Netcomics isn’t paying me to write this review, and I don’t work for them or anything. I just love their crazy comics.
If you have a credit card (Visa, Mastercard, or American Express), and you have any interest whatsoever in Korean comics, you don’t even have to put on pants if you want to spend a 30-hour period skipping work and school to do nothing but read new comics incredibly cheaply. Trust me.
Netcomics (www.netcomics.com), as a company, is about 2 years old, and they have a decent number of titles on bookstore shelves with oftentimes soft-to-the-touch, very pretty covers (the covers of Click specifically have always really caught my eye). But their website is like some sort of new world, some beautifully designed haven of comics that feels more like a well-run fansite that wants very little of your money than a slow-loading corporate arena trying to foist downloads or really incongruous ads your way.
This is what you do if you want to legally read Korean comics until your eyes bleed:
1.) Register for an account – which usually takes your name, address, and about 3 minutes of your time. Once in your account, go to “Buy e-cash.” It comes in $10 chunks; think Wii Points for your Virtual Console. Start with $10 – it’ll go a long way.
2.) Go to the top bar labeled “comics” and choose how you want the series listed. I personally like “highly rated,” since it lets me know what the kids are reading/enjoying these days. Pick a series, grab the drop-down bar for chapter, and start at Volume 1, Chapter 1 – that one’s always free.
3.) A manga viewer will pop up. If it has trouble loading, just close it and try again. It only takes a few seconds to load on my home Internet, so a failed loading only wastes that much of my life. Then read your comics. Oh, read them hard.
4.) If you like what you read, use the drop-down bar to read the next chapter (or answer “Yes” to the “Want to read more?” pop-up question at the end of your chapter). At that point, it will ask you if you want to buy the next chapter, how much it will cost, and how much e-money you have left. The average chapter costs 20-25 cents and is viewable for 48 hours.
5.) If you like what you read and want to talk about it, the user comments are right smack on the main page for each title (just be wary that the kiddies post spoilers). If you want pretty wallpapers and stuff, go to “Extras” and fish around. And if you want hard copies of any of the titles you like, go to their Amazon or Barnes and Noble links or your local book store/comic store; the more popular titles can be found pretty easily in stores.
Or, if you want, completely ignore the instructions I just listed and fiddle around on the site until you figure things out yourself. I did this with no problem in about 10 minutes, since the site is intuitive and surprisingly quick loading.
The bottom line is this: since the average manhwa is 4-5 chapters long, you’re paying about $1 per volume for reading rights for 48 hours (and this doesn’t include free chapters or free series, such as The Great Catsby). If you hate something two chapters in, ditch it and try something else. If you don’t know what to read, see how other users rate the series or check out “Editor’s Choice” or whatever. This is the most perfect way I can think of of getting maximum comics reading for very little money while still supporting the industry. And they have some really solid titles, like the addictive crazyfest that is Let Dai. Korean shoujo is its own art form, and, as I.N.V.U. proved for most people, stands up solidly to its Japanese counterpart. (Korean shoujo tends to have stronger-willed female characters to boot.) Most of the stuff on Netcomics.com is Korean shoujo, so if you’re not familiar with the style, this is the perfect way to get acquainted.
My only two real complaints about the company are the script edits and the font choices. Some of the early scripts were really terribly adapted, to the point of near-incoherency, although that’s been cleaned up a lot recently (and I think they may have re-edited some of the earlier chapters and posted them, so the ones online now are better than the ones I bought in hard copy?). The font choice, however, is still really bad. Please, Netcomics…my eyes can only take so many BOLD CAPS.
Educated impression: If Netcomics had the editors of the bigger companies and more genres of comics available, there would be no more reason to leave the house. But as it stands, Netcomics is one of the most perfect business models for an import comics company I’ve ever seen. (Lianne)