May 11, 2009

Inkwell's End

Here’s one for the Time Machine.

This weekend, The Globe & Mail ran an article on the cartoonist Seth, a writer and illustrator of graphic novels who is as well-known in some circles as Art Spiegleman and Robert Crumb.

I had seen Seth’s book Wimbledon Green in stores but I’m not terribly interested in graphic novels. But after reading the article in Saturday’s paper I was immediately interested in the author.

Gregory Gallant changed his name to "Seth" about 25 years ago. He candidly tells of how he was looking for a pretentious-sounding moniker when he was a punk clubber in 1980s Toronto. The name stuck.

Now with James Joyce-style glasses (and hat too, for that matter) the award-winning Seth lives in Guelph, Ontario, a small city of 114,000, one hour west of Toronto, where I KNOW he must stick out like a sore thumb. The very dapper Seth has chosen to live as if it were 1937 - for the most part. Seth wears vintage suits, Brylcreemed hair, crisp white shirts fedoras and old-fashioned top coats.

His wife, who he met as a life-model at an art course he was taking, plays along. Together their house, "Inkwell's End" is a carefully curated collection of pop culture items from the past. Seth uses a big Bakelite Dial-M-For-Murder-style phone. His house contains a working fridge from 1956, a barber’s chair, and a series of someone else’s trophies. He has a life-sized Mounties uniform framed under glass. Seth is true to his aesthetic, saying if he wants a couch, it’s got to be a really old couch. He and his wife recently feuded over where to put the Sylvania.

Seth has illustrated three covers for the New Yorker and he has designed all 25 volumes of The Complete Peanuts. He has just published his latest masterpiece, a picture novella called George Sprott, 1894-1975, seen in the above picture, that the New York Times had originally commissioned in 2006 as a 25-part weekly serial for its Sunday Magazine.

Seth states “I have a hard time believing in things 100 per cent, particularly my own pretensions.” I say "Bring it on. We need more like you"

I urge you to head to the Globe & Mail to read the article by James Adams and to see the interesting “sneak peak” of his house, a video slide show with commentary. Here are the links.

and the video, (You'll have to sit through an ad first)

Image above from the Globe & Mail, Peter Power


giulia said...

Thanks, H. Will absolutely head to the link (can't do the video, sadly). Though I must say, on behalf of the four "other" Seths I've known (all over 45) I know, I don't feel that is a pretentious name. Ahem.

This will be fun. I've enjoyed his NYer covers so far & didn't put the Peanuts part together. So after popping some pain pills (legal) brought over by friends just now, I shall enjoy.

xo svs/gg

The Clever Pup said...

GG - his words - not mine. Sorry to the legions of Seths out there.

Brian Miller said...

wow, how eccentric. interesting house...

Diane said...

I saw this too thought it was pretty cool and made me wonder... ow that we are switching over to digital signals will that rotary phone work anymore?

His character reminded me a lot of Joseph Cornell, another off-beat eccentric who inspired an entire generation of artists (including a young Andy Warhol)

The Clever Pup said...

Diane, Thanks for telling me about Joseph Cornell. There are a whole lot of shadow box and collage artists out there that owe him a debt of gratitude.

willow said...

His collection of stuff sounds like things I would like!

Poetikat said...

Neat o! I was trying to discern if I recognized him from the "punk club" scene. I did go on a date with a Paul Gallant - wonder if they are related?
I know where those first shots in the video were taken. Guelph is the ideal spot for him, actually - the houses and the downtown would be pretty close to the environment he craves.
I noticed the cat bowls next to the gumball machine...knew there was a cat coming up at some point.

He certainly is an interesting fellow - a real anachronistic sort. I'd like to meet him (although I fear he might not want to meet me).


The Clever Pup said...

Hi Kat, here's another article about Seth on It's written by Gerald Hannon who used to edit our newsletter when I worked for the National Radio Producers Assoc. in the 80s. It's all coming back to me that Seth might have done a couple of covers.

Poetikat said...

There was a guy who used to hang out at The Domino Klub who always wore a dilly (that's my mom's word) bowtie! I think he was shorter, squatter and older though.
I'll check out that Toronto Life link.


Polly said...

Thanks for this, very interesting and I must admit I never heard of Seth. But I will have to investigate further someone who came up with The Complete Peanuts!

dogimo said...

Is it just me, or doesn't "Gregory Gallant" sound pretentious enough for anybody? He sounds like a dashing hero of a Republic serial, or a spoof thereof at least.