The Witch and the Bull: Moonsia on Her Travels and Creating Comics for WEBTOON

A woman leans against a sitting black bull wearing a flower crown. They are in a field of white flowers.

Creating webcomics has seen a huge rise in recent years, allowing creators to self-publish in a much easier manner and letting readers have almost instant access to new updates. Original comics can be shared in a far reaching format, and that’s exactly what comic creator Jennifer Chuu — aka Moonsia — has been able to do with her comic The Witch and the Bull on WEBTOONThe Witch and the Bull is a comic series inspired by Moonsia’s nomadic lifestyle and travels, and it follows the story of a royal advisor, a witch, and a curse that pulls them in together.

With magic, royal intrigue, and a Mediterranean inspired setting, The Witch and The Bull stands apart as a gorgeous new comic with a fantastic story that’s only just starting to unfold. In talking to Moonsia, we learned more about the inspiration behind her comic, art, and some of the details of what it’s like to be a comic creator for WEBTOON.

Your bio says that you travel and create comics on WEBTOON full time. What has that change in your life been like as a creator so far?

I think it opened my mind a lot. I get to see and experience different cultures, kept putting myself out of my comfort zone, trying new food, new sports, listening to everyone’s perspectives on the things happening around the world. I think that’s what I needed for my creative side as well — to not be stubborn and trapped in the one single idea. For example, when I started traveling as a digital nomad, I was still stuck with a story idea I’ve been working on for 3 years — let’s call it The Speakeasy — and was trying to pitch it to a Japanese company branch in Taiwan that I worked with on my previous title Never Heard The Sound of The Tide (literal translation from Traditional Chinese). Their team never approve on The Speakeasy, and deep down, I secretly know that, with the level of experience I had at the time, that was not something I could pull off so easily and tell a good story. Yet my stubbornness just wouldn’t allow me to give up. I fought for The Speakeasy that entire year, but finally started to feel like maybe it wasn’t meant to be happening at the time.

Many of my friends from the same company started pitching to WEBTOON Taiwan, and suggested the same to me, I felt that, since I have worked and lived in a full English environment for 8 years in New York, maybe I could pitch it to WEBTOON US. This thought had never come to me before, because I was so afraid that my English wouldn’t be good enough to deliver an original story, but all the traveling had somehow given me more courage to give things a try.

I didn’t pitch The Speakeasy. Instead I thought I’d start something from blank, just like when I left Taipei and moved to New York, and how I left New York and started my nomad life. The feeling was so exciting, every step on developing the idea for The Witch and The Bull felt so great and rewarding .Whether it’s adding something in or taking something out of the story, they all felt right, and I had used everything I learnt in my one year travel and put it in practice while writing the pitch. I let the idea in my mind grow naturally, avoided trying too hard on something, allow surprises; take out things I don’t need, treating it like my carry on suitcase, which contains everything I will ever need on my travels. So yes, traveling had a huge impact on me and it has affected my creative side.

In The Witch and The Bull, the setting of the comic is inspired from your travels in countries around the Mediterranean Sea. What about those travels do you think you pull from the most when you’re working on new chapters?

I knew I was going to create something with using Split, Croatia as a background when I first stepped into the old town city center. The influence from the Romans and the Venetians, and how the whole city was once a palace itself, and later turned into a city where people live in — it’s incredible! Walking through the streets of Split, you can see the pillars and hallway of the palace is now a street full of restaurants and shops, and what was a dungeon is now open for tourism and also used as even space for things like wine tasting festivals. I spent 6 weeks there, and went back in 2019 for 3 months after the pitch for The Witch and The Bull was approved and in production. Most of the Human Kingdom elements are influenced from Split, Croatian and in the region of Dalmatia and all the way towards the region of Istria coastline. Some towns and cities were influenced by my visit to Sicily, a ghost town of Poggioreale as Aro’s home town. As the story goes deeper into the region where witches inhabit the longest in history, those places will be more influenced by the countries in the Africa side of the Mediterranean Sea.

Also, I like putting food and little things I saw along the way of my travels into the comic, like I’m going to be in Brazil and Peru later on, I’ll probably eat something really delicious that I want to mark it down in the comic as a mental souvenir!

What do you find the most fun when working on a new chapter? Character design, line work, writing?

Writing an episode is really fun, and it can be done while I’m lying in bed or on a vehicle. Inking is super enjoyable, almost like meditation, and I can listen to audiobooks, or put on a TV show/movie alongside. But if I have to choose, I’d say it is deciding on what colors to use in an episode, because it sums up the whole atmosphere, alongside how Aro is going to dress while she’s in this episode. Is she supposed to blend in and hide from something? If so, maybe she shouldn’t wear a color that attracts too much attention, or if she is supposed to pop in this episode, then I should let her wear something bright, yet go well with the background. What background should I draw? What colors to use on that?

Another one of my secretly favorite things is having characters making stupid jokes in my comics occasionally.

What’s the process like for you when working on a new chapter for The Witch and the Bull?

I check my episode beats or each episode’s plot first, and I write a script of what’s happening and what are the characters gonna say into a document, then draw an ugly thumb, which is like a storyboard. I send it to my editor (he’s so nice by the way), and he gives me his edits, and after I make the changes and it’s good, I start inking each panel. Normally an episode is 40-50 panels, and the original working files are actually separated into 6-9 strips per episode for my own convenience on drawing. Every time I finish inking one strip of an episode I send it to my assistant, she fills in the base color according to what I assigned, and does the shadowing. Once I finish all the inking, I grab the files my assistant has finished and I start adding the light on hair, eyes and other things I want to have light reflection on, as well as the special effects, and sound effects, and my assistant adds in the speech bubbles and pastes on the dialog I previously put down in the document.

What sort of comics/graphic novels/manga do you find have influenced you in your art?

When I was around 12, CLAMP’s art style on Cardcaptor Sakura had a huge influence on me. Later when I was 15, it was Kozue Amano. She was very good at building the atmosphere of the world of her manga ARIA, after I started reading her manga, it made me start to treat backgrounds as an important part of the story. And then on the day of my high school graduation, I bought Aki Irie’s short stories collections, I was in love with her art styles and stories immediately, but the art style didn’t influence me until 2016, I started studying her line work, and try to get the same smoothness sensation she has, I don’t have a full grasp on that, but I learned a lot from that process.

What do you hope readers take away from your comics?

I hope in every episode, they find the story fun and entertaining, and the art enjoyable. I hope in some way this comic can influence the readers in a good way, whether it is more empathy towards others, or becoming more curious about the world different from theirs, or a sudden sensation to draw something, or even want to learn more about bulls, astrology or archery! I think these are all good influences towards self development, and the world would just become a tiny bit more better than it was before. But mostly I just hope people have a good time!

Discover more about Moonsia and her travels on her website and Instagram and check out The Witch and the Bull on WEBTOON, which updates every Thursday.