I just read the last issue of Cerebus. That’s it; ain’t any more.
For an insane guy, Dave Sim sure draws a pretty comic. It never stopped being gorgeous. I wish I could say kinder things about it; I am staggered by the weight of it. Thousands upon thousands of pages. There have been few such extended achievements.
When both he and Gerhard are dead, Cerebus will enter the public domain. He has arranged for the negatives to remain with trustworthy custodians, and they will be available to those who wish to reprint any portion of it. The attentive will notice that those two statements are not entirely congruent. Who knows?
I’m going to spoil the end now.
Cerebus dies. There’s a three page tightly gridded sequence during which his life fleshes before his eyes. His spirit rises from his corpse. He sees the light. There’s an incredible two-page spread that brings tears to my eyes: everyone is there. The Regency Elf. Keef. Artemis. Elrod. Oscar.
They’re beckoning to Cerebus. Jaka reaches out her hand, flanked by Ham and Bear.
Cerebus adopts his Rabbi fantasy — giving into his fantasy life, giving into escapism — and leaps. But halfway there, he remembers Rick, and realizes that he’s been looking into Hell. He tries to flee. He cries out for help.
“Help, God! The light! The light!
“Help, God! The light has got Cerebus!
And he is gone.
I’d like to believe that Cerebus went to Heaven. I’d like to believe that the final few pages were Dave Sim’s final punchline for all of us who took his rants seriously. I’d love to believe that Cerebus stands as a warning against the isolating effects of fanaticism. But Steven Otte gave him a call and nope. Cerebus is in Hell.
(By the by, he mentioned the infamous potential Onion interview during that call. And I know Steven Otte from the Trinity mailing list, way back. Small world.)
And then I turn back to the two-page spread again, and I’m saddened again, because of what could have been and because of what was instead. I was holding out hope of redemption right up until the very end. It was stupid of me. I don’t regret it.
Exit the aardvark, stage left.