Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Page count: 128
Year Released: 2005
Status: in print
Original Source: n/a
Other Collected Edition(s): n/a
Genres: humor; mystery/crime; satire; short stories; sketchbooks
Recommended for Fans Of: comic fandom
Possibly Objectionable Material: coarse language
If You Like This Book, Try: Pussey!; The ACME Novelty Library
Also in This Series: n/a
The book's subtitle says it all: Wimbledon Green is the story of "the greatest comic book collector in the world." More a series of one- or two-page vignettes and a collection of mock "talking head" interviews of various characters than a traditional story, Wimbledon Green is a satirical exploration of the middle-aged, frequently overweight bachelors who take comic book collecting very seriously.
At the heart of the book is Wimbledon himself, an eccentric and somewhat mysterious gentleman who makes more enemies than friends among his fellow collectors. The book's episodic format is anchored by a few longer stories. The first main story is the tale of "The Wilbur R. Webb collection" (which echoes the famous real-life Edgar Church collection, also known as the Mile High collection), a collection of rare, pristine comic books from the '30s and '40s. Although Wimbledon's involvement with the collection is debated by the comic collecting community, he is nonetheless blamed for the resulting scandal when a disastrous auction of the comic books takes place in 1981.
Seth pokes fun at his own persona in the book's second main story, which focuses on Jonah, "history's greatest comic book thief." Clearly modeling the character after himself, Seth describes Jonah (through one of the other characters) as a nostalgic type who thinks everything was better in the past. "He won't collect anything beyond the 1950s."
The third main story focuses on several of the collectors' cloak-and-dagger search for The Green Ghost #1, a mythical comic book that may not ever have existed in the first place.
Finally, the fourth main story is Wimbledon Green's impassioned thesis on Fine & Dandy, a short-lived series from the late '40s about two hobos, which Wimbledon considers to be the pinnacle of the comic book art form.
My Own 2 Cents
As the cover of the book notes, this is "a story from the sketchbook of the cartoonist Seth." There is subsequently an unpolished quality to the book, as Seth readily admits, and yet it's clear that creating this material was very important to him--and in fact he mentions in the book's introduction that he often felt compelled to work on Wimbledon Green (a mere side project) even when more pressing deadlines loomed.
Wimbledon Green is not unlike much of Chris Ware's work, particularly in terms of style and subject matter, yet the prevailing atmosphere in Wimbledon Green is not as bleak as in, say, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. Seth has softened the material's edges, determined instead to focus on the humor of his characters. Ultimately, Seth's love of nostalgia shines through, even as he makes fun of the poor unmarried men who obsessively collect what Seth himself finds so compelling.
However, I would hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who isn't well-versed in the lore of comic book collecting, because I'm not convinced that Seth has succeeded in creating characters who can stand on their own without the benefit of some background knowledge of the industry in which they thrive. I personally found it quite entertaining, but It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken is definitely a superior work.