You may think of comics as panels in a newspaper or as physical serialized issues featuring superheroes, but today, a new trend has taken hold in the form of Webtoons. While the concept of online comics is not a new thing, one comic app in particular is transforming the way readers consume this content.
Launched in South Korea in 2004, LINE Webtoon features full-color comics drawn in continuous vertical strips optimized for easy reading on a smartphone or computer. This scrolling format frees creators from layout restrictions, allowing authors more space to experiment with things like tempo and flow.
“It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to do the scroll, but people that create content and deliver content should always think in terms of how the creators or how users will consume the content,” said Webtoon founder JunKoo Kim to Business Insider. “During this time in the early 2000s, when most of content creators were still on PC, you would read and consume a lot of digital content by scrolling down on your mouse. To read news, you don’t flip a page, you often scroll through and read your news. Although comics are a mix of image and text, I think text is the one that drives the narrative so it just makes sense that you would read a comic in a scroll manner.”
Titles are published online on a regular schedule ranging from once to twice a week. But the best part about Webtoons? Unlike print-based comic publications, which can be pricey, readers can access thousands of Webtoon titles completely free.
Despite having its origins in South Korea in 2004, the app wasn’t launched overseas until 2014 when founder JunKoo Kim realized there was a demand. The app’s popularity overseas has been rising ever since, and today, there are over 50 million readers around the world.
“We have the content so the audience comes,” Head of Content Tom Akel says of the overall appeal of the platform. “The second half of that, which I think is probably true, is the ease and accessibility of our content. It’s on your phone, it’s on your computer, there’s no barrier to entry. You just get it wherever you want.”
The app is a welcoming space for new creators, as its feature Webtoon Canvas, provides an “open platform where anyone can publish anytime,” making comic publication extremely accessible to creators around the world. There are thousands of Canvas creators on Webtoon, and each month, editors from LINE Webtoon reach out to selected Canvas creators to offer the opportunity to become an Originals creator. Originals creators have access to more features and support. They are guaranteed monthly compensation as well as marketing, PR, and editorial support. Though it is a competitive market, Webtoon offers an opportunity for creators to make a living off their work, a dream come true for many.
Webtoon titles, published and translated in up to 32 languages, feature diverse characters from all walks of life. And Webtoon readers aren’t restricted to just one or two genres. In fact, there are sixteen to choose from, ranging from fantasy, thriller, romance, and more.
Webtoon says on their website, “We started a whole new way to create stories and opened it up to anyone with a story to tell. We’re home to thousands of creator-owned content with amazing, diverse visions from all over the world… We’re available anywhere, anytime, and always for free.”
Through its accessibility and diversity of content, Webtoon provides innovation to the world of comics and opens up the medium to a new generation of readers and creators all over the world.
Want to check out Webtoon for yourself? Visit the website or download the app for free! Happy reading!
2 thoughts on “Webtoon – Innovation in the World of Comics”
Hi there Audrey, I’m arayakim, creator of the decently popular superhero webtoon, The Remarkable Rabbit Boy on LINE Webtoon.
Here’s a link if you want to check it out: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/the-remarkable-rabbit-boy/list?title_no=472539
I just wanted to address this part of your article:
“The content on Webtoon is ‘100% creator-owned,’ and all of the content creators are paid.”
That’s not exactly the case. You see, LINE Webtoon creators are classified into two categories.
The first category is for Featured Original creators, such as Uru-chan, creator of UnOrdinary, and Rachel Smythe, creator of Lore Olympus. These Featured Original creators get paid a monthly salary by LINE Webtoon, and earn ad revenue on their webtoons. Because their works are promoted by LINE Webtoon, they also get large followings on their Patreon pages, and LINE Webtoon even match-contributes to their Patreon pages up to a certain amount. Many Featured Original creators are quite well-paid.
The second category is for Canvas creators, which the vast majority of LINE Webtoon creators are. Canvas creators include people such as myself, arayakim, creator of The Remarkable Rabbit Boy, and ComfortandAdam, creator of The Uniques.
Canvas creators do not get a salary from LINE Webtoons. Some Canvas creators like myself can earn a little bit from our Patreon pages, and if our webtoons get really popular, Canvas creators can also earn some share of the revenue from the ads displayed on our webtoons.
As expected, the majority of Canvas creators do not earn anything at all for their content. This can be due to their webtoons being of low quality or their work simply not being popular. Very few Canvas creators earn even a single dollar for their work, and even fewer can make a living off of it.
Every month, LINE Webtoon chooses a handful of Canvas creators from the thousands of Canvas creators on the site, and then offer those creators the chance to become Featured Original creators. This is of course the goal of many Canvas creators who want to make a living off our work, myself included.
Sorry this turned into such a long post, I just wanted to make it clear that LINE Webtoon is actually quite competitive and that not everyone gets paid.
Thank you for the clarification! I will revise the blog post so that it accurately reflects Webtoon.