Page 45 Review by Stephen
"They don't trust me to be on my own."
If you got a slight shiver there, and a lick of whiplash at the arresting end to book one, this pursues this increasingly dark path further; and if you thought that the manipulative Caroline, above, was the real problem, then I'm no longer so sure.
I believe, in that scene, that she's been sedated. It's all in Leslie Hung's art: in normally effusive Caroline's more languid body language. Plus those particular pages seem to swim in the sort of colour quality you'd find refracted and reflected throughout an aquarium.
Are you wondering who "they" may be?
What I'm attempting to convey is that this series isn't necessarily all that it appears on the surface. Its surface is shiny enough - let's call it magazine gloss - and vastly entertaining it is too with its up-to-date take on superficial social trends and ridiculous slang which SECONDS, SCOTT PILGRIM and LOST AT SEA's Bryan Lee O'Malley delights in contributing to. When introducing the various strands of your extracurricular life to each other, for example, you're practising "friendtegration", and this is the sort of set who never phone, only text each other (even from the other side of plate glass windows), and proclaim "We have a mutual" rather than "We have a mutual acquaintance".
They'll be going to a self-serving convention called Thankstravaganza soon, built on the same site where a fashion blogger was recently murdered. Well, she's not going to take that lying down.
I'll be back on that track in a second. In the meantime, here's how I introduced SNOTGIRL VOL 1: GREEN HAIR DON'T CARE...
This is the sort of comic in which the line "Ok, back to reality" will have you snorting at its delusion. It's fresh, full of fun, and has more jokes per page than anything other than a John Allison comic.
Meet Lottie Person, who seems so serene on the surface.
"I'm fresh. I'm fun. It's just who I am."
A fashion blogger with glossy green hair and a high hit rate, her life is pretty much perfect.
Her fans are devoted (she knows).
Her blogs are the best (she believes).
And that goes without saying (she blasés).
"Except my friends are all horrible people.
"And my boyfriend decided we're on a break.
"And oh yeah -"
"I have allergies."
Also: huge hang-ups, such a thick catalogue of insecurities that it would need indexing, and a public veneer to sustain which is very high maintenance during any substantial pollen count.
It was (and continues to be) roaringly good fun, but then Caroline crept spellbindingly into her life and Lottie became fixated. There was an accident - which might have had something to do with Lottie's trial run of a new anti-allergenic medication - and then there was another - which most certainly didn't. It wasn't even an accident. Caroline pushed Lottie's ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend, Charlene, off the top of a roof terrace.
TBH she was being ever so annoying, LOLZ.
But someone else was there too on both occasions.
It's Caroline's brother or cousin, depending on whom you believe, and in volume two Virgil is positively ubiquitous.
There's a very funny recurring joke about Virgil scurrying around on the floor to mop up any spilled coffee as if he's Caroline's butler...
"I am not!"
She spills coffee once again; Virgil flashes forward to clean.
Caroline, hand cupped around mouth conspiratorially: "His word against mine".
... but predominantly Virgil's ministrations are far more sinister, like dipping into a wallet left in a sports hall's changing locker to acquire Lottie's ex-boyfriend's I.D.
Lottie's ex-boyfriend is called Sunny. He's pretty buff. Lottie's fashion-friend Meg has a new fiancé called Ashley. He's pretty brash, boastful, loud and lewd. Fidelity score: 1 of out 10 (if you're being generous). He's already brandished his zord in front of Lottie at his and Meg's engagement party; now he's quite keen, all sweaty post-squash-match, to show off his zord to Sunny. He snaps a cell-phone photo of the two of them together and posts it so swiftly online that a bewildered Sunny doesn't even have time to draw breath. He does, however, spot Virgil lurking in the photograph's background.
Sunny: "Was there a delivery guy in here?"
Ashley: "Why? You expecting a package? ...Cuz I got one right here! Haha! It's huge! C'mon, let's hit the showers."
They get into a rough-and-tumble altercation in the sauna during which both their towels fall off, only interrupted at the last minute by another of Lottie's obsessive stalkers, a cop.( Let's not get into any of that, but you could file him under "fashion police".) Catching his breath, Ashley apologises ever so breezily:
"I'm sorry, dude! No hard feelings, man!"
"Hard feelings? What's up with your zord?!?"
Have you worked out what his zord is yet? It's standing to attention. I couldn't possibly publish Ashley's excuse. Virgil might wish he'd lingered longer, however.
It's all so deliciously and comically homoerotic, Leslie Hung proving herself to be a master of both priapic pixilation and but also tight buttocks fully on show. I'd have typed "tight, rosy buttocks" but would have looked far too fixated myself. (I was.)
The question is this, however: who wants what? Not just in the shower or sauna, but throughout: who is manipulating whom, why, and to what end? Who is in on it? Who is out of it?
Well, almost all of them if you're talking about their skulls, drugged up in the desert during the cover's sapphic photo-shoot.
Again, what I am attempting to convey in this review which only dips its tentative toes into the series' much more substantial and murky waters is that this is no mere comedy of manners. And hey, I love me a comedy of manners! In such a dexterously performed piece such as this, that would be quite enough to satisfy my soul.
But this is a much more open-air theatre with additional, decidedly closed confines which I suspect will only open up its other stalls when [You're fired - ed.]