TappyToon founders Ernest Woo and Sun Bang chat with TheOASG on their webtoon service, reaching out to the female audience, and more.
At AnimeNYC, Ernest Woo and Sun Bang spent the majority of their time meeting not only fans of their platform, but introducing a new audience to TappyToon.
What is TappyToon? It’s another service that’s bringing out a ton of comics — but if you ask the two creators, they’ll tell you it’s not quite like the others. I sat down with them to get more information about the service, their artists, and what they are looking forward to doing in the future.
TheOASG: Tell me a little bit on what TappyToon’s about.
Ernest Woo: TappyToon is a comics and webtoon digital platform. We have our comics on the web, android, and IOS apps, and you can come in and read comics. You can sample free chapters and we have some paid chapters as well.
How did you two know each other?
Sun Bang: We met at our previous work.
Ernest: Yeah, maybe about ten years ago, and we started TappyToon about five years ago.’
TheOASG: What led to the idea of TappyToon?
Ernest: A lot of America’s biggest comics are pretty well known, but manga and comics from Asia are a little less so. We thought we could find some titles that haven’t been introduced to a wider audience in the U.S and English-speaking audiences, so we’re bringing our titles from Korea specifically.
Were you planning on getting into comics or was there something else you wanted to do?
Ernest: This happened by chance. We were trying to do one comic in the beginning, a one-off kind of thing. But interest in it grew so we had more titles that we could handle, and we basically expanded the whole thing to its current form.
Who came up with the name?
Ernest: I have no idea *laughs*
Sun: We talked a lot about it *laughs* the service name and–
Ernest: I think it was you.
Sun: No it was you! Not me *laughs*
Ernest: It wasn’t me. I don’t remember at all!
Sun: It came out and I guess we went with it.
But the origin of the name is important!
Sun & Ernest: *laughs*
Ernest: I think the biggest challenge is getting TappyToon out there. When you’re starting something new like this, with services like DC, Marvel, and ComiXology, it’s a challenge. So we’re not targeting the same kind of audience but when you go on the web and you search comics there’s only a few names that come up. So when you’re trying to be one of those, it’s a little harder to do when you’re a new service.
How many artists and comics did you have at the start?
Ernest: At the start we had maybe about four? Five? We literally had a handful of artists. Now we have over 40 titles, adding 2-5 titles a month. So it’s growing pretty fast.
How did you convince artists to support the service?
Ernest: Convincing artists was a little bit easier. There’s a lot of titles that are out there and since we’re resourcing from Korea there’s a big, active comics market there, but they don’t have a way to reach overseas readers. So there’s not that many places that do what we do. We’re one of the few doing this kind of thing so we come up and say we have a very active, interested readership so convincing them was a little easier.
It’s finding readers and reaching out to readers that don’t even know to come to us. That’s a little harder.
Is there a specific criteria for artists if they want to submit their stuff?
Ernest: Yeah we usually work with people who are a bit more established because we’re coming from Korea. When we bring artists to the U.S, they’re completely unknown. So it has to be a level of workmanship, professionalism, and quality that people will be interested in reading.
Do you overlook it, make sure the creators–
Ernest: Yes, we make sure the creators have a very good art style or story that will hook people. It’s just a little bit of experience and figuring out what people are interested in.
You talked about the type of audience you wanted. In your media release it noted that TappyToon’s audience is 90% female. Was that one of the goals you targeted or…?
Ernest: It didn’t start that way. We didn’t expect it to be that way when we started. Actually, in the beginning we had a few more titles geared towards guys. But then it turned out the popular ones that people were flocking to were geared towards the female audience.
Sun: My role is licensing the titles. For me, as a woman, I like stories that I can relate to, so I think it’s why we have a lot of titles for the female audience.
Ernest: And I think in general, when you think of comics in North America it’s usually a male kind of audience that’s into the big two or three comic books, but then there’s a whole subset of people who are into a different set of comics, like manga and anime. I think this kind of audience has a different kind of sensibility that they’re not getting fully in the stores. It’s not being representative in the experience that they’re looking for. There’s less chance for those readers to get to their content so that’s what I think we’re also trying to get out there.
At what point did you realize TappyToon would become a success?
Ernest: I actually don’t think we knew it would be a success! We’re still kind of establishing ourselves right now so it’s still a challenge but when we found out people are very passionate about our titles — like our #1 title, Bloody Sweet, people are gushing about it on places online and telling people about it. We’ve come to this exhibit today and we’re still surprised that people already know us. They’re coming up and saying “I love the story!” and we never expected that. So that was kind of interesting.
I think a good example is Bloody Sweet getting kickstarted for a physical release, and it was successful.
Ernest: Yeah, it was successfully funded pretty quickly, and we’re very excited about that.
Will other titles go this route?
Ernest: Hopefully! There’s a lot of people who are passionate about our other titles too. The interest for Bloody Sweet as a physical title is giving us hope that we can do more of this.
Will you stick with Kickstarter or potentially move on to something else?
Ernest: We really didn’t think that far yet *laughs* The Kickstarter is still going on, and…people have been asking about whether we will put our books up on Amazon and other services too. That’s a bigger operation obviously. But if interest is there, we’ll find a way to do it probably.
Ernest: As usual, we’re going to be expanding more of our titles. In terms of the app, there’s still going to be more features that we have to add that will make the service more usable and more friendly to use. And more varied ways to read the content because right now we have vertical scrolling comics, but we’re thinking of moving into paged comics so you can turn it like a regular comic.