In the late ’90s, a California teenager named Maggie Whorf and friends got into trouble for distributing a zine called “Whore-Hey” at their school. So of course, Whorf ended up writing a comic book. That comic was the three-issue series BoHoS, published by Image/Flypaper Press.
(I tracked down Whorf a few years ago and talked to her about all of this. For more background, please read Remembering BoHoS: A conversation with Maggie Whorf. There’s no need to repeat all of that here.)
Does BoHoS hold up? No, not really. Whorf had a good grasp on what it was like to be a teenager at the time, and her stand-in lead, Catherine Wheal, provided an easy entry point for readers (you know, if you were a teenage girl who could relate to a protagonist with blue hair) and that carries over pretty well, but jagged, technicolor art by Byron Penaranda and the dated references to Hanson and MTV’s Tabitha Soren place this firmly in the late ’90s. This is not one for the ages.
I actually read BoHoS at the time (the publishers reached out to me — an early web address for Comicsgirl is actually listed in the back of issue #2) and it may be the only Near Miss comic I read as it was actually being released. It’s far from perfect, but it’s still a comic I have a lot of affection and appreciation for. There was nothing else like it at the time and I’d say there really hasn’t been anything like it since.
True to Whorf’s zinester roots, the back of each issue had essays, reviews and poetry from other teenage girls as well as links to web sites of interest (this was the late ’90s — the Internet was still young for many of us). I liked that beyond the main story, it just wasn’t about Whorf. It was about other teenage girls that may not feel like they fit in and it wanted to give them a voice.
And certainly, teenage girls have always found places to share their thoughts, but I do wonder what shape BoHoS would’ve taken in today. I look at Tavi Gevinson and Rookie (and the fact that comics publisher Drawn & Quarterly was the one to put out Rookie: Yearbook One) and I just wonder what would’ve happened if Whorf had been in a world where she could’ve created a blog instead of a zine.
Which isn’t to say BoHoS was ahead of its time. It was very much of its time and not really worth reading beyond it being a piece of comics history. Still, it continues to delight me that nearly 15 years ago, a teenage girl got to write a comic that was published by a major publisher.
I think that continues to be an important thing.