WIMBLEDON GREEN in Quill & Quire (August 2005)

“It’s Not Easy Being Green” / Quill & Quire / Dave Howard / July 29, 2005

Seth’s Wimbledon Green: The Greatest Comic Book Collector in the World ($24.95 cloth 1-896597-93-9, 128pp., Drawn & Quarterly) is a playful fable of a morally ambiguous comics collector that both satirizes the industry and pays homage to the comic books of yesteryear, with silly romps full of gags and laughs and mystery.

The panels here are much smaller and less precious than Seth’s previous work in Clyde Fans and It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, and the work unexpectedly succeeds by virtue of that lightness, as if Seth has been unburdened by the expectations of a more “serious” work. There is obviously a great love in the simple panels, the silly cars and bowler hats, and the self-consciously pretentious, formal language. The book also seems an exercise in ellipsis, as the portrait of Mr. Green comes through vignettes and little strips, seen through the eyes of the key players without ever revealing the whole story.

At the story’s heart is the question: what motivates a person to collect comic books? Green says of one old-timer, “These people were the last stop on the road to oblivion. Only by reaching out and grabbing had they managed to save precious artifacts from being lost.” Some old comic books may fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars while the original artists remain destitute and alone. Ashcan Romp, one of Green’s chief rivals, reflects, “It’s funny – the world of collecting is not a pretty place. For a bunch of guys who like good or evil stories… you sure meet a lot of morally corrupt assholes.”

 

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