Clyde Fans: A Picture Novel

Drawn & Quarterly. Apr. 2019. 488p. ISBN 9781770463578. $54.95. Rated: Teen+. LITerary
Finally complete and available in one gorgeous volume after two decades of work, the latest from Seth (It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken) presents an intimate epic spanning four decades in the lives of brothers Abe and Simon Matchcard, the owners of an electric fan company in Toronto. Opening in 1997, with an elderly Abe delivering a long, captivating monolog about his successes as a salesman and ultimate failure as a businessman after the advent of air conditioning leads to a decline in demand for electric fans, the story flashes back to 1957 to focus on Simon. A much more sensitive and poetic soul than Abe, Simon endures one humiliation after another during an ill-fated attempt to prove himself a capable salesman before experiencing an epiphany that sets the course for the rest of both brothers’ lives. Seth’s deceptively simple illustrations, reminiscent of classic New Yorker cartoonists, conjure a rich sense of melancholy and nostalgia as he explores aging, memory, regret, and the endless march of time.
VERDICT It’s only June, but Seth’s long-anticipated masterpiece is already a strong contender for one of 2019’s best graphic novels. [See author Q&A on p. 99.]
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