As of late, I’ve been dedicating my time to delve into character design and color theory, and even though that has always been a topic of interest to me, over these past months I’ve had the chance to surround myself with it. As an artist, I am always looking to approach the table with a broader perspective. This deep dive has motivated me to view the comics and novels that I look forward to through a more critical lens, but by doing so, it has been more difficult to find anything that stood out. Well, it turns out I had to look no further than Europe Comic’s new series, Elle(s), a fascinating, coming of age story laced with heavy-hitting themes, with a strong reliance on the use of color and gorgeous style. Follow Elle, an outgoing teen on the outside, with a kaleidoscope of dueling personalities on the inside, waiting for their moment to strike, as she goes on ventures into her new school with her band of newfound friends. The question is, will they still stand by her as the five unpredictable caricatures of herself begin to show themselves? This incredible story of self-exploration, friendship, and internal struggle is out now, and you can find out more on how to get yourself a copy here.
We are only one issue in this series and already there is so much to unpack, starting with the brilliant artwork from Aveline Stokart. If you haven’t seen any of her work before, you’re missing out. You can check out more of her talent on her website. Before I even began to look into what this comic entails, the cover struck my eye. As an animation geek, the style and deliberate incorporation of color used in the row of ambivalent Elles caught my eye. Normally, I’d cater to the old saying and avoid judging a book by its cover, but in this case, I’d encourage it. There’s nothing I love more than a great cover, and this showcases just how beautiful the series is, setting the tone for what’s to come.
Diving into the actual contents of the first issue, the use of lighting, vibrant colors, and distinct style are remarkable. A lot of comic art tends to lean more towards a traditional, flatter style, and although I’m a sucker for those kinds of illustrations, especially if the comic has a good story driving it, I adore the dynamic animated look that these characters have. Just looking at the art without the incorporation of Kid Toussaint’s writing, it is an entertaining, fascinating depiction of the lead and the inner workings of her mind. When a comic plays with deeper themes and impactful storylines, the art plays a crucial role in bringing it all together, and in this case, her art is a masterpiece by itself. Throughout the story, different colors are used to represent Elle’s personalities, each more erratic than the last. I think that this concept is fascinating, and being as obsessed with color theory as I am, this got me even more enthralled in her character. Too often, colors are overused or misrepresented in characters, so it was so exciting to see such an interesting application of colors twisted into emotions. Another reason why this works so well is because of Stokart’s distinct style and polished character designs. If this was done any other way, visually I don’t think it would be as impactful, or maybe even work at all. The 3D feel of everything connects with the audience with ease, each movement of the characters almost popping off the page. So the raw emotion and tone changes captured through the different versions of her are made even more impactful paired with her detailed style.
Moving away from the art, and looking toward the writing, this gripping tale of internal conflict and friendship is thanks to Kid Toussaint. A lot of my favorite reads tend to be stories that include deeper, more meaningful themes while balancing that with humor and higher energy. Elle(s) is a perfect example of that idea exceeding expectations. This action-adventure juggles the relatability of adolescence with the struggle of facing one of the scariest and inescapable parts of life—yourself. Even though the series is based on the pillars of these heavier themes, the atmosphere is still very upbeat and inviting, with equal parts taking time to focus solely on that and the impact that it takes on the characters. One of my favorite points this tackles is the idea of isolation, but with demons following close behind, never actually being alone. For a comic directed more towards a teenage audience, I love that it handles concepts that can reach so many people in one way or another. The framework of his script allows for the art to come in and add the final step to bring the characters to life. These two incredible artists make a fantastic team, and I don’t think that this would have left such an impact on me if it was done by anyone else.
Elle(s): The New Girl is out now, and to order yourself a copy of this compelling and exciting tale, you can find out more here. I am so excited to see what’s next in store for Elle after this most recent cliffhanger, and for those of you seeking out a new series, I cannot recommend it enough. If you are looking for an exciting story and some awe-inspiring art, then look no further. Check back for information on future releases! Keep up with Toussaint (Twitter) and Stokart (Instagram) for even more of their amazing work, and to find more comics like this from Europe Comics. Hands down, 13/13.