Webtoonist interview - Morangg <Odd Girl Out>
[Odd Girl Out]
Morangg | Line
Q. It maybe three years ago, but can you tell me how you felt when you officially started running your webtoon?
As many authors do, I have prepared my webtoon for a long time. I thought of the story for 2 years and spent another year drawing the illustrations to fully start preparation, so it took about 3 years in total. I felt really good when the story that I have been thinking for a long time has been finally published.
- Since you planned for a long time, is the entire story already prepared?
Yes. The mainstream of the story up to the ending is already decided. The authors start publishing after submitting the publication plan to the person in charge. At the moment of submission, authors will show their storyline from start to finish. There were some changes made while I was running the webtoon, but the ending will still be the same.
Q. When I first heard the title of Odd Girl Out, I asked myself 'is it a romance webtoon?', but it wasn't necessarily. Why did you use this title?
I was concerned because I wasn't good at giving titles. Since the webtoon's story was about friendship, I came up with titles like 'Girl Friends' at first, but there was already a webtoon with the same name. So I kept thinking and at some point, the title just struck me. In the sense that it is a complicated story of girls, the webtoon was titled 'Odd Girl Out'.
What is Odd Girl Out?
Q. Many readers say that the characters of Odd Girl Out seem to reflect real figures. Is there a character that you made by referring to a real person as the motif?
First of all, for the main characters, there is no one who I related to as the motif. On the other hand, the supporting characters who appear rarely have a few people who had been their motifs. For example, the kid named Woo-Ri comes out in the webtoon. She is the plump, strong girl with bobbed hair who draws really well.
For her, the motif was a student who I taught when I used to be a teacher at a tutoring college for a long time. I asked her "would it be okay to make a character out of you when you were middle school?", and she said it was fine. I suppose there are a few more among the supporting characters who are based on real people.
Q. When I first saw Na-Ri Oh, I thought she was kind, but couldn't assert herself because she had low self-esteem. But as the story progressed, it felt like she has earned more self-esteem. I suspect that this change is due to her three friends who she associates with. What do the three friends who she hangs out with mean to Na-Ri Oh?
The main character is a person who has been feeling inferior since middle school. She believes that she's not enough. But as she meets the three friends, she realizes that such aspects are not important anymore and she eventually grows up. In other words, the friends act like stepping stones for her. It's those friends who give each other help.
- There is a moment in the past when Na-Ri was concerning about what to do between Yu-Na and Mi-Jeong. If a situation arises where she has to choose between the three of Yu-Na, Seon-Ji, and Mi-Rae, who will Na-Ri Oh pick?
In the current stage of the story, I assume she'll choose Seon-Ji. Because Mi-Rae and Yu-na will still live well even if Na-Ri doesn't take care of them, but Seon-Ji is the person who will make Na-Ri think, 'How would she survive without me?'. She keeps caring for her, such as by teaching her studies because she is worried a lot. So at this point in time, it seems like she will choose Seon-Ji. However, as the story gets unraveled by the end, the choices can be different.
Q. Yu-Na Lim doesn't look like she is revealing her inner feelings to others. However, as it now seems that Yu-Na's such mind is also opening up, would she be able to honestly share her inner feelings and thoughts that were hidden from Na-Ri and other friends?
As she had such an accident when she was young, it might be hard for her right now, however, she is definitely learning from three friends how to express yourself to your friends. As time passes, she will become able to convey her feelings bit by bit, but not so straightforwardly like the Seon-Ji or other similar kids. She just hates her pride and grace getting hurt in any way.
Q. What is the relationship between Yu-Na Im's mother and Na-Ri Oh's mother and how did they become friends?
It's similar to the relationship between Na-Ri and Yu-Na. They were close when they were young and though they too had conflicts, they overcame such obstacles well very to reconcile and stay close afterward.
Therefore, in a way, their relationship is comparable to that between Na-Ri and Yu-Na. In fact, I thought I'd draw a short one or two episodes about their relationship later on, but then, I concluded that the readers might not be interested in it. (laughs) They might appear to be out of place.
- Ah! It was a little strange that Yu-Na's mother was giving advice to Yu-Na on friendship and there was such a back story.
Yes. She's been through the same process longer than Yuna. She was able to give advice like that because she had more experiences in similar situations.
