Comic Book Curious

Webtoon, and You: Why You Need To Make Webcomics

September 8, 2021

When the pandemic started, I was working for a banking company in Springfield, MO. Things got serious in the midwest, and they moved all of their customer service representatives to remote positions. As soon as that happened, everything hit the fan, and I was stuck at a job I hated, with no tools to make it work. It was one of the biggest dead ends I have ever been in my entire life, and I was looking for a way out. Since I was 9, I always wanted to make comics, but it never seemed possible. Until I quit my day job and I found Webtoon.

Webtoon is a Korean based digital comic book site that hosts an endless library of free webcomics for you to enjoy. Unlike mainstream American comics, Webtoon gives western readers a look into a more diverse catalogue of titles and genres.Their biggest hits include: Let’s Play, Bluechair and Tower of God. You get access to fantasy books, slice of life comics, romance stories and everything in between. Even if you are not a writer, this is a must see for any and all comic book fans.

A selection of characters from various Webtoons comics

Credit: Webtoons

But almost more importantly, it offers creators a space to put out their work without the hassle of comic book publishing. I took both my comics, Odinson and The Sentinel to Webtoon and found more success and interaction than I ever thought I would as a creator. And it is because of Webtoons very simple, very unique style of comic book creation, that you won't find anywhere else.

The process is a simple one: You take your comic book pages, size them correctly, and upload them onto the site as easy as sending a tweet. One of the most intriguing reactive choices on Webtoon is their emphasis on mobile reading. This offers creators the chance to explore the space of the page in ways that physical comics don't always offer. The orientation of the pages leads to a number of comics having an unending, single panel feel to them.

Second to the orientation of the page is Webtoon’s unique way of releasing their titles. Creators are given a very finite amount of room for each post, so rather than releasing a full single issue, you can break up your comic into smaller, bite sized chunks. These smaller chunks are referred to as “Episodes” by Webtoon. Despite being very different from how we are used to comics, they are an amazing tool that creators can use to help them hone their craft and make better stories.

At first, my American superhero comics brain was unable to understand why the site would want to do something like this, but after using Webtoon it makes perfect sense. These smaller pieces of larger issues give creators control of their work pace and ensures that they can do more with less material. My artist for Odinson, Chris Jones, had just started a new position at his job when things picked up on the Webtoon, so he wasn’t able to commit to a long form, single issue release schedule like we who read Big Two comics are used to. With Webtoon, that single issue was split into seven parts and released over the course of several months. This helped us build a pretty loyal fan base with little more than 5 pages per post.

The cover to Issue One of Odinson

Credit: Saturn Press Comics

This formatting helped me learn one of the most principal techniques of comic writing, which is keeping your audience hooked on every page through the whole book. Since I was made to break up my issues into chapters, I changed my entire writing style to fit that system. Here, every 5 or 7 pages of my comic had a beginning, middle and end, but always left the reader wanting more, or did it’s best to end on a cliffhanger. This marriage of release style and writing technique gave me the ability to create something engaging every time we posted a new episode.

The freedom that Webtoon offers is a beautiful thing, but one that can take a lot of time to see returns on. Unfortunately, Webtoon doesn't pay the creators for the work that they do. Instead, books that do well on the site are given the option to hold sponsors that can help pay for the creation of the book, and Webtoon seems to have a close relationship with Patreon as they offer a very distinct, very hard to miss spot where creators can place their donation links. This was a big help to me and my team when we were looking for ways to fund the book. Once your Patreon is set up, it is little more than a few clicks before all your readers get to see the link at the end of each episode.

Like most social media, Webtoon offers direct engagement between readers and creators. This is in the form of the comments sections which are at the bottom of each and every episode posted. Here, fans can go in depth about their favorite parts of the books, what they would change and they can ask questions. These interactions are some of the most important parts of creating on Webtoon, and will no doubtedly lead you to becoming a better creator. In both my books, but especially The Sentinel, the comments helped my team make sure we were telling the best story that we could, simply by showing us any holes in our story that we could then turn around and fix in real time. This is a beautiful thing that published books aren't always given.

Cover to Issue One of The Sentinel

Credit: Saturn Press Comics

The world of comic book publishing is a vast, and sometimes overwhelming ocean. Young artists and writers are forced to become their own agent and marketing team, and oftentimes, months of work will go into a pitch just to receive a no. This is what led me and my team to look for better options online, and the success of my two creator owned books. Something that would not happen if not for Webtoon. If you are looking to create a comic, but don’t know where to start, I cannot recommend this website enough.

I encourage anyone looking to start their own webcomic to read as much as they can on Webtoon to get more ideas about how to publish your book. You can even start here with issue one of The Sentinel and Odinson.

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