Cerebus re-read 2015–2016: Church & State I

Category : Uncategorized · (2) Comments · by Nov 26th, 2015

cerebus_v3Many years ago, when I first saw Dave on that “Masters of Comic Book Art” VHS, the Church & State storyline had either just finished or was wrapping up soon. As such, a large part of (my memory of) the documentary focused on that storyline. The idea of a comic about a 3-foot aardvark becoming a prime minister and then the pope almost blew my 11-year old mind, after it had atrophied from years of reading about superheroes. It seemed such a unique and interesting idea, and of course Dave described his creation so persuasively that I asked for Volume 1 for Christmas that year. When I finally made it up to Volume 3 (C&S I), I was so excited to read what I had been pulled in by, and boy did Dave make good on his promise. This volume also sees Gerhard join Dave in issue #65, providing backgrounds and boosting the artistic quality by some measurement that I can’t even fathom. Gerhard would stick it out until the conclusion of the series with issue #300 as part of one of the greatest artistic collaborations of all time.

After Cerebus loses the title of Prime Minister of Iest, he travels through New Sepra, writing his memoirs, which are some of the funniest things I’ve ever read and very true to character. Dave really had this little guy figured out by this point. He then stays as a houseguest of Countess Michelle while he continues to write. Weisshaupt reappears (he’s known Michelle for some time) and reveals that he’s finally gotten the support of the city-states bordering the Feld River to join as the United Feldwar States, with Weisshaupt as President. He wants Cerebus to reassume leadership of Iest, but Cerebus has had enough of politics. Cerebus and Michelle’s relationship takes a downward slide due to outside influences and Cerebus heads off on a bender. He awakens the next morning to find that Weisshaupt has drugged him, and that he got married to Red Sophia (from issue #3) while under the influence. As he can’t divorce her without some…difficulty, he agrees to Weisshaupt’s terms and returns to Iest to stand as a puppet Prime Minister.

During his time in office, Cerebus is called to visit the pontiff of the Eastern Church of Tarim, who is assassinated before his eyes, seemingly for being a Cirinist. Bishop Powers demands that Weisshaupt supply a candidate for the next pontiff, but Weisshaupt and Powers clearly hate one another, and Weisshaupt plays coy on the issue. Powers’ hand is forced and he tries to get one over on Weisshaupt by nominating Cerebus.

cerebus_v3-1Normally, the pontiff of the Eastern Church would reside in Iest’s upper city, but Cerebus has other plans and holes up in a hotel on the side of the tower upon which the upper city sits. He begins referring to himself as “Most Holy,” hires a couple of bodyguards (Bear and Boobah), and becomes drunk on power—an acquired taste from his Prime Minister days, and a quality that sees him descend from a crotchety talking animal to a bit of a reprehensible monster.  He regularly climbs to the roof of his hotel to address his followers by telling them that Tarim is not pleased with them, and alerts them that if they don’t bring all their gold to Cerebus, that Tarim will destroy the world. This works predictably well, and Cerebus amasses quite a stock of gold. He also throws babies across the courtyard and kicks old men off the roof, both as some sort of lesson about life. Red Sophia eventually leaves him due to his behavior, and Cerebus calls for Jaka. She arrives at the hotel and reveals that she’s now married and pregnant. Cerebus tries to get her to leave with him, but she declines, feeling a duty to her child and husband. She returns to the lower city, and Cerebus gets word that Weisshaupt is dying. Cerebus goes to see him and in some of his last words, Weisshaupt reveals that there are two other aardvarks in Estarcion, and that he sees in a near-death vision that Cerebus, not Weisshaupt, is truly the chosen one. Cerebus returns to the hotel, and is confronted by the giant stone Thrunk (really a sorcerer who had implanted his consciousness in a huge statue in issue #13), who appoints himself the new pope, and chucks Cerebus down the tower into the lower city.

