Dave Sim's Fighting Aardvark
From the wholesome wartime heroics of Johnny Canuck to the exploits of a three-foot-tall aardvark named Cerebus, Canadian comics are anything but dull. Though comics got their start south of the border, Canada has become home to an eclectic roster of cartoon talent from the Pulitzer Prize-nominated strips of Lynn Johnston, to the world-renowned comic art of Seth and the multi-media phenomenon of Todd Mcfarlane's Spawn. The CBC Digital Archives takes an in-depth look at the history of our homegrown comic strips, comic books and graphic novels.
• A fierce advocate of independent comics and creator rights, Sim became as well know for his controversial beliefs about gender politics and religion as he did for his marathon comic, which ended its run in March 2004.
• David Victor Sim was born in Hamilton, Ont., on May 17, 1956. His family, which included an older sister Sheila, moved to Kitchener when Sim was two years old. Sim became obsessed with comics from a young age, and dropped out of high school to pursue a career in the field.
• This began as an employee at Kitchener's Now and Then Books, one of Canada's oldest comic book specialty stores. While there, he began writing and publishing comic "fanzines" that featured interviews with famous cartoonists.
• Sim's comic work first saw light in these publications, as well as the Kitchener-Waterloo Record which ran his newspaper comic strip The Beavers.
• In December 1977, Sim launched Cerebus. Originally bi-monthly, the black-and-white comic spoofed the then popular comic book Conan the Barbarian - except with a three-foot tall anthropomorphic aardvark as hero.
• Rather than publish his comic through an established company, Sim decided to put it out through his own company, Aardvark-Vanaheim.
• The company was run by his wife Deni Loubert, who served as publisher. The couple met in 1976 and married in 1979. They divorced in 1984.
• In 1979, Sim's life took a dramatic turn after he had to be hospitalized for an overdose of the hallucinogenic drug LSD. It was during his recovery that Sim had a vision for a comic with a massive story arc spanning 300 issues, ending with Cerebus's death.
• From that point on, Cerebus became more focused on political and religious issues as its main character evolved from sword-wielding barbarian to prime minister and, eventually, pope.
• Sim has said that his lead character's name came about after he accidentally misspelled "Cerberus," the monstrous three-headed dog of Greek mythology. He also imagined Cerebus's voice as sounding like that of actor George C. Scott.
• Starting with issue #65, Sim began working with a Canadian artist who goes by the name Gerhard, who penned the comics' background scenes.
• Cerebus was an enormously successful series, with more than 25,000 subscribers at it peak. The Globe and Mail has called Sim "the most successful independent comic book creator in the world."
• He has also received numerous awards for his work, including an Eisner Award in 1994, a Harvey Award in 1992 and two Kirby Awards for Best Black and White Series in 1985 and 1987.
• By the 1990s, Dave Sim began running lengthy editorials in his comic in which he expressed his opinions on feminism, modern materialism, religion and liberal politics.
• The first of these appeared in 1995 (under a pseudonym) in which Sim argued that men were responsible for much the world's progress and creativity. He also maintained that womankind was an obstacle to such creative process and referred to them as an "omnivorous parasite."
• The essays, which continued in further issues, sparked controversy in the comic industry and contributed to a decline in his sales.
• In December 1996, Sim underwent a religious conversion from atheist to a non-mainstream version of the Abrahamic religions.
• Prompted by his reading of the Bible and the Qur'an, his new beliefs have led to a lifestyle of fasting, prayer and celibacy.
• Since the end of his series Sim has been working on a searchable online database of Cerebus material and has done occasional work for other cartoonists.
• Dave Sim has arranged for Cerebus to become public domain following his death.
Program: What On Earth
Broadcast Date: Oct. 13, 1994
Guest(s): Dave Sim
Announcer: Bruce Steele
Co-produced with WestWind Pictures. Permission granted courtesy of WestWind Pictures.
Last updated: June 26, 2013
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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