cover image Paul Joins the Scouts

Paul Joins the Scouts

Michael Rabagliati, trans. from the French by Helge Dascher. Conundrum (, $20 (172p) ISBN 978-1-894994-69-9

Using precise, expressive panels full of period detail, French-Canadian cartoonist Rabagliati pens a semi-autobiographic graphic novel that depicts happy childhood moments (which can never be recaptured) with wise, poignant art. It's 1970 and 9-year-old Paul is dreaming of his first kiss, memorizing a book on making comics, and wondering if joining the Boy Scouts is for him. While it sounds as perfect as a summer day by the lake, there are dark spots: the FLQ separatist movement is setting off bombs around Canada and Paul's nosy grandmother is making life miserable for his parents. Like Rabagliati's other books (Paul Moves Out, The Song of Roland) an easy-going sweetness permeates the story, which is filled with sharp details%E2%80%94the songs and books of childhood and the idyllic moments of a summer scouting trip. Is this too good to be true? A tiny thread of doom finally explodes and shows how precarious it all was. Rabagliati's marvelous art captures all the characters with bold lines and rock-solid cartooning. While ultimately more good-natured than penetrating, Rabagliati's fond memories take us back to the perfect childhood moment when anything was possible. (May)