Friday, August 21, 2009

Swords of Cerebus #1 cont: Captive in Boreala, Song of Red Sophia, Death's Dark Tread

When the first issue was a modest success Dave suddenly realised he had to do another one. The other one was Captive in Boreala, introducing readers to an often mentioned, but rarely seen country in Cerebus' version of the Hypborean world. Another very Conan-esque setting, not surprising, as Dave was admittedly a huge fan of Conan artist Barry Windsor-Smith. It was in this issue that we first saw how Cerebus used his unique physiology to best much larger opponents, that he had a ruthless streak; stabbing a beaten opponent, although this was played for laughs. Cerebus' true avarice came to the fore. In the first 50 - 100 issues of the book the driving force for Cerebus was money, it later became power, but only because power made money. Like the first issue it was open ended. The story could be continued, but it had been neatly ended.

While working on issue #2 Dave had decided that he would parody Red Sonja in the 3rd issue. Red Sonja was rather like a female Conan. The best known version of Red Sonja was created by Roy Thomas and Dave Sim’s hero Barry Windsor-Smith, although they adapted the character from one created by Conan creator Robert E Howard; Red Sonya of Rogatino. Due to her penchant for wearing a chain mail bikini to almost cover her ample assets Red Sonja always proved very popular with the legions of fanboys out there. Dave decided to call his version of the character Red Sophia. She looked exactly the same, it was her behaviour that was different. The original was fiercely independent, great with a sword and refused to lie with a man unless he could defeat her in single combat. Red Sophia was somewhat dim witted, she followed the same rule that she would only lie with a man who could defeat her in combat, but at heart she was a self centred, Daddy’s girl (her father was a powerful and wealthy wizard) who thought of little else other than her next sexual conquest. The fact that Cerebus could not have been less interested in her was one of the attractions to the aardvark. Cerebus gratefully finished his mission with her, left her with her former boyfriend, collected his fee from her father and moved on to his next story. Sophia would become a recurring character in the books early days.

Although Dave had never read one of Michael Moorcock’s Elric novels, he was aware of them and that was the spark for issue #4 Deaths Dark Tread. Dave decided to do a version Moorcock’s albino warrior, only this was one was called Elrod of Melvinbone and he spoke like Foghorn Leghorn, he was also completely incompetent. It’s no secret that particularly in the early days of Cerebus Dave was a regular user of marijuana and LSD, he never states it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was high when he conceived Elrod. Despite not having read Moorcock’s books fans of them told him that he had nailed the character. To Cerebus, Elrod is an annoyance. Cerebus can’t stand him and somehow Elrod always seems to have the knack of spoiling Cerebus’ plans. He also became a recurring character and was very popular with fans. He never seemed to lose the belief that Cerebus was just a kid in a bunny suit.

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