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Monday, November 5, 2012
Palookaville 16: The Missing Link!
Issue 16 moves ahead to 1966 and starts part 3 of "Clyde Fans". In it, Simon is shown taking care of his senile elderly mother and pottering around the same building his brother will be pottering around in 1997. Here are some random thoughts on the comic:
*First of all, this is the issue I discovered I was missing, and it was a pain to track down. Sales of Palookaville must have declined because it wasn't in stock in any of the back issue bins of any comic store I visited. Finally, I had to order it from Drawn & Quarterly themselves. Fortunately, it was on sale, which helped to make up for the shipping cost. It was nice getting it finally. There's nothing like a hole in a collection to gnaw at a collector's soul! Though the hunt is part of the fun of collecting! Collecting things is definitely an odd pursuit!
*The cover continues a trend, which started with the previous issue, of the front cover and back cover combining to form a single image. Earlier Palookaville covers often centered on a person, like a portrait; these "widescreen" covers aren't just landscapes in their orientation, they are literally landscapes, illustrations of settings from the narrative. This difference in covers is symbolic in the growth in the series from autobiography to fiction. Seth is no longer just interested in himself; he is interested more in the world around him, even if it's a fictional world that he's literally constructing (this is an artist who will sculpt a setting of a small town).
*Much of the issue has 8 or 9 panel layouts on a page (a couple have 12!), making it a satisfying read. The price had jumped to $4.95 though. Perhaps that's why I missed the issue when it first came out. In 2002, I was only buying a couple comics a month since I was trying to save money. Given Palookaville's irregular publication schedule and low circulation though, it's possible I never even knew it was out.
*Simon mentions an Emily in this issue in a manner that suggests that she is his lost love. This detail casts doubt on the gay interpretation of Simon. Also, if Simon is a stand-in for Seth, then it's unlikely he's gay. Instead, Simon just appears to be crippled by shyness and an introspective temperament (not that those are bad characteristics, but in Simon's case, in combination with other factors, they seem to have constrained his life to basically a single building).
*A tenth anniversary reprint of Palookaville #1 was released about the time 16 came out. I've never seen it, but apparently it has a new cover.
*Each of the "Clyde Fans" parts were collected into thick comic books, but apparently at some point Drawn & Quarterly vetoed the rest of that collection in favor of collecting the series into trade paperback form. Collecting a comic book series into thicker comic books does seem rather daft, but it's still done today. DC's Vertigo imprint was doing it for a time recently, bringing back series into print that they didn't want to publish as trade paperbacks (possibly because they thought the interest in the comics was limited to a comic shop audience and the bookstore customers wouldn't be interested).
*Seth announces his marriage in this issue. I wonder if the delay in "Clyde Fans" comes from the author being lonely perhaps at the beginning of the story's composition, then getting happy halfway through the long story but having little interest in continuing such a story devoted to heartbreak and loneliness. It wouldn't be the first time an author lost control of a narrative. That's one of the dangers of serializing a story before it's finished. Seth's friend Chester Brown once even pulled the plug on a comic series called Underwater while some issues in. It remains unfinished to this day. Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy "Clyde Fans", Seth appears to be too stubborn to quit! So we can complain that it's taking forever to finish the story, but at least he's still working on it.
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