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Cerebus the Canadian

Cerebus the Canadian

Frontier Survivalism and Victimhood in Sim and Gerhard’s Epic

(p.129) 9 Cerebus the Canadian
The Canadian Alternative
Eric Hoffman
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter argues that Cerebus possesses qualities which are specifically Canadian. There is, for example, the outsiderness of its creation – when it first appeared, nearly all of the major comics publishers were United States (US)-based – in addition to its parodying mainstream above ground, non-Canadian comics. Not being part of mainstream American comics culture, or, for that matter, originating within the US, Cerebus was an underdog among underdogs. Moreover, this "Canadianness" also informs Cerebus' content, influencing its imagery, themes, and structure. Closer examination of Cerebus suggests how Sim's magnum opus embodies two major themes in Canadian literature:survival (with regards to Cerebus’ geography) and victimhood (with regards to its politics), as suggested by Northrop Frye's image of the "garrison mentality" in his book The Bush Garden (1971), and in Margaret Atwood's landmark study Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972).

Keywords:   Canadianness, Cerebus, Nationalism, Dave Sim, Survival

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