Saturday, 26 May 2018

TL:DR: Meditations On The Cerebus Chess Set

Hi, Everybody!

So when I took over this joint, Editor Emeritus Tim W. had a few posts in the "Kitty". I asked Dave what he wanted me to do with them, and he said I could run them.  He also said:

Ol' McVanaheim was a joke I put on the cover sheet of my Fax to Dave. "Ol' McVanaheim's Farm "We have Aardvarks!"
A wise man once said, "It is easier to ask for forgiveness then permission," and I'm of the "I do what I want, don't JUDGE me" school, so here's George's fax to Dave:
If he didn't want me to run this, he shouldn't have started selling the chess pieces...
All that being the preamble to:
Too Long: Didn't Read:
MEDITATIONS ON CEREBUS THE CHESS SET ULTIMATE SNOOZE FEST #1 (from, I think 2014? It's why I wanted to know what Dave wanted me to do with it...)
Dave Sim:
I'm going to leave it up to Tim W. as to how often he runs these installments of what I'm sure CEREBUS TV would aptly describe as a "snooze fest". Don't blame me, Tim, if you run them too close together -- or all at once -- and your viewership suddenly flat-lines.
It was naive of me to think that I could just tell George that I thought CEREBUS THE CHESS SET was a great idea... but that I wouldn't be able to participate, personally, to any great extent. The buck stops here, particularly when I get a proposed "line-up" from George which originated with Margaret Liss. As follows:
KING/Lord Julius/Cirin
BISHOP/Bishop Powers/Mrs. Thatcher
BISHOP/Bishop Posey/"Vera's Prisoner"
KNIGHT/Cerebus/Red Sophia
KNIGHT/Bran Mac Mufin/Mrs. Henrot-Gutch
PAWNS - all the different Roach incarnations (including normalroach with fingers for antennae/Robed Cirinists
I admired Margaret's notion of doing a "gender dichotomy" version: basically the Patriarchy versus the Matriarchy. I think she's also done a good job of utilizing the most popular characters (which is the foundational idea of these kinds of chess sets -- basically a more-than-usually-regimented action figures collection on a checkerboard base :))
Unfortunately it strikes a bit of a sour note with my own (as usual, idiosyncratic) idea of What Chess Is.

We have no idea where chess came from but we do know that it's unchanged in its present form from the point where it emerges into our society from the mists of antiquity which (usually) suggests to me High End/Upper Range Metaphysics.

I think it was intended to suggest the inherent problem with granting women political power.

Basically "Shall we have a Queen?" at a time when that was starting to happen with the hereditary monarchies of Europe. Which had less to do with proto-feminism (I think) and more to do with a) "So what happens when the biggest and best equipped army takes the side of the King's daughter instead of the King's son and wipes out the King's son's side of the family?" and b) "Do we really want to get, you know, into this?"

And the High End/Upper Range Metaphysics answer (it seems to me) was "Coupled with chivalry (which we've already metaphysically installed and can't UN-install at this point)? You're talking about Going Nuclear. The Queen will be more powerful than any King, bishop, knight or…whatever. And Queen vs. Queen scenarios. Let me count the ways that everyone gets wiped out just trying to get rid of one Queen, let alone both."

So, chess, it seems to me was a way of "modelling" that. And it was only an afterthought, "Actually, Gruesome & Apocalyptic as it is, this is a pretty cool game as games go."

It's not all BAD news. I would cite the historical Queen of Sheba, of 1 Kings chapter 10 in the Torah and from "The Ant" and "Saba" in the Koran…

(Saba: the ancient name for Ethiopia. Brings a whole new multi-level of meanings to the name of one of our -- Comic Art Metaphysics AND Aardvark-Vanaheim's -- transgendered cartoonists, Arn Saba: combining the name of Prince Valiant's son, Prince Arn, and the Queen of Saba from the Koran. Interesting that Arn/now Katherine was one of the last people to interview Hal Foster, PRINCE VALIANT's creator)
…is a good example of that. From sura 27 "The Ant" where the Queen of Sheba receives a letter from King Solomon:
"It is from Solomon and it is: 'In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful! Set not up yourselves against me, but come to me submitting (Muslims).'
She said, "O, my nobles, advise me in mine affair: I decide it not without your concurrence."
There's the chess quality: the Queen consulting with her "bishops" and her "knights". You also see it in Humpty Dumpty ("All the king's horses and all the king's men"). Nice idea: concurrence. But what happens when they don't concur?
They said "We are endued with strength and are endued with mighty valour. But to command is thine: see therefore what thou wilt command us."
There's the chess quality as well -- the Metaphysics which underlies chess (as I see it): there will come a point where the Queen has no idea what to do and will want to be told what to do by someone who sees more clearly than she does (i.e. not emotionally). But, if you've made her the Queen, that's "not on". "To command is thine."

