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News Briefs featuring Pascal Girard

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North Shore News praise Pascal Girard's REUNION and BIGFOOT

Updated September 8, 2011


The anxiety of peer criticism is heightened as time goes by so the invitation to a 10-year high school anniversary is cause for fullblown panic.

From a sudden commitment to running, which does help with his flabby belly but results in injured knees, to his attempts to meet up with a long ago girlfriend, Pascal hits all the crisis points of the insecure male.

Simple line drawings convey the depth of Pascal's anxiety and allow us to comfortably join in the journey all the way to the reunion. Girard's talent gives a multi-layered expression to the graphic novel and brings to life those familiar characters that populate almost everyone's high school history.

- Terry Peters
 
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Featured artist

Pascal Girard

           Featured products

Bigfoot
Reunion




  First Look at New Books! Xpress Review of Pascal Girard's REUNION

Updated September 8, 2011


Award-winning Canadian cartoonist Girard (Nicolas; Bigfoot) has just received his ten-year high school reunion invitation in the mail, in this semiautobiographical work. The only reason he decides to attend is to reconnect with his unrequited crush, Lucie. He promises himself that this time will be different and sets upon figuring out the best way to impress her. He stays awake fantasizing while his current girlfriend sleeps. He imagines their reunion while jogging off his extra weight. In the brief periods he is not thinking about Lucie, Girard spends his time ogling another pretty former classmate on Facebook. Dinner parties, a cold grandmother, and the lack of a proper suit coat all provide humorous obstacles before the night of the reunion. Once there, Girard bumbles about, inadvertently insulting old acquaintances with his distracted impatience for Lucie's arrival. It is at the reunion that Girard's ear for dialog shines and his self-deprecating humor is spot on.
Verdict Girard's style is part Larry David awkwardness and part Harvey Pekar self-loathing, tempered by his wonderfully light drawings. A strong story that zips along makes this a wonderful comic.—John Piche, MLS, San Francisco
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Pascal Girard

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Reunion




The Coast reviews REUNION by PASCAL GIRARD

Updated May 26, 2011


When it comes to our high school years, most people have delusions that they were somehow better than they actually were. It's a natural defense mechanism, really. That is the premise of Pascal Girard's new graphic novel Reunion---a humourous, if not slightly cringe-y account of how he convinced himself that he was a popular, cool kid when in fact he was socially awkward, pitiable and one of "those kids," a freak and geek who was an easy target. All of which becomes painfully obvious when he's confronted with old high school attitudes and long-forgotten jerks on the big weekend. The only thing worse than remembering what those years were really like is, perhaps, being forced to relive them as adults when we should know better.
 
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Pascal Girard

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Reunion




  Bookgasm adores REUNION and ONWARD TOWARDS OUR NOBLE DEATHS

Updated May 26, 2011


Having recently attended my high school reunion, I can sympathize with Pascal Girard's extreme anxiety in going to his approaching 10th, in his autobiographical graphic novel, REUNION. I wasn't among the popular crowd, either, so the thought of seeing those people again after a decade of not seeing them was terrifying. I agonized over it for months; Girard does the same for 152 pages.

In his sparse, simple cartoony style, he frets and fears the get-together so much that he forgets to RSVP with payment. He also tells little lies to classmates to appear "better" -- or at least better off -- and sheds several pounds in hopes of landing That Girl. Dream on!

REUNION is real, wry and cathartic, knowing someone had a worse time than you. (And actually, mine was fun. Decades are great equalizers.)

On the flip side of fun but an equal plane of quality is another new release from Drawn & Quarterly, Shigeru Mizuki's ONWARD TOWARDS OUR NOBLE DEATHS. Appearing in its first English translation, the Japanese work was originally published in 1973.

Set in New Guinea at the end of 1943, the World War II tale is like any other you might read, with the marked exception of being told through the POV of one of America's then-enemies. Just looking at most of the situations or dialogue, you wouldn't know it, suggesting that war is indeed hell, no matter your allegiance.

