This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on July 5, 2016.
Earlier this year ComicBook.Com spoke with cartoonist Dean Haspiel about the development of the New Brooklyn line of comics at LINE Webtoon. The digital comics distributor was promoting three exciting new series all set in alternate universe and the superhero genre. Now the company is excited to announce a new array of superhero titles coming soon.
This will include an expansion to the New Brooklyn series, the second season of fashionable superhero tale Heroine Chic, and another new property selected for development by Stan Lee titled The Badguys (click the link to check it out today). ComicBook.Com contributor Chase Magnett was able to speak with Head of Content at LINE Webtoon Tom Akel about all of these series and their focus on superhero comics this summer.
Be sure to check out the full interview with Tom Akel, LINE Webtoon’s complete press release, and a collection of exclusive images all found below.
ComicBook: The superhero genre is one that has grown from a focused concern of comics fans to a multi-media and multi-national obsession in the past couple of decades. What is it about superheroes that you think has captured the public interest?
Tom Akel: The movies. There’s always been a desire for more superhero content from the public, and I think that’s due to how we grow up with characters when we’re kids. For kids, superheroes have been pretty consistent, but for the broader public, who aren’t still buying collectibles and reading comics, it takes blockbusters to put these characters front and center again. TV has helped to a lesser extent and that’s been more recent, but since the first X-Men, Spider-Man, and Iron Man films, along with Batman Begins, and all of those films ranging from pretty good to awesome, it’s kicked off a renaissance. We’re at the point that there’s more superhero content out there than one person can consume, which is great. We’ve reached critical mass and can now fragment into more individualized interests within the genre.
ComicBook: LINE Webtoon offers a unique platform with weekly updates and a vertically-oriented digital platform. How does this style of storytelling benefit superhero stories, like the ones you’re currently telling and adding to the roster?
Akel: Vertical storytelling and weekly storytelling are formats that affect how a creator crafts their art and pacing, and there are a lot of advantages to this format, but I think those advantages cross all genres, not just superheroes. Certainly, the ability to get something out there, see your audience’s reaction in real time, and be able to take it into account, or not, is something you don’t get in print. The other, more obvious advantage is that almost every panel is a reveal. There is no traditional page turn and that gives creators a lot of flexibility in where to place big moments.
ComicBook: Superheroes are dominated by looming, legendary figures, but more and more new stories are emerging from the genre. What is it about theNew Brooklyn stories and other new creations at LINE Webtoon that you believe will strike a chord with readers?
Akel: I think that speaks to the ability to fragment into more unexplored territory. New Brooklyn has superheroes in it, but it’s about much more than colorful characters in tights slugging it out. There are underlying themes regarding gentrification, war, income inequality, the struggle to be an artist in a world that’s increasingly less forgiving – these are issues that I think resonate for a lot of readers and certainly among the creative community. Dean Haspiel’s The Red Hook is a terrific read and the next 2 series, The Purple Heart andThe Brooklynite, which I’m fortunate enough to get to read before anyone else does, are just as fantastic.
ComicBook: You collaborated with Stan Lee to develop the new series The Badguys. What was the experience of running the contest and finding this idea like?
Akel: Running the contest with Stan and the team at POW! was a blast. We’re just now getting to see the results of L.G.’s and Orlando’s work on The Badguys and we really love it. What they’re doing is so much fun. We had a lot of fantastic entries and you always hope when you run these open contests that you’re going to find something fresh. We were lucky enough to have found several series that fit the bill. The runner-up series Supersonic Girl,unOrdinary, and Inarime are each so unique that there’s something different for all of our readers from their standard superhero fare.
ComicBook: The comic Heroine Chic is returning for a second season. Why do you think this comic clicked in its first outing and what do you expect to hook more readers in its return?
Akel: It all comes back to having something to say that will resonate with your readers. Zoe’s story touches on so many important issues – transgender heroes, eating disorders that plague young women and the fashion industry, creator’s rights, misconceptions about Islam, hate crimes – all woven through a story about a young woman who in a world of heroes who proves that she doesn’t need any of them. That’s a lot to cover and David Tischman found an open lane – superheroes X fashion, in which to tell it and he, along with artist Audrey Mok, tell it brilliantly. There’s a reason Heroine Chic has been read a couple of million times.
ComicBook: The superhero genre seems to be everywhere these days, populating the big screen, television screens, and computer screens in your comics. How do you plan on pursuing unique horizons for the genre and making LINE Webtoon’s stories stand out?
Akel: That’s always a challenge but we look for creators who have something to say – a great story is independent of genre. I’m not a believer that a genre can be oversaturated. We’ve never said there’s too much sci-fi, or too much horror, we should stop making those. I think there’s no limit to what a superhero story can be and that the broader pop culture market for the genre only helps bring new voices to the table. We’re just starting to see the work come in on The Badguys and expect it to be great, but can already proudly say that Heroine Chicand the titles in the New Brooklyn series stand up with anything else out there.