Wednesday, February 23, 2005

This Artist Is Good - Seth

I am funny...all this talk about Seven Soldiers, and I have my copy...but I have not read it yet!

Don't worry, though, there will be an entry up for it at some point (if not me, then Alex or Joe certainly will! This is a Grant Morrison Is Good zone after all!)

So I figure, you know what would be an interesting idea....while spotlighting good comics is fun, and I will continue to do that, I also think spotlighting good creators is a fine idea as well, and so I begin doing just that!

Seth is the amazing artist responsible for the Palooka-Ville series in Drawn & Quarterly.

Here is a link to his website.

I would post some of his art to show him off, but I do not want to step on anyone's copyright toes (perhaps someone with a better understanding of fair use might be of help).

Hmmm...perhaps I did not plan this idea out as well I should have before posting it. I mean, I can describe his art for you, but without is sort of weird.

Maybe I can do a checklist!

Things to consider...hehe.

For now, I will leave it at a statement and a question.

The first - Seth is a really good artist, and it would be well worth your while to check out his comic work. Perhaps clicking on the above link would be a good start?

The second - What are everyone else's thoughts about Seth?


Anonymous Stefan said...

I finally found "It's a Good Life..." recently (and cheap!) and gave it a read. Even after word of mouth over all these years it still lived up to the hype. I'm going to be giving it a more thorogh perusal again soon. Next month I see Palookaville solicited I am adding it to my pull list.

2/23/2005 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

Ed on Seth:

Slightly overrated, but still better than 95% of artists working in comics today.

2/24/2005 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher Burton said...

At the Mid-Ohio Con last Thanksgiving Day weekend, I ran across a copy of Bannock, Beans, and Black Tea and instantly fell in love with it. It's not a comic though. It's Seth's father's memoirs of his harsh childhood on Prince Edward Island during the depression. But Seth illustrated it and designed the book. Rather than a typeface, it's in his handwritten script. It's got a cloth cover and one of those ribbon bookmarks. It's just swell. Not a comic, though.

2/24/2005 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

THANKS FOR WASTING EVERYBODY'S TIME WITH A NON-COMIC, Christopher!!! sounds cool, I will have to check it out.

2/24/2005 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Really, really liked "Good Life."

Completely unique in mood and tone from any of the other seven zillion and a half other auto-Biographical type comics.

Hmm. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say here. There wasn't much post to reply to, ifyaknowwhatImean.

And Brian all ignored my Promethea comments, anyway. *Sniff*

2/24/2005 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I thought your Promethea comments were cut short, so I was waiting for you to complete them.

If not, then I will reply.

2/24/2005 09:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Curran said...

"I thought your Promethea comments were cut short, so I was waiting for you to complete them."

I thought he'd been killed in mid-sentence, given the way it trailed off. Glad to see Mark's still among the living. Or is he...

2/24/2005 10:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Curran said...

"Ed on Seth:

Slightly overrated, but still better than 95% of artists working in comics today."

Would that be considered damning with fain praise or holding him in high esteem?

Given my lack of indie reading (but hey, I did buy the Locas hardcover!), I haven't read... well, any of Seth's work. But his work on the Complete Peanuts volumes has grown on me to the point where I really enjoy it, and "It's a Good Life" sounds worth reading.

2/24/2005 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

"Would that be considered damning with fain praise or holding him in high esteem?"

Probably the later--while I like Seth's work, I'm not one to fellate to the point of knowing what kind of product his short and curlies taste like.

I do wonder, sometimes, that when people really, really get into an indie comics artist or illustrator after a long period of superhero reading, the reaction feels less like "wow, this is really good," and more like, "I didn't know comics could be like this," which flavors the reaction somewhat.

Not saying that's the case with Cronin, of course.

2/25/2005 08:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Brad Curran said...

"Probably the later--while I like Seth's work, I'm not one to fellate to the point of knowing what kind of product his short and curlies taste like."

I asked because I see that phrase all the time when people refer to somebody's work, and beyond being bored with it, I really wonder whether it means they think everyone else sucks or if this guy's really good.

"I do wonder, sometimes, that when people really, really get into an indie comics artist or illustrator after a long period of superhero reading, the reaction feels less like 'wow, this is really good,' and more like, "I didn't know comics could be like this,' which flavors the reaction somewhat.'"

I think there's some truth to the latter. Hell, even somebody like Mike Mignola and Frank Quitely had the effect on me when I first encountered their work, and their still considered mainstream. Chris Ware was a huge revelation if you were raised on a diet of Neal Adams clones.

2/25/2005 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

re: Seth. I appreciate his skill and ability, but his stuff just doesn't "do" it for me. I'm sure he'd be the first to admit his work isn't universal.

I do think there's a strong case for "First Non-Superhero" love syndrome. I went gaga when I first got into Tomine. I still love it, but I can stop talking about it for more than a day if necessary. It's like the day you graduate from dry humping: HOLY SHIT IT CAN BE THIS GOOD?!?!?

