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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 12: Rick's Story (Graphic Novel)

By Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim; Reprint edition (March 2002)

Softcover 247 pages

Finished 8/14/2017

Amazon Listing

     Collecting issues 220 to 231 of the Cerebus series’s denouement. Cerebus is still stuck in the bar, waiting for something to happen. Either to get kicked out, for his friends to come back, or to die. In this we are reintroduced to Rick, last seen a hundred issues ago. He is the former husband of Jaka, their marriage having broke up after it is revealed that she had a clandestine abortion.
    Rick is no longer the guileless and shiftless boy, angry at having to get a job. He is now middle aged, or at least in his late 30s. There is no discussion about what had been happening to Rick since then, though it is implied that he has just been drifting from one bar to another for years.
    While at the bar something happens to him. I’m not sure if he is having a genuine religious experience filled with portents and signs following, or if he’s having a stroke and/or nervous breakdown. Whatever it is, he has childishly cast himself as the epic hero and Cerebus is alternately the God or the Devil.
    His inevitable turning on Cerebus speaks much of the fanatic. When one looks elsewhere, in a book or person, for spiritual fulfillment, they will eventually become disappointed and then that fanaticism is turned against the former object of its adoration. Rick is that man, perpetually waiting for someone else to show him the light. And thus will always be disappointed.
There has been a lot of discussion on this book, much more than there should have been, on its importance in the series. I don’t understand why those who accept volume 6 Melmoth, but have problems with this book. The criticisms that the text portions of the book incomprehensible or impenetrable is nonsense.
As Rick begins his religious convergence, he shifts into a religious style of writing, faux biblical. Many archaic and exaggerated spelling are used in the script, which is more reminiscent of American colonial style than reformation-era English. And while they prose can be tedious, it is by no means incomprehensible. For those who find it so, you can easily skip over it, the visuals tell the story in that part just as well as the text.
I will say that the text portions are much less interesting than the rest of the book. Despite what he might want to believe, Sim is a better writing comic dialogue than he is at prose. His style is always thick, slow moving, with an excess of unimportant details. And that contrasts sharply against his amazing artwork and uniquely expressive balloon dialogue.
And perhaps this all becomes tedious to the author as well, as he makes his second appearance in the series in an effort to dislodge his creation from his comfy tavern. Dave explains that Cerebus’s struggle is a reflection of his own reluctance to leave a bar. Which is why Cerebus is having so much difficulty moving on, so to facilitate this he gives the one surefire thing that will get his ass off the barstool, the return of his true love, Jaka. Which is where the next volume picks up.

       For more readings, try my collection of books. 


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