My Year With Cerebus: Issue 1

[Reposted from my blog 72 Pins, where you can view this post with more images and better formatting.]

The first issue of Cerebus was published in 1977; part sword and sorcery parody, part funny animal comic, it contains no hint of what the series would ultimately become.

Which is not to say this isn’t an enjoyable book. Given the undue emphasis mainstream comics have lately put on the end-of-issue cliffhanger, it’s refreshing to read a truly self-contained single issue story. Of course the idea behind cliffhangers is that if a story wraps up too neatly, people won’t come back for the next issue. But that’s the kind of rule of thumb that people concerned with the bottom line like to turn into an incontrovertible law. The tidy ending of this issue reveals that Cerebus is a character who knows more than he lets on, which made me look forward to more such revelations next time.

While the art in this issue will look primitive to anyone who thinks of Cerebus in terms of the collaboration between Dave Sim and Gerhard that it eventually became, there are still some really charming moments here. Sim is great at making Cerebus look unassuming until he springs into action, at which point the character design really starts to make sense. Sim gives Cerebus’s attacks a great sense of power by having his necklace swinging out in the opposite direction of his sword slashes, and rendering his helmet as being bounced around or completely thrown off. Then there’s the scene in which Cerebus recoils from an enemy and his long snout scrunches up like an accordion. It’s a subtle touch, but one that keeps the tone light and funny, but also rewards attentive reading.

Speaking of the art, I can’t be the only one who has noticed the (ironic, given the creators’ and characters’ sharply differing politics and personalities) similarities between the evolution of Cerebus and Bloom County’s Opus. Both characters started out relatively slender with long “noses”, and both became more stout (especially in the nose) over time. Or maybe I’m just fooled by the similarity of their eyes.

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1 Comments
Posted by ruckus24

Ha, ha, brilliant comparing Cerebus and Opus. There's probably a full essay in there somewhere.