Masks Definitely Required: An Interview with 66

Art by 66

66 is the creator of the hit sci-fi series City of Blank, about a world where ghostly figures called Blanks can steal your identity – literally. The only way to protect yourself is to basically stay masked at all times.

Both Bradda M. and I have recommended this series, which launched in February 2020. It has over 700,000 subscribers and more than 46 million views. It’s currently in its fourth season.

Recently I had the chance to interview 66 about their inspiration, their process, and what comes next! They were kind enough to take the time to answer my questions.

Can you talk a little bit about your inspiration for City of Blank? How did you come up with the idea?

The idea first came from a short I watched on Adult Swim as a kid called Kakurenbo. In it, all the characters wore masks and I just thought that was really cool. I wanted to make a story where everyone wore masks, and Blanks just sort of became the excuse to make that world mechanic work.

As for Blanks, they were inspired by my fear of shadow people – You know, like the ghosts. I used to (and admittedly still do) watch a ton of paranormal videos on YouTube and shadow people were just the creepiest thing on earth to me (actually, they still kind of are). I thought it would be a fun concept to have just the scariest thing in the world chilling in your living room, as kind of just a minor annoyance because it was standing in front of your TV.

Who is your favorite character to write for? And which mask is your favorite one to draw?

Ask me that first part next week and I’ll give you a different answer. I think my favorite characters to write bounce around a lot, with some regular favorites. Rex, Jericho, Finze, and Claude are always favorites, and the hat kind of passes depending on who the story is most focused on currently.

Lately, Claude’s been the main focus, and his arc has probably been one of my favorites to write in the entire series, so I think he might claim favorite for a little while. He does always win for favorite to draw though, including his mask. It’s probably my favorite design and most fun to draw.

Art by 66

With an ongoing series like this, I imagine a story outline is very important. How much of the plot is planned in advance, and how much do you leave open to figure out as you go? Also, do you plan out the whole series, or do you plan a season at a time?

I’ve had the basic beginning, middle, and end, as well as most of the major beats planned since the beginning. Some of the beats were moved around, but I’ve always known how it’s going to end and the route we’re taking there. There were just a lot of stops and detours on the way to the destination to figure out as I went.

I consider seasons part of those major beats I’ve had planned all along and have always known it was going to be 4 seasons because of this, however, I do take a period each season to flesh it out and figure out how we get from point A to B. For example, a lot of the characters (like Finze and Christoph) were never in the original pitch and were only brought in as I realized they were needed.

WEBTOON as a platform allows for more reader feedback than others. Has fan reaction ever surprised you? Like, a character that you didn’t think would be popular, or someone figuring out a twist well in advance?

Oh yeah, for sure. I’m amazed at how hard some readers hit the nail on the head with their predictions. As for their reactions… To some extent. I already knew Bag Girl would be a fan favorite from City of Blank’s time on CANVAS, but back then it surprised me how popular she was.

And for better or for worse, I can’t not mention Roof Blank here. I hate that stupid blank. Rex revealed in an episode that he was basically dying and half the comments were just about Roof Blank because it was in the background. And I can’t even get rid of it, because if I did, it’s all people would talk about! It shouldn’t even technically still be there but the Roof Blank fans will riot if I ever got rid of it so I keep throwing it in to appease them.

I say all of this light-heartedly and half-jokingly, by the way.

What about WEBTOON’s scroll format is most challenging when drawing a chapter? What is your favorite aspect of the format?

I love the scroll format and how it can be utilized for pacing or huge reveals. A few of my favorite shots in the comic were designed so that the reader has to scroll for an uncomfortable amount of time before a shocking reveal at the end of it. I think it’s fantastic for stuff like that. Though I do admit, sometimes it can be challenging to fit certain shots, especially wide shots or certain action panels into the format.

Obviously without getting too spoilery, is there anything you can tease about what fans can expect in upcoming chapters?

Someone’s gonna die. Possibly even soon.

Art by 66

I saw on your Tumblr that you’re already planning out your next comic for when City of Blank is finished. Can you tell us about it?

Depends which one! I have a few I’m currently brainstorming, though there’s one I’ve kind of put the most eggs in the basket of. I’m still bouncing around tiles, but it is a love story about a human and a demon. I think it’ll be a lot more comedy-driven than City of Blank, as those have always been some of my favorite parts of City of Blank to write, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind doing something a little lighter after City of Blank either. There’ll still be plenty of gut-wrenching drama though, since I do kinda love writing that too.

Finze’s going to return too, in a role unrelated to City of Blank. My longtime followers of mine know he’s my favorite character and he ends up being used in basically anything I write, just as different versions of him. No matter what comic I do next, there’s a good chance he’ll weasel his way into it.

You recently tabled at SacAnime and New York Comic Con. Do you have any conventions planned for 2024?

It might already be passed by the time this article goes up, but I’ll be tabling at Emerald City Comic Con Feb 29-March 3. I’ll also be speaking at the 2024 Peninsula Libraries Comic Arts Fest with fellow WEBTOON creators of Muted and Lovebot in April and might be speaking at Wellsboro Comic Con in August.

Other than that, I just moved states recently and kind of wanna make 2024 my year to settle down in my new home. I don’t really plan to attend any other conventions unless they’re local or reach out specifically to me like the ones mentioned above. We’ll see what 2025 holds, though.

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I’d like to thank 66 for taking the time out of their 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 City of Blank on WEBTOON!

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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