The History of the Webtoon “Jackson’s Diary”

Hello there, internet traveler, wary from your journey searching for the mythical “old version” of the Jackson’s Diary webtoon by Paola Batalla. I’m here to share what I know, now that the webtoon is at the point where my would-be spoilers are now irrelevant. Anything you hear here is purely for novelty, especially if the author never re-releases the old version of the webtoon. I’ll be using both my own screenshots and screenshots I found online as reference. Please keep in mind my memory is not perfect, so take what you read here with a grain of salt.

If the author would like me to take down this post, please contact me!


The most obvious difference between the original and current version is that the original is in black and white, likely to remind the readers that this comic takes place in the 80s. However, this may not be totally accurate and she chose black and white purely for stylistic/convenience reasons.

Before a webtoon published on Canvas (previously called Discover) can transition from independent to contracted, it goes through a complete revamp where editors suggest plot and art changes.

I thought what happened here was that the editor suggested Batalla color her art. The webtoon only had about 5K subscribers and I suspect a lot of potential readers were put off by its lack of color.

Another artistic change up was the wardrobe of the webtoon. In the original, they all wore the same uniform. Any variation came in the form of vests, letterman jackets, gym attire, and cheerleader outfits.

Characters like Ronald, Exer and David (also known as “The Reds” in the current version) were often seen wearing letterman jackets while Brenda and other popular girls were constantly in cheerleader outfits. This wasn’t a hard and fast rule, because other characters wore a variety of clothing, but it was very limited in what they could wear.

The current version has a very extensive wardrobe and they look fantastic. Every chapter, the comments mention how nice their clothing is. Brenda is my personal favorite, because she always looks put together and classy, while still managing to dress her age. The fashion of the background characters especially help, with their heart-shaped sunglasses, big hair, and interesting pattern selections.

Another art detail I noticed was that the physiques of the characters changed quite drastically. The comic took 2-3 years to be released officially, so between that time, the way Batalla drew their bodies shifted from shapely to thick. Or rather, caricature-like to cartoon-like.

For example, Brenda in both versions has always been on the curvier side. However, the old version gave her (and other females) an almost sharp hourglass shape. The males typically had triangle-shaped torsos and long, thin legs. Someone in the old comment section called Jackson “a dorito”. In-webtoon, his classmates commented Jackson could take out someone’s eye with his gelled-up hair.

The new version gives them all comically stocky legs and arms where their thighs and calves are the same width.

Just to hit off all the physical differences for the main characters:

  • Exer: he looked a little younger and his hair wasn’t as puffy as it is now.
  • David looks exactly the same.
  • Jackson’s face was skinnier and his hair stood up more. He almost always wore a beanie.
  • Brenda was blonde instead of ginger. She looked like a female version of David, full stop.
  • Pamela was not an emo-goth and wore the same uniform top and skirt as everyone else. She looked a little preppy, in fact.
  • Ronald was tall and skinny instead of tall and big. He wore his blue hair in a bun or ponytail most of the time. He could be found wearing a letterman if not in his regular uniform.

Onto their personalities, which had quite a few changes.

Jackson was very, very pessimistic. In contrast to the sunshine, happy-go-lucky character we have today, the previous version had him complaining about having to go to a new school, not being able to find his classes, the cafeteria not having vegan options, etc. Instead of taking the hits, he brushed past his problems with a very ironic sense of sarcasm.

For example, Ronald is his roommate and it’s very obvious Ronald doesn’t like him. However, he narrates that everything between he and Ronald is going just great. He never stirs up conflict, but when he inevitably runs into it, he has an amazing stank face and biting sarcasm to match the situation.

That is, of course, unless it’s magic-related. In which case he acts exactly the same as he currently does and becomes extremely flustered and confused. He never completely knows what’s going on, but he’s trying his best to figure it out without pissing off Exer.

~!~

Exer is a bit cruel in this version. His first time meeting Jackson, he intentionally tries to mess with him using magic, then accuses Jackson of being on drugs when Jackson tries to call him out. He’s mischievous and seems to be a regular guest at the principal’s office. When he’s with his friends, he’s kinder but still messes with them. He and David get up to their antics and the two get along swell with Ronald.