The characters and events in this book are extremely important to the rest of the series. The most valuable piece of information is that Cerebus may actually be somehow special, aside from being a short grey aardvark in a world of humans. Weisshaupt’s deathbed vision foreshadows, though not entirely accurately, some events and revelations that will take place in volumes 7–10. Jaka continues to be an influential presence in Cerebus’ life, which will come to a bit of a head in volume 5, and again in volumes 13–14. This is also the beginning of the “Something Fell” theme, which crops up again and again, but is unfortunately never fully explained. This volume also marks the return of supernatural forces unseen since the earlier days of Cerebus (if you don’t count the Regency Elf). Between the ghost of Charles X. Claremont inhabiting the body of the Roach (I just realized I haven’t covered this character yet. In a nutshell, he’s a whackjob who fancies himself a superhero, either choosing a new identity or having it chosen for him roughly each volume. He’s very easily manipulated and stands in as a parody of superhero comics. In this volume he is the Wolverroach, a pawn of Weisshaupt’s), the Big Round Glowing White Strange Thing, and the resulting ability of Cerebus’ to shoot fire from his snout when he sneezes, there’s plenty of fantasy elements to go around.


This is the volume that I think Dave started to become a bit of a graphic designer. His layouts (especially page 1 splashes) became way more stylish, and his typography and lettering were even more so. He began to use typesetting in addition to hand lettering, which lent an appealing crispness to many kitchen-based sound effects, and his sense of scale, position, and negative space were very pleasing to the eye. He also had gotten much better at drawing women by this point, something that I think had been a bit of a struggle for him in previous volumes. In High Society, Astoria could often be off model, depending on what angle he was drawing her from, but he’s a lot more confident at this point with Sophia and Jaka. His skill at drawing characters would only improve as time went on now that he had teamed up with Gerhard and could take his mind off of backgrounds.

cerebus_v3-2Dave and Gerhard met at a party at Gerhard’s, where Dave saw some of Ger’s art and asked him if he’d like to collaborate on some color short stories that Dave had been approached to create for Epic. They turned out well, so Dave asked if he’d like to come on board for the monthly series, and the rest is history. Gerhard would go on to beautifully illustrate Estarcion around Dave’s characters. It’s a wonder to me that he never wound up with any sort of repetitive stress injury, as his work is so intricate and full of precise crosshatching and tone—you’d think he would have at least cramped up a lot. His work added immense depth to the world of Cerebus and as I mentioned before, turned a great comic into something truly extraordinary. His contribution cannot be understated. The “Odd Transformations” issues (below) were an exceptional piece of work, as it required Cerebus to interact with the landscape, so it was the first true test of this working relationship, and it paid off quite nicely. Church & State II would see further strengthening of this partnership and the levels of quality reached were as high as the moon.


Top Moments
Cerebus writing a sizable passage about Lord Julius’ leadership style, and concluding it with “He also has a painted-on mustache instead of a real one.”

Cerebus: “What did you say your name was…?”
Posey: “Archbishop Posey—just like the flower m-HUH m-HUH…I hope my base levity doesn’t offend you, Most Holy…”

“Spike’s a good dog…”

Next: That farmer guy from the “wuffa wuffa wuffa” issue

Cerebus trying to sneeze fire on Sophia’s mother only to have the power fail him at the last second.

For those who want to read along, the entire series is available as a digital download at Cerebus Downloads.


Cerebus re-read 2015–2016: High Society

Category : Uncategorized · (1) Comment · by Nov 19th, 2015

cerebus_v2I always think of High Society as one of my favorite graphic novels of all time, but I’m always surprised by how incredibly dense it is each time I read it. I know the story well, but whenever I turn the final page, I invariably feel the need to sit for a moment, frazzled by how much actually happens within its 512 pages. This only took me three evenings to get through, but looking back on it, it nearly feels like I read it in real-time, like some political satire version of 24. Chief among the reasons for this feeling is Dave Sim’s astronomical increase in writing skill and ambition, which payed off gloriously. To go from (as I said last post) a pretty solid 5-part story at the end of the first phonebook to this 25-issue classic behemoth is nothing short of astounding, and if Dave had stopped here, he would have been assured mythical status as it is. But instead, he had a bad acid trip leading into a stay in hospital, during which he concluded that Cerebus should run for 300 issues, ending in 2004. And thank Tarim for that, because High Society is a portrait of a writer/artist who would only get better with age.

