Paul Joins the Scouts, by Michel Rabagliati
Conundrum, 172 pages, $20
Since 1999, Michel Rabagliati has been detailing the adventures of his alter ego, Paul, with kindly patience and heart-rending modesty. This latest instalment, in typical fashion, expands to accommodate far more than its title suggests. Our young hero’s Cub Scout experiences play out against the backdrop of the FLQ crisis and visions of a bygone Quebec, allowing Rabagliati to reminisce not merely about long-ago summer camps, but also such grander dramas as young love and politics, punctuated with brutal, poignant reminders of mortality. Drawn in the tradition of Franco-Belgian children’s comics – think Asterix or Lucky Luke – Rabagliati’s work short-circuits all expectations, using a familiar style to confront difficult subjects with candour and bracing innocence.