I believe there is also a place for representing softer people for whom the breakthrough in life is as simple as learning how to stand up for themselves. There are different ways to be strong.
New Zealand born and based, Rachel Smythe is the creator of the ongoing webtoon Lore Olympus, which she created in 2018. In 2021, it won the Harvey Digital Book of the Year award and in 2020 won the Ringo Best Webcomic award.
Since 2002, Smythe has persevered in creating and posting art over the years and has admitted it “takes a long time to break into the industry but […] it is not a race”. She gravitated towards comics as she had initially wanted to become a film director, but “a woman in her 30s living in NZ, who is already a graphic designer is kind of unrealistic to retrain to be a director”.
Lore Olympus is a modern-day deconstruction of the Greek mythological story of Persephone and Hades, where are both very attracted to each other but encounter lots of obstacles and family drama. Persephone is soft and relatable to people, a bit different to the typical strong female character, often depicted as heroic, fighting evil and doing backflips.
Visually, Smythe tried and tested various styles until she realised: “The way the webtoon is coloured is crucial to the way I tell the story. A lot of the atmosphere relies on the lighting and the colouring”. Smythe uses a limited palette of colour as she assigns a different colour for specific character creating a mosaic of bold and vivid colours, each of which has a specific function and complements each as the viewer scrolls between the infinite vertical i.o horizontal canvas, a distinctive feature of webcomics, that allow the viewer to seamlessly progress from one scene to another.