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Forty Cartoon Books of Interest
posted December 22, 2006


Creator: Seth
Publishing Information: Buenaventura Press, Published With Comic Art Magazine #8, squarebound softcover, 96 pages, 2006
Ordering Numbers:

Seth's booklet supplement to this summer's Comic Art #8 functions effectively as a piece of light, long-form comics criticism. Working his way through 40 books that feature cartooning, the kind of New Yorker collections and paperbacks that make up the bulk of any used bookstores Humor section, Seth has really broad, lovely taste and a collector's eye. I buy a lot of these books myself, and I have slightly less than half of those discussed here. Some of them are just amazing to even think about owning, such as Andy Capp's Spring Tonic, a book from the Daily Mirror featuring Reg Smythe's strip die cut into the shape of a bottle. Because he's walking through a bunch of books instead of delving one or two, Seth can remain positive and casual -- it's like walking through a party of books and getting to hear complimentary introductions.

The real value of the Forty Cartoon Books is the feeling it evokes of the last great frontier of comics collecting just as it's being put to bed by the Internet and the loss of physical-plant used bookstores in its wake. In a short comic before the written pieces, Seth describes his own habit of buying these, mostly affordable, rare, and little discussed. I know from my own experience that buying old hardcovers is the closest I'll ever feel to that rare fan experience where my wanting something, the mere act of buying, becomes part of fashioning a hierarchy of value, such as it is. The feeling one gets from Forty Cartoon Books is of somewhere saying goodbye to an interaction with art they know they can't hold onto anymore, in as gracious a way as possible.