Discuss how personal experiences are depicted both in visual terms and in narrative terms in the graphic novel My New York Diary by Julie Doucet.

Doucet’s use of diary entries with messy illustrations emphasizes the confusing, chaotic nature of her personal experiences in New York.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the graphic novel My New York Diary, Julie Doucet recounts her personal experience living in New York in the form of diary entries. She explains what is happening at the top of each page and then includes illustrations and dialogue that depict the scenes as they happened. This style provides readers with an intimate glimpse into her life and her personal point of view on what happened around her. For example, she recounts her first sexual encounter ever when she was eighteen with a much older man. Afterward, she says “Oh well” and “I guess this is it!” Her use of diary form allows her to show readers exactly how confused she felt as she lived through the experience.

Doucet also emphasizes her complicated feelings from this period with the use of high contrast, distorted visuals. This is a rather unique style that makes her work stand out among that of other comics. Consider the scene in which she is in coloring class. On the side, Doucet wrote, “The department of fine arts is the home of every reject and every lost soul.” She clearly used her drawing to emphasize that these students were misfits. Every student has smudges on their face and is wearing something or doing something that makes them appear abnormal. For instance, the man at the front has sunglasses, a mohawk, and an angry stare. The man behind Doucet has splotches all over his face and is over-dressed, while the man on the far right looks badly shaven and under-dressed. The facial features of all of the characters in the book are also somewhat distorted. These images underscore how they were all going through tough periods of their lives.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on