Brief Manhwa Update

March 9, 2012

For a long time, there was a lot of manhwa coming out in English. The flow has slowed to a trickle recently, but there is still life in the English-language manhwa market. However, the majority of titles are no longer being released by big English-language manga publishers, so you have to know where to look for new manhwa releases. Since things in the English-language manhwa market have been relatively quiet lately, I thought I’d write a little post that talks about what I’ve noticed over the past several months, and what to keep an eye on.

What brought this on? I ran across this volume of manhwa by Ji-Sang Shin and Geo. Now, I’m pretty familiar with nearly everything that gets released in English as far as manhwa and manga go. It’s kind of my hobby. So I was shocked to see that this was a Tokyopop manhwa title I hadn’t heard of before, and also that it was by Ji-Sang Shin and Geo, the same team that created Chocolat and Very! Very! Sweet. I love the latter. It’s a little crazy I missed this when it came out. And now my purchase doesn’t support the continuation of the series (but I still bought it). Don’t let the same thing happen to you!

There’s some new stuff that can easily fly under the radar that’s being released digitally, so I’m going to talk about that first.

I haven’t talked about this publisher on here, because I hate reading comics on my iPod, but there’s a new company called iSeeToon that has recently released a handful of titles from the iOS. I don’t know much about the method of release, but the four titles they’ve released lean on the horror/fantasy genre, it seems, which is fairly interesting. Most of the manhwa I’ve read are girls’ comics or BL, so I’m always happy to see a wider range available.

Despite my dislike of iPod comics, I have tried out the K-Comics App on the iStore, from the KOCCA. That has a metric ton of manhwa content, including dozens of different types of titles. Unfortunately, since I’m not the biggest fan of the platform, I only really played around with this app when I downloaded it last fall. It had just released, I believe, and most of what was available was free first chapters for everything on there, with what looked like a future system so that you could buy more chapters as they released. It’s not loading for me right now, unfortunately, so I can’t comment further. But there were a lot of new titles, some of the best stuff from Netcomics, and a title called Virgin Run that I badly wanted to read more of. I think it might just not be loading for me because I have a bad connection at the moment, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you are so inclined.

Netcomics had a bit of a revival late last year. After being relatively quiet for almost a year, they started regular updates again on several of their current Korean series. The updates post to their website, where you can read new chapters digitally. Two titles aimed at an older female audience, Please Please Me and Small-Minded Schoolgirls, have since completed their runs on the website. Updates also continued on the classic manhwa Full House, license rescued from Central Park Media and by the same author as the popular Let Dai. I simultaneously love and hate that series, but I will support anything from Sooyeon Won, and I need to catch up on the post-CPM content on Netcomics. There’s also a new BL series, Core Scramble, which is advertised as one of the hottest BL titles in Korea. It looks like it may have just wrapped up its original run, and is within 6 chapters of finishing on the Netcomics site as well. I’d love to support it, but unfortunately I’m not a fan of sci-fi-oriented BL. Popular author Wann also has her newest series on Netcomics, Confessions of an Anti-Fan. Similarly, I’m not a fan of Wann, but I may be in the minority on that.

On the print side of things, Yen Press is still releasing some manhwa, though their numbers have fallen off since the days when they license rescued the entire Ice Kunion catalog. I’m still loving every page of Goong (now in a fun omnibus format!) and 13th Boy. The latter is finishing up in July with volume 12, a fact I just ran across today. That has been a fun ride all the way through, and I cannot wait to see how everything wraps up. Yen Press is still releasing new volumes of Jack Frost as well, which is one of the rare examples of male-oriented manhwa in English.

Dark Horse is still working on the graphic novel releases of Bride of the Water God, and I have to say I’m impressed. Dark Horse is a company that won’t hesitate to cancel a series that underperforms, and I didn’t think that Bride of the Water God was a series that a lot of people would be interested in. Allegedly, it is doing better than a large portion of Dark Horse’s other manga/manhwa and graphic novels, which is hard for me to believe (see that article I link below on the CNN blog for the source). Dark Horse has a lot of books that are neither manga nor manhwa, and a lot of them are popular. Anyway. I haven’t talked about Bride of the Water God on here in a long time, but it still has some of the most jaw-dropping amazing art I’ve seen, and a rather ethereal story to go along with it.

I still check on DramaQueen from time to time. They released two or three books last year, which doesn’t sound like much, but I was happy to see them coming back from the brink of death. One of their recent releases was The Summit, a Korean BL comic from the author of You’re So Cool, a girls’ comic I ADORED. I loved the first volume of The Summit, and would love to see more, but I’m starting to worry about the lack of activity over there again.

In random news, I found an interesting article on CNN called “Publishers Want You To Know Manhwa Is Not Manga”. Though I love manhwa with a passion, and can give you lists of how it differs from manga, the distinction between the two has never been that important to me. I’ve always read both for the same reasons. I can see the logic between separating them in the future though, because there is a distinct flavor to BL and Korean girls’ comics, and I do like that said stories tend to read much differently from their Japanese counterparts while maintaining some of the same flavor. That article’s definitely worth a read, and there’s interesting commentary from Netcomics, Dark Horse, and Yen Press reps in there.

Last, a strange little tidbit. Seoul Animation Central, a Korean government agency, is looking to promote Korean culture through manhwa, and has selected 49 titles to promote as good material to license in other languages. You can see the list, with descriptions, here. There’s also a Facebook page that talks a bit about the properties. The catalog is interesting, with a wide range of content available. Some of the titles have already been released in English, but I believe the goal is to license them in as many languages as possible. From a consumer standpoint, it’s simply an interesting catalog, but I do hope that some of these may be able to see an English release.

3 Responses to “Brief Manhwa Update”

  1. ZeroSD Says:

    I got that one at the time, it was pretty fun :)

    And yea. I notice the difference between Manga and Manwha, but it’s really not *that* huge of one for many purposes. Sometimes the difference matters, sometimes it doesn’t, but if someone asks for a manga I have no problem recommending them a manwha instead. Most of the time, the same audiences will like both.

  2. Connie Says:

    There are some interesting points made in that article, and I can see how the publishers might want to create a niche market for manhwa, especially the girls’ comics. But I think that niche probably overlaps 100% with the manga market, and the audience is kinda looking for the same thing in both formats. There are definitely differences, but… I pretty much agree with you.

  3. Felneymike Says:

    I only have one random sample book of Manhwa, but it seems like when they’re trying to look exactly like manga they look dated – like 80’s (or even 70’s) Shoujo or late 80’s Shonen. But they also don’t seem to “enforce a style” as strictly as Japanese publishers, and some Manhwa series have art that’s closer to Dilbert than anything XD.

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