Hello, I am Emel Saat, senior journalist and media specialist for Creek Comics. It’s exciting to say that blog interviews have returned to stay! We haven’t done these in roughly two years and there has been no better restart to our interviews than with our most recent interviewee. I recently had the pleasure to partake in a blog interview with the wonderful Catfish, who created the horror tale “Little Mizzi Muffet and the Spider King”.
Emel: Let’s take a step down memory lane. At what age did the supernatural and occult begin to pique your interest?
Catfish: Honestly, about as far back as I can remember. Growing up in the 90’s there were a lot of supernatural themed cartoons on TV, and some of my most vivid childhood memories was being 9 and sitting around our brand new PlayStation and playing Resident Evil, and Silent Hill as a family. I was too young to play, but I was very involved in the story and solving puzzles.
Emel: What specifically about the supernatural and occult genres speak to you?
Catfish: I find a lot of beauty in horror. The use of symbolism, and striking visuals. Of course, it’s subjective, but many of the most powerful moments in media that have stuck with me have come from horror. To me, feeling scared, and overcoming fear is one of the most enduring emotions. And naturally, Halloween is my favorite holiday.
Emel: I dived into some of your mangaka picks and swiftly picked up on some things I felt that may have inspired you like Hiromu Arakawa’s works (Full Metal Alchemist) or Tadase Hotori’s (Shugo Charra) works. What are some of the inspirations that you have?
Catfish: Those are two really good guesses! Both are series I really enjoy! As previously mentioned, I really enjoy survival horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. I also read a lot of manga. Like a lot a lot. Some of my favorites are the works of Junji Ito (Tomie), CLAMP (Cardcaptor Sakura), Natsuki Takaya (Fruits Basket), Rumiko Takahashi (InuYasha), and Hiro Mashima (Fairy Tail) to name a few. I also draw inspiration from anime (Sailor Moon, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Akira), animation (Disney, Avatar: The Last Airbender), video games (Final Fantasy XIV, Danganronpa, Rule of Rose), and film (The THING, American Psycho, The Mummy). I’m a huge consumer of media and I am constantly filling my inspiration bank!
Emel: Although the Spider King may not express it much, He does show care for Mizzi. Will we get to explore more about that?
Catfish: Absolutely! I know it’s agonizing for my readers, but I am a sucker for a good slow burn. I promise there will be a lot of time to really get to know Spider King (and soon!)
Emel: Little Mizzi Muffet and the Spider King sounded so familiar that it took a moment for me to remember the children’s poem Little Miss Muffet. Why did you decide to do a story based on it and what was your approach to giving your creepy spin on it?
Catfish: The whole thing started when I drew a new random character in High School who I named the Spider Prince. I liked him so much that I wanted to put him in a story, and the first thing that came to mind was the nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet”. I started to create more OCs based on nursery rhyme characters, and originally was going to be an anthology of stories retelling several nursery rhymes, before I merged their individual tales into one big story. I quickly settled on a horror twist because many nursery rhymes have creepy, secret origins already, and it just seemed like the most logical approach!
Emel: You’ve spent 8 years working on Little Mizzi Muffet and the Spider King. What is it like to work on a comic for that long?
Catfish: I’m always so shocked when I remember how long I’ve been working on this comic. When I started out, I was actually working seven days a week on top of creating a comic, but through hard work and help from my finance, I am in a place where I can work on my comic full time. Comics are very demanding, especially when you are a sole creator. I have pulled many all-nighters, and spent many days back to back, locked in my room, huddled over my drawing tablet, trying to meet deadlines. It can be very mentally and physically punishing. It’s been tough at times, but there is honestly nothing I would rather be doing.
Emel: Do you have any advice for other comic book creators?
Catfish: To anyone thinking about getting into making comics, my first piece of advice is just to start! I spent many years sitting on Little Mizzi Muffet and the Spider King because I was too insecure to share my work, but I’m so glad I finally did. Second, work at a comfortable pace for you. The market demands lots of content quickly, but burnout is real, and you risk losing motivation. If you can work fast, that’s great, but if you can only manage a chapter a month, then that’s great too. The most important thing readers appreciate is consistency. Most everything else you need to know about making comics you can learn from just reading and making comics. Lastly, I would just say, comics are a labour of love. Do not go into it expecting fame and fortune. It certainly could happen, but most of us end up in the starving artist club. No matter what, I will always wish you the best of luck!
