Review by Mike Perry
Published by Image Comics
Released July 20, 2016
Written by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Art and Cover by Leslie Hung
Get it on Kindle or ComiXology
When it comes to millennial bashing, how far is too far? In a world where political correctness is the status quo and online bloggers struggle as mightily for social justice as they do for website hits, what place do the vapid, fashion-forward, Kardashian-worshipping youth fall within this strange new order of things? Bryan Lee O’Malley (of Scott Pilgrim fame) has teamed with Image to explore this issue in the rather unfortunately titled (yet appropriate) Snotgirl.
Snotgirl is the story of Lottie Person, a self-proclaimed professional fashion blogger, age 25 and three quarters. She’s vain, self-important, and undeniably self-conscious. She’s insufferable. At the start of this series, she has zero redeeming qualities. She readily projects her own self-loathing onto other bloggers and her supposed friends. While she completely lacks awareness, perhaps even sentience, of her own self, she is acutely informed and terrified of her extreme allergies, which constantly cause her eyes to puff up and her nose to run.
Lottie, of course, masks this by escaping into an online world where each photo and each blog post can be expertly manicured to capture her at her best. In contrast to this perfect existence, Lottie’s real life is pretty much devoid of actual human relationships. As she checks her phone (which she cannot imagine being without for one second), she realizes that she’s got tens of thousands of notifications from strangers but none from actual friends. Again, Lottie escapes into her world of perfectly posed selfies. In her mind, she is perfect; except for the damn allergies and that disgusting snot.
Lottie refers to her own “reality” as her online life. You know the drill, wake up and experience reality. Log on to Instagram, stalk your ex-boyfriend, drink an expensive coffee by yourself, and get worked up over the fact that your ex has tagged a girl in a photo who is less pretty than you. After literally doing only that, Lottie declares that her day is over. It’s at this time when Caroline (Lottie’s internal dialogue, presented as iMessage-style text bubbles, calls her “Coolgirl”), a stranger, notices that not only does Lottie order the exact same coffee drink as her, but also that she’s a fellow blogger.
Lottie explains her ritual of giving all of her fellow bloggers (and eventually people she sees more than once) disparaging or ironic nicknames, like Cutegirl for the anime-style manic pixie dream girl blogger, Normgirl for the basic Meg, a “normie,” Trashboy, Gothgirl, Shoegirl, Scandigirl, and so forth. Of course, Lottie doesn’t give herself a name, because she is essentially a walking, breathing tree stump of a human being and doesn’t really know anything about herself.
She becomes friends with Coolgirl and gives her her phone number. Eventually, she sees a new doctor who prescribes her new allergy medicine that is sure to help stop the snot episodes. The new medicine gives Lottie hope that she will be able to overcome her only perceived flaw, and she goes out to meet Caroline at a bar, where the allergy medicine proves ineffective. Caroline finally gives Lottie the nickname that she has been avoiding, dubbing her “Snottie.”
I won’t spoil the ending, because it’s pretty interesting, however, I will offer my analysis.
Snotgirl completely lacks subtlety. It takes all of the themes of a lost generation that doesn’t know how to deal with face to face reality and socialization and beats you over the head with them. Lottie is an insecure, fragile girl who creates a front online as a perfect, hip girl with no flaws. Of course, this facade means that Lottie has little to no experience in dealing with actual problems. She meets the much more down-to-earth Caroline and immediately, her insecurities turn to self-loathing, perhaps even jealousy. This might be offputting to some readers, and that’s understandable. However, you have to remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
The book is obnoxious. That’s fine, though. It’s supposed to be. This first issue is a complete send up of an entire generation that has custom-tailored their own personalities online, testing out different characters like a game of Dungeons and Dragons, until they find one that fits. Of course, some of them never translate to the real world, and that’s the story of Lottie. You hate her guts instantly, while all at once finding yourself wanting to root for her to figure it out. We’ll see how the story progresses, but it will be interesting to watch (and perhaps rage silently inside) as Lottie becomes less of a character and more of a human (hopefully).
Snotgirl comes highly recommended for readers who can’t make heads or tails of our modern “influencer” culture, and here’s hoping that it ultimately serves as a tale of redemption which humanizes people like Lottie (we all know a few) rather than simply laughing at them. Given O’Malley’s track record of brilliantly dealing with awkward characters, this series should be a slam dunk.