Walter Scott’s comic book “,” from 2014, introduced readers to its titular protagonist, a lovable but messy post-college hipster who makes her way through the art scene of Montreal, partying and crashing, hooking up and falling down. Late-night binges, regrettable one-night stands, art-practice disasters, friendship breakups and makeups—in all of these, Wendy’s lust for life is inseparable from her knee-jerk self-destruction. In “Wendy on a Bendy,” the book’s first strip, we see the inextricability of these two tendencies, as Scott draws his heroine vomiting into a toilet bowl, and then stretched out on the floor clutching her phone. With her features nearly German Expressionist in their distortion, bespeaking the scrambled state familiar to anyone who has ever gone too hard, Wendy groans, “OH MY GOD. UHU. NO. I WANT THIS TO BE OVER.” But the next panel, portraying “the very next day,” shows her stuffing her face vigorously with breakfast and cheerfully muttering, “OMG K LETS GET HAMMURT TONITE.” (“NOT THE END,” the strip’s final panel predicts, the statement’s obviousness a kind of punch line.)

Although there is pleasure in the comic’s depiction of the predictable cycle of Wendy’s highs and lows, this is not all that Scott’s work offers. In “Wendy,” as well as in its sequel “,” from 2016, and, now, in “,” the third installment of his protagonist’s misadventures, which came out this month, Scott goes beyond caricature, allowing Wendy and the characters surrounding her to become fully formed. Scott manages a rare thing: the sharpness of his satire doesn’t preclude a realistic rendering of personhood, and the seeming flatness opens up, at every turn, to a depth of feeling. Before he collected it in a book, Scott self-published “Wendy” as a zine, and his black-and-white drawings gesture toward the work’s low-res origins, as they capture what it’s like to be young and muddled, ambitious and self-defeating, horny and depressed. As readers—especially those of us who have long ago left behind our more raucous years—we might gaze at Wendy as a kind of anthropological specimen. But we become involved in her story, too, following it closely from book to book, as if it were an engrossing Victorian serial. What will our heroine do next? Will she triumph, or, at the very least, develop into a progressively less disastrous adult?

In Scott’s first book, young Wendy traipses around Montreal from club to bar to art opening; falls for a shifty but sexy drummer whose paltry affections she fights her best friend for; leaves town for a remote residency, where she has an affair and makes some enemies; comes back; fantasizes about being a millennial success story by becoming an art director, but ends up as a barista in a coffee shop; sleeps with an awkward hippie and watches episode after episode of “Nurse Jackie” on her laptop while hungover. The scope of these delicious details broadens a bit in the more plot-heavy “Wendy’s Revenge,” as Wendy moves first to Vancouver, where she gets involved in the local art scene, then to Yokohama, for a residency, and on to Los Angeles, where she joins forces with an old nemesis to defeat two corrupt art-world operators. Scott also gives more room to the stories of secondary characters, like the sensible Winona, Wendy’s friend and occasional art collaborator, who, like Scott, is an Indigenous Canadian and grew up on a reserve, and Screamo, Wendy’s casually nihilistic gay pal.

Illustration by Walter Scott

In “Wendy, Master of Art,” Wendy moves to a small Canadian town—the kind whose main street has a shop called Yawn & Yarn—to pursue a visual-arts M.F.A. at the University of Hell. (Scott, who, apart from his cartooning, is also a sculptor and multimedia artist, completed an M.F.A. at Ontario’s University of Guelph, in 2018.) Within this controlled setup, we become familiar with a whole new cast of characters, from Wendy’s classmates to her professors to her undergrad students to her new boyfriend, who happens to also be dating another woman. (“POLYAMORY,” Wendy thinks, her eyes bulging, when she realizes this.) Scott’s fairly tight concentration on the foibles of art school puts this book in league with other texts that have come before it, like Dan Clowes’s “Art School Confidential” comic, which was later adapted into a movie, or Rachel B. Glaser’s RISD欧洲杯买彩票 novel, “.” As in those earlier works, the depiction of that world’s types—grandiose and insecure, self-centered and self-loathing—makes for great, equal-opportunity social satire. We have Eric, the sweaty white male artist, hyper-concerned about everyone else’s “problematic” politics; Maya, the enigmatic art star who is always wrapping up international projects (“This is my work from the Liverpool Biennale”); Yunji, the sculptor who’s obsessed with “really long string” (“It’s crazy how long it can get”); Cliff Masterson, the older, washed-up professor (“You might remember me from my last solo exhibition, in 1998”); Maduhri, whose work is “an intersection of fermentation, poetry, and painting,” and who refers to herself, deadpan, as “the program’s token dyke”; and so on.

