Booklist Reviews Clyde Fans

Clyde Fans

Booklist     |    Gordon Flagg    |    April 1, 2004

A rambling monologue about the art of salesmanship, delivered by an elderly man puttering around his empty family home, may not seem the most promising material for a compelling graphic novel, and an account of that man's socially maladroit brother's embarrassingly futile attempts to launch a career as a salesman for the family electric-fan business seems nearly as dubious. In the masterful hands of cartoonist Seth, they become the stuff of quiet, desperate drama. The family saga is related through Abe's painful examination of his squandered life from the vantage point of 1997, and the depiction of an excruciating series of cold calls Simon makes in a small town in 1957. Both sequences are marked by skillfully rendered dialogue and elegant silent passages that demand that readers pay attention to Seth's simple yet suave drawings. Telling this kind of story is a departure for Seth, who is known for his navel-gazing autobiographical comics; here he turns outward with equal success, while he continues to delve deeply into his two constant themes: nostalgia and alienation.

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