ONWARD's three-page cast of characters that opens the 368-page volume is quite intimidating, but Mizuki's story is presented so episodically, familiarity with each and every officer isn't required. They sing dirty songs, talk about getting laid, and -- when the shit hits the fan -- fight. Those battle scenes are depicted largely without words, save for sound effects, and they stunning.

Mizuki's art is close in nature to Osamu Tezuka; ditto his grounded, epic storytelling, especially at the bitter end, so RIYL and all that jazz.
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Featured artists

Pascal Girard
Shigeru Mizuki

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Reunion
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths




Worcester Mag recommends both PAYING FOR IT and REUNION

Updated May 26, 2011


Paying For It by Chester Brown (Drawn and Quarterly)
It takes a lot of guts to pen such a lengthy autobiographical graphic memoir about your history of paying for prostitutes. Chester Brown seems to have more guts than most, given the amount of time he spends showing himself having sex with prostitutes and letting you know what he's thinking at that moment -- sometimes it's like hearing the thoughts of someone test-driving a car. This makes it all the more surprising that Brown's peek into that closed world -- which results in the examination of himself and his relationship with human emotions -- ends up being so mesmerizing. It's an unlikely candidate for the one graphic novel this year that you just can't put down, and yet with each hooker and anxiety, the allure just magnifies.

Reunion by Pascal Girard (Drawn and Quarterly)
Quebecois cartoonist Girard takes the readers along to his high-school reunion and, in the process, suggests that he might be a stumbling, clueless victim of life. But of course, we all are in that situation, and Girard understands that expectations of facing our past collide painfully with the hidden realities our former schoolmates can sniff on you in order to create unmitigated disasters. In Girard's hands, it's a hilarious example of human need without rhyme or reason. Why do we do this to ourselves? Even Girard doesn't truly know, but that doesn't stop him from sharing his foolish moments with his readership, thus upping the ante of his humiliation.
 
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Featured artists

Chester Brown
Pascal Girard

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Reunion
Paying For It




  CBC Books calls PASCAL GIRARD's BIGFOOT Canada's best graphic novel

Updated May 12, 2011


On Saturday, May 7, the best of Canadian comics from 2010 were honoured at the 2011 Doug Wright Awards. Three awards were handed out that night: the Pigskin Peters Award for experimental and abstract comics, Best Emerging Talent and Best Book.

Pascal Girard won this year's Best Book award for his graphic novel Bigfoot, which is about a young boy in a small town facing three big problems: a love triangle, an embarrassing viral video and a lurking Bigfoot.

Bigfoot is Girard's first long-form comic. When this Quebec City-based artist and illustrator isn't teaching, taking classes or working on commercial projects, he's producing award-winning comics and graphic novels. The Doug Wright Award isn't the first major prize Girard has taken home. His first two books, Dans un cruchon and Nicolas won the 2006 Quebec Francophone Comics Festival's Réal-Fillion Prize for best new Quebec talent.

Girard spoke to us about the thrill of winning a major English-language award, the trouble with Photoshop and his unusual inspirations.

Q: Congratulations on your Doug Wright Award. How does it feel?

A: Thank you. I feel honoured to have received an award named after a cartoonist whose work I truly appreciate. I'm surprised. I didn't think I would win, but it's great.

Q: What is you winning book, Bigfoot, about?

A: Bigfoot is the story of Jimmy, a teenager with a lot of problems: a complicated love triangle, an embarrassing YouTube video and a Bigfoot.

Q: YouTube videos and Bigfoot are two very different and interesting stories. What compelled you to write about them?

A: I was inspired by the Star Wars kid story and how one can lose control of the information on the internet. Also, when I was in high school there was a Bigfoot sighting in my area. I came from a small town and one day people were saying 'We found Bigfoot! We found Bigfoot!' It was the talk of the town. So I took these two stories and made one story.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of creating Bigfoot?

A: Bigfoot is my first long story. So, the first challenge was to write a story where I could maintain the reader's interest throughout the length of the book. The second was working with colour for the first time. Adding colour and using Photoshop took so long and was so painful! I still see the ghost of Photoshop on my computer screen.

