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MY NEW YORK DIARY by Julie Doucet

MY NEW YORK DIARY

By Julie Doucet

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-896597-23-8
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

paper 1-896597-24-6 Among the younger generation of alternative comix artists, Doucet (best known for her comic book, Dirty Plotte) stands out for her engaging combination of a cartoonish style and frank realism; her postfeminist autobiographical tales are tough and self- effacing, bitchy and sweet, and all peopled with her rubbery characters with goofy oversized heads. This beautifully produced volume collects two short stories, both set in Doucet’s native Montreal, and the long title piece, a tale of misbegotten bohemianism in latter-day Manhattan. “The First Time” records Doucet’s unromantic deflowering, soon after graduating from convent school, by an aging hippie. The great backgrounds, full of visual jokes, also contribute to “Julie in Junior College,” a hapless tale of her subsequent days in art school. The bulk of this b&w collection is made up of Doucet’s episodic New York diary, a memoir of her year in the city that begins in romantic bliss, builds to a messy breakup, and ends with her escape to Seattle. Endpaper photographs prove Doucet’s claim that her Washington Heights neighborhood is exceedingly grimy, not just in her deliberately messy drawings. If anything, her rich comedic style softens the scuzziness—the endless cockroaches and garbage-strewn sidewalks seem funny in her heavily littered frames. With her new beau, Julie guzzles beer by the case, begins to worry about work, and longs to move closer to the action on the Lower East Side. As her career takes off (there’s a RAW party scene with a cameo by Art Spiegelman), her lover’s career goes nowhere, and he grows increasingly angry and needy, a pattern that culminates in a particularly awful scene on the subway. All of Doucet’s panels charm with their clutter and with her self-portrait as a sartorially challenged, scraggly haired waif (literally wide-eyed) who’s not as weak as she first seems. The hand-lettering, with some misspellings (French is the artist’s first language), adds to the overall effect: spunky and smart, Doucet is the true voice of grrrrl power.