The story begins with Cerebus entering the city-state of Iest after some to-do with an artist and collector chap, who Cerebus guilted into giving up a sack full of treasure. He stops in at the Regency hotel and is completely baffled by the extremely warm reception: free room and food, and a number of people offering him money. He soon learns that he still holds his post in Palnu (run by Lord Julius), and as such, is the ranking diplomatic representative of that city-state while in Iest. Cerebus finds, after enjoying the good life for a while, that he must defend his position to keep himself in finery as Lord Julius intends to replace him with Elrod the Albino—a much more charismatic face for Julius’ government. Cerebus inexplicably finds himself under the wing of a woman named Astoria, who begins helping him dig himself out of some debt he incurred during an earlier ill-fated scheme, helping him earn some money of his own, and helping him try to beat Elrod. Astoria’s motivations are obscured for now, but she proves to be an extremely adroit political mind. While Cerebus ultimately loses the RDR election, Astoria recognizes that Cerebus is a near shoo-in for the post of Prime Minister of Iest and shifts him in that direction. What follows is a whirlwind campaign, in which Cerebus and his cronies travel around Iest’s districts in a bid to guarantee votes for the election. Julius is having none of it and backs a goat (yes, the farm animal) for the position. It’s not particularly subtle, but Dave does a great job of satirizing the political world by making it a pretty damn good fight. Cerebus eventually wins, but is almost immediately beset by his “Six Crises” as he attempts to invade neighboring city-states.

cerebus_v2-2In the first book, Cerebus is drugged and winds up falling in love with a tavern dancer named Jaka. When the drugs wear off, he forgets about her, but she swears to wait for him. As he becomes more powerful in Iest, Jaka is finally able to find him. He tries to show off how powerful he has become, and invites her to live with him, at the same time as accusing her of showing up looking for a handout. It turns out Jaka has actually arrived in order to give Cerebus a gift. He treats her so shabbily that she decides to leave rather than stay with him. She shows up one more time near the end of the book, during Cerebus’s Six Crises. She pleads with him to come away with her, to save himself from an invading force, but Cerebus views this as cowardice and responds to her pleas with aggression. She knows why he must stay at his post, but leaves in tears. Cerebus’ relationship with Jaka will be a defining point of the series as it goes along, characterizing many of Cerebus’ motivations, as we’ll soon see.

Artistically, Dave really sharpens his skills in this book. Cerebus’ look becomes much more polished, though it’s around this time that people (non-readers of the comic, not characters in the book) begin to mistake him for a pig or a hippo, based on the way that Dave begins drawing him. It’s very clear that Dave has gotten pretty tired of drawing backgrounds by now, as most of the action that happens in Cerebus’ room at the Regency is set against a solid black background. While this was pragmatic on Dave’s part, it’s a pretty good solution to the problem. It implies a definite mood for the scenes set there and also sets up some mystery. Cerebus supposedly has seven rooms at the Regency, but we don’t ever see a clear layout of his space. Aside from that, there’s still some fantastic backgrounds (though none as breathtaking as Gerhard’s depiction of the Regency Hotel on the cover of the collection—he joined Dave before these books were collected in this format, and was able to contribute to the covers of the books that he hadn’t worked on initially).

An extremely important aspect of High Society‘s art is Dave’s attention to lettering, which begins to show the first signs of his road to mastery. The way that he implies inflection and tone is second to none, though it’s still nascent in this book. But you can get a sense of how good he is: bold, italic, underlined, vertically and horizontally stretched text and the shape and decoration of word bubbles all mean something different and the thing is, that he’s so good at this that there’s never any doubt as to what he’s trying to convey, even at this early stage of his development. I’ve always been a little irked at superhero comics because the words their letterers choose to embolden are not necessarily the ones that would be stressed in normal speech, but are instead just whatever verbs or proper nouns happen to be lying around in the sentence! It gives one a real sense of disorientation when reading, and something that Dave avoids, creating the most natural and readable dialogue I’ve ever read.

cerebus_v2-1Story-wise, the book sets up a lot more aspects that will become incredibly important down the line. One thing that struck me in particular is Cerebus’ reference to having studied sorcery with Magus Doran in his youth. This is the first time we hear of this, and it is something that characterizes the book through its 300 issues. We learn bits and pieces about Cerebus as we go, in the same way we would with an actual person in our lives. This strengthens Dave’s goal of depicting the life story of a character, warts and all. The only person that we know everything about is ourselves. Why would it be any different for a character we read about? More importantly, however, we learn a bit more about both the Church of Tarim and the battle between Cirinism and Kevillism in this book (actually, most of these aspects are learned in one issue through a conversation between Cerebus and the Illusionist Suenteus Po) We will learn in a later volume that Astoria is a Kevillist, and she finally, near the end of the book, reveals to Cerebus why she stuck with him for so long: she believed that Republicanism (Cerebus’ political platform) would eventually lead to the right for women to vote. The struggle between Cirinism and Kevillism will play out very subtly over the next few volumes, and it shows a fantastic sense of control on Dave’s part that he didn’t reveal too much too early. In fact, one great thing I can say about Dave is that he never really fell victim to one of the main pitfalls of fantasy (and sci-fi) authors, that of world-building at the expense of story. And such a story, there is too…up next, Church & State, Volume I.

