Monday 30 April 2018

Reading Cerebus #18: The One About Issue #15

Hi, Everybody!

And bonecrusher86 is the name to know...

"Hey kids! What time is it?"
"I'ma gonna let Kevin's Co-worker answer:"

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. Oh, and they told me Dave Sim himself may be reading this, but so far only Dictionary Lass has shown up. Let’s continue.

"A Day In The Pits" - Cerebus #15 (Part 2 of "The Palnu Trilogy")

"A Day In The Pits" - Cerebus #15 (Part 2 of "The Palnu Trilogy")

This week, I want to approach the column in a different way. The quick summary is that Cerebus, still hot on the trail of those responsible for the attempted assassination of Lord Julius, discovers that the rebellion may be gathering in "The Pits" under the city. An expedition finds that while the rebellion has a large serpent, Cerebus has torches which trumps a blind snake every time. As a whole, this issue serves as the middle child, so for the most part, I'm ignoring it this week in lieu of focusing on one story element that I find fascinating: "The Pits".

Courtesy of

A Night In The Ruts...Err...Pits

Around 20 years ago, my local comic book store, My Parents Basement in Manitowoc, WI (don't bother looking for it, it's long since gone) was preparing to move into a new location to make way for a new library being built on the block the store currently occupied. This new location: an actual basement!

The store's new location would be accessible from a street level walk down with the majority of the store located below the pavement. It had two large windows with a grandiose view of the staircase and about enough street level clearance to ogle the ankles of any passerby. This in itself was rather mundane and depressing, however, what we found behind the walls was utterly fascinating. 

Down On The Corner, Under The Street

As we began to prep the space for new framing and drywall, we discovered something completely unexpected: windows. Bricked over on the backside, we found several windows that faced out towards the street. Unbeknownst to us, the city wasn't always the way that we knew it, it used to be much lower.

Further exploration of the building found more clues that pointed toward this exact end, the most interesting being a bricked off doorway located in a room with the main breaker for the building. This too faced out toward the street.

Was there a great rebellion gathering under the streets of Manitowoc in the late 90's? Did they have a giant snake that would eat unwelcome visitors to their lair? No clue. Why? Because everything was bricked off and the owner kept taking away our power tools when he saw that mischievous glint in our eyes, that's why.

So if anyone has some power tools laying around, can Matt and I borrow them? I know the current owner of that building and may be up for an adventure in "The Pits". Now where's my trusty aardvark? You never can find good help when you need it.

Final Thoughts

Much like last issue, this issue continues to develop the long form plot of Cerebus, and Dave's portrayal of Lord Julius is a treat for me as a Marx Brother's fan, and the witty dialogue is Groucho all the way.

Join me back here next week as I take a look at the conclusion of "The Palnu Trilogy" in "A Night At The Masque".

Currently Listening To: Pearl Jam - Alive E.P. (Japanese Import)

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.

Sunday 29 April 2018

"T.L.:D.R." The Genesis Question Part one

Hi, Everybody!


And bonecrusher86 is the name to know...

So Dave sent this in:
1 April 18

Hi Matt!

You must be running out of my Biblical commentaries along about now. So…
courtesy of

2 February 14
Groundhog Day
SuperBowl Sunday

Hi Troy and Mia:

Okay, while you were watching the SuperBowl:

Commentary on
"The Genesis Question"  Chapter One 
As is usually the case with my reading Christians writing on Christian Scripture (or, to me, "Scripture" in the case of those writings external to the Gospels, Acts and John's Apocalypse), I think it sensible to go back to the Koine Greek to see what was actually said and compare that to what has come to be popularly believed to have been said.

