Snotgirl: Visual Women Roundtable

Snotgirl: Visual Women Roundtable

Snotgirl, by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Leslie Hung, and Mickey Quinn, debuted in July from Image Comics. Industry politics aside, "Image" is a satisfying venue for a comic of this nature. The protagonist, our "snotgirl" Lottie Person, lives for image. She's a fashion blogger, so image is the source of her status and presumably her revenue. Lottie internalises

Snotgirl, by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung, and Mickey Quinn, debuted in July from Image Comics. Industry politics aside, “Image” is a satisfying venue for a comic of this nature. The protagonist, our “snotgirl” Lottie Person, lives for image. She’s a fashion blogger, so image is the source of her status and presumably her revenue. Lottie internalises this, has internalised it, as image being the basis and the proof of her value. A delicate subject–a woman devoted to the idea that beautification is the only salvation–and an unusual one, despite comics’ visual bent. Kayleigh Hearn reviewed the comic itself — I gathered women I know with some investment in a vague Venn diagram of comics + clothes + hair dye + female rep, and we talked about our impressions of Snotgirl issue one.

What about Snotgirl first got your attention? What were your early impressions?

Juliet Kahn: Leslie Hung draws really beautiful hair, Scott Pilgrim was the defining narrative of my early twenties, and I really liked the logo design. And in a more general sense, I was really grabbed by the notion of an Image comic totally divorced from the usual genre tropes–no spacesuits, no serial killers–in favor of something as fanboy-unfriendly as fashion blogging.

Melissa Brinks: I’ve really enjoyed Bryan Lee O’Malley’s writing, particularly in Seconds, and his drawings have some of the coolest fashion I’ve seen in comics. I didn’t know about Leslie Hung prior to Snotgirl’s announcement, but her artwork is gorgeous–I wasn’t a hard sell on this between enjoying O’Malley’s writing, loving the art, and being generally attracted to weird pitches like, “She’s a fashion blogger, but like, covered in snot.”

[pullquote]Media about fashion bloggers, (comic) fiction about girls and women who care about fashion–I’m starved for them.[/pullquote]Claire Napier: I think it was an immediate double-draw: The determined grossness of a comic centering a “girl” (it’s in the name) and the premise. Media about fashion bloggers, (comic) fiction about girls and women who care about fashion–I’m starved for them. I trust O’Malley to tell a story based in emotional nuance and ethical compromise, having only read (most of) Scott Pilgrim from his back catalogue. And an emotionally nuanced, ethically compromised story about somebody who overtly connects and navigates via the visual language and surrounding commentary of everyday style is an absolutely new proposition in American-published comic book, in my experience.

Jamila Rowser: The juxtaposition of the beautiful art and the gross title was an immediate draw. I’ve only read Scott Pilgrim from O’Malley, but I was interested in reading a monthly by him. I really love josei manga, and Snotgirl gave me similar vibes. I also like that Lottie is a fashion blogger, not a model or designer. It’s feels like a modern take on the fashion genre.

Ardo Omer: I liked the idea of a fashion blogger as someone who used to have a personal book blog. The title was also weird, and the idea of a dark comedy was interesting, but what sold me was Leslie Hung’s art. It was gorgeous.

Snotgirl, by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Leslie Hung, and Mickey Quinn, Image Comics 2016

Ray Sonne: I was actually really grossed out by the title and cover and had no intention of reading the comic. I finally picked it up after a friend wanted to know my opinion on it. It turned out to have more potential than I expected, but the content didn’t justify the ick-factor O’Malley and Hung seemed so proud of.  

Victoria Grace Elliott: Snotgirl was on my radar for a while, because I’m a huge fan of both Leslie Hung and Bryan Lee O’Malley. Everything about Snotgirl reminded me of Japanese josei comics: a working woman, probably very elegant, but filled with intense emotions coupled with the jarring symbolism of allergies and snot. I’ve never seen anything like this published in the West before, but everything about it felt very familiar and right up my alley. Oh yeah, and I once had an original character as a teen who was basically a girl covered in mucus, so the snot appealed to me in that way, too.

