One of comics’ most startling creative (and physical) achievements, Cerebus is a 6,000-page self-published graphic novel series written and drawn by Dave Sim that the famously outspoken cartoonist has described perhaps unreliably as “the longest sustained narrative in human history.” To read all 16 phonebook-sized volumes of Cerebus from beginning to end is to demonstrate a zen-like command of patience and tolerance (you would doubtlessly disagree violently with many of the political and philosophical and theological notions put forth in the work), to be sure, but it is also to take a master class in sequential art innovation. There’s little as impressive in terms of pure visual storytelling as Sim’s variously hilarious and infuriating magnum opus about an anthropomorphic, despotic, narcissistic aardvark whose life we follow as he graduates from mercenary barbarian to prime minister to pope to, um, super-pope-king.
Eight years after its final issue, Cerebus is making the move to digital. In something of another landmark for Sim, who is a willful luddite, his plans amount to leap-frogging all the major comic book publishers by fulfilling digital’s promise of added value by imbuing every chapter of the 500-page High Society — the only Cerebus graphic novel that can be read on its own — with multimedia content including running audio and video commentary, archival and development material, and vocal performance of all the dialogue, all for 99 cents per issue. That is, if he can raise $6,000 on Kickstarter, which seems entirely doable. He did it in less than nine hours.