Pet Peeves

Writer / Artist
Pet Peeves
Pet Peeves graphic novel review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Avery Hill - 978-1-910395-72-1
  • Release date: 2023
  • UPC: 9781910395721
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Slice of Life

For most students working in a bar is the next step up from working in the local fast food joint, and while the idea of free drinks may initially seem alluring, the downsides rapidly become apparent in Nicole Goux’s first graphic novel. There’s an extra level of hell reserved for women fending off sleazy customers, never mind the ex-boyfriend turning up with his new partner. After one particularly bad night Bobbie returns home with a stray dog.

Goux’s cartooning is very attractive, tidy and expressive, bringing Paul Grist’s work to mind for the occasional similar use of space. Her characters come to life in well populated locations, they’re almost all friendly and appealing, and drawing them moving comes as easily to Goux as having them posed, which is a good technique to master early. A bonus is the layouts being creative.

This isn’t quite the form of horror story the publicity might lead you to believe. There are horrific events, but they’re domestic as Bobbie’s life remains the focus. Focus is the theme here in so many ways. Bobbie seems to lack it, accepting the knocks of life without fighting back, and is drifting along. Acquiring the responsibility of a chaotic dog brings that into focus as it drives a wedge between her and her flatmate.

Focus is also the issue for Goux herself. Pet Peeves comes in at over a hundred pages, but that’s achieved by a drifting form of storytelling. While Bobbie is central, she never steps beyond being a protagonist to a leading character because Goux’s story meanders away from her too often. While there’s a need to establish other people, especially Bobbie’s flatmate Steph, scenes of her without Bobbie aren’t needed. There’s a better case to be made for the full page illustrations acting as breaks between scenes, but there are still too many.

It’s a pity as the final scenes show Goux has a handle on dramatic pacing and an emotionally resonant scene near the end surprises, but the actual payoff is puzzling, and seemingly tacked on. The drawing raises Pet Peeves back up to average, and it sets a benchmark for a creator whose progress is going to be worth watching, but Pet Peeves will in time become the rarely mentioned first outing.