As the weather shifts to cooler temps, it’s time to unpack those supernatural and spooky WEBTOON series. And our first stop is Kate Flynn and Kit Trace‘s Shiloh and Nevermore. Both fall into the paranormal category with beautiful artwork that tells mysterious stories that will have you hooked. We recently chatted with Flynn and Trace about the inspiration for the series, their creative process and much more.

If you haven’t had the chance to read their work – do it! Shiloh can be found here, and Nevermore can be found here.

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Kate Flynn and Kit Trace

Lenore in Nevermore WEBTOON Series.

Nevermore WEBTOON Original Series.

Julia Roth: First and foremost – we love you both. Shiloh and Nevermore are two of our absolute favorite WEBTOON series. Where did the inspiration for them come from?

Kit Trace: Thank you so much!! We kind of collect inspiration from all over the place! Shiloh has a lot of Southern Gothic and noir influences, with some dystopian leanings. Gumshoe detectives, Night of the Hunter, Appalachian folklore, 1984. Nevermore‘s inspirations are a bit more obvious.

The entire series is a love letter to Edgar Allen Poe. Every student is named for a character in Poe’s stories/poems, and their designs and personalities were each influenced by their namesake. There’s also some German Expressionism, early Tim Burton, with other literary nods scattered throughout. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, H.P. Lovecraft, Hamlet. There are so many more I can’t even remember them all. We just kind of collect pieces of inspiration wherever we go and hoard them for later.

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Kate Flynn: For Nevermore, it’s fairly clear. We both love gothic literature, and Poe is the grandfather of goth. A sweeping, epic, angsty, and dramatic gothic romance is right up our alley. Having a shared interest in the paranormal didn’t hurt either.

For Shiloh, it’s not quite as simple. Things like 1984, Dante’s Inferno, Night of the Hunter, Miyazaki, and Dishonored/Bioshock all inspired us, but the story evolved over years of playing in the world with the characters until it became something separate. Honestly, both of us growing up in religious households was maybe the biggest influence. Shiloh takes a long look at institutionalized belief in general, so I think that’s at the heart of it.

JR: You both work together to bring your WEBTOON series to life. How do you balance the workload? What are your creative processes? Do you both work together or work on your own time?

KT: Chaotically? I don’t know if it could be called balanced, but it works for us! We work closely together on most stages of the process. We live in a really beautiful area, so we typically go on long, winding walks through the woods to hash out what’s coming up next in the story. Just sort of get lost in there until we figure out the details of the next few episodes.

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It helps that we have a roadmap like we know the overarching plot from front to back already, but we keep things flexible in between the big plot points. It keeps the story fresh for us, too. But after that, I’ll write up an outline, and we’ll go back and forth, then I’ll write the script, and again we’ll go back and forth on it.

Flynn does thumbnails on a screenshare, and we’ll do a few drafts of those. Once we’re both happy with it, Flynn goes into inks, and I’ll follow along behind doing flats at the same time. Then Flynn does renders. During this part of the process, I have a little ‘downtime,’’ so I usually like to go grocery shopping, do laundry, cook food for the next week, and clean the apartment. Because we live together too. Art naturally takes longer than writing, so I play house for the day or two Flynn’s doing renders. We work every day of the week, but sometimes, we can steal a little time in the evening to play games or go out to eat somewhere.

Lenore and Annabelle in Nevermore WEBTOON.

Nevermore WEBTOON Original Series.

JR: How far into Nevermore do you have planned? Can you share with us how many seasons you are thinking?

KT: We always meant for Nevermore to have multiple seasons! We have all the characterizations, and the main plot nailed down. There’s a little room to play in between the big important turns, and we like to be able to do that. Otherwise, the story starts to feel stale for us, even if it’s not for the reader.

