You are currently browsing the cerebus category

I now wish Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben had done their proposed “After Cerebus #300” comic.*

§ January 9th, 2019 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, cerebus § 2 Comments

So after my Cerebus post, I did poke around briefly on the eBays just getting the lay of the Cerebus-pricing land. Aside from the first handful of issues, plus any “pro-graded” comics stuck in their little plastic slabs, prices were generally pretty reasonable, particularly if you’re like me, and not necessarily looking for near mint copies or anything. Not that buying all these up are a huge priority for me right now or anything what with other expenses I need to worry about (unless I add that as a tier to my Patreon: “150 PATREONS: WILL USE MONEY TO COMPLETE MY CEREBUS COLLECTION”). Plus, my collection at home is still in some disarray after pillaging it for store stock, and I need to get it in some kind of order before I start fillin’ them holes.

But, it’s good to know that getting most of them won’t cost me an arm, a leg, and my remaining eye. I suspected as much, given that back issue demand for the series has dropped over the years since the title ended. Those early issues, though…I mean, it is still a major publication in the history of independent comics, and those initial comics are “key books,” if you’ll pardon my language, and will still command premium prices in the collectors market. Even the counterfeit #1 goes for a pretty penny nowadays, being itself a piece of historical significance.

Oh well, still, it’s something to think about. But speaking of Cerebus and demand thereof, reader Michael had a question in the comments there (seconded by Tom W):

“Mike, would you care to comment some time about how Cerebus does in your store in any of its forms?”

Michael is referring to, aside from the original comics, to the more recent comic collections of the “Cerebus in Hell” webcomic, which (aside from the earlier comics just straight up called Cerebus in Hell) usually feature parody covers like these:


They sold…okay, at first. At the previous place of employment, Cerebus itself was sort of petering out saleswise, at least until there was a slight bump upward with the last few installments. The follow-up items, like Glamourpuss and the Following Cerebus ‘zine started out with relatively good sales, but also eventually dipped until I was pretty sure I was the only person reading them at our store. The same has happened with the webcomic reprints…had some sales, then eventually dropped and dropped until, again, I was the lone holdout. I do have one fellow who occasionally requests an issue because the parody cover amuses him, but that’s about it.

I don’t know why that is…well, okay, at least one person told me that there were just too many coming out, he fell behind, and just decided to quit. I do suspect that there was at least a few readers hoping for actual new “serious” adventures of Cerebus in Hell. and not just Cerebus clipart pasted over Gustave Doré illustrations with gags.

Oh, almost forgot…the original Cerebus doesn’t really sell at all for me. I don’t have a huge stock of the issues, but I rarely have anyone ask for it. I did have a couple of those slabbed copies sell online, as I mentioned last time, but when I do sell Cerebus, it’s usually in the form of the trades.

Nik asks as a follow-up “what do you think of ’em” and “who’s buying these things,” and to answer the last part…um, me. I’m buying them, I admit it. As to what I think of them…I think they’re amusing. The repeated use of those, what, three poses of Cerebus mixed with the Doré art does tickle me, and the jokes can be funny, but it’s totally an acquired taste. Plus, I do like the covers.

I am way behind, though, but that’s only because I’m way behind on nearly all the comics I usually read due to my recent eye problems. Normally I’m a quick reader and would have no problem keeping up on the weekly releases, but of late it takes me a lot longer to absorb the text in any comic I’m perusing. Once things are finally corrected and I can get a proper pair of prescription eyeglasses instead of the reader glasses I’ve been depending upon, I’ll hopefully be able to catch up, assuming the giant to-read stack doesn’t crush me first.

• • •

Speaking of questions, no, don’t worry, i haven’t forgotten about the last time I took some from you kind readers out there. I will continue answering those as time and blog content necessity allows. And, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to give me your 2019 comic industry predictions so I have something to talk about in early 2020, aside from Iron Man 2020 and the Superman of 2020. I plan to start going over your 2018 predictions next week, so unsubscribe in your favorite blog reading programs right now! I should be able to get through those in, um, a couple of weeks, unless there’s another eye surgery that happens in there somewhere, but I’ll do my best!
 
 

* I don’t know if that was just a joking suggestion or not, of if even those guys made it or Sim himself did. But I still keep picturing what that would have been like! I mean, other than amazing.

This isn’t just an elaborate pretense to link to one of my eBay listings.

