Webtoons are a huge rising star in the comic industry, but people tend to overlook them, thinking that they’re just “dumb comics posted on the internet”. In fact, they’re so much more, and a couple of them rival the very best manga out there. Webcomics are the future of this industry, as less and less people buy physical copies and prefer reading online when possible.
Here are some of the best webtoons ever released, all of which you can read online.
5) The Gamer
By Sangyoung Seong & Sang-A
The Gamer has been one of the most popular webtoons ever since its release. While it might not be the most plot-driven story with the most complex characters, it certainly is a great way to pass the time, and a super fun webcomic.
It stars a normal korean high-school boy, who one day finds himself with a new superpower: The ability to percieve reality as a game, and alter it accordingly. For example, the people around him have a name tag above their heads displaying their level (based on how strong they are). He is able to learn new skills and abilities simply by clicking a “learn” button that pops up when he touches a book, he has an inventory which allows him to store stuff and access it at any moment without having to carry it, and more stuff like that. You get the idea.
Basically, the story consists of him getting stronger, learning new abilities, and choosing how to develop his character (for example, by min/maxing). We’ve all daydreamed that we were characters in a videogame at some point, and this manga is great if you’re into that.
4) Afterschool War Activities
By Ha, Il-Kwon
At this point, Il-Kwon Ha is, in my opinion, the undisputed best korean webcomic artist. Afterschool War Activities is the first of his two entries on this list, and it’s one of the most interesting comics I’ve ever read.
The earth is facing an alien invasion, and the military’s manpower just isn’t enough to fight them off, leading them to basically recruit everyone who can fight. This includes this comic’s cast, a class of highschoolers, who are in no way prepared for the situation.
There are a lot of awful war manga/comics out there that don’t really show the realities of war. Some sugarcoat how terrible it is and glorify it, by making their characters heroes who always save the day and stuff like that. Others go too far down the edginess route and turn their manga/comic into just a feast of blood and violence.
Neither of these happen in Afterschool War Activities. It’s a gritty look at war from the perspective of the losers. Humans have basically no chance of truly beating the aliens and are fighting a senseless fight. There is a clear development in the characters, who all start out as regular teenagers, but change as this new reality forces them to.
I definitely recommend this comic to anyone looking for a dark, gritty comic that focuses heavily on building and developing a large group of characters.
3) Tower of God
A good percentage of you are here because you’re looking for stuff similar to Tower of God. This comic is by far the most popular of all korean webtoons, and one of the biggest webcomics in general.
The story is set in a mysterious universe, in which basically everyone lives around a huge (and by that, I mean planet-sized) tower. People can enter the tower at the first floor, and they can only go up to the next one by passing a test. If you reach the top, you become a Ranker, a super-powerful being that far outclasses the “regulars”. The regulars are the people who are still climbing the tower.
This is the story of a young boy who entered the tower illegaly, a so-called “irregular”, and his adventure as he climbs the tower in the pursuit of the girl who raised him and abandoned him to try and become a ranker herself. It’s a supremely good battle manga, with superb art, likeable characters and amazing worldbuilding. If you’ve never read a webtoon, definitely start with this one.
2) Kiss Wood
By Ahn, Sung Ho
Kiss Wood is a gorgeous little webtoon that is way different than what you’d normally expect from this medium. The structure is much more akin to a manga, as is the art. It’s a lovely piece of work, which I would recommend to absolutely anyone, even people who aren’t normally into comics.
The main character of this story is a old man who has only lived for and cared for plants his entire life. He worked as a city gardener, but lost his job, and spent his days taking care of his garden at home, not paying attention to the outside world at all. However, there is a fire and the only precious thing left to him burns down. He then wakes up in the hospital and realizes that he’s lost his eyesight. Defeated, he awaits death, but gets summoned into another forest-like world where he can see again, and has to go on a dangerous adventure.
It’s a great twist on the isekai genre, with an old man as a main character, and no real RPG elements. One of the few isekai webtoons (and comics in general) that manage to stay away from the usual fantasy tropes.
By Ha, Il-Kwon
And here’s the second entry on this list by Il-Kwon Ha. And if you’ve already read this webtoon, you won’t be surprised. Annarasumanara is not only an impossible name to remember, but also hands down the best webtoon ever made.
It’s very hard for me to describe this comic, which is why I won’t really try to. It’s short enough that you can go and read it in a couple of hours. Annarasumanara is incredibly creative, the artsyle so unique, and it has a deep exploration of korean study/work culture, really well thought-out characters, superb pacing, and an all-around feeling of mystery that is hard to describe. It strongly reminds me of an Asano Inio manga, if you’ve read anything by him.
The reality in this comic is our very own reality, but it’s presented in such a way that makes everything feel mystical. The main topic is magic, and this manwha constantly makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a magic trick, trying to figure out what the magician is doing and still ending up surprised in the end.