Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palookaville #19

So I have no idea why I keep buying Palookaville. Issues of this title are released so infrequently that I completely forget where I put the previous one by the time a new one is out. If I valued my sanity, I'd just wait until all of the Clyde Fans strips are collected. But I can't. Each issue is such a beautiful object. Seth may be one of the two or three best brushes in comics. Each line has that wonderful plasticity, that amazing "this can't be done by a human hand"-quality that he has absorbed from the best of the New Yorker guys. His design sense is perfect. Each page is a sublimely balanced composition. And nobody can rock one-color like Seth. Melded perfectly with this formidable graphic talent is a staggering storytelling ability. Clyde Fans has been one of the saddest things I've ever read. Seth has this way of making quiet, tragic moments searingly intense. He is such a master of the minimal moment, volumes conveyed in a single, virtuosic gesture. The last six pages, in which Simon Matchcard sits on the bed in his mother's room cataloging the objects around him are breathtaking. In five pages of 24 panels each, Matchcard considers the clutter of a lifetime and the memories attached to each part of it. His mother is senile, and the rest of this issue has shown Simon and his brother Abraham committing her to a home. Each object is simply but fetishistically rendered, and the accompanying narration assigns each its place in the mosaic of Mrs. Matchcard's life. Whoah Seth.

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