Cerebus the Aardvark
Cerebus the Aardvark, or simply Cerebus (icon), is an independent comic book
Alternative comics
Alternative comics defines a range of American comics that have appeared since the 1980s, following the underground comix movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Alternative comics present an alternative to "mainstream" superhero comics which in the past have dominated the US comic book industry...

, written and illustrated by Canadian artist Dave Sim
Dave Sim
David Victor Sim is an award-winning Canadian comic book writer and artist.A pioneer of self-published comics and creators' rights, Sim is best known as the creator of Cerebus the Aardvark, a comic book published from 1977 to 2004, which chronicles its main character in a 6,000-page self-contained...

, with backgrounds by fellow Canadian Gerhard. Cerebus ran for 300 issues from December 1977 to 2004, and was over 6000 pages long, the longest-running original English-language comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 series ever by a single creative team. , it leads its closest challenger (Stan Sakai
Stan Sakai
is a third-generation Japanese American Cartoonist comic book creator. He is best known as the creator of the comic series Usagi Yojimbo. -Biography:...

's Usagi Yojimbo
Usagi Yojimbo
is a comic book series created by Stan Sakai in 1987. In 2011 IGN ranked Miyamoto Usagi 92nd in the top 100 comic books heroes.-Concept:Set primarily at the beginning of Edo period of Japan , with anthropomorphic animals replacing humans, the series features a rabbit ronin, Miyamoto Usagi, whom...

, still ongoing) by over 100 issues. Sim refers to it as the "longest sustained narrative in human history."

The name was originally an accidental misspelling of Cerberus
Cerberus , or Kerberos, in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed hound which guards the gates of the Underworld, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping...

. Cerebus was named the thirty-eighth greatest comic book character by the magazine Empire
Empire (magazine)
Empire is a British film magazine published monthly by Bauer Consumer Media. From the first issue in July 1989, the magazine was edited by Barry McIlheney and published by Emap. Bauer purchased Emap Consumer Media in early 2008...


Currently, Dave Sim continues Cerebus-related work through the streaming internet TV show, Cerebus TV.

Publication history

Cerebus was self-published
Self-publishing is the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher. The author is responsible and in control of entire process including design , formats, price, distribution, marketing & PR...

 by Sim under his Aardvark-Vanaheim
Aardvark-Vanaheim is a Canadian independent comic book publisher founded in 1977 by Dave Sim and Deni Loubert. It is best known for publishing Sim's Cerebus....

, Inc. publishing banner. For the first few years the company's publisher was Deni Loubert
Deni Loubert
Deni Loubert is a French Canadian comics publisher, co-founder of Aardvark-Vanaheim and founder of Renegade Press. She is the ex-wife of Dave Sim, with whom she founded Aardvark-Vanaheim and published Cerebus from issues #1 to #77 .Loubert and Sim met in 1976) and married in 1979...

, Sim's girlfriend (the two would marry and divorce during the comic's run). Sim's position as a pioneering self-publisher in comics inspired numerous writer/artists after him, most notably Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith (cartoonist)
Jeff Smith is an American cartoonist, best known as the creator of the self-published comic book series Bone. His current series, RASL, focuses on an art thief who hops through dimensional barriers, hiding out on various parallel worlds.-Early life and education:Jeff Smith was born in McKees...

 (Bone), Terry Moore
Terry Moore (comics)
Terry Moore is a comic book author, graphic novelist and illustrator.He created the popular series Strangers in Paradise, and was involved in the founding of Homage Comics.-Biography:...

 (Strangers In Paradise
Strangers in Paradise
Strangers in Paradise is a long-running, mostly self-published black-and-white comic book, written and drawn by Terry Moore. The series has reached its planned conclusion, finishing off in 2007 with issue #90 of volume 3....

), and Martin Wagner (Hepcats
Hepcats was a comic book self-published in the 1990s by artist Martin Wagner. It dealt with the lives of four college students, rendered as anthropomorphic animals , and was inspired by Wagner's own college experiences....


Inspired in some ways by the Steve Gerber
Steve Gerber
Stephen Ross "Steve" Gerber was an American comic book writer best known as co-creator of the satiric Marvel Comics character Howard the Duck....

 character Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck is a comic book character in the Marvel Comics universe created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik. The character first appeared in Adventure into Fear #19 and several subsequent series have chronicled the misadventures of the ill-tempered, anthropomorphic, "funny...

, the earliest issues of Cerebus took the form of a parody of the sword and sorcery
Sword and sorcery
Sword and sorcery is a sub-genre of fantasy and historical fantasy, generally characterized by sword-wielding heroes engaged in exciting and violent conflicts. An element of romance is often present, as is an element of magic and the supernatural...

 genre, particularly Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian is a fictional sword and sorcery hero that originated in pulp fiction magazines and has since been adapted to books, comics, several films , television programs, video games, roleplaying games and other media...

. The series developed artistic sophistication and originality very quickly. Citing as his self-originated commandment, "Thou shall break every law in the book," Sim has done everything from flipping the page from horizontal to vertical and all stages in between to alternating comics with prose narrative, to including real dead or living people (himself included) in the storyline, all in an effort to explode the conventions of the North American comic book in every conceivable way.

In 1979, Sim, who was at the time a frequent marijuana
Cannabis (drug)
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug or for medicinal purposes. The English term marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish word marihuana...

 user, began using LSD
Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD or LSD-25, also known as lysergide and colloquially as acid, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug of the ergoline family, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, synaesthesia, an...

, taking the drug with such frequency that he was eventually hospitalized. It was this incident that Sim claims led to the inspiration to produce Cerebus for 300 monthly issues. The episodic adventures strayed further and further from heroic fantasy
Heroic fantasy
Heroic fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy which chronicles the tales of heroes in imaginary lands. Unlike stories of sword and sorcery, heroic fantasy narratives tend to be intricate in plot, often involving many peoples, nations and lands. Grand battles and the fate of the world are common themes,...

, and the twenty five-issue graphic novel High Society segued the narrative into a complex political satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 and drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

. With issue #65 Sim was joined by Gerhard; Gerhard's intricately rendered backgrounds became a visual hallmark of the comic.

