A few weeks ago Drawn & Quarterly sent me a PDF of the new graphic novel, Paul at Home, by Michel Rabagliati. It was released today. Presented in black and white with excellent grayscale shading (similar to the style of Palookaville by Seth), Paul at Home tells the story of Paul, an everyday person who lives an everyday life in Montreal. No superheroes, no thrills, no capers. Just trips to the supermarket, visits to mother, childhood summer vacations in Wildwood, putting up with crotchety neighbors. Paul is kind of like a French Canadian Harvey Pekar, and I loved every mundane, masterfully executed page.
Read an excerpt from 's Paul at Home.
From Drawn and Quarterly:
If you aren't familiar with Michel, he truly is a superstar of Quebecois comics. He has spent several decades telling semi-autobiographical stories about his grouchy alter ego, Paul, selling over half a million copies in French alone. Gradually he has recreated an entire reality — that of French-speaking Quebec — via the ordinary stories of this one man's life. The comics are sometimes sweet, sometimes melancholy, often self-deprecatingly funny, and he's so popular in Quebec that a feature film was made of Paul's adventures.
This is an oddly apt book for pandemic life, not just because of the title. Paul At Home is about divorce, aging, loneliness, about feeling disconnected from an increasingly digital world, and about trying to figure out who you are when you defined yourself as a parent or a child or a husband for so long — and those roles no longer apply in the same way. It's very self-aware and funny about all of these things, and like every one of Michel's books, he absolutely captures the texture (and quirks) of everyday life in Montreal. He nails the weird combination of intimacy and isolation that city life offers, where we know our neighbors' business intimately but are hesitant to speak to the stranger sitting next to us on the bus.