Magazine article World Literature Today

The Abominable Mr. Seabrook

Magazine article World Literature Today

The Abominable Mr. Seabrook

Article excerpt

Joe Ollmann. The Abominable Mr. Seabrook. Montreal. Drawn & Quarterly. 2017. 296 pages.

The outline of William Seabrook's life casts him as a juicy subject for a biography. A published writer, sexually kinky player, adventurous traveler, one-time supposed cannibal and coiner of the word "zombie," he is a made-to-order comic-book or pulp-fiction hero. Joe Ollmann serves his subject well by graphically illustrating many of the details of Seabrook's life in 296 nine-panel pages. His drawings in gray, black, and white emphasize the darker sides of Seabrook's life in bars and asylums as well as the eerie aspects of his adventures in Haiti, Arabia, and Africa.

Bold and daring though he was, Seabrook often comes across as a bit of a con artist in most aspects of his life. The women who married him were not the objects of his real lust, which was directed only toward the women who would submit to being shackled and whipped and perhaps not penetrated. His stints with various publications often ended in dismissal and unhappiness. And nothing, neither a woman, a book project, nor a trip to distant lands, could move him away from drink. In most of these well-drawn pages, Seabrook is repeatedly depicted as unshaven and drunk, with a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. …

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