PAUL GOES FISHING reviewed by the Vancouver Courier

Graphic novels sweet, satisfying: Cartoons mix with skillful storytelling

Vancouver Courier    |    Shawn Conner    |    July 4, 2008

The fourth in a loosely autobiographical series of graphic novels, Paul Goes Fishing follows Michel Rabagliati's well-meaning Everyman (or perhaps Everygarcon in this case) Paul on a fishing trip with his wife Lucie in the wilds of Quebec. But the book is about much more than getting away from it all for a couple of weeks. Perfectly paced, Paul Goes Fishing gradually reveals its real purpose, and Rabagliati is such a masterful storyteller that the reader never sees the strings being pulled or the plot machinery at work.

For instance, a one-page scene set in a church at the very beginning seems to have no relation to the story that follows, yet in the end has a surprising and emotional payoff. There are many fine moments in Paul Goes Fishing, however. One marvelous set-piece flashes back to the young Paul with his father on a fishing trip that almost ends in disaster. In another, Rabagliati uses cartoon slapstick that winces in pain at the corporate downsizing his brother-in-law's firm endures.

And Rabagliati's art is as good as his writing. From the clean-line school of cartooning, more or less, the artist draws characters, settings and layouts that are always clear, concise, and easy on the eyes. The panels move effortlessly from people sitting around talking to more expressionistic drawings, such as Paul on his hands and knees, holding out a handful of dollar bills to a giant Mac Apple symbol.

With Paul Goes Fishing, there can be little doubt that Rabagliati is one of the most talented cartoonists working today. Books as satisfying as this one, which is as accessible to fans of the medium to those just discovering it, can only push comics further into the future.

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