When Sim published the first Cerebus "phone book", a paperback collection of the High Society graphic novel (issues #26-50), he angered retailers — who felt that their support had been instrumental in his series' success in an industry generally indifferent to small publishers — by offering the first printing via mail order only. The decision was a financial windfall for Sim, however, grossing over $150,000 in sales. Sim became known for picking up hotel tabs for self-publishers and helping other self-publishers by paying for meals and limo service between stops. Negotiations regarding DC
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

 buying Cerebus took place over the course of 1985 to 1988, offering $100,000 and 10% of all licensing and merchandising, which Sim rejected.

By the end of the 1980s, Sim became an outspoken advocate of creators' rights in comics, and used the editorial pages of Cerebus to promote self-publishing and greater artist activism. Sim was also the biggest individual supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a United States non-profit organization created in 1986 to protect the First Amendment rights of comics creators, publishers, and retailers covering legal expenses....

; when he guest-wrote the 10th issue of Todd McFarlane
Todd McFarlane
Todd McFarlane is a Canadian cartoonist, writer, toy designer and entrepreneur, best known for his work in comic books, such as the fantasy series Spawn....

's best-selling Spawn
Spawn (comics)
Spawn is a fictional comic book superhero who appears in a monthly comic book of the same name published by Image Comics. Created by writer/artist Todd McFarlane, Spawn first appeared in Spawn #1...

, Sim donated his entire fee — over $100,000 — to the fund. During this same period he started publishing his and others' experiments with 24-hour comic
24-hour comic
A 24-hour comic is a 24-page comic book written, drawn, and completed in 24 hours. Scott McCloud originally came up with the challenge for himself and Steve Bissette as a creative exercise...

s in the back of his issues, which created greater awareness of this challenge, now the subject of an annual event for creating them.

"Jaka's Story", a tragic character study dealing with gender roles and the political suppression of art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

, is generally cited as the series' pinnacle of narrative achievement. However, later issues of the series became highly personal and began to alienate many long-time fans, his female readers especially. Issue #186 (collected in Reads) contained a lengthy prose section that was attacked by some readers and critics for what they perceived as overt misogyny
Misogyny is the hatred or dislike of women or girls. Philogyny, meaning fondness, love or admiration towards women, is the antonym of misogyny. The term misandry is the term for men that is parallel to misogyny...

, but which Sim describes as "anti-feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

". During this part of the story, the storyline consisted of a textual treatise written by Viktor Davis, a fictional "reads" author, interspersed with the main Cerebus storyline. In Davis' material, he refers to the "creative male light" and the "emotional female void", a reversal of the gender-based view of creation espoused by the Judge at the end of Church and State (namely, the "female light" being raped by the "male void" and shattering into the physical universe). As Sim himself says in an interview with The Comics Journal
The Comics Journal
The Comics Journal, often abbreviated TCJ, is an American magazine of news and criticism pertaining to comic books, comic strips and graphic novels...

, "Cerebus #1-200 [is] the completion of the story. The yin and yang
Yin and yang
In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang , which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only...

. The ultra-female reading. The ultra-male reading. I'm attaching an allegory to the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

. You make up your mind which one's the pit and which one's the top of the mountain." By the end of the series, the Void is again male and identified as God, and the Light is female, now identified with YHWH. Issue #186 was followed by an even harsher essay in the back of issue #265 called "Tangent", in which Sim identified a "feminist/homosexualist axis" that opposed traditional and rational societal values. This material appeared as Sim was retreating from public life and becoming more marginalized by his peers in the industry.

Sim himself has appeared as a character in Cerebus, most notably to berate the title character in the "Minds" story arc. A writer entering his own fictional universe is not an original idea either in comics or conventional writing (see Stan Lee
Stan Lee
Stan Lee is an American comic book writer, editor, actor, producer, publisher, television personality, and the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics....

 and Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby , born Jacob Kurtzberg, was an American comic book artist, writer and editor regarded by historians and fans as one of the major innovators and most influential creators in the comic book medium....

 in Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four is a fictional superhero team appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The group debuted in The Fantastic Four #1 , which helped to usher in a new level of realism in the medium...

, Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

's Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is a 1973 novel by the American author Kurt Vonnegut. Set in the fictional town of Midland City, it is the story of "two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast." One of these men, Dwayne Hoover, is a normal-looking but...

, Paul Auster
Paul Auster
Paul Benjamin Auster is an American author known for works blending absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction and the search for identity and personal meaning in works such as The New York Trilogy , Moon Palace , The Music of Chance , The Book of Illusions and The Brooklyn Follies...

's New York Trilogy and Grant Morrison
Grant Morrison
Grant Morrison is a Scottish comic book writer, playwright and occultist. He is known for his nonlinear narratives and counter-cultural leanings, as well as his successful runs on titles like Animal Man, Doom Patrol, JLA, The Invisibles, New X-Men, Fantastic Four, All-Star Superman, and...

's comic Animal Man
Animal Man
Animal Man is a fictional character, a superhero in the . As a result of being in proximity to an exploding extraterrestrial spaceship, Buddy Baker acquires the ability to temporarily “borrow” the abilities of animals...

) for other examples of this type of metafiction
Metafiction, also known as Romantic irony in the context of Romantic works of literature, is a type of fiction that self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction, exposing the fictional illusion...

, although he claims to have planned the encounter as early as 1979, more than a decade before it actually took place.

He reportedly cut all ties with his family and virtually all of his industry colleagues apart from Gerhard in order to finish the work. He has had very public fallings-out with both Terry Moore
Terry Moore (comics)
Terry Moore is a comic book author, graphic novelist and illustrator.He created the popular series Strangers in Paradise, and was involved in the founding of Homage Comics.-Biography:...

 and Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith (cartoonist)
Jeff Smith is an American cartoonist, best known as the creator of the self-published comic book series Bone. His current series, RASL, focuses on an art thief who hops through dimensional barriers, hiding out on various parallel worlds.-Early life and education:Jeff Smith was born in McKees...

