Graphic Novel Friday: Pascal Girard's "Reunion"
Drawn & Quarterly has done some big, bold, colorful books over the past few years, and they’ve also published books like Pascal Girard’s latest, Reunion: a quietly sly and funny graphic novel that captures the intricacies of smaller but equally important moments…like ten-year high-school reunions.
Inspired by his own experience with reunions in 2009, Girard has managed to capture in almost pitch-perfect detail the angst and the sheer miserable qualities of attending such function. In his case, the decision to attend comes only after a crush he had in high school asks him to escort her to the reunion. The only problem is, Girard feels he must lose fifty pounds before the reunion or he just won’t be presentable to his former crush—this despite the fact his crush has pointedly said her boyfriend doesn’t want to attend with her and the not-so-small detail of having a girl friend who might not be understanding of the reason he wants to lose weight.
Indeed part of the appeal of Reunion is that in this semi-autobiographical context, Writer Girard is unafraid of making Fictional Girard look like a bit of a jerk. The foolishness of trying to recapture the past and the foolishness of wanting to make changes to, in essence, effect the past rather than for the present and future are well-documented here. The perils and pitfalls of jogging receive ample exploration, and constitute mini adventures in and of themselves. The vivid world of daydream also comes alive as Girard fantasizes about the reunion, making it impossible anything about the real-life event to live up to expectations.
What actually happens at Girard’s reunion is worthy of a Judd Apatow comedy or anything as embarrassingly grit-teeth funny found in the comedy of Ricky Gervais. Bound by his expectations, Girard goes from awkward encounter to awkward encounter, never living in the moment but instead always looking for something better.
Girard-the-creator’s drawing style is simple but effective, with interesting background details. Fictional Girard’s cats, for example, are a nice touch—never just part of the landscape but seeming to observe the early stages of their owner’s obsession with a keen curiosity and amusement. The secondary characters at the reunion also seem nicely rendered, with personalities and lives that extend well beyond the boundaries of each panel.
It’s also worth noting that Reunion is a translation from the French by Helge Dascher, and that Drawn & Quarterly has shown a commitment in recent years to bringing translated comics to an English-reading audience. They’ve also done a nice job of mixing it up, by publishing books in both a surreal and a realistic vein. If you’re into wince-inducing comedy of embarrassment, Reunion’s a class act, and if you’re looking for something else, check out the rest of D&Q’s extensive catalogue.