Cerebus is the star of a monthly black and white comic book
written by Dave Sim
and illustrated by him and Gerhard
. Originally intended as just another "funny animal
" comic (like Bone
and Howard the Duck
) in a Conan the Barbarian
-style setting, the book quickly grew up.
Since Cerebus' beginnings as a short, strong, ill-tempered, and often very clever aardvark wandering from village to village in search of his fortune, he has been a kitchen staff supervisor, a prime minister, a pope, a houseguest, a messiah, and a bartender, not necessarily in that order. He's not a hero, or even an anti-hero. Dave Sim allows Cerebus to have a personality and life all his own; Dave creates the circumstances, and Cerebus (like the other characters) merely responds according to who he is. This gives the book a peculiar sort of realism; stories don't lead to the sort of predictable or even desirable endings most readers would expect. On two occasions, Dave has even written himself (as the writer and creator) into his stories in order to metaphorically kick Cerebus in the behind and move events along.
Dave Sim has long been accused of using characters in "Cerebus" as a vehicle for his own misogyny, which like most things in life both is and isn't true. Exhibit A for this argument is always the Cirinists, which either refers to the church or the police force founded by Cirin and advocating female domination of society. He is mainly just guilty of portraying certain female characters in the same negative light that he does certain male characters.
"Cerebus" ran for exactly 300 issues, a target Sim had always intended to reach and end with. The final issue was released on March 10, 2004.
"Cerebus" comics are collected in large newsprint paperbacks, affectionately nicknamed "phone books", which you can buy at large comic book stores or your favorite online bookstore. The ones published so far are, in order:
The first eponymous
book is a collection of shorter stories and adventures, and while it establishes Cerebus and other recurring
characters and places, it doesn't really give an accurate "feel" of what this series becomes. "High Society" is twenty-five monthly issues and a single complete story; I would recommend a new reader buy that book first and "Cerebus" second, then the others in order.