Logo of the website
Type of site
|Available in||Korean, Chinese, English, Indonesian, Japanese, Thai|
|Created by||JunKoo Kim|
|Alexa rank||2,447 (02/2017)|
Line Webtoon (stylized as LINE WEBTOON) is a webtoon portal launched by Naver Corporation in Korea in 2005. The service gained a large amount of traction during the late 2000s and early 2010s. The service first launched in Korea as Naver Webtoon and then globally as Line Webtoon in July 2014 as the Naver brand is not well known outside the country and some of its services are also not available outside of Korea. In 2016, Naver's webtoon service entered the Japanese market as XOY and the Chinese market as Dongman Manhua.
Line Webtoon was founded by JunKoo Kim in 2005, under the name "Webtoon", after he watched the manhwa industry crash in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Kim, who grew up reading Japanese manga and Korean superhero comics, was looking for a way to get new comics created because he found that there were very few new comics coming out. Kim theorized that tall, scrollable comics would work well on the World Wide Web, as users were already used to scrolling through web pages. Because of this unusual layout, Kim initially had difficulty finding artist to create webtoons on his service, but he found that manhwaga were willing to do something different because of the poor state of the local manhwa industry.
Though content on Line Webtoon is entirely creator-owned, search engine/web portal Naver Corporation profits from the website through various revenue models, ranging from online advertising to selling intellectual property rights and featuring its characters in other media.
On July 2, 2014, the Line Webtoon website and mobile app were launched worldwide; shortly later, international artists became able to upload their own works to the service. Naver Corporation selected 42 webtoons (including Noblesse, Tower of God, and The God of High School) and one new webtoon by an American artist to be available on the service in English at launch. According to 148 Apps, the service offered "plenty of content" at launch, as seven to ten webtoons were updated each day and the webtoons spanned various genres.
In 2015, Naver partnered with US comics veteran Stan Lee, Image Comics co-founder Marc Silvestri, and make-up artist Michelle Phan in order to promote their service. Silvestri brought his long-running comics series Cyber Force to the platform. Various other established American comic book artists and cartoonists have also partnered with Naver over time, including Dean Haspiel (New Brooklyn), Katie Cook (Nothing Special), Seth Kushner and Shamus Beyale (The Brooklynite), and Tracy J. Butler (Lackadaisy).
In September 2016, Line Webtoon partnered with the Patreon crowdfunding service, incorporating a "Patreon button" in the "Discover" portion of the website. This function creates an easier channel for readers to support webtoons they enjoy. Naver invested US$3.6 million and $1,000 every following month for webtoon creators who reached a certain threshold of activity and popularity with a Patreon page. One month later, Naver signed with the Creative Artists Agency for film and television opportunities in the United States.
Line Webtoon also partnered with DeviantArt in the second half of 2016, in the form of the "Artist Alley Tour". The companies were active at four Comic Cons: Boston Comic Con, Baltimore Comic Con, Rose City Comic Con, and New York Comic Con. Here, Line Webtoon and DeviantArt held discussion panels, "Artist Alley Sponsorships", live draw events, influencer and creator demonstration areas, and on-site contests.
The userbase of Line Webtoon grew rapidly after the service was released globally, with 10 million people using the website or app each day. In Asia, several webtoons receive 5 million views per week. In 2016, 42% of the webtoon creators on Line Webtoon were female, as were 50% of its 6 million active daily readers.
Naver Corporation has held various comics competitions through its Webtoon service. In 2015, Line launched the "Challenge League", a recurring competition where amateur artists have the chance to become an "official LINE webtoon artist", as well as win tens of thousands of US Dollars. Over 19,000 people joined the first English-language Challenge League in February 2015, which was won by Stephen McCranie's Space Boy. Local Challenge Weeks were also held; the first Thai Challenge League was held in April 2015 and had a grand prize of 1 million baht.
In June 2015, Naver Corporation hosted the Science Fiction Comics Contest, a global competition with a grand prize of $30,000 USD. JunKoo Kim called science fiction, the theme of the competition, "both the broadest and fastest-growing area in comics and entertainment, [and thus] a natural fit as the genre for our second comics contest." This contest had over 800 entrants and was won by Srinitybeast's Overdrive.
