


Thank you for confirming my suspicions about the art in those issues. And, yeah, I wasn't trying to downplay Ger's contribution it just looked more like Dave's work to me. I am sure most people aren't reading that stuff and thinking about how the crosshatching looks different than normal, but to me it is really obvious.

Jeff Seiler said...

Cerebus vs. Iguana vs. Beer is brilliant. Matt is one of the worst comic artists, ever, but one of the best writers, ever. I'm proud to say that I have almost all of his works, signed and personalized.

Having said that, I would like to add that I know him, personally, and I know his vulnerable points, his chinks in the armor.

For one thing: babies.

He just keeps on making them. Like it ain't no thang.

I mean, come on! Give poor Paula a rest already! (Mic drop.)

Travis Pelkie said...

Meanwhile, Paula's just happy she has a real man like Matt. "Thank God you're not like that Jeff guy you know, Matt!" she says, as she swoons into his arms. Then BOOM! 9 months later, another little Dow.

I mean, I assume. ;)

Will you pick that mic up? Do you think I'm your maid, Jeff?

Dave Sim said...

Well, my "Not Kumbaya" sense was tingling when I saw 20 comments, so I'm glad to see that a) it WAS actually one big AMOC group hug and b) I missed it because the WIFI place was closed yesterday for "Family Day".

I've actually got a stack of paper -- not huge, maybe two inches -- on the top shelf in my office which documents That Last Nightmare CEREBUS Year (December 2002 to December 2003). If I live long enough, I'll pull it all out and go through it OR I might use some of it in the Comments for CAN16 (if we get there).

Definitely an "I'd much rather be watching this on television" year for me AND Gerhard.

Dave Sim said...

Jimmy! I call it Comic Art Metaphysics. Eddie and I are up to our eyeballs in what I think Ward Greene was attempting to "DO" with Comic Art Metaphysics in RIP KIRBY. Spoiler warning: it's a really BAD IDEA to try to "DO" things with Comic Art Metaphysics. A lot of people end up dead in really unpleasant ways.

Tony Dunlop said...

"Jimmy! I call it Comic Art Metaphysics."

Um, yes, Jimmy…knows that.

Jimmy Gownley said...

I did know that ;)

Dave Sim said...

Sorry, Jimmy. I'm so used to people not paying attention to what I say I never imagine that anything I say registers.

There are different forms of it, in my experience.

One that I've been meaning to refer to is "When you put something into your comic art that you don't know as a Real World Thing that can be inferred as relevant to that Real World Thing". The zeitgeist effect, but less general.

The only example I'm aware of in my own work on the Grand Scale is the reference to "little Theophilus" (sp?) in #17 or #18, when Cerebus buys the peasants' hovel. Theophilis or Theophilus is the person to whom Luke's Gospel is addressed. I think that must have arched a few eyebrows in what I describe as the "upper reaches". He's going to DISPLACE Luke's Gospel? Or just the Roman it was addressed to?

It certainly wasn't conscious on my part back in the 1970s. I had zero background in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

I love whenever Comic Art Metaphysics is brought up, it's like a well of inexhaustible thought for me, honestly.

There's one funny detail that I've been sitting on my butt and not mentioning. I think it ties really well into CAM and God being a continuity freak.

According to the Chinese zodiac, both Gerhard and Ernest Hemingway were born in the year of the "Earth Pig". I don't really know what that could mean but it makes me laugh.


Dave Sim said...

Mihail - Evidently I was born in the year of the Fire Monkey which if you look at the cover of CEREBUS No.1 is apt to make you laugh as well.