Blog Post 11: Diary, Girl, Cartoonist, Comic, Memoir, Novel

Hi everyone,

Our next section of Gloeckner’s text introduces a range of new issues, both thematic and formal and somewhere in between. So this blog post is another open-ended one, as long as you ground your discussion in some citation and close analysis of part of our reading for Wednesday — use your post to show how the material you focus on is raising larger issues within the text that you see as significant.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Tuesday, November 8th. After class on Monday, you should return to this  thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Friday the 11th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

24 thoughts on “Blog Post 11: Diary, Girl, Cartoonist, Comic, Memoir, Novel

  1. I would like to discuss the contradictions between the comic on page 147 and the text on page 148 and connect it to the difference of author between the comics and diary entries. When I first read the comic on page 147, I was confused by the big jump in time and place between it and the previous diary entry. The previous diary entry is a letter Minnie writes to herself, which details her emotions as she and her mom pick Monroe up from the airport. What stood out to me in that entry was the end, where Minnie reveals, “I would like to own someone,”(146) after she writes about her frustrations surrounding the secrecy of her and Monroe’s relationship. After this entry, a nearly wordless comic is introduced and illustrates Minnie and Kimmie running on the beach with Monroe in the background. The only word included is spoken by Minnie who calls out Monroe’s name as she and Kimmie run towards him. This comic culminates with Kimmie kissing Monroe as Minnie watches with a hesitant facial expression, that suggests her discomfort with the turn of events. I found this comic to have a surreal feel to it, because of the lack of words or context.

    One the next page, Minnie begins a diary entry that partially explains the previous comic, but also creates more questions. The entry describes how Monroe took Kimmie and Minnie to Bolinas with him and how they hung out on the beach and drank beers, before heading back to Monroe’s apartment. This part of the entry matches the events of the previous comic, except it does not include the kiss between Kimmie and Monroe, which is explicitly included in the previous comic. It seems odd that Minnie would omit the kiss from her diary given that the remainder of that entry graphically illustrates the later interactions between Monroe, Minnie, and Kimmie. The omission of this event from Minnie’s diary makes the comic seem even more surreal to me and distances the author of the comic from the author of Minnie’s diary entries. Was the comic perhaps a way to illustrate Minnie’s growing distaste towards Kimmie, or fears of growing farther from Monroe? Additionally, why does the comic precede Minnie’s diary entry instead of showing up later?

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    • Caile—

      This is a really good point, and one that hadn’t occurred to me before reading this post. Just like you, though, the comic page on 178 felt very surreal to me, both because of it’s lack of words and strange turn of events without prior warning (though I couldn’t place why it was surreal before reading your post.) The theme of omission when comparing these two pages is also quite shocking; so far, this work has included everything, making a point to avoid omissions and including things regardless of how uncomfortable they may be to read about (and, in fact, making a point to include things for the purpose of making us uncomfortable.) The kiss between Kimmie and Monroe, though, defies this law by being omitted by Minnie’s diary. This may perhaps be Gloeckner’s way of “ret-conning,” of showing us something that, for whatever reason, she had not even included in her diary.

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  2. The number one thing that stands out for me with this text is how sharply its art style contrasts with that of Nat Turner. We talked extensively in class about how chaotic and reminiscent of motion the illustrations were, and how they lent a sense of high energy and urgency to what was happening in the narrative. The art style of Diary of a Teenage girl gives it almost the opposite tone. I am of the opinion that it looks incredibly stiff and the all the characters are dead-eyed and expressionless. I understand that this is subjective and is also a rather negative assertion, but I also think this kind of style does fit well with the narrative. It is highly reminiscent of how someone in their early-to-mid teens would draw, possessing a more limited visual vocabulary. The large heads and eyes reflect a transitional period from a more cartoony style to realism. Again, I’m aware that there is no one “teen” art style, but it truly does remind me of the drawings my artistically inclined friends would produce when we were all young teens. That being said, I think it is entirely appropriate for the life and times of a fifteen year old girl to be illustrated in such a style. Though I understand that we are not meant to believe that Minnie herself illustrated the majority of the book, it sort of tipped the scales for me as to whether or not Diary of a Teenage Girl felt “authentically teenager-ish”. I’m interested in hearing what everyone has to say about how Minnie’s actual art style (which we can see on page 120, for example) compares to the style of the illustrations in general.

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    • I also found the illustrations interesting in the respect you are speaking about. They are very reflective of youth, which makes me want to commend the author/illustrator for being able to recall and recreate that style. There are also pages where I find Minnie’s drawings a bit mature, for example the Cat in a sombrero has a lot of detail. Oh, and lets not forget the one of Minnie and Monroe nude, where Monroe is super hairy and it looks very realistic. I’m personally a little bitter about that image because I flipped to it in a public place at an odd moment but…anyways.
      A unique quality about Diary is that the illustrations are personal. In my art history class, we discussed an article by a famous German art historian named Wöfflin, where he reflects that although most artists aim to be as realistic as possible, no two paintings are going to look the same. We all can not help putting our own individual style into our art, even when we are working on the exact same thing as someone else. Two examples to look at if anyone is curious would be Raphael and Michelangelo of the renaissance.
      I do agree that I prefer the works that we have looked at earlier this semester. I like the words you used to describe Diary: “limited visual vocabulary.” The style of Diary lacks an emotional impact, and this is probably because the graphic novelist of Nat Turner was not trying to hide their artistic skills that they have accumulated over their life time. I understand that the work in Diary is purposeful, but it does not help my personal preference.

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  3. One thing I have noticed about Diary of a Teenage Girl is that it stands out as the most different work we have read in the class so far. It does not grapple with issues such as world destruction and crime (Watchmen) WWII, slavery or Hiroshima, and it is also different from Fun Home because the main character focus more inwardly that Alison, who is narrating a story about her father. We have also never had as much internal narration (I know, “Diary,” Hello!). We have had a lot of secondary narration in all of our texts in this class so far.
    Anyways, something specific about Diary is that the readers can not really rely on the narrator. Minnie changes her opinions, especially about Monroe. Her diary sometimes reads as if she were writing to a friend, or in some instances she is, she writes a letter to Kimmie that is included in the book. There are also moments where her mom disagrees with Minnie, for example she doesn’t believe Ricky to be nice or attractive. Her illustrations are also interesting. They reveal certain emotions. Sometimes they are random, like pictures of fish, or romantic portraits of Monroe. Then there are her comics of her life, and it is unclear where they come from. We as readers do not know if they came from Minnie, or are objective and accurate depictions of what really happened. Minnie also sometimes writes a reaction from something immediate, because she carries her diary with her everywhere. An event doesn’t even fully play out when she starts writing to the readers.

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    • I agree with you that her narration is unreliable considering that she constantly changes her mind about people. The most obvious examples are Ricky and Monroe, as you mentioned. To me, I feel like she just got bored with Ricky because there isn’t chemistry between them so it allows her to eventually sees him as a person instead of a crush whom she idolizes. Once she got over his attractiveness, she sees all his flaws, so it makes sense that her description of him gets worse as it goes on. However, she is still very much in love with Monroe so it’s harder for her to see his flaws and even though he dates her mother, she can still see past his mistakes. Also, I too wrote about the letters that she occasionally writes to people that she cares about. I find it interesting that she chooses to write letters in her diary when she can just write them as a diary entries. The illustrations still confuses me because sometimes they are her favorite candies and sometimes it’s a whole comic chapter. I think there are parts of her life where she can only express them through pictures/comic? Perhaps because writing what happened can’t fully express her emotions as pictures can.

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    • I hadn’t thought about the idea that this is one of the only books that doesn’t tackle a Bis Issue (trademark) which we’ve read for this class. Though one could argue that it’s “about” child abuse/underage drug use/drug addiction, I’m inclined to agree with you on the matter. It’s also interesting that you should note how unreliable this particular narrative is. I originally assumed that a stream of consciousness-style narrative would be as reliable as can be, but it makes sense to me now that it wouldn’t be because, as you said, Minnie’s opinions on things change, and what we see on the page also went through her own filter of whether or not it was important enough to write down, so it’s likely many major things happened to her that we never heard about. Then again, maybe the fact that we see the evolution of Minnie’s thoughts and feelings about the developments in her life as they happen is something that wouldn’t be available to us if the book was written memoir-style, as she may have forgotten about certain opinions that she no longer held.

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  4. While it’s not a particularly “new” issue/plot point in the text, I’d like to cite a certain section that we read for today in characterizing Minnie’s relationship to Gretel. The comic section starting on page 170 Minnie is walked home from her French lesson to find her mother and Michael Cocaine smoking pot and watching television. Minnie questions Michael’s marijuana use, especially in relation to his children. Her purpose for doing this is to advocate for Gretel in a way; Minnie finds it hypocritical that Michael cites his childrens’ youth as reason for not smoking around them, even though his daughter and Gretel are the same age. “It really bugs my sister!” Minnie says with a scowl, in a somewhat uncharacteristic fashion. While Minnie’s strife could easily be interpreted as directed towards her mother, I would also argue that Minnie seems to be trying to protect her sister on this page. Yet, how is this understood in the context of the rest of the book, wherein Minnie is continuously rude and dismissive of Gretel? Even in the same comic section, Minnie is cruel to her sister, pushing her away from the phone and causing Gretel to cry 174). Furthermore, in the last panel of the same page, Minnie snarkily tells Gretel not to tell their mom about the altercation because “she’s smoking pot and [she’ll] just get upset!!” This complicates Minnie, and I wonder how this interaction, and by extension her entire relationship, with her sister fits into the book’s theme of private vs. public interaction. Much of The Diary of a Teenage Girl centers on Minnie’s ever-evolving relationship to others as well as herself, specifically in how she handles people in different spheres of her life. The Minnie she presents when alone with Monroe is a very different Minnie than the one she portrays when with her mother, and only the diary mediates the two.

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    • Anna, thank you for bringing this up. I too find Minnie’s relationship to Gretel to be fascinating because I believe that on some deeper level Minnie truly cares for her younger sister despite not outwardly expressing it. The scene you describe is one of the only moments where we see Minnie show concern for Gretel. While this was a rare occasion, I believe that Minnie’s resentment towards Gretel is perhaps a jealousy of her innocence. Additionally the differences between the way the two girls cope with their shared situation is fascinating. Minnie is extremely extroverted and is constantly in search of external validations of her worth through sex and other adult experiences. While Gretel is very introverted, escapes with the T.V. to her room, and finds comfort in food.

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  5. Something that continues to surprise me while reading this Diary is the lack of an authority figure for Minnie and her little sister. While I understand the time difference may have something to do with the lack of boundaries between Minnie and her mother, and the specific situation they find themselves in (being parented by a single mother who drifts through jobs, not that thats a bad thing). The parent to child dynamic continues to surprise me.

    I’d like to focus on the panels on pages 153-155. Charlotte finally starts to catch a drift of the affair between Monroe and Minnie and confronts him about it. But also confronts him in a very nonchalant way, not treating it like the felony it is. It’s also pretty humorous that Charlotte didn’t even come to this conclusion herself, Pascal passed on this intuition and he barely sees Minnie. But her mother, who lives with her, who is sleeping with Monroe and spends the most time around both of them, doesn’t seem to catch on. With no surprise, you see Charlotte with a drink in her hand while she opens this dialogue between herself and Monroe. The way she refers to her daughter is a little sickening, she talks about her like a man would, like a piece of meat, referring to her body features in an almost sexist way, talking about her daughters big “ass and tits”. Charlotte doesn’t even stick to her guns when confronting Monroe and lets him easily sway her with alcohol. Doing so ends the conversation much sooner than it should have, Charlotte also lets this happen. Probably because she knows deep down that this is a real and serious issue that would require real and serious parenting, something she is most definitely not accustomed to. In addition to the confusion I felt while Charlotte neglects to really press Monroe about this issue, practically letting his sloppy excuses work on her, the way she talks about her daughter also confuses me. She talks about Minnie like she’s a stranger and not her own daughter, her own flesh and blood. She voices her own confusion as to how her daughters breasts seem to be growing so quickly, thinking out loud that she must be on the pill or pregnant, again with no concern if either of those things are true at 15 years old. Charlotte’s immaturity as an adult and as a parent really shines through in these panels, and sadly her lack of love for her daughter as well. No wonder Minnie is having an affair with a 35 year old, she has absolutely no structure in her family and doesn’t have a proper role-model or even a proper adult to look up to. Charlotte’s poor parenting skills are mind-boggling.

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  6. I would like to focus my discussion on Minnie’s comic pages, as in the ones that she (or, presumably, Gloeckner) drew when she was fifteen, as opposed to Gloeckner’s pages of panels that are found throughout the work. There are two of them so far: one is on the very first page of Chapter 2 and is titled “A Walk Through the City,” while the other is close to the end of the chapter and is titled “Identity Crisis Comix.” Both of these comic pages have a very distinctive, unique style that is not found anywhere else in the work, other than the few drawings that she’s included from when she was fifteen, such as the woman cradling the pig in the blanket in Chapter 1. The style is not realistic-looking in ways that many of the other illustrations are; body parts are grotesquely out of proportion, the perspective of the backgrounds are always off in a way that makes one feel dizzy and disoriented, and the small, fine line work and cross-hatching gives things within the panels a chaotic tone, while the large spaces between panels provides misleading relief. All in all, the style of these comics is disorienting and definitely conveys a sense of turmoil.
    The way the people are represented in these comics are especially telling of Minnie’s view of herself and others around her. The second one, specifically, is very telling; in it, the main character, “Melanie,” is always nude, but her body (particularly her weight and chest size) changes depending on who she’s with. This is reflective of Minnie’s own constantly-changing personality, and how she may feel as though she has to put on different fronts depending on who she’s with. At this point in the story, she is getting tired of keeping her affairs with Monroe secret from her mother and having to be treated like a little kid by Monroe when in front of her family, and yet she acknowledges that it’s necessary. The strain this is putting on her is clearly highlighted in her comics. Her insecurities about her body are also visible, particularly in the first one, in the way she draws the woman walking through town. All in all, the chaotic, relentless style that Minnie draws her comics in definitely makes the viewers uneasy, just like the contents of her diary do, and also display some of her thoughts and feelings about what is happening to her in a less direct way than her diary does.

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  7. I would like to talk about the nature of Minnie’s relationship with her mother. It sometimes seems as if their relationship is less of a mother daughter one and much more like the relationship one might have with a sibling or friend. They are not very close, and it seems like Minnie’s mother is often even more immature than Minnie herself. For example, in the comic between pages 169 and 176, there is a direct inversion between Minnie and her mother. Minnie is returning home from babysitting, she is dressed up and she seems very mature. She has just been taking care of kids, which is ironically something her mother is not doing. When Minnie finds her mom and “Michael Cocaine” on the couch smoking weed, Minnie calls Michael out on it, saying “why do you smoke pot around us? It really bugs my sister!” Minnie seems to be the mother figure here, calling Michael out on something that bothers her sister. Telling him what should and should not be done, while Minnie’s mother is defensive of Michael. This shows the flawed mother daughter relationship, and the inversion of dominance between Minnie and her mother. Minnie lacks respect for her mother, but her mother acts juvenile and irresponsibly. On the next page her mother says “Minnie! Don’t be such a damn bore,” and passes her the joint so that she can have a hit. The way her mother is drawn here is very young, to show her immaturity. Later on in the same page, her mother and Michael make fun of Minnie and laugh at her in a very immature way. They clearly make Minnie feel bad about herself. The shift in the role of mother and daughter here is very obvious through the visual portrayals that Gloeckner uses in her comics. The comics on this page display Minnie’s mother in a very young way. Her freckles and her large grin makes her seem younger, while Minnie’s face is much more hardened and stern displaying her as older. This makes the inversion much more obvious than it is within Minnie’s diary entries.

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    • I agree with this sentiment. Even her mother’s reaction to finding out about Monroe and Minnie was strange. The comic on page 252 depicts her mother and Monroe casually drinking while discussing Monroe’s sexual relationship with a minor. They are seated in a restaurant reclining in couches and armchairs. And while Minnie’s mom does get upset and yell, her reactions still underwhelming. Also her solution to having Monroe marry Minnie is strange as well. There is a definite disconnect here where Minnie and her mother almost seem like rivals for love whereas her mother should be concerned with the fact that an adult has had sexual relations with her fifteen year old daughter.

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  8. Minnie Goetz is a child. Despite her erotic desires and crass language she is a just a kid who wants to love be loved. She craves the romantic love of a partner, the caring love of a friendship, the unconditional love of a parent. Sadly her life is lacking in all aforementioned categories. She questions her relationship with Kimmie and whether they are true or shallow friends. She questions Monroe and whether he is taking advantage of her and if he thinks of her as a child or an equal. She questions her mother and whether she even likes her much less love. This is a testament to the flimsy infrastructure at the base of all of Minnie’s relationships. This unreliability shows that these people will not necessarily be there for her when she needs it. This sense of uncertainty in her relationships leaves her longing for a confidant. Someone she can simply talk to and know that they have her best interest at heart, “like a mother is supposed to” (pg 158). In, what I assume was a brief moment of desperation, Minnie writes a letter to God. Her letter is an attempt at self closure and conveys a sense of loneliness and longing for family. As disturbing as this may be, the closest person she has to family is Monroe. Monroe is even included in her future vision of her own family. The only true intimacy that Minnie has experienced is sex. As a result sex has come to take on the role of her caretaker. It provides her with a moment of intimacy that eludes her in everyday life. I believe it is not that Minnie is “sex starved” as much as she is “love starved.” In her mind sex is the only thing that seems to momentarily fill that void.

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    • I really like the way you worded this! As I was reading to page 190, I noticed a growing pain in Minnie’s voice. As Minnie drifts apart from figures in her life (Ricky, Artie, Chuck, Frank) she experiences a growing loneliness and increase in dislike for herself. I believe Minnie is growing desperate (or well, more than before) for some sort of meaningful human interaction, and I fear for what crowds and dangers this isolation will turn her to. She already has suicide somewhere in the back of her mind, and her current or worsened state is likely to amplify those thoughts. Overall, this section creates a growing sense of dread as the reader processes just how volatile and hollow most, if not all of Minnie’s relationships are. Your comment on how Monroe is the closest figure Minnie has to family sends a shiver down my spine, as I indeed agree. There’s Pascal, maybe, but his presence is only through letters and he often alienates Minnie; Monroe is the only adult in her life who seems to be listening to her, which is terrifying.

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    • I absolutely agree with you. When I first began reading this book I was, as I think many people were, a bit shocked by the young protagonist’s characterization. She wavers enormously between subjective, emotional diary entries and ones that are strikingly objective, mature, and self-aware. There is a tendency to psychoanalyze the narrator while reading Diary of a Teenage Girl much more than any other book we have read this semester, because, it seems, trying to piece together Minnie’s inner goings-on is a central part of our understanding of the book. Minnie immediately comes off as a ravenous, sex-hungry girl, and we can’t help but wonder: what is it that made her this way? I absolutely agree with you about the reasons for this: as someone who has been deprived of physical and emotional closeness, she confuses sex with love. She doesn’t have a greater innate sexual desire than the average teenage girl; she is just like millions of adolescent girls who desire another person’s attention or validation of their bodies and their whole selves. Her overpowering sex drive can be attributed not only to this lack of validation, physical closeness, and love, but also the sex-centered culture in which she is growing up. She has been living amidst a countercultural movement of the 70s, where a strong emphasis is placed on sexual activity and sexual freedom. Monroe is shocked that at the age of fifteen Minnie is “still a virgin.” Her best friend Kimmie lost her virginity when she was thirteen. Minnie has been under pressure for her entire life, even by her own mother, to lose her virginity early on. For Minnie, it is a way to confirm one’s womanhood, to be seen as mature or sophisticated, and, above all, to be desired. Once she has sex with Monroe, getting a taste of the intimacy she has lacked all of her life, she becomes fixated on sex as the object of all her desires. As a fifteen year old, Minnie is torn between child and adult, between naive and mature, between experienced and innocent. It seems to me that this duality is reflective not just of Minnie’s upbringing and home life, but of a wider social and cultural pressure. Minnie is enormously complex as her emotions, opinions, and desires fluctuate and transform, ultimately making her characterization utterly human.

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    • I totally agree with this assessment. Minnie never got the love or emotional validation she needed, and therefore both her sense of self and ability to form secure relationships are extremely unstable. It seems as though Minnie’s skewed view of what a “healthy relationship” looks like arises from the fact that there are very few of these in here life that she can use as a standard for herself. This is especially true in relation to her mother. Children often model their views on romantic relationships off of their parents, as this is likely the first, and most important, that they will see of this. However, Minnie’s mother never really had a stable relationship. Although Pascal was a surrogate father for most of Minnie’s life, his difficult separation from Charlotte likely had an extremely negative impact on a young Minnie.

      Charlotte’s relationships after Pascal have fared no better. She and Monroe have an ill-defined romantic relationship, and they both appear to sleep with other people. In addition, their wild and inappropriate behavior and blatant disregard for basic decorum have left Minnie with a deeply impaired sense of what is appropriate in regards to her interactions with others. Charlotte rarely shows Minnie affection or encouragement and one would hardly describe her attitude towards her daughter as “maternal”. Instead, there is a strange and unhealthy sense of sexual competition between the two. Because Minnie was unable to derive a stable sense of love and self-worth from her parents, she continually seeks it elsewhere, often in sex with people who do not seem to value her for who she really is.

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  9. I would like to examine the comic on page 153. We have touched on the transitions between text and comic in class, and I in particular find this topic interesting because of the switch from first person to third person narrative that takes place in the transition. As Minnie herself is no longer the narrator, the comics gain a level of objectivity; as readers, we can likely interpret this to mean that the comics are more reliably narrated than the text passages. The transition on page 153 takes this idea a step further by portraying a moment where Minnie herself is not even present: she is neither shown next to Monroe and her mother nor is she shown spying on the scene.
    By excluding any presence of Minnie, this comic becomes a kind of omniscient narration. We can see, through an objective, visual lens, that Minnie’s mother is becoming suspicious of her and Monroe’s relationship. Not only does this indicate that the affairs within the family will likely come to a head, but it also indicates that Minnie is quite likely an unreliable narrator. Her diary entries could be omissive of aspects of her family dynamic.
    This idea of reliable versus unreliable narrator is also cleverly emphasized by the relationship between visuals and text. Since comics use visuals as well as text, they comprise a more holistic narrative, making readers more likely to trust the story’s validity as oppose to that of text, even if the text wasn’t told directly from Minnie’s point of view. Therefore, including these moments of objective visual storytelling within what is an otherwise very subjective narration provide a big picture clarity to the readers.

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  10. I was interested by Phoebe’s comic on pages 153 to 155. It doesn’t feature Minnie and while this book can be described as semi-autobiographical, I have to question the validity of this scene. If Minnie isn’t in the scene and therefore wasn’t present, is it true that Phoebe is accurately portraying this conversation? She alludes to this conversation through her writing where she says Monroe decides not to take her to a boat show on page 156. We can surmise this plan change is due to Minnie’s mother’s accusations of Monroe sleeping with Minnie. So Minnie was not conscious of the events in Phoebe’s comic.
    Therefore, I wonder if some of these panels are exaggerated. For instance, on page 153, was Minnie’s mother really drinking like in panel 6 while discussing such a sensitive issue? Could this be a fictitious view of Minnie’s mother based on past drinking habits? Panel 8 also seems exaggerated to me; Minnie’s mother comments on Monroe’s attraction to Minnie’s “tits and ass”. Is this really how her mother talked about her daughter? Further more I was surprised by the events in panels 3 and 4 on page 155. While talking, Minnie’s mother and Monroe share tequila straight from the bottle. The way they share the alcohol and eventually get distracted by Monroe’s suggestion of cocaine seemed somewhat unbelievable. Minnie’s mother seemed so convinced of Monroe’s guilt as we can see in panel 6 on page 154. She blatantly calls him out for his wandering eye. And yet she eventually gives in, which considering the situation concerned her daughter, betrayed the severity of the scene for me.

