Cerebus (Phonebook)

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Phonebook Volume #1
Collects Issues: 1 - 25
1st Printing250 out of 6,000
Date of 1st Print15 August 1987
# of Pages534
Current Printing12th
ISBN0-919359-08-6

If you are looking for other uses of the word Cerebus, see the article Cerebus (disambiguation)

Collects the issues #1 - 25 of the series. With printing #11 the Silverspoon strips were included.

Contents

Print Run Notes

CFG Blog October, 17 2009

Dave on the signed and numbered editions of the second print run: "The signed and numbered you were looking at would have been me trying to make nice on the Direct Market after everyone when ballistic over my selling HIGH SOCIETY directly (justifiably). “DIA” signifies that this was Diamond’s order for the first trade paperback to be offered through the distributers, 167 copies, evidently of the CEREBUS trade."

Note From The President in issue 126

"Since we will be offering the 2nd printing of the Cerebus reprint volumes to the direct sales distributors we've decided to sign and number the 250 remaining copies of the 6000 copy first printing. You can specify if you just want an autograph and no. or if you want it personalized (within reason). I will even include a short message (i.e. "to my closest personal friend you name here"). $50 U.S. $59 Canadian."

Dave's Q&A June 2004

Q5: We just noticed that the 11th printing of Cerebus includes, for the first time, the Silverspoon story (which, technically, would make the "11th printing" the "1st printing of the 2nd Edition" of that book). Why did you choose to include this story now?

DAVE: Um, actually, that came about because of a completely unrelated re-reading of Cerebus: this one having been initiated by Joe Matt who suggested that he and Chester Brown should re-read all of Cerebus because I was coming down to visit reasonably often and, basically, Joe's just like that. Pull out a chessboard at lunch. "Let's play chess." Uh, I'd really rather just talk, Joe. "No, let's play chess. C'mon. I'll let you be white." Most of the time you just give in because it's easier than discussing it for an hour or something. So, they both re-read Cerebus. And one of the things Chet wanted to know about was "Why aren't the Silverspoon strips reprinted in the Cerebus volume?" And I said, they are. And he said, mm, not in my copy. Really? And I went home and checked and sure enough, he was right. They weren't in there. One of those "I must've dreamed that last part" moments (apologies to Fat Freddy's Cat).

So, I made a note to put them into the next reprinting, having wrestled with whether or not to promote it as such, since that would seem like I was conniving to find a way to get everyone to buy another copy even though I was aware that a certain number of people would buy another copy. The Silverspoon strips I tend to see as being in a different category because without them Lord Julius just suddenly appears in the story with no explanation.

"Magiking" I figure can be left out because there isn't that big a leap from i12 to i13 without it. Cerebus is on a river and wakes up washed up on a bank, with only one caption indicating you might've missed something. Likewise "What Happened Between Issues 20 and 21". It's more of curiosity item if you're one of those really intense Cerebus fans.

External Links

  • CFG Blog: Has a picture of the signed & numbered page from the first print run.

Dave's Q&A

Q1: Did you deliberately choose the name "succubus" - a female demonic figure from legend - for your soul-sucking creature from #2 or was that a "coincidence" (acknowledging that you would of course see that later as a message regarding God and YHWH)?

DAVE: I'm not sure that I even knew what a succubus was at the time. My recollection of writing that segment was having the mental image of Cerebus' head surrounded by a lattice-work of energy-draining tentacles and then having to come up with the name of whatever it was that was doing that. It's actually interesting to me that I would have chosen "succubus" as a term, rather than coining a fantasy term like G'rikkha or something. "Oh No! A G'rikkha!"

Q1 continued: Also, the female succubus Khem is hiding out in the Eye of Terim. Terim, of course, is later depicted as the female deity. Was the later use of the name Terim deliberately linked to the earlier use?

DAVE: I can't say with 100% certainty that that was the case. As I recall, the two different spellings of Terim and Tarim were accidental at first, in the same was that I had trouble bearing in mind that Cerebus was supposed to refer to himself in the third person and would later cover for it by saying that he referred to himself as "I" when he had been around the civilized areas too long. I was covering for not remembering how to spell Tarim by making it the masculine version of the deity's name.

Q1 continued: Similarly, is the demon Female (Void) sucking the souls out of the Male warriors, who at the end when released are depicted as Lights flying off into the night an intentional direct parallel to the similar description of the Void and Light that you presented in i186?

DAVE: I went back and reread the section and it seems clear to me in retrospect that this was me unconsciously documenting what would have been, at the time, my overwhelming and all-encompassing connection to the female half of reality which resulted from my first non-familial exposure to it as a result of being in my first boyfriend/girlfriend relationship for about a year by this time.

