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The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  391 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews


Whenever you're in Dominion, on Milverton Street you will stumble across an arresting array of handsome old buildings. The one with the pink stone façade and the familiar Canadian cartoon characters over the doorway is the Dominion branch of the Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists, erected in 1935 and the la
Hardcover, 136 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Drawn and Quarterly
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The "target audience" for this book--a rambling history of Canadian cartoonists, most of them fictional (!), narrated via a tour of the dilapidated old gentleman's clubhouse for a society of cartoonists--can't be more than a few hundred people. Seth himself admits that the book was created as "an indulgence": a sketchbook exercise for his own amusement. However, it's a shame that GNBCC's appeal will be limited to readers interested in a certain kind of highbrow comics, because it's a wonderful b ...more
Jan 03, 2013 Sara rated it it was ok
Interesting, although it might have been more so if I'd recognized a single one of the cartoons Seth was writing about. And I can't hep but feel that the way Seth described other cartoonists' work was imminently lacking -- he goes on for pages about how so-and-so could draw weather so well you'd feel the heat of the sun or the chill of the frost... or how so-and-so could draw faces better than any other cartoonist (etc.)... but then the picture accompanying the narrative is just one of Seth's si ...more
Jul 30, 2012 Dominick rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
What an odd book. It's sort of an alternate history, positing that there's a Canadian cartoonist's society (hence the title) that's existed for decades and has clubs and archives. There is no such organization or archive, and most of the cartoonists Seth describes as belonging to it are also fictitious, but a handful are in fact real (though he omits a great number of real ones readers might have heard of, such as Lynn Johnson), so this book very strangely blurs fact and fancy. There's no story ...more
Sara Habein
Nov 04, 2011 Sara Habein rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists is a love letter. Canadian artist and writer Seth creates a simple world where comics are revered and treasured, and it is as lovely as a traditional sonnet. He creates a fictional world so believable that I had to do a bit of Google research to see if I'd just been ignorant of Canadian comics history. The bits of reality mixed with Seth's creations feel authentic, and that's all we can really ask of a good book.

(My full review can be found
Nov 15, 2011 Sylvain rated it liked it
Shelves: canlit
Self-conscious nostalgia for something that never was, soaked in self-conscious Canadiana.
Apr 13, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it
Readers are taken on a building tour of the Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists. As we are lead on the tour, a fictitious history of Canadian cartooning is detailed by a narrator who is largely unseen. Despite the book being given top-notch production values including an embossed cover and rounded page edges—the story originated from Seth's sketchbook. As he explains in the 8-point-font preface, he did redraw the worst parts, but this book is not exactly action-packed.

According to
Sam Quixote
Nov 21, 2011 Sam Quixote rated it liked it
This is the book Seth was working on before inspiration struck and he abandoned the book unfinished to set off and create "Wimbledon Green" in its entirety. This book could be seen as a prequel to "Wimbledon" which celebrated comics collectors while "The Great Northern Brotherhood" celebrates the comics creators.

The narrator talks about the golden age of cartoonists when there was a great society of them and he recounts their varying, eccentric personalities and the strange comics they created.
What a delightfully weird little book. The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists is a fictional history of Canadian cartooning from the sketchbooks of Seth. It feels very much like a fanciful sketchbook exercise (which it was) than a fully fleshed-out story, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

