cover image Factory Summers

Factory Summers

Guy Delisle trans. from the French by Helge Dascher and Rob Aspinall. Drawn & Quarterly, $22.95 (156p) ISBN 978-1-77046-459-9

Delisle (Hostage) opens this perceptive memoir observing himself at age 16, working summers at a Quebec City paper mill. Along with a paycheck, he receives a crash course in the class structures and social dynamics within the factory’s all-male workplace. He notes that the company’s white-collar employees (such as his engineer dad) enjoy air-conditioned comfort while he and the other laborers endure grueling shifts where “you feel like you’re in a sauna... you have to yell to be heard.” (Though he also explains how that shift cycle was negotiated by the union, as the long-termers prefer longer weekends.) The blue-collar resentment of privilege is sometimes aimed at Delisle; he repeatedly runs afoul of a coworker who “clearly has it out for summer hires.” He also regularly overhears instances of sexism, misogyny, and homophobia in his coworkers’ conversations, which contrasts with Delisle’s occasionally naive but sincere efforts at maintaining respectful relationships with others. His cartoony and simple yet textured drawings capture the characters with insight and gentle humor, as well as terrifying close calls with dangerous machinery. Delisle pinpoints the lesson learned those summers: “You can see the benefit of staying in school.” This should please Delisle’s loyal fans with its peek into his young adulthood. (June)