It’s A Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken: A Picture Novella by Seth. Drawn & Quarterly, 1996. 1896597068. (Yeah, that’s right, it’s an old book with an actual 10-digit ISBN.) Originally serialized in Palooka-ville #4 – #9.
In this “autobiographical” graphic novella, Seth’s fascination with old New Yorker cartoonists leads him to start tracking down work by a fictional cartoonist (Kalo) who he really admires, who cartoonist Chester Brown (a friend of Seth’s who appears throughout the book) notes draws a lot like Seth. Through the course of the book Seth finds more cartoons and finally tracks down some info about Kalo, finding out he was also from just outside Toronto, and more. (I don’t want to spoil it.) Throughout there’s a great sense of the way Seth feels about the world, how people annoy him, what he loves about his family (who also annoy him), and just generally how he moves through his days. And it’s all got Seth’s great sense of style and design, which he’s brought to numerous books, notably The Complete Peanuts collections from Fantagraphics and The Collected Doug Wright from D&Q.
Seth’s drawings throughout are amazing, and he gives a great sense of Toronto decades before I had a chance to visit. (In fact I’m sure Michael Cho must have drawn some inspiration from this for his Torontoscapes in the very pink Shoplifter.) Next time I’m in Tornoto I’m going to see if the weather tower is still there — and I’m not looking it up online ahead of time, so don’t tell me.
Just a note: if your eyes are aging like mine, be sure to have your reading glasses on hand. Some of the white on black lettering was hard on my eyes, but easy to read at 2.5x magnification.