, the latter of whom Sim challenged to a boxing match in an editorial published in the comic. Sim claimed Smith lied about an argument the two had had over the notorious essay in issue #186, during which he allegedly threatened to give Sim a "fat lip". Sim also developed an adversarial relationship with Gary Groth
Gary Groth
Gary Groth is an American comic book editor, publisher and critic. He is editor-in-chief of The Comics Journal and a co-founder of Fantagraphics Books.-Early life:...

, the publisher of The Comics Journal
The Comics Journal
The Comics Journal, often abbreviated TCJ, is an American magazine of news and criticism pertaining to comic books, comic strips and graphic novels...

, an independently published comics magazine.

Sim's religious beliefs heavily influenced the latter third of Cerebuss storyline. Once an atheist
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

, Sim became a believer in God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 while gathering research material for "Rick's Story". However, rather than following one religion, Sim believes that Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, and Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 are all equally valid and has formed his religious practices from aspects of all three, although he described himself in issue #8 of Following Cerebus as "mostly Muslim". A 2003 magazine interview describes Sim as reciting a prayer of his own devising five times a day (which was published in the back of issue #300), and as having sold much of his furniture to donate the money to charity as an act of religious asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

. In an editorial contained in issue #297, Sim stated that he regards the production of Cerebus as of secondary importance to his religious practice. Sim's religious beliefs tie into his views on gender, and the bulk of the Cerebus storyline after "Guys" deals with this, especially "Rick's Story", "Latter Days", and "The Last Day".

The publication in March 2004 of issue #300 was met with a muted, rather than celebratory, response from the comics industry. Though Sim reports the print run for #300 was doubled from that of recent issues, that would still only come to around 16,000 copies, a far cry from the series' high of 30,000 copies around issue #100.

A new quarterly publication, Following Cerebus, followed in August 2004, featuring correspondence, essays, and previously unpublished artwork from Sim, as well as interviews with other comic writers and artists.

Sim was rumored as saying that, had he died or otherwise chosen not to complete Cerebus prior to issue 300, that however many remaining issues there were left were to either consist of blank pages, or Gerhard was to have drawn his backgrounds only, leaving Sim's contribution blank. It is not known if this plan was ever serious, since it was never put into effect; however, in a 1996 interview, having just broken the 200 issue barrier, Sim mentioned his wishes regarding Cerebus, should he be prevented somehow from finishing his goal: "If something like that happens and I'm at mid-issue, the instructions are that the comic book gets printed with the rest of the pages blank. Look at the last page I drew because that's probably where the gods went 'No, I think we've just about had enough of this guy'".

At the completion of the series, he directed that upon his and Gerhard's death, Cerebus would enter into the public domain
Public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...

. Effective 31 December 2006, Sim purchased Gerhard's share of the company. Sim has already granted a general license for other creators to use his characters in their own works, stating that he is trying to be consistent with his own appropriation of others' works.

In the spring of 2009, Sim launched the bimonthly series Cerebus Archive. Despite the title, the series is primarily a retrospective on Sim's non-Cerebus work prior to and concurrent with the Cerebus series; according to a note in Issue 1, however, the inclusion of Cerebus in the title requires him to include the character in some way, so the front covers of the first two issues published as of July 2009 feature Cerebus.

After refusing for years to allow it to be translated (because he couldn't be sure of the accuracy of translations into languages he couldn't read), with Sim's permission several European publishers are now translating Cerebus. In 2010, High Society
High Society (comics)
High Society is the second collected volume, and first volume-length story, of Canadian cartoonist Dave Sim's Cerebus comic book series. It focuses mainly on politics, including Cerebus campaign for the office of Prime Minister, in the fictional city-state of Iest in Sim's world of Estarcion...

 was published in Spanish, French, and Italian; and in 2011, Church & State Vol. I
Church and State (comics)
Church & State is the third novel in Canadian cartoonist Dave Sim's Cerebus comic book series. In it, Cerebus once again becomes Prime Minister, and eventually Pope.The 1200-page novel was divided into seven books has been collected in two volumes...

 was published in Spanish.


This first story arc, uniquely in this series, consists of one to three-issue storylines with only occasional back-references. Cerebus is introduced as an amoral barbarian mercenary, fighting (and betraying) for money and drinking it away. During his adventures, he encounters the warrior Pigts (whose religion reveres aardvarks) and the insane wizard Necross, who turns himself into a giant stone Thrunk (visually similar to Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

' The Thing). Most of the series' prominent characters are introduced (or at least mentioned) in these issues, including Elrod of Melvinbone (a parodic representation of Michael Moorcock
Michael Moorcock
Michael John Moorcock is an English writer, primarily of science fiction and fantasy, who has also published a number of literary novels....

's Elric of Melnibone
Elric of Melniboné
Elric of Melniboné is a fictional character created by Michael Moorcock, and the antihero of a series of sword and sorcery stories centering in an alternate Earth. The proper name and title of the character is Elric VIII, 428th Emperor of Melniboné...

), Lord Julius, a character based upon Groucho Marx
Groucho Marx
Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx was an American comedian and film star famed as a master of wit. His rapid-fire delivery of innuendo-laden patter earned him many admirers. He made 13 feature films with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born...

, Artemis Roach (a.k.a. The Roach) and Jaka. The series takes a sharp change in direction with issue #20 which is the first of the "Mind Games" issues that are a feature of the comic and introduces the philosophical Suenteus Po and the ultra-matriarchial Cirinists.

"High Society"

Cerebus comes to the wealthy city-state of Iest as the representative of Lord Julius's city-state of Palnu. He quickly finds himself enmeshed in the fast-paced world of high finance and politics, and comic tension is built through his ignorance of the "high society" machinations going on around him. Cerebus is befriended by the legendary Regency Elf as he adjusts to his new circumstances. He meets and soon finds himself maneuvered into a political campaign by the mysterious Astoria, who is also manipulating Artemis into pseudo-super hero identities that are parodies of Moon Knight
Moon Knight
Moon Knight is a fictional character, a mercenary-turned-superhero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character exists in the Marvel Universe and was created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin...

 and later Sergeant Preston of the Mounties
Sergeant William Preston
Sergeant William Preston is a fictional Canadian Mountie created by Fran Striker and George W. Trendle for the long-running radio serial Challenge of the Yukon....

