Cover Star: “Paul Goes West,” by Michel Rabagliati

August 13, 2017
Taddle Creek No. 39 (Summer, 2017)

“I wanted to do a scene that addresses the two ‘solitudes’ we talk about so much,” Michel Rabagliati recently said, in reference to “Paul Goes West,” his cover for Taddle Creek No. 39, the Canada Issue. Rabagliati’s illustration stars Paul, the semi-autobiographical character he has written about in eight books that, combined, have sold about a half a million copies in their original French editions. “Paul is Québécois, but is also interested in his whole country. I wanted to create a positive and relevant scene about that. Pretty much every eighteen-to-nineteen-year-old kid in Quebec has made the trek to the West Coast at some point in their life. Going to see the Rockies is a rite of passage here—in search of our roots and our people. I was thinking about a young nineteen-year-old Paul, maybe just after the Quebec referendum, taking the train, filled with enthusiasm and curiosity to go and learn for himself about the rest of Canada.”

Another, more complex, Paul story—Paul à Montréal—launched this month in the streets of Montreal. Until December 10th, residents of and visitors to the city can take a walking tour around Rabagliati’s childhood neighbourhood of Plateau-Mont-Royal, guided by twelve six-by-twelve-foot comic strip panels depicting Paul at various points in Montreal’s history. “My publisher, Les Éditions de la Pastèque, was looking to get involved in Montreal’s three hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary celebrations,” Rabagliati said. We came up with of a giant comic strip with no audio, geared as much to kids as to adults.”

Last year, Rabagliati said he planned to take an extended break from writing about Paul, but in discussing these two recent projects, he let slip that he had changed his mind, and that a new Paul book is on the way. “The character is older now than in the previous ones. He’s in his fifties, the weight of grief and of the trials of life show in his face and in his general appearance. He’s tired, disenchanted, and alone. This book will be the most autobiographical by far and definitely the most depressing of the series!”