Certainly all of the central YHWHist female realities are there: the living thing in the middle of the earth that's a bright light, the rarest jewel, blah, blah, blah. And it certainly anticipates the ultimate conclusions I came to about the devouring, ensnaring nature of the light as presented in i's289/290 (is that the plural form?) about which, in my view, men would do well to remain always and centrally vigilant if they intend to shilly-shally on the romantic borderlands or (God forbid) plunge joyously headlong,as I did,into the Alice in Wonderland environs of the members opposite.

[Relative to 186, I think it's safe to say that my best amended perception of Reality is that males and females are both light and void. That is, that masculinity is represented in the light by the Spirit of God which "went in unto the light" and the "true light which lighteth every man that commeth into the world" (John's Gospel). Femininity is represented in the light by the empty facade of radiance (un-true light, if you will). Masculinity is represented in the void by the fact that it is the medium in which God exists.

I mean, that's my best guess,that the void is universally conscious and aware for the most part across untold trillions of light years interrupted here and there by pinpricks of empty facade radiance and that the void also constitutes the space between atoms and molecules. It's all one awareness which allows for the literal definition of God as an omnipresent Being. He is literally everywhere around you and inside of you. Boo!

Femininity is represented in the void as a vaginal nature, desirous of things to ensnare and transform. That is, apart from the facade of radiance, with the seminal light there was, literally (to quote Dorothy Parker) "no 'there' there." One of the descriptions of goddess nature is "everything she touches she changes." Well, true enough. All the Spirit of God wanted was to have a co-equal existence with the light and we see what that's led to. YHWH the transformative tar baby. Enter at your own risk.]

It seems to me that I was telling myself that very basic story as well, even way back at issue 2. Notice that all Cerebus has to do is pick up the Eye of Tarim and walk in a straight line to the exit. The thing is there are no straight lines in the female half of reality. They are,physically, mentally and spiritually,all curves which lead nowhere. Fun house mirrors and roller coasters. I was surprised that no one picked up on the analogous usage of "The path suddenly drops and the aardvark stumbles?" segment and the same trick that Viktor Davis played on the reader in i183, where the path suddenly drops away and then comes back when he announces that Cerebus is going to end at issue 200 instead of 300.

In both case, the one unconscious and the other conscious,I was attempting to demonstrate (first to myself and then to the reader) what reality is like once you enter the opposing camp where everything is made up of curves that lead nowhere. On the way in, it all looks perfectly straightforward. That's the trick.

Question 2 moved to the page on Elrod.

Q3: Jaka's self-exile from Palnu: From her letter at the end of i16, it would seem that if she doesn't actually visit on occasion, she carries on a friendly correspondence with Julius. Later, in i24, Katrina relates the story from A Night at the Masque with Lord Julius as the hero, as told by her sister/Julius' niece, obviously Jaka, who must have again been talking to Julius, at least through the posts. She doesn't sound like the missing person who was the object of a 12 year search. Is this just an unintended inconsistency in the book? Was the 12-year search a ruse put on by Julius to cover up that he was, whether rapist or mere humiliator, the cause of her flight? (And if he was, why is she so chummy?)

DAVE: I've just noticed that you guys often manage to ask three questions while only using one number. Well, I apologize that this one gets pretty complicated in a hurry, but here goes:

The situation between Jaka and Lord Julius was the same as the relationship between Lord Julius and anyone. Julius stayed ahead of the game by staying ahead of everyone playing it and being the only one who knew how the whole thing fit together (that is, that it doesn't fit together, but as long as you can keep your forward momentum and treat everyone in your life as a straight man, it all works out in the end. This was my insight at the time that, at essence, conducting an effective and successful leftist government is really no different from how Groucho handles the stateroom scene in A Night at the Opera).

The difficulty that this posed for Lord Julius' family and romantic relationships is obvious,it's essentially playing the female trick back onto them. Lord Julius' government, life and relationships consists entirely of curves that go nowhere. He's a fun house mirror and a roller coaster. I would assume that he had a certain affection for Jaka that was probably half genuine familial love and part Groucho "Memoirs of a Mangy Lover". Let me put it this way, if Harpo had had a gorgeous willowy blonde daughter, could you actually picture Groucho keeping his eyebrows in one place when she hit the age of majority? To kick it up a notch, in the context of political power that we're discussing it is, after all, very difficult to differentiate "uncle" and "mangy lover" if you have someone's fate in your hands as would be the case with Lord Julius and his entire family. As can be seen with the Caesars, once you start trafficking at or near the levels of absolute dominion, incest is never very far down on the list of executive privileges you're going to be tempted to allow yourself if only because you're allowed everything else. What is illicit to other people is commonplace for you and consequently not exciting, so you gradually find yourself contemplating larger and larger societal taboos. The situations are not entirely comparable, Lord Julius relative to Palnu was more comparable to Caesar Augustus than, say, Nero or Caligula relative to Rome.

