George Sprott by Seth

George Sprott
by Seth
Drawn & Quarterly, 2009

Seth is a dour Canadian cartoonist with a sublime design aesthetic, responsible for the handsome look of the reissued Peanuts books. He has a melancholic style in common with Chris Ware, although his drawings are more expressive due to skilful variation of line thickness. You know when you pick up a Seth book you’re in for an excellent, if not jolly, time.

George Sprott is another fictional biographical graphic novel, similar to Wimbledon Green, Seth’s account of the life and times of a mysterious comic collector. George Sprott is a minor Canadian TV personality who has coasted on air for twenty years (while the world around him has changed completely) recounting his time spent in the Canadian Arctic in the 1930s. This oversized book (a typically lavish D&Q publication, how the hell do they make any money?) presents a series of beautifully-designed pages, the side-interviews and vignettes and full-page glacial images eventually building up into a complete life, like a very orderly collage.

Unlike Wimbledon Green, there’s no great mystery to be revealed about Sprott’s partially-remarkable life, despite the clever narrative structure. Maybe that’s the point. There’s a fold-out stream-of-consciousness section, a series of clever cardboard models of important buildings, and inventive endpapers representing the CKCK TV test pattern, but storywise, Seth seems to have more sympathy for his buildings than his characters. After much rumination on the changes wrought by time, is that all there is?

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