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Paul Has a Summer Job

by Michel Rabagliati

Having rekindled a passion for the comics medium, 40-year-old graphic designer and illustrator Michel Rabagliati has emerged with a surprisingly full set of chops. Rabagliati’s first graphic novel, Paul Has a Summer Job, pays tribute to such European comics as Tintin, Spirou, Gaston, and Asterix, as well as more current influences like Parisian comics team Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian and Canada’s own Seth.

The novel is a sweet, sentimental story of Paul’s coming of age in the summer of 1979, and his transformation from hot-headed high school dropout to nurturing young adult, while working as a camp counsellor at a remote lake in Quebec. Rabagliati uses a broad ink brush stroke that is both direct and expressive: his style doesn’t inhibit the story with clunky texture, yet still conveys a sense of awe in a beautiful vista. He has an excellent sense of pace that easily brings the reader into this turbulent world, especially in the present-day epilogue. The story may be a little too sweet for readers at times, but this is the work of a skilled craftsman with a lot to teach about the possibilities of the medium.