Q: What was the most fun or exciting aspect of creating Bigfoot?

A: Overall, it was a fun book to do. I enjoyed it a lot. The setting of this story is my hometown, Jonquiére. It was fun to use real settings, every place has real stories and memories from my teenage years, for example, Jimmy's home was the house I grew up in, the high school was my high school, et cetera. It was also fun to work in a grid. It's a 12-panel page and it's always the same size. This allowed me to concentrate on the story.

Q: Bigfoot was translated from the original French text. What was the translation process like?

A: My translator is Helge Dascher, who has translated three of my books. So she has a good understanding of my work. She is very inclusive in her process, and makes sure that I am engaged in the translation.

Q: How did you become a comics artist?

A: I read a book by Jimmy Beaulieu and later spoke with him at a book festival. His way of working made me believe that I could draw my own story despite my lack of experience. And, I don't really know why, my first stories were published.

Q: What comics artists or writers do you return to again and again? Why?

A: Schulz. I read Peanuts when I was a young kid and I still do. I read a lot of Archie comics when I was young. Bigfoot is a bit like an Archie comic, it's a story about a teenage love triangle. And lots of artists at Drawn & Quarterly, my publisher, like Chester Brown.
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Featured artist

Pascal Girard

           Featured product

Bigfoot




See Magazine talks upcoming comics

Updated February 18, 2011


The long-overdue death of the Comics Code Authority is quite a note to kick off a new year in comics.

Comics publishers established the CAA, similar to the former Hayes or Motion Pictures Production Code, after Congressional hearings on comic’s supposedly harmful effects. Now that Archie Comics has abandoned the code, it’s been rendered defunct.

What a marvelous signifier that the comics medium isn’t — and never was — mere pabulum for supposedly overly impressionable cherubs. Too bad men in tights are still looming; Google “most anticipated comics 2011,” and you get no shortage of articles touting the “Most Anticipated Superhero Movies of 2011.”

But enough bitching, this particular article is all sunshine. And the list it presents ignores superheroes altogether. Rather, the next several hundred words detail this nobody writer’s completely subjective picks for 2011’s most notable comics releases. If any books will make the diversity and potential of the medium shine this year, it’ll be these.

Scenes from an Impending Marriage (February)

Anything by the gifted Adrian Tomine should be trumpeted: his haunting 2007 Shortcomings was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book for that year. Perhaps no one, however, expected this lighthearted, loosely drawn collection of comic episodes concerning the artist’s own wedding.

In fact, Tomine’s fiancée suggests within the book that the project be a memento for guests. “I originally assumed that no one else would see the comic,” the cartoonist told this writer via email. Lucky us.



Mid-Life (March)

Montrealer Joe Ollmann’s 2007 This Will All End in Tears won best book at the Doug Wright Awards, the top honours for Canadian comics. Now comes his first book with perhaps the world’s premiere literary comics publisher, Montreal-based Drawn & Quarterly.

Mid-Life concerns the titular crisis of 40-year-old John, who becomes a father again with his much-younger second wife. Viewable at D&Q’s website, Ollmann’s arch drawing style conveys the sense of pins-and-needles stress that can accompany aging — both naturally, and prematurely.



Reunion (April)

The third book from the Quebec City artist, Pascal Girard, is behind the spare, emotionally direct Nicolas, which also comes directly on the heels of his recent Bigfoot. The semi-autobiographical Reunion recounts an invitation for Girard to attend his ten-year high-school reunion — and be the date of an old crush.

Two problems: Girard already has a girlfriend. And he needs to drop some weight.

“He’s at his peak, style-wise,” says Frederic Gauthier, co-owner of Montreal-based La Pasteque, Girard’s francophone publisher. “And he’s gonna be a star very soon.”

Here’s your chance to like him before he’s too popular.

Paying For It (May)

It’s been awhile, but acclaimed Canadian artist Chester Brown is back with his first original graphic novel since 2003’s Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography.