Mr. Ross' notes for this chapter cite 2 Timothy 3:16 (as The Bible making for itself the claim that it is divinely inspired). I'm naturally suspicious of texts which I consider non-canonical vouching for canonical texts.  The King James Version of 3:16 reads

All Scripture given by inspiration of God & profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness Even with the word "is" interpolated between "Scripture" and "given by inspiration of God"; and between "&" and "profitable" 3:16 seems to me pretty much an incomplete thought -- and intended as such even in the KJV where the translation of that verse ends in a comma.  The tendency of Christians to use individual verses like fortune cookies whereas I see 3:16 as  continuing the thought begun in 3:14 and concluding in 3:17:

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned.  And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture given by inspiration of God & profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect (marginal suggested alternative: perfected) thoroughly furnished unto all good works
 The Interlinear translation from the Koine Greek has it as:

You, however, be  remaining in what you learned and you were persuaded to believe
 "You were persuaded to believe" -- evidently a single compound Greek term! Amazing language that Greek! -- has a very different sense to it from "hast been assured of".  The Greek philosophers and semanticists in particular would be appalled at translating the one as the other since they revered so highly the ability to persuade through argument. Add to that that Paul is addressing a student with a Greek mother and I think it's even more important to keep what is being said "coherently Greek".

having known beside of whom you learned "of whom" and "beside of whom" are differently nuanced.  The compelled inference of "of whom" directly suggests a single teacher whereas "beside of whom" could imply the teacher while also suggesting a companion student or an invisible presence assisting you:  Jesus himself or an angel or God being a distinct possibility.

Hair-splitting?  Well, yes, but where else are you going to split hairs?  We're talking about the Word of God (if, as a Christian, you believe that Paul's commentaries ARE the word of God).  It seems to me a bad place for a "close enough for government work" translation. And, this being addressed to Paul's own student/apprentice I would be especially careful about excluding a specific forensic accuracy -- and a fellow student/apprentice we are not specifically aware of  (Titus, maybe?) is definitely a potential forensic accuracy.

and that from infant sacred writings you have known the ____s being able you to make wise into salvation through faith the in Christ Jesus Sacred writings can be "holy Scriptures" depending on what category in which the writer puts those writings.  Unless you know, specifically, what parts of the Torah Paul thought to be sacred -- and what besides the Torah he thought to be sacred -- I'd be cautious in translating this as "holy Scriptures".  Particularly for Christians who have evolved away from a wide-ranging inclusiveness over the centuries, while indulging in canonical peculiarities like the elevation of Ruth and Esther to prophethood.  If you're going to evolve away from a perception, then you should make sure that your translation evolves in the same direction and have Paul saying "that from infant writings perceived to be sacred you have known…" so you can remain non-specific about what those writings are while acknowledging that you quite possibly differ from Paul in your modern perceptions of what is sacred and what isn't.

I also wouldn't translate "THE in Christ Jesus" as "in Christ Jesus".  "THE in Christ Jesus" suggests it as a species of faith whereas "faith in Christ Jesus" limits the idea to suggesting that there is ONLY faith in Christ Jesus and that that's what Paul is saying -- that all other faith is false.

Idiosyncratic to Koine Greek, evidently, is the plural form of "the" and I always see a problem there.  The safest translation always seems to me to be "these" because it's the only non-specific plural pronoun available to us in English.  Or, better yet, "the (plural)".  Or, better yet (in my view), "the ____s" because it more clearly establishes that there is a specific term or concept missing which shouldn't be inferred without specific evidence:  in this case, what Paul thought of and didn't think of as "sacred writings".

all Scripture God-breathed and beneficial toward teaching, toward reproving, toward straightening up upon toward discipline the in righteousness This is translated in the KJV as
 All Scripture given by inspiration of God & profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness This seems to me to confirm my point, "God-breathed" -- invoking as it does the animating of Adam in Genesis 2:7 --  a rather higher level of divine inspiration than the merely sacred -- suggesting that it would be incautious to decide "after the fact" and without evidence what Paul did and didn't consider to be "God-breathed" sacred writings.

"Beneficial for teaching" being translated as "profitable for doctrine" seems to me, again, to "de-Greek" the meaning.  Which, to me, is sad because I'm pretty sure that Koine Greek was selected by God -- and created by God -- for its specificity and its simplicity as THE Mediterranean lingua franca.  The fact that the Romans had adopted Greek teaching methods and expressions confirms this.  Compound nouns which convey a very specific meaning, coupled with the most advanced philosophical concepts (which the Greeks were miles ahead of anyone on at the time) are "beneficial for teaching" and so resonate with what Paul is saying.

