Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Snowed Under

I'm still rather busy, so posting will continue to be uncharacteristically light for the next little while, though I do hope to get in some reviews soon, if nothing else. In the meantime, enjoy this little gem I found in issue 14 of Judges Guild's The Dungeoneer (November/December 1979), in which Paul Jaquays provides RQ stats for everyone's favorite barbarian aardvark.

20 comments:

  1. Ah, Cerberus. That was one B&W comic that had me alternately enthralled and befuddled.

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  2. Where are the stats for his creator's back and forth friendly arguments with Alan Moore?

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  3. I read Cerebus devoutly and consistently for a long time and enjoyed it immensely, but eventually the paranoid and misogynistic interludes by Dave Sim turned me off totally and I had to throw them down in disgust, never to look back--which is sad, because the art and general composition were getting just better and better while the meta-text got loonier and loonier.

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  4. Taketoshi - I finished the whole damned thing, and it was a painful slog through some seriously hateful stuff. It was definitely a shame, as those first four phonebooks are among the greatest comics ever produced.

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  5. @Taketoshi: Agreed. I collected everything from around the ending time of Church & State onward... but stopped actually reading around the time Sim started re-writing the bible. Man, I just couldn't slog through that. Too bad, because it was one of the most well-designed comics.

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  6. For what it's worth, Cerebus continues to improve by every technical standard up through the last issue; indeed #300 is gonna go down as one of the most impressive displays of comics craft in the medium's history, and a bit of a tearjerker to boot. The final arc, 'The Last Day,' is also very very funny and moving - and there's not too much unreadable Sim-proxy nonsense in it.

    'Latter Days' is a great book for much of its length, but the last section (Cerebus interprets the Pentateuch for Woody Allen) is (1) very funny and (2) unreadable.

    There's no real superhero stuff after 'Minds.' 'Guys' is lovely; 'Rick's Story' is darkly moving but a bit much-of-a-muchness.

    The whole series is worth reading, though I empathize with anyone blindsided by 'Reads.'

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  7. Wally:

    I made it even into "Going Home" before I had to give up--oddly enough, even when there were large swathes of silence, the sheer weight of his diatribes was oppressive. Sad to see such a wonderful comic be so damaged by its creator :(

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  8. Like others here I collected Cerberus for years (from issue 24) and slogged from issue 200 to the end at #300, at which point I threw the lot in the bin along with the collected volumes.

    What a waste and what a shame.

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  9. Oh, c'mon, guys. Sim doesn't hate women any more or less than most popular feminists hate men, which is a LOT - that is, hardcore feminists and anti-feminists seem to be equally deranged.

    And ain't equality what it's all about? So here's to Dave Sim! Three cheers for bringing balance to gender-directed hatred and craziness!

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  10. It's got nothing to do with the anti-feminist thing for me, it's the hundred issues of worthless crap at the end. He threw everything away in brushstrokes far too wide to carry any nuance worth having. If he had 200 issues-worth of comic, he should have done 200 issues and stopped.

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  11. @bigby:

    I have NEVER met a feminist that hates men the way the image of the feminist (largely a media construct) often depicts, and definitely never met a woman (even a victim of sexual assault or other gendered offense) as virulently antipathetic toward members of the opposite sex as Dave Sim is.

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  12. @Taketoshi I don't really have a dog in this fight, other than getting a little enjoyment from tweaking a nose or two when the odor of politics whiffs up in a thread.

    Personally, I think Sim is clearly bonkers, but I think the same thing about, say, Andrea Dworkin, who is nothing if not Dave Sim-like in her hatred of men.

    So, you know, get over it. Besides, if you want REAL misogyny, take a stroll through Burton's translation of 1001 Arabian Nights. It makes Sim's diatribes look like "can't we all just get along?" pamphlets.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go track down some Red Sonja comic books and Xena DVDs. You know, so I can empower the babes.

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  13. I'm fascinated by people's personal beliefs even if I don't agree with them. I remember one teacher giving me flak in school for reading Mein Kampf as if I was some sort of Nazi sympathizer (despite being an African-American male... yeah).

