Monday, July 25, 2016

Review - Snotgirl #1 (@ImageComics)


"Why me? Why me every time?"

The internet has had an astounding effect on anonymizing individuals. Anyone can be anything they want and as long as a face-to-face meeting is never required, but when it is many perceived realities quickly become actual realities. Reconciling the two is an adventure in image control or--in the case of Snotgirl #1 from Image Comics--a misadventure. The issue is written by Bryan Lee O'Malley, illustrated by Leslie Hung, colored by Mickey Quinn and lettered by Maré odomo.

WHO IS LOTTIE PERSON? Is she a gorgeous, fun-loving social media star with a perfect life or a gross, allergy-ridden mess? Enter a world of snot, blood and tears in this new ongoing series.

If there's anyone who can tap into the youthful exuberance scene it's O'Malley and he does that exceptionally well in Snotgirl #1. Lottie is a almost 26 which is practically too old for the fashion game that she's in and she's constantly trying to project a perfect image that aligns with the same perfection found via Photoshop. O'Malley uses a very slick approach to dialogue by working in plenty of variants of communication that reflect the ways that youths communicate with one another, infusing the issue with the perception of a carefree spirit that's undermined by an almost incessant need for approval. It's a great way of telling the story while also reinforcing the characterization of Lottie and those individuals she interacts with. The ending of the issue feels a little random though in that it makes a few leaps in the last few pages that happen pretty quickly, but O'Malley's got plenty of time to bring it all around.

Hung does a fantastic job of rendering the characters in Snotgirl #1 in a way that offers deference to the image of themselves they try to hard to cultivate and maintain. Lottie and the fashionistas always bring their A-game when it comes to being out in public, but Hung also illustrates Lottie a lot more vulnerably in her more private moments. The dichotomous approach to Lottie in particular is extremely powerful and reinforces the narrative that people put on masks everyday--whether they do it physically or emotionally. Hung also draws on manga influences in the work, such as the exaggerated physical response of tears and excessive snot when Lottie breaks down. The bright, vivid colors give the book the appropriate sense of buoyancy and flair befitting Lottie and the world she lives in.

Snotgirl #1 is a very strange first issue that's laid out in a way that many people can relate to. Lottie faces a daily struggle to reconcile her private and public personas with the two very rarely falling in step. O'Malley's script is slick and cheeky, providing plenty of characterization and a clear direction for Lottie to sort out her problems. Hung's artwork is bubblegum in its presentation and Lottie in particular is given a very embellished appearance that echoes the core thematic elements of the work. Snotgirl #1 is a very fast-paced issue and the larger plot requires the reader to dig a little deeper to fully embrace what's going on.

Snotgirl #1 is in stores now.

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