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It's a Good Life, if You Don't Weaken

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  5,278 ratings  ·  260 reviews
In his first graphic novel, It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken, Seth pays homage to the wit and sophistication of the magazine cartoon. Disaffected by the crassness of contemporary culture, Seth takes refuge in a quest to uncover the life and work of Kalo, a forgotten New Yorker cartoonist from the 1940s, but his obsession blinds him to his increasingly withdrawn lover ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published May 17th 2007 by Jonathan Cape (first published 1998)
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3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,278 ratings  ·  260 reviews

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Sam Quixote
Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
I’ve heard that most people who read comics rarely read them every year of their life continuously unlike, say, “regular” books. The habit is patchy. Read comics for a year or two, maybe give them up for a few years, return later, etc. I can speak to the truth of that as I gave up comics from the end of high school to the end of university. Then I went and did something most people do in between high school and university and went on a gap year, travelling America for six months, Japan for the o ...more
Apr 15, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Seth is not a comic writer; he is a thwarted novelist. The graphics in this 'graphic novel' are incidental, as most of it is people walking down the street and having long, rambling conversations.

At one point the protagonist says 'Why do I waste my energy on this self-pitying, maudlin crap?'. That is exactly how I felt reading this navel-gazing whine of a first novel.
Murat G.
"Güçsüz düşmezsen hayat güzeldir.." kötü bir hikaye değil.

Kitabın yazarı/çizeri Seth aynı zamanda başkahramanımız. Pessoa-vari sayıklamaları var -ki sevdim-, hayata dair detayları gözlem yeteneği var.

Bu gözlemlerin onu sürekli götürdüğü yer -hatta bu gözlemlerle gitmeyi hedeflediği yer- ise nostalji ve melankoli.

Melankolisi ise "nostalji" nicelik ve niteliğinin yetersizliğinden kaynaklanıyor. Çünkü Seth'in geçmiş hatıraları aslına bakılırsa hiç de ilgi çekici değil.

Seth kendince kurduğu mini
Melania 🍒

It’s a nice little story
Lars Guthrie
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The New York Times Magazine section called ‘The Funny Pages,’ unfortunately no longer around, introduced me to Seth. So you can look at a complete work of his online and for free ( Fabulous.

It might be wise to take a look at ‘George Sprott,’ before delving into ‘It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken,’ just to test out your tolerance for Seth’s elegant portrayal of the quotidian. If you’re looking for action comics or dramatics, you are not likely to be s
Hannah Garden
This is so masterful. The beginning, especially, I just find to be so utterly perfect. I was listening to a Comics Alternative interview with Noah Van Sciver this morning while drawing, and he mentions how he rereads this maybe once a year. I hadn’t read it since 2012 and was glad to be reminded of it.
Maggie Gordon
Review cross-posted at:

It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken is a graphic novel that came highly recommended. If one searches “top graphic novel lists”, Seth’s piece is a common addition. Plus, it was one of Drawn and Quarterly’s bestselling books, and I usually love what this publishing company produces. Combined with the fact that the story takes place in Canada and deals with the coming of age of a disaffected twenty-something, I figured that this grap
Jun 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, graphic-novels
It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken is about a man who feels more than a little out of place in our modern, fast-paced world and who longs for a less complicated time. Seth’s captivation with the charm of the past makes is difficult for him to find contentment and happiness in the present. When he finds a kindred spirit in a lesser known comic book artist from the 1940s, the story then becomes a mini-journey of Seth’s endeavors to find out more information about him.

The simplicity of the image
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Not being any kind of authority when it comes to graphic novels, I picked this one up for a gentle read after a long hectic stretch. Realising that the author is "local" was the deciding factor.

This is a nice little, what I assume to be somewhat autobiographical read with some pleasant drawing (please keep in mind I really would not know good from bad, but it is clean, crisp, and appealing to my untutored eye)

