The Middle Road Between Physical Comics and TV Shows

There have been numerous posts on this site discussing webcomics, specifically Webtoons and how comics have evolved in the digital age. I also wanted to address Webtoons, because before I found that site, I was not familiar with many comics and I didn’t read them either. It wasn’t that I looked down on them, I simply didn’t go out of my way to buy them or pick them out on the library. However, webcomics on an app on my phone works well for me—I can pick from a number and scroll through while I’m waiting in line or procrastinating on homework—they are easily and readily available and accessible. But besides that, what really struck me as cool and different was how the creators worked with the platform and added features to the stories I wasn’t expecting.

Webtoon has a number of comics that fully embrace what the platform allows them do with their comic, more than what would be possible with a print media. Some webtoons have music accompanied with the chapters. I do not know all the technical work that goes into incorporating music into these episodes, but the artists are able to determine when the music starts.

It might start at the chapters opening, or, often, it starts once the reader has scrolled down to a certain point in the story and stops once the reader has reached the end. Below is a YouTube video of Isabella LeVan, who has composed music for a number of popular Webtoons.

Youtube Video of Isabella LeVan, who has composed music for Webtoons such as Purple Hyacinth, Brass & Sass, and My Dear Cold-Blooded King
Image of Marshal Law from Webtoon comic Let's Play, episode 69 getting ready to play a video game. next image is a start screen and then the opening of the video game, signaled by the darker background, the setting change, and the context in the speech bubble.
Scene from Let’s Play, episode 69

The above picture is taken from Let’s Play, a Webtoon written by Mongie. The artist does not usually include music in these episodes, but in this episode, the music begins to play when the story shows the videogame world.

 

In other Webtoons, there is music in nearly every episode.

(Episode list of Dents– music notes beside episodes indicates the episode has music)

Some are original compositions, written by other artists and the Webtoon authors give credit to them at the end of the episode, while other times the creators use famous compositions, such as Mozart (Not Even Bones, episode 32). Either way, it is a unique way of taking advantage of the electronic format of these comics. They work to further immerse the readers in the world, to better show shifts or changes in the story, or to build tension. Often, the music will start when the action in an episode starts abruptly—the sudden change form silence to music emphasizing the story.

Title picture scene from Backchannel, episode 1. In the comic, the letters appear and disappear

Another way authors use the electronic format to enhance their stories is by adding motion—using gifs. Sometimes this is just for extra detail or for the sake of aesthetics. Other times the animation strengthens the plot and scene. There are not nearly as many episodes that incorporate gifs as there are episodes with music, but that almost makes it more special. I remember the first time I found an episode with a gif, I kept scrolling back up to watch it again—the first few times I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.

It reminds me a bit of the “motion comic” DC attempted for Watchmen, but I think Webtoons pulled off the comic with features aspect much better, partially because the platform leads itself well to small features like music and gifs, and partly because they are only small features that emphasize and enrich what is already there- well-written characters, plot, and art. It is important to note, the music and animations are simply extras, or enhancements to these stories. The stories hold on their own, without either, but it is a fun way to almost bridge the gap between how people normally read comics (with physical books) and how people watch stories on TV.

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