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LySandra Vuong’s Journey from Webcomics to Print: Exploring the Success of COVENANT

photo output 35 scaled - LySandra Vuong's Journey from Webcomics to Print: Exploring the Success of COVENANT

Meet LySandra Vuong, the mastermind behind the wildly popular WEBTOON series, COVENANT. Known by fans as Explodikid, Vuong has taken the comic world by storm with her debut series, amassing over 21 million reads and 630,000 followers. COVENANT, which delves into themes of faith, destiny, and queer romance amidst a backdrop of demon-infested chaos, has captivated readers and critics alike. Now, thanks to the acclaimed Oni Press, this fan-favorite is set to leap from screens to shelves, with its first printed volume hitting bookstores this May.

COVENANT tells the tale of Erza, a disillusioned exorcist, and Sunny, a seemingly ordinary human with a hidden past, as they navigate a world where angels and demons are all too real. Vuong’s unique blend of supernatural action, slow-burn romance, and sharp wit makes for a thrilling read that’s both deeply emotional and wildly entertaining.

In this exclusive interview, we dive into LySandra Vuong’s creative journey, the inspirations behind COVENANT, and what fans can expect from the upcoming print release. Discover how this former mechanical engineer turned comic artist is redefining genres and making waves in the comic industry.

LySandra Vuong
LySandra Vuong” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Exclusive interview with LySandra Vuong

Toons Mag: Can you tell us about your journey as a comic artist and writer leading up to the creation of COVENANT?

LySandra Vuong: In 2019, I was working in biotech and had 1 more year of engineering school left to complete my degree. Problem was, I was miserable so I began to plot my escape. I set out to teach myself how to draw at an industry appropriate level and started conceptualizing a webcomic to practice my skills. I filled it with all the things I knew and loved: tattoos, fight scenes, exorcists and demons, Catholicism, and queer romance, and thus Covenant was born! A supernatural action comic about hot priests and even hotter demons! 

Toons Mag: What inspired the concept of COVENANT, particularly its blend of supernatural elements and queer romance?

LySandra Vuong: I’ve always been interested in the idea of demons and priests and exorcisms, probably because of my religious upbringing. It didn’t help that there were some EPIC stories being told about them, like the manga Ao No Exorcist or the slew of YA novel series about fallen angels I grew up with. It only made sense to add some queer rep into those kinds of stories! With everything I love and everything I make, I will always find a way to make it queer. 

COVENANT
COVENANT by LySandra Vuong

Toons Mag: How did you come up with the characters of Erza and Sunny, and what influenced their personalities and dynamics?

LySandra Vuong: I am a sucker for a good Grumpy/Sunshine couple trope. Though I have never been able to relate to a character who was sunshine through and through, so Ezra’s got this bit of darkness and uncertainty inside of him. Sunny is based on a past version of myself, the edgelord teenager version of me that never came out the other side.

With Sunny and Ezra, I wanted to explore the dynamics of someone who was self-sacrificing to a fault and someone who seems immensely selfish but has always been acting from a similar self-sacrificing standpoint. 

Toons Mag: COVENANT has garnered immense popularity on WEBTOON with millions of readers and followers. What do you attribute to its success?

LySandra Vuong: I strongly believe that if you create the things you want to see in the world, no matter how weird or wacky or taboo, there are people out there who also want to see it! I also believe in being your own biggest fan, even if you don’t necessarily always believe it. 

A huge portion of my readers I garnered from going out on social media and simply being Covenant’s biggest fan. I posted videos, art, memes of it as if it were any other popular manga or anime, and that resonated with hundreds of thousands of people, who then started reading my comic! 

COVENANT
COVENANT by LySandra Vuong

Toons Mag: As the creator of COVENANT, what themes and messages were you aiming to convey through the story?

LySandra Vuong: At a basic level I just wanted to explore what good and evil are, especially within institutions that essentially exist to define the line between them. What’s the difference between an angel and a demon? What’s the difference between a cult and a religion? What separates the faithful and the faithless?

Toons Mag: Can you elaborate on the process of transitioning COVENANT from a webcomic to a printed volume with Oni Press?

LySandra Vuong: Translating a scrolling comic to print format was one of my biggest concerns at first. But then I saw the work Miranda Mundt was doing as a layout designer on a friend’s graphic novel project, and knew that if I had them format my comic, it would turn out amazing. I recommended them to Oni Press and it absolutely did turn out amazing! Miranda is a webtoon creator themselves with a strong eye for graphic design so they did a phenomenal job translating my extremely vertical layouts into page layouts!

Toons Mag: What was your reaction when you learned Oni Press would publish COVENANT in print for the first time?

LySandra Vuong: I was so shocked, honestly. For a long time, I had considered webcomics my only option because of how untraditional the work I wanted to make was. At the time, few publishers were interested in an anime/western comics blended art style, much less one that illustrated a queer, supernatural action story. I’m so ecstatic and thankful to Oni Press for taking a chance with my series!

COVENANT
COVENANT by LySandra Vuong

Toons Mag: How did you approach designing the all-new cover art for the print edition of COVENANT?

LySandra Vuong: Believe it or not, conveying all the elements of the book in just 1 illustration is quite difficult. Just one picture to communicate that the book is about priests, but the priests have tattoos, and the tattoos are actually magic weapons, and the weapons come OUT of the tattoo, and also there is a strange not quite human character haunting the plot…it took several sketches to get to something that captured it all! The ripping apart sleeve is also a motif I tend to rely on. It just looks epic! 

Toons Mag:  COVENANT explores themes of faith, destiny, and identity. How do these themes resonate with you personally?

LySandra Vuong: All my life, I struggled with my faith, badly. I felt like I could never quite internalize it all, but wanted to, desperately. This struggle I essentially implanted in Ezra. 

I’ve also always been tormented by the idea of what I SHOULD do. My parents and society always pushed me to do something ‘respectable’ for my career. I had to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. In the end, I rejected all of their plans for me and carved out my own path. This is the perspective I’m writing Covenant from. 

Toons Mag: What challenges did you face while creating COVENANT, and how did you overcome them?

LySandra Vuong: Covenant is my first attempt at writing any story ever. The first draft of it was so nonsensical, I still to this day don’t understand how it got picked up for digital publishing. Just attempting to organize the story was a struggle. My webcomic editor Bre Boswell was immensely helpful and essentially showed me the ropes of plotting and scripting to make the final draft you read today!

Also, the deadlines were a struggle. The weekly deadlines required in digital publishing burned me out badly. I’d tell my graphic novelist friends about them and they would be scared for me! These days I’m doing much better by taking longer breaks in between seasons.

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Written by Sondre Borg

I'm Sondre Borg, but you can call me Sondre. I'm a cheerful Norwegian Digital Nomad and writer, ready to embark on exciting adventures through words and pixels! 🌍✍️

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