As online comics continue to enjoy roaring success as they amass millions of readers, several webcomic/webtoon platforms are looking to parlay that success into print. The South Korean global comics platform, WEBTOON was one of the first major webcomic platforms to pivot into print publishing with Webtoon Unscrolled.
Launched in 2022, Webtoon Unscrolled is a US-based publishing venture that aims to bring many of WEBTOON’s popular series into print in the North American market. Among the popular series launched to print included True Beauty, Tower of God, and Cursed Princess Club. Unscrolled’s plan is to publish 20 ongoing series by the end of 2024
Webtoon’s readership tends to skew young and female, which perhaps explains the popularity of the romance genre on their platform. However the platform does enjoy a wide variety of genres including slice of life, comedy, fantasy, science fiction, and horror.
Webcomic creators do love the idea of expanding their audience especially when you consider the fact that they have a built-in advantage as noted by Spike Trotman, the publisher of Iron Circus, an American graphic novel publisher, based out of Chicago.
“Webcomics actually have an unfair advantage over straight-to-print titles,because they have established audiences who are usually excited to support their creators.”
However there is one challenge that publishers face in translating webcomics into print. Reformatting the comics. The hallmark of most webtoons is their vertical style format. Many of them have to be converted to a more traditional, horizontal format. Also pacing in a webcomic is entirely different from pacing in a graphic novel. In spite of these challenges, a growing number of publishers are coming to the conclusion that the juice is worth the squeeze when it comes to translating webcomics into print.
Webcomics are becoming a fertile ground for finding new original storytelling. So it comes as no surprise to see more and more traditional graphic novel publishers venturing into the new world of online comics.