One-word answer: Did you enjoy this first issue?

JK: Yes.

MB: Yes.

CN: Yes!

JR: Yes.

AO: Yes!

RS: Eh?

VGE: YES.

Does this comic remind you of any others– how would you classify it? Is it similar or dissimilar to those comics you usually buy? Is it similar or dissimilar to those comics you usually read?

JK: In terms of comics, it reminded me most of Kyoko Okazaki’s Helter Skelter and Moyocco Anno’s Sakuran–both fusions of fashion and horror. Outside of comics, it brought Valley of the Dolls, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Black Swan, and Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette to mind–I work in a shop, and those are the illustrative examples I’ve been using when people ask about it. In terms of classification, I really can’t say. It feels most like josei manga I’ve read, but it obviously can’t be classified as josei manga. I can’t really say if it’s similar or dissimilar to comics I usually read, because there aren’t many comics being made like it, but if there were more like this, yes, I’d be buying them all.

Okazaki's Helter Skelter: little deaths

Okazaki’s Helter Skelter: little deaths

[pullquote]It’s not super similar to any titles I’m reading right now, but I think that’s part of what I like about it. No magic, superpowers, fantasy creatures, and so on, at least not so far.[/pullquote]MB: So far, I can’t really think of anything that it reminds me of. It’s not super similar to any titles I’m reading right now, but I think that’s part of what I like about it. No magic, superpowers, fantasy creatures, and so on, at least not so far. I would definitely second what Juliet mentioned about Black Swan and Marie Antoinette–I haven’t seen Valley of the Dolls so I can’t attest to that–because of how aesthetically pleasing it is and how there’s an undercurrent of darkness there.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 17.15.18

JR: Totally agree with Juliet. Snotgirl reminds me of Helter Skelter by Kyoko Okazaki in that it shows the dark and superficial side of fashion and celebrity. It reminds me of Mean Girls, too. Snotgirl is similar to the josei manga that I read, but not many Western comics; however, some of the comics from Fresh Romance come close.

CN: The internal perspective is something I recognise from josei too. The status anxiety, feelings of inferiority and basic social inability, with care about clothes and hair and the weirdness of friendship. Women who don’t know how to be friends with women are pretty normal in fiction, but it’s usually not made a point of. Usually a woman just hangs out with men because men are the other characters in the show or the comic, not because she has problems understanding how to relate to women, or herself, or how to behave when not around people who are supposed to be either chivalrous or validating to her as a woman amongst men, or whatever. There are no men in Snotgirl so far, except for Lottie’s shitty (?) ex, and, like, the mention of Latteboy. Sociability between young women is the prime focus, which is so exciting, because that’s so nourishing to read in manga, and Snotgirl is IN COLOUR! Mickey Quinn is doing fantastic work. It feels like western monthly comics are publishing something of comparable quality and attraction AND adding a bonus on top of just being “as good as josei, but made in English first” (which is a dubious thing to count as an achievement in itself).

AO: The visual storytelling reminded me of manga. My friend, Shea Hennum, said it reminded him specifically of Princess Jellyfish, which I haven’t read, but agreed after looking up the art. I agree with what everyone said above, and it’s the style that had me gripped as I read it. It showcased the feeling of anxiety well.

RS: The visual storytelling also reminded me of manga, but the content itself seemed more similar to series like The It Girl, which I read as a teenager. Not many comics in the industry are comparable to Snotgirl, because among its many other misogynist problems, comics often rejects femininity. The most recent feminine book I’ve read outside of Snotgirl is Monstress, but outside of that the two aren’t similar at all. Even their depictions of femininity are way different!

