The legendary cartoonist aims his pen and paper toward his high school summer job
For three summers beginning when he was 16, cartoonist Guy Delisle worked at a pulp and paper factory in Quebec City. Factory Summers chronicles the daily rhythms of life in the mill, and the twelve hour shifts he spent in a hot, noisy building filled with arcane machinery. Delisle takes his noted outsider perspective and applies it domestically, this time as a boy amongst men through the universal rite of passage of the summer job. Even as a teenager, Delisle’s keen eye for hypocrisy highlights the tensions of class and the rampant sexism an all-male workplace permits.
Guy works the floor doing physically strenuous tasks. He is one of the few young people on site, and furthermore gets the job through his father’s connections, a fact which rightfully earns him disdain from the lifers. Guy’s dad spends his whole career in the white collar offices, working 9 to 5 instead of the rigorous 12-hour shifts of the unionized labor. Guy and his dad aren’t close, and Factory Summers leaves Delisle reconciling whether the job led to his dad’s aloofness and unhappiness.
On his days off, Guy finds refuge in art, a world far beyond the factory floor. Delisle shows himself rediscovering comics at the public library, and preparing for animation school–only to be told on the first day, “There are no jobs in animation.” Eager to pursue a job he enjoys, Guy throws caution to the wind.
Translated by Helge Dascher and Rob Aspinall