It was at New York Comic Con a few years ago that I discovered WEBTOON and started devouring a number of comics on the platform. I saw a panel and got interested in some of the comics that were being mentioned and almost immediately went home and looked them up. So it seems fitting that it was NYCC again that gave me the opportunity to interview some of WEBTOON’s creators!
Meredith Moriarty is the creator of the spooky supernatural mystery comic Third Shift Society, where one of the main characters has a jack-o-lantern for a head. Third Shift Society is one of the titles I’ve recommended in my only occasionally weekly Wednesday Webcomics spotlight. The comic has 12.2 million views with more than 428,000 subscribers. It is currently on hiatus (season 2 wrapped up in June 2022) while Moriarty works on season 3. And for those of you who like to hold your comics in your hand, Third Shift Society Volume 1 is coming to print in February 2024 from WEBTOON Unscrolled!
At this year’s NYCC, held in October, she participated in the “Who Runs the Fantasy World? Girls!” panel on Saturday as well as signing early copies of her graphic novel. She was also kind enough to set aside time to answer some questions.
Can you talk a little about your inspiration for Third Shift Society and how you came up with the idea?
I started playing with the idea of what would become Third Shift Society in 2011. The first drawing of Ichabod was a notebook doodle I scribbled out during a library sciences class. There was something compelling about this dapper, jack-o-lantern-headed man, and I wanted to give him a story. Obviously, he was a paranormal investigator (tough to get an office job looking like that, plus I had been watching a ton of ostensibly true ghost story programs), and he needed a partner to play off, which is where Ellie came in.
I spent the next few years thinking about them off and on, developing the characters and coming up with different cases, but it wasn’t until the end of 2015 that I felt confident enough to start making the comic.
Who is your favorite character to write for?
I like writing the interactions between Ichabod and Ellie. He’s more formal and can come off as rather cold; she’s very casual and warm. I think that contrast creates an interesting dynamic, as well as some room for growth. As the series has progressed, it feels like he’s become a little more relaxed, while she’s a bit more mature.
Third Shift Society is a bit anthological, featuring different cases, but there is also an ongoing arc. Which is more fun for you to write?
I go back and forth on this one. There’s something very satisfying about having a tidy wrap-up at the end of a chapter, and sometimes you do get very attached to certain minor characters that will only appear in one case, but an ongoing arc gives you more opportunities for world-building and big character moments. Ultimately, I think it’s a balancing act where one compliments and supplements the other. I hope the readers feel that way, too.
WEBTOON as a platform allows for more reader feedback than others. Has fan reaction ever surprised you (i.e. a character you didn’t think would be popular)?
Definitely! I never expected so many people to find Ichabod, uh… let’s say, “attractive”. There was also a lot of love for Greg and Mercedes from Season 1, which was a bit of a (pleasant) surprise. The readers’ comments in general have been so kind, and I’m very grateful!
What about WEBTOON’s scroll format is most challenging when drawing a chapter? What is your favorite aspect of the format?
Coming from the world of print comics, the vertical format was a big adjustment. Since readers are in control of the scroll, you have to be mindful of your panel spacing and placement, and how it affects the speed at which readers move through a scene. The way in which you guide the eye is different as well, and you don’t have page turns to change scenes, set up big moments, or just act as a “breath” in the story.
All that said, some sequences work very well in a vertical format – having a character falling or depicting the passage of time, for example. I’ve also seen creators do very cool things with scene transitions and magic effects. Ultimately, as with any medium, it’s all about finding interesting ways to utilize the space.
Can you tease anything about what fans can expect in upcoming chapters?
Ah, not too much, unfortunately. I will say that we’ll learn more about our main characters’ backstories, and finally see what the bad guys are really up to.
You were recently at New York Comic Con. What was your favorite part of the experience?
The whole thing was great! I hadn’t been to a con in years, and it was awesome to get back out there. I really enjoyed meeting the fans and other creators, and finally seeing some of the WEBTOON Unscrolled team in person after emailing back and forth for so long. I ended up getting sick for two weeks afterward, but I’d still do it again in a heartbeat!
Third Shift Society is coming to print next year. What kind of work goes into making a webcomic into a graphic novel?
It’s quite a project! There’s proofreading, creating the layouts, designing a logo, and making sure the entire book has a cohesive look and feel – more than I can list here, really. I’m so grateful to Emma, Nico, Sarah, and the rest of the WEBTOON Unscrolled team for taking all this on, and for putting up with my neuroticism. You’re all incredible, and I can’t wait for everyone to see the finished book!
I’d like to thank Meredith for taking the time out of her no doubt busy schedule to speak to me, and thanks to the awesome people at WEBTOON for facilitating!
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out Third Shift Society. Get caught up before season 3!
And don’t forget to check out our other coverage from this year’s NYCC!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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