Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Comic Bibliophile

Wimbledon Green
by Seth

I think I’m going against the general consensus on this one because I liked this book more than I liked Clyde Fans. Then again I’ve only read volume 1 and I don’t even know if there is a second volume out. That could make all the difference but the first volume didn’t make me want to rush out and get the second volume, whether or not it exists, of Clyde Fans.

What was it that I liked about Wimbledon Green? Well, I think it was the fact that it was more of a sketchbook that was published rather than a completed work. If it was presented to me as a complete work in and of itself I would have been sorely disappointed but as a sketchbook, I can accept it for what it is. To me, it’s basically two stories – the documentary type of story surrounding the life and times of Wimbledon Green and the second being the comic book style adventures based on the life and times of Wimbledon Green.

Like Seth, I’m fascinated by the motivations of collectors and can see myself going down that road if I had the time and money to be so eccentric. Alas, I’m not so I appreciate these little forays into a world we all know is out there albeit unlikely to such an extent in comic bookery circles. I’m a bit of bibliophile myself and seeing the stories and obsessions of that world being transposed onto the comic book world was a fun little exercise in entertainment.

There is a great love for the source material in this comic and at times it wears its influences on its sleeve. Seth manages to create his own Mary Jane in the form of Jonah, and a lot of the other fanboy and collector types rear their heads throughout the pages here as well. There’s a litany of pity bitter revenge plots throughout the book that can only be from the world limited to comic book fans – those inward looking collectors who not only find their escape in the four colour fantasy worlds, but relate to the rest of humanity through it. And there’s the people who love the medium and find the collectors quirky but a wonderful source of information as well as those who rant about the purity of art and embody the whole “not selling out” emotions of a lot of small press or independent creators and fans. And this is all presented via face on interviews as per any documentary (or mockumentary) and, well, Citizen Kane. You can’t help but see the influence of Orson Welles here – the collection of facts via other people’s accounts, the vast wealth, the conflicting stories of the character’s past, the humble origins leading to the rise and eventual fall from those heights, as well as the enigmatic Webb Collection taking on the role of Rosebud.

This was a great read for a sunny day on my back porch where I got to understand a bit more about trying to locate old comics (real or not) and how one who appreciates that sort of thing just doesn’t have the borderline personality to dedicate himself to it fully. I guess a lot of people just wanted something more cohesive in the end and I can see why. There is a lot of potential in this story and if you’re not in mood to simply go where it takes you then it feels incomplete. I was in the mood to not totally concentrate and was open to letting the book lead me where it may. But I too wouldn’t mind to have a complete story one way or the other about Wimbledon Green.

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