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Girl Town

Girl Town Girl Town

Girl Town back

Carolyn Nowak


Page 45 Review by Jodie Paterson

"When we moved in here my dad bought me a housewarming gift - a huge print of Rembrandt's 'Abduction of Europa'.
"I sort of think he wanted me to see the anxiety in Europa's soft face as Jupiter in his bull suit carries her away from land.
"Two days after I hung the poster up I saw Betsy for the first time.
"And angry."

This is Betsy adorning the cover; climbing out of a sewer, manhole cover askew, half dressed with arms braced in an aggressive posture, shouting something angrily at the viewer. This is Girl Town, and this is her turf.

It's a fantastic cover and a great choice of opening story, with its unconventional cast of bitches who despite their ongoing turf war (culminating in the sacrifice of a beloved sock puppet) are all best friends beneath it all. But don't be fooled, as this is also a clever moment of misdirection, for within the pages of GIRL TOWN are five tender stories of crushes, infatuations, broken hearts and self-discovery.

'Radishes' features best friends Kelly, confident and boisterous, and Beth, soft and shy, having a fun day out at the market that will stay with both of them for many years to come. Diana has been badly hurt in 'Diana's Electric Tongue' and decides to invest in a life-size human robot to help cope with a broken heart. But my favourite, as difficult as it was to pick from these cleverly constructed tales of intimacy, is the ending story 'Please Sleep Over, in which Jess is simply trying to understand her place within life.

GIRL TOWN is a triumph of stories centred round the complexities of relationships and the intimacy of self-discovery. Above all, these are girls searching for understanding and connection, and if you're anything like me, you will find yourself connecting with each and every one of them. As I finished the stories in turn, I wanted to gently embrace each of the girls with a familiar knowing hug, for these are girls in places we have all found ourselves at some point or other in our lives.

Nowak's cast of characters come with the same level of variety and tenderness as Mariko and Jillian THIS ONE SUMMER Tamaki and Jen PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER Wang, while her stories embrace the slightly absurdist fantasy humour of Noelle NIMONA Stevenson - hardly surprising that she has also worked on LUMBERJANES(!) Her art reminded me very much of the rounded cartooning of Ben YOUR BLACK FRIEND Passmore, with added softness, enveloped in pastel colours.