‘Gary’ is just a guy stumbling through life like the rest of us

Gary:King of The Pickup Artists

Alexandre Simard & Luc Bossé, 151 pgs, Pow Pow Press, powpowpress.com, $22.95

Don’t let the title throw you — the hero of this book is not some sort of The Rules-type pickup artist covered in gold chains and cologne. Gary is just a guy stumbling through life like the rest of us, trying and failing and trying again to meet that special someone.

The story by Alexandre Simard will be familiar to anyone who is or once was an urban-dwelling 20-something. Gary is looking for love in all the usual places. He hits parties, bars, coffee shops, trying to work up the nerve to approach someone, wondering what to say and then inevitably saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Gary’s problem — if it is a problem — is that he’s spending too much time in his own head. I’d give him the same advice I would give my own 20-something self, if only I could travel back in time: Loosen up, man!

The black-and-white artwork by Luc Bossé , who is also the founder and editor of both Pow Pow Press and its French language counterpart, Éditions Pow Pow, is crisp and strong and reminiscent of another Quebecois cartoonist, Guy Delisle. As someone who is woefully unilingual, I really appreciate Pow Pow’s English translations. Quebec is chock-full of talented people making very cool comics (what up, Julie Doucet!) and it’s very nice of Bossé and the gang at Pow Pow to do the translations so English-only speakers like me can get a taste of what’s cookin’ comics-wise in La Belle Province. One of these days, I should really learn French, but until then… merci, Pow Pow Press!