Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The World Without Cerebus

I began reading Cerebus around issue 60, shortly before Gerhard began collaborating with Dave Sim on the comic. I've always found Gerhard's lovingly rendered backgrounds to be one of the more interesting aspects in directing how the narrative comes together. Actually, such a purely factual description as "backgrounds" sells far short his active contribution to the overall feel of the comic. The run of issues up until 100 or so remain burned in my brain as sort of ineffably striking individual comic books--beyond the storyline specifics, they have a quality as total objects that nothing else has...maybe something to do with all that beautiful black newsprint. Anyhow, I'm absolutely enthralled by a project called "The World Without Cerebus," found on this blog devoted primarily to charting the Sim/Gerhard original art market:


Mr. alchemist57 has undertaken to commission from Gerhard a series of 25 or so pivotal scenes from throughout Cerebus' run--as the title states, without the main character (thus, without Sim). Based on the creative dynamics involved in the comic, and scuttlebutt describing the recent partnership break between the two artists, these gorgeous watercolor-and-ink drawings resonate on a number of levels, pulsating with telling detail, metaphor, and subtexts biographical and otherwise. This is the coolest project I've encountered in recent memory. Kudos to alchemist57 for a genius idea, and for figuring out a way to manifest something so rich out of his devotion to a comic. Such single-minded obsessiveness (in this project and the website as a whole) is something I greatly appreciate--and can relate to. Above are the first two completed commissions; see the September 1 post in the site's archive for initial ideas about the project and then follow the progression in subsequent posts. I've bookmarked the page and enjoy checking back for updates. Whether or not you're intimately familiar with the series (I wound up missing a few issues then lost my way and gave up--though I plan a comprehensive reading soon), in concept and execution, these first few drawings are fascinating works of art.


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