Goblin Girl – a subtle exploration of mental health issues

Goblin Girl offers a snapshot into the life of Moa, an anxiety-ridden twenty-something artist living in the city. One day she Tinder matches with a famous TV personality twice her age, and for a while things are looking up. Until her Tinder match (‘Known TV Guy’) starts ghosting her, and her panic attacks take a turn for the worse.

The book is brilliant in its depiction of the mundane. Moa spends a large portion of it curled up depressed and half-naked on her bed, struggling to connect with friends and family. She goes to therapy, drinks too much and gets bad tattoos. When she does manage to get out, she and her friends are perpetually surrounded by heaps of clutter, unmade beds, and filthy streets, smoking their way through the night.

Visually, the book is striking too. Illustrated with a technique reminiscent of Ben Day Dots with a limited colour palette, the overall effect is one of a frazzled, disjointed state of mind. The depiction of ‘Known TV Guy’ in particular is as clever as it is absurd – he is an outrageously broad-shouldered man with a paper bag over his head, holding a tiny glass of wine and wearing a fancy suit.

All in all, Goblin Girl is a gentle and incredibly relatable graphic novel about struggling with mental health. It gets to the heart of what it is to be a twenty-something overwhelmed by the world, and does so with compassion, humour, and a genuine belief that it does get better at the end.

Goblin Girl by Moa Romanova & trans. by Melissa Bowers is out 27th February from Fantagraphics (9781683962830, h/b, £21.99)

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