"Profitable for doctrine" is certainly the direction in which the Christian church evolved (or, in my opinion, DEvolved), but it's an entirely contrary view to "beneficial for teaching".  It's institutional in form, looking at increasing the number of followers as a "profit-based" proposition.  The more persuasive your "doctrine" the more "profitable" it becomes:  you get more followers.

Unfortunately, this "philosophy" also leads to misapprehensions like The Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition which were certainly "profitable" in the sense intended by "profitable for doctrine" but were entirely wrong-headed (and wrong-hearted) and, over the long term, far more detrimental to the good of the Christian church in seeking that which is "beneficial for teaching".  The Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition were not, to say the least, "beneficial for teaching" the ministry of Jesus.

"for reproof" is also differently nuanced than "toward reproving", the latter suggesting that "reproving" is a direction you want to move "toward" rather than just outright "reproving" everyone who disagrees with you ("reproving" definitely having been the dominant characteristic of Christian teachings as they have evolved since the time of Paul).  Again, "toward reproving" is more aligned with the Greek method of "teaching through persuasion" rather than just overtly denouncing people. If you believe in persuasion you can always yourself be persuaded by a superior argument.  If you just "reprove" the odds are small of your accepting reproof.

"toward straightening up upon".  Again, conveyed through a single compound Greek term. Again, a far more benign way of expressing an idea as a means of teaching and persuasion than the KJV's "correction".  "Toward straightening up upon" suggests moving towards a more preferable structure through basic "organization out of disorganization", something that will benefit the listener personally, while not directly impugning the listener's own philosophical foundation, implicitly.  Quite the contrary.  It suggests that the listener's foundation is solid but that there is required a "straightening up" -- like forming a disorganized pile of cards back into a deck of cards -- "upon" the listener's own foundation.

 "Correction" -- and I see this as a Christian vice -- can only be inferred one way:  you are "incorrect" and my doctrine will "correct" you.

"for instruction in righteousness" seems to me to partake of the same vice, having only one compelled inference:  "you are NOT righteous. I AM righteous, so I need to instruct you in how to become righteous AS I AM".  It also seems to me to be a poor substitute for the original:  "toward discipline the in righteousness".  "Discipline" can be "instruction" but "instruction" is not always the same as "discipline".  It seems to me particularly true that SELF-discipline is a central component of righteousness.  And in the case of SELF-discipline, instruction is a raw material, not the finished product.  And the original sense conveys that:  "TOWARD discipline".  The sacred writings point TOWARD discipline, but they don't IMPOSE discipline.  I also think the translation misses the central "flavour" of "the in righteousness" because there is no direct English analogue.  To the English-biased mind, it looks like "pick one": "the righteousness" or "in righteousness".  Okay, we'll pick "the righteousness".

But, I don't think you can get too far, successfully, with "translation by omission" -- dropping out inconvenient words that don't reflect your own views.  I think you have to look at it in terms of "how do I have to change my perceptions of what is being said so that all of the words can be included in my perceptions?"  ("straightening up upon" my own views, in a sense).

To do that, I think you have to have "toward discipline" as one concept and then look at what "the in righteousness" does to amplify that concept.  The inclusion of the definite article "the" suggests to me, immediately, that what we are discussing is a very specific, individual species of discipline.   "Discipline THE [insert 'kind of discipline' here]".  And I think what Paul is specifically referring to is a species of discipline which exists as an inherent component not only OF righteousness but WITHIN righteousness, inextricable from righteousness.  "Toward discipline: the discipline IN righteousness".  That is, not SELF-righteousness, the idea conveyed by "instruction in righteousness" -- I am righteous and you aren't so I'm going to instruct you in how to be righteous like me -- but rather another form of "toward".  The sacred writings are TOWARD teaching, TOWARD reproving, TOWARD straightening up upon, TOWARD discipline (qualified by: the discipline found in righteousness). Go TOWARD the direction the sacred writings are pointing and see what you find there.

