Time Out New York | Hillary Chute | February 6, 2008
365 Days reviewed by Time Out New York
The Montreal-based Julie Doucet has been an adored figure on the comics scene since she first published Dirty Plotte (translation: “dirty cunt”) as a xeroxed minicomic in 1991—a raw, sometimes surreal, often grotesque series that frequently satirizes bodily issues (including plenty of menstrual blood and detached penises). In 1999, Doucet’s star power was sealed with the publication of My New York Diary, a gorgeously rendered account of living with her jealous, drug-loving, New York–residing boyfriend; it’s possibly the best book ever about a soured relationship.
For some time now, though, Doucet has not been as present to a wide audience as she was in the late ’90s, when Le Tigre gave her a shout-out on “Hot Topic.” That’s because five years ago, she renounced comics and turned her attention to high art. What’s so exciting, then, about 365 Days is that it feels like comics, even as it nods to other art forms like illustration and collage.
365 Days is a record of every day of Doucet’s life for a year, starting on October 31, 2002. The narrative is delightful on multiple levels. Unlike many comics autobiographies, Doucet’s is engaged with politics and history, and her French-Canadian revulsion to the U.S. invasion of Iraq feels fresh. So does her sense of place: Anyone interested in the Montreal scene or underground publishing will have many specifics to feast on, as bands, bars, printing practices and art openings take up much of the story. Best of all, the book presents us with the textures of an artist’s life—the just-scraping-by anxieties, creative breakthroughs and freedom of unstructured days. Funny and unpretentious, Doucet is snappy and irritable and optimistic—often all at once.