Who is the cartoonist Kalo? This is the question that binds together the episodes of Seth’s life portrayed in the graphic novel It’s A Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken. In a possibly autobiographical tale, Seth lives a relatively solitary life in Canada. He’s content with his simple life, with his cartooning, with his occasional interactions with his mother and brother, and with his one friend, Chet. Seth collects old cartoons, and one day he finds a cartoon by an artist he hasn’t heard of, Kalo. Over the next several years, Seth sporadically finds additional cartoons by Kalo, and his appreciation of the cartoons and the fact that he hadn’t heard of Kalo before leads him to initiate a search for Kalo’s identity. The simplicity of the art in It’s A Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken emphasizes the realism of the story.
This is a graphic novel for the people who think that comic books should be more like novels, containing fewer fantastical events, funny animals, and men in funny costumes and more introspective true-to-live narrative. This book is a thought-provoking story about a man living a more-or-less normal life, and as such, a great book to use to introduce fiction-reading skeptics to the comics medium. Librarians take note– this book was written for an older teen/adult audience, and as such contains a scene with sexual situations.
It’s A Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken
Drawn & Quarterly, 2004