Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet: In stores today!
Among comics fans, when talking about your favourite cartoonists, it's pretty much a given that someone will weigh in with Julie Doucet. Among lit fans, who have maybe read a few graphic novels and enjoyed them, it's not uncommon for one of those few books to be by Julie. Whether you're a deep comics fan or a casual reader, Julie's work resonates. It's rare that a cartoonist's cartooning style addresses the often contradictory aesthetics and demands of the nerdom and the litdom. But it does happen. And I'm glad it happens with Julie. Her work contributes so much to both worlds, functions on so many levels—art, literature, feminist manifesto, masterclass on humour—and is just as vital today as it was in the nineties. Boundary pushing at the time, Julie speaks to our current zeitgeist, the work feeling perhaps less revolutionary today—though equally wild—than it did when it first came out. But I guess that's what happens when your voice contributes to pushing a movement forward. Blunt talk about heavy period flow, masturbation, and definitely-not-enthusiastically-consenting sex might seem commonplace in a post-Girls world; but it all started here, with Julie Doucet.
The two-book box set collects her entire body of traditional comics work. The first book collects the full run of Dirty Plotte, issues 1-12, bound in order with their original covers. Book two contains, well, everything else, from very early work, to previously uncollected Dirty Plotte mini content (yes, there was a mini comic run of Dirty Plotte before the D+Q Dirty Plotte comics), to The Madame Paul Affair, and other bits and pieces from throughout her career that didn't make it into the Dirty Plotte comic book.
Plus, writing. Lots of it! With a career spanning essay by Dan Nadel, and supplementary writing to fully contextualize the scope of Julie's influence and legacy by Diane Noomin, Chris Oliveros, Adrian Tomine, Jami Attenberg, J.C. Menu, John Porcellino, Geneviève Castrée, Laura Park, and Martine Delvaux, plus two interviews—her original Comics Journal interview from the nineties and a current interview by Christian Gasser—there's a lot to sink your teeth into. Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet functions as an omnibus collection of Julie's work and a monograph.
Throughout the essays you'll find additional scraps from throughout her career—gig posters, photographs, unfinished comics, sketchbook excerpts, diary excerpt, and perhaps my favourite section, samples from her correspondence with fans. We're a long way from the zine-trading-by-mail culture of the nineties. Rooting through Julie's correspondence archives filled me with so much joy. Seeing the relationships with her fans, and friends, tracked through this slow, intimate process was pretty humbling.
My best anecdote from working on the book: I was at Julie's house one day, I think for a photoshoot, and midway through some mail plopped through the slot. In the pile was a letter from a fan turned friend. They'd been corresponding since the nineties and still maintain their relationship. My heart exploded a bit... As I said above: Julie's work means so much. To so many people.
And, perhaps my favourite part of the collection: the covers. Julie used the space—four surfaces in total—to talk about her life in comics. Starting as a young woman, confused about womanhood and feeling dissociated from the whole thing, and then moving through her career, discovering like-minded people, and settling into different ideas of womanhood, her fans helping her just as much as she helped them.
Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet is in stores now. If you're a fan you'll understand how momentous of an occasion this is. If you're yet to discover Julie's work, well, I'm a little envious you get to read it all for the first time. But even if you think you've got everything Julie's ever made, you're wrong. There's so much to discover in this tome that you've yet to clap eyes with.
Here's to Julie Doucet. One of the best of all time. If you're in Montreal, please join us, along with Jason Lutes, tonight at the shop to celebrate. Info here.