Spotlight

FUZZY – The Demonic Figure Lurking in the Workplace

Niuniente is from Finland and FUZZY is her very first webcomic. At the age of 37, she proves that you are never too old for any of the things that you love. When she’s not drawing FUZZY, she’s collecting stickers, tasting different ice creams (and has tasted over 100 flavors) or buying too many books. Medieval history, paranormal things, tattoos, Christmas and Japan are very, very close to her heart.

She’s also a spiritual reader/oracle and works with oracle cards, charms, past live things, energies, spirits etc. She’s been on a spiritual path since she turned 19. She is the creator of FUZZY.

Synopsis: Join Irene, the modern day seer helping big corporations with their business predictions, and Fuzzy, the solid black demonic figure lurking in Irene’s working place at her temple. Bring yogurt with you!

Romantic supernatural monster comic with a human woman and socially awkward monster who has a mutism of some sort, as he never really speaks.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I’m self-taught and I have been drawing since I was able to hold a pen. However, I did enroll to art school when I was 25 to learn how to use colors. I studied art for 2 years and it did help me to start using more colors (until that I mainly did black and white pencil art). It was a small rural area school with a good reputation called Ingmanin käsi- ja taideteollisuusoppilaitos (Ingman Art and Design College) in Siilinjärvi, Finland. Ironically we have an ice-cream factory called Ingman here, too, so when I tell people I studied at Ingman, they think I studied something related to ice-cream making lol.

While Ingman’s education also emphasized writing skills and critique skills in a way that you had to explain every single little thing you did in your art – and the answer couldn’t be “I wanted to” or “It’s my favorite color” but a real proper explanation – we didn’t study writing. I have been writing stories since age 7, enrolling courses of journalism in high school and working in communication for a really long time.

For FUZZY, I don’t have a script. I know many comic artists write a script but it doesn’t work for me. I have synopsis and some main ideas what might happen, but 98% of FUZZY is improvised. I work the best with freedom; more freedom, the better I do. Rigid schedules, tight frames, too much planning etc. really kills me and strangles my creativity. Every single page is improvised and I often know what the characters are going to say when I start to type their speech bubbles. Please see FUZZY episode 124 where I explain this more to a fan who was surprised that I don’t know what the characters can do: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/fuzzy/thats-how-it-is/viewer?title_no=125451&episode_no=126

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Supernatural with romance. I have been into paranormal things my whole life and I was born into a family who loved monsters. I grew up with werewolves, Predator, Alien, Crites from Critters, Cenobites and many other horror creatures. I think it’s just something that naturally runs in my blood.

For romance, I want to create something which would make people happy. Somehow make their days better. MonsterxHuman romances are very interesting and inspiring! Possibilities are so much wider in such story telling than humanxhuman every day slice of life drama.

What was your inspiration for the story?
Actually the story found me. One day around 3,5 years ago (that would be summer time 2017) I suddenly got this idea of a monstrous demon who lived in a church, where this specific priestess was working. The church was probably catholic and the priestess and the demon were its secrets; no one except the priests working there and some VIP clients knew about them.

This priestess would help VIP clients in a backroom. This monstrous demon was completely black and liked to hang on the ceiling beam. The priestess would often sleep in his arms, under his wings up there, and the demon would protect her. He was big and stoic and quiet, also very scary, too. The priestess was his opposite; small, cute, blond, dressed in white, more chatty.

This idea pestered me for months until I got courage to start it as a webcomic. This is my first webcomic.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
Not any specific artist, no, except for Hilda Ylhäinen (Avaruuskalat) from whom I stole the idea of big noses on men. I’m a sponge in a way that if I spend time “too long” looking at someone’s art, I will automatically start to mimic it in a way or another. You can see from my old art when I was reading Full Metal Alchemist for example!

I don’t intentionally mimic anyone. I’m very happy and settled with my own style and currently I feel I don’t need or want to explore it any further. It works the way it should as it makes me happy.

