Now complete, it marks the longest-running originally English-language comic book series ever by a single creative team; Sim refers to it as the "longest sustained narrative in human history. Sim began the series in December 1977, running for 300 issues and 6,000 pages, through March 2004. As of 2008, it leads its closest challenger (Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, still ongoing) by over 130 issues. The name was originally an accidental misspelling of Cerberus.
Cerebus is an amoral character, at times sympathetic, at others unpalatably callous. He is often foul-mouthed and uncouth, has a vicious temper, and loves getting drunk, to the point where he could be considered an alcoholic. In the Guys story arc, Cerebus is described as having "a self-absorption that borders on the pathological." In Church and State, Cerebus, after becoming Pope, uses brutal methods to teach twisted morality lessons. After a mother begs Cerebus to bless her baby, he does so and then hurls it away (to illustrate the point that "you can get what you want and still not be very happy"), and later kicks an old man off the roof of a hotel. However, he is brave, crafty, and can show genuine affection to those he considers equals or those he has feelings for. He is a skilled tactician and strategist, is very proficient at hand to hand combat, and has a knack for improvisation and manipulation. He received training in magic as a child, but is depicted as being able to recognize magic and deal with it rather than use it.
It is revealed in the Reads story arc that Cerebus is a hermaphrodite, possessing both genders' genitalia and reproductive systems. Theoretically he is capable of impregnating himself; however, a childhood injury to his uterus makes this impossible.
For most of the series' run, Cerebus possesses an innate "magnifier" ability. This ability, which he shows little (if any) conscious awareness of, is a tendency for events occurring around him to become unusually focused and ordered, with intensified actions and consequences and sometimes with effects that appear to be paranormal, then fall out of place in his absence. This ability also affects the people around him to varying degrees, amplifying their personality traits and abilities, and also amplifies any magic that is present.
A running gag in the early storylines was that when Cerebus' fur got wet it gave off a horrible stench, which even he could barely tolerate.
Inspired in some ways by the Steve Gerber character Howard the Duck, the earliest issues of Cerebus took the form of a parody of the sword and sorcery genre, particularly Conan the Barbarian. The series developed artistic sophistication and originality very quickly. Citing as his self-originated commandment, "Thou shall break every law in the book," Sim has done everything from flipping the page from horizontal to vertical and all stages in between to alternating comics with prose narrative, to including real dead or living people (himself included) in the storyline, all in an effort to explode the conventions of the North American comic book in every conceivable way.
In 1979, Sim, who was at the time a frequent marijuana user, experimented with LSD, taking the drug with such frequency that he was eventually hospitalized. It was this incident that Sim claims led to the inspiration to produce Cerebus for 300 monthly issues. The episodic adventures strayed further and further from heroic fantasy, and the twenty five-issue graphic novel High Society segued the narrative into a complex political satire and drama. Sim was joined by Gerhard after issue #65; Gerhard's intricately rendered backgrounds became a visual hallmark of the comic.
When Sim published the first Cerebus "phone book", a paperback collection of the High Society graphic novel (issues #26-50), he angered retailers — who felt that their support had been instrumental in his series' success in an industry generally indifferent to small publishers — by offering the first printing via mail order only. The decision was a financial windfall for Sim, however, grossing over $150,000 in sales. Sim became known for picking up hotel tabs for self-publishers and helping other self-publishers by paying for meals and limo service between stops. Negotiations regarding DC buying Cerebus took place over the course of 1985 to 1988, offering $100,000 and 10% of all licensing and merchandising, which Sim rejected.
In the 1990s, Sim became an outspoken advocate of creators' rights in comics, and used the editorial pages of Cerebus to promote self-publishing and greater artist activism. Sim was also the biggest individual supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; when he guest-wrote the 10th issue of Todd McFarlane's best-selling Spawn, Sim donated his entire fee — over $100,000 — to the fund. During this same period he started publishing his and others' experiments with 24-hour comics in the back of his issues, which created greater awareness of this challenge, now the subject of an annual event for creating them.
