Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

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Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby Admin » September 10th, 2018, 3:34 pm

Hey Everyone,

I've got big news.

For the last 13 years, I have been the sole developer of Smack Jeeves Webcomic Hosting. I started working on Smack Jeeves when I was 17 years old and a junior in high school. I wanted to start a web business that had some intrinsic value beyond mindless entertainment (my previous endeavor was an online game called Samurai War). At the time, being a gamer, I was a huge fan of the webcomic Penny Arcade (I still am!). Also at this time, a lot of people I knew and people I didn't know were talking about wanting to make webcomics. Webcomics seemed to be the thing, so I threw caution to the wind and jumped in. After spending a few days brainstorming edgy names, I settled on Smack Jeeves, and the site was born.

Smack Jeeves is a very special place. It has a legacy and a future. There's a generation of people out there who reminisce about the "good ol days" of Smack Jeeves. We've gone through several eras. In the early days, when the internet was still basically the wild wild west, Smack Jeeves had the feel of a little mom and pop shop just getting started. After a while, a community formed, and that community was fun and silly and also downright trolly and argumentative at times. Things were pretty wild, and controversial, and some people preferred it that way. Well, that all kind of boiled over and a bunch of the mods quit like they were leaving a bad relationship. We had our first significant redesign in 2009, and along with that, we launched a new forum, with a calmer intent in mind. From there, we entered a bit of a golden era, with lots of really great comics on the site, and the most traffic we've had in our history. That didn't last forever, however, and with the entry of corporate-backed platforms who offered to pay artists to be on their platforms, we started to lose some of our "market share" of the comic community. We couldn't compete with those models because we didn't have any money. But we remained committed to providing the best services we could with the resources we had. And it's worked. Smack Jeeves is still an awesome place with awesome members. It continues to evolve, and we're really lucky to still have a lot of old timers with us. For me personally, Smack Jeeves has been in my life for over half of it. It's extremely important to me. And most of all, Smack Jeeves has always been about the people who use it, and that's what makes it special.

In July, Smack Jeeves was acquired by NHN Global, the USA branch of NHN Entertainment, a Korean mobile entertainment company. NHN also operates a webtoon platform called Comico in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia. With this acquisition, NHN will be investing Smack Jeeves as a platform and I will continue to remain on board, building Smack Jeeves going forward. Smack Jeeves will continue to be about the same things we've always been about: free and premium easy-to-use webcomic hosting with full customizability, open to everyone (subject to our content policies), fully respecting creators ownership rights, and more recently, helping to empower creator monetization. NHN is absolutely on board with our mission and continuing to keep Smack Jeeves the special place that it is, and keeping the things that make it unique. The goal moving forward is to emphasize our strengths.

I'm going to talk about some of the benefits of our partnership with NHN, but first I want to talk about some of the reasons behind the decision. In the last few years, we've managed to continue to thrive in the face of the big new platforms. I made the decision two years ago to start working on Smack Jeeves again full-time. I've done this at the cost of my own personal aspirations and health. Despite being a web developer, web development isn't really the greatest career choice for me, due to my own long term health issues. I would be much better off in a more physically active career, and that's something I've been working towards since 2013. In the long term, I do hope to transition out of web development, or at least out of being on a computer all day every day, which is what I've been doing for the majority of my life. So that's a personal reason behind my decision. That said, ultimately my interest lies in the future of Smack Jeeves. It was clear to me from the beginning that NHN would be a great partner moving forward. With NHN's investment we can make Smack Jeeves the best version of itself it can be.

From now on, the development and maintenance of the site is no longer going to be a one-man operation (yay!). We're going to finally be able to hire developers and designers, which means we'll be able to work on new features, and larger projects, at a much faster pace than we (I) have been able to in the past. We've been working on a roadmap for the site, and I'm really excited about where we're heading. A lot of long-standing features are on the roadmap, as well as new ones. Also, we're considering some larger projects which I wouldn't have been able to accomplish on my own.

One of our mutual goals is to grow the site. I have a lot of creative ideas for how to accomplish that, and I'm hoping we'll be able to execute them. And it's not just about getting more comics on the platform - it's about bringing more genuine readers to Smack Jeeves.

Stay tuned for updates. We are starting to look for developers, and I'm hoping we'll be commissioning some design work pretty soon as well. If you're a web developer yourself and you have an interest in joining Smack Jeeves and wearing a monocle to work every day, I'll be posting some of the job openings soon, so keep an eye out. This is significant news, so as always, feel free to ask questions or express your concerns. And if you read the whole thing, congratulations and thanks for staying with me.


Dan Liebner, a.k.a. Admin
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby eishiya » September 10th, 2018, 3:47 pm

I'm glad that SJ is going to do better financially and I have faith in your ability to make sound decisions about its future, but I can't help feeling a little leery about this, as I can't think of a single corporate acquisition like this that went well for the site's users ;_; Even though I want to be optimistic, I still find myself thinking, "I hope I can finish my current comic before the site gets shitty."
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby Squirreltastic-Blue » September 10th, 2018, 6:10 pm

eishiya wrote:I'm glad that SJ is going to do better financially and I have faith in your ability to make sound decisions about its future, but I can't help feeling a little leery about this, as I can't think of a single corporate acquisition like this that went well for the site's users ;_; Even though I want to be optimistic, I still find myself thinking, "I hope I can finish my current comic before the site gets shitty."

