Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thoughts on Cerebus

I'm reading, for the second time, the entire Cerebus run. This time, with the help of the Cereb.uswiki to keep all the characters and stuff straight. As of today, I'm halfway through Church and State, left on the cliffhanger. Here is a collection of thoughts on this re-read.

Sim's art improves considerably over the course of a mere 25 issues, but his inherent skills as a cartoonist, specifically a cartoonist, are apparent even from the first issue. Regardless of the man's current reputation, his art is lovingly made. Panel layouts, establishing shots, facial expressions, action, and even speech-balloons are detailed with care and a keen eye for coherency, a word not normally associated with the man.

Once I had finished reading Latter Days, I wrote a letter to Sim, who replied by writing on my letter itself. He directed me to read a bunch of stuff closer, and to be a better reader, but in a more polite way than that. Soon after this, Sim vowed to only read letters written by people who signed an agreement stating Sim wasn't a misogynist. Suffice it to say that I did not reply to Sim, and I will not. Ever.

An underrated aspect of the first 150 issues of Cerebus is the sheer complexity of plans the supporting cast get involved with. It's hard to follow Lord Julius' inspired plans from one point to another, but he ultimately has one. Julius reminds me of Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker: he contends that he never has a plan, but it becomes increasingly clear that there is a very subtle and cohesive plan lurking beneath the apparent insanity. It's not just Julius' plans that are amazingly convoluted: Astoria, Weisshaupt, Bishop Powers, and even Cerebus himself (well sometimes...) have great plans. 

Issues 74 and 75 are absolutely perfect. They're essentially a long conversation between Cerebus and Jaka, in which Jaka's marriage is revealed, the pregnancy as well. Cerebus' love for Jaka is so heartwrenching and tender. Sim makes the issues fly by with perfect pacing and fantastic use of suspense. One has to admire the long term planning, as well, considering this sets up the terrific Jaka's Story arc.

I will probably post another Thoughts on Cerebus as I continue to make my way through. We're not at the hard part yet. Currently, Cerebus is a joy to read. It's not until Reads and Minds that I start to get bogged down. We'll see how it reads the second time ever.

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