There were lots of little bits I loved. I loved Seth's art, the three by three panel grid, the endpapers, and the "Brushes ho!" motto on the GNBCC crest. I'm also disappointed some of these stories
David Stewart
Jan 27, 2012 David Stewart rated it really liked it
Reading The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists is like walking through an old, dusty downtown area of some small midwestern town. You can picture what it must have looked like in its heyday when the cobbled roads were still fresh and every store still held a sign for some antique shop or corner cafe instead of the "for rent" and "closed" signs that are more common. It's a graphic novel about the history of cartoonists in Canada, a relatively obscure topic unless you happen to be ...more
Gary Butler Butler
Jan 01, 2014 Gary Butler Butler rated it really liked it
If Seth's "sketchbook" story The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists seems too polished and perfect to be derived from such a messy source as an artist's sketch-and-scrawl 'ideas' book, it's because it is. As the noted cartoonist admits in his typically dry-yet-jaunty introduction, the work started in the sketchbook but a good 2/3 of it was redone for the collected edition. Still, he remained faithful to his original instincts and visions -- and what instincts and visions they are ...more
Derek Parker
Nov 21, 2011 Derek Parker rated it it was amazing
Outstanding! I'm not sure what else to say about this title. I love Seth's work, so I was predisposed to like this book anyhow, I think. This one is much like his previous "sketchbook," Wimbledon Green, which I really liked. But whereas WG seemed more of a side project--and Seth, by his own admission, states as much--The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists is a full-blown narrative project. One of the things I love about Seth's work is when his comics are ABOUT comics and the hist ...more
Mar 31, 2015 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
This is a fun little tour of the GNBCC in Dominion on Milverton Street with Seth as our personal tour guide (and definitely my favourite book by Seth thus far). Once again we are treated to Seth's nostalgia for the past. And again this story is a mixture of real and imagined history, peppered with real and imaginary cartoonists in real and imagined places. However, I found with this "sketchbook" I fell into the tour that Seth was taking me on, listening to his stories as he took me through each ...more
Thomas Vree
May 14, 2012 Thomas Vree rated it liked it
An odd little book, like all his others. It ostensibly tells a history of Canadian cartooning, through the ploy of a tour through one of the declining lodges of the Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists. I thought the only fictional aspect was this imaginary lodge in a make-believe town. He discusses with quite a bit of accuracy the old Doug Wrights Family, which I recall very well from growing up. (I wonder whether there has ever been a more meticulous visual chronicling of life in ...more
Oct 02, 2013 Garconniere rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this. After coming across "It's a good life if you don't weaken" I wanted to consume everything he's ever made... I wanted to read Wimbledon Green first, but it was checked out of the library.

The element of the book that irked me the most wasn't so much the self-referential dynamics, but rather Seth's attemps at denouncing (or just addressing?) so much of the sexism and racism in the comics world, even in this fictional one. It just irked me... when describing Kao-Kuk the
Jan 10, 2012 Damon rated it liked it
I liked this, but it was actually a bit disappointing. I'll admit that may be mostly due to my expectations, but after reading the promotional material, I was kind of expecting a sequel or companion piece to "Wimbledon Green" in content moreso than just in execution.

Where Wimbledon Green is full of adventure, and walks a great line between fussy and funny, this is just... Well, it's literally like taking a sort of boring tour of a sort of interesting place. There's really no "story" here, and si
Brian Grover
Jul 30, 2014 Brian Grover rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
Shame on me for not understanding what this book was about before buying it. Based on a blurb I saw a few years ago, and the cover art, I thought this was a funny graphic novel about a bunch of Canadian cartoonists who were also super-heroes or spies or something. Well, that's definitely wrong.

The author/artist here, known only as Seth, basically just made up a bunch of fictional Canadian cartoonists and their signature characters/strips, and he "immortalizes" them all here as his narrator strol
Dec 03, 2011 Jeff rated it really liked it
I think this is my favorite book by Seth thus far. It's an obvious companion piece to Wimbledon Green, but the context of this story works better for me, as Seth interweaves fictional and real retrospectives of Canadian cartooning history into a surprisingly cohesive narrative. The hallmarks of Seth's familiar style are all here: nostalgia for past decades, an obsession with the minutia of comics history, and an oppressive sense of loneliness and isolation (and an odd sense of joy brought on by ...more
Mark Victor Young
Feb 25, 2012 Mark Victor Young rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Didn't really get into this one as much as previous ones. It felt like what it purported to be: a wander through the artist's sketchbook. I'll take it, because I'm a huge fan, but it wasn't much of a story and not a great into for a new reader of his work. Not bad, loved some of the made up comics and the pedestal on which comics are placed in general. Imagine if...