in order that fit may be the of the God man, toward every work good having been fitted out completes the thought nicely.  You align yourself TOWARD all of the TOWARDS indicated and you become fit (more I think, in the sense of appropriateness than physical strength -- in the same sense that "survival of the fittest" is more about appropriateness to the environment than who is stronger.  Many species that aren't strong are still fit.).  This seems a world away from the KJV's:
 that the man of God may be perfect  (marginal suggested alternative:  perfected) thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
 I think Paul would have found this appalling to suggest that what he was teaching was that the man of God, by following his teachings could become perfect.  If for no other reason than it suggests that Paul thought himself to be perfect and that his mission was to go out into the world in instruct people how to become perfect like him.  It seems to me another example of Church excess:  to take a very explicit roadmap of what sacred writings point you TOWARD and suggesting going TOWARD those things (ultimately concluding that this will lead you TOWARD every good work) and changing that into a de facto declaration of perfection -- a perfection "thoroughly furnished" -- by belief in God.

Now, to be fair, Mr. Ross is using THE NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION of the Bible and only mentions the KJV as a secondary source, so I don't know what THE NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION says, specifically, because he only cites the verse and doesn't quote it.  My experience has been that each updated version of the Bible tends to modify each successive one in the direction of "what we want The Bible to say" instead of "how close can we get in English to what the original Koine Greek texts say?"  And I have to admit that my conclusion is always to stick with the word-for-word translation since -- when I analyze what is being said, specifically, I find no way to translate the passage differently without losing the specific flavour of what is being said.  At least not without stretching every phrase into a paragraph.

Okay, well that's as far as I got this week.

Next week 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

Hook 'em, Horns!

Saturday 28 April 2018

The Columbus Dispatch

Hi, Everybody!


And bonecrusher86 is the name to know...

I was gonna do a "Cerebus In Matt's Life", but I got this instead...

Your "pal" and mine, Jefe` Seiler sent in a "road report":
SO:  Last night was night 1 of 3 at S.P.A.C.E, the incredible independents-only comic book convention, in beautiful, crazy, home-of-The-Ohio-State-University-football-team and an all-around great comic book town, Columbus  (word has it that Jeff Smith lives here, but I heard he owns a private island somewhere offshore [that has a bank, offshore] where he spends most of his non-artistic days, honing his boxing skills, just in case).

ANYWAY:  Larry, Lenny, Margaret, and I met up at the baseball game, had some decent food and some great beers (well, two of us did), and watched a freaking blowout.  Now, after ten years of separation, we mostly ate, drank, and talked.   I didn't even keep score, for, like, maybe the third time in my life!  We only occasionally looked up when we heard a loud crack of the bat or a smaller crack when a bat was broken (I think there were 3 broken bats while were there.)

Stolen from Margaret Liss, STOLEN I say!
After Larry arrived and he had been there for a half hour or so, while I was finishing my pretzel that I shared with Margaret and Lenny, the score was 17-4 (I think), in favor of the bad guys.
"What the heck is this?" Margaret's caption on her own photo, THAT I STOLE!

Now, I keep score at every MLB game I go to.  I have hundreds of score cards, archived.  But, Lenny's plane arrived late, and I had to meet Lenny and Margaret at the gate, after the game started.  Larry arrived around 9 p.m. and went straight to the hotel and called Lenny, saying that he didn't think he would make it until nearly the end of the game.

"What. The. Hell." - Margaret Liss Photo: stolen, like THIRD base...
When Lenny, two seats away told me that, I said, "Are you fucking kidding?  The game is only in the 4th inning!!"

So, Larry showed up, about a half hour later.  Lenny took his ticket to the gate and got him in.  Kuddoes, btw, to Lenny, for scoring us free tix in the 8th row behind home plate!
And then, and then!  Indianapolis erupted and, suddenly, the score was 17-4, in favor of the bad guys.  And, it got a bit cold.  So, I boldly suggested that we do something I almost never do, and bolt.  We already had free t-shirts and refrigerator magnets, all around, and had shared a hot pretzel, so Bob's yer uncle.