Flipping up the lid of Brown’s sex life, Paying For It shares his misadventures as a former john. It’s also billed as an argument for the sex trade itself. And in the wake of this past fall’s landmark Ontario court decision striking down prostitution laws, its timeliness couldn’t be better.

Hark! A Vagrant (Fall, TBA)

Beaton’s comics have appeared in Harpers and The New Yorker, but she’s almost certainly best known for her comics website — the recipient of over a million monthly hits — that lampoons famous literary and (Canadian) historic figures.

D&Q has acquired the rights to her next collection. Thou be on lookout.

Carl Barks’ Donald Duck (Fall TBA)

The blog Robot 6 at Comicbookresources.com calls it “what is sure to be one of the most acclaimed comics events of 2011.”

As the blog explains, “the Barks library has been one of the great missing links in a time that many have dubbed the ‘golden age of reprints.’…Barks has long been regarded as one of the great cartoonists of the 20th century.”

Some have demurred, mind: in a 2008 blog entry at Sans Everything, in anticipation of the first D&Q reprint of Barks contemporary John Stanley’s Melvin Monster, comics historian/journalist Jeet Heer concluded “that Stanley was a much greater writer than Barks.” The debate took off from there in the comments.

Now any interested readers will have a better chance to decide for themselves.

Xerxes (Release date TBA)

One of comics’ biggest names returns in 2011: Frank Miller’s Xerxes, a prequel to the adapted-to-film-by-Zack Snyder 300, looks back to the rise of ancient Persian emperor Xerxes.

Never mind the criticism of 300, with no less than Hugo Award-winning comics writer/ demigod Alan Moore (Watchmen) attacking its historical accuracy. And forget that fans can’t decide whether it’s Miller or Moore who’s crazier (as per a Comicvine.com forum poll).

This is a comics event that can’t be ignored.

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas: Old Growth (TBA)

From the artist behind 2009’s comics and indigenous art-bending Red: A Haida Manga, this is a new collection of thirty years’ of pre-Haida manga political cartoons. Published through Vancouver’s Grunt Gallery, the volume should interest anyone with admiration for Yahgulanaas’s inimitable output (also presently showing at Edmonton’s Douglas Udell Gallery).

“The appetite for my haida manga and comics has proven quite broad,” Yahgulanaas says.

And there’s no question he’s presently in great demand: he’s speaking at Bard College in New York state in April, with Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman (Maus).
 
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Featured artists

Chester Brown
Pascal Girard
Joe Ollmann

           Featured products

Milk Teeth
Reunion
Paying For It




  The Montreal Gazette lists BIGFOOT as one of the top comics of 2010!

Updated December 14, 2010


Pictures help tell the story

Graphic novels and classic comics cover a wide range

By IAN MCGILLIS, The Gazette December 11, 2010

When it's done right, graphic literature combines the best qualities of books and film to produce a reading experience of unique immediacy. Here are some of 2010's best titles, suitable for adepts and newcomers alike.

...

Adolescence can be a drag at the best of times, never mind when you're stuck in a small Quebec town, your peers are ridiculing you over a viral YouTube video and your uncle is achieving dubious Internet stardom of his own. Bigfoot, by Pascal Girard, (Drawn & Quarterly, 48 pages, $20.95) uncannily evokes the sexual confusion and all-round queasiness of what someone once laughably called the wonder years. If you're a teenager
now, this is your life; otherwise, prepare yourself for an emotional time warp.
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Featured artist

Pascal Girard

           Featured product

Bigfoot




NICOLAS and A DRIFTING LIFE on the American Statesmen's 2009 best of list

Updated January 5, 2010


Drawn in by another world
2009 dazzled with rich, varied graphic novels and comic series

by Joe Gross

What a strange year for comics. By the time the smoke cleared, Disney was buying Marvel Entertainment and Warner Bros. made DC Comics a subsidiary of DC Entertainment, with Paul Levitz stepping down from the publisher position. Zombies and President Barack Obama were the two cover images that seemed to move the most comics (DC's "Blackest Night" was all about heroes coming back from the dead, while every hero from Spider-Man to the Savage Dragon had some face time with the president). The "Watchmen" movie ended up selling millions of copies of the mid-1980s comic series. The archival newspaper strip reprint craze continued unabated with more and better strips in print now than I can remember in more than 25 years of comics fandom. (See "Little Orphan Annie," "Terry and the Pirates," "Dick Tracy" and many more). It still takes only a pencil and paper to create a world.

