In which Sulfy rambles about the current comic being read.
My trade paperback for Snotgirl volume 2 came in the other day and I read through it in a couple of hours because I am a horrible non-comic book person that absorbs the text, but less so the art.
Then I read it through again being more careful to take in that great line work, bright colors, and soak up the text again.
Now I’m reading the first volume just to make sure I really get all the details, and then afterwards I’ll hit volume 2....again. I’m not obsessed. Not at all. I’ll tell you who is obsessed though: Lottie Person (yes that’s her name), she’s obsessed with herself. And maybe a girl she nicknames Cool Girl.
Snotgirl is a comic series written by Bryan Lee O’Malley and illustrated by Leslie Hung that started in 2016 and is still ongoing. It releases bi-monthly. The first trade paperback was released last year and collects issues 1 - 5, while the second was released last month and collects issues 6 - 10.
Snotgirl is centered around Lottie Person, fashion-blogger extraordinaire (I guess?) and her trials and tribulations being a fashion-blogger. Sort of. Ok not really, she is a fashion blogger, she is pretty big, but we don’t get the behind the scene stuff on her job. Instead, we get a look at her life and how it gets intertwined with a girl she meets named Caroline, who she wants to be friends with because Lottie thinks she’s super cool.
Recently, Nathan Grayson announced that he was cancelling Nathancon, something he quickly made in and then cancelled in record time (actually it’s a satire post about the cancellation of the very real, very self-indulgent Tanacon). Now I maybe old fashion, but naming a convention after yourself seems like a very self-centered thing to do, especially when you make it because you couldn’t get special benefits at another con. That seems to be the consensus nowadays with many YouTube personalities and Vloggers; they’re letting people into their lives but the focus is on them, their actions, their lives - not the lives of others.
In this sense, Lottie Person, the main character of Snotgirl (she has allergies, causing her to have a lot of snot at times) is basically an example of today’s media fascination with a person’s life. She’s self-obsessed and tries to act like she’s the hottest thing when she comes into a room. She often has disregard for other people, only thinking about how others’ actions are impacting her. For example, a very early scene has her sitting alone at brunch (omg) and her texting her friends, trying to figure out where the hell they are. When they say they’re too busy doing other things, Lottie is (understandably) pissed, but because we’re in her mindset, it’s as if other people are the worst people ever.
Alright, that’s an exaggeration and I wish I could find the words to describe how...subtle...a bitch Lottie is. At the same time though, she’s written as a sympathetic character; while we may not be on her side, we understand where she’s coming from. Especially when it comes to an ex-intern buying Lottie’s old clothes, wearing them, and also getting closer to Lottie’s ex-boyfriend....
If Snotgirl was simply a slice of life comic series about a fashion blogger, I’d say it’s pretty cool. Thankfully, it’s so much more.
As mentioned previously, Lottie meets Caroline, a cool chick that Lottie immediately wants to become friends with. Happily, they do become friends! Except there might be more to Caroline than what’s presented.
While Caroline is presented initially as a regular person, there are plot developments that insinuate there’s something seriously off with her. A stray sentence here, a particular panel there, lines of dialogue and fantastic framing add a bit of tension and falsity to Caroline, making the reader doubt the sincerity or truth to her character. It doesn’t help that Lottie’s neuroses have her panicking when things don’t quite go her way, and we the readers follow along the beautifully crafted flow to the story as Lottie tries to make sense of things. Did event A really happen? Can Lottie trust the person she’s talking to? Are her allergy meds working properly or is there a drip of snot coming from her nose?
One comparison I couldn’t stop thinking about was between Snotgirl and Perfect Blue, the 1997 psychological thriller by Satoshi Kon. The movie follows a Jpop idol as she retires from singing and tries to break into the movie industry. Kon was a fantastic director, and the film is done in such a way that makes the audience (and the main character) unsure of what’s real and what’s not. It also dealt with one fan’s unhealthy obsession with the protagonist and examined how fans can go too far with idolizing their idols.
Kind of like how Lottie initially idolizes Caroline, in addition to herself of course. This isn’t to say that Lottie obsesses over herself/Caroline to an unhealthy degree; she doesn’t drop everything to hang out with Caroline for example; but the way she initially latches on to “Cool Girl” is reminiscent of how people tend to find a new thing to hold onto, especially when life isn’t going according to plan. Lottie’s selfishness is also a great examination at how inside our own heads we can be - are others slighting me on purpose or am I overthinking things? Are my friends going to figure out the real me? Can I keep faking things?
Snotgirl is a great ongoing comic series from Bryan Lee O’Malley and wonderfully illustrated by Leslie Hung. It’s smart, funny, tense and a horrifying snapshot at obsession*. You can probably find the trades at your local comic book store now**.
*Disclaimer: while what I wrote feels true to how I’ve been reading Snotgirl, your mileage may vary. It is possible (and probable) that I’ve over exaggerated things or misrepresented the series - to that I apologize to the creators.
**Go, go now!