Total Trash #9 comic is anything but its namesake, and is a complete hoot

Total Trash #9

comic, Jen Sandwich, 22 pgs [email protected], $2

The idea that our gendered upbringings are limiting is no longer news to us, and there is no setting more exclusively defined by gender than the highly dreaded summer sleepaway camp of our youths.

The majority of Total Trash #9 takes place at day camp, which is why our main girl, Jen-O, on a tour of the camp’s lodging bunk, has a low-key anxiety attack: “So then why is that our ‘camp’? What does that mean?” she asks Miss Kathy. “It’s… our camp! Don’t worry about it — you’re just having first day of camp jitters.” Jen-O’s eyes bulge. A thought bubble appears: “But I’m NOT THOUGH. / WHY IS THAT OUR CAMP… I NEED TO UNDERSTAND THIS.”

Jen-O is a heroine to any thoughtful, self-aware and intelligent adolescent who has been given only fashion magazines to create a collage of their future. Luckily for us, the entirety of the comic is coming from her perspective as she is displaced from her absurd fruit punch, bologna sandwich, and vanilla cookie habitat. It is no wonder that her hilarious inner monologues follow the harrowing voices of self-doubt and anxiety — there is a rift between social expectation and personal desire. Jen-O — a thinly veiled, bunny version of the author? Who knows! — hits a wall when forced to be enthusiastic about prescribed fun, thus forcing her to turn inward. Watching the other girls effortlessly know how to be — how to dress, how to bond, how to cut and paste collages of their desired destinies — informs the division between Jen-O and her contemporaries.

But this isn’t a one-dimensional tale of alienation alone, for Jen-O thrives when left to her own devices and fascinations, and finds friendships on her own terms. Total Trash #9 outlines the way in which girls can be limited as creators of their own fates, channeled by a completely relatable Jen-O who takes it into her own hands and doesn’t stop asking questions. Total Trash #9 is anything but its namesake, and is a complete hoot.