ALLI NESBIT: When you are making Muted, are you writing pages of scripts or do you storyboard as you go? Has your process for that evolved with experience?
MIRANDA MUNDT: When Muted started, I didn’t write scripts. I started writing them when I switched to Webtoon Originals because I wanted to be able to run my thoughts past my editor. I typically make edits between the script and storyboard because the pacing of panels and the flow of the conversation reads differently with the art as opposed to how you can ramble in text forever. Luckily, after the first handful of episodes, my editor was confident that I could go back to my usual process. So, my process has been, more or less, the same ever since.
AN: Your use of color is so vibrant, and your character gestures are always incredibly expressive. Did you develop these skills over time, or have they always been a strength?
MM: Color and expression have always been a part of my art, but obviously, they have been refined over time through trial and error. Gestures and expressions have always been incredibly important to me. They are the reasons why I studied animation. As for color, I always worry that my work appears too overpowering and over-saturated, but every time I try to be more subtle, I end up pumping the saturation back up anyway! Haha.
AN: Themes of self-acceptance, generational trauma, and found family are strongly represented in Muted. Are there any themes you’re looking forward to exploring in your upcoming Lydia Gray project?
MM: I think variations on the themes you mentioned will always be something I’m naturally drawn to, but Lydia’s self-acceptance is less about her identity and more about acknowledging how much pain she puts herself through by isolating herself. Camille in Muted kept a lot of her emotions buried deep inside, but she still has someone to confide in. Lydia lashes out, but she doesn’t have anyone. The trauma in Lydia’s story is less generational, but it’s still family related.
AN: What inspires your darker works? Where do you draw inspiration from in general?
MM: I feel emotions very intensely. I’m very conflict avoidant. And I don’t like being in pain. I think there is a deep emotional catharsis in being able to explore that sort of fear, rage, and pain in a fictional sandbox.
I’m a big fan of horror movies, shows, and games, but I’m also a fan of musicals and the ways they express intense feelings rather than hiding them or keeping them at surface level. I’m inspired by any media that approaches things with a deep sincerity that I can get lost in. I think that it’s a bit of a waste in fiction when something big happens and the emotions are just sort of written off or treated like a joke, like when a character keeps getting knocked down, but they never get a chance to be angry or cry. Why put a character through something if they aren’t allowed to actually wrestle with it in some capacity?
There is a feeling I get right in the middle of my ribs when I’m watching or playing something that makes me feel. Just a deep ache that almost makes it hard to breathe. Anything that makes me feel that—even for a brief moment—holds a special place in my heart.
AN: Do you have any getting-down-to-business rituals for when you’re starting your work for the day?
MM: Unfortunately, no. Haha. My schedule is wildly unregulated. My best chance is usually if I just jump right into it in hopes of entering a kind of trance state, which does happen on occasion. I’m fortunate that when I do work, I work quickly. So once I actually get into it, I can accomplish a lot. I’ve been a night owl my whole life, so my most productive times tend to be between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.
AN: Are you a work-in-silence kind of person or do you listen to music or podcasts?
MM: When I write, I have to write in silence, otherwise that sound will cancel out the characters trying to have a conversation in my head. When I really, really have to focus on something for an intense amount of time, then I tend to find one track to put on repeat. Otherwise, I’m listening to music or a YouTube video essay.
AN: What is your favorite stage of the comic process?
MM: Inking. Color and effects production is always a puzzle, and storyboarding is stressful, but the inking process is pretty peaceful. That’s when I know where everything is supposed to go. I just have to clean it up.
AN: Have you ever drawn a scene that surprised you by the time it was finished?
MM: Many times. While working on Muted, Athalie and Avaline always
surprised me the most. I never intended to have the story shift focus to either of them, but as the story unfolded itself, I realized how much more I wanted to dig into their heads. Many of those episodes are now my favorites.
You can find Muted on Webtoon. Also on Webtoon is LoveBot, a comic Miranda co-created with her partner, Chase Keels, which is soon returning for it’s third season. You can find updates about her new graphic novel project Welcome Home, Lydia Grey on her Patreon: patreon.com/anidoodles.
Art copyright © 2023 Miranda Mundt