Jones, Help Sister Chevrolet Prevent Fire in Your Home!
Julie Doucet’s Carpet Sweeper Tales holds retro advertising hostage
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
2:00PM, Wed. Apr. 20, 2016
Julie Doucet, she of that provocative Dirty Plotte series of comics you might recall galvanizing the graphics-loving mindscape of your younger years, has a new book out via Canada’s excellent Drawn & Quarterly: Carpet Sweeper Tales.
Doucet’s taken a wealth of panels from Seventies Italian fumetti (what those of us so close to Mexico would more likely call fotonovelas) and reconstructed them using shards of dialogue ganked from the hyperbolic texts of vintage ad campaigns for, oh, cars and household appliances and laundry detergents and products of feminine hygiene.
How well this succeeds in any deep undermining of outmoded cultural standards and the commercial bullshit that supported them is secondary, we suggest, to the sheer stoooopid hilarity of the language/image juxtapositions of the fractured narratives the artist’s rendered here. But of course that hilarity is abetted by how 1) current cultural standards are only slightly shifted from those of the past and will also become – quickly, now! – similarly outmoded, and 2) commercial bullshit is, like human vanity and those who prey upon it, eternal.
What we’re saying is: This Carpet Sweeper Tales is one sharp & culturally incisive box of yocks, liberally mixed with nonsense, and god forbid you should attempt to read it while you’re stoned – because then? Especially if you try to read it aloud? You might laugh yourself into a seizure, citizen: It’s that kind of funny.
The only drawback to this newest volume, as with Doucet’s other collage-y works, is that, well … we miss her drawing, you know? Just the way the woman puts pen to paper in depicting characters moving through complex environments loaded with the (sometimes sentient) objects of quotidian life, that’s something that, regardless of narrative flow or even any storylike coherence at all, we’ve always loved.
At least this Carpet Sweeper Tales is a fine – O Chevy! New foaming action, b-babyy! – consolation prize.