Jaka's Story (issues #114-136), a tragic character study dealing with gender roles and the political suppression of art, is generally cited as the series' pinnacle of narrative achievement. However, later issues of the series became highly personal and began to alienate many long-time fans, his female readers especially. Issue #186 (collected in Reads) contained a lengthy prose section that was roundly attacked by some readers and critics for what they perceived as overt misogyny, but which Sim describes as "anti-feminism". During this part of the story, the storyline consisted of a textual treatise written by Viktor Davis, a fictional "reads" author, interspersed with the main Cerebus storyline. In Davis' material, he refers to the "creative male light" and the "emotional female void", a reversal of the gender-based view of creation espoused by the Judge at the end of Church and State (namely, the "female light" being raped by the "male void" and shattering into the physical universe). As Sim himself says in an interview with The Comics Journal, "Cerebus #1-200 [is] the completion of the story. The yin and yang. The ultra-female reading. The ultra-male reading. I'm attaching an allegory to the Big Bang. You make up your mind which one's the pit and which one's the top of the mountain." By the end of the series, the Void is again male and identified as God, and the Light is female, now identified with YHWH. Issue #186 was followed by an even harsher essay in the back of issue #265 called "Tangent", in which Sim identified a "feminist/homosexualist axis" that opposed traditional and rational societal values. This material appeared as Sim was retreating from public life and becoming more marginalized by his peers in the industry.
Sim himself has appeared as a character in Cerebus, most notably to berate his creation in the Minds story arc. A writer entering his own fictional universe is not an original idea either in comics or conventional writing (see Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four, Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, Paul Auster's New York Trilogy and Grant Morrison's comic Animal Man), although he claims to have planned the encounter as early as 1979, more than a decade before it actually took place.
He reportedly cut all ties with his family and virtually all of his industry colleagues apart from Gerhard in order to finish the work. He has had very public fallings-out with both Terry Moore and Jeff Smith, the latter of whom Sim challenged to a boxing match in an editorial published in the comic. Sim claimed Smith lied about an argument the two had had over the notorious essay in issue #186, during which he allegedly threatened to give Sim a "fat lip". Sim also developed an adversarial relationship with Gary Groth, the confrontational publisher of The Comics Journal, an independently published comics magazine known for punishing criticisms and a decidedly non-mainstream editorial slant.
Sim's religious beliefs heavily influenced the latter half of Cerebus's storyline. Once an atheist, Sim became a believer in God while gathering research material for Rick's Story. However, rather than following one religion, Sim believes that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all equally valid and has formed his religious practices from aspects of all three, although he described himself in issue #8 of Following Cerebus as "mostly Muslim". A 2003 magazine interview describes Sim as reciting a prayer of his own devising five times a day (which was published in the back of issue #300), and as having sold much of his furniture to donate the money to charity as an act of religious asceticism. In an editorial contained in issue #297, Sim stated that he regards the production of Cerebus as of secondary importance to his religious practice. Sim's religious beliefs tie into his views on gender, and the bulk of the Cerebus storyline after Guys deals with this, especially Rick's Story, Latter Days, and The Last Day.
The publication in March 2004 of issue #300 was met with a muted, rather than celebratory, response from the comics industry. Though Sim reports the print run for #300 was doubled from that of recent issues, that would still only come to around 16,000 copies, a far cry from the series' high of 30,000 copies around issue #100.
A new quarterly publication, Following Cerebus , followed in August 2004, featuring correspondence, essays, and previously unpublished artwork from Sim, as well as interviews with other comic writers and artists.
Sim was once quoted as saying that, had he died or otherwise chosen not to complete Cerebus prior to issue 300, that however many remaining issues there were left were to either consist of blank pages, or Gerhard was to have drawn his backgrounds only, leaving Sim's contribution blank. It is not known if this plan was ever serious, and it was never put into effect. At the completion of the series, he directed that upon his and Gerhard's death, Cerebus would enter into the public domain. Effective 31 December 2006, Sim purchased Gerhard's share of the company. Sim has already granted a general license for other creators to use his characters in their own works, stating that he is trying to be consistent with his own appropriation of others' works.
