Originally posted by Mr.Nobody:
Is Jaka's Story needed for me to understand the rest of Cerebrus?
do the GN's after Melmoth contain anything really bad.
It's like this. Cerebus is one big long story, from issue #1, which came out in December 1977 to issue #300, which is due out in March 2004.
If you make it to "Jaka's Story," that is, if you buy and read the first four volumes, you'll be out over $100 and probably hooked. You'll have to read Jaka's Story, someway, somehow, even if you have to wait another four years for it.
Sim has occasional bursts of violence (a hand chopped off in the first issue reminiscent of the bar scene in "Star Wars," for instance), but although he discusses
sex there's very little nudity. There are brief flashes of it here and there, but I don't remember another actual sex scene (and actually the one page in "Jaka's Story" is really an after-sex scene that is pretty discreet, considering, but does display a naked breast) anywhere.
Well, it depends on what you mean by "bad." Before he finished "Mothers & Daughters," which is the big four-volume follow-up to "Melmoth" ("Flight," "Women," "Reads" and "Minds"), he ended up losing most of his female readership and inspiring web pages like "The Dave Sim Misogyny Page." Most of the quotes on that page come from issue #186, the culmination of "Reads," wherein "Viktor Davis," who seems to be essentially Dave Sim himself, says things like emotion is vastly inferior to reason, that women make decisions based on emotion rather than reason and "This was the fundamental reason, I believe, that women were (rightly) denied the vote for so long."
And that's a mild example. The dominant image of male/female relations is that of a female void sucking the Light/Reason/Soul/Brain out of the male. "If you look at her and see anything besides emptiness, fear and emotional hunger, you are looking at the parts of yourself which have been consumed to that point."
Of course, during the first 150 or so issues, Dave had been hailed among other things for his sensitive portrayals of female characters, and "Cerebus" had one of the highest percentage of female readers in the industry, which makes the whole thing rather puzzling. Many fans to this day, in the face of continuing evidence to the contrary, insist that "Viktor Davis" was just a character like any other, a pose Dave put on, that these are not his real thoughts and feelings. Sadly, I think they're mistaken.
"Mothers and Daughters" largely undoes everything the first 100 or so issues did, thematically and narratively, after which Cerebus was cast adrift by his creator, who ostensibly had no further plans for him and left him free to do what he wanted (except that the last page shows Dave sitting in his studio, pointing at Cerebus on the page and saying "Whatta maroon. What an ultra-maroon!").
Then we have "Guys," which consists of a bunch of guys hanging out in a bar for an indeterminate period of time that, if you watch the hair and beards carefully, must be quite awhile, like maybe 10-20 years.
Then "Rick's Story," which I can't say much about without giving away other stuff -- indeed, the very title gives away something you shouldn't really know, but it's there on the shelf with the others in the store, so it's not my fault.
"Going Home" and "Form and Void" involve some pretty direct references to sex, but again we don't see anything. They also feature F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, respectively.
That's as far as we've gotten. The penultimate book, titled "Latter Days," is finishing up in the monthly comic and will probably be out next year or so. And then we'll have the Grand Finale (or, perhaps the Grand Finally, as Dave himself had one of his characters joke).
I know that some people consider it perfectly OK to expose their children to incredible amounts of graphic violence, yet somehow believe that a 14-year-old boy, who would have been considered an adult in every human society for the last several thousand years until a few centuries ago, and still would be in some societies today, is going to be scarred for life if exposed to a picture of a female breast, much less actual . . . you know.
I think it's nonsense, myself, and I can't imagine anything in any of the Cerebus books that would be more likely to do you psychic injury than the panel of the Nazi soldier swinging the child into the wall, which still haunts me a decade after I first read "Maus," or that claustrophic insert about art's mom's suicide.
But yeah, by some people's definitions there's probably stuff your tender eyes should be protected from. If you're worried about it, wait 'till you're 18.