Throughout we are taken on the character Seth's journey to unearth the life story of an
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The narrator reminds me of my best friend--a good-hearted, curmudgeonly aesthete born a couple decades too late. The well-drawn imagery supports an introspective narrative that explores misery and depression, family histories, creativity, the well-lived life, and the work of an obscure Canadian cartoonist-turned-realtor. A little too self-absorbed at times for my taste, but it is obvious to me why the editors of Comics Journal selected this as one of the 100 best comics of the 20th century.
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I re-read this a few days ago, and I wanted to see what I had written about it. NOTHING! I never even gave it a rating! I'm shocked b/c I love this book. I love Seth's style, the blues and the greys and all the ciggarettes. I love how so much of the novel is introspective. My favorite part of the book is the first few pages, where Seth is walking though the snow and finds The Office Party at Book Brothers, then goes home and has the dialouge with his brother. I've read this book at least 10 time ...more
May 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I liked the art and the meta about cartoons but Seth is insufferable and I couldn't have cared less about his man-angst. Gimme a break. I stopped reading it with about 12 pages left, couldn't even bring myself to finish it.
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Na granici da bude 5, i jedini razlog zašto ta granica nije prekoračena, leži u činjenici da su ostali likovi, ne računajući glavnog, prikazani u kratkim crtama, više služe protagonisti nego samoj priči. Ali to i je i bio cilj, tako da se radi o sitnici, minijaturnom delu jedne zadivljujuće slagalice.

Ljudi mi govore da pišem dobru poeziju i priče, ali za recenzije sam, priznajem to, potpuni duduk, te ću, kao po običaju, okolišati, presipati iz šupljeg u prazno kako bih, premda loše, uspeo da op
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este cómic es una carta de amor a la historia del cómic y a sus protagonistas y, por lo tanto, un auténtico regalo para los amantes de las historietas. Estilísticamente es clásico y sobrio, y nos cuenta la historia autobiográfica de un autor que vive su presente añorando un pasado que sueña como idílico. En su camino de librerías de viejo y de revisar revistas de los años 50 y 60, se cruzan las viñetas de un autor desconocido y poco exitoso. Tratar de saber más sobre ese autor ya desaparecido se ...more
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nick Mount did a wonderful lecture on this novella through the Big Idea's podcast network on iTunes, and, either fortunately or unfortunately I chanced to listen to it before I cracked this book open. The setup Mount creates for this book is rather ostentatious, citing it as the 'best graphic novel around', referencing its many awards and literary status in the annals of Canadian literary culture. Perhaps, in my case, the gauntlet of these words weighed too heavily on my mind as I first dove int ...more
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
There's little sense to make a big production about this book, but it was a yawner. The artwork was decent: Simple, round characters drawn with blue, black, grey and white and clearly affected how the piece was received. So good job for that. But I'm easy to please with art, I'm more interested in the writing.

The problem then is that the writing is trite. Coming of age itself is a difficult theme to address in a fresh way, and this book suffers from what I think of as forced epiphany seen in the
Firstly, I'll say that It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken has many good qualities. The novel, in both its words and pictures, has a very calming and contemplative mood. It's style is philosophical but down-to-earth.

The autobiographical story concerns Seth himself, searching for information about an obscure one-panel cartoonist of the 1940s and 50s. Along the way we meet his best friend, a fellow cartoonist, his brother, mother and a student with whom Seth undertakes a brief romance, before bre
Apr 19, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
well i wanted to like this book a lot. the drawing, the pacing, all beautiful and lovely. but i dont get what the title has to do with anything and the protagonist is the most self-absorbed nostalgic whiny snot ever. kinda reminds me of myself at my worst. and b/c it does remind me of the me i don't want to know, i can't say it was enjoyable, but it was interesting in its own way. i'll give it a reread once i'm done being mad at it.
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One review here at Goodreads describes Seth as "loathsome," and while that is a pretty strong word, I mean he is not an evil person, but I can see what they mean. I appreciate the courage of the unflattering self portrait, but I really enjoyed the portrayal of Chester Brown who puts up with Seth and is his friend. On the whole it is not much of a story, plot-wise, but I enjoyed the read, and the concept of a fan (short for fanatic) who obsesses over an unknown artists work!
Fernando Jimenez
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Novela gráfica que emprende lo que parece una indagación menor, la de la oscura personalidad de un viñetista de tercera línea, a partir de la obsesión del protagonista, el propio autor, que parece querer buscar así sentido a su neurótica existencia. La delicadeza de Seth a la hora de tratar temas como el de la memoria, la creación o el destino es un prodigio.
Metin Yılmaz
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Eskiden güzel işler başarmış bir karikatüristin peşinden giden bir karikatüristin maceraları diye özetleyebilirim. Okurken bir hayat kesiti içinde bir hayat kesiti gözlemleyerek, o zamanları kendinize yaşatarak ilerliyorsunuz. Gerçek bir çizgi roman okumak isteyenlere tavsiye ederim. Karakarga yayınlarına da bir kez daha teşekkür ederim böylesi güzel işleri bizlerle buluşturdukları için.
Brent Legault
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I liked about this picto-novel: the polite sorrow, the broken nostalgia, the hats, the cats, the overcoats, the abject shab, the Ontarioioio, the angleture, the stilled snowdrops and most of all, the ice whites, chilled greys and vapo-rub blues.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A touchingly nostalgic graphic novel drawn from the pages of Palookaville that focuses on Seth's search for the work of an obscure gag cartoonist known as Kalo who once had a cartoon published in The New Yorker.
kitap hırsızı
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Güçsüz Düşmezsen Hayat Güzeldir, modern yaşamın getirdiklerini reddederek geçmiş bir zamana özlem duyan bir çizerin (Seth'in), Kalo isminde bir çizerin yaşamını araştırmasını konu alıyor. Seth bir yandan hayat hakkında düşünüyor, bir yandan Kalo hakkında dişe dokunur bir şeyler bulmaya çabalıyor. Güçsüz Düşmezsen Hayat Güzeldir Seth'in içedönük sorgulamalarıyla, kimsenin düşünmediği, düşünmek istemeyeceği şeyleri düşünmesiyle, kahramanın kendini acımasızca eleştirmesiyle benim gönlümü çaldı. Sad ...more
Kerem Onan
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
found my soulmate
David Schaafsma
“It's a good world if you don't weaken.” ― Graham Greene, Brighton Rock