§ January 4th, 2019 § Filed under cerebus, collecting § 8 Comments


So a long time ago, at the previous place of employment, we had two copies of Cerebus #1. One was an authentic copy, personally hauled by Dave Sim from his local printer to his home by the boxload, presumably. The other was one of those rotten, no-good, genuine counterfeit copies that some nefarious nogoodnik produced at the time, to take advantage of whatever secondary market was building up around this weird Canadian parody of Conan the Barbarian.

Frankly, I’m surprised this sort of thing didn’t happen more often, particularly on the, shall we say, not-so-slickly produced small press titles that somehow ended up with a surprising mark-up in value. Granted, it didn’t happen a whole lot, and prices qould have to be awfully high to justify the cost of printing counterfeits…I mean, for the cost of printing “fake” copies of anther person’s comic, why not just put the resources into doing your own? Probably make just about as much money, when all is said and done. Anyway, I believe issue #2 of Cerebus was bootlegged as well, supposedly, and weren’t some of the early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles copied as well? Wouldn’t surprise me.

But, yes, at one time at the shop, as I was saying, we had both the real and the ersatz earth-pig debut issues. Can’t remember their prices now, but they weren’t very cheap, and we ended up selling them both to the same person (one of our regulars, and a huge Cerebus fan). For a time, though, it was pretty neat to have ’em in the shop, just to be appreciated as the physical objects they were. Yes, there were plenty of reprints of the contents, which I had, but there’s just something about having the actual item in your hand, the crudely-printed (oddly enough, the counterfeit slightly less crudely-printed) amateur publication that represented an individual’s imagination and triumph in getting it all down on paper and out into the world.

I’ve read all of Cerebus. The “High Society” sequence and (to a very slightly lesser extent) “Church & State” remain absolute pinnacles of comic book storytelling. Even as the series wore on and became…well, let’s say “less accessible,” the illustrative standards of Sim and partner Gerhard emained remarkably high (well, aside from those issues near the end that were mostly text). Even the handlettering was nearly unmatched by anyone in the business.

I’ve mentioned this on the site before, but some of you reading this may not have been born yet, so I’ll repeat it here. I was first exposed to Cerebus via an article in the old Starlog Press magazine Comics Scene. I thought it sounded pretty cool, but with newsstands being my source for comic books, I didn’t have access to the beginnings of the indie comics boom. That changed in the early ’80s, when I found out about the shop that would eventually become my job, and suddenly I had more indie comics than I knew what to do with.

I still didn’t get into Cerebus at that point, however, because I figured “well, it’s been going on a while, it’s too hard to catch up,” and that’s how it went until a couple of years later, a friend of mine brought a copy of #74 to school and let me read it. Aaaand that was it, I was pretty much hooked. I bought the latest issue next time I went to the store, and over the next few years (including some of my initial months working at the shop, beginning in ’88) I slowly acquired all the previous issues…

…Except for the first 25. At the time, there were the Swords of Cerebus collections, which reprinted all those issues. That was good enough for me, I thought then…the issues starting at #26 were already pricey enough, the earlier ones even more so, making the Swords books a sufficient alternative. Plus, they had short stories exclusive to them, which was a nice bonus.

The reason I bring all this up is that, after seeing a link or something on the Twitters, I got to thinking about those early issues again. I divested myself of a good portion of my collection when I opened my own store, but I kept my Cerebus…I mean, yes, sure, there’s no real back issue market for them anymore, but that wasn’t the main reason. It was because I liked those comics, I put a lot of effort into starting that collection. And even if the latter part of the series felt like a…I’m not quite sure how to put it. A divergence, maybe, from the promise and the storytelling of the first half of the series, but it still remains an achievement, for all its flaws. It’s Dave’s comic, he could do what he wanted with it, and who am I to judge, but I can’t help but feel what I got in the end was not what I was waiting for. That’s what art does, sometimes.

Okqy, I really wasn’t trying to delve into the criticism of the series…there’s plenty of that out there, and…yeah, they ain’t wrong. What I was thinking about recently, however…the thing that brought us all here today, was that old standby, the collector’s urge. The need to “fill the gaps,” as it were, to scratch those numbers off the ol’ creased and tattered checklist. Not that I’m been actively seeking the first 25 issues of Cerebus this whole time, but I got to thinking about them again, and about how I loved acquiring each new back issue to add to my run, how each individual issue felt like something special, with those great covers. Like, back to that #1 we had, it was a representation of someone’s dream put directly in my hand. Not a corporate character produced out of some huge, professional publishing house. It was like one of series of letters, from my Canadian pal Dave who wanted to tell me a story.

