Film and exhibit show Seth's real and imaginary worlds

The Canadian cartoonist simply known as Seth has been the focus of two remarkable events in recent weeks: a documentary, Seth's Dominion, that just won the grand prize for best animated feature at this year's Ottawa International Animation Festival, and an exhibit of his model town, Dominion, at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery in Lethbridge, Alberta.

The film was directed by Luc Chamberland and is a mix of live-action and animation based on Seth's art. Chamberland described the start of the process in an interview:

Seth and I discussed what we did not like about various films done on cartoon artists. We agreed that we would not do anything remotely similar to them. And then I found out that Seth kept diaries in cartoon form. These were unpublished — Seth gave me access to them. Most of the writing was about memories: what memories do to us and how they influence Seth’s own work. And with that, an idea started to form for a film about how our memories shape us.

Chamberland spent eight years working on the film between his other projects; it was supported by the National Film Board of Canada, and it looks like it will eventually be available on its website.

The exhibit features Dominion, a cardboard town that started out as a model Seth made to help him visualize a building in a comic; that story never came to fruition, but he kept on working on the town anyway. "It’s kind of become the place where all my comics take place," the cartoonist said, "and it’s become a project of its own. The city now has quite a rich, complicated imaginary history." (Here's a roundup of his books that are set there.)

Right now, Dominion has more than 80 buildings, and Seth is contemplating stopping when he reaches 100 — and possibly writing a graphic novel on the history of Dominion itself.

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