Behind the cameras, makeup, and filters is the person she doesn’t want you to see—and for Lottie, that person is a snotty mess.
That’s the premise behind Snotgirl, the new ongoing Image series from Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung that launches this week. Snotgirl follows Lottie Person, a 25-year-old social media star and blogger obsessed with her image. She controls what aspects of her life people see, making sure her makeup is perfect, and that every hair is in place. In reality, she’s suffering from debilitating allergies and she struggles to keep them at bay. O’Malley told NBC News that Lottie is mixed-race, but tries to conform to a “narrow standard of beauty.”
O’Malley has explored some of those themes in his earlier stories and illustrations. In Scott Pilgrim (the graphic novels, not the movie), the titular Scott is still the underdog who has to fight Ramona Flowers’s seven evil exes, but the comic format allows O’Malley to explore and reveal that, sure, Scott’s lot in life is kinda terrible but he isn’t innocent, either—he’s hurt people along the way without having realized it. Seconds shows one chef’s struggle to make her life perfect with the aid of magic mushrooms, but doing that causes an assortment of other problems.
This time around, Snotgirl is very much a collaboration between O’Malley and Hung; they both contribute to the story itself, but O’Malley does most of the writing while Hung illustrates each issue.
In a press conference at Image Expo last year, O’Malley described the series as “funny and fucked up,” and the first issue certainly introduces those elements as we’re thrust into Lottie’s bright and disgusting life. Colorist Mickey Quinn makes the illustrations pop—particularly with Lottie’s green hair—and the story puts the readers in a place they might find very familiar as she’s drawn to a new person in her life. And everyone she meets gets their own private nickname from Lottie.
Ahead of Snotgirl’s launch, we talked to O’Malley about the collaboration process, writing serialized versus contained stories, and authenticity on the internet.
Can you talk about how your collaboration with Leslie Hung first started?
Leslie and I have been friends for about four years. She's super talented and pumps out drawings constantly, so at some point I floated the idea that she could be drawing a monthly comic. I mean, that's the skillset—drawing well, drawing a lot. And then I have the experience and the name-brand recognition, so it made sense to work together. We were on the same page from day one.
You've written more self-contained stories in the past with Scott Pilgrim and Seconds. How does the writing process for an ongoing comic compare?
Writing a serialized story is something I've always wanted to do. Scott Pilgrim was obviously a lengthy story, but serializing it year-by-year isn't the same thing. With the monthly grind, and the collaboration too, I'm finding there's more improv. Ideas pop up organically. When I see Leslie's drawings of the characters, that inspires me to write dialogue that's funnier or more specific.
What went into designing the looks of Lottie and her friends, particularly in reference to the colors used?
This stuff has been totally hands-off for me. The looks are 100 percent Leslie's department, and our colorist Mickey Quinn is a close friend of Leslie's. I've never even given a note on colors—they come to me complete and perfect. Leslie and Mickey are just turning in phenomenal work.
The contrast between the persona you put online and your private self is already very prevalent in the first issue, and something a lot of people can relate to (even if it's not allergies). Where do you see that developing thematically throughout Snotgirl?
I think the driving force behind Snotgirl is this exploration of authenticity. What does it mean to be true to yourself in the social media age? Is it possible to live an unmediated life? How do you separate your authentic self from the performative self you present online? What does it mean to have a self? Stuff like that.
We meet Lottie in Snotgirl #1, but will we also explore more of the other characters introduced as the series progresses?
Yes. It's primarily Lottie's show, but we love the rest of the cast and they all have depths to be explored.
How much of the story do you and Leslie already have mapped out?
We have a loose set of story goals that we want to hit, but like I said, there's an element of improv that makes the work exciting to us, so there's a lot we don't know for certain.
What do you hope people take away from Snotgirl?
I'll tell you when we get to the end of the final issue. For now I just want them to have fun and enjoy it!
What can you tease about upcoming issues?
Great outfits, stupid comedy, weirdly relatable characters, and a heart of darkness.
Snotgirl is now available digitally and in print.