He’s the popular guy, but his popularity is subtle. In the reboot, everyone parts like the Red Sea when he comes through the hall while here, he’s just liked in general. He gets invited to all the parties. Still, he is idolized, especially when it comes to sports.

He’s not an honest character, sometimes. We see instances of him using his magic to steal cookies from David’s room, where they are roommates. He’s reprimanded by adults for being a trouble-maker, but I suppose you can make the argument he’s insecure at the center of it all.

Overall, he’s smug and very mean to Jackson (marking him as the antagonist).

~!~

David is virtually the same. He’s the character that changed the least during the transition.

I think this is due to plot transformations, but he’s not as judgemental as he is currently. I found it out of character when he called Pamela a “witch” in the current series. The original David was very understanding and empathetic. And I swear no one has ever loved their sister more than he did. (He once brought Brenda lunch because he knew she might forget).

Additionally, he is a smidge more flirtatious, competing with Exer for girls they both find attractive. He’s also a lot more prone to slipping up about his feelings for guys, and you get the impression at least one of them has caught on.

~!~

That “one of them” being Ronald. Ronald changed quite a bit.

Here, Ronald fits the “cold Russian” trope very well. He’s intentionally distant towards Jackson and despite liking Exer and David, he refuses to go along with their antics.

He maintains his middling grasp of English grammar, but doesn’t talk nearly as much. He certainly wouldn’t offer advice, even if he saw something was wrong. He speaks when spoken to, and when someone speaks to him, he gives short, clipped responses. That did add a little to his role as a comedic character.

He’s not particularly friendly and doesn’t care if he appears intimidating. He has a very “go your own way” kind of personality, with no mind to what others think of his actions.

He’s equally as popular as Exer. He’s star of the basketball team (because he’s the tallest) and has multiple awards lining the walls of his room, Jackson notes.

He has a short list of things he likes, pink raspberries being number one. In fact, Jackson introducing raspberries to him is the only reason Ronald accepted him as a friend. He even defends Jackson from Exer’s nonsense, seeing as Jackson is the sole source of his raspberries. From then on, he can be seen eating raspberries in the background. He nearly never pops gum as the current Ronald does occasionally.

~!~

Brenda’s status as a popular girl is more pronounced here.

She’s always surrounded by her gaggle of cheerleaders and is seen at the same parties as Exer.

Her personality is similar, using the same motherly “honey” or “sweetie” when addressing her friends. Except in this version, her southern (or New York??) twang is nearly audible. She’s the most “80s” character of the main cast.

She has a bit of a temper and is provoked slightly more easily. She also holds onto grudges much longer than currently.

~!~

Pamela, due to plot changes, is less ostracized. She’s more outgoing and dare I say…bubbly?

She’s toned down in comparison to Brenda, but she still laughs and giggles more than in the current version. People do think she’s weird (for an unexplained reason) but it’s not uncommon for her to say hi to a passing classmate.

She also displays some courage not present in the reboot when she helps out people being bullied.


There’s one character in the old version that’s no longer present in the reboot: Timothy. Since he’s not in the current webtoon, I’ll divulge everything I remember about him here.

Timothy was one of their classmates and was friends with Pamela. He was very shy and a little bit of a wallflower. He could mostly be found painting sets for the upcoming play in the theatre and he was really into art. He also rose baby chickens, earning him the title of “chick boy” from David. He was regularly bullied by the school’s resident meatheads (the people we’d come to know as Ricky and Marty).

We’re introduced to him when he’s rescued by Pamela (who apparently knows some form of martial arts and threatens to kick Ricky and Marty in the face). He and Pam seem close and regularly catch up to discuss how each other have been feeling.

In one of their classes, they’re assigned partners for a cultural project, like the one in the webtoon. Timothy’s partner turns out to be Ronald and poor Timothy is terrified. He tells Pam about how hard it is to get close to Ronald because he just seems so threatening.

The other main characters meet Timothy at some point and Jackson and David take a liking to him. Timothy’s flustered, especially when David tells him he’s adorable (in an endearing manner, to the point it was unclear if he was messing with Timothy or actually liked him).

Ronald missed the class where they were paired up so the teacher relays the message to meet Timothy in the library. At the library, Ronald towers behind Timothy to grab a book Timothy needed that he couldn’t reach. This is the first time Timothy sees Ronald up close and justifiably, he’s very scared.

