cover image Time Zone J

Time Zone J

Julie Doucet. Drawn and Quarterly, $29.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-77046-498-8

Doucet (Dirty Plotte) returns to autobio comics after departing the scene to focus on fine art and poetry (“I had vowed never ever to draw myself again” she reflects in the opening pages) with this brave and playful graphic memoir that lands as a full-bore visual assault. Free-flowing recollections, based on Doucet’s diary entries, gradually develop into the story of her long-distance relationship with a French soldier she calls “the hussar” and their eventual meeting in Paris. In between, Doucet imagines the past as “a big sugary milkshake” and spills her experiences with art, writing, fantasies, fears, the community of DIY artists that thrived in the zine scene of the 1980s and ’90s, and anything else that comes to mind. Each page is a collage of faces and body parts—friends, celebrities, advertising images, animals, cartoon characters, and Doucet herself—crowding out any hint of negative space as word balloons struggle to squeeze through the cracks. The overall impression is one of a wave of dreams, memories, and associations pouring over the reader all at once. To anyone expecting an orderly narrative, Doucet warns, “This book was drawn from bottom to top. Please read accordingly.” Doucet is renowned as one of the pioneers of Gen-X indie comics, but this feels like a throwback to the 1960s underground and its trippy embrace of chaos. At the same time, it’s entirely her own statement. Both longtime and new fans will be rewarded by this frenetic missive that warrants multiple read-throughs. (Apr.)