When it comes to artistic influence, I love naive art, naive Japanese art, cute stuff, vintage illustrations and comic especially from East Asia from 1950’s to 1980’s. I love how old illustrations, including Japanese art from 18th century and so, the proportions are wonky and stretched to emphasis the feeling, atmosphere or emotion. I have never really cared about realism; what I love is the expression, playfulness and uniqueness. For example Tetsuo Takahara painted awesome cats and Miroco Machiko paints animals based on their shape and colors.

As I have spent the last 23 years with manga, my style has gotten a big influence from there. On top of that, I love flat shapes of black, punk aesthetic and wide variety of expressions (you see these a lot in 1970’s manga comics!).

How long does it take you to complete one page?
Oh I don’t draw by pages. I draw by individual panels. Each page contains 2-3 panels only. I have never counted my time but I tend to work fast as I don’t sketch. I draw directly the line art. Having said that, it still takes good a while to get the line art right at times… Coloring, texting, placing, it all takes lot of time. I’m sorry, I can’t really answer this…!

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I use FireAlpaca. The process from start to finish is pretty much a surprise to me, too, as like I said, the comic is 98% improvised. I see and sense around what the characters are up to and where the plot might be going. I just sit down and start to draw, letting the characters take the wheel. In a way, you could say that I’m reading FUZZY together with my readers.

For more technical talk, first I draw the line art. I use really big canvas (5555x7777pxl) and draw it full of pictures. With a big canvas, I can be as messy and carefree as I like because the line art’s quality gets better when you resize it. I’m an impatient artist and hate nitpicking in art process, so the faster the better for me. I go freely with drawing the comic scenes – the order of drawing the pictures isn’t important. If I don’t feel like drawing picture 4 now, I go and draw picture 6 instead and return to the number 4 later. It’s nothing unusual that I have a file named 14a and it has scenes 1-3 and 7, and then the file 14b has scenes 4-6 and 8.

I don’t use framing or paneling – or backgrounds unless absolutely necessary – so I’m free to fill the canvas with as many “panels” or “scenes” as I like.

After line art I add flat colors and some high lights if needed. Then I put the pictures in their rightful order on comic page, type whatever the characters want to say and tell me and color my speech bubbles. I have found that colored speech bubbles give me more freedom to work than regular ones. I’m an anarchist lol.

Is your comic a finished work? If not, how long do you think you think it’s going to be when it’s complete? Is there a definitive ending or will you just keep going for as long as possible?
FUZZY has been running 3 years for now. I, unfortunately, have multiple chronic illnesses which prevent me from working as fast and as much as ablebodied people, so it makes the process a bit slower. As FUZZY is not my day job I get paid monthly by an employer for, I don’t want to burden myself with it.

FUZZY is, for what I know, running closer to its end now – of course, the characters might come up with something I’m not aware at this moment. After the story is over, I wish to make either shorter FUZZY strips or shorter FUZZY stories. It has many characters who I could explore more with the readers with these smaller stories.

How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
I have no idea of the current page count as I don’t count them. But I have 125 pages on Webtoon and each of these Webtoon pages contains 3-12 pages within, then I’d estimate FUZZY is 1100 pages long – give or take a few tens of pages.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
It pestered me for 3 months almost daily until I gave in and dared to start drawing it.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the course of making of your comic? If you could go back in time to the point where you just started making it and give yourself a pep talk, what would you say?
DON’T OVERWORK YOURSELF. Seriously, this is a big, big issue with all creators, especially webcomic artists who are expected to update often, usually weekly. The biggest problem with making FUZZY is my fear that people will stop liking it or reading it if I can’t keep the updates coming fast enough.

Give yourself time and permission to do and also TO DRAW other things than just your comic!

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
Getting feedback and nice comments from people. Honestly. Why would I share it with anyone if I made it just for myself? Never underestimate the importance and sheer inspiration factor comments and feedback give to any content creators out there! If you like it, say it. The creator wants to hear it.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Nothing in FUZZY itself is bothersome or difficult but my health sometimes takes the turn to worse and then I need to rest a lot longer than I’d want to.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
I naturally love to write about our main character Fuzzy. He’s full of mysteries and differs so much from the rest of his kind that even I’m a bit confused who or what he is. Fuzzy is this monstrous “demonic” black being who can’t reflect light, so you can always see just his eyes (and sometimes his multiple teeth rows). I thought he’d be dangerous when I started FUZZY but he turned out to be socially awkward and shy guy who also has a mutism of some sort. He never really speaks. No one really likes him where he comes from and he seems to be want to be left alone. Oh and he’s got tiny toe beans!

