Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"...And here are the people forced to argue about 90s alternative rock for the rest of eternity!" Cerebus in Hell #0 review

It has been 12 years since Dave Sim's Cerebus ran to its long-awaited conclusion. Sim has not exactly been idle since then, what with his book glamourpuss and his plan to publish The Strange Death of Alex Raymond. His recent alliance with IDW has even led to Sim drawing the occasional cover or short story for them. Unfortunately, a hand injury in 2015 has seemingly left Sim unable to draw, his future as an artist very much in jeopardy. Cerebus to the rescue!

Cerebus in Hell #0 is the introduction of Sim's new Cerebus product, picking up where the 300 issue series left off. If you read all the way to the end, you may recall it concluded with the abominable aardvark dying of old age and going to Hell. Ergo, Cerebus in Hell is set in Hell. Makes sense, don't it?

As Sim is unable to draw, the solution to creating a new Dave Sim comic book has been to run everything through Photoshop; Cerebus is represented by a rather limited number of stock poses which Sim drew years earlier. The other characters and backgrounds are derived from Gustave Dore's woodcut-illustrated edition of Inferno by Dante Alighieri (the cover is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch) with Sim's computer-generated lettering providing the script.

It's appropriate to be revisiting Cerebus at this time as the character's 40th anniversary is upon us, so this could be construed as a happy accident (for we readers, not so much Sim's right hand). The form of punishment Cerebus endures in Hell is also quite delicious: having previously been the protagonist of the longest graphic novel in the English language, Cerebus is now the protagonist of a 4-panel gag strip not unlike other funny animals such as Garfield or Heathcliff. In way, Sim has gone back to his roots what with his 1970s strip The Beavers.

The jokes found within are a mixed bag, but as there's a new gang on each page there are enough laughs to justify buying the rest of Cerebus in Hell as it appears. Beyond that, the skill with which this book was created is fun in and of itself. Seeing how Sim can repurpose a character from Inferno into DC Comics' Spectre is quite neat. This comic is pretty much destined to appeal only to a small niche audience but as one within that niche, I am quite pleased.

No comments: