If you’ve been on the internet these past few years, chances are, you’ve seen MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND in some way, shape, or form. The webcomic, which is hosted on LINE Webtoon, follows the daily life of the artist, Fishball, and her 6’5″ nerdy boyfriend. From dealing with their one-foot height difference, to quarrels over an overused Pikachu shirt, and geeking out over their favorite comic, MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND resonates with readers from all over the world for its relatable experiences and sharp humor.

I sat down with Fishball and her editor, Bekah Caden, at C2E2 2018 to talk about her webcomic, touring the US for the first time, being an artist for a living, and, of course, her giant nerd boyfriend. Special thanks to Fishball for talking with me as well as Bekah and LINE Webtoon for letting me interview her.

You can read the whole interview below:

MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND Title Cards
MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND Title Cards | Image: LINE Webtoon

Celeste Paed: Hi Fishball, how are you today?

Fishball: Hi, I am okay. Great! The signing today was—wow! It’s amazing!

CP: How are you enjoying the convention so far?

Fishball: The convention is good. It is actually spaced quite nicely and it has a very relaxed atmosphere. So, yeah, I really enjoy it.

CP: This is your second convention in America right? How does it feel knowing you have such a big following across the seas? Is that something you were expecting?

Fishball: Not really? I kind of estimated the number of fans that I had, but when I came here and saw the crowd, I wasn’t expecting it at all.

CP: Was it the same as New York Comic Con?

Fishball: Yeah, just about.

CP: How have fans responded to meeting you?

Fishball: I would say they are either really excited or they did not expect how I look like. But then again, I have shown my face in one of my strips.

CP: How do you feel meeting all your American fans?

Fishball: It feels amazing. I’ve never felt so much—you guys are very warm people and I did not expect this kind of response. I didn’t know that my comics would be accepted so well within the US.

CP: I just realized that I don’t know much about your popularity overseas. Is your comic really popular in Malaysia?

Fishball: I would say…less.

Fishball and her Giant Nerd Boyfriend
Fishball and her Giant Nerd Boyfriend | Image: LINE Webtoon

CP: I know a lot of people are also asking for photos of the giant nerd boyfriend. How does that feel? How have people responded to seeing him in person?

Fishball: There are actually two very different responses. One is, “Oh, he’s so tall. He’s taller than I imagined.” The second one, “He’s not as tall as I imagined.”

CP: It’s probably because Americans are used to it.

Fishball: Americans are so tall! He stuck out like a sore thumb back in Asia. Here, he actually feels in his element.

CP: That’s actually really funny. Whenever I go back home to the Philippines—I’m on 5’6” so that’s average height over here. But I’m always one of my tallest friends.

Fishball: Yeah yeah yeah.

CP: My dad is only 5’3.” Even if it’s not much, I know how it feels to stand out overseas… So you’ve touched upon this a bit in your comic. But why did you start writing MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND? Have you written webcomics before this?

Fishball: Not really. MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND is actually the main webcomic that I put effort into running and hosting on other sites.

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CP: You work with an editor. Bekah is actually here with us right now as well. When you started MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND, did you guys always work together? Are there any ideas that you’ve pitched that have been shot down?

Bekah Caden: Not at all, actually. She’s got such a great handle on what this comic is and what she wants it to be. We’ve shot ideas back and forth a couple of times. But mostly, she sends it in and I’m just like, “Oh great work this time!” So it’s been really fantastic.

Fishball: I’m free-range.

Bekah Caden: Free-range? Exactly. She’s got a really clear idea of what she wants to do and the execution is just fantastic.

CP: That’s really awesome. How do you feel having an editor, Fishball? Is that something you’re used to? You work in illustration so you’re probably used to critique, but its a little different with comics.

Fishball: Yeah, for comics, my editor has been pretty…what’s the word—they just let me do my thing.

Bekah: Pretty hands-off.

Fishball: Yeah pretty hands-off. I enjoy making comics. I’m glad that they let me do so. Illustration-wise, you have to deal with clients. You have to deal with your art director. So it’s a completely different thing. What I want to draw isn’t necessarily what the client wants.

CP: Bekah, why do you think MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND resonates with readers so much?

Bekah: MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND actually started as Fishball’s personal diary of sorts, a documentation of her relationship. I think because it comes from such an honest, personal space readers are able to see pieces of themselves reflected in Fishball and her boyfriend, whether they’re in a relationship or not. They are also super nerdy and, of course, comic readers are generally nerdy themselves.

CP: That’s really true. Now, Fishball, you and your boyfriend are both artists and its something that you bring up every now and then in your comic. Have you guys ever thought about collaborating or have you collaborated on anything? If you haven’t, what do you think your comic would be about?

Fishball: Well, for some of the strips, he did contribute a bit. Like maybe some of the headers. Some of the little bonus that readers will ask for, he will do those. But lately, he’s quite busy. So collaboration is not something we can do.

CP: That’s really cool. I had no idea that he would help you out with some of those strips.

Fishball: He helps me in editing the strips. Every time I sketch the idea out, he will look at it first. Then I will ink the drawing if he’s okay with it. If he’s not okay, I’ll change the approach. So entirely, I think I have two editors.

CP: It’s really nice to see especially since this is a webcomic about him.

Fishball: Yeah.

They can share art, but clothing? Not so much. | Image: LINE Webtoon

CP: Has there ever been a time when you’ve had to make up a story for MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND? You publish weekly, so I’m sure material dries up every now and then.

