Collecting comic books is serious business. Big money’s involved, along with lots of travel, research, and detective work. Collectors can be fierce, vicious, and untrustworthy. Making friends is hard, making lifelong enemies very easy.
Enter Wimbledon Green, a man with enemies and no qualms about making them. He is a man with a purpose: to be the world’s greatest comic book collector. All his actions, no matter how they affect others, move him along the path to that goal.
His skills and talents are legendary. Some say he can determine a comic book’s age by the paper scent left behind in a room or the positioning of the staples along its spine. His knowledge is “vast but elitist.” Respected by few and hated by many, ultimately, no one really knows who he is or how he came to his position within the collecting world.
Wimbledon Green is “a story from the sketchbook of the cartoonist Seth,” who is a key element of Drawn & Quarterly’s publishing legacy. The story itself is partially told in a documentary style. Interviews with other collectors, store owners, and fans mix in with tales of treasure hunting as the book delves into the mystery of Wimbledon Green.
The first part of the book examines a shady sale, disappearance, then reappearance of a rare comic collection. Tales from old retailers and collectors attempt to piece together a picture of how the collection came into existence—but the only one who really knows the story is Wimbledon himself. How much of this super confident, temperamental uber-collector’s story can we believe with no one else to corroborate his claims?
Another portion of this book details a double-cross during the delivery of a super rare comic, Green Ghost #1. Chaos ensues, with plane crashes, car chases, and more action filling the pages as multiple parties race to obtain a book that supposedly doesn’t exist.
Readers familiar with North American comics collection folklore and the Canadian comic book community will recognize some of the names of people and stores, as well as some of the found treasure stories and auction battles.
Seth’s art is clean and cartoony. His characters’ exaggerated facial features and body shapes are reminiscent of pre-Action Comics #1 days, but with significantly more detail. The book is incredibly dense. A merely nine-panel page is a rarity, sometimes making the read challenging for those of us with older eyes. Even so, it’s a fun and playful style that adds to the story’s charm. The monochromatic colouring, comprised of gold, silver, and bronze, also plays a significant role, while making a sly nod to the medium’s history.
While it does poke fun at the stereotypical denizens of comics culture, Wimbledon Green is ultimately a delightful tribute to comic collectors. The only question readers who finish the book will have is “How much of this is real?”
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