Thursday, August 20, 2009
Little Did We Know
I don't know if anyone suspected when they opened up the first issue what they were getting into. In fact I'm almost positive that Dave Sim didn't know what he'd begun. Before actually getting into the books themselves a few things need explaining. Cerebus was not the first graphic novel, and it was not the first independently published comic, but it was close in both respects.
Dave was an artist and writer who occasionally worked at a local comic book store to earn money. Like most aspiring artists he wanted to make his living at it, so decided to do at least 3 issues of his own book, at worst he would have an example of his work to put in his folio when he went looking for employment in his chosen field.
Back then (late 1970's) hardly anyone published independently, Tim Berners-Lee had not yet invented the internet and you couldn't buy a 'Independent Comic Book Publishing for Dummies' book either, so Dave was flying blind. The name of the character is evidence of this, it was meant to be Cerberus, but Dave's former wife (Deni Loubert) made a spelling error, by the time they picked it up it had already been sent to the printer so the name was left as Cerebus, which I think sounds better in any case, and is unique, unlike the original name from the mythical three headed dog that guards the gates of Hades (of course all Harry Potter fans know that the dogs real name is Fluffy). Cerebus began as a funny animal parody of Conan the Barbarian and an homage to the legendary Conan artist Barry Windsor Smith, what it later became was something very different, which will be shown as you travel with me through Cerebus' story.