. Cerebus recognizes that he is a pawn in a political game between Lord Julius and Astoria, but he struggles to assert himself and ultimately confounds the expectations of everyone attempting to use him. Cerebus is eventually elected Prime Minister of Iest, but launches an unnecessary war of conquest that causes him to lose everything.

"Church & State I"

After some travels, Cerebus returns to Iest and is manipulated by Weisshaupt, who wants to use Cerebus's popularity with the masses, into again becoming Prime Minister of Iest. Weisshaupt has maneuvered himself into the tenuous presidency of a federation of states (including Iest, Palnu and New Sepra) as a bulwark against the Cirinists. Weisshaupt lures Cerebus into a drunken marriage to Red Sophia, but ultimately over-reaches himself when he has Cerebus appointed Pope of the Eastern Church of Tarim. Finally out from under anyone else's control, Cerebus lets absolute power go to his head and demands that all the citizens must give him all their gold or face the end of the world. Sophia walks out on Cerebus, and then he discovers that Jaka is married and pregnant. Cerebus is threatened by Weisshaupt's secret invention of cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

s, but Weisshaupt suffers a heart attack and Cerebus continues his papal reign of terror. He is finally ejected from the Upper City by the sudden invasion of the giant stone Thrunk, who claims to be the God Tarim.

"Church & State II"

Cerebus returns to Iest's Upper City and uses Weisshaupt's cannons to destroy Thrunk and reclaim the papacy. Astoria has mysteriously killed the Western pope ("the Lion of Serrea"), and Cerebus must execute her for the crime in order to retain his papacy. Cerebus confronts her in a dungeon, and after being taunted by Astoria, he grants himself a divorce from Red Sophia, marries himself to Astoria, rapes her, and then divorces himself from her. Astoria's trial, which echoes with similarities to a repeating pattern of historical executions of reformers, is interrupted when Cerebus makes the predicted Ascension to the Moon that is the culmination of the land's religious prophecy. There, Cerebus meets the Judge, a timeless, godlike being who has watched over history from the very beginning. (Sim had based the personality of this character on cartoonist and playwright Jules Feiffer
Jules Feiffer
Jules Ralph Feiffer is an American syndicated cartoonist, most notable for his long-run comic strip titled Feiffer. He has created more than 35 books, plays and screenplays...

.) The Judge explains his version of the creation myth of Cerebus's universe, before warning Cerebus that he will live only a few more years before dying "alone, unmourned and unloved." The Judge tells Cerebus that if the Aardvark ever questions his suffering, he should remember his "second marriage" to Astoria. Cerebus then falls back to earth, where he discovers that the Cirinists have invaded, and his empire has collapsed.

"Jaka's Story"

Cerebus returns to Iest, now under a brutal Cirinist dictatorship, and runs into Jaka again. She is illegally working as a dancer in her landlord's tavern; he treats Jaka kindly but secretly spends his days lusting after her. Cerebus agrees to live with Jaka and her husband Rick as their houseguest. That story is interwoven with unreliable tales of Jaka's childhood told by a writer, representing Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

, using notes and stories provided by Rick. In the end Cerebus disguises himself and travels to the Lower City to buy a jar of paint. While he is gone, the Cirinists find the tavern, kill Pud, and arrest Jaka, Rick, and Oscar. Jaka is made to sign a confession of immoral behavior, and is reunited with Rick; however, the Cirinists reveal to Rick that Jaka aborted the son that Rick always wanted. He lashes out at Jaka and is allowed to divorce her (although he is maimed for striking her). Jaka returns to Palnu, and Cerebus returns to the inn to find it in ruins.


This story arc concentrates on the last days and death of Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

, who is attended to by his trusted companion Robbie Ross, rather than on Cerebus himself, who appears in only a few pages. (The title refers to the gothic novel Melmoth the Wanderer
Melmoth the Wanderer
Melmoth the Wanderer is a gothic novel published in 1820, written by Charles Robert Maturin .- Synopsis :...

 by Charles Robert Maturin, a relative of Wilde's. Wilde adopted this alias during this period of his life.) Meanwhile, a catatonic Cerebus, believing Jaka to be dead, spends his days mourning on the patio of a café. In the last few pages of the story, after the main action had concluded, Cerebus overhears a conversation by two Cirinist jailers insulting Jaka. Enraged, Cerebus murders one of the guards and then springs into action.


First part of the "Mothers and Daughters" story arc. Cerebus's return to Iest and slaughter of Cirinsts leads to a very brief failed revolution. Cerebus ascends into darkness and speaks with Suenteus Po. Meanwhile, Cirin works to manage her sect and arrange her own Ascension. Artemis, with Elrod as his sidekick, also stages his own impromptu revolution under his new persona "PunisherRoach", a parody of the Marvel comics character The Punisher.


Second part of the story-arc "Mothers and Daughters". Cerebus crashes back to earth. He is assisted by a mysterious old woman who is being openly spied upon by the Cirinists; she sends him to a bar to hide. This story arc includes a parody of Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman
Neil Richard Gaiman born 10 November 1960)is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book...

's Sandman in which the Roach plays "Swoon" (a parody of Dream) and Elrod plays "Snuff" (a transvestite parody of Death
Death (DC Comics)
Death is a fictional character from the DC comic book series, The Sandman . The character first appeared in The Sandman vol. 2, #8 , and was created by Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg....

). Astoria and Cirin symbolically duel in a dream realm. The book includes excerpts from books written by Astoria and Cirin that describe their differing beliefs. Cerebus flies across the city to slay Astoria, but is interrupted by the arrival of Suenteus Po.


Third part of the "Mothers and Daughters" story arc. This book primarily consists of two long text pieces. The first revolves around an author of Reads, heavily illustrated books in Cerebus's world. In this story, there is a strong thread about the dangers of commercial success and "selling out". The series moves from this storyline to a long essay attributed to Viktor Davis, a fictional Reads author. This essay puts forth a theory on the nature of the genders, describing the "Female Void" focused on feeling, and the "Male Light" focused on reason. These two stories are accompanied by a long discussion between Cirin, Astoria, Cerebus, and Suenteus Po. Po gives information about aardvarks, including that all aardvarks have Cerebus' "magnifier" quality, and attempts to convince each of the others to abandon their pursuits of power and return to what they enjoy doing most, then leaves them to their fates. Astoria is convinced and also leaves, but not before giving Cerebus information about her history with Cirin and also informing him of his hermaphrodite nature. Cerebus and Cirin then engage in a long and brutal fight, which leads to the beginning of another ascension.


