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  • Words: Ross Mackintosh
  • Art: Ross Mackintosh
  • Inks: Ross Mackintosh
  • Publisher: Com.x
  • Price: $10.99
  • Release Date: Jun 15, 2011

Over the last few years, Com.x is a company whose output has been notable for its diversity and unpredictability. However, even by the standards of their varied material, Seeds marks quite a departure in tone and content. This biographical work, from first-time creator Ross Mackintosh, is a deeply personal account of his father’s diagnosis with terminal cancer in 2009, his gradual decline and how his last weeks affected those around him.

Seeds has an interesting genesis, in that it was collated from notes Mackintosh had made during that intense and emotional period. Created as a cathartic exercise that was originally intended for viewing only by his close family members, this one-time therapeutic release has been generously made available for a larger audience. And make no mistake about it, “generous” is, indeed, the correct adjective to use here; Mackintosh’s book is a powerfully intimate narrative that explores not just the end of his father’s life, but also the intricate levels of the relationship between father and son, and our own attitudes to death and dying.

Seeds traces the older Mackintosh’s deterioration from initial diagnosis to the revelation of secondary cancer, through to those inevitable final days and their aftermath. While never an easy book to read in that sense - I’ve read it a number of times now and never once without being moved to the point of tears by the end - potential readers should be aware that Seeds is a graphic novel that mixes pathos with scenes of humour to great effect. Despite the overt poignancy of the work, there are moments of levity where the cheekiness and character of Mackintosh’s father shines through. One particular page concerning a toiletry misunderstanding, for example, actually made me laugh out loud.

Mackintosh’s layouts are from that school of comics art we have now come to term as deceptively simple; artwork that adopts a clarity of style that, though superficially economical in presentation, is actually incredibly expressive in terms of storytelling.  I was reminded of Marjane Satrapi’s work throughout the experience of reading Seeds. Given that this is a first time entry into the comics world, Seeds is a remarkably confident-feeling comic, full of cleverly crafted motifs and narrative techniques that you would believe had been employed by a far more seasoned creator if you did not know better.

Seeds needs to be appreciated as more than just an example of strong sequential art, however. What Mackintosh has created here is not just a moving testament to his father; it’s also a book that has the capacity to touch and help others going through the same, or a similar, experience. The most intriguing feedback I received, after my interview with Ross earlier this year for Broken Frontier, was from those non-traditional comics readers, whose lives had been affected by cancer, who expressed the intention of picking up Seeds when published.

The visual articulacy of Mackintosh’s profound examination of living in the shadow of cancer will stay with you long after you put the book down. Sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, and sometimes brutally raw; there is an honesty and integrity to Seeds that leaves the readership feeling privileged that the author has chosen to share his father’s story with them. Quite simply, an astonishing debut graphic novel.

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  • Kstewart

    Kstewart Oct 25, 2011 at 3:29pm

    This is the most amazing graphic novel I have ever read. I didn't know that this medium could be so powerful that you are crying one moment and laughing out loud a few pages later. Thank you Ross Mackintosh for this amazing story. Great Review AO :)

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Oct 29, 2011 at 2:51pm

    SEEDS is a very special graphic novel and definitely one of my top picks for 2011. Thanks for the feedback!

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