This Week's Link
New -- click to read my LJ
Welcome to my weekly links page for my favorite comics I've found on the Web. Every week I recommend a new particular comic to the readers of the Wunderland Weekly News; here I archive my recommendations, and go into a little detail why I recommend each one.
In general, I really enjoy reading comics. Newspaper dailies, graphic novels, "alternative" weeklies or even "underground", I like the way that comics combine art and writing, and the different balances that result from each artist and the deadline nature of the medium. I've discovered that there are surprising number of comics on the Web, many available only on the Web! Over the past few months I have built up a list of these that not only do I read regularly, but some that I can't wait to read evey day, and sometimes re-read their archives over and over. My reason for running this feature is to share these amazing finds. Just about all of the Web Comics I've fallen in love with have the common characteristic of a complete archive section, so I recommend that to get the full flavor of any of these links you start reading the archive, from the very beginning if possible.
Lastly, the answer to a frequently asked question: What is that hand-creature in the logo for the weekly picks? It's called a "leech," and you can make your very own. Just stick your index finger and pinky up and bring the remaining two to meet with your thumb. This is not an annubis. Now, make it talk, give it an annoying personality, and don't forget to use it to suck blood from your little sister or other sibling.
This Week's Review:
|Comiku||4/14/05||Comiku is a webcomic by two catgirls who go to cons. It's only 22 comics long now, but it is delightful to see the art and humor snap into focus from the early strips. They make plenty of jokes about cons and the people they meet there, and it is refreshingly straightforward. I hope I get a chance to meet them someday, as they apparently specialize in doing drawings for people in anime style at the cons.|
|SQ Worm||4/7/05||SQ Worm is a worm because it's easy to draw. And he has a personality like a worm. And it's the author's "thing". Oppressively ironic, this comic is interesting because it is full of experimentation with art and storytelling. It is more or less a weekly side effect of the author's hip blog, so some times you check you might get a comic, some times a rant or seven screenfulls of pictures of his cat. The "Comics" link takes you to a page of earlier work which gives you a fuller taste of where the author has been and where he's going, but as archives go it's a directory listing of a bunch of gifs and you have to click each one.|
List of Recommended Comics To Date:
|Thank God For These Comics|
The ones I check the instant they're updated
8:1 M W F
Station V3 7 days
Questionable Content M-F
Overcompensating 7 days
You Say It First M-F, Su
Namir Deiter 7 days
Spare Parts M W F
Irregular Webcomic 7 days
A Miracle Of Science M Th
The Gods Of Arr-Kelann Tu F
Kung Fool/Crazy Kimchi Daily
Casey And Andy M W F
StabbaStaba M W F
Perry Bible Fellowship M
Sarah Zero M
Schlock Mercenary 7 days
A Lesson Is Learned Weekly
File 49 M
Antihero For Hire M W F
Suburban Tribe M-F
Angels 2200 M F
Wapsi Square M W F
S.S.D.D. M F
Errant Story M W F
Bob The Angry Flower F
Freefall M W F
Superosity 7 Days
Sluggy Freelance 7 days
Scary Go Round M-F
Something Positive 7 days
Diesel Sweeties M-F
Robotman 7 days
Big Nate 7 days
The Boondocks 7 days
College Roomies From Hell 7 days
Klyde Morris M Th
You Damn Kid Who Knows
Nukees M W F
Penny Arcade M W F
Webcomics worth paying for which have been
moved behind a subscription service
Current day is free:
Odd Jobs M W
Reckless Life Tu Th
Penny And Aggie M-F
Punish The Dead M W F
The K Chronicles W
Story Minute Tu
Lynda Barry's 100 demons Th
|Read These Too|
I like these but don't check as often
Latex Blue M W F
Skirting Danger random
Striptease M W F
Sinfest 7 days
Okay Pants M W F
The Devil's Panties 7 Days
Queen Of Wands M W F
Neko the Kitty M W F
Rules Of Make Believe Weekly
Cat And Girl M
Checkerboard Nightmare M W F
As If! Tu Th
Dork Tower Weekly
Minding My Own Business whenever
Road Waffles M W F
Alpha Shade Weekly
Desert Rocks W
Gods And Undergrads Weekly
Pathetic Geek Stories Weekly
Gleaners M W F
return to sender Tu
Dominic Deegan M-F
Stuffed M W F
Small Stories Tu-F
Bruno 7 days
Demonology 101 bi-weekly
Eversummer Eve M
Um In The Coil's Livejournal Random
Red Meat Th
Cartoon Journals! 7 days
Bruno The Bandit M W F
Jackie's Fridge M W F
Mutts 7 days M W F
Sabrina Online Monthly
Nowhere Girl Yearly
Too Much Coffee Man F
Everything Jake 7 days
Captain SNES M W F
Staccato Random Bursts
Polymer City M W F
House Of Stairs M
Minimum Security Weekly
The Wandering Ones M-F
Puffy Cloud Fr
11 Will Die Weekly
Ko Fight Club M
? 7 days
Gene Catlow M W F
Dr Fun Weekly
The Dark Hotel Monthly
? 7 days
Don't read these comics you kids!
Look What I Brought Home M-F
Under Power Weekly
Loserz M W F
On sabattical or dead-but-still-up
Oh My Fantasy Epic
The Accidental Centaurs
Elf Only Inn
Robot Stories: Real Tales of Retail
Reach Up Low
Too Fat To Be A Rock Star
Counting The Cracks
Hole In The Wall
Nothing Nice To Say
The Mr. Chuck Show
Electric Sheep Comics
Near Life Experience
Not Gonna Take It
No Pants Tuesday
Life's So Rad
Waiting For Bob
The Lemmings of Norstrilia
When I Grow Up
Cool Cat Studio
Living In Greytown
Call Me Julius Caesar
Superstar Car Wash
And Then There Was Fred
When I Am King
The Mr. Chuck Show
Indie Rock Pete Hits Rock Bottom
Diary of a Crazed Mimbanite
The Parking Lot Is Full
The Crater Kid
Journey To The West
Great But Gone
Old link now dead
Out Of Fika
AM i DUMMY
The List Of The Day (Dilbert)
Norman P. Function
The Bad Boys Of Computer Science
The Smallest Sound
Nothing Nice To Say
|Bruno||9/9/99||Bruno is one of the oldest Web strips I am aware of, and one which has had a surprisingly strong effect on my life, because of the strength of its writing. It's format is a little strange, a single panel in the apect ratio of the "3-panel" strip, with lots of dialogue, but I've gotten used to it. It unfolds in near-real time, and the story of a life it tells is alternately mundane and transcendent, much like our own. After you read a few, start at the beginning of the archive, and read it *as slowly as possible* to savor the experience.|
|Bob The Angry Flower||9/16/99||One of my very favorites on the Web, this one seems to be published more or less weekly in various alternative papers, apparently in Canada. Steve Notley (or "snotley") has a complete archive on-line which allows you to follow the changes in his artistic style; personally, I prefer the earlier version of Bob over the current, more polished look. But the best part of Bob's pages is the "Annotations" section, in which Steve describes a little bit about the history behind each comic, things he liked or disliked artisticly, etc. This is the kind of fascinating insider information I love to get on my favorite artists!|
|Sluggy Freelance||9/23/99||This Web-only daily is light fare, but I've found it utterly addictive. A not-extrordinary self-referential collection of "ordinary" guys who go on adventures, their foils and love interests, talking animals with switchblades, vampires, and aliens, this strip is distinguished by subtle brilliance in both its art and writing. Not over-done, the expressiveness of the drawing never fails to amaze me. As an example, the main female character of Zoe is not drawn as any kind of "bombshell", and is rather ordinary in fact, but she nonetheless has an everyday beauty of the kind you could fall in love with very easily. The storylines alternate between original adventures that serve well to develop the characters, and outright parodies of T.V. shows and movies which are generally pretty good. As an X-files fan, I totally loved the appearance of Dana and Fox in "The Slug Files"! Lastly, this comic is a must read for any fans of ferrets, as the character of "Kiki" is utterly perfect.|
|Bobbins||9/30/99||Even though the others got earlier billing, this is the one I currently check first every day. It's sort
of a charmingly drawn "friends" type of story, and a daily in *color*. This comic is not so much a joke a day, but a
continuing unfolding story of a happy group of characters I've come to like a lot. Even so, it's a little odd; it took me
quite a while to realize that the story and author are in England. To me, it looks like it could be a feature of some
british fashion magazine (although the characters seem to have recently fallen into the habit of wearing the same clothes
every day). However, the author John Allison is apparently trying for newspaper syndication.
Update 7/15/02Bobbins was officially ended a couple of months ago. After a short sabatical, the author decided he wanted to just start up a new comic, which turned out to be Scary-Go-Round, which is turning out fine in it's own right.
|Waiting For Bob||10/7/99||Written by Doug Sheppard and drawn by Katrin Salyers, this comic has only a handful of characters. But they're
surprisingly real and believable characters. I'd have to say that I know people like these, which is what makes it
interesting to me. The comic is daily, in black and white, and the author takes great pride in the fact that the daily
page downloads fast. Another aspect of the real-ness of the
characters is the art. I am particularly impressed by the character of "Bernie";
Bernie is really hard to draw, I would think. She is not the usual skinny body type, and yet is drawn very attractively.
Update 6/25/01Currently inactive due to a burnout-induced sabattical. Read the archive.
|Red Meat||10/14/99||Yeah, I know you're saying "We get this one in the City Paper all the time! It's not a Web Comic!" True, but Max Cannon's site has a truly amazing feature: an archive that goes waaaaay back. By this point there are so many titles on his index page that it's several screens long. You could kill, maybe, an 8-hour work day just reading the archive, laughing your head off, and getting your mind thoroughly twisted in the process. Best use of xerox art since "The Angriest Dog In The World".|
|Freefall||10/21/99||This net-only comic is in black and white, and has the audacity to be published only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It is science-fictionish, and contains among its unapologetically complex concepts a "Bowman's Wolf" as one of it's three main characters. The strip is really clearly drawn, but the story moves quite glacially, taking the time to fully explore every situation on the way to what I hope is a well-planned story arc (it's been published for about two years now). Despite its sparse schedule, I find I check it eagerly when it's there, and the archive goes all the way back for several hours of entertainment. His links page is very complete, and frankly the source of many of my recent comics finds (so be careful reading it if you don't want to spoil your appetite for the Cool Comic of the Week).|
Not Available Comics
|10/28/99||News Flash! Cynicalman is on the Web! While this is not exactly a Web Comic in that it isn't on the web for
purposes of publication but rather as advertisement to get you to buy the products, I was so happy to learn (thanks
Diane!) that it existed anywhere on the Web that it became this week's link. I first discovered Cynicalman in a
discarded indie comics-only paper of the type that proliferated when I was in college. From that chance encounter, a
whole unexpected world of underground comics opened up for me, the effect was sweeping and realligning. Cynicalman
himself seems a part of the definition of his times; the small-shop punk attitude of the "franchise", the stories and
style are inseparable from the 80's for me. On this topic, Matt's latest comic is as hilarious as ever, in which CM
declares "Hey, Man, I remember the 80's! I was
The comics at the link given are all-new, and tailor-made for this media; Matt Feazell has several well thought-out
innovations on his pages, and describes in great detail his method of preparing the comics for HTML. After consuming
everything Matt's own site has to offer, you might follow his suggestion and read the hilarious Cute Girl comics at the old Not Available Comics site. You might then begin performing web
searches for any other CM stuff out there. So far I've come up with:
|The Lemmings of Norstrilia||11/4/99||This comic is being (re)published by our very own Andrew Plotkin (Zarf)! I haven't seen much references to it except for an e-mail forwarded to me by Andy Looney, so I'm mentioning it here. According to his index page for the series, it's a web posting of some comics he did for print media in '92, and is a series of only 15 strips. Right now he's at number 9, I've read the first ones with great mirth and now eagerly await each week's. Maybe he'll do some new ones?|
|Robotman||11/11/99||Robotman will be the first of my many suggestions for comics which are published in daily newspapers (syndicated), but which are nontheless also available on the Web. I used to strongly dislike this comic based on its non-technical representation of the robot, but have since gotten over it. This comic seems at first to be the usual idiotic syndication formula, but further reading has revealed that the author's sense of humor is really kind of screwy. Sadly, this comic's web site archives only a month of comics (the usual procedure for syndicated comics that appear on the web), but hey, you could always buy the books for more.|
|The Boondocks||11/18/99||This syndicated comic is one I've been dying to suggest for weeks. The main
reason I have to point it out to those who may have missed it in the daily paper is that it's so funny! The main
characters of this strip are black, and the author, Aaron McGruder, has no fear of finding humor in everyday situations
that most white people are afraid even to admit to. I'm amazed that it's syndicated, much less in the Washington Post,
and the sad thing is that the mere sight of this comic's characters seems to make a lot of people angry. If none of this
bothers you, you'll find a comic with hilarious, often old-timey jokes, and characters so well explored that, you'll
laugh out loud practically every day.
The character descriptions provided by the author provide a lot of the clues to what's going on. For example, one of the main characters, Huey, is a young righteous "intellectual". He may seem at first like a mouthpiece for the cartoonist, but read a few comics and you'll notice that he's still as naive as his age, and his moody, cynical attitude is as likely to backfire up on him as to be right. Riley, his younger brother, is always trying to cop an attitude, often the funniest part of the strip. I loved the sequence where he repaints all the streetsigns! The interaction between Huey and Riley is surprisingly believable, sometimes touching. The grandfather is just that, often unfoolable by the kids but just as often pathetically unable to remember where he put his hat. Without belaboring the point, Aaron shows multiple sides of any character or situation, while all the time keeping the humor the focus of the comic.
UExpress keeps a generous four months of archive on hand for The Boondocks; go right to it and read the
earliest comic so that you don't miss any more than you have to! Aaron's own web
site, once beautiful and for a while the home of this comic before it was syndicated, seems to be having HTML problems
(I don't know why it always crashes my IE) as Aaron's production crew becomes busier with deadlines, interviews, and film
deals, but is nonetheless the source for the latest news about the comic when accessable.
|Haul Trek||11/25/99||Now for something light... This color comic is updated very intermittantly, but I still check it often. It is
creatively produced entirely with computer tools, a little rough around the edges but still extremely attractive. A
"Star Trek" universe story, its main character is a "furry" named M'Iskiti, and the ship has a variety of wackily named officers.
M'Iskiti is a feline humanoid, and perhaps my favorite
female cartoon character on the Web :). Currently the comic seems to be on hiatus till January, but the archive is
still there for your enjoyment, and check out "Haul Trek"'s contribution to the big Halloween crossover of 1999, an
incredible number of panels containing not only plenty of the regular characters, but also renditions of dozens
of characters from other comics!
Update 3/5/01The hiatus seems permanent; enjoy the archive for now.
Update 6/25/01Haul Trek is back! Or at least reborn... The authors have decided to rewrite the comic out of the Trek universe and make it a stand-alone story in order to increase their marketing rights. They're redoing each of the old comics with hopefully new ones to come. It's as beautifully rendered as ever, but I kind of liked M'Iskiti (now Mzzkiti) as a readhead!
Update 1/5/02Trajedy has struck Frieghter Tails. One of the authors unexpectedly died last year, so this comic may be on hold from now on.
|The Dark Hotel||12/2/99||Now for something really dark... I'm not sure what the update rate for this one is, but it doesn't matter because the archive is so gigantic that it's still unexhausted for me. "The Dark Hotel" is in color, and is basically a graphic novel. It consists of several distinct stories by various authors. The stories are broken into chapters related to how they were posted, so the organization of the index is not at first clear. Other than that, the site seems really well designed, with lots of nooks and corners for your exploring pleasure. When you read this comic, you will be plunged into a menacing, compelling world, each story the tale of a different resident of the hotel, ruined lives awash in obsession, crime, sex, and drugs. Reading the first story, The Manchurian Experiment will either intrige you or repulse you. In true nior fashion, it starts off: "There's a story. Sternelli, Room 37...."|
|Story Minute by Carol Lay||12/9/99||This comic is my other favorite comic from the Salon Comics offerings, all of which are good and some of which are in greater syndication. Story Minute is a complete and compelling new short short story every week; if it wasn't for the 55 word limit these would be ideal nanofictions. The thing that sets this comic apart is the fascinatingly good writing on the stories; each one is amazing. However, the addition of the stylish artwork helps a lot, if nothing else to set a clever and cynical mood. Story Minute's archives are a little disjointed; the above link is for the most recent, the 1999 and previous archives can be found here.|
|Never Never||12/16/99||Never Never is a comic strip about faeries! I love it because the fairies are always attempting grand conquests
of the world, and failing simply because nobody sees them, except for the one human character, a boy named Arthur.
