My Year With Cerebus; Issue 4

[Reposted from my blog 72 Pins]

Turns out I was away just a bit longer than I expected to be, and not quite for the reasons I expected. While I planned to spend most of the Thanksgiving holiday playing tabletop games, two things prevented that. First, our DM had to leave town sooner than usual. Two, I picked up Skyrim on Friday, and played it almost nonstop through Monday morning, repeatedly telling myself “Just one more quest” only to find that four more hours had slipped away without my noticing. Fortunately we did get in one session with Pathfinder on Friday night, which turned out to be pretty fun.

But at some point, I had to return for another date with the Earth-Pig Born, so here we are with Cerebus #4. As it turns out, this is a nice, low-impact book to ease me back into the routine of writing about the series because, frankly, nothing much happens. Instead, we get the introduction of Dave Sim’s Elric of Melnibone parody, Elrod of Melvinbone. In an odd choice, Elrod has much less in common with Elric than Foghorn Leghorn. As a result, most of this issue is taken up with an extended monologue in place of a plot.

That’s actually not a knock on the issue, though. As a life-long resident of the southern U.S., I’ve always had a fondness for the pompous southern gentleman character. Even though I suspect it originated as a northern joke about southerners’ misplaced presumptions of refinement, it’s still a far nobler stereotype than those perpetrated on us by Hee-Haw and Deliverance. Sadly, it’s also a dying breed. The real southern gentleman is far less prominent today than he was even in my childhood, largely replaced by the kind of insecure redneck idiot that Larry the Cable Guy both portrays and panders to (the “I don’t care who you are, that’s funny” catchphrase has always struck me as a desperate plea for acceptance).

My grandfather isn’t a wealthy man, but when he was younger he did share some of the speech patterns popularized (at least for my generation) by the Foghorn Leghorn character, especially the propensity to repeat the punchlines to jokes that didn’t go over well, as if the audience’s failure to laugh could only result from having not heard what he said. Looking back, this probably played no small part in the conviction I eventually developed, that a groaningly bad joke gets exponentially better if you repeat it several times within a small time-frame.

All this is a long way of saying that while the Elrod character makes even less sense within the Cerebus universe than Red Sophia, I’m far happier to see him.

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Posted by ruckus24

This issue is interesting in that Sim drops his Michael Moorcock parody straight into the middle of an H.P. Lovecraft style plot. Lovecraft was of course a contemporary and a personal friend of Robert E. Howard, so it all kind of works.