Petty Theft

Out next month from Drawn & Quarterly is Petty Theft by Pascal Girard. I haven’t read his previous works they’ve translated and released here, although Reunion sounded interesting, if uncomfortable. That’s the comedy category this book falls into, that of recognition of human frailty. Here are some preview pages.

Pascal’s on his own after a long-term relationship ended. He’s running as part of his new life healthy resolutions, but when he trips over a rock and injures himself, he’s told to stop exercising for a while. Without the endorphins, he’s afraid he’ll descend into depression, so he begins hanging out at the local bookstore, where he spots a young woman stealing one of his books.

Even if I didn’t know Girard was European, I think I would have guessed. (Update: I’ve since been informed I erred. He’s French-Canadian, not European.) The art is thin-line, with six borderless panels per page, and the content is slice-of-life and urban, a comic equivalent of Woody Allen movies. Perhaps it’s a bit too self-indulgent, assuming that we’re all interested in the details of Girard’s life, but the incidents are funny if cringe-inducing. I wanted to push Pascal to make choices, or better ones. His attempts at detection, at finding out who this woman is, often boil down to chance encounters.

Certain pages work as gag strips in themselves, especially the work ones. Pascal is feeling blocked from drawing, so he goes back to work as a construction welder, which doesn’t go well. Particularly odd yet eye-catching is one of his possessions that the ex-girlfriend sends over: a giant paper-mache head of himself. Sitting in the corner of his room (he’s staying with friends, a young family who provide a contrast to his single, unfocused life), it’s a mute reminder of his self-judgment.

Although small, the panels have great emotion. They read quickly, in case you’re just interested in what uncomfortable situation Pascal will get into next (much like Seinfeld), but their detail rewards inspection. His uncertainty about what to do — in his life, with his career, about the book thief — will resonate with many. I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying, as I felt there was a lack of resolution, but perhaps that’s my expectations of fiction, where I want stronger endings than we get in life.

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5 Responses to “Petty Theft”

  1. William Burns Says:

    Girard is French-Canadian, not European.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Thank you for the correction. I was being something of an ugly American, assuming that anything not from here was European. I probably should have said “international”.

  3. Pascal Girard Says:

    Yes, I’m as North American as you can be.

    Thank you for reading.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Oh, my goodness, thank you so much for stopping by! I’ve updated the post above to note my error.

  5. TCAF 2014 a Terrific Comic Arts Festival! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Bell (Truth Is Fragmentary), Jon Chad (The Bad-ventures of Bobo Backslack), and Pascal Girard (Petty Theft). All provided new insight into their work, and for a start to the show, it was a strong one. The […]

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