Although it doesn't have the polished visual style some people expect in comics these days, I think the cartoonist, John
"The Gneech" Robey, has done a great job with the art and the concept. Inspired by Calvin and Hobbes, it never tumbles
into the schmaltz that plagued that comic, but is nonetheless full of charm (for example, the feline-mounted fairy
calvary). Sadly, in a story that seems to be repeating itself all over the Web, the author is getting pulled away by
other projects (not the least of which is Suburban Jungle, The Gneech's
other comic and probably the one he likes better -- *sniff!*), so read it while you can, and bookmark it for occasional
Update 3/5/01No updates since last year? This one is unlikely to ever be updated again, but the archive's still there
Update 1/6/02Never Never is back! Yay! He started updating again a couple of months ago and has a new URL, the link here has now been updated. The story continues where it left off.
Update 4/5/02D'oh! Dead again!
|Bruno The Bandit||12/23/99||Oh Great, a comic about a medieval adventurer, with his comic companion a "microdragon". It sounded boring as hell when I first found it, but it turns out to be one of my favorite comics. The art on this one is accomplished, but what makes it for me is the writing. The story is set in a humorously anachronistic D&D/modern world which is played well for laughs without getting too silly (usually), and the main character is a delightfully amoral anti-hero. Although there is generally a punch-line in every comic, this one is best read in whole arcs at a time. Get thee to the archive (which is conveniently navigable) and just pick a story title and read it all the way through. Strongly recommended: "The Forbidden Game" story.|
|Mutts||12/30/99||Another syndicated comic, this one impressed me from the first day that I saw it in the newspapers. What a joy to find it on the Web. However, it was nearly a year after I first began reading it on the Web before I found it offered by its syndicate; I think they just didn't get on board for a long while. Fortunately, for me at least, "Mutts" seems to be the most pirated comic on the Web. It tends to generate the most dedicated and loving level of fans (and consequently, equally strong anti-fans), and for years there were folks out there who'd scan this thing in from the newspaper every day just to bring it to the world. Most of those sites have retired now that it's officially available, but the best is still hanging around and building up a giant archive of strips. After checking out the official site, bookmark MUTTS ONLINE, and on days when you feel overstressed or depressed, you can read a month's worth at a time to help put you back in a "Mutts" mood. There's also a ton of excellent fan sites out there; just begin following the links pages on each site. Start with MUTTS ONLINE or this other one which is also pretty comprehensive.|
|Dr Fun||1/6/00||Eeyore passes us this week's Webcomic link. "Dr Fun" is a near-daily single-panel format comic produced in color using a mix of computer tools, and has been going, on and off, since 1993! The sense of humor is a little whacked; some are brilliant, others a puzzlement. Nonetheless, there's endless amusement in the complete and easy-to-use archive.|
|Sabrina Online||1/13/00||This well drawn "furry" strip is produced at a really slow rate. It makes my list of comics I check the moment they're updated (in this case, monthly) on account of its nerdly computer humor. I don't even have a lot of experience with the background of this comic (connecting an Amiga to the Internet) and it makes me laugh anyway. Along the way, though, a good and likable set of characters has been developed, with lots of relationship stuff for you touchy-feely folks out there. Read the whole story from the start at The Unofficial Eric Schwartz Page's Sabrina Online Archive|
|Too Much Coffee Man||1/20/00||Too Much Coffee Man is a classic who's been around in one form or another for years. His web pages are continuously changing; sometimes there are plenty of comics for us to read, sometimes there's old stuff for a very long time, sometimes there's nothing and we're forced to search the web for pirate web sites. Currently, however, he seems to have a huge archive and is well organized. A pillar of hip cynicism, TMCM teaches us life's big lessons while making us wish our lives were as simple as having a big steaming cup on our heads and being cleverly drawn. Buy the books, too.|
|Penny Arcade||1/27/00||The computer gaming lifestyle shared by the main characters of this comic (and its authors) is not mine. However, I still find this comic to be hilarious; it is one of the ones I check every day it is updated. The passion for their subject gives the authors an excellent sense of comedic timing, and the art is particularly attractive. This comic, which I've only recently discovered, has been going for quite a while, and has a healthy archive. It also has a side comic, The Bench, which readers are encouraged to generate their own strips of.|
|Unlike Minerva||2/3/00||I haven't been able to decide if the gimmic behind this comic is for everyone. Even though I find it difficult to read sometimes, I really like it a lot, and have gotten endless hours of fun following all the links from this comic. The idea has been stated as "one comic, many artists." A creative writer, firm in his belief that he has insufficient artistic talent, has gotten a whole slew of friends to take turns drawing his strip for him. The story line is a strange combination of "Waiting For Godot" and "The Muppet Show", a fully thought out "furry" universe in which five characters inhabit the vaudeville "Minerva Theater". This solid framework has attracted a wide variety of guest artists, who switch in on a weekly to daily basis. This jumpiness can make it a little hard to follow at times. However, I enjoy seeing how each artist interprets the characters. It is also fun to follow the links to the artists' pages and learn more about them, from the astonishing Rina Cat to the charming Naraxa. Speaking of which, I have to applaud the webmaster of this site; there are daily and weekly pages available through the archives, and each one has thumbnails for the current artist's rendition of the five main characters.|
|When I Grow Up||2/10/00||This comic is a new favorite of mine. I was originally scared away by the
title, which sounded boring as hell. However, I discovered that it's really an adult
character-driven comic, and the cartoonist doesn't waste a lot of time milking or tidying
up a situation so the jokes are fast and loose. I like the characters in this one a lot.
They have a certain ordinary banality, despite some sillier background details, which
makes their reactions to various comedic situations hilariously natural. The main
character, Zoe Day, is a news anchor for a UHF station. She's eternally pissed off and
refreshingly free swearing. I'm not sure how "When I grow Up" relates to the story except
that WIGU is the call letters of Zoe's station; the "cast" page which shows the cast
both in the present and (chillingly) at 13 years old offers perhaps another clue.
The bottom of most of the pages contains a disclaimer reading: "New comic presented Monday - Saturday,
bad happens or I give up hope."
Update 2/1/02After many attempts by the author to end the comic, it looks like it's finally over. He ended it on an upbeat note this time and switched to a new comic which is turning out pretty cool. The archive is still there, but I'm still going to miss Zoe, and of course Neal, who almost had his own comic.
|The Parking Lot Is Full||2/17/00||Today's comic is courtesy of Diane Donaldson. "The Parking Lot Is Full" is frequently recommended on links pages along with a content warning of some kind. This single panel format comic aims to be disturbing, and when it succeeds it's amazing and unique. Sometimes it's merely sick, sometimes kind of stupid. Fortunately, it is much better drawn than the average Far Side knockoff. It's published at random intervals (about once a week), and has been going, amazingly, since 1995. The archive is fully thumbnailed and easy to use, and the web page has lots of toys on it, like the "random" button to complement the usual "archive" feature. As Diane says, "Usually odd, sometimes hilarious."|
|You Damn Kid||2/24/00||Black and White, 4-panel comic in a single panel space, published on average three times a week. This comic
featuring its author as a young kid is surprisingly funny considering the bulk of the stories are believably from his own
tragic youth. I really like the way the kid is drawn, too. My current favorites out of the archives are: "Luigi's Pizzaria" and "Dewey, Fleecem and Howe" (the latter
being on the subject of catholic school which is an endless source of comics no matter how you do it). The other two
cool things about this site are: He's done his own banner adds, which he serves randomly on his own pages and which are
all pretty clever, and the fact that he'll sometimes re-do a comic between when he first puts it up and when it goes
into the archive, so it's intersting to check back often. In conclusion, I was drawn to this site by the following
apt description of the comic from Freefall's links page: "There
are a lot of things about being a kid that no one talks about. Except this guy."
Update 6/5/03 Still Going. Every week there's a new plan for updates, but hey, whatever gets the comics on the net, I say.
|Road Waffles||3/2/00||Another new favorite of mine, thank goodness it's published seven days a week. This comic requires you pretty
much to start at the beginning of the archive to get what's happening, if the weekly gun battles and characters getting
killed isn't enough simply to keep you amused. The comic starts with a convenience store robbery, a stolen car, and gets
crazy from there. I found the following quotes (from his own web site, admittedly) enough to get me interested, and very
accurate in retrospect:
"If Quentin Tarantino made a daily webcomic, this is what it would look like." - Josh Phillips, Avalon
"Kind of like Natural Born Killers meets Pee-Wee's Big Adventure..." Aaron Holm, Joe Average
Eight, the shadowy presence behind this nihilistic work, is a webpublishing powerhouse of comics; his "old comics" link to his old web site of discontinued work (one of
which will be next week's comic of the week) will keep you amazed and reading for days.
|Max Panic||3/9/00||Max Panic is an earlier comic by Eight, and gets a recommendation of its own even though its original series is over. It is one of the first ones I've come across published on the web in "book" form, i.e. drawn and scanned in 8x10 pages with a front cover and back page. It turns out that there's a whole world of this format on the web, and later you'll see some recommendations for some of the ones I've found since. The succinct tag line for Max Panic is "The cure to boredom is to watch someone else suffering from boredom." It's essentially a (possibly autobiographical) story of a bunch of bored kids, watching TV or wandering around and blowing stuff up. Eventually they get ahold of a car and the fun really picks up. Look for the mushroom cloud in every issue! Watch as the comic slowly metamorphasises into "Road Waffles"! Thrill to every "Cammy London" story! He's doing new Max Panic now when he has time, but as those of you who have already scoured Eight's sites can attest, his style has matured impressively in the past few years. I think the fun and simplicity of the original Max Panic make it worth the several days it will take to read the entire archive.|
|Snail Dust||3/16/00||Napoleon, the author of this new comic, has a lot going on. You should read all her pages to get the full flavor. Snail Dust is published at random intervals, but is worth checking every once in a while. It's about three teens, and their real-life world. They hang around, have siblings and parents, play around on computers. The title is a pretty good metaphor for real life (as in "Caught in the.."), although a tiny glimmer of magic has begun to creep into the story for one of the characters.|
|Avalon||3/23/00||This comic has anime based art, anime situations (girl shows up at a party dressed too formally, academics and
romance, girl attempts to fight rumors of being a lesbian), and is set in... Canada? Avalon is the name of the Canadian
high school that this comic's characters all attend. If you find the setting counfusing at all, he explains it all in
his FAQ. My first rave for this comic is the art, which I think is superb. Secondly, the humor is original and unique.
Thirdly, I get the impression that the author is in touch with his subjects, which makes it honest, enjoyable reading.
And it's nice to know that somebody out there still listens to Rush. The site was really pretty nice looking for a
hand-maintained site...it's been moved to one of the big online comics' hosts recently, which gave it banner ads and
homogenized the layout and navigation somewhat, but it still has the orginal beautiful blue color and custom-imported
Update 5/5/02I've been reading this one less and less; for some reason, I have had a hard time following the story line on a day-to-day basis thanks to the tangled relationships between the characters. However, when reading the story from beginning to end the clarity of the writing stands out; it's absolutely brilliant. What may seem like melodrama at first is actually character growth which unfolds with the gradualness of real life. So, my advice is to consider Avalon to be some kind of graphic novel. Any current strip will make no sense unless you've read the first, but it's very satisfying to become familiar with the characters and experience their growth over time, and try to untangle the "web of twistiness" yourself. Also, the guest strips, now a permanent feature of Sundays, add a whole new dimension by deconstructing the Avalon storyline, either through fanfics or original strips with the dialog humorously changed.
|Cool Cat Studio||3/30/00||This amazing brand new comic has only been going a week or two. That's why the site is fast and there aren't any banner ads yet. I had to recommend it as quickly as possible so that you could track its progress from near-birth. The drawing on this one is unbelievable, and the concept seems fully developed. The humor seems pretty good too, but as the link which referred me to it the first time said (approximately): "Evil Cats! What more could you possibly want?"|
|Out Of Fika||4/6/00||Another one of the few, the proud, the 7-day comics, Out Of Fika has only been going since December but I'm quite
hooked. Based on the legend of an obscure (and possibly insane) Norse goddess, this comic is filled with
"Watchmen"-level mystique, cleverly camouflaged by a playful writing and drawing style. There's superheroes and mad
scientists running around, and Fika herself is charmingly short tempered and purple-haired. The artist used to publish
giant color comics on tuesdays before the burden became too great; maybe someday it will be able to resume. The
storyline has lots of directions it can go, but it's taking it's time doing it so that we have enough opportunities to
ponder the surreal and emotive events that unfold.
Update 3/5/01 Currently on sabbattical. Out Of Fika dropped off the web completely for about 6 months, and then one day reappeared with a new storyline and no hint of the earlier material. I am happy to report, however, that all known Out of Fika strips recently seem to have been posted to the archive to tide us over during the current hiatus. Read them now before they're taken down again!
Update 1/8/02A couple of months ago this address went dead and cannot be reached. Fika's gone again, don't say you weren't warned! RIP.
|Sinfest||4/13/00||The title says it all; this comic aims to offend anybody it can with it's hyper-sophisticated ("Pimpin'") attitude. The author's art is also quite slick, as steeped in pop cultural references as everything else in the strip. Despite all of this, this comic is occasionally surprizingly fresh. In between parodying just about every Calvin Clein advertisement ever done, and showing the characters of syndicated comics in various sexual positions, Tatsuya Ishida is on target with such mundane topics as dogs versus cats, women and men, and of course God. In most of the religion comics, my favorites, God is shown as a hand in the clouds, mocking the devil with hand puppets, or any humans that have the gall to whine. Sinfest is not for the weak of stomach, but it's quite a window on the follibles of humanity and it will be interesting to see where it goes. Amazingly, produced 7 days a week.|
|It's Gravy!||4/20/00||It's Gravy! is a nice simple comic, with a nice simple web site, and a loooong archive. I'm pretty happy that the author is able to crank these out reliably, because I find his sense of humor pretty funny, in a relaxed sort of way. The character page(Currently unaccessable 5/01) gives you a pretty good idea for the flavor of this comic. The main character is Andy, described as "pretty much a normal kid, he's imaginative but gullible.", while his best friend Paul "occasionally makes really bad comics about Andy and posts them on his homepage." You can kind of see the origin of It's Gravy! right there :) Actually, Paul strikes me as a more grownup character, sort of like the professor on Gilliagan's Island, only maybe not that mature. The drawing style is not fancy, but still pretty expressive, sort of like Sluggy in that regard, and the humor is cheap, funny, and just whacked enough to make it unique and worth reading every day.|
|LCD||04/27/00||I've been following this one for a while, and would have recommended it sooner if it were published more
frequently. But it's pretty cute; it's a comic about TV news, and LCD of course stands for Lowest Common Denominator. I
get the impression that this comic is written for the fun of it's author, full of jokes at the expense of the industry
and interesting (and well-drawn) characters; this is what makes it worth checking a couple of times a week. The
first-person perspective is LCD's strength: the characters are refreshingly "real" western (not just the usual
stereotypes), with fully thought-out backgrounds that make the three main women characters more than just
Update 6/5/03 On Sabbatical.
|Dragon Tails||5/4/00||Ok, I admit that I was skeptical of this one after hearing about it (I got a recommendation). But having checked it out, I have to wholeheartedly advertise it. As expected, it's a humorous look at the lives of a bunch of computer-rendered dragons. But, contrary to my expectations, I think it's pretty funny. Perhaps the best part is that it's a really sweet, G-rated humor which I find unique on the Net, without being too stupid (IMHO). The rendering is pretty good, but a bit dark on my computer -- a telltale sign of macintosh produced graphics. It's been going 7 days a week since last year, so it has an enormous archive. How does the author find the time to do this comic?|
|Minding My Own Business||5/11/00||It's another anime inspired comic. The art is amateur, but I really respect the way he tries something new all
the time. The unique aspect of this comic is its writing. In fact also in the style of a lot of anime (or perhaps more
accurately, magna), MMOB focuses on tangled relationships. There are long, dreamy sequences with melancholy song lyrics
woven in, or characters are represented by their emotions, or as projections of how they look to others. It's totally
angst-ridden, but so creative about it that I nonetheless keep checking it every once in a while to see what he's come up
with next. Published at semi-random intervals somehow adding up to most of the days of each week.
Update 1/30/03I checked this one recently and found it had moved. Along with the move, the author brought a new drawing style and new developments. The original archive appears to be gone. I like the new stuff, it's a little more polished while still holding onto the original contemplative style. My link to this comic has been changed to the new site.
|Minimum Security||5/18/00||As the author states, the title of "Minimum Security" refers to a comment from someone just released from prison who was pointing out the repressiveness of American society: "I'm still not free; I'm just in minimum security." This folk-art-drawn comic is the leftist, feminist, political and social commentary you might see in weekly papers around the country, if you like that sort of thing. I do; this is a particularly good example, and I'm glad its available on the web. Be sure to check out the author's yummy paintings as well.|
|The Wandering Ones||5/25/00||The Wandering Ones is a type of comic you might be surprised to see me recommending, a "serious" daily serial. I can't stand seeing these in print, but I guess the pain of the slow refresh rate is somehow softened by the frequency of the same thing elsewhere on the web. The thing about this one that keeps me checking it every day is its classic science fiction plot, and it's successful "EC" vintage style art. This comic was just recently started (In fact, I read it on its first day), so it will be interesting to see where it goes. Tip: start at the first comic to get the benefit of the writing so far.|
|Everything Jake||6/1/00||I have a pretty big gripe about this comic. It's POV is painfully immature. It's the story of Jake, college
freshman, who is humiliated in this comic in just about every possible way. Women are portrayed as irrational sex
objects. Most of the characters are stupid. So why do I check it every single day (it's 7 days a week), causing me to
recommend it here? Strangely, it's entirely possible that all of this is intentional, and what we're seeing is
successfull POV writing. Embarassing or not, I kind of like Jake anyhow. But most of all, it's so nicely drawn. Keep
checking it; I think it's really going to turn into something.
Update 7/15/02Everything Jake is still around, which is a good reason to revisit my review. The author is struggling against the usual herculean odds of keeping a daily comic going. These days it's mostly MWF and a lot of text in between the drawings. I like the superhero mystery, which we still don't get to see more than a tiny bit of, and I still like the characters. But in between that there are some really rough parts that just can't reconcile. Monster points off for actually using technobabble like "Energy Signature".
|The Bench||6/8/00||Remember when I told you about a little side project to Penny Arcade called "The Bench?" Well, those of you that
liked Penny Arcade probably know that The Bench has been fully developed into an independent organism by its original
authors. Now it has its own domain name, and all comics are submitted by the readers. There is even a highly automated
system for accepting submissions. The basic concept remains the same: A guy and a squirrel and a bench, develop it
however you want. It's a pretty rarified concept; how many submissions could there be? How about two thousand so far
and still growing rapidly? The sheer enormity of this collection is its surprising drawback, because you have to view it
a page at a time, which takes a while. There's a wide variety in the quality of the work. There's a lot of crap,
fawning references to the Penny Arcade universe or gags dependent on already-stale current events, but there's also a
good number of pieces of timeless genius, or at least creative uses of paintshop. With a T1 or better connection this
huge archive can be an entertaining project to complete.
Update 4/19/01Recently vanished off the net for lack of a human host (somebody to maintain the huge archive of strips, accept new submissions, and pay for the immense disk space and traffic required), I am not sure when this will be coming back. The Bench was a much beloved institution; I can't believe that there isn't somebody among its collective fans who won't pick it up!
|Cruel Fate||6/15/00||Holy mushroom clouds, Batman! Another new comic by Eight! Cruel Fate is a so-called "mini-series" hosted by Keenspot, the current home of Road Waffles. It will run only for the month of June, and is promised to be a complete story within that time. The link I gave over on the left is to the first comic in the story; use this link to go to the daily current page. It's gotten off to a bang so far, rapidly shifting into the Eight trademark nihilism with a suicide attempt in the first week (you have been warned). But even so, the introspection present in much of his work aside from Road Waffles and the old Max Panic is here as well, making me excited every day to see where this story is going to go.|
|AM i DUMMY||6/22/00||This is one of the comic book style on-line comics that I mentioned a long time ago in comparison to Max Panic. I found this late one night and read as much as I could (it's
hosted by probably the world's slowest server) and found it visually and thematically disturbing. The story wanders
around a bit, starting with a pretty miserable main character, who hates his life so much that his own cat is compelled
to mention in english "You've gotta stop trying to think so much". If you're interested in something lighter, it turns
out that the author of AM i DUMMY has an archive of earlier discontinued works. I recommend the formative SUN SHiNE DAZE, which features such crowd pleasing elements as bright color computer rendering, big
anime eyes, a bunch of punks wandering around the country in a tour bus, a psycho killer, and a kid who may be crossing
over into a paranormal combat world. It's a great story until it basically imploded in the last issue and Tep wisely
decided to kill it.
Update 5/10/01One day I checked this comic, and it's gone! I guess he forgot to pay for his domain. This comic was something special.
|Superstar Car Wash||6/29/00||It's Superstar Car Wash, the comic that makes Red Meat look drawn from scratch every day. Basically, the author has taken a bunch of high-contrast-xeroxed images of famous people or characters (and occasionally the author or his friends) and slapped them down in comic panels, which are then themselved xeroxed three or four times as required to make a full strip, and then dialog is added to imply that the characters are engaing in oral sex or masturbation or what-have-you. Not for kids, I guess. It's actually occasionally pretty funny, and fun to see the pop icons of our childhood get used for cheap laughs, but the best part is that you can read the entire archive without feeling too bad about it. Just crunch 'em down like popcorn. Actually, the best part is that the archive's background makes fun of "TAB" soda. No longer updated, but the archive is there.|
|Well, last time I checked, this webcomic was DEAD. No updates since March, no clue as to what happened. Too
bad, because it was really on a roll. Well, just read the archive; there's plenty there. I find this comic to be unlike
any other on the web. The art may seem a little puzzling at first. It looks like it was drawn with a mouse, and the
characters are all drawn really tiny. This seems to fit right in with the subject of the strip, however, which is that
your computer at work hates you. Having toiled in this air-conditioned environment for most of my "career", I find the
humor in "Boat Anchor" to be roll-on-the-floor funny, and spot-on.
Update 3/5/01Sadly, it seems that Boat Anchor is no more. Updates suddenly stopped about a year ago, and now the site is totally off the Web. I still do web searches for it every once in a while but haven't come up with anything yet. If anybody knows what happened to this strip, let me know. I liked Boat Anchor so much that I would even find a home for its old archive on the web somewhere if it still exists.
Update 10/31/02It's Back! Somehow, the author has managed to bring back this project and even got the URL. It's better than ever; as the author said in an e-mail alerting me, "same characters, but now it's drawn with a tablet". However, in an even more rare twist, all the hilarious old comics are still available in the archive. Check it all out now!
|Diary Of A Crazed Mimbanite||7/13/00||I recently found this Star Wars parody on the web, recommended by a link on a very obscure comic page. Updated
irregularly, this is the work of a hard-core fan. It seems to be generally a post-"Phantom Menace" perspective, but
still covers the first three movies and contains references to backstory elements you wouldn't pick up except by total
immersion. The characters page helps somewhat in explaining
the chactactitures' odd points, although a lot of it is the author's own crazed perspective, which may be explained on the about the author page.
Update 10/31/02 There is no indication why this comic suddenly stopped updating, but the archive is still up and available.
|Dizzy Dustbin||7/20/00||Just started this month, on the web page of the author of You Damn Kid, this comic is purported to be the work of "an old army buddy" of his grandfather's that he "found in the attic". As you can tell, I don't buy it. But these comics have been funny so far. The premise makes a great excuse for some pretty rude humor, as well. Update 5/10/01The URL changed a bit; update your bookmarks|
|explodingdog||7/27/00||Found this truly odd thing on the Web thanks to a link from Penny Arcade. Is it a web comic or some kind of web art? On a fairly regular basis, the artist will take 4 or 5 short phrases sent to him by readers and make a one-panel drawing based on each one. The drawing style is very basic and compelling, but what's really amazing is the "writing" that goes between the original phrase and the artist's finished scene. explodingdog will sometimes make you laugh, and sometimes make you cry; a mark of great skill. It's a fascinating zone of uber-creativity found between the borders of more commonplace art. It's has been happening since this January, so the archive is up to thousands of pictures already; I tend to like the more recent stuff over the first ones, although I've found a few of my favorite jems in January's pages nonetheless.|
|Modern Living||8/10/00||You might debate whether this qualifies as a web comic. But it was recommended to me as such and has some of the characteristics of my other picks, specifically regular updates, an archive, and a visual drawing style. Rather than a collection of static panels, however, Modern Living is an interactive flash animation, a medium found only on the Internet. You advance the "story" of the animation by interacting with it, either by clicking on certain parts or merely through mouse-overs. There's an audio component as well; he's done some really neat things with looped music -- I recommend examples number 67 and number 63 in particular. The character of this comic is a self portrait of the author himself, and is said to be an autobiography in progress. As such, it is occasionally depressing and self-loathing, but it is also occasionally tender.|
|Too Fat To Be A Rock Star||12/7/00||This comic has both the greatest name and the greatest URL. It's the adventures of a sort of "Young
Meatloaf"-like character, his band and friends. Later on he gets a girlfriend. You just know he's based on someone
real, someone probably a lot like someone we know. Perhaps this is what causes the humor to impress me as fresh and
funny; maybe it's simply weird enough to tickle my funny bone. The characters are obviously fully realized and there are
lots of "been there" inside music jokes. I also respect that the author is keeping up all his early work, especially
since it's pretty important to the continuity of the story and characters. Even though it's not as pretty at the start
as, say, Sluggy Freelance, it's some of the funniest stuff, and it's really neat to see how the artist's style has
evolved. Sadly, I've discovered just now that the strip is going on hiatus until January, but the archive, which my link
starts you at the front of, will provide you all the fun you need till then.
Update 3/25/01Too Fat To Be A Rock Star is back! Consequently, I have updated my main link for this comic to it's current comic. Updated approximately three times a week.
Update 12/25/01It's gone! It's back! He lost his old URL so I've updated my link to the new one.
Update 6/5/03 Given up for good, even the new URL is gone.
Update 1/8/04 Remi's maintaining too-fat.com again! The sharp-looking site now contains recent non-fat work, although reposting of the old archives is promised in the hazy future.
|Modern Tales: Odd Jobs||12/14/00||Totally the coolest thing on the web right now. A "private detective" story in formation, this stylishly drawn
black-and-white twice weekly comic is the noir adventures of David DiAngelo, making a living taking odd jobs where the
cutting edge of personal technology meets the dark underside of middle America. Only a couple of months old, it's first
story line has already knocked my socks off, with so many twists, turns and tensions, drawn out with savory anticipation,
that checking this comic is the first thing I do each tuesday and thursday. This comic is often compared to the best
episodes of "Twin Peaks", a fair if unimaginative comparision, so I'm sure you'll like it.
Update 5/25/02Odd Jobs has joined the mostly stellar webcomic collective Modern Tales, one of a few webcomic pay sites that is springing up in an effort to find monentary support for the bandwidth costs that web comics incur. Odd Jobs is generous enough to maintain the three most recent comics at the old site for free, but to see the archives you must be a member of the collective. Now, it doesn't cost much, and you get all the other comics on the site to go with it, as I understand, so why not bite the bullet and join?
Update 7/17/03 Finally changed the Modern Tales link to the new story. Sorry for the delay.
Update 1/21/04 The author has moved entiredly to Modern Tales so I removed the old link.
|Diesel Sweeties||12/21/00||I've kinda cooled on this one since I first discovered it, but the stunning mix of fresh concepts that make up Diesel Sweeties will probably still have the same effect on you as it did on me. This comic was my first exposure to the surprisingly vast world of "pixel" art on the web. Although blown up to a large size, the visual medium here is how much expression can you fit into characters composed of the same number of pixels as the Mario Brothers or Pac-Man. Answer: it's darned respectable. As a PC-age dinosaur, I find that this art form really talks to me. Secondly, the characters are instantly lovable. There's Clango the robot, his girlfriend Maura a jaded ex-porn star, her wonton little sister, their friend "Indy Pete", and a growing phlanx of guest friend appearances who are increasingly dragging the strip down. Lastly, it's got "Diesel" in the title. I recommended this one excitedly to the WTS by e-mail before, but several months later it's still worth a look, and now updated a glorious 5 days a week.|
|Living In Greytown||1/4/01||Living In Greytown embodies everything that is great about what quaintly used to be called "underground comics".
It's an explosion of surreal and slightly disturbing characters, art, and stories made sense of by reading the character bios or just reading the entire archive from the start (the latter strongly
recommended). There's only one premise here. Greytown is a town from which there is no escape, thanks to a particular
devil, "Phil". Phil is too unimaginative to actually torture the people and talking animals who are unlucky enough to
enter or inhabit Greytown; fortunately they are all too willing to do that themselves. All the characters are
terrifically cute, which makes the drama of their wretched lives all that much more heartbreaking. In the story, Phil
recently faced down a much more evil demon for control of the town, so it's hard to say where this story will go, but I
check it every day in total anticipation that it will be great. Also, be sure to check out the author's other project,
Otaku Feh!. If you find Living In Greytown to be too burdened with plot,
Otaku Feh is just what's on the artist's mind this week. It recently ran a thorough a hilarious parody of Sinfest which ended in controversy, so you'd better check it out before it vanishes
for some reason.
Update 3/1/02LiG ended magnificantly recently. I was sad, until Dave started up Lizard
|The Crater Kid||1/11/01||It gives me great pleasure to finally get the chance to recommend this comic. It's a little bit different than
most of the others I read, a colorful serial in 3-panel daily format. It's a mixture of eye-candy (a hip homage to
1950's design and science-fiction, so slick looking that I avoided it for a while thinking it to be a scam of some type)
and some pretty clever story lines. An energetic cowboy outfit-wearin' kid is zapped to an alien planet where everything
is patterned after meticulously studied drive-in movies, because the hipster Diz and floating, glass-bowl-covered
"Sponge" have a premonition that he is a "true hero". So far he has helped them solve two mysteries of their odd and
thematic world ("The Screaming Stones" and "Howling Mountain"), and now
faces simultaneous dangers in the new "The Whispering Well".
Although built on a solid kitch foundation, the stories turn out to be anything but cliche, touched with meloncholy and
requiring unusual thinking on the part of the Kid, but never straying out of "G" rating territory.
Update 5/5/02I don't know why, but this comic is now just re-running it's archives, so I'm putting it on the inactive list.
|Puffy Cloud||1/18/01||With only a few comics published so far, "Puffy Cloud" assumes you know all about its characters without a whole lot of development. That's because it relies on the solid foundation of superhero parody, so it can leave behind all the overhead of explaining the situation and launch directly into the jokes. However, the humor is very laid back, using the superhero context as a flavor rather than a pretext. Puffy Cloud spends less time saving the city with his friend "Bottle Rocket" than hanging out with his lazy roommate or just doing laundry. He doesn't have a flashy costume, and his super power is as vauge as a "ground hugging fog". The art is subtly humorous too; like the humor the strength is in what is not shown. Sorry about all the broken links in his archive; these comics always seem to pick the week I post them for a disasterous site redesign.|
|Polymer City||1/25/01||Another comic born of video gaming culture, Polymer City also has the bonus influence of a "big chicks with
muscles" subculture and an attractive "furry" character thrown in as well. I think it's boffo and love the super-clean
line drawing style. I'll never be pleased with navigating the archives for this comic; the ones for this year have the
old system, only accessable from links on the front page, but while the year one archive finally has "previous/next"
links the hilarious titles which used to exist in those frustrating front page links are lost.
