- Posted by Johanna on January 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Adrianne Ambrose; art by Monica Gallagher
- PUBLISHER: Oni Press; $15.99 US
Glitter Kiss reads like a mashup of Archie Comics and an Americanized manga, with its school setting, adolescent politics, and magical way of teaching the bad guys lessons.
Tinka isn’t one of the popular kids, and her reputation isn’t particularly good. She wants to be liked by a boy so much that she’s too eager to kiss him, so she’s seen as easy. She’s got a crush on a guy on the soccer team, Jason, but while he’ll make out with her in private, he talks her down in front of his friends and doesn’t want to be seen with her. After a bad rejection, Tinka bumps into and talks with Sylvia, a goth witch wannabe.
Something about that encounter and/or the new glitter lip gloss Tinka buys casts a spell. Any boy who kisses her with less-than-honest intentions will wake up the next morning as a girl, the better to learn how much of a jerk he’d been to the opposite sex, from having to keep your skirt down to suffering sexual harassment from strangers.
I’m not sure why this book didn’t work better for me. I’ve enjoyed Monica Gallagher’s comic work before. I like her lush characters and diverse body types, especially when it comes to women. She’s got a great facility for expressive body language. I think my qualms might be with the shallow characterization of the cast — most of them are predictable types with little motivation (unless being a teenager is enough), especially Sylvia. The dialogue is believable and authentic, though. (A favorite item: when one of the boy’s mothers wonders what’s going on with her son, she asks, “What is it? A tattoo? A piercing? Did something get infected?”)
The strongest section, I felt, was the lengthy one where Jason has to learn how to be a girl and how hard it is to be female. The details were well-observed, if exaggerated. (I kept thinking of Blake Edwards’ Switch.) I thought his mother, who just slides right into having a daughter, nicely funny and unexpected, especially when she acts like the sex change was his poor choice that he was going to have to live with, much like getting a tattoo.
Maybe that’s it. I wanted this to be Tinka’s story, but it’s really Jason’s, about how he learned to be a man instead of a jerk. There’s a good amount of wisdom here, especially when he concludes that “Being a girl is kind of tricky. People don’t like it when you stand up for yourself.” It’s a shame that it took a guy to make that point, which kind of undercuts the theme of the story.