This week, on the Major Spoilers Podcast, the crew take a gander at the adventures of the Earth Pig as only Dave Sim could create in Cerebus, Volume 1.

Cerebus, Volume 1

This first volume, uniquely in the series, consists of one to three-issue storylines with only occasional back-references. Cerebus is introduced as an amoral barbarian mercenary, fighting (and betraying) for money and drinking it away. During his adventures, he encounters the warrior Pigts (whose religion reveres aardvarks) and the insane wizard Necross who turns himself into a giant stone Thrunk (a parody of The Thing). Most of the series’ prominent characters are introduced (or at least mentioned) in these issues, including Elrod of Melvinbone; Lord Julius; Artemis (a.k.a. The Roach); and Jaka. The series takes a sharp change in direction with issue #20 which is the first of the “Mind Games” issues that are a feature of the comic and introduces the philosophical Suenteus Po and the ultra-matriarchial Cirinists.

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  1. I actually read this volume (I think – if it’s the one before “Church & State” and the Oscar Wilde tribute, then it’s one I’ve read). Even though I read it years ago, I remember thinking it was actually pretty good. As a series, it wasn’t at the point where it was exploring philosophical or cultural issues, and it was well before Sims’ divorce & breakdown. The early stories struck me as well-done parodies of fantasy & comic book storytelling tropes, the art was lovely (both cartoony & detailed), and any series with a Groucho tribute character is okay in my book.

    If you consider yourself a serious comic person, I think people owe it to themselves to at least check out at least the early issues of this series. Sims’ reputation for irrational hatred of half the human species is deserved, but it wasn’t always the governing force in his work; when his work stood by itself, it was really quite good.

  2. Dave Sim’s epic CEREBUS has had my curiosity for a while, but two things keep me from breaking it open. Dave’s history as a misogynist, and 300 issues of a comic I probably don’t have the time to read.

    My comics POV does change, I kind of hope the “Trade of the Week” review makes me change my mind, since my only interaction with the Aardvark is when he crossed over with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

  3. Dave Sim attempted to tie this volume together (characters, events) with what followed in later volumes, particularly Mothers & Daughters. I’d be interested in hearing how well you think he accomplished this, given that the tone and content of the work changed considerably after his 1979 decision to go monthly and do 300 issues.

  4. theSuperAlbino on

    Cerebus, especially in it’s older days was some of the best damn comic books I’ve ever had the pleasure of skimming (Sadly I’ve never read any of the full trades.) Sim’s early work was brilliant because he wasn’t too high on himself to spread his, rather terrible, messages in the comics and just kept Cerebus a fun romp through the Swords & Sorcery genre. I wonder sometimes how well Cerebus would have done if it stayed in that niche it’s entire 300 issue run.

  5. Regarding “Dave’s history as a misogynist”…are you referring to the fiction made up about him because of his observations of Women, or are you referring to the fiction made up about him because of his switch from Liberal to Conservative politics, and from Agnosticism to Monotheism?

    Because the Dave Sim I’ve known for over two decades and who I’ve met in person on several occasions is NOT a misogynist.

    Back to the work itself…CEREBUS is a brilliant comic and well worth the time it takes to read through all 300 issues…Sim’s unedited and uncensored views on Politcs, Gender, and Religion can be quite raw at times, but his uncanny knack for nailing the Truth and sprinkling it with humor will keep you coming back for more.

    The first volume is really the story of Dave’s growth in his Art, and what starts out as cute and funny gets a little teeth the deeper it goes. And it only gets better and better, including the final run down the home stretch.

    I’m really looking forward to this podcast, it ought to be great!

  6. The first volume of Cerebus is well worth the read, despite it’s somewhat amateurish art and layout. Nevertheless, a close study will reveal rapid growth on the part of Sim the artist to go along with what were pretty well-formed strengths on the part of Sim the writer. And he all of volume one, as well as all of volume two were created without the aid of background artist extraordinaire Gerhard, who “arrived” around the time of issue #65.

    Volume One is a rewarding read, and not just for the great reply by Cerebus to Red Sophia (the Red Sonja parody) when she takes off her top to show him her ample assets and asks him, “What do you think about. . .these?” Such gags abound in these early issues and set the stage for some remarkable storytelling to come in the next 23 years or so.

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