WEBTOON, THE DIGITAL COMICS
I do love reading Webtoons, and it is not new to my friends. They are like part of my weekly reads routine. I enjoy some of a little bit (maybe a lot) of romance, some actions, adventure, and fantasy. But the recent read that I appreciate a lot is the webtoon that focuses on mental health.
According to Medium, “Webtoon is a web-based cartoon, first popularized in Korea in 2007. Naver Webtoon is the most popular Webtoon platform in Korea. In 2010, Naver Webtoon launched Line Webtoon, global Webtoon platform that relies on readers to translate Webtoons from all over the world.” And it has been popularized in our modern era that takes from the past like the comics in western countries, manga in Japan, and manhwa in Korea.
As the technology rises, the forms of reading and reaching out to new viewers has changed and this is where the Webtoon conceived. You can check out The Comic Journal’s featured post, The Webtoon: A New Form of Graphic Narrative where Heekyoung Cho emphasized the significant characteristic of the platform with its transmediality. Transmediality is a form of storytelling that is used to experience a story in different platforms using current digital technology. [Read more: Webtoon, Why so Popular by The Dongguk Post]
UNINTENTIONAL GAME, THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ROMANCE WEBTOON
Szanon Hailey, a psychology student, who strives to become a top student sets his goal to become friends with Alexis Go. But the challenge here is how could he be friends with her if Alexis is intimidating and has a short-temper in the first place?
Mini Webtoon Review: Unintentional Game is a webtoon that I never expect to like. I am a huge fan of romance and fantasy, but to those people who do not know me personally, I am in the field of medical allied sciences. Mental Health in Psychology fascinates me. One of the things that I notice when reading Unintentional Game is that, the author’s intention on spreading awareness towards Mental Health and Mental Illness is way off the charts! She made it as her mission to advocate how serious the Mental Health on every person.
Unintentional Game, like Alexis Go, the female protagonist of the story, is intimidating when you read the webtoon. But don’t get discouraged. The webtoon has a lot of things to offer. It could make the reader think of their action towards their peers. It could make us realize the impact of our choices and decisions in life. Moreover, there are a lot of elements in this webtoon and if you only see the signs, you would understand where the characters are coming from. Aside from commending the author for choosing mental health as her reference of her art form, I am applauding her for standing up, and for believing on those people who are currently suffering from any forms of mental illness. And for using this media to raise awareness across the globe who are reading Unintentional Game.
“I wish people could understand that the brain is the most important organ of our body. Just because you can’t see mental illness like you could see a broken bone, doesn’t mean it’s not as detrimental or devastating to a family or an individual.” — Demi Lovato
IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL HEALTH
Let’s define what mental health is. According to World Health Organization, “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” And if one of the variables mentioned in the definition has been changed, it is no longer healthy one. It has been emphasized when I am still at university. To consider someone healthy, the person should be in a complete state of emotional and physical well-being. So, if a person is physically fit, it doesn’t mean that this person is healthy. We should also check the emotional stability of the person If you suspect someone who is currently struggling or suffering, reach out and listen, and try to evaluate the early signs. You can visit MentalHealth.gov’s article for more information regarding this issue.
Aside from educating, I would also like to give reminders on how you can help those people who are currently suffering from mental illness:
- Have empathy. Understanding someone even if this person is a mere stranger is one of the qualities that everyone should possess. Having empathy will lead to more understanding, then ask the person how he or she became the peson he or she right now. We don’t know everyone’s story. We don’t know what their problems are. The only thing that we should do is to accept the fact that we don’t have the position to judge every person around us. . A small problem for us could be a bigger problem for them. A big problem for us could be a smaller problem for them. Each one of us has a different coping mechanism. So, stay humble and kind.
“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” — R.J. Palacio, Author of Wonder
- Stop the Stigma. Most of the times, the reason why people who have MI don’t ask for help or professional help is because of the negative implication associated with this. Some would feel isolated, labeled, feel ashamed, resentful, and feel discriminated. Let’s talk openly to them and express that their situation will not hinder the friendship, and that they are not defined by their illness.
- Support Treatment and Raise Awareness. We should all need to realize that having this serious kind of issues are difficult to fight alone with. Indeed, it’s hard to open up with someone, but we should not forget that there is always help, and help is always available. It may be hard in the beginning but as you go alone, you will eventually see that there are people who will be there for you. So, stay alive and make the world a better place for all of us.
LOGIHY, THE CREATOR OF UNINTENTIONAL GAME
Hi! I’m Logihy. You might be wondering how to pronounce my pen name. It’s the shortcut for “Logically Hyper.” Now you know!
I’m a comic artist and illustrator based in the Philippines. I became interested in art when I discovered the anime Detective Conan in 4th grade, and up until now, it’s still my favorite. Then I started watching lots of anime. Most of them are “shounen” anime so you might notice that my art style looks kind of old school.