This book is a tribute to cartoonists and cartoon history. Seth, a historian of cartoons as well as a famous comic/graphic artist himself, writes this sweet book about an almost unheard of cartoonist from his native Canada he sort of obsesses about, a guy who did cartoons, struggled with it, gave it up. . . it's one of the best works of one of the greatest comics artists alive (that would be Seth, not the cartoonist he is wri
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nostalgia-stricken cartoon curmudgeons
Shelves: comics, memoir

I've always liked the look of Seth's comics, but this is the first book of his I've read. I don't think it's the best introduction. Seth spends a lot of time in this comic worrying about whether his navel-gazing, obsessive and misanthropic tendencies make him a terrible bore and I'd have to say he has good reason to worry. I'm not a big fan of autobiographical comics for exactly this kind of neurotic self-indulgence. The fact that he's aware of it doesn't make him any more interesting as a subje
Aug 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nan by: Luke at Kilgore Books
Okay, don't ask me why I picked up the book in the first place. Because the new bookstore on the block specializes in comics? I suppose. I also suppose that I never gave graphic novels or comics a chance, and I'm willing to try. And the cover appealed to me. I liked the colors, the homesick feel of the grays and blues. The cartooning world has always seemed to me the narrow world of lonely men. There was some of that in this collection -- Seth's mother, his geeky brother, the used bookstore owne ...more
Read this beautifully drawn melancholia as it was originally published in single issues of the cartoonist's Palookaville comic book from Drawn & Quarterly back in the 90's. I think it worked better for me on a 3 times a year, issue-by-issue basis, as the protagonist's remarkable self-absorption becomes a little much midway through a full-length graphic novel. But the author's poetic, grey-skies drawings perfectly capture the mysterious power of past eras, forgotten things, and bittersweet me ...more
Julie Rylie
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphics
I don't see much interest in this story. I don't get it. I don't like the topic, that's it! It looked a bit too obsessed to try and find this comic strips author and then do a book about it. (maaaan, what's wrong with you? isn't there anything more interesting in your life?). The graphics are quite ok, I love the color pallet and this book just didn't really suck because it has some intricate dialogues in between that actually makes you realize this guy has talent and he could do something so mu ...more
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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
“This business of 'kidding yourself' worries me. I don't even know how much self-deception I'm involved in. It's hard to get down to the truth about yourself. Any time I feel like I'm finally being honest with myself I wonder if there's some deeper truth I'm shying away from. It amazes me how I can know something and avoid it at the same time.” 9 likes
“I've come to the conclusion that there are two types of people. The fucked up good and the fucked up bad. You see, everybody's fucked up. Everybody has had traumas in their lives to deal with. With most people these traumas mess them up inside... but a few people they come through even better adjusted somehow... I mean, they haven't developed damaging emotional problems.” 7 likes
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