The Absurd, Surreal, Metaphysical and Fractured Destiny of Cerebus the Aardvark (2021)

When I turned 12, every other kid was outside playing and I was hidden in my room devouring every gigantic issue of the Comics Buyer’s Guide, a newsprint tabloid packed with the hidden occult knowledge behind the pages of funnybooks by the same people who made All In Color for a Dime, a book I’d checked out of the library for years at a time.

Before the black and white comics explosion, I discovered Cerebus, which began as a Conan parody and then became an exploration of whatever creator Dave Sim — working with background genius Gerhard — wanted to have it be about like politics and religion.

Sim was inspired to create 300 issues of this comic when he was hospitalized for a bad acid trip. Self-publishing as Aardvark-Vanaheim, Inc. and encouraging others to do the same, he was the kind of creator that inspired others to make their own comics that they owned themselves.

By the late issues, Sim underwent a religious conversion to his own unique form of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And where the comic once was quite female positive, so much of the book misogynist. Sim even claimed that it was anti-feminist. It was quite a shift for so many who wanted to make the journey through all three hundred issues.

As Robin Bougie said, quoting Coop, in his sketchbook exploration of the anti-vax cartoon that Robert Crumb recently drew, “Crumb is the ghost of xmas future for all of us maladjusted fuckhead artists.” Much like movie nerds — me — who spend much of their time in a basement, most comic artists aren’t people who go around others all that often and are often taught to never trust anyone. So when one of them goes off the rails, it can be hurtful. But maybe you shouldn’t be suprised.

Sim’s follow-up to CerebusGlamourpuss, further explored Sim’s theory that women can’t create like men — I’m really simplifying here — so they steal from them while looking like a fashion magazine with photorealistic imagery of teenage women and a story about the death of Flash Gordon artist Alex Raymond.

Cerebus learned at one point that he was destined to die alone, unmourned and unloved. Maybe Sim will be as well. But somehow, some way, a movie was made from his comics. I was shocked to find it with no fanfare on Tubi.

Oliver Simonsen spent more than a decade making this unauthorized film, knowing full well that Sim may nix the entire project once he saw it. Luckily, he liked the work of Simonsen and a team of animators who made this movie for nearly no budget whatsoever. Don’t expect Hollywood animation but also don’t expect to be disappointed. You’ll be quite surprised how great this looks and moves, getting in the story of Cerebus against Necross the Mad, the theft of the jewel of wizard Maki and appearances by Lord Julius, Prince Mick, Prince Keef, Elrod the Albino and G’ar and T’ar, who believe Cerebus is the next manifestation of a pig god.

This is an incredible effort — as difficult and near-quixotic as Sim’s 300 issue goal — but I consider it a success. There’s a lot of cover across its 80-minute story and those who have a strong foundation in the comics will do better at deciphering it. I’m just so pleased that this exists. 12-year-old me is so excited about it.

You can watch this on Tubi and learn more at the official site and the director’s Facebook page.

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