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Comics Licensing: Surge Licensing To Develop Licensing Strategy For Webtoon

By Allison Watkinson

TLL Reporter

The digital comics platform WEBTOON has appointed Surge Licensing as the exclusive North American licensing agent for the platform.

Founded in 1986, Surge Licensing is known for creating multi-platformed entertainment and consumer product licensing programs. As an IP incubator, the agency’s main goal is growing and managing brands for its clients.

In its partnership with WEBTOON, Surge will develop an overall brand licensing strategy for the comics platform. The agency will also develop licensing and merchandise programs in North America for WEBTOON’s individual original IP.

“Given that WEBTOON is the #1 comic book entertainment app in the world with massive engagement and awareness, the possibilities for creating dynamic brand programs for their original IP are endless,” said Elan Freedman, Surge Licensing EVP.

WEBTOON’s app and online platform host a staggering 1.3 million comics titles, some of which have already been turned into hit shows and movies.

“In the U.S. alone, WEBTOON touts over 15 million monthly users, which is tremendous with room for major growth. We look forward to introducing the WEBTOON brand and its key titles to potential partners at the upcoming Licensing Expo.”

The deal is also notable given the surging popularity of comics in the licensing industry, with Marvel and DC Comics leading the way in what is now a multibillion dollar licensing sector all its own.

The agency plans to further expand WEBTOON’s licensing and merchandising business. It will accomplish this by extending consumer products lines and promotions of new and existing franchises. The expansions will include apparel, fashion collaborations, toys, tabletop games, promotions and more.

“We’re bringing comics to a new generation of readers around the world,” said Eugene Kim, Head of Business Development at WEBTOON. “WEBTOON comics and creators already have huge global fandoms, so the time is right to begin offering fans new, fresh, and unique ways to celebrate the comics they love. We’re excited to begin our partnership with Surge Licensing to create memorable experiences beyond our platform.”

WEBTOON is a global leader in digital comics and hosts many different genres and styles of comics. The digital platform currently hosts around 1.3 million comic titles.

Among WEBTOON’s most popular comic creators is Rachel Smythe, whose massively popular Lore Olympus comic has more than 1.2 billion global views and 5.7 million subscribers on WEBTOON. Lore Olympus became a #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel in 2021, and is in development as an animated series from Wattpad WEBTOON Studios and the Jim Henson Company.

A growing number of digital comics from WEBTOON have been adapted into live-action and animated TV adaptations. This includes the zombie apocalypse series All of Us are Dead, the apocalyptic horror series Sweet Home, and the global romantic comedy sensation True Beauty.

Genuine Entertainment’s Joe LeFavi was instrumental in developing the partnership and will continue to collaborate with WEBTOON and Surge as a strategic advisor in the endeavor.

“WEBTOON has redefined how creators and fans alike can share and celebrate their favorite stories with a global audience,” said LeFavi. “Boasting one of the biggest fandoms and a veritable treasure trove of IP, it’s an enormous opportunity to build meaningful programs and give this inclusive community more ways to engage with the content and creators they know and love.

“And since Surge has been championing comic creators since first taking TMNT from comic racks to riches… suffice it to say, they were an ideal fit for the job.”

Genuine is a leading producer and brand manager of best-selling stories, games, and merchandise for popular entertainment brands.

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