Monday, 3 February 2014

Cerebus: In My Life - Joseph Barjack

Joseph Barjack formed the band Methadone Kitty in 2001 with his friend Greg. They release all their albums independently on their own label, Neat/Beat Records.

How did you discover Cerebus and how long did you read it for?

I discovered Cerebus back in 1994 while reading Wizard magazine when I was eleven. I saw a cover of Cerebus #138 on the page and thought how weird it looked to have a picture of a tea set and toast. For some reason the cover image stuck with me. A few years later I came across a copy of Flight at my local comic store. After that I was hooked, bought the rest of the available books at the time, and continued reading the series until the last issue.

How has your own creativity/comics reading been influenced by Cerebus?

The biggest thing regarding creativity was Dave Sim's stance on self-publishing. Growing up I believed (and still adhere to) the hardcore punk idea of DIY. The Cerebus Guide To Self-Publishing, while focusing on comics, has ideas that can be transferred over to other creative endeavors that we've used to release our band's music (available on Neat/Beat Records) and my books of poetry (available on Rhinologic Press). One of the best quotes that Dave Sim wrote was: "First you get good, then you get fast, then you get good and fast." After releasing six independent albums in five years on my own label, that quote became my mantra and I apply it to any creative or personal task I take on.

I don't read comics that much anymore, but I'll always give an indie comic a fair shot and I still read Cerebus.
Cerebus #66 (September 1984)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

What is your favorite scene or sequence from Cerebus?

The scene in Church & State when Cerebus takes the baby from the mother nagging him to bless the child, blesses it, and throws it across the street. After which he says, "The valuable lesson is that you can get what you want and still not be very happy..."

Both a funny and spot on observation.

Would you recommend others to read Cerebus, and if so why?

Of course. Cerebus is one of the great literary works of the last 100 years. If people can't get into it because of Dave Sim's views on religion and feminism, or the length of the story, or just out of pure laziness; then they're missing out. Not only does it challenge concepts about the medium of comics, but also the medium of literature and one's reading comprehension. It's a great story of a life and how the title character copes with his inherent miserableness, actions, and relationships. Cerebus is a huge middle finger to those who can't see beyond the pictures and the early issues. There is genius in that series, but one has to work to recognize it. When it's been recognized it's quite rewarding and insightful.


David Birdsong said...

Cerebus 138, September 1990. My daughter was four months old. She will graduate from Army boot camp on February 13. MyOhMy how time flies.

Jeff Seiler said...

Wow, David, that's really putting it in perspective. We're coming up fast on the tenth anniversary of the end of Cerebus monthly publishing. Funny thing is, I've gotten to know Dave way better in the last ten years than I ever did in the previous 26. Heh.