The Adventures of Paul
By Michel Rabagliati
Published by Drawn and Quarterly; FREE

One of my favourite graphic novels of the past few years was Paul Has a Summer Job, and I am very much looking forward to Paul Moves Out. On Free Comic Book Day, Drawn and Quarterly are giving readers the opportunity to sample Michel Rabagliati's wondrous Paul stories, in this virtually ad-free 32-page comic.

The two tales collected in The Adventures of Paul originally appeared in the Drawn and Quarterly anthology magazine, so it's nice to have them collected in a nice little package like this, which would be a bargain at six or seven bucks. For free, you absolutely can't go wrong checking out Paul and his adventures. In "Apprentice Typographer," we see Paul introduced into the world of printing by his father, and further inducted into the secret corners of the print shop through the material hanging on its bathroom walls. Rabagliati's presentation of even the most mundane elements of an average day are so filled with wonder and life that his smooth, accomplished cartooning sweeps you right into Paul's world. You may never have been fascinated with typesetting before, but this story (very likely at least semi-autobiographical, as all the Paul stories seem to be) will have you looking at the subject in a whole new way.

That's the joy of Rabagliati's stuff: In Paul Has a Summer Job, I remember vividly the sequence where Paul explains a majestic mountain view to a blind child. It's moments of wonder and delight like this that make Rabagliati's comics so vital and alive. Moments like this are rare in comics, but not at all uncommon in the Paul stories.

In the second of this issue's two stories, "Paul in the Metro," Rabagliati recreates for the reader the experience of two teens running wild and free in the big city of Montreal in the 1970s. The story also reveals a bit about how and why Rabagliati became a cartoonist, but it's the scenes of mischief in the mall that make this story sing.

This issue concludes with a four-page preview of the imminent Paul Moves Out, and as such serves as a wonderful introduction to one of the most charming characters in comics, in the hands of one of the artform's most gifted practitioners. For an unassuming little 32-page pamphlet, The Adventures of Paul is packed with great comics storytelling and bound to appeal to readers of all ages and interests. I strongly recommend you check this out on Free Comic Book Day. Grade: 5/5

-- Alan David Doane

The Adventures of Paul will be available at participating comics shops on Free Comic Book Day, Saturday, May 7th, 2005. Special thanks to Earthworld Comics.

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