VGE: Absolutely agree with everything being said about Snotgirl being like josei. Even her snot, that feels a lot like the pet alligator from Kyoko Okazaki’s Pink–an almost surreal symbol (if it weren’t so relatable) that points out the fashionable Lottie isn’t the perfect person she pretends to be on her blog–it’s quick and dirty symbolism that really clashes with Hung’s beautiful inks in a very fun way. The ending takes it into almost Heathers territory, but I don’t want to make any calls on just one issue in that respect.

Snotgirl, by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Leslie Hung, and Mickey Quinn, Image Comics 2016

Do you read fashion blogs? Do you read fashion magazines?

JK: I don’t actively read or keep up on fashion bloggers’ main blogs, but I do follow a few Instagrams and Tumblrs. I sort-of-kind-of kept up on a few fashion mags a while back–I’d flip through Zink and Worn and used to hunt for copies of Japanese mags at cons–but really, the last fashion mags I actively kept up on were CosmoGirl and Teen Vogue back when I was eleven-ish. When I actually became the teen they were for, I was bored with them.

MB: I don’t read fashion blogs with any kind of regularity, but I do follow quite a few fashion bloggers on Instagram and have a bunch bookmarked for those occasions when I know I desperately need new clothing, but don’t know what to buy. There’s one blogger I’ve been reading for years–WishWishWish.net–and our styles don’t really match up anymore, but I’m still following her because of how she makes pieces that I wouldn’t pick up for myself work so well for her. Like Juliet, I also used to be big on CosmoGirl, especially when Atoosa Rubenstein was editor, but I mostly read it for the articles rather than the fashion. I’m picky.

JK: OMFG ATOOSA WAS MY QUEEEEEN, COSMOGIRL ARTICLES WERE SO GREAT!

[pullquote]I’m after fashion theory, if there’s a written component to a visual feast, and I don’t know where to get it (please help me). What’s the point of adding words to a picture if they’re trite crap?[/pullquote]CN: I don’t currently read fashion blogs, because I got bored of everybody I was reading. I start following a blog for the photographic content (obviously), but I’ve yet to run across a blog that has great outfits in great pictures AND has the intellectual, or even just vulnerable, content that I read for. I’m after fashion theory, if there’s a written component to a visual feast, and I don’t know where to get it (please help me). What’s the point of adding words to a picture if they’re trite crap? Actually, I just started reading the Man Repeller, which is not half bad as engaging text goes, but that site is a business that doesn’t hide how it’s run. They’re a writing team, providing fashion-themed literary content–more a magazine site than a traditional style blog. I follow some people on Instagram for image-only fixes; the textless scroll serves me well as it asks me to provide the analytical content myself, which is fun. Why does an outfit “work,” how, what does it say, does its message change in a different setting–I care about these things as much as I care to look at it. I like British Vogue’s YouTube channel for exhibiting the same sort of interest in contextualised fashion.

JR: I don’t read fashion magazines or blogs. Like Juliet and Melissa, I follow a few fashion bloggers and some brands that I like. I used to buy fashion magazines a lot in high school and even interned at Nylon magazine. But as time went on, I cared less and less about the expensive clothes and Western beauty standards featured in magazines and even grew to resent them.

JK: Jumping in here to echo Jamila–that resentment is one of the things that’s kept me off the mainstream fashion mag and blogging world too. I just don’t have the energy to deal with sites or publications that only offer me skinny cis white girls anymore.

Snotgirl, by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Leslie Hung, and Mickey Quinn, Image Comics 2016

CN: Jamila, does it excite you to know that narrow beauty standards are a key and purposeful theme of Snotgirl?

JR: Yes! The comic feels very self-aware, which I love. I think it even has the power to take readers on a journey towards self-love by calling BS on Western beauty standards.

AO: I’ve recently got into reading Teen Vogue casually, because they’re doing interesting things there, especially in addressing the whiteness of fashion, etc., that Juliet brought up. I follow and chat with some fashion bloggers on Twitter, but in terms of following what they’re doing, I tend to go to Instagram if at all.

VGE: Yeah, I recently picked up a Teen Vogue as a joke for some coworkers, but as I was going through it I noticed some pretty intense stuff. I’m talking like, an article on Life After ISIS from the perspective of a teen girl. And then, you know, adorable and inspiring fashion spreads and articles about models, including quotes from wonderful people like Hari Nef. I don’t pick up fashion magazines very often, but the folks working at those magazines are definitely doing some incredible work that only people in the target demographic are seeing. There’s a few specific models I follow on Instagram and fashion brands on Twitter, but I don’t really go to a lot of blogs.

How important to your feelings of community and social connection is Lottie-style aesthetics networking?

JK: I like fashion and have always liked fashion, and have felt, for the past few years, an uncomfortable pressure to do more “aesthetics networking” as a result. It’s like, I’m in my twenties; I spend time on my clothes, I write about fashion sometimes, and I should be putting up selfies, right? But I hate taking pictures of myself and am often uncomfortable with ones taken of me. Part of this discomfort is just plain old bullshit: I think I look bad, I hate my hair, blah blah blah, all that shit I know is poisonous, but still feel. But part of it is a resentment towards feeling like people will care about me more as a woman in the arts if I could also market myself as a Cute Young Thing.

MB: Not very. I’m not horribly self-conscious, but I’ve also never really felt confident enough to think about being some kind of fashion aesthetic blogger, particularly because I don’t feel like I know enough about fashion. I flirted briefly with creating a fashion blog many years ago and covered up my face for every photo, if that’s any indication. I like appreciating other peoples’ aesthetics, and I’ll occasionally get up the nerve to post a picture of myself if I’m feeling particularly cute, but most of the time I prefer to be a liker over a contributor.

Snotgirl, by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Leslie Hung, and Mickey Quinn, Image Comics 2016

JR: My own aesthetic changes daily, so it’s not that important. Although, sometimes I wish my style fell into a very narrow aesthetic, which is probably due to the popularity of aesthetic fashion bloggers. They make me feel like I’m doing it wrong. But then I think about Rihanna and her ever changing aesthetic and feel good about my style.

CN: It’s fairly important to me. It’s certainly INTERESTING, more to the point. I want to see selfies, because I want to know how people decide to present themselves when given total practical control. I like to see people reining their own image, and to understand or reflect upon what I could perhaps be understanding, based on the new information (the visual input, to accompany the textual communication that makes up most of my online friending time). I like pictures, and I also believe in the visual diet as comparable to the eaten diet, regarding impact on one’s positive or negative feeling about everything. I like to see people who look however they look, because I need my brain, every part of it, to believe in all sorts of people looking all sorts of ways. It’s healthy for me as I think about myself, how my external self forms or “contradicts” my internal one, and it’s healthy for me as I think about the world and the people who make up most of what I think of when I think about “the world.” If I want to have decent politics that I truly deeply uphold, I need to contradict the mainstream bigotries and visually informed assumptions that I receive thanks to capitalism and white supremacy and my local and national cultures. As much as I need to read philosophy, political writing, personal narratives, and thinkpieces, I need to see them embodied.

[pullquote]I have a complicated relationship with fashion. It’s a constant clash of what society expects versus what I give a shit about.[/pullquote]AO: I have a complicated relationship with fashion. It’s a constant clash of what society expects versus what I give a shit about. My style is to be as low maintenance as possible except for the odd time I want to look particularly put together. Fashion when I’m taking it on can be an anxiety inducing so this extends to how I present myself online. There are days where a selfie is a great idea, but most of the time, I take one and delete it. I can appreciate people, like Claire, who approach fashion as art that demands analysis and breakdown, but when it’s focus is on me, eight times out of ten, it’s just needs to be functional. Ardo the fashion/aesthetics blogger won’t be a thing, but I can appreciate it in Lottie.

RS: Not the aesthetic part, but the texting and group chat parts of the book really got me. What is it about group chat that causes so much unnecessary drama between friend groups? My friends and I have had so many stupid arguments because of it.

