Toronto Star reviews PAUL MOVES OUT!

“A Tintin in Montreal; GRAPHIC NOVELThe third instalment of Michel Rabagliati's life of his gentle character Paul brings the early '80s and the Montreal street scene to vibrant, subtle life ” / The Toronto Star / Suzanne Alyssa Andrew / August 21, 2005

It may not have felt like it at the time, but hefting your inaugural garage-sale sofa home and washing your debut load of laundry were pivotal moments. Whether you remember your first apartment with fondness or a shudder, Paul Moves Out will reintroduce you to the pleasures and horrors of living on your own for the first time.

Following Paul in the Country and Paul has a Summer Job, the third instalment of Michel Rabagliati's popular graphic novel series celebrates the process of becoming an adult. It's refreshing in an era reeking of teen spirit and paralyzed by Botox. And, in an amusing reversal of the rebellious youth stereotype, Paul and his girlfriend Lucie are often depicted as more reasonable, cautious and levelheaded than their older counterparts.

The ubiquitous milk crate and dumpster decor are MIA for this college couple. After Paul and Lucie paint, build cupboards, varnish floors and install a trellis to make their apartment a real home, Lucy finds a rat in the bathroom. The bungling superintendent subsequently destroys their perfectly decorated bathroom in the process of hunting the rodent down and killing it with a hammer.

Jean-Louis, the college couple's eccentric graphic design instructor, conjures their first glimpse of bohemian life, complete with an introduction to art-house films, lofts, kitsch, intellectual discussions and mixed drinks. Paul and Lucie are challenged in the company of Jean-Louis' friends. Lucie gets an earful of avant-garde when she praises the B52s: "That charming little neo-retro soft-punk group! They're just great! What about Kurt Weill, Erik Satie, Nino Rota? And how do you like Glenn Gould?"

Jean-Louis smokes in the classroom and inspires his students with contemporary ideas and new examples of design. Yet on a school trip to New York City, his sexually aggressive behaviour toward a student, together with his disclosure that he has sex not for love, but for sex itself (he calls it "hygiene"), leaves Paul disillusioned with his teacher-idol.

Back at home in Montreal, Paul and Lucie make friends with their neighbours, deal with a death in the family, work hard at their studies and baby-sit Lucie's nieces. It's a slow, measured trajectory into adult responsibilities.

Rabagliati's childhood fondness for Gaston and Asterix comics is evident in his ability to tell a simple story in an engaging way.

He spends six panels depicting a tiny bird diving into a morning coffee cup, demonstrating his tremendous ability to draw animated movement. Characters are shown in mid-routine, brushing their teeth and combing their hair. Even when his characters daydream, the story remains fluid.

Rabagliati's technique of alternating between realistic pauses and plot-driven action pulls the reader into each character's subtleties and sensitivities. The early '80s are accurately depicted: a TV tuned to an episode of Dynasty, headbands, skinny ties and a magazine cover featuring Farrah Fawcett.

Montreal comes alive with patisserie signs, cluttered depanneurs, graffiti-strewn alleyways and familiar landmarks including the Fairmount Delicatessen, the late, great Warshaw grocery and the headstone shop on Boulevard St. Laurent.

If Tintin were to eschew globetrotting and settle in Montreal, his life might look like this.

Suzanne Alyssa Andrew is books editor of broken pencil magazine.

Paul Moves Out

by Michel Rabagliati

Drawn and Quarterly,

120 pages, $25.95

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