Cerebus: This first volume, uniquely in the series, consists of one to three-issue storylines with only occasional back-references. Cerebus is introduced as an amoral barbarian mercenary, fighting (and betraying) for money and drinking it away. During his adventures, he encounters the warrior Pigts (whose religion reveres aardvarks) and the insane wizard Necross who turns himself into a giant stone Thrunk (a parody of The Thing). Most of the series' prominent characters are introduced (or at least mentioned) in these issues, including the Groucho Marx-like Lord Julius of Palnu; Artemis (a.k.a. The Roach), who will be used to parody many other comic-book characters throughout the series; and Jaka, a dancer who Cerebus falls in love with. The series takes a sharp change in direction with issue 20 which is the first of the "Mind Games" issues that are a feature of the comic and introduces the philosophical Suenteus Po and the ultra-matriarchial Cirinists.
High Society: Cerebus comes to the wealthy city-state of Iest as the representative of Lord Julius's city-state of Palnu. He quickly finds himself enmeshed in the fast-paced world of high finance and politics, and comic tension is built through his ignorance of the "high society" machinations going on around him. Cerebus is befriended by the legendary Regency Elf as he adjusts to his new circumstances. He meets and soon finds himself maneuvered into a political campaign by the mysterious Astoria, who is also manipulating Artemis into pseudo-super hero identities that are parodies of Moon Knight and later Sergeant Preston of the Mounties. Cerebus recognizes that he is a pawn in a political game between Lord Julius and Astoria (revealed to be Julius's ex-wife), but he struggles to assert himself and ultimately confounds the expectations of everyone attempting to use him. Cerebus is eventually elected Prime Minister of Iest, but launches an unnecessary war of conquest that causes him to lose everything.
Church & State I: First half of a two-part storyline. After some travels, Cerebus returns to Iest and is manipulated by Weisshaupt, who wants to use Cerebus's popularity with the masses, into again becoming Prime Minister of Iest. Weisshaupt has maneuvered himself into the tenuous presidency of a federation of states (including Iest, Palnu and New Sepra) as a bulwark against the Cirinists. Weisshaupt lures Cerebus into a drunken marriage to Red Sophia, but ultimately over-reaches himself when he has Cerebus appointed Pope of the Eastern Church of Tarim. Finally out from under anyone else's control, Cerebus lets absolute power go to his head and demands that all the citizens must give him all their gold or face the end of the world. Sophia walks out on Cerebus, and then he discovers that Jaka is married and pregnant. Cerebus is threatened by Weisshaupt's secret invention of cannons, but Weisshaupt suffers a heart attack and Cerebus continues his papal reign of terror. He is finally ejected from the Upper City by the sudden invasion of the giant stone Thrunk, who claims to be the God Tarim.
Church & State II: Cerebus returns to Iest's Upper City and uses Weisshaupt's cannons to destroy Thrunk and reclaim the papacy. Astoria has mysteriously killed the Western pope ("the Lion of Serrea"), and Cerebus must execute her for the crime in order to retain his papacy. Cerebus confronts her in a dungeon, and after being taunted by Astoria, he grants himself a divorce from Red Sophia, marries himself to Astoria, rapes her, and then divorces himself from her. Astoria's trial, which echoes with similarities to a repeating pattern of historical executions of reformers, is interrupted when Cerebus makes the predicted Ascension to the Moon that is the culmination of the land's religious prophecy. There, Cerebus meets the Judge, a timeless, godlike being who has watched over history from the very beginning. The Judge explains his version of the creation myth of Cerebus's universe, before warning Cerebus that he will live only a few more years before dying "alone, unmourned and unloved." The Judge tells Cerebus that if the Aardvark ever questions his suffering, he should remember his "second marriage" to Astoria. Cerebus then falls back to earth, where he discovers that the Cirinists have invaded, and his empire has collapsed.
