Friday, March 16, 2007

Influences: Julie Doucet

Alright, so it's a little hard for me to say that Julie Doucet is one of my influences since I only discovered her last fall, but even in that short amount of time I've fallen in love with her work, and kick myself for not seeing it sooner. I lived in NYC for a short period after college and having Doucet's "My New York Diary" would have been a welcome companion insofar as it would have been nice to glance at it whenever I thought my situation seemed frustrating.

Doucet's panels are rich mazes of black scratches, making them seem more like German Expressionist prints than comics panels. Doucet rarely bothers with establishing shots. Instead, she dives right into her world of medium-close square panels, each of which can be generalized as "Julie surrounded by crap."

I'm amazed by the level of detail she puts into each panel -- toys leaning against the wall, empty cans of soup and dirty plates, and cockroaches everywhere. Her constant clutter definitely enhances the voyeuristic nature of her work. I mean, It's understandable that she'd depict her art school's hallways as bastions of trash, but you'd think she'd try to pick up her own apartment just a little bit. ... Of course, a spotless apartment would take away from the "Look at me, I've got so many problems and I can't spell and I'm late on my deadlines and all my boyfriends are losers" vibe that is seemingly proof of her being a legitimate artist. The bottom line is that Doucet has put the intimacies of her life on public display, and regardless of whether that is born out of self-love or self-hatred (or a healthy mix of both), I'm happy her work exists. Most raw, risk-taking autobiographical comics that I've seen are done by well-intentioned cartoonists who can't draw, while the talented artists' stories about themselves are soft and weepy. Doucet is the best of both worlds.

Top five ways that Doucet rules: 1) Heavy blacks on everyone's faces. 2) Adorable Canadian misspellings. 3) Gratuitous nudity. 4) Flexibility with perspective. 5) Complete, seemingly unedited self-disclosure.


Unknown said...

I'm a little amazed you only just discovered her, and surprised you count her among your influences. I haven't bought a comic in over 3 years and I've bought some of her work.... Guess we're not all comics snobs.

I could never fully embrace the overwhelming narcissism her comics oozed. I guess auto-biography lends itself to that sorta thing, but with her work it seemed to go a step further. Her work wasn't just a window into her world, it seemed more like diary in pictures. But, she was a talented cartoonist.

Last I heard she had quit comics to persue a career in "real" art. Wonder if that's still paying her bills...

Kevin Cannon said...

Yeah, I heard she quit comics, too. Burned out, I imagine, or finds the medium too constrictive perhaps.

Anonymous said...

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