Something I’ve always liked about Snotgirl is its use of an unreliable narrator. Comics don’t utilize that story device a lot, as it’s hard to convey that what you are physically looking at on the page might not really be happening without making it obvious that it isn’t. It’s not that Lottie is insane (okay, maybe she might be), but her version of events doesn’t always line up with what we see or what she later says happened.
This issue’s script effortlessly goes between the overarching mystery (to which there are many components) and the interpersonal drama between Lottie and her friends and gives both equal weight. I would have been hard pressed to find myself heartwarmed by character interactions in this series when it first started, but for a series full of surprises, it’s only appropriate that we add that onto the pile. All of the characters have been fleshed out enough over these nine issues to the point that, while these are obviously not realistic people, their over-the-top traits lend them a certain loveability. Meg and Lottie bonding over their anxieties and finding comfort in each other was what I might even venture to call poignant. This series has dealt a lot with the disconnect between how we are perceived by others vs how we perceive ourselves, which is fitting for a series that focuses on self identity in the age of social media. Meg finding out about Lottie’s allergies and accepting her anyway was a step, however small, toward Lottie being able to close the gap between the two.
This reprieve from Lottie’s inner turmoil is brief however, as she must deal with another girl at the festival, who isn’t too happy with how Lottie treats her fans. The ending surrounding this plotline, while shocking, didn’t have the emotional impact that I think the comic would have liked. What is this, the fourth issue where someone turns up dead or seriously injured at the end? I’m beginning to see a pattern here, and getting a satisfying resolution to this surprise death is not part of the equation. Though this does say it’s a two-parter, so maybe the next issue will resolve this — or maybe it will just bring up more questions. If there’s anything Snotgirl loves more than tongue-in-cheek jokes about Instagram, it’s not answering questions. O’Malley is obviously playing the long game here. It’s been nine issues, and we’re only millimeters closer to finding out exactly what all the idiosyncrasies are actually leading to. That being said, in another book this could be frustrating, but when the daily ins and outs of Lottie’s nerosies are this damn fun, concerning yourself with what’s going on behind the curtain doesn’t seem as daunting.
The art this issue was a little more loose than what Leslie Hung usually puts out. Some of the faces were wonderfully expressive (especially when Meg and Lottie were crying) but others were extremely simplified. The coloring by Rachel Cohen continues to command the page in a way that both accentuates the line art and merits being commended on its own. While Hung’s art is gorgeous, the coloring from both of the colorists who have worked on this series has really brought her work to new heights. Having followed Hung and Cohen on social media ages before Snotgirl was even a glimmer in Brian O’Malley’s eye, I can not say enough good things about Image continuing to get people who 1) work together organically like the art team on this book and 2) don’t come from the usual channels of new artistic talent in the comic world.
Snotgirl #9 really plays to the series’ strengths. It succeeds in lampooning the sillier aspects of social media celebrity culture while still delivering thoughtful character moments. It’s super friggin’ funny, even laugh out loud at times, and also delivers some fresh meat for those who are more embroiled in the mystery/intrigue aspect of the story. While we still don’t know why Sonny has a giant picture of Lottie over his bed, or what exactly is going on with Charlene after NYE, or even what the hell is up with this Virgil kid, it does enough in the relationship progression department to not feel like an empty effort. And hell, it even looks great while doing it.