2/25/2005 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, not a lot of love in the room for Seth, huh? Y'know, it occurs to me that part of the appeal of my beloved superhero comics is that they're genre fiction, and part of the fun of genre is that every story within it plays in the same sandbox of convention and form, chatting with the other form- and convention-exploiting stories around it. Which also means that there's always gonna be good Batman and bad Batman, envelope-pushing Batman and back-to-basics Batman, but most of all there's going to be idealized perfect pure Batman that all the other kinds of Batman center on. Which is great! But genre isn't the only thing out there: like it or hate it, there's only one Palookaville, just like there's only one Eightball and only one Acme, so what's all this talk of dicksucking? If it's good it's good, and it deserves maximum praise for being itself. First Non-Superhero Infatuation need not be invoked. And to those who liked "It's A Good Life...", read "Clyde Fans".

3/01/2005 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Well, Anonymous Commenter, I think you imply unfairly. You seem to be pointing the "superhero fanboy" finger, even if a little lightly. Seth is a good artist, no doubt. He's a good writer. But his particular brand of "indie" comics just don't work for some folks. That doesn't mean they're slavishly devoted to the new adventures of Superman or something. That means they prefer something else. Give me Eightball (PLEASE!), give me Acme, give me Optic Nerve. Give me Jordan Crane, Jason Lutes, Lynda Barry. I just don't care for Seth.

3/02/2005 07:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair enough, absolutely! Sorry, wasn't trying to point any fanboy fingers, anyway that would make me an awful hypocrite since I am one myself. Just saying that part of what I like about superheroes is that in that genre comparisons are useful and fun, good Batman vs. bad Batman etc., and you can talk pleasantly for hours about how, say, the latest Batman relates to the pure Platonic Batman it draws its intended coolness from...what I was meaning to point out was only that it's harder to get the same pleasant benefit from these comparisons when you're talking about indie comics, or indeed any other sort of non-genre comics, because they're not actually handling anything like that poorly or well to speak of, they're just doing whatever thing they're doing, and it's less connected up with the other things around it than it would be if it were embedded in genre conventions. But I think I said all this rather clumsily, which is too bad. So hard not to be boring and just say "tastes differ"! I mean everybody already knows that anyway, but sometimes that is all there is to say, in the indie world at any rate. Whereas when you're talking Batman (or whatever), taste can be more than just liked it/didn't like it, it can also be "how did this artist approach this genre's established storytelling protocols" or "how well or poorly did they understand where the appeal of the property they're reinterpreting actually lies", or something like that. Definitely no intention of slagging off anyone's personal taste! If I seemed to make that implication, I absolutely retract it.

3/02/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Actually, I see where you're going now. You can compare runs on Batman or whatever, but it's not like Dennis O'Neil ever wrote a story about Clyde Fans. To what do you compare Seth's work? I prefer Tomine, obviously, but that's kind of like saying "I don't really like Law and Order, I like Scrubs," or something. Why compare the two?

Hmmmm. This is an interesting subpoint.

3/02/2005 08:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd go further, and say that you absolutely must compare runs on superhero comics, at least as we've known them since the Sixties. That's practically the whole point, I think. Anyway it's an interesting conversation, to talk about what made certain (again, Batman, but it could be anything) runs exciting, and others not. I like Batman: TAS more than is reasonable because it riffs on Batman in a way that sounds musical to my ears, but most people don't see what the big deal is. It's a weird thing to be a connoisseur about, they think, but then again they can't hear the music, so they don't know the beauty of it. They just know it's Batman, and that's all. The poor bastards.

But with Seth's work, like with Peanuts or with LAR, (or Optic Nerve or Maus or Palestine or L'il Abner even), you can't do this genre stuff, so I think you have to go the TCJ route instead and talk about how the work is positioned among the influences and traditions of non-generic Art, non-genre Culture. I remember Gary Groth had a really cool essay on early Locas where he raved about just that kind of thing. (Actually, Jaime does play in the sandbox of superhero style quite a bit I guess, but that's a whole 'nother topic) Seth is doing something that makes a lot of sense in that context with that whole New Yorker thing he's got going, and "Bannock, Beans, and Black Tea" is a good example of how he reminds us that that kind of look can be artistically relevant...but what's really amazing about it is that absolutely no one but him seems to be interested in it at all, he's taking that style and producing wonders with it, things that it's never been turned to before, and in his particular sandbox he is completely by himself. I'm not even the world's biggest Seth fan! But I think if you want to compare him to somebody you've got to look at someone who's attempted a similar thing in their own way, made a light -seeming style surprise by carrying a lot of freight, and done it all by themselves. Schultz definitely comes to mind, although I think Seth would be horrified at any suggestion he's up there with Schultz, and I don't mean to say that he is. But I guess, just spitballing, you could say they're from approximately the same school. Like Bagge is from a different school, he gets a lot done with his style in the Buddy Does Seattle stuff, and it really is quite a goofy style but he did some surprisingly lifelike things with it I think. I want to say Beanworld does a lot with very little here, too, but I'm getting a bit off track...really with Seth you've got this very weighty emotional tone coveyed in simple lines, this poignancy thing, and I think there are quite a few indie guys and gals out there getting at that kind of feeling in a similar way, so any of them ought to be enlightening comparisons. I think you could talk about Ghost World and Clyde Fans together, for example, and compare the different choices and sensibilities in each, or the different influences, and that might be a really interesting discussion.

God, I'm really blathering on, this is terrible.

3/02/2005 11:39:00 PM  

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