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Book Review < Back

It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Seth
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Commentary

This is going to sound strange, but I swear to God I've written this piece before. I wrote a one-line review for it once - "This is what it feels like to be haunted" - but that's not it. No, I'm certain that somewhere is a review of GOOD LIFE I wrote for ARTBOMB, but I can't find it anywhere, so I'm starting to wonder if I dreamed the whole thing.

Which is, somehow, oddly appropriate.

IT'S A GOOD LIFE IF YOU DON'T WEAKEN is a gentle, sad, swaying little book about nostalgia's grip and the disconnect people feel between the past and the present. We follow Seth's strange obsession with an obscure gag cartoonist of the forties named Kalo, long dead and practically anonymous. Seth couldn't have chosen a more obscure windmill to tilt at, but he tries anyway he can to invoke and hunt the man and his life down, all while trying to figure out just what it is exactly about Kalo and his work that grips him more than anything or anyone else presently or in his life. Seth travels throughout Canada, attempting to unravel each of these riddles for his own sense of well being, for his own peace of mind. He's unable to make much sense of the present, but Kalo's work makes him yearn for the comfort and simplicity of a past he never actually knew, never actually lived through.

Seth's work feels out-of-time, anachronistic. His illustration style would feel at home in the pages of the New Yorker, and his writing balances sharp, melancholic introspection with a control of pacing and scene unlike almost anyone else in the field. A document of one artist's wrestling with ghosts of years long passed, IT'S A GOOD LIFE reads like a subtle exorcism.

-- Matt Fraction

 
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.

 


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