VGE: So much about Lottie’s social sphere feels both super foreign and familiar to me. I’d be lying if I said I don’t associate a lot with people who sort of have different elements of the same aesthetic as me. I don’t think there’s a blanket fashion for everyone, but I do appreciate the work that goes into finding a look for yourself that is both comfortable but fashionable. And I mean, this sounds completely vain, but it feels good to go out with friends and y’all look cute in your own ways. Maybe I like to think of my group of friends as a bit more honest with each other than Lottie’s friend group, but that might be me trying to idealize my own friends.

Do you share your own image on social media? Do you struggle with the parallel realities of visible image and internal experience? Have you found these questions reflected in comics before?

JK: I’m mixed race, and how people perceive me depends wildly on context, but the constant is that it rarely reflects my internal understanding of myself and my experiences. “What are you?” is a common question, and I never know how to answer. I remember telling someone, early on in college, that I had no idea what I looked like, and that holds true–I have the basics down, obviously–dark hair, dark eyes, 5’5”–but I have no idea how people sort me. There is no constant. That split is honestly a pretty huge source of anxiety in my life. I feel like I either have no right to talk about my experiences or that I *have* to, but am held back by fear of people thinking I am either too much of one thing or the other to enter the discussion. Given O’Malley’s recent comments on being mixed, I’m curious to see if this will be reflected in Snotgirl (or Worst World) because, well, no, it ISN’T something I see reflected in comics. Or anywhere, really.

[pullquote]I don’t know how to express who I actually am in picture form yet or even how important that is to me.[/pullquote]MB: I occasionally share my own image on social media, but I’m more inclined to do it with close friends via Snapchat than more general apps like Instagram or Twitter. All of my profile pictures are at least one hair color out of date. I have a consistent problem with feeling like anything I have to say is valuable, even more so when it’s a picture of me–thinking of posting a selfie immediately feels like asking for attention or acknowledgement, even when that’s not something I would think about somebody else.

I struggle with the balance between visible images and internal experience a bit, mostly because I have an idea of what image I wish I had (cool, effortless, interesting) and what kind of person I actually am (a huge nerd who cries when she gets too happy). I don’t know how to express who I actually am in picture form yet or even how important that is to me.

I can’t think of a time that I’ve seen this reflected in comics before, but maybe I haven’t been looking in the right places. I do think it’s important, as Juliet mentioned above, that a comic so focused on appearances is being released as O’Malley is saying that he will only be writing mixed-race characters from now on–he said in this interview that Lottie is indeed half Japanese and half Swedish and that her appearance is intentional as she’s trying to adhere to a narrow definition of beauty. I’m really interested to see how that develops, especially because I’ve seen some criticism of Lottie as an unlikeable character–do our feelings change when we get more context for why she struggles with her identity?

JR: I share my image a lot on social media, and I’m often at odds with how I appear and how I actually feel. I’ve blogged and tweeted about my depression and anxiety with the hopes that people find comfort in knowing that they aren’t alone. But also, with the warning, “Don’t be fooled by my Instagram, I’m going through stuff just like everyone else.”

I relate to what Melissa said about feeling like I’m asking for attention by posting selfies. Whenever I feel that way, I try to ask myself why can’t this selfie represent my self-confidence? The thing is, the picture with high self-esteem and the picture with low self-esteem are often identical.

I’ve seen the reflections of visible image versus internal experience in manga mostly, not really American comics. But I find it often in music, most recently in the song “Saint Pablo” by Kanye West where he raps, “Checkin’ Instagram comments to crowdsource my self-esteem.” We’ve only known Lottie for one issue, but I can see her in that line.

