Book Review: Snotgirl, Vol. 1: Green Hair Don’t Care by Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Tears running down my face. Tears and snot. Same as always.
Why me? Why me every time?
Tonight was supposed to be different.
But I messed up…
I did this…”

This volume leapt onto every comic-book fans radar when the news came that Bryan Lee O’Malley – the graphic novelist famed for creating Scott Pilgrim – would be bringing out his first monthly comic which would later turn into this beautiful volume. And believe me, it is beautiful, despite being full to the brim with blood, snot and tears!
However, aesthetics aside, this volume is messy, but perhaps uses this to its advantage.

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The story of Snotgirl follows Lottie (Snottie) Person, the “effortlessly chic” fashion blogger who is trying to deal with her double life: part-time glamorous fashion blogger, part-time snot-covered-severe-allergy-sufferer. Add part-time potential murderer into that and you get Snotgirl.  The volume quite clearly aims itself as a satirical commentary on social media in our present-day society and greatly succeeds in doing so; each character is presented by their image first, aided by the introductory panels broken down into occupation, style, and age, and only through later vignettes and dialogue can you see under the surface of these façades. Over the course of the story, O’Malley with confident leisureliness brings in the intrigue through the subplots of an ambiguous murder and, consequently, a fashion-forward detective that isn’t quite what he seems. With traumatic flashbacks, ghostly figures and downright crazy characters you can’t help but question Lottie’s own sanity. This is exactly where the messiness of the plots and subplots works to its advantage and pulls in the reader.

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Leslie Hung’s illustrations fit perfectly into this world of aesthetics, the style reminds me of shōjo manga which is helped by the decision to use only a few panels per page allowing for focus to again be on the characters and to detail their fashion choices. It’s hard not to be drawn in by the superficial beauty of O’Malley’s characters, despite being led to dislike almost all of them you find yourself admiring the pairing of ‘that top’ with ‘that skirt’. Hung cleverly incorporates various medias into the pages; on one page there’s an excerpt of Lottie’s blog with various information redacted, and over others are texts and tweets making sure the reader never forgets the focus on the cosmetic. The colour palates (by colourist Mickey Quinn) that are used compliment both the illustrations and the story; bright colours are used throughout but are faded into near-pastels, which are very much in fashion! These hues vary to match the mood of the characters and these plush scenes are all so wonderful to look at.

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Snotgirl Vol.1 is one of the most interesting comics I’ve ever read. An incredibly unique take on this genre, blending such relevant themes and characters with sinister subplots, but ultimately being a character study, almost reminiscent of Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash, The muted colouring and cutesy blogger-world is a major factor for my own enjoyment of this volume, but never do they diminish from the strange and outright spookiness that underlies it all.  It is weird. It is unhinged. It is unclear. But it is a lot of fun and I am so intrigued to see where the story goes!

Have you read any of the Snotgirl comics? Do you intend to?
Let me know in the comments!

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