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Graphic novels operate on many levels

- Reunion by Pascal Girard Drawn & Quarterly, 156 pages, $20.95 The anxiety of peer criticism is heightened as time goes by so the invitation to a 10-year high school anniversary is cause for fullblown panic.

- Reunion by Pascal Girard Drawn & Quarterly, 156 pages, $20.95

The anxiety of peer criticism is heightened as time goes by so the invitation to a 10-year high school anniversary is cause for fullblown panic.

From a sudden commitment to running, which does help with his flabby belly but results in injured knees, to his attempts to meet up with a long ago girlfriend, Pascal hits all the crisis points of the insecure male.

Simple line drawings convey the depth of Pascal's anxiety and allow us to comfortably join in the journey all the way to the reunion. Girard's talent gives a multi-layered expression to the graphic novel and brings to life those familiar characters that populate almost everyone's high school history.

- Bigfoot by Pascal Girard, Drawn & Quarterly, 48 pages, $20.95

The small town life for Jimmy is filled with the usual teen anxieties but when he is suddenly thrown into the spotlight with a YouTube video he is sure things can't get any worse.

His unwelcome notoriety is compounded by a mysterious video his uncle makes and now Jimmy feels there is no escape. Girl problems, issues at home, conflict with his best friend, Girard tackles all the teen angst these topics create. With an understated drawing style and great dialogue Girard moves his story through the minefield of teenage woes while keeping us entertained.

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- Mid-Life by Joe Ollmann, Drawn & Quarterly, 176 pages, $20.95

The hard-edged black and white drawings exude the exposed emotions of Joe Ollmann's main character.

As John struggles with the relationships he has with his adult daughters, his younger second wife and their infant son, the depressing weight of his forties bears down on him. The mid-life crisis roars into John's head like a runaway train loaded with bad choices, self-deception and tons of recriminations.

Ollman pulls no punches as his characters open themselves up to life and all its grittiness. His nine-panel presentation fills the pages with a density that allows for a very detailed story development. Combining excellent drawing with great dialogue, Ollman gives us a graphic novel that goes for the jugular.

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