Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah

Essays on the Epic Graphic Satire of Dave Sim and Gerhard


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About the Book

In December 1977, struggling Canadian comic book artist Dave Sim self-published the first issue of Cerebus the Aardvark, a Conan the Barbarian satire featuring a foul-tempered, sword-wielding creature trapped in a human world. Over the next 26 years, Sim, and later collaborator Gerhard, produced an epic 6,000-page graphic novel, the longest-running English language comic series by a single creative team. They revolutionized the comics medium by showing other artists that they too could forgo major publishers, paving the way for such successes as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bone. This work, the first collection of critical essays on Cerebus, provides a multifaceted approach to Sim and Gerhard’s complex and entertaining oeuvre, including their innovative use of the comic medium, storytelling and satiric techniques, technical and visual sophistication, and Sim’s use of the comic as commentary on gender and religion.

About the Author(s)

Eric Hoffman, a poet and essayist, is the author of sixteen books and lives in Connecticut.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Eric Hoffman

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 238
Bibliographic Info: 75 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6889-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9032-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Preface      1
Introduction: Alone, Unmourned and Unloved – Eric Hoffman      5

Part One: A Map of Estarcion
Growing Complexity; or, the Cerebus Effect – Sebastian Domsch      65
Audacious Tenacity, Tenacious Audacity: Cerebus’ Grand (and Changing) Narrative Strategies – Eric Hoffman      77

Part Two: Ignore It, It’s Just Another Reality
“Does This Seem Right to You?” Stories Within Cerebus – David Groenewegen      97
Aardvarkian Intertexts and True Stories – Dominick Grace      103
“Why Certainly Dear Boy…” Incorporating Oscar Wilde into the Aardvark’s World – Gregory John Fink      118

Part Three: Becoming Synonymous with Something Indescribable
Seeing Sound – C.W. Marshall      127
Negative Space and Guttural Noise: Gerhard’s Psychological Reads – Sabin Calvert      148

Part Four: Mind Games
Testing the Limits of Genre/Gender – Dominick Grace      163
Anti-Feminist Aardvark? Gender, Subjectivity and Authorship – Isaac J. Mayeux      175
The Aardvark and the Beautiful Women: Male Sexuality and Gender Politics – Mario N. Castro      190

Part Five: Ye Booke of Sim
YHWH’s Story, or, How to Laugh While Reading “Chasing YHWH” and Still Have Enough Stamina for The Last Day – Edward M. Komara      199

Appendix: An Introduction to the Cerebus “Phonebooks” – Lenny Cooper      217
Bibliography      221
About the Contributors      225
Index      227