The end of Cerebus, as read by a drooling fanboy

Andrew Rilstone’s ongoing coverage of his love/hate relationship with Cerebus has got very little attention from the comics blogosphere, possibly because he is not part of that blogosphere. Too bad for them, because he is easily the most accomplished critic of Dave Sim’s seminal work. The lengthy and detailed commentary on the last issue is just fascinating, to the point where it makes me regret not having snapped up the final issue. (Is that available for download somewhere? I promise to buy it if I see it…)

In his preamble to the critique of issue 300, he also asks this question:

Question: Moore has not been vilified for Promethea to anything like the extent that Sim has been vilified for ‘Chasing YHWH’. Is there a prejudice which says that Tarot cards and worshipping snakes is ‘New Age’ and therefore good; but studying the Torah and fasting is ‘religious’ and therefore bad? Both (in the forms that they take for Sim and Moore) seem pretty barking to be.

This is worth an answer. For a long time I for one have been willing to let Alan Moore off the hook, arguing that his barking mad beardie-weirdie-ness is merely a postmodern retreat into subjective reality. Nowadays, I would leave out the “merely”, note that subjective reality isn’t reality at all (and that such a retreat is more damaging than it seems), and observe that there is probably a direct line between Moore’s theology in “Dialogue: From Hell” and Sim’s later loonie-tunes theologising about a divinity that is neither Light nor Void but instead – whatever it is that Sim thinks is the nature of God. In that light, Sim’s preface to the reprint of “Dialogue: From Hell” in Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman can be seen as a sort of theological father-killing.

But those are just off the cuff remarks. To consider Andy’s question, and that of the balance between an artist’s crackpot ideas and the genius of that artist’s work in any more thorough way, I’d have to catch up with Cerebus and read Alan Moore’s work and pronouncements more extensively. This will take time, but I think I will do it anyway.

[Update: I have now started reading Latter Days. It’s much better than I’d expected – even the bad, nonsensical bits are still pretty readable…. right up to the point where the little grey bastard starts commenting on the Torah. I will probably have to revise some of what I’ve written above in the light of what is said in that section, and the notes in the back of the book, because it’s turning out a bit different from what I’d inferred from the commentary on Sim’s ideas on the Internet.]

[Update no.2: Despite using the Freud-derived term “father-killing” above as a convenient shorthand for “distancing yourself from those who have influenced you in order to better ignore this influence”, which is how I’ve always seen it used in situations where the influenced dissed the influencer, I don’t have a very high opinion of Freud. Not that mentioning this would stop Sim from lumping me in with the Feminist-Marxist-Atheist-Psychologist-Hypochondriac Axis of Not-Sim…]

2 replies on “The end of Cerebus, as read by a drooling fanboy”

  1. This is very off the cuff and not based on a deep reading in any way, but the way I see it Sim has turned into a closed minded monotheist with a large dose of misanthropy while Moore worshiping his snake glove puppet has not got in the way of him being a generally sound and nice guy.

    That said, I haven’t read Dialogue: From Hell for a long time and Sim’s intro to it at all. The idea that Moore is going down a similar road to insanity hadn’t really occurred to me, but then I used to think Sim was on the right track on a lot of stuff. This is all very confusing, but not necessarily in a bad way.

  2. It helps to consider Andrew’s biases as he is a C of E Christian and is probably more liable than I am to see a double standard at work.

    Me, I’m more of a skeptic, and I increasingly find myself wondering if Moore’s “this may not be the truth but it’s my truth” approach is all that healthy.

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