Margaret and Lenny, Yahoo Group Moderators, wienies, victims of photo theft.
I rode with Larry back to the hotel.  Some of you may remember my infamous driving back to the hotel on the night of Dave Sim's 50th birthday, when Larry, Margaret (I think), Gerhard, and I were driving back to the hotel for a surprise birthday celebration for Dave, for which Matt Dow had commissioned a birthday cake painted with the cover of Cerebus #1.

We four, we lucky four, got lost in the wilds of the Forest Preserve in northern Columbus because I missed a turn.  It was raining hard.  Gerhard was sitting in the right rear seat.  He finally, very politely (because he's constitutionally incapable of doing it in any other way) informed me that the window was leaking and he was wet.

I said, "well, I just got this car and it's used."

He laconically replied (as he almost always does, but a bit sarcastically, as he is wont to do),  "Yeah, I figured."
This has NOTHING to do with Jefe`s "Road Report", this is from 2006, I just wanted to include a picture that is more AMOC related...

We finally got to the hotel, but not before Larry helpfully pointed out that the gas gauge was on E, leading to a white-knuckle ride to the closest gas station out of the Forest Preserve.

I tell you all of this because (stay with me, if you're not already there), last night, when we left the game, Lenny and Margaret took one car back to the hotel.  I said I would ride with Larry.  I pulled up Google Maps and had the route.


In my defense, Columbus has kind of a whack system for numbering their highways.  I-290 becomes I-690, which becomes I-290, which becomes I-71.  All one big loop.

Nevertheless, while I'm looking at Google maps, following the blue dot, while I'm asking Larry about his family, he asks me, "do we want 270?"

"No, that goes south," I says.  And, in my defense, on the map, where we were, it does.

Nevertheless, in about 5 minutes, I saw a stoplight, and that seemed...odd...for an interstate highway.

In my defense, I was genuinely interested in and inquiring about how Larry's family is doing, since it's been a long time.



I got us lost.  Again.  Yeah.  😕

Fortunately, Google Maps showed me my error before even a half mile, so we were just minutes behind Lenny and Margaret at the hotel.

And, then I invited them all to my room and we a nice catch-up session after 10 years of separation.

More tomorrow:  S.P.A.C.E, and the Sausage Haus, with karaoke after!

Oh!  And Gerhard stories!!!

Jeff Seiler
A young Steve Peters, with a guitar. Steve is on a panel with Gerhard on Sunday at 3.
 Thanks Jefe`!

We ALL look forward to a minute by minute breakdown of the next two days!

Next Time: It's Sunday, so Dave, and not more from Jefe`...

Thursday 26 April 2018


Benjamin Hobbs: 

The bad news is that LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1 didn't ship yesterday.

The GOOD news is it will be on sale MAY 9th.

Looks like I'll have to wait a couple more weeks to experience the dizzying highs of owning 27 copies.

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Drink a Gallon Jug of Soda Water

A few years ago I scanned all of Dave Sim's notebooks. He had filled 36 notebooks during the years he created the monthly Cerebus series, covering issues #20 to 300, plus the other side items -- like the Epic stories, posters and prints, convention speeches etc. A total of 3,281 notebook pages detailing his creative process. I never really got the time to study the notebooks when I had them. Just did a quick look, scanned them in and sent them back to Dave as soon as possible. So this regular column is a chance for me to look through those scans and highlight some of the more interesting pages.

We last looked at Dave Sim's twenty fifth notebook in June of last year, in A Victim of A Laughing Chance. The notebook covers Cerebus #213 through 241 with only 96 pages scanned.

On page 35 of the notebook we some of the internal dialogue that Cerebus had with himself in Rick's Story.

Notebook #25, page 35 (click for bigger picture)
The last line at the bottom, "Just shut up Cerebus. Cerebus is giving Cerebus a headache" makes me chuckle. 

Up at the top we see a note Dave wrote that must be a quote from Bill Sienkiewicz "Make your notebooks look like your finished work and make your finished work look more like your notebooks".

