It’s a Good Life if you don’t Weaken – Seth

It’s a Good Life if you don’t WeakenSeth is the Cartoonist who produced the marvellous Wimbledon Green. This autobiographical work contains elements that you can see adapted into that fictional tale.

We follow Seth as he tries to track down a cartoonist that had a very brief career. Along the way we see his quiet anxiety about the world around him and how it has changed as he has grown older. We hear his insecurities and with painful honesty discover the kind of person he has become. This is a subtle and emotional work almost in the vein of literary fiction.

It is described as a “picture novella” and although it appears as a graphic novel the words do all the talking and the pictures are a kind of visual muzak that plays in the background. There are some occasions where the text goes silent and we are treated to a series of vignettes to help capture a moment of a place.

The panels are classic three rows per page and contain nothing of the flair seen in Wimbledon Green. But that is perfect for the melancholy and everyday subject matter. There are three colours used, black, white and a pale almost metallic blue-grey. This gives the whole work a very period quality that matches the nostalgic theme of the writing.

This is a charming and authentic tale that makes you smile and maybe nod sagely at Seth’s wisdom and shrewd observations.

Thumbs Up!

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Wimbledon Green – Seth

This is a wonderfully subtle and gentle meditation upon nostalgia and the human condition, with a gentle fun-poking at the world of comics and collecting things.

It is a series of short strips – some very short – that builds up a picture of the titular character, “the world’s greatest comic book collector,” Wimbledon Green. Through descriptions by others, and occasionally personal appearances, you get to form a picture of this eccentric figure. The storytelling is superbly crafted and at points you feel like the gumshoe of a film noir interviewing witnesses to try and find this missing figure. It feels like Andi Ewing’s “45” but with a different visual style.

This is drawn by a cartoonist and it has the black and white strip feel that has populated newspapers for decades. Most of the panels are shaded in a single colour (but with a couple of hues) and this brings a lot of depth to the page. The colours used are bronze, silver, and gold, or more precisely their matt equivalents, to represent the three ages of classic comics. Many of the pages are talking heads with panels little bigger than a postage stamp as characters relate anecdotes about the mysterious Mr Green. Although almost identical the odd blink or sideways glance reveals a lot about the speaker and the tale they are telling. The whole thing has a quite a stop motion feel to it. There isn’t a lot of visual trickery but a change in the frame size or unexpected variation in colour really packs a punch. The “less is more” has never been truer than here.

It is astounding what can be achieved with a simple idea and subtle execution of some universal themes. This is a very quiet and sophisticated work despite its simplicity. The hardback format is expertly used and the production values are extremely high. No question of anything but Double Thumbs Up!

245/120

Tomorrow: Proof Book One: Goatsucker – Alexander Grecian