CN: I only share my face, selfies and the like, now that I am able to state my opinions in that same forum–the internet–with correct force and confidence. It feels like I CAN do that only now (etc., etc.). Observably, I’m white and small and cute. People compare me to Amelie–her whole film is about not being strong enough to be her realest self. I’m not comfortable having cute and delightful and timid as my prime mode. It’s wrong, it’s not correct, and it feels somewhat disgusting. Being visible in the strict context of being outspoken (out-type-en?), in the context of my attempted integrity, is acceptable to me, and having almost complete control of my image after that fact is deeply relieving, because some individuals have attempted to manipulate my life and crash my comfort by appropriating my image and I wanted them to die. There are inklings of fact/feeling and view/ability to engage in my enjoyment of many of Rogue’s X-Men stories, but nothing quite so specific as seeing Lottie deal with visible & actual dualism.

[pullquote]My fear is living up to online me when I first meet people who know me from the internet.[/pullquote]AO: Who I am online and in real life are pretty close. I think it can be said for most of us that a huge and unavoidable difference between online and real life is the real time mess. It’s easy to edit out the edges when it’s not real time. My fear is living up to online me when I first meet people who know me from the internet. It makes me shy, which then widens the gap between online me and IRL me [ha!]. I’ve read comics that have tackled this topic (can’t recall them right now), so it’s not a new topic in the least, but Snotgirl is very good at conveying the anxiety associated with it. The anxiety is palpable, but rather than set off my anxiety, it became a comfort for me.

RS: I have a strategy for how I share my photos on social media. I don’t often take selfies in the first place, so when I do they mark an important event, like a haircut, or Pride Day, or the rare sexy Friday night outfit. They all go on Facebook, and if I get unusually enthusiastic feedback, they go onto Instagram, maybe Twitter if I’m not feeling paranoid, and then any dating apps I might be using at the time. Maintaining my aesthetic is not an act I do for strangers; validation comes from within the self and the immediate and near-immediate social circles. So there is no division between myself and my aesthetic online; it’s just me looking like my best.

The world Lottie lives in seems to fish for appreciation from everyone in the world, more like how I do for only my romantic crushes. As in, there’s no guarantee the target will see the photos and acknowledge them, yet we do it with them in mind anyway. I relate to the emptiness Lottie feels despite the attention she receives. Notifications expose a feeling of emptiness and no amount of them can fill you. Yet we’re all caught in this stupid cycle of trying to score internet points, as if the feedback will cure us of our inferiority complexes.

Snotgirl, by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Leslie Hung, and Mickey Quinn, Image Comics 2016

VGE: Oof. There was a time, when I was a freelancer at home and working part-time retail jobs, that I depended a lot more on Twitter for social interaction and finding like-minded people. Sharing a lot more selfies, being a lot more honest, reaching out to folks and attempting to make a lot more friends. It’s been a little over a year that I’ve really started pulling apart my real self from My Twitter Self. It doesn’t help that as you get more followers, it gets exhausting dealing with having that many people see you. So nowadays, if I share selfies, it’s usually just privately with friends I really trust, most of whom have seen me in real life. I’ve never seen anything really dealing with this, especially not as genuinely as Snotgirl.

JK: How do you feel about Lottie’s negative traits–her judgmental attitude, her anger, her pettiness? Do you find this refreshing, sexist, thoughtful, ignorant, or something else? How do you think Lottie fits in with other female characters in comics?

MB: Personally, I love Lottie’s characterization, including her negative traits. Some readers might find her unsympathetic, but I have been judgmental, angry, petty, self-conscious–we’re seeing Lottie’s internal thoughts, the things she does and thinks when she’s alone, and I can’t fault her for it. She’s not someone I’d want to be friends with, but seeing so much of her this way makes her more interesting to me. So far, Snotgirl is very much a comic about our interior versus exterior selves (both in terms of Lottie’s personality and her allergies), and I want that in all its disgusting glory. Some might find her unsympathetic or unredeemable, but I find Lottie compelling and I can’t wait to read more about her.

