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Monday, August 21, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 13: Going Home

By Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanaheim, Inc.; 3rd Printing, March 2000 edition (2001)

Softcover 401 pages

Finished 8/19/2017

Amazon Listing
 



    The thirteenth volume in this series, collecting issues 232-250 of Cerebus.  Upon my first reading of this series a decade and some change ago, I was under the belief that this is the volume where the series officially jumped the shark. There was no going back and it was all downhill from here. I do have to amend my position after the second reading and state that the Fonzie daredevil moment has to be knocked back one volume and the title awarded to Rick’s Story. I was not nearly as bored as I was reading Rick’s Story, having to push myself to get through all of the material. Groaning as I picked up the book and cursing myself as a masochist.

    The second reflection brought about all of the subtle nuances of the text which I had missed the first time. Jaka, having reunited with Cerebus, is now a Princess Diana character, a celebrity, famous for being famous.  Her popularity is due to the book published about her by the Oscar Wilde character many many issues ago.  She is now everyone’s darling, the idol of beauty, and can spend her days buying new clothes and being fabulous. But there exists a darker element in her character. A self-centeredness that no amount of frivolous clothes shopping can chase away. She is under the impression that the relationship should serve her happiness and that Cerebus is an afterthought. As Rick told Cerebus before, “All you have to be is twice as happy as anyone else and you can keep her for as long as you want.” Well this is Cerebus, one of the most brooding characters in all of comic history. The relationship is obviously doomed…. Just not in this volume.
 
The alcoholic delusions-of-grandeur of F. Stop Kennedy (the series' analogue to F. Scott Fitzgerald) bring a whole host of problems, at least in the mind of Jaka. Cerebus, having giving up conquest, wants to return home to his rustic northern homestead and build a house there.
Jaka is going along with him due to love, but also because there is nothing else for her. She is the celebrity without a cause. A vapid and vacant beacon of beauty. Kennedy offers her a position as patroness of an artist colony where she can fritter away her life in a pretend land of parties, while Cerebus’s is full of practicality and hard work, of man overcoming the elements and finding meaning through strife.  Guess which one turns the princess’s head the most? It is story of hidden meanings and subtle innuendos, verging on an emotional apocalypse. Our hero rides out the storm by not noticing that there is one.
Author Dave Sim
 
The most interesting part of the book is the appendix on the author’s research into F. Scott Fitzgerald. He openly admits he was inspired by the appendix included in the From Hell graphic novel, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. While many of his reflections on the inspiration for this and that minor detail is interesting, what really makes this the best part of the book is that Sim can’t help editorializing. So we get a look at his research methods and material, which is impressive- or at least more than I would have done-, his analysis on Scott’s writing style, and his two cents on Zelda.
        This is the best written prose work I’ve read by the author. It contrasts sharply with the prose sections in this volume by F. Stop Kennedy which are florid and overwritten as usual. The appendix are straight, to the point, without any showing off or extraneous flairs. In short, he doesn’t try too hard with these. If he could have translated this sort of writing style into the regular text then he have gotten the series to become a hit again, or at least prevent it from plummeting as fast.  
         One of the many minor things I have to disagree with the author about Fitzgerald is his listing of the three great novels by the author as The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and The Beautiful and the Damned. In fact he seems to focus on the last volume almost exclusively for inspiration for this volume. And the Fitzgerald characterized here seems to be of the sort who could live within its pages.
F. Stop Kennedy, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald
 
       I won’t go into too much detail, but I always considered The Beautiful and the Damned one of the least of his works. Much of the novel reads like it was ripped from Zelda’s diary. The characters aren’t likeable, but not bad enough to be interesting antiheroes.  And certainly the book is not worthy of being listed as among Fitzgerald’s best.
       Tender is the Night  is his best work, followed by The Great Gatsby and if pushed I would have to say the third was A Diamond as Big as the Ritz. Or if you discount that due to it being a novella, the distant third would be This Side of Paradise. If anyone who reads this hasn’t glanced through Tender is the Night please do so. It is a romantic novel, a heartbreaking one, and this recommendation comes from a person that dislikes romantic stories. So allow me to say it is a cut above the genre.

 




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