Cerebus Vol 9: Reads (1994)
Original art for cover detail
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Saturday Night magazine, November 2003)
...Sim's breakthrough came via a path melodramatically retro enough to be a cliche. One day, shortly after Sim had been invited to appear at a comics convention in the eastern United States, an acquaintance gave him four or ﬁve hits of LSD. As a heavy marijuana smoker, Sim was not uncomfortable with drug use. "I had always done Cerebus stoned," he recalled, years later. "I did everything stoned." Curious about how the acid would affect his work and anxious for a release from the anxiety brought on by the impending public appearance, Sim took the drug, He liked the perspective it gave him. His work seemed effortless. When the acid's effects faded, he swallowed another tab. That ﬁrst day on LSD turned into two, then three. His behaviour began to alarm his wife [Deni Loubert]. With the comics convention only weeks away, Loubert heard Sim speaking to people who didn't exist. After days cycling through moods of apoplectic rage and odd passivity, Sim found himself in the psychiatric ward of Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital. (It was Loubert who had had him hospitalized.)
Sim came to realize he had experienced a breakdown brought on by a combination of stress and LSD. When he realized the hospital couldn't hold him against his will, he left. Soon after, the ideas and inspiration generated during the acid trip coalesced into a creative epiphany that spawned his life's work: he would use Cerebus to tell the story of a life. Unlike Peter Parker or Clark Kent, Sim's aardvark would age. He'd change jobs and girlfriends, suffer setbacks, grow wise. And at the end of the run, the main character would die.
How would Sim know when to end it? The most celebrated long run by a single creative team was the 102 consecutive issues that writer Stan Lee and artist lack Kirby created for Mavel Comics' Fantastic Four, and Superman, which had had many different artists and writers through the years, had passed the mark of 300 issues a few years before. By the time he got to the convention, Sim was telling people about the grand vision he had for the story of Cerebus, which, he said, would not end until he was in his late 40s. Later in 1979, sales were high enough to warrant moving to a monthly publishing schedule, and Sim became more speciﬁc about his goal.
The story of Cerebus would last 300 issues, he said, And it would ﬁnish in March 2004...
(Submitted by Paul Slade. Thanks!)