Various movies, Korean dramas, animated series, and video games have been produced based on webtoons released on Naver Corporation's service. According to JunKoo Kim in 2014, "a total of 189 books, videos and games based on Naver webtoons have either been produced or are in the process of being made." However, Line Webtoon's first entry of video content in the United States came in 2016, in the form of an animated film based on Noblesse.
On 7 November 2016, Air Seoul announced that it had collaborated with Line Webtoon to produce pre-flight safety demonstration videos. Some of the works featured in these include Denma, The Sound of Heart, and Noblesse.
- Acuna, Kristen (2016-02-12). "Millions in Korea are obsessed with these revolutionary comics -- now they're going global". Business Insider.
- "Popular Mobile Webcomic Service, LINE Webtoon, Debuts in the United States and Worldwide". PR Newswire. 2014-07-02.
- Brown, Elizabeth (2014-08-23). "Op-Ed: LINE Webtoon, a Web comic service, makes U.S. and global debut". Digital Journal.
- Allen, Jennifer (2014-07-15). "LINE Webtoon Review". 148 Apps.
- Gustines, George Gene (2015-07-05). "Stan Lee and Michelle Phan Help Line Webtoon, Digital Comics Site, Expand in U.S." The New York Times.
- Lovett, Jamie (2015-07-06). "Stan Lee Helping Korean Digital Comics Site Expand Into The U.S." Comicbook.com.
- Wilson, Matt D. (2015-08-31). "Marc Silvestri Brings 'Cyber Force' To LINE Webtoon". Comics Alliance.
- MacDonald, Heidi (2015-10-07). "LINE Webtoon launches the New Brooklyn comics line". Comics Beat.
- Johnston, Rich (2016-09-30). "Katie Cook's Nothing Special Comes To LINE WebToon Next Year – And Debuts At NYCC". Bleeding Cool.
- MacDonald, Heidi (2016-11-16). "LINE Webtoon launches The Brooklynite by Kushner and Bayale". Comics Beat.
- Heidi, MacDonald (2016-08-01). "LINE Webtoon and Patreon team up to invest up to $3,600,000 in webcomics". Comics Beat.
- Jusino, Teresa (2016-08-01). "LINE Webtoon and Patreon Partner to Support and Develop Digital Comic Creators". The Mary Sue.
- Spangler, Todd (2016-08-31). "Korea's LINE Webtoon Digital-Comics Publisher Signs With CAA for TV and Film Projects". Variety.
- Jusino, Teresa (2016-08-08). "LINE Webtoon and DeviantArt Announce "Artist Alley Tour" to Support and Showcase Digital Comic Creators". The Mary Sue.
- Lovett, Jamie (2016-08-09). "LINE Webtoon Teams With DeviantArt For Convention Tour". Comicbook.com.
- Arrant, Chris (2016-08-22). "Inside LINE Webtoon & Its 10 Million Daily Readers". Newsarama.
- MacDonald, Heidi (2016-02-29). "LINE Webtoon: readership is 50% female". Comics Beat.
- Johnston, Rich (2016-02-29). "42% Of LINE Webtoon's Comic Creators Are Female – And Half Are Read By Women". Bleeding Cool.
- "LINE Webtoon Announces Winners of $50,000 Contest Celebrating the Launch of Challenge League". PR Newswire. 2015-02-02.
- Akin (2015-04-08). "Line Webtoon allows cartoonists, users to win big". Bangkok Post.
- Cox, Corolyn (2015-06-09). "This Science Fiction Comics Contest May Be Relevant to Your Interests". The Mary Sue.
- Steinbeiser, Andrew (2015-08-04). "Line Webtoon Reveals Science Fiction Comics Contest Winner". Comicbook.com.
- "LINE Webtoon Debuts Animated Adaptation of Noblesse on Crunchyroll". Anime News Network. 2016-02-05.
- "에어서울, '웹툰 캐릭터 등장' 기내 안전영상 제작" (in Korean). Money Today. 2016-11-07.