If you regularly read Asian comics, you may be wondering about what are Manwha, Webtoon or even manga? What differences? It is common for the latter to meet even more success when they are adapted into animated series.
Find below a summary article to make the distinction and not be mistaken anymore between manga, manhwa & webtoon.
What is a manga series?
The manga is a Japanese comic strip, mostly in black and white. Most of the productions are based on a style developed since the end of the 14th century. Some people also refer to Japanese anime as manga. Manga author is called “mangaka”.
Japanese manga is read by millions of people around the world. There are thousands of different works that cater to all ages and genders. Several expressions are used to distinguish manga genres. Generally, this corresponds to the editorial target of the magazine in which each manga is published.
|Shounen||Young men (8-18 years old)|
|Shojo||Young women (8-18 years old)|
A manga is read from right to left and from top to bottom. Like a book, the progression of a manga is made over the pages that we turn.
The story is then divided into several boxes which have a reading order (always from right to left). There are also double-page spreads that allow you to use the full width of two pages.
Manga are produced in the form of a volume (or tome) of 200 pages. There are also double copies which combine two volumes in one, most often as part of a reissue or an event.
For the past decade, most popular manga have also been available in digital versions. You can then buy the copies at a lower price on platforms like Kindle.
The publication of each manga is done first in the weekly magazines in the form of chapters. The pace depends on each author of the magazine in question. Popular series like Naruto, One Piece or Bleach are published every week with a chapter of about 15 to 21 pages, in paper and digital version.
The term manga is often misused to refer to comics produced in another country, always on the model of manga.
What is a Manwha Series?
The Manhwa is a Korean comic strip. It is both the name for “comic strip” in Korean and, especially in the West, the term manhwa is used to designate Korean comics.
Webtoons can be found in several formats. Until the 2000s, its production focused on paper formats, like Japanese manga volumes. Then, with the democratization of digital, digital variations gradually emerged.
The popularity of manhwa has recently exploded on the internet with hit series like Solo Leveling. The author of manhwa is called manhwaga.
The advantage is that many webtoons are released every week for free, especially on the Naver network in South Korea. Many inhabitants can thus go to the “Korean Google” to discover the continuation of the adventures of their comic strip without spending any money and without effort.
Some serializations are paid or accessible through common subscriptions. We won’t even talk about the illegal online readings which are widely spread all around the globe.
Manhwa are read in the same sense as Western books: from left to right and horizontally. This is the direction that Koreans use in their daily readings. However, it sometimes happens that certain works are read vertically, from right to left and from top to bottom.
Historically, the term “manhwa” was first used in the 1920s in Korea. At that time, the peninsula was under Japanese domination and this term was used to describe cartoons.
The popularity of comics really exploded during the 1950s and 1960s, leading to the creation of many styles and the emergence of artists of all kinds.
Sunjeong, for example, designates a category of manhwa that tells a story containing romance, intended for young women (like shojo for manga).
It was also at this time that dedicated establishments were born, such as the manhwabang, a kind of café and comic book stores. For a fixed price, everyone can sit down and read as they wish. This made it possible to democratize the manhwa at first.
What is a Webtoon?
A webtoon is a type of digital comic from South Korea. It is therefore a manhwa in digital form, intended for computers and smartphones.
Today, most manhwa are published in webtoon form, as this allows for instant distribution and far more following releases by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
Most of the time, a webtoon is edited as an episode. It is thus presented as a single vertical strip, which is different from the pages of a manga or a paper manhwa. This allows easier reading on mobile phones and computers, the user only has to “scroll” (scroll vertically) to advance in the story.
In addition to the sense of reading, the essential particularity of a webtoon is that it is generally in color. This allows to bring a real additional touch to the action and the narration. However, it takes a lot of work to get a good result and the industry has many experts to color the boxes effectively.
Webtoon publications vary by author and chapter length. However, it is common to see a new chapter every week or month. In general, it will take you between 15 and 30 minutes to read a new chapter entirely.