Clyde Fans may go down in graphic-novel history as Guelph illustrator and writer Seth’s masterpiece.
It’s a weighty volume more than 20 years in the making. Originally published in serial form, it has been collected into one hefty book.
If you read it in chunks during the past two decades in the pages of Seth’s Palookaville, check it out again, this time as a single work of art.
I had lost track of Seth’s narrative at some point along the way. Reading it in one sitting, I am pleased to report it has a power few other graphic novels possess.
Granted, Seth already is known as the father of the Canadian autobiographical school of graphic novels. However, years from now, I predict Clyde Fans may be the best thing for which he is remembered.
Clyde Fans tells the story of a pair of brothers who run a fan company, starting in the 1950s. Dominion – Seth’s imagined Canadian milieu and his answer to the Marvel Universe – looms large; one of the brothers has a life-changing experience there.
Since it took so long to complete, Clyde Fans offers readers an insight into his approach to comics. Starting with the loose lines of his first book, the Strathroy-set It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken, it eventually ends with panels rendered in his sketchbook style.
Clyde Fans features the usual Seth fixations: Diefenbaker-era Canada, abandoned buildings, the pop culture of the past, and tricky relationships, the rules and vagaries of which can’t be put into words.
Canada is a superpower when it comes to comic creation and talents with a Southwestern Ontario connection are leading the pack. Clyde Fans is more proof of that.
At the end this year, don’t be surprised when you find Clyde Fans at the top of many best-of-2019 lists. Nor will it be long before the latest from Seth ends up on the reading lists of university literature courses, within Canada and beyond.