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Jaka's Story (Cerebus, #5)
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Jaka's Story

(Cerebus #5)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,011 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Reprinting Cerebus Issues 114-136

Cerebus is a 6,000 page comics novel about the life and death of a warrior aardvark. But what started as a Conan the Barbarian parody has evolved into a brilliant commentary on politics, gender roles and the creative urge. Jaka's Story is the fifth book in the series, and it tells the story of a dancer (Jaka) stranded in a deserted town su
Paperback, 488 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by Aardvark-Vanheim (first published 1983)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  1,011 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Eric Skillman
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
The high water mark for Dave Sim's opus. His raving misogyny (which, along with his religious views, completely takes over the 2nd half of the series) has already taken hold by this point, but the amazing thing about this book is that you honestly might not notice—the characters are so well drawn (in both senses of that term), that you can come to conclusions opposite of what the later, more polemical books spout, and the characters still ring true. (For example, I'm sure Sim wants the reader to ...more
Nate D
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Earliest Cerebus is pretty throwaway gag stuff, before turning into extremely well-developed and unusual socio-political satire for 3 volumes (I'm told, I still haven't read them). But even during that time, it was, I believe, an adventure story of various episodic action and usual issue-formatting. Things shifted rather dramatically for this one, actually a perfectly-paced and seamlessly cohesive 500-page single self-contained narrative. Various threads mesh tighter and tighter together over hu ...more
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
This one is totally unlike the previous volumes of the series. Instead of moving the plot forward, it's a pure character study. Hell, Cerebus barely even appears here. Most of the issues I had with previous volumes don't apply here, this is a totally different beast.

Sim really shines in his characterizations. This kind of slow-moving, domestic drama plays towards the strengths of his art, particularly his talent for facial expressions and body language. The whole thing is beautifully and vividly
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Big kids, little kids, kids who climb on rocks fat kids, skinny kids, even kids with chicken pox
It's kind of fitting that Dave Sim's best work appears almost dead center in the Cerebus storyline, sandwiched between the adventure stories and critiques of politics and religion (and, more generally, the comic book industry) in the first half, and his more personal, obsessive examinations of religion and gender roles that dominated the second half. (To be fair, I've only read about 4400 pages of the total 6000 page epic, so maybe these comments on the second half are a bit over-broad.)

Sim does
Feb 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, 2008, sim-dave
Collecting issues # 114­–136 of Dave Sim's 300 issues limited series Cerebus the Aardvark, this volume follows the two volumes of Church & State. Following the events of that story arc, Cerebus is somewhat depowered and is taking a very passive backseat role in the story. In fact, it could be argued that this is the first Cerebus story which is not really about Cerebus at all. That being said, it is about Jaka, one of the recurring characters in the story so far, and as such the story feels very ...more
Elizabeth Wallace
May 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Here's what's going to happen: you're going to read this book and you're not going to be able to put it down until you're done. And you're going to be really glad you read it. And you're not quite going to understand everything that happens. And it's going to depress the HELL out of you. And you'll love it. That's just the kind of book it is. ...more
Pablo Martinez
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Say what you want about Sim, this was really though-provoking and full of really dark themes. The fact that he manages to paint the characters in both good-minded and totally morally reprehensible at the same time AND still have some fun with satire and comedy (although granted, less than before) is a testament to Dave's greatness as a story-teller, and the way Gerhards compliments everything with his backgrounds just amps it up to 11.
Easily the strongest Cerebus book so far, totally recommended
One of the high points of the Cerebus run, this collection offers parallel narratives of Jaka's childhood (or does it? how "true" is this triply-filtered narrative?) and the aftermath of the Cirinist takeover, with Jaka now married to the shiftless Rick and dancing in Pud Withers's tavern. Main character Cerebus has virtually nothing to do in the entire story except to be a rather awkward house guest, as the story instead focuses on the sexual and social politics associated with girlhood and wom ...more
Kyle Burley
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
After the increasingly epic and complex storylines of "High Society" and "Church & State" Dave Sim, radically reduced the scope of the story to a small indoor drama. Shoving his main character to the side for almost a year, Sim focused his attention on Jaka Nash(nee Travers)a poor tavern dancer of noble origin and Cerebus' primary love interest. The biographical flashbacks to her youthful life of secluded privilege are fascinating and insightful, while the present day story is full of nicely obs ...more
Rex Hurst
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This volume collects issues 114-136 of the series. Cerebus takes a back seat here, becoming a minor character and actually disappearing for the last quarter of the book - not that it detracts from the story. I have heard and read many people claim that Jaka’s Story is the pinnacle of his artistic achievement in art and story. In this volume also the author begins his award-winning expressive use of lettering and speech balloons to illustrate the character’s verbal rhythms and intonations.

