My Five Things: Cartoonist and Illustrator Seth

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Whether it’s his cover illustrations for The New Yorker, his Criterion Collection art, his work on the 25-volume Complete Peanuts series or his standalone books Wimbledon Green and the just released The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists, cartoonist and writer Seth (real name Gregory Gallant) displays an impressive ability to get his stuff out there in as many different ways as possible. We reached out to him to ask, “What are the five things you’re really digging on right now.” He responded…

1. Edward Bawden
I’ve known peripherally about Bawden’s work for years but when I recently acquired his book Bawden and His Circle, he moved into my “favorite artists” category. I’m particularly drawn to his clean, modernist drawing style and his folksy English regionalism. There is a terrific, eccentric, cranky beauty in his wallpaper patterns, his murals, his book designs and especially in those gorgeous late lithographs.

2. Solaris: The Definitive Edition, by Stanislaw Lem
I recently downloaded this Russian science-fiction book from fully expecting it to be inferior to the Tarkovsky picture. However, I was very surprised to find I like it just as much. Maybe more. I was also surprised to see just how faithful Tarkovsky was to the book. I especially enjoyed the long plodding scholarly descriptions of the discovery and exploration of the planet Solaris. Very nicely narrated by Alessandro Juliani — though I wasn’t so thrilled by the female voice he put on for Kelvin’s wife.

3. Storefront: The Disappearing Face of New York, by James T. and Karla L. Murray.
To a fetishist of 20th century vernacular architecture and signage like me, this book is a godsend. Page after page of beautiful clear photographs depicting hundreds of old New York storefronts from the late 19th century right up to the 1970’s. The interviews with the shop owners are moving as well. In these, you get a glimpse of their long histories (often three generations-worth) plus their hassles with the city and often the sad ghost of their looming demise.

4.  Birchfield Close and Pebble Beach, by Jon McNaught.
Probably the young cartoonist I am most interested in at the moment. NcNaught’s comics are slow, quiet and very sensitive to place and time. The work is certainly poetic but not precious or twee. And the drawings are beautiful. Masterful stuff for someone so young.

5.  Whistle and I’ll Come, 1968
This little British TV film is one of the best (and scariest) ghost films ever made. I’ve watched it many times but I’ll include it here because I watched it again about a week ago. An amazing performance by Michael Hordern as a bristly, self-satisfied academic who comes face to face with the supernatural. I can’t think of another film that uses sound so effectively to tell the story — the soundtrack is all grunts and mumbles. A little masterpiece.

(MORE: The Top 10 Haunted House Movies)