Everyone’s excited about digital manga these days, with more companies jumping on board all the time. TOKYOPOP teamed up with comiXology in September (and with eManga just a short while later). Last month’s New York Comic Con elicited announcements from both Dark Horse and Yen Press, with Viz Media‘s new iPad app emerging just this week. And I’m sure I’m not the only manhwa fan anxiously following iSeeToon.
These announcements are unquestionably exciting, of course, and even those of us who far prefer our beloved ink on bound paper can’t reasonably deny the importance of this shift. Thing is, there’s been digital manga available for quite some, much of which has received little attention up to this point.
With that in mind, I’m dedicating this week’s 3 Things to digital manga (and manhwa)’s early players.
3 digital comics you may have been missing:
1. Small-Minded Schoolgirls | Toma | NETCOMICS – This digital-only offering comes from Korean artist Toma, better known for X-Diary, the basis for a feature film currently in production. The series follows the lives of two women, Miru, a successful novelist, and Somi, a would-be writer who makes her living securing talent for a literary magazine. The women become acquainted through Somi’s magazine, and as the manhwa progresses, we see their lives contrasted as they each struggle with issues of career, love, and family, thwarted, more often than not, by their own self-made obstacles. Toma’s simple, expressive artwork is a highlight of the series, and serves as nice counter to complaints of manhwa artists emulating Japanese style.
Check out Michelle Smith’s review of the series’ first two volumes for more.
2. Kiss Blue | Keiko Kinoshita | Juné – For BL fans, I recommend Kiss Blue, a quiet story of friends-turned-lovers that explores this common yaoi trope in a particularly thoughtful way. The manga provides an intimate look at the feelings of its characters, without relying on melodrama to move the story forward. This isn’t a flashy title by any means, but it’s one of those that has stuck with me since my very first digital read. Though also available in print, of course, it’s hard to beat the bargain at eManga, which offers a rental price of 200 points (about $2) with the option to “keep” for just double that. That’s less than a third of the book’s retail price. And with a second volume finally slated for release next month, this is a great time to check out the first online.
Read this review from Leroy Douresseaux for more.
3. 10, 20, and 30 | Morim Kang | NETCOMICS – Also from Korea, this seven-volume series revolves around three generations of women, teenaged Rok, her twenty-something cousin Belle, and her widowed mother, Krumb. The story follows each of them through school, career, and romantic trials, devoting significant time to both their individual hopes and pursuits as well as their dynamic as a family. Though the first two volumes were made available in print, even these may be hard to find (both volumes, for instance, are currently out of stock at Amazon), and despite a lack of permanence, NETCOMICS’ online rental price–a total of $7 to read the series in its entirety–is more than a bargain.
Look to Kate Dacey’s review of the series’ first volume for more.
Though it was tempting to consider some of Viz’s SigIKKI titles for this list (House of Five Leaves, in particular, springs immediately to mind), the removal of early chapters as new volumes are released in print makes them imperfect as digital options. You, readers, however, may choose whatever you like. :)
So, how about it, readers? What are some of your favorite early digital adopters?