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Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah: Essays on the Epic Graphic Satire of Dave Sim and Gerhard Paperback – March 12, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0786468898 ISBN-10: 0786468890
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Eric Hoffman, a poet and essayist, is the author of six books and lives in Connecticut.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (March 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786468890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786468898
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,536,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eric Hoffman lives in Connecticut and is the author of numerous articles and essays. His work has been published in Jacket2, Talisman, Poetry Flash, Rain Taxi and Smartish Pace, among others.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carl on July 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
From 1977 to 2004, Dave Sim self-published CEREBUS, a six thousand page comic book about a barbarian aardvark who later becomes a prime minister, Pope, houseguest, bartender and leader of a new religion. Alternatively fascinating and infuriating, Sim (and background artist Gerhard's) achievement is unmatched in comics history. Finally, the comic receives scholarly attention, in this collection of a half-dozen insightful essays on various aspects of CEREBUS: its structure, its themes, various aesthetic and technical achievements, its use of literary figures (most notably Oscar Wilde), and its meditations on power, politics, love, death, feminism and religion. The contributors do a fine job of tackling a hefty subject and are to be commended. Also included is a helpful guide to the phonebooks and an introduction giving helpful historical context and a discussion of Sim's involvement in self-publishing and creator's rights. Essential to any serious comic book fan's bookshelf.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Fenn on August 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
I received Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah: Essays on the Epic Graphic Satire of Dave Sim and Gerhard as an Early Reviewer book from Librarything. I knew when I clicked on the Request tag to receive it that I was taking a risk. As far as I could remember, I hadn't heard of Cerebus or Dave Sim before this. But the cover was appealing, I love comics, and I love learning new things.

And so I have. By reading this collections of essays, I've learned about Dave Sim's goal to break the mold of the comic industry by self-publishing a 300-issue, 6000-page epic about a thought-provoking aardvark. I've learned about Sim's life, his artistic talent, his nervous breakdown, and his finding religion. I've learned about his unfortunate "anti-feminism" and a lot of other topics he approached in 24 years of writing and drawing Cerebus.

This collection is a fascinating read. The essays are well-written and academic in their approach. They cover Sim's and, to a lesser extent, Gerhard's artwork; the challenges Sim faced with such a large project; as well as the challenges he faced due to his political and religious views. My only disappointment was that the section on gender didn't include any essays by women academics. I know the world of comics is still very much a boy's club, but girl comic folk do exist. Would have been nice to hear a woman's point of view on Sim's most controversial opinions.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By nfp on April 18, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A varied collection of critial essays on various aspects of Sim's masterwork, the 6,000-page epic graphic novel Cerebus. My only complaint is that there's so much to explore in that enormous work that this slim volume only scratches the barest of surfaces. Hopefully we'll see more of the same in coming years. Also, this book has helped convince me that no matter how much I disagree with his politics, Sim is not the lunatic or misogynist he's been painted as in the limited niche of the comics press.
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By Karen Schmocker on August 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was interesting to me as a long time Cerebus fan who is hoping the movie actually comes out.
I am sure it has a limited appeal to mainstream readers but anyone who is interested in independent comic producers, their history and progress will find it enlightening.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dan'l Danehy-Oakes on November 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
In the '80s and '90s, two grand experiments took place in telling truly large-scale stories -- albeit episodically -- in the format of monthly comic books.

One, The Sandman (written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by a congeries of artists), ran 75 issues and one special and was completed in the above-mentioned timeframe. It is generally regarded as a high-water mark of graphical storytelling.

The other, Cerebus the Aardvark (everything by Dave Sim except backgrounds from about the 1/5 mark on by Gerhard), began in the late '70s and continued into the '00s, running exactly 300 issues plus some marginalia. It is generally avoided by serious commentators because of it's creator's controversial political views, particularly about feminism, which leaked into the storyline.

(And how can a creator's views not leak into any serious work of narrative art? I'm just askin'...)

I bought collections of essays on both these series at Worldcon. This is the one on Cerebus.

The essays are, by and large, interesting and well-informed. They bring out some interesting aspects of the series (I particularly enjoyed Part Three, which is on the technical aspects of graphical storytelling, in which Sim was unquestionably a radical innovator) and are, mostly, readably written (though there is one that verges into postmodern twaddle).

But, for God's sake, couldn't Hoffman, in putting together a book of essays about Cerebus, have included at least one essay by a woman? Particularly when there are three essays on gender issues in the comic?

Sim rejects the term "misogynist," preferring to label himself an "anti-feminist.
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