Webcomic is simply translated to the comics published online.
However, as 'manga' and 'anime' became almost proper nouns and refer to more specific genres, webcomic can be referred to Korean webcomic.
Many people might think that mangas they are mostly familiar with are solely created in Japan, or created by Japan. Those people are wrong, nonetheless. On the internet, Korean webcomic has its own heydays throughout the world.
In Korea, webcomic is not a common term. Instead, people use 'webtoon', as a combination of 'web+cartoon'. Webtoon is highly popular in Korea, for several reasons.
Mainly, people create their arts first in print version. That has been the way comic book artists of the world producing their works. Or at least, they may draw their comics with the help of monitor and tablets, but they do not publish it online before they hand it over to the publishers.
The system has been quite different, though, in Korea. Korea has had high-speed internet since early nineties, as the government set up the infrastructure for the broadband in those days. Thanks to that, people became used to enjoy contents with big volumes.
Of course, there has been already a huge comic book industry behind. This manga market had a lot of consumers, who eventually came to settle down on the internet and started enjoying webtoons as well.
There are many online comics in many countries: including the US, France, Korea, and Japan, since the internet has become the most prevalent tools for modern day society. However, where webcomic is popular the most is Korea. In Japan, the idea of webcomic is online version of published manga. In France, the genre of webcomic is confined to a kind of personal diary. The US web comics are mostly 4-cut structure.
Korean webtoons have very different features from the others.
Webtoon artists are hired by the major websites, serializing their comics once or twice a week.
|Korean webtoons from a popular portal, 'Naver'|
Webtoon is a great make-living means to many Korean manga artists, as there are already too many mangas(manhwa, in Korean term) published out there, and illegal scanned copies of them exist online.
In the big portals' point of view, webtoon is a perfect way to make people to regularly visit their websites.
Besides, google is not such a powerful search engine in Korea, and a lot of Koreans like to read mangas from the bottom of their hearts. People visit major portals like 'Naver' and 'Daum' on a daily basis, and they get to see their favorite webtoons updated everyday. Korea could be the only country which has a number of dramas, musicals, movies, animations, books based on 'webtoons'. For example, there is a popular webtoon called 'The Great Catsby' serialized through 2005-2010. This was made into a musical in Oct 2010.
|<The Great Catsby> Webtoon|
The musical 'Great Catsby'
Additionally, you can find a variety of webcomics serialized in the websites, like 'Tenmanga', in other countries as well.(They are translated into English)
The biggest difference between published manga and webtoon would be art style.
They are usually very colorful, as it much easier and less limited to put colours, thanks to 100% digital work. Also webtoons are vertically read(because of the mouse scroll), which makes it possible to change reading patterns and art techniques in various ways.(No cuts between scenes, and continuous action scenes)
Webtoon let artists express their own characteristic styles in broad ways, so they could experiment their work even further(surely, it is quite limited in contents way, as it is serialized in large portals) For instance, some artists focus more on plots rather than detailed descriptions, and vice versa.
Here is a popular example of detailed and colourful webcomic.
A few cuts(respectively) from 'Noblesse'(source: Naver Webtoon)
|Excerpts from Noblesse Ep.2|
Like this, depending on their drawing styles, artists have different publishing cycles. When they get hugely successful, they receive high premiums from the websites, almost to the level of big company monthly pay. However, just like all the other business, it is hard to become one of them after all.