Fishball: Not exactly make up. I would exaggerate situations to make the comic more interesting. Is that making up? I’m not sure.

CP: I mean, in writing terms, we call that creative nonfiction, where you start exaggerating real events. I wouldn’t call that “making up” because they’re still things that happened. Does your webcomic ever come up when you’re doing your illustration work?

Fishball: As in?

CP: Say you’re working with a client and they’re like, “Oh you’re the artist for MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND!”

Fishball: No. I try to hide it.

CP: What do you think the reaction would be if your clients found out that this is something you do? That you’re actually pretty famous?

Fishball: I’m actually not sure, but I would like to see their reaction. I have stopped doing clientele work to focus on MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND.

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CP: Now that people know what you look like, have people stopped you on the street yet?

Fishball: Only at cons.

CP: Makes sense since you’re not here stateside very often.

Fishball: Right.

CP: Okay, so you’re Asian. I am too. And I know with a lot of Asian families, the arts aren’t really something seen as something worth going into.

Fishball: Mhm.

CP: Your mother and brother are featured in the comic a few times. How do they feel about you being an artist and how do they especially feel about traveling to another country to talk about your art?

Fishball: They are proud of me, I would say. But during the start of my journey, they were not—they were like “Okay you can do it as a hobby.” But I didn’t want to do it as a hobby. So I tried to convince them that I could and eventually, they let me. So here we are.

CP: You’ve made it pretty big so far.

Fishball: Yeah.

CP: Did you get any formal art training?

Fishball: I went to art school. It’s not exactly full on. They did not teach me how to do webcomics. But on the narrative and the graphic, it did teach me how to put words around the design. It kind of influenced my art a little.

CP: Do people ask you about relationship advice a lot and if they do, what do they ask you about?

Fishball: I would say that they just ask me in the comments section. A lot of them are asking “How do you make up after a fight?” Or, “Your relationship wasn’t exactly perfect. How do you deal with the not so nice side?” So I did. I actually made a strip about it. Sort of like advice for people who get into arguments and how to resolve them.

CP: That’s really nice of you. I know some people would just choose to ignore comments.

Fishball: I think it’s important. This comic is about my giant nerd boyfriend and it’s about our relationship. So we can’t exactly just paint our relationship as perfect or full of flowers and all. I think that it’s an important thing that people should know.

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CP: Bekah, this question is for you. Why should people be reading MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND if they weren’t already?

Bekah: Besides the wonderful and fun series that is MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND, Webtoon really invests in creating a community for their readers and MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND readers are one of the most solid, welcoming fan bases. So if you want to not only read a great comic but also celebrate it with fellow fans, jump on the app and check it out.

CP: This is a question that’s a little bit less about MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND. Fishball, what is your ideal illustration day?

Fishball: It must be raining outside. The weather must be nice and cool. And then I have tea. I can draw a lot of illustrations on that kind of day.

CP: Is the Giant Nerd Boyfriend in this ideal illustration day or do you have to have him in a separate room?

Fishball: He is in the corner of the other room and he is doing his stuff and I am doing my stuff. Then when we’re done with all of our stuff, well just go grab something to eat. That’s an ideal day.

CP: Aww, that’s really nice. What advice do you have for people who are just breaking into comics or are looking to create art but are a bit intimidated by people who are already in it?

Fishball: That was also one of my main concerns when I started. People have already done relationship strips before. Why should I do it? It can be quite discouraging. The thing I did is that I powered through it. I told myself that not everyone can draw this genre the same as the others. I just took it and I ran with it. And here we are.

CP: Are there any comics or books that you’re reading right now that you really love?

Fishball: Webcomics? You mean WEBTOON?

CP: WEBTOON, maybe other books outside of comics?

Fishball: I haven’t had time to read much. But Webcomics-wise, I read a few works on WEBTOON as well. I read HELLBOY. A few mangas.

CP: What’s your favorite manga or comic of all time? I know that’s kind of a loaded question.

Fishball: Of all time!? Why would you make me choose? For right now, I think its probably MY HERO ACADEMIA and ONE PUNCH MAN.

Comic Strip from MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND
Two nerds in love. | Image: LINE Webtoon

CP: Great choices. Have you seen the newest season of MY HERO ACADEMIA yet?

Fishball: Not yet. Not yet. I’m working now but I need to go back and watch.

CP: Yeah it just started yesterday. It’s so good.

Fishball: Yes!

CP: Do you have any projects that you’re working on or are coming out soon that you want to talk about?

Fishball: For now, I am focusing my time on MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND. But there will be future projects.

CP: And one last question. Fishball is currently wearing the yellow shirt from MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND.

Fishball: Ay!

CP: What was it like to receive this shirt?

Fishball: The marketing team is amazing!

CP: That’s all the questions I have. Thank you so much for talking with me!

Fishball: Thank you!

CP: That’s all folks.

Fishball: Yay!

Are You Reading  MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND?

Fishball and her boyfriend
Fishball and the Giant Nerd Boyfriend in the flesh (kinda).

There’s no confirmation on what event Fishball will be at next. Bekah highly suggests keeping an eye on their social media accounts. MY GIANT NERD BOYFRIEND updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on Webtoon. I highly suggest reading this webcomic if you aren’t already!

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One Comment

  1. izzan (@puddingpie126)

    April 22, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    I love this webtoonn so much.. hello from Malaysia!! ^^

    Reply

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