Issue 300

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March 2004: Latter Days 33
Issue 300
PresidentDave Sim
Latter Days: The Last Day


Issue Summary

Cerebus dies. Alone. Unmourned. Unloved. Well, kinda. Jumping off the bed to kill Shep Shep, the stairs fall over and take Cerebus with them: breaking his neck in the process. One last fart, and Cerebus dies. Cerebus sees his life flash before his eyes, a light comes out from above, and a voice, and a hand beckon Cerebus to come into the light.

Once Cerebus sees it is Jaka and all his friends (and some other acquaintances) he changes into Rabbi and jumps into the light. To realize all too late that Rick isn’t there, so perhaps this is not where he wants to be going. He calls out to God, but it is too late and the hands drag him into the light.



Artist Notes

From a post on the Cerebus Yahoo!Group, #37270

Steve Otte: Okay... in 300, the scene in the light. There's two schools of thought on who the three people are who beckon him last.

Dave (without prompting): It's Ham, Jaka and Bear.

Steve Otte: (catching myself a bit, since I had prepared this whole schpeil to tell him the two opposing theories): Aha. So... It's the first one that people were wondering about. So those people who thought it was Ham thought that these three are the three that best represent the risks of merged permanence.

Steve Otte:: (silence)

Steve Otte:: Or, is it because they're the three most important people to Cerebus?

Dave: They're the three most important people to the *wrong side* of Cerebus.

Steve Otte:: Meaning the side that (gets distracted and makes bad choices)?

Dave: Exactly.

Steve Otte:: 'Cause there are those who thought it was Rick.

Dave: Well, yeah, this time it is definitely a right-and-wrong situation. This time I'm not going to say "let's leave it up to the reader to decide." They'd hate me for that. But no... I didn't even think that there would be a question about that until Shawn O'Hearn called asking the same thing. (Snipping a bit asking about who Shawn O'Hearn is... apparently he's a frequent caller, who is probably not on our list.) I didn't even realize how much Ham looks like Rick until he brought it up.

Steve Otte:: So as not to inject my own theory about what it means, can you tell me in your words what it means when Cerebus thinks about Rick two pages later.

Dave: That comes from my own concern in terms of, we're all going to go through it, this is all such a universal experience, the near-death experience. My first question is, who is it I'm seeing, these people, who'll be making it into Paradise? That's the assumption, [we all assume we're going to get into Paradise, especially back when we were all going to church, and so] when you see these people, these are the people you expect to go into Paradise. But of all the people I know, [all the people I've met in my life,] unless God has set the bar really, really low where almost anyone can get in, I can't think of anyone I know who's going to get in.

Steve Otte: (thinking to myself "Yep, he really does believe this stuff..."): So,the people who thought it was Rick, they thought that Cerebus thinking of Rick and his rejection of it meant that this was Heaven and that Cerebus didn't want to spend eternity with Girly-Boy. That this was a funny ending.

Dave: (silence)

Steve Otte:: ...and, the ones who thought it was Ham thought that his thinking of Rick was realizing that Rick wasn't there...

Dave: Yeah, because I'm going to be thinking about who's not there.

Steve Otte: (trying to steer him back to Cerebus): ...and therefore if Rick wasn't there that this wasn't Heaven.

Dave: Exactly!

Steve Otte: (not expecting such a brief and definitive answer after that long bit about Paradise): Ah! Well, good. 'Cause that was my theory.

Dave: Well, you're batting 1,000 so far! (chuckles)

From the Q&A session for The Last Day:

Q5. Upon realizing that Rick is not among those Cerebus believes to be waiting for him in Heaven, Ham, Jaka and Bear's hands transform into strange two to three fingered appendages. What is the significance of this? (i300/TLD pp236-237)

DAVE: Ham, Jaka and Bear were atheists. What I’m suggesting is that atheists are basically host beings which are wide open to being made use of by malignant spirits whose only job is to lure the God-fearing to destruction. It’s a cautionary note struck for the half dozen (that may be optimistic) or so readers I have who believe in God—and for the first generation of Cerebus fans (as opposed to readers) fifty or a hundred years after I’m dead for whom the Next World will be something more than a concept for a Twilight Zone episode. When you die and you go towards the light, look who is there and remember what they were like when they were alive. I don’t think anyone will heed my advice but that doesn’t stop me from giving it. As I told someone in Columbus, my own reaction to seeing dead relatives and “friends” will be to go down on my knees and close my eyes and begin reciting my prayer. I plan to continue reciting my prayer from that point until Judgement Day. The Koran assures us that when we awake on Judgement Day we’ll believe that we have been dead “for a day or part of a day.” Muhammad in his later years used to spend the better part of the night reciting Suras instead of sleeping so I’m going to try to bear that in mind and deal with the Afterlife as one long night that needs to be prayed through until Judgement Day dawns.

