Image courtesy of Julie Doucet
Former underground cartoon artist Doucet makes comic book-like diaries that deal, rather explicitly, with issues of sex, menstruation, and violence. Looking at Doucet’s work, one is plunged into shadowy, dreamlike version of daily life that is, unfortunately, all too real. See more images from her books on her website — they are not to be missed.
Image courtesy of Olivier Kugler
Kugler houses his rather epic collection of illustrated journals on his website, in a section called “Drawn From Real Life.” Each book features intricate, lightly colored drawings dotted with spare descriptions. Together they create a visual poetry that takes “poignant” to another level entirely.
Keith Haring, Manhattan Penis Drawings for Ken Hicks, 1978 Graphite on paper; 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches. Image courtesy of Gladstone Gallery
Though he’s no longer alive, Keith Haring’s journals are currently on view at the Gladstone Gallery. Made famous by his chalk drawings in the subways in the 1980s, the pop-graffiti artist kept illustrated journals throughout his career, some of which are now referred to as the “Manhattan Penis Drawings.” While Haring might be best remembered for taking up AIDS in his art, his work also explored apartheid and the crack cocaine epidemic. Before he died of AIDS in 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation as a way to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs. His early journals provide insight into the causes that would come to dominate his artistic career.
Phoebe Gloeckner’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures chronicles the life of Minnie, a precocious 15-year-old who wanders through a number of shattering sexual experiences and is routinely abandoned and abused by all who enter her life. This coming-of-age diary alternates between vivid drawings and raw text.
Peter Beard, perhaps most famous for his photographs of rockstars like Mick Jagger and David Bowie, supermodels like Iman and Veruschka, and endangered African elephants (and for being once married to Cheryl Tiegs) got his start creating illustrated diaries, which he still makes today. His opulent diaries are available for purchase — that is, if you’d like to spend nearly $4000.
The artistic and literary legend documents his addiction to opium in Opium: The Illustrated Diary of His Cure . The book is filled with evocative pen-and-ink illustrations, documenting the artist’s addiction and withdrawal.
Image courtesy of Janice Lowry
Best known for her dreamy, surrealist-like assemblages of found objects, artist Janice Lowry kept illustrated diaries through since age 11. The journals were acquired into the Smithsonian’s Archive of American Art after her death in 2009. Selections can (and should!) be seen on the artist’s website.
Image via Luis Mendo’s Flickr
Art director Luis Mendo kept this diary, which can be found on Flickr, throughout his trip to Tokyo. His sinuous watercolors and drawings are matched by text featuring deer-in-headlights moments common to tourists, which make for a surprisingly comic reading experience. The journal will resonate with anyone who has found himself baffled and lost within a foreign country.