If you have done any amount of scrolling on social media, I’m certain you have seen the characters in the image above. You may have been drawn in by the unique aesthetic of the characters or the glimpses of the story. Midnight Poppy Land is a popular webcomic on the online platform WEBTOON.
Here is the synopsis for the comic via WEBTOON,
“After making a grisly discovery in the countryside, a small town book editor’s life gets entangled with a young Mafia lord and his intimidating bodyguard…even as every step she takes draws her deeper into the dangerous underworld of the city.”
Midnight Poppy Land is a Rom-Com with elements of drama and action that make you feel like you are watching a show rather than reading it. The blend of story and visuals have fans craving each chapter! Lilydusk is the sensational creative force behind the successful WEBTOON. We were able to chat with Lilydusk to talk all things Midnight Poppy Land and more.
Fandom Spotlite: Do you read a lot of webtoons? Are you someone who reads webtoons and then gets excited to make more of them or is your passion for making webtoons linked to other artistic mediums?
Lilydusk: I don’t read many webtoons (as in Line WEBTOON). Actually, I don’t read much fiction anymore these days. But I’ve always been a manga person. That was how I got started. The few manga series I enjoy are a part of what inspires me – not so much the storyline, but more of the emotions they evoke in me, especially with the romance genre, so my primary goal of making manga (or Webtoons) has always been to recreate these emotional experiences for myself. I started drawing comics at a really young age, before we all had the internet. Then the internet happened and I started posting stuff online. With online platforms, it’s really cool that I get to share my work with people all over the world, and even cooler to see that other readers experience the same emotions I’d set out to recreate for myself. That’s probably one of the most fulfilling things about being a comic creator, to me.
FS: What does your drawing/creating space look like?
Lilydusk: I work in a designated study room, white and empty-ish. I’m very messy and I’m a slob, but I keep my office and workstation clutter-free always so I don’t get distracted by my mess. All I have is my computer and drawing stylus. Also, lots of scented candles and (fake) plants.
FS: How did you discover webtoons and what made you want to create one yourself?
Lilydusk: I was shoulder-surfing on the subway and saw someone scrolling through a vertical format webcomic. I thought it was cool. I looked it up and found Line WEBTOON. Creating my own and posting it on WEBTOON was an easy decision for me because I’ve always posted art online like many artists have.
FS: What does your workday typically look like?
Lilydusk: I get up at 7:30 am – 8:00 am every day to regulate my sleeping hours (my circadian rhythm is out of whack from decades of poor sleep habits). I wash up, have brunch and watch some YouTube videos. After brunch, I feed my cats and do the chores, then shower and meditate for 10-15 minutes. Around 11:00 am, I get to work. This part is tricky – I need to jump right into work because if I get distracted by something else, it requires a ton of mental effort to get back into work mode. I do a 15-minute meditation around 3:00 pm. I end work around 8:00 pm and grab dinner because I get hangry and can’t focus on anything. My husband gets back from work around 10:00 pm, and sometimes we head out for food if I have the energy to spare. Otherwise, we chill in the living room until bedtime, around 12:00 or 1:00 am for me. When I’m in between WEBTOON seasons, I work at a more relaxed pace and usually end work after dinner. When the season is ongoing, I get back to work after dinner and depending on how much I have to finish, I continue until 12 – 1.30am.
FS: Were you surprised by Midnight Poppyland’s success?
Lilydusk: Yes and no. I’m pretty confident in what I do – I’ve been writing stories and making comics on my own for a long time (almost 30 years, at this point), and I have enough passion for making comics to put in the work, and it’s often grueling hard work. Anyway, for me, I think it was an ‘opportunity meets preparation’ thing, so I can’t say I’m entirely surprised.
But I AM surprised to be noticed by…anyone at all. Online and offline. Because there are so many talented, creative, hardworking artists and creators out there. I think it takes more than just skill and hard work to ‘succeed’; I’ve fallen flat on my face many times myself, as a former ‘aspiring digital artist’ (I gave up pretty quickly though). But this time round, without much effort at all, many things fell into place for me. It felt like some kind of synchronicity, or luck, or divine intervention…whatever you want to call it. So yes! I’m very surprised by this, and I think I’m incredibly fortunate and blessed for all that has happened.