But despite the absurdity of Hell’s assorted types, and in spite of the institution’s name, Scott seems to have a lot of love for art school and the kind of experience it allows for. When Winona comes to visit Wendy, who ignores her in favor of endless conversations with her peers about the program, she becomes a stand-in for us non-M.F.A.ers: What in the world could be so interesting about a bunch of people making harebrained objects, relying on pretentious concepts? This ridiculousness, however, is part of the point, and goes hand in hand with the freedom—both nightmarish and exhilarating—of playing in the studio, exploring the stupidity and glory of one’s own solitary, self-indulgent practice. We don’t really get to see much of Wendy’s work, and this is turned into a bit of a joke—in one panel, it is hidden by Maya’s enormous hat, and in another it is concealed behind Wendy’s own head—but this also suggests, perhaps, that in art school the struggle and process of making is much more significant than any result could be.

Illustration by Walter Scott

“Wendy, Master of Art” is full of low-key art-school gags, visual and otherwise. (In one of my favorites, Scott depicts Wendy’s classmate Yunji, in the back of various panels, repeatedly installing, over the course of the book, what appears to be the exact same string sculpture.) The canvas that Scott works with here is perhaps his most compact, and yet the book presents Wendy’s world in its most fully realized form to date. His mastery of his characters’ faces and gestures is also wonderful, his line quick and sure and expressive. When Wendy is telling a lie or getting fed up, the shape of her mouth begins to resemble a bird’s beak; when she is down in the dumps or agitated, her googley eyes turn into two flat black pancakes; when she is really losing it, her head might turn upside down, resembling a Modernist abstraction. This visual shorthand provides laughs, but Scott is also interested in the development of Wendy as the protagonist of her own life. One of the strengths of this book is that readers who have been familiar with Wendy’s trajectory get to see her actually stretch herself into adulthood. She is still a mess, but now she avoids at least some of the kinds of mistakes she’s made in previous books, whether it’s sleeping with a friend’s boyfriend or doing just one more key bump.

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One of the most touching arcs in the book (and certainly a relatable one, for anyone who has ever taught undergrads) is Scott’s depiction of Wendy as a professor. Just imagine, chaotic Wendy is now “Mrs. Wendy,” as her student Kaylee addresses her. (“Just Wendy is fine,” Wendy responds.) “That girl probably hates me,” she mutters to herself, on the verge of tears, when Kaylee leaves her office hours, still not completely grasping why she can’t continue to just draw horses for her art-class assignments. (“This time . . . I did a CUBIST horse.”) Later on, though, Wendy runs into a skimpily dressed, party-ready Kaylee, out with a friend for a night on the town. “This is my teacher Wendy!” Kaylee says. “She’s the cool one you always tell me about?” the friend asks, and Kaylee responds, “Ya! She told me super helpful things about making art, I’m super inspired now!” Wendy is a famous artist who shows in Toronto, Kaylee goes on. “I feel like there’s a place for me in art now,” she says to Wendy. “I want a career like yours when I graduate.” Wendy frowns. The moment is fraught but also sweet. As the elder here, she knows that her career, such as it is, is full of disappointment, frustration, turmoil. And yet she goes on, and will likely continue to do so, encountering meager if valuable lessons along the way. Soon, it will be Kaylee’s turn to discover that when you’re an artist this is simply the way things are.