A review of “Wimbledon Green: The Greatest Comic Book Collector in the World” by the cartoonist Seth. Published by Drawn and Quarterly

The one name cartoonist, Seth, is one of my favorites. I always look forward to an issue of “Palookaville” whenever one shows up at my local comic shop. I’ll sing the praises of “It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken” (first serialized in “Palookaville”) and also will recomend “Clyde Fans” (currently being serialized in “Palookaville”). I was pleasantly surprised to see a new hardcover book from him last week. Surprised because it never ran in “Palookaville” and Seth doesn’t put out many comics. Plus I don’t usually check to see what is coming out week to week so I’m easy to surprise.

I was a little put off at first because it is a hardcover book and I’m usually a “wait for softcover” kind of guy but this was Seth and I dig his work so I picked it up. I was put off again by a blurb on the cover that said, “A Story From the Sketchbook of the Cartoonist Seth”. What the hell was this? Story from the sketchbook? It seemed to me like they were apologizing for the incompleteness of the book on its own cover. It sounded as if they were trying to pass off some half finished drawings as a hardcover book. I’m an artist and have plenty of sketchbooks and though they may be interesting to those who enjoy in the process of art sketches are not finished works. So what is that blurb all about? The book was shrink wrapped so I couldn’t even open it. But I really do like his work so I bought it despite the fear created by that blurb.

I shouldn’t have worried. Even though, in the intro, Seth apologized for the artwork being “sketchbook quality” and the storytelling “perfunctory” he is wrong. There is nothing sketchy or unfinished about the drawings or ideas in “Wimbledon Green”. From what I could gather from the intro he used a less labored approach to the creation of this work than in his other “Palookaville” stories. He didn’t sweat the details of every single pen line or sweat the details of every turn of the story as he usually does. But he didn’t need too. The book is beautiful as is. It’s breezy structure is part of its charm and the charm of the world it creates.

“Wimbledon Green” is the tale of the world’s most famous comic book collector in some crazy alternate earth where “comic book collector” is actually a position of renown. They story is told in a series of short pieces yet in a lot of small panels making the overall book quite long. The book is packed with people telling their reminiscences and experiences with ol’ Wimbledon; some like him, some do not and some are indifferent. Plus we get to hear from Wimby himself and tag along on a couple of his adventures. There is intrigue and mystery as the story unfolds and we learn that Mr. Green is a bit of a riddle and no one is really sure where he came from. After all famous comic book collectors don’t just appear out of nowhere. They have a history!

But it is the whole that makes up this book. Not the parts. Like most of Seth’s work the story is really about human feeling. The whys, whats, and wherefores of the plot are not what the book is about. The book is about people and the world they create with the things that matter to them. We get to know the characters not because they are important to the plot moving forward but because a world is a made up of its inhabitants and these are the guys who live with ol’ Don Green. A world of famous comic book collectors and their passion for seeking out and owning pieces of history. It’s a world that is a great place to spend some time. Definitely recommended.