When I was a kid I was a big library nerd, and I exhausted my local library’s collection of books about cartooning and comics. I grew up with a romantic idea of cartooning history, fuelled by musty old books and black and white photos. The world of the cartoonist was magical and mysterious, and there was nothing I wanted more than to be a part of it.
Fast forward a few years, and I’ve managed to turn my childhood daydreams of cartooning into a career. But the realities of adulthood have a tendency to strip away the magic of childhood sometimes.
The Internet makes it all too easy to track down information on obscure cartoonists. Publishers like Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics continue to churn out collections reprinting old comic books and strips. The treasure hunt is mostly gone. I’ve even joined organizations like the National Cartoonists Society, which I am honoured to be a part of, but which has also had the unexpected side effect of destroying the mystique that the NCS once held when I was a kid. I suppose it’s that old Groucho line about never wanting to be in a club that would have you as a member.
So I unabashedly love Seth’s new book, The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists. It’s a prequel of sorts to Wimbledon Green, and sets the scene and describes the world in which Seth’s made-up history of Canadian cartooning and comics takes place.
It’s odd to feel nostalgic for something that doesn’t exist, but reading The G.N.B. Double C was like taking a trip back in time, and reliving those childhood moments of discovering a secret world of cartooning with a rich, mysterious history.
We get a tour of the GNBCC’s social headquarters, learn about the club’s distinguished members, and discover their creations in the building’s magnificent (and woefully fictional) gallery and library.
The book does feature some real-life Canadian cartooning icons like Doug Wright and Jim Simpkins, but for the most part is complete fantasy — giving me, as a reader and cartoonist, the chance to once again blissfully daydream about a history and a world of cartooning I might one day be a part of.