Seth masterfully uses the style and idioms of mid-20th century illustration and comic strips to slowly build up an incredibly subtle, layered portrait of the common human struggle against loneliness, and toward meaning and memory. A true graphic novel to stand alongside Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, Art Spiegelman's Maus, Bellow, Steinbeck, and Yates.— From Jonathan's Picks
Appeared on 20 best of the year lists, including The New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, and more!
"Open Clyde Fans and let Seth take you into his time machine. There’s no room for nostalgia in Seth’s vision. The past is as sharp and painful as the present. In fact, the past is the present, conjured in words and pictures, existing in the spaces between what’s said and unsaid, what’s seen and unseen... In the end, as we close the pages on Simon and Abe, we might feel — even for just a moment — that we finally know what time looks like."—Brian Selznick, New York Times Book Review
Twenty years in the making, Clyde Fans peels back the optimism of mid-twentieth century capitalism. The legendary Canadian cartoonist Seth lovingly shows the rituals, hopes, and delusions of a middle class that has long ceased to exist in North America—garrulous men in wool suits extolling the virtues of their wares to taciturn shopkeepers with an eye on the door. Much like the myth of an ever-growing economy, the Clyde Fans family unit is a fraud—the patriarch has abandoned the business to mismatched sons, one who strives to keep the business afloat and the other who retreats into the arms of the remaining parent.
Abe and Simon Matchcard are brothers, the second generation struggling to save their archaic family business of selling oscillating fans in a world switching to air-conditioning. At the center of Clyde Fans’s center is Simon, who flirts with becoming a salesman as a last-ditch effort to leave the protective walls of the family home but is ultimately unable to escape Abe’s critical voice in his head. As the business crumbles, so does any remaining relationship between the brothers, both of whom choose very different life paths but still end up utterly unhappy.
Seth’s intimate storytelling and gorgeous art allow urban landscapes and detailed period objects to tell their own stories as the brothers struggle to keep from suffocating in an airless city home. An epic time capsule of a story line that begs rereading.
About the Author
Seth is the cartoonist behind the comic book series Palookaville, which started as a pamphlet and is now a semiannual hardcover. His comics have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Best American Comics, and Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. His illustrations have appeared in numerous publications, including the cover of The New Yorker, The Walrus, and Canadian Notes & Queries. He is Lemony Snicket’s partner for the series All the Wrong Questions and he designs several classic comics reprint series, notably collections of work by Charles Schulz, John Stanley, and Doug Wright.
He was the subject of the National Film Board documentary Seth’s Dominion. Seth lives in Guelph, Canada, with his wife, Tania, and two cats in a house he has named Inkwell’s End.
"Seth is one of the greatest cartoonists who’s ever lived and Clyde Fans is one of the greatest graphic novels ever written. What more do you need to know?”—Chris Ware, Author of Building Stories
"Clyde Fans is a masterpiece of storytelling that reinvents a medium as it goes along. Seth is one of Canada's great storytellers and writers who bounds from strength to strength. We are lucky to have him in our world."—Douglas Coupland
"A tour de force that captures the strange sadness of nostalgia and how it betrays the past and makes the present unobtainable. Seth masterfully recreates the lives of two brothers—one too rough, the other too weak—by illuminating painfully bleak isolated moments in hotel rooms, coffee shops, and highways. He also chronicles collections of tiny knick knacks and household objects in mundane montages that will break your heart with their beauty. The drawings are a feat of wonder, their composition built on the architectural blueprint of loneliness."—Heather O’Neill author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel
"A sprawling yet intimate work of melancholy beauty... an impressive, beautifully constructed volume that is certain to be a benchmark for much of what will follow in graphic fiction."—Winnipeg Free Press
"Clyde Fans is Seth’s magnum opus."—Paul Gravett, Times Literary Supplement
"Readers will be dazzled by this impressive graphic novel... This isn’t just a story, or even, as it terms itself, a “picture novel”—it is a brilliant journey into the heart of midcentury darkness."—Publishers Weekly starred review
"Though Seth fills his comics with old buildings, vintage logos, and retro-looking toys, all drawn in a deft ink-and-wash style that would be at home in a New Yorker magazine from the 1940s, Seth uses these visual cues to draw the reader into stories that explore richer and deeper territory than mere longing for the past."—Publishers Weekly
"Rich with the melancholy and sad swagger of great salesmen stories like Death of a Salesman and Glengarry Glen Ross, Clyde Fans is fueled by its interrogation of, and nostalgia for, the past."—Lit Hub