Goblin Girl

Moa Romanova, trans. from Swedish by Melissa Bowers. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (184p) ISBN 978-1-68396-283-0
Romanova’s disarming debut graphic memoir grapples with gender, power, and bad Tinder dates. After an uncomfortable night out with an older, well-known media personality, struggling young artist Romanova resolves to ghost him. But he keeps messaging her, and as she falters in coping with academic rejection and a precariously stabilized panic disorder, she finds herself welcoming his sympathy, and accepting his offer to become her financial and emotional “patron.” But the celebrity’s support soon takes on a manipulative tone, leaving her feeling more alone than ever. Romanova keeps the celebrity anonymous, referring to him as “Known TV-Guy, 53” and depicting him with a paper bag over his head. Romanova’s semisurreal cartooning (her protagonist wields bizarre proportions like a cracked-mirror fashion doll, seeming both monstrous and familiar) lays bare the subtle, commonplace ways that men abuse women’s trust. The coloring and textures vibe with 1980s retro, but the script and cartooning are perfectly of the moment, with spot-on dialogue from her team of joke-cracking friends, thanks to a truly excellent idiomatic translation. There are also some hilarious visual gags, such as Romanova’s supportive mother drawn as a Moomin. As Romanova learns to heal and understand herself, readers who have dealt with mental health struggles or unequal power dynamics in relationships will recognize and sympathize with her regenerative conclusion. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/21/2019
Release date: 02/11/2020
Genre: Comics
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