Review: ‘Paul Goes Fishing’ by Michel Rabagliati

Paul Goes Fishing
By Michel Ragabliati
Drawn & Quarterly, 2008, $19.95

[[[Paul Goes Fishing]]] is the fourth in a series of semi-autobiographical graphic novels by an illustrator-turned-cartoonist from Montreal named Michel, about an illustrator-turned-cartoonist from Montreal named Paul.

Nosy Parkers, such as myself, will immediately start wondering just how “semi” this autobiography is. Paul and Michel are about the same age, in the same line of work, from the same city, and have the same family details (a wife and one daughter). On the other hand, these semi-autobiographical cartoonists are sneaky – and someone like Ragabliati could also easily have just done a pure autobio comic (there’s no shortage of those). So I’ll refrain from assuming that anything about “Paul” is also true of Rabagliati.

Like the other “[[[Paul]]]” books, Goes Fishing wanders through Paul’s past, with some scenes set when Paul was young (mostly when he’s fifteen and so frustrated with his life that he tries to run away) and some when he’s an adult (mostly in the mid-90s). There’s some narration, in the voice of a contemporary Paul, to organize it all, and explain when each scene is taking place, but the structure is quite fluid, with scenes flowing according to memory or other connections than along purely chronological lines.