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Cerebus the Aardvark

Cerebus the Aardvark (or simply Cerebus) is an ambitious and multi-faceted independent comic book begun by Canadian artist Dave Sim in 1977, and running for 300 issues through March 2004. When complete, it will mark the longest-running comic book series ever by a single writer/artist.

Cerebus has since its inception been self-published by Sim under his Aardvark-Vanaheim, Inc. banner. Sim's position as a pioneer self-publisher in comics inspired numerous writer/artists after him, most notably Jeff Smith (Bone), Terry Moore (Strangers In Paradise), and Martin Wagner (Hepcats).

The earliest issues of Cerebus took the form of a parody of Conan the Barbarian, but the series developed artistic sophistication very quickly with the fifty-issue graphic novel "High Society," a complex political satire. Sim was joined by Gerhard, who gave the series impressively rendered backgrounds that became a visual hallmark, after issue #65.

Sim became an outspoken advocate of creators' rights in comics, and used the editorial pages of Cerebus to promote self-publishing and greater artist activism. Sim was also the biggest individual supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund[?]; when he guest-wrote the 10th issue of Todd McFarlane's best-selling Spawn, Sim donated his entire fee - over $100,000 - to the fund.

It is generally agreed that the graphic novel "Jaka's Story," a tragic character study dealing with gender roles and the political suppression of art, is perhaps the series' pinnacle of narrative achievement. However, later issues of the series began to alienate many long-time fans. Issue #186 contained a lengthy text piece that was roundly attacked by both readers and critics for its overt misogyny. Latter stories in the comic have been almost inaccessibly personal, and Sim's controversial attitudes towards women have not abated. But the comic's visual innovation remains almost unparalleled.

Sim's behavior reportedly became more erratic as the series neared its finale, and he had very public fallings-out with both Moore and Smith, the latter of whom Sim challenged to a fistfight in an editorial published in the comic.

Sim, once a very public figure in the comics industry, now rarely leaves his native Kitchener, Ontario home and his plans following the completion of Cerebus are not known.

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