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Reunion back

Pascal Girard


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Car-crash comics you can't help rubbernecking at as Pascal Girard is seduced to a school reunion he wouldn't ordinarily attend but for an early crush who urges him there via email… but who never turns up herself!

Like John Cleese's finest moments or Peter Sellers' in The Party, Girard's performance is excruciating to watch but compelling for that very same reason. And I cry "foul!" for he could not possibly be as socially inept as he's portrayed himself here. Everything that could possibly go wrong does so. He dresses inappropriately then loses a shoe; he offends its organiser, those who casually enquire, and allows himself to be goaded into white lies that then turn far darker or at least impossible to extricate himself from.

He's as uncomfortable throughout as Gordon Brown making small talk on meet-and-greet TV. Add in a gigantic wart on his thumb which Girard is at pains to hide, a jaw line his dentist makes him self-conscious about plus a genuine case of cramps, and you have a poor man vulnerable from the get-go before the competition sets in.

Even before reading this, you could not have paid me enough to go back: to attend a reunion at an over-privileged school which I loathe with a socialist passion; to hear so many ghosts define themselves by their stellar careers while I must appear to be making, still, plasticene dinosaurs in a playpen. I'm actually very proud of what Mark and I achieved here together with Dominique, Tom and Jonathan. So the last thing I'd welcome is a need to defend myself as Girard does here about his brilliant, self-effacing cartooning with the most fragile of lines.

But these aren't even rich bitches or champagne charlies. Few of them are remotely offensive. It's Girard who's the madman, misjudging almost every encounter, and I want to give him a great big hug and slap him silly.

To read this graphic novel is to feel instantly better about your own life, as indeed you should. If you're signed up to comics and Page 45 then you're already infinitely more adventurous than 99% of the comics-decrying public who could be lurking in wait if ever you give in to your past. For that, and the merriment, and for Pascal Girard's craft, we owe a great debt of thanks.