Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Petuniacon...Day Two

Cerebus is dreaming about trying to sketch potato salad, Jaka comes to him and then screams: “Aren’t you dressed yet?” Apparently it’s time for another day of fun and games at the Con.

Day 2 seems to be panel day. Cerebus has been signed up for 2 panels, where he will debate Elrod and the representatives will decide on who they want as the ranking diplomatic representative. The first panel features Lord Julius and King K’cor (the unethical King of Imesh from issue #9) as well as the two candidates. Lord Julius spends most of his time ducking questions and answering them without actually saying anything. K’cor is remarkably blunt and Lord Julius warms to his method of operating. Elrod takes every possible opportunity to insult Cerebus and has the crowd eating out of his hand. Cerebus barely gets a word in edgewise.

After a short break Cerebus appears on another panel. It seems to be the same as the first one with the only difference being that Lord Julius assistant; Baskin is one of the panellists. The format is much the same with everyone, including Baskin and K’cor, taking aim at Cerebus. No one notices the aardvark’s mounting anger and Cerebus himself can see any hope he has of remaining the ranking diplomatic representative disappearing. One of the things that is really annoying Cerebus is the continual belief by everyone that Elrod is this brilliant swordsman. From previous experience with the albino Cerebus knows that Elrod has trouble even holding onto his sword, let alone besting someone who knows how to use one in combat.

After a conversation with one of The Regency’s senior staff, where the man all but says goodbye to Cerebus as a guest, underlining the strong belief that Cerebus will not win the election, Cerebus goes to the Oak Room to brood. While he’s sitting there at the lectern he becomes angered by the unfairness of the situation and smashes the lectern into splinters. He reappears in the main hall, where everyone is fawning over Elrod. Cerebus isn’t wearing his suit. He’s dressed in his black vest and medallions, his sword is in his hand. He challenges Elrod to a duel. The albino wants somewhere to hide. He knows that Cerebus is capable of cutting him to ribbons, at the very best he’ll be exposed as a fraud, at worst he’ll wind up very dead. He is saved by Astoria demanding that Cerebus attend her.

An angry Cerebus storms out, telling Astoria that this is the only way he can hold onto his position. She tells him that he may kill Elrod, but will be lynched by his admirers. Cerebus is angry enough that he’s prepared to take that chance. Astoria then goes on to inform Cerebus that if he takes that course of action he won’t be able to run for Prime Minister. That stops him in his tracks. Astoria is prepared to concede the position of ranking diplomatic representative, she will let Elrod and the current Prime Minister run Iest into financial ruin and then run Cerebus for Prime Minister. Cerebus still wants to cut Elrod into bite sized pieces until Astoria begins to list the advantages of being Prime Minister, it’s an attractive package. Even then when she tells Cerebus that he has to withdraw his challenge and admit that Elrod is the superior swordsman he’s prepared to toss it all away for his pride until he finds out about the military power that the Prime Minister of Iest has at his disposal. He agrees to stand down, but has to find some way of alleviating his frustration. The final page is Cerebus arranging a major brawl at the Rams Lords Tavern (High Society) and charging it to Astoria.

I still hadn’t recovered from The Night Before and seeing echoes of it in Cerebus dream at the start of this chapter didn’t help. Once again there were echoes of Cerebus’ past, obvious indications that he’s not prepared to let it go (keeping the vest and the medallions) and a reminder that Cerebus the barbarian warrior is never very far from the surface.

Dave was again experimenting with the concept of what he was doing. The panels were covered very differently. Each of them were two pages. The bulk of the space on the pages was taken up with a crowd shot of the representatives and conventioneers looking at and interacting with the panel. The panellists themselves were quite small and indistinct as if view from within the audience and seated near the back. What they were discussing was conveyed to the readers by means of typewritten sheets reproduced on the pages. Some of the most interesting information was at the bottom of these sheets in the form of instructions as to who was to receive copies. Cirin was one of those, she must have wielded a great deal of power in Iest even then. One sheet also contained the information that Astoria is the Duchess of Parnoc.

I can’t remember ever having seen a comic produced in this manner prior to reading the chapter. It was another example of Dave’s attempts to expand his own abilities as artist and story teller, of how he liked to push the boundaries and at the same time give his readers a complete creative experience. Remember the internet was only in it’s early stages and not freely available in the way it is now.

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