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Clyde Fans Review - Clyde Fans
Book 1
by Seth
Drawn and Quarterly, 2004
Review by Christian Perring
Mar 7th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 10)

Clyde Fans Book 1 is a graphic novel drawn in black and white with some blue shading.  It has two parts, the first set in 1997 and the second in 1957.  Part I features an old man, alone, rattling around his house and taking short walks in the snow to his old office, in an apparently deserted town.  He talks about his life as a fan salesman, the art of selling fans, his preference of radio to television, and his dead brother.  It is a monologue, with the man apparently talking to the reader, which is rather unusual and a little eerie.  He seems lonely and sad, but also very set in his routine and not about to regret any of his past decisions.  Readers form an oddly intimate relationship to the man, since we get to him perform all his actions, including cleaning his dentures, going to the bathroom and having a bath.  It is disorienting and a little depressing.  The artwork is confidently drawn, with wonderful use of lines, and a strong ability to convey detail with just a few strokes of his pen.  

Part II is drawn in the same style, and features the man's brother, Simon Matchcard.  It is now forty years earlier, and he is trying to make a new life for himself as a salesman.  It becomes clear that his life up to now has not gone well, and he soon finds that he does not have what it takes to be a salesman.  He has traveled to another town and is staying at a hotel, going down a list of potential clients trying to interest them in Clyde fans.  But Simon gets no takers, and becomes increasingly desperate.  This part of the story is powerfully bleak, and if you were not feeling depressed at the start, you will be by the end.  Seth's drawings of the town buildings and townspeople are again done conveying lots of detail economically.  We see Simon's unhappiness as he thinks of the instructions his brother gave him and how, as his brother expected, he is failing at his appointed task.  By the end, we are fully expecting Simon to give up on life altogether.

Seth's artwork combined with his tale of woe add up to create an oppressed and bleak reaction in the reader, which is presumably just what the artist intended.  This is emotionally powerful work, but we can only hope that the artist will bring some relief and hope in the continuation of the story.

 

Link to publisher: http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/

 

© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved. 

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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