Shehroze Ameen
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gilly Singh
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jaka is easily one of my favourite characters of the series, alongside Lord Julius. It is fitting that they're lives are so intertwined with the former being the latter's niece. Jaka's life is tragic in its own way and, similar to Cerebus in previous volumes, you get the impression that she is a victim and prisoner of the circumstances in which she finds herself. She does her best and in truth is one of few characters in the series who genuinely feels like she does not have a malicious bone in h ...more
Thomas Radigan
May 08, 2020 rated it liked it
The Cirinists have taken over in Cerebus's absence, leaving him to wander...until he reaches an isolated mountainside tavern run by Pud Withers, supposedly too remote for the Cirinists to bother with. Jaka works as an exotic dancer there, whose only audience is Pud, and staying there besides Jaka is her no-good husband Rick, as well as Oscar (a representation of Oscar Wilde). Cerebus stays with them, and in the first half of the story, Jaka's childhood is described. Cerebus ends up going to buy ...more
Nov 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
there's a panel here where one character says something, and the character they're speaking to put their hand up to their ear and asks them to speak up, and in doing so he grasps the speech bubble he's asking to be repeated in that hand. sim is a natural at comics, so the acceleration which has already begun at this point into vehement misogyny is all the more disappointing.

the vast scale at which the 300 issues allows sim to work is wonderful here, although one can understand the frustrations o
B. Herndon
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very good and interesting. It's a shame that this is (from what I've heard) the peak of the series and it goes badly downhill after this one. The series really seemed liked it was building up to something really interesting and unique. I'll still probably give the one after this a look but I haven't heard great things so I'm wary. ...more
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics-read
Excellent. A LOT more serious than previous chapters.
Sometimes there is annoying amount of finely printed text which is, of course, integral to the story. The page layouts are extraordinary, especially the aforementioned text-heavy pages.
Martin Maenza
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, comics
A very interesting, a very different kind of story. This read much more like a novel. Definitely better to have read this in a single volume rather than as a monthly comic.
Andrew Barnett
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
What a wild and weird and moving ride this book is.
Jonathan Lee
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It tore my heart out. So moving, so sad. Such wonderful writing, such wonderful art.
Nick Douglas
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Dave Sim is wrong about his own characters, but he wrote the story so well that it doesn't matter. ...more
Joe Kraus
Jul 05, 2016 rated it liked it
After 2500 or so pages of Cerebus the Aardvark (this is the fifth compendium of the strip), most of which I have read in the fifteen minutes before falling asleep, a lot of this still feels like a dream. I’m not entirely sure how to make sense of it, and I’m not always sure why I’m still reading, but there is something that does pull me back.

It seems strange when I pull myself out of the book and reflect on it – though it hardly seems strange when I’m reading so many other strange things inside
Tony Calder
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This volume follows on directly from the somewhat cataclysmic events at the end of Church & State II., although for the first half of Jaka's Story it hardly seems relevant. The ending of this book, however, ties in much more closely with the events precipitated by the downfall of Pope Cerebus.

