Bryan Lee O'Malley & Leslie Hung Open Up About Snotgirl [Interview]

IMAGE COMICS: SNOTGIRL is about a woman named Lottie, a successful fashion blogger. Where does the conflict in this series come from? What makes the story go?

BRYAN LEE O'MALLEY: In 2016, I think we all lead a double life. We all have a secret identity. You may seem happy on Instagram, you may seem socially active on Twitter, but who are you when you're away from the screen? With SNOTGIRL, we're trying to explore that split personality.

IMAGE COMICS: What kind of person is Lottie? How does she dress, what's her personality?

O'MALLEY: Lottie Person is an extreme example of someone whose online persona is a calculated performance. She's gorgeous, she has great hair and clothes, she has the perfect apartment in downtown Los Angeles. By all appearances her life is flawless, but she's an introverted weirdo on the inside. She's scrambling to keep from falling apart, and the outward manifestation of that is her allergies. In southern California the pollen season never ends. Leslie and I have terrible allergies, plus we're obsessed with ourselves, so we came up with this character who can suffer along with us.

IC: Bryan, how has the transition from graphic novels to monthly comics treated you? What have you had to change about your writing style to make working in shorter bursts like this work for you?

O'MALLEY: Writing a monthly series is a new challenge for me and I honestly have no idea if I'm doing a good job. Leslie and I hash out the general plot together, and the characters are vividly alive in both of our minds, but translating that to little bite-sized episodes is hard as hell! I think once we get through the first arc I'll be more confident. In the meantime, I hope readers bear with me.

IC: Leslie, you've got a ton of followers on your @dairyfree Instagram, where you post some pretty impressive art. You've clearly got a keen eye for fashion. How are you putting together outfits for SNOTGIRL? Are you using real brands for inspiration, or just going with your gut?

LESLIE HUNG: For SNOTGIRL, it was important to pay attention to brands, but also to the people who wear those brands in day-to-day life. I definitely spend a lot of time trying to figure out everyone's style and their level of comfort, but also what makes them stand out to their audiences online. When we first came up with the idea to do a story about a fashion blogger, it became vital to look underneath the meticulously curated outfits that people who set trends come up with. There's trial and error, there's experimentation, and there's also safety. All the characters kind of have their own thing going on, but as events unfold, I hope people are able to see when things start to shift, and I'm definitely letting the situations dictate the details.

IC: Fashion blogging is a new background for a comic. What is it about this world that interests you two?

HUNG: Fashion blogging has been a point of interest for me for a few years, because it was a level below A-list celebrities and a level above your average person. They sell a fantasy, and that fantasy is a lifestyle. They're real people who may or may not be recognized when they go get coffee, but they have millions of followers on social media, and most of those people may or may not be paying attention to what they're doing or saying.

O'MALLEY: Fashion blogging is a fascinating world to me. The bloggers are like an intermediary between creators and consumers—they tell you what's cool and make you feel good about the whole process of capitalism, essentially. In the process, the bloggers become famous. They get sponsored by the companies. They end up in this elevated position. They're somewhere between heaven and earth. You see the same thing in most industries now, but fashion is something we're obsessed with—we're obsessed with ourselves and our allergies, and we're obsessed with the fashion world. And beautiful clothes are a great visual hook, especially when Leslie Hung is drawing. Her art isn't just pretty, it's earthy and sensual.

IC: You're working with Mickey Quinn on colors and Maré Odomo on letters. What is it about those two that you enjoy the most? What do they bring to the series for you?

O'MALLEY: Mickey Quinn's colors speak for themselves. She's just a polymath when it comes to comics. She could probably write and draw and color and letter and edit and publish this whole book on her own and it would probably be even better than it is now. Maré Odomo has done more comics about "online stuff" than anyone I know, so he's a natural fit for the complex lettering and design we need for Lottie's dual life.

SNOTGIRL #1 is available now.