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In his graphic novel, Seeds (2011, Com.x) set for release in April, creator Ross Mackintosh has to face the inevitable: His father is dying of cancer.
The opening moments of the book begin with Mackintosh learning his father has prostate cancer, which then spreads into his lungs. What follows is many journeys back and forth to his father’s hospital room, parents’ home, and then, finally, a hospice.
It is, without a doubt, a heavy subject matter, but Mackintosh presents it with a meditative sweetness that’s both unflinching and affectionate.
Mackintosh’s page layouts are usually simple — mostly, eight squares in a grid on the page — and that gives the story a certain rhythm. There will be a panel of a car headed to its destination, a hand reaching for hand sanitizer, family gathered around his father’s hospital bed. These patterns repeat effectively and go far to show how Mackintosh just continued to go through the motions, do what he had to do, as he faced the eventuality of his father’s death.
Mackintosh’s art has an equal simplicity. The personalities of his family and friends are suggested through a few lines — a curve of a worried brow, a small line of a smile — and this gives the book a universal quality. While this takes place in England, his scenes of roads, cities and houses could almost be anywhere. The lack of specificity gives Seeds its strength — Mackintosh’s exact story is not your exact story, but sadly, you’ve probably experienced something like it. It’s all too easy to relate and see yourself in the emotions he presents here.
It’s hard to say if Mackintosh has completely made his peace with his father’s death by the end of Seeds, but I think that makes the book more effective. Mackintosh admits he still tells his father things about his life and he plays a game with one of his daughters his father played with him. Mackintosh’s life continues, and his father is gone but not forgotten.
And thanks to Seeds, no one who reads it is going to forget Mackintosh’s father, either.
PDF review copy provided by the publisher.