Jun 23, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 119: The Adventures of Paul Free Comic Book Day Edition, 2005


To select today's comic, I opened up my database and looked for things that were not part of a series. I came across something that's not even really a comic. Or rather, it is a comic, but was never actually published as a periodical. Michel Rabagliati's Paul books owe much more to the European tradition of comics than they do North America, even though the artist is Montreal-based. This sample of Paul's adventures was released as part of Free Comic Book Day in 2005, and offers a nice taste of the range of Rabagliati's tales and deceptively simple art style.

Free Comic Book Day is a fairly great day for me, though it's become less and less about the proliferation of comics and more and more about the advertisement of comic shops. Not that I'm necessarily against that idea, but when one or two comics are free and you have to pay for the rest, even though they're ostensibly "free" comics, I think it's defeating the point. I never charged for comics on the first FCBD, and my local comic shop didn't on any of the others. And it's such a great chance to pick up stuff that's completely outside of what one might normally buy. Such as this Drawn & Quarterly sampler. I was enamoured enough with Rabagliati's tales from this comic that I did eventually pick up one of the Paul books when I came across a copy. I was not disappointed. The trouble is, with stores charging for the comics now (and yes, I know it's only 25 or 50 cents, but when I'm spending $60/month on comics anyway, and when four or five "free" comics equals one of the ones I really care about getting, you have to be wary of the cash), I'm loathe to pick up something I'm unfamiliar with. That said, there's still plenty of choice, and it does make me more discriminating about what I'm going to get on FCBD.

Rabagliati's art and writing are very fluid. The stories read as autobiography, and probably partially are, but we of course are not reading a series called The Adventures of Michel. It's impressive that M. Rabagliati can convey that sense of the autobiographical even when we're explicitly aware of the fact that the focal character is a fictional one. It could be the first person narration that generally starts off the tales, or the fact that we're seeing different moments from the life of the same character. Whatever it is, the stories are injected with personality, and person-ness, that is consistent across different stories in different time periods. And it's that that makes the comics read like they are stories from life, rather than fictions. Though they're all stories, really, even the ones from life.

We'll hit up something else from outside the mainstream tomorrow. The "A Miscellaneous" section of my collection has some cool stuff in it. See you tomorrow.

(Edit: I lost numbering here. Was originally published as Day 120.) 

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