Jaka's Story: Under a brutal Cirinist dictatorship (which lasts until halfway through Latter Days), the fallen Cerebus runs into Jaka again. She is illegally working as a dancer in her landlord's tavern; he treats Jaka kindly but secretly spends his days lusting after her. Cerebus agrees to live with Jaka and her husband Rick as their houseguest. That story is interwoven with unreliable tales of Jaka's childhood told by a writer, representing Oscar Wilde, using notes and stories provided by Rick. In the end Cerebus disguises himself and travels to the Lower City, and Jaka and Rick are captured and jailed by the Cirinists. Jaka is made to sign a confession of immoral behavior, and is reunited with Rick; however, the Cirinists reveal to Rick that Jaka aborted the son that Rick always wanted. He lashes out at Jaka and is allowed to divorce her (although he is maimed for striking her). Jaka returns to Palnu, and Cerebus returns to the inn to find it in ruins.
Melmoth: This short volume (which Sim has referred to as a "short story") concentrates on the last days and death of Oscar Wilde, attended by his trusted companion, Robbie Ross, rather than on Cerebus himself, who puts in only a minor appearance. Believing Jaka to be dead, a catatonic Cerebus spends his days mourning on the patio of a café. At the conclusion of the volume, Cerebus overhears a conversation by two Cirinist jailers insulting Jaka. Enraged, Cerebus murders one of them and then springs into action.
Flight: Cerebus's return to Iest and slaughter of Cirinsts leads to a very brief failed revolution. Cerebus ascends into darkness and speaks with Suenteus Po. Meanwhile, Cirin works to manage her sect and arrange her own Ascension. Artemis, with Elrod as his sidekick, also stages his own impromptu revolution under his new persona "PunisherRoach," a parody of the Marvel comics character The Punisher.
Women: Cerebus crashes back to earth. He is assisted by a mysterious old woman who is being openly spied upon by the Cirinists; she sends him to a bar to hide. This story arc includes a parody of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, with The Roach playing "Swoon" (a parody of Dream) and Elrod playing "Snuff" (a parody of Death). Astoria and Cirin symbolically duel in a dream realm. The book includes excepts from books written by Astoria and Cirin that describe their differing beliefs. Cerebus flies across the city to slay Astoria, but is interrupted by the physical arrival of Suenteus Po.
Reads: This book primarily consists of two long text pieces. The first revolves around an author of "reads", heavily illustrated books in Cerebus's world. In this story, there is a strong thread about the dangers of commercial success and "selling out". It is generally viewed to be Sim's treatise on why independent comic publishing is preferable to publishing houses. The series moves from this storyline to a long essay attributed to Viktor Davis, a fictional "reads" author. This essay puts forth a theory on the nature of the genders, describing "the Female Void" focused on feeling, and "the Male Light" focused on reason. These two stories are accompanied by a long discussion between Cirin, Astoria, Cerebus, and Suenteus Po. Po gives information about aardvarks, including that all aardvarks have Cerebus' "magnifier" quality, and attempts to convince each of the others to abandon their pursuits of power and return to what they enjoy doing most, then leaves them to their fates. Astoria is convinced and also leaves, but not before giving Cerebus information about her history with Cirin and also informing him of his hermaphrodite nature. Cerebus and Cirin then engage in a long and brutal fight, which leads to the beginning of another ascension.
Minds: Cerebus and Cirin ascend, then are separated by a mysterious force. As Cerebus flies through the solar system, he is shown images from his past and is forced to reconsider his actions and his faith. He then encounters a disembodied voice calling itself "Dave" that acknowledges itself as Cerebus's creator. "Dave" shows Cerebus the history of the Cirinist movement, revealing that Cirin is actually named Serna and was the best friend of the real Cirin (the old woman Cerebus encountered in Women), but usurped Cirin's leadership and effectively exchanged identities with her. "Dave" then gives Cerebus information about his past, showing that Cerebus unwittingly ruined his original destiny, causing chaotic repercussions which have influenced most of his adventures. Cerebus demands that "Dave" make Jaka love him; in response, "Dave" shows Cerebus visions of possible futures between himself and Jaka, all of which are disastrously flawed for both of them due to Cerebus' nature. After a period of penance and self-reflection on Pluto, Cerebus asks "Dave" to place him in a bar he remembers from his mercenary days.
