Monday , April 15 2024
Girl Juice by Benji Nate

Graphic Novel Review: ‘Girl Juice’ by Benji Nate from Drawn+Quarterly

Girl Juice

Girl Juice from Benji Nate, published by Drawn+Quarterly, shows the adventures of the wild “Girl Juice House” where four roommates try to navigate their entries into adulthood. First introduced are Nana, the dreaming artist, and Bunny, who has elevated her bimbo-ness to a life philosophy: “If I start having big thoughts I think I’d be deviating from God’s plan for me. And, uhhh, no thx!”

Soon the reader meets Tula, who seeks internet streaming fame, and Sadie, the “designated mom” who manages to keep the mundane necessities rolling as they carry out their adventures. The girls tackle life and romance as well as facing challenges ranging from adult prom to camping to a visit from Bunny’s conservative mother to literally battling demons.

Girl Juice by Benji Nate

Benji Nate already has an impressive catalogue of comics work, including Catboy and Lorna. Her work shares a strong brand of humor in a world edging into magical realism with its adorably irascible characters.

Bunny most often works as the foil as she poses for selfies, lives in her sef-involved world, or waxes philosophical about hotness, both within and without. Nate guides the reader into the Girl Juice world first in micro-adventures in one-shot comic strips with cutting punchlines before showing whole adventures with long arcs across their pages.

Just as with the masters of classic newspaper comics, Nate’s history of daily webcomics and long-form graphic narrative shows with gags on every page and storylines that suck in the reader.

The art style of Girl Juice fits its storytelling well, with its cartoony characters rich in details and hotness. Nate uses regular, six-panel pages as the norm, building a rhythm that especially highlights the few large panels that highlight events like the appearance of a shadowy figure in Tula’s videos. This grants the longest arc in the collection a graphic-novel vibe while maintaining the cutting jabs at the end of each page, such as the medium the girls bring in to determine the origin of the supernatural craziness in the house observing a “Live Laugh Love” poster with a long pause and then, horrified, “Chilling.”

Girl Juice lands its jokes not only with timing and dynamic panel composition using frequent extreme close-ups, perfect for our new era of selfies. Nate also uses expressive dialogue, incorporating modern texting shorthand with “u” instead of “you,” “IDK,” and numerals where they can save some time. With Nate’s finger on the pulse of modern, social technology-driven culture, the girls are all relatable, or at the very least we know someone just like them, or perhaps we aspire to be one or more of them.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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