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A little fancier filler copy than a Cerebus Biweekly.

§ September 21st, 2020 § Filed under cerebus § 2 Comments

Well, I sorta started what I threatened to do here, picking up pre-#26 issues of Dave Sim’s Cerebus for cheap off the eBays. Now, most of them are reasonably priced, at least for my purposes, but the lower numbers, your 1 through 3s or so, are still commanding higher prices. I figured maybe someday those issues would come through the shop and I could buy them then, but otherwise, unless some amazing bargain breaks out, I’ll have to do without.

Well, enter Kickstarter and a new reprint of #1. I figure I’d live if my hopefully someday-complete run of the Cerebus comic books had this version of the first issue. Which isn’t to say I still wouldn’t be willing to get my mitts on one of the original #1s (and not one of the bootlegs…more on that in a moment).

“So what all did you get in said Kickstarter?” you’re probably not asking, but don’t worry, I’m going to show you anyway.

First off is ye olde comic book itself:


with a platinum-colored metallic ink on the cover, instead of red. It contains all the material from the original, but plenty of extras aside, such as promotional art, sketches, period ads for the book, etc. Of note is two pages of storytelling from the original comic redrawn in his modern style by Sim…or as modern as it was in 2010 when those pages were drawn.

On the back cover is where Dave handsigned each copy:


…and that this is #751 of an 800-copy run.

Along with the comic were a small pile of extras, including trading cards, a pretty swell-looking postcard, a sticker, and a bookmark:

I also received Cerebus The Sketchbook, which is, yes, entirely blank:


…with a request from Dave on the inside front cover to send copies of any drawings one might get in this booklet of other cartoonists’s rendition of Cerebus. I don’t have any plans of attending conventions anytime soon…well, yeah, okay, nobody with any sense of self-preservation does, but you know what I mean. So I guess I’ll have to use this to draw my own Cerebus comic. “The Adventures of Cerebus and His Best Pal Spike Merling,” I’ll call it.

Now this next item is pretty cool:


It’s a collection of newspaper and ‘zine articles, and in-house memos/notes, and, as promised in its title, a straight-up history of the counterfeit Cerebus #1s that got dumped on the market a few years after the original’s release in 1977.

Much appreciated is the detail that’s gone into in regards to determining whether that Cerebus #1 you’re looking at is the original or one of the copies:


…which is something I was never quite sure about, to be honest. Once, at the previous place of employment, we actually had an original and a counterfeit #1 in the store at the same time, and I’m pretty sure then I was able to look at them both and see the differences. But if I were, like, handed just one or the other and had to determine which version it was, I might have been stuck. BUT NO LONGER thanks to this handy guide.

I forgot to note that the print quality of all these items is excellent…the new edition of #1 is a thick comic, solidly built and with the crisp newly-scanned artwork they’ve been using in the remastered “phone book” trade paperbacks. I’ve been in the process of slowly converting large chunks of my collection into sellable stock for the store, but some things I’m not letting go. My run of Cerebus is one of them, and I’m pleased to have these as part of it.

Now hopefully #2 and #3 will get the same treatment so I can stop hunting eBay for copies that aren’t hundreds of dollars.

I originally said “A Brief Recap” but I cut out “Brief.”

§ August 10th, 2020 § Filed under cerebus § 15 Comments

So that thing I was thinking about doing back in this post? Well, I dood it.

A recap: my run of Cerebus single issues begins with #26 (the start of the “High Society” sequence) and ends with #300 (very famously the final issue of the series). I have the first 25 issues in reprint form, as collected in the multiple Swords of Cerebus trade paperbacks that predated the phone books.

As I state in that linked post, I’ve had a small bug up my butt about, perhaps, maybe, if I can find them cheap enough, picking up those first 25 issues. This was inspired in part by my old friend Rob bringing in some CGCed copies of early Cerebus and asking me to sell those for him. Seeing early issues of the series, for the first time since I left the previous place of employment, reminded me, even as they were slabbed in their little plastic coffins, how much I liked the imagery on those covers, and the actual just physical-object-ness of the items. Oh, and I still have that #8 for online sale, hint hint, nudge nudge.

