Canadian cartoonist Julie Doucet awarded Grand Prix at Angoulême International Comics Festival

The Montreal comic book author is the third woman to be honoured with the lifetime achievement award.
Julie Doucet began publishing her visionary comic book series Dirty Plotte in the 1990s. (Kate Mada)

Montreal artist and comic book author Julie Doucet has been awarded the Grand Prix at the 49th Angoulême International Comics Festival. 

The prize is a career recognition award and the highest award in European cartooning. Doucet is the third woman in the history of the festival to receive the Grand Prix.

French cartoonists Catherine Meurisse and Pénélope Bagieu were also in the running this year.

Doucet was selected by a vote involving 1,820 comic book authors. Last year's winner, American cartoonist Chris Ware, presented her with the award on stage on the opening night of the festival. 

"Thank you so much. I'm overwhelmed. It's hard to believe it all began from nothing, from a little fanzine in the 1980s with a dirty little name and now I find myself receiving the most important prize in the comics industry," Doucet said.

Doucet began drawing and publishing mini comics in 1988. She started her groundbreaking autobiographical strip, Dirty Plotte, in the 1990s, becoming an underground heroine and winning the Harvey Award for best new talent. Her comics — part-dream, part-diary — have been published serially and in collected formats. They explore feminism, sexuality and gender. She famously quit the male-dominated comics industry in the late 1990s to focus on her other artwork. 

An excerpt from Dirty Plotte by Julie Doucet. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Hamilton)

In a press release, the festival said:

"Twenty-two years have passed since Julie Doucet last produced a comic strip! Some of the artists who voted this year were not yet born when she published the last volume of her Dirty Plotte series in 1999. This goes to show that the comics world has memory, and above all, that Julie Doucet's work — which has greatly influenced comic artists from the world over — never ceases to renew itself! 

Julie Doucet's work — which has greatly influenced comic artists from the world over — never ceases to renew itself!- Angoulême International Comics Festival

"The Canadian author was a pioneer of the autobiographical comics genre; between 1987 and 1999, she published fanzines and comics (notably the 12 issues of the mythical Dirty Plotte) to recount her daily life, as well as her dreams and nightmares. With her extraordinary linework, grungy yet superbly elegant in her oh-so personal and brashly free style, she has produced a radically feminist body of work that tackles themes seldom addressed, especially in such a direct manner: the body, menstruation, sexual fantasies, gender issues and more.

"The Festival is honoured to welcome such a great author this year. And although she hasn't published new work for a while now, rumour has it she isn't quite done with the comics realm yet!"

Doucet is set to return with Time Zone J next month. It is her first inked comic since quitting the industry. 

Time Zone J is set in 1989 and follows a 23-year-old Doucet, as she flies to France to meet with a soldier she only knows through mail correspondence. The comic is based on diary entries from the whirlwind romance and overflows with images of the places and people that have inspired Doucet across more than three decades of work.

Time Zone J will be published by Drawn & Quarterly in April 2022.