Cerebus the Aardvark is a series created by Canadian cartoonist Dave Sim, which ran from December 1977 until March 2004. The title character of the 300-issue series was an anthropomorphic aardvark who takes on a number of roles throughout the series—barbarian, prime minister and Pope among them. The series stands out for its experimentation in form and content, and for the dexterity of its artwork, especially after background artist Gerhard joined in with the 65th issue. As the series progressed, it increasingly became a platform for Sim’s controversial beliefs.
The 6000-page story is a challenge to summarize. Beginning as a parody of sword and sorcery comics, it moved into seemingly any topic Sim wished to explore — power and politics, religion and spirituality, gender issues, and more. It progressively became more serious and ambitious than its parodic roots — what has come to be dubbed “Cerebus Syndrome“. Sim announced early on that the series would end with the death of the title character. The story has a large cast of characters, many of which began as parodies of characters from comic books and popular culture.
Starting with the High Society storyline, the series became divided into self-contained “novels”, which form parts of the overall story. The ten “novels” of the series have been collected in 16 books, known as “Cerebus phonebooks” for their resemblance to telephone directories. At a time when the series was about 70% completed, celebrated comic book writer Alan Moore wrote, “Cerebus, as if I need to say so, is still to comic books what Hydrogen is to the Periodic Table.”