As with the Caesars, proximity is all and the greatest female proximity to the apex consists in legitimized sexuality (marriage), family ties or illegitimate sexuality (the mistress). When absolute power devolves upon an individual man, the latter two categories of women are quite apt to aspire to the primary one, proximity always seeks greater proximity. Given that in any hierarchy a wife outranks a sister, a sister will be tempted to become a wife if it's on offer. This is part of the conundrum that Jaka poses. You can certainly understand a young girl being humiliated as she was on her birthday, being "mistaken" for Astoria, but presumably this didn't come out of thin air.

In one sense a practical joke, but in another sense, Lord Julius was very directly addressing a specific speculation (in a Caesar-like context) which would result from Jaka reaching a marriageable age. All part of the "keep 'em guessing" Lord Julius travelling circus. And what's her reaction? She flees to another city and becomes a tavern dancer. So, to me, at one level she's asserting her basic decency which has been offended at even the surface level of meaning and, at the same time, she's playing right along in the same way that any "woman scorned" usually does when you hit those kinds of hot buttons, she usually goes out and does something slutty (or many slutty things).

On another level she could be indicating, yes, this is what I am and then biding her time until she comes back and takes her place as "Lady Julius". I would assume that she reacted to any overt contact from anyone from Palnu by moving along to another tavern and would only respond to actual letters from Lord Julius, himself, (in her case, sent to various "general delivery" outlets). To which she would respond in what she would see as a comparable fashion to his own as possible. She is a pretty decent and guileless individual on a strictly human level, so she would only be able to address the practical joke at a certain number of levels. (given that she's a largely humourless and intrinsically easily offended individual,that is, that she is irretrievably female,this mostly consisted in being contrary and indulging in contrary behaviours: to punish Lord Julius for not being who she pictured him to be, she would repay unreliability with unreliability: promising, as an example, that she would come for a visit,repeatedly,and then not showing up when she says she is going to, as in i16. There. That'll show him. Which of course it wouldn't.

To her it's about as withering as her later "Ha-ha on you Gertrude Cirinist Poopiehead." In any tit-for-tat exchange she's largely unarmed. The larger consideration that she misses, it seems to me, is that she was implicitly inside of Lord Julius' context to a far greater extent than he was inside of hers. That is, given his greater importance in the larger Estarcion scheme of things, she was Lord Julius's niece to a far greater extent than he was Jaka's uncle. But, these are just the sort of things which feminism,actually their more refined dichotomies, Cirinism and Kevillism,causes to be seen through a glass darkly.

If you are sufficiently perverse, that is, at essence so intrinsically composed of funhouse mirrors and roller coasters, it is possible,as was the case from 1981 onward, to see the former Lady Diana Spencer as larger than the British crown, of greater significance than God's Anointed on earth that the bearer of that Crown is held to be and, as happened with Diana Spencer, feministic "All you need is love" perversions take on a life of their own and, in my view, compelled what would otherwise have been a very nice, pretty nursery school teacher elevated to Princess of the Realm to feel obligated, as part of the feminist zeitgeist in which she unhappily found herself, to contend against the British Crown in the way that a three-year-old rebels against parental authority (because women are incapable of seeing anything as being larger than themselves if they are raised in the feminist manner). The only things that have any importance in the feminist context are a) to be strong, which is to say wilful ("My way or the highway.") and b) to be independent, which is to say contentious and contrary.

The legions of perverse women which feminism had unleashed upon the world, observing these goings-on, nurtured the conflict: every daughter aligning with Diana against every mother, Queen Elizabeth. As long as it's just your mother-in-law, it had what it proved to have: wonderful soap opera potential of the beautiful stylish young girl against the miserable old bag. But this was one of God's Anointed on earth. That's a very different scrap. "Oh, pooh. No one believes that load of old bullocks anymore." Well, if that's what you choose to think, that's what you choose to think, but don't come crying to me if you find out that a good millennium worth of tradition proves to be a slightly larger counterweight to your "Oh, pooh" than you want it to be.

