by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
Comic book legend Stan Lee and YouTube beauty maven Michelle Phan have formed an unlikely alliance to help publicize LINE Webtoon, the English-language version of the popular Korean digital comics portal Naver Webtoon.
Their new partnership will be officially announced at the Comic-Con International event in San Diego this week, according to the New York Times.
“In Asia, comics and manga and anime are definitely ingrained in the broader pop culture,” Tom Akel, head of content at Line Webtoon, told the NY Times. “It’s almost difficult to put into words the scale and success of Webtoon over there.”
Alongside its rival Daum Webtoon, Naver Webtoon has grown to become South Korea’s top webcomics portal, attracting more than 6.2 million unique visitors daily since its launch in 2004. Many of its webcomics, including Cheese in the Trap and Tower of God, have already been adapted for film, television and video games.
Like YouTube, LINE Webtoon is a free platform for both readers and creators. Amateur creators can gain prominence by competing in the “Challenge League” system, where readers can vote for their favorite comics. The winner of the competition earns a cash prize and a chance to become paid professionals. Stephen McCranie, last year’s champion, won $30,000 for his series Space Boy, which debuted in March and now runs new chapters every Thursday.
In July 2014, Naver launched LINE Webtoon to introduce Korean webcomics to American audiences. The portal currently hosts more than 100 comics and attracts over five million readers. About 48% of those readers are female, and LINE Webtoon is looking to tap more female creators, including those who don’t have traditional comic backgrounds. That is where Phan comes in.
Phan, a self-professed comic book fan, will be publishing her first-ever sci-fi/fantasy webcomic, The Enchantress, on LINE Webtoon.
“Most people think of me as a makeup guru, but might be surprised to know I’m also a trained artist and a huge comic book fan,” she said in a statement on Monday. “The Enchantress is my passion project that has been brewing since I was 11, and I’m so excited to finally pursue this dream of mine.”
Phan’s illustration of Bebo, a character in her upcoming webcomic.
(Image via Michelle Phan/Twitter)
Set in a dystopian world, The Enchantress follows a young songstress of divine origin who slowly awakens her magic powers as she embarks on an odyssey with her sworn protector Bebo, a master alchemist. The series will be told in 26 chapters, according to a press release.
Meanwhile, Lee will serve as a judge in LINE Webtoon’s contest to find a new superhero series. He will give guidance and feedback to the contest’s winner, who will have their comic published by the portal and receive a monetary prize. Second, third and fourth runner-ups will be granted the opportunity to become paid, featured LINE Webtoon artists.
“It is always a pleasure and a thrill to discover new creators and artists,” Stan Lee said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with LINE Webtoon to find the talent that will create a great new superhero!”