GRAPHIC NOVELS

Trots and Bonnie

NYRC. Jul. 2020. 160p. ISBN 9781681374857. $37.95. Rated: Teen+. comics
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A naïve 13-year-old girl named Bonnie and her wisecracking dog Trots star in this uproariously funny and bawdy collection of comics, which originally ran in National Lampoon magazine throughout the 1970s–80s. Much about Bonnie’s life is typical of fiction about young teens—she pines after boys, struggles with body image, endures a public education, and navigates relationships with family and friends. Yet Flenniken (How To Live Without Electricity and Like It) touches on these familiar tropes in order to twist and subvert them into a brutal satire of American culture from a brazenly feminist perspective. Bonnie’s charming naiveté is balanced by the savagery of her best friend, Pepsi, a preteen whirlwind of lechery and rage who veers from forcing a vasectomy on a neighborhood boy to protesting materialism by wandering the mall dressed like a giant tampon. Flenniken illustrates these strips in a style reminiscent of classic newspaper comics such as Little Orphan Annie, and while the exaggerated innocence this evokes heightens the subversive nature of the humor, it also highlights the genuine heart and sincerity Flenniken brings to examining the lives and desires of her cast.
VERDICT An intelligent, uncompromising, and singularly candid chronicle of young womanhood.

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