Marrone, Daniel: Forging the Past. Seth and the Art of Memory. (Great Comics Artists.) Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2016. (208 S.)
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|Resource type: Book
ID no. (ISBN etc.): 978-1-4968-0731-1
BibTeX citation key: Marrone2016
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Keywords: Canada, Gallant. Gregory, Interview, Memoria, Seth
Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi (Jackson)
Seth has a way of sneaking up on the reader. Both familiar and hard to place, the work of acclaimed Canadian cartoonist Seth evokes a world that no longer exists—and perhaps never existed, except in the panels of long-forgotten comics. Seth’s distinctive drawing style strikingly recalls a bygone era of cartooning, an apt vehicle for melancholy, gently ironic narratives that depict the grip of the past on the present. Even as he appears to look to the past, however, Seth (born Gregory Gallant) is constantly pushing the medium of comics forward with sophisticated work that often incorporates metafiction, parody, and formal experimentation.
Forging the Past: Seth and the Art of Memory (University Press of Mississippi, Great Comics Artists Series) offers a comprehensive account of this work and the complex interventions it makes into the past. Moving beyond common notions of nostalgia, author Daniel Marrone explores the various ways in which Seth’s comics induce readers to participate in forging histories and memories.
Seth goes so far as to suggest the whole process of cartooning is dealing with memory. And on the topic of nostalgia, he tells an interviewer: “Can you feel nostalgic for an era you never lived in? I am interested in the time before I was born, but I feel the most nostalgia for the era of my own childhood. The 1960s and early ’70s was the last vestige of that old world.”
In Forging the Past Marrone discusses collecting, Canadian identity, New Yorker cartoons, authenticity, artifice, and ambiguity—all within the context of a careful consideration of the unique structure and texture of comics. Indeed, Seth’s comics are suffused with longing for the past, but on close examination this longing is revealed to be deeply ambivalent, ironic, and self-aware.
Marrone undertakes the most thorough, sustained investigation of Seth’s work to date. At the same time Forging the Past advances a broader argument about how comics operate as a literary medium. Included as an appendix is a substantial interview, conducted by Marrone, in which Seth candidly discusses his work, his peers, and his influences.
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