Top Moments
“Famous the Aardvark”

Cerebus: What about your own little group?”
Po: “The Illusionists? We’re not really a major force of any kind. More of a discipline, as I told you, for exchanging information.”
Cerebus: “Sort of a psychic social club.”
Po: “I’m not sure I like your tone.”
Cerebus: “You don’t have to sound so offended. Cerebus just finds it a little hard to believe that you carry around all these complex analyses of Estarcion politics just so you can chit-chat about it with your friends.”

“Dash it all—it’s getting to the point where a ranking diplomatic representative can’t play an uninterrupted game of wickets with his elf!”

“Cerebus can’t talk right now…Cerebus is sketching a TREE!”

“I honestly don’t want to vote in a goat for Prime Minister. At the same time, at least I know what a goat is…you tell me that’s an aardvark and I have to take your word for it…”

For those who want to read along, the entire series is available as a digital download at Cerebus Downloads.

There is also a major effort to restore the artwork of the series and release new phonebooks with the results. We’re moving right along, but the process requires a lot of man-hours and other resources, so if you’d like to help out, you can at Kickstarter.


Cerebus Primer for Skipping the First Phonebook

Category : Uncategorized · No Comments · by Nov 16th, 2015

cerebus_v1The graphic novel Cerebus begins in the early 1400s on a continent called Estarcion, which is a very rough analog for Europe. Though it is set in this time period, it is also in some sort of a time/fantasy warp in which technological and ideological advances take place at an increased rate. As such, the story begins in the northern lands of Estarcion, where Cerebus makes a living as a swordsman mercenary, taking odd jobs like protecting wizards’ daughters or fighting alongside barbarian armies against supernatural forces. By the end of the series, guns and airships have been invented.

The comic itself began as a parody mashup of Conan the Barbarian and Howard the Duck (sword and sorcery genre meets funny animal in human environment genre). By the time High Society came around in 1979 with issue #26, it began to take on an identity of its own, featuring a rich sense of satire and political insight. The comic continued until March 2004, concluding with issue #300, and spanning 6,000 pages it total. The conclusion was an occasion that was planned well in advance by Cerebus’ creator, Dave Sim, starting around the time that he began High Society. He had planned to depict an entire life story as a reaction against superhero comics in which characters never aged or experienced any permanent consequences a result of their actions. In this case, the protagonist would be a foul-tempered but resourceful and cunning three-foot aardvark.

Cerebus, having grown up in the poor northern land of Isshuria, spent most of his twenties as a mercenary, and has a mind only for money and ale. The quest for these drive him almost completely. Through the first 25 issues, he happens across many colorful characters as he travels through Estarcion as a mercenary with his mind on his goals.

Red Sophia: A parody of Red Sonja, Sophia is a buxom swordswoman with a wizard father named Henrot. Despite the fact that Sophia can clearly take care of herself, Henrot hires Cerebus to avenge Sophia’s honor, after it was besmirched by an asthmatic. She irritates Cerebus completely, with her incessant discussion of trivial subjects and her valley girl personality. Cerebus winds up leaving her with the besmircher, but their paths cross again a few issues later when she convinces Cerebus to help her steal the Black Lotus, a powerful magical artifact.

Elrod of Melvinbone: An albino swordsman with a penchant for showing up at inconvenient times and scuppering Cerebus’ plans. He is excruciatingly annoying and dense, though his opinion of himself is quite lofty. He is convinced that Cerebus is merely a child in a rabbit costume. He feels it is his duty to take Cerebus under his wing and guide him. He is a mashup parody of Senator Claghorn, a radio character who was also the inspiration for Foghorn Leghorn, and Elric of Melniboné, a sword and sorcery character created by Michael Moorcock.

Bran Mac Mufin: Bran belongs to and leads a subterranean race called the Pigts, who live under the Red Marches and worship a clay statue that looks exactly like Cerebus. They hail him as the reincarnation of their god-king. Cerebus dislikes this, having thought he was entirely unique. He weighs the pros and cons of ruling the Pigts, but decides that being one-of-a-kind is far more important. He destroys the statue while the Pigts sleep and escapes into the night.