Here is a baker's dozen of comic series and graphic novels from 2009 that justified the medium's continued, if precarious, existence.

1. 'Asterios Polyp' by David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon). Mazzucchelli has long been regarded as the ultimate cartoonist's cartoonist (even if he did make his bones on "Batman: Year One" and "Daredevil: Born Again," two of the best mainstream story arcs of the 1980s). "Asterios Polyp" was 10 years in the making and, despite its small flaws, is absolutely worth the wait, every page a master class in pure comics - in how to make every page convey an enormous amount of emotional and thematic information.

The story itself is slight, the sort of thing that Updike-fixated MFA students seem to churn out by the week - an architecture professor who has spent most of his life being a terrible man looks for redemption after his life collapses. But the execution is dazzling, a tour de force of color, line and especially space. Subtle, smart and innovative, "Asterios Polyp" is that rarest of graphic novels - a work that rewards as many readings as you care to invest.

2. 'A Drifting Life' by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly). Tatsumi brought literary realism to manga in the 1950s (see also his outstanding books "Good-bye" and "Abandon the Old in Tokyo"). This doorstop is his memoir and the best book (of any kind) about the passion that comics inspire since Dylan Horrocks' still-stunning "Hicksville." Opening with Japan's surrender in 1945, Tatsumi takes us through both his obsession with comics and the seismic cultural changes Japan was undergoing during the 1950s, paralleling Tatsumi's coming-of-age with mangas.

3. 'The Complete Jack Survives' by Jerry Moriarty (Buenaventura Press). A fascinating strip, as perfect a blend of comics and non-narrative painting as you are likely to find. Reading these giant, one-panel strips one after another, you understand why Moriarty's adherents are such fanatics. These strips, loosely based on Moriarty's father, occupy an emotional space all their own with their thick, bold, painterly strokes and everyday moments - these are visual haikus. Perhaps the comic I reread the most this year.

4. 'The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb' by R. Crumb (W.W. Norton) and 'The Wolverton Bible' by Basil Wolverton (Fantagraphics). Two legendary cartoonists tackle the Good Book in completely different ways. Wolverton is coming from a position of faith - if his grotesque illustration of Revelations and Noah's ark prompt you to get saved, his work here is done. Crumb, not a man of religion, turns one of the world's most famous narratives into something that both includes every word of the text yet is pure Crumb. There's nobody else like him.

5. 'Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter' by Darwyn Cooke and Richard Stark (Idea & Design Works). I had little interest in illustrator Cooke's take on Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake) initially - I like Parker fine in the paperbacks. But you get the impression Cooke lives in this rain-soaked headspace 24/7, that he dreams of black-and-white crime scenes and the noirish world of 1962's in-between days.

6. 'Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka' by Naoki Urasawa (Viz Media). To understand the scope of Urasawa's accomplishment with this multivolume remake of Osamu Tezuka's "Astro Boy," you first have to understand how important "Astro Boy" is to Japan. For example, Tezuka's nickname is "god of manga" and Astro Boy is a real citizen - Niiza City in Saitama prefecture registered the fictional character as an actual resident. So this is a bit like Urasawa saying, "You know what I should redo? 'The Godfather!'" Yet it works brilliantly, shifting the focus from the boy himself to a culture of robot-human relations and the crime therein. It took nerves of steel to do this at all, and consummate skill to do it right.

7. 'Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days' by Al Columbia (Fantagraphics). More a collection of images than a narrative, it's still something new from one of the most enigmatic and most influential cartoonists of the past 20 years. It's a bit like peeking at J.D. Salinger's notebooks, if his notebooks were pure nightmare fuel.

