Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Canuck Book 13 - It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken by Seth

First, a confession. I actually read this book over the weekend. So it was really the 12'th book I finished.

Another confession - I've never really been into comic books, at least not in the way some of my friends are. It's not that I actively dislike them or dismiss their value. It's just that I guess I never really had many comics around as a kid, so it's hard to go back now. When you don't spend your formative years soaking up the mythology and twisting storylines, it's hard to play catch up.

So why, then, have I chosen a 'picture novella' as my 13'th book? Well, I guess that's because it's a comic book that's not a comic book. There are no superheroes here, no 'pows' and 'blammos'. It's just a guy who pines for the past with a dour outlook on the present.

The book basically follows a fictionalized Seth as he tries to track down the story of an obscure Canadian cartoonist who went by the pen name Kalo. That's it, really. There are setbacks, train trips to Southern Ontario and conversations with his friend Chet (a fictionalized Chester Brown - another Toronto cartoon writer).

What keeps you going is the art. While the story takes place in the 80's, Seth has a knack for capturing the oldest elements of the landscape - a lone water tower, Union Station - to make the book feel more like a tale from the 40's or 50's. I just loved the look of it.

In a lot of ways, Seth's work - and that of his contemporaries like Joe Matt and the aforementioned Chester Brown - has a very Gen X quality that appeals to someone, like me, who went to high school in the early nineties. Like a Kevin Smith movie without the gags or Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise, these comic books are really about people talking. It works for me.

That's it. I'm done with the challenge. I'll probably sign on for the next installment, but I'm holding off for now.


John Mutford said...

Hmmm. Heard of the Tragically Hip song of the same title. Was it influenced by that? Or is this some common phrase I'd just not come across?

I'll have to add a "picture novella" or graphic novel, whateever you want to call it, next time around. It's a genre I've pretty much ignored.

And I really hope you take on the 2nd edition of the Challenge. No pressure, but I have really enjoyed reading your reviews and seeing which books you picked.

Teddy Rose said...

Congrats on finishing the challenge! Way to go. I hope you join us for round 2!!