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Re: [mythsoc] Re: Cerebus

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  • David S Bratman
    ... Sorry, I thought we explained that early on. It should be added, btw, that the name Cerebus started out, before the author assigned it to his barbarian
    Message 1 of 4 , May 9, 2003
      At 08:16 PM 5/8/2003 -0800, Ernest wrote:
      >On Thu, 08 May 2003 21:20:43 -0500, "Joan Marie Verba"
      ><verba001@...> said:
      >
      > > I've seen Marx Brothers movies, so I know about them, but what the heck
      > > is Cerebus? It's been discussed on this list for days without anyone
      > > specifying what it is, and everyone seems to presume we all know.

      Sorry, I thought we explained that early on. It should be added, btw, that
      the name Cerebus started out, before the author assigned it to his
      barbarian aardvark, as a typo for Cerberus.


      >notably the "Roach", a crazy fellow who turned up first as a generic
      >superhero

      No, his first incarnation was very specifically a parody of Batman. Sim
      said so in commentary, and it's pretty obvious from the details. Batman
      took the symbol of the bat to frighten superstitious criminals, and Sim
      parodies that cleverly:

      Roach (approaching a criminal): "I am ... the Cockroach!"
      Criminal: "Yaagh! I hate cockroaches!"
      Roach: "That's the whole idea, miscreant!"
      Cerebus (watching from the shadows, to himself): "Whole idea? Whole idea of
      _what_?"


      >The comic at its height, in two extended storylines called "High Society"
      >and "Church and State", was a fairly sophisticated satire on politics and
      >religion. Cerebus, a pretty dim bulb who wanted nothing more from life
      >than a bottomless supply of beer and a pile of gold to buy the beer with,
      >ended up President in the first storyline, and Pope in the second.

      Prime Minister, not President. Weisshaupt (a reference to the Bavarian
      Illuminati and latter-day conspiracy theories about the Illuminati and
      George Washington) was President. (Yeeks, I remember this too well.) Good
      summary of Cerebus's character, though. What made "Church and State" so
      interesting was that, after years of being manipulated by everyone around
      him, Cerebus, upon becoming Pope, was finally in a position where he could
      do exactly what he wanted and nobody could stop him. What he wanted to do
      was pretty appalling, and Sim presented it that way; which is why it's so
      strange that Sim soon became so appalling himself.


      >I don't know if I'd go so far as to call "Cerebus" even at its best Great
      >Art; I have reservations about calling Great any work of art that depends
      >so heavily on outside reference.

      "Cerebus" can be read without knowing the references. Tolkien also depends
      on outside references.

      A more serious problem, especially for beginners, is the internal
      references. The first collected volume of "Cerebus", before "High
      Society", contains some early work that's pretty hard to slog through, and
      there's no continuous storyline. I would have recommended that readers new
      to the book begin with "High Society", but there's so much in it, including
      the punchline at the end of the saga, that depends on knowing what happened
      earlier.

      - David Bratman
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