    In the mid-90s I was a HUGE fan of Bone and Cerebus and Sim and Smith, who were once friends, went back and forth at each others throats. Sim went on long tangents about the merits of self publishing (something I agree with completely) and some livid articles were started with Fantagraphics and The Comics Journal. It was all really fascinating and interesting stuff to read but its unfortunate that Cerebus' actual writing suffered as a result.

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  14. The "Dreaded Earth Pig Snout Punch" is only Strike Rank 8 and does a 1d3 hp? I say thee, nay!

    Honestly, I read the first few collections (before the phonebooks) that parodied Conan, Elric and Red Sonja. I busted a gut reading those as a teen. I lost interest after that.

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  15. Oh, c'mon, guys. Sim doesn't hate women any more or less than most popular feminists hate men, which is a LOT - that is, hardcore feminists and anti-feminists seem to be equally deranged.

    Incorrect, lazy, pathetic. I'll bet five dollars you have no idea - none at all - what 'popular feminists' actually write or believe, or who those 'popular' figures might be at this point.

    Sim apparently believes (roughly) that women are a vicious cosmic joke whose purpose is to bear children and obey/castrate men. His beliefs are partly the result of an ugly divorce, partly of a schizophrenic episode decades ago. He is not an 'anti-feminist,' despite his disingenuous claims on that score; he is a misogynist.

    Believing, say, that males tend, and are unfairly positioned in society, to enforce pro-male behavioral/conceptual norms isn't the same thing as - or remotely equivalent to - thinking all females are untrustworthy manipulators unless conditioned to behave like men (when not shutting the fuck up).

    Please, please don't live down to the 'clueless male RPG dork' stereotype, BLH.

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  16. It was all really fascinating and interesting stuff to read but its unfortunate that Cerebus' actual writing suffered as a result.

    Well, the story Sim chose to tell was worse than it otherwise would have been. Most of the writing was unbelievably strong up 'til the end! (The long history of Curly and the Three Stooges in 'Latter Days,' for instance, is breathtaking - and Sim makes no distinction between that loving history and the avant-garde layout experiments in the same volume. But a well-written screed is still a screed, y'know?)

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  17. I'll just echo what an earlier poster wrote. The first four books: Cerebus, High Society, Church & State I, and Church & State II are great and well worth seeking out. So really a third of Cerebus is amazing and what people love (roughly the first 100-110 issues). Two thirds of Cerebus is a mess that varies from flummoxing to fulminating(the last 200 issues). So it's kind of like the Matrix Trilogy in that respect.

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  18. I'd expand the list of "worth reading" to include Jaka's Story. It was kind of mindblowing for me as a teenager. But yeah, the solid gold stuff is mostly in the first hundred issues or so.

    Nagora, for what it's worth, he made a commitment back in the 80s to writing 300 issues, the story of Cerebus' whole life. He followed through with that, which is a pretty impressive artistic achievement. I, too, gave up around Reads, though, as I got sick of Dave's screeds.

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  19. Shim,
    I actually spent some time with Dave in London and he told me the story of how he had had a breakdown and imagined that he was floating over a landscape and on that landscape he saw Cerebus' life played out to the end. When he recovered, he set about making it happen.

    Which is great. Except that he told me he had originally planned to do 200 issues and later decided to do 300. My opinion is that somewhere along the line those extra 100 issues were added for no good reason.

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  20. I was a big-time Cerebus fan-boy back when I wrote this article about the Earthpig Born. Dave Sim's parodies of Conan, of Elric and Red Sonja, and even the Batman were hilarious. But then around the late 80s two things happened. 1) I became unemployed (and then self-employed) and having a family to support meant my comic book habit had to come to an end. 2) Cerebus had stopped being entertaining to me. Still love the earliest adventures, though.

    The stats are based around typical RQ character and monster stats. Cerebus (in 1979) was a solid fighter, but no superhuman. Rank is based on reach and reaction time. Short guy with a short weapon, in RQ terms, was not going to go first in fight.

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