Guys, by Dave Sim, Gerhard

dan_p's review

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There's a job. It's a big job. You've had it planned for years, decades. You've been labouring at it day in day out for all that time, patiently putting one brick on top of another, building bit by bit, always keeping the end goal in mind. What do you do when you've finished? I reckon you'd fancy a drink. That's what Dave does here, as Cerebus' wish from the end of Minds is granted and he finds himself back in that near tavern near the wall of Tsi.

We saw these taverns back in Women, places where single men can go and be accommodated, fed and sheltered until they see the light and are ready to become responsible members of society, get married, settle down and live quietly under Cirinist rule. Oh, and the booze is free. Unsurprisingly, they draw a certain element, and these are the people we spend the book with. There's Cerebus' old companion Bear, Prince Mick, Marty Feldman, the moptopped Harrison Starkey behind the bar, and a succession of cameos from indie comics and creators of the day - Genital Ben, Bacchus, Alec Campbell himself, Rick Veitch. It's a shame the word 'banter' has become so devalued in recent years, because that's pretty much exactly what Guys is. A bunch of, well, guys shooting the shit in a bar, Cheers in a fascist matriarchy.. There's jokes, tall stories, arguments and drinking far too much, all impervious to the march of time and the (gloriously drawn) passing seasons. It can't last, of course. Bear's on /off relationship flips back to on, and he wanders out of the bar, hastily followed by the rest of the crowd, leaving Cerebus as sole occupant and de facto bartender. After some lonely philosophising, he receives an unexpected visitor, and then a short while later, an even more unexpected one...

Guys lacks the cosmic scale and political intrigue of the earlier books, but that's not to say there's no drama. The five bar gate game between Cerebus and Bear is as tense and exciting as any Ascension. At the same time there are laugh out loud funny moments. The Cerebus' buggid sequence is a gem, and the whole "Graphic Read" subplot had me guffawing. Yes, it's aimless but enjoyably so, nowhere more than the "" riff. Living the dream!

I liked Guys a lot, more on rereading than I did first time around. It may be inconsequential, but it's a necessary breather after the high drama and revelation of the last few years. The cartooning of the characters is tremendous, Gerhard's backgrounds and sense of place are as exquisite as ever, and Dave's talent for lettering reaches new heights. There's a palpable sense of relief, of kicking back and relaxing. Cerebus (the book) will never be this funny or loose again, and that's kind of a shame.

And it has probably the greatest last line of all the phonebooks. Tell me you saw that one coming!

thebobsphere's review

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After the first two Cerebus volumes, the quality starts to dip but there are some volumes which are interesting. Guys is one of the better ones. The whole comic takes place in a bar and Cerebus starts to reflect on his behaviour. The celebrity cameos are great - three stooges, Marty Feldman, the Beatles and even Margaret Thatcher make an appearance. It's also quite funny. But again Sims has a habit of over philosophising until the message becomes muddled and it happens here. But compared to previous volumes, Guys is pretty good.

gillysingh's review

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I read this in single issue format rather than as one of the phonebooks. This might have coloured my view of the book to take what I say with a pinch of salt.

Guys was enjoyable. The characterization of what it is like in your local pub and the myriad people who come and go is a spot on representation. At the same time, the petty distractions and discussions on life are very real. This volume brings back many precious characters, introduces some new ones and gives a solid breather from the cerebus saga after the exhausting experience of reading Mothers and Daughters.

You get the impression that Dave Sim might have been running out of steam but you feel grateful for that.

This volume could be read in isolation.