Twenty years in the making, Clyde Fans peels back the optimism of mid-20th century capitalism. Legendary Canadian cartoonist Seth lovingly shows the rituals, hopes and delusions of a middle-class that has long ceased to exist in North America — garrulous men in wool suits extolling the virtues of the wares to taciturn shopkeepers with an eye on the door. Much like the myth of an ever-growing economy, the Clyde Fans family unit is a fraud — the patriarch has abandoned the business to mismatched sons, one who strives to keep the business afloat and the other who retreats into the arms of the remaining parent.
Abe and Simon Matchcard are brothers, the second generation struggling to save their archaic family business of selling oscillating fans in a world switching to air conditioning. At Clyde Fans' centre is Simon, who flirts with becoming a salesman as a last-ditch effort to leave the protective walls of the family home, but is ultimately unable to escape Abe's critical voice in his head. As the business crumbles so does any remaining relationship between the two men, both of whom choose very different life paths but still end up utterly unhappy.
Seth's intimate storytelling and gorgeous art allow urban landscapes and detailed period objects to tell their own stories as the brothers struggle to find themselves suffocating in an airless city home. An epic time capsule of a storyline that begs rereading. (From Drawn & Quarterly)
Clyde Fans is on the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.
Seth, who hails from Guelph, Ont., has contributed to publications like The New Yorker and New York Times Magazine. He has twice won the Doug Wright Award for best book.
- 12 Canadian comics to look out for in spring 2019
- Seth: 7 books that shaped my life
- The world according to Seth
- 10 Canadian comics to read right now
- The best Canadian comics of 2019
- Seth bids farewell to his 20-year comic Clyde Fans
From the book
Why Seth wrote Clyde Fans
"There used to be an actual business called Clyde Fans. It was at King and Sherbourne Street in Toronto. It was an old storefront and had a nice hand-lettered window with the big letters on it, just the way I've drawn it. I walked by it often and I didn't pay a tremendous amount of attention to it. One day, for some reason, I looked more closely into the office. I think they were already out of business by this point. I looked in and could see inside the office, which was dark and very dated. It had a few desks, a counter, some typewriters, rotary phones and a couple of fans. On the back wall, there were two photographs: two portraits of two men.
There used to be an actual business called Clyde Fans. It was at King and Sherbourne Street in Toronto.- Seth
"I can't remember what those photographs look like anymore, but they were standard black and white business portraits, which I assumed were the owners. That struck me as an evocative image and that floated around in my head. Eventually I thought it would be interesting to make up the lives of these two."
Read more in his interview with CBC Books.
Interviews with Seth
To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.
By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.
Become a CBC Account Holder
Join the conversation Create account
Already have an account?