This is a much simpler story than the Church & State storyline, and it gives Dave Sim a chance to tell the story of one of the most popular and, quite frankly, nicest characters in the whole story. The stor
Sean Samonas
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Remember how I said in my review of book #4 that there was only a few highlights left to the series? This is one of them.

I was tempted to give this book a 5 star rating, as it is my favorite out of them all. However, this books biggest flaw is a bit too big for me to ignore and not mark down for.

So Dave Sim has a total man-crush on authors. I can't think of a better way to put it. The introduction here of Oscar Wilde is the first example in the series (but not the last) of Dave just taking a per
Dan Trudeau
Sep 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jaka's Story is Dave Sim's creative peak. By making this book a true character study, after the expansive story that was Church and State, he showed a talent only hinted at in the early stories. It's been 20 years since I first read this and I found myself taken aback by just how fantastic his prose sections are. The story of young Jaka (or is it Oscar's version of young Jaka?) is truly compelling, as he has a real talent for descriptive language and character nuance. His visual storytelling had ...more
Jun 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Unfortunately, it was so long between reading Jaka's Story and Church and State that I couldn't really remember what had passed earlier. Aside from that, while slow moving, Jaka's story was intriguing and as soon as I can get my hands on book 6, Melmoth, I plan to read it. I can see what Sim was going for with all the flowery language, but it really made things drag, as did peering at the walls of tiny text every third or fourth page.

His art style really begins to come into it's own at this poi
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Just Wow! I think this may be my favorite graphic novel that I have ever read. I don't want to give too much of the ending away, but it is more about the relationship between Jaka and Rick than the Aardvark. You can understand the suffering of both characters equally, and while on the outside, you can see signs of the author's prejudice to women and their treatment of men, you can still sympathize with Jaka. The story is composed of both a narrative (which has questionable reliability) relating ...more
Casey Hansen
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting addition to the cerebus story, little to no action, small amounts of characters, Cerebus as a support role and very few changes in background art. These things are not necessarily a bad, just different from the previous books, some of it is refreshing, linear plot with less characters to follow, some of it boring, Jaka's past as presented through mostly text, but all makes for a good book that I quickly devoured and left me feeling much more attached to Jaka and by proxy m ...more
Mark Russell
Feb 26, 2009 rated it liked it
According to the theology of the Cerebus universe, the world is born, destroyed and reborn every 12,000 years or so. Throughout these different incarnations, there are some souls that are just so dynamic that they continually reappear throughout history. Margaret Thatcher, Groucho Marx, Mick Jagger, Oscar Wilde... all of their lives begin to somehow converge in Jaka's Story, the biography of Cerebus' one true love as told by Oscar Wilde, who himself is one of the main players in what turns out t ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
We get to delve into the past of one of Cerebus' most loved characters.
Dave Sim has finished developping his art-style, here we see the Cerebus illustrated in pretty much the way we will see him for the rest of the series. The Cerebus the barbarian story-arc that preceeded this managed to hook us in, now time to reel us in with the actual story.
Still, had Cerebus "the Barbarian" not come before this, I doubt very much this would be the sort of story that would have hooked me, so in a way, I'm ve
Ed Erwin
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, favorites
Loved it! My favorite in the series so far. The previous volume went rather crazy and hard to understand near the end, but this is a relatively simple story, focused on a few main characters, with a clear beginning, middle and end. It could probably be read and appreciated without the previous volumes.
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David Victor Sim is a Canadian comic book, artist and publisher, best known as the creator of Cerebus the Aardvark.

Other books in the series

Cerebus (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • Cerebus (Cerebus, #1)
  • High Society (Cerebus, #2)
  • Church and State I (Cerebus, #3)
  • Church and State II (Cerebus, #4)
  • Melmoth (Cerebus, #6)
  • Flight (Cerebus, #7)
  • Women (Cerebus, #8)
  • Reads (Cerebus, #9)
  • Minds (Cerebus, #10)
  • Guys (Cerebus, #11)

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