Update 5/10/01 This comic wasn't updated for a long time, although the old site was still there. I figured it was dead, but it turns out that it moved without telling us! I finally found it; I've changed the link, update your bookmarks accordingly.
Update 7/15/02Polymer City lost their URL recently, and man was I sad. I finally found its new home just as word was getting out via other artists' web sites, so I've updated my link according. It's weird how something can just suddenly disappear off the net sometimes, especially without the owner's permission.
Update 1/30/03 Wow, this comic was going great with a suspenseful serial story and then the author just freakin pulled the plug. It's still updating, but these days I can't bear to even check it because of the memory of the heights it had achieved. Just my opinion.
|Superosity||2/1/01||From the creator of Keenspot, this is one of the comics that I first hated, now can't live without. My initial negative feelings were from my first visual impressions; the author is one of those who enjoys drawing ugly characters for the humor of it. The situation is a little far out there too, although you'd think that would be no surprise in the webcomic world. Brothers Chris and Bobby wear superhero outfits, but don't do anything although they are apparently well-nigh indestructable. Chris has befriended a sentient ironing board, who has the ability to invent anything including time travel and acts as Chris' guardian. They are supported by a thoroughly unlikely cast of extras such as a cigarette smoking turtle with a mohawk, an alternate-timeline Kato Kaelin, a horrendous looking school janitor, etc. Fortunately, it all somehow hangs together with a cynical and consistently insane world view. Taking any nearly impossible situation, you usually get Chris's sweet-but-stupid perspective and Bobby's uncontainable rage. Hollywood producers, internet companies, politicians are mercilessly portrayed. It's all infinitely quotable. In general, the two best parts of this comic are Bobby, who always says exactly what's on his mind, and Chris' one true love Arcadia, who is a total babe, one of my favorite cartoon women on the internet!|
|The Bad Boys Of Computer Science||2/08/01||The typical autobiographical comic about a college student computer geek and his friends. BBOCC is endeared to
me mostly for its art, although its author so freely acknowledges the woodenness of his style as to make a "bench" file
for his strip available. Still, I like it, and the author's sense of humor is good for a surprise most of the time.
Part of the on-line gaming conspiracy, expect to see jokes about all the current games, although he's also got plenty of
original content on the subject so he's not just posing. Published whenever possible, with a nice long archive.
Update 1/30/03 The URL is gone.
|Robot Stories: Real Tales of Retail||2/22/01||Part of the "Diesel Sweeties" robot empire, this comic uses the prism of the mechanical man to tell alternately
transcendently metaphorical or depressingly true-life stories of the retail grind. It's ingeniously coded to look like
it's been drawn on the back of a paper bag when the boss isn't looking (and in the early stages, was updated infrequently
enough to believe it). Although it's really well drawn, I'm a fan of "Robot Stories" for the writing. So far it hasn't
lost its originality in the first few strips, so I get the impression that Neil will be able to milk that crappy job for
ideas for a long while.
Update 6/5/03 Still going strong, after a frightening break around January 2003.
Update 1/8/04 On Sabattical while the author reconsiders his motivation.
|Shinku-tokimekisempukaku||3/2/01||This cartoonist should have no trouble getting the URL... Found this by accident just this week, I think it's
pretty funny. It's another example of the ubiquity and creativity of gaming culture on the Net, sort of a "SunShine
Daze" meets "Wendy the On-line comic". I enjoy the great art on this one, the fact that the artist is not afraid to draw
the hands Real Big to fit all four fingers on, Nichole's guest strips, and the way that the characters are all so
Update 1/25/02Shinku has ended. There's a new comic, but I can't seem to get into it for some reason, I guess because it's a serial. But check it out.
|Untitled Again||3/09/01||It's hard to believe that I've only found one link to this comic so far! Obviously the work of an art student similar to the main character, this comic revisits the old story of the artist whose works become real. This comic stands out for the modern and realistic development of the events which unfold, the art, and the occasional equally satisfying forays into the characters themselves. The characters (and apparently the author too) are young and horny, so the story has already gotten to the point where they attempt to create a female roommate. So far I've found this story line a little misogynistic, but it's only comedy after all, and it seems to be getting more tolerable again. Published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check out the other comics in the mini-network, "The Four Toontellers", of which Untitled Again is a part.|
|Life's So Rad||3/29/01||Well, I finally got around to recommending one of Corey Marie Kitley's webcomics. She's been publishing for years, a venerable old name on the 'net, but I just couldn't get into the art until recently. Something about the pencil shading, and those eyes. The current story has pulled me in, however. It features Corey and her boyfriend and their friends and their band, and is pretty polished looking. Web comics based on the author and friends are not so unusual, but this one is such a blurring of web comic and web journal that it's almost frightening. However, at the moment it's also one of the few that deals with happy characters, so it's kind of a lift to read.|
|Peep||4/5/01||This month's darling of the Internet, Peep may seem at first like a throwaway effort, nothing more than a
whimsical doodle, possibly one of those saccharine awful things. But it's not, fortunately; it's more like a parody of
all that. Often, the words are in the form of a poem, which is one of the great things about this comic, but instead of
the usual uplifting lesson there's a surprise ending, as in the first one. Sometimes it starts out weird and stays that
way, as in "hooker peep". Hopefully the author, Nichole Stabile, will be able to continue not taking this comic
seriously for a while.
Update 3/5/02Gone, after a period of inactivity.
|11 Will Die||4/12/00||Just found this one this week! I'm so excited that once again the awesome comic of the week I was going to recommend this week has been bumped back. First off, what a great name! Secondly, what a great setup for a story (although are those dice I hear rolling in the background?). Then I find out that the author has set it up as a great writing experiment, where who will die next is being fed to him by a panel of friends, and he writes it from there. Lastly, darn nice drawin'. Points off for not setting up the archive with serial links that allow us to read it like a book.|
|Ko Fight Club||4/19/01||I really should have mentioned this one a while ago, right after finding it through Too Fat To Be A Rock Star, especially since it's a comic about board games and I'm writing for Wunderland here! Russ seems to share the Looney's love of games; he is a great fan of Go, and knows about those "German-style board games", and has a parlor night of his own down in Austin, Texas. (Austin is also the source of Shinkutokimekisempukaku and other neat stuff I've coincidentally found recently, apparently apparently it's some kind of rising Net Culture Nexus.) I haven't had a chance to fully explore the riches of this site yet, but from when I started reading a few weeks ago the comic has been throughly entertaining, mostly due to its highly experimental approach. Some weeks it's job search jokes with the figure of a guy talking on the phone, then it's comics made with hand-carved stamps of bugs and snails, then it's a hand drawn extravaganza where he sets his favorite characters (and mine) from other comics against each other in a deathmatch ("Russ, you lazy bastard! Draw me in color! I've been in color for weeks!"). Somewhere in here too are strips for The Bench, Bench adaptions for the Watchmen, and lots of Go jokes I haven't gotten to yet.|
|Ancient Messages||4/26/01||The review that pointed me in the direction of this comic (from the author of Too Fat To Be A Rock Star) was just three letters, "WOW", but I tend to agree. It's
the story of a young woman (13 years old? Younger?) who has to go live with her creepy uncle in the country while her
hateful parents get a divorce. She eventually realizes that he's not so bad, but we soon learn that dark forces are
afoot, and an epic story is just beginning to unfold, and she's caught in the middle of it. As Remi also points out, the
art on this comic is just right; a simple line style which is really quite expressive and appropriate to the POV of the
Update 5/5/02The author is ending the comic, having had a good run. Although it is going at the moment, it will soon join the ranks of "static with archive".
|Call Me Julius Caesar||5/10/01||Wow! Just found this last night and I'm flipping over it! To those familiar with the mystique of Magna, it may
not seem so different, but right now there's nothing like it on Keenspace. Apparently produced by a Thailander, the
disclaimer reads (suspiciously I might add) "WARNING::my english is so poor,i mean,real bad-_-dont forget to ignore my
gramma as well & Nothing here is really about Roman history,most are from my own imagination.so if u saw sth weird in my
comix,just ignore it,okay?". I'm really grooving on the crazy words - teen angst - - SF - magna layout mix, and the art
is just totally fabulous. I apologize in advance, however, for the hours you will spend downloading each strip; it's
either the world's slowest server or the world's farthest away. It will be worth it.
Update 8/5/01Ha, the joke's on me. I recommended this comic and it was already dead! No updates since March, but for some reason it's address is still accessable, so check out the limited archive if you wish.
|Nukees||05/17/01||Nukees has been published on the web for a long time. I've had some issues with it (King Lucia), but it won me over with it's recent Gav gets an afterlife story, so here it is. Published out of Berkely, with lots of local in-jokes, it's main character based on the author started off as a perpetual student, now is described more often as a mad scientist. He and his friends in the same department build improbable nuclear powered devices and basically live the physics/engineering college wet dream. Both physics and college jokes have gotten a little too old for me, but despite the fantasy setting the characters have a lot of hidden depth. The character of "Suzy Gee", at first a triumph of drawing, has now become a very interesting and sympathetic bridge to the real world. Other characters, although less complex, are still pretty likeable. Nukees has evolved nicely over the years and I now check it frequently.|
|Celly's Wings||05/24/01||With six issues posted it's time to recommend this "book form" comic; I've been following it since its early days. It's a cute "anime style" by a talented high-school (now college) artist who loves to render herself and her friends, and write a melodramatic fantasy universe to put them in. One of the most exciting things about the comic is being able to learn a little bit about the author. She's got so much self confidence that it's really inspiring ("Multiracial, baby! Yeah!"), and it's impossible not to love such a bold expression. The art just keeps getting better and better, and has a good mastery of manga principles in both form and content, so I hope Starline doesn't quit soon.|
|Exploitation Now||6/7/01||Exploitation Now is a fun comic because it doesn't get too hung up on what genre it is or type of plot you should expect. This is an anime-influenced sexy- main- character- with- an- odd- "furry"- roommate- and- a- megalomaniacal- teenaged- girl- landlord- with- a- basement- full- of- high- tech- weapons,- a- lazer- blasting- arm- prosthetic- and- a- "Dark Angel"- backstory type of comic. The archive is long and there's lots of links to related precursor material by the same artist. The comic may have recently aquired a direction with the recent suspenseful "Jordon" backstory, but I'm not holding my breath. This is a relatively young comic, so catch it while its still fresh.|
|Look What I Brought Home||6/14/01||Since the WWN's on vacation this week, it's a perfect opportunity to sneak in a recommendation for Look What I Brought Home. This is probably the most digusting comic on the Internet, not necessarily for the crude, sexually deviant, taboo-squishing subject matter, but for the casual way it pulls it off. The authors (Yeah, right, like anybody's wife would ever be caught dead associated with something like this) don't seem to be working too hard to be this gross. Consequently it's often shockingly funny. The drawing style is deceivingly simple, and the unwashed characters seem so natural that it's easy to get the impression that, maybe somewhere, life is like this. Serious recalibration will be required after reading this comic, and you may need to shower repeatedly after logging off, but it's funny enough that I would be remiss in not listing it among my top comics.|
|Not Gonna Take It||6/21/01||Another great high-school furry comic. This one has knocked me off my chair for the clarity of its writing and
its excellent drawing. The main characters are all anthropromorphic cats. In a surpisingly refreshing twist, the main
character is a popular and handsome athelete, his girlfriend is the popular cheerleeder. There's no hint of irony,
however their friends are a little rougher, a shy kid covering it up with swagger and a young girl who happens to be a
witch and has an adorable bird for a best friend. The recent Kiwi story was so full of pleasant surprises that I'm
surprised I never found this comic until just recently. Points off for having a title that gets that stupid song stuck
in my head every time. Will the author continue to write NGTI after she graduates?
Update 8/8/02The answer was no. I wonder what happened?
Update 6/5/03 Still sputtering along with occasional updates. The author continues to experiment with drawing styles and plot directions, most of which are interesting. but she's too busy with RL to keep up and the new site design is incredibly slow to download.
|Journey To The West||6/28/01||Oh my. Journey To The West is a rare find, something that can truly be called Internet Art. I haven't stumbled across work of this caliber since my earliest days hunting for webcomics. It's insanely beautiful, deep, compelling, experimental and bold. Making use of the full palatte of computer generated visual textures, as well as linkage and animation that you almost never see anymore, every panel is a visual feast unrestricted to any single artistic style. The characters are amazingly multi-dimensional given the number of pages and amount of dialog that have been published so far. The story is complex while at the same time unhurried, and involves many modern myths including one of my favorites, the Men In Black. But more than just the story, the author is packing Journey To The West with massive doses of philosophy with no fear of educational presentation. Zen anecdotes and principles are frequently explored, as is the mystery of the Sonoran west.|
|The List Of The Day||7/5/01||Ok, the LOTD, part of the Dilbert page, is not really a web comic. It is,
however, a enormously entertaining comic-related site that I read whenever at all possible and which can eat up hours of
web surfing time. Contrary to my expectations, the comic itself has not lost any of its edge and remains funny on a
daily basis. I mean, how much can you say about your dumb boss, and besides Scott did that whole animated series thing.
You'd think the well would be tapped dry, but he always comes up with something new and interesting. But that's just the
icing on the cake. The real pleasure is the LOTD, a forum where readers submit entries to categories like "Best things
to say on the phone when you know your office mates are evesdropping" or "Worst reasons for denying training requests".
I love reading the often real-life horror stories of these tourtured twisting drones, sprinkled with occasionally innane
references to current events or politics. It's also interesting that the best stories come not only from the white
collar workers, but also members of the armed forces and the fast-food sector, making the LOTD a visceral and sympathetic
window on the world. The number of entries is often 20 or so pages long, sorted by popularity due to the use of a
"voting" option, and there's also a sadly weekly "short list" which is the condensed top 20 entries from some earlier
category. The archive is only 5 days deep, so you have to check it often.
Update 4/8/02The sellout of Dilbert continues, as the LOTD was cut for failing to generate internet revenue. Well, it was getting repetitive, but I'll still miss it.
|Lynda Barry's One Hundred Demons||7/12/01||This comic is not active, but it's so good that I have to mention it anyways. We all know and love Lynda Barry,
and there's probably even outlets for "Ernie Pook's Comeek" out there, although I haven't found them. This is not that
one, but one which claims to be more autobiographical. True or not, the stories in this comic are compelling, and
interesting, and from a "looking back" perspective that an oldster such as myself can really identify with. It is very
interesting to read these and feel like you're getting a glimpse into the famous artist's past and present life.
