Saturday, September 17, 2011
Back to Cerebus. Although I know Minds is not the final instalment in the graphic novel (we're a long way from 300) it could be. It answers many of the questions that have been posed throughout the run of the series, and it also gives the reader more revelations than any previous collection has. In his introduction Dave states that he revealed some things about the character that he'd kept secret for nearly 20 years, and even wondered part way through where did he go now?
It opens where Reads finished, with Cirin and Cerebus still hurtling through space on the platform with the throne on it. Cirin finds out that Cerebus believes George is Tarim. According to Cirin he isn't. His real name is Belinus Two Tongues, and he was banished to the rock on which he resides for attempting usurp Terim's throne.
Every time Cerebus attempts to one up Cirin with his view of Tarim, she shouts him down. Cerebus himself knows he isn't Most Holy and his theological knowledge is no match for Cirin's, so this is an argument he's never going to win, and besides Cirin will twist every point he makes around to fit her own view of things.
They struggle over the throne, and it is smashed by a rock. They try to attack each other, but are prevented from doing so by an unbreakable invisible wall between them. Then the platform they are standing on splits down the middle. Cirin shouts at Cerebus that this is his punishment to float aimlessly through space. I'm not really sure how she worked out that it was Cerebus' punishment, because she's in the same boat.
Cerebus relives episodes through his life, an encounter with a bully, how he found out he was a hermaphrodite, stealing his mother's kitchen knife, his father finding him in the market square saying he was the son of Tarim and preaching, taking him to the wizard. There are also parallels made here between Cerebus and Jesus Christ. Cerebus' father is a carpenter and doesn't understand his son. He also doesn't seem to have noticed that he's an aardvark, the only unusual thing he sees about Cerebus is that he's got big ears. So this was how he came to be a magician's apprentice. I still think 'little' Cerebus is drawn as incredibly cute, too.
Cerebus then has a circular conversation with Tarim. He alternately praises, insults, argues and renounces the god. This continues until a pie hits him in the side of the head and a new voice enters the conversation. This newcomer says his name is Dave and he created Cerebus.
So Dave Sim breaks through the fourth wall and has a long conversation with his creation. Throughout the course of this conversation readers find out about Cirin's origins and how her legions took over. The aardvark who calls herself Cirin is in fact Cirin's lieutenant; Serna, and took over from Cirin, imprisoning her old mentor. Cirin's unusualness is also behind the enveloping, face covering garb that the Cirinist's wear. It covers most of the face and hides her true appearance from people.
Dave also goes through Cerebus' story. He goes into the cult of aardvark worship that the Pigts practiced and says that had Cerebus' altered the course of his own life. He created Elrod and the Roach himself. They are manifestations of parts of his own being.
Dave is the reason Cerebus can never be with Jaka. Actually he's not, but Cerebus' very nature won't allow him to be with Jaka, not successfully. Dave shows Cerebus a number of possible futures with Jaka and they all end badly.
Cerebus accepts what Dave is saying, that he's a manifestation of Dave's mind, and therefore Dave will do what he wants with him. However he refused to acknowledge that he can't influence the outcome, and believes that he can change and therefore make Dave change his future. Dave agrees to let Cerebus try and drops him back into Estarcion for the next book; Guys.
Minds is one book where I think the format of having it all contained within the one volume works better than it's original form. It really needs to be read as the one book for it to have a proper impact. I can't remember reading this in the comic form, but I did, because I know was still collecting them as they came out at this point, but reading Minds that way would have made for an extremely disjointed experience.
Artistically Dave pulled out every trick in his bag of them. The style switches from page to page, bit by bit. Nearly everything he'd done in previous volumes appears in some form in Minds. It's an extraordinary achievement, very hard to do and totally revolutionary. Even as an independent without the strictures imposed on him by one of the bigger companies putting Minds together would have been a huge ask, and I think everyone involved from Dave and Gerhard, right down to the printer deserves accolades for what they produced with Minds. As a comic book or graphic novel (I think the term was in pretty popular use by this stage) it is a genuine experience and should be admired.