We caught up with Skybound Senior Editor of Comet Alex Antone to find out more about Skybound’s webtoon collections and the imprint’s plans for the future.

Two of your newly announced Comet titles are webtoons – Scurry is from Tapas, and Ava’s Demon is from Webtoon (see "’Scurry,’ Others Come to Comet"). How did you first find these comics?
Both Ava’s Demon and Scurry have been around on their own websites long before their creators decided to put them up on Webtoon and Tapas. Ava’s Demon started way back in May 2012 when we were all much more innocent, and Scurry released its first chapter in January of 2016. What’s great about the Webtoon and Tapas platforms is that they have their own ecosystems, so putting an existing webcomic up on one of these platforms gives the webcomic a chance to find a brand-new audience and reach more people than ever before.

As for how we found them…we looked! No secret method, really. We scoured the web for awesome webcomics and found a couple of great ones that felt like they fit our new young readers line, Skybound Comet.

How does the webtoon audience correlate to book sales – will a popular series on the platform also have a big audience in print?
Maybe! That’s certainly the hope. If we’re talking about the books in the top 1% on Webtoon and Tapas, like Lore Olympus or Fangs, it’s a pretty good bet that they’ll do well in print. Whether the print version is released through the book market, or through a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter, or both in the case of Ava’s Demon, people love to put physical copies of their favorite books on their shelves.

That said, I would say it’s far from a guarantee that digital success will lead to success in the book market, which is why I think reaching a smaller but more rabid fanbase directly is the best way to test the waters.

What other factors besides popularity do you consider when evaluating webtoons?
Like most comic readers, I’m always drawn in by the art, and I think Ava’s Demon and Scurry are two of the best looking webcomics on planet Earth. From there, I’m looking for compelling characters and a story that draws you in – if it’s getting me excited to keep reading, that’s a very good start!

How is the webtoon audience different from the audience for traditional comics?
Well for one, most of them are reading for free, so I think there’s a slightly different mindset going into a comic when you don’t have to pay for it. I think there’s a lot of rapid sampling going on – dip in, see if you like something, and then move onto the next one. Additionally, there’s no speculation happening – no variant covers, no gimmicks, no crossovers – it’s all about the story, which I think is awesome. But I think the audience knows what’s good and what’s not regardless of how they’re reading, so I bet there are more similarities than you’d think.

Is there much crossover between webtoons and other comics, in terms of both creators and audience?
It’s becoming more common for traditional comics creators to pop up on webtoon, and think you’ll start seeing creators make the leap from webtoon, to book market, to comic book market and back around. Those three parts of the industry have never been closer to each other in terms of creative ecosystem – that said, I don’t think from an audience standpoint there is any cannibalization happening. Each one is separate and additive to the greater whole for any comic project. All ships are rising together.

What sort of webtoons are you looking for? Do you lean toward specific styles or genres?
We’re always on the lookout for elevated-genre Middle Grade and YA webcomics to bring into Skybound Comet; we don’t necessarily look for a particular style, we’re more about finding unique voices that can stand out on the shelf. There’s a lot of homogeneity in the market and breaking free from that is one of our top priorities.

We’ve also acquired some amazing books from hilarious webcomic strip authors such as Mr. Lovenstein and Extra Fabulous.  These webcomics creators have MASSIVE followings on Webtoon platforms as well as Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, etc. and we’ve been able to connect them with their fans in the same way that we’ve done with Ava’s Demon, by helping them out with premium crowdfunding campaigns and distributing their book in the book market through Image Comics. In fact, we’ve got a new Kickstarter for Extra Fabulous running right now!

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