Web comic portal Webtoon and streaming service Crunchyroll are partnering to produce animated series based on the former’s catalogue of content. Although the name of the portal the comics are published on, webtoon is also a technical term used to describe Korean comics (also known as manhwa) published digitally, where instead of the panel layout of print comics and most western web comics, each issue of a Webtoon is published in a single vertical strip, better to be read via scrolling on a smartphone screen.
Webtoon was founded in 2005 in the wake of Korea’s manhwa industry all but collapsing in the late ‘90s after many print publishers shut their doors due to an economic decline, and offered an alternative by utilizing the growing popularity of the internet. It launched globally in 2014, allowing international creators to upload their work, and also provided official translations of existing comics, prior to which were only available in English through unofficial fan translations. It has 15 million daily users who annually rack up over 100 billion views, reading hundreds of comics across multiple genres including horror, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, action and history.
News of the deal between Webtoon and Crunchyroll was reported on Comic Book Resources. Webtoon’s readership, balanced with Crunchyroll’s 50 million users and two million subscribers, means a huge potential new audience, and may well go some of the way to partially replacing the titles lost after the streaming service parted ways with Funimation and removed hundreds of popular anime from its library. Crunchyroll General Manager Joanne Waage stated:
“We are extremely excited to be partnering with Webtoon. Webtoon has a tremendous catalogue of content and creators that resonate deeply with our audience and we can’t think of a better way to delight fans than by bringing these stories to life through animation.”
Also commenting was Webtoon’s SVP of IP Development Taylor Grant, who said:
“There is tremendous crossover appeal with our audiences and exceptional creative synergy on the types of stories we want to tell. We’re excited to partner with Crunchyroll to bring our globally appealing characters to audiences and consumers in new ways, as well as create new opportunities for our talented creators.”
Prior to the arrangement’s announcement, a separate deal was made to adapt Lore Olympus, the site’s most popular comic, into a YA animated series to be made by The Jim Henson Company. It retells Greek mythology updated to the modern day, telling the story of the romance that follows the chance meeting between Persephone and Hades, significantly avoiding the misogyny of the original legend and retelling it from a female perspective.
Aside from Lore Olympus, exactly which comics from Webtoon’s vast catalogue will be adapted has yet to be decided. However, a number of them provide immediate possibilities. True Beauty is a drama where a shy comic book fan becomes the most popular girl in school after being perceived as beautiful when she masters YouTube makeup tutorials, and has to keep the reality of her true appearance a secret. Let’s Play is a romance where a video game developer has her first title eviscerated by a popular streamer who subsequently moves in next door without knowing who she is. It also has one of the world’s cutest dogs. Boyfriend of the Dead features a young woman doing exceptionally well surviving the zombie apocalypse meeting and falling for a compassionate guy who is unfortunately undead. SubZero is a romance where the scions of warring royal bloodlines fused with the spirits of dragons must marry to put an end to three centuries of war. UnderPrin sees a higher demon living on earth as a singer trying to keep his identity secret from his son and fight whatever underworld denizens come calling.
Source: Comic Book Resources