Cover image for The abominable Mr. Seabrook / Joe Ollmann.
Title:
The abominable Mr. Seabrook / Joe Ollmann.
ISBN:
9781770462670
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Montreal : Drawn & Quarterly, 2017.

©2017
Physical Description:
296 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
Abstract:
"In the early twentieth century, travel writing represented the desire for the expanding bourgeoisie to experience the exotic cultures of the world past their immediate surroundings. Journalist William Buehler Seabrook was emblematic of this trend--participating in voodoo ceremonies, riding camels cross the Sahara desert, communing with cannibals and most notably, popularizing the term "zombie" in the West. A string of his bestselling books show an engaged, sympathetic gentleman hoping to share these strange, hidden delights with the rest of the world. He was willing to go deeper than any outsider had before. But, of course, there was a dark side. Seabrook was a barely functioning alcoholic who was deeply obsessed with bondage and the so-called mystical properties of pain and degradation. His life was a series of traveling highs and drunken lows; climbing on and falling off the wagon again and again. What led the popular and vivid writer to such a sad state? Cartoonist Joe Ollmann spent seven years researching Seabrook's life, interviewing surviving family and accessing long neglected archives, in order to piece together the peripatetic life of a forgotten American writer. Often weaving in Seabrook's own words and those of his biographers, Ollmann posits Seabrook the believer versus Seabrook the exploiter, and leaves the reader to consider where one ends and the other begins."-- Provided by publisher.
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1 Bob Harkins Branch OLL Graphic Novel Adult Graphic Novels
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Summary

Summary

"Ollmann spent 10 years researching Seabrook's strange, ramshackle life, and it shows: his book is wonderfully rich and detailed. Nothing seems to escape his attention or his compassion." --Rachel Cooke, The Guardian

The daring and destructive life of the man who popularized the word "zombie"

In the early twentieth century, travel writing represented the desire for the expanding bourgeoisie to experience the exotic cultures of the world past their immediate surroundings. Journalist William Buehler Seabrook was emblematic of this trend--participating in voodoo ceremonies, riding camels cross the Sahara desert, communing with cannibals and most notably, popularizing the term "zombie" in the West. A string of his bestselling books show an engaged, sympathetic gentleman hoping to share these strange, hidden delights with the rest of the world. He was willing to go deeper than any outsider had before. But, of course, there was a dark side. Seabrook was a barely functioning alcoholic who was deeply obsessed with bondage and the so-called mystical properties of pain and degradation. His life was a series of traveling highs and drunken lows; climbing on and falling off the wagon again and again. What led the popular and vivid writer to such a sad state?

Cartoonist Joe Ollmann spent seven years researching Seabrook's life, interviewing surviving family and accessing long neglected archives, in order to piece together the peripatetic life of a forgotten American writer. Often weaving in Seabrook's own words and those of his biographers, Ollmann's The Abominable Mr. Seabrook posits Seabrook the believer versus Seabrook the exploiter, and leaves the reader to consider where one ends and the other begins.


Author Notes

Joe Ollmann lives in Hamilton, Ontario with his wife and child. He is the winner of the Doug Wright Award for best cartooning for his book Mid-Life .


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Comprising 10 years of painstaking research, this graphic biography details the life of obscure writer, occultist, traveler, and bondage fanatic William Seabrook, perhaps best known for his book Asylum, an account of his hospitalization. Telling Seabrook's story with his characteristic thick line work, Ollmann wades into the bizarre corners of his subject's life, from the connection he formed as a child to his grandmother's mysticism, to his inability to find happiness in his various vocations, to his crazy adventures, penchant for tying up women, and serial alcoholism. Previously known for his autobiographical work Mid-Life, Ollmann skillfully captures Seabrook's ardent desire to experience life and write about it even as he's killing himself with drink. Seabrook is just the sort of character that Ollmann is so good at rendering: a complicated, misunderstood, and underappreciated mess of a person whose life was fascinating and whose appetites were, quite literally, as strange as they come. As both a narrative and a story in pictures, this is an early candidate for the year's best graphic biography. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

While William Seabrook (1884-1945) may not be a household name today, in the early part of the 20th century he was a massively popular travel and adventure author, known for trekking through the Sahara with a group of nomads, exploring Voodoo in Haiti (introducing the word zombie to the mainstream), and spending time with cannibal kings in Africa. He was also a self-destructive alcoholic and obsessive sadomasochist. Based on incredibly thorough research and integrating a large amount of Seabrook's own autobiographical writing, author and illustrator Ollman's offering (Happy Stories About Well-Adjusted People) presents a compelling and empathetic portrait of what might be the single most lost Lost Generation writer. Ollmann's illustrations perfectly captures the unease that drives his subject in tight nine-panel grids, and his fascination with his subject is both evident and infectious. VERDICT Including high adventure, sorrowful drama, and cameos by historical stars such as Man Ray, Aldous Huxley, and Gertrude Stein, this one has all the hallmarks of a classic work of biography and is an early contender for one of the best releases in 2017.-TB © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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