Saturday, 2 December 2017

NEW COLUMN! Reading Cerebus

Kevin Kimmes:

Welcome to “Reading Cerebus”, a new weekly column here at A Moment of Cerebus. The goal of this column is to bring a fresh perspective to the 300 issue saga of Cerebus as I read through the series for the first time and give my insights into the longest running independent comic book series of all time. Think of this as part book club, part lit-crit, and part pop culture musing. Oh, and they told me Dave Sim himself may be reading this, so I hope I don’t screw this up. Let’s begin.

Issue #1 – “Cerebus The Aardvark”

Most things come from humble beginnings, and Cerebus is no exception. The opening issue of our epic finds a very different (at least visually) version of our protagonist than that which most comic book readers of the past 40 years have come to know. Just like the pilot episode of “South Park” (where they still used cut construction paper) or the early “Simpsons” shorts that ran on “The Tracy Ullman Show”, the art of Cerebus appears a bit “off-model” in this debut adventure.

The first issue’s art direction is a loving homage to 1970’s Barry Windsor-Smith “Conan”, a style which can best be described as “Kirby-esque”. Windsor-Smith set the standard for Conan at Marvel Comics in the early 1970’s, working on 21 of the first 24 issues of the title before departing. The exception to this artistic choice is Cerebus.

Sporting a longer snout; a horned helmet; and a slimmer build, the Cerebus of issue #1 is more Conan by way of Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” than anything else. Absent are his signature vest and his medallions appear as more of a necklace, not yet achieving their standardized three circle look.

The story itself borrows heavily from the early Robert E. Howard Conan adventure, “The Tower of the Elephant”, in which a young Conan decides to steal the mythical gem known as “The Heart of the Elephant” from an evil sorcerer named Yara. By comparison, the opening issue of Cerebus features a tale in which Cerebus is convinced by two brothers to steal the mythical Flame Jewel from an evil sorcerer in exchange for a sack of gold. In the end, the joke is on the brothers as the Flame Jewel becomes nothing more than an enchanted walnut after the sorcerer is slain, and Cerebus still collects on his due for a  job completed.  

While simplistic in it’s construction, this tale serves as a great introduction to Cerebus and sets the tone for the world in which he lives. Come back next week for my further adventures “Reading Cerebus”.

Currently Listening To: The Sword – “High Country”

Kevin Kimmes is a lifelong comic book reader, sometime comic book artist, and recent Cerebus convert. He can be found slinging comics at the center of the Multiverse, aka House of Heroes in Oshkosh, WI.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this Kevin, looks like a fun new column.

A Fake Name

Carson Grubaugh said...

Very excited to experience the series through the eyes of a first time reader!

Scott Laz said...

This could be a good excuse for a reread....

al roney said...

Nice. The Sword - High Country? Great stuff!

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

One of the interesting thing about Cerebus no. 1 is that the story isn't really a comedy. Apart from Cerebus's appearance, "You're a guest", and "Aw, nuts," there aren't any jokes in it. That's an interesting debut for a comic that came to be known as a funny one.

-- Damian

Unknown said...

This should be fun. 300 weeks, that should take about 6 years to complete.