Update 1/8/01One Hundred Demons is over, but you can now get Ernie Pook at this address, so everything is good.
|And Then There Was Fred||7/26/01||I am not running out of web comics, I just happen to like this one even though it is over. My link starts you at the front of the archive. There's no "calendar" table for the archive, so you'll just have to read it like a book. It doesn't look like much, a quickly dashed off stick figure comic similar on the surface to "Cynicalman". The humor is a lot quirkier though, very charming in a "Mutts" sort of way, with enough of a storyline to pull you through to it's end last February. Plus, it has one of the best animated link buttons EVER on the last page.|
|Toonbots||08/02/01||Hard on the eyes, lame, but a hilarious concept to the geeks among us. The comic is not written, it is defined using XML, a universal data definition language, and then generated using the Toon-o-Matic program. He gives the source code for each comic! Haw (snort!). The author writes: To me, the Toon-o-Matic itself is the work of art. The strip is a by-product. Like hot dogs."|
|Ashfield Online||08/10/01||I might as well jump on the bandwagon for this comic; I wasn't sure what to think of it when it first came out but it's been around long enough to be taken seriously. Also titled "?", a name that cannot be bookmarked in IE, this comic has only been drawn once. The captions change, and usually the background or some props, and sometimes color is added, and sometimes the unchanging Professor Ashfield himself is cut up and mutilated in entertaining ways. Sometimes his eyeballs move. But usually the best jokes are the most minimal ones; it's a little like The Angriest Dog In The World.|
|When I Am King||08/16/01||This comic is Weird with a capital W. I'm not the only one who thinks so; it's been getting a lot of press recently. I'm a trend whore! Anyhow, this is a comic where the King and his countrymen are drawn from geometric shapes so the people resemble curved-cornered refridgerators with heads, the King's sarong gets eaten by a camel pretty early in the series, and he spends most of the strip running around naked, trying to find underwear and keep from getting his pecker stung by bees. All the while pursued by the camel, who wants oral sex. The author's bio indicates he's from Switzerland. Ah -- it's european.|
|Gene Catlow||9/06/01||Okay, let's pick something up out of the back bin and dust it off. Hmmm... Gene Catlow. This is a pretty good comic, one I followed avidly for a while. It's pretty unique, well drawn, from the furry genre. In this world, all the animals live in an upright-walking clothes-wearing society, and have to deal with the problem of getting along together. They also have to deal with the problem of getting along with humankind. It's a great setup, seriously explored in order to make parallels to our own world, but I've found the main characters to be far too preachy and righteous. For maximum entertainment value, start at the first strip or try the rather interesting Synopsis Page|
|Indie Rock Pete hits Indie Rock Bottom||4/18/02||I'm sorry I was too busy to recommend this series while it was running, but it's done now and you can read the entire story from start to finish. I recommend trying to read it one page a day as it was originally delivered; the artwork was the aspect of this story I found most amazing and it is most effective savored slowly. Of all the characters to originate in Diesel Sweeties, Indie Rock Pete seems to have the greatest inspiration for readers and other artists; he's the favorite topic of guest strips and crossovers. In this entire Keenspot mini-series devoted to him, we get to hear a little bit of what goes on inside his head, but as the art makes clear, it is one of the more loving tributes to the fool everybody loves to hate.|
|Norman P. Function||4/18/02||Ok, Eric Dunne keeps trying new comic ideas, which is why there are so many pointers in my web picks to his
pages. There's the original, still-running "You Damn Kid", followed by the currently quiescent historical fake-out
"Dizzy Dustbin", and now two new comics that I really like a lot, "Norman P. Function" and "The Beevnics" (reviewed
below). Norman has to be my favorite of all, a twisted tale unique on the Internet, with a style and pacing that puts it
above your ordinary non-squitior or looney-bin comic styles. So far, this has been my favorite Dunne comic, but it's
Update 7/15/02Recently moved behind a "club" wall. The price is not bad, but mysteriously, membership is closed.
|The Beevnicks||4/18/02||Eric was rapidly approaching burnout when this clip-art style comic originally appeared, but rather than being a
cop-out vehicle this comic has matured into a full work in its own right. Not just using the same cutouts all the time,
Mr. Dunne has fun with them, changing the expressions or other details for a plot device, or flashing back to show us the
same characters in the past or interacting with the new character of the week. The comic really hit its stride with the
long serial clown story recently, which often had me on the edge of my seat for the next plot turn. Of course, there's
plenty of that trademark raunchy humor that in this case leads to plenty of cutout nudity.
Update 7/15/02Same as Norman, above.
|Jackie's Fridge||4/18/02||With 500 comics in Keenspace, how can you tell which ones are amazing? It's hard, but every once in a while I follow a link from one of the more established comics and find a gem like this one. Fabulous art is coupled with a soap-opera story line lightened by the core conceit of a young woman moving into a new appartment inhabited by an evil refridgerator. Except it's not that evil any more, and there's an annoying evil Guinea pig instead. This comic is also blessed with lots of commentatry from the artist, always a bonus in my opinion, and has the unusual policy that if a comic is not finished in time for whatever reason, we get the unfinished version in whatever state it got to and the author moves on.|
|Hole in the Wall||4/18/02||A "life in college" strip with an undisguised "anime" influence. It's confidently drawn and seems relatively stable, apparently anchored to a college paper's publishing schedule. "Hole In The Wall" refers to the dormitory lifestyle. There's an "everyman" guy, his crazy roommate, and the fabulous girl he'd like to go out with who hangs around. Like most reviewers on the web, my reaction to this comic is: "Sigh... It's just like my life when I was in school."|
|BloodLark||4/18/02||EIGHT is finally doing another comic. Brilliant as ever, this one was updated on time for three
months before I found it, whereafter it started getting spotty. Eight is taking the worn fantasy and adventuring
genere and giving it his usual fresh and entertaining spin. Despite the darkness and real-life misery of his
characters, it's cool that each comic ends on some kind of joke.
Update 5/5/02 Totally dead. Too bad he's keeping that depressing final page up.
Update 1/30/03 The URL is gone.
|Cat And Girl||4/25/02||The confidence of both art and writing in this comic gives away the author as a master. Cat and Girl are bohemian companions. Cat is a tall, adventuresome beat, Girl is a cute, savy bookworm. Together they argue about culture and smash stuff. I love the characters, their friendship, and their commentary.|
|Intelligent Humor||5/2/02||A highly entertaining non-sequitor comic of the same style and format as Bob The Angry Flower. this comic was published from 1988 to sometime in the 90's. The site is a fan collection of all the old comics they could find and scan; read it slowly; it's a limited supply. For me, the distinguishing lure of this comic is its lovable characers; the big and gentle Gummy Nummy, the firey Rusty the cat, Honda Civic Boy, Seth and Gregg. Many installations poke at the superhero basis of comics with hilarious "vs" battles between odd characters, and rarely does a plot last for more than about half of the panels.|
|WIGU||5/9/02||Last in my recent "Thank God It's Back" entries, the creator of the brilliant When I Grow Up is trying a new direction with a comic about a kid. I was a little worried at first, but Jeffery Roland has left the safety of the original conceits of his characters and they're flying on their own now, lost in the unfairly stupid world bearing a strong resemblance to our own.|
|Lizard||5/16/02||The hole left in my day when "Living In Greytown" ended has been filled again. This story has many of the same characters, now set entertainingly in the greater world, with the same meloncholy touches and personal joys that characterized the original comic. For those of you not as hung up on the past, the title character is a good humored little family guy, but no fool either, just trying to get through each day like the rest of us. He has a lovable family and friends all with their own stories. The comic is amazingly enough PG rated, and is published every single damn day in color.|
|6:35||5/23/02||Wow! I just found this one and it is something special. With a compelling drawing style, it has a post-high-school perspective, and tells the small, private stories of everyday life and friendship. I haven't finished reading the archive yet, it's only 16 entries long and I'm trying to spread it out over as much time as possible. However, to get the best flavor of what 6:35 is all about, I think this one and this one sum it up best. If you want to experience that feeling of being young and clever again, you will get your wish in this budding masterpiece.|
|Eversummer Eve||5/30/02||Another entry in the "Why is this free?" category. This is an american magna-inspired magic-and-alternate-universe story in a comic book format, not too much different from others except that's so well drawn! Amazingly finished, totally clean lines, nice looking characters, and a good story too. I haven't read more than the first issue, but I'm looking forward to savoring the whole archive.|
|Leisure Town||6/6/02||How do insanely great works like this go on for years before I find out about them? "Liesure Town" is probably
the most amazing thing I've seen on the Internet since exploding dog. It's visually
incredible, thematicly disturbing, and utterly funny. The author constructs stories using photography of some kind of
plastic toys set in astounding real-world sets. The sequence of panels is often occompanied by text containing the
innner dialog of one of the characters. Those familiar with the work will notice that there are a couple different
themes to be found in the huge archive. The first is the stories of pathetic losers, specifically the kind found associated with
the internet. In fact, the web site is currently organized as a fake "webzine", with "articles" and "message boards" each of
which is really a not-very-disguised story. The characters' delusions are broken down bit by bit throughout their
internal rambling dialogs until even they cannot avoid facing terrible reality. Earlier stories focused on a more
straightforward chaos, in which these same adorable creatures (there seems to be only about 20, reused and reused for
each story) undergo extremely physical misadventures of building hilarity. Examples of the latter type of story are "Extreme Cyclist Lexiconology", in which the relatively
triumphant terms such as "sparkler" and "whirligig" give way to the more unfortunate illustrations for "balance blackout"
and "wang chung", and "Umbrella Patrol", in which a
character asked to watch a friend's umbrella instead takes it on a series of ever more irresponsible adventures.
Sterling examples of the former story are the "Manage Your Web Dollars!" article,
in which the "successful" .com consultant simply wanders around town searching for his lost ATM card, oscillating wildly
between self importance and the realization of what a joke his life is, and "Nobody Came To My Winter Solstice Party, a
message board rant in which a thoughly adorable character pleads for any response to his description of the great but
snubbed party he threw and sent out e-vites for, and then concludes with an excited invitation to his next shindig. The
LiesureTown archive is unbelivably huge, dating back to 1997, and with some stories exceeding 100 pages! I'll be reading
this one for a while.
Update 1/8/04 So sad! It appears that LT is no longer. The site is up, but shows only a goodbye message
|The Smallest Sound||6/13/02||Updated very infrequently, The Smallest Sound is more of a personal visual media outlet for the
author, who is one of those "Jim Reardon" types of people who produces only rare and intermittant works of such incredible
genius that they eclipse other artists' lifetimes of work. So, enjoy "Printer" and other comic stories, then check it
out every once in a while and keep your eye on it for new stuff.
Update 4/3/03 Checked this one recently and the URL seems to be the unused property of some band now. Guess it's gone.
|Mike The Atomic Triangle||7/18/02||Not really the name of this strip, which is renamed and reinvented every week. This comic is one of those that the Internet is for, experimenting with format, shape, the concept of narrative, browser tricks, whatever. Mike himself is a recent addition the comic, and there's no guarantee that he'll be around by the time you read this, but it's kind of cool that he looks like a character from Iceland. Oh yeah, there's no "archive" as such, but usually you can find a link somewhere in any day's comic that will lead back to the previous one, up to a point. Who is the mysterious "Jack Masters?".|
The Journal Comic
Life with Leslie
Toddbot's Comic Journal
|Wow! What an amazingly simple idea, I'm stunned that I haven't seen it until just now. I found these three within short order of each other, and they are all amazing, each with it's own unique flavor. What they have in common is what happens when an artist is forced to come up with a panel strip about something that happened that day, and make it interesting or funny. Leslie's life seems the most real, or perhaps I find his drawing style to be realistic. He works at a sucky job at a video store, and wastes hours a day like me reading webcomics. He also takes the rare step of putting links in his comics themselves. Drew Weing's boldly named "The Journal Comic" is more prolific, and stretches the extra inch to make each story a complete joke a day. Of course, many days the joke is how much time was wasted on the internet. His comic is more about his relationships with his friends. I totally love the brutal self portraiture of his character; that nose is usually the first laugh of every installment I view. Todd Webb's Comic Journal is vastly different artistically. It has a much simpler, block-print look, with the author's self portrait accurately described by him as "lemon headed". In a sense though, this makes it much more compelling. The stories may not be all that, but an entry will summarize a day's worth of shopping by focusing simply on a pair of shoes. It goes without saying that the rest of these authors' web sites are filled with fascinating material that you should read. I'm leaving the navigation of that to you though.|
|Something Positive||8/15/02||Lesbian Sex. D&D. Bad Theater. Anime Cons. Bad language. It's basically a comic about Boston fandom.
Cynical, foul tempered guy hangs out in Boston with two oriental chicks and has a bunch of equally cynical friends, all
fairly self absorbed. Like they make the Seinfeld cast look like Mother Tehresa. Also I'm not kidding about the
language. Redeemed by the adorable boneless cat and the art, which is as excellent as Penny Arcade.
Favorite quotes: "Don't you dare blame this on my taste buds! I could menstrate a better cup of coffee than this!", and "What is that God awful stench! We always seem to get the train car that smells like somebody gutted a hobo!". Basically, if you can get past the first comic in the archive, it gets mellower and more likable from there on.
|Cheese-N-Rice||8/22/02||For every comic there is an equal but opposite comic. For "Something Positive" it is "Cheese-N-Rice". I have been reading them simultaneously these days. Cheese-N-Rice is utterly wholesome, inspired by the doodles in the artist's high-school notebook and documenting the adventures of characters you can take home to meet Mom. It is set in the real world, and the relationships between people are on an ordinary, everyday level, and funny in that way. Two women, a "geek" and a "blonde" are best friends, try to meet better-than-moronic guys at the local bars, share an apartment, etc. Nicely done and ready for syndication. Warning: Links to "Cathy" and pop-up ads.|
|Scary Go Round||9/5/02||Yay! John Allison is making a comic again! Yay! Focusing now on two college students who appeared briefly in the epic Bobbins and utilizing the trademark color cutout style he uses to avoid having to draw with pen and ink despite his obvious raw talent, SGR has the same killer wit that makes John's work a pleasure in whatever medium. Now it's a spooky mystery, so get your Halloween on and wait every Tuesday and Thursday for this comic to be updated.|
|Kung Fool/Crazy Kimchi||9/12/02||It's a web comic that's fashionably late :) No, really, Kung Fool is more of an experience than just a comic. It's
got some entertaining non-static components, such as the "?" balloon that you can click for each comic tobget the story so
far, or sometimes flash components. The art and characters are fabulous, and the story riveting. However, Kung Fool is also
a directory of the author's recently found internet treasures, an excellent guide to the internet in itself.
Update 6/5/03 Still going. The current Kung Fool story line seems to have sputtered out, but in it's place a new daily comic has arisen, along with a correspondingly updated links page that KICKS ASS!!! This is positively the first comic I check every day now (when I can, generally Not Safe For Work); "crazy kimchi" is a forehead beadingly high-production-value comic about whatever's on the author's mind, and his links are guided by the outrage we all feel about the recent takeover of our country by anti-american elements.
|Piggy Hunter||9/19/02||A very well-done comic of the parody-of-magna genre, obviously written for the author's own pleasure but stilly very funny. In this comic, the heroine's familiar is a tiny cartoon pig. They spend the first few comics of the series humorously making 4th wall references and trying to figure out where to go with it, then poke fun at cop, mech, fantasy, and romantic plot devices simultaneously before falling into a long period of inactivity. Enjoy the archive and hope for resumption of regular updates soon!|
|Big Nate||9/26/02||Another of the few syndicated comics worth reading on the Internet. It's true that the plotting and art are the same mind-numbing syndication formula that never changes. However, Big Nate is a comic within a comic, and the inner comics, which are "drawn" by the main character are hilarious and edgy. I can also respect this comic because the main character is kind of a jerk; I always find anti-heroes more interesting and sympathetic.|
|Elftor||10/3/02||Prepare to be offended! Elftor is near and dear to my heart because it is made with MS Paint, which I haven't seen since Boat Anchor. But it's also pretty funny if you like sophomoric humor, such as Jesus machine-gunning pagans, or anything with Osama Bin Laden, abortion, murder, etc. What can I say, it's just so rude it's funny. Sort of the Beastie Boys of web comics. My favorite character: "Cheezetor". Also entertaining is the fact that the author's gone to the trouble to make an icon for his page with will appear in the title bar of your browser or the bookmark.|
|The Devil's Panties||10/10/02||So, um, panties, man! This fresh and feminist comic is apparently based on the author, her friends, and her observations on the world. It's almost a member of the "comic journal" genre, and it's reassuring that somebody out there has a life this good. I check this comic frequently to get doses of the author's energetic attitude, and to check on her cute friend's miraculously stable relationship.|
|Pupkin||10/24/02||Weird. Innovative. Creepy. Compelling. Pupkin is pretty unusual even for internet comics. The simple drawing style
and apparently random plot direction fail to detract from the genius of this comic. Just when you think that Pupkin couldn't get
any wierder, you are served up yet another surprise. Some days I can't bring myself to read it, other days it's the first one
I check. Looking over the archive, however, provides a better perspective, and the power of the best strips hasn't faded one bit
over time. The fictional Bobby Crosby provides a commentary on the strip most days, and claims to have absolutely no idea where
it's going in general, with strips being written shortly before they are posted. Update reliablity is almost 100%, so let's hope
it doesn't just suddenly end any time soon.
