Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Cerebus wakes up in his suite at The Regency, he does check to make sure that he really isn’t on a park bench in Beduin. He receives a message from the Iestan Prime Minister demanding that he pay back the 12,000 crowns that they paid as his ransom. Cerebus decides to take a bath, and try to think this through. He’s about to run the bath when a disembodied voice starts talking to him. Initially Cerebus thinks that he’s having a conversation with himself, but then realises that the voice is really there, not just in his head. He turns, and is confronted by a small, glowing, floating woman. She introduces herself as the Regency Elf, although Cerebus can call her Elf if he likes. You get the impression the Elf doesn’t get many visitors. She’s extremely excited to see Cerebus as they haven’t had an aardvark at The Regency for over 800 years. Again it is stated that whilst aardvarks are rare, they’re not completely unknown, it isn’t said, but you get the feeling that whenever they do pop up they’re extremely important figures one way or another.

To say that Cerebus isn’t disconcerted by the Elf’s appearance would be incorrect. It does throw him briefly, and then annoys him when she drinks all his whiskey, but it does not have the same effect on the aardvark that I suspect it would on most others. He does try to tell the clerk about the Elf, but the man refuses to believe him, and the empty flask of Borealan whiskey doesn’t really help his argument.

Despite the fact that she can be annoying, and her penchant for drinking Cerebus’ alcohol, the Elf does know a lot of things. For one she knows that the McGrew brothers were apprehended, and that they’re being held at Hobbsgate prison. As they presumably collected Cerebus’ ransom it’s reasonable to assume that they may know where the money is. Cerebus breaks into the prison, and with the assistance of a stout cudgel finds out that the incompetent Onlian siblings did collect the ransom, but it was a worthless statue of a duck, which they sold to buy saddle sore remedy.

Cerebus finds himself back at The Regency eating raw potatoes (I know…ick! Apparently they help him think and he likes the taste, although you should leave the skin on as that’s the best bit), and mulling things over with the Elf. He decides to send letters to the businessmen who were so eager to see him not so long ago, and see if he can get any more money out of them. The Elf peers over his shoulder as he writes, and muses about the afternoons one of the businessmen; Ned Greely, spends at The Regency with his ‘wife’. You could call it blackmail, but that’s such an ugly word. As I said the Elf knows a lot of things, not all of what she says is totally frivolous. Cerebus pens his poison letter, and waits for Greely to intercede with the Prime Minister on his behalf.

To pass the time he plays wickets (croquet) with the Elf. She’s really not very good at the game, but she’s easy enough to talk to, and you should never get mad at an elf. I quite enjoyed the exchanges between Cerebus and the Elf. He teases her a lot. When she asks him what he’d buy if he made a lot of money he replies: ‘a quiet elf.’

I adored the Elf, she was one of the things that set Cerebus apart from nearly every other book in the market. The Elf was also a contrast to Cerebus, while not exactly innocent, she did give off an illusion of being naive, although she clearly wasn't. She never wanted anything from helping Cerebus other than his friendship. Cerebus on the other hand was a completely amoral creature with very few redeeming characteristics who hardly ever did anything for anyone without expecting some sort of recompense.

I’m not sure where the idea for the Elf came from, it was certainly out of left field, but then Dave tended to do that, you were never quite certain what you’d find every time you opened the pages of a Cerebus book. Going by her appearance she was based on Disney’s Tinkerbell. Years later I read a Tad Williams book called ‘The War of the Flowers’ (can’t recommend it highly enough, if you haven’t read it you really should try and get a copy) that featured an obnoxious faery with the name of Applecore. There were significant differences between the two, and I don’t think the Elf inspired Applecore, but she often made me think of The Regency’s resident elf.


  1. This essay by Dave on page 96 of High Society gives a lot of insight into the Elf's creation:
    also some more stuff here (spoiler warnings though if you haven't read Mothers & Daughters):

  2. Thanks for that Margaret. I have actually read Mothers & Daughters. I read up to post issue 200 before I gave up. Although it was so long ago that I barely remember a lot of it. I'll have a look at the essay.