I’m not sure that I have ever reached the end of a trade and not been sure what I just read.
Today, that changed.
I picked up Snotgirl because I’m a fan of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim. And let’s be clear: there’s no question to me of the quality of O’Malley and co-creator/series artist Leslie Hung’s work here. The book is character-driven, only in this case it centers around a complete narcissist. A fashion blogger who marginalizes everyone around her, Lottie Person has a terrible secret: she suffers from allergies. And after her allergist switches her to trial drug, she snaps and murders a competitor.
Or she doesn’t? This is the central ambiguity: she may or may not have killed someone. She may or may not be hallucinating them. One trade in, I still don’t know. Underneath all this, O’Malley seeds in Lottie’s near-constant anxiety. Everything hinges on a main character who is a pretty terrible person sometimes, but who remains relatable despite that. O’Malley’s pulling off some writing kung fu, here. And while I may not be sure exactly what has (or hasn’t) happened, I’m definitely curious what’s next.
Hung’s art is stylized and cartoony, with a manga/anime vibe to it. Her panels are tight and focused on characters’ faces and expressions, and the book’s style has a light, airy feel to it. This comes in part from Mickey Quinn’s colors, which trend toward pastels and neons. It’s not set in the ‘80s, and despite the palette never feels like it is. I also want to mention the lettering in this book. A lot of times, lettering is functional and invisible—if someone notices it, usually that means there’s an issue. But Maré Odomo juggles multiple character voices, internal snark, inner monologue, text messages, third person narration, and title cards with a clear, clean visual language that keeps all that from becoming confusing when on the same page together.
Snotgirl is a phenomenally skillfully executed book. After reading it, I feel like its creators are playing a game with me. Even when I think I see a beat coming, I don’t know if it happened or if I’m just doing the job of Lottie’s anxiety-fueled imagination. “Playfully antagonistic,” might be the best way to describe it. If that sounds like something you’d be into, you’re probably a little masochistic (says the pot to the kettle), but go for it. I’ll be picking up more.
- Snotgirl, Vol. 1: Green Hair Don’t Care (#1-5)
Writer: Bryan Lee O’Malley | Artist: Leslie Hung | Colorist: Mickey Quinn | Letterer: Maré Odomo