cover image Paul at Home

Paul at Home

Michel Rabagliati, trans. from the French by Helge Dascher and Rob Aspinall. Drawn & Quarterly, $21.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-77046-414-8

In the latest installment of Rabagliati’s long-running series of semiautobiographical comics (Paul Goes Fishing, etc.), Paul is in his early 50s and stuck in a downward spiral. Divorced, he draws comics, holds strong opinions on typography, worries about his daughter leaving the nest, and tends to his mother’s mounting health problems. His attitude at middle age is summed up by his declaration, “I hate change! Especially when it’s useless!” Rabagliati draws the exurban Quebec setting with panache, lavishing attention on vintage architecture and signage, and his coolly abstracted characters have an art deco gloss. But the world around them, through Paul’s perspective, is overgrown with symbols of decay. The trope of the misanthropic crank cartoonist is all too familiar, and it’s a wrench to see Paul fall prey as he ages; indeed, long gone is the Paul of earlier works, a neurotic but more openhearted teenager. The rare moments of grace center on his relationship with his mother, a flinty woman who faces her own mortality without fear. Though there’s enough to hook newcomers, this volume is best enjoyed by readers who have been following the characters through the years. (Oct.)