Well, that day has apparently come, as I found on the eBays at rock-bottom prices issues 23, 24, and 25, in pretty nice shape. These issues lead right up to my already-owned #26, and as a bonus include the Man-Thing/Swamp Thing parodies. The actual 25 I received is pictured above.

I also picked up a 22 for a reasonable price, and, surprisingly, a copy of the aforementioned #8 for a steal.

I keep mentioned how I got these for cheap, because one of my qualifications for picking any of these up is that I get them for as little as possible. Even if that means lesser condition copies…well, as long as the book is intact and doesn’t smell like cat pee, I’m okay with it. I’ve been lucky so far, getting nice-ish copies (the #8 has a 1/2 inch spine split, which I’m fine with). But the trick is finding them for low prices. My assumption was, with the series over and the availability of the phone books, demand, and prices, for these early issues would drop.

But prices can be all over the map, and I’m not talking about the usual price jump a book makes once it’s sealed inside a graded-comic case. Some are priced to move, others are priced like it’s still the 1980s, but I think that disparity drops the closer we get down to that first issue. And speaking of which…I may pass on trying to buy an original #1 (especially since I have no idea if the seller would know the difference between an original #1 and the counterfeit. Heck, I’m not even 100% sure I know the differences off the top of my head. I did order a Kickstartered replica of the first issue, so once that arrives that will just have to do. And the 2nd and 3rd installments are…still up there as well, but I don’t think we have replica editions of those coming any time soon.

Heck, I don’t know, maybe someone will walk into the store with the first three issues looking to unload. That may be my best shot at getting them, unless I feel like dropping hundred of dollars just to get that last issue I needed. [SPOILER: I don’t.] And yes, I know about the Cerebus Bi-Weekly reprints. I have ’em already. I’m just looking for the originals.

But anyway, even at the cheap prices I got these for, the “old comics budget for Mike” is blown for the time being, so I’ll resume the hunt again in a little while. Feels a little weird looking to fill holes in the collection again, for something that isn’t old fanzines. Or Seaboard/Atlas comics. It’s fun, though, and reminds me that yes, I’m still a comics fan, and not just a dude what runs a comic book store. I can use that reminder once in a while.

I explain the Cerebus Bi-Weekly image eventually.

§ July 27th, 2020 § Filed under cerebus, publishing § 14 Comments

Okay, so about a week ago we were talking about comic book reprints. Specifically, sustained reprintings of entire series or runs, which was brought up because of the forthcoming “Walkin’ Dead in Living Color” series that’s about to be unleashed on us on a biweekly basis. Did I mention last time that it was going to be biweekly? Yup, boy howdy it’s biweekly, a thing that seems…less supportable in the modern marketplace unless it sells for under $3.99 a pop, so I am reconsidering my opinion on whether it’ll be around the full eight years to complete the series.

And I just logged into the Diamond retailer site to check…the first issue (with its multiple covers, natch) is indeed $3.99. Well, gotta pay for them fancy colors, I guess.

Matthew notes

“Kirkman already did a Walking Dead reprint project with The Walking Dead Weekly in 2011. It reprinted the first 52 issues of the series weekly for a year after the TV show premiered.”

I…completely forgot about that. I mean, we carried them all at my previous place of employment, but I don’t think I’ve had a single copy of it turn up in any collections or whatever since I’ve opened up my own store. Like Matthew says later in his comment, print runs seemed to be well under 4,000 copies each in the latter portion of the run, so I suppose it doesn’t surprise me that I haven’t seen them around much. I seem to recall them selling relatively well…not huge numbers, but pretty close to sell-outs and moved reasonably well as back issues.