A Completely Unbiased Comic Review: LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1

Benjamin Hobbs:

This week I'll be starting a new monthly feature that will appear on the last Wednesday of every month:

A Completely Unbiased Comic Review

This months pick is  LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1. This comic is easily the best book coming out from Aardvark-Vanaheim this month.  Clocking in at 24 pages, this book is cover to cover  comedy gold!  I have 25 copies of this book sitting right next to me as I write this, and let me tell you from first hand experience, my quality of life has improved since my ownership of these 25 copies began, but I suspect my life would be even better if I had 26 copies.  I shiver to think of the dizzying heights my life would reach if I should achieve ownership of  27 copies.  Since the book is out today, I'll be sure to stop by my LCS and pick up two more copies to find out. Do you want a greater satisfaction out of life? Have thicker hair?* Lose 20 pounds of pesky belly fat?**  25 copies of LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1 curled up on your lap could be just the thing for you! 

This book is a five star BUY! BUY!  BUY! 

*LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1 will not make your hair thicker.  Although you could use it as a hat to cover up your gradually receding hair line.  

**LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1 has not been found in any medical studies to reduce pesky body fat.  In fact, participants in the study often report a slight increase of weight due to all the Cheetos*** being consumed while reading.****

*** Cheetos does not sponsor or endorse LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1 in any way.  It just happened to be the #1 preferred snack of LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1 readers during the LOVE AND AARDVARK #1/WEIGHT LOSS clinical trial.

**** WARNING! Eating Cheetos while reading LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1 will greatly increase LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1's chance of losing value and not being in MINT. Orange staining may occur. 


 Last week in the comments, Jeff said:  
"CREEPY #79 and HOWARD THE DUCK #8. Both with work by Dave. I'm throwing out ideas only, because I'm not an artist and I don't have PhotoShop. (Sorry.)"

Hi Jeff! Thanks for writing in! You never have to apologize to us for not having a copy of Photoshop! Or for not knowing that Photoshop doesn't have a capital "S" in the middle.  That being said, HOWARD the DUCK #8 would be a fun cover to parody!  Thanks for the suggestion!  I'm sure you'll see the mock-up of it at some point in the near future.  (Unless Dave thinks it's a BOX OFFICE POISON cover, in which case, you probably won't.) 
In case the word didn't get out yet,  Gerhard will be at  S.P.A.C.E. this weekend.  Who all is making the trip to Columbus, OH to say hi to Gerhard?  If Gerhard being there isn't enough of a draw for you, I hear that there will also be food trucks. 

Next week: Is the Honeymoon phase between you and your 27 copies of LOVE AND AARDVARKS #1 finally coming to an end? We'll have some fun craft ideas for the twenty eight of you to do together. 

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Cerebus art sale

Hi, Everybody!

CEREBUS IN HELL? / Aardvark-Vanaheim studio-office clean-up clipping panels

And bonecrusher86 is the name to know...

Got this today:
Hi Matt,

I realize that this is very short notice (not my fault... really... I swear)
but if you wanted to post this to AMOC that'd be great.
If not, that's okay too.
And, because each page doesn’t have pesky “characters” on them, we have kept the price of each page under $900.
Similar to past sales, each page will be revealed over the course of an hour on Charles Costas’ CAF Site.
Please bookmark the site at:

Gonna miss you at S.P.A.C.E.

Why is this thus? What is the reason for this thusness?
    -Artemus Ward

I'ma gonna miss him and the other guys too.

It really is too bad I have no monies...

Next Time: Big Ben, an Italian poet, and a dead Aardvark...

Monday 23 April 2018

Reading Cerebus #17

Hi, Everybody!

Dave needs your monies:
CEREBUS IN HELL? / Aardvark-Vanaheim studio-office clean-up clipping panels

And bonecrusher86 is where to look for other items... 

"Hey kids! What time is it?"
"Gee, I dunno, is there a picture of Cerebus reading while eating a bowl of cereal below us, then it must be 'Reading Cerebus' time... yay."

Kevin reads Cerebus for you,
It’s such a nifty thing to do.
Let’s give a rousing cheer,
Cause "Reading Cerebus" is here,
Damn... could you BE less enthusiastic...
The hell man, the hell...
Welcome back to “Reading Cerebus”, a new (some-what) 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. Oh, and they told me Dave Sim himself may be reading this, so I hope I don’t screw this up. Let’s continue.

