If there’s a worse place to having started reading CEREBUS, I don’t know about it. I seemed to have this sort of luck a lot, but managed to persevere through it to the good stuff beyond.
CEREBUS, for those who don’t know, chronicles the adventures of a sword-wielding barbarian “Earth-Pig” in a pre-industrial society. Starting out as a parody of the Barry Smith-illustrated CONAN stories, it quickly found its own niche, becoming more political and more sophisticated, its humor sharp and devastating. Creator Dave Sim quickly shifted his structure towards collections, meaning that, past a certain point, CEREBUS inevitably reads better in trade paperback form than it does as a monthly comic.
Issue #77 was one of the recurring “dream issues”, a stream-of-consciousness collection of images and sound bytes without any real narrative. If you haven’t read the series before, you’re not just lost–you’re LOST! And the issue winds up with four pages of Cerebus awakening, going to the bathroom, and taking a leak.
Nonetheless, I liked the art style and the dialogue and flavor of the strip, so I stuck with the book, picking up the SWORDS OF CEREBUS reprint collections along the way. It can be a challenging strip, as Sim takes no notice of what his audience seems to want, preferring to follow his own muse. And, approaching 300 issues as of this writing, it’s a staggering piece of work
2014 Note: Dave Sim completed his 300-issue CEREBUS run in 2004