I suspect the main reason for the low numbers was the availability of the trade paperbacks, which would likely be the preferred method of catching up on a series that suddenly rose to prominence in the public eye and may have started to attract readers who weren’t normally comic book consumers. I mean, yes, sure, there are always a few folks who are driven to comic shops by something they saw on TV or in movies who want the “authentic comic book experience,” which means buying a stapled monthly off the new arrivals rack, but most folks interested in catching up would probably prefer the bigger chunks they can pull off the bookshelf instead of trying to piece it together issue by issue, either through the weekly reprints or the certainly now pricier back numbers of the originals.

Which is why they’re emphasizing the fact that this new color Strolling Fred series is not…well, here, let me pull the direct quote from the solicitation:

“This deluxe, definitive presentation of the story in full color will NOT be collected any time soon, so these single issues will be the only way to experience this.”

And I imagine this will last until sales start plummeting because people coming late to the color series will not be able to find the early issues, which will be long out of print, or they will find them but at greatly inflated prices. Unless there’s a plan in place to keep everything in print for the duration, which, c’mon, let’s not kid ourselves.

What the series does have going for it, aside from, you know, the novelty of color, is backmatter. Series notes, commentary, abandoned plotlines, etc., which will be of interest to the Stalking Ted completist. And, of course, would be a way to get those fencesitters who aren’t necessarily enthused about color, but may be attracted to the idea of learning more about the series, so, you know, completists, like I said.

What this reminds me of a little is Cerebus Bi-Weekly. Now, I own every volume of Swords of Cerebus, reprinting the first 25 issues of Cerebus, and including extra commentary by Dave Sim as well as new cover art and a short story original to the collection (or originally printed outside the series, like the “Silverspoon” strips from the Comics Buyers’ Guide). When I got into Cerebus in the mid-1980s, around issue 70 or so, I started buying the back issues, but decided the Swords books were good enough for the earliest installments, and focused on buying 26 on, to wherever I started picked them up new off the rack.

(Okay, fine, I went to the Grand Comics Database to try to figure it out…issues 74 and 75, the Jaka issues, were the first I’d read, thanks to pal Rob, and I think it was around 79 to 81 when I started buying them new. But I, as they say, digress.)

So anyway, I had the stories, with extras besides, from those early issues. I didn’t need to buy the Cerebus Bi-Weekly series, reprinting each of the first 25 issues in order…but what they had that the Swords of Cerebus volumes didn’t were the letters pages, and editorials, and extra features, and whathaveyou. It was a full reprint of the contents of the original, and since part of the appeal of Cerebus was the occasionally rolicking letters page, and just he whole package in general, it was nice to get a replica of that experience. And thus, I ended up buying all 26 issues of the series (with #26 reprinting some of the material that appeared in Swords of Cerebus, as well as several “Single Pages,” a feature that ran in Cerebus Bi-Weekly that presented work from various cartoonists).

In short (like anything I do on this site is ever short) I double-dipped on stories I already had because I wanted to get my mitts on the extra material. (Note I didn’t buy the follow-up High Society reprints, as I already had the original issues…but apparently the reprints also included sketchbook pages, which in retrospect I would have been interested in seeing. Ah well.) Perhaps the extra material in The Technicolor Dead will grab folks the same way.

Like I mentioned, I’ll be picking it up only because I didn’t the first time ’round, and it’ll be interesting to see if they follow through on doing the entire series (and by the time it’s done, I’ll be 60 years old or purt’near — ack). Also, the solicitation says this is the “definitive” version, meaning they intended it to be color from the start, so I’m buying it the right way, not like all you suckers who bought it in black and white. Hey, don’t get mad at me, I’m just reporting the truth!

Okay, more on the Marvel reprint stuff next time, for anyone I didn’t manage to just alienate right now.

I think the world is ready for a Concrete/Thing crossover.

§ June 22nd, 2020 § Filed under cerebus, dc comics, marvel, publishing § 15 Comments

So remember last week when we were talking about the Marvel/DC crossovers, and which ones I thought we the good’uns? Well, a couple of you had questions, so let me address those first:

John Lancaster tossed his line into the water with

“Seems to me that a lot of good crossovers that aren’t Marvel/DC are getting forgotten”

and then he proceeds to list some ones that are indeed good. My focus of the post was specifically just the Marvel/DC encounters, but I had planned on address some of the crossovers involving other companies as well. In other words, let’s talk about Deathmate:

Ah, just ribbin’ ya a little, and I’ve already talked about Deathmate at length if you want to go relive that.

