Anyone who views cartooning as high art would do well to check out Diana Nock's The Intrepid Girlbot, a wordless comic about a darling Girlbot and a cybernetically enhanced raccoon searching for their places in the world.
The Intrepid Girlbot is a deceptively simple comic. The titular Girlbot is a sweet and lonely thing, living in a giant house in the middle of nowhere. She lives a quiet life with her robotic cat and mouse (who are locked in an endless and futile Tom and Jerry battle) and her pair of giant hands.
But Girlbot longs for more, longs to be as pretty as the womanly gynoids she sees out in the fields and the girls in magazines. But her attempts to be better girl never quite succeed. Butterflies fry in her grasp. Beauty treatments backfire. And a certain raccoon winds up temporarily deceased.
Parallel to Girlbot's story is the story of Raccoon, a once-ordinary raccoon who has been killed and revived – better, stronger, faster, with a penchant for accidentally setting things on fire. All she wants to do is return to her family and live out her life, but her newfound powers make her, like Girlbot, an outsider.
Nock has set a high level of difficulty for herself. Not only is Girlbot dialogue-free, Nock also opts for a clean, understated style in lieu of exaggerated pantomime. She displays a remarkable proficiency for visual storytelling and conveying emotion-and it makes her moments of slapstick (and those giant robot hands) stand out. She also draws on that wonderfully glamorous, almost Jetsons-eqsue ‘60s retrofuture while critiquing the consumerism that tends to accompany it. Because as much as Girlbot may think she wants to join the beautiful people, prepackaged beauty may not be as breezy – or fulfilling – as it seems.