Sunday, 1 December 2013

Spacey Elves

Welcome to AMOC Guest Editorial Week, with me your host, Eddie Khanna. Tim's left the lights on, the fridge freshly stocked with some good food and drink, and light music is playing on the stereo while a cozy fire is crackling on this cold night. I'll be the temporary host and proprietor for the next week of this most distinguished and excellent blog-site (and BIG thanks to Tim for all the great hard work he's done on it). Hopefully I won't trash the place and get yanked off faster than you can say "DC doesn't believe in Super-Hero Marriages, even for Lesbian Bat Women" (that should really be the name of a band if it isn't already) ("These Reboots were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do...")

If I didn't know better, I'd say they were taking a page from Church & State. "So many Forces at work... So many Crossovers, so many Tie-ins, so many Relaunches... we need... more... character! And we all know the way to get more character, don't we? That's right! Annulled Marriages!"

Better get used to it folks; you're stuck with me all week.

Anyways, let's start off with one of the more popular Roach parodies in Cerebus: Swoon and the whole Family of the Clueless (which really took the whole idea of super-hero parody, especially within the context of the series, to a whole new level).
Cerebus #167 (February 1993)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
From Following Cerebus #10, "Dave On Dreams":
Craig Miller: 
Of course, the decision to parody Sandman - which you could not have known in the early years of Cerebus - adds to the number of dreams, particularly in the Women volume. Did the opportunity to include more dreams influence your decision to focus on Neil Gaiman's series?

Dave Sim:
No, not consciously (nyuck, nyuck, nycuk). The storyline was "surfacing" towards what I hoped - two years up ahead in what would become Reads - would be Reality or at least "Reality". A core part of that Reality or "Reality" involved the Roach parodies coming to an end - the more real the world the less possible it is to include super-heroes, even parody super-heroes in it. Neil's Sandman seemed an opportune exit since, on the one hand, he (Sandman, I mean) had a super-natural (ergo super-hero) aspect to him but on the other hand he was also an iconic representation of larger ideas. He was the character Sandman but he was also Dream, an incarnation of a state of existence. Did (and do) such Super Realities as Beings exist? In addition to the fact that all people dream is there such a thing as The Dreaming and/or Dream? That was the conscious writing intention with the dreams themselves just being the most effective way to ask and hopefully begin to answer the question.
Cerebus #167 (February 1993)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
From The Cerebus Companion #2:
Dave Sim:
Usually, the Roach parodies are very fortuitous. They're not anticipated; I never plan ahead for them. I don't sit down and say, at this specific point in Mothers & Daughters, I will do a parody. The Roach parodies are always left for the time when I know I'm going to be sitting down to them. I know that he's coming in, and I know what contribution he's going to make to the plot, and I just look around and see what’s going on in comics and try to find the most readily-apparent thing to do a parody of. It was just a great stroke of fortune that the Endless happened to be coming out. And I don't know how much of a stroke of fortune it is, because when something fits that neatly in there, it's almost like there's a much larger story being written here by somebody.
It's always been interesting (well to me, anyways) that we see all of the Endless parodied except for Delirium (other than Destruction that is, but technically he had left the Family by then) (I never realized until I just typed that exactly how much the Endless sound like the mafia). I mean, even Henrot-Gutch gets a couple of panels as 'Sulk', despite the fact that a 'large cast would be unwieldy'.

Cerebus #169 (April 1993)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
It's not explicitly shown, but reading between the lines (or panels), I don't think it’s too much of a stretch to cast the Regency Elf in the role of Delirium/Spacey. The question I've always wondered is: did Dave intentionally intend for her to be the Delirium analogue and he just couldn't fit it into the story to explicitly show it, or was it another example of a much larger story being written, and one of those things that isn't seen until afterwards? 
Cerebus #169 (April 1993), by Dave Sim & Gerhard
Sandman #59 (April 1994), by Neil Gaiman & Marc Hempel
Of course, never mind the fact that the Delirium page above from the Kindley Ones came out AFTER the above sequence in Mothers & Daughters, so on one level it's as if Delirium in Sandman is channeling the Regency Elf in Cerebus who is channeling Delirium in Sandman, like some kind of self-referential (elf-referential?) Marx Brothers' routine.

I mean, in addition to the fact that the Regency Elf predates Delirium by several years in comics, which makes me wonder if perhaps she was an influence on Neil when he came up with Delirium.

All of which only adds weight to the idea that it may have all been part of a much larger story being written by someone 'up there'.

From ‘exit Sandman’ (Dave’s chat with Neil):
Dave Sim:
It's very much like 'Delight' becoming 'Delirium'. It's not as elaborate, but it says a lot of what I was trying to get across in Mothers & Daughters. (Some days later, I had the thought that the real-world transformation of 'Delight' into 'Delirium' was the death of Marilyn Monroe.)


Anonymous said...

Let me be the first to state that I for one would give a chance to the song stylings of Lesbian Bat Women.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, lbw

Tony Dunlop said...

You know, I've read maybe one issue of "Sandman" in my life. Didn't "do anything" for me. I still thought "Sandroach" was hysterical.

David Patty said...

Neil's Delirium was based on author, poet & postmodern theorist Kathy Acker. Gaiman discusses his friend and how she helped inspired the sweetest (& in some respects, most tragic & terrifying) of the Endless here: