Cartoonist Guy Delisle, famed for his series of autobiographical journals (Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City) has quietly been garnering a well-deserved second reputation for his work in an entirely different direction as of late – the wide world of parental advice. Even More Bad Parenting Advice is the sequel to last year’s A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting; if you missed out the first time, no worries, as there’s no connective narrative between the two. Better still, grab them both if you have a chance.
A sparsely illustrated volume of illustrated ‘advice’, there’s never more than two panels per page, with an excellent translation by Delisle’s frequent partner Helge Dascher (with Rob Aspinall) that makes the original French instantly readable. But, as Delisle fans already know, he’s a master of simply letting his clean lines tell a story, and that talent is on full display here.
Delisle’s children have always featured prominently throughout his illustrated travelogues, even if they only appear as crying foils or asleep in prams. Here they continue to be foils, as the focus is purely on Delisle as Dad. Not Helpless Dad or Hopeless Dad, just Dad: a man on a mission to be the best dad he can be and fiercely proud of it. We so often see the dad role relegated to secondary status, if not downgraded to complete buffoon, it’s refreshing to see such an honest and hilarious take from the perspective of parentings’ other half.
What makes this series so recommendable is how delightfully politically incorrect Delisle’s sense of humor can be. Favorites include a frank discussion on avoiding shark attacks by making sure to surround yourself with people (“a human wall of bait”), teaching his son to play WarCraft 2 (the one from 2006), and helping his daughter seek subtle revenge on a class bully via some pinata bashing. Yes, there’s the occasional curse word, but nothing that would cause much of a ruckus to the open-minded.
One last thing about the print edition. I know it’s something that nobody else will care about, at least those who care little for paper, but I love how it’s packaged in paper quality that’s just a hair above newsprint stock. This isn’t a slight; as someone who fondly remembers loving slender volumes like this – especially those that managed to survive the 1960s – from artists like Charles Schulz, Bill Keane, and others like them I found this to be entirely appropriate. Whatever keeps the costs down, count me in.
Even if you’re not familiar with his ‘heavier’ material, Guy Delisle continues to show he’s got a great gift for whimsy and gentle satire in Even More Bad Parenting Advice. It’s a fast read that can (and should) be passed on to as many hands as possible, even those who lack little ones of their own. Highly recommended.