Fourth and concluding part of the "Mothers and Daughters" story arc. Cerebus and Cirin ascend, then are separated by a mysterious force. As Cerebus flies through the solar system, he is shown images from his past and is forced to reconsider his actions and his faith. He then encounters a disembodied voice calling itself "Dave" that acknowledges itself as Cerebus's creator. "Dave" shows Cerebus the history of the Cirinist movement, revealing that Cirin is actually named Serna and was the best friend of the real Cirin (the old woman Cerebus encountered in Women), but usurped Cirin's leadership and effectively exchanged identities with her. "Dave" then gives Cerebus information about his past, showing that Cerebus unwittingly ruined his original destiny, causing chaotic repercussions which have influenced most of his adventures. Cerebus demands that "Dave" make Jaka love him; in response, "Dave" shows Cerebus visions of possible futures between himself and Jaka, all of which are disastrously flawed for both of them due to Cerebus' nature. After a period of penance and self-reflection on Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

, Cerebus asks "Dave" to place him in a bar he remembers from his mercenary days.


Cerebus spends time in, and eventually becomes bartender in one of the Cirinist's bars, where "degenerate" men are essentially quarantined from the female citizens. Described in the trade paperback's introduction as based on a bar that Sim frequented during a near-alcoholic stint between relationships, the series features various parodic characters who come and go while Cerebus remains stationary. Cerebus begins a somewhat reluctant relationship with a woman named Joanne, who was first introduced in one of the possible futures with Jaka that "Dave" showed Cerebus in Minds.

"Rick's Story"

Eventually Jaka's ex-husband Rick arrives at the bar. He has significantly aged, become a heavy drinker (having barely been able to tolerate alcohol in "Jaka's Story"), and it is gradually revealed that the mental and emotional scars from the events at the end of "Jaka's Story" have left him mildly insane. Rick is working on a book about his life, which gradually becomes a religious work in which Cerebus is a holy figure and Rick his follower. Joanne returns and taunts Cerebus by courting Rick. At the end of the book, Rick departs, for reasons not entirely clear, and tells Cerebus that he will see Rick only once more in his life. After Rick has left, Jaka shows up at the bar, and she and Cerebus depart together, heading for Cerebus' childhood home of Sand Hills Creek.

"Going Home"

First part of the "Going Home" story arc. Cerebus and Jaka travel across land, then on a river boat. Cerebus is eager to make as much time as possible, as he fears being trapped in the mountains near Sand Hills Creek by winter, but instead he indulges Jaka's desire for shopping and public appearances. Along the way, they encounter veiled hostility from the Cirinists. Cerebus and Jaka's relationship begins to show signs of deterioration, and Jaka is almost tempted away by F. Stop Kennedy (a fictional version of F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost...

), a writer who has accompanied them on their river boat.

"Form and Void"

Second and concluding part of the story arc "Going Home". Cerebus and Jaka continue their journey towards Sand Hills Creek, in the company of Ham and Mary Ernestway, analogues to Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

 and his fourth wife, Mary. On the trip, Mary tells them about some of her and Ham's journeys. This material is based on Mary Hemingway's journals about Ernest's last African safaris prior to his death. Ham dies in what appears to be suicide, but Cerebus becomes convinced Mary murdered him and flees in panic, taking Jaka with him. They discover that they have been traveling in circles without making any significant progress toward Sand Hills Creek, and nearly die in a blizzard. They finally arrive in Sand Hills Creek only to find that Cerebus' parents are dead and the rest of the community has shunned Cerebus for his perceived abandonment of his family. Cerebus drives Jaka away, blaming her for keeping him away too long.

"Latter Days"

First part of the story arc "Latter Days". After a prodigious leap in time over two issues, Cerebus returns from the north intent on provoking the Cirinists into killing him. Instead, he is captured by a trio of characters based on the Three Stooges
Three Stooges
The Three Stooges were an American vaudeville and comedy act of the early to mid–20th century best known for their numerous short subject films. Their hallmark was physical farce and extreme slapstick. In films, the Stooges were commonly known by their first names: "Moe, Larry, and Curly" and "Moe,...

, who await a religious revelation from him. While Cerebus was in the north, a religious movement developed out of the teachings of Rick and his writings about Cerebus. Once Cerebus supplies the required revelation, he inspires a successful anti-Cirinist rebellion and a subsequent reordering of society. Much of the second half of this chapter consists of Cerebus giving a highly idiosyncratic analysis of the Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

. Published over the course of nearly a year, this section, called "Chasing YHWH" was presented almost entirely in text format, with minimal art. This story arc is unusual in that disembodied thought balloons give the impression that Cerebus is speaking directly to the reader at times. It is revealed in the last issue of the arc that Cerebus has been talking to a woman reporter who bears a striking resemblance to Jaka. He eventually falls in love with the woman and marries her.

"The Last Day"

The second and concluding part of "Latter Days", and the conclusion of the series as a whole. In the first 40 pages Cerebus has a dream or vision in which cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 is seen as a reflection of theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, complete with explanatory footnotes by Sim. Upon waking Cerebus — now incredibly aged, decrepit, pain-ridden, and mildly senile — makes the laborious trek to his writing desk to write down his new revelation. He then hides the manuscript, and it is implied that nobody will find it for two thousand years.

Cerebus spends most of the rest of the book trying to persuade his chief of security, Walter O'Reilly (named after Corporal Walter (Radar) O'Reilly from M A S H) to admit his son, Shep-Shep, with whom he remembers sharing an idyllic father-son relationship. However, the Sanctuary is under lockdown due to opposition from a new and even more rabidly "feminist-homosexualist" group led by Shep-Shep's mother, whom Cerebus refers to as "New Joanne", which favors such "rights" as pedophilia
As a medical diagnosis, pedophilia is defined as a psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children...

, zoophilia
Zoophilia, from the Greek ζῷον and φιλία is the practice of sex between humans and non-human animals , or a preference or fixation on such practice...

