PERSONAL: Born 1962, in London, Ontario, Canada; married. Education: Attended Ontario College of Art. Hobbies and other interests: Vintage records, comic books, twentieth-century Canadiana.
ADDRESSES: Home—Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Drawn & Quarterly, P.O. Box 48056, Montreal, Quebec H2V 4S8, Canada.
CAREER: Writer, illustrator, and graphic designer. Creator of comic-book series Palooka-Ville. Designer of CD art and Web sites.
AWARDS, HONORS: Two Ignatz awards, for Clyde Fans.
It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken, Drawn & Quarterly, (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1996.
Clyde Fans, two volumes, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2000–03.
Vernacular Drawings: Sketchbooks, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2001.
(Illustrator) John Gallant, Bannock, Beans, and Black Tea: The Life of a Young Boy Growing up in the Great Depression, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Seth is a Canadian cartoonist whose strips began appearing in Drawn & Quarterly in 1990, and his autobiographical comic-book series, Palooka-Ville, was launched the next year. In the fourth issue, he began to serialize "It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken," and in the tenth issue, Seth incorporates the story of two brothers who once had a successful fan store.
Born Gregory Gallant, Seth studied art in Toronto, Ontario, where he was influenced by R. Crumb, Edward Gorey, the Hernandez brothers, Yves Chaland, Hergé, John Stanley, and New Yorker cartoonists Peter Arno, Syd Hoff, Charles Addams, and Whitney Darrow, Jr. Seth's own sophisticated illustrations have appeared in a number of publications in Canada and the United States, including the New Yorker.
In an interview with Daphne Gordon for the Toronto Star Online, Seth related that he discovered that comics could be based on reality when he first read Love and Rockets, the creation of brothers Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. The central character of Palooka-Ville is Seth, a man who longs to go back in time to a simpler era, where life moved more slowly. The title is taken from a reference in the movie On the Waterfront, in which Palookaville is the name given to "a place for losers." Seth the creator has long had a reverence for nostalgia, including the movies of the 1930s to 1950s. Gordon wrote that although Seth spends much of his time creating illustrations for prominent magazines and newspapers, Palooka-Ville "is his personal obsession. He labors over every detail, hand-lettering every word and aiming to create 'a perfect object.'"
It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken collects stories about an unknown cartoonist who drew one cartoon for the New Yorker. A writer for Lines on Paper online commented that New Yorker cartoonists like Arno and Addams, "through their wit and wry artistic line, have left their indelible mark on Seth's comic book work…. Seth pays homage to these early influences where he writes about his search for meaning in the life and work of Kalo." Rain Taxi Online's David Auerbach wrote that in It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken Seth the character "can't stop talking about cartoons. His own solitary life stands in harsh comparison to Kalo's, particularly during his lengthy, introspective monologues, when his nostalgia grows cynical and obsessive, buffered by fine-grained descriptions of old Peanuts strips."
Joe Garden noted in a review for the Onion AV Club Web site that in It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken Seth does not offer a narrative of his life, as does Harvey Pekar, but rather focuses "on one theme or obsession." The six issues of the series span several years, during which Seth searches for the gag cartoonist. Seth of the story puts a great deal of effort into this search, something he cannot seem to do with his personal relationships. Garden felt that this story "offers a good insight into [Seth the creator's] person."
The idea for the "Clyde Fans" series came to Seth as he walked past an out-of-business store where on a wall hung the picture of two men. Seth named them Simon and Abraham Matchcard, imagining them as the brothers who had owned the store. In the first episodes, Abraham talks to the reader as he wanders around his home. In later episodes, Simon is shown trying to make a living as a traveling salesman. Abraham has died, and Simon, who was never comfortable with advancing technology, feels that life passed them by. "It's a fascinating contrast," wrote Daniel Coyle for Line of Fire Reviews online, "how Abraham feels trapped by his past and yet is comfortable in it. The clocks in his building don't even work because he doesn't feel the need to tell time…. All Abraham has left are memories, and to really think about this story is to realize how bleak it is."
According to the Drawn & Quarterly Web site, Seth now "lives in Guelph, Ontario, with five cats, a huge collection of vintage records, comic books, twentieth-century Canadiana, and a very patient wife indeed."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Drawn & Quarterly Web site, http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/ (February 15, 2004), biography of Seth.
Line of Fire Reviews Online, http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/ (February 14, 2004), Daniel Coyle, review of Clyde Fans, part one.
Lines on Paper, http://www.linesonpaper.com/ (February 14, 2004).
Onion AV Club Web site, http://www.theonionavclub.com/ (January 29, 2003), Joe Garden, review of It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken.
Rain Taxi Online, http://www.raintaxi.com/ (May 21, 2006), David Auerbach, review of It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken.
Toronto Star Online, http://www.thestar.com/ (December 1, 2002), Daphne Gordon, "Seth and the City" (interview).