Hello! CBY's Webcomics and Manga Editor – and BL expert – Al here to wrap up 2022 with the list of webcomics and webtoons that made my year better! These are the titles that I returned to regularly, that burrowed into my brain, and had an emotional impact with their stories and artwork.
First, an honorable mention. This series captivated me this year and I had to include it as a bonus. Of Dark Lords and Cabbages by Liyana (@Liyanya_) is a ridiculously fun, colorful, and emotional series that has become an instant recommendation for anyone asking for a new read. It’s uplifting, charming, and filled with wonderful characters, and you definitely need to go give it some love before season one returns in the near future.
10: Bone’s Tarot by Sera Swati (@Sera_Swati)
I have a soft spot for this series. It was one of the first webcomics I ever read and I got into it when chapter two was being uploaded, so sticking with this series for well over 300 episodes means it has a special place in my heart. This urban fantasy-crime thriller was wrapped up in late August and carried a phenomenally paced narrative throughout its entire run. This webcomic is filled with character development, queer romance, and well-choreographed action, making it a bingeable title that you'll want to return to often.
Bone’s Tarot is a comfort read for me and one I pick up several times a year both in digital and physical forms. With its charming cast, fast-paced fight sequences, unique take on magic, and well-built setting, it’s a stand-out title that only gets better with every read. You can read my review of part one here.
9: Lies Within by Lacey (@byelacey)
If my last entry wasn’t enough of a hint, I love urban fantasy titles, so when I stumbled upon Lies Within I simply had to binge every single page available at the time. This black and white, moody and edgier series features a memorable and diverse cast and stunning illustrations, ones that are enhanced by intense pops of red that hammer home the brutal nature of the narrative. It's absolute eye candy and the expressive faces of Lacey's characters make them dynamic and unforgettable.
Filled with cheeky humor and brilliant little details, as well as one of the most realistic and relatable protagonists you’ll ever meet, Lies Within is a must for anyone looking for a story rife with fan-favorite monsters that has a mature spin and isn't afraid to pull punches. You can read my review of the series here.
8: Hotel Pharus by BINGO (@Habanera3)
It’s easy to mistake Hotel Pharus as just another entry in TappyToon’s long list of BL webtoon titles at first glance. Once you get a few episodes in, however, you quickly realize that it’s much more than a generic romance. With a striking and captivating mystery at its core, this fictional period drama about a recently unemployed man named Daniel and the strange occurrences at his family hotel continues to up the ante with each new episode.
The isolated and quaint setting adds to the tension and unease as the secrets of the old building start to unravel, which is enhanced by BINGO’s beautiful art style that is rich with moody colors. Hotel Pharus’ mystery is as captivating as some of the most legendary whodunnits, which only makes the slow-burn romance more intense and tangible. If you love classic detective stories from the likes of Doyle and Christie, then this title is an absolute must for your weekly reading list.
7: Iris Complex by Josh Tierney (@jwtierney) and Caitlin Soloman (@salamispots)
I have said it before and I will continue to shout it from the rooftops until I die, do not sleep on Iris Complex. This Tapas Original title is one of the most unsettling slow-burn mysteries I have ever read and is an absolute must for any horror fan looking for something with substance and original terrors. The isolated setting, amnesiac-stricken protagonist, and eerie characters will crawl under your skin and send shivers down your spine within mere moments of starting it.
With its excruciatingly well-paced and cinematic build-ups, creepy artwork, and shocking moments, Iris Complex became an underrated gem in the horror scene that desperately needs to be read by anyone who loves stories that make your stomach flip. So many moments have profoundly stuck with me and legitimately kept me up at night. I promise, this is a series you don’t want to miss. You can read my review here.
6: Aporia by Seontae
Aporia is a title that I don’t speak about often but it is absolutely the highlight of my Friday mornings. One of my biggest guilty pleasures and a severely underrated title in not only the BL world but the webtoon world in general, Aporia is a beautifully illustrated and sinfully seductive webtoon series that is a masterclass of symmetry and sensuality. It features a subdued color scheme and striking minimalistic designs that make every panel feel like an art piece in a modern museum.
This webtoon thrusts readers into the world of what happens behind closed doors when celebrities and high-priced mouthpieces think no one is looking. Rife with positive representation of the BSDM lifestyle and how walking the fine line between love and lust can shape a relationship, Aporia is a dramatic and robust title that mature readers who demand more substance and realism in their stories will find satisfying.