He can do and has done better, however.
Feb 26, 2012 P. rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
Whenever I read Seth's work I always have to remind myself to look at the pictures - the words sometimes take over, making the books like documentaries featuring long shots of static photographs with narration overtop. With another author/illustrator this might be seen as a flaw, but it works for me. He's created this elegaic little black and white world of cartoonists and cartoon collectors and I love to go there.
Jim N
Oct 20, 2011 Jim N rated it liked it
A charming prequel of sorts to Seth's wonderful Wimbledon Green, this book is drawn in a similar style but does more meandering. It's a beautiful little hardcover (you can't make digital books like this) and the author's nostalgia for a lost past comes through, as always. It contains moments I truly loved but overall, the parts don't quite add up to a satisfying whole. Nevertheless, I'd recommend it for anyone who enjoys Seth's work..
Aug 18, 2012 Sonic rated it did not like it
Seth takes boring to a whole new level!

Another equally boring level that is.

While I didn't do any fact checking it seems he has created imaginary nostalgia.

Quite strange, I almost like the idea of that, but this was boring!

Strong drawing made it very "readable" (thus I DID read it) but the "pay-off" was minimal.

David Schaafsma
Nov 02, 2012 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it
Sort of tongue in cheek and yet reverent tribute to comics and comic history and Canadians. Sketchbook stuff, he says, but it is clear he is so much better in his sketchbook than 95% of comic writers... urbane, sophisticated humor...not a fascinating story, really.. more whimsical than anything, but it kept me interested in its fictional nostalgia...
Sean Kennedy
Dec 08, 2012 Sean Kennedy rated it it was amazing
Another bittersweet, nostalgic look at a (mostly) fictional world that is in its death throes - a club for Canadian comic book authors. Seth's drawings are charmingly maudlin, and this companion novel to Wimbledon Green only cements for me why Seth is my favourite graphic novelist.
Ian Hrabe
Jan 30, 2012 Ian Hrabe rated it really liked it
A delightful little exercise loaded with Canadian cartoonist history and (presumably) a lot of fake Canadian cartoonist history. Knowing almost absolutely nothing of Canadian cartooning pre-1990, I have no clue. But it was engrossing, and I wanted to read all the real comics and the fake comics Seth describes on his tour of the GNB double C building.
Feb 17, 2012 catherine rated it it was amazing
delighted by the panel work - a panned out view in which multiple panels make up a single image - and the layered story worked really well. some of the fake comics were so good, i wish they were real. i'd love to read the 13 (or was it more?) series of a lonely trapper in the canadian wilderness. sounded like jack london in picture form.
Jan 26, 2012 jenn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, fiftyfiftyme
This was delightful to read. The "story" takes the form of a tour through the headquarters of a fictional cartoonists' society, and it's so satisfying to be fully immersed in that slightly absurd world. Unlike a lot of more narrative graphic novels, I didn't find myself glossing over the art in order to get through the story - Seth's panels are just too engaging for that.
Gonzalo Oyanedel
A veces verídica, a veces ficticia, esta suerte de precuela a "Wimbledon Green" da un vistazo a la "Hermandad de Historietistas del Gran Norte" y su labor; un recorrido extraño, errático y ameno por una historia que jamás tuvo lugar.
Sasha Boersma
Oct 05, 2014 Sasha Boersma rated it liked it
As a narrative, I struggled with it. But as Seth notes in his forward, this was one of those "sketchbook" stories. It necessarily intended for release. What made the read interesting was Seth's meandering and ideas. Unfortunately, those were the same reasons I had a hard time with it. Still, fun :)
Adam Lewis Schroeder
Oct 02, 2012 Adam Lewis Schroeder rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
Some wonderful moments of imagined old comics series, especially the Inuit astronaut, but without a plot, and character is presented through telling rather than showing. It's enjoyable at times but I won't go back to it nearly as often as I have Seth's "Wimbledon Green."
Dec 01, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it
I can't believe that this was essentially a sketchbook. It's a really really good look at a fictional culture exploring the ins and outs of that fake culture and some internal tensions while also offering a meta commentary on comics history and as important, comics historiography!
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Seth is the pen name of Gregory Gallant. Seth is the cartoonist behind the painfully infrequent comic book series PALOOKAVILLE. His novels, which have been translated into 8 languages, include IT'S A GOOD LIFE IF YOU DON'T WEAKEN, WIMBLEDON GREEN, CLYDE FANS BOOK ONE, and the illustrated memoir of his father, BANNOCK, BEANS AND BLACK TEA.

As a book designer, Seth has worked on a variety of projects
More about Seth...

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