The Queen muses to herself:
She said, "Kings when they enter a city spoil it, and abase the mightiest of its people: and in like manner will these also do. But I will send to them with a gift, and await what my envoys bring back."
It's a very female thing to do -- here's a nice present, please don't kill us -- but it strikes a very sour note with Solomon as an inadequate response to the presentation of monotheism (emphasized words mine):
And when ____ came to Solomon, he said, "Aid ye ME with riches? But what God hath given to me is BETTER than what He hath given you: yet ye GLORY in YOUR gifts. Return to them: for we will surely come to them with forces which they cannot understand, and we will drive them from _____, humbled and contemptible."
You can look up the rest, if you're interested. It seems to me a foundational endorsement of jihad. But, historically, there is a happy ending: Saba or Sheba converts to monotheism (granting that most of you don't think of monotheism as a happy ending). Although the pendulum swings dramatically between paganism and monotheism down to the present-day. Happy ending, unhappy ending, happy ending, unhappy ending. We're really at rock-bottom unhappy ending right now. None of us will be holidaying anytime soon in Ethiopia, I don't think. Unless you're a really, really weird infidel who thinks that getting between pagan Africans and Muslim Africans and going "Boys! boys! Is this a nice way to be?" is going to make an unhappy context happy (or even, you know, less UNhappy). I pray five times a day and fast in Ramadan and I wouldn't do it on a bet.

So the problem which presents itself with Margaret's version of CEREBUS THE CHESS SET right off the bat is twofold:
1) It's informed by Feminist Theocratic thinking (or, to me, "thinking") with female kings, male queens, female bishops, female knights.

Which to me, is like reinventing poker by making hearts and diamonds into, say, ducks and daffodils. And you can just make up any number if you're "holding a duck". The two of hearts becomes the 4/5/6/7/or 9 of ducks as needed.
It MIGHT make an interesting card game, but it would really have nothing to do with poker.

Perfectly understandable. We live in an undeclared but entirely effective Feminist Theocracy that's used to just…DOING… these things and everyone going along with it.

However, I have too much respect for what I see chess as being to just allow that view to be steamrolled by well-intentioned Feminist Theocratic thinking (that is, in my view, "thinking").
2) A major part of the point of the 6,000 page CEREBUS storyline is the form that a Feminist Theocracy WAS TAKING (1977-2004) IS TAKING (2004-2014) IS LIKELY TO TAKE (2014 to your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine).

It's undeclared, but at least until the Feminist Theocracy officially declares itself and passes laws basically "Against Dave Sim" (that is, if you actually express any idea identifying the Feminist Theocracy you can be arrested and charged for doing so: stay tuned), then I think my Mothers vs. Daughters dichotomy as documented in CEREBUS is viable. We won't admit it (for reasons presumably known to some of us who aren't talking), but This is What We Are Now, Today.

Certainly more viable than, say, Feminist Theocratic support for Palestinians (who believe in, as an example, persecuting and prosecuting homosexuals for being homosexuals: theoretically anathema to Feminism) and opposition to Israel (the only country in the Middle East with Western-style protection for homosexuality). That's "reality challenged" or, as I would put it, "nutty as a fruitcake".
My views are based in sustainable reality. This is what was actually going on 1977 to 2004 and, well, here we are. Exactly where I said we didn't want to go and most of us would agree that we didn't want to get here and didn't intend to get here and we have no idea where to go from here to get to where we want to go. Or even where that, theoretically, might be.
Conclusion, taking into account the needs posed by 1) and 2) (as you all nod off): The single dominant female piece on either side of the chessboard needs to be retained STRUCTURALLY or it isn't chess.

We don't want to go so far as the Feminist Theocracy wants to go: bishops and knights are women if you want them to be women. The same as Whoopi Goldberg can play the lead Roman slave on Broadway in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM just as accurately as Nathan Lane can. That way lies madness. Have a safe trip, if you're going, but don't say I didn't warn you about what you would find when you get there (here).

So, if we can only pick One Queen from CEREBUS on either side of the chessboard, who is she going to be and why?