I didn’t go to art school. In fact, I have a degree in Psychology. And this is why I’m doing my comic called “Unintentional Game.” I wrote this comic to spread mental health awareness. It’s about a guy name Szanon Hailey, a sophomore Psychology major who wants to be friends with his classmate Alexis Go, who’s suffering from a mental illness. However, Szanon is unaware of Alexis’s condition, so his patience and understanding will be tested. Can he do it?
INTERVIEW WITH LOGIHY
- Out of all the platforms where you can publish your comic, what made you choose Line Webtoon as the platform for your webcomic Unintentional Game?
– I actually never heard of Line Webtoon until a friend suggested that I read his sister’s comic last year, 2018. That’s when I found out that you can self-publish your comic in that platform. I’ve always read manga and webtoons in free manga-viewing websites such as Mangafox, Kissmanga, Mangarock, etc. But I’m really grateful to my friend who told me about Line Webtoon, because without his recommendation, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.
- Do you have any particular inspiration when you are drafting, writing, or creating art for your story?
– I get inspired by different stories, shows, artworks, and artists. I find them really encouraging and I want to be better than them someday. I get motivated by my own feelings too. I always believe that I make the most beautiful, meaningful, and powerful art when I’m sad. So when I’m sad, I know that I have to express it by composing music, drawing, or writing. That’s what I do when I can’t put my feelings into words. Some people don’t feel like making art when they are down, but in my case, I get motivated.
And hey, let’s not forget about my faithful readers and fans. They’re the ones who inspire me the most while I‘m drawing episodes for my comic.
- Who or what are the things that influenced and encouraged you to start writing and making art?
– I grew up watching anime and reading manga. Those encouraged me to create my own story and artworks. My favorite anime is Detective Conan. I believe that most ’90s anime influenced my art style very much, but I’m pretty sure that Detective Conan influenced my style the most. In addition, it is my dream to write a crime/mystery comic someday. Right now, I’m writing Unintentional Game, a drama and romance comic, which aims to spread mental health awareness
- You are transparent regarding mental health awareness. For you, what do you think is the advantage of being transparent regarding mental health issues and one’s mental capability?
– Being transparent about it helps me spread mental health awareness in a fruitful way. You can educate a lot of people who are unaware and less knowledgeable about it, and you can help end the stigma that surrounds it. Many teens right now tend to self-diagnose. When they feel symptoms, they look them up on the internet, and if most of what they feel fit the criteria of a certain disorder, they assume that they have it. Therefore, they end up being anxious and paranoid because they think that they have that disorder. If you think you are suffering from a mental illness, seek professional help. Going to therapy should be the same as going to a doctor when you are ill. Going to therapy doesn’t make you crazy or insane. This is one of the stigmas that should end.
- If you were to teach the whole world one life lesson that you have been incorporating in your own life, what would it be?
– In everything I do, I make sure that there is love in it or else it’ll all be meaningless.
Before I teach, I make sure that I stand in front of my students prepared, motivated, and with love inside me so I can bring out the best in them. To teach is to transform lives. You have to do it with compassion, with extra patience, with extra effort, and with extra love.
Before I draw, write, or compose music, I always check if I still love doing it. There has to be love in it, or else what am I doing it for? To be read by people? To entertain them? To please others? I know that these are some of the reasons why some people make art, and I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, but if they’re only making art just to please others, to become famous, or to have more money, then I don’t find any good reason in continuing to do it. You have to do what you love, because doing so will give you happiness. Therefore, what I want to teach people is that in everything you do, do it with love.
- You’re not only an artist but you’re also an educator. Can you explain to us in detail the effects of having unstable mental health and how can we prevent this with this age and time?
– There could be a lot of effects. I used to work in a school setting, and I have observed that most teens and young adults are having a hard time focusing at school due to social, mental, emotional, and environmental issues. Here’s an example. Let’s say that Cris, a sophomore student failing most of her major subjects in university, gets little support from her friends. No one is helping her study and she’s not the type who can study on her own. She also had a boyfriend who recently broke up with her, and she comes from a family that basically controls her life. In this case, Cris lacks social support. Her support system is weak. Possible effects of this to her well-being include loss of motivation, loss of appetite, loss of interest in things she used to love, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, and even the consideration of doing self-harm.
Hence, to prevent something like this from happening to us, we can start by surrounding ourselves with positive people—people who genuinely care for us, who are there for us when we need them, and people who are good influences to us. Having a strong social support is very helpful. You will realize that you are not alone. I know that it’s hard to trust people when you think you can’t trust anyone but yourself, but there are people out there who are genuine and want the best for you, so you can try trusting and relying on them.
You also need to improve your mental strength. People might call it false positivity, but it’s actually not. For example, refrain from saying, “I can never do this. It’s impossible.” Instead, you can tell yourself, “With patience and effort, I know I can do it.” Our way of thinking influences our actions. You just have to find the right words to use.
- How do you respond to people trivializing mental health issues?