You wrote exactly what I was thinking. I've seen a few sites die shortly after corporate acquisition. The community often feels a little disjointed and tainted after and a lot of people abandon ship. I guess only time will tell.
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby TheJGamer » September 10th, 2018, 7:57 pm

Wow, this is some really exciting news! I told my parents and they told me that NHN Entertainment is a subsidiary for Naver, which is basically Google for Koreans. Naver is home to some pretty nice webtoons, so I can't wait to see what kind of changes this partnership will bring! I'm Korean myself, so I did get a little excited after reading this, heh.

eishiya wrote:I'm glad that SJ is going to do better financially and I have faith in your ability to make sound decisions about its future, but I can't help feeling a little leery about this, as I can't think of a single corporate acquisition like this that went well for the site's users ;_; Even though I want to be optimistic, I still find myself thinking, "I hope I can finish my current comic before the site gets shitty."

I really hope that this partnership won't go the wrong way. I'm confident that SJ will be greater than ever while retaining its webcomic-y charm!
Last edited by TheJGamer on September 10th, 2018, 9:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby K-cho » September 10th, 2018, 8:55 pm

I'm nervous + cautiously optimistic like the people above me have said, but whatever happens from now on, thank you Admin for running this site for such a long time and making it so pleasant to use. :) It's crazy to think back to when I was first looking into webcomic hosting options ~10 years ago, things have changed so much!! Then and now, SJ has always been my favorite, and I sincerely hope it can both retain its awesome qualities and get even better in the future.
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby M-24 » September 11th, 2018, 12:32 am

I'm very excited! A year ago I would have been adverse to the change as I would be loathe to lose the cozy community feel of this site with the inclusion of a big corporation, but recently I've noticed that has been happening to this site anyways. I've seen authors switch platforms left and right and the ones who do stay have their number of comments cut in half here as fans jump ship to other sleeker platforms that they cross-post on. A change has been due that appeals to the authors and fans needs and stays relevant with the times and it just wasn't feasible for Dan to do this all on his own.
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby Gibson Twist » September 11th, 2018, 4:17 am

I'm with you until the wheels come off. Get paid.
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby Spikings » September 11th, 2018, 5:18 am

I'm always a bit uneasy about acquisitions, but at the end of the day if it means Admin can have their life back, get outside, get paid and not keel over from overwork, then I'm all for it (I mean, that's what all us web-comic artists dream of, right?). :D
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby youngcannibals » September 11th, 2018, 8:04 am

Reflecting on what you've done by yourself is amazing. What you've created is a good thing. It's given people a place to express themselves freely (which, in my opinion, is the best thing in the world). Your commitment to the site has been extraordinary. I want to say "thank you."
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby AshenSkye » September 11th, 2018, 3:31 pm

I reckon some congratulations are in order then. ^.^

I look forward to the features and stuff you're wanting to bring forward. My poor story has had to switch mediums from webcomic to webnovel, so, if you end up implementing a written counterpart to the site like Tapastic did to theirs, you've got at least one person willing to sign up for it.
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby Riana » September 11th, 2018, 3:45 pm

Congrats, Dan! I'm glad you could get a company to back you up! I do have my own concerns about the future (as are normal with company acquisitions), but at the end of the day, I'm glad that this means that it benefits your life and your health for the better. I'm interested to see what's in store, as I mirror on Naver's Webtoon, and overall, I enjoy getting eyeballs on my comic there. I'm curious to see what NHN can do for SJ!
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby Annabeld » September 11th, 2018, 4:44 pm

Thank you for all your hard work, and I'm excited for what the future will bring!
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby MemaiShirosaki » September 11th, 2018, 8:24 pm

Dan, thank you so much for all your wonderful hard work. I know you won't steer us wrong, and I trust you'll make the right call so that SJ is one of *THE* places to read quality stuff. I've always loved the sense of community that SJ offered, now and in the past (and it's the #1 reason why I recommend it to folks looking for comic hosting), and I'm only happy to see it grow from here on out.

Lets kick ass >:3c
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby kayotics » September 11th, 2018, 9:03 pm

I sincerely hope that this means the best for Smackjeeves. We all know stories of acquisitions that have gone sour, so I absolutely hope that this means that Smackjeeves gets the funding it deserves without becoming too much of a drastically different place.

That said, congratulations, Admin!
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Re: Smack Jeeves + NHN Global

Postby Cave » September 12th, 2018, 9:56 pm

Hmmmm this is pretty interesting. Comico seems to be the site that publishes ReLife which is a really popular manga and even has an anime. It seems similar to Webtoon and still has a focus on scrolling comics. As long as SJ doesn't become beneficial to only scrolling comics since I think it still remains the best for page-by-page comics. If it had options for both though that would be nice.

I also hope that a streamline of communication between devs and community remains too. Line Webtoon sucks because it has zero. Really the only thing good about Webtoon is that it's popular for reasons that are beyond my understanding since everything else about it is terrible.

Definitely having more of the community feel would be nice and I feel would help separate from Tapas and Webtoon.

There's so many ways this could go and I really hope it goes well since SJ has always been my favorite hosting platform.
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