This ties in with point 2): with the Cerebus Chess Set, we have to not CHANGE chess into something completely un-chess like (because, sad to say, CEREBUS is mine and I said: you want to do that, go mess with STAR WARS or something where, you know, they'll think it's the bee's knees) Over Here.

Because Dave is No Fun At All (and we take that as a given) we have to retain chess-like features while documenting the Funhouse Mirror in which we've all taken up residence since 1977 when I started talking about this stuff.

That seems to me to be a balanced way of looking at it.
Here we get to the point where I manage -- as I always seem to do -- to both bore my readers to distraction while simultaneously horrifying them, outraging them and making them indignant ("Horrified, Outraged & Indignant. I'm sorry, Mr. Horrified isn't in the office this morning, will you speak to Ms. Indignant? Please hold and I'll connect you.")

So let's postpone that by not talking about the Queen quite yet.

Let's start with the King.

Which, I agree with Margaret is Lord Julius. Which is interesting because Lord Julius is a nut. He's a nut, but he's a very WEALTHY nut. Which seems to me to be a built-in quality of any society that chooses to become a Feminist Theocracy. Who has the most money? Who is making money the fastest? Only in a Feminist Theocracy would a nut like the late Steve Jobs, as an example -- or Elvis Presley, or the Beatles -- be deemed the closest to a populist king as could be imagined.

Because the primary thing that recommends any of them is the amount of indescribable wealth they generate.

That they are treated as Great Philosophers is one of those jokes a Feminist Theocracy plays on itself. I don't think Steve Jobs ever once considered what his innovations were going to do to his society or was even remotely perturbed when -- by implication and inference -- whole industries were wiped off the map. That perfect equanimity in the face of irreparable devastation is, well, to me anyway, nutty, the opposite of Philosophy. The fact that I appear to be the only one to view it that way just makes it seem all the nuttier to me. And I sense my Metaphysical "call forwarding" clicking through to Horrified, Outraged & Indignant.

So Lord Julius becomes the king, largely because of how he is viewed by the Women Who Would Be Queens.

Another core of the Feminist Theocracy: find the guy sitting on the biggest pile of loot and get him into a) bed b) marriage. Ipso facto: we have found our king. This is where Astoria comes into the story. She's the first one to figure it out (or perhaps more important the first one to realize how to play the game That Way), so she gets Lord Julius. Temporarily. This is, again, the trick we play on ourselves: the point is the money. The guy who owns it is the guy who owns it, ergo the king. The fact that he exhibits no kingly qualities isn't even under consideration. Does Elvis DESERVE to be "The King"? Of COURSE! Look at the big pile of money he's sitting on in the music business. Who ELSE would be "The King"? So you would have a hillbilly for your King? WELL YES DUH!!
It's Al Pacino in SCARFACE. "First you get the money. Then you get the power. THEN you get the woman".

So I picture the King as being Lord Julius as a big pile of gold coins with his head and shoulders sticking up out of them. And Cerebus as an alternative King in the same motif (a bad commercial decision, but I also picture him with just his eyes and the top of his head sticking out of his pile of gold coins which is taller than Lord Julius' pile).

It's like combining chess and Monopoly. With the Cerebus Chess Set, you pick whether you want to be the race car or the flat iron. So you reveal something about yourself by your choice if you're playing the Kevillist/fading Patriarchy side of the chessboard. Do you see yourself as Cerebus or Lord Julius? Or the Cockroach (let's say)? All your gold is actually for orphans. So that makes stealing it okay.
Astoria could definitely be the Queen there. Lord Julius' Queen, Cerebus' Queen or the Cockroach's Queen. But, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

It distills a lot of the inner resonances of the 6,000 pages which is really want you want a chess set to do. To say something larger than just the chess set itself.
Cerebus is a caricature of Lord Julius. The Cockroach is a caricature of Cerebus.

Which brings us back to the Queen. Next time. I've put in the two hours I've allocated for this on this non-fasting day. Now I have to answer some mail.

But by way of Preview:

The problem with flat-out "wealth worship" for the Would-Be Queen is that this implies whoredom.

("Horrified, Outraged & Indignant. All of our Strong, Independent, Unflappable, Tough As Any Man, Feminist Theocracy Operators are presently clutching their pearls, gasping for oxygen, suffering dizzy spells and/or feeling sick to their stomachs. However your call IS important to us. Please hold for any available operator as soon as she can recover her delicate flower-like wits from the "vapours" which have carried her off to temporary oblivion which have been shamelessly trampled upon by this cold, insensitive meditation").

