BTS, the Korean boy band, transcends traditional fandom boundaries and stars in their own Webtoon strip.
Many of our readers may not have heard of the Korean boy band BTS but let me tell you it is only a matter of time. There hasn’t been such a world-wide takeover of fandom since the Beatles. Their new album “Map of the Soul; Persona” come out today and is expected to smash all international sales charts. They’re about to drop a new single featuring American pop star Halsey, as well as appearing on Saturday Night Live as musical guests. So, while K-pop, pop music originating in Korea, is not a huge sensation outside of that country, it’s reach and influence is growing.
BTS stands for “Beyond the Scene’ though that name shifted from the original “bulletproof boy scouts” as the bands profile rose among English -speaking audiences. The seven members of the band all have stage names and while seven may sound like a large number for a band her in the US, it is bery typical of K-Pop groups. The members are;
RM (previously Rap Monster)/ Kim Nam Joon
Jungkook/ Jeon Jeong-guk
Jin/ Kim Seok Jin
Suga/ Min Yoon Gi
J-Hope/ Jung Ho Seok
Jimin/ Park Ji Min
V/ Kim Tae Hyung
They inspire a very devoted following and fan base who call themselves ARMY. Not ‘the ARMY”, just ARMY. These fans are a diverse and world-wide group who seem to exist as much to support each other as to share their love of BTS. Like any modern subsection of fandom, they have some level of toxicity and drama, especially if anyone dares to speak ill of BTS in anyway, but this is a very small section of the fans and may only be worth mention due to the sheer size of the fanbase and the massive social media presence of BTS and subsequently ARMY.
That social media presence is massive and has helped to garner BTS several world records, including the most Twitter engagements as well as the most music video views in a 24-hour period. Due to the language barrier between BTS and many of their millions of fans around the world, social media provides the perfect outlet for them to connect to their fans on a shared platform where language is not an issue.
Another way BTS has connected with fans is by partnering with the digital comic platform Webtoon to create a brand-new comic series Save Me, based on the band’s creative narrative. It is a well-built, compelling story and having not been familiar with BTS before this series myself, I still found the comic to be engaging and excellently produced in terms of pacing, visuals and scripting. I don’t want to get to much into the details here as I feel the series is worth checking out based on its own merits, but I have included a series description provided by Webtoon. Also, the strip does an excellent job of incorporating the tone and feel of much of the music of BTS, namely emotionality, vulnerability, self-acceptance and friendship.
Seven boys. Best friends. Their fates intertwined through the good times together, but also the tough times, as they have gone their separate ways and suffered greatly as a result. When all is almost lost for these boys, one is given a special chance to go back in time and help his friends fix the mistakes that led them down this path. He’ll do anything to save them, but can he? Or is he too late?
As is the case with many Webtoon strips, it is a departure from what a typical comic fan who reads mostly western style comics from the Big Two, might expect. However, the quality of the work speaks for itself and I am always in favor of trying new things and crossing the divides when it comes to fandom. I rather enjoyed Save Me and would recommend anyone to go to Webtoon and give it a try. Remember that all Webtoon strips are free and can be accessed on any mobile device by downloading the Webtoon app or going to https://www.webtoons.com/en/
Also, as a special treat, we have been given one of only 50 BTS prize packs to be given away in North America. The pack consists of a BTS ARMY Bomb light and character cards for the members showing both their real-life personas as well as their Webtoon Save Me strip alter egos.
For a chance to win, simply follow The Comic Source on Twitter and DM us with the name of your favorite character from the Save Me strip. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 PM April 28th and the winner will be announced on May 1st.