Written & Illustrated by Seth
Published by Drawn & Quarterly
Joining the ranks of Chris Ware and Los Bros, Seth converts his long-running comic book serial Palookaville to an annual tome with its 20th installment. Like Ware, Seth opts for the striking hardcover package, meaning it’s a little pricier, but he’s clearly intent on making the package worthwhile.
Palookaville #20 comes with an eye-catching design and plenty of great features. Seth’s introduction explains the rationale behind the new format while lamenting the passing of the traditional comic book leaflet/pamphlet/insert-your-preferred-term. An extended installment of his ongoing “Clyde Fans” serial proves, if you’re new to the story as I am, difficult to entire immerse yourself in, but the quality of the cartooning is evident at a glance. (And I’m sufficiently intrigued to be very jazzed for an eventual collection of the entire saga.) Sketchbook pages; a long look at “Dominion”, Seth’s hand-made cardboard city, and its various exhibits; and a contemplative, verging-on-but-not-quite-falling-into despondence autobiographical sequence round out the package.
Seth’s a superb cartoonist, approaching each of his stories with an austere documentarian’s eye. There are no fancy tricks – just careful composed images and plenty of amazing details in both script and artwork. His evident interest in the development, culturally and architecturally, in his native Canada’s last century underscores all of his work, and nothing here changes that focus.
Despite “Clyde Fans” ongoing nature, Palookaville #20 is surprisingly inviting. Seth’s precise grids make it easy to fall into the tone and pace of each narrative, and his spare scripting and smooth, detailed illustrations capture the sense of his lost souls moving unsurely onto the next stage of their lives.