Q. Did Seon-Ji Lim ever meet Na-Ri when she was young?
She hasn't really met her. There is a panel in the webtoon where she passes her very briefly like an extra character when Na-Ri was eating a hot dog. Other than that time, she has never met her before but she'd become her friend later on.
Q. Seung-Joon Lee, a high school student now, appears as a charming character who has strong self-assertion and knows how to care for others. Will Seung-Joon Lee keep coming out in the story?
For that part… I can't make any comment. (Laughs) I have an idea in my mind, but I believe it can be a spoiler. Anyway, he's an important character.
Q. Mi-Rae Seo did not seem to be interested in becoming a celebrity when she was young and even now. I suppose she is dreaming more about becoming a cartoonist than a celebrity.
Right. Becoming a celebrity was her mother's dream. When Mi-Rae was young, she couldn't do what she liked, and now she is gradually finding something that suits her aptitude, which is comics.
- From the position of a real cartoonist, would you recommend a job as a cartoonist for Mi-Rae?
Mi-Rae Seo as a person is weaker in mentality than you may expect. I think she will get hurt a lot by elements like the reader's comments. In fact, when I first came up with the character, I imagined she would want to become an emoticon designer? or an artist who draws funny stuff.
However, I still would make the recommendation. Even if you get hurt, it's something one has to overcome.
Q. It's very sweet when you observe how Jung Woo-Kyung treats Seo Mi-Rae. Does Jung Woo-Kyung love Seo Mi-Rae?
There is a bit of fantasy involved. For the time being, he really likes her, whether it's either a love or a friendship. You will see how they will end up if you keep reading the webtoon. However, I can assure you that he likes her anyhow. He keeps concerning about her as she is hanging in the corner of his heart always. Also, since Woo-Kyung and Yu-Na are cousins, there are other relationships that are connected. He would have many complicated emotions.
Q. Na-Ri Oh's older brother, Yeong-Hoon Oh, usually comes out as a comedy character. Then I sometimes realize that Na-Ri Oh's friends mention that he is actually handsome when they see him and the story indeed is progressed from Na-Ri Oh's perspective. Does it mean that Yeong-Hoon Oh is really handsome?
No. He is not handsome (laughs). Only one character named So-Ae says that he is handsome. It's just her preference with men with slit eyes. Honestly, if you're a high school student, you would look good only by being tall and dressing well even though he really isn't handsome. Rather than being handsome, he may look refreshing from a far distance?
- When Na-Ri was attending a middle school before then, wasn't there a moment when one of her friends mentioned he was handsome?
Was there? I don't remember (laughs). Maybe I have a bad memory But when middle school girls see older high school boys, I assume they can certainly seem attractive.
- There was a scene where the kids were telling that her brother is being talked about for his good looks ...
Alas, that's it. There was such an episode where Na-Ri gets upset after hearing that. That said, he may look refreshing, but he would only seem handsome for about 3 seconds when people just pass by him, not so much if you stare closely. (laughs)
Q. I feel that Na-Ri Oh's personality resembles her father who is a girl's daddy. Which of her parents does she most resemble in terms of personality?
Na-Ri as a character was created to be almost like her father. They look alike and have similar personalities. On the other hand, her mother seems like she is cool and good at making decisions.
Q. Drawing cartoons with animals to instill interest in studying for Seon-Ji was so cute. How did you think of such an idea?
When I drew the characters, the first idea I started with was the duck and the swan. When Na-Ri comes out, the duck character would also appear in the middle and create comical scenes together.
As the duck kept popping up with Na-Ri, I then thought about what kind of animals would be suitable for other characters, and I came up with animals that fit various characters. The characters and animals matched each other. I could design such characters because I assumed that Mi-Rae would draw cartoons by rendering her friends into animal characters.
- Then, did Na-Ri Oh's name come from the words 'duck (ohri)' and 'swan (baekjo)'?
Yes. That's it. Duck for me.
How about you?
Q. What is the process of your webtoon production?
First of all, as the entire story is already written roughly, it takes me about a day to draft a storyboard and other details. I used to work 6 days a week by myself because I had no assistants before. But now, two assistants help me out, so it won't take that long. We outline the storyboard for a day, draw restlessly for two days, spend another day for editing and finish the rest for two days. That way, the whole process consumes about 4 ~ 4.5 days.
- How did you hire your assistants? Was there help from the webtoon platform?
One of the assistants who is really good was introduced to me by close webtoon artists, and I hired the other one by posting a job ad on the art community when I was too busy working on the outsourced project.
