GRAPHIC NOVELS

Paul at Home

Drawn & Quarterly. (Paul, Bk. 6). Nov. 2020. 204p. ISBN 9781770464148. pap. $21.95. Rated: Teen+. f
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Multi-award-winner Rabagliati’s sixth book in the “Paul” series sees the relatable protagonist settle, uncomfortably, into the lumpy midpoint of middle age. He skulks through dental work, sleep studies, and yard repair, while musing about stock photos and typefaces. To add to the droning pace of daily life, he lives in the lonely silence of divorce and cares for his mother as she ends treatment for terminal cancer. Previous graphic interludes in the series crackle with hope, nostalgia, and melancholy—but much of it is drained away here, which is deliberate and devastating. However, making art (and observing visual culture) remains a reliable balm for the inevitable wounds of life—in one wonderful scene, Paul sits at his basement drawing table listening to Leonard Cohen, and the world, for once, makes sense. Visually, Rabagliati pinpoints the profound in the minutiae of daily life, inking tiny details of doctor’s offices, pond life, and neighborhood sidewalks in such a way that we are ready, able, and willing to step into Paul’s shuffling footsteps.
VERDICT A darker addition to the Paul canon, this slice of midlife feels achingly true for long-time fans, but might be a tricky place to start in the ongoing saga of one man’s unassuming, yet richly realized, life.

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