A review by dan_p
Guys, by Dave Sim, Gerhard

4.0

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 "remember...jobs?" 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!