Guys: Cerebus hangs out in and eventually becomes bartender in one of the Cirinist's bars where "degenerate" men are essentially quarantined from the female citizens. Described in the trade paperback's introduction as based on a bar that author Sim frequented during a near-alcoholic stint between relationships, the series features various parodic characters who come and go while Cerebus remains stationary. Cerebus begins a somewhat reluctant relationship with a woman named Joanne, who was first introduced in one of the possible futures with Jaka that "Dave" showed Cerebus in Minds. Enjoyed by a number of fans as a return to the "earlier, funnier" Cerebus.
Rick's Story: Eventually Jaka's ex-husband Rick arrives at the bar. He has significantly aged, become a heavy drinker (he could barely tolerate alcohol in Jaka's Story), and it is gradually revealed that the mental and emotional scars from the events at the end of Jaka's Story have left him mildly insane. Rick is working on a book about his life, which gradually becomes a religious work in which Cerebus is a holy figure and Rick his follower. Joanne returns and taunts Cerebus by courting Rick. At the end of the book, Rick departs, for reasons not entirely clear, and tells Cerebus that he will see Rick only once more in his life. After Rick has left, Jaka shows up at the bar, and she and Cerebus depart together, heading for Sand Hills Creek.
Going Home: Cerebus and Jaka travel across land, then on a river boat. Cerebus is eager to make as much time as possible, as he fears being trapped in the mountains near Sand Hills Creek by winter, but instead he indulges Jaka's desire for shopping and public appearances. Along the way, they encounter veiled hostility from the Cirinists. Cerebus and Jaka's relationship begins to show signs of deterioration, and Jaka is almost tempted away by F. Stop Kennedy (a fictionalised F. Scott Fitzgerald), a writer who has accompanied them on their river boat.
Form and Void: Cerebus and Jaka continue their journey towards Sand Hills Creek, in the company of Ham and Mary Ernestway, characters based upon Ernest Hemingway and his fourth wife, Mary. On the trip, Mary tells them about some of her and Ham's journeys (this material is based on Mary Hemingway's journals about Ernest's last African safaris before his death). Ham kills himself, and Cerebus flees in panic, taking Jaka with him. They discover that they have been traveling in circles without making any significant progress toward Sand Hills Creek, and nearly die in a blizzard. They finally arrive in Sand Hills Creek only to find that Cerebus' parents are dead and the rest of the community has shunned Cerebus for his perceived abandonment of his family. Cerebus drives Jaka away, blaming her for keeping him away too long.
Latter Days: After a prodigious leap in time over two issues, Cerebus returns from the north intent on provoking the Cirinists into killing him. Instead, he is captured by a trio of characters based on the Three Stooges, who await a religious revelation from him. While Cerebus was in the north, a religious movement developed out of the teachings of Rick and his writings about Cerebus. Once Cerebus supplies the required revelation, he inspires a successful anti-Cirinist rebellion and a subsequent reordering of society. Much of the second half of this chapter consists of Cerebus giving a highly idiosyncratic analysis of the Torah. Lasting nearly a year (in publishing terms), this section, called "Chasing YHWH" (presumably a reference to the Kevin Smith film, Chasing Amy) threatened to alienate even more of Sim's followers. This section was presented almost entirely in text format, with minimal art. This story arc is unusual in that disembodied thought balloons give the impression that Cerebus is speaking directly to the reader at times. It is revealed in the last issue of the arc that Cerebus has been talking to a woman reporter who bears a striking resemblance to Jaka. He eventually falls in love with the woman and marries her.
