The Ottawa Citizen | Ian McGillis | December 29, 2011
Montreal Gazette highlights GNBCC, HERGE, and BLABBER BLABBER BLABBER for 2011
Is Seth the P.G. Wodehouse of cartooning? The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists (Drawn & Quarterly, 136 pages, $24.95) makes a case for the claim. Like the English comic writer who located and obsessively mined a corner of the past that was at least partly his own creation – in his case, the gentlemen’s clubs and country houses of the Edwardian upper crust – Seth has his turf, and sticks to it. He is the great visual poet of the dying small towns of southern Ontario. His newest book sees him paying tribute to the fictional titular group, some of whose members are real – Seth’s salute to Doug Wright will give you a whole new appreciation for an artist easily taken for granted – and some the products of the author’s melancholy and forever backward-looking imagination. GNBCC is eloquent proof that a personal obsession can resonate by virtue of the conviction with which it is related. It moved me as few books this year have.
While it seems the jury is still out on Steven Spielberg’s cinematic take on Tintin – neophytes appear fine with it, devotees perhaps less so – the timing couldn’t be better for The Adventures of Hergé, by Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental and Stanislas Barthelemy (Drawn & Quarterly, 64 pages, $19.95), a book that adopts the visual style of the Tintin books to recount the life of their Belgian creator. The decision to echo Hergé himself is a risky one, but it pays off in some effective ironic counterpoint: While his cartoon creation is off hunting yetis in Tibet, the artist is sneaking around on his wife and refusing to allow the names of any of his collaborators on the covers of his books. Newcomers to Hergé’s world may feel that a certain amount of background knowledge is being assumed, but the ready-made audience will ensure that this book finds plenty of happy homes.
As her Montreal appearance early this year showed, Lynda Barry inspires fervent devotion in her readers, who will no doubt line up to buy Blabber Blabber Blabber: Volume 1 of Everything (Drawn & Quarterly, 176 pages, $24.95), a gathering of her 1980s work, including the immeasurably influential Ernie Pook’s Comeek.