Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Barbarian Messiah: Contents

Following on from yesterday's Q&A with Eric Hoffman, for those of you interested in the contents of the essays contained in Cerebus: The Barbarian Messiah, Eric has kindly shared with us the table of contents together with extracts from the Preface. Cerebus: The Barbarian Messiah is published by McFarland and available from and


Alone, Unmourned and Unloved: Dave Sim and Cerebus by Eric Hoffman

Part One: A Map of Estarcion
1. Growing Complexity or: The Cerebus Effect by Sebastien Domsch
2. Audacious Tenacity, Tenacious Audacity: Cerebus’ Grand (and Changing) Narrative Strategies by Eric Hoffman

From the preface:
The first section, A Map of Estarcion, explores the various techniques Sim utilized in fashioning Cerebus, in particular the high degree of flexibility Sim employed to allow the significant changes in theme, tone and structure, and how Sim developed this elaborate plot over the period of the twenty-six years he composed the comic book.

Part Two: Ignore It, It’s Just Another Reality
3. Stories within Cerebus by David Groenewegen
4. Aardvarkian Intertexts and True Stories by Dominick Grace
5. 'Why Certainly Dear Boy…’: Incorporating Oscar Wilde into the Aardvark’s World by Gregory J. Fink

From the preface:
The essays of the second section, Ignore It, It’s Just Another Reality, concern Sim’s use of storytellers within the larger narrative framework, and how each storyteller represents a shifting perspective that opposes any verifiable claims of truth. Use of this technique allowed Sim to transgress his own limitations, providing him with the freedom to shift the focus as he saw fit, so that, as in an extreme example, Cerebus simultaneously satirizes religion (largely characterized in the comic as outright delusion and a means of coercion and control) and elucidates Sim’s evolving religious beliefs. Similarly, Cerebus itself is a claim to truth that opposes the “story” of feminist politics and political correctness, particularly in the text interpolations dispersed throughout the comic, both internal and external to the storyline proper.

Part Three: Becoming Synonymous with Something Indescribable
6. Seeing Sound by C.W. Marshall
7. Negative Space and Guttural Noise: Gerhard's Psychological Reads by Sabin Calvert

From the preface:
The third section of this book, consists of a meticulous study of Cerebus’ visual virtuosity and technical sophistication, addressing in particular Sim’s imaginative and descriptive use of lettering.

Part Four: Mind Games
8. Testing the Limits of Genre/Gender by Dominick Grace
9. Anti-Feminist Aardvark?: Gender, Subjectivity, and Authorship by Isaac J. Mayeux
10. The Aardvark and the Beautiful Women: Male Sexuality and Gender Politics by Mario N. Castro

From the preface:
The fourth section, Mind Games, is an exploration of perhaps the most problematic, yet important, aspect of Cerebus, namely the use of gender, both as a narrative device within Cerebus proper and in Sim’s supplementary essays, which together comprise an extended critique of institutionalized feminism. The interplay between genders involves some of the best and worst of Cerebus. The introduction of feminist critique, both within the Cerebus storyline and the tangential material accompanying the primary text, compromises by a blurring of authorial intention. From the nuanced representation of gender roles and female-male relationships in Jaka’s Story, to the anti-feminist polemics of Reads, these essays address Sim’s views of gender both within the context of Cerebus’ storyline and its larger social and religious implications.

Part Five: Ye Booke of Sim
11. YHWH's Story, or, How to Laugh While Reading 'Chasing YHWH' and Still Have Enough Stamina for The Last Day by Edward M. Komara

From the preface:
The fifth and final section, Ye Booke of Sim, consists of one reader’s attempt to salvage what is generally considered Cerebus’ most unreadable section, the Chasing YHWH section of Latter Days, consisting largely of Sim’s 'Cerebexegesis' of the Book of Genesis, by offering a new way of reading the text and viewing it within the larger context of Sim and Gerhard’s work.


An Introduction to the Cerebus 'Phonebooks' by Lenny Cooper.

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