Dirty Plots


IMAGE/Drawn and Quarterly/Pop Matters

A look at Canadian cartoonist Julie Doucet’s feminist comics

It’s unusual for anyone to wish they could be as cool as a cartoonist, but Julie Doucet is the rare exception to that rule. In her groundbreaking 1990s series, Dirty Plotte, Doucet delineated an aesthetic that was brazen, clever, funny, and broke taboos like they were cheap ceramic plates. Reading her comics, you could be excused for wishing you had an ounce of her fearlessness, at least when it came to putting ink on paper.

Now, all 12 issues of that seminal series have been collected in the rather massive The Complete Dirty Plotte, an impressive two-volume slipcase that also includes stories done for anthologies, essays, interviews, and other esoterica.

Doucet got her start in the heady “alternative” world of zines and mini-comics, where people, in the pre-Internet days, would photocopy or publish their musings in art in a small pamphlet or magazine and send it to folks through the mail. The initial attention she received with those early comics (as well as some appearances in notable anthologies like Weirdo) led to her getting picked up by Drawn and Quarterly, the first regular artist in their soon-to-be impressive stable (up till then they had been solely devoted to publishing a quarterly anthology).

Right from the get go Doucet made it clear she was taking no prisoners and offering no apologies. The title, she explains on the very first page of the very first issue, is a Quebecois slur for vagina (or a woman with loose morals). After a few examples of everyday usage, Doucet glares at us with a sultry look, drooling lips, and a razor blade necklace, saying, “You know, plotte is a very dirty word . . . ”

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