PLEASE. Get over yourselves. Well, okay. Don't.

Sorry, Tim, there goes half your viewers right there.
And that's all I got on this. I guess "Part 3" is not gonna be forthcoming...

ANYWAY: is where to go if you want Cerebus Chess in your life.

$29.99 (plus shipping and handling) (So $49.99.) per figure (Canadian, $49.99 Canadian.) per figure.


$179.94 for a set of six (King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook, Pawn) (plus shipping and handling) (So $269.93) (Canadian, this is Canadian.)


$479.84 for a full set of sixteen (King, Queen, two Bishops, two Knights, two Rooks, and eight Pawns.) (plus shipping and handling) (George doesn't have this as an ordering option, (yet?) so I'm not sure how much S/H is.) (Canadian. This is ALL Canadian. (They put birds on their money, did you know that?))

OR, OR, OR: 

$959.68 for two full sets  (Two Kings, two Queens, four Bishops, four Knights, four Rooks, and sixteen Pawns.) (Ya know, if you wanna PLAY chess...) (plus shipping and handling) (Again, George doesn't have this as an ordering option (yet(?), maybe someday?), so I don't know how much it'll set you back.) (But we're getting into "going to see Dave and tour the Off-White House" levels of money ($900 pledge level on the Kickstarters...) just to put it into perspective...) (Canadian. Ya want it in American? $29.99 = $23.13, $49.99 = $38.56, $179.94 = $138.78, $269.93 = $208.19, $479.84 = $370.09, $959.68 = $740.18, $900 = $694.15. (All with dead white guys on the money (which is how God intended money to look...).) How about in Rupees? Well, according to Dr. Strange's assistant Wong in Avengers: Infinity War, 200 Rupees is about a buck-fifty American. So, a metric shit-ton of Rupees. (MATH IS FUN!!!) approximately...)

Ah! George kinda does have the shipping and handling (you just have to add the pieces to the cart, and adjust the quantities.) Set of 16 is $539.84. Full set of 32 is $1,019.68 (Canadian. $416.37 and $786.46 American respectively. And a metric fuck-ton of Rupees. Sooo many Rupees...)

So save your Scheckles...

Next Time: "Pesos"? Why the fuck do you wanna pay in Pesos?!? What kind of hippy-commie are you?!?!?


Anonymous said...

Actually, this should be a fun topic. So, purely guided by fun, here's my suggested Cerebus chess set, which borrows a few ideas from Margaret's list:

Black King: Julius

Black Queen: Astoria

White King: Cerebus (Prime Minister version with wig)

White Queen: Jaka

Black Knights: Bear, Red Sophia (both carrying swords)

White Knights: Cerebus (barbarian version), Elrod (both carrying swords)

Black Bishops: Suenteus Po (in his long robe), Cerebus (pope version)

White Bishops: Cirin (in her long robe), Rick (in robe as on Ricks's story cover)

Black Rooks: Henrot-Gutch, Giant Stone Thrunk (overweight, rook-shaped characters)

White Rooks: Overweight older Cerebus, Oscar Wilde (overweight, rook-shaped characters)

Black pawns: Jewish comedians in Cerebus: The three stooges, Woody Allen, Chico Marx, Rodney Dangerfield, Marty Feldman, Lou Jacobi

White pawns: Three versions of the Roach, the two Drew Brothers, the Regency Elf, old Weisshaupt, and old Cerebus

I quite like this chess set. It has the virtue of having all the major incarnations of Cerebus. It also does a pretty good job of placing the major characters in their respective political, spiritual, and warrior categories. Aside from Julius, there are eight Jewish comedians appearing during the course of Cerebus.

That was fun. I recommend others try.

- Michael

Jake Capps said...

Ridiculously overpriced.

Steve said...




can't handle them all...

But seriously, it would take me days to compose that much text.
How does Dave simply churn it out like that?!


Mouse Skull Entertainment said...


"No beer and TV make Homer go something something..."

But seriously, I think Dave has been a prolific typer going back to his fanzine days. I wonder what his "words per minute" rate is?


Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Oh jeez -- I actually laughed out loud at this line: "My views are based in sustainable reality." That's the funniest thing Dave has written in 25 years!

-- Damian

Jack said...

Hey Dave, you're against feminism and so is Hamas, so you're nutty as a fruitcake for supporting Israel instead. How could anyone possibly think that was a good argument?