8. 'The Incredible Hercules' by Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak and various (Marvel Comics); 'Captain America' by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting (Marvel Comics); 'Secret Six' by Gail Simone and various (DC Comics); 'Detective Comics' by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams (DC Comics). Here are four of the very best mainstream comics being published today. "Hercules" is a perfect admixture of vintage mythology, sitcom humor, high adventure and punching. "Captain America" is an epic espionage thriller that is easily the equal of anything on the big screen. "Secret Six" turns the classic superhero team into a sick, cynical misfit crew of amoral loons. Rucka's story in "Detective Comics," about the newly minted character Batwoman, is perfectly fine, but Williams' art does four-color backflips, elevating it from "good" to "essential."

9. 'Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary' by Justin Green (McSweeney's). Autobiographical comics didn't exist when Green published this classic tale of Catholic guilt and its intersection with his own obsessive-compulsive disorder, which didn't really exist yet either. This classic - one of the most influential comics story of the past 40 years - has never, ever looked better than it does in this edition.

10. 'You'll Never Know, Book One: A Good and Decent Man' by C. Tyler (Fantagraphics). I didn't mean to push Green and Tyler together, it just happened - which is odd, as much of this excellent book, rendered in Tyler's gestural-yet-commanding style and idiosyncratic color sense, juxtaposes her rocky marriage to Green with her father's service in World War II and the way that his reluctance to discuss the war shaped their lives. A terrific addition to the canon of literature about baby boomers, their parents and their children.

11. 'Nicolas' by Pascal Girard (Drawn and Quarterly). Most good cartooning is knowing what not to draw, knowing the emotional power inherent in those decisions. Girard uses a minimalist style for this debut to chronicle the ongoing impact of his brother's death at age 5. It's only 64 spare pages, but you will not be able to finish it without a box of tissues.

12. 'Scalped' by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera (DC/Vertigo). This ongoing series is a vicious noir set on the fictional Prairie Rose Indian Reservation. "Scalped" falls into the category of comics that are screaming to be made into an HBO series or a movie, a category that way too many books fall into these days (and one that I usually hate). Yet, this thing is a shotgun blast of junky fun, complex and layered and mean.

13. 'Wasteland: The Apocalyptic Edition, Volume 1' by Antony Johnston and Christopher J. Mitten (Oni Press). An oversized, deluxe volume of the first 13 issues of this end-times sci-fi epic. I could read comics this sprawling and nuts - with such widescreen world-building - all day.
 
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Featured artists

Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Pascal Girard

           Featured products

Nicolas
A Drifting Life




  NICOLAS reviewed by Booklist

Updated June 26, 2009


Issue: April 1, 2009


Nicolas.
Girard, Pascal (Author)
Feb 2009. 64 p. Drawn & Quarterly, paperback, $9.95. (9781897299715). 741.5.
In the simplest of styles—free-hand outline figures in barely detailed settings or, usually, no settings—Girard crafts a parable of loss and mourning that speaks volumes on those inescapable human
experiences. The first few borderless-panel pages show a husky boy and a thin, littler boy playing with a recording machine. The succeeding pages focus on the bigger boy, from shortly afterward all the way to married adulthood and saying, “. . . how about we start with one?” to his wife. The little boy, his brother Nicolas, died at age five, and although he cried, toughed it out, and denied, Pascal never completely recovered. His heart still aches, and a few pages after his words with Julie, he looks to the sky and thinks, “If you knew how much I miss you today!” The concluding pages return to Pascal, Nicolas, and the recorder. This exquisite, wee graphic novel’s extreme sparseness, verbally as well as visually, make it a possible godsend for many long-term mourners.

