Monday, 4 June 2018

Reading Cerebus #23: Issue 20

Hi, Everybody!

Three days. Three days to sell everything that's not nailed down and get as much cash as possible for the Comiclink auctions.

And I'm still hustling, everyday I'm hustlin',

A'ight, WHAT TIME IS IT?!?
"Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.."
"Very deep you should send that in to the Reader's Digest, they've got a page for people like you..."
Welcome back to “Reading Cerebus”, a some-what new (mostly) 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. Let’s continue.

"Mind Games" - Cerebus #20:

I started to pull pages to run in this week's installment, but I was gonna use every page, so just look at this, you can zoom in on the whole thing. (Thanks Margaret!)

Drugged at the end of last issue, Cerebus finds himself in a hallucinatory state. As if this wasn't bad enough, he quickly discovers that there is an ongoing war between the Cirinists and the Illusionists and Cerebus is the latest pawn in this game.

Two Sides To Every Story (Again)
Last week, I mentioned the use of duality (the two commanders trying to each raise forces in an escalating conflict, Red Sophia's "sister", twin owls) in the current story arc. This week, we are again treated to this as another layer to the ongoing conflict is layered on with the introduction of the Cirinists and the Illusionists.

The Cirinists are portrayed as an occulty branch of Christians, with the Illusionists portrayed as a very stoney version of Buddhists. Both sides have interest in Cerebus as a possible game changer in the bigger battle for supremacy they are waging. Cerebus however would just be content to wake up.

Once again using conflict to his advantage, Cerebus attempts to get both sides distracted in order to escape. The bad news? Well, the Cirinists are already a step ahead of him and dose him again before he can wake up. Again, good night, sweet earth-pig, good night.

Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery  

Keen eyed readers may have picked up on the odd layout of the issue, almost as if a bigger picture was hiding around the content of this week's issue. Well, keen eyed reader, you are correct.

The odd layout serves a two-fold purpose. First, the use of black and grey allow for easy narrative transitions between the two sides (Suenteus Po of the Illusionists in the grey, Perce and Wenda of the Cirinists in the black). Secondly, there is a larger image hidden among the smaller illustrations.

Using a technique borrowed from Neil Adams, Dave laid out a massive image of Cerebus across the pages of this issue. Those willing to dissect two copies of issue #20 would have found that the dissected pages when properly arranged form a poster size Cerebus suitable for framing.

According to Dave (from Swords Of Cerebus Vol 4, 1983):

"...The idea was inspired by Neil Adams' "hidden head" trick which (as far as I know)  he only did twice: once on a BEN CASEY Sunday page and once in a Deadman story in STRANGE ADVENTURES. The principle of the idea was that unrelated background and foreground elements make up the giant head. It's an exercise in the thinking side of drawing, since the initial layout has to be conformed to, and the composing elements must retain enough individual identity to still communicate the scene in each individual panel."

Final Thoughts

This issue was a lot of fun, if a bit of work getting the reading pattern right. We have another layer brought into the ongoing storyline as more factions are added to Cerebus' world. This sort of scope really makes the overall story feel so much more realized and important.

Join me back here next week as I take a look at issue 21, "Captain Cockroach".

Currently Listening To: Grateful Dead - Rocking The Cradle, Egypt 1978

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.

Further reading:
(I tried to just link 'em in, but it's late, I'm lazy.)

Next Time: Who do you know wants to buy a car?

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