With the Dawn Of DC starting last week with Batman #131 we see that the direction DC Comics is taking focused on the comic book side of the brand. But as comic books are the focus DC Comics should not forget about a major door of opportunity to build up their fan base. That opportunity is one they created for themselves in the Webtoon market they hardly promote since originally announcing it in 2021.
For those that may not know, back in August 2021 DC Comics and WEBTOON announced a partnership to start producing new series on the WEBTOON platform. These webtoon comics are part of the WEBTOON Original brand. What that means, unlike the independent creator started Canvas, DC Comic’s WEBTOON Originals has a creative team, and editors are assigned to each series, much like DC’s comic books, that is paid by WEBTOON.
The first series that came out of the partnership was Batman: Wayne Family Adventures by CRC Payne and StarBite starting in September 2021. Then later in April 2022 DC Comics and WEBTOON announced an expansion of their partnership. With that, we got Vixen: NYC by Jasmine Walls and Manou Azumi, Zatanna & The Ripper by Sarah Dealy and Syro, and Red Hood: Outlaw by Patrick R. Young and Nico Bascuñan which started at various points in 2022. These series joined Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, which started a second season in September 2022.
So how have the four series on WEBTOON done so far? Here is their current standing on WEBTOON:
Batman: Wayne Family Adventures – 66 episodes; 1.2 million subscribers; Current Ranking: #2 in Original Slice of Life genre
Vixen: NYC – 35 episodes; 117,438 subscribers; Current Ranking: #7 in Superhero genre
Zatanna & The Ripper – 28 episodes; 201,417 subscribers
Red Hood: Outlaw – 23 episodes; 270,227 subscribers; Current Ranking: #5 in Superhero genre
For context, subscriber numbers WEBTOON are those who get notifications when a new episode or chapter publishes on the platform. When just comparing these numbers to the current top two new series that recently debuted on WEBTOON Serene, which is currently #1 in New Series and #1 Original Drama genre, currently has 265,275 subscribers, and Marionetta, which is currently #2 in New Series and #2 in Original Fantasy genre, currently has 213,327 subscribers. Each of these series has published four episodes all as of this writing.
Batman: Wayne Family Adventures being a top-read series is not surprising with the character’s global popularity and the marketing push the series got when first published. While that is certainly a big advantage the series consistently being a constant in the top ten for the crowded Slice of Life genre speaks to how Batman: Wayne Family Adventures continues to be well-received in the series. The subscriber numbers are even on the high side when comparing other long-running series in the Slice of Life genre that can range from 100,000 to 2.5 million subscribers, if not more. Maintaining and consistently growing its popularity is a testament to the work of CRC Payne, StarBite, and the rest of the creative team.
In comparison, Zatanna & The Ripper is in the equally crowded Fantasy genre. Like the Slice of Life genre, the Fantasy genre is filled with Webtoon Originals and creator-started Canvas series. Top long-running series in the Fantasy genre can also range from 200,000 to 3 million subscribers, if not more. So without the similar marketing, Batman: Wayne Family Adventures got right now Zatanna & The Ripper is nowhere near the top of the Fantasy genre and buried closer to the 100th spot. It is a shame it is not higher as Sarah Dealy and Syro have delivered some of the best storytelling we’ve gotten around Zatanna’s character. There is a lot of great emotional story beats and use of magic as we’ve seen established in the DC Universe by Zatanna & The Ripper.
As for Red Hood: Outlaw and Vixen: NYC ranking in the Superhero genre for WEBTOON is much better than Zatanna & The Ripper but the Superhero genre is a smaller but growing genre on WEBTOONs. With Vixen: NYC and Red Hood: Outlaw they mix in the superhero and slice of life really well. Being in that genre has helped them do things we don’t see in Batman and Zatanna while each finding the right balance but also using elements that made their brother and sister titles do well.
Now, while the readership for Batman: Wayne Family Adventures is many times more than the three new Webtoon series DC Comics introduced in 2022 it’s not bad news the new series. The truth is that Zatanna & The Ripper, Red Hood: Outlaw, and Vixen: NYC are all getting readership that is similar to, and possibly more than, the top comic books DC Comics is currently publishing. Their subscriber numbers are consistently increasing daily even with zero marketing from DC Comics. That daily growth is building more awareness of these characters and creating fans for characters outside of Batman that DC Comics from their comic books, animated series, or movies isn’t giving much attention to.
That brings us to how as much as Dawn of DC is focused on building up the comic book side of DC Comics’ publishing efforts it should not stop there. Webtoons should 100% still be a place DC Comics is growing during 2023. Especially for characters that don’t have current comic book plans like Zatanna and Vixen. There are many characters such as Hawkgirl, Vibe, Booster Gold, Plastic Man, Katana, Fire, and Ice that would make great fits for the Webtoon market.
With the Dawn of DC initiative to also continue the expansion of the legacy of many franchises, Webtoon is a market to explore. Especially as DC Comics looks to continue to build up new legacy characters, such as Yara Flor and Jess Chambers, creating Webtoon series around these characters will only help grow their audience. These dedicated Webtoons would honestly do more than a comic book mini-series or guest appearance would with the strong and growing global reach of the webtoon market.
By growing the fanbase for these characters there will be much more interest in these characters that are part of the legacy of Wonder Woman, Flash, and Aquaman like what we see with the Batman Family. There can be a synergy that can certainly build the demographic to not just be current or lapse fans. Every publishing opportunity can make the Dawn of DC a huge success in this crucial time for DC Comics’ history.
All of this will not work if DC Comics does not increase its efforts in building awareness. Just like with their comic books, to maximize the success DC Comics needs to invest time and marketing into what they are doing with their Webtoon publishing efforts. It will only benefit them in the long run as there is a massive point of synergy that can be created with their comic books, webtoons, and young adult and children’s graphic novels. They already have Batman: Wayne Family Adventures as an example. There is absolutely no reason for the other current and possible future Webtoon series to help expand on what the Dawn of DC direction is trying to achieve. And if there is a reason it will be DC Comics just passively publishing new series and not investing in building awareness. It is all in those in charge of DC Comics’ hands.