A&R2016: Cerebus in Hell?

Cerebus in Hell? (2016) by Dave Sim and others

I was going to do Glamourpuss today, but then it turned out that I’m missing issues #2-7… so I’ve ordered those, because after re-reading #1, I’m kinda interested in seeing how those early issues developed.

So you’re getting a brief post about Cerebus in Hell? instead… and I don’t have all of those, either. I’ve only got three issues, and there’s been at least 80 issues of that thing. But I’m not buying those! There are limits for what I’m willing to subject myself to, even for a stupid blog series like this.

But let’s have a peek.

So, Sim got RSI after trying to draw like Alex Raymond for several years (it turns out to be really hard), and he didn’t see a doctor about it. Not that there’s necessarily anything a doctor can do with hand injuries like that, but there are treatments that can be helpful for some people. Sim negotiated all this at length on various internet fora, and if I remember correctly, he alternately seemed to take it as a sign from god that he should stop whatever he was doing, to allowing some fans to set up an appointment with doctors in… Texas? But he denied them access to his medical records, because he didn’t want them to be tainted by other doctors’ opinions, or something. I may be misremembering! And it’s not that this is necessarily the wrong approach or anything! Lots of doctors are pretty bad at what they do? So I understand the scepticism… but anyway, here we are, and where we are is here:

Oops, sideways? Yes, the entire issue is sideways. Let me fix that for you:

Sim helpfully recaps the Cerebus series…

… and then the rest of the book (and the series, I think?) is basically this: Sim’s assistant, Sandeep Atwal, scanned the Doré illustrations from the Dante, and then they have Cerebus in a few poses as clip art to superimpose over the drawings.

And then there are jokes. And the jokes are all pretty bad?

I’ve only got three issues, and while you’d perhaps expect a lot of political jokes, it’s mostly just pretty lame gags based on the setting. Except for this #aarvarklivesmatter bit.

Sim was renowned for his funny bits in Cerebus, but this just isn’t funny, I think? And it’s an annoying format: You have to turn the book to read the text up in the heading (and I guess if this was an online strip, that’d be the hover text).

The Big Bang Theory dis is solid. Now that’s humour!

They acknowledge that the idea for this came from Wondermark. The difference is that Wondermark can be very funny, and is visually more interesting.

And after three issues of this, I was “nope; I’m out”.

Cerebus in Hell? was refashioned into a series of #1s — all parodying various comic book covers, but with interiors that are supposed to still resemble this stuff?

Like this.

Atwal disappeared from the production after a while, but a number of other people have stepped up to co-write the book (as well as doing the production, if I understand correctly).

Some people like it:

I love this comic because it showcases how funny Cerebus is just by being an amoral jerk aardvark. His obstinate nature creates chaos and reacts to the absurd situations he’s put into in Hell, and the resulting reactions by Virgil and Dante to his asshole nature are funny.

And there has to be more than a few, because otherwise how could they publish nearly a hundred of these? There’s even reprint volumes! In softcover and hardcover!

Not much of a rating at Goodreads, though.

It’s hard to find reviews:

And after two issues of this, I’m like… this has been a very interesting bus ride, overall, and I’m glad I was on it for so long, despite everything, and now I am getting off the bus.

Some people are less than impressed and find the whole project to be a scam:

And with each one-shot, tries to parody some aspect of comics and comics history in its cover and name, hoping to get some confused sales along the way along with a new issue number one. And, drop by drop, destroying what remains of his creative reputation. Maybe it’s not too late to turn it around? He’s doing signed versions as well now for an extra $11.

Well, that’s nice…

This blog post is part of the Renegades and Aardvarks series.

2 thoughts on “A&R2016: Cerebus in Hell?”

  1. Glamourpuss was interesting for the Alex Raymond backup. I met the publisher of the collected version of that story and he said that it’s been almost completely redrawn, which blew me away, but I think he also said it was unfinished? And documented as such at the end of the collection in some kind of crazy way? I’m not THAT interested to find out and re-read, but that collection might be worth it to you for your blog series.

    I also stopped reading those Cerebus in Hell things, but I did just get one because of the Miracleman homage/parody. It was ok.

    1. Yeah, I’ve read the collection (much of it redrawn by Carson Grubaugh) and it’s tough sledding. I remember the original material in Glamourpuss being more readable, but perhaps that was because it was interspersed with the fashion parodies. I guess I’ll find out in a couple weeks time when it’s time to re-read Glamourpuss. 🙂

Leave a Reply