Friday, 1 May 2015

Palookaville #22 by Seth Review

Seth is back with Palookaville #22, the series that started out as regular single issue comics and has since began appearing as beautifully produced hardcovers. The latest “digest” (as he’s now taken to calling them) features Clyde Fans, Part 4: 1975, a photo essay on his wife’s business Crown Barber Shop (which he helped design), and Nothing Lasts, Part 2, a stream-of-consciousness-type memoir of his childhood. 

The presentation is always worth mentioning because Seth clearly puts a lot of effort into how his books look. This one is a green hardcover with a bright green foil wraparound with green endpapers. The paper stock used feels lovely and even smells great too - high quality stuff. Clyde Fans is black and white with only pale blue and sepia; the photo essay is in full colour; and Nothing Lasts is black, white and blue. The book as simply an object is elegant and wonderful. 

Clyde Fans, Part 4 sees Abe and Simon Matchcard continuing their first discussion in years after having a falling out as younger men. Their Clyde Fans business has gone bankrupt and they’re both old men now, not long for this world. Abe and Simon talk about their father who abandoned them while Abe later decides to meet up with an old flame, Alice. 

You either like Seth’s comics or you don’t - he tells his stories his way, at his own pace and they’re not the liveliest of beasts. If you’ve never encountered him before, his comics are slow, deliberate, meditative; they aim for mood and feeling than traditional story and plot. And of course the art is unique and captivating, complementing the script perfectly. I really like his comics and Part 4 of the story of two old geezers living in their heads, in the past, is mesmerising in a quietly moving fashion. 

The photo essay shows how Seth’s aesthetic looks when applied to a real business. His wife Tania’s barber shop, Crown Barber, is the best-looking barber shop I’ve ever seen. It’s different shades of blue everywhere and Seth’s even created a fake history for the shop - the fold-out comic of the barber’s is also included in this book. I almost want to visit Guelph purely to see it for myself and get a cut too!

Nothing Lasts, Part 2 is the only part of the book where Seth lost me at times. It’s an honest look at his lonely childhood, being teased at school for being nerdy and hiding his comics out of shame; but it’s also a sweet tribute to his mother, who passed away in 2005. The brief mentions of his father (who died in 2011) tell you everything about his distant relationship with him, as well as Seth revealing that his father picked out his birth name, Gregory, which he changed to Seth as a young man and has kept since. 

Some of the time though it gets slow even by Seth standards. Talking about the library and how it’s changed slightly and how he took out an 8mm projector, and… yeah it’s a little rambling at times. He even acknowledges it as much in the comic itself, realising it’s coming off as self-indulgent and trivial but that’s just how his work turns out sometimes.

Palookaville #22 is another fine book from one of the best indie comics creators out there, the one and only Seth. He draws you in and makes you read his stories at his pace, on his terms, and that makes it all the more a refreshingly charming experience. Put on some comfy slippers, crack open some tinned spam and get ready for a full-on nostalgia trip!

Palookaville #22

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