Virtual Memories Show 320: Seth

“The drawing of the comic is where everything is discovered.”

After more than 20 years, Seth has completed Clyde Fans, his grand meditation on family, business, and art (Drawn & Quarterly), so let’s celebrate with a double-episode! First, Seth & I talk at a live event hosted by the Strand Bookstore, where we get into how his approach to art and storytelling evolved over that 20-year span, the one element he hated keeping consistent throughout the process, why serializing most of the work helped with revision, and how comics have become a subset of his studio process. Then we follow up with a one-on-one conversation during Toronto Comic Arts Festival, discussing his next project, whether he likes organic projects like his Nothing Lasts memoir or more fully formed stories, whether he owns a pair of sweatpants, the realization that he wasn’t writing about his father but about himself, the artist’s responsibility at the signing table, his decision never to research the real Clyde Fans business, the maddening acceleration of contemporary culture, the one character of his he feels affection for, his dream of writing a play, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go buy Clyde Fans!

“When you’re in the studio, you think, ‘This is the real me’; you’re not seeing yourself reflected off of other people.”

“My wife is a barber, and she told me that being a barber isn’t about cutting hair, it’s about talking to people. People don’t come up to me at signings because they want a signature; they come up because they want to have a moment, an experience.”

“There’s a quality of keeping art private that represents a sort of power. I wonder, if I was independently wealthy, would I keep all my artwork to myself and not release any of it.”

“I’ve been writing about myself, when I thought I was writing about my dad. I should have realized that 10 years ago.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Seth is the cartoonist behind the comic book series Palookaville, which started as a pamphlet and is now an occasional 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. His other comics include It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken: A Picture Novella, George Sprott: (1894-1975), and Wimbledon Green: The Greatest Comic Book Collector in the World. His new book is the collected Clyde Fans. All his books are available from Drawn and Quarterly.

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.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Strand Bookstore off of their sound board and at the Toronto Marriott Yorkville on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of me & Seth by me. It’s on my instagram. Not sure who the fancy b/w pic is by. Oh, and here’s a bonus picture from our evening at the Strand Bookstore, of Seth with R. Sikoryak and Adrian Tomine!

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