Monday, 15 October 2012

A.V. Club: 'High Society Audio/Digital' Review

(Review by Noel Murray at A.V. Club, 15 October 2012)
Finally, after a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign (followed by over 100 increasingly confusing Kickstarter updates), the rollout of the digital version of Dave Sim's classic graphic novel Cerebus Volume 2: High Society has finally begun. The first issue is available for free here, with additional issues coming weekly for 99 cents each. The digital files are available in multiple e-reader-friendly formats (including PDF, CBZ, and ePUB), and also available as a Quicktime movie, featuring close-ups of the panels and pages that the camera scans while Sim reads the text himself, doing all the voices. The result is halfway between an audiobook and a motion comic, with sound effects and music enhancing Sim’s spirited reading. The downside to the audio/video version is that by the time of High Society - which began in issue #26, a little over four years after Cerebus debuted - Sim’s pages had become so graphically complex that they don't lend themselves easily to being read aloud. The upside is that Sim has always been undervalued as a writer, and even though some of his best jokes don’t land without the rhythm of a comics page to put them across, his rich description of life in the bureaucracy-choked city-state of Iest (and how the arrival of one barbaric aardvark changes the political dynamic) sounds as good as it reads. The strange directions Sim eventually took Cerebus over the course of its 300 issues have led to the series and Sim himself often being excluded from the larger comics canon, but make no mistake: Warts and all, Cerebus is a must for fans of the medium, and High Society is pretty much flawless from start to finish (give or take the occasional dated superhero parody). Anyone who's never read the comic should feel comfortable starting here, and should expect some pleasurable reading - and listening(?) - in the weeks to come.

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