The Last Day: The conclusion of the series. In the first 40 pages Cerebus has a dream or vision in which cosmology is seen as a reflection of theology, complete with explanatory footnotes by Sim. Upon waking Cerebus — now incredibly aged, decrepit, pain-ridden, and mildly senile — makes the laborious trek to his writing desk to write down his new revelation. He then hides the manuscript, and it is implied that nobody will find it for two thousand years (a possible homage to I, Claudius in which the dying Claudius does the same thing).
Cerebus spends most of the rest of the book trying to persuade his chief of security, Walter O'Reilly (named after Corporal Walter (Radar) O'Reilly from M A S H) to admit his son, Shep-Shep, with whom he remembers sharing an idyllic father-son relationship. However, the Sanctuary is under lockdown due to opposition from a new and even more rabidly "feminist-homosexualist" group led by Shep-Shep's mother, whom Cerebus refers to as "New Joanne", which favors such "rights" as pedophilia, zoophilia, juvenile recreational drug use and lesbian motherhood. As a result, social values have undergone a complete breakdown.
Cerebus finally goes to bed despairing of seeing his son again, but Shep-Shep — more correctly, Sheshep Ankh — sneaks into Cerebus' room late that night. Their subsequent conversation shatters Cerebus' last illusions about his son, who is planning to have himself cloned with a lion's body, marry his mother, and rule Egypt as a sphinx-like god.
As he leaves Cerebus grabs a knife, intending to kill him, but falls out of bed and dies of a broken neck, alone, unmourned, and unloved, just as the Judge had predicted. His life flashes before his eyes in a series of flashback panels and his ghost sees many of his old friends and enemies waiting for him in "the Light". Jaka, Bear, and Ham beckon to him, and he eagerly rushes to join them, thinking they are in Heaven, but then he notices the absence of Rick and realises that the Light may in fact be Hell. He calls out to God for help, but is dragged into the Light nonetheless.
Various other characters in the series were designed to resemble famous actors, politicians, and other personalities and comic in-jokes, including British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Professor X (with a bit of Chris Claremont thrown in), Canadian Member of Parliament Sheila Copps, director Woody Allen, Alan Moore, Rick Veitch, Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Chico Marx.
The various story arcs have been reprinted in collected omnibus editions of usually 200–400 pages each, all of which are presently still in print. They are generally referred to by fans and retailers as "Cerebus phone books" due to their size and the fact they are printed on similar paper to telephone directories.
A 17th collection, "Collected Letters" (ISBN 0-919359-23-X), collects Sim's responses to readers' letters (the original letters are not included) after the publication of Cerebus #300. Another collection of letters followed.
Miscellaneous stories not appearing in the above collections have been reprinted in the short collections Cerebus World Tour Book and in Cerebus Number Zero, which reprints issues #51, 112/113 and parts of issues #137 & 138. A few standalone, uncollected stories have appeared in various collections and magazines over the years, and Cerebus has made cameo appearances on the covers of magazines such as Comics Revue. Sim also marketed a set of "Diamondback" cards (based upon a game seen in early issues) in the 1980s.
In Marvel Comics' The Uncanny X-Men, Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson created a demonic character named S'ym, a large muscular creature but with a tail, pointed ears, clawed toes, snout, and black vest similar to Cerebus', and who similarly refers to himself in the third person. This was in good-natured retaliation to Sim's character "Professor Charles X. Claremont," a parody of Charles Xavier.
In Exhibit A Press' Supernatural Law #33, Batton Lash featured a demon called Huberis the Dybbuk, who discovers religion and retains the legal services of Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre to sue for the right to pray in a house of worship. The misogynistic demon runs afoul of female attorney Alanna Wolff as she and her partner Jeff Byrd prepare his case. Sim and Gerhard contributed to the cover art, mimicking the style of their Cerebus covers.
