Girl Town by Carolyn Nowak
Rating: 5/5 stars
Girl Town is a collection of short comics by Nowak about being a woman and being in your 20s. Nowak perfectly captures the feels of not having it all together, but having the best female friends. And not wanting to move forward in life without them.
Her art style is fresh and organic. Nowak thinks through what each woman would individually look like — if she’s curvy, has body hair, has a tummy, dyes her hair, wears makeup, etc. All her characters are distinct from each other in the ways people are. Nowak’s art is also gender inclusive, and her works feature a lot of queer characters.
“Girl Town” is about two groups of young women who live in some kind of misogynistic dystopia, but have made the neighborhood their own and are just making their own fun. The main character has a group of female friends she lives with and a kind of war with the neighbor ladies, involving a crush on Betsy and the stealing of her underwear. You just have to read this.
“Radishes” goes into the delights of having a friend who gives you love and self-confidence even when you don’t have it. And then realizing that you should love yourself too. It gives me all the warm feelings.
“Diana’s Electric Tongue” features a broken heart and a male sex/companion bot. It comments on what love is, questions what’s real or better, and asks us to think about ethics. You feel Diana’s sadness turn into something different. Especially as Harbor — her bot — becomes a realer part of her life and adventures.
“The Big Burning House” is probably the only short I didn’t care for. It’s about two best friends who make a podcast about a movie thought lost to time, and what happens when they discover a VHS copy. The balance of text to art makes it harder to read, and the story itself doesn’t move with the ease of Norwak’s other work.
“Please Sleep Over” is about two best friends who fall in love, and dealing with family and queer relationships when you’re in a familial landscape without anyone but your lover.
Overall, Girl Town is a fabulous collection of short comics about friendships, all types of love, and the bigger questions of life.