Art and story by Dave Sim.
Cerebus awakens to find himself falling. He lands on a stone floor that seems to float in space. A magician descends from a shadowy stairway and demands, "Another intruder? What manner of beast are you?" Cerebus gives his name and wants to know where he is. The magician does not give his name; instead he conjures Ye Book of Beasties and magical bonds for Cerebus.
The book can't tell him anything about Aardvarks, so he casts a spell to determine just what he has. The spell distorts Cerebus's body in various directions. The magician realizes he's been looking in the wrong book. He finally finds the listing for aardvark, mentions some highlights--"monolith peoples," "Aelnap," "Silver Dynasty"--and is stunned by a mention of magical properties. The magician releases Cerebus from the spell and expounds on the history of magic.
Centuries before, magic inexplicably became more powerful. All magicians, good and evil, flourished. One evil mage went too far, though, when he developed an ultimate weapon and used it. The result was an almost total disappearance of magic. A few still wielded power, and since that time the good magicians have monitored the evil ones to protect the world.
The long-winded magician turns to Cerebus's role. "Good, Cerebus was starting to fall asleep," the earth-pig says. An aardvark can act as a magnifying glass for magic, the mage claims, able to significantly increase a spell's power when used as a focus. He wants to create a weapon that will give the good magicians an edge over evil, and he believes Cerebus can provide that edge. Cerebus, suspecting a trick, wants to know how he can tell good magicians from evil ones. The magician can't come up with a definite answer, so he threatens to keep Cerebus there indefinitely. Cerebus reluctantly agrees but wants to return to his former location. The magician casts his mighty spell.
Cerebus awakens on a piece of wood in the Feld River, somewhere downstream from Beduin. The magician, meanwhile, stares helplessly at his "weapon of unmatched might": a "huge iron carriage" with treads, armor, and guns. We would call it a tank.
- Cerebus (last seen in issue 13; next appearance in issue 14)
- Unnamed Magician (first appearance; next appearance in issue 82)
- "floor in space" dimension
- The "floor in space" dimension, first seen here, appears again in issue 82 and issue 91.
- Necross was intended to be the magician's "evil" counterpart <citation needed>.
Dave Speaks on Magiking
Introduction to Magiking & Issue 13 from Swords of Cerebus #4
"I was contacted by a Hamilton cartoonist (Ian Carr) to do a ten to twelve page Cerebus story for The 1981 Comics Annual (a project which was aborted, hence the first appearance of the story here). At the time I was still doing Cerebus on a bimonthly schedule, drawing the book one month and filling the rest of my time with mondo bizarro commercial shit ('shit' is a technical word used in the commercial art field to cover those 'fun' art jobs like, say, a tire ad or a flyer advertising a disco opening). Any chance to fill my time with more comic book (and especially Cerebus related) jobs was welcome indeed. It also rather neatly solved a problem I had been having with a major point I was trying to develop in the book - the stasis created in Estarcion by most of its major forces existing in opposition to one another. Be it politics, magic, wealth, religion, each force tends to have a major opposing force. I had planned 'Black Magiking' to show that the Lower Feldan countryside had its fair share of magical forces and beings and situations, almost completely unheard of in the major metropolitan capitals. I was torn on the question of alluding to the good magician. Should I drag him in for a couple of panels, or split the story in two? Or just make a few pertinent footnotes?
Now I had ten to twelve pages to develop a completely different story. The fact that I was asked to gear the story to the 'eleven to thirteen year olds' even allowed for a more vivid contrast in the two magician characters. The lightweight 'Magiking' reads like a child’s fable with a kind of cotton candy look."
Cerebus World Tour Book 1995 Afterword
"It is symptomatic of the starting self-publisher to want to see his character featured elsewhere. It takes some of the sting out of the realisation that the line of demarcation between self-publishing and 'vanity' press is not that clear in many cases. The 'Magiking' story was originally intended for a Canadian comics annual which vanished as swiftly as it arrived. (I was amenable in those long-gone days to the idea of doing a Cerebus story for brainless adolescents).
Whatever sense of legitimacy these outside appearances granted me at the time has been more than outweighed by the inconvenience of contemplating how to get them back into print ('Magiking' takes place between issue 12 and issue 13), without further overstuffing the already overstuffed first volume in the 'phone book' series.