Cerebus the Aardvark skewers the opposition. Artist: Dave Sim.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Aardvark-Vanaheim
First Appeared: 1977
Creator: Dave Sim
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Cerebus and Elfquest are generally considered the two pioneers that sparked the self-publishing movement in comics — and of the two, Cerebus was self-published first, by several months.

The Aardvark's origins go back to a …

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fanzine that never came out, and a chance name for the publishing company that would have done it. In 1976, cartoonist Dave Sim drew a fanzine logo for his girlfriend, Denise Loubert. It was only later that they realized they'd misspelled the name of Cerberus, the mythical three-headed dog who guards the gates of Hades, so they decided it was the name of the company mascot, instead. (The company name, Aardvark-Vanaheim, was created by combining suggestions from Loubert's two siblings.) So when, in 1977, Sim decided to publish a comic book of his own creation, "Cerebus the Aardvark" just seemed like the natural way to go.

Initially, the formula was simple — place the Aardvark (no relation, by the way) in a setting that allowed Sim to draw as much as possible like comics artist Barry Windsor-Smith, whom he greatly admired. Since Smith was best known for his work on Conan the Barbarian, a Conan-like setting, full of wizards and monsters and swords and taverns and ancient royal courts and beautiful wenches and whatnot (the stuff so aptly parodied a few years later in Groo the Wanderer), was chosen.

Gradually, however, Cerebus's world developed along its own lines — and so did Sim's style of depicting it. The series started to attract critical attention, as well as a very large and loyal fan base — so large, and so loyal, that after more than two decades, the comic is still coming out every month.

But unlike most long-running comics series, it won't come out every month indefinitely. As early as the 12th issue (1979), Sim stated that the series was to run a total of 26 years; and in #19 (1980), he announced that it would end with its 300th issue. At the time, any 300th issue the series may or may not ever have seemed very far away. But as the years went by, he never wavered. The 300th issue did come in 2004, and the series ended. It remains to be seen what Sim, now well into middle age, will do next.


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Text ©2000-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Dave Sim.