– There are many people who treat it lightly, and this is one of the reasons why I’m doing my webcomic. From time to time, I check the comments section of my comic and I see some ignorant comments. Some people who comment are just trolls, but you’ll know the difference if they’re trolls or if they just want to display their ignorance publicly. You’ll know they’re trolls when they make fun of the disorder itself by saying, “It’s all in your head. Think good thoughts,” and they’re ignorant when they compare a person suffering from mental illness to a normal person , or that they don’t need intervention because they’re just being “attention seekers.” In my comic, I don’t really respond to comments, but I’m grateful I have readers who explain and defend my comic from those ignorant people.
I respond to these serious topics on my Instagram, and my followers are happy to know that I am their ally and that I really care about the community. I think that famous people should do good things because they can influence the people who admire and follow them, so that’s what I do.
- How do you manage your time balancing your work, social life, and personal interests while making Unintentional Game and releasing one episode per week?
– Actually, I don’t know too, ha ha. I’m barely surviving! Lately, I got ulcer due to stress, and for a long time now ever since I started doing Unintentional Game, I’m battling my sleeping and eating problems. When I got sick last year, I looked for assistants, and I’m glad I found them. They make my life easier. Right now, I have two assistants, one who assists me on writing (because sometimes I get bewildered when I write so I need someone to check my work), and I have a coloring assistant who colors everything for me. I am very grateful to them.
- If you are to recommend further reading regarding mental health, what are some contents that you think will help us to be more aware of its impact?
– I always read on Psychology Today and Thought Catalog. They have great articles , which I find very useful for people of all ages. Here are some articles that I enjoyed reading:
- 15 Weird Signs You’re Actually Going To Be Really Successful Later In Life
- When You Feel Lost, Confused, And Unfulfilled This Is Exactly How You Change It
- 8 Signs of a Toxic Friendship
- Escape the Friend Zone: Going From “Just Friends” to More
- I know a lot of people who are brave, but sometimes, mental health issues get in their way of life. In your case, how do you cope and keep yourself sane despite your schedule and deadlines while considering your personal goals in life?
– I always believe that I’m a strong person because I have a strong support system. My family supports the decisions I make and they love me for who I am. And as I have mentioned above, I’m blessed to have my assistants who help me so it’s not that hard to manage my schedule. I also have supportive friends whom I can run to any time. That’s what friends are for. They stay with you not only when you’re successful, but they’re also there for you when you’re in chaos.
I take care of myself by spending time alone reading, resting, watching Netflix all day, sleeping, and treating myself to good restaurants or cafes. Let’s not be too hard on ourselves. Manage your time properly. Have time for family, friends, the people you influence, and most importantly, yourself.
- What made you decide to pursue Psychology as a degree? And what do you think is the importance of it nowadays?
– I chose Psychology with the thought “I want to become a detective!”, and because they said that you can read minds if you study it. So I’m like, “Hmm, interesting, must be fun.” And voila, that’s how I ended up in a science program. But we don’t read minds; we study behaviors, which makes it seem like we can read minds. However, as time went by, especially when I reached junior year, I told myself, “I can become a detective whenever I want after I graduate. But right now, I want to become a counselor. I want to help people.” After graduating, I became a teacher and a guidance counselor in a Catholic school. From there on, I started believing that I was born in this world to help others. That is my mission in life—to help people.
- How does it feel being one of the Filipino artists who was able to make an impact in the world through your story Unintentional Game?
– It is my pleasure being a positive influence to the world. I feel very blessed that I can share my experiences, creativity, and imagination through my comic. The honor is mine.
- How much research do you do when creating the storyline of your webtoon?
– Unintentional Game was a novel that I wrote four years ago but never published anywhere. What I do now is just bringing the novel into life. Nevertheless, I still do a lot of research. The learning never stops. But most research that I do is to improve dialogues for my characters. I want to put many unique quotable quotes, ha ha.
- Can you provide some initial sketches of Unintentional Game way back before it was published online?
– I have some on my Instagram. You can check them out there.
- Lastly, can you quote your favorite line from Unintentional Game and explain why you chose it?
–“Isn’t it admirable seeing people doing their best to overcome their own struggles? I find it beautiful when people try. It just proves that we’re human.” —Szanon Hailey
I chose this quote because it’s very powerful. Many people suffering from mental illness think that fighting it is pointless because they feel that they are worthless, helpless, hopeless, and all those kinds of negative feelings. But actually, they are very much more than that, and whenever they do their best to overcome their struggles, it shows how strong they are.
Facing your struggles is not a journey. It’s a fight and you have to be diligent to win.
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
If you think you need help or someone needs help, don’t hesitate to check out these sites:
For local, here in the Philippines, check out Silakbo’s compilation of the crisis hotlines, centers, and foundations that could help you.
For international, you can check out Cocoonais’ Mental Health Hotlines, Check Point’s Global emergency contact numbers, and International Bipolar Foundation’s List of Hotlines.