, juvenile recreational drug use
Recreational drug use
Recreational drug use is the use of a drug, usually psychoactive, with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational experience. Such use is controversial, however, often being considered to be also drug abuse, and it is often illegal...

 and lesbian motherhood. As a result, social values have undergone a complete breakdown.

Cerebus finally goes to bed despairing of seeing his son again, but Shep-Shep manages to sneak into Cerebus' room late that night. Their subsequent conversation shatters Cerebus' last illusions about his son. Shep-Shep has aligned himself with Cerebus' mother who has been conducting genetic engineering experiments, partly with knowledge gained from Cirin's earlier experimentation. Cerebus is disgusted and horrified when Shep-Shep shows him the results of one of the experiments and explains his mother's plans.

As Shep-Shep leaves Cerebus grabs a knife, intending to kill him, but falls out of bed and breaks his neck, alone, unmourned, and unloved, just as the Judge had predicted. His life flashes before his eyes in a series of flashback panels and his ghost
In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to...

 sees many of his old friends and enemies waiting for him in "the Light." Jaka, Bear, and Ham beckon to him, and he eagerly rushes to join them, thinking they are in Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

, but then he notices the absence of Rick and realizes that the Light may in fact be Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

. He calls out to God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 for help, but is dragged into the Light nonetheless.


Cerebus is a misanthropic
Misanthropy is generalized dislike, distrust, disgust, contempt or hatred of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope, or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings...

 anthropomorphic 3 foot (0.9144 m) biped
Bipedalism is a form of terrestrial locomotion where an organism moves by means of its two rear limbs, or legs. An animal or machine that usually moves in a bipedal manner is known as a biped , meaning "two feet"...

al gray aardvark
The aardvark is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa...

. He refers to himself by name, in the third person, with occasional exceptions in the early issues. Sim has described Cerebus's voice as sounding like George C. Scott
George C. Scott
George Campbell Scott was an American stage and film actor, director and producer. He was best known for his stage work, as well as his portrayal of General George S. Patton in the film Patton, and as General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr...

's. Although Cerebus considers himself male, and is treated as such, he is a hermaphrodite
In biology, a hermaphrodite is an organism that has reproductive organs normally associated with both male and female sexes.Many taxonomic groups of animals do not have separate sexes. In these groups, hermaphroditism is a normal condition, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which both...

, possessing both sexes' genitalia
Sex organ
A sex organ, or primary sexual characteristic, as narrowly defined, is any of the anatomical parts of the body which are involved in sexual reproduction and constitute the reproductive system in a complex organism; flowers are the reproductive organs of flowering plants, cones are the reproductive...

 and reproductive system
Reproductive system
The reproductive system or genital system is a system of organs within an organism which work together for the purpose of reproduction. Many non-living substances such as fluids, hormones, and pheromones are also important accessories to the reproductive system. Unlike most organ systems, the sexes...

s. Theoretically he is capable of impregnating himself; however, a childhood injury to his uterus makes this impossible.
Cerebus is an amoral
Amorality is an absence of, indifference towards, or disregard for moral beliefs. Any entity that is not sentient may be considered amoral. In addition, it can be argued that sentient but non-human creatures, like dogs, have no concept of morality and are therefore amoral...

 character. He is often foul-mouthed and uncouth, has a vicious temper
Anger is an automatic response to ill treatment. It is the way a person indicates he or she will not tolerate certain types of behaviour. It is a feedback mechanism in which an unpleasant stimulus is met with an unpleasant response....

, and loves getting drunk
Alcohol intoxication is a physiological state that occurs when a person has a high level of ethanol in his or her blood....

. In the Guys story arc, Cerebus is described as having "a self-absorption that borders on the pathological." In Church and State, Cerebus, after becoming Pope, uses brutal methods to teach morality lessons. However, he is brave, crafty, and can show genuine affection to those he considers equals or those he has feelings for. He is a skilled tactician
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

 and strategist
Strategy, a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked...

, is very proficient at hand to hand combat
Hand to hand combat
Hand-to-hand combat is a lethal or nonlethal physical confrontation between two or more persons at very short range that does not involve the use of firearms or other distance weapons...

, and has a knack for improvisation
Improvisation is the practice of acting, singing, talking and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one's immediate environment and inner feelings. This can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or...

 and manipulation
Social influence
Social influence occurs when an individual's thoughts, feelings or actions are affected by other people. Social influence takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales, and marketing...

. He received training in magic
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

 as a child, but is depicted as being able to recognize magic and deal with it rather than use it.

For most of the series' run, Cerebus possesses an innate "magnifier" ability. This ability, which he shows little (if any) conscious awareness of, is a tendency for events occurring around him to become unusually focused and ordered, with intensified actions and consequences and sometimes with paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 effects, then fall out of place in his absence. This ability also affects the people around him to varying degrees, amplifying their personality traits and abilities, and also amplifies any magic that is present.

A running gag
Running gag
A running gag, or running joke, is a literary device that takes the form of an amusing joke or a comical reference and appears repeatedly throughout a work of literature or other form of storytelling....

 in the early storylines was that when Cerebus' fur got wet it gave off a horrible stench, which even he could barely tolerate.

Cerebus is often considered to be one of the greatest comic book characters. Wizard magazine rated him as the 63rd greatest comic book character while Empire magazine rated him as the 38th greatest comic book character describing him as a character born of bizarre brilliance. IGN
IGN is an entertainment website that focuses on video games, films, music and other media. IGN's main website comprises several specialty sites or "channels", each occupying a subdomain and covering a specific area of entertainment...

 also placed Cerebus as the 91st greatest comic book hero of all time stating that a few names hold as much sway in the independent comics scene as Cerebus and that Cerebus' mark on the industry will be everlasting.

Supporting characters

Jaka Tavers : The love of Cerebus' life. A dancer by profession, she is the niece of Lord Julius and (ex-)wife of Rick Nash.
Lord Julius : Grandlord of the city-state of Palnu, who exercises control by making the bureaucracy incredibly dense and incomprehensible. Julius is crafty and intelligent, but often plays the fool to confuse and baffle opponents. His character design and behavior is based on Groucho Marx
Groucho Marx
Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx was an American comedian and film star famed as a master of wit. His rapid-fire delivery of innuendo-laden patter earned him many admirers. He made 13 feature films with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born...

