Carpet sweeper

Carpet Sweeper Tales review by Julie Doucet

Writer / Artist: Julie doucet
Editor: Pulled & Quarterly
Release date: March 29, 2016

carpet sweeper.jpgFrench-Canadian designer Julie Doucet hasn’t done a proper comic for nine years, but she remains a major influence in the field. Without Dirty land, her autobiographical series published by Drawn & Quarterly in the 90s, we probably wouldn’t have Lisa Hanawalt, who has a lighter touch but a similar desire to push boundaries while investigating femininity. Carpet Sweeper Tales, Doucet’s new book, isn’t exactly comics. Except that it probably is.

Comprised of short stories made from photo collages – using Italian photo novels for the visuals and speech bubbles from vintage magazines – it is not “drawn” in the traditional sense. But the Italian word “fumetti”, which means “photo novel”, also means “comic strip”. Also, if the collage isn’t a comic book, what about David Rees? What about the fucking Jack Kirby? This stuff is sequential art which also happens to be appropriation art. That doesn’t make it “not comic,” and D + Q’s use of the Ben-Day stitches for the design printed on the inside of the paperback cover is a big, old nod. eye in that direction.

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Sweeper Tales interior art rug by Julie Doucet

The real question is whether Carpet Sweeper Tales is readable or if it’s too arty for its own good. This answer probably depends on you and your level of patience. Doucet says she wants you to read all of the dialogue aloud, but that doesn’t necessarily make more sense when it’s announced. The characters have exchanges like “Because Be Ba naly ap hoa wa Wo CA Coo spinc ra ori coa BE ney” and “bo? Some of them are saying things that are not even words, but just drawings in a loop. And yet, this is not nonsense either. It’s a bit like watching a Danish movie without the subtitles: you can catch about 15% of what the characters are saying, thanks to their language’s close relationship to ours. Much of the significance lies in the way they look at each other, especially when they are trapped behind the wheels of their automobiles. There’s a lot of Douglas Sirk-style nostalgia and a desire for the quick and the new, so Doucet’s use of late 1940s to about 1970s typefaces – mostly taken from commercials – is appropriate.

In some ways, Carpet Sweeper Tales is oddly consistent with the author’s previous work: Women are trapped, coveted, beaten, crushed, booed, and generally without any power of action. Men suppress their homosexual desires by limiting their discourse to the objectification of women. It’s not exactly a novel about the time, but neither is it. The result is interesting, although often confusing. Not only is the content often confusing, but you don’t understand if you should to understand. Whether you like it or not it probably depends on your own tolerance for artists who play games, but there’s no doubt it’s interesting.

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Sweeper Tales interior art rug by Julie Doucet