So, like, we might have a big thing that we KNOW is coming, but we’ll actively avoid talking to each other about it too much or nailing down the particulars until we get there. But we’ve had the ending planned from the very beginning. If, for some reason, Nevermore ends up having more seasons than we initially planned, it’ll be because it took us longer than we expected to get through something, not because we’re extending it beyond the finale. It’s not the kind of series that could continue indefinitely. The finale we have planned is decisive. 

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JR: How do you balance working on two WEBTOONs simultaneously? Are you ever going to have them published at the same time?

KT: We don’t. On paper, it worked when we pitched Nevermore, but well, we fell in love with the series and ended up spending a lot more time than we originally intended on it. Nevermore‘s art was supposed to be very pared down from the art style Shiloh has, and that was how we intended to be able to make both at once, but that didn’t last very long. It’s hard not to give what you’re working on your all, especially when you care about it so much. The same would happen if we were working on Shiloh instead of Nevermore. We can’t help but get swept up in the stories.

JR: Who is your favorite character to draw? Who is your favorite character overall?

KT: My favorite character is whoever is causing the most trouble at any given point in time.

KF: It’s impossible to pick a favorite overall. Sorry, I know that’s kind of a lame answer. It’s so tough since each character has developed their own motifs, like the Deans’ comedy/tragedy theme, and I’m really excited about all of them.

JR: What are your favorite things to do outside of WEBTOON creation?

KT: …Outside… WEBTOON… creation? I’m sorry, I don’t think I understood the question.

KF: Pretend I’m laughing and shrugging in bafflement.

KT: I do my nails sometimes.

Various characters from the Shiloh WEBTOON series.

Shiloh WEBTOON Original Series.

JR: What advice do you have for creators looking to create a WEBTOON series?

KT: So much. I see so much discourse on the right way to make a webcomic or, what to make a webcomic about or how to get popular fast on WEBTOON, and I bite my tongue because I have so much to say, but I kind of doubt anybody wants to hear it.

But since you asked! Don’t make something you don’t care about, no matter how trendy it is or how many viewers you think it could get you. Don’t trade your soul for quick success. As an artist, I can’t imagine much hurts more than getting popular for doing something you resent. Don’t saddle yourself with that curse. Make something that’s real to you. That’ll resonate with people way more. Earnest authenticity in media is so rare these days, and people are hungry for it. WEBTOON is one of the last places you can easily find passion projects like that, someone’s soul laid out on the page, so don’t corporatize yourself for clicks. You deserve to be loved for what you love to make. And it’ll take way longer. But it’ll be more worth it.

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KF: There are a lot of tricks of the trade, but I think the bottom line is, really know in your core that this is what you want to do, what you need to do. Making a webcomic or story of your own full-time is a commitment that really can’t be overstated. It can also be ridiculously rewarding. I can’t overhype Nevermore readers; they’re so smart and, passionate, and funny. And the work itself is exhilarating. But it’s also incredibly taxing.

So, I guess my advice is if you have a burning need to tell a story, make sure it’s a story you love. Don’t make it solely to be popular or what you think others will like. Make it as self-indulgent and creatively stimulating for yourself as you can. I know that advice is passed around a lot, but only because it’s important. If you ever find yourself stalled out or unsure how to progress in your project, reevaluate and think of what would make you happy to make and how to incorporate that into what’s coming next.

And just look after yourself. Drink water, get up and walk around, go outside, and see your friends and/or family. Sometimes, taking a break is the most productive thing you can do. 

JR: What WEBTOON series are you currently reading?

KT: I’ve been on a Marionetta kick lately. It’s beautiful and incredibly addicting. I’ve also always loved Stray Souls, Stagtown, Muted, and Uriah.

KF: OKAY, I’m very excited to answer this! Some of my favorites are on hiatus right now, but currently, I’m reading Solid State, After Dark, Stray Souls, Marionetta, and Nocturne. All so so good!! And this one is completed but out in print; Crumbs by Whitherling had me in a chokehold and remains one of my favorites; it’s so special.

This article was originally published on 8/30/23.

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