Pursuing one’s dreams can be daunting, but the truth is, transforming them into a reality is not unreachable: it all starts with the courage to take flight. I had the amazing opportunity to interview Junepurrr, the creator of the webtoon “SubZero” (set to return on the 19th) who takes us through a narrative of her journey as a webcomic creator.
From Accounting to Webcomics
Ever since she could pick up a pencil, webcomic creator Junepurrr has had a strong passion for drawing. It was something that naturally reigned in her imagination as her pencil touched paper. Yet in spite of the potential of her artistic side, Junepurrr’s parents did not support her plan to attend art school. Instead, they encouraged her to find a career that provided more financial stability, which led Junepurrr to study and work in the accounting field.
Even though Junepurrr found accounting quite alluring, she knew that she was meant for something more. She wanted to pursue art.
After taking some time to reflect and understand her emotions, Junepurrr decided to work on her very own webtoon as soon as she finished her accounting internship. “Just the thought of living with the regret of never having tried webcomics … or never getting to set foot in that world would be very debilitating and sad to me … After one internship, that’s when I first started reading webcomics again, and I was like, ‘I could give you this. I want to tell stories, too.’ So I started doing it as soon as the internship was over.”
After discovering her art and its potential, WEBTOON reached out to Junepurrr through email, asking her if she would be interested in working with them as a featured creator. Not only did Junepurrr’s webtoon have the opportunity to become featured, but it also meant that her lifelong dream of pursuing art would at last become a reality. She was ready to say yes.
There was, however, a shortfall that was yet to be resolved. At the time, Junepurrr was contracted to work her full-time accounting job in five months.
But that didn’t stop her from giving art a chance. As Junepurrr began her full-time job, she simultaneously dedicated time to working on her webtoon. “So I went back to work, and I was like, ‘I’m going to do my accounting job at day and then do comics at night.’ I thought it was fine; I was going to work two jobs. People do that all the time, right?”
After many restless days and nights of working on her two careers, Junepurrr eventually realized that she was essentially earning the same amount of money both in her accounting and webtoon jobs. This led her to slowly transition to working full-time solely for WEBTOON. While she did not quit her accounting job right away, Junepurrr was very grateful that her employer was understanding of what she’s truly passionate about.
Today, Junepurrr is working her dream job at WEBTOON. Taking into account that she can set her own work schedule and work on art each day, Junepurrr has never been happier.
An Inside Look at “SubZero”
There were numerous elements that inspired the creation of “SubZero,” one of which is Asian dramas, specifically “The Empress of China,” the soundtrack of which would play in Junepurrr’s car each day as she made her commute home from her accounting internship. “I didn’t like listening to the radio because of the ads, so I would just sit there with my thoughts and think of stories.”
Junepurrr’s love for fantasy, dragons, and horses also helped set a foundation for “SubZero”. By combining the “enemies-to-lovers” trope with fantasy and an Asian empire setting, the engaging storyline and wondrous artwork of “SubZero” came to life.
In connection to the “enemies-to-lovers” characteristic of the webtoon, the two main characters, Kyro and Clove, possess qualities that distinguish them each individually, aside from physical appearance. While Kyro leaves an impression of being “dangerous and aggressive,” Clove, on the other hand, is presented as “laid-back, soft-spoken, and quiet.”
Yet the two characters are intertwined in a way. As the story unravels, not only do we learn that Kyro and Clove both become equally attracted to each other, but they learn to team up together in a way that readers “can see the potential of how good they would be if they were together.” And that is where the “enemies-to-lovers” concept really comes into play.
Classifying “SubZero” as purely a romance story was never Junepurrr’s intention. “I tend to think of romance as the garlic butter on top of the steak. I feel like the storyline has to be interesting aside from the romance. I feel like the romance can only help along the way.” As a result, fantasy and action elements have been intertwined into the webcomic, inviting the readers to be invested not only in the characters’ love dynamics, but also in the main plot itself.
Reflections: Success, Advice, and Life
If one ever wonders whether Junepurrr had second thoughts about her current career, doing webcomics has always been her end goal. “I would say webcomics, for me, I always just wanted to be my own boss in a way; where I don’t have to listen to anyone else. I can work on something for myself that makes me happy and that I enjoy and be able to support myself with that.”
Looking back at all her past accomplishments, Junepurrr realized how essential it is to let each milestone sink in before you try to move to the next level, let alone give yourself any self-criticism. “As soon as you hit a certain milestone, you shouldn’t just put another one above it. It’s okay to relish in that milestone for a little bit.” Moreover, working in the webcomic industry has given Junepurrr the chance to meet so many amazing people who are working with webcomics, readers of webcomics, or even people who do both.
For any aspiring creators out there who have gone through or are going through a career journey similar to hers, Junepurrr offers several pieces of advice based on personal experience:
- Try to pursue your passion while you are young and persist through it. According to the “SubZero” creator, “I don’t always guarantee success, but I feel like eventually, money will come for things that you’re passionate about. You can worry about money later.”
- If you have a story to tell, it’s important to get it out there as best as you can. The underlying truth is that “people highly underestimate how much people want to read stories that resonate and connect with them.”
- “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Meaning, if you want to transition into your dream career, you can do it as a side hobby along with your current main job. Even though it will require more effort, it will all be worth it in the end.
Even though Junepurrr spends a fair amount of time on work, she enjoys doing a variety of things during her free time. In addition to watching movies and consuming different forms of media, Junepurrr often watches YouTube breakdowns of movies. She is an animal lover, which makes spending time with pets worthwhile. Describing herself as a “coffee snob”, Junepurrr also loves to create all sorts of lattes with her partner. Making sculptures is another staple pastime of Junepurrr’s.
As we anticipate the much-awaited return of “SubZero” this Feb. 19th, I would like to conclude with Junepurrr’s account on what to expect next in the webtoon:
“I think there’s a certain part of them [Kyro and Clove] working together that people are looking forward to. I want people to see just how good they are together. The challenges that they are going to be facing are going to be interesting. Everyone knows Raizo, the bad guy. What’s going to happen to Raizo is going to be interesting in my opinion. I’m not going to give away too much, but I would look up to what’s going to happen to the antagonist in the story. I think everyone is going to have a character arc; Clove and Kyro are going to have character arcs where there is a 180-degree change in their perception of the world. Same thing with the antagonists. It’s going to be very entertaining.”