No, of course Jaka couldn't evade detection any more than Princess Diana could (well, somewhat more given the absence of electronic media). But, you can, and both did, create the illusion of having your own life if you're willing to force yourself to be fundamentally ignorant of reality on an on-going basis. In Princess Diana's case you have to date a Muslim to even create the illusion that you're outside of the orbit of your estranged husband. The situations are analogous. How do you stop being Lord Julius' niece? Answer: you can't. Who can you be or aspire to be in 20th century Britain if you're Prince Charles' ex-wife?

Answer: nobody. All options are well down in the pecking order. All you can do is to create either the illusion or the reality of building your own power base or just accept that you're a marginalised,instead of a central figure,in the cast of the play you were just performing in. Completely unacceptable from a feminist standpoint. So, that's essentially what happened with Jaka. Everyone kept watching her to see what sort of a power base she was going to build. Which was fine from the Cirinist and Kevillist standpoint as long as it was just her and Tom, Dick and Harry on the side of a mountain acting out all the parts she had written for them (well, except Dick,that is, Oscar). Once Cerebus moved in, it was a different situation. The self-exiled Princess of Palnu and the former Pope. It was distinctly analogous to Diana Spencer taking up with the son of an extravagantly wealthy arriviste Muslim (and it was certainly interesting keeping track of the many misadventures of Ms. Spencer even as I seemed to be pretty accurately fictionalizing them) where "what is up with that?" it seems to me, became no longer a merely soap-opera based inquiry, given that several ascending layers of reality were possibly and quite suddenly in jeopardy both from the Cirinist and Kevillist perspective (in our world, I mean) and from the vantage point of those institution(s) they were, as usual, attempting to undermine.

I mean, feminism is the real-life version of TV's Survivor. The idea is to pay lip service to pluralism, freedom and inclusiveness while ruthlessly destroying anyone who might even potentially be competition. I don't believe in the conspiracy theories about Diana's death because there were too many layers of reality "in play" that I can see. A direct line attempt to threaten to "bring down" the Anointed of God (it is noteworthy, to me anyway, that so many of those vulgar baskets and balloons and signs outside Kensington Palace asserted that "Heaven has found her Queen" and so on. Diana of the Hunt and all that Alan Moore-like rubbish that was, I think, the actual underpinning of the Diana Spencer Story as she chose, however inadvertently and naively, and to her own decided detriment in the long term,to tell it). Meanwhile, back at my funnybook and speaking of inadvertently, it's a hallmark of Jaka's actual disingenuous nature that looking slutty was probably entirely inadvertent on her part. It was just "fancy dress" in the English sense. Putting on costumes and dancing. It took Mrs Thatcher to get her, kicking and screaming all the way, to see what a tavern dancer actually is. On another level she could never actually detach herself from Palnu and Lord Julius. Ostensibly because she loves him, but, at a deeper level, because of the extent to which being the Princess of Palnu was central to what she was.

She certainly didn't forget her diplomatic immunity or fail to make use of her status in displacing bartenders from their premises all across Estarcion. She was always the Princess of Palnu who thoroughly enjoyed playing "Just call me Jaka."

I should probably have made clearer in my earlier answer that Jaka was indeed molested as an infant but that the recollection was very deeply buried,only coming out in fever dreams, as an example. That is, my having conveyed that information, there is a part of Jaka you know more about than she does. It would actually be unlikely that Lord Julius would be the culprit. In the context of absolute political power there just wouldn't be any occasions when the Grandlord of Palnu would be left alone with his infant niece. What would even be the pretext? Of course at the Caesarian level you don't need a pretext, but it would be extremely unlikely for an Augustus,although I grant you it would be less unlikely for a Nero or a Caligula.

Q4: In the last of the Cerebus the Barbarian stories before "High Society" we have the Three (girls) killing the One (barbarian) at the door. Were (Ja)nette, (Ka)trina, and (T)heresa meant to represent Jaka's relationship with Cerebus, i.e., slaying the barbarian and "domesticating" Cerebus? Also, were they meant to be "lesser" versions of Sophia, Jaka, and Astoria, the way that the early Pos that Cerebus encountered were "lesser" Pos? Is their names spelling out "Jaka T." just a coincidence?

DAVE: I think I wrote about this in the original Swords introduction. Really, this was just my attempt to do a Clint Eastwood film because Gene Day was such a Clint Eastwood nut. I really did think that The Beguiled was the best Clint Eastwood film I had seen, (That was one of the things that I saw that separated me from Gene, a big reason that we chose different comic book careers. With slight alterations you can Do High Plains Drifter in the comic-book field month after month and make a good living. There wasn't any precedent in the comic-book field for doing something like The Beguiled even as a change of pace, let alone making a living at it.), although I could see a lot to recommend The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and A Fistful of Dollars. Great tone, particularly the music and Eli Wallach.

