A Short Intro to Webcomics

 

I was never a huge comics geek as a kid, but I read Batman, Spider-man, Superman, Tintin…and these awesome, eclectic

Webcomics meet the real world.

compendia of Star Wars comics called Star Wars Tales. I think there were 6 beautiful glossy volumes, and though they degenerated in quality over time, some of them were stunningly artful and moving. Women (and uninitiate men) can judge, but the comic is still a valid format for expression that manages to connect deeply with its readers. In fact, there’s been something of a resurgence of late, and with the widespread proliferation of picture-editing tools and computer technology, webcomics have taken off as the newspaper comics page shrinks and dies.

 

So, there is a massive, varied amount of webcomics to read. But which ones are worth it? Here’s a short, opinionated list, graded for Art, Story, and Humor on a 1 to 5 scale.

 

Are you ready to begin your webcomic tutorial? Scroll down to begin. Many of these feature language, but nothing too awful.

1. XKCD

In many ways the granddaddy of the webcomic, XKCD has had many moments of greatness. But some would argue that those are past. To understand the latest comic, you need a fairly intricate knowledge of TCP/IP Internet architecture and the planned switch from IPv4 to IPv6. XKCD’s core audience is polymaths versed in science fiction, physics, advanced math, and most importantly, computer science. But Randall Munroe, the X in XKCD, occasionally breaks free of his suffocating PG-13 nerdiness and draws something with metaphysical relevance. Example: Friends. Art: 4. Story: 4. Humor: 3.

2. Dinosaur Comics

Dinosaur Comics is hilariously written, which is good since the art is always the same six-panel sequence of dinosaur mayhem, with new lines. T-Rex, Utah Raptor, Dromceiomimus, and occasionally God have some of the most random, hilarious conversations I’ve ever heard or seen in print. Example: Horses.  Art: 1. Story: 3. Humor: 5.

3. Hipster Hitler

Have you ever tried to imagine Der Fuehrer as a hipster? Wearing Arcade Fuehrer t-shirts and ironic glasses? Well, your dreams have been realized. Hipster Hitler ironically makes fun of hipster irony. To quote the bottom of the page: “Gah, vintage has been done. We’re ironically selling new merchandise now. Click here to see our range of Buttons, Posters, and Apathy.” A word of warning, though: reading Hipster Hitler might be grounds for conviction as a hipster if paired with other incriminating evidence like a pair of Bed Stu boots, a leather messenger bag, or Levi’s 511s. Also, language alert. Art: 2, Story: 3, Humor: 4.5.

4. Garfield Minus Garfield

Hardly a real webcomic, this is Garfield with the fat cat photoshopped out. Now, I used to be a huge Garfield fan, but the strip has been in the comics since 1978. Frankly, it’s time to die. It’s almost never funny anymore. The photoshopped version, however, is frequently hilarious and a little sad. Without Garfield, Jon’s life sucks. Actually, it sucks with Garfield too. Ah, well. Art: 1, Story: 2, Humor: 5.

We transition now to comics with more of a story arc. These are closer to traditional comics. Less funny, but more like reading a great comic and that is fine with me.

5. The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

This is as crazy as it sounds. An Irish ninja of the McNinja clan, goes to medical school and becomes a doctor, who then fights pirates and other enemies and saves lives. This is drawn fairly traditionally, but with painfully 21st-century dialogue which is often hilarious. I can’t really think of any paper-based equivalents. Start at the beginning and read an issue, see if it takes your fancy. Art: 3. Story: 4. Humor: 3.

6. Tozo, Public Servant

Yes, a comic about a public servant. This is straight-up Tintin, so anyone with an eye for classic comics should check it out. Tozo and his mechanical assistance Klikker have to stop plots by the Pope, the Doge, and the Spider-queen in steampunk-infused Nova Venezia. Clunky dialogue, not incredibly funny, but a breath of fresh air after all the inside tech jokes. There are three completed chapters of this intricate story. Definitely start at the beginning.  Art: 4, Story: 5, Humor: 2.

Bonus: Looking for some traditional comics? The Scott Pilgrim series is amazing, whether or not you’ve seen the movie. I can identify with Scott a little too much, and the ennui of a secular Toronto young adult with superpowers is somehow quite relatable.

 

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