Emel: A lot of readers, including myself, agree with how nice and kind Mizzi is to everyone. I’m curious as to why Mizzi and her friends let Georgie into their friend group. What’s the reasoning for his inclusion?
Catfish: I know Georgie is a bit of a contentious member of the cast but in my opinion, he is just as important as Mizzi’s other friends. I feel so bad for the work I did early on to redeem him in readers eye’s, just to risk squandering the goodwill he earned in that reveal later in the comic. I knew it was risky and I know many readers really don’t like him because of it, but it was a very important scene for his character and to tie into his nursery rhyme.
Emel: Georgie does have a change of heart later into the story, but it begs another question: is there more to this group of friends that we don’t know about yet?
Catfish: There is history of how the friend group is formed(as we’ve seen with Mizzi’s meeting with Linette and Humphrey, and also her meeting with Bo). Regretfully, I don’t think there is a good place in the story to include Georgie’s introduction without slowing down the pacing, and readers are already at their limit waiting for more interactions between Mizzi and Spider King. It’s impossible to fully understand his character without it though, so I have a bonus Georgie chapter planned to fill in the gaps. My goal is even if readers don’t come to like him, I hope they can come to understand him. I like to think making mistakes doesn’t mean a character is a bad person.
Emel: What’s your creative process like, specifically are you more of a beginning to end planner or are you planning the story as you go?
Catfish: Little Mizzi Muffet and the Spider King has a lot of moving pieces that I have to very cautiously set up before the reveal, so the nature of this comic meant I had to plan everything out in advance. Luckily it has been a story I’ve had in the works for many years, so I have had plenty of time to craft the details. I even made it my magnum opus in college where I finalized the outline of the story. Just to add, each chapter was named after a different nursery rhyme, and that alone took a week of research and meticulous planning to make sure each rhyme was a perfect fit.
Emel: What has your journey been like since becoming a comic book creator on Webtoons?
Catfish: Webtoon is a massive platform, with many talented creators, so it can be really hard to get attention on your comic. Little Mizzi Muffet and the Spider King had a very modest launch, and it slowly and steadily gained readers. I am not great at promoting myself, and I put myself at a disadvantage because my comic is in black and white, and also traditional page format (which is not the preference on Webtoon), so its growth to its first 100k subscribers was very organic. Shortly after I got my first front page banner feature on Webtoon and I had an explosion of new readers very quickly, gaining my next 100k in half the time. The support from my readers has been incredible, and I feel very fortunate. There was a time that Webtoon offered financial rewards for Canvas series that performed well, and with that revenue, I quit my job to focus on art full time and I increased the rate of pages I was producing, which made my readers much happier. They have since removed their reward program, making it harder to focus on making comics full time, but through the support on Patreon and through selling merch, I am working on fulfilling my goal of becoming a self-sufficient, career comic creator. I still have a little ways to go, but I am excited for the day I can mark Little Mizzi Muffet as a completed series. Once it is finished, I’m ready to start the next!
Emel: What has been your favorite part about making this comic?
Catfish: I think when you’re passionate about making comics, there are many rewarding moments. Starting out, imagining a single person reading something I’ve created and fully enjoying it was an exciting dream. Then you reach milestones like your first 100 readers. Then 500, 1000, 10,000, 100,000, and beyond. I enjoy reading, and treasure every thoughtful comment left on my chapters! Some have made me laugh, some have made me cry, and some have made me sweat because they are suspiciously close to figuring out the plot! There were other exciting moments, like funding my first Kickstarter and getting Volume one of the physical copies printed, and becoming a finalist in the 2021 Canvas Awards, and I can’t stress how emotional I became when I received my first piece of fan art, saw the first cosplay of one of my characters, and first time I got to meet a reader, in person, at a convention. I have also made many incredible friends with my fellow webcomic creators. To summarize, I suppose you could say my favorite part has just been the journey chasing my dreams!