Thursday, May 25, 2017

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

Sometimes, a main character is the entire book. A reader's reaction to her determines everything. If you sympathize with her, you sink into the book and are swept along. If not...well, in that case, things are rockier.

I have to admit that I didn't warm to Lottie Person, the tediously self-centered, vain and shallow main character of Snotgirl. She's a fashion blogger in LA, the epitome of the empty-headed young person who lives 24/7 with a phone in her hand, an emoji in her heart, and an uplift at the end of her sentences. I won't say that I hate her, but I'd rather not spend any more time in her company than I have to, and if I knew her in real life, I probably would hate her.

(She reminded me of Stephanie Plum, the similarly ditzy heroine of a series of novels by Janet Evanovich. I hate-read five or six of those books, back when I read much more and when I was reading professionally, always with the hope that Steph would finally wise up, even just slightly, and get the least clue about herself or her life. I am older and less tolerant of the travails of the young and fabulous now.)

Snotgirl is entirely from Lottie's point of view: it's deeply invested in her and her view of the world. If you're not willing to deeply believe in this neurotic young woman, and insist along with her that blogging about clothing is a serious and worthy pursuit for an adult, you will be left cold, grumpy and entirely outside the story.

As I was.

I am impressed that this is written by Bryan Lee O'Malley, cartoonist of Seconds and the mega-popular Scott Pilgrim stories -- it has the focus on youth and complicated, flawed protagonists of those previous books, but it digs much more directly into a very female life and world-view than he's one in the past. My opinion is probably not that believable on this subject, but Lottie felt deeply real to me: not a person I want to spend time with, admittedly, but like someone I could easily see existing in the real world.

It looks gorgeous, too, as a book about fabulous people and their fabulous clothes should -- artist Leslie Hung and colorist Mickey Quinn create a crisp, larger-than-life world of gorgeous clear-skinned people in outfits that pop and a vibrant, energetic color palette.

But I just don't like Lottie at all. I don't care about her massive allergy-driven self-doubts, and I'm not intrigued enough by her new frenemy Caroline's obvious gaslighting and negging to want to keep up with more Snotgirl. Lottie is shallow when she isn't mean, and mean when she isn't shallow, and occasionally both at the same time. I just don't want people like that in my life, even fictionally.

That's totally fine -- there need to be more comics not for middle-aged white guys like me -- but I'm a little sad that I bounced off it so hard. I'll have to see what O'Malley does next -- and maybe see what else Hung has done, since I'm not familiar with her work.

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