, including snappy insults, a constant cigar, the chicken walk, and a painted-on mustache.
Astoria : A beautiful political manipulator, Lord Julius' ex-wife, and the main driving force behind Cerebus' campaign to become Prime Minister in High Society. She is the leader of the Kevillists, a feminist sect which opposes Cirin. The Kevillists mirror the Cirinists' philosophy, but would prefer power in the hands of daughters instead of mothers. She is named for actress Mary Astor
Mary Astor
Mary Astor was an American actress. Most remembered for her role as Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart, Astor began her long motion picture career as a teenager in the silent movies of the early 1920s.She eventually made a successful transition to talkies, but almost...

, and may be inspired in some ways by Sim's ex-wife Deni Loubert, though Sim himself denies this in issue 298.
Cirin : Leader of the Cirinists, a matriarchal
A matriarchy is a society in which females, especially mothers, have the central roles of political leadership and moral authority. It is also sometimes called a gynocratic or gynocentric society....

 fascist sect which conquers Estarcion at the conclusion of the Church and State storyline. Originally named Serna, she took the name and effectively exchanged identities with the real Cirin, whose views were much less militaristic. The sect honors mothers primarily, also giving high honors to daughters (potential mothers) and children. Men are tolerated. Like Cerebus, she is an aardvark.
Elrod the Albino (Elrod of Melvinbone): Essentially Michael Moorcock
Michael Moorcock
Michael John Moorcock is an English writer, primarily of science fiction and fantasy, who has also published a number of literary novels....

's Elric of Melnibone with the voice and personality of Senator Claghorn
Senator Claghorn
Senator Beauregard Claghorn of Charleston, South Carolina, was a popular radio character on the "Allen's Alley" segment of The Fred Allen Show beginning in 1945...

 (or Foghorn Leghorn), Elrod is an almost purely comic character whose main purpose is to frustrate and enrage Cerebus. In Women it is revealed that he was created by Cerebus' proximity to a magic gem, and after learning this he vanishes from existence. However, Joanne tells Cerebus she and her husband used to live next door to Elrod, who was married at the time to Red Sophia.
The Roach (Artemis): An incompetent superhero
A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

 character. Sim used the Roach to satirize popular mainstream comic characters or industry publishing trends, beginning with Batman
Batman is a fictional character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. A comic book superhero, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics...

. His other guises have included Captain Cockroach (Captain America
Captain America
Captain America is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 , from Marvel Comics' 1940s predecessor, Timely Comics, and was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby...

), Moonroach (Moon Knight
Moon Knight
Moon Knight is a fictional character, a mercenary-turned-superhero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character exists in the Marvel Universe and was created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin...

), Wolveroach (Wolverine
Wolverine (comics)
Wolverine is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Born as James Howlett and commonly known as Logan, Wolverine is a mutant, possessing animal-keen senses, enhanced physical capabilities, three retracting bone claws on each hand and a healing...

), the Secret Sacred Wars Roach (Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars
Secret Wars
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars is a twelve-issue comic book crossover limited series published from May 1984 to April 1985 by Marvel Comics. The series was written by Jim Shooter with art by Mike Zeck and Bob Layton...

 series and Frank Miller's Batman from The Dark Knight Returns), normalroach (Valentino's normalman
normalman is a limited series of American comic books created by Jim Valentino. It began in November 1983 as a four-page story in Cerebus #56 and #57 before being launched as a full-color 12-issue series which was published by Aardvark-Vanaheim before moving to Renegade Press. There was also a...

), Punisherroach (The Punisher
The Punisher is a fictional character, an anti-hero appearing in comic books based in the . Created by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita, Sr., and Ross Andru, the character made its first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 .The Punisher is a vigilante who employs murder,...

), Swoon (Sandman), and Sergeant Preston of the Royal Mounted Iestan police (the main character of the radio series Challenge of the Yukon
Challenge of the Yukon
Challenge of the Yukon was a radio series that began on Detroit's station WXYZ , and an example of a Northern genre story. The series was first heard on February 3, 1938...

Adam Weisshaupt : Introduced in Cerebus, he is a ruthless political opponent of Cerebus throughout the Church & State storyline. His manipulations of both Cerebus and the Roach lead to his pawns eventually growing more powerful than he ever hoped to be. Weisshaupt is named after the historical Adam Weishaupt
Adam Weishaupt
Johann Adam Weishaupt was a German philosopher and founder of the Order of Illuminati, a secret society with origins in Bavaria.-Early life:...

 but drawn to look like George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 (a connection well known to Illuminati
The Illuminati is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious. Historically the name refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1, 1776...

 conspiracy theorists).
Bear : Cerebus' best friend from his mercenary days and main drinking buddy. In Guys there are hints Cerebus is suppressing an attraction to him.
Joanne : Introduced in a possible future for Cerebus and Jaka by "Dave" in Minds, Joanne is a bored housewife who has an affair with Cerebus, prompting Jaka's suicide. After Cerebus returns to Estarcion, Joanne reappears and becomes Cerebus's lover, only to be spurned by Cerebus. She later seduces Rick as a way to taunt Cerebus. Joanne is in many ways an opposite of Jaka, and Cerebus bases much of his post-Guys views on how to deal with women on his experience with her. After Sheshep's mother leaves Cerebus, he labels her "New Joanne."
Bran Mac Mufin: Originally a barbarian warlord whose people worshiped an idol who looked remarkably like Cerebus (and which the aardvark destroyed). He later turns up quite unexpectedly, in civilized clothing, to act as an adviser to Cerebus in two separate occasions, first in Cerebus' campaign and first reign as Prime Minister of Iest and then arriving after Cerebus is Pope to observe the miracles and give Cerebus advice, though he seems to have a hidden agenda. During the Iest campaign Cerebus states that he trusts Mac Mufin's military advice more than anyone else's. When Thrunk deposes Cerebus, Mac Mufin commits suicide by stabbing himself in the chest with a sword. Mac Mufin is a parody of Robert E. Howard
Robert E. Howard
Robert Ervin Howard was an American author who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. Best known for his character Conan the Barbarian, he is regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre....

