Boyfriends. by refrainbow is the story of Goth, Prep, Jock, and Nerd, four college students who are boyfriends. The upcoming Boyfriends. Vol 2, scheduled for publication by WEBTOON Unscrolled on April 23rd, 2024, collects episodes 56 through 100 of the hit WEBTOON series.

To celebrate the cover reveal for Boyfriends. Vol 2, which you can see for yourself below this interview, The Beat caught up with refrainbow over email. We asked about the origin of Boyfriends., about what went into refrainbow’s creative routine, and about the influence that the Pokémon series might have had on the comic!

AVERY KAPLAN: What was the origin of Boyfriends.?

refrainbow: It started as a simple idea—I wanted to make some original characters for myself. I wanted to make something that I can call mine. I wanted to make something self indulgent, and if others can share the same enthusiasm, then that would be great. But where do I really start?

The Goth-Prep-Jock-Nerd axis came to mind. It circulated a lot in social media at the time, with people assigning existing characters to either one of these classifications (or anything in between). I thought, hey, those archetypes are common in lots of other media, and I want to try my hand in making characters like that. I wasn’t really trying to reinvent the wheel and make anything new or unique, I just wanted something that I could have fun with. 

However, after I made the drawing of the characters, I thought that it needed a little bit more spice. What if I paired them with each other and made them kiss? I thought that exploring different romantic dynamics between characters would be really fun! And thus, the second drawing was made and Boyfriends. was born. 

KAPLAN: What has it been like having the story adapted to print?

refrainbow: Having the story in print is something that I already expected down the line. In fact, I had a limited self-published version of the first few chapters printed out early on for me to sell at comic conventions. The Boyfriends. episodes are drawn in print format first, and after the artwork is done, the panels are arranged in scroll-format for WEBTOON. Because of this, the print format is readily available and there weren’t a lot of challenges in the web-to-print adaptation.

Being published by WEBTOON Unscrolled, however, is something that did surprise me. I never even thought of having my comic being out in physical stores, and that is a pretty cool opportunity. 

The hardest hurdle was editing out the pop culture references I made in the comic. Copyright is way stricter in print, it seems. There was a lot I had to edit out, simply because I am a reference machine with no single original thought in my life.

KAPLAN: I realize this may be impossible to answer, but do you have a favorite character?

refrainbow: Short answer is Goth, he is my favorite overall. He’s probably the closest thing I have to a self-insert. I dress like him, draw him in clothes I’d like to wear, give him my own interests, and make a running joke that he is the one making the Boyfriends. comic. He’s me when juiced up with confidence. I also get to explore a lot of my gender feelings through him.

A lot of people seem to think that it’s Nerd, not sure why… Maybe it’s because of my online persona? I feel like I have to be more cheerful and enthusiastic online… but those who follow my side accounts would agree I’m more of Goth than Nerd. He is however, my favorite to draw, since he’s the most colorful out of all of them.

Special mention to the other two—Jock is my favorite to sketch, because he’s the most shapely, and Prep is my favorite to write. I think he’s the most interesting character with the biggest arc out of all of them. 

KAPLAN: Do you have a special snack or any other kind of routine you practice to fuel your work?

refrainbow: I get myself a cup (or three, if I want to stock up) of jasmine green tea, hunker down, and work. I drink it cold without sugar. I might have more tea than blood in my veins.

KAPLAN: I see from your website that you are also a Pokémon fan. Can you share a bit about your history with the franchise?

refrainbow: Pokémon has a special place in my heart. It’s a series I’ve been a fan of since I was a child, and followed into adulthood. Because of my exposure to it, Pokémon had a huge impact on my style! My characters are usually drawn in a similar proportion to Pokémon character designs (specifically, the trainers/humans).

One anecdote is I had a viral tweet where I drew Grammy stars as Pokémon trainers, and I had articles written about it all over the internet. That was a fun 5 seconds of internet fame. 

I’m planning to get a Rayquaza tattooed on my arm sometime. It’s my favorite Pokémon overall.

KAPLAN: What was it like to see merch with your characters for sale at Hot Topic?

refrainbow: Well, I haven’t really seen it with my own eyes, so it hasn’t really hit me, to be honest. I’ve had experience making merchandise and selling them through an online store before. The only difference would be that it’s sold in retail now. Maybe if I get to see it in real life, then I’ll be exponentially excited. WEBTOON Unscrolled, I’m available if you would invite me to visit the US 😊 

KAPLAN: What does the future hold for Boyfriends.? Can you give us any hints?

refrainbow: I’m gonna take a loooooong break after this season on WEBTOON. I guess I have this to offer?


Boyfriends. Vol 2 cover

Boyfriends. Vol 2 is available for preorder today!