Thursday, September 02, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 31

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

Cerebus: High Society
by Dave Sim

High Society (Cerebus, Volume 2)Cerebus is difficult to explain, both the character and the graphic novels.

I'll start with the character. Initially Cerebus lives in a fantasy world familiar to the tropes of the Sword and Sorcery genre. In other words, he's a barbarian living in a mostly barbaric world. He fights demons and evil wizards, goes in search of treasure, beds wenches, etc. But Cerebus is also a short, gray aardvark. Let me repeat that. Cerebus is a short, gray aardvark.

Yes, you read that correctly. Cerebus is also an expert warrior and a great shot with a crossbow.

Eventually, as the comic series continues, Cerebus the title leans away from Sword and Sorcery and enters the lands of satire and pastiche. Cerebus the aardvark finds himself embroiled in political workings of various city states, and eventually he becomes involved in the religious spectrum, though mostly from a strictly political point of view.

Cerebus even eventually becomes a prime minister. And then a pope.

You can stop laughing now, because while it is all hilariously funny, it also has it's darker sides. But I won't go into all of that for fear of giving away too much.

This comic book originally ran for 300 issues, and it has been re-released in full in graphic novel formals. In my own opinion, and that of many fans of the comic, the first 150 or so issues were fantastic, the last 150 not so much because the author put way too much of his own personal biases/beliefs into the storyline.

Cerebus: High Society is one of the graphic novels, collecting issues 26 through 50 of the comic book. It details the aardvarks entrance into the city of Iest and his eventual, mostly accidental, involvement in the city's politics. It sounds a bit boring, but it's not. It's great fun, and will have fantasy fans (and fans of the Marx Brothers) laughing out loud on almost every page.

As a writer, Cerebus taught me a lot, especially about humor and satire. Plot development, specifically complex plot development, also was a highlight of these books, mostly beginning with the High Society stories.

If you're a fantasy fan and you're in the mood for a good chuckle, you won't find any funnier reading than theCerebus graphic novels.

Up next: Screenplay, by Syd Field

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