Julie Doucet is a pioneer in the art world. Her stories, drawings, collages and poems have inspired so many artists. I am currently in the process of trying to collect all of her books and zines. Doucet’s departure from the comic world left an imprint in the industry forever. Ladygunn caught up with her to talk about the comic world, colleges, secret projects and her life as an artist.
LG:What were your inspirations when you were first starting out in your career? What made you want to do Dirty Plotte?
JD: When I first started to draw comics I wasn’t starting a career. I didn’t even expect to ever be published: such a thing seemed impossible. It was in the 80’s, there really was no future at the time, so might as well do something you liked. Which was for me drawing silly stories. No censorship whatsoever, total freedom. I knew guys who were doing fanzines. I joined them, but eventually got frustrated with them because they were too lazy, too slow. So I decided to create my own. It was my home, my art space.
LG: How did you feel while working on your final issue of Dirty Plotte? Did you feel like you were closing a chapter in your life?
JD: I was SO tired and sick of drawing comics at that point, it was a big relieve. I was certainly closing a chapter… in my artistic life, yes. Also I did come back to Montréal around that time (I was living in Berlin). But it wasn’t related.
LG: How was Ciboire de criss received by your American audience? Was there a different process for writing a book in French book rather than English?
JD: I was first published in English by drawn & quarterly. Ciboire de criss is actually a translation from English to French! I did the translation. It’s not like I wanted to be published in English, it just happened. I really liked writing in English…writing in a foreign language is fun; it’s like trying to figure out a puzzle. Also, you are not self-conscious about your writing, your are more free in general. I loved it. And people loved my funny French way of writing in English.
LG: What language to mostly write in now?
JD: French. I am more confident now. And see no point in writing in English anymore.
LG: Was being educated in a Catholic School a big influence you art in anyway?
JD: I don’t think so. It made me despise any form of religion, that’s about it.
LG: Was the comic world eager to accept you when you were first starting out?
JD: Eager, no. 99% of the cartoonist at the time were men. Not every one of them were (was?) interested in reading a girl comic. I felt like a girl going to work building houses with the carpenter guys. They were nice, I was some kind of a curiosity, such a sweet looking girl I was, and drawing such dirty comics. I immediately got respect anyway.
LG: If you could do one thing over and over again for the rest of your life what would it be?
JD: A fanzine. Black on cheap newsprint silkscreen printed. That I could do for the rest of my life.
LG: What first appealed to you about comics?
JD: The spontaneity, the lightness of it, the freedom, the punk attitude…I am talking here of the way you would do comics when I started, with the fanzine dirty plotte. I think the spirit of it has changed quite a lot: now you can go to school to learn how to draw comics. I feel drawing comics is like playing electric guitar: you have to learn it by yourself.
LG: What is your favorite thing to write about?
JD: I take all my material from my own life experience, I’m afraid. Except for the poetry (written with cut-out words too) I wish I could write fiction…it’s very difficult. For me autobiography is a disease.
LG: What are you working on now?
JD: I don’t want to tell, but very recently I have been making very short animation films. Nothing narrative. It’s all abstract, or words only. A friend of mine is doing the soundtrack…
LG: What is your magazine collection like? Do you collect them?
JD: The only magazines I sort of collect are the old women’s magazines I use for my collages; great material for writing…
LG: What do you feel like is the best book you have done to date?
JD: “J comme je” my autobiography from 0 to 15 years old written with cut-out words. 208 pages.
LG: What is your life like as an artist on one word?