Brown: New Delisle delivers love letter to comic book creator’s summer job

There’s more to Guy Delisle than being a crappy dad.

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There’s more to Guy Delisle than being a crappy dad.

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The Quebec comic book creator is back with Factory Summers, a tale of the seasons he spent working in the pulp and paper industry in La Belle Province as a young adult. It’s a love letter to his summer jobs and a funny but touching tale of how he established himself as a budding designer.

It follows a number of volumes – like A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting – devoted to convincing readers that he is doing a poor job raising his children in France.

You might know Delisle from his travel accounts, like his breakout book, Pyongyang, or his literary partnership with Christophe Andre, Hostage. Factory Summers is further proof that he can take shape in just about any direction he chooses.

You will not be surprised to learn that Delisle, a wise man by nature, was a fish out of water in the Quebec mill where he spent his summer vacation while attending an animation school in the 1980s. He brings his characteristic sardonic humor to the decor.

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Towards the end of those summers, for example, he finally learns how to properly cut gigantic rolls of paper, a big step in overcoming his fears. “In the modern world, you take any rite of passage you can get,” he recalls.

What struck me most about this book were the many solitudes it exposes. Not only between English and French, but also between father and son, white collar and blue collar, the past and the future. Between security and risk, stasis and change.

In the end, Delisle’s young self chooses creativity over stagnation, which is why the book’s subtitle could have been “The Birth of an Artist”.

I hope it will be a long time before this eccentric designer calls this a career. That said, all Delisle needs to do to prove he’s the ultimate comic book talent is to step away from non-fiction and come up with an entirely fictional story. I would love to see him try his hand at science fiction, or even a superhero tale.

What about you, Guy?

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