One of the first WEBTOON series I dove into after I realized that there were more genres than romance was Chelsey Han’s (uru-chan) unOrdinary. The superhero action series has garnered over a billion views and over five million followers and is worth every good thing that has ever been said about it. We recently got the chance to chat with Han about bringing this story to life, her creative process and what is coming next.
Chelsey Han Interview
Julia Roth: We are -seriously- in love with unOrdinary! What was your inspiration behind this series?
Chelsey Han: Thank you! unOrdinary was a story I wrote for Webtoon’s Superhero contest.
I’ve always liked playing with opposites. Main characters generally have very unique designs and stand out from a crowd, so I thought it would be funny to make my MC a plain background character. I also wanted to explore the “super” element by throwing a non-superpowered character into a world full of superpowered characters and see how he’d do.
Nowadays, most of my inspiration comes from current events and some personal experiences.
JR: Did you set out wanting to create an action WEBTOON? Was this a genre you have always wanted to work in?
CH: I always try to incorporate action into my stories somehow, but I never expected to be creating it as the main genre. Action and choreography are difficult, so when I was younger, I’d always avoid drawing action sequences and go straight to writing the emotional parts. As a result, I didn’t get much practice.
With unOrdinary, I had to force myself to learn it. In fact, one of the first full-action scenes I’ve ever drawn was with John vs Gavin in episodes 3-4. Over the years, I’ve managed to grow into action, but I would say my preferred genre to write is Drama.
JR: What struggles have you overcome creating unOrdinary?
CH: In addition to having to be unOrdinary’s writer, illustrator, editor, producer, I also had to keep up with a weekly deadline. It was an overwhelming amount of work for one person at first. When I was first starting out, some weeks, I worked up to 100+ hours while pulling all-nighters. Now, I have a better workflow system that has eased those early struggles and helped me build a more balanced schedule. WEBTOON was still fairly new in 2016-17, so it was hard to find resources and references online, and because there were so few creators back then, the job was also a lonely one. Thankfully, I had very dedicated readers who helped motivate me every week. The story wouldn’t be where it is without their support.
JR: What have been your biggest influences?
CH: I’ve always read a lot of manga and watched tons of Asian action dramas when I was a kid. Those inspired me to draw and write my own stories.
JR: Could you explain a bit of your creative process for us? Do you have a certain playlist that you pop on or any pre-work rituals you take part in?
CH: For music, I mostly listen to classical or lofi to help me focus. If I’m working on an action scene, then I’ll put on an intense instrumental playlist.
My week starts on Thursdays, and my schedule goes something like this:
Thursday – A light day, where I’ll rest and brainstorm the next episode.
Friday – Script and start my storyboarding/sketching.
Sat/Sun/Mon – Ink and sketch, then send work off to my helpers who color.
Tues – Render and finalize panels.
Wed – Finalize the script and the episode.
JR: How much of the story do you have mapped out? Did you know at the beginning that this is the direction that unOrdinary would be heading? Or have things changed drastically?
CH: I have up until season 3 mapped out. unOrdinary was originally going to be a standard shonen with a very straightforward plot. But over time, I found myself wanting to explore deeper themes and focus on characters’ interactions, emotions, and psychology. Interestingly enough, because I’ve allowed the characters to develop more organically, it’s significantly changed the course of the story — like a butterfly effect.
Nowadays, the characters are the ones who decide when the plot moves forward. Even though the endgame/major events of unOrdinary will always stay the same, it’s hard to predict when a character will spontaneously decide to derail everything (*cough* lookin’ at you, John.)
JR: What has been your favorite part of the series so far?
CH: My favorite part has been John’s Joker arc, where he slowly breaks down and regresses to what he was like in the past. It was satisfying to see everything finally connect and resolve itself.
JR: Who is your favorite character in the series? Who is your favorite character to draw?
CH: Generic answer: I like all the characters equally because I put a bit of myself into each of them. My favorite characters to write are John and Arlo. John, because he’s so intense and such a thrill to work with. Getting his character to seem realistic has been a very fun challenge. And Arlo, because his character just comes very naturally to me.
My favorites to draw are Gelled John and William because they have such a simple design.
JR: Do you have plans to eventually continue OFR – Ice? Will we ever see that make it to WEBTOON Original?
CH: Fun fact, OFR-Ice is actually a spin-off series of “OFR-Fire,” my old passion project back in high school. OFR-Fire is a story that takes place in the same world but a decade later. I would love for that to be in Originals one day.
JR: Will we be seeing another action WEBTOON from you in the future?
CH: Likely. No matter how my stories go, action somehow always manages to sneak itself in there, lol.
JR: What is your favorite WEBTOON genre to read in your off time? What series are you currently in love with?
CH: Anything wholesome and relaxing I usually enjoy. Some series I’ve been keeping up with recently are Eaternal Nocturnal and Eleceed.
This article was originally published on 8/19/22.
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