Update 1/30/03 As predictable, Pupkin is over and the site is now trash. Check out the archive if you want, it may be back some day, and is still a very good read.
|Sephen||11/7/02||Don't blink. This is Eight's latest comic. It looks like a good post-apocalyptic yarn with his tradmark waif character,
giant flying robots, carelessly spastic plot direction, and a central mystery. Send him some money already, I'd like to see this
one make it to the end.
Update 6/5/03 Dead again, link to the most recent comic lost in the new site redesign; why do I bother hoping.
|The K Chronicles||11/14/02||Salon has about five web comics, all of which are very good. The K chronicles is one that I avoided for a little bit after finding Story Minute, solely on the basis of the Oliphant-like style in which the main character was rendered. Good thing I read some anyway. The author is a trip! The comics are generally his observations on life, with my favorites being the monthly "Life's Little Victories" segments, all modest and all true. Enjoy the author's travels around the country or his occasionally uncontainable outrage over the erosion of our American rights.|
|Small Stories||11/21/02||Small Stories has been around long enough for me to lose the link and then find it again, so I think it can be counted on to continue. The writing totally lives up to the name of the series, with pages and pages devoted to simple conversations, each panel adding compelling depths to each sentence. The characters are ordinary, often due to their autobiographical origins. The art is fabulously polished. The stories I got hooked on were the currently running but almost concluded Same Difference, and the haunting Super Unleaded, both of which I recommend highly.|
|Um In The Coil's livejournal||1/30/03||Here's the latest hot new thing: outletless free spirits are using this livejournal thing as a kind of underground
comics channel. Free of the continual server problems of Keenspace, but also free of any obligating schedule or archive space,
you can find all kinds of honest and personal art going down here. There's also no way to locate it except by following links,
mostly from Something Positive. So here is a jewel in the rough; you can say you read it back before it
got it's own web site. Um is doing a variety of things with his livejournal, including journalling, but for some reason he has
undertaken the task of illustrating the story "Anthem" by Ayn Rand. The art is a spooky block-print style which befits this
fascinating tale of a lost-technology future, and the natural emotion and suspense of the story is intensified masterfully by
the serial nature of this medium. There's also something else going on, currently only called "untitled". By the time
you check this out who knows where that will be, but I'll endevor to keep you updated.
Update 6/5/03 Well, Anthem was given up right in the middle, guess I'll have to read the book. There's been a new comic idea that also sputtered and a few illustrations. I still check it every week because this guy is a genius and may yet come up with something new.
|You Wish's livejournal||2/6/03||Here's another livejournal comic, again recommended via SP. This one seems to be the notebook gleanings of a young kid, her friends, and her job. It's all very light and airy, no particular plot, just whatever happened that day that was funny. The art is fabulously expressive although sadly mostly unfinished. Check out her SP guest strip for a tantalizing look at this artist's full potential|
|Unicorn Jelly||02/13/03||Just found this one, can't have been going long... let's see... May 2000??? How could I have not
heard about this before now? And it's even ending, I can tell because the story has jumped ahead 300 years.
Unicorn Jelly is many things, among them a serial, so don't bother starting at the most recent strip; my link
is to the very beginning. Includng that, this comic fulfills almost every potential of webcomics. It is a
completely realized, richly layered graphic novel exploring the relationships between the spiritual and
technological, as well as between all kinds of people, set in a unique universe with its own physics and
dangers, with a faithful japanese magnaesque storytelling method, complete with such touchstones as jellies
and slimes, witches, lost technology, and sound effects such as "Jiri, Jiri". As if all that wasn't enough,
just about evey other day in the archive has an easter egg, a link to additional bonus content that helps explain
the dense background (usually just at the right times), or expands the story. But most of the times the easter
eggs are just for fun, such as one day's comic rendered in blacklight poster colors for instance. Sorry to give
such late notice on this one, but read the archive and catch the exciting conclusion!
Update 6/5/03 The story is over, read the entire story.
|Queen of Wands||2/20/03||Another friend of Something Positive, I can't figure out why the author of this comic seems so unsure of herself in her bio. It's a typical friends and housemates story loosely based on the author's life like many webcomics, but the art is fantastic and the writing is a whole different flavor of the Boston attitude that makes SP so entertaining. We've been lucky to get daily updates for a while, so the characters have been developing nicely and there seems to be no shortage of material. I hope!|
|Ghost 2138||3/6/03||It's currently on Hiatus, but you have to check this out anyway. This on-line graphic novel in progress experiments with so many elements of comic-book tradition, and does them well, that it's hard to describe. Ok, here is my favorite part about Ghost 2138. It's set right here, in Washington D.C., in a cool blade-runneresque future. There's a fully developed political history which explains why the story has skyscrapers, furries, assault cops, skeleton gangs, mafia, berserker androids, and superhero elements all thrown together (of course the real reason is that the authors are just having fun). In the center of this story is the unwitting hero, a dreamer who starts getting powers for reasons we don't yet know, who takes it all in stride because he's just that sure that it's because he's "the man".|
|DeVia Dirkdancer - DeViations||3/13/03||Not so much a comic as an exercise in computer rendering of nearly naked fantasy women, DeViations is notable for
its visual success. It's very good looking. There was an
interesting tutorial a while back on how he creates the comic. But, aside from the rendering, there's not much going on.
A question in the FAQ asks "Why isn't it funny", to which the printed answer is that it's all inside jokes, but really the
reason is that it's simply all about the imaging. Very download intensive, be warned!
Update 3/22/03OK, I admit it! I have actually been following the current story line in DeViations with great interest, and it is very good. The trio of (nearly naked) main characters have emerged into the real world, finding themselves at a science fiction convention, following the trail of demonic power that has destroyed their own universe. References to D&D and LARP culture are quite humorous to us in the know, but more importantly, I would hesitate to offend the author of such an impressive artistic work, which obviously requires a great deal of skill and effort to produce. I can only say to Mr Troll: I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my remarks may have caused you, or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat such a slander at any time in the future!
|College Roomies From Hell||3/27/03||Well, I've been reading this one more recently so I should recommend it. It's not that it's all that new, in fact it was one I was reading back when the idea for this web page started back in 1997. It looked a lot different then, and in particular it since picked up a few hallmark elements some of which I just haven't been able to decide how I feel about. On the plus side, the art is spiffy now, not only polished but attactive. These are some of the cutest, most distinctive comic characters on the web. However, I began to find the plot lines a little too long and over-dramatic to keep up with. Also, the fantasy elements that developed for all the characters are also things that a lot of fans of this comic love that I can't get into, even if the characters are otherwise extremely likable. All of which is strange since I still read Sluggy Freelance which has most of the same elements; your mileage will vary. This page can be agony to download without a fast network connection.|
|Orange Tango||4/3/03||I've gotta recommend this one soon before updates end! This was announced as a playback of a previously published set of comics, by Brent Kirk, the brother of Derik Kirk, on the Small Stories web site while Derik is taking a break. The comics are completely different from Derik's studious, careful style, more wild and hysterically funny, post-high-school reminiscences contemporarily penned. Aside from the breathless homages to insane characters from his Taco Bell job, the story of the high school play "Rumors" has me on the edge of my seat every day. Thank goodness that this has been updated every day recently. Since these were made years ago, however, they probably won't continue past the month or so of needed fill-in time, so I hope the Orange Tango archive site stays up and you all can get a chance to read every one.
Update 6/5/03 No more new comics, the complete archive is online.
|Wapsi Square||4/10/03||This comic looks to me like a newspaper publication that's also on the web, but in fact the opposite is true. The syndication-ready art and story lines are in fact a labor of love wasting away in the obscurity of Keenspace; I would never have known about it if it wasn't for an intrigueing link button on Kung Fool. The most interesting characters in this comic are the female ones; they are all very sympathetically written and have a lot of depth, which I think is unusual because the author is a guy. The comic is mostly about their relationships, although their varied heritages are also explored with surprising authenticity. The comic is updated reliably, which is good because I am so addicted to this one right now that I can't wait to see what happens to the characters in each story line. Points off for an anthropromorphic dog, even if he's still occasionally entertaining.
Update 11/01/03 New URL, link updated.
|Klyde Morris||4/17/03||Proving that there is a niche comic out there for everyone, even me, here is a comic about current events in the aeronautics and space industries. And ants. This one takes some time to get used to, but it's worth the effort because it is genuinely funny. For real life reasons which are in themselves hilarious (I won't go into it, just read the author's background, the comic's main character is an ant who works as a commercial pilot, and has otherwise worked a wide variety of jobs all within the industry or flight school. The subject of the bulk of recent comics is the shenanigans of public officials, which (mercifully) the author makes no attempt to draw except as voices behind closed doors. In fact, the best drawing in the comic is of airplanes and rockets. However, if the reader should want to read more comics about ants (and who wouldn't), there are tons and tons of other ant comics by the author in the archives, about four distinguishable independent story lines which imagine a parallel world right beneath our feet in which ants have airports, submarines, starships, and news media. Or if you like, just get a chuckle out of the pomposity of the author himself, as the entire web site is in the third person. He imagines himself as an enemy to blowhards, which is ironic because he seems to be his own worst enemy.|
|Spellshocked||4/24/03||With so many comics on keenspace, how can you tell which ones are good? One way is somebody hands your webmaster a cool color business card advertising the comic. Sorry it's taken me so long to put up a review of this one, I checked it out immediately and have been checking it ever since. This is a monthly fantasy comic in which a young dragon shows up for his first day at a magic college, meeting his roommate, a fox who has been faking magic with science, and has several adventures meeting the locals and getting the hang of the place. Then one of the characters' parents show up and it takes a sharp turn into theater, a la Unlike Minerva, but it looks like that's over now. The monthly schedule is to accommodate the production of the beautiful color pages; the wait is definitely worth it.|
|Mnemesis||6/5/03||Wow! Get ready for some good old fashioned story tellin'. By the quality of the introductory chapters and the character development so far, the author makes clear that we can expect a full exploration of the philosophical implications of the scenario he's set up. Here's what has happened to our characters so far: they've awakened after their deaths in some kind of afterlife, which resembles a weird gigantic city filled with everyone who's ever died, and there's no sun. They have to get used to their apparently meaningless new life with individually varying levels of death-trauma-induced amnesia. With no sign of any keepers in this lonely afterlife, friendship, love, work, business and religion run rampant. We have not yet found out what the title means in relation to the story.
This compelling tale is served well by the author's accessable comic-book drawing style and the flashes of humorous comic relief, helping draw the reader in unawares. The author has gained a lot of artistic confidence since his first major story A God's Life, now completed, and it just keeps getting better. It is nice to find somebody out there not afraid to tinker with the basic metaphisical questions and write a good story in the process.
|S.S.D.D.||6/19/03||I have no idea what S.S.D.D. stands for, sorry. However, the comic has been around for a while and it's getting better and better, so it's high time I put up a link to it. It started out as kind of an aimless gag-a-day strip with a bunch of rough-looking "furries" who blew things up and had sex and drugs. Recently though, I discovered that the author has woven in a fascinating sci-fi thread wherein some characters from a future apparently influenced by the old main characters end up in the past trying to sort it all out. The old characters really grew on me also as I caught up with the archive. The author occasionally babbles about how he's not a stinking Yank, he's from England dammit, but you really get the picture from the voices in this flash-animated short story. Also immense fun is the now-famous Dictator Test, in which you attempt to figure out the right answers to get "George W Bush" as the answer.
Update 6/18/03 I thought I recommended this before now, but I can't find the evidence in the WWN archives, so here it is. The sci-fi story is starting up again; as of the time of this posting he's doing a "the story so far" review which is an entertaining retelling but you should go back through the archives and read the original for yourself to get the full background.
|Elf Only Inn||7/17/03||Just found this one and I am ROFL!!! As usual, it has been going on for a while, and the archive adds a great dimension to the comic. The premise: a cranky guy who likes to roleplay as an elf tries to start a chat room entitled "Elf Only Inn" to attract like minded geeks. However instead his room is visited by users from a variety of other online worlds, and they won't leave, much to his consternation. Eventually they all become an online community of their own.
The art on EOI has undergone a couple of transitions. Seizing on the observation that posters to chat rooms use id pictures that rarely change, the artist deliberately made a cut-and-paste comic in which the characters similarly did not change (also taking the opportunity to make fun of cut-and-paste comics). The reason this conceit worked is because the writing was hilarious enough to carry the whole comic. However, the author bit the bullet and has since proven that he can really DRAW! The comic is now incredibly beautiful, and yet the author has done more than just draw it, using the opportunity for motion to further parody the synergy between online fantasy and the mundane "real world". But now the writing has also cranked up several notches, and under each comic the story is continued with further punchlines in chat-room format.
Elf Only In is unique in that the real characters in this comic are not the on-line ones that you see drawn, but the fictional people posting behind them, and they continue to grow more and more interesting.
|Particle Sphere||7/31/03||There's no way I could not like something as creative and bold on the Web as Particle Sphere. It is of course "sequential art", but in an experimental format takes inspiration from the cosmic style of the plot, in which the main character (Particle) rides interdimesional bubbles between giant space stations of which she seems to be a caretaker. She's currently involved in a showdown with some charismatic space pirates who are running a Robin Hood operation against an interlanetary shipping company.|
|Rules Of Make Believe||8/14/03||Magna as realized by it's inventors is a surprisingly rigid and rigorous traditional form. There's a range of certain "looks" for the art and another range of stock settings and story lines. This makes the latest round of indignation over "bad magna" by non-japanese seem all the more absurd to me. However, I generally find that on the Net the magna-inspired comics that filter their way up to my attention are very American, generally only referring to one or two traditional elements as interests the artist. What's cool about RoMB is that even if the artist is one of those dreaded non-japanese, this is a full-up exercise in making a realistic magna, nothing is left out and the attention to detail is exquisite.
The first key to the reader is that the pages must be read right to left! Then there is the Shoujo style art, with glossy brushwork and pretty boys and girls. The story is set in an industrial-driven cyberpunk near-future, with virtual reality battles in bad-neigborhood arcades, and a story arc that looks like it could stretch out for years. This has me a little worried, as a matter of fact, as this level of production value tends to be very draining, so let's hope that RoMB can continue for many more issues.
Update 1/8/04 "Paused". These fail to restart more often than not, but this one is worth holding your breath for.