— Ray Olson

Featured artist

Pascal Girard

           Featured product

Nicolas




NICOLAS reviewed by The Contra Costa Times

Updated May 29, 2009


Graphics Detail: Superhero-less 'Photographer' is a superb read
By Randy Myers
Contra Costa Times

"Nicolas" by Pascal Girard (Drawn and Quarterly, $9.95, 69 pages). Sad stories that cycle us through the stages of grief don't exactly top my nighttime reading list. That said, this tenderly written autobiographical debut by Canadian cartoonist Girard movingly depicts how death — in this instance, that of the author's younger brother — radically alters our lives forever. Girard's short vignettes avoid the maudlin while tapping into how the memories of loved ones appear during the most unexpected moments. A little gem. B+
 
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Featured artist

Pascal Girard

           Featured product

Nicolas




  NICOLAS reviewed in North Adams Transcript

Updated March 19, 2009


By John E. Mitchell
Posted: 03/13/2009 11:50:23 AM EDT



Nicolas by Pascal Girard

(Drawn and Quarterly)

"Nicolas" is a deceptively simple book that takes slices from the life of creator Pascal Girard’s life that all revolve around his younger brother, who died as a child. Girard’s cartooning takes form in simple scrawls, but the childlike renderings hint at the young man who lives inside Girard and has since his brother died.

Each simple line is an utterance by someone hidden trying to express himself and his anger but unable to focus in on what exactly his emotions spring from. Clearly, they sprouted from the death of his brother, but the reality of that death is so complex and without a center -- there is no blame to go around -- that anger can only be expressed without a target.

Girard tells his own story with clarity, never letting himself off the hook easily, nor coming down too hard on himself. He has patience for his own life -- and if he doesn’t, who will?

Girard must let his story -- and his self-examination -- unfold in vignettes. Rather than intricately going over the sweeping psychology of the incident and his life after, he focuses in on the little moments that speak to the larger truths. Particularly sad are the moments just after Nicolas’ death, where, as a young boy, Girard can’t possibly live up to the grief that is no doubt expected of him.

He doesn’t quite understand the big deal, and he expresses that confusion with a kid’s nonchalance and self-indulgence. As the years wear on, we see how the whole of growing up becomes a prolonged kind of grieving for Girard, an elongated process that includes the creation of this book as part of it.

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Featured artist

Pascal Girard

           Featured product

Nicolas




NICOLAS reviewed on CBR

Updated March 18, 2009



Robot 6
Robot Reviews: Three from D&Q

* Posted on March 3, 2009 - 12:34 PM by Chris Mautner


Nicolas

Nicolas

Drawn and Quarterly recently released three small, slim graphic novels, all dealing with similar themes of loss, death and the human experience, though they vary widely in approach.

Nicolas
by Pascal Girard
Drawn and Quarterly, 64 pages, $9.95.

Aching with regret and longing, Nicolas is Girard’s chronicle of personal grief following the death of his younger brother. Rather than delve into any sort of lengthy or more traditional narrative, he chooses instead to lay out his autobiographical story in stark, short vignettes, utilizing a crisp, minimalist style that’s completely devoid of background or extemporaneous detail.

Overall it’s a smart choice and it really helps the book feel intimate and personal. As Girard moves from childhood to adulthood he attempts to give a rounded portrait of his behavior and doesn’t attempt to portray himself as a wounded angel. He’s selfish and self-absorbed and not necessarily above using his tragic story to help him get attention, particularly from women. More significantly, however, is how his inner thoughts and behavior ring true for anyone who had to attend a family funeral as a young child.

After finishing the book, the ugly, cynical part of me wanted to say, “Well, this book isn’t really about Nicolas at all. It’s all about you and how his death affected you. It’s incredibly self-centered. You might as well have called it Pascal.”

But that’s a really unfair attitude to take. I don’t know what happens to our loved ones when they pass away, but I’m reasonably certain that they’ve moved far beyond the cares of this world. It’s those of us who remain that have to try to find a way to fill the enormous, deep and lasting emotional void they’ve left behind. Nicolas chronicles Girard’s attempts to do just that with astounding aplomb. It’s a tough book to read at times and I doubt you can get through the end without tearing up a little, but it’s definitely worth your time.
 
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Featured artist

Pascal Girard

           Featured product

Nicolas





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