City of Blank WEBTOON Creator 66 Talks the Creative Process

Rated 9.7 stars out of 10, with 706,479 subscribers and 46.2 million views, City of Blank by 66 is a popular sci-fi story on the WEBTOON app/website. Fandom Spotlite got the opportunity to speak with 66 about their webtoon. 66 is sweet and funny in their responses, sharing personal stories alongside talking about the creative process as a whole and as an artist themself. The uniqueness of their story is obvious, both in the art you see here and the Q&A below.

City of Blank currently updates every Thursday. Here’s the synopsis from WEBTOON before getting into the interview:

“In a world where ghostly Blanks can steal your face – and your life – at any moment, a young boy named Rex hunts for his brother’s killer. Cursed with the unique power to physically touch Blanks, Rex starts to uncover darker secrets at the city’s center and in his own past. Will Rex unmask the killer, or will he become just another faceless victim in the City of Blank?”

Fandom Spotlite: What got you interested in writing and drawing webtoons? How long would you say you’ve been writing and drawing in general?

66: I think I’ve been drawing comics about as long as I’ve been drawing. I got really into comics in middle school. That’s even when I first came up with City of Blank and a couple of the main characters. I started several comics throughout middle school and high school, though none ever got past a chapter or two until I started City of Blank on a whim in high school around 2010 or so. It’s been rebooted a few times, but I’ve been working on it ever since.

FS: Is your WEBTOON City of Blank inspired by anything specific? Does the idea come from anything (like folklore) or is it a story you’ve created entirely?

66: The idea originally came from a short called Kakurenbo I saw on Adult Swim as a kid. All the characters wore masks in it, and I just thought that was really cool. It got me fascinated with masks and made me want to make a world where everyone wore masks (which I’m aware became a little ironic come 2020). Blanks were thought up next, mostly as a reason for everyone to need the masks.

Back then (and admittedly still today), I loved watching paranormal videos on YouTube, and shadow people never failed to creep me out more than anything else. For blanks, I thought it would be cool if something as creepy as a shadow person could be seen as something so mundane and normal that it could just be common to go into your living room and see one’s blocking your TV and just be mildly annoyed. The fact it still could kill you the moment you dropped your mask just made the concept more interesting to me. Like finding a grizzly bear in your living room, but knowing there’s 0 chance of it harming anything unless you say some magical word.

FS: What is your favorite part of the creative process (ex. storyboarding, lineart, coloring, etc.)?

66: I think I get the most excited about writing certain parts, especially super dramatic or juicy scenes. It’s so fun to think about a big moment coming up and how people are gonna react to it. But on the flip side, writing can be tedious if it’s a scene I’m not particularly passionate about. However, coloring is always fun and rewarding to me, even if it’s not as thrilling as writing my favorite scenes. It’s the part of the process where I can just enjoy creating art. I especially love the final touches, such as adding lighting and effects to make things more cinematic. There’s a really technical process to my lighting process that I just really enjoy figuring out. I don’t know a thing about coding, but I feel like it’s the same feeling of success a programmer feels when a line of code they’ve been trying to figure out finally works and it all comes together. I get excited every time there’s a new environment I have to create a new lighting setting for.

FS: Do you have a favorite character to draw? What about a favorite expression?

66: Claude’s always been my favorite to draw. He’s just a simple, but pleasant design and I love his mask. As for expressions… I feel like that’s funny because so many people said I made a comic about masks to get out of drawing things like that… But I feel like I still put a lot of expressions on inanimate masks like Rex’s through squash and stretch techniques to exaggerate his moods to make up for a lack of visible face. I really enjoy drawing “expressions” of shock, where I tend to elongate their masks and draw lots of lines around the eyes to sort of mimic wide eyes.

FS: What breed is Shnee? Did anything inspire his specific creation? Do you have pets of your own?

66: He’s a rottweiler. He was inspired by a relative’s dog I knew as a kid. They lived on a farm and had a farm dog that was this behemoth of a rottweiler. Any time you pulled up to their house, this super intimidating dog that looked like it could tear you in half would just stomp up to your car, look you in the eye…then proceed to drop his favorite squeaky toy at your feet. He was just the biggest pooh bear of a dog. Picture perfect guard dog, but such a sweetheart that you’d find the barn cats sleeping on him. He made me fall in love with rottweilers and is the main reason I wanted to depict such a dopey, sweet dog as Shnee as a rottweiler. They don’t deserve their reputation and Shnee’s character is intended to help it.

