Seeds joins the growing category of memoir comics, specifically those about dealing with cancer, either one’s own or that of a family member. (Compare Mom’s Cancer, Cancer Vixen, Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person, and Our Cancer Year, to name the best-known.) Author Ross Mackintosh here captures his reactions to his father’s diagnosis of, and quickly following death from, cancer.

The simple, black-and-white, blocky art is easy to read, especially for those with little familiarity with comics. It’s in that primitive style that deceptively looks as though anyone could have drawn it. Often, the important information is carried through the narrative captions, with little storytelling left to the images.

The story overall is about how the son, the author, copes with his father’s disease, which seems a bit selfishly mis-focused to me. Like many fathers and sons, they weren’t that close, and this tragic set of events doesn’t open the son’s eyes much further in terms of understanding or showing his father’s emotions. His is the story he could tell, I guess, although one line from his mother — “I mentioned the hospice to him, just to go for a day or two, so he can get some rest… so I can get some rest.” — made me think that her tale would be as much or more insightful. She later implies she feels she’s betrayed him for not letting him die at home, but she can’t keep up with his care. That’s a struggle more and more of us will be facing, and I think it’s fruitful ground for another, different graphic novel. The caretaker role is often the most difficult.

While it’s likely that producing this graphic novel was rewarding for the author, I’m not sure readers will get as much out of it. The simple art doesn’t provide much visual insight, and the story, while touching, proceeds as expected. The father’s demise sends the son thinking about the insignificance of any one existence in the face of the universe; generational turn-over; and how he’s glad to have his memories. The result is predictable once you’ve heard the premise.

The foreword will be provided by Brian Fies, author of Mom’s Cancer. Seeds is due out April 20. It can be ordered from comic shops with code FEB11 0891. (The publisher provided a digital preview copy.)

2 Responses to “Seeds”

  1. Huh Says:

    One can only guess that you’ve not lost your father and so, as predictable as the result may be, you’re unable to relate to the truth of this book and the impact of death.

  2. Johanna Says:

    You’re correct, I’ve been lucky that way, but I read graphic novels in part so I can share experiences and feelings without living through them myself. The best ones make it so I can understand and relate no matter how similar my experiences are or aren’t to the author’s.




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