Update 4/1/04ROMB has been back for several weeks now, congratulations on a successful return from the abyss!! Also, the author has advised me of a new URL, although the old one is also still working for now.
|File 49||8/21/03||Red. Freaking. Alert. File 49 is exactly the reason why I search the internet for comics. Apparently the work of an inspired amateur, this work has a riveting, well-told plot and great art that is one of my main reasons for reading. The story's based on the classic "X-files/Escape From Witch Mountain/kids with mental powers running from both a government organization and the private organization that created them" foundation. So far it has centered around just three who have banded together. In a short course of time (but with five chapters so far!) we've really gotten to know these characters and the web of interpersonal dynamics set up by their ages, their unfamiliarity with each other and their powers as they struggle for safety against unknown odds. There are also assorted mysterious secondary characters they interact with and they are not sure if they can trust. One of these characters is featured in perhaps the most intriguing banner I've seen for a comic, in which this man is pointing a gun at the kids, and the line reads "He swore he'd protect them". The art is developing nicely, and although it has a folky look it is naturally expressive, conveying much of the story's emotion and giving the feeling of being in some of the characters' heads. For web cartoonists, the art is often the greatest obstacle, so in this case where according to the background information on the site the story arc has already been fully plotted, let's hope the author can keep up the admirable output volume.|
|Antihero For Hire||9/4/03||This comic started just recently, in stark contrast to most of the ones I find which are ending as I discover them. There are several encouraging signs that this comic will continue well past my posting of this review. First off, the background for the freshly minted characters is both fun and well thought out. Secondly, you can observe the start of a story arc in the first couple of months, one that at the time of this writing has set up a delightful mystery. Thirdly, the balance between humor, parody, and serious story struck by the author is unique enough that even he has trouble describing it on his own FAQ, ensuring a fresh tone and plenty of new territory to explore. Visit and encourage the author to keep it up!|
|As If!||9/11/03||OhMyGawd! It's like totally the 80's in this comic! First clue, main page color scheme is that insane Miami Vice pink and blue. But, much like a certain TV show that was too good to live, the nostalgia in this comic is based on more universal themes than just the temporal setting, and is a captivating melodrama with real and likable characters. It's the story of two girls in high school who meet and form the kind of strong bond of friendship that only a couple of geeks can have, despite their differences and various melodramas. It's been going for a while, so there's a way big archive, and reading through it the thing that amazed me was the quality of the art. Just about every page that scrolled onto the screen made me gasp; it's hard to believe that it's been updating so reliably for so long. If you ever wanted to know what happens to the characters, just read the authors' bios; they stay best friends, and start a webcomic together based on their lives (this kind of takes the mystery out of the fullness of the characters, but on the plus side it explains the visual beauty of the comic itself; the artist is a pro with a day job working for Disney).|
|Counting The Cracks||9/18/03||Brilliance. Yep, that's pretty much the word to describe Counting The Cracks. The author is just experimenting, pondering the big questions, trying something new more often than not, and saying things more interestingly than you usually see on the Net. Pretty much an instant classic, perhaps all the more intersting because the author often hints that he's either frustrated or bored, so it could end any day.
Update 1/8/04 I guess he got bored. Archive is still up.
|Angels 2200||9/25/03||The creators of this comic have a passion for drawing a) digitally rendered space fighters and b) sexy anime chicks. Consequently, we are served here a story of the distant future in which a virus has killed off nearly all the men, and a war between earth and it's distant colonies is brewing, now fought entirely by the women in fighter squadrons and carrier ships. Angels 2200 focuses on a young and untested squadron, underdogs in a "Top Gun" story. So far they have met, been pushed through hurried training, had time for their sterotypical personalities to interact and bonded as a unit, and had their first real combat. Cliches aside, there's a serious story arc going on, with hints of military intrigue right down to the tag line for the comic: "They were meant to be cannon fodder. They became heroic cannon fodder". Nonetheless, you will need nothing more to recommend this comic except for a) digitally rendered space fighters and b) sexy anime chicks.|
|Electric Sheep Comics||10/2/03||Welcome to the exciting era of the Internet. Many of the comics by the author of this collection are stunningly computer rendered, so it must be about computers, or the future, or something. In fact, it looks a lot like the illustrations you used to see in that rag Omni. In fact, it is actually about the illustrations in that rag Omni. I was fortunate enough to get in on the joke early by picking the fabulous story The Guy I Almost Was to read first, in which the slick myth of the glamorous future is debunked through a story of the not-so-recent past. The author is at it again with the current Delta Thrives, only this time it's a story set in the distant future but stuffed chock full of embarrassingly anachronistic "internet" terminology. Additional "Omni" references include plenty of androgenous nudity, sex, drugs, trippy SF themes and blatant liberalism. It's all very well done, and generally put together in such a way that it won't take forever to download, except for the newest stuff.|
|Pretty Magic||10/9/03||Pretty Magic is one of a particular entire subgenre of web comic, but there is still no other comic on the web quite like it. The niche is "comics that make fun of 'Magical Girl' anime". This is a beloved easy target on the web; the rigid structure that defines the Magical Girl story, coupled with the seriousness with which they are cranked out, inspires twin challenges to the wag of mocking the formula by tweaking it, while nonetheless adhering to it as closely as possible to make the point. Thus you get your choice of Magical Girl animal, wand, and mysterious boy, and you take the stock situations and crank the absurdity dial up as high as you can. Additional style points are then awarded for then taking what you've done and finding a way to weave in an actual interesting story or mystery. Many of the results on the web are dazzling and even stunningly drawn. However, I was attracted by the amateur style of the art in Pretty Magic; as you know I really enjoy watching new artists evolve and try things out. By now, it's gotten pretty good and continues to improve. The writing gets all the extra style points; I find the satire pretty funny and am hoping that the artist can keep the comic going so I can get more of the backstory. However, as I was digging through the archives, I learned that the artist has a very interesting earlier work, and in fact is quite fascinating himself. For me, this has added much to my appreciation for this comic, and allows forgiveness for it's despair-inducing update schedule.
About midway through the archive, there is this filler image and unenlightening explanitory text. What is BGC? Who is this "Brian" and why is he smiling in such a geeky way? And what is that strip of toilet paper or whatever it is that he's holding? Well, we never get an answer to that last one, but the link in the text takes you to a comic called "Boy Girl Club", which is the author's first comic, apparently done while he was in high school. The character bios for this comic tell us: "Brian Young is ... well, he is me. I really don't know what to say to describe myself. I guess the best way to learn about who I am is to read the comic. I mean, I'm in just about every one of them." The comic tells the story of boy who is gay and has many friends in his high school, but is in love with a guy (Jerome) who doesn't like him and continuously maintains his heterosexuality. Jerome frequently beats up Brian to try to make him leave him alone, and is homophobic enough that he drives a car with license plates that say "Not Gay". The smitten Brian will not let up though, until he is driven away so cruelly that he decides to commit suicide. I won't tell you how it turns out, but it is absolutely brilliant. But what is eerie is that it seems to be *the author's own story*, (rendered in exaggerated form) starting as a typical idle comic that kids draw about themselves and their friends, except in this case the author is a homosexual in a straight world. BGC becomes a poignant exploration of human frailty and emotions. The comic is sympathetic to all it's characters, even the ones who can't stand the often annoying hero, and also somehow musters up real humor in almost every strip. And then he sums it up in the last comic of the series (before he switched to a different idea and started a fantasy story with the same characters).
Having read all this, it is really something to hit that "Sketchee" link and go over to the author's own website, with his current blog and links to his more recent work. He's still at it several years later, having disasterous relationships, but somehow taking all that emotion and channeling it into all kinds of art. The comics aren't his only outlet; he also does music and sculpture, so there's lots of interesting stuff to click on around the site. Pretty Magic goes on long hiatii when Brian is working on something else or something goes wrong in his emotional life, so check Sketchee every once in a while to check out what's going on.
|Errant Story||10/16/03||After Exploitation Now ended, I was pretty aghast at what replaced it. Not a boring fantasty/adventurers type story! There's only about 400 D&D comics like this on the web, the characters are all cliches, the plot seems to move glacially, there's not much in the way of jokes, and it isn't even in color. It seemed so opposite of what made this author's first comic so beloved on the internet, and destined to end early. However, something intesting has happened; he proved me wrong by sticking with it. Slow or not, there is definitely a plot, and it's got more than a couple of layers. Poe has rewritten the cliched "elves and middle earth" backstory in an admittably new way, with more of an "elder gods" feel and the jumble of anachronisims seems to be working in a hip way. The update rate has been unfailing, which is major points for something I didn't expect to last, so let's check it out and see where it's going to go. Plus, it's got the cat with bat wings.|
|Neko the Kitty||10/23/03||What is it with punks and their cute webcomics? Well, Gar is not so much a punk, but a couple of his cute friends are. And the cat is very cute and punk also. This comic unflinchingly explores this dual nature of cats, and it's a raging success. Cat lovers, be alerted! The cat is spot-on, but actually most of the characters are pretty lovable too, so I'd say that in general that it's one of the more humorous comics that I read these days. This is one of the few comics that gives you the additional punch line of a title line for each comic, delivered without fail so far for every comic. The filler comics are actually very funny too, thanks to the freedom granted by surreality. Lastly, the site has something you rarely see anymore: a clean and functional layout.|
|Limited Space||11/13/03||Alright! The author of the fabulous Robot Stories has managed to successfully spin off a character into a whole new comic. Although relying on the same cut-and-paste style as the original to keep up the output volume of comics, this is still an impressive achievement. Much like the difference between the Simpsons and Futurama, the new strip uses the freedom of science fiction to portray our world gone mad.
Update 1/30/03 This comic was abandoned shortly after I recommended it. I actually never got the chance to give it a link on the WWN. The archive is still there, so enjoy.
Update 11/13/03 Limited Space is BACK, baby! Since January, the characters from Limited Space have continued to make appearances in Robot Stories, eventually becoming an integral part of the story. But now that Neil has made the switch to Keenspot, and a slightly different URL, the story continues under the Limited Space nameplate. Robot Stories now rattles on toward a predicted "ending" as a side project at the old URL. Actually, you should check out the old site just to try out one of the best navigation consoles on a web page EVER; among its many features are links to both the old and new comics.
Update 1/8/04 On Sabattical while the author reconsiders his motivation.
|Double Happiness||11/27/03||To review any comic by Jason Shiga is to try to find a way to recommend everything by this artist. I have yet to find any other review of Shiga's work that doesn't use the word "genius", so there, I've gotten it over with immediately. My theory as to why he inspires this impression on anybody who meets him is that his sense of humor is so odd and geeky while being completely interwoven into everything he does. Unfortunately, like with most geniuses I have encountered, his output can be intermittant, and it is only because of his newest regularly available work that I can write a review.
The base of the Jason Shiga world is his own website, Shigabooks.com. This site contains mostly reviews, written by the artist himself, of his earlier hand-printed comics. The comics described are mostly out of print and not available on the web site, but the reviews are screamingly hilarious. And, as you read, you will begin to get a taste of how math and humor combine in Jason's world. There actually are some samples of comics on the site, all good especially the compelling Bus Stop, which is representative of Jason's highly recognizable drawing style, pacing and humor, and is also unfinished. The Shigabooks site used to contain a journal, now a LiveJournal, which is perhaps the funniest I could ever possibly recommend. In absolutely deadpan tones he describes attempting to overcome shyness in his everyday life by analyzing it mathematically. Just read it.
When I discovered shigabooks, his then Magnum Opus was in the process of moving to Modern Tales, one of the grandfathers of pay webcomic sites that is still going strong and which you should join. I never saw "Fleep" at the time because it was in transition and I couldn't figure out its update schedule; the really good news however is that it is now available in full for free back on shigabooks.com! Fleep's review on the website, which was all I could find for about a year however, is such a work of art on its own that I feel compelled to quote it in entirety here:
Fleep is everything I wish that a comic strip could be. It's ambitous, mysterious and utterly masturbatory. About a quarter of the strips feature the main character working through various math problems. They are some of the most dramatic math problems you'll ever see in a comic strip. I believe that Fleep is my best strip to date. It is also a complete commercial disaster. The editors at "Asian Week" felt that the theme of the strip didn't really jive with the rest of their newspaper and decided to cut the run at number 28. I imagine all along, they really wanted an Asian Boondocks or Cathy. But gosh darnit, I did the best strip I could and if I did what they wanted it wouldn't have been the best. I really thought there were enough people out there like me who would just fall in love with the strip. But I think it just confused people.
After all that, it seems all the more ironic that Jason's shiny new comic, Double Happiness, again at Modern Tales (the most current comic is always free for you cheapsters out there), would have made Asian Week's editors happy. It's the story of a chinese american who moves to SF and hangs out with some friends there in it's vibrant chinatown, but is ashamed when they discover that he doesn't actually know much chinese language or culture. They of course are not offended, but set out to help him learn to fit in. It's a beautiful story, and it inspired me to do a web search on "Hokkein" and learn something I didn't know before about chinese history and people.
|Alum Falls||12/04/03||As with the best of art, Alum Falls is not so much a comic as a multidimensional experience. The artist has passed away, so it will not ever update again, but I hope you have as much fun as I did exploring both the large body of work contained on this site, and the trails that lead to the equally interesting story of the author himself.
Alum Falls is the story of a boy, John Snavely, growing up in a midwestern town in the 50's. It is told from the perspective of his journal, over a period of about two years of high school. Accompanying each journal entry are one or two pictures depicting the events, one could argue that it's a book with pictures rather than a comic, but I've clicked away nearly a whole week exploring the archives so I've earned the right to call it what I want.
Snavely seems to spend most of the summers wandering around the town after dark with his friends, or going down to the pool to hang out with the girls. Eventually he gets a girlfriend, they break up, life goes on from there. It is as long and confused as any real journal would be, and the author has managed to capture with stunning clarity the turmoil of adolescence, when it feels like you are being boiled by your own emotions. He also experiments with the format when needed, once putting his older self in the comic, plays with the art, sometimes puts in asides as hypertext links, and also occasionally reveals the story from other points of view such as the girl's, casting the details with touching delicacy.
There is more going on in this work than just an illustration of somebody's journal. The author was working on putting the whole postwar american experience in perspective, tying together historical as well as literary knots. See if you can recognize some of them. If you follow the links from this site, you begin to learn that his own, nonfictional life was pretty much the postwar american experience. He was born about the same time as his character and lived in a small town, went to Yale, worked for civil rights in the 60's, got in touch with his father's WWII story, and got in on the ground floor of a computer startup back in the DOS days. I think he was trying to figure out how it all fit together when he was writing Alum Falls, and it's a shame it can never be finished.
|Staccato||12/11/03||Brand new on the Web and looks a little bit like a "college paper" strip from the plot (but it can't be, because he went to University of Md, my Alma Mater, and I would have noticed it), this comic is distinguished by the crisp, cleanly inked artwork and rowdy characters, most notably "Basketcase". But best of all, the author of this comic seems to be at forefront of today's webcomic world. He personally knows the authors of many other comics, and has a link to a previously unheard-of excellent comic on his page just about every day.
>Update 12/11/03 Not a lot of updates recently (my original review is about a year old I guess), but I check this comic hopefully every week. I recommend you start with the archives.
|Okay Pants||12/18/03||Yay, another cute punk comic! This one is better than all the others because it's cuter. The author, Julie, appears as a hollow-eyed "Pippi Longstocking" punk, with her friend Bello, a mushroom with teeth. This comic's meloncholy humor comes out in the first episode, as our heroine accidently squashes a tiny gremlin on the thorns of a rose as she and the mushroom are going out to dinner; the deceased's tiny husband angrily demands that somebody now volunteer to babysit his kids. I love the fact that this comic is such an experiment that it could go just about any direction any day. Mondo major points for drawing Julie not in the same outfit all the time. Excellent playful tone and surrealist humor. Hasn't been going too long so you can enjoy the whole archive immediately.|
|Desert Rocks||1/1/04||Proof that the World Wide Web is big enough for really important things to get lost in. This is a graphic novel, updated weekly, apparently. It's on sabatical until next week, but that hopefully will give you enough time to read the archives and catch up with the story.
