Meet Allie Brosh, Reclusive Genius Behind the Blog (and Book) "Hyperbole and a Half"
Likes: drawing silly pictures, rescuing rats, playing "Magic." Dislikes: severe depression.
To peruse Allie Brosh's crudely drawn comics, one would never guess she is a perfectionist. But the lack of sophistication is deliberate. When she's not caring for rescued rats or playing Magic: The Gathering—"I'm a huge dork"—the 28-year-old blogger can be found holed up in her room scrutinizing and refining her drawings, which largely consist of a stick figure in a shapeless bright pink dress making odd facial expressions. "They look really simple and sort of shitty, but it takes a few hours trying to get it right," Brosh told me. "I don't have any reference material for this creature that I've made to represent myself, aside from what's in my head."
That creature is the star of Brosh's new book, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. Based on her popular comic blog, it chronicles her problem-child days (she once ate an entire cake intended for her grandfather's birthday party), adventures with her dogs (one of which she suspects is mentally impaired), and musings on her character flaws. Procrastination, for instance—she actually started the blog as a way to avoid studying for a college physics final. "I sort of wondered if I could write something that people would like," she says.
Four years, 383,000 Facebook likes, and some 72 million web visitors later, it's clear that she could.
The book deal was a longtime dream: Brosh had resolved to become an author at age eight, filling three spiral-bound notebooks with a saga about a guy who fights various things. Her small-town upbringing—first in Auburn, California; later near Sandpoint, Idaho—gave her space to "be a little bit weirder" growing up. "I would get up at six o'clock in the morning and walk around the forest and try to find deer," she says. "I was sort of a wild animal, forest child."