The feminist 1990s comic series Dirty Plotte is collected here along with Doucet's other works from that period, including My New York Diary, rarer previously unpublished material, and essays about her comics legacy and influence.
Louche, mordant, funny, and surreal, Dirty Plotte comprises a mix of short and long comics—wordless and with dialogue, narrative and plotless, autobiographical and fictional (and everything between)—in which there are no rules. Nor are any subjects off-limits ... these comics are as pertinent and captivating today as when they first made their way into the culture ... Doucet’s parodic depictions of intense violence are still unsettling; her elastic treatment of sex and gender is still daring; and her open-ended treatment of female identity is still vital ... if the environment of Dirty Plotte is acutely Doucet’s own—relying primarily on dreams, fantasies, and imagined scenarios starring a version of herself—it is also freewheeling enough that readers, particularly women, can recognize something of themselves in it ... in calling out her fantasies and fears with words and pictures on the page, Doucet uses transgression to carve out a space of power and freedom. She revels in the joy of unfettered exploration, and her enthusiasm buoys otherwise dark subject matter ... Doucet’s distinctiveness is equally due to her highly graphic drawing style: packed, rambunctious black-and-white panels depicting cramped interiors swarming with bric-a-brac and busy street scenes alive with eccentric humanity.
Through her instantly authoritative characters, Doucet seeks less to tell a story than to contradict or augment her own mental positions. Perhaps comics are not so much a narrative form but a thinking one. Sex and the nonidealized life of the body is a thought throughout Plotte (menstruation, shitting, nose picking are often on view), but it’s an aspect of Doucet’s mind, not the feature itself ... Dirty Plotte documents Doucet’s genius on two fronts: the early issues are revolutionary, flowing from the diverse web of thought that she transcribed into her panels. Later, we have one of the best modern takes on the wing of comics laid down at the medium’s inception by the likes of Bud Fisher and George Herriman: caricatured storytelling, updated with a charge of contemporary life.
In her groundbreaking 1990s series, Dirty Plotte, Doucet delineated an aesthetic that was brazen, clever, funny, and broke taboos like they were cheap ceramic plates. Reading her comics, you could be excused for wishing you had an ounce of her fearlessness, at least when it came to putting ink on paper ... yet despite the gore and excess, there is a comical playfulness to Doucet’s work that belies (but does not completely negate) those transgressive aspects. Her panels are always bustling with activity and clutter; every object on the street or in her apartment seems capable of coming to life (and does in one particular comic) ... That sense of playfulness extends to her general amusement with the human body, particularly genitalia ... Doucet frequently crosses gender barriers herself in her stories, imagining herself as a man ... But if her attitude towards male anatomy is amused, her attitude towards men in general is decidedly less positive. The men in Doucet’s comics are shiftless and unreliable at best, malevolent and violent at worst.