“Guys aren’t shy about women’s bodies. Why would I bother? »

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Quebecer Julie Doucet (57), who claims to be a feminist, created a surprise at the end of the 1990s by retiring from comics, an environment that was too masculine in her eyes. She only returned to it recently, just before the Angoulême Festival awarded her its Grand Prix, in 2022.

Read also: Julie Doucet, a “feminist to the core” and underground Angoulême Grand Prix

I wouldn’t have come here if…

… If, at the age of 12, I hadn’t come across a novel by Christiane Rochefort, which then made me want to read all her books. There were a lot of female characters in it who are looking for themselves, young women who want to free themselves from their chains and not concede anything to the way they live or dress… I went from tomboy to woman, with a capital F .

How did you come across a novel by this French writer, emblematic of the 1960s, who was involved in all the fights for the liberation of women?

It was at a friend’s, in the summer, in a barn converted into a playroom. The novel was lying around there. It was a really defining moment for the shy child that I was. This reading reinforced my idea that I had to be myself and not conform to what others wanted me to be.

What kind of child were you?

A little girl from the middle class Canadian who dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. My parents had enrolled me in a Catholic school for wealthy people, which was not their case. They weren’t religious either, but they thought I was safer in an all-girls class. Since I was passively resisting education, I never found myself in the best classes. I was drawing all the time.

How did your parents experience your choice to engage in artistic studies?

When they separated, my mother became a probation officer. And my father took over the plumbing business where his own father had hired him after he left school. They would have preferred that I go to design school, in order to have a real job, as a graphic designer. But I just did what I wanted, and they let me. It is true that there were also “artists » in the family. One of my aunts made puppets, another did screen printing and my uncle was a film producer. Nobody put me in the wheel.

You hadn’t specifically planned to devote yourself to comics…

In the preparatory class where I was enrolled, there was a theoretical course on comics. They studied rather classical works, such as Valerian, of Mézières and Christin. I remember the intervention of a student who had pointed out that there were also authors in comics, like Chantal Montellier or Nicole Claveloux, whom I had never heard of. It was a major discovery. At the time, I was unable to think what I was going to do next. The world economy was doing badly, there was a lot of unemployment and a lot of cynicism among young people about the future. Coming out of studies in plastic arts, I was certain of not finding a job.

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