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Julie Doucet is the shock rocker of cartoonists disguised as a gag-femme hooked on genital and bathroom humour. This hardcover is a new and improved re-release of strips from her comic Dirty Plotte published in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Every short story recounts a dream-really a nightmare, despite her lunge for laughs in many of them. The subject can be as mundane as hating her job or buying a brassiere. On the other hand, many of her dreams seem to involve becoming a man, or at least possessing a penis, with the treatment more in the tone of slapstick than envy. She also has many dreams about giving birth, but usually to cats. She maintains that she really did dream the dreams she presents to us, but I think Dr. Freud would conclude that the meanings are closer to that good cigar than any deep realisation of sexuality or being.

Amusing and engaging as the stories are, the artwork is absolutely spellbinding. She populates her images with purposefully two-dimensional people creating a flat-land of existence that truly seems reflected in a mirror of dreams. What is astonishing is the complexity of the scenery and backgrounds. Her world overflows with all the objects in existence, her panels seemingly too small to contain them all. She assembles myriad textures using cross-hatching, dots, squares, pinpoints, slashes and puddles of ink. Nary an iota of panel is free of the clutter of objects and shading. Doucet is the queen of primitive comic book art. (Lloyd Chesley)

by Julie Doucet, $24.95, 120 pgs, Drawn and Quarterly, P.O. Box 48056, Montreal, QC, H2V 4S8,

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