5: The Gourmet Gamer by In Key-Young and Studio Weiib
This underrated gem of a webtoon is the most feel-good thing you will read all year. I leave every episode with a massive grin on my face and the feeling that I can overcome anything that stands in my way. Reading it invokes the kind of nostalgia one gets when booting up a new Pokémon game - wide-eyed and ready to explore - and the series oozes positivity in a way that doesn’t feel cheesy in the slightest. Rim’s journey from depressed recluse to confident dreamer is one any reader can fall in love with.
The delicious illustrations of food, sense of camaraderie, and immersive video game-centered setting make The Gourmet Gamer an appealing title for a variety of readers who want a massively positive series to find comfort in that doesn't skimp on the action and world-building. Uplifting and adventurous, this story of loss and learning to live again will bring a smile to your face every time. You can read my review here.
4: Lord Have Mercy by Savie Smith (@Black_Savvath) and Brogan Chattin (@BroganChattin)
I cannot express to you how much I love this series and how blessed I feel to have found it. The artwork is retro-inspired with a stunning color palette and unique character designs, and the idyllic setting enhances the realism of the narrative, making it feel like a nostalgic find at an old bookstore. You feel like you've truly stepped back in time as even the smallest of details feel hand-picked for the period. It's downright charming.
The tried and true romance between a well-meaning priest and a spunky, newly vowed nun is one we all know well, yet it feels fresh with the heavy honesty presented throughout their developing relationship. A perfect binge read for a cozy afternoon, Lord Have Mercy’s mixture of slice-of-life, romance, and historical drama genres opens it up to a variety of readers. With its relatable themes and realistic characters, this Tapas Original title is one you don’t want to miss. You can read my review here.
3: The Hunt by Miss Lucid (@llllucid)
The Hunt was an unexpected find that turned into an absolute obsession and I’m pretty sure all of my friends are tired of me hyping it up by this point. I have two webcomics permanently open on every device and The Hunt is one of them. My lifelong love of ghost-hunting shows made this mature-rated BL title an instant favorite, while the anime-influenced art style and perfectly placed humor hooked me to the point I don't think it'll ever let me go. This an unforgettable and addicting read.
It's steamy, it's sexy, it's silly, it's spooky, it's everything you want in a story about an idiot and his buff not-quite-boyfriend who may or may not be a werewolf (he is, but our poor protagonist can't quite put the pieces together). This 18+ only series is a riot and the absolutely agonizing 'oh my god, please just kiss already' moments will have you coming back week after week just to see if they finally figure things out. You can read my review of the series here.
2: Time and Time Again by Deo I. (@deoidesign)
Unsurprisingly, Time and Time Again takes the number two spot and, at the risk of sounding like a biased fangirl, this series is near perfect. This time-traveling urban fantasy series about a rambunctious short king with amnesia and his less-than-enthused vampire handler started out strong with its debut this past summer on WEBTOON. Part Quantum Leap, part Wolf Among Us, this comic is a wild roller coaster and I am simply addicted to the thrill of the ride at this point.
Each new time period they travel to is, somehow, more fun than the last and highlights the diverse creative style that Deo brings to the table with this webcomic. With perfectly timed jokes, an intriguing history between the leads that is shrouded in mystery, and an ever-changing setting filled with hysterical humans and mythical monsters, Time and Time Again is an addicting title you’ll want to read... time and time again (I am so sorry). You can read my review here.
1: Killer Crush by eresemo (@eresemo_99)
Hands down, this is by far the most enjoyable, most chuckle-worthy, and downright fun title I have read all year. Killer Crush first appeared as an unassuming new release on Lezhin that many became addicted to within the first few episodes, and for good reason. The story of an emotionless hitman who accidentally falls in love with a handsome actor, the series is part assassin thriller, part romcom, and part dark comedy and it will have your sides splitting with laughter.
Every episode hits the mark with perfectly timed jokes, brutal cliffhangers, and facial expressions that are perfectly over-the-top, yet realistic, which keeps the dedicated fans coming back week after week with fervor. It's violent, it's delightful, and it has so much heart. You absolutely root for the romance between Taeman and Dahyeok, and the recently started season two continues to deliver on a consistent basis. Killer Crush is damn near perfect and deserves all of the hype and love it receives. You can read my review of season one here.
*webtoon is the term used for scrolling digital comics from South Korea, not to be confused with WEBTOON, the app.
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