Telling the story of Honbarian

Telling the story of Honbarian

“They say home isn’t a place; it’s a feeling. But I don’t know what it feels like. I must have it before. Before ‘they’ sailed across the agres and destroyed my hometown.”

Thus begins the story of Andrea, a fiery red-headed girl who lost her family after Honbarians razed her hometown of Corhan. The story follows Andrea’s journey to finding herself.

Set in a fantasy and historical world, Honbarian is a masterpiece with over three million views on Webtoon, a comic-sharing platform. Read by 56,000 loyal readers, the story of Andrea and the Honbarians has amassed a global following.

Little do people know that a Cebuano interior designer created this successful webtoon series when she was a teenager.

A teenager’s dream

Lily Mae Young-Catan, (pen name: Olive Coat) began writing Honbarian in her first year of high school. It started as a personal project after she received a notebook as a gift.

She began to sketch the story of Andy slowly, with a few friends and classmates as the first avid readers.

“I just wanted to fill the notebook. It started with sketches, and then the story of Honbarian began to come out,” she said.

The years went by and from one notebook, Honbarian was sketched across five notebooks in total before Lily took a hiatus to study college.

“Eventually I got stuck in five books. I didn’t know how to end the story. At that time, I also did not have much spare time because I was about to start college,” said Lily.

Time caught up and Lily lived an illustrious career as an interior designer 10 ten years after getting a college degree. Honbarian took a back seat and settled as a memory of Lily’s teenage dream.

Pandemic strikes

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the world by storm in 2020 and forced many industries to slow down. This included Lily and her interior design career.

Suddenly, Lily had more time for herself, her husband, and her creativity. A friend sold her a used Ipad that soon became Lily’s creative best friend.

Lily began to sketch from memory with Honbarian front and center in her art. She also found Webtoon and began to upload “test episodes” to see how readers would react to her art.

The test would turn into a full-blown series as Lily began uploading more and more episodes of Honbarian into Webtoon.

“It began with hitting the first 1,000 readers, and then eventually they just grew and grew,” said Lily.

Two years since 2020, Honbarian has 111 episodes as of the time of writing.

Creative economy

With the support of her husband, who is also an interior designer, Lily decided to shift her career and work full-time on Honbarian, especially now that she earns from ads on Webtoon.

“I am fortunate for my family’s support. Interior design was a really good source of income, but Honbarian gave me freedom and it also provides sufficient income for it to become a full-time career,” she said.

Lily said the creative work can be challenging especially when she needs to create content regularly. As of now, she releases episodes every two weeks.

She also opened a Patreon account for those who want to support her work.

Through ads and Patreon, Lily sees herself working on her creative products for the long term. Although it can be a risky career move, she says the freedom of creating art is a worthy investment.

As she writes about Andrea’s journey to finding herself, Lily also journals her self-discovery.

Jumping from a successful professional career to a rising creative career, Lily is making her mark in the Cebu creative industry.


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