Saturday 22 January 2011

Reluctant stars of the comix universe

The Books section in today's Globe and Mail includes three reviews I wrote about new works from Seth, Chris Ware and Julie Doucet. You can find it here.

I had strong feelings about all of these books, but I was most conflicted about Doucet's latest. Like the die-hard fans I mention in the lead, I snap up anything she produces, and I'm always ashamed at myself for being a little disappointed with the results. Her art is great -- no doubt about that -- but her decade-plus abstention from comics makes her work hard to assess.

It's as if she gets as close to making comics as possible, without actually making comics, and the result always seems to suffer somehow. I respect her decision to part part artistically with comics in favour of other creative pursuits, but why put out a book titled My New New York Diary (a spin on her best-selling graphic novel, My New York Diary) if you aren't prepared to engage with comics or cartooning in some way? Even if you're unwilling to make actual comics, why can't you discuss that break with comics -- and your choice to make an illustrated book?

The end result of her creative reluctance is a book that feels half-hearted; which is something I never thought I'd say about Doucet, one of the most fearless artists of her day.


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