FS: How do you come up with the designs for the masks? 

66: I kind of make them up as I go. A lot of characters were only fully designed a few episodes before their introduction. However, I had a list of favorite mask themes I wanted to include in the comic when I started, it was just a matter of waiting for the right character to come along for them.

Some of these masks included: A purge mask, plague doctor, kitsune, Venetian, skull, knight, and motocross helmet. I guess a few of those aren’t really “masks” but I think you get the idea. And I’m sure fans know which characters some of these ended up belonging to.

FS: What other hobbies do you have to recuperate from drawing and working?

66: I got really into horror movies over the lockdown, especially classic horror. I tried to make a habit of watching at least 1 a week, and still keep that up most weeks (though I’m running out of classics. That’s the thing about classics- there’s only so many of them). In addition to that, I got really into cooking the past couple of years.

Not to sound like I’m sponsored, but I got really into the whole Hello Fresh thing and love talking about my favorite recipes and sharing pictures of my favorite dishes with my friends who also do it. Man, I wish they’d sponsor me… When are companies gonna start sponsoring webcomics? Whoops, I guess that’d just make my hobby work again though, huh?

FS: Where did your author name “66” come from? Similarly, how did you decide on a shark for your mascot (adorable by the way)?

66: For 66 – Anime. I completely stole it from Barry the Chopper from Fullmetal Alchemist, who is probably my favorite fictional character of all time. I consider it homage since that series is one of my biggest inspirations.

For the shark… Honestly, that one’s kind of a funny story. I had this shark jacket throughout high school and college that looked like a shark. It had a little fin and teeth and everything. I just got it because I thought it was cute, but I wasn’t particularly passionate about sharks. But everyone just kind of associated me with sharks after that. Because I had that one shark jacket, everyone just assumed sharks were my favorite thing and suddenly every birthday and Christmas people were giving me shark plushies and shark figurines and novelty shark socks. And the more sharks I accumulated, the more it just looked like I really, really like sharks. Anyway, I guess I eventually leaned into it and now my mascot is a shark. Sharks have made a special place in my heart after all this time, however, I do wonder how things would have turned out if I had picked out that dinosaur jacket I almost got instead of the shark one back in high school…

FS: How many seasons are you expecting “City of Blank” to reach? Do you have any projects in mind for after its finale?

66: 4. It’s on its final and I’d say we’re already halfway through it, so it’s coming up, though currently still plenty left to tell. As for what I’m going to do next… I have a few ideas, ranging from bonus episodes to entirely new comics. I think it’ll just depend on what WEBTOON is onboard for.

FS: Is there anything extra you’d like to share with fans of your WEBTOON?

66: I guess just to be sappy for a second… It’s just really cool that this is my life now! And it’s thanks to readers. I remember when I was a kid, like I talked about at the beginning of this interview, I told people I wanted to move to Japan and be a manga-ka. When I got older, I realized how unrealistic that was and set my goals to be more realistic. I went to school for game art and even worked at a big game company for a little bit. But through a lot of weird twists of fates, I somehow ended up doing almost exactly that wildest childhood dream that I grew up thinking could never happen (Though to be fair, the Japan part never did). I guess what I’m getting at is… If you have your own story you’re really passionate about, don’t give up on it! It might take literally 20 years, but you have no idea where it could eventually go someday.

We want to thank 66 for taking the time to answer questions! You can find 66 on Instagram, Twitter/X, Tumblr, or follow their creator profile on WEBTOON. 66 also has their own website!

About Hailey Watkins

Hailey is a self-proclaimed bookworm and writer. While she loves to read fantasy or slice-of-life the most, their heart belongs truly to the Warrior cats book series. She has collected and read all of the books in the nearly 100-book-long (and counting) series. She's also a fan of reading Webtoons, graphic novels, and manga, as well as watching anime. When they're not writing about fandom, their day job is as a substitute teacher.

View all posts by Hailey Watkins

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