Cerebus In Hell and Why Dave Sim is Great

The most recent series by independent creator Dave Sim (in collaboration with Sandeep Atwal), Cerebus In Hell, loosely continues on from his legendary, award winning series Cerebus. Very, very loosely. Though I think it’s probably the only way that such an epic series could ever be satisfyingly continued by the original author especially fourteen years after it’s conclusion AND as a fortieth anniversary celebration t’boot.

For those who missed the party: Cerebus was an independently produced, epic 300 issue comic book published consistently month after month for twenty-seven years by the same creator/publisher without break. With background artist Gerhard joining him with issue sixty-five Dave Sim and Cerebus were the first to achieve this milestone (though there are a couple of moneyed, heavily backed comics about to reach that record in the coming years).

Beginning as a Sword and Sorcery/Conan satire Cerebus eventually grew into one of the most interesting and, occasionally, controversial comic series exploring subjects such as politics, religion and gender very often inspiring a great deal of passion both for and against Sim’s opinions to the point where he became something of a pariah in the Comics industry of the nineties. But regardless of whether you agreed with Sim or not, the fact of the matter is that Cerebus was and IS a stunning work of art and literature pushing the boundaries of what a comic is and can be with deliberate ease through page construction, panel layout and lettering. Actually his lettering alone is worth the price of entry.

Sim followed Cerebus with the interesting but less popular Glamourpuss which had Sim once again pushing the boundaries of what a comic is by creating something that was at once a superhero comic and glamour magazine parody but also included a history of photorealistic comics and an incomplete story about the death of Alex Raymond as a result of Glamourpuss coming to an abrupt halt in 2011 due to an unknown wrist injury suffered by Sim.

Since the last issue of Glamourpuss, Sim has been keeping himself busy with the release of a high definition, limited, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary edition of the High Society telephone book (Cerebus Collections are referred to as telephone books due to their size), a DVD ‘animated’ version of High Society narrated and performed by Sim himself (absolutely fantastic and highly recommended to everyone) as well as a series of Archives that reproduce the original art of the early issues (above) and a beautiful Cover Art Treasury of every single cover of the series with commentary (below), most of which are available in our store right now. What? We’re a shop remember.

Which leaves us with Cerebus In Hell; bringing us back to Cerebus’ beginnings in that it’s just straight up funny and irreverent taking pot-shots with almost childish glee. Foregoing traditional art, Sim has opted to repurpose Gustave Doré’s illustrations for Dante’s The Devine Comedy and inserted the occasionally different, single Cerebus figure onto the image in order to poke fun at Cerebus and, maybe, just maybe, the po-faced seriousness of Cerebus’ final years?

Perhaps time has softened both Sim and his readership as this new run of Cerebus is just a series of cartoon strips ignoring polemics and firing straight for the one-liner, sometimes a miss, occasionally silly, but more often than not eliciting a smile and a hearty guffaw. This book should appeal to anyone with a funny bone and will hopefully serve as an interesting introduction for the uninitiated to Cerebus.

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