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Seiler, Jeff & Hart, Larry – Cerebus Readers in Crisis #2

Website (where you can buy the comic, anyway)

Cerebus Readers in Crisis #2

Feel free to read the previous review of this series above for background information, as that tells you all you need to know about my general thoughts on Dave Sim. These books, in theory, are a great thing, as they keep fans current on what Dave’s been up to (although you could always just go to his ongoing blog to read about it from the man himself). In reality, well, it may be best not to know. My opinion of Dave, even when he started writing things that I disagreed with (oh, around issue 186 or so, although he did say some things there that made sense), always remained high. Why? Because you could always follow his arguments logically. You could disagree, or you could have your feelings hurt by it, I suppose, but you could always see where he was going and where he was coming from to get there. The current Dave Sim is apparently happy to have everything lead back to (as he puts it) YHWH, logic be damned. This is my biggest problem with this work. My own religious thoughts notwithstanding, there has to come a point for a man when he considers, however briefly, that he is wrong. From everything I’ve read, Dave has alienated many, many of his old fans and friends, and even recently (at the start of 2007) had a falling out of some kind with Gerhard. You know, the guy who has been by his side for about 25 years? None of this seems to be making an impression though, and I suddenly find myself in an anti Dave Sim screed, which is not where I wanted to go. Whatever gets you through the day is fine with me, and if religion is it with him, well, here’s hoping he lives happily ever after. I’m mostly annoyed because this tells the story of Dave going to the possible boyhood home of Jesus (that cover might clue you in to that fact), and Dave nearly leaves town before he gets to see the place… because he has had a rough trip, which must mean that God didn’t want him there. Seriously. And these mystical signs that he wasn’t wanted, that he must turn back at once? On the plane he couldn’t sleep because the guy next to him had his headphones too loud, a small child kept bumping his arm (the same child later vomited) and, when he did land, the car he was riding in blew a tire. Are any of these odd events that would make you question whether or not the great wizard in the sky was mad at you? An asshole on a plane? Shocker! A small child being a lil’ asshole, stuck on a plane for hours with nothing to do? I don’t fly much, but isn’t there at least one of these on EVERY flight? And the tire blowing out wouldn’t have even been a big deal but the driver had so much crap in the trunk that he didn’t have room for tools to change a tire. Look, this is all an extremely long-winded way for me to say that I’m disappointed that Dave has essentially given up logic to have it all trumped by the mysterious ways of a hypothetical higher being. As for this comic, assuming anybody has read this far, it’s OK for people who are still curious about the man. The first half is all about this journey, although it does end rather abruptly. Following that is about a half book of filler. There’s a big centerfold (mind out of the gutter, people), an adaptation of one of the text pieces from Reads, some words of wisdom from the man, an old speech, text of an Edward R. Murrow speech, and the last story by Larry Hart (probably the highlight of the book) is an interesting tale on the nature of the afterlife and how you could even tell where you ended up. Cerebus will always be one of the most important things I’ve ever read but (much like the people who long for the old, funny Woody Allen, I suppose) I miss the old Dave Sim, the one who seemed like he was at least capable of having fun with all of this. If he still is, everything I’ve seen published lately sure does a good job to hide it. Finally, I’ll quote his words of wisdom from this book, reprinted from an old letter: “Look, it’s your soul. You do what you want with it. Embrace pedantic evasiveness if that’s what you want to do. Embrace conspiracy theories if that’s what you want to do. But at the end of days, your answer will be the same as mine: This was my soul and this was what I chose to do with it.”

Seiler, Jeff & Hart, Larry – Cerebus Readers in Crisis #1

Website (where you can buy the comic, anyway)

Cerebus Readers in Crisis #1

Full disclosure for those who don’t read the site regularly or don’t feel like bouncing around: Cerebus was probably the main comic that got me into small press comics. The different stories in the back of the book, his relentless promotion of good comics, and the fact that Cerebus was a wonderful, wonderful thing for many years pushed me into all this in a big way. That being said, I burned out on the series around #260 or so, and my plans to reread (and finish) the series just took a big hit when I found out that my stored half-dozen Cerebus phone books had been severely damaged by leaky water pipes. Just a little background for the curious. As for this book, it’s basically a mail correspondence between Dave Sim and Jeff Seiler, as Jeff details a drunken night in Texas. See, Jeff had been celibate for seven and a half years by choice. Dave Sim had been getting more and more religious as time went on in his series, which is one of the main things that made me lose interest, as I had been raised surrounded by religion and eventually got how silly the whole thing was. In this story Jeff finds a prostitute, goes to great lengths to track her down later in the night, has sex with her and then is worried when she won’t wake up. He answers her phone and tells her friend and pimp where she’s at, but then has second thoughts and calls the police to make sure everything is OK. They all arrive, but Jeff ends up getting frustrated at the cop, which you can’t do very often without getting thrown in jail, and sure enough, that’s where he ends up. In the meantime he’s robbed of everything he has in his hotel room while in jail. And Jeff’s conclusion from all this? That the whole thing “smacked of God sending a message in that Old Testament sort of way” for him breaking his celibacy. Not that he was an idiot for having sex with a prostitute, or for telling her pimp where he was staying, or for talking shit to the cop, or any of the many incredibly stupid things he did that night. Nope, it was God sending a message. Kee-rist. Look, I usually don’t go into such detail with the comics I ramble about on this site, but I needed to make this all crystal clear. He thanks Dave on the back of the comic about reminding him to always think, but the only message he seems to have gotten out of this whole mess is that he should go back to celibacy because clearly GOD didn’t want him to have sex. What on earth does that have to with thinking? Anyway, if you’re hurting for a Dave Sim fix, he does the cover and a page in the back. The story in the comic is interesting enough, but the art doesn’t help anything and the conclusions he draws from the story are, to me, absurd. Worth a look only if you’re a serious Cerebus junkie, or maybe if the series went on and got better from here. $5