You all probably know by now that I’m a big Cerebus fan. The recently released zero issue of Cerebus in Hell? shows the humor of the book, a big reason why I love the original series.
Cerebus in Hell? (don’t forget that question mark) is a 4 panel comic strip that releases on a daily basis at Cerebus Downloads, and it takes the character Cerebus, a gruff, obstinate, money-hungry, angry barbarian who’s low on impulse control (and those are his good traits!) and gives him a tour of Dante’s Inferno. The funny comes from Cerebus being thrown into these situations where he meets various types of sinners, or meets up with Satan, or hangs out with Virgil and Dante, and how his reactions (almost always ill-advised) go down in Hell.
He might be disbelieving of how dumb Dante is when entering Hell, interfere with Artaxerxes Colophon’s parole, encounter multiple versions of himself, be annoyed that no one knows how to tell a knock-knock joke, or deny that he was the one who beheaded all those guys.
Aesthetically it seems like I shouldn’t like it, because it’s taking a few default Cerebus poses and pasting them into Gustave Doré etchings of Hell, essentially. Yet somehow, it works. Cerebus is out of place, but that’s the point. He sticks out like a sore aardvark.
Some of the humor isn’t the most-PC, so if you’re easily offended, you probably want to avoid this.
The text pieces are funny as well, with humorous bios of the creators and an ad for a contest to create your own Cerebus in Hell? strip.
While the strips are written by both Dave Sim and Sandeep Atwal, it’s hard to tell who wrote what. About the only one I’d say is definitely a Sandeep strip is the one about ’90s Britpop arguments. Beyond that, I’m not sure, so both writers are working at a high level together. And if you’re interested, there was a weekly update on AMOC with some behind the scenes stuff on how the strips are created.
While the strips in this post aren’t from the zero issue (as I don’t have a scanner), they are from the daily posted strips, archived at A Moment of Cerebus, (and congrats to Tim at AMOC on 5 years of the site!) so here are a couple that I particularly like that show off the premise of the series.
The main quibble I have with the print edition is that the print version has the strips sideways, with the title header of the strip at the top of the page. That means when you read it in a floppy comic form, you’re turning it sideways, and that means that if you’re looking at page 2 and 3, say, page 2 is at the bottom while 3 is at the top.
OK, I hope you can comprehend what I mean by these lovely Paint images.
While the strips don’t necessarily have straightforward chronological continuity to worry about, it is a bit off-putting to have to read it like that. Minor issue, though!
You probably can still let your comics retailer know that you want the upcoming 4 issue miniseries of Cerebus in Hell?, as the first issue was offered in the latest Previews (with the code of NOV160995). You can probably ask to order the zero issue as well, as that (with the code of JUL161105) had a print run a bit over the ordered amount, so Diamond probably has some left. I’m a big Cerebus fan, so I’m biased, but I think if you like funny comic strips, this is a book you’ll like.
There’s also a Cerebus Kickstarter going on, so if you’re an Artist Edition nerd, or a Cerebus fan, you can get a portfolio of the first 10 pages of Melmoth. If I get around to it, I’ll review the portfolios from prior Kickstarters and let you know what I think. There are also digital collections of letters and notebooks available as well, so if you’re interested, check it out!