In 1977 the concept of creator-owned comics was in it's infancy. If you had an idea for a comic and wanted it published, then you went to one of the existing companies (like Marvel, D.C. or Archie) and gave up ownership of your characters to them. About the only companies (that I am aware of) at that time who even entertained the notion of creators retaining the ownership of characters were Pacific and Charlton (in the case of some of Steve Ditko's creations and E-Man).
Dave Sim was (and is) a Canadian writer and artist. A year earlier he had drawn his girlfriend a mascot character for a fanzine which never got published, naming the character Cerebus after the dog which guarded Hades, the Greek underworld (they soon realised they had mis-spelt Cerebrus, btw, but kept the spelling they had come up with). Deciding to use the character to allow him to emulate and pay homage to Barry Windsor-Smith's artwork on Conan, Sim looked at the options and took the risky step of self-publishing. His girlfriend's two siblings suggested possible names for the company he was setting up - Aardvark and Vanaheim; Sim opted to use them both.
Aardvark-Vanaheim has never been a big company - discounting Cerebus and his various reprint titles and anthologies, they've only published a half dozen titles (Journey, Neil the Horse, Normalman, Flaming Carrot [#1-5, after which he moved to Renegade Press, The Puma Blues and Strange Brew). However in an industry where publishers come and go in the blink of an eye, they are still in business, which has to say something both for the enduring popularity of their flagship character, and the business acumen of Dave Sim.
Aardvark-Vanaheim Comics Checklist
AV in 3D #1
Cerebus #0-300 - various reprint editions, including Cerebus Bi-Weekly, Cerebus Church and State, Cerebus Free Giveaway, Cerebus High Society
Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing #1
Cerebus Jam #1
Cerebus World Tourbook 1995
Following Cerebus #1-9 (to date - #2 notably has a reprint of an extremely rare Cerebus short story)
Neil the Horse #1-15
Puma Blues #1-23
Strange Brew #1
Swords of Cerebus #1-6
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