From the Q&A Session for Rick's Story:

03/04: Q: Was the runed sword in that dream (note: issue 227)was coincidental with the one in 299/300? Or were you trying to make a connection. Same question with respect to the dream slice to the neck, and Cerebus' broken neck. If it was intentional in 300 - was it intentional foreshadowing in Rick's Story?

DAVE: You guys are so lucky that Ger is here as support staff. I would be so lost. Anyway, he just said that when he put the rune markings on the dagger at the end of 299 (I had roughed in a short sword, but all of my short swords look like BWS short swords, aka Cerebus' old sword, so I thought, if I put it in, it's going to look like the old sword and everyone's going to be asking, How did he get his sword back. AAAAGH!) So, I just told Ger to put a different sword/dagger in. Whatever he wanted. He just tells me now that he thought that: it looks like Cirin's sword in the dream/fantasy sequence in RICK'S STORY. I had no idea. If you live long enough you will find out everything.

Collected Letters 2004 p. 428

"In showing all the characters that I did in the afterlife, I was attempting to portray what I think might we be a hard truth of reality: very few of us make it. I mean, in a society like we have now very few. Remember that the neutrino analogy/metaphor/reality postulated that only two out of every hundred make the grade. That still makes for trillions and trillions to the exponential power of trillions of “saved” “elect” souls but means that you, personally, probably only know one person who might be saved and it might not be you. How exacting is the standard? How high is the bar set? Pretty high is my guess. Out of all the characters drew over twenty-six years, I could conceive of a reality where only Rick made the grade. Maybe Bishop Posey. I don’t think just plying a solitary path is going to get you in. I think it goes much deeper than our conscious awareness which is why it’s so difficult to make the grade. I’ve eliminated virtually all of my vices I pray five times a day, I fast for four days every three weeks, observe a Sabbath, etc. etc. and there are very few days I feel remotely saved. More like I’m hanging on by my fingernails. I may be the only one I know who is, but it still feels as if it’s by my fingernails, not as if I’ve got a solid grip on redemption."

March 2004 Q&A Session

Jeff Tundis: I think it's safe to say Cerebus is in hell.

DAVE: Actually, that's an interesting speculation. What I tried to do (and this goes way, way back to when I first started thinking, right, now how do I end this thing. And what I came up with was, basically, what we know about the death experience from the near- death experience accounts that we have been given. Given: our life will flash before our eyes, we will all feel ourselves rise up out of our bodies, we will find ourselves drawn towards a bright light like a tunnel. And, at the end of the tunnel will be everyone we knew who died before we did. Well, the more I thought about that...particularly after coming to belief in God...the more I thought, "I'm really going to have to take a look at who's there." I mean, virtually everyone I know and did know is or was an atheist. So, unless they've set the bar so low that everyone gets in, there's a good chance that it is hell at the end of the tunnel of light. I'm going to be looking for my cousin Chris who is a minister. If Chris ain't there, I might just sit down and wait it out til Judgment Day.

17: A new question popped up about whether Cerebus is in heaven or hell (we've been discussing this for a while; most say hell, while others say you don't believe in hell per se, but he sure ain't in heaven, that it's not a punishment but just the natural consequence of his bad choices that he's going to end up crushed by the sun). I don't know anybody who thinks he's in heaven.

DAVE: I wouldn't be surprised if Cerebus is in heaven. He could just be freaking out for no reason. In a lot of ways I wish I had never gotten suspicious of "going into the light". Why can't I accept anything at face value? When Chester Brown phoned to congratulate me, he said there was another writer who had questioned the same thing: his viewpoint was that if you go into the light you just get reincarnated again. His suggestion was that you can break the cycle by not going into the light. I think Chet said he was a Buddhist.

Phone interview with Dave Sim

" Elrod was "poit"ed out of existence during "Reads", but showed up in the afterlife, and how that involved Joanne talking about him as her neighbor during "Guys". It goes like this: To make the "married to Jaka, living next door to Joanne" thing happen during "Minds", even to just Cerebus, "Dave" had to actually make it happen. He couldn't exactly un-make it. As such, Joanne became real, where she lived became real, and her neighbors had to be filled in to make up the fact Cerebus and Jaka didn't live there. Elrod was basically pulled back into existence to fill the gap, and as a result, he ended up married to Red Sophia (interesting observation, if only to me: Dave pronounces her name as "Sof-fi-ah" instead of "So-fee-uh"). And because of that, he was able to eventually end up in the "light". The "filling in" bit relates to how he figures God probably would have to do it, and why God doesn't do it, which relates to his view that there are no parallel realities (which he discussed during the start of "The Last Day")."