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  11. I find it interesting that she writes a lot of letters that express her true feelings about a person but she rarely gives it to the person that it is directed to. One possible explanation is certainly the fact that she fears confrontation but why did she choose to format it as a letter instead of another diary entry? For instance, on page 161-162, Minnie wrote a letter to Monroe, confronting her feelings about their odd relationship. Throughout the book, Minnie always seems to come to the same conclusion that she hates to how Monroe treats her when Gretel and or her mom are in the same room as her when they clearly have a sexual affair. She wrote, “You don’t realize that the only natural way for me to feel about you now is very different from the way Gretel feels about you….my feelings are those that would be expected of someone who has been intimate with you.” The conflicted emotion inside her gradually builds up as she gets intimate with him more often. However, she yearns for his affection but she also acknowledges that he cannot do much about it. The fact that she is constantly questioning whether Monroe is taking advantage of her or he truly loves her and still loves him unconditionally shows that she will always forgive him because she idolizes him.
    Also, this letter was addressed to “Little Monroe” and I wonder if that is because she thinks Monroe is immature about how he handles things or because she wants to address him in a more intimate way as a 15-year-old would do (161). Furthermore, from the way the letter is written, it seems like she wishes Monroe would be hers and only hers as we can gather that she longs for any type of affection physically or emotionally. The self-doubting is extremely prominent as she keeps emphasizing that she’s “depressed sometimes to think that [he] doesn’t give a hoot about [her]” and “maybe [he] doesn’t like [her] very much in the first place.” (162). It appears that even though there is no conclusion to this letter, it is necessary for her internal self to process the complicated situation.

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    • This topic of the “letters” in her diary is an interesting one, as it falls under the wide variety of sections that depart from the comparatively plain first-person narration. While Minnie is still voicing the story, I agree that she seems to take on a different role during these passages. The fact that she is writing a letter, and therefore addressing “you”, almost creates the impression of being second-person narration. Like the presence of visual storytelling and comics throughout the book, this changes the perspective and thus plays with the reliability of the narrator, and possibly even the story itself. As you’ve stated, this letter demonstrates a reversal of power, where Minnie seems to be trying to reclaim some control of her situation. I would be prepared to argue that this impression is also created by the change in narrative format, since in this passage she is directly addressing another character instead of simply transcribing something that has happened to her.

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  12. For this blog post, I would like to talk about how Minnie portrays herself and those around her through both her drawings and descriptions. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is very different from any graphic work I have read for this class and, more generally, any graphic work I have ever read. Not only does it not shy away from difficult topics (as well as visuals portrayals of these topics) that may elicit horror and disgust, but seems to actively pursue them. As a brief side note, I do not find it particularly surprising that Minnie makes references to comic book artists R. Crumb and Aline Kominsky, as their artistic styles are similarly grotesque.

    Although Minnie asserts that many of the characters in the work are considered attractive, her descriptions and visual portrayal of these characters often seem to be strangely at odds. For instance, on page 10, Minnie states that Monroe “is the handsomest man in the world”. However, many of the drawings she does of Monroe do not depict him as a man whom most would deem “classically attractive”. Moreover, many of the drawings Minnie does of herself are not exactly flattering. This being said, some drawings are much more flattering than others, just as Minnie’s assessment of the attractiveness and personal worth of herself and others seems always to be shifting.