JR: I really like that Lottie isn’t very likeable. It’s something I don’t see often in comics, especially the main character. Piggybacking on what Melissa said about her allergies, I see Lottie symbolizing very literally, “Beautiful on the outside and ugly on the inside.” Just like she doesn’t want people knowing about her gross allergies, she doesn’t want people to know she’s kind of a shitty person.

[pullquote]A portrait of an ugly person is as interesting as a portrait of a beauty; a poorly behaved woman who is definitively important (it’s her story) is a relief to see.[/pullquote]CN: Knowing that she’s the main character, I’m overjoyed to see her weakness and spiteful helplessness. A portrait of an ugly person is as interesting as a portrait of a beauty; a poorly behaved woman who is definitively important (it’s her story) is a relief to see. I can understand a reader’s worry that Lottie being so bad might turn out to be sexism, but I can’t see the point (it seems like a waste of energy and a missed opportunity) to camp out on that potential while there’s so much else going on in the book. I think it’s pretty easy to believe in a shallow fashion ego tripping girl-monster because of sexism, but I also think that it’s hard to address the results of sexism on people if you pretend that pressures don’t exist or warp people.

Lottie’s got enough depth to be a) aware of her inner grossness and b) pretend that she can shrug it off and bury it under prettiness, and the story is pointed right at a big chasm marked CONSEQUENCES so far. An internal monologue promises that all of her nastiness is going to be seen and filtered through her own ability to parse reality, so I guess we’ll either get a growth story or a cautionary tale, but either way, it’s told with sympathy. Lottie loves herself enough to want to love herself, so no matter how self-hating she gets, there will still be a kernel of understanding for the reader to observe.

AO: I love Lottie. I don’t agree with how she behaves or deals with things, but that’s why I love her. She’s a mess, I’m a mess, and we’re very close in age (she’s two years older in the comic). I don’t think the issue is sexist, but I agree with Claire’s point about sexism’s influence on the readership’s experience of a comic like this. Lottie’s a person, and people can be annoying as fuck, because they got their internal issues they’re working out. I think it’s how she’s presented as well to some people, she’ll put them off completely while others embrace her. I’m a fan of fully realized people especially women.

[pullquote]In terms of misogyny, the depiction of femininity of this book is too on-point to be sexist. This book does not hate women. It sees them in places where most people don’t want to look.[/pullquote]RS: I didn’t necessarily feel that O’Malley and Hung touched on the points of Lottie’s mind the way they should have. We know that her coping mechanism is giving people nicknames, but what led her to this activity? We’re told that her allergies affect her self-worth, but they don’t actually seem to impact her day-to-day life until the very end of the book where everything swings abruptly into violence. Overall, in terms of pettiness and jealousy and anger, Lottie has extremely relatable traits, whether or not we admit to sharing them. However, as an individual character, she lacks development that she should have even if O’Malley and Hung were aiming for “shallow.” You can have a “shallow” character whose mind hooks together in a way that’s understandably human. In terms of misogyny, the depiction of femininity of this book is too on-point to be sexist. This book does not hate women. It sees them in places where most people don’t want to look. Those are the places where Snotgirl could be special, if O’Malley and Hung would change their focus and realize that the heart of their project is not mucus.

VGE: God. I love messy women. I love petty, nasty, messy women. I love selfish women. I eat that shit up in stories, and there’s not nearly enough of it out there. So yeah, I love Lottie, and I love her friends, and I love how much of a hot mess they all are. I’m gonna keep going back to josei, but frankly you don’t see adult women portrayed so honestly in mainstream comics outside of josei manga or like Love & Rockets. In some ways, messy women make for wonderful, cathartic drama. Loving messy women in dramas like this feels a lot like loving yourself. Not in spite of your faults, but because of your faults–your own pettiness, nastiness, and messiness. I don’t see it as sexist, because stories like this require a lot of love to write. Admitting women can be all these things and writing it without judging them, that requires a lot more love than some pristine, rosy expression of Strong Woman, which is what most other women in comics tend to be.

Claire Napier
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