I recently started watching ‘W’, a Korean drama that aired in 2016. It’s a good show and I highly recommend you watch it (on Viki for free), even if you don’t normally watch Korean dramas, but I’m not talking about it today. The comic in the show is actually in a specific format known as a ‘webtoon’, which kind of made me want to talk about them a bit.
Webtoons originated in South Korea in the early 2000s simply as an easier method of reading web comics. Instead of clicking an arrow to go to the next page, you just continue scrolling down until the end of the chapter. Just like TV shows, webtoons are usually released in a series of weekly ‘episodes’ split into ‘seasons’, which is kind of nice, since it allows the author to actually have a bit of a break without just stopping the story entirely. Artists on some sites also have the option to have soundtrack playing as the readers scroll, which, in my opinion, can greatly enhance the reading experience. Despite gaining more-or-less mainstream popularity in Asia, they only seem to have picked up in the west relatively recently with the advent of apps like Tapas (formerly Tapastic) and LINE Webtoon.
LINE Webtoon itself is the worldwide version of the webtoon service by Naver (like a Korean version of Yahoo and the owners of the LINE messaging app), which is currently the largest in Korea. The app and website were launched in 2014, offering webtoons by artists from around the world with translations into over 20 different languages, as well as a ‘Discover’ section for amateur artists hoping to be, well, discovered. Did I mention that it’s entirely free AND legal? (I just don’t understand why there are people uploading and reading webtoons on MangaFox and the like when they could have a much better experience AND support the artist FOR FREE)
If you’re interested but not sure where to start, here are a few of my personal favourites to get you started:
A drama about a high school girl too poor to even afford new stockings who meets a magician.
My very first webtoon and probably the most beautiful comic I’ve ever seen. If you read this, you’ll understand what is truly possible with infinite scrolling.
It only has 27 episodes so you can read it in a day.
A high school sports drama about an unlikely group that form a bike racing crew.
It’s great for fans of sports anime. You’d be surprised how well the speed is conveyed in just a series of pictures.
It currently has about 120 episodes over 2 seasons with a new episode every Monday.
A series of shorts that make up a romantic comedy set in the 19th century.
I’ve been following this since it was in Discover last year and I can’t recommend it highly enough for any romance fans out there.
Right now, there are about 40 episodes and updates every Saturday, however, the first season just ended so it’s currently on hiatus.
A psychological drama about a psychology professor lacking emotions and the cases he deals with at the university’s counselling centre.
It covers more realistic and seemingly mundane stuff, but trust me, it gets pretty intense.
There is a Korean drama, however, it follows more of a crime drama type route and it sort of spoils the comic, since the English release is quite far behind the Korean (it might even be completed…)
There are about 120 episodes and a new episode comes out every Saturday.
A series of events and a curse drag a girl into the world of sirens (mermaids).
An unmistakably shoujo-type story for those romantics who like a bit of the supernatural thrown in. If you like it, you should also check out her other (and first) comic ‘Where Tangents Meet’. Both comics make excellent use of soundtrack made by some guy called Kenny, who seems to do most of the soundtrack for comics on Webtoon.
It has about 60 chapters and updates every Saturday.
A Few More
There are so many others, so I hope you don’t mind if I drop a few more titles I like: