The Annotated Cerebus, version 1.2
by Alexx Kay
Any one who isn't *real* interested in Cerebus, *please* hit "n" now, or maybe even "k". This sucker is *huge*.
Welcome to version 1.2 of the Annotated Cerebus. This document is intended to point out things of interest in the Cerebus stories. Although it should be of interest in various regards, this is *not* a timeline, a checklist of publications, a concordance, or a dangler list. Those are my *other* big Cerebus projects :)
Comments and correction are welcomed, of course. I expect to be keeping this up-to-date for my own pleasure, but not posting updates very often (there just isn't enough room on my account). If anyone wants to take responsibility for distributing the latest posted version, go for it. Permission is hereby granted to freely distribute this, as long as you don't charge for it. Just about every person, place and thing mentioned here is Copyright 1992 Dave Sim.
Most entries are followed by references to the issue and page where I got the dating information from. Unless otherwise noted, all issue numbers refer to Cerebus. Lengthier explanations are included where I felt them necessary.
This is a *draft* release. It (hopefully) completely covers issues 1-25 and 151-163. In several places I have inserted issue references as "xxx", which is shorthand for "I haven't gotten around to annotating that issue yet, and I'll fill it in later."
The Annotated Cerebus 1.2
Issue 1, "The Flame Jewel" (originally untitled, this title first appears in _Cerebus_.)
The general structure of this story is very similar to "Tower of the Elephant", a Conan story that was adapted in issue 4 of that comic. Of course, this sort of story has long been a staple of sword and sorcery fiction.
Cerebus is wearing a helmet just like that Conan wore in the early issues of his own comic, and a similar set of medallions. Conan's medallions have symbols on them but, except for issue 4, Cerebus' do not.
2: "I admit to an intentional gross-out on page two, that you would not be likely to see again in the pages of Cerebus. The severed hand bit served to establish that tho this might be a cute and furry aardvark, this was also a mean and lethal aardvark." (from Introduction to Cerebus No. 1, _Swords_of_Cerebus_, Volume 1) See also notes to issue 150.
7: The spell contains the first usage of the word "Terim".
13: "ignorant of hallucinogens" Other than D.T.s, that is.
16: The beast on this page is reminiscent of the serpent demon in Conan No. 24.
21: "the ways of sorcery are not unknown to me" See issues 9, 28, et. al.
Issue 2, "Captive in Boreala"
2-3: The layout of these pages is inspired by pages 2 and 3 of Conan No. 16.
4: "Paranian" not referenced elsewhere.
"Gurann" According to the Aardvarkian Age map, Gurann is not far west of Tansubal.
7: "the dreaded earth-pig snout punch" Variations of this turn up later.
12: "time and the immortality of all beings" A tantalizing fragment. Too bad that's all it is.
13-15: The carved heads on these pages are reminiscent of those on/in the Black Tower. They are representations of Khem, carved by its captives. Presumably Khem had the ability to appear in many different (hideous) forms.
13: "the sound of deep sardonic laughter" This laughter is apparently *not* coming from the succubus; see issue 151, p.8.
14: "jealous priests of Terim" An intriguing reference. Why were they jealous? This may be a typo for Tarim, as Cerebus has spent most of his time in Tarimite controlled countries up till now.
16: "Gurranian marketplace" See note to page 4. 18-19: Somehow, Cerebus breaks the succubus' spell of illusion. Whether it was due to his sorcerous training, his nature as an aardvark, or some combination is unknown.
issue 151 (p.7) implies that this breakage of the spell is permanent.
19: "A succubus!" I originally took this to mean that this was *not* the real Khem, but a random succubus. issue 151 (p.7) however, positively identifies this creature as Khem.
"Where is its soul?" This is the first implication that Cerebus does not, in fact, *have* a soul. See also note to 7, p.20.
20: "tarnished iron sphere" The implication here is that this is *not* the true Eye of Terim, but was disguised as it for bait.
22: "even now, the succubus must be attracting new victims" Cerebus is incorrect, Khem is now powerless (151, p.7).
"nearest port" Temza (3, p.1; Aardvarkian Age map).
The "Next issue" pinup is of Red Sophia, who is drawn here with a chain mail shirt similar to (though skimpier) than the one Barry Smith drew her with in Conan Nos. 23 and 24.
Issue 3, "Song of Red Sophia"
The title is taken from issue 24 of Conan, "Song of Red Sonja". Red Sophia is drawn more as Frank Thorne drew Sonja in her own comic book than as she appeared in Conan.
1: "not so long ago" Two days, according to page 16.
6: "I have sworn a vow..." Red Sonja had a similar vow, though I don't believe anyone actually managed to take advantage of it.
7: This is the first indication that Cerebus may not be interested in sex with human women at this point. As he would probably have been considered ugly from early youth, this is not too surprising. It is a taste he *will* acquire, though (see issues 57 ff.).
10: Cerebus left his helmet behind, but it gets tossed out in the confusion.
12: See note to issue 10, p.3.
17: "watch her bathe" At last we know how Feras "besmirched Sophia's honor."
19: "the ways of men are strange indeed" See note to page 7.
22: "last many years." Sorry Cerebus, not even very many weeks, see notes to issue 10.
Issue 4, "Death's Dark Tread"
Elrod is a parody of Elric, a swords and sorcery character created by Michael Moorcock. More specifically, he is a parody of Elric's appearances in the Conan comic books by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith (issues 14 and 15), which in turn were visually based on the covers to paperback Elric novels painted by Jack Gaughan.
2: The designs on CEREBUS' amulets are not seen elsewhere, though they are similar to the designs on Conan's amulets in the early issues of his comic.
From the introduction to this issue in _Swords_of_Cerebus_, Volume One: "This issue also introduced Cerebus' little vest - in honor of his first trip to a big city. It was intended as a joke, see. If you go into a city you have to get dressed. I've completely forgotten why I put those little designs on his medallions, though."
3: "some kind of gem" Not really, see 152, page 13. "it shines like five suns!" A possible reference to the five spheres of the gods?
"Diamondback" First reference to this popular card game.
The "crawler" seems inspired by the "Dweller in the Dark" in issue 12 of Conan.
9: "bunny suit" Elrod thinks that Cerebus is a child in a bunny suit. This impression will last for a long time, especially after the events of issue 7.
10: "sorcerer"??? This isn't backed up anywhere else. On the other hand, neither are *any* of Elrod's claims to greatness.
11: "at least five thousand years" A mysterious reference. There is some evidence that Estarcion is our Earth, about 6000 years ago. There is also strong evidence that the Cockroach has some sort of access to our Earth, whence he gets his ideas of costumed heroes. Elrod may have a similar sort of access.
12: "a source of great power" Or not. See 152, page 13.
"The Chaos Gem" Dave Sim apparently had some sort of cosmology in mind here that he later changed his mind about. See notes to 152, pages 12-13.
15: "The mightiest sword in the southlands" How Elrod knows this when Cerebus hasn't spoken two words to him yet is a mystery. Of course, most of Elrod's actions defy explanation...
The one punch that Elrod throws on this page is the most effective martial move we will *ever* see him do.
18: "none of it was printable" Dave later got more comfortable with the idea of using profanity in Cerebus, though this made for an amusing footnote.
22: In case you hadn't noticed, the background to this page forms a large "FIN".
Issue 5, "The Idol" (originally untitled, this title first appears in _Cerebus_.)
It's probably during this period that Cerebus serves with Tiberius and does something unpleasant to his sergeant's brother (23, pgs.17-18)
1: "west into the Red Marches" Dave gets east and west confused a lot. The Red Marches are east of Serrea, not west.
6-7: This is the first time that it has been established that Cerebus smells really bad when wet. This joke will recur later in the series.
8: "penultimate swordsman" A curious reference. Perhaps the Pigts' prophecies include an "ultimate swordsman"... Most of the praise for Bran should probably be taken as PR.
"west of the Sofim" Nope, east.
12: "Conniptin dialect" Are the Pigts offshoots of the Conniptins or vice-versa?
"The Redeemer Dynasty, The Eastern Monoliths, The Black Tower Empire..." This is the first mention of the Black Tower Empire; it will not be the last. The other two are not mentioned elsewhere, but from their titles, they may well have been similar.
14: "you're twenty-six" First mention of Cerebus' age.
15: Several of the symbols on the walls are stylized aardvark heads.
17: This is the first indication that Cerebus may actually be someone *really* important.
"Pigts of many lands" If the Conniptins are indeed offshoots of the Pigts, this prophecy does come true.
"Sons of the Pig" Clearly the origin of the name Pigt.
20: "We could lay waste" An early example of Cerebus overestimating his chances in a military endeavour.
22: First mention of Iest, a location of much of the later story.
Issue 6, "The Secret"
"I couldn't picture Cerebus fans reading twenty issues of Cerebus sitting across the street from Jaka's house." (Introduction to issue 6, _Swords_of_Cerebus_, Volume Two.) This quote has become rather ironic in that it's not a bad description of part of _Jaka's_Story_.
1: When a letter was written complaining about the lack of explanation as to the events on this page, Dave replied: "How about this: The guy was a renegade Priest of the Black Sun and realized that someday the Priest would find the hidden gold and use it for furthering their death-worshipping ways. Giving the word to a complete stranger was preferable to their running across it one day by accident. Fair enough?" Presumably, that second "Priest" is a typo for "Priests".
2: "the gold" Actually, the treasure is diamonds (7, p.13), but E'Lass doesn't know that.
6: Note that there are no musicians in the bar. "Musical instruments are something that I've intentionally left out of the Cerebus story-line, although not many people have noticed. A part of it is that comics is a "mute" medium and I like to reflect that. It would be impossible to do Jaka's Story in any other narrative form because you would have to have musicians to accompany the dancing which would spoil the balance of the cast. Part of it is that I despise music unless I'm drunk or stoned. I stopped listening to it while drawing several years ago and I think this has brought a definite improvement to my work. I get a lot of music tapes in the mail, I think because people figure that with all the bands getting mentioned on the letters page that I must be a really big fan of music. Call it wishful thinking; that at some point in the distant past music didn't exist and never evolved. My own personal heaven." (Dave Sim, The Usenet Interview)
8: For Jaka's side of this encounter, see issue 36.
9: "Tchens, Trebu and Lohi" Rather simple anagrams of the names "Hitchens" and "Loubert". Loubert is referring to Deni Loubert, Dave's fiancee at the time. Hitchens is either Sara Hitchens (later creator of the Cerebus stuffed doll) or a relative of hers who was Dave's mistress at the time, and was the basis for Jaka. This whole story was, among other things, a coded message from Dave to Deni, warning her about Dave's romantic instability.
13: "we meet again" See note to page 15.
15: "I once got her to make a priest break a ten-year vow of silence" This incident is not mentioned elsewhere.
17: "you'll have to stop dancing... No -- you can dance for me!" I think that without that small correction, Jaka might well have not agreed to go with him.
"beheaded his first Borealan" See issue 157, pgs.4-5.
Issue 7, "Black Sun Rising!"
The cover of this issue was drawn by Frank Thorne. Hsifan Khanate, a day or two later. "Early winter" (p.2)
It may be as a result of this issue's events that Cerebus has run into Hsifan Sopai assassins (21, p.15).
Conan twice fought giant spiders in the Barry Smith run of Conan, issues 4 and 13. The second time the spider was being worshipped as a god.
7: "some loot of my own" Elrod seems to take to thievery quite naturally.
Dave Sim's introduction to this issue in _Swords_of_Cerebus_, Volume Two spends a fair amount of time on this page, as being the time when he first started to break free of the Barry Smith/Conan influences.
9: A second indication of Cerebus' (or at least aardvarks') historical/mythological/religious importance. After this, Dave kept away from the topic until roughly issue 20.
20: Another indication that Cerebus either has no soul, or one of a very unusual nature.
21: Mit is not seen again. Presumably he found another line of work somewhere in the southlands.
22: "Was he hurled clear by the blast?" A good question. Before the "blinding flash of white light" (p.20), Cerebus was already several hundred metres deep and falling, in an apparently bottomless pit, with tons of rock crashing down from above. Now he is a good distance away (as is the box of diamonds). His latent magical abilities may have allowed him to teleport to safety (see 88, p.9).
Issue 8, "day of the earth-pig!"
1: In delirium from an infected wound, Cerebus is experiencing hallucinations based on recent (last issue's) events. The fanged entryway is taken from Steve Ditko's run on Dr. Strange, and frequently appeared during the more psychedelic, other-worldly sequences.
3: The Conniptin doctor who appears on this page is never named, nor is his commander.
4: "white 'powder of the gods'" Presumably cocaine or a close relative.
7: "I'm a doctor, not a ..." A parody of Dr. McCoy from Star Trek, who often made such utterances when pushed beyond his normal limits.
13: First use of the Conniptin war-cries. They will be used again.
17: The odds of their actually *taking* Iest were probably slim at best, according to the letters page of issue 26.
22: "more to life..." This problem is to become much more important to Cerebus in later years.
Issue 9, "Swords Against Imesh"
2: "So many years" Cerebus lived in Imesh from roughly 1394-1397, making it almost 15 years since he left.
10: "Venus" Does the existence of Venus imply that Estarcion is our Earth?
14: "slow-healing back wound" Sustained from the spider-beast in issue 7.
15: Cerebus shows a typical lack of regard for dueling rules. Odd that Lord Koshem, a Panrovian, does not fight in Panrovian dueling style, sword and dagger (see issue 3).
"King Korem" Apparently King Korem is lost or in exile.
18: "I am champion..." Clearly an attempt to weasel out, but Cerebus is in no position to argue.
20: "right hand" K'Cor fights left-handed. Strangely, Cerebus is one of the only warriors in Estarcion who fights right-handed.
21: "Cheerleaders and drug addicts -- prostitutes and drunkards..." This is in some ways a foreshadowing of Cerebus' attitudes when involved with the Republican movement in Iest.
22: "They are all quite dead by now." Apparently not, as issue 49 indicates. Presumably the survivors have gone away, or are suffering non-fatal, but temporarily incapacitating symptoms when Cerebus leaves Imesh.
Issue 10, "Merchant of Unshib!"
2: "fractures" Sustained during the battle at the end of last issue.
3: Sophia has presumably tickled Cerebus right at his broken ribs.
"bunny burgers" Sophia's vegetarian inclinations (3, p.12) seem to have vanished.
5: "first anniversary" As less than a year has passed since issue 3, one must assume that she means "one-month anniversary". A fairly silly concept, but hardly out of character for her.
8: "the council head in Palnu" Is the council head the same thing as the grandlord? If so what does Lord Julius want with the Lotus? If not, who is it that wants it and why?
10: "handful of silver coins" Or copper, see next page.
13: "two shares -- twenty gold pieces." The guard's math is off, but no one corrects the only man with a crossbow.
21: "One in the deck" A Diamondback deck (of whatever size) has only one Magician in it.
The coins being wagered here appear triangular in shape. These may be triangular wedges of larger denomination round coins.
22: The merchant shows an unusual amount of sense. His face is never shown, so it's unknown if he's appeared since.
Issue 11, "The Merchant & The Cockroach"
3: "I am a sorcerer..." This is the first (and for a long time, only) time we have heard any of the Roach's personae claim mystical knowledge. A sorcerous background could help to explain much of the oddness surrounding him.
"wrinkle cream" He is about 50 years old (see p.9).
6: "follower of the Red Claw" The Red Claw cult that the Roach goes on about so much are probably worshippers of Khem, who has a "crimson claw" (2, p.14).
15: "Condominiums!" A rare case of Cerebus using an anachronism. The Roach uses them all the time, as do a few of the characters like him, or around him.
17: Under stress, the Roach's multiple personalities tend to splinter and re-arrange themselves.
Issue 12, "Beduin by Night"
6, 8: Cerebus' invented "origin" is substantially similar to that of Robin, the kid sidekick of Batman, who the Cockroach is a parody of.
11: "cockroach sense" A parody of Spider-Man's "spider sense", a sort of sixth sense that warns him when he is in danger.
21: Cerebus' sword is also lost in this accident. See issue 36, pgs. 14-20 and notes.
22: The shadows on the water form an image of Cerebus screaming in frustration.
Issue 13, "Black Magiking"
2: "bizarre dream" Actually, this "dream" was the companion story to this one, "Magiking", which first saw print in _Swords_of_Cerebus_, Volume Four.
4: "the priest" This priest is never named.
6: "Hob's Hollow" Referring, presumably, to hobgoblins, small mythical demons.
7: Excerpt from the introduction from _Swords_of_Cerebus_, Volume Four: "By the way -- the castle that looks like a huge Black Tower? Remember the Black Tower Empire that I keep mentioning? Well, it has nothing to do with that." On the other hand, the demon heads and skulls carved into the walls are strongly reminiscent of the Black Tower period of architecture (see issue 25, p.5, and most of _Church_&_State_).
13: According to the introduction to this story in _Swords_of_Cerebus_, Volume 4, Necross is based strongly on the character Exidor from the Mork & Mindy TV show
The skulls on his head and the hourglass on his chest may indicate that he is a worshipper of "Death" (see issues 8, 151).
22: "trapped in here" Of course, When he was in his own body, Necross could teleport. Given his general level of insanity, it might take him a long time to think of that option. At any rate, he doesn't reappear until issue 80.
Issue 14, "The Walls of Palnu"
1: "Synopsis:" The events recounted briefly in the synopsis were depicted at greater length in the Cerebus strip which ran at about this time in the Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom. See Apocrypha Notes for details.
2: The map on the wall appears to depict a military scene, probably the Onliu front.
3: This is the first appearance of Lord Julius' social secretary. He is never named, but he is fairly important to the plot of the next few issues. He is referenced in the Concordance as "Lord Julis' Social Secretary".
"Parmoc, Cihnu, Avers, Eniath, and Jylcew" Sim is known to be fond of using anagrams for names. This certainly looks like an anagram; does anyone have a decoding for it?
5: "Giepie" This sign bears a notable resemblance to the logo of Geppi's Comic World, an early distributor of the Cerebus comic book.
16: "wood faerie" First reference to such a creature. The Regency Elf, who first appears early in _High_Society_ is probably one.
Issue 15, "A Day in the Pits"
1: The title is based on the Marx Brothers movie "A Day at the Races".
10: "Old Leopold" Presumably not the same person as Leopold the Gambling Priest.
11: "Cerebus will be needing a sword..." Cerebus' own sword was lost at the end of issue 12.
14: "For a thousand years has the pyramid survived" A dubious claim at best, as they appear to be a new group on the scene, and entirely focused on (or rather, against) Lord Julius. It is possible that they are an ancient secret society that has only recently become active in public.
15: "THE SHADOW CRAWLER" From the introduction to this story in _Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume 4: "'The Giant Snake' was a must, though, for this reason; I couldn't wait to write this introduction. You know why? So I could tell E*V*E*R*Y*O*N*E that yes, I was thinking of the phallic symbolism the whole time I was drawing the snake. It's true. The whole time I was drawing the snake I was thinking "This isn't a snake I'm drawing, I'm drawing a Giant Dick with eyes", or "I'm not drawing a snake crawling out of his cage with the leader of the 'Eye in the Pyramid' juxtaposed in the foreground. Hell, no! I'm drawing the leader of the 'Eye in the Pyramid' flipping his giant schlong out at Cerebus, who's going to cut it off." Why do you think those torches on the wall are at a forty-five degree angle? That's right! They're really all stiff wee-wees with their tips on fire (ouch). Right down to the big "O" scene where the giant "snake" smashes into the wall and behind it to the Leader of the 'Eye in the Pyramid'. Sort of changes the meaning of the "AAAAH" word balloon doesn't it? Now, why, you might very well ask yourself, why would someone consciously sit down and draw an allegory that revolves around a huge male member. Someday, folks, I hope to open the Underground Comix Price Guide, flip to the appendix with Cerebus and read:
#15 (Giant penis issue)
And people say I've lost my ambition."
Issue 16, "A Night at the Masque"
2: The title is based on the Marx Brothers movie "A Night at the Opera", considered by many to be their best. Lord Julius' costume is essentially the same one that Groucho Marx wore to a party in "Coconuts", the first Marx Brothers film.
5: These are E'Lass and Turg, the two con men last seen in issue six.
11: Throughout the rest of this sequence, whenever E'Lass hears Cerebus, he assumes that Cerebus is talking about *him*, not the leader of the Eye in the Pyramid.
20: "Have you got change for a gold piece?" Essentially taken whole cloth from Groucho, just the denominations changed.
Jaka is of course the dancer whom Cerebus fell in love with in issue six. This is the first time we've heard of her relationship with Lord Julius. Why the niece of a powerful politician would be dancing in taverns is a question that will not be answered for a long time.
Issue 17, "Champion"
1: "It would certainly have been easier for [Cerebus] to travel without the eight bags of gold, and considering he could have lived like a prince for months with only half a bag, one can certainly see karma at work in the opening sequence. This was not the first time this has happened (though I noticed I didn't mention it in the narrative). Cerebus has treasure troves of gold buried all over Estarcion, under floor boards in abandoned tree stumps, etc. etc. left behind when he got tired of transporting them. usually, as in this story, it was the lure of some new adventure that caused him to abandon what he had (though you can count on the fact that it wouldn't keep from complaining about being broke once lured away)." (Introduction to this issue in _Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume five). In the letters page to issue 42, Dave says that the gold is "still buried under the floorboards of the farmhouse Cerebus bought."
3: "four pieces of gold... take it or leave it" This is the first real indication we have of the value of gold in Estarcion.
6: "He could find no flaw in Gudre's plan" Which is hardly to say that it *had* no flaw.
13: "The Commander Krull character was, on the one hand, my version of Conan the King. He was also patterned on Colonel Flagg from M*A*S*H. [... He is] the first of my characters to be living his own autobiography. [...] I have come to think that most 'heroes' are primarily 'legends in their own minds'. That is to say, while they protest endlessly that they're just doing their jobs and that any grand motivations ascribed to them are strictly the problem of certain individuals who don't know them very well, most of them actually keep careful track of their 'image' on a day-to-day basis, basing their decisions, at least in part, on how it will appear in the 'Legend of Me, Book Seven.' These individuals can usually be picked out in a crowd by the presence of their 'official biographer.' This is a chap who usually doesn't get much attention until the hero is dead, at which time everyone, (somewhat naively) decides that he holds some degree of 'truth' about the deceased.
In the case of the Moon Roach, the official biographer is a disassociated personality, and consequently rather more difficult to control (rather like William Manchester traveling around inside Robert Kennedy's head, privy to too many UN-heroic thoughts and impulses). In the case of Krull, the biographer [GRIMES] is really little more than a stenographer. Anyone who thinks that this is a radical rather than a minor caricaturing of the official biographer's role should read a few official biographies and compare them with a few unofficial ones." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume 5, Introduction to issue 17.)
14: "Crucified in the desert" This happened to Conan, only he ripped out the throat of a vulture (perhaps slightly more plausible).
15: "The sacred greeting of the Grauwzers" Cerebus, is of course, making this up.
20: "this means WAH!!" Another Groucho line, from "Duck Soup".
"two-part story!" A rare instance of Lord Julius "breaking the fourth wall". Some characters, notably the Cockroach, do it all the time, but it is rare for the others.
Issue 18, "Fluroc"
Cover: "The cover for this issue was probably put together in a hurry, as it is merely a collage of several of the panels form the interior, colored.
3: "Stromm not talk at *all*!" This is a parody of the Marvel Comic's character Black Bolt, who dares not speak due to the destructive power of his voice.
Issue 19, "She-Devil in the Shadows"
"This is when the story started to get a little weird. I'd like to apologize to all of you right now who had been reading Cerebus since the first issue and picked up 19, 20, 21 and 22 and figured someone must have slipped something in your drinking water.
Anyway, I started building the cornerstones for all this intrigue in this issue with Perce (she's not really a prostitute, but I won't go into that now). It was eventually to lead to my decision to do "High Society" in an attempt to frame a larger context for the story and find some way to address all the intrigues and power struggles at once. As I write this, I am half-way through issue 50 and it contains only one helpful line of dialogue.
I tried to explain the problem a while ago by explaining that most of the factors involved are secret societies -- to put it in a more modern context, it is like a secret cell of Soviet spies in the U.S. government hiring North Vietnamese and Cuban infiltrators to find out if the Red Chinese embassy in Japan is really spying for the Lithuanians in an attempt to find out if the KGB was behind the plot to kill the Pope and hire more Afghanistan refugees to double-check the rumours about the John Birch Society joining forces with the Mafia to break the stranglehold the Teamsters have on the underground network of solidarity supporters in Moose Jaw.
Come to think of it, three hundred issues might not be enough." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, Volume 5, Introduction to issue 19.)
5: "I said I would *offer*... I never said anything about *giving*" A common political ploy, and one that Cerebus himself will later use in _High_Society_.
9: "Geet-A" A parody of Frank Thorne's "Ghita" character, who bears a strong resemblance to his version of Red Sonja.
12: "I wanted to show that Lord Julius (like Elrod) always lands on his feet and that (unlike Elrod) it is as a result of his own sense of political timing and manipulation of the resources at hand, even if that's just his own imagination (as seen by page twelve). It was my way of indicating that he was to be taken seriously by the reader even though his earlier appearances painted him as an incompetent. After all, a leader who is perceived as incompetent is more likely to be under-estimated by potential rivals. The impact of his endless successes, domestically and in other parts of Estarcion can be seen in "High Society". "Nothing succeeds like success" as the saying goes." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume 5, introduction to issue 19).
13: "Hortne" is of course a simple anagram of "Henrot" (which is itself an anagram of "Thorne"). He and Sophia must have moved from Tansubal to Togith.
16: "...she's hacked up... and my *ex-wife*..." Presumably Mrs. Henrot-Gutch (first seen in issue 57), who might be expected to survive such an experience.
17: "pet Gerbies" Probably a reference to Steve Gerber, who created the Marvel Comics character "Man-Thing", who was empathic, and reacted strongly to the emotions of those around him.
18: "exactly six months" So it would have reverted about the time of the beginning of High Society (not that it's likely to be relevant).
Issue 20, "Mind Game"
"Anyway, Cerebus' mental acrobatics seemed like the best way to kick off the endless complications and intrigues to come. The Illusionists versus the Cirinists in Togith. Pictures within pictures illustrating the stories within the story.
The title "Mind Game" was freely swiped from John Lennon's "Mind Games" and is respectfully dedicated to his memory." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume five, Introduction to issue 20).
The pages of this issue, when arranged in a 5 X 4 grid, form a giant picture of Cerebus. This was inspired by Neal Adam's occasional use of the "hidden head" trick, which was done on a smaller scale, several independent panels forming a picture over the space of the page. One example of this was in the Deadman story in Strange Adventures No. 216, page 15 (reprinted in Deadman No. 7, 1985).
Cover: The cover consists of the words "Mind Game" and several head shots of Cerebus. If each of the two words ("Mind" and "Game") were replaced with two Cerebus heads, they would form a 5 X 4 grid, the same as the arrangement of pages necessary to see the "Hidden Cerebus" in this issue. 20 heads, 20 pages, issue 20; Dave Sim likes to play with numerology.
1: This is the first direct mention of Cirin and of Cirinism, elements that will loom large in the later storyline.
Innec Starym, by implication must have been an influential Illusionist. The frequent occurrence of the number 23 in his writings is a nod to the _Illuminatus!_ trilogy, (a major influence on Sim) where that number is given mystic significance. It is unclear whether this passage depicts an actual demon summoning, or merely a mass hallucination. The "eye in the middle of the forehead" motif is common to many mystical cultures.
"read the cards" This is the first reference to card being used in a divinitory and/or mystic manner. Throughout the rest of the series, this motif will recur. In keeping with the (largely) medieval nature of the setting, the same sorts of cards are used for both recreation and divination.
"so unique a creature" Wenda must not be very high in the Cirinist hierarchy (see issue 100).
3: "The Priest of Cups and the Priestess of Swords are in opposition" My interpretation is that the Priest of Cups represents Suenteus Po, and the Priestess of Swords, Wenda. Cerebus stands between these two, and will set them against each other.
"Inner circle, too!" Probably only the *local* inner circle, as they haven't met Cirin.
4: "What do *you* get out of this deal" A highly relevant question. Po's answer is, while possibly accurate, assuredly incomplete.
5: "An ascending Priest of Cups is covered by the Priest of Swords" Po (the Priest of Cups) is moving up in significance, but his presence is masked by that of Cerebus (the Priest of Swords).
7: "founder of Illusionism?" Suenteus Po's history is a very tangled mess, deserving of an essay in and of itself. For some basic analysis, see the Concordance.
Cerebus has clearly heard of Illusionists before, and knows at least a little about them (or at least, their popular image).
12: "Have you any idea how *hard* it is to find blond hash on a gold carpet?" This is very out of line with Po's later characterization of himself as an ascetic (160, p.10).
16: "What an *amazing* coincidence..." Cerebus has gambled (successfully) that he has not been moved from Perce's since being drugged. The three pillows that were drawn on page 1 may indicate that he had some fleeting awareness of his surroundings before entering the Seventh Sphere. They are the same pillows that he collapsed on at the end of last issue.
17: "I just wish they were sturdier enemies" This is the first indication we have that the Cirinists are potent warriors. It won't be the last.
Issue 21, "Captain Cockroach"
Cover: The cover shows Captain Cockroach (with Bunky the Albino and Cerebus in the background) posing dramatically over an ideographic symbol (presumably the Hsifan equivalent of a swastika), and bears the words "Beat the Hsiffies Buy Bonds". All in all, a good parody of a typical W.W.II-era cover of Captain America.
"Having finished the Palnu storyline a few issues before and having moved towards the development of a major war in issues 17, 18, 19, and 20, I was feeling the urge to do something -- well -- structural with the story. I had been developing the idea, albeit gradually, since issue 5 that Cerebus existed as an unwitting, but key, figure in a number of wide-ranging conspiracies [sic] and as a nexus point for a number of disparate belief systems. I mean he was also the self-centered, hot-tempered, loathsome little drunkard he appeared to be on the surface, but he was also something different. A lot of people want to know what he's doing and have invested great sums of money and uncountable manhours trying to find out as much as they can. Why? Well, that would be telling, wouldn't it.
Anyway, I was interested in pointing this out, and having him drugged by Perce (19) wasn't quite as drastic as I wanted to go... [story of Dave going to a party deleted for space.]
This guy I had never met before must have known I had a headache, because he offered me an aspirin. It was a tiny purple aspirin. It was a very, very good aspirin though. I could tell, because the guy wanted four dollars for it (Canadian funds but still). I had used up a few of my beer tickets by this point, and I ventured the opinion that in about an hour I would probably know how good the aspirin was. The guy who sold it to me said it wouldn't take that long.
The next thing I saw was the ceiling of my bedroom. I felt pretty good, considering. My next insight was that I didn't remember coming home. Deni told me that the police brought me home. She also looked at me as if she didn't quite believe I could have forgotten something so . . . out-of-the-ordinary. To this day, I have pieced together very little of what happened that night. Just as well, I suppose.
But it gave me a wonderful idea for the massive structural change in the storyline. I dropped Cerebus several hundred miles northeast of where he had been drugged. Just like real life, I had decided to leave him in the dark about what had happened while he was unconscious. It was one of those decisions that unleashes the hounds of fannish retribution (a not altogether infrequent occurrence when you plot a three hundred issue storyline, I've found). I was accused of abandoning a storyline because I was bored, because I was burnt out, because I had hit a writer's block.
(Most fans hate it when you say tut, tut, actually, but that's just the kind of guy I am, I guess).
"The whole presidential aspect of this story-line, as well as the "Death of Elrod" finish developed when I noticed that the cover of #22 would have a very familiar looking date on it; 22 NOV [President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22nd]." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume six, Introduction to issues 21 and 22).
"The problem of how Cerebus got from Togith to Beduin has already been worked out. I could explain it all here, but since it involves people you haven't met, disciplines I haven't touched on and power groups on the very fringe of Estarcion society that haven't nearly been revealed even fragmentally, I doubt that you would derive as much entertainment value from it as you will by just being patient and reading each issue as it comes out.
[...] For his part, Cerebus woke up from a bad situation and found himself out of immediate danger. What would you have done in his situation? Gone back to find out how you escaped? I doubt it. Look on issue #20 as an introduction to a whole new strata of Estarcion society seldom understood or even seen by members of that society. His relationship to the two groups [Cirinists and Illusionists] will emerge from time to time, but bear in mind that these are secret societies and an overkill on information is only going to hurt the credibility of the idea." (26, Letters).
Volume three of _Swords_of_Cerebus_ did include a short story "What Happened Between Issues 20 and 21", which I will eventually cover in detail in the Annotated Apocrypha. In brief, let me just say that it raises more questions than it answers.
1: By starting in mid-paragraph, the author neatly makes us identify with Cerebus' mental state of just-awakening.
2: "only ten days or so" Cerebus is incorrect (22, p.7).
3: Captain Cockroach is a parody of the Marvel Comics character Captain America.
4: "Dr. Reisenshein" A pun on "Rise-and-shine". the scientist who gave Captain America his powers was a "Professor Reinstein", who immediately thereafter was assassinated by the Nazis.
"Bunky the Albino" Based on "Bucky", Captain America's kid sidekick during W.W.II.
6: "The Oval Hideout" is, of course, based on The Oval Office, the office of the President of the United States.
7: "Don't mention his *family. DON'T stare at his ankle!!" Suenteus Po is Weisshaupt's *uncle* (not ankle)(76, p.15). He may well have been tucked away somewhere behind the huge piles of newspapers seen on page 8.
8: Weisshaupt is partially based on the historical figure Adam Weisshaupt, founder of the Bavarian Illuminati, and partially on the portrayal of the historical figure in the _Illuminatus!_ trilogy (in which, among other things, it is alleged that Adam Weisshaupt replaced George Washington and served as the first President of the United States). The wig he wears is in the eighteenth-century style. For more detail, see the Concordance.
10: "Alucase" based on the "Super-Soldier Serum" which gave Captain America his powers. Captain America was specifically *not* super-human, the serum merely enabled him to reach the natural limits of human ability.
11: "Cerebus doesn't understand why you would need Elrod." Nor do I. Weisshaupt's answer does not seem sufficient.
12: First mention of Kevillism.
"The point I wanted to get across was that the Captain America-style character steeped in patriotism, thinking with his muscles and xenophobic as a son-of-a-bitch [...] plays right into the hands of a ruthless schemer and opportunist like Weisshaupt. The presidential use of xenophobia as a means of unifying widely-differing factions behind a single leader was central to the story line." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume six, Introduction to issues 21-22).
13: "forgot the glasses" Chateau Donte '21 is clearly a *very* potent wine, meant to be taken in small doses.
"I could just *give* you the papers" Again, Weisshaupt's true motivations here are uncertain.
15: "The wine probably mixed with the residue in his system" This behaviour of mixing the drug with alchohol is confirmed in "What Happened Between Issues 20 and 21".
20: "I had a wonderful time between issues 21 and 22. So many people were worried that I was really, honest-and-truly and no-two-ways-about-it, going to kill Elrod. I mean I *could* have. No one knew for sure if I would or wouldn't. Reading the end of 21, I can see why they thought that. Nice cliffhanger, if I do say so myself." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume six, Introduction to issues 21-22).
One possible reason for this is that Bucky Barnes, the character Elrod's "Bunky" is a parody of, died at the end of W.W.II, and is one of the very few comic book characters to have *stayed* dead.
Issue 22, "The Death of Elrod"
3: "his parents were killed by Red Claw acrobats" This is an increasingly-warped version of the origin of Robin, Batman's sidekick (under stress, the Roach often forgets which personality he is).
"Start-All-Over-Again-" Although it predates it, this bit of dialogue serves as a nice parody of the way that Batman recently took on a third "Robin", the second one having been killed in the line of duty.
4: "Deadalbino" This is a parody of a late sixties DC comic book character, "Deadman", who was similarly able to possess living people.
"You might be wondering *why* this would happen to Elrod when he got killed, but that goes back to why everyone is watching Cerebus all the time and wondering what he's up to. So that's for me to know and for you to read about.
I should be getting to it around issue 175." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume six, Introduction to issues 21-22).
7: "There was a great deal of suspicion about President Weisshaupt's assertion that the T'Gitans had been massacred. I suppose it's a natural reaction to have when I pull the rug out from under you with a radical transition, but, you can believe the President on this one, kids. T'Gitans go bye-bye. Have I ever lied to you before?
I mean about anything *important*.
Notice on page seven of "The Death of Elrod" that he [Cerebus] is filling the air around him with words, while complaining about southlanders who do the same thing? Having Weisshaupt tell him that his T'gitan allies were cut to pieces with ease by Gorce and his troops put a permanent dent in his conviction that a bunch of battle-hardened barbarians would be more than a match for a bunch of pampered city-dwellers and their mercenaries." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume six, Introduction to issues 21-22).
Also regarding the defeat of the T'Gitans, from Dave Sim's reply to a letter in issue 26: "'Mighty armies' is your phrase, not mine. The Conniptins were enthusiastic, and within their own limited framework, probably quite an adequate army, but come on! Look at Iest (their ultimate target) as depicted in this issue. _It's_a_city_ for heaven's sake. It would be like taking a band of snarky shepherds with good sword arms out of Scotland and racing south to lay siege to London. Ditto for the T'Gitans. It was a unique alliance that had been forged, largely by the diplomatic proficiency of Gudre, between several T'Gitan tribes. With the reduced troop strength reaching crisis proportion in Palnu and its territories they had a very very small but real chance of making it to the city gates. They had an even smaller chance of getting inside, but who knows? Perhaps under cover of darkness or in the middle of a bad storm. The introduction of the Lord Gorce character changed the whole complexion of the matter. The T'Gitans didn't stand a chance once he had all the armies he needed -- needed in the sense of decided over-kill. Gorce wasn't going to stop until he had the T'Gitans facing absolutely impossible odds.
[...] He is learning not to trust his instincts when it comes to picking an army to fight with. His instincts in that area are not particularly good." (26, Letters).
10: In the letters page of issue 27, Sim say that the Cockroach is still "making sure that the drapes don't eat the house plants." See also issue 31, page 5.
14: "I do humbly swear that I will, to the best of my ability, remain falling-down drunk at least ninety percent of the time." This is a fairly accurate appraisal of Cerebus' second term as Prime Minister of Iest, while he was Weisshaupt's puppet.
15: "Lafort" and "Deshen" are, respectively, parodies of U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon.
20: "in Darnier Prison" Well, no. See issue 54, page 10 and note, for details.
Issue 23, "The Beguiling"
The beginning of this storyline is inspired by the Clint Eastwood movie "The Beguiled" about a Civil War soldier trapped in enemy territory finding sanctuary at a private girl's school (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume six, Introduction to issues 23-25).
4: "... Janet, Katrina and Theresa (Deni's middle names are Janet Katherine and her sister Karen's is Theresa, by the way)." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume six, Introduction to issues 23-25).
17: "I'm a serva wit ahim anna red amarches" Probably during the time between issues four and five.
Issue 24, "Swamp Sounds"
3: "during the rebellion" Probably happened around 1410.
7: "The last soldier who stayed here" As revealed on page 10, this was Elrod.
8: "Katrina's uncle -- her sister" Since Katrina's uncle turns out to be Lord Julius, it seems very likely that the "sister" referred to is Jaka.
9: Compare this scene with issue 16, pages 13-19.
10: And compare this scene with issue 4, pages 13-16. The image of the "small child in a rabbit costume" is reminiscent of Mit (see issue 7, p.13).
15: The smashing door imagery at the top of this page is later echoed in _Jaka's_Story_, issue 130, cover and page 4.
"I decided to do a tongue-in-cheek treatment of Chris Claremont's X-men series. Having read (and heard) so often at this time that Chris, when faced with developing a new character in the series, would ask, sometimes rhetorically but more often not, "Is there any reason this character can't be a woman?" (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume six, Introduction to issues 23-25).
20: "I decided to mix in a parody of two muck monsters that had been published simultaneously and, by all reports, coincidentally, by Marvel and DC. Marvel had a series called Man-Thing about a large shambling green monster who burned people to death if they showed any fear. Sort of a double-bind considering that there is only one natural reaction to seeing a ten foot green monster coming towards you. DC published Swamp thing, a wonderful mixture of Frankenstein and The Creature from The Black Lagoon. Marvel was also on a kick at this time about protecting their trademark on major characters by doing female versions of them. They ended up doing two around the same time -- Spider-Woman and She-Hulk. The implication of this move, at least in my mind, was that any publisher doing a female version of a Marvel character that wasn't Spider-Woman or She-Hulk would have free rein to use those characters -- Thingette, The Woman Torch. So taking the bull by the horns, I decided to do Woman-Thing." (_Swords_of_Cerebus_, volume six, Introduction to issues 23-25).
Issue 25, "This Woman, This Thing"
2: "All who know ____ shall burn at the touch of the beast..." One of the standard lines of the Man-Thing comic book was "All who know fear shall burn at the touch of the Man-Thing."
5: "A definite relic of the Black Tower Period!" Note the use of demon heads and skulls carved into the walls.
6: This artist is never named, though he does reappear several times. He is referenced in the Concordance under "Artist".
10: "Lord Roth-Sump's Original Apocalypse Beast" Roth-Sump may be a phonetic pun on "Wrightson", the artist who created Swamp Thing.
Since this is the first beast, it's "burn-word" is "nothing" (25, p.2). This has the interesting implication that the Artist, despite appearances, does *not* know nothing...
15: See note to issue 24, page 20 for origins.
Issue 26, "High Society"
4: The Regency probably expects (rightly) to more than make up for Cerebus' costs from all the people who will be eating and/or staying at the Regency in order to get a chance to meet with him.
9: The "Directory", in various forms, is ongoing joke/stalling tactic of Lord Julius. See page 15.
11: "molded into huge balls and rolled downhill into Onliu territory" Well it certainly *sounds* like one of Lord Julius' plans...
"sensitive cabinet posiu're only saying that because *you* think *you're* so HOT!!" The Elf has "helped" Cerebus compose letters over the last few issues.
This is apparently an episode of spontaneous telepathic communication. It is unclear whether Cerebus is spontaneously sending, the Elf is spontaneously receiving, or both. In the letters page to issue 42, in response to the question "Does the scene on pages twelve and thirteen of #32 indicate that Cerebus has mental powers, weak sorcerous powers, or was it the Elf's own powers that caused it?" Dave replied "No, no, and partly." The use of a diamond with curved sides to indicate telepathy is taken from the comic book Elfquest, and is used frequently in Cerebus after issue 150.
14: "your offer" This is the tariff rise which Cerebus authorized back on page 4.
"E... L..." The initials are ELF, indicating the sender.
17: "Colours!" Astoria apparently inhaled some of the drug. Her subsequent "loss of control", however, is greatly exaggerated. One presumes that she has had experience with narcotic drugs in the past.
19: "That sounds like *fun*!" Is Astoria really into S&M, or is she just saying that in the hopes of getting Cerebus in bed with her? I strongly suspect the latter, especially given her opinions as expressed in _Kevillist_Origins_ (163, p.2).
Issue 33, "Friction"
4: "It looked good on him..." This is a paraphrase of some popular 20th century figure's saying. (Can someone help me out here? Something like "Being under arrest looked good on him.") See also (52, p.3).
9: Methinks he doth protest too much...
10: "you-know-who" is, of course, the Elf.
11: "a mere look-alike" No, this was probably the real Astoria, who has more important things to do than salve the ego of an oversized bug.
12: Apparently, the PM is opposing the tariff. His reasons for doing so are unclear, though it may have to do with the upcoming election, as suggested here.
14: "Blake" This character's name is changed to "Blakely" by the time he actually appears.
15: "...you should try for his Holiness' job..." Fore-shadowing...
Issue 34, "three days before"
Cover: Among other elements on the cover are the 5 100-Crown notes that Cerebus has to return to Astoria this issue.
1: "three days before" Before *what* is not revealed until the end of the issue.
2: The cab driver apparently has driven Cerebus around before, probably the same one from issue 26.
3: Bran MacMufin last appeared in issue 5. He is considerably better dressed now, but still wears one of the stones from his previous necklace. They may have some sacred significance.
4: "It's a *test*." No, Cerebus is just paranoid.
7: "Bunky the Albino" See issues 22-23.
8: "...triple if you count the 'coop'" Because Elrod is about to stage a "coup" on Cerebus' position?
9: The information on this page is significant news, both to Cerebus and the reader.
The concept of a "semi-automatic crossbow" recurs in the storyline in issue 155.
16-18: Astoria doesn't actually *need* the 500 Crowns, what with the sizable stack of thousand Crown notes in the safe, but is using it as a punishment for Cerebus.
20: Lord Julius has finally decided to do something about Cerebus' activities in Palnu's name. Apparently, the post of "Ranking Diplomatic Representative of Palnu in Iest" is, when in dispute, elected by the Iestan legislature.
"Petuniacon" is presumably the same as the Festival of Petunias that was held in Palnu in issue 16. The name is formed similarly to many science-fiction and comic book conventions, which the event itself is a parody of.
Issue 35, "Two Days Before"
Cover: One of the cover elements is the fifty Crowns which Cerebus has to pay to the seamstress. This leaves him with no more than 400 Crowns out of the stake of 1000 that Astoria gave to him in issue 32.
4: "a dozen raw eggs... This is a reference to the rather odd method of hangover cures that Cerebus indulges in. See "The Morning After" in the Cerebus Apocrypha.
11: "The Church will retreat before him and turn inward..." This is the first reference to an *incredibly* important plot event that occurs almost entirely off-stage; The Exodus Inward. This probably started sometime during issue 32 (see Timeline for details). For further details on the Exodus itself, see (42, p.1).
12-13: Clearly, the PM is more interested in romance than economics; this sort of attitude is part of how Iest's economy got into such a bad state in the first place.
16: "Your mother and I..." Despite his constant allusions to it, Lord Julius is *not* Cerebus' father.
17: "...caught noticing a hotel waiter..." Not a very convincing explanation, but we are given no better one. If it's true, it's a rather extreme example of Astoria's single-minded determination.
Issue 36, "The Night Before"
"The title was taken from the Beatles song which was Deni's and my favourite when we met. Deni had a fuzzy sweater just like the one in the story that she wore for about a year until she realized she had it backwards; it was supposed to be low-back, high-neck. I thought that was so cute." Notebooks, Cerebus High Society 11.
2: "...and other things, too." Most of that sum being the punishment extracted by Astoria, see issue 34, pgs.16-18 and note.
3: Cerebus defines happiness as power over others.
4: "Astoria lives with Cerebus." ... "*Everyone* knows." Apparently, the general impression is that Cerebus and Astoria are lovers. As near as I can tell, this is not the case (although if money *didn't* prove to be enough to control Cerebus, I do not doubt that she *would* use sex).
6: "...kill a yak..." See issue 6, page 8.
8: "When did you remember..." I would guess between issues 11 and 12. Cerebus was drunk a lot in Beduin at the time. See Timeline for further details. Note Jaka's reaction when she hears that Cerebus was in Beduin.
11: Compare issue 33, page 19.
15: "Like no metal he had ever seen before." The significance of this is unclear, though it may just be a scam, as Cerebus suggests.
20: This is Cerebus' sword. He lost it at the end of issue 12, when, along with a great quantity of the Cockroach's treasure hoard ("A... large quantity of... gold coins. Some of them... dating back... more than... thirty years." (p.16)), when the bottom of Cerebus' boat collapsed.
Symbolically, Jaka has returned Cerebus' manhood to him, giving him the strength to, eventually, resist the castrating Astoria.
Issue 37, "It's Showtime!"
1: Dave Sim has described Cerebus' expression on this page as "Combination surprise, shame, amazement." (Notebooks, Cerebus High Society 12).
4: The entire Petuniacon sequence is a parody of a comic-book convention.
5: "Bit of autobiography with being put in an empty room at a convention. *Very* hard to feel famous in an empty room. At fist I had Cerebus up on a stage. A plain lectern/desk in the middle of an acre of carpet was funnier. Also had to design a Palnan flag for him to sit in front of." (Notebooks, Cerebus High Society 12).
6: "His many wives and concubines" See note to 36, page 4.
7: With the legislature currently at 113 members, 57 are needed for a majority. Astoria has already gotten support for Cerebus from 63 of them, and realizes that Cerebus *could* conceivably become Prime Minister.
8: This is Filgate, though he won't be named until later.
11: "Can I have a sketch, too?" Although politicians are not frequently asked to do sketches at public appearances, comic book artists are.
11-12: The answers at the top of page 12 match the questions at the bottom of page 11.
12: "Lord Julius' ex-wife" Although startling, this information is true. Moreover, though Cerebus is clearly surprised by it, it appears to be common knowledge (40, p.2).
Issue 38, "Petuniacon ...Day Two"
6: "I plan to trade Iest to the Seprans for Serrea and future considerations." As usual, it is impossible to tell if Lord Julius is seriously planning to do this, or if this is mere diversion.
9: "the next panel" This panel would appear to be the "Graft: Boon or Blessing".
10: The representative from "Dadocks" is Filgate again.
"transcript copy..." The stenographer is taking notes for both Cirin and Astoria. This is the first overt indication that Astoria is connected with Cirin.
14: Note that Cerebus has put his "barbarian" clothes back on.
15: "Seersucker II" Elrod's original "Seersucker" black sword broke into rusty fragments in one blow, back in issue 3.
16: "The government will collapse within days" is consistent with issue 30's forecast, with the PM having bought some time with the tariff increase (32, pgs.4-5) and then the Grand Inquisitor's death and the subsequent Exodus Inward (see notes to issue 39).
18: First appeal to money, then property, then food. Top it with booze...
19: And as a final card, the thing that appeals to Cerebus most: Power.
20: See issue 26, pages 16-18, if it's unclear what Cerebus has in mind for the evenings entertainment.
Issue 39, "Petuniacon, Day Three"
Cover: The cover is done in the or to the right of it (in which case, Iest and Suburbs would continue on past it).
15: "Cere... uh *I*" Cerebus is attempting to lose his third-person speaking habits, as they are associated with the barbarians in the north.
16: "all three districts" See Po's commentary on page 8.
19: "Move your stupid foot, Artemis" Presumably, he's trying to play "footsie" with Astoria.
20: "grassy knoll!!" A reference to the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy. Although the official report on his death claims a single gunman, firing from the upper story of a nearby building, many observers on the scene at the time claim to have seen or heard evidence of a gunman on "the grassy knoll" nearby.
Issue 41, "Heroes"
Cover: A quick glance at the cover might overlook the portraits of most of the major characters in the background, rendered in a very dark gray.
3: "The Times" For commentary of the newspaper, see (42, pgs.19-20). These simple newspapers were probably *not* created with movable type, which Weisshaupt invented a short time ago (see issue 21, p.11).
9: Note the new second carriage, bedecked with Palnan flags.
"nineteen representatives" They must be back in "Iest and Suburbs" again.
"the fifteen seats he needs" Cerebus is planning on support from Good Abbey (with 15 votes) that Astoria does not know about (see 41, pgs.9-13, and page 12 of this issue). Cerebus believes he has 20 (Greater Iest) + 12 (Blakely) + 10 (The Docks and Area) = 57 votes guaranteed, exactly what he needs to win. Astoria, not knowing about the Grace District deal, believes Cerebus to have 42, not enough to be elected.
"Theresa" This is the same Theresa who was one of the students at "Madame DuFort's School for Gifted Debutantes" in issues 23-25. What happened to her between then and now is not known, but she has become Astoria's protege and assistant.
10: "A pair o' Priestesses!" Cerebus is the one holding the winning hand (46, Letters).
13: "Oldham" A town in "Iest and Suburbs".
1ebook pages to this issue: "I ... decided I'd rather leave the amount of time that passed in the book up in the air." This has actually been holding for a few issues already, thus I have dropped the day numbering for HS. 1414 starts somewhere around here. Perhaps the PM takes office on New Year's Day?
Events from "On Governing V"? (59, pgs.6-7)
Issue 46, "Summit Enchanted Evening"
A "few months" have passed since the Exodus Inward started (50, p.6).
Church & State
"Characters who are based on other characters in Cerebus tend to be the easiest to write. Once you catch the rhythm of their speech, you're halfway home to the kind of interaction that sells comic books. Someday I'm going to do a story with Cerebus, Elrod and Lord Julius locked in a closet. It'll write itself." (Introduction to issue 4, _Swords_of_Cerebus_, Volume 1).
Cerebus debarks in Port Seprania, Seprania province, New Sepra. The ship must have been making a roundabout trip, since this is not on the way to Togith, but all three City-states are quite close at this point. (see map, 54, p.18)
"Writing" & "The Insecure Sinecure" (Elfguest seems to be set earlier, my guess is during issue 11.) Cerebus tries to write and drink in peace, but gets interrupted by various people, including Silverspoon.
The evening after 52, and the next day.
That night and the next morning.
The rest of that day.
The next day, or more likely a few days later? Back in Port Seprania.
Cerebus must stay in office for "a few weeks ... maybe more." (57, p.12)
Back in Iest. A few weeks later? According to the letters page, it is now early summer.
Pope Harmony III was executed "a month or so ago" (58, p.9), so at least that much time must have happened in the gaps between 51-52, 56-57, 57-58.
"Carrol E. King Reads"
"At the Club One Afternoon"
Cerebus and Sophia have been together for at least "a few weeks" (60, p.5)
"Something Cerebus Was"
"Mrs. Tynsdale-Clyde's Tea"
Four weeks have passed since Weisshaupt took office, between issues 54 and 57. (62, p.15)
Issue 63, "Mind Game IV"
Just after 62.
Ight of day 11? An extra day might conceivably have passed here.
Same night, morning of day 12.
Same day? More time may have passed here.
Day 13, 14.
Presumably after issue 136, but exact timing unclear.
The "two years" figure for Jaka's marriage (138, p.8) is almost certainly an exaggeration. She was almost certainly *not* married in late winter of 1414 (issue 48), and maximal estimaghter" Cerebus heard some sardonic laughter when he was last here (2, p.18). At the time, it was clearly implied to be coming from the succubus, but that now seems not to have been the case.
The curved-diamond shape indicates telepathic contact. It was originated in comic books by Elfquest, which was an important early influence on Dave Sim. We have seen it appear (briefly) once before, in issue 32, p.13.
11: "Death" was last seen in issue 8.
12: Talking about this scene in Comics Interview #107, Dave Sim refers to "the judge-like" character. Given that The Judge's "evil twin" makes an appearance not long after this, it's quite possible that this is not the real Judge.
"You began as a *demon* of a mouse-fraternity in pre-Sepran totemistic Estarcion." This passage is thinly adapted from Robert Graves' Foreword to The White Goddess: "The Greek god Apollo, for instance, seems to have begun as the Demon of a Mouse-fraternity in pre-Aryan totemistic Europe: he gradually rose in divine rank by force of arms, blackmail and fraud until he became the patron of Music, Poetry and the Arts and finally, in some regions at least, ousted his father Zeus from the Sovereignty of the Universe by identifying himself with Belinus the intellectual God of Light." It is also notable that this passage is a fairly good allegory for Cerebus' rise to prominence.
15: It is not clear whether Lord Julius is in Iest at this time or not.
19-20: This is the clay idol of the Pigt god, which Cerebus broke in issue 5.
Immediately after issue 151.
4: "illusion-tower" This must be the official line on what the "Final" Ascension was: an illusion.
"he's come back to redeem Iest... just like the prophecies said" Presumably the same prophecies that "Tarim" repeats in issue 91, or similar ones.
9: "six -er- seven er eight" Two in issue 150, one more in 151, three more in the immediately preceding pages. Presumably Cerebus is cutting up 7 and 8 as this is being said.
10: "Normina Swartskopf" Obviously a reference to Norman Schwarzkopf(sp?), hero of the Gulf War. Apparently highly ranked (the top?) of Cirin's military forces. Her uniform is a different one, and has not been seen before.
12: As far as we know, this is the first time that Cirin has "seen" Cerebus. Her reaction may well be largely due to the fact that he is also an aardvark. Then again, it may just be shock at finding out that he is still very much alive.
13: "far to the west" A mistake. Beduin is almost due *east* of Iest.
"more than three years" The Lotus was tossed in by the Cockroach in early 1412, it is now fall of 1415. This is positive evidence that two years have *not* passed between Jaka's Story and Melmoth, and thus the two Oscars *are* different.
14: "more than fourteen centuries before" This is the earliest known date for coins. These may well be among the first coins, mentioned in issue 91, or (more likely, in my opinion) they may be a matched "male" and "female" pair of the coins decorated by Suenteus Po the Goldsmith (160, p.8). Interestingly enough, this puts them almost exactly at the beginning of the current calendar.
"three years worth of encrustations" suggests that these are part of the hoard that Cerebus lost to the river bottom in issue 12. They must have been missed by the salvage merchant mentioned in issue 36.
For some insight into the nature of these coins, see issue 160, page 8.
15: The figure holding the bottle is Eddie Campbell's Bacchus character. Definitely the sort of character who would cheer Cerebus over the Cirinists.
19: "He's killed twelve soldiers already" We only saw two of these last four die, but Cerebus looked pretty busy in the sequence on pages 14-15.
Immediately after issue 152.
4: Cerebus' speech seems to have surprised the Cirinists enough that they have stopped telepathically chanting "KILL HIM".
7: The smiling female figure with the ahnk earrings is almost certainly intended to be a cameo of the Death character from Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
9: This is the first time Dave has done full frontal nudity in Cerebus.
The fellow getting painted is Duke Leonardi, last seen in issue 138. The painter, Seth, was last seen in issue 92.
11: "silver" Probably a typo for "sliver".
15: The tower appears to be growing again, in a remarkably phallic segment.
18: Note that the Cirinist soldiers have not had to appreciably change their positions to effect this carnage.
Immediately after issue 153.
Cover: The cover to this issue is almost identical to that of last issue, only now the people are hastily shutting their windows and Cerebus is nowhere to be seen.
8: The Roach is relating various political struggles to hand-combinations in the game of Diamondback.
"(King beats king's king)" We have not previously heard of a "king's king" mentioned in reference to Diamondback.
"(Priestess beats queen)" Probably referring to the Cirin-Astoria conflict that Theresa related the start of in issue 62.
"Cerebus captures Astoria..." Since Astoria is the priestess, and the only card that beats a priestess is the magician, it follows that Cerebus has become the magician.
"Astoria (priestess) imprisoned..." Here, the Roach seems to be trying to interpret the significance of the current state of affairs using the Diamondback symbolism. The significance (in the game) of one card "over" another is unknown.
9: "Daughters of Sappho" This is the first (overt) suggestion that Cirinists may accept lesbianism.
13: "Health centers in Upper Felda" Presumably, this is far enough away that they won't cause trouble.
16: "second cousin of all battles" Another reference to the Gulf War, called by Saddam Hussein "the mother of all battles".
18: Punisheroach is a parody of the Marvel Comic's character "The Punisher", a vigilante who goes after drug dealers with large caliber weapons and extreme prejudice. The "Multi-roach" aspects to his personality are wholly original.
19: Whatever "Great Change" (151, p.7) was building up, it's stopped. For the moment.
Immediately after issue 154.
1: This may be connected with Cerebus' dream of an injured ear in issue 89, pages 6-7.
6 The fellow with the beard is king K'Cor, who hasn't been seen since issue 38.
8: Cirin is clearly still working on the ascension, although she seems to be making the same mistake that an earlier would-be redeemer made (see 91, pgs.4-5).
46 meters across gives the sphere a radius of 23 meters. The number 23 has frequent mystic associations, both in Cerebus and elsewhere.
10: Note the soles of his shoes. Also note that these are clearly *fully*-automatic crossbows. The Roach probably calls them "semi-automatic" because he thinks it sounds cooler.
13: Yes, that's the general in the lower left hand corner.
Immediately after issue 155.
Cover: This cover is very similar in style to that of issue 28, the last time that Suenteus Po appeared.
3: Fret Mac Mury was last heard from in issue 67, where he was revealed to be a political opponent of Bran Mak Mufin and of Cerebus.
5: "Fake Regency Elf" Quite probably the FRE *was* Suenteus Po, or at least an aspect of him (see 158 for more details).
8: "This isn't the Seventh Sphere." Unclear why Cerebus is so certain of this. See notes to issue 157 for more discussion.
10: "rooting for Weisshaupt" (107, p.7).
13: "infertiles" In a society where citizenship is based upon live birth, infertiles are clearly second-class citizens.
15: "Goddess of life eternal" K'Cor was not previously known to worship a goddess. Whether this goddess is to be identified with Terim is unclear. His Sacred Venusian Death-Symbol appears to be about 70 percent complete, judging from the blueprints in issue 9, p.10.
20: "You told Cerebus" (20, p.7).
Immediately after issue 156.
Cover: The cover of this issue depicts Cerebus rising over a distorted view of the cover from last issue, in keeping with the theme of "up".
2: "the time of your 'kidnapping'" Issue 28.
"a 'suburb' of the Seventh Sphere" Actually, all the areas described as the Eighth Sphere have turned out to technically be parts of the Seventh, including this one, if Po's earlier comment on this page can be believed.
3: "there is no 'down' or 'up'" Given the events of page 13, this is almost certainly another lie meant to distract Cerebus.
4: From Issue 6, Page 17: "Cerebus hasn't been this happy since he beheaded his first Borealan."
7: This page is the first explicit indication that Jaka and Cerebus *did*, indeed, sleep together in issue 6. This scene would have taken place between pages 17 and 19 of that issue.
8: Note that the "twin" Elf vanishes at just about the same time as the "twin" Judge.
10: The first one to congratulate Cerebus is Harmon Blakely, a former member of Cerebus' Iestan Cabinet, last seen in issue 49.
11: The top of Cerebus' speech is legible, and worth reading.
12: "For you? No." Po undoubtedly means this in an allegorical as well as a literal sense; there is no upper limit to what Cerebus can achieve.
14-17: The events here seem (to me) to be drawn from a mystical view of an object's approach to a black hole.
18: This duplicate has been seen before (88, p.7; 153, p.13) and seems to represent Cerebus' "astral self".
"thirty-six million miles" Does anyone know (or posit) a significance to this figure?
20: This chess board, though not explicitly called so in the story, was referred to in promotional materials as "the Ninth Sphere".
Immediately after issue 157.
Cover: The cover depicts a (mostly) transparent aardvark hand setting the King's pawn down at King Four.
1: The Roach is displaying stronger mental powers than ever before. Of course, his "telepathy" could equally well be an hallucination...
4: "capricious aspects of my consciousness" This goes some way to explaining the various personality shifts that Po has exhibited in his various appearances.
5: "Each entity maneuvers its pieces on many boards simultaneously and each entity is itself a chess piece." That this philosophy is shared by Dave Sim can be seen by his numerous references in the letters pages over the ensuing months to "the upper chessboards".
"My first life" Suenteus Po is here claiming to be the reincarnation of the "first" Suenteus Po. If he has indeed lived several different lives, that might explain his giving Cerebus two different dates for his birth (20, p.7; 156, p.20); he might well have been born on each of them!
12: Note that Cirin and the Roach are to some extent echoing each other's actions, by purging their followers.
13: The number and identity of the speakers in this scene (and similar subsequent scenes) is probably irrelevant. They are simply representative examples of "the people", discussing matters of obvious concern, and functioning as a sort of Greek Chorus to the events of the storyline.
16: Cirin's diary is a clear parallel to Cerebus' "On Governing", and shows about as much grasp of reality.
18: It is not clear yet what the significance is of the Black Queen looming so large in this image.
Immediately after Issue 158.
3: "celestial aspect of the goddess herself" Given that K'Cor clearly has some knowledge of astrological significance, I am puzzled by how to reconcile his current goddess-worship with his past opposition to "Venusians" (whom one would expect to symbolize servants of the goddess). Of course, he may have effected a religious conversion when Sedra left him; he *did* cease construction on the anti-Venusian monument.
7: "Sedra left him" I presume that this happened after K'Cor's appearances in High Society, and probably in the very recent past (How much food could he have in that city?).
"the mighty King, reduced to a mere pawn of his Queen" By this symbolism, one might expect K'Cor to have been a Queen's Pawn, but he is actually the King's Pawn (because he was once a King?).
"his manifestation" A typo for "her manifestation"?
"Astoria" Po is pointing out that Cerebus has been in much the same position as K'Cor, a King reduced to a Pawn by his Queen, in Cerebus' case, Astoria.
"Queen to King's Bishop Three" I think Astoria is the White Queen.
8-9: It is interesting that the current Po paints a fairly unappealing picture of the founding of Illusionism, as he himself seems to have been an active Illusionist in his current incarnation.
16: "Must retell my origin!" It is a common trait of comic books about costumed super heroes that they retell their "origins" on a frequent basis, so that new readers will not be too confused.
"bitten by a radioactive" The Marvel Comics character Spider-Man gained his powers by being bitten by a radioactive spider.
20: "'Jaw' 'Ree' 'Vey'" Correctly, "J'arrivee", French (Lower Feldan) for "I have arrived".
"the blattidae and the phyllodromidae" Scientific names for cockroaches.
"foretold to me" Uncertain when this happened, though it was probably after the end of _Church_&_State_.
Immediately after Issue 159.
2: The two prisoners are Archbishop Posey, and the Oscar from _Jaka's_Story_.
7: "first meeting" (164, p.16ff).
"some weeks ago" (146, p.12ff).
"two years of hard labour" The same sentence that Oscar received, thus unsurprising that they ended up in the same labor camp. Strangely enough, (146, p.18) gives his sentence as *five* years hard labor.
8-9: This sequence is deliberately evocative of Jesus Christ.
"I wash my hands of you" See (100, p.7) for an echo of this image.
"You experienced it yourself" Issues 99-100.
10: Although Po says QB-KB4, he *moves* KB-QB4. See 165,p.6 and note.
11: These spheres of light appear to represent the planets of the solar system.
13: "Filthy Lower Feldan Post Cards!" Lower Feldans have already been established as speaking French, so it comes as little surprise that they appreciate sexuality.
"What the maid saw" was a typical caption for a pornographic Victorian-era postcard.
"Splurt" One presumes that the Roach has just spontaneously ejaculated at the sight of this picture. His libido seems undiminished in the next issue, however.
14: When last seen, the Eye in the Pyramid had only male members. This might well be a different anti-Lord-Julius conspiracy that has just adopted the name of an earlier one. The rhetoric is notably feminist.
16-17: Cirin is dreaming of Ascending on her giant Gold Sphere to meet Terim, but it becomes a nightmare when the god(ess?) is revealed to be male.
19: If an 89-day probationary period seems odd, just remember the mathematical skills we're dealing with here. In all likelihood, it's a 90-day period, and Dirty Drew just got his subtraction wrong.
Immediately after Issue 160.
2-3: Cerebus has moved KB-K2. Pushing the bishop further would have prevented the upcoming Scholar's Mate, but Cerebus was presumably distracted by the appearance of Bran.
4: This is an insightful, if biased, synopsis of Bran's life (and death).
7: It is unclear whether these demons were real, or just imagined shapes in the clouds; if indeed there is any practical difference.
9: "You're going to *marry* me?!" Lord Julius, having been divorced (at least) three times, naturally sees it as a dire fate :-)
10, 15: The speeches of the Elf and the Judge would seem to indicate that almost no time has passed since they were last seen in issue 157.
11: Astoria also dreams of Ascending with a Gold Sphere.
12: The Cirinist at the door is making what can only be a recognition sign for the Eye in the Pyramid. This is the first time that Astoria has been overtly connected with that group, but it now seems as if she may be its leader. It is unclear whether the assassin attacking Lord Julius is one of the "out of control" members, or is acting on orders. Probably the former.
13: The Roach used to patronize Maggie's back in _High_Society_ (41, p.5).
14: The bartender has picked up a French/Lower Feldan accent since last issue.
16: "cigarette" Smoking technology continues to move quickly. Clay pipes were given up in favor of cigars in between issues 22 and 23, and now, about two years later, we have cigarettes.
18: The lamps outside Maggie's are guttering out in the same fashion as the Pigt torches did on the previous page
20: "Checkmate." This is a slight variation on the Scholar's Mate, a classic way to beat inexperienced chess players. It is called the Scholar's Mate because it is one step up from the Fool's Mate, which is an even quicker game.
Immediately after Issue 161.
3: The small Cerebus "splashes" into the head of the larger one.
5: "You've been smoking" Cirin must have a very good sense of smell.
"Adamantium skeleton" Left-over from his "Wolveroach" days. Amusing, since one of the primary properties of Wolverine's skeleton was its inability to be changed.
6: The emerging figure is now clearly identifiable as Cerebus.
7-8: The Roach starts going through personalities fast again; they are parodies of currently-"hot" comic book characters, namely:
Lobo, a psychotic alien "hero" who uses the word "frag" a lot (where most humans would use "fuck").
Cable, a mutant "hero" with big guns, who was created by an artist known for drawing people with huge muscles but tiny heads (and squinting eyes, see Punisherroach's chest logo).
Venom, another psychotic alien "hero", who used to be Spider-Man's costume (It's a long story and you *don't* want to know...).
Ghost Rider, "The Spirit of Vengeance", some sort of demon with a flaming skull for a head.
10: "The 'giant of stone' of Pigtish prophecies" This (hitherto-unknown) prophecy sheds sudden light on the question of why Bran MacMufin committed suicide. He did so when Thrunk, a *stone giant*, assumed the Papacy.
12: Much of this discussion is in terms of comic-book collecting jargon. Comic books are "grade" as to their condition from Poor, Good, Very Good, Fine, Very Fine, Near Mint, to Mint, and finally Pristine Mint. In the last panel, the Roach refers to several common types of damage which can reduce the value of a comic book, and to "restoring", a somewhat controversial set of processes whereby a comic book may have its condition improved.
13: "Jaka's hand in marriage" This is the first that we've heard that Baskin was even interested in her.
18-19: The "birth" imagery here is fairly blatant.
Immediately after issue 162
This is the beginning of Book Two of "mothers & daughters", "Women".
2-3: Note how the Ahnk on the Astoria pages has only a few vines, while the one on Cirin's pages is overgrown. This reflects their relative ages. It may also be an artistic commentary on how Cirin has become "choked" by her views. The two ankhs will remain the same throughout "Women".
It is unclear which of these two books was written first, but the passages excerpted from _T_N_M_ certainly seem to be in response to Astoria's political ambitions.
2: "a high-placed government official" Very likely one of the military tribunal that rules Lower Felda.
4: The Roach is hiding a bouquet of roses behind his back, with which to surprise Blossom.
5: The Cirinist in the background is presumably taking notes on everything Astoria says and does, for Cirin's files. She may also function as a guard.
8: The Cirinist stenographer is a different one.
12-15: The use of the Ahnk is puzzling. Two obvious interpretations spring to mind, but it's unclear which one is correct. It may be that the psychic powers of the Cirinists allow it to function as a "microphone", sending signals out to some unknown audience; or it may simply be an administrative tool, indicating who currently has the right to speak.
The general format is one of a talk show. Dr. Ironcat is a parody of cat yronwode, Editor-in-Chief of Eclipse Comics. The hostess is recognizably based on talk-show personality Oprah Winfrey, though she is caucasian, and Oprah is black.
17: Astoria has clearly "gotten to" her files, and replaced them with a dry sense of humor.
20: This is the first appearance of both of these characters. The Cirinist guard is named Vera. The old Cirinist is unnamed as yet, and is referred to herein as "Vera's prisoner".
Immediately after issue 163.
1: "A very old man and a very old woman" Tarim and Terim?
4: "five years" Presumably how long Vera's prisoner has *been* a prisoner.
"old What's-Her-Name" Cirin, presumably.
"The Goddess is a wonderful chess player" Ironic, considering that it was a male's chess game that dropped Cerebus through the skylight. Of course, Suenteus Po is merely a pawn when seen from a sufficiently high chessboard...
9: Note the nice lettering effect of question marks inside a large exclamation point.
"nevermore" Cheesy classical allusion to E.A. Poe's "The Raven". Grammatically incorrect at that :)
10: The Roach has completed his latest personality shift. Swoon is a parody of the DC Comics character Sandman, AKA Dream of the Endless, a personification of dreams (created by Neil Gaiman). The black cloak, the white on black word balloons with bumpy edges, the black-pit eyes, are all taken directly from Sandman. The fancy lettering of the word Swoon is similar to that of the logo of the Sandman comic book.
Sandman is well known for having bad luck at love affairs with mortal women, and for being generally over-solemn and having no sense of humor.
This is the first time that the Roach has taken on a personality that was not a "super-hero", which may go some way towards explaining Elrod's uncommon reluctance at going along with it.
11: "My beloved sister Snuff" The Roach has decided that since he is Dream, Elrod must be Dream's older sister Death, a frequent supporting character in Sandman.
12: "inflatable boobs!" Presumably these are there to help blend in with the Cirinists?
14: "mining forecasts, a map of Iest... recipes for nut clusters... seafood bisque... and cherry cobbler" Possibly these items were chosen not just randomly, but as specific political (and sexual) jokes.
15: Ironically, the Pigts now seem well on their way to becoming a matriarchy, due directly to their attempts to attack the Cirinists.
16: "An abomination I was very helpful in bringing about" We now know that she was at one time an important force among the Cirinists.
18: Note the Cirinist-issued paper money.
19: "The Bull & Quayl" Probably one last joke at the expense of George Bush & Dan Quayle, who were president and vice-president of the United States at the time this was written, though they were defeated in the elections before this was published. "Bull" probably refers to George Bush's frequent breaking of campaign promises, notably "no new taxes". "Quayl" is a specific jab at the time (a few months before this was written) that Quayle attended a school spelling bee as publicity, and advised a student to spell "potato" with an "e" on the end.
"Gayeman Clothing Co." As mentioned previously, Sandman was created by Neil Gaiman.
20: This is a fair approximation of the sorts of clothes Death wears in the Sandman comic book.
Immediately after issue 164.
Cover: The cover is a collage of artwork and photographs, in a parody of the style of covers frequently done by Dave McKean for the Sandman comic book. Among the elements included are a small photograph of Gerhard and a DC Comics logo with a letter "S" written over the "C".
3: Swoon's pose is strongly reminiscent of some of the moody poses Sandman has been seen in.
4: Dirty Fleagle should have *known* better than to make fun of Cerebus :-)
5: And now the Judge has acquired Sandman's robe, hairdo, and dark brooding eyes as well.
6: Indeed, Po stated the wrong move in issue 160. In the letter column of this issue, Dave explains this as "An instance of matriarchal gravitational pull." This may have originated as just a typo on Dave's parts, but maybe that was an intentional move on someone else's chess board...
Also, it would appear that Po was telling the truth about his current living accommodations.
8: "Just thinking out loud" A *masterful* bit of lettering/dialogue.
9, 11, 20: The illustrations on these three pages form a pan in to Cirin's window.
10: Any metallurgists out there want to make informed commentary on this?
11: Here, we are given a numerological equivalent to the Diamondback symbolism. 2 = priestess; 3 = queen; 4 = king. These are the number of each card which appear in a single Diamondback deck. The others, by analogy, would be 1 = magician and 5 = priest.
12-13: Note that Elrod is shooting large holes in the roof. See also page 20 of this issue, and notes.
"You have done well" Does the Roach realize what Elrod has done? Did he enable Elrod to do it somehow?
14: Now we know why a bar is a safe haven for Cerebus. It is possible that the McGrew brothers are "residents".
16-19: This is a virtuoso 4-page design. Laid out top to bottom, we see the upper city, then the whispered agreement of the upper-city citizens with the fascism of the Cirinists, gradually fading out to nothing; then, after a large white space, the gradually increasing rumors and complaints of the lower city citizens, terminated with a picture of the squalid (and damaged) lower city habitat.
20: "young woman" Well, one presumes that they couldn't get too close a look at Elrod, and presumed that the wig and lack of breasts meant "young woman".
"sacred symbol" In Sandman, Death wears an ankh (ironic, as it is an ancient Egyptian symbol of life). The ankh has long been established as a feminine symbol in Cerebus.
"She's screening, then?" Or, more likely, completely brainless.
"Twenty dead" If you go back to pages 12-13 and count, Elrod fired 21 shots, at random. Dumb luck, or some controlling power?
Immediately after issue 165.
[Thanks to Dave Van Domelen for help interpreting the dream-imagery in this issue.]
Cover: The cover shows a sleeping Cerebus sitting in a chair which is hovering over a fracturing chessboard. On one side of the board, a Black Queen and a Red Queen stand next to each other. On the other, a Red Rook, Knight and Knight's Pawn stand (in their opening positions?). The Queens probably symbolize Cirin and Astoria, though it is far from clear which is which. The Red Queen has more forces on the board than the black, but s under immediate threat from the Black Queen, and her forces are in no position to help her. there is no King visible, unless Cerebus (off the board entirely) is meant to symbolize him.
1: Although it is probably still daytime (difficult to tell because of the rain in the following scenes), It is understandable that Cerebus would fall asleep, as he has had practically no rest since the
beginning of this book (over 24 hours ago).
2-3: This image is full of details, probably all of symbolic importance. Cerebus stands on a chessboard, rocked by upheavals, a clear tie to his recent discussions with Suenteus Po. These upheavals are caused by (or causing?) a miniature version of the Black Tower to Fall on Po, who seems helpless to stop it.
Around the rim of the board, the first signs of a new Black Tower can be seen growing. In the foreground, a Gold Sphere lies in a smoking crater. Three smaller spheres are off to its side. Possibly, these are planets to the Sphere's "sun". See issue 160, p.11, and note.
Two of the three visible chess pieces are Julius as the White King, beginning to crumble a bit, and Astoria as the Black Queen, wearing the Sacred Cloth of Tarim. Julius is seen as losing power, while Astoria is taking on religious aspects normally given to her opposition.
The third piece is Missy (a pawn?), crumbled and broken, while Cerebus now clutches a miniature Jaka. This is probably a dream reversal/wish-fulfillment; Cerebus believes that Jaka is dead, but saved Missy; in his dream Missy crumbles, but he has saved Jaka.
Finally, overwhelming the entire background is an image of the sun, or possibly primordial fireball of Terim, which Cerebus was shown by the Judge in issue 109.
4-5: Note the odd angle of the stairs in the last panel of page two. Also note that although other events quite clearly show that Cerebus is going *up*, his dream image is *descending*. He dreams himself in his Papal robes, and holding the Gold Sphere of the Ascension.
6: This is the first sign of the confusion and conflicting orders that begin to plague the Cirinists; their source is unclear. See notes to pages 18-19.
7, 11: The layout of these pages continues the slow pan inwards to Cirin's window noted in the last issue.
8-9: The Cerebus figure is now in the foreground, not the middle ground. He is fully armed and armored, and stands ready for battle, to protect Jaka. (It is somewhat ironic that he holds his shield in front of her when he has previously claimed to use women as shields. Of course, she is still closer to the danger than he is.)
The danger is that of flying demon heads and skulls, like those in the Black Tower, hurtling towards them. These heads are smaller than usual, and/or Cerebus has grown larger. Certainly Cerebus is now larger in relation to the chessboard than he was on pages 2-3, but so is the sphere, so perhaps it is the chessboard which has shrunk. These flying pieces of magical black rock are reminiscent of the "sorcerous watchdog" which Cerebus fought in issue 25.
The Sphere is now itself a glowing, miniature sun, and Cerebus has anointed his sword with its power. The three "planetary" sub-spheres are still visible. The angle might lead us to expect further spheres in the sequence to be visible, but not necessarily; at any rate, none are.
The Black Tower around the rim of the board continues to grow, and the massive Sun/Terim in the background has been replaced by the slightly less massive Moon (referred to by the Judge as Terim's "corpse" (111, p.2)).
10: From this moment forward, we are given no direct information on what Cerebus is dreaming. I think it safe to infer, however, that he has successfully defended his "Dream-Jaka" from the dangers assaulting them.
Note that it starts raining exactly as Cerebus comes on to the roof.
12: This page pretty well echoes Astoria's statements in issue 96, p.7.
14: A spine of the tower is growing, somewhat similarly to the one in issue 153, p.15, only larger.
Filgate and Blakely are members of Cerebus' cabinet, last seen in issues 157 and 59, respectively.
Po seems remarkably unperturbed by this turn of events.
The last panel of page 14 may show the point of view of "Vera's Prisoner" on the scene.
16: This spine rises with astonishing speed, apparently in direct relationship to Cerebus raising his sword, and falls at his belch.
18-19: It is difficult to be sure, but it appears that this "mini-tower" has crushed the west wing of the Regency Hotel. Cirin has been staying at the Regency since issue 160, thus the great concern over her health.
The various conflicting reports may be emanating from Kevillist agents, Illusionist agents, or both (and of course, the ever-popular "none of the above").
It is interesting that this devastation seems entirely confined to the Upper City, where as previous "tower-falls" have almost exclusively damaged the Lower City. See 167, p.8.
Immediately after issue 166.
6: Astoria's arm is broken.
8: Historically, the Upper City has dominated the Lower.
Swoon seems to be saying that a violent take-over is no longer necessary, and that his role (that of dreams) is now the significant one.
9: "Ah don't *have* any family!" In the past, Elrod has talked about various relatives, but they may be dead, or he might have been lying (then or now).
"The Clueless" A parody of Sandman's family group, "The Endless".
"mere infants" A reference to a sequence in Sandman issue xxx, which showed some of the Endless as little children.
10: "Little Sleazy, Little Sulky, Little Spacey" Parodies of, respectively, Desire, Despair, and Delirium of the Endless.
15: Cerebus and the Elf appear to be sitting atop the damaged Regency Hotel.
"the time you went to the Suenteus Po Place" Issue 28. Note that this indicates that Cerebus had already been returned to the Regency by the time he entered the Eighth Sphere.
"...the girl you lived next door to..." See "The Girl Next Door" in the Cerebus Apocrypha.
"Doris" Odd that her creation would reflect the appearance of a girl whom Cerebus would not meet until years later. The Elf may just be confused, but magic often interacts strangely with time, so it's not impossible.
16-17: The fact that Cerebus is unwilling to make love to the Elf suggests strongly that he subconsciously agrees that she is his daughter, and is restrained by the taboo against incest.
20: "...and a small bucket of scotch." Cerebus has probably just realized that the destruction of the Regency in real life means that the rest of his "dream" with the Elf was also real.
Immediately after issue 167.
Cover: The Cover depicts Astoria standing on a (partially submerged) white marble staircase, looking at a large Black Knight chess piece a small ways away.
2: "Daddy!" bears a noticeable resemblance to Lord Julius.
9: "So then, Cerebus dove back inside the tower" See issue 106.
11: "...dreams are inside their own heads and do not originate elsewhere." Patently untrue, as demonstrated by current events.
13: "'The Tick' or something" A joking reference to a comic book character called the Tick; a superhero parody who is somewhat based on the Roach. In his first issue, someone calls him a roach and he angrily replies "I.... AM... NOT.... A... ROACH. *I* *AM* *A* *TICK*. In fact I.. uh.. I've never seen a roach in my life!!!"
14: "What is that damn fool thing on your *head*?" Any one who can't figure it out is invited to spend some time perusing the ads in back of >ahem< 'adult magazines'.
16: "they don't know us from Eve." An interesting reference. Does Cirinist/Estarcion mythology include an Adam and Eve story?
"The heart of the Eastern Church" Cirin is apparently being held in the Cathedral.
17: Judging from the shadows on the wall, little time has passed.
"fracture... right forearm" Astoria broke her left arm.
18: Again, judging from shadows, little time has passed.
19: The Roach is (naturally) sitting upon a very phallic outcropping.
Immediately after issue 168.
Cover: The cover depicts Jaka sitting on the bench. At her feet is a painting depicting the setting of _Jaka's_Story_. A burnt-out candle is on the arm next to her, but is not visible there on page 2.
1: "The maze would close itself off" Indeed, the central portion of the depicted maze is inaccessible.
2: The child is, of course, Jaka herself, as a young girl.
5: Note that, though Astoria hasn't moved, the two bishops have moved past her towards Cirin.
6: The bishops crowd towards Cirin as, behind her, the two opposing queens grow larger and larger, squeezing Swoon between them.
9: "that you propose to unite two male churches?" As suggested by General Steinem in (168, p.16).
13-14: Sulk is a parody of the Sandman character Despair, another of the Endless. She appears as a dumpy, always naked woman. Her realm is 'on the other side of mirrors' (thus Sulk's appearance through one). Casting her as Mrs. Henrot-Gutch was inspired by a remark Neil Gaiman made to Dave Sim at a convention while he was working on this issue.
20: "scotch" Is Astoria getting mental 'leakage' from Cerebus?
Immediately after issue 169.
2: "The chariot a carriage." Astoria broke her arm in a carriage accident. The Chariot is a card in the Tarot deck in our time, it's symbolism in Estarcion is not known. The Tarot suggestion is strengthened by the next line "The Tower falls" as The Tower (struck by lightning) is another traditional Tarot card.
Cirin's mind is, temporarily, 'overlapping' with Astoria's. She uses no proper names during this scene, and it is implied that this same scene is being played out simultaneously with Astoria.
3: "You have a single voice." Astoria must have a close analogue to General Greer present with her, who is saying those lines.
5: The 'play' metaphor has been used often before, in connection with magical events and the Ascension (xxx).
Note the chess motif of the bed.
6: Astoria has the scotch she asked for last issue.
7: Sleaze is a parody of Desire from Sandman.
Immediately after issue 170.
Cover: The cover is another Dave McKean-style collage (see note to 165, Cover). The major piece is a picture of Cerebus on the balcony from the opening of this issue, apparently on a Tarot-style card.
1: The flying sofa is reminiscent of a similar one from the opening of Douglas Adam's _Life,_The_Universe,_And_Everything_.
2: "She severed the link" With Cirin? Or with Cerebus?
3: Cerebus is apparently flying closer to the stars (and the moon?)
6: "I know that you don't want to spend the rest of your life drinking and *barfing*..." Actually, judging from his past behaviour, this is not necessarily true :-)
8: This would appear to be Death (the one from issues 8 and 151).
14: This entry must have been written sometime between issue 152 and now.
15: This entry was probably written somewhere between issues 40-49.
16: "Do you suppose she's listening?" Apparently so.
17: "Left hand just exploded" (Wild Cards ref? xxx).
20: This page is drawn from Cerebus' point of view, as he lies on the floor.
Immediately after issue 171.
Cover: The cover is another Dave McKean-style collage (see note to 165, Cover). The major piece is a picture of Astoria, apparently on a Tarot-style card. There are also images of an old (xxx find deck) tarot deck, card 2 "THE LADY POPE"; a different deck, card 1 "The Magician", and a small statuette of a goddess figure (Isis?).
6-7: Note that, though the chess board motif remains, the pieces are becoming transparent.
16, 18-19: Each of these text pieces has space for an illuminated letter to start, but the illuminated letters are not included. It is obvious from context what the letters should be, but it does lead to the interesting effect, on page 19, of referring to Astoria as "HE".
19: Not long before this issue was written, a self-proclaimed messiah named David Koresh in Texas was (with many followers) holed up in a small compound under siege by the authorities. They committed mass suicide by setting the compound on fire.
20: The dream is now even more like a bar and less like a chess board. The pieces are still present, but they are now much smaller, and appear to be empty bottles.
On to The Cerebus Concordance
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