Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pamphlets and Graphic Novels: Seth's Clyde Fans (A Case Study) - Coda

Seth was interviewed in 2006 for the POV website. Here's what he said at the time:

Seth: I am plowing ahead with the second part of my book Clyde Fans. I hope to have a good chunk of it done by the end of this year and the whole book hopefully finished up in another year after that (with luck).

Eight years later it is safe to say that we were out of luck in 2007. We're still out of luck in 2014. 
A graphic novel that's a work in progress for the last seventeen years (and counting) may present some inconsistencies in style (artists evolve, of course; or, in this case, regress). To see if it happened let's perform a little experiment:

Seth, "Clyde Fans: Part One," page 4, Palookaville # 10, Drawn & Quarterly, April 1997.

Seth, "Clyde Fans: Part Four," page 44, Palooka Ville # 21, September 2013. 

Looking at the two pages above I'm tempted to just say: judge for yourself! The differences are glaring and they aren't flattering for the Seth of 2013, far from it... 

The difference in the character's age is explained because the first page occurs in 1997 and the second one is set in 1975, so, the Abe Matchcard of 2013 is younger than the Abe Matchcard of 1997. No prob there.

Seth became more cartoony in time: Abe's body is more realistically proportioned in 1997 than in 1975. Maybe he grew up, but I doubt it. The attention to detail gives life to the set in 1997 being just a minimalistic void in 1975. This isn't bad, per se, of course. I'm just pointing inconsistencies out. 

Talking about inconsistencies, compare the stairs in the above panel (page 7 of "Clyde Fans: Part One") with the supposedly same stairs in Part Four. The stairs in Palooka Ville # 21 aren't even well drawn.

But what shocks me the most is the quality of the line (or lack thereof). The shading is also a lot better in the former example. Not to mention the beige color of the paper (a lot better than the white of Palooka Ville # 21 in my humble opinion). 

Judging from what appears in Palooka Ville # 21 (two more stories: the awfully drawn "Rubber Stamp Diary" and "Nothing Lasts" - ditto) Seth is more used to sketch in his sketchbooks these days than to calmly sit down and draw comics pages as they should be done. I know that we all need to pay our bills and the only comics that put real bred on the table are bad comics, but if an artist dedicates her or himself to greener pastures (illustration, for instance) the toll to pay is the creation of second rate work. Art is too demanding to be done in our spare time. 

Clyde Fans will be a masterpiece? I'm not so sure now... It could have been, if finished many years ago, methinks...


Mahendra Singh said...

Perfectly said: art is too demanding to be done in spare time …

Perhaps part of the problem is that some artists do not regard what they are doing as art. In fact, I suspect that many of them have no idea what art even is. Especially when their entire background and outlook is based on pop culture. The same goes for readers … and publishers … and some critics.

The Pratt and Solana Lopez work is so amazing (and instructive) to look at … thanks for cheering me up!

Isabelinho said...

You're welcome Mahendra!