Those sort of got ruined for me when, years after the fact, I saw the fumetti parody in Playboy, "A Fistful of Ugly" or "A Fistful of Garlic" or whatever it was called, with the late Tony Randall in the Clint Eastwood role. There just wasn't enough content to the spaghetti western as form to hold up under the onslaught and besides that the chicks in the fumetti were naked. Game, set and match, Mr. MacEnroe. I thought at the time that young girls, not just their bodies, but the girls themselves, were incredibly interesting, so the idea of Cerebus trapped in a girls' school seemed really interesting as a pure mood piece and writing exercise. I was also worried that I was losing the ability to do a self-contained issue after the three-issue Palnu Trilogy, the two-issue President Weisshaupt/Captain Cockroach storyline. So, I really wanted to prove to myself that I could do a self-contained issue, as I said, a mood piece: all tone, like a spaghetti western but with humour. Of course, the problem was that the next issue he was still in the school, so the issue only appeared to be self-contained, and that became the latest instalment in a large interior discussion I was having about what I was actually doing here.

In one sense, it was all one story, a series of adventures. I was paying very close attention to exactly that sort of continuity so, no matter how you sliced it "self-contained" really had quotation marks around it by this point. I was also aware while I was doing the story that it was dishonest, that "woman as super-hero" quality which had already worn out its welcome as far as I was concerned (if I could only have seen the Diamond Previews catalogues that would be coming out twenty years from then!), which then led to my shifting gears to the opposite end of the thematic spectrum with Charles X. Claremont.

Chris Claremont was sort of notorious at the time for his "Is there any reason this character can't be a woman?" gender-interchangeability shtick. John Byrne rather dryly observed at one point, "Well, apart from the fact that it's been a male character for the last thirty five-years, no, Chris, I can't see any reason why this character couldn't be a woman." That's proven to be a whole less funny in recent years than it was at the time, now that they've done it with the Creeper. The Creeper, for crying out loud.

So I was undermining the basic theme that I started with (that a school full of girls is implicitly interesting quite apart from the sexual frisson implied. It isn't.) and also moving back into complete comic-book fantasy by way of emphasis as a way of retaining the quality of self-contained issues. Did that make "Swamp Sounds" and "This Woman, This Thing" self-contained stories? Or was it a hair-splitting difference between a woven rope and link sausages?

I decided to see it both ways, to try to make each issue self-contained and also part of a larger whole. And, of course, that implied the question of how long I could, or would choose to, sustain that narrative approach, which is why High Society starts pretty timidly with the Regency Hotel in the first issue, then Dirty Fleagle and Dirty Drew, then Mind Game II, then the Regency Elf: I was attempting the same trick, oscillating as wildly as possible when it came to the tone of each issue. But, then it became pretty pointless. Cerebus is stuck in a snobby hotel. You can dance as fast as you can and dress the set differently and light as many sparklers as you want, it's going to be pretty obvious what the book is. Cerebus is stuck in a snobby hotel.

Sorry, returning to your question: The names, actually, were adapted from Deni's two middle names, Janet Catherine and her sister Karen's middle name, Theresa. I was definitely far more interested in Karen at that point than in Deni, both in a less extreme form of the character Michael Caine played in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters and in the literary context of the borderland between girl and woman. Karen would've been twenty at the time and I had known her since she was sixteen. Girls all think that they're women much sooner than they are and that was the first time I had seen it up close.

The best example I ever read of that borderland quality was reading about Paula Abdul when she was seventeen or something, and messing around with one of the married Jackson boys and I guess the wife chased her down in her car. And Paula Abdul gets out of the car and just bursts into tears. And the wife is brought up short by it, suddenly realizing this is a little girl I'm dealing with here. This isn't a woman. Too true. I could never figure out why any guy would be interested in a twenty-year-old if he could get a sixteen-year-old. I saw the movie Lola with Charles Bronson and Susan George, about a fifty-year-old man with a fiance in high school, when just looking at Susan George was enough to make my eyeballs bleed. And I thought, well, YEAH! OF COURSE! IT'S SUSAN GEORGE FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!

However, It's one thing to see it in a movie, quite another thing to see your Achtung-Verbotten-Zis-means-you- schweinhund sister-in-law going through it. Oh, isn't that interesting. And (trust me on this one) it's a whole other thing to be going through it with a sixteen-year old of your own. Maximum distortion funhouse mirror, warp speed roller coaster.

Question 5 on the Silverspoon story being included in the phonebook, and placement of other miscellaneous stories into the over Cerebus saga moved to the article on Category.

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