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Review: Between Gears TPB

The autobiographical webcomic Between Gears by Natalie Nourigat is being released by Image Comics this February and chronicles the author’s life as a senior in college. Each day of her final year at school is given a full page that deals with Nourigat’s trials, accomplishments, and social experiences with nothing held back.

Nourigat’s writing is hand-lettered and very personal. The entire book feels very conversational, as if you were having a phone conversation with her about her day. The only thing that falls flat about this is that it is more of a journal styled narrative, so there isn’t one ongoing story and it’s pretty fragmented. This is a pretty typical staple in the autobiographical comic book genre, and it’s not really one I’m a fan of. I couldn’t really get into the book because I wasn’t really invested in reading someone’s day to day life. I love slice of life stories; I just don’t really care for this type of narrative.

The artwork I have a completely different opinion on. Her pages start as very light and fun and the drawings slowly evolve into a more concise and clear style. By the end of the book Nourigat’s voice through ink on the page has changed just as much as she has as a person at the end of her senior year. It’s a wonderful process to see someone grow as an artist over time and reach the end of a very important part of their life.

It’s these two conflicting aspects of the book that didn’t really appeal to me. As a daily webcomic I’m sure it’s entertaining and fun to take a look at every day or so on her blog (also called “Between Gears”), but I just don’t see it as something I’d want to read again and again as a trade. It has a definite audience with other artists and people in school, but not a wide reach to fans outside of the autobiographical genre.

Overall I’d recommend this book for people who want to see into the life of a young woman perfecting her art and chronicling her life at school. But for people looking for fictional comics or a solid narrative I’d stray away from it. The artwork, again, is worth at least giving it a glance over.

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