Prepare for lots of art samples. I heart Nob’s art.
Four Girls, A Guy, and the Credits
Translator: James Hogan
Letterers: Cromatik Ltd.
Published by: Dupuis/Europe Comics
Number of Pages: 47
Original Publication: 2016
Four Girls. Four Mothers. One Tired Dad.
For those of you who need the reminder, “Dad” is the story of a single father of four girls. Each girl has a different mother.
Dad is a struggling middle-aged actor who is serious about his career that is going nowhere. He’s three months behind on his rent. Raising four girls is not cheap, and not every mother is helpful.
You might remember this set-up from such books as “Dad” v1 and “Dad” v2, previously reviewed here:
In this book, (second child) Ondine’s mom shows up.
She’s a famous actress having trouble coming to terms with her age and a career that’s slowing down. She’s also the kooky caricature of a Hollywood star, concerned with her yoga practice more than her child, and prone to fits of champagne.
If that situation sounds vaguely familiar, Lewis Trondheim and Obion’s “Mamma Mia!” has a similar storyline in it with a slightly different degree of “kooky mother.”
If this was a serious book, everyone would have lifelong issues that would scar them. Thankfully, it’s a comedy so we can safely laugh at the situations, including the preposterous way Dad finds to get rid of her. (And, many pages later in the book, we see how she gets him back. Nob plays well with “continuity.” This book isn’t tied up in it, but uses it well from time to time.)
We get more than just isolated single-page gags in this book, though. That visit from Ondine’s mother is a series of gags. But there’s also a Christmas story that runs across three pages. I would bet that it was a complete story in a December issue of “Spirou Journal.”
Dad goes through some stress levels that result in a major (ugly) acne outbreak for a few pages. Again, the gag recurs later in the book for another punchline that works because you remember this sequence from earlier on. (I wonder if that worked as well when it appeared in “Spirou Journal” to begin with? Did the readership remember Dad’s previous issues by the time that issue of the magazine came around? It works well in album format, so I’m not complaining.)
And then there’s the story of the camping trip Dad arranges for his family that, of course, goes spectacularly wrong in every way imaginable. That runs four pages and brings the police in to straighten him out.
But, mostly, “Dad” is a collection of single-page gags that run the gamut from pratfalls to family matters, from Dad’s personal life to his career, from visual to verbal. It’s a great assortment of things that never gets old and never wears out its welcome.
There’s no single story to tie it together, just certain thematic elements. (Nob is clearly setting up some future stories here and there, but there’s not a heavy continuity.) It’s the ongoing saga of a father with his back to the wall and a house full of daughters.
He never stood a chance.
It’s the kind of book you can pick up and read a page or two of when during a commercial break or something. You don’t need to concentrate on it. Read it and enjoy it, have a few laughs, look forward to the next.
How Many “Dad” Books Are There?
There are eight “Dad” books now in the series.
Unfortunately, Europe Comics’ translations stalled out at this third book.
I hope they pick up production on it sometime. The “Dad” series continues in “Spirou Journal” to this day. There’s plenty of material out there to publish.
From a pure demographics point of view: It’s a comic book about a middle-age guy with no money and too many kids. It should appeal to the stereotypical comic reader in North America instantly. The demographic lines right up.
This book should sell easily.
Yeah, I know, I laughed as I typed that, too.
The Art of Nob
This book is a drawn sitcom in all the best possible ways. It has a wacky concept to hook you in. There are complete smaller stories, a laugh a minute, and very little real change.
It almost wouldn’t work if it wasn’t for two things. First, Nob is a great storyteller who can pace out a gag over a single page in a strong way. Some pages can get very talky, but it’s always with a point, and you breeze right through it, anyway.
Second, he’s an excellent artist with a style that you won’t find anywhere else. He creates a world that is stylistically consistent, colored in an inviting series of soft colors, and just beautiful to look at.
But then he goes further and hits you with moments of pure comic book storytelling that are masterful. We see Dad in a grumpy mood through the kids’ eyes as a bear:
We see Dad failing to make it across the living room floor without stepping on a Lego and all the chain reaction of events that happen from there:
A simple walk in the park turns into a stroller race against some pigeons who don’t appreciate his fun:
And then there are the quiet moments that are well-composed and invite you into Dad’s world:
In a book that’s as dialogue rich and as frenetic as “Dad” can be, a quieter page that starts off with a panel like that is a nice palate cleanser.
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Yup. And if they never translate another book, it’s OK. There’s no plot that’s being killed too early. I still have questions about the other two mothers and I’m rooting for Dad to find the job he’s so desperately hoping for.
But, in the end, it’s just a fun comedy. It would be a shame to leave the rest untranslated, though…
Buy It Now
Here’s one reference that struck a chord with this website:
Ah, “Valerian” 2. Dare to dream…