A timeless tale of disenfranchised youth embracing the times they live in, cool kids now constantly connected by their phones, yet often still not listening to each other very much.
The comic follows a night in the life of a group of girls as they negotiate their way through a world of creatively named Facebook events, pretentious speakeasy bars, casual sexual harassment, surprisingly competent mental healthcare professionals and plenty of fast food and weed as they contemplate their futures in the gig economy and the forthcoming great conjunction. The pace is pleasingly chaotic, managing to evoke both a leisurely meandering conversation, and a fast-paced montage of hijinks. This is achieved through Cash’s fearlessly inventive visuals that play with the page in a whole range of ways. A mixture of hand-rendered messy textures and flat poppy colours, the drawing style is high punk kitsch; lots of blobby, oozing smoke bubbles, diamond glints for emphasis and smart use of colour to create contrast and a shifting focus as characters navigate their environments. Although there is a spontaneous sketchbook feel to a lot of the book, every creative decision is on point, with each crazy cut-up panel layout succinctly communicating the mood and forward motion of the story. What I mean to say is, it looks really cool, but it still makes sense, yeah?
Pop culture references in the story range from the corporate to the antithesis of corporate, from Pikachu Happy Meal toys and America’s Next Top Model references to the recurrent appearance of the Cool S and a poster for Zine Not Dead the (I assume) achingly hip Chicago spoken word comics event, the contrast pointing to a playfully post-modern ownership of our saturated social media world. How all cultural output is ours for the using and misusing; it’s all meaningless and it’s all real but nothing is really as real as hanging out with your friends.
Those of us old enough to know that the only really good thing about being young is the relative convenience of meeting up with your friends, probably never really met up with our friends that much even when we were young. Which is to say I find myself insanely jealous of the cast of Girl in the World and their seemingly effortless ability to hang out at short notice, although to be fair they do seem to be pretty miserable. Like Perks of Being a Wallflower, there’s a strong sense of a bittersweet nostalgia for carefree summers that are never as carefree as they seem. Oh to be young etc.
Girl in the World is drenched in equal parts love and despair, is softly satirical, and is just a lot of fun to look at. We predict Caroline Cash’s star is rising, make sure to grab onto its belching rainbow tail as it passes by and pick up this book if you want to see what the fuss is about.
Caroline Cash (W/A) • Silver Sprocket, $10.00
Review by Jenny Robins