"The Walls of Palnu" - Cerebus #14 (Part 1 of "The Palnu Trilogy")
"The Walls of Palnu" - Cerebus #14 (Part 1 of "The Palnu Trilogy")
I've been waiting all week to dive into this issue after the introduction of Lord Julius last week. Why? Because I love the Marx Brothers, and if what I saw last week was any indication, Dave has a good grasp on capturing the snappy wit of Groucho. Needless to say, this week did not disappoint.

Cerebus, Kitchen Staff Supervisor
This weeks episode centers around an assassination attempt on Lord Julius and Cerebus' attempts at getting to the bottom of who called for it. But first, we get some great Groucho banter:
Courtesy of the Department of redundancy department, and
Lord Julius: I'll come right to the point! As a reward for saving my son's life, I'd like you to be in charge of my security forces. Your official title will be "Kitchen Staff Supervisor".

Cerebus: Why not "Director of Security Forces"?

LJ: Impossible -- That's the title I gave to the Secretary of the Navy...

C: But, if he's the Secretary of the Navy, why did you give him...?

LJ: When you're running a bureaucracy, the best way to safeguard your job is to make sure you're the only one who knows how the whole thing works.

C: So what does the Secretary of the Navy do?

LJ: He meets twice a week with the cook to plan military strategy.

C: And what is Cerebus supposed to do?

LJ: As I said, You'll be in charge of my security forces! You'll make sure that no one assassinates me. If they do, you're fired.

Cinnamon Crisis on Infinite Earths

Bureaucracy can be hungry business. I'd say, "Ask the schmuck who couldn't wait for Julius' speech to end", but he isn't saying much right now. Why? Oh, right, poisoned. 

Thus begins our overarching plot: Who Want's Lord Julius Dead?

Julius immediately orders the cook to be executed:

Cerebus: But, the cook may be innocent!

Lord Julius: You've obviously never had to eat one of his stuffed tomatoes!

Giepie Import and Export
Discovering that the poison was exotic in nature, Cerebus is lead to a nearby shop specializing in imports and exports. Giepie does not take kindly to Cerebus' line of questioning, knocking a shelf on to the Earth Pig Born, and beating feet to get away.

The Plot Thickens

Continuing his investigation, Cerebus accidentally stumbles upon a meeting of revolutionary forces, taking to the ledges of the city in pursuit of one particularly troublesome individual. The chase however ends in the death of Cerebus' quarry outside the window of Lord Julius.

Final Thoughts
This issue was a lot of fun as the who-done-it gets brought to the forefront and we are given our first long form story in the book. As I said before, Dave hits all the right notes when it comes to Lord Julius' dialogue, and it feels like a lost Marx Brothers' film.

Join me back here next week as I take a look at part 2 of "The Palnu Trilogy" as Cerebus continues his quest to find Lord Julius' would-be assassin.

Currently Listening To: Postcards of the Hanging: Grateful Dead Perform the Songs of Bob Dylan

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.

Sunday 22 April 2018

"T.L.:D.R." DAVE SIM (YAWN) ON: Zechariah 4:11 to 4:14

Hi, Everybody!

So Dave sent this in:
1 April 18

Hi Matt!

You must be running out of my Biblical commentaries along about now. So…
Grab a Bible, and follow along...

The Gospel Lighthouse Bookstore just opened in the Frederick Street Mall across the way from Studio Comix Press -- talk about God meeting you halfway! -- and I was able to score two of the three volumes of a three-volume set of THE INTERLINEAR BIBLE HEBREW-ENGLISH.  Reading the translation of each word right to left takes some getting used to, but it was an opportune moment for me to find the books -- talk about God meeting you halfway! -- in that my Sunday Torah reading that week included Zechariah, the penultimate book in the Law & the Prophets and the "sons of oil" passage in 4:11 to 4:14.  Yeah, what DOES that actually say, I had often wondered.  Since I was pretty sure it was the Synoptic Jesus and the Johannine Jesus.

The King James Version has it as

11  Then answered I and said unto him, What these two olive trees upon the right of the candlestick and upon the left thereof? 

