Doucet, Julie 1965-
DOUCET, Julie 1965-
Born December 31, 1965, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Education: Attended art school in Montreal.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Drawn & Quarterly, P.O. Box 48056, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2V 4S8.
Independent cartoonist and artist; worked for various magazines, including Weirdo. Engraver and printmaker, late 1990s. Exhibitions: Group exhibitions include Misfit Lit: Contemporary Comic Art (traveling exhibition), 1992; gallery exhibits in New York, NY; Berlin, Germany; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and elsewhere.
Harvey Award for best new talent, 1991; Firecracker Alternative Book Award, and Harvey Award nomination, both 2000, both for My New York Diary.
Lift Your Leg, My Fish Is Dead!, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1993.
My Most Secret Desire: A Collection of Dream Stories, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1995.
My New York Diary, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1999.
The Madame Paul Affair, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2000.
Long-Term Relationship, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2001.
Created "Dirty Plotte" cartoon series, beginning 1991; created "The Madame Paul Affair" comic strip, late 1990s, for Montreal weekly newspaper Ici. Contributor of stories and art to anthologies, including Comic Art of the Late 1980s, 1989; Snake Eyes, Fantagraphics Books; and Twisted Sisters: A Collection of Bad Girl Art, edited by Diane Noomin; contributor to periodicals, including Village Voice, L.A. Weekly, and Tits & Clits.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Another diary, scheduled for publication in fall 2004.
French Canadian cartoonist and artist Julie Doucet produces work in which, according to Anne Thalheimer of PopMatters, "she does not shy away from the strange, the grotesque, the self-scathing … or the bodily. More often than not, she manages to mix them all up into one frightening, surreal, fabulous sequence."
Doucet, who was inspired by underground cartoonists Robert Crumb and F'murr, among others, became best known in the 1990s for her "bad-girl" comic-book series "Dirty Plotte." Autobiographical in many of the story lines, "Dirty Plotte" was published in twelve issues, through 1998. Early issues were collected as the graphic novels Lift Your Leg, My Fish Is Dead! and My Most Secret Desire: A Collection of Dream Stories. Issues 10-12 were collected as the award-winning My New York Diary, which received critical acclaim.
After moving from Montreal to New York, to Seattle, to Berlin, Germany, and then back to Montreal between 1991 and 1998, Doucet made a public announcement that she was leaving the comics medium and finished the last issue of "Dirty Plotte"—number 12. She then completed a collection of engravings and prints that were published as Long-Term Relationship in 2001. Among the engravings are a series based on a bag of photographs Doucet found in a Berlin dumpster. Other works in the book include caricatures inspired by personal ads and comical drawings based on astrological signs. Dave Howard, in a review for Quill & Quire, commented that it displays Doucet's "raunchy yet whimsical upside-down sensibility."
Soon after her retirement from comics, however, Doucet was back, drawing "The Madame Paul Affair" strip about her life in a Montreal apartment building. These strips were published as a novella by the same name in 2000.
In a review of "Dirty Plotte" for Artforum International, Terri Sutton observed that reading the series is like dreaming. "Doucet's busy, lively panels, with their big-headed, big-eyed figures, construct a dream reality where her spirit can revel in itself without consequence," Sutton commented. Richard Gehr, in a review for Voice Literary Supplement, wrote, "Doucet's panels contain a powerful erotic depth charge; she constantly mixes sex with decadence, danger, sometimes death." Yet, he added, she has "sweetness and daring, and a self-destructive melancholy no male cartoonist has come close to capturing."
Doucet is also known for her quirky mixture of French, English, and a little German and for creating her own words, such as, in one "Dirty Plotte" panel titled "A Day in Julie Doucet's Life": "Wow! Got a fxwrck funny idea!! Mblx! Yeah! For a grzxt fulr cartoon. Ha ha ha."
Lift Your Leg, My Fish Is Dead! contains Doucet's early work, and, according to Thalheimer, the language shifts are most noticeable here. Thalheimer called them an "endearing frenzy of both English and French." The stories feature Star Trek characters who possess planets by peeing on them, among other, more base, gender issues, including Doucet's precise definition of "plotte." My Most Secret Desire features dreams about sex-change operations, childbirth, and epilepsy, as well as a school nightmare.
My New York Diary contains three stories: "The First Time," which tells of Doucet's high school graduation and the loss of her virginity to an aging hippie at age seventeen; "Julie in Junior College," chronicling her time in art school in Montreal; and the title story, "My New York Diary," the story of her move to a Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City, where she lived with her boyfriend—a cartoonist. They drink beer and use drugs, party with the Raw Magazine crowd, and hang out on the city's Lower East Side. After she experiences odd seizures and a miscarriage and her boyfriend turns out to be needy and weird, however, Julie moves out of the apartment and finds her own place. Alone and scared in her grimy neighborhood, she finally makes her move to Seattle.
Gary Sullivan, in a review of My New York Diary for Rain Taxi, called the book "an extraordinary document—especially for anyone who has attempted to get a foothold in the Big Apple since rents skyrocketed in the 80s." Roger Sabin, in the London Observer, found the grim tale perked up by Doucet's "droll humour" and art style. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted, "Doucet's unapologetic candor captures the harsh realities of her life" and that her drawings change her difficulties "into wonderfully charming tales of urban survival." A Kirkus Reviews contributor praised the graphic novel, saying Doucet's art panels "charm with their clutter and with her self-portrait as a sartorially challenged, scraggly haired waif … who's not as weak as she first seems.… Doucet is the true voice of grrrrl power."
The Madame Paul Affair details the day-to-day life of Doucet and her boyfriend, Andre, in their Montreal apartment building, where the janitor, Madame Paul, tries to matchmake between Doucet and her nephew, the landlord. The strange inhabitants of the building make up much of the story. One day Madame Paul disappears, causing Doucet and her friends to embark on a casual investigation to find her. Thalheimer praised The Madame Paul Affair, saying that, "Like Doucet's other books it is charming, witty, horrifying, scathing, and brilliant." A Publishers Weekly contributor called Doucet "a natural, albeit eccentric, storyteller" and remarked that "every messy detail crammed into each panel [shows] how much she loves to draw out the subtle comedy in ordinary things."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Artforum International, October, 1991, Terri Sutton, "Bad-Girl Cartoonists," pp. 23-24; May, 1992, Amy Gerstler, "Misfit Lit: Contemporary Comic Art," p. 125.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1999, review of My New York Diary, pp. 1255-1256.
Observer (London, England), December 5, 1999, Roger Sabin, review of My New York Diary, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, November 29, 1999, review of My New York Diary, p. 65; January 8, 2001, review of The Madame Paul Affair, p. 49.
Quill & Quire, January, 2002, Dave Howard, "Pleased to Meet You," p. 30.
Voice Literary Supplement, July-August, 1991, Richard Gehr, review of Dirty Plotte, pp. 20-22.
Drawn and Quarterly Web site,http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/ (August 4, 2003), "Julie Doucet Biography."
Lambiek,http://www.lambiek.net/ (August 4, 2003), "Julie Doucet."
PopMatters.com,http://www.popmatters.com/ (August 6, 2003), Anne Thalheimer, "Julie Doucet."
Rain Taxi Online,http://www.raintaxi.com/ (winter, 1999-2000), Gary Sullivan, review of My New York Diary.
Spark-Online,http://www.spark-online.com/ (February, 2000), Austin English, review of My New York Diary.*