Naver Webtoon, LINE Webtoon, or just Webtoon has become a big name in webcomic circles for good reason since it started hosting Western comics and translating them in the mid-2010s. It started out only hosting Korean manhwa in 2004.
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With its digital-first desktop and mobile platform, Webtoon has ushered in an unquestionable but often overlooked revolution in comics publishing. Its dramatic take on comic democratization, narrative and visual formats, as well as its finely tuned publishing practices, have made Webtoon a huge hit with both international and local readers and creators, especially women. It’s also dense, with a wide range of romance, action, supernatural, sports, and horror comics that are updated every week.
Yes, Webtoon has more than 100 billion readers each year, but that’s still a lot. There are more than 500 comics each week, and most of them are worth your time. With our list of the best offerings on the platform below, of course!
1. Sweet Home
Sweet Home, a horror series written by Kim Carnby and illustrated by Hwang Young-Chan, was recently made into a live action Netflix show. It’s a great example of how well Webtoon’s vertical-only format can be used for story escalation.
Cha Hyun-Soo, a depressed high school student, moves into an apartment complex called Green Home after his family died in a car accident. When he opens his peephole, he sees grotesque humanoid monsters whispering things to him and walking by his window as if they were taunting him. It’s bad luck! Hyun-Soo and his neighbors have even less luck when they find out that the world outside their apartment is being “monsterized.”
A group of survivors must quickly come to terms with the idea of fighting for each other’s survival and caring for each other in the midst of the darkest days in their lives.
Fans of Sweet Home can read Bastard and Shotgun Boy by the same team if they want to read more about the same family.
2. Purple Hyacinth
Author Ephemerys and artist Sophim’s Purple Hyacinth is a sweeping world-building story filled with sociopolitical and interpersonal drama. It’s a mystery-drama with high narrative stakes that is also filled with romance and humor
Lauren Sinclair is a police officer who has the unique ability to tell lies. She is on a mission to avenge the deaths of her childhood friend and parents at the hands of a mysterious group called Phantom Scythe. She is joined by Phantom Scythe assassin Kieran White, “The Purple Hyacinth,” who has the same goal as Sinclair: to find and kill Scythe’s leader.
With the help of a group of police officers who are both charming and heartbreakingly real, they challenge the rules of Ardhalis, which is a gothic pageant city in the fictional country of Ardhalis. They uncover its secrets both political and criminal in an epic story about murder, love, the upper classes, and even a little magic.
Purple Hyacinth is a Webtoon favorite for a good reason, and its use of the platform’s soundtrack feature, pairing each entry with an appropriate haunting or ambient soundtrack, is especially interesting to people who want to see how Webtoon can be used to show how different it is from print.
Boyfriends. by refrainbow is one of Webtoon’s best queer stories because it’s a sweet, quirky pastel and watercolor-inspired take on romantic norms. It’s also one of the best because it focuses on interpersonal beats and drama with real enthusiasm and optimism.
Boyfriends follows Goth, Nerd, Prep, and Jock as they deal with their polyamorous relationship at school, home, jealousy, and understanding without the murder or mystery that most other books in the same genre use to keep the story interesting.
Boyfriends is a heartfelt, thought-provoking, and relatable story about breaking the rules, staying true to yourself, and recognizing the good in others. It’s a fun, relaxing book that also pushes the boundaries in a smart, narratively refreshing way, with trips to the arcade, the boardwalk, and drinks after stressful exams.
4. The Boxer
Writer and artist Jeong Ji-(JH) hun’s The Boxer is a dynamic and darkly tinged sports thriller. It’s very different from most other sports stories on Webtoon and this list, and it deserves to be on its own list.
The Boxer is a dark, violent, and effective story about Yu’s journey to become an accomplished and acclaimed boxer. It’s a story that doesn’t hold back in its emotional and physical exploration of schoolboy cruelty and machismo across a sprawling narrative of training and fighting montages.
It also makes use of Webtoon’s negative space-heavy visual format to make hard, intense, and well-paced fight scenes that break with the rules of most comics or manga. The Boxer is a hard book to read at times, but it’s also a good one. It moves quickly through scenes and emphasizes punches and pains with flair.
Writer Jeho Son and artist ZHENA’s Eleceed is a supernatural crime-action drama with a witty and humorous edge that makes it more interesting than some of the other stories in this collection. It’s also one of the most popular.
Eleceed is a twist on the typical buddy cop movie format. It follows a kind, sometimes reckless, and supernaturally empowered schoolboy, Jiwoo Seo, and his partner and mentor, Kayden Break, a supernatural secret agent on the run who is stuck in the body of a fluffy orange and white cat named Kayden. Together, they try to find out about and fix a secret war between humans and the Awakeners, a secretive, vindictive race of former humans who are now powerful.
You know, it’s just like the typical “superhero with a special insight” story, but it also has a lot more going on in it than that. It has the best parts of mystery/detective stories, slapstick humor, and even some “coming of age drama.”
Recommended for people who have read books like My Hero Academia or Promare and are looking for a wide, well-thought-out world to read about.
6. The Gamer
Jee-Han is a gamer who learns that he can live his real life like a game.
This means that he can do things like see people’s statuses, level up, and so on.
When he realizes that he has to fight monsters because he is going to live his life as an RPG, he gets into trouble.
7. The Beginning After The End
No one else has written a book like The Beginning After the End, but it does a great job with this type of isekai story.
They were both kings in real life. To get back to the magical world after you die, you have to be a child again.
Then, he learns about different powers, the culture of this world, and how to make friends with its people, as well as other cool things.
The best thing about this webtoon is how good the art is. As a result, it’s fun to read about the fights.