In the first volume of Mirage's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cerebus made a guest appearance in #8. In the story the four turtles are transported to "anyplace on Earth before humans recorded time!". The turtles meet Cerebus, and after a misunderstanding helped the aardvark and a group of mercenaries invade a castle. Sim wrote and lettered the dialogue for Cerebus and he and Gerhard inked/toned the aardvark. An episode of the 2003 cartoon series called "Time Travails" was based on that issue. When the turtles first go into the past an aardvark resembling Cerebus can be seen.
In Todd McFarlane's Spawn #10, guest written by Dave Sim, Cerebus guest stars and shows Spawn the hell of comic characters (owned by Marvel Comics and DC Comics) whose creators had "forsaken" them by giving up their rights — unlike Spawn, who was still owned by McFarlane. It was a polemic on the virtues of creator-owned comics.
In strip 242 of the popular web comic Order of the Stick, the characters reference their own strip's case of "Cerebus Syndrome" (see below). When finding themselves in a burning building, Haley Starshine says that she misses when the comic was driven by simple jokes instead of storylines, and Vaarsuvius responds "I blame Cerebus".
In the "Fears" chapter of Jeph Loeb's and Tim Sale's graphic novel Batman: The Haunted Knight, someone attending a Halloween costume party hosted by Bruce Wayne is wearing a Cerebus costume, complete with sword and medallions.
The limbo story arc of Flaming Carrot shares its character of Beanhead with Cerebus, and features a one-panel cameo of Cerebus. "Adventures in Limbo" (in which Beanhead appears) originally appeared in the Cerebus comic as a back-up in a series called "Unique Stories." Flaming Carrot himself appears in Cerebus #104.
In an issue of normalman by Jim Valentino Cerebus also makes an appearance during a dream sequence. normalman was published by Aardvark-Vanaheim at the time by Dave and then wife Deni. Since the normalman books had parody covers this particular issue resembled a Cerebus cover too.
The Roach, along with Fleagle McGrew and Dirty Drew McGrew, appeared in a Sim-penned story in the anthology title AARGH (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia). With the title-sized speech bubbles "Terror in a Turgid Tool!" and "By my Loins- Betrayed!" it indicated the Roach was homosexual.
The webcomic Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan features as a secondary character "Scarabus the Earth-Pig," a parody of Cerebus.
In Quest for Glory III: Wages of War, while traveling on the over map (usually at night), the character may encounter Arne the Aardvark, who resembles Cerebus.
In Ryan McLelland's independent comic Wise Intelligence Cerebus appears in the story "Spirit Animals" in a dream sequence with Mike Kazaleh's Captain Jack with both characters leading one of the characters.
In Mark Bode's 1987 independent miniseries Miami Mice, Cerebus makes a brief 2-page appearance at the end of the 4th and final issue. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles make an appearance in the same story, introducing the Miami Mice to a drunk and disgruntled Cerebus. Cerebus quickly vanishes back to his home dimension, remarking how annoyed he is by "these crossover spells". For his two page appearance, Cerebus was drawn by Dave Sim.
Several times throughout Neil Gaiman's series The Sandman the character Delirium creates very small floating aardvarks resembling Cerebus out of thin air; they float lazily about for a moment or two before subsequently floating through a wall or popping like a bubble.
In Scott Roberts' Patty-Cake Prime Collection, a three page strip has seven-year-old girl Patty-Cake capturing and adopting Cerebus. Cerebus escapes when she tries to dress him up like a doll. He runs into Bob Burden's Flaming Carrot (Who appeared in Cerebus previously) and the two drift off into the sky together to escape. This strip originally ran in the back of Cerebus issue 200, as part of a "Cerebus Preview" of Roberts' book. Cerebus' likeness has appeared in various later issues of Patty-Cake.
German hardcore punk band the Spermbirds have used images of Cerebus on their album artwork and t-shirts.
TV Tropes has an entry on "Cerebus Syndrome" , as well as the ""Cerebus Retcon" Both entires provide numerous examples of comics that have been affected by either or both, noting that the first, at least, can be either good or bad.