I bought this Cerebus Campaign ’93 T-shirt from one of the comics shops here in London, where I live. The speech balloons read:
WELL, CEREBUS HAS NEVER HEARD OF YOU EITHER!
The shirt’s remained in my wardrobe rotation for over 20 years now. It’s a tatty old thing these days, faded from a thousand wash cycles and ripped in both the collar and the left armpit, but I’ve no intention of ever retiring it - let alone throwing it away. Perhaps its most memorable outing came in June 1995, when I visited Chicago.
I was wearing it there on the night I went out to the legendary comedy club Second City. I took my seat in the second or third row, and immediately heard a squeal of surprise and delight from a girl in the row behind me. She grabbed my arm, got me to turn round so she could check what she’d seen, and explained that she was a big Cerebus fan too. A few seconds later, the lights went down and we never had a chance to speak again.
This remains the only encounter I’ve ever had with another Cerebus reader out in the real world - by which I mean anywhere outside the very artificial surroundings of a comics convention. Cerebus was at about issue 195 at the time of my Chicago visit and the encounter’s stuck in my mind because it brought home the extent to which reading Cerebus then felt like belonging to a global secret society. Thinly spread, I’ll grant you: but global all the same.
And speaking of global...
Two years later, in July 1997, I was visiting Sydney in Australia, when I realised the new Cerebus was due out (219 perhaps? 220?). I found a comics shop in the city, snapped up the only copy on its shelves and read it immediately in a sunny park nearby. In those pre-internet days, it felt quite miraculous to be able to so casually find the latest copy of a small independent comic book in a strange city half a planet away from both my own home town and the country its creator lived in.