TITLE: Cerebus Issue #0
YEAR: June 1993
President/Writer: David Sim
Vice President/Backgrounds, Cover-color and tones by Gerhard
Type Setting: Linda Berzins
My first blog post about “Cerebus” delved into the history and my thoughts on David Sim and Gerhard’s work.
This time, I am writing about “Cerebus” Issue #0. No, the issue doesn’t take the banal route of trying to create an origin story of Cerebus the Aardvark, but it tackles a few things that readers of the TPB’s may be interested in knowing.
When the issue came out in 1993, by then, David Sim was a little over the halfway point of his “Cerebus” storyline. Sim has said that when he began the series in December 1977, the goal was to conclude in March 2004 at issue #300, with the death of the title character.
When it comes to the most fascinating aspect on the mindset of David Sim is featured in the inside-cover with the “Notes from the President” in which he discusses the relation of the Cerebus character(s) to himself and how the series documents the ups and downs of the character.
I was fascinated that Sim used the comparison to Marvel Comics “Howard the Duck” but where both characters can get mood and cranky at times, one would find “Cerebus” to be more mentally stimulating, written out of creativity, intelligence and sometimes being audacious and surprising. You will no doubt witness the change of the comic book series as we all change throughout our life. Could you imagine writing about a character based on your perspective on life as a teen, to your young adult years, to your middle adult years and then as you your tastes in pop culture or you find yourself being much more mature later in your years.
While the change of style has always been a subject of debate among the hardcore fans, we’ve seen it before in other mediums, for example, Jean-Luc Godard. Try watching his ’50s films and see how things drastically change in the ’60s. People change, people get tired, people try to do things that are different or reflect their state of mind.
And “Cerebus” to me, is a series many of us grew up with and witnessed the change, as we have changed in life as well. Sometimes change is hard. But that’s life.
As mentioned earlier, this is not an issue #0 going the banal route of showcasing an origin. It features three stories that could have been easily integrated into the end or beginning of an arc.
There are three stories featured that are more or less samplings to help introduce people to “Cerebus”. Personally, do yourself a favor and purchase the inexpensive trade paperbacks and read each volume in order. Much better that way!
But for the first story “Exodus” (featured in “Cerebus” issue #51) written back in June 1983, it was a story that was featured between the last issue of “High Society” and the first issue of “Church & State” and is a fun storyline featuring Cerebus, Lord Julius, Duke Leonardi and Elrod locked inside a closet together.
The second story is “Square One” from “Cerebus” issues 112/113 from July/August 1988 and what happens when Cerebus returns to the small hotel he had commandeered back in “Church & State”. A story primarily told through artwork with only its final pages having dialogue.
And the third story is “LIKE-A-LOOKS” from “Cerebus” issues 137/138 from August/September 1990. A hilarious story about the plethora of Lord Julius look-a-likes or in this case…”LIKE-A-LOOKS” and each of them not knowing who is the real Lord Julius. I
For the most part, you get two comedy stories and one that is more on the serious side. This is a good sample of what one can expect from a “Cerebus” comic book but while a solid sampler, to be truthful, “Cerebus” is a series that needs to be read in arcs. Skipping around or reading a story with no real context to the characters and their surroundings is tough for those who are not familiar with “Cerebus” and jumping aboard is fine, but you will want to read the first 4-5 books of “Cerebus” to have a better understanding.
But reading the books (I’m specifically writing about the omnibus collections) are the best way to go.
Otherwise, “Cerebus” issue #0 can be seen as a sampler and if you like what you read, then definitely check out the collected volumes!