Page 45 Review by Stephen
At which point you're going to expect this feminist liberal-leftie to part company with CEREBUS, aren't you? Nope. The only time I've faltered was on the penultimate volume, LATTER DAYS.
READS is a challenging book that requires a certain degree of impetus to get through, I'd concede, for half of it is illustrated prose. And we all read lots of prose, don't we? We just don't want to read it when we're anticipating comics instead! But it's so fiendishly constructed and executed, the prose reflecting elements in the sequential art as it goes along. It begins as mostly illustrated prose with but five pages of comics at the end of the first chapter, but in two-page increments the sequential art takes over to form one bludgeoning, blood-splattered battle between Cerebus and Cirin at its centre, which only grows more catastrophic as the prose takes over again. This forms a symmetry which would be no more than amusing were it not for the way that the second half informs the first and indeed vice-versa.
From potentially faulty memory:
Victor Reid is the protagonist in the first half. He is a successful author of Reads - books that you read - in a certain degree of financial hardship. He needs another contract for its attendant advance and is offered one. He signs. This is Dave Sim writing a fictitious account of the repercussions of signing away your creative rights in comics, using something close to his own name for the protagonist.
Victor Davis is even closer to his name, and he's the protagonist of the second half, talking about the comic that is CEREBUS, his friendships with Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, and his audience who read what he writes in each issue's letter column. As such he is mistaken for the very real comicbook creator who is Dave Sim, and he tells them that he lied when the series CEREBUS would last for 300 issues. It finishes with #200, little more than two years away. Oh for the age of the internet - that would have gone viral.
But it's an illusion. Victor Davis goes on to tell readers about his theories regarding men, women and their relationships. That women are merely Voids, parasitically leeching off their artistic male counterparts. Both financially and artistically they're a drain. He puts it not in evolutionary terms but Creationist terms, something he'll return to later on.
But it's an illusion. Or I thought it was because that's what the text implies, and as such it works. The text implies that this is a fictional Dave Sim making an argument that the real Dave knows can't possibly hold any water because in JAKA'S STORY it is the work-shy Rick who is the leeching parasite to artistic Jaka. It is the male Rick holding the female Jaka back and sponging off her outrageously. It's also the male Cerebus that has in the past sought to control "own her - to control her" and those are from the words of the actual Dave Sim next volume.
Either way, one of the great things about READS is that it challenged my assumptions and made me think. It made me think, "I disagree with this" and also "But what if Dave was gay?"
Oh yes. "Something fell"