Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Cerebus in Hell, Comics Fans in Heaven

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? 0 cover
They also get a bit Bosch on this cover as well.

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.

Cerebus in Hell Sept 15
Cerebus is falling into a Skinny Puppy album cover!

Aesthetically it seems like I shouldn’t like it, because it’s taking a few default Cerebus poses and pasting them into Gustave DorĂ© 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.

Cerebus in Hell Aug 14
Cerebus almost explains it all
Cerebus in Hell aug 1 strip
There’s another philosopher strip in the zero issue, and I’m not sure which one is funnier.
Cerebus in Hell Sept 19
This one’s part of a run of comics related run of strips. It’s funny because it’s true!

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.

Cerebus in Hell mock up
I know, with such mad skills, I should be an artiste!
Cerebus in Hell thing
This is how you read the book. Page 2 on the bottom of page 3!

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.

Cerebus in Hell? 1
It really isn’t scary when you’re not wearing any pants.

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!





  1. tomfitz1

    “Comic Fans in Heaven”? Except for the feminists who may still view Sim as a misogynist after all these years.

    I got this issue, even though I was never a regular reader. Did get the telephone book trades after Cerebus was done.

    I agree with your main quibble. It was difficult to follow the conversation (did you have to read left to right or top to bottom – or vice versa).

    Not really worth my $4. Maybe the mini-series will be better.

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    I’d kind of like to see this; but, I don’t know. I was a big fan of Cerebus, though I didn’t start reading it until the phone books came out (my comic shop didn’t stock it and it was mid-storyline, all of the time. I jumped on with Mothers & Daughters and was loving the books and was going along fine, until Sim got more and more misogynistic and it damn near killed things for me. Guys started off well and I thought, maybe he got it out of his system, then as Guys moved into its second half, I saw he hadn’t and I was not laughing much. I stuck with it to the first volume of Going Home, then realized I just didn’t care anymore. I just contented myself with Cerebus v1, High Society, and Church & State. I was a regular reader of the Onion and read the AV Club interview with Sim, after the end, where he is a complete and total condescending dick. I was pretty much glad I bailed when I did.

    I want to enjoy funny Cerebus again; but, it is hard to separate artist from art, especially when so much of the art is the artist, in Sim’s case. Maybe he’s mellowed and found his funny again; maybe he has grown up and stopped acting like a frat boy, picking fights with everyone. Still, once bitten, twice shy. Maybe…..

    1. Simon

      @Jeff: I’ve read the entire run at least twice, and I think you’re really missing out if you skipped FORM & VOID (the only time Cerebus will be selfless and break your heart… twice) and THE LAST DAY (poignant and funny satire of an old coot). Reading the phonebooks also mean you’re insulated from Dave’s back-of-the-book essays and rants… Just sayin’!

  3. Simon

    Well, I’m in the bag for Dave Sim and CEREBUS, but I’m waiting for the trade. (Especially with only one strip per page for $4.)

    And I must say, the online samples weren’t exactly enticing enough to preorder the series. (I’ve stopped reading them after Week 9, actually.) I know they’re supposed to be the discarded strips, the not-good-enough-for-the-comic ones, but isn’t that a strange move to lead with your worst shots?

    – “While the strips in this post aren’t from the zero issue (as I don’t have a scanner)”

    Maybe you could ask Tim or Sandeep for some 800Ă—600px samples for promotional purposes? (They may even have a “press kit” ready to email.) Also, that would let them know you reviewed the book, in case they want to post a review roundup?

    – “This is how you read the book. Page 2 on the bottom of page 3!”

    Boy, am I glad I didn’t get them pamphlets! I really hate reading a book sideways. (The last 100 pages of HIGH SOCIETY are even more painful because it’s such a doorstop.) And having to constantly tilt it 90° clockwise to read the joke under the logo, then 90° counterclockwise to read the strip, that must be a bother too.

    I thought the comic would be stitched in landscape format with one cover in landscape and the other in portrait, as others have done before. I sure hope they fix that for a collection…

  4. Just wanted to pop in and comment.

    If you don’t get the singles, there probably won’t BE a trade, Simon…. (and that’s you as in “someone who is a fan of Cerebus”. Not everyone here, of course. If you don’t dig it, no problem!)

    From what I understand, the weekly roundup at AMOC (and daily at the Downloads site) aren’t necessarily cast offs, but just strips they’re doing, with certain ones making the comic and certain ones not. I believe there is no overlap between the online ones and the print ones.

    For my money, the strips seem to be getting funnier, so you may want to check out that AMOC link for more recent ones.

    Miniseries should be the same as this one, Tom, but maybe if I ask them nice, they’ll make the (possible) trade landscape oriented.

    And I totally understand your concerns, Jeff. I’ll just say that there are certainly jokes that go the way you didn’t like, but there are also funny things like the stuff I featured in this post. The “daily posted strips” link goes to the A Moment of Cerebus roundup, with a week’s worth in each post, so if you sample some there, you can decide if you like it. But yeah, YMMV, certainly.

    And Tom, it took me like, forever to come up with that title, why you gotta hate on it?

    No, actually, the post title came pretty quick. Everything else took forever with this column!

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