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Book Reviews Review: Julie Doucet's Carpet Sweeper Tales pushes the boundaries of what makes a comic

Title
Carpet Sweeper Tales
Author
Julie Doucet
Genre
Graphica
Publisher
Drawn & Quarterly
Pages
184
Price
$19.95

In the years since the end of her landmark series Dirty Plotte, Julie Doucet has rarely strayed far from comics – so long as you're generous about what you call comics. Carpet Sweeper Tales marks a culmination of the artist's Dadaist experiments with collaged words and images, pushing at the boundaries of comics till they pop. Starting with suites of posed photos from 1960s Italian picture-novels – pomaded men in sports coats, cruising in Fiats with bored women in winged eyeliner – Doucet pastes new word balloons over top of these melodramas, taking ad copy from old homemaking magazines and shuffling it into burbling pidgin. "Pudding," one man's speech bubble squawks, "me will Karpet-Kare of you." His lover replies, "Ford you sweepmaster!" Doucet often conflates her found-photo characters with postwar consumer goods: the funniest bit has a motorcycle gang stuttering through an argument about "gggggirlss" and their "FFFfFemfeminine napkinss." Throughout, the artist emphasizes the absurd distances that divide word from image, products from people, or men from women, all stammered out in a fidgety, jazzy brand of visual poetry – "Read it out loud," as the preface commands.

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