Art: Leslie Hung
Colors: Mickey Quinn
Letters: Maré Odomo
Bryan Lee O’Malley is again delving into the lives of pretentious twenty-somethings facing down a personal crisis. But Snotgirl is his first major work being serialised in the pamphlet format. He’s also sharing co-creator credit with the lead artist, newcomer Leslie Hung. This might be why the comic exhibits an emotional edge not usually found in O'Malley's previous stories, particularly noticeable in a main protagonist who could probably be described by many as monstrous.
O’Malley and Hung also get to explore a field that millennials can legitimately claim to have grown up around and actively shaped, which is online social media. Lottie Person is a self-described 25 ¾ year-old fashion blogger, and extremely proud of her effortlessly chic style. “On my blog, I’m perfect. My nose never runs. Every hair on my head is exactly where it’s supposed to be.” This makes Lottie stereotypically judgemental about other people’s fashion sense, even secretly giving her supposed friends nicknames out of spite. Lottie even dubs her regular get togethers with them as “haters brunch.”
Naturally, this masks a number of deep-seated insecurities. Like many people with popular social media profiles, Lottie finds most of her online relationships very superficial. “...my friends are all horrible people. And my boyfriend decided we’re on a break.” But what she really fears is her perfect image being completely shattered by a not so pretty alter ego. When her allergies act up, she becomes a total mess as her eyes and nose run over with tears and snot.
Snotgirl constantly critiques how technology has changed social interaction. Lottie considers the perfect version she projects on her blog to be truer than her allergy-ridden secret identity. It’s an easy belief to maintain since she spends most of her time texting the people she knows on her phone rather than talking to them directly. Lottie stalks her ex-boyfriend and the girl he left her for online, only to dismiss her as not being pretty enough. She tries to impress another women she recently met (whom Lottie dubs “coolgirl”) by texting her from the kind of hip bar she would never patronize, then taking a selfie from that location.
It’s easy to see why O’Malley wrote around Hung’s artistic talents instead of trying to tackle the story with his usual chibi style. Hung’s characters are drawn to resemble the elegantly elongated figures of josei manga. It’s perfect for a story critiquing the empty lives of glamorous looking individuals. Colorist Mickey Quinn completes the look with a washed-out palette of unrealistic tones such as pinks and greens.
Where the art falls short is towards the end. Snotgirl starts to move beyond merely lampooning popular culture and moves into darker territory with a melodramatic twist and a late self-realization from Lottie that tears down her carefully constructed world. But Hung’s depiction feels too glossy and emotionally restrained to deliver on the full force of this scene.