Birthday book: Get a Life

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so perhaps I should reintroduce the concept. Tom Spurgeon wishes some creator of comics a happy birthday, and if the stars (and my tastes) align properly, I recommend one of my favorite books by that creator in celebration. Today, it’s Philippe Dupuy, and I have to confess that my exposure to Dupuy’s work is somewhat limited, though I don’t think that’s really my fault.

And honestly, when that work is limited to the excellent Get a Life (Drawn & Quarterly), I’m not going to complain. Get a Life collects some of the Mr. Jean comics created by Dupuy and Charles Berberian. Here’s a bit of what I said about the book when it first came out:

“Dupuy and Berberian, who divide their duties as creators equally, strike a wonderfully balanced tone in their stories. They’re witty without ever becoming arch and warm without being cloying. As Mr. Jean moves through the highs and lows of everyday life, he encounters friends, family, and neighbors who all provide distinct comforts and frustrations. Chance encounters trigger memories that can be both painful and nostalgic. Each story is a snapshot of a life that feels very real.”

Drawn & Quarterly has also published Dupuy and Berberian’s Maybe Later, a look at their creative process and private lives, and it’s also very good. I’d recommend that you start with Get a Life, and if you like it, follow up with Maybe Later. (Fans of hairy forearms might go right to Maybe Later. You know who you are.)

And since I’m on the subject, why not fold a bit of a license request into this birthday book entry? I’d love it if Drawn & Quarterly published more Mr. Jean comics. There seem to be at least seven volumes available in the original French, and I would love to see more published in English.