The Conniptins/King K’Cor: Cerebus finds himself leading an army of ineffectual warriors called the Conniptins. He leads them to Imesh, where he lived as a youth, taking lessons in magic from Magus Doran. Imesh has since fallen under the rule of K’Cor, who keeps the citizens drugged and happy while he forces them to build a huge structure in the middle of the walled city.

Necross the Mad/Giant Stone Thrunk: Cerebus meets an evil sorcerer named Necross, who, after being killed by an arrow, transfers his consciousness into a giant orange stone statue who he has named Thrunk. He is more than vexed when he realizes he is stuck in his tower and can’t escape. Cerebus leaves through a window.

The Roach: Beginning his tenure in the comic as a parody of Batman, the Roach is a demented former merchant of magical paraphernalia who also has a tendency to show up at VERY inconvenient times. In his first appearance, Cerebus sells him the Black Lotus that he acquired after double-crossing Red Sophia. The Roach later has a hand causing Cerebus to lose a fortune in gold coins as well as his sword. He was last seen in the guise of Captain Cockroach (a parody of Cap. America), with Elrod as his sidekick, Bunky. Throughout the series, he takes on many other personalities, mostly parodies of popular contemporary comic characters.

Lord Julius: The leader of the City-State of Palnu, the richest area in all of civilized Estarcion. He is a parody of Groucho Marx and runs his country as such. His belief is that if you are the only one that knows how things work, nobody can supplant you. Cerebus works for Lord Julius briefly as his “Kitchen Staff Supervisor (really Head of Security),” and as a result, is the Ranking Diplomatic Representative of Palnu when he arrives at the Regency Hotel in Iest (a city-state to the northeast of Palnu) at the beginning of High Society. Due to the fact that he had resigned his post, Cerebus is quite understandably confused when people treat him as a person of great import.

Jaka: In issue #6, Cerebus is relaxing in a tavern and is drugged by some cultists looking to harness his skills for their own ends. The drug has an unintended effect though, when Cerebus ignores the cultists and instead falls in love with Jaka, the tavern dancer on duty. They make plans to go away together and live a life of luxury and apricot brandy. The plans are dashed when the drug wears off and Cerebus returns to his old, hard self. He does not recognize Jaka, though she is convinced that he will remember her and tells him that she will wait for that day. We also find out as Cerebus is leaving Palnu that Jaka is Lord Julius’ niece.

Adam Weisshaupt: Weisshaupt has plans to unite the city-states bordering the Feld River under his banner of The United Feldwar States. Things don’t go as planned, but Weisshaupt shows himself to be charming, highly intelligent, and devious. Cerebus ditches him to save his own skin after a plan backfires thanks to Elrod and the Roach.

Theresa/Charles X. Claremont/The Artist Chap: Cerebus finds himself recuperating after an injury to his leg causes him to collapse near a house in the middle of nowhere. There, he is tended to by Madame DuFort and her three charges Theresa, Janet, and Katrina. It is later revealed that DuFort is actually a man named Charles X. Claremont, who is secretly making use of the girls’ energy to give life to a creature he has created and calls Woman Thing. After healing, Cerebus accompanies Claremont on a mission of revenge, but they come across an artist chap’s castle, and find that he has a swamp monster of his own, Sump Thing. As the two creatures battle, Claremont is crushed under them as their brawl becomes swampy lovemaking. The artist chap gives Cerebus a sack of treasure as recompense for the death of Cerebus’ “friend.” This is the final event before High Society.


Cerebus re-read 2015–2016: Cerebus

Category : Uncategorized · No Comments · by Nov 15th, 2015

cerebus_v1As I open volume 1 of my favorite work of sequential art, I’m instantly transported by the smell of the pages to Christmas 1995, when I first received the book. I was 11 at the time, having just seen Dave Sim’s segment on the “Masters of Comic Book Art” documentary. Among all the other people interviewed, Dave struck a chord with me as I was beginning to outgrow the spandex sector of the comics market and was looking for something more adult, involved, and complex. I asked for the first phonebook (the colloquial name for the collected volumes, as a reference to their size), and as I read through the first 25 issues of this highly unique comic, I realized I had hit the mark.

