Seeking Dad 2.0 cover image detail

Seeking: Dad 2.0

Writer: Gwendoline Raisson
Artist: Magali Le Huche
Colorist: Magali Le Huche
Lettering: Calix Ltd
Translator: Joseph Laredo
Published by: Dargaud/Europe Comics

 

I’m a 41 year old husband and father.  The cast of characters in “Seeking: Dad 2.0” are a little younger than me, but I can’t help but recognize some of their stresses.  And it’s easy for me to be empathetic to their plights, because I’m only a half-step removed from many of them.

This is the story of “Mothers Anonymous,” a group of mothers who have regular meetings to talk about their lives, their troubles, their kids, etc.  In this book, there’s a new addition to the club: Philippe, a so-called “Dad 2.0.”  He’s the father taking family leave to care for three children while his wife goes back to work.  And, suddenly, he feels many of the same stresses as the mothers in the group do.

Philippe is labeled a Dad 2.0

In Gwendoline Raisson’s script, there are no melodramatic soap operatics.  The lead character has a bit of a realization over the course of the book, but this isn’t your traditional three act story with character growth and change, where the good guys beat the bad guys, and it all builds to a crescendo.  It’s just a series of discussions, stories, situations, etc. that parents might feel.

It’s very slice-of-life-ish, with smaller stories to illustrate points.  The biggest dramatic points are just misbehaving kids versus their parents, and ex-husbands versus ex-wives.  There’s also tension between parents whose life situations are different, or whose styles in raising their children are different.  I know a lot about those dramas…

 

Perspectives

The book stars Caroline, who is a single mother to her son.  Most of the book centers on her issues with raising a kid and being outcast by all her friends, while trying to have a social life of her own that’s darn near impossible.

The funny thing in the book is just how much it’s all about perspective.  While Caroline becomes our point of view character, we also see through her interactions with the rest of M.A. and all her friends that there are people in different situations that don’t have her troubles — but inevitably have their own.  For example, there’s the happily married friend with two kids who misses being free to leave the house whenever she wants, or go to the movies without spending $100.

There’s a great section of the book about halfway through where Caroline gives a slide show of the perils of dating as a single mother.  She breaks down the categories of men available to her, none of which are very attractive.  (Eternal Bachelor, Married Man, Dad 2.0, Younger Man, Recent Divorcee)  And this is a cultural thing, but there’s nobody blinking twice in the scene when she brings up “Married Man” as a category, and one she has experience in.

Married Men are high risk daters for single mothers.

This is real slice of life stuff, told with a good sense of humor to match the commentary on social norms.  It doesn’t go too deep into politics or the social justice angles.  Le Huche touches on it a couple of times, but this book is not an angry rant against the patriarchy or anything like that.  It’s more about frustrations than anger.

It’s truthful and it’s honest, though, with a light-hearted and self-aware point of view.

 

One Slight Detour

Some parts do lose me, though, such as the group’s desire to graffiti billboards for ads for some kind of pills. At first, I thought this was just a response to the typical magazine cover images that portray an unrealistic life. But there’s something more going on there centered on, I don’t know, happy pills?  Diet pills?  I must have missed something.  Whether it’s a French thing or a reference to the previous book in this series, “Meres Anonymous“, I don’t know.

This is a 139 page book.  This minor detour in the sprawling narrative didn’t impact my enjoyment of it.

 

I Should Not Like This Book

She's the black sheep or her friends.

Really, I shouldn’t. Magali Le Huche’s art is not my preferred style at all.  It’s the kind of thing I usually rail against. It’s not Marcinelle School, that’s for sure.  It looks like small press indie art from a writer forced to fill their own pages. Characters are awkward and gangly and look like they were drawn with a ballpoint pen on loose leaf pages.  There’s not a straight line made with a ruler in the book.

All of the things I prattle on about at this site about ink weight variation and multi-level composition and detailed backgrounds go straight out the window with this book. There are no panel borders. Characters often float in space, but that style worked for Will Eisner at times, so I’m not judging that.

Some of the pacing of the book suffers from the amount of story that’s put on every page.  The book is breezy, with a lot of splash pages and two-or-three panel pages.  The book feels a bit like a daily blog diary, at times.  Some pages take two seconds to read.

On the other hand, character, truth and honesty can outweigh presentation.  Le Huche’s storytelling is still sound, and it’s consistent throughout the book.  I may not be a fan of the design, but I can’t fault the book for getting the job done.

 

Improved Lettering

Dad 2.0 French vs English lettering

The translated edition has one big bonus to it: The lettering is legible.  In the original French language edition, everything is lettered by hand, and not by someone who knows what an Ames Guide is. It’s freehand all the way. The English edition keeps the hand-drawn balloons, as awkwardly shaped as they so often are, but adds in a script font that’s easy to read and feels right for the book.

It’s a little more sterile and there’s a slight clash between the perfectly-constructed letters and the hand drawn bumpy balloons, but it’s much easier to read.  I’ll take that any day.

Recommended?

Seeking Dad 2.0 cover image

Yes, but only if you’re in the target audience. Not everyone will appreciate this.  I think there’s a certain amount of life experience you’ll need to have before you’ll “get” this book at more than a superficial level.  Either be a parent, or have friends who are.  This is not exactly a standard story that just happens to star a middle-aged single mother. That’s what it’s all about.  The closer you get to that reality, the more you’ll appreciate the book.

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #77.)

 

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