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365 DaysReview - 365 Days
A Diary
by Julie Doucet
Drawn and Quarterly, 2008
Review by Christian Perring
Dec 23rd 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 52)

Julie Doucet is a graphic artist from Montreal.  Her original language is French, and this diary of one year of her life from November 2002 was originally written in French, and published in 2004 as Journal.  She translated it into English herself, and often the translation is clumsy ("Nice weather since a couple of days") but it sounds like a French person speaking English.  Historically it was an interesting year with the start of the Gulf War: Doucet's appalled perspective on the actions of the USA is salutary.  However, that plays only a small role in her diary: the bulk of it is about the details of her day to day life, who she had lunch or dinner with (she has a busy social life), what she is working on, and who has or has not paid her.  She goes on a couple of trips to Europe during the year, and she goes to a few signings and comic conventions.  Some of this will be much more interesting to those who know the people she is talking about: for example, she often mentions her dealings with Chris at D&Q, and at one point it looks like D&Q might fold, which worries her, but then they become financially viable again.  She mentions other comic book artists she meets at conventions, and readers who know all about the comic book / graphic novel world may be particular fascinated by her depictions of them.  For the rest of us, this inside information is not very revealing, especially since she often refers to people by their first names or by their initials, so we have very little idea who they are.  However, the book does give a sense of what it is like to be a relatively well known alternative graphic artist -- it is far from being a glamorous life, and Doucet is obviously a hard worker.  The simple dedication involved in creating this diary while doing all her other projects demonstrates that.  It is a visually interesting work: Doucet's drawing are full of energy and she keeps her format very varied, occasionally using cutouts from old magazines or decorating the pages with illustrations.  However, only the truly dedicated reader is going to read every page carefully, and, as with life, it would have been helpful to be able to skip to the interesting bits -- after a while, "another day of working on linocuts" gets old.  365 Days in an unusual work, and while it is probably not the best place to start if you are interested in Doucet's art, it will appeal to her fans. 

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© 2008 Christian Perring

Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.


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