's celtic barbarian Bran Mak Morn
Bran Mak Morn
Bran Mak Morn is a hero of several pulp fiction short stories by Robert E. Howard. In the stories, most of which were first published in Weird Tales, Bran is the last king of Howard's romanticized version of the tribal race of Picts....

. In his first appearance in issue 5 his name was spelled Bran Mak Mufin, but in subsequent appearances he goes by Bran Mac Mufin.
Rick Nash : First introduced as Jaka's husband in Jaka's Story, Rick is a friendly, gentle ne'er-do-well, whom Sim described in the introduction to the "phonebook" of Jaka's Story as "the nearest I will ever come to the portrayal of a good and thoroughly decent human being; completely without guile or malice." After his marriage to Jaka is dissolved, he becomes mildly insane. He eventually goes on to become the prophet of a religion centered on Cerebus.
Suenteus Po: Estarcion's third aardvark, who has lived several lifetimes and has shaped the history of Estarcion. It is also a very common name and several people named "Suenteus Po" appear in the story in various roles — one as an enigmatic illusionist and another as a historian who narrates a sizable portion of Cerebus' first reign as Prime Minister of Iest (though it is very strongly implied that both these Pos are the aardvark). It is mentioned in High Society that some of the followers of the original Suenteus Po named their children after him. The name may be a playful mis-spelling of the name of Roman historian Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

The Regency Elf : A childlike, playful spirit who inhabits Cerebus' rooms at the Regency Hotel in High Society; at first, only Cerebus can see her. She helps Cerebus with some of his political scheming, though, as innocent as she seems, it's all just a game to her. It is discovered later that the Regency Elf who appears to Cerebus is a fake created by Cerebus' subconscious. The Regency Elf is inspired in part by Elfquest
Elfquest is a cult hit comic book property created by Wendy and Richard Pini in 1978. It is a fantasy story about a community of elves and other fictional species who struggle to survive and coexist on a primitive Earth-like planet with two moons. Several published volumes of prose fiction also...

 and its creator Wendy Pini. Visually, the Regency Elf is inspired by Debby Harry.

Various other characters in the series were designed to resemble famous actors, politicians, and other personalities and comic in-jokes, including British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

, Professor X
Professor X
Professor Charles Francis Xavier, also known as Professor X, is a fictional character, a Marvel Comics superhero known as the leader and founder of the X-Men....

 (with a bit of Chris Claremont
Chris Claremont
Chris Claremont is an award-winning American comic book writer and novelist, known for his 17-year stint on Uncanny X-Men, far longer than any other writer, during which he is credited with developing strong female characters, and with introducing complex literary themes into superhero...

 thrown in), Canadian Member of Parliament Sheila Copps
Sheila Copps
Sheila Maureen Copps, PC is a former Canadian politician who also served as Deputy Prime Minister of Canada from November 4, 1993 to April 30, 1996 and June 19, 1996 to June 11, 1997....

, director Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

, Alan Moore
Alan Moore
Alan Oswald Moore is an English writer primarily known for his work in comic books, a medium where he has produced a number of critically acclaimed and popular series, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell...

, Rick Veitch
Rick Veitch
Richard "Rick" Veitch is an American comic book artist and writer who has worked in mainstream, underground, and alternative comics.-Early career:...

, Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

, F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost...

, Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

, Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer
Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S...

, Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger
Sir Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger is an English musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist and a founding member of The Rolling Stones....

, Keith Richards
Keith Richards
Keith Richards is an English musician, songwriter, and founding member of the Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone magazine said Richards had created "rock's greatest single body of riffs", and placed him as the "10th greatest guitarist of all time." Fourteen songs written by Richards and songwriting...

 and Chico Marx
Chico Marx
Leonard "Chico" Marx was an American comedian and film star as part of the Marx Brothers. His persona in the act was that of a dim-witted albeit crafty con artist, seemingly of rural Italian origin, who wore shabby clothes, and sported a curly-haired wig and Tyrolean hat.As the first-born of the...



The various story arcs have been reprinted in collected omnibus editions of 240630 pages each, all of which are presently still in print. They are generally referred to by fans and retailers as Cerebus "phone books" due to their size; also, they use the same newsprint paper as the original comics.

Sim has released two collections of his responses to readers' letters (the original letters are not included) after the publication of Cerebus #300. Collected Letters 2004 (ISBN 0-919359-23-X) was released in 2005, and Collected Letters vol. 2 was released in 2007.

Miscellaneous stories not appearing in the above collections have been reprinted in the short collections Cerebus World Tour Book and in Cerebus Number Zero, which reprints issues #51, 112/113 and parts of issues #137 & 138. A few standalone, uncollected stories have appeared in various collections and magazines over the years, and Cerebus has made cameo appearances on the covers of magazines such as Comics Revue
Comics Revue
Comics Revue is a bi-monthly small press comic book published by Manuscript Press and edited by Rick Norwood. Don Markstein edited the publication from 1984 to 1987 and 1992 to 1996....

. Sim also marketed a set of "Diamondback" cards (based upon a game seen in early issues) in the 1980s. All of the material in the Cerebus arc was reprinted in smaller collections called Swords of Cerebus before Sim decided on the "phonebook" format.

The phonebooks themselves tie into ideas presented in the series. Although grammatically incorrect, the titles of books 8 through 11 could be read as a sentence ("women read minds, guys" - the concept of women reading minds is a key plot point). Also, beginning with Going Home (the first storyline begun after Sim's religious conversion), the covers of each "phone book" are printed in full color, with Going Home and Form and Void using Gerhard's scenic nature photography as covers, rather than the drawings used on past books.

The March 2011 issue of Sim's Glamourpuss
glamourpuss is a Canadian independent comic book written and illustrated by Dave Sim. Sim promises that the comic will ship promptly bimonthly, with 24 pages of story and art...

comic book featured a new 10 page Cerebus story written and drawn by Sim, titled "What if Cerebus had lived in the age of Madmen".

Cerebus Syndrome

This is a term used to refer to a series or character (not just in comics), initially comedic or superficial, gradually becoming more serious, complex and dramatic. The result may or may not be successfulthe results can generally only be judged in retrospect.

External links

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