The Quietus reviews Palookaville 23

“Behold! April’s Quietus Comics Round Up Column ” / The Quietus / Pete Redrup / April 6, 2018

Seth’s ongoing Palookaville series continues with this release, a typically beautiful cloth-bound hardback, instantly recognisable as his work. The first part is a continuation of the autobiographical Nothing Lasts. Compared to the rest of the book, this features relatively uniform panels laid out in a 4x5 grid, and the lettering is a little rougher. Such simplicity and consistency in no way takes away from the creative use of the space. One page is full of drawings of his tropical fish collection, with the oxygen bubbles combining with the text to give the impression the page is narrated by his pets. This time we learn of candidly revealed adolescent sexual urges, and much musing about class. It’s particularly good on the impermanence of memory and the intensity of teenage love, hyper real at the time yet hard to recall thirty years later. From time to time Seth gives the impression that this is a self-indulgent project, and that the thoughts of his teenage self are too embarrassing to recount. Nonetheless, he draws the pictures and recounts the thoughts. This is Palookaville 23, not Palookaville 1. Seth has long ago proved his considerable worth as an cartoonist, and he’s normally so confident in his line, his story and himself. I think by the time an artist has written and drawn an autobiographical work and we are holding a hardcover in our hands, the author should at least be sure that it was a good idea. At last, the twenty-year work that is Clyde Fans concludes, returning to 1957. For the first forty-or-so pages, there are few images of Simon Matchcard and none of any other people. What we get instead are landscapes and buildings overlaid with wistful musings, very much the artist's trademark. Frankly, I could look at Seth’s scenery for quite some time without getting bored, and his depictions of architecture, nature, darkness and space are well worth the price of admission. There are almost no conversations, excepting the brief exchange as a train ticket is purchased, and a couple with his mother. This is Matchcard isolating himself from the world, becoming the recluse depicted in earlier volumes. It’s a melancholy, meditative close to this long-running story, and a fitting end. We can assume that the whole of Clyde Fans will be collected in a single volume, but until then, this will do nicely.

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