The Madame Paul Affair

Julie Doucet, Author Drawn & Quarterly $7.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-896597-34-8
Best known for her hilariously scabrous autobiographical comics series Dirty Plotte, Doucet originally serialized this short graphic novel in Montreal's weekly newspaper Ici. It's a curious memoir; the eponymous Madame Paul is the friendly, dotty janitor of the rooming house where Doucet and her boyfriend, Andr , live. Despite the on-site boyfriend, Madame Paul keeps trying to set up Doucet with her nephew, the building's landlord. Other tenants range from creepy to overtly violent. When Madame Paul disappears, Doucet and her friends investigate and get caught up in the janitor's even more mysterious family business. This sounds like the recipe for a conventional thriller, but the tone is more like a pleasantly rambling, anecdotal letter from a friend. Doucet's work can take a while to get used to: she's a stylist rather than a representational cartoonist, and her characters are big-headed, lopsided, wrinkly masses of flesh. She writes in the distinctively awkward but comic cadences of a Francophone with wobbly English (""Hm... Madame Paul is still being absent""). But she's also a natural, albeit eccentric, storyteller, and every messy detail crammed into each panel of the book indicates how much she loves to draw out the subtle comedy in ordinary things. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
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