Lord Julius

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Lord Julius From High Society. Art by Dave Sim
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Lord Julius From High Society. Art by Dave Sim

Appears in "Silverspoon", issues 14 - 19, 35, 38 - 39, 40 (back-up), 43, 46, 49, 51, 71, 82, 90 - 93, 138, 151, 160 - 162, 169.

Cameos/Mentions in issues 24, 26, 28 - 30, 32, 34, 37, 40 - 42, 78, 79, 94, 130 (Jaka's Story flashback), 135 (Jaka's Story flashback), 157, 164, 166, 193, 203 (cover), 206 (cover), 207 (cover), 211, 218, 223, 230, 233, 240, 241, 245, 250, 300.

Contents

History of the Character

Lord Julius is the ruler of the city-state Palnu. He has had at least three wives, his third wife being Astoria. He has a niece, Jaka Tavers, who shares the same last name with him, though no one refers to Lord Julius by his last name.

He has risen from a Kitchen Staff Supervisor to be Grandlord of Palnu through a combination of thoroughly confusing his opponents and outright bribery on a mass scale. At times he is impersonated by people who are called Like-a-Looks.

Character Basis

A homage to Groucho Marx, whose actual name was Julius H. Marx.

Quotes

  • Issue 15, page 3
    • Cerebus: "[Baskin is] Minister for Executive Planning?"
    • Julius: "The Cabinet title is strictly honorary."
    • Cerebus: "In honour of what?"
    • Julius: "In honour of his paying two hundred pieces a month to use it."
  • issue 15, page 5
    • Social Secretary: "Lord Julius does not permit his employees to speak to each other except through him ... He believes that it causes much dissatisfaction in the city."
    • Cerebus: "How does anything get done?"
    • Social Secretary: "This is a bureaucracy, sir ... nothing is supposed to get done."
  • issue 15, page 11
    • Julius: "Find out what he's been smoking ... and have a few ounces sent to my chamber."
  • issue 16, page 8
    • Lord Julius has almost eliminated crime in Palnu, largely by having a Board of Justice "renowned for their wisdom, experience... and unblemished record of three thousand two hundred and eighty-one convictions in three thousand two hundred and eighty-one trials..."
  • Issue 90, page 17
    • "If you can't marry outside your religion, fool around outside your species."
  • issue 169
    • "Specifically, I can't figure out why they're (interest rates) at eighteen and a quarter percent when the number I pulled out of the hat was seventeen and a half. As I think about it, here before you, my suspicions are aroused. And believe me, as I look at all of you, that's the only thing that's aroused."

Attributed to Lord Julius

  • Issue 29
    • p15, Cerebus: "Lord Julius says you can measure a man's worth by the breed of person he throws out of his office ..."
    • p19, Cerebus: "Insanity was the last line of defence for the master bureaucrat."

About Lord Julius

  • issue 52, Cerebus: "He's a lot like a bottomless pit you have to keep throwing money into. . ."

Dave Speaks about Lord Julius

Swords of Cerebus, volume 4, introduction to issue 14

"It was not until Christmas of 1979 when Deni and I attended a ChristmasCon in Philadelphia (really) and we stayed with Howard Leroy Davis of the Delaware Valley Comics Consortium the night before that I figured it out. I had bought the latest Comic Journal at a Philadelphia comic shop that day and it contained the first major review of Cerebus by Kim (give me a 'K') Thompson. You have to understand that this first review was critically important to me, because after two years, I had had almost no feedback from the major fan press, which led me to believe that either, a) there was something seriously wrong with the book that led everyone but a couple of thousand loyal fans to dismiss it out of hand, or b) no one really knew what to say about it besides 'weird stuff'. One of the points Kim made was that (except for Red Sophia) most of the parodies I had done became, to him, solid characters in their own right -- in effect, greater than the sum of their parts. This was immensely reassuring to me, since I had begun to think by the end of year two that potential reviewers were looking at the book and saying 'Right. Elric, but he talks like Foghorn Leghorn. HaHaHa.' I had avoided this kind of parody since introducing Elrod for fear that people would see it as an inability to concoct original material. After reading Kim's review (for the eighth time I think) I decided to see if I could apply an outside figure to the role of Grandlord and make him stick. Groucho came to mind almost immediately.

The interesting thing about Groucho is that, like John Wayne, he came to be the person he portrayed. A kind of integration of character and the man took place over the years. I should think that was why he was so pleased when a Los Angeles television station started showing the old "You Bet Your Life" show and that it garnered a wide following in a short time. "You Bet Your Life" was Groucho the Natural Wit, improvising repartee with Joe and Mary Average, proving week after week that it wasn't just great writers that made the Groucho character tick. Groucho was Groucho. I doubt that many people realized before then Groucho's flair for improvising the kind of dialogue he dispensed in the Marx Brothers' movies. It was this quality of verbal manipulation and control that became the essence of Lord Julius (Julius Marx is Groucho's real name). Like Rufus T. Firefly, the head of state for Freedonia in the Marx Brothers' 'Duck Soup', one senses Lord Julius stumbling from one calamity to another, his nimble wits and the lack of sense of humour on the part of his underlings, giving him the advantage in most situation. The major strength of the Groucho character is his imperturbability and his refusal to be cornered on any point of contention, 'Whatever it is, I'm against it!' Firefly sings to the assembled people of Freedonia. Sung to a bureaucracy, you could keep a thousand lawyers employed full-time trying to find a way around the purity of the nonsense.

'Baskin, my boy, come in. Whatever it is, I'm against it.' 'Lord Julius?' 'Unless, of course, I'm for it, in which case the tie goes to the runner.' 'It's the papers you asked to see on the shipment to Eshnosopur.'

Lord Julius' position affords nothing but options. It he says he doesn't remember that shipment, his underlings dutifully relay that message, throwing whoever they relayed it to into confusion and near panic.

'Gak! Doesn't remember? I told you! It's a set-up! A trick!'

Suffice it to say that after two years of writing Lord Julius, I am continually amazed at the very basic comedic richness of the character. Julius Marx developed for the world at large to enjoy. I try to remain as faithful to it as I can, and I look forward to aging him in the book as the world saw him age... the eternal anarchist, caustic, brilliant, insufferable, maddening, and hilarious at the same time. I think every civilization needs their Julius Marx. Palnu is just fortunate enough to have theirs running the whole show."

Swords of Cerebus, volume 5, introduction to issue 19

"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 issue 19 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."

Aardvark Comment, issue 26

Sim describes Julius as being at the head of the rising merchant class in Estarcion. Since he pays his people so well (and controls all of them), Lord Gorce's chances were "slim and nil."

Collected Letters 2004

p. 102: "[I] wanted to do Groucho as an old man somewhere in the course of Latter Days and just not having room for it. I was going to make Palnu this last lonely outpost completely surrounded by Cirinists and the place was just one big rotgut distillery with Lord Julius and Baskin running everything pretty much by themselves ('I'm not sure what this is.' 'What colour is it?' 'Sort of a dirty brown.' 'How much of it have you got?' 'Probably enough for twenty large bottles.' 'Which labels do we have more of: 'dark lager' or 'coffee liqueur'?' 'Mm. Coffee Liqueur.' 'Coffee Liqueur it is.'). The problem was the big jump in time happens in the second issue of the Prologue and it just wouldn't have fit with the 'This Aardvark, This Shepherd' which needed a very pastoral quality. Even when he was at death's door, Groucho would never gone with 'pastoral'."

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