All Ages of Geek Acception

Interview with Colourbee, creator of WEBTOON Original Acception

We had the pleasure of chatting with Colourbee all about the Webtoon Acception!

“With his rainbow-colored hair and love of all things fashion, Arcus is anything BUT your average teenager. He’s an upbeat independent thinker, proud fashionista, and like the rest of us, is just looking for a few friends to call his own. Acception may be Arcus’ story – but it’s all OUR stories too – and it is for anyone who’s ever struggled to fit in, find love, or thought that High School was pretty much the worst thing ever invented.”

Question 1: Tell us about “Acception”

Interviewee: Acception is a webcomic that is about young teenagers trying to find their place in the world. They all start in high school. It begins with one main character, but it’s about every character that’s in the school or the whole class. I wanted to have 4 main characters that I wanted to focus on.

It’s about learning how to accept yourself and accept other people around you, you’re growing from kids to teens to adults. I wanted “Acception” to show those struggles in this day and age also because I’ve never felt that today’s high school movies were very accurate. It was very PG, very safe, very “everything will be fine”, but things won’t be fine.

I wanted “Acception” to feel a little real but also have a fun, slap-stick, cartoony feeling to them, make it funny, but also make it real in a sense where everything will be okay but it takes more time. Or you really need to put in the steps and know that it doesn’t go on its own.

I really miss those series and cartoons that actually did a good job at those. You know you had “As Told by Ginger”, you had “Brace Face”, you had “Sixteen” like those are shows at the top of my head that I really liked because they also showed struggles with teenagers growing up and not only the happy things. When I made “Acception” LGBTQ wasn’t as talked about but I know that, people can be gay, people can be bisexual, people can be trans. That’s just normal in my world. I’ve known people like that. I’m a pansexual person so I’m like “that’s for me, that’s normal”. Some of my best friends are gay and bisexual, so where are those main characters? Where are the characters that question those things about themselves without being ridiculous, funny, or the butt of the joke? LGBTQ people are not the butt of the joke.

I really wanted to show “Acception” in a fun way for teenagers to feel seen who have never felt seen before.

Question 2: What inspired your work

A: I’m very into fantasy and action and I always wanted to see things that weren’t done before. When I saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I loved it but I was like “Where are the girls?” so I made girl Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. With Pokemon, I was like “Where are the girls?” so I made girl Pokemon trainers as main characters. I did that for a lot of shows and everything.

When I was in school for comic design, they told me I should pick something that was close to me. I wanted to do all these epic fantasy things with girls because I felt like girls weren’t in those spaces yet. I’m 31 right now too and it’s funny to see all the people my age or older, especially women, are now making those things. I can’t tell you a Disney or cartoon that doesn’t now feature a girl in an epic fantasy action story. I’m really happy but suddenly it’s so overdone it’s almost funny.

I actually wanted to do something like that but then it was like “Oh you have to do something that is close to you”. Fantasy was such a big thing and it’s really hard to make a good fantasy story that captures everybody. So then I thought “Why not bring it closer to me?” Have those fun characters I wanted to make that you never see in shows and series but make it more about high school or things that I know. Passions that I will never do myself but I’m interested in. I love sports, I love fashion but I don’t participate in sports and fashion.  It’s fun to see those happen with my characters and see them grow. I just want to make comics about characters and things that I haven’t seen before.

I want to challenge people by saying “Hey look at why people are praising me for finally making these types of characters”. It’s not that I want that all I’m asking is where are all the other comics that have these characters? Where are they? And for girls in epic fantasy, I got my answer. They are here now. I hope this will also happen with LGBTQ characters in the foreground. And I see it happen more over the years. I’m still challenging myself and want to include more disabled characters in the future. I’m trying to push the mainstream roles and show more of these characters. I get inspired by the sheer lack of seeing things in broader public if that makes sense.

Basically, it begins with fantasy and then now we’re in high school because it’s easier and it gave me a lot of opportunity to show characters that were never seen in comics before. I’ve worked on “Acception” since 2010 and I made it into a reality in 2016 and has now been WEBTOON now since 2019. It’s been a really long time before posting it. I’m happy to see within that time, people are taking those steps that have also challenged others. It inspires me to make work that inspires others and vice versa.

The girls in epic fantasy cartoons are not because I thought of it myself, but it’s because everyone in the world has thought of it too. All the girls who were little like me have thought of it at some point and now they are in Disney, Nickelodeon, and other studios who are finally making those things. I want to be between those people that help challenge that narrative.

Question 3: What who inspired your character Arcus?