The comic itself began in December 1977 as a parody mashup of Conan the Barbarian and Howard the Duck (“sword and sorcery” genre meets “funny animal in human environment” genre). By the time High Society came around in 1979 with issue #26, it began to take on a life of its own, with a rich sense of satire and political insight. The comic continued until March 2004, concluding with issue #300. This was an occasion that was planned well in advance by the creator, Dave Sim, around the time that he began High Society. He had planned to depict an entire life story as a reaction against superhero comics of the time in which characters never aged or had any long-lasting effects affect them as a result of their actions. In this case, the protagonist would be a foul-tempered, but resourceful and cunning three-foot aardvark. Cerebus spans 6,000 pages in total and is one of the longest sustained narratives by a single creative team (Though, when the series began, Gerhard had not yet joined Dave as background artist. It’s clear from the onset that Dave didn’t really need Gerhard, as he was a fairly capable background artist at the time. However, I’m glad the two finally hooked up, because Ger’s contribution transformed an outstanding comic into actual magic. We’ll see more on this in the Church & State volumes).

Cerebus is set in the 1400s-1600s on a fictional continent called Estarcion, which basically plays as an analog for Europe. Though it is set in this time period, it is also in some sort of a time/fantasy warp in which technological and ideological advances take place at an increased rate. As such, the story begins in the northern lands of Estarcion, where Cerebus makes a living as a mercenary, sometimes making money by taking odd jobs like protecting wizards’ daughters or by fighting alongside barbarian armies against supernatural forces. By the end of the series, airships have been invented.

This is my fourth re-read of the series, and I’m always struck by how much mythology Dave sets up right from the beginning. Characters met even in the first 6 issues become highly important later down the line, and it seems that not only the names of many of the more important cities in Estarcion are set in stone, but also their style of government and the dispositions of their citizens. This is doubly impressive when one stops to consider that Dave was able to flesh this mythology out for 26 years.

Cerebus looks pretty different here at the beginning, as Dave was still developing his style. He also speaks and reacts to situations a little differently. This is Cerebus before ambitious political minds found him an easy pawn in their game, and so Cerebus comes off as much more self-reliant, intelligent and resourceful. At this point, he’s only interested in money and ale. Later down the line, he’ll also become interested in power (an idea introduced to him by President Weisshaupt), and this will make him much easier to manipulate.

Dave starts getting ambitious fairly early on in terms of creating longer story arcs. The first 7 issues are pretty much stand-alone stories, but then he starts in on 2 and 3-parters, and what I would consider to be a solid 5 parter leading into High Society (a 25-parter). The most important thing is how well these play out as stories. Dave’s writing is so fluid and natural, you really wouldn’t think that he was relatively new to this kind of work. I’d consider Cerebus’ discussion with the T’Gitans over how to overrun the city-state of Palnu as some of the best dialogue writing in comics ever. He’s also clearly a top comic mind, as his writing for Lord Julius (a Groucho Marx parody) will attest. To be able to write in the voice and comic style of another comedian must be extremely difficult, but Dave executes his skill with great efficiency. Not only is he writing new Groucho Marx jokes, you can actually imagine Groucho saying this stuff. It’s incredible.

The art, too, is quite stunning, and only gets more so (very quickly, I might add). I don’t know if there’s really a sense of what Dave’s full potential was, especially with lettering, but his art here is miles above many, many artists that get work with The Big Two, even now. I mentioned before Dave’s background drawing proficiency, and that was no offhand comment. He obviously gets sick of it by High Society and hired Gerhard a little later, but there are some beautiful snow-capped landscapes and buildings in this first volume. The scene in which Cerebus confronts Lord Julius’ would-be assassin (pg 308 in the phonebook) is a great example of Dave’s sense of perspective and ability to draw man-made structures. Another fantastic example is the splash on page 1 of issue 21 (pg 435 for those reading along in the phonebooks). Dave’s attention to detail here has him drawing carriage tracks in the snow in front of Cerebus sitting on a sidewalk bench, with a snow-covered Beduin looming in the distance.

I often have newcomers make up their own mind on whether they want to skip this volume as it’s a little slow-going at the very beginning for those who want something bigger right away, and not entirely essential to the larger story—but I think I’m starting to re-evaluate that position. Up next is High Society, in which everything set up in this volume begins to pay off.

For those who want to read along, the entire series is available as a digital download at Cerebus Downloads.

There is also a major effort to restore the artwork of the series and release new phonebooks with the results. We’re moving right along, but the process requires a lot of man-hours and other resources, so if you’d like to help out, you can at Kickstarter.