A major player in Korea’s comics e-publishing industry, Lezhin Entertainment, has announced that its premium digital service Lezhin Comics is now available in the United States as an app for iOS and Android, available through the App Store and Google Play.
Founded in 2012 by CEO Han Hee Sung, Lezhin has over 2,000 digital and print comics in its library. The company has partnered with more than 450 artists, 270 of whom had their projects debut through Lezhin Comics. The app became the No. 1 top-grossing comics app in Korea on Google Play within 48 hours of its launch. The company is now in development on a feature film based on its action-drama comic Double Casting.
“Comics are still treated as subculture and have yet to receive rightful respect as do movies, music, and television,” says Han. “My vision is to make comics an online entertainment experience that is immediately accessible and take them to the center stage. I believe that Webtoons blended with American culture will act as a catalyst in bringing about such a change in entertainment.”
Lezhin’s model includes a pay service where aspiring comic artists can share revenue generated by their works, as well as receive feedback from readers. The company plans to provide similar opportunities to American graphic novel artists and storytellers, and is currently running its first Lezhin US Comic Contest through July 31.
Some of the fresh genres awaiting American comic fans through Lezhin are campus romance/campus comedy, food, martial arts, sports, family drama and LGBT romance stories. Among the service’s most popular titles available in English are My Secret Brother, Ultimate Outcast, 4 Cut Hero and What Does the Fox Say?
The latest move was spurred by the U.S. demand for popular Lezhin titles driving illegal sharing. The company therefore began offering web-based services in December, and continues to release new titles online each week.