The wait is over. Lottie Person and the Snotgirl crew is back with a new issue to water my desperately thirsty crops. Lottie’s pop-up shop is finally open for a day, but as she and Esther try to bring in some dough, Caroline and Vincent keep doing…something? What are they even up to? Will we ever know? Is this new issue good?
Creators Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung continue the series trend of drip-feeding hints about the overall mystery of Caroline and Vincent, while focusing on the characters’ relationships and the humor or drama which emerges from them. We get a lot of time with Sunny and John in this issue, the latter of who was overdue for some page time. It was nice getting a deeper peek into John’s character, though I was disappointed to be proven wrong about a hint dropped in the previous issue regarding what John’s been up to. I especially appreciate Hung and O’Malley fleshing out Sunny and John’s relationship as it adds to the overall cohesion of the cast, working John into the mix where he before felt very separate from the rest of the story.
While developing the interpersonal relationships, the creators also build tension by letting the characters be a bit more open-faced in their manipulative natures. As I said, the mystery is drip-fed, but this issues drips gave a look into Caroline and Virgil’s attitude when Snotty isn’t around. This more candid look at the pair has been a long time coming and made for a couple of very thirst-quenching drops. There are a couple of narrative swings taken in this issue that I won’t spoil, but I think worked very well. Between those couple of stunts and some of the sketches Hung blesses us with in the issue’s back matter, the Snotgirl team is finishing off March by giving the gays everything they want.
That earlier mentioned tension would not reach the reader were it not for Leslie Hung’s pencils and inks in tandem with Rachel Cohen’s colors. Hung makes great use of close-ups in this issue, letting characters’ faces fill up the panel to delight the reader with affecting expressions. Whether it’s a contorting sob or a smoldering glare, Hung’s facial expressions–framed as usual by gorgeously textured hair–do a lot of ton tonal work. Filling out the panels are lots of little details that add just enough to make the environments feel rich and the characters feel animated. A couple curved lines delicately placed to side of a gasping character gives the expression a touch of movement. A few tiny sparkles adorn the space around Meg’s ring, almost laughing at her as she cries. A handful of small, quick strokes of the brush fill out John’s underwear in the back with a fanservicey wink. Leslie Hung is an artist who doesn’t skimp on the details and makes the long wait between each issue payoff with tons to look at with each reread.
Cohen’s colors only make that payoff all the sweeter with a warmer palette in the first half of the issue that gradually dims as the tension builds. While there has always been a consistent palette for the series, this issue has several pages where one color dominates the panels and enriches the mood of the scene. On one page, oranges and pinks evoke a lethargic sensuality one could sink into. On another, harsh yellows contrast against cooler greens to create a feeling of dissonance and panic. There’s a moment where the lighting dramatically shifts as the scene abruptly changes and both Hungs lines and Cohens colors immediately become super soft. The juxtaposition between these scenes was very funny and I appreciate the indulgence on display in those pages.
The lettering is rather unindulgent throughout, showing a lot of restraint in sizing the sound effects until it can let loose more near the end. As with many books, it’s hard to tell which effects are from credited letterer Maré Odomo and which are part of Hung’s original linework. Either way, I appreciate how the lettering builds throughout the issue with the tension. Overall, this issue maintains Snotgirl‘s position as my favorite currently running western comic. From the humor, to the intrigue, to the artwork, this series continues to delight. I can’t wait to revisit this issue and explore how it fits into the series as a whole while I wait for the next installment.