Graphic Novels and Comic Books are getting bigger every day. Plenty of summer blockbusters feature spandex-clad heroes, and even lesser known properties are getting snapped up and turned into films. There’s never been a better time to get into comics. Unfortunately, with all the material out there, a lot of people just don’t know where to start. The Comics Casual is a 6-part series that will give you the basics on getting into comics without getting lost between the pages!
Webcomics are, as their name suggests, comics distributed via the internet. Webcomics are where a lot of new writers and artists gain notoriety – some even make a living with their works. Unlike traditional print comics, webcomics have no editorial gate – as long as you can find a place to host the comics, you can get them out to the public. This means that creators aren’t constrained by deadlines or editorial obligations – they make what they want, when they want. They’re also free, which is good for tight budgets – you can read the entire comic at any time, free of charge. Webcomics are also very idiosyncratic in their release schedule – some put out new content like clockwork, while others update based on when the creator’s life allows them to. In addition, there are thousands of webcomics out there. It’s difficult to sort out what’s worth your time and energy, so here are 10 webcomics I’ve deemed worthy of your time:
1. Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
History and Literature lampooned! Kate draws in a simple, fun style with a mix of both absurd humour and witty satire. The jokes are funny even if you don’t know the history, and most of the comics will make you want to learn. She has some great books and T-Shirts for sale too!
Rating: 16+ for some language and sexual content.
2. Penny Arcade by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik
The Progenitors of the Video Game Comic. What is a video game comic you ask? You must be new to the internet, I reply. A Video Game Comic is a comic strip about video games. Most of them are webcomics, because there’s a large crossover between webcomic readers and gamers. There are a lot of great Video Game Comics out there, but Holkins and Krahulik remain as kings of the genre.
Rating: 15+ For Strong Language, Occasional Violence and Occasional Sexuality. Some jokes involve sensitive and possibly triggering subjects.
3. Oh Joy, Sex Toy! by Erika Moen
Moen reviews Sex Toys, Burlesque Shows, Pornography and all things sex industry-related, all in Comic Format. For male-oriented things like fleshlights, her husband Matt steps in. Sex-Positive, Educational, and full of all kinds of adult fun. Erika gets plenty of guest cartoonists to fill in their own sexual expertise. The perfect comic for people looking for a light-hearted but well-informed take on sex positivity.
Rating: C’mon, really? 18+ because it’s a COMIC ABOUT SEX TOYS. In case you weren’t reading.
4. Minor Acts of Heroism by Kristen Van Dam and Adrianna Ferguson
Kid Superheroes being all kinds of adorable while fighting crime. Simultaneously fun, heartwarming, and thrilling. MAOH is a great comic where every character gets their time in the spotlight, good or evil. Elegant art and emotionally engaging storytelling combine to create an accessible, yet unique take on the superhero genre.
Rating: 13+ For references to death and dying, as well as violence and fighting.
5. Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques
QC is mostly a slice-of-life comic about the daily life of twenty to thirty-somethings with a twist: They live in a world full of AnthroPCs, self-aware, adorable (and sometimes neurotic) computers in tiny cartoon bodies. Originally centered around Marten Reed, his friend Faye Whitaker, and her boss Dora Bianchi, the cast has expanded over the years. The comic mostly deals with everyday situations: music, romance, and career, with the self-aware characters offering sharp and humorous commentary. There are some more serious moments, like Faye dealing with her father’s suicide and the resulting emotional trauma. Occasionally it veers off into more science-fictional territory. PintSize, Marten’s sleazy-but-well-meaning AnthroPC, is a particular attraction, especially when he interacts with more innocent AnthroPCs.
Rating: 18+ for strong language, suicide, emotional trauma and sexuality.
7. Templar, AZ by C. Spike Trotman
An Alternate History comic set in the fictional city of Templar, Arizona. Instead of a singular, large change that alternate histories normally build on, Templar changes many small details: the Knights Templar were never destroyed, Australian Aboriginals are violently rebelling, cell phones don’t exist… These incremental differences make Templar, AZ both familiar and bizarre But it’s far from a comic that lets world-building get in the way of telling a story – the characters are the focus, and each of them is a fascinating and unique study of humanity.
Rating: 18+ For strong language, violence, drug use & abuse, sex and nudity.
8. Ava’s Demon by Michelle Czajkowski
A beautifully painted comic about a bright young girl possessed by a capricious demon. Or is the demon just a part of her? Created by a Pixar Employee, this comic effortlessly blends fantasy and science fiction into a beautiful story. The art is lush, and the storytelling has a classic feel. For people who like a big dump of content all at once, Ava’s Demon updates with 10 new panels twice a week – Mondays and Thursdays.
Rating: All Ages, with some slightly frightening imagery.
9. Gun Show by KC Green
If you took the internet, fed it acid, then gave it a flamethrower, then let it loose on pop culture, then took the corpses of pop culture and sewed them together into an artistic sculpture while the internet took the rap for mass murder, that would be really fucked up. Instead, just read this absurdist gem of a webcomic. It’s hard to say if you’re the kind of person who likes KC’s work or not, so you’ll probably just have to read a few strips and see if it’s for you. Please note that this is site editor Piers Rae’s favorite webcomic. (I get brownie points for that, right?)
10. Guilded Age by T Campbell, Erica Henderson and Phil Kahn
Guilded Age starts its life as a fantasy webcomic in the vein of World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons. A group of heroes comes together to fight the hordes of Orcs, Goblins and Trolls. But wait… Dwarves are also bad guys? Elves use SCIENCE? The Bad Guys are actually a coalition, who have legitimate grievances against imperialistic humans? Fantasy gets shaken and left on its side, foaming over the ground. And that’s not even the biggest twist of all. Guilded Age is both a love letter to the classics and a complete reversal of many of their tropes and clichés.
Rating: 15+ For Violence, Strong Language and Partial Nudity.
There are plenty more Webcomics than these, so if you find yourself craving more, just check out their affiliate sites. If you’d like to support webcomics creators, consider buying a collected print or digital edition of their comic, backing them through Patreon or Kickstarter, or even just donating via PayPal.
Now, if you’ve managed to stick with me all the way through, get ready for me to completely go against all the advice I’ve given you. The next installment is: The Comics Casual, Part 5: 10 Superhero Comics for New Readers.