- Copertina flessibile
- Editore: Aardvark-Vanheim; Reissue edizione (1 gennaio 1994)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 0919359078
- ISBN-13: 978-0919359079
- Peso di spedizione: 703 g
- Posizione nella classifica Bestseller di Amazon: n. 1.163.025 in Libri in altre lingue (Visualizza i Top 100 nella categoria Libri in altre lingue)
High Society (Inglese) Copertina flessibile – 1 gen 1994
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Book by Sim Dave
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Cerebus the Aardvark, a barbarian from the north now in the service of the Groucho Marx-esque Lord Julius of Palnu, is sent as emissary to the city-state of Iest. Cerebus is the definition of "uncultured", an do si not particularly suited to diplomacy, though he finds plenty of time for the activity that comes most naturally to him in any situation: self-aggrandizement. Allied with Astoria, the politically involved former acquaintance of Julius, he eventually becomes drawn into a race for Prime Minister of Iest, which is near-insolvent due to various trade and lending practices. Cerebus just wants to be the last man out before the collapse (said man will be very rich), while Astoria an dher faction have more political concerns (to which Cerebus is supremely indifferent). Once in office, Cerebus, having to keep the country out of bankruptcy, launches a war of conquest in pursuit of riches, but, with the strangely wily Julius in the mix, things do not turn out as he had hoped.
Most of "High Society" is a genial political satire, which has in its sights both the cynics (Cerebus chief among them, without scruple in exploiting others to gain power for himself) as and the idealists, who appear mainly as fools for Cerebus to manipulate. Sim's writing is marvelously clever. At the same time, he is capable of striking a serious note: the ending is quietly revelatory, as Sim seamlessly goes from satire to laying bare the genuine stakes in politics for people.
At the book's end, we have been Cerebus rise and fall, and, much the same as he was when he arrived, he departs for parts unknown (which, as we will find out in "Church and State", will involve first a return to where he already was).
That would be Lord Julius, one of several key characters in "High Society" who is introduced during the first two years of the title, along with the Roach, the would-be superhero that Sim would transform into a parody of whichever Marvel character was the current flavor of the month. Then there is Jaka, the dancer Cerebus first met in a tavern in Beduin. These three characters represent three major impulses in Sim's work. Lord Julius represents the inclusion of real characters into the world of Cerebus, which would eventually include the likes of Mick Jagger and Oscar Wilde. What began as a sort of simple joke (Groucho popping up is always going to be funny), became serious when the characters started symbolizing the reality of their real world counterparts. The Roach symbolizes Sim's commentary on the comic book business, which for me is the weakest of the three impulses. The whole Petuniacon takeover on a comic book convention is funny at face value, but it detracts a bit from the political satire that is at the heart of "High Society." Then there is Jaka.
It is hardly surprising that the original characters created by Sims would become the most important. In "High Society" this means not only Jaka but also Astoria and the Regency Elf. The Roach can move on to become first the Moon Roach and then Sergeant Preston of the Royal Mounted Iestan Police, and you can throw in the brothers Dirty Fleagle and Dirty Drew McGrew, but they are mere comic relief while the trio of feminine figures are at the heart of the story. Suddenly we have moved well beyond a funny animal to larger issues such as politics and gender (with religion and creativity to come in future novels).
Cerebus shows up in Iest at the Regency Hotel carrying with him the last few pieces of loot he has acquired on his travels. Expecting to be denied admittance, Cerebus is surprised when he is given free lodgings and food. Suddenly people are paying him bribes to just to remember the name of a company that makes gold-plated streetlamps when he talks to Lord Julius. From Cerebus the Aardvark to Cerebus the Barbarian we now have Cerebus the Lobbyist. Actually, it seems Cerebus is now a ranking diplomatic representative of a southern city-state and if you think the aardvark is in over his head, wait until Astoria shows up and starts dispensing political advice. More importantly, wait until Cerebus runs against a goat for the office of Prime Minister, because that is when "High Society" shifts into high gear, even as Iestan society falls apart.
That is also the point where "Cerebus" gets told sideways, starting in issue #44 "The Deciding Vote." I highlight that particular issue because it includes my all-time favorite page by Dave Sim, which would be page 383. In several of the preceding pages Sim shows Cerebus and another character traveling across a snowy landscape. What he was doing was drawing the landscape, dividing the drawing into vertical panels, with Cerebus and his companion shown in each panel making their way along. But on my favorite page on the dozen pages the first eight include the exact same drawing, with the last two being identical. What changes is the sound of Cerebus walking away on snowshoes ("WUFFA wuffa") and walking back ("wuffa WUFFA"). The page represents one of Sim's best jokes ever and whenever I have had occasion to lecture on comic book art I have always shown these pages along with those in one of Frank Miller's "Daredevil" comics when he retells the character's origin and has a line representing the Fixer's heartbeat indicating a heart attack going across the panels of DD chasing the man down.
"High Society" is my favorite Cerebus novel, although it is neither as ambitious as "Church and State" nor as polished as "Mothers and Daughters." But the impression it made when it was clear that Sim was now working the deep end of the poem has stayed with me and I do have an inherent love of political satire. Besides, Cerebus' reconciliation with Jaka is more touching than their poignant parting, the Regency Elf shakes up things nicely at inopportune times, and I love liberty as much as the next person raised in a free democratic society. Still, more scenes with Lord Julius would have been nice, especially if Astoria is involved. After this novel Gerhard starts doing backgrounds for Sim and the look of "Cerebus" changes dramatically (Gerhard did the cover, so if you compare that to the first splash page inside you can see how much of a difference this will make for the rest of the 300 issues of "Cerebus").
There's many works you can't go back and read. You remember them so fondly but when you go back and review them 20 years later, you realize that they only spoke to you THEN and now your tastes have matured. High Society is still fantastic. I had purchased it maybe a year ago and I'm re-reading it again.
The insights are deep. The sarcasm is cutting. The artwork is great.