- Did the production process get a lot easier after employing assistants?
Yes. It got very much better. In the past, the quality of illustrations was often low due to lack of time. I've been able to do spend more time and effort in sketching now, and I've increased the number of panels though not by many. Everything from quantity to the story has improved. I don't know how I have lived when they weren't there (laughs).
In the past, I was skeptical of hiring assistants because I thought it would be an additional task to inform them about the process and share my work with them, even if it wasn't for the financial burden. Now that I come to think of it, I could have been much healthier and my back would have been less painful if I had employed them earlier.
- So then, when did you start employing assistants?
I had no help for the two-thirds of the time when I was running the webtoon until now. Then, I started fully working together with assistants from this spring. Before that, my friends helped me out from time to time. I had to do everything else by myself.
Q. Do you still have to often work overnight?
I had to work overnight every day before I hired assistants. If Friday was the due date, I must had to stay up from Thursday night to Friday morning. But I haven't been working overnight since I hired assistants. As I didn't have to stay up all night, my conditions actually got so much better.
Q. Who is your favorite character among all the characters in your webtoon?
My answer to this question would change depending on the circumstance. When I was asked the same question previously, the answer was Mi-Rae, but now it's Na-Ri. I suppose it's because I think about the main character the most and speculate the situations from the main character's point of view.
In addition, I also like Woo-Ri as a character. Perhaps, it's because she is based on the student I used to teach, I want to show the character as much as possible.
Q. Every time Yeong-Hoon Oh comes out with Na-Ri, many people say that they look like real brothers and sisters. Did you actually have a brother?
Yes. I have a younger brother. So for the lines that are spoken by the siblings, I have literally used the words that my brother told me to stab me (?). The readers could recognize them as realistic siblings because they reflected the real version of siblings in my mind. We just belittle each other (laughs).
Q. Which one of the characters did you most resemble when you were in the 1st year of high school?
I think different aspects of the characters are mixed in me. I was similar to Woo-Ri when I was young. However, I am also like Na-Ri in terms of being timid and constantly worrying too much. I believe I have quite the opposite personality to that of Yu-Na or Mi-Rae. I feel as if Woo-Ri and Na-Ri's personalities are blended in me by half-and-half? I also love cartoons.
Q. Do you have any close webtoon artists in private?
Close artists? I'm just have started getting along with them... (laughs).
- What about webtoon artists who you want to get to know more?
I keep getting closer to them now, but there are some artists who I want to become more acquainted with. There are people who debuted with me. Artist San-Sam and Artist Lee-Moi. And through these artists, I also have become friends with Artist Hye-Ni. I want to stay close to them.
Then, I met a high school friend at the Line Webtoon Party. She was an artist named Yo-En. I want to keep close with her as well.
I am saying that I only want to get to know them better because if I told you that we were close now and they reply back to me by asking 'Oh? were we?', it would be quite embarrassing. (laughs) I genuinely want to make friends with them. It took me three years to get this close with them, but I think we will get closer in time.
Q. Do you have any interesting webtoons that you read?
I also love webtoons. Among them, if I were to pick my lifetime webtoon, I really enjoyed 'Acoustic Life'. I like a slice of life webtoons, titles like Acoustic Life, Eating Existence and Women at a Game Company. I was particularly fond of Women at a Game Company. It was compelling to see different characters striving for their set goals.
For the one that I am currently reading, 'Who Made Me a Princess' was really interesting. There are also many other titles that I keep reading. I am following 'Yumi's Cells' as well. Recently, 'Zombie Daughter' was quite intriguing. I also liked Yoon-Chang Lee's previous titles, I think the style of his comedy fits my taste.
- So, you prefer comedy webtoons too?
Yes, but shall I rather say I favor realistic comedy? I think I like comedy that the readers can sympathize within their daily life. Artist Yoon-Chang Lee draws such comedy very well.
Q. Do you have any last words for your readers?
First of all, I want to thank my readers. There are a lot of readers who read my webtoons thoroughly. They don't just view them once but look at them many times to pick up errors that I didn't even know about. In that respect, I'm sorry for them. I tend to make small mistakes frequently. Such mistakes can indeed disturb the reader's immersion, so I thank them for keeping me informed and staying with me for a long time.
I realize that there are a lot of readers who get bored when they have to read about the past events. I would like to tell them they indeed are a necessary part of the story, so if they could just wait for a bit, the story will return to the present very soon.