12  And I answered again, and said unto him, what be these two olive branches, which (Hebrew: by the hand) through the two golden pipes empty the golden (Hebrew: the gold) out of themselves. 

13  And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be?  And I said, No, my Lord.

14  Then said he, These are the two anointed ones (annotated in the margin as Hebrew: sons of oil) that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

The Interlinear Hebrew-English has it as:

11  Then I answered and said to him, What two olive trees these on the right of the lamp-stand and on its left? 

12   And I answered a second time and said to him, What the two clusters of olives which beside the two pipes of gold which are emptying from themselves the golden? 

13   And he spoke to me saying, Not do you know what these?  And I said, No my lord.

14 Then he said, these the two sons of fresh oil who are standing by the lord of all the earth. 

The lamp-stand makes a more sensible translation than the candlestick. Which is what I had suspected.  It's a menorah, right?  An iconic symbol of Judaism. You only get that inference indirectly in the KJV because of the plural "pipes" which makes little sense if you're talking about a candlestick. A candlestick doesn't have pipes (plural), a menorah does.

It also seems to me to make more sense with the olive trees reference succeeded by the clusters of olives reference, succeeded by the golden pipes reference.  Given that the Jewish Meschiach is referred to as The Branch, I think the KJV misses the point that The Branch is still at issue in this trifold progression. Yes, there are metaphorically two olive trees, yes there are metaphorically two clusters of olives, yes, there are metaphorically two golden pipes and yes, it can be successfully inferred, I think, (although I could be wrong) that the "golden" is both the oil from the clusters of olives and the pipes through which the oil passes.

The Branch, however, seems to me a much Larger Question.  Anointing oil seems to me a much Larger Question.  

I think the point of it is the compelled inference that I've personally drawn from the Gospels:  that the Synoptic Jesus and the Johannine Jesus are both "both emptying from themselves the golden _____".  Which implies an unknown noun which I infer is the respective teachings of their respective spirits as expressed through their respective ministries.  Two concepts which beggar the imagination to try and describe accurately (their teachings will transform the world) which is why, I infer, the noun is missing.  The noun expresses something of unimaginable value so the best that can be done in coming up with an adjective is "golden" or "gold".  But, a key point -- my personal inference and I'm the only one who believes this so, caveat emptor  -- is that the Synoptic Jesus occupies a place to the left (sinestram) of Judaism and the Johannine Jesus occupies a place to the right of Judaism (dextram). 

While I admire, in a way, the KJV's translators…enthusiasm…in leap-frogging to a "they're BOTH The Branch!  They're BOTH anointed!" conclusion, it seems to me to miss what I see as the implicit long-term lesson of Christianity:  you have to understand WHY the Johannine Jesus is on the right of Judaism, theologically, and why the Synoptic Jesus is on the left of Judaism, theologically.

They were both, I think, sons of FRESH oil.  Which is why it's odd, in a way, to me that the KJV completely overlooks the adjective.  And not odd in another way: if you don't "get" that The Branch is intentionally missing from the tree/clusters/pipes metaphor, then you really don't get how "fresh" this is.

Also, "lord of all the earth" is, I think, phrased specifically to allow the YHWH to, forensically, avoid blaspheming against God because it can be read as "lord of all the earth" or "lord of all, the earth" (my inference being that the YHWH IS the earth so, with the comma, it just means that the YHWH has jurisdiction over his/her/its self/selves. And since there is no punctuation in Hebrew, you're free to infer commas wherever it benefits you to do so).  "Lord of the whole earth", well only God is "Lord of the whole earth".  Which must have been gratifying for the YHWH.  The KJV translators will blaspheme against God on the YHWH's behalf so the YHWH doesn't have to!

I'm also forwarding my letters to Dr. Troy about the book THE GENESIS QUESTION which can be read as Commentaries and which segues into my Ezekiel Commentaries and then comes to an abrupt end when my wrist gave out in February of 2015.

And then if you want to run some Muslim commentaries, there's THE NECKLACE AND THE BURQA essay where I try to explain where I think the burqa came from.

Next Time: The Genesis Question thing...