Another one I enjoy writing about and working with is the antagonist Loid, who is also a bi-sexual magical being. He has existed years before he appeared in FUZZY. Loid is a literal antagonist as he gave that profession to himself after some events happened in his life. Loid can use anything his (and someone else’s) body provides to cast a spell from hair to blood and from saliva to teeth. Kisses are Loid’s fave form of casting a spell because of their chaotic reactions they cause in people when you kiss them out of the blue. He’s what I would call “a bastard son” but he’s my bastard with his big ego. If you know Grimmjow from Bleach, they have surprisingly similar chaotic energy, big ego and a cat-like personality. Though this was not intentional. I realized it just the other day last week…

Usually, when I’m stuck with FUZZY or don’t know what to do, Loid has an answer. He has never let me down. Fuzzy himself is always very kind to me and would never push me to work more than I can. He’s shy even with me!

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
A or R is a bit challenging even though he’s existed 6 years already. He’s a protector against monsters and magical beings, this lively punk guy who loves ice-cream and is biracial with Scottish mother and Japanese father. He’s so laid back he’s fine with any ideas I throw at him, which gives me trouble. Like “A or R, tell me, was your childhood happy or sad?” and he just answers “Yes”. It took me 1,5 years to figure out what his real name was and even then I had to squeeze it out from him, because he would have been fine with any name. That’s not how this works, A or R!

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
I actually enjoy drawing (The Bringer of) Chaos, one of the monsters in the comic and Fuzzy’s friends. He’s got very fatherly and supportive energy which always soothes me. Like “It’s OK, you’ve got this”. Everyone should have a friend like Chaos.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
No one, really. Sometimes I worry if my style is alright for Candy, a black (lesbian) woman and the main female lead’s Irene’s friend. I hope it is! I’m not American myself so I don’t have the similar deep cultural understanding or experience of racial issues what American and especially black Americans have, so sometimes I worry that without the understanding, I might do something stupid. Kind of like American’s have no cultural experience or understanding what it means to have white people being kidnapped, oppressed, enslaved and sent out to prison camps to die like what Russians and Swedes did to my people.

Where can we find you?
I have many places where to find me:

READ FUZZY: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/fuzzy/list?title_no=125451&page=1#

I also run another webcomic called Demon Sanctuary. It’s a story of a tattooed priest father Furmann who saves demons and rehabilitates them back to nature, as to him, everything is created by God. If it’s created by God it needs to be loved and cared for. This includes demons. The comic contains my native folklore monsters and folklore, and one of the characters speaks with Finnish sign language.
All demons in it are naturally polyamorous and the antagonist is a female demon if that interests you as a reader.
https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/demon-sanctuary/list?title_no=221079

You find me from Instagram @niuniente
FUZZY has Tumblr at @thefuzzycomic
You can support FUZZY in KoFi and Patreon, which has exclusive FUZZY content
https://ko-fi.com/niuniente
https://www.patreon.com/niuniente

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
I have LGBT characters in the comic as well as variety of people in the cast because I don’t think skin color or your sexual orientation should “matter” in a way that they couldn’t exist in comics as naturally as a character with red hair or three older brothers. Your sexual identity as well as your ethnicity is just normal on this planet and shouldn’t be excluded.

I never intentionally create LGBTQA+ characters but the characters tell me their orientation. Like in FUZZY, Irene’s friend Candy has a girlfriend. Candy had existed for 1.5 years I think when she told me she’s got a girlfriend. I told her “Good for you, dear!” and was happy for her.

Equality is important to me. How much potential we lose if we stick with tight frames only!

My biggest wish is that FUZZY would provide people a safe place to dive into. A save world to travel to in your day dreams. That FUZZY would provide people their new favorite character they want to spend time with drawing them and writing about them and cosplaying them etc. because it makes them happy. Fictional worlds and characters have kept me sane and brightened my spirit when my life has been especially rough and tough. I wish I can give something like that back to the world to others.