Sometimes you have a story and you have to put characters in it. For me, I first had to have the characters before the story. I was doodling a gothic girl, but then I was like “That is boring”. I’ve seen a lot of gothic OCs already and people who make gothic characters so I wanted to be more original.

So I made an opposite character that wasn’t black and white, but only color, who’s a boy who is very happy. That’s how I made Arcus. That’s actually all there is to it.

The funny thing is when I showed Arcus to a lot of people. Most people thought that Arcus was a girl without big boobs. I thought “Am I bad at designing characters? This is a boy”. I’m sorry but can’t guys be into rainbows and makeup? That’s what helped the ball get rolling on making Arcus the character he is now. The real reaction that people have in this world about just the design of my character is played out in the comic as if he were real. People have real reactions to him and be like “you look weird” or “He is odd”.

I thought we already lived in a world where when people color their hair, it’s not found weird. I’ve done it my whole life. I was in an art academy so I did color my hair all the colors of the rainbow already. So I thought this was normal but among the art people in my school, they also were like “Oh that’s a girl that’s kind of weird”. But that’s about it. It’s the opposite of the gothic girl I designed and everything came from there.

Question 4: What are your goals for your webtoon?

My goals for my web comic is to make books. I already have Dutch albums. “Acception” was an album in the Netherlands before it became a web comic, only the first one because I was still figuring out how to make money with “Acception”. We don’t make money with a published comic in the Netherlands so I still had to try something. With WEBTOON, I finally got a “real job” out of it and I could make Season 2 and now I’m working on Season 5, which is uploading right now. That’s now how far it’s come.

Where I want to see it go is have it as an English album in US. I’m hoping for that. It would be really cool of “Acception” became an animated show. I don’t want it to be played by real actors. They need it to be cartoony. They are cartoon characters, there needs to be unrealistic standards in some way or form and realistic in other ways just to show how this is exaggerated from real life and not real life itself.

That would be the end goal for “Acception”. If I have a cartoon with it, any streaming platform I don’t care where, as long as it’s done well and I can join in on the how the cartoon is made I’m a happy camper.

Question 5: What kind of advice would you give new creators about creating comics?

Kind of like the advice I got, I would say just to start small and create something that is close to you. If you are a woman that has really bad periods, make a comic about that and how you struggle and try to deal with that.  Show your own struggles with a fantasy character. Maybe you’re a guy who is struggling finding work or getting fired or something that is relatable to a lot of people. Find something that is relatable to you and others.

Don’t try to chase what is hype. For instance, LGBTQ stories are hype, but don’t make stories if you’re not doing your research or if you’re not passionate about it. If you’re not passionate about it, the lack of quality will show in your work, and no one likes that. Don’t chase trends. Only create comics or comic stories that you are passionate about.

Also start small. Start with maybe a one-page comic. Maybe start with 3 panels then 1 page then 2 pages and then a lot of pages. I always started with small comics but I personally had a hard time stopping my stories. In most short stories I made, the character dies because if I let my character live, I want to make more stories with them and it will never stop. A lot of my old 2-3 page comics, the character usually dies or has a happy ending but I’ve been over that phase for a long time now.

Question 6: How long have you been creating art?

Since I’ve been able to hold a pencil. I told my mom I wanted to be an artist since I have 5 years old. I didn’t want to learn how to read and do math because I can draw and I wanted to be an artist.

Question 7: What are you currently working on that you can talk about?

Just the next episodes of Season 5. “Acception” is my full-time job and it’s really fun to do. I have little comics that I do in between but I just finished all of them. I did an 18+ comic, a kind of “adult comic” with a few friends. We did a Kickstarter and it all succeeded. It was with 4 friends in total and made a little book out of it. That’s been done and it’s printed so we’re going to send out the Kickstarter comics out hopefully next month. We’re still working on that.

Other than that, I’m not working on anything else except for “Acception” and there are no plans for smaller projects at the moment. Even if there were I wouldn’t have time because I’m so busy with Season 5.

Question 8: Tell us where people can support your works. If you want to add anything else please feel free to share as well.

You can follow me on WEBTOON with “Acception”. WEBTOON also now has a feature where you can follow the creators where they can post polls or talk about whatever they want. I will mostly respond those who interact with my personal posts rather than when they leave comments on my pages because there are too many comments on my pages.

I’m mostly on Instagram. It is where I post all my art, sometimes “Acception” related sometimes not.

I’m excited to hopefully do more plushies with “Acception” as well. I have Maud and Arcus but I really want to do a whole set of all the main characters. The only advice I can give is don’t stop. If you want to be good at art, make art every day.  If you put 10,000 hours into one thing, you will become a pro at it. Doesn’t matter if you’re good or not, you will become good at that thing.

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