Friday, January 14, 2011
The bulk of the Melmoth book is devoted to the middle section. It's essentially 2 stories, Cerebus in the city after finding Jaka gone from Pud's pub and a visual depiction of Oscar Wilde's last days. I suspect that Dave was at this stage of his life more interested in telling the story of the Irish writer than he was in telling that of his earth pig hero, but he did do both.
The story is broken into 2 parts that run alongside each other. One is Cerebus at a small cafe, it has the same waitress who angered normalroach in the prologue, so it's safe to assume it's the same cafe. The other is Wilde's dying days as he is attended by his friends Robbie and Reggie. It's never made clear if this is the same Oscar from Jaka's Story, and if it is then the author is doing some odd things with time. Cerebus's story which seems to run concurrently with Oscar's is taking place in the days following Jaka's capture and Oscar was supposed to serve 2 years of hard labour for being an unlicensed writer, and he has definitely done that.
Cerebus offers the cafe owner a gold coin, in return for food and lodging for the rest of his life. The man is only too happy to agree. He can actually have the entire cafe renovated extensively just with the interest he earns off the coin. Obviously the Cirnists seriously screwed up the economy of Iest.
Initially Cerebus is attended by the bad tempered Janice, but she is soon replaced by the young, somewhat dippy, but much nicer natured Doris. Her taking Cerebus order and being very particular with his raw potato was extremely funny and reminded me of a few waitresses I've dealt with.
For the most of this Cerebus sits almost catatonic out the front and rarely speaks beyond occasionally saying 'Aye'. He never lets go of Missy, he clutches her the entire time. As he sits there characters from the series occasionally wander in and out of the landscape. Henrot Gutch, Boobah, Posey (I was amazed to see that he was still alive, poor little man was caught by the Cirinists and sentenced to 5 years hard labour for being an orhtodix cleric in violation of the upper city quarantine. Poor Posey.), Prince Mick and keef. Cerebus actually holds a conversation with Mick, they've been forced to marry the Buttock Sisters in order to get their wealthy father to bail them out of the hell that Iest has become.
When Oscar passes there's a wonderfully poignant page of Cerebus and Doris watching the house he was in and holding hands.
There's another conversation where Doris talks about an old boyfriend who she's not sure if she's still in love with or not and asks Cerebus if he knows what she means. The aardvark answers 'Aye' and in his mind is a picture of Jaka.
Melmoth was a definite departure from the storyline and I've wondered if there was more to the main story of Cerebus that we never saw, because Dave could not have known how interested he would become in Oscar Wilde when he originally came up with the overarching storyline of the whole graphic novel.