In the year 2000, the whole U.S. comics industry– including graphic novels, periodicals, and digital comics across all genres, publishers, and platforms — earned record-breaking $1.28 billion, according to Comicron/ICv2. This figure is similar to the projected 2020 revenues of a singular platform that is now the first choice for the growing generations of comics lovers worldwide. Webtoon is the mobile digital comics application that has built an army of fans initially in Asia and now has as a part of the United States as its fastest-growing market, boasting the number of monthly users that surpasses all different comics media or formats. Webtoon recently launched partnerships with two of the most recognizable American brand names, D.C. Comics, and Archie, and is looking to expand its market.
Despite its success, this South Korean company remains somewhat of a mystery for those in the American graphic novel industry. This is the first time in some time, Webtoon founder and global CEO Junkoo Kim has spoken to an English-language magazine about the company’s phenomenal growth and its plans.
The comics app, currently an affiliate of Korean technology giant Naver, was the first to pioneer the vertically-scrolling storytelling format, which is designed for smartphones and readers seeking engaging serialized stories that span many genres. The service launched across America in the U.S. in 2014 and has grown to an immense, super-engaged fan base of primarily young readers looking to read their daily dose from Lore Olympus, Tower of God, and Let’s Play as well as Translated Korean content (“K-comics”) and thousands of other well-curated and user-created comics from around the globe.
As per the firm, Webtoon currently has more than 72 million active users per month (14 million in the U.S.) and generates revenue of more than $100 million per month. GenZ and younger generation Millennials account for 75 percent of Webtoon users worldwide, with 70% of people who use the service within the U.S. being younger than. Fifty-eight percent of Webtoon customers are women. These demographics are quite different from those who read printed comics of the U.S. The majority of the revenues come directly from Korea and Japan, while the U.S. third. However, the company expects to see the American market taking over Asia within the next 3-5 years based on the current growth rates.