Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Reader's Diary #976- Michel Rabagliati: Paul Has a Summer Job

I know some writers get upset when a reader, or worse, a reviewer complains that there are no likeable characters. I see their point. Sometimes you don't need to like the characters. They haven't asked us to befriend their fictional creations. Why is that even an expectation?

But it certainly helps when you do like a character. Case in point, Paul, from Michel Rabagliati's graphic novel Paul Has a Summer Job. In his late teens, a high school drop out, and unhappy with his current situation, Paul is clearly not a perfect character (if he was I wouldn't have called him likeable). However, he is still a nice guy who means well and when he gets a call from a buddy to work at a summer camp for troubled kids, I found myself rooting for him. I kind of guessed early on that it would be a coming-of-age story (actually, it's right there in a jacket flap blurb), but looked forward to going on the journey with him.

Paul Has a Summer Job is sweet but not sickeningly so. He's nice, but he's human. Yes, there's a few dark moments here or there,  even one where he has a violent revenge fantasy, but even those just make you like him more. Maybe it's the retro, whimsical cartooning that takes the edge off. Maybe it's the humour. Or maybe it's just all those other moments where you see his tender side and his potential.

One word of warning: apparently, it's semi-biographical. So, when Paul is drawn in the nude, it's essentially Michel Rabagliati flashing you. I like you Paul/ Michel, but do you need to sleep in the buff?

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