    The discrepancy between Minnie’s written assessment of an individual and her accompanying visual portrayal certainty brings up many questions from me as a reader. Is its existence simply due to Minnie’s artistic style, or is it a result of her constantly shifting perception of herself and those around her? Or, alternatively, is it an artistic device utilized by Phoebe Goetze to show us, as readers, the disparity between the way Minnie describes others (and herself), and the way they actually appear (as more accurately portrayed in her drawings).

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  13. One theme that I think is particularly developed in this section of The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures is Minnie’s understanding and portrayal of herself. In her letters she frequently refers to herself as “Little Minnie,” (page 35, 80) as does her stepfather, Pascal (page 108). This presents her as young and childlike, though the content of her letters often complicates this image by discussing sex acts and offering sometimes astute evaluations. On page 161, however, Minnie begins a letter “Little Monroe,” and ends it “Love, Minnie Goetze Jr.” (page 162). Over the course of this letter she expresses a yet more complex understanding of her situation with Monroe, as well as her frustration with it. This seems to show a change in Minnie towards examination and introspection–she has come to doubt her previous convictions, including her thoughts about Monroe.
    Another way in which Minnie is infantilized is through images. On page 84 she is very small in stature in comparison with Monroe, which emphasizes the difference in age and power between the two. This phenomenon is continued on page 143 where Monroe’s head takes up almost the whole page, and Minnie’s head is unrealistically small in comparison. These images clearly present Minnie as small, childish, and under Monroe’s power.
    Minnie’s second comic “Identity Crisis” on page 183 grapples more directly with her issues with her own identity. The main character, Melanie Higbean, is depicted with several different faces and bodies across the page, yet when she is alone she evades manifestation. Readers could reasonably use this as a way to think about Minnie’s mental environment–she is under pressure to conceal different parts of herself from different people, yet she struggles to define herself independent of those people.

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  14. Phoebe Gloeckner’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures, is one of the most innovative works about female coming-of-age that I have ever encountered. As a semi-autobiographical narrative that draws heavily upon events in Gloeckner’s own life as a San Francisco teenager in the 1970s, the implications of the work become increasingly intriguing. Diary of a Teenage Girl is a unique hybrid of lengthy written diary entires, comic snippets, accompanying illustrations, and original artwork from Gloeckner’s adolescence, and as such becomes a sort of collage of Gloeckner’s reconstructed past and the in-the-moment experience of her character, Minnie. Its frank depictions of female sexuality, as well as it’s honesty, humanity, randomness, authenticity, and stream-of-consciousness writing are what makes the work and its characters thoroughly human. Minnie is consistent only in her inconsistency; she is simultaneously self-aware and oblivious, objective and emotionally deluded. Many of Minnie’s diary entries are drawn directly from Gloeckner’s original typewritten diary entries, which I feel makes the work simultaneously more and less shocking. It is, of course, rattling to read about statutory rape, graphic sex, teenage drug use, etc., and even more so when one hears that such events are based in reality. I feel as though my subconscious reaction to reading this book was that I needed Minnie’s raw, graphic explanations and horrific experiences to be validated or confirmed by their basis in reality. Somehow, knowing about the work’s autobiographical nature, or at least semi-autobiographical nature, makes the work itself more acceptable as a creation by a female cartoonist. If Gloeckner’s work about how much she loves to have sex with her mother’s boyfriend at age 15 wasn’t based in reality, the audience would wonder why she was creating such an explicit work at all. The fact that the events Gloeckner describes really happened make the work perhaps more necessary and more acceptable to some readers, as if Gloeckner needed to come to terms with her traumatic past in this way, or as if telling a story that is this sexually explicit is only acceptable for a woman if her experiences are true (I think this is even more true with regards to Gloeckner’s drawings in A Child’s Life). For example, I don’t think that readers demanded that R. Crumb’s sexually explicit and graphic comics had some sort of basis in reality; there is a double standard present for female cartoonists and their depictions of sexuality. Do you think Gloeckner is aware of this, and perhaps trying to combat it in some way?

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