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Between Gears: A Review

Natalie Nourigat comic

This past weekend was Emerald City Comic Con, my personal chance to access the massive world of comic creators within a relatively short distance of my home. While there certainly a lot of bigger name creators there (such as Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Bryan Lee O’Malley, etc.), my main pull to these events is meeting the more independent creators. Natalie Nourigat and her debut-more-massively-produced work Between Gears was one of the things I was most excited about for the convention and one of my personal highlights (partially because she made a ‘Thank You’ sketch in the book).

Between Gears is an autobiographical work detailing the daily events of Natalie’s senior year of college from September to June. It works so that each day from the beginning until the end occupies a single page. The page won’t contain all the details from that day, but the highlights or maybe just one particular event. While this concept isn’t entirely original, it’s the concept of using the daily sketch diary to frame the transition of a life-changing event (finishing college and preparing for life after) that makes this comic work so well. It feels more organic to how the flow of life works. The idea of a visual diary works better than a narrative or even a text diary in this case because the use of visuals adds to shifting emotions and makes them easily digestible to the reader. As someone who is currently in a similar life position as the sketch diary details, I found a lot of connections to the work. At the same time I feel like this identification can be made by many people who have had some sort of major transition in their lives.

There are two printing errors with repeated dates, October 26 and May 21, but otherwise the whole thing is put together well. There’s even a nifty bonus material section at the end where Natalie talks about some the production elements going into the work.

As noted, the art in Between Gears shifts dependent upon the emotions. It ranges from ‘chibi-style’ and detailed sketches, but sits somewhere in a mixture of Studio Ghibli styled character designs and western comics. The inking for the comic is great throughout. There are some pages with some splendid stills, but the main intent of the art is emotion. Since every page is a description of part of a day there is an emphasis of having the art reflect the perception of that day. Even without the text you can tell what kind of emotions are being conveyed simply by looking at the art style.

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed Between Gears. I found that the daily visual sketch diary format really worked well to describe a transitional point in life. The art added to this by conveying the necessary emotions. I could personally connect to it, since I am currently a college senior, but I feel like most people would find something they could resonate with in the work. I do recommend giving it a shot.

Between Gears is owned by Natalie Nourigat. It is written and drawn by her. It’s distributed by Image Comics.

 

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