cover image Clyde Fans

Clyde Fans

Seth. Drawn & Quarterly, $59.95 (488p) ISBN 978-1-77046-357-8

Readers will be dazzled by this impressive graphic novel, 20 years in the making, of the Matchcard brothers and the business that bound them together. After their father deserts their family in 1945, Abe and Simon Matchcard take over Clyde Fans, his oscillating fans business, only for it to fall prey, over the course of many decades, to the advent of air conditioning and the Matchcards’ own human frailties. This is an operatic story, as rich in intimacy as it is breathtaking in scope. Splendor and tragedy lurk in the visual details: Simon and his mother linger over consumerist plenty in a magazine, memories of a lover’s fond confession looms ghoulishly out of the shadows of Abe’s mind, Simon rambles to a shelf of disused toys. Seth (It’s a Good Life, if You Don’t Weaken) employs 1950s-style cartooning, with its pools of black and clean lines, to undercut even the most pleasant scenes with cool blue tones and deep-set facial features. There are, perhaps, moments of overindulgence—this is a book a little too given to monologues—but they are dwarfed by the immensity of Seth’s achievement. 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. (Apr.)