FS: How much of yourself do you put into your work? Is it in the characters, the location, or the story?
Lilydusk: Quite a bit. I’ve done embarrassing things and have gotten into a lot of trouble in the past. I was a trainwreck, pretty much. Then I had to clean up my act, exorcise my demons, do the shadow work, the whole shebang. I’m in my late 30’s now, so I guess this gives me a decent-sized emotional well to draw from, which makes it pretty easy for me to slip into different characters’ minds, and to empathize with both the protagonists, antagonists and everyone in between. Also, I’ve been meditating for years (it really works, guys. I highly recommend it to artists) and the great thing about that, is when your mental clutter is cleared, you gain mental clarity and inspiration comes super easily in this state of being, it literally oozes into your fingers. The tricky thing is how to maintain this state of mind without losing touch with reality.
FS: Many Webtoons are getting live-action adaptations, who would be your dream cast? Does yours match any of the fan castings?
Lilydusk: Not currently though I prefer anime adaptations.
FS: What I and so many of your fans love about Poppy and Tora is the juxtaposition between them. Poppy is bright, clumsy, short, and curvy. Tora is tall, dark, linear, and confident. Their upbringings are different. Even their coloring and styling are completely opposite. Can you talk more about creating these characters?
Lilydusk: I love that you pointed it out. I think it’s so much fun to put two vastly different characters together and see how they play off each other. I enjoy coming up with situations and spotting the built-in conflicts, or coming up with conflicts and building a situation around it, and I do the same with characters, so that’s my guiding principle – creating conflicts and then molding the characters around them, or vice versa. I will say that I didn’t ‘create’ Poppy and Tora as much as they created themselves. When I initially worked on the plot and dialogue, everything felt stilted and artificial. I wasn’t ‘feeling’ them at all. It was only when I let loose and wrote whatever came to mind that Poppy and Tora came to life. I know many writers say this, and I know it sounds pretentious, but my characters ‘talk’ to each other in my head. I think that’s when you know your characters have ‘come to life’, at least in your own mind. My job is to write down everything they say before it fizzles out and I ‘forget’ what they were saying, and to piece everything together so it makes logical sequential sense.
FS: Do you believe in love at first sight? What about opposites attract?
Lilydusk: Anything is possible!
FS: What advice would you give to someone wanting to tell their own stories via webtoons/webcomics?
1 – Don’t read the comments. Don’t read Goodread reviews. Don’t read Patreon exit surveys. Seriously, don’t. Gather your friends and family if you need a hype team. Get folks to summarise what your readers are thinking and saying if you have to. Reading the comments has been the single most damaging, destructive thing I’ve done to myself, my mental health, and my art career, and I know I’m not alone on this one.
2 – I think comic artists and others in similar professions are in a very unique position. We’re in a pretty great position – we get to do what we love for a living. But when passion becomes a livelihood, it tends to suck the joy out of making art. Many lines become blurred. Sometimes, you start feeling like a production factory, a cog in the machine. For me, at least. So these days, I try not to think of what I do as ‘work’. I look at it as ‘drawing and writing stuff’ instead. Something I’ll happily do during my free time, all day, every day, because that’s what making comics has always been to me, pre-WEBTOON. I’m not hustling, I’m not grinding. I’m doing what I love. This mindset shift helps get me out of a productivity and efficiency-driven mindset so I don’t feel like a ‘cog in the machine’, so to speak. I often catch myself saying ‘I need to get back to work now’. Instead, I’ll say ‘I wanna go draw stuff now’. I feel less stressed and I get more enjoyment this way.
FS: What is the most challenging part of your creative process?
Lilydusk: Finding the right balance for just about everything. For example, I feel that artists and writers need to remain emotionally open in order to create authentically and deeply. But at the same time, we also need to protect ourselves from external negativity and toxicity. It’s a very tricky mental balancing act. How do we remain open to life without dissociating or withdrawing when we feel attacked, or hurt? It’s the hardest thing to do, for me
FS: Lastly, how do you feel about Tora’s “daddy status?”
Lilydusk: Ha ha it’s a little awkward because Tora is ‘me’, kinda. I don’t mind being everyone’s daddy if they’ll have a scrawny middle-aged woman though lol