Content Warning: depression and anxiety
Sarah Andersen is a delightful presence on the otherwise mostly miserable internet. I had put her first book, Adulthood is a Myth, on my 20 Books of Summer challenge list, but I ended up buying her second book in the meantime, so I read that one instead! Big Mushy Happy Lump is short at 125 pages, but she provides some keen insight into what contemporary womanhood looks like, especially if the woman is an book-loving introvert close to 30.
Big Mushy Happy Lump was published in March 2017 by Andrews McMeel Publishing, whom I’ve never heard of. The title and the cartoon’s shirt are both velvety. Oh, myyyy, it’s lovely to feel! I will say that you can find most of Andersen’s comics online, but the website she uses is horribly clunky, so just get the book! Velvetyyyyyy….
Big Mushy Happy Lump basically has one comic per page. For the most part, these comics compare and contrast things, like how men vs. women compliment each other, or life vs. life on your period, or listening to vs. reading song lyrics.
I didn’t realize just how much of Andersen’s style relies on such comparisons until I looked more closely. There are also three longer comics: one about overcoming anxiety, depression, and self-doubt; one about learning why people love cats, and one about stealing sweaters from people. The comics are about Andersen, not a fictional character.
I did wish the book were organized by theme. For instance, in several comics a little walking — though super cute! — uterus appears to ruin Andersen’s day. What if these comics were all together so I could really process the theme? Ditto to posts about reading, being an introvert, and female beauty standards.
There is a nice consistency to the drawings. You can always recognize a Sarah Andersen scribble when you see it (even though people try to rip off her work). The eyes are huge, the hands and feet tiny, and you can always pick out Andersen in her drawings, even if she changes clothes. Hers is a cute style that can sway into small and fearful, or badass and conquering. I love that the bunny, which you see on the cover, will appear every so often. He appears to be Andersen’s mostly helpful inner brain. Though it occasionally reminds her of innocent facts that rain on her parade, the bunny mostly encourages her to say “yes” to a social life or grabs carrots in the grocery store.
Best of all, Big Happy Mushy Lump will speak to damn near any woman. She laments the difficulties of having a period, how women are told to wear less make up and then some make up to look “natural,” how some women make looking adorable and casual so effortless, how women wear cute undies and feel secretly happy. Andersen admits her personal appearance changes based on what other women are wearing and how they style themselves, so Andersen never feels content with her own look. She even covers street harassment. I think Big Happy Mushy Lump is a great space to explore the lives of contemporary younger women, warts and all.
*All images were created by and belong to Sarah Andersen of Sarah’s Scribbles. The images I’ve included may have been slightly cropped due to people on the internet having undeserved beef with copyright logos, but trying to find the originals on her website was challenging. The images I’ve included are used only for the purpose of reviewing the book. Please visit Andersen’s website, or find her work on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other places I haven’t thought of.