Webcomics

Somebody asked me to make a list of webcomics that I subscribe to (using Feedly these days) and I started writing little descriptions next to each one. I figured I’d just place it here in case anyone else is interested. These are the webcomics that have made the cut after having tried out and abandoned many more. Here they are, in no particular order (well, the order of the tabs in Chrome at the moment). I read all of these but some I recommend more whole-heartedly than others (recommended comics have a * next to them).

  • * Hark! A Vagrant — The panels require basic knowledge of literature and history, but it’s Kate Beaton’s art style that usually clinches the joke. She draws insanity and idiocy extremely well.
  • * Left Handed Toons — The conceit is that the right-handed artist draws with his left hand, but he’s been doing it so long that it doesn’t seem like much of a hindrance anymore. The comic relies on brutally dumb puns and literalisms, as well as a recurring cast of characters like Fridaynosaur, Whale, and General Twobabies.
  • Penny Arcade — Mainly of interest to people who play video games. Obscure references to recent video games and lots of gross-out humor.
  • PhD — Only occasionally funny. This is basically Cathy for academics. The jokes are all: graduate students are overworked; dissertations are stressful; advisors are clueless.
  • * Pictures for Sad Children — Grim strips that follow a depressive logic where events often take a surreal turn but nobody acts surprised. People end up inside dogs and idly discuss what to do, etc. Pretty great if you have the fortitude for this kind of thing. Not updated these days.
  • * Poorly Drawn Lines — Just started reading this, but so far the gags are good, absurd but not particularly dark.
  • *  Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal — SMBC’s Zach Weiner is on par with Gary Larson and xkcd’s Randall Munroe in terms of raw creativity. He does both one-panel gags and longer multi-page stories. The comics generally have a science and science fiction bent with a solid grasp on related philosophical issues. Weiner is also a significantly better illustrator than most webcomic artists.
  • Sheldon — This is more of a traditional syndicated comic, but it occasionally has some interesting storylines.
  • * Subnormality — These are irregularly updated bizarrely dense comics that typically take up several screens. The comics are extremely dialogue-heavy, to the point where I frequently skip them not because I dislike the stories but simply because I don’t have the time to read them all. The stories typically take the form of externalized inner dialogues about insecurity, projection, prejudgment, etc.
  • * Gutters — One-off comics about the comic book industry by comic book artists.
  • The Trenches — Episodic strip about game testers.
  • * Wondermark — Hilarious comic assembled from old illustrations to create absurd hybrid 19th-and 21st-century jokes. Has an alt text joke.
  • * xkcd — Should need no introduction. Alt text joke.
  • * Girls with Slingshots — A well-drawn sitcom about two girls who do polyamory. Sexy but not explicit.
  • * Cyanide & Happiness — Incredibly crass jokes that could be fairly criticized as promoting all kinds of bad culture, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t find many of them to be amusing.
  • * Dinosaur Comics — Dinosaur Comics is what it is: goofy (secretly rather intelligent) rambling about language and culture overlaid on an invariant set of six panels.
  • * Dilbert — Just because Dilbert cartoons are a cubicle cliche doesn’t mean that they don’t generally speak a certain truth. It’s the same stuff over and over about pointy haired bosses and lazy coworkers, but the punchline is usually pretty fresh and often surprisingly edgy.
  • Diesel Sweeties — People seem to love this comic. It’s sufficiently interesting but doesn’t blow me away. It’s mainly jokes about killer robots and coffee.
  • * Crocodile in water tiger on land — Commentary about Indian society, delivered in a self-satirizing manner by a cast of Indian archetypes that I have to partially construct from context (e.g., the hipster, the religious zealot, the business fat cat, etc.) I don’t totally follow the issues being discussed, but it gives me some insight into Indian society and provides a valuable example of cultural self-criticism.
  • * Cat and Girl — I can’t say that Cat and Girl is usually or even often laugh out loud funny. In fact I can’t say that I generally 100% understand Dorothy’s comics. The strips tend to reward taking time to do an analysis of the words and symbolism to derive something like a thesis statement. The thesis statement is often about the nature of authenticity as an ineffable criterion for value in the context of postindustrial society and the age of digital reproduction and social networks. This will certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it definitely is mine.
  • * Blaster Nation — This is another geeky narrative sitcom. Digging the story so far.
  • * Bad Machinery — Scooby-doo-style mystery stories set in England. The fun though is in the hilarious banter between the kids.
  • * Abstruse Goose — Similar to xkcd, jokes about being geeky with a focus on math and science.
  • * A Softer World — Three-image strips with some text that is generally a funny-sad statement about love and loss.
  • * Hijinks Ensue — Violent-gross jokes about geek dude culture.
  • * Scenes from a Multiverse — Strips rotate through several universes. The most popular ones get to come back.
  • * Perry Bible Fellowship — Wonderfully evil, beautifully drawn comic. Every punchline is designed to disturb you. Not updated these days.
  • * Achewood — I’m not going to bother describing this comic. It’s about some dog people and the writer Chris Onsted has a wonderful ear for spoken English. Sadly not updated for more than a year.