PAUL "the first great comic work of this year"

“Breakdowns” / Movie Poop Shoot / Chris Allen / May 1, 2003

What differentiates this book from a lot of the earnest, naked romantic comics from male creators these days is a maturity and a more sophisticated level of writing. Rabagliati began creating comics after his 20s were over, and after a career in graphic design, so the typical bohemian/bad dates/sophomoric jokes/pretentious formal experiment phases are over. This is a man looking back on a period of his life with some distance, and from the perspective of a father, and so he’s able to pull off some luminous, John Irvingesque storytelling involving the passing on of gifts and how their contexts change over time. Hey, he’s even able to work in a cute, plucky blind girl camper and have it be effective and not maudlin. His graphic design years also benefit the reader by presenting artwork fully formed, a bold and confident line somewhat reminiscent of Craig Thompson and Crockett Johnson. This is a warm, layered work full of compassion and quiet epiphanies, and not to be missed. Already a front-runner for next year’s awards.

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