Realistically, I don’t know if I’m actually going to go through with trying to track these down. I don’t think I’ve had one of the early issues show up at my own shop yet in any collections. Well, there were the pro-graded copies of #8, #10 and #12 that a friend…actually, the very same friend who brought that #74 to school so long ago…had me sell on his behalf. I still have the #8, and there is a very small temptation to just keep it and pay my pal for it. I won’t, as Businessman Mike outvotes Fanboy Mike here, but I’m definitely keeping an eye out for reasonably priced copies now.

“Reasonably priced” is the trick, of course. A quick glace at the eBay reveals all kinds of prices on the earliest issues. Even the counterfeit #1, once listed with no value in the price guide, is selling for well over a grand (in one of those plastic slabs, of course). Quite a bit over whatever we sold ’em for at the old shop, I’m sure.

I do have the run of Cerebus Bi-Weekly, which reprinted all those early issues in their entirety, including editorial matter, letters pages, and ads, but it’s not quite the same. I realize it’s a fetishizing of those originals, when technically I already have everything that’s present inside them. I do really enjoy them, though, and while I may not love what Cerebus eventually became, I still have that strong nostalgic love for what it was, and how I felt as I slowly pieced it all together. Wanting my own copies of those initial almost-a-baker’s-two-dozen issues almost certainly stems from a desire to recapture that feeling, an old fan’s desire for when times were simpler, and the fun of collecting was at its peak.

I apologize in advance for using the word “pamphlets” to describe comic books.

§ September 16th, 2013 § Filed under cerebus, collecting, x-men § 9 Comments

So I recently acquired a comic that’s been haunting the back of my mind for nearly thirty years:


I glanced through this comic in the shop back when it was released in 1986, and two parts of the book have lingered with me all this time. One, the pronunciation guide on the cover (and repeated several times inside as a running gag):


I have been sort of privately pronouncing the name “X-Men” this way in my head for years. I usually don’t say it out loud, unlike “Defective Comics,” which I say every time I pull down the Detective Comics box because I think I’m hilarious.

And two:


…the shocking Cerebus cameo has stuck with me, because, you see, in the regular X-Men books, Professor X uses Cerebro, a big ol’ computer thingie, to enhance his mutant psychic abilities to find mutants. However, in Xmen (pronounced ZHMEN, one syllable) it is, of course, Cerebus who tracks mutants for Professor X, because “Cerebus” sounds sorta like “Cerebro.” Or, excuse me, “Cerebos,” as the clearly-edited-after-the-fact Us in these word balloons would have it:


I’m not even really sure why I kept this comic, which showed up in a collection recently. It’s not as if I haven’t had opportunities to pick it up in the past, since copies turned up at the shop from time to time. The comic itself as a parody doesn’t really do anything for me. There’s the funny names for the characters, the poking at X-Men tropes, the satirizing of then-current X-Men plot twists and character quirks, and so on, which might play a little better for someone more invested in the X-universe. The comic does feature some nice early work by Charles Troug, who would go on to illustrate Grant Morrison’s run on Animal Man, so there’s that.

I suppose I mostly kept this comic to finally have a physical representation of those two wires this comic crossed in my head so long ago, a print version of the memories still echoing from that brief exposure.

Speaking of Cerebus, this comic came out last week:


…an anthology of parody/tribute stories by cartoonist Cerebus fans, using the Cerebus character as per creator Dave Sim’s decision to allow other folks to use it in new creative works. For the cover alone this probably deserves a place in your Cerebus collection, and you can read about its creation here (and buy a color print here!). The contents are amusing as well, with even the…less polished entries still having an undeniable and entertaining enthusiasm. Like the Xmen book above, it’s probably best appreciated by those folks still in the bag for the property being parodied, and a little too much “reading someone else’s mail” for the uninitiated. But, I’m still game for new Cerebus spin-off stuff, making me the target audience, I guess.

Almost universal reaction from customers at the shop (and even an employee or two) to seeing Low Society on the stands has been “a Cerebus parody comic…now?” which, well, fair enough. It has been nearly ten years since the series ended, but I do have to note that I’m seeing a small uptick in sales on Cerebus trade paperback collections lately, so someone out there is still discovering and reading it. Or, at the very least, upgrading their collections from the pamphlets to the phonebooks. At any rate, I did fear that once it was over, Cerebus would fade into memory, but there appears to be a little life sticking to it yet. It’s a complex, multilayered, and (especially in the latter half) divisive, problematic and controversial work, and still contains a wealth of material to be mined, discussed, criticized, and, yes, parodied.

Anyway, Cerebus: I still need to reread that someday.