It all escalated pretty quickly.
I had every intention of being productive today. I’ve been reorganizing my closet, sorting things out and throwing some things out. To speed the process I decided that I would iron all of the shirts that need it. I set up the ironing board, turned on the television, got ready to go and the second that I placed iron to shirt the whole plan came apart.
First, the ironing board collapsed because, well, because it’s from Ikea and Ikea doesn’t make sturdy ironing boards. Second, the iron pitched off the collapsing ironing board. Third, it landed hot side down on the carpet. Fourth, I couldn’t quickly get around the ironing board because it takes up too much space. Fifth, the iron burned a hole in the carpet.
So now I need a new iron (the old one has plastic-y fibres melted to it), a new ironing board, and a new area rug. Just because I wanted to do something productive on a Sunday rather than play Hitman on the PS4.
Such was the lead-up to reading the third book in Guy Delisle’s Bad Parenting Advice series. I bought this book yesterday at a local comic book store. They had multiple copies on the sale table for $5 and I picked it up even though I was slightly worried that I might already own it in French. I figured that if I did have it, I could give the duplicate away – I know dozens of men my age who would relate to it. As it turns, out I didn’t have this one in French (just the first two). Hooray! There is a great deal to be said about impulse purchase graphic novels. Five dollars is an irresistible price at the checkout counter (honestly, I almost bought all five copies that the store had). Too bad there’s no money in publishing graphic novels for five dollars… You'd think there would be money in it...
These comic strips are a collection of minimalist blog strips that Delisle had done over the years. He does only a few drawings – changing the text from panel to panel, and sometimes a minor detail. They’re tossed off quickly, and are perfect for short jokes with witty wordplay. I probably didn’t originally purchase the third volume on the “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” logic. But the book completely changed my mood, moving me from frustration to laughter in just two short stories. I shared one with my wife, but I think it only deepened her frustration with me because I am the sort of bad father that Delisle draws comics about.
Delisle recently released a more serious book, S’enfuir, using a similar technique. It’s about a hostage, and so the repetitive use of the same drawing is used to create a monotonous effect. I had planned to review that book later this year when Drawn and Quarterly translate it (as Hostage), although now it will fall victim to my “no multiple books by the same author” rule. I’ll still read it, however.
In the disclosure column, I’ve met Guy Delisle probably ten or so times at comics festivals but I don’t think I’ve ever had a significant conversation with him. I do think he’s one of the most underrated cartoonists out there, and I say that with the full knowledge that he has won the most prestigious prize in the entire field. He should win more awards, though. Maybe not for parenting.
Special bonus: Delisle’s earlier book on the same topic depicts an ironing-related mishap! Meta!
One thing I learned about Canada from this book: Some of our best cartoonists live in France.