But yes, there were plenty of crossovers among the smaller companies, sometimes even with either Marvel or DC. A personal favorite is 1994’s Archie Meets the Punisher (AKA Punisher Meets Archie, as per the Marvel-published diecut cover version):


General reaction to this at the time when this was announced was “Whaaa–!?” and for good reason, though it turned out to actually be a bit of fun. with art by Stan Goldberg and John Buscema.

Archie Comics, in fact, seems pretty game to cross over their character with other companies even to this say. John mentioned Archie Vs. Predator (which featured some fairly shocking content for an Archie comic, but in this post-Afterlife with Archie world, pretty much anything is fair game, I suspect). We’ve also had Archie meet up with Batman ’66, and the Archie gang turned up in issue #13A of Gen13 back in ’96:


I remember that one surprising me more than the Punisher crossover, for some reason. Like, Marvel and the Punisher were fairly “mainstream” and high profile, versus a relatively unknown (though admittedly popular) indie book. Wasn’t sure what Archie was going to get out of that…except, after thinking about it for a second, exposure of the characters to an audience that might otherwise not have paid attention to them, duh.

I suspect creator-owned titles are a little easier to negotiate with when it comes to crossovers like this, simply due to less layers of bureaucracy being involved. I mean, I’m about to exaggerate a little, but assembling the deal to make this happen feels like it probably only took about five minutes:


Don’t write to tell me I’m wrong, I know I am, but you have to admit the process of Todd ‘n’ Dave getting together to team up Spawn and Cerebus probably was a great deal less involved than JLA/Avengers. And Mr. Sim wasn’t shy about letting Cerebus show up here and yonder in other people’s independent comics, which again probably consisted of a fax asking if they could use the character, and Dave faxing back “yeah, sure.” Okay, granted the two that immediately come to mind are Journey and normalman, both Aardvark-Vanaheim publications at the time, like Cerebus, but I know there were others. Alas, the fabled X-Men/Cerebus didn’t happen (beyond a piece of promo art). But look, all I got for that Mr. Monster/Swamp Thing proposed team-up was a single piece of art as well:


…so we all just have to suffer.

More on specific crossovers next time, maybe, but let’s address Thom H.’s query briefly:

“I mean, is it that difficult or costly to have an inter-company meeting to discuss splitting the costs and profits 50/50? It seems like something two lawyers could do via email.”

As it was explained to me by someone also in the comics publishing business, it’s the potential profits that are a problem. Apparently neither Marvel nor DC feel like they’d be making enough profit on bringing any of these back in print, that having only 50% of the take isn’t enough. Now it seems to me making a little money is better than making no money (believe me, I’ve told myself that plenty of times at the shop after looking at the end-of-day receipts) but the Big Two don’t see it that way, I guess.

My half-facetious solution was that each company get the rights to publish their own paperbacks reprinting their crossovers…like, DC could publish JLA/Avengers under their own trade dress, and Marvel could do the same, titling it Avengers/JLA and putting it out with their trade dress, and they could agree to just keep all the profits from their versions. But I can see other problems arising from this (like, what happens when Marvel lets theirs fall out of print almost immediately…can DC still keep publishing their own?) so that may not be much of a solution.

So I don’t know, Thom…maybe when we enter a cashless society then someday all these comics will come back into print. In the meantime…WRITE YOUR CONGRESSPERSON! I’m sure they have nothin’ else going on right now, let them deal with this issue.

Okay, more crossover talk next time? Eh, we’ll see. In the meantime, be good to each other, wear your masks and wash your hands, and for God’s sake quick setting off your firecrackers at night, old comic shop owners need to get their beauty sleep.

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.

Okay, 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 glance 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.