Who Cerebus sees in the light
Who Cerebus sees in the light
  • When Cerebus' life flashes before his eyes, the panels are mostly recreated from scenes throughout the series.
    • (Page 5 panel 2): POV of very young Cerebus looking at self in bottom of slightly cracked mirror (never before seen).
    • (panel 4): Young Cerebus pees in church (issue 191 page 16 & 17 combo)
    • (panel 5): POV of Young Cerebus pointing kitchen knife (issue 190 page 2 between panels 3 & 4)
    • (panel 6): Bloodied Young Cerebus looking up on river (issue 190 page 8 panel 1)
    • (panel 8): Barbarian-helmeted Cerebus stands with shield raised, between two equally shielded warriors (never before seen)
    • (panel 9): Cerebus destroying Pigt idol (issue 5 page 21 panel 4)
    • (panel 10): Cerebus has just slipped on furry sweater (issue 16 page 1 panel 5)
    • (panel 11): Cerebus talks in chair while wearing robe and tie (issue 30 page 11 panel 5)
    • (panel 12): Cerebus points to our left while tromping in snow (issue 44 page 13 panel 7)
    • (panel 13): Cerebus puts on prime minister wig next to bed (issue 58 page 10 panel 4)
    • (panel 14): Cerebus prepares to pitch baby (issue 66 page 4 panel 3)
    • (panel 15): Cerebus pees by bed (issue 77 page 18 panel 3)
    • (Page 6 panel 1): Cerebus worriedly looks down at Fred's head (issue 82 page 13 panel 3)
    • (panel 2): Cerebus looks down at gold sphere (issue 91 page 19 panel 5)
    • (panel 4): Cerebus sits on papal throne (issue 98 page 11 panel 6)
    • (panel 5): Cerebus tosses ball into bucket (never before seen, but possibly issue 121 page 20 prior to panel 1)
    • (panel 7): Cerebus sits catatonic with Missy and sword (issue 141 page 20 panel 4)
    • (panel 8): Cerebus looks up at black king & queen chess pieces (issue 157 page 20)
    • (panel 9): Cerebus is lodged inside crack (issue 162 page 18-19 panel 2)
    • (panel 10): Cerebus stands asleep in doorway with sword and Missy (new angle of issue 166 page 16 panel 1)
    • (panel 11): Cerebus flies swiftly to our right (new angle of issue 174 page 6 panel 4)
    • (panel 13): Cerebus clutches bleeding ear (new angle of issue 182 page 14 panel 6)
    • (Page 7 panel 1): Cerebus floats on block in space reaching out (issue 191 page 18 panel 2)
    • (panel 2): Cerebus with eyepatch amid shards of Pluto (new angle of issue 199 page 9)
    • (panel 4): Cerebus dives to catch ball in Five Bar Gate (issue 210 page 6 panel 2)
    • (panel 5): Cerebus lies on beach with cloth over eyes (issue 210 page 19 panel 3)
    • (panel 7): Cerebus stands behind bar looking to our left (any given point in issues 215-229 maybe new angle of issue 220 page 9 panel 6)
    • (panel 8): Cerebus grimaces to our left in shirt with vest (issue 229 page 9)
    • (panel 10): Cerebus in shirt points thumb on deck (issue 241 page 13 panel 5)
    • (panel 11): Cerebus lies drunk against mast (issue 248 page 8 panel 5)
    • (panel 12): Cerebus winks & smirks in woods (issue 255 page 11 panel 2)
    • (panel 13): Cerebus turns head and shouts (issue 265 page 15 panel 8)
    • (panel 15): Shepard Cerebus reads a Read (issue 266 page 11 panel 1)
    • (panel 16): Cerebus is gagged with shaved head (issue 271 page 11 panel 2)
    • (panel 17): Close-up of Cerebus as Spore (issue 276 page 15 panel 4)
    • (panel 18): Cerebus in robe points in daze (issue 279 page 20 panel 1)
    • (panel 20): Cerebus holds magnifying glass while looking dumbstruck (new angle of issue 281 page 5).
    • (panel 21): Nude, skinnier Cerebus looks to our right (issue 286 page 9 panel 7)
    • (panel 22): Cerebus smirks with heart eyes (issue 288 page 18 panel 3)
    • (panel 23): Old Cerebus in bed yelling (new angle of issue 299 page 18 panel 4)
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