This specific action of the taller individual reaching for an item the shorter one can’t access is a common romance trope, so you really have to start wondering where their relationship was headed.

They get into a little squabble about something trivial, revealing that Timothy’s not that shy around Ronald after getting used to his presence. They interact in some instances after the library meet up and Timothy does call Ronald his friend, if with some hesitation.

Unfortunately, Timothy didn’t make the final cut. My theory is that Batalla merged his and Brenda’s characters. That’s why Brenda is ginger (instead of blonde like her brother). It also explains Ronald’s enigmatic friendship with Brenda despite them having almost nothing in common.

~!~

Edit: So Timothy does come back! Scrap my theory about he and Brenda being merged together. In the original, he owned a very sassy chick named Ken, who seems to have made the jump from chick to human.


Of course, the plot of the webtoon has been altered so the information I have either isn’t relevant anymore or might prove to be relevant (and are henceforth spoilers!). I won’t summarize the whole webtoon, just random details I remembered.

I’ll go in chronological order if I can:

  • It was hinted that Jackson’s mother was forced to give him away because she was about to be killed (maybe because of her powers).
  • Jackson’s guardians were his grandparents, not his aunt and uncle.
  • Jackson lived on the school grounds, sharing a dorm with Ronald.
  • Jackson in the original seemed to have powers. Even before Exer was introduced, his boxes were mysteriously unpacking themselves. Unlike in the current webtoon (as of original publishing date) where magic is triggered by strong emotions, this magic worked randomly against Jackson.
  • Exer used to smoke when he was stressed, though David discouraged him from doing so.
  • Exer didn’t have a good relationship with his dad. He and David talk about how he got into yet another fight with his father and how it became particularly heated. We never see his father on screen but we hear him talk. He appears to know about Exer’s powers and may even possess powers of his own.
  • Exer has good control over his abilities but they seem to go haywire around Jackson and that scares Exer: not being in control. This might be why he disliked Jackson so heavily.
  • In baby chicken form, Ken was very biased towards Exer.
  • Timothy didn’t like being called chick boy all that much.
  • Pamela’s nickname was “Panny”.
  • Brenda and Pamela had been best friends since childhood but drifted apart after Brenda became a cheerleader.
  • It’s revealed that Brenda hates Exer because he accidentally kissed another girl while drunk at a party they were attending.
  • In a QnA, the author stated that David was bi and Ronald was ace.
  • Jackson and Brenda liked each other from the start, making it look like they’d be end game if Brenda never forgave Exer.
  • Jackson and Panny’s romance was a slowburn, where it wasn’t 100% they’d date. Pamela was the one to like him first, though Jackson hadn’t realized his feelings because he still had a thing for Brenda.
  • Near the end of the original’s run, Exer is seen running away to his regular hiding place in the forest and is practicing lifting boulders near a body of water. Jackson and Pamela use that location to get away too, so Jackson finds Exer practicing there by accident.
  • There’s a big incident involving weather manipulation and some flooding, but…that’s as far as it got.

And that’s all I’ve got for you guys! Please remember that these are things I think I remember, or conclusions that I only inferenced. Though I want to be 100% accurate, that may not be the case.

Hope you enjoyed taking a look into “Jackson’s Diary”‘s past.

*I’ve added new pictures, as well as adding/revising information since the original publishing date.

Sources:
Insta1 Insta2
Youtube 1 YouTube 2 YouTube 3
Tapas Webtoon Tumblr

13 thoughts on “The History of the Webtoon “Jackson’s Diary”

  1. ThatColdHeart

    Your replies in the webtoon was messy af I barely even saw anyone actually talking about the webtoon but anyway this was a great coverage

    Like

  2. ThatAlienCat

    Came here from the comments section too!
    I really enjoyed your writing and it was so much fun to take a look on the webtoon’s past. Were all excited to see what the story will be like after the past events, and i think im even more curious about Timothy now :0

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nat

      Hi, I as well as the others, came from your comment on Webtoon. And I am thankful that I got to read this. It’s nice to know what this webcomic looked as before. I think you explained everything very well and organized it so it’s easy to read and understand everything. Great work ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Su_Akemi

    Timothy is in the Webtoon! At the end of Season 1, when Jackson gets detention, Timothy is introduced as one of the detention kids with the same look from the original! Glad to see he was planned from the start 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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