photo & text by nacrowe
thing that struck me about HOUSE OF WOMEN (FANTAGRAPHICS, 2017) by SOPHIE GOLDSTEIN was how beautifully illustrated it was. if i had to pinpoint a style, it would be informed by the likes of AUBREY BEARDSLEY, traditional JAPANESE UKIYO-E woodblock prints, GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM and a hint of HINDU ICONOGRAPHY and MUGHAL ARCHITECTURE thrown in the mix. i found myself looking repeatedly at the panels and just basking in the potency of the visuals which were just stunning throughout.
the narrative itself follows four women that on a fact-finding mission from an intergalactic empire that seeks to learn about the far limits of its reach and the inhabitants therein. the more involved these four women become with the local inhabitants and the CULTURE therein, the more they become drawn into a PSYCHODRAMA that they have little control over. plot-wise it reminds me of a short story (whose author i forget) i read in college about a man that starts dating a woman out of pity, only to get sucked into the relationship and ultimately become discarded in the process. the short story and this graphic novel both play with notions of POWER, CONTROL and ROMANTIC DOMINANCE. its always interesting when those who feel they are in control of a situation learn that it is them that are being manipulated.
i feel like the pure artistry of the panels themselves leaves the reader in a similar position whereby we are being sucked into a narrative that we have little control over as well, but very much enjoy the seduction nonetheless. i highly recommend HOUSE OF WOMEN to anyone interested in theory surrounding ORIENTALISM, POST-COLONIALISM or FEMINIST theory. it is a graphic novel most definitely worth seeking out and exploring and coming to your own conclusions about.