Nashville City Paper reviews new books by SETH and JOHN PORCELLINO!

Web only column: Graphic Content

Nashville City Paper    |    Wil Moss    |    November 18, 2005

Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man
By John Porcellino
(La Mano)

This is a collection of autobiographical comics from King-Cat Comics cartoonist John Porcellino, focusing specifically on his time as an exterminator.

The ruminations start off pretty rough (from his work as a 20-year-old in 1989) and end up with a more mature, observant quality (ending around age 30 in 1999), providing a fascinating look at a developing artist.

Porcellino spent most of his time as an exterminator alone, leading to all kinds of small observations and connections that people can only make when they’re by themselves.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his matter-of-fact approach, there’s something endearing about Porcellino’s recollection of the time he tried to help a bull get its head unstuck from a fence, or when he accidentally caught two ugly teenagers unashamedly having sex in a car on the beach.

The two closing stories, “Death of a Mosquito Abatement Man” and “The Owl,” reflect Porcellino’s growing discomfort with being an exterminator following an interest in Buddhism. So not only does the book document his growth as an artist, it reflects his growth as a person, too, giving this collection of anecdotes the gravitas it needs to be something more.

Wimbledon Green
By Seth
(Drawn & Quarterly)

Wimbledon Green uses the story format of a documentary, talking with a variety of people about one person, the titular Wimbledon Green, the self-described “greatest comic book collector in the world.”

It’s an amusing book that takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the world of diehard collectors. Green is a mysterious figure to many and his rival collectors are all on hand to relate information that pieces together his life. Did he used to be Don Green, driving around the country buying classic comic books from old farmers and yard sales? Where did he get all his money? And what exactly was Green’s involvement with the infamous Wilbur R. Webb collection anyway?

Master cartoonist Seth admits in his introduction that this started off as merely an exercise in his sketchbook, but it quickly snowballed into a larger tale. So the drawings may be a little simpler than Seth’s usual work, but the style fits with the book’s whimsical tone.

The fully realized world Seth has created in his “exercise” may be all-too-familiar to some, but manages to be truly enjoyable for all thanks to its quick pace and amusing story about the quirkiness of man.

By Wil Moss, [email protected]

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