Chronicling the downfall of a company that produces oscillating fans might not sound like the stuff of gripping fiction, but in the hands of an accomplished artist like Seth it becomes a sprawling yet intimate work of melancholy beauty.
Clyde Fans, published Tuesday by Montreal imprint Drawn & Quarterly, collects Seth’s story of Abe and Simon Matchcard in an impressive, beautifully constructed volume that is certain to be a benchmark for much of what will follow in graphic fiction — from an artist who has helped define the graphic novel genre (although he prefers to call them “picture novels”).
The Matchcards’ story has been published in serial format over the last two decades — first appearing in Seth’s Palookaville comic book series and then compiled into two separate Clyde Fans volumes. And while the story was presented over the course of years before the new definitive collected works, for Seth, 56, the core story was always there.
“The biggest surprise was that the book was basically written in note form, 20 years ago, and that I followed those notes pretty much exactly,” he says from his home in Guelph, Ont., prior to tonight’s launch of Clyde Fans at McNally Robinson’s Grant Park location, where he’ll be joined in conversation with University of Winnipeg professor Candida Rifkind.