If you are a fan of a particular comics artist’s work then the advantage of projects like Nicole Goux’s Rituals – a self-described mini-art book of illustrations from Silver Sprocket – is that it provides an opportunity to dwell on aspects of their style and practice that you may have subconsciously appreciated when reading their sequential work but not actively analysed. In Rituals Goux presents us with 20-plus single-page illustrations of individuals getting ready to go out for the night and, in the process, reminds us of her intuitive command of the art of visual characterisation.
Goux imbues these images of the “sacred rites” pre-socialising with a meditative quality that elevates the seemingly mundane into the almost spiritual. Here we watch as selfies are taken, make-up is applied, and legs are shaved, alll as if part of a sacred ceremony; a vital observance that must be fulfilled as part of the order of things.
What connects the reader so firmly with each subject here is the way in which Goux either centres them or positions them in the foreground of each image, ensuring our concentration is initially on each character before we open up into the wider story that their environment, belongings and personal spaces hint at. In that sense entire possible stories can be bound up in one illustration, leading to a kind of sidestepping of the traditional comics between-the-panels reading comprehension and moving us, instead, towards considering the narrative outside the panel.
Each image can give off very different vibes. There are scenes of concentration, anticipation, frustration, excitement and more. All using carefully applied colour schemes to match the mood of each page; sometimes striking, sometimes delicate, but always a crucial piece of visual storytelling in building up tone and atmosphere. Goux’s cartooning is a step or two back from pure realism and, as such, ironically gives us a world we can relate to all the more closely.
Rituals may be shorter in length but it offers plenty to linger on and visually digest. The perfect entry point into the work of the Forest Hills Bootleg Society artist for those looking for a starting point for further exploration.
Nicole Goux (A) • Silver Sprocket, $12.99
Review by Andy Oliver