For as big of a geek as I am, I’ve never been that into traditional comic books. Mind you, I love comic book characters and stories, mostly in the form of film and tv adaptations, but the medium of comic books themselves never really clicked with me. Perhaps it’s my tendency for verbal input over visual or maybe it’s the intimidating toxic fanboy* bar of entry to the fandom, but whatever the reason, it’s not been my jam historically and thus I’ve not been a “real” geek in the eyes of some.
(*Note: I do not at all consider all comic book geeks to be toxic fanboys, but everyone knows they exist and they are good at keeping out those they don’t consider “good enough” fans.)
That changed sometime last year when I discovered the work of artist Katie Cook. I’d known of her for a while, she’s kind of a big deal, you can’t really be married to a guy who worked in a comic book shop and not know who she is, but I started looking into her more when I wrote an article for Geekade last year about relatable female geek artists. The more of her work I saw, the more I liked it and I eventually stumbled into the glorious rabbit hole that is LINE WEBTOON.
A comparatively recent development in the world of comic geekery, the site is an online platform for digital comics. This format provided a LOT of advantages in terms of accessibility to this fandom. For one thing, there is no physical product I have to go in person to access. I understand the appeal of the community that exists in the local comic shop and I think it’s really important, but it’s not really something a mother who works outside the home and generally tends to put her entertainment needs last on the list can actively belong to. (Yes I know about Comixology, don’t @ me, but as a format for IPs with long backstories, it’s as intimidating as its printed forebears.) For another, from the privacy of my computer or tablet, there was no one to judge me for my reading choices (provided I followed my Golden Rule of the Internet: Thou shall not read the comments). And even when straying into the comments section, the community there seems to be more than usually positive. And that leads into a third thing. The site tends to feature comics outside the popular superhero genre. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good superhero comic or action is completely absent from the site, but sometimes a girl wants a little romance or mystery or something supernatural mixed in with her comics, and while that can sometimes be hard to find in a mainstream comic book store, at Line Webtoon it’s right out there on front street. I suppose the 4th thing that attracted me to the site is the format of the comics. Founder JunKoo Kim’s stroke of brilliance was to lay out comics on the web page as one tall scrollable line and since even 2 year olds know how to scroll on a touchscreen these days, the smooth UI worked well to keep readers scrolling on to find out what happens next. Like print comics, storylines for many comics on the site are organized into “seasons,” making it easy for fans to keep up with and giving creators a good break between seasons to focus on other projects. (It’s also free. Free is always good.)
Like any good comic geek, I have my favorites, so here’s a little bit about each of them to wet your appetite.
This fun fantasy comic is relatively new to the site. The titular realm is plagued by supernatural creatures and a series of attacks by them threatens peace between kingdoms. The leads, a knight named Hawk and a young noble lady/inventor named Kira, have excellent romantic chemistry/tension, but the world is stocked with a host of other interesting characters we’re only beginning to learn about. It’s a paradoxical mix of fluffy and substantive that will have you clicking for more every Monday morning.
Meet Callie, a teen who lives with her dad, running a shop in a town on the border of a magical realm. Callie thinks she’s just an average teenage outcast, until her dad goes missing and, in her quest to find him, she discovers the truth about herself (both in a normal, coming-of-age way and in a heroine-of-a-fantasy-story way). Written and drawn by the inimitable Katie Cook, This story is also populated with delightful characters including Declan, a friend from school who identifies with Callie’s outsider mentality, Lasser, a sassy demon with an unrequited crush on Callie, and Radish, the fiercely loyal ghost of a radish who has passed on. Season One was a roller coaster adventure for this foursome and Season 2 (currently in development, “coming soon”) promises to be no different. New installments post on Tuesdays.
I have to thank my friend Erica for turning me on to this one (as I turned her on to the one above). This combination spy thriller and romance with a kickass relatable heroine is a riveting read every week. It’s just returned for its 3rd season of action, adventure, and angst. Nerdy introvert Mags isn’t looking for anything but someone to split the rent with and gets more than she bargains for when Kurt moves in. What sounds like a somewhat hacky setup turns out to be nothing you expected and everything you never knew you needed. With 50+ issues under its belt, the deeply-rooted backstories of the characters pull you in and keep you guessing. Though the romance elements can occasionally be predictable, they are never boring and can sometimes be surprising in the best way possible. One of my favorite things about this world is how realistically the characters look and behave. No one is a big-breasted stick figure or a has a Dorito-shaped upper-body (ok, some of the guys are fit, but there’s a good reason). There is all the gender, ethnic, and sexuality diversity commonly found in the real world. In short, it just feels good to read. New installments post on Tuesdays.
Whether it’s any of these or something else that tickles your fancy, I highly recommend clicking over to Line Webtoon, exploring the stories they have to offer, finding one that suits your tastes (I can almost guarantee you will), and subscribing for updates so you don’t miss an issue. Happy reading!