Monday, 8 July 2013

A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting by Guy Delisle review


Guy Delisle takes a break from his usual travelogue comics to produce a highly amusing look at being a dad, specifically his parenting style towards his young son and daughter. The stories range from Delisle’s shortcomings as a dad to his mischievous nature trumping his paternal instincts – all stories which are almost all hilarious.

One of the stories shows Delisle forgetting to put a coin under his son’s pillow when his tooth falls out – for 3 nights in a row! – and having to make up a story about why the mouse (in Delisle’s household, or maybe Canada generally, there’s no tooth fairy but instead there’s a tooth mouse) kept forgetting. Later on he plays a practical joke on his son, using a chainsaw to chop up a dead tree in their backyard and then, to grab his son’s flagging attention, pretends that the chainsaw cut his hand off, leading to his traumatised son running indoors screaming!

One of my favourites is at bedtime his daughter asking him to reassure her that baby snatchers aren’t real, which of course he does. And then he goes on about a newspaper story he read earlier where a monkey in Malaysia stole a baby and leapt out of the apartment window, says goodnight and walks off, leaving his daughter completely wide awake and scared. Or when his daughter brings him a drawing she made and Delisle ends up critiquing the hell out of it, telling her she’ll never win an Eisner (the comics industry Oscars) and ending with Delisle ranting about hack artists in the comics industry.

It might seem like he’s a cruel dad but you get a strong feeling from the book that he deeply loves his kids and that he just likes playing around with them for his own amusement – and our own of course. His abilities as an animator make the stories paced perfectly so that they read fluidly and while it seems like I’ve spoken a lot about the content, believe there’s a lot more here and reading it from Delisle rather than myself is a very different experience. I love his travelogues - and if you’re new to Guy Delisle check out his book on North Korea, “Pyongyang”, or last year’s “Jerusalem”, for excellent reads – but “A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting” shows Delisle’s talents easily transfer to the domestic stage creating a funny, quite brilliant book that all comics readers will enjoy, parents or not.

A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting

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