'Snotgirl' Co-Creator Leslie Hung on Fashion Bloggers, Comics and Murder Mysteries
After a critically acclaimed debut in 2016, Image Comics’ Snotgirl is back with a second collection.
In Snotgirl Vol. 2: California Screaming, Los Angeles-based fashion blogger Lottie Person’s troubles — whether they are allergy related or, you know, that murder that she just might be involved with — continue to get worse.
Heat Vision breakdown
The series is co-created by Scott Pilgrim's Bryan Lee O’Malley and illustrator (and podcaster) Leslie Hung, and is the latter’s first foray into mainstream comic books. O’Malley, of course, is a seasoned comics veteran by this point; in addition to the six-volume Scott Pilgrim series, he wrote and drew the graphic novels Lost at Sea and Seconds. Nonetheless, Snotgirl marks the first time he’s written for another artist, and also the first time he’s worked in the single-issue format, instead of graphic novels, on an ongoing basis.
Ahead of a promotional tour with O’Malley, Hung spoke to Heat Vision about the origin of the series and what it’s like when your first big comic is a co-creation with the artist behind one of the most popular graphic novel series of the past decade.
The pair are making appearances in New York’s Barnes & Noble at 97 Warren St. on May 30th, Huntington Beach’s Barnes & Noble on June 8, San Diego/Mira Mesa’s Barnes & Noble on June 10 and Skylight Books in Los Angeles on June 22.
Snotgirl is your first longform comics work, and it’s a collaboration with the creator of Scott Pilgrim, which made it something that was immediately high profile. Was that exciting or intimidating?
It’s definitely been a little intimidating, especially since I think a lot of Bryan’s fans are expecting more work along the same vein as Scott Pilgrim. I think what we’ve created with Snotgirl has been new and interesting to longtime fans and new readers alike, without betraying either of our sensibilities; Snotgirl is so much about Lottie’s everyday struggle with her over-the-top and glamorous public image, which is in direct conflict with her allergy-ridden and anxiety-fueled inner life; [it's also] a sexy murder mystery.
It’s interesting that you mentioned not betraying either of your sensibilities, because Snotgirl feels like something that’s very much a product of both of your interests working together. I’ve read interviews with you from when the series launched where you said you’d been interested in fashion bloggers for a while. What was it about them that drew your attention?
Fashion has been a huge motivating factor in my interest in both art and design from early on, and my interest in fashion bloggers was something that grew out of that. It was a mixture of a lot of these bloggers being people who were just genuinely interested in creating outfits and showing other people, oftentimes long before there was even any level of profitability to be gleaned from it.
Obviously, the industry has grown so much since then, but the fast-paced way in which the world keeps on moving and finding ways to monetize people's interests and popularity is a very big part of Snotgirl, as it deals so much with the way ordinary people became role models to millions. Bryan and I have pretty much been on the same page about the themes of the book from the get-go, even if they have shifted slightly since we first conceived it.
How did you actually end up working with Bryan?
We had several mutual friends who introduced us on Twitter around five years ago, and I think he thought I was funny and really liked the way I drew girls. We met in real life at Toronto Comic Arts Festival a couple of months after that, and got to know each other more by talking online. It’s a very much a friendship that in some ways parallels the themes in Snotgirl.
Bryan encouraged me to draw more comics, and having read Scott Pilgrim as a teen and his later work after meeting him, it’s been pretty cool to be able to work on the book together.
I’ve wondered why Snotgirl is released as a regular comic, as opposed to a graphic novel, or series of graphic novels, like Bryan’s previous work like Scott Pilgrim or Seconds. Was there something about the format that appealed to both of you or felt particularly appropriate for this story?
So many of the themes of the book revolve around self-image, trends, memes, and just the way people interact through text and online — I think it just works as an episodic story because of how quickly things shift with the way we interact with technology. I’m hoping that people can look at the books and see a snapshot in time.
What has it been like working on the series from a format standpoint? We talked about it being your first longform comics work; has anything particularly surprised you about the experience so far?
I think what surprises me the most about working on a series — as opposed to [the kind of] shorter one-shot that I was used to doing before Snotgirl — is that it’s still pretty exciting to see the final product in print. It’s definitely been a challenge, but I’m learning a lot in each issue about the way that I work best, and the way that the rest of the team works best.
So what have you learned? California Screaming collects the second storyline from the series, and you hit the year-plus mark of working on the book. Has your process evolved? Are you more confident at this point?
I’m definitely more confident in the visual storytelling aspect of the book; it’s been coming a lot more naturally as we’ve finished each issue. The second arc has been a showcase of the colorful cast of characters Lottie surrounds herself with, from Misty and her pursuit of eternal cuteness, to Meg revealing that her seemingly perfect life is actually in shambles — a struggle that Lottie knows all too well. Lottie’s relationship with Caroline also becomes progressively more complicated in the second volume. I’m really excited to see how people react to what we’ve got up our sleeves in the third arc.
Snotgirl Vol. 2: California Screaming is available now digitally and in comic book stores, with a bookstore release May 29.
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