It starts with a guy, possibly a refugee, who is drifting around somewhere in the Middle East taking odd jobs and having small adventures. He meets up with a couple of women doing some kind of hippie pilgrimage, travelling on foot to visit a series of temples. You begin to get the sense that it's not actually in the Middle East, because the men and women in this comic interact with no hint of tension or inequality. A map eventually appears in the comic, and we get the final proof that Desert Rocks is, as advertised, not set in "the real" world. However the economics, religion, politics and every other aspect of human nature in the environment of Desert Rocks are exceedingly realistic. More importantly, the characters are becoming more and more interesting as their backgrounds are revealed. Although it's gone for two years and 100 pages, this novel seems to be just beginning, so I hope to continue to be impressed by the quality and style for years to come.
|A Miracle Of Science||1/8/04||A Miracle Of Science is my perfect anime story. There's a bedrock hoary cliche (mad scientists) approached from a hip oblique angle (a futuristic police agency dedicated to combatting mad scientists) in a cool world governed by nerdy realistic physics (about 200 years in the future) with lots of interplanetary travel (Mining stations around Jupiter, a breakaway advanced colony on mars), a handsome but angsty hero, a cute and mysterious female agent (from the martian equivalent of the earth mad scientist police) with near-super powers, folded layers of intrigue and strategy, and scenes of breathtaking beauty and coolness ("nobody's ever re-entered the martian atmosphere without a spacecraft before"). Edit the URL to jump up to the authors' main page and view the earlier work, it's a lot of fun too!|
|Demonology 101||1/15/04||A soap-operaey story of a middle school girl who also happens to be a demon trying to live a normal girl's life despite being caught in the middle of an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. Sort of like a cross between "Charmed" and "All Purpose Cross-Cultural Cat Girl Nuku-Nuku". This ambitious story was started for fun but continued until the artist's style became confident enough to begin branching out professionally. It's now up to 5 chapters, and will end when the current chapter concludes. I found this one thanks to first finding her current Modern Tales story, Ice, which I would have liked to recommend separately except I've been doing a few too many Modern Tales reviews lately and not everybody is a subscriber (though you should be). Faith has of the best links pages I've seen recently, the source of my last two finds and many more.|
|Gods And Undergrads||1/22/04||I have to recommend the art on this comic. It is beautifully done while still unabashedly cartooney, and I love all the bright colors. However the main reason this comic stands out from others is how girly it is. I read plenty of comics by women and have seen spot-on women characters, but no other comic simply depicts everyday life in college the way this one does. Things like staying up all night with your roommates, meeting the cute guys at parties, or just getting up and going to classes. It very effectively serves the purpose of making the characters seem more real and drawing you unsuspectingly into the plot. It was also interesting to read the author's previous works and blog and learn about her interest in Greek mythology, which makes clearer the threads of the larger story which are being woven into the start of the comic. Anyway, she apparently goes to school in Maryland, and even went to SPX which I had to miss again this year, so yay local talent!|
|Spare Parts||1/29/04||Speaking of talented women artists, the married team of Isabel and Terrence Marks are at it again. Terrence's Unlike Minerva had pretty much settled down to the "Drawn by Isabel" show, and this did not make me sad in the least. Isabel can really draw, and in particular the female characters. You could tell that she was supplying a woman's touch to the writing too, although the majority of the whimsy clearly was still Terrence. The story ended on a romantic upbeat, and now they're trying something new, this time with - *gasp* - human characters. Thankfully it's the same Godotian ride as before, and the characters are even more adorable looking than I would have thought possible. So, if by this time you too are an Isabel Marks fan, you probably have already checked out her solo comic Namir Deiter, an all-furry girlfest which continues to run regularly despite all the other stuff she's been doing. Really, she had quite a little empire on line for a while, with several comics including the sorely missed journal comic "Bubble", and I get the impression that she was instrumental in setting up The Nice.|
|8:1||2/5/04||It looks like a three-panel comic, but in terms of artistic quality, story, and depth of characters Eight To One is a graphic novel, one that I check on Tuesdays and Fridays from 12:01 AM until it updates. The story of two burnouts bouncing around their town together trying to locate some shred of emotion in their lives, it hasn't been publishing long, but every single strip is a brilliant set piece, gorgeously drawn. It would be a silly string of sterotypes if the characters didn't actually have an emotion or two. Oh yeah, the main character is named "Charles".|
|The Gods Of Arr-Kelaan||2/19/04||The Gods of Arr-Kelaan contains some really neat writing. It's not that the concept is so new (somebody get some windex so that we can wipe Terry Pratchett's fingerprints off this comic), but the characters, particularly the shell-shocked and slightly ticked-off hero, are fleshed out well beyond their D&D-ish origins. How they react to every situation and interact is refreshingly down-to-earth, making it easy for the reader to imagine themselves in this epic. Our hero last remembers that he was on a spaceliner on a routine cruise, now he has woken up on a strange planet posessing nearly god-like powers. As he eventually encounters others who were on his ship he learns that they too have discovered their own super abilities, and each one has come up with a slightly different idea of what to do with themselves. All of this happens in the ampitheater of the fearful and superstitious local population, resulting in a multileveled exploration of mythology, along with an overarching question of whether they will discover what happened and get home.
Now, the link above is to "Volume 3", currently in progress, which it turns out is a good place to start because the author has become familiar enough with his characters that he doesn't belabor introductions, and the story takes front and center stage where it belongs. However, the backstory is just so interesting that you want to read more about it, and guess what, you can! Volume 0 is being serialized at Strippers Corner, and Volume 2, about 100 pages, is available in a slightly shrunk but fast-loading format in the author's own website at DrunkDuck.com. For Volume 1, you will have to buy the book.
|Reckless Life||2/26/04||Fun Comic. Reckless Life cuts a distinctive edge, with a retro, cool 60's graphic design. Set in the future, but not obnoxiously so, as anything is "normal" in Vegas in any time. Great anti-hero; Locke is little more than a small time criminal, good at what he does and no reason to hold back. Bullets fly, there are great long footchases, shifting alliances and nefarious characters. Host of a little new webcomic empire, one of two in "Misfit Media", the other is good too.|
|Under Power||3/11/04||You know those goths who sit in the lobboy at cons smoking all day and night? This is their comic. Part Pulp Fiction, part "Mystery Men". This is a comic where the guys are cool with a 9mm in each hand, and the women are short with fairy wings and are to be feared for their ability to rip your skin right off your body. The story line advances glacially, but really it's just an excuse for some mind-boggling artwork. This guy is so artistically talented that his "filler" artwork blows most comics' regular artwork completely away.|
|Checkerboard Nightmare||3/25/04||Great name, actually a pretty nice setup, very slick looking. I was ambivalent about it, due to the fact that the humor seems to consist of 100% fourth-wall jokes. The premise is explored from every possible angle, sort of like Toy Story in reverse, where the webcomic character feverishly desires to become popular and famous, and somehow tap into that rare vein of marketing success that many authors can see but few can achieve. He's a great antihero, and self-centeredly uses his supporting cast like the props that they are. Every once in a while he'll bitterly drop the name of a "competitor" or make some in-the-know reference; it's the perfect webcomic reader's webcomic.|
|Dominic Deegan||4/1/04||There must be thousands of black and white Otaku-driven anime-look comics on Keenspace alone. This one, however, this one stands higher than most thanks to adhering to a different formula than you might expect. The main character is a seer with a long scarf and a lot of magic tricks up his sleeve. As you begin to realize, the tone is a lot more "Dr. Who" than "DragonballZ", starting with the rescue of an "ugly duckling" girl who becomes his adventuring companion. And of course there's bonus points for a talking cat, and lots of puns. Start reading from the beginning (where my link points) because the stories build on each other and the current story is already up to Sluggy-level complexity. Or to read the most current, click here|
|Irregular Webcomic||4/8/04||One of the most regularly updated comics on the Net. Made using lego characters and sets in order to realize one of the funniest, yet geekiest senses of humor out there. First two strips begin it perfectly: "Hey! There's comics on the Internet!" [time passes] "Ha ha ha ha ha ha! .... (then later:) What a waste of time!" (The next comic:) "I should make my own web comic...Nah, too geeky... I'll stick to roleplaying". The next comics are of his miniatures, but soon it graduates to the infinite possibilties offered by the legos. Many jokes are based on knowledge that is so obscure that the author can't wait to provide a little lesson in the "annotations", which I strongly suggest you turn on. Yes, you can turn them on or off; in addition to everything else, this is one of the best-organized viewing system for comics ever devised. My favorite comics so far are the ones with the author himself, but you can choose from a variety of storylines including the we received Star Wars storyline. So start reading and SET NERDINESS FOR THE HEART OF THE SUN!!!!!!!!|
|Reach Up Low||Naively beautiful, Reach Up Low is a Kubrickian story set in a post apocalypic future where humanity is fleeing earth. It shows all the signs of having been fully planned out, but on a student's schedule it's update rate is uneven. Follow the author's advice and start at the beginning, then check this gemlike comic weekly.
Update: project on hold, probably indefinitely. The archives are still available, though moved to a different address; the link to the left has been updated accordingly.
|Dork Tower||The Penny Arcade of RPG comics, previously found only in obscure magazines that only hard core gamers knew how to get, now available for free online! Despite all that, it's actually funny.|
|Questionable Content||4/29/04||An extrodinarily cute comic about a young post-college kid (generation Z?) trying to figure out what to do with his life. He meets a girl he can talk about bands and shows with, they become roommates and friends and romantic tension ensues. Not as many points off as would be usual for the inexplicable robot character in this otherwise present-day setting, since he hasn't been resorted to for plot filler too much yet. The characters are all immensely likable and sympathetic, and you want to just squeeze them!|
|Alpha Shade||5/6/04||An otoku-born semi-weekly comic with friggin unbelievable art, that also gloriously realizes the essence of japanese anime narrative. This is what WWI would have been like if it were fought by women in tight fitting uniforms. With floating battleships. And godlike psychic talking cats. And there's something about dragons. The comic commendably portrays the frighteningly senseless bloody death of war unflinchingly along with romantic images of hardware, so although it's not for the faint of heart it's definitely refreshingly worth reading. The story so far has progressed with masterful patience; we haven't even begun to see a hint to answers to the story's central mysteries yet.
The authors are masters of graphics-rich internet content, and at least half of their web site is solid Flash with bells and wistles out the wazoo. They do their weekly rant in streaming audio. However they have thoughtfully provided an ordinary HTML version of their pages for those of us stuck in the dark ages. There's a great precursor story to read, which is important because the update rate has slowed to a trickle and I don't have time to download the newest windows media player so I can listen to their rant and find out why.
|Station V3||5/27/04||Station V3 brings the same gentle smiles and classic comedy as "Mutts" to a science fiction setting. Station V3 is a boring, tiny refueling station way off regular shipping lines, staffed with a less-than brilliant crew. To give you an idea of the humor, the comic starts with the introduction of a main character, a leafless plant brought on board to brighten up the decor. Bureacratic hi-jinx result. The charming pace seems to have resulted in completely reliable daily delivery for about a year now, such that there's now a humorously identical spinoff called Station Z7, hosted on DrunkDuck because apparently Keenspace wan't slow enough for the author's tastes.|
|You Say It First||6/3/04||If you've been reading this site or my LiveJournal, you know that I'm a fan of Isabel Marks. I like her drawing style and the fact that she is producing about four comics at once these days with her husband Terrance Marks, the inventor of the innovative Unlike Minerva which ended several months ago. You Say It First continues the story of that (recently re-archived) comic. After a shocking first week in which the characters from the Minerva Theater are somewhat unrealisticly thrust into the real world and scatttered to the four winds, the story is pared down to just the Brisbane and Kimberly story. Their relationship has been very interesting up to this point as it slowly evolved. It began as humorously adversarial and moved logically from there into flirtation until both of the characters began to come to the realization that there might be something between them. Now the story continues, with a brilliantly mature writing style that ignores none of the baggage from the earlier part of the story while examining the difficulties of developing their relationship further under stressful real-life conditions. Kimberly's character is fleshed out more, while you feel for Brisbane's confusion as he tries to figure her out, caught in her protective layers of mystery and his own uncomfortable situation of having to rely on her for a place to live. All this and it still succeeds in being funny every day. The art is fantastic, and what a hilarious URL!|
|Tuesday||7/10/04||This is probably the second most fascinating example of the "Stick Figure" genre. Michelley and her friends have spindly legs and arms, balls for feet, and big round heads, but wear clothes and have cool hair. It's visually compelling, setting the atmosphere for the easygoing stories, where the characters mostly just hang out. There's an archive, but it takes a trick of navigation to get to the old archive which has the older and extremely cool stories.
Update 6/5/03 Tuesday hasn't updated for a while, but both the old and the new archives are still up, and the old archive, strangely, has a new link to something interesting, possibly by the same author although it's hard to tell.
|Captain SNES||6/17/04||The intriguing title of this comic is one of the many things about it that I don't get. Nonetheless, I find this comic so hilarious that I wait every day for it to be updated, and I was very sad when it went static just shortly after I finished reading the entire archives. But it's back now! Captain SNES is the story of an unlikely hero who finds himself transported from the real world into a video game world. The artwork is another victorious example of "pixel" art; each character is no more than a few bytes in size. Like most pixel art, you can't even tell what's going on unless you stand back a bit... I find this visual tribute to the video game universe to be one of the best running jokes of the comic. However, there are also several humorous video game references, character cross overs, and fourth wall violations, all with a fresh and quirky sense of humor that I really enjoy.|
|Loserz||6/24/04||It's kind of hard to write a review of this comic in a family webzine, but since I've been checking it at 12:01 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for as long as I can remember I guess I better mention it. On the surface, this looks like just another comic by a horny high school guy getting his rocks off by drawing hot slutty high school girls. In reality, 1) the guy is well past high school, 2) despite a cynical outlook on the high school scene, he's put a lot of effort into the characters; they have full stories and their friendship with each other is endearing, 3) he can really draw. The disadvantage is that it's hard to find a safe week to recommend the comic. We just finished up a week in which the cartoonist tried to be as offensive as possible (I had to stop reading this storyline when they brought in a box of kittens for horrible things to happen to). For mature audiences, especially those who can tell the difference between fantasy and reality, but funny as heck.|
|return to sender||7/1/04||As mysterious as it is beautifully drawn. A city dweller happens to see an apartment go up for rent as he walks by, and jumps on it. It's cheap for it's size. His wacky friend notices a mail slot on an interior wall with no corresponding opening on the other size. A letter drops out, containing instructions to go to a strange location. They decide to go, and the letter leads them through a series of impossible coincidences and supernatural events. Then another letter arrives. Surprisingly interesting characters.|
|Sylvia||7/8/04||For everybody who had to make do with regular comics before webcomics were invented, Nichole Hollander's comic needs no introduction. Crazy, kitchy, femminist, cat-loving, eerily accurate, Sylvia has been running for decades and is somehow still every bit as funny and life-affirming as ever. I would do web searches for it on the Internet every once in a while (back then we didn't call it "googling"), but for a long time only Nichole's own web site existed, which had only about 5 comics that never seemed to be updated. Now it's published daily in UComics, plus it seems as though Nichole's site is now updated monthly, and they pick from the deep archives which is always a treat.|
|The Accidental Centaurs||7/15/04||If what you liked about The Gods of Arr-Kelaan was the Gilligan's Islandesqe story of earthlings stuck on an unfamiliar world and trying to get home, you'll like The Accidental Centaurs. Looks like another furry fetish comic, but early on in the story the author has accidently let slip his hard-sf core, and the dash of physics makes the mix good. Two physicists, male and female, blow something up, now they find themselves on a strange planet in the bodies of centaurs, or so it seems. Roll a 20-sided die. Start at the first story because it explains some stuff.|
|Pathetic Geek Stories||It's pretty funny, or tragic, depending on whether you're still bitter. Here's me (top comic). One of the genre of rare and proud comics in which the author illustrates stories sent to her by readers. Warning: True life stories of utter humiliation and embarassment, from about my era of childhood which makes the "Mad Magazine" art style all the more appropriate. Not at all mean, PGS is part of the cycle of healing, each story sent in by a person who has grown up enough to learn from it and laugh about it now.|
|Gleaners||7/29/04||An entirely unironic comic about the fun of being a mormon missionary. Apparently all drawn during the author's mission and being posted now for public enjoyment. Very nice web site design, with lots of FAQ information for us uninitiated. The characters seem to all be white men in suits with their hands in their pockets. A disadvantage to be sure, but it somehow contributes to the spooky background aura set up by the comic's title. This is a highly recommended and enjoyable slice of life comic.|
|Suburban Tribe||8/5/04||No other comic so perfectly masters the TV sitcom formula as this one. David Spade, Julia Louis Dreyfuss, Lisa Kudrow, and I can't figure out who would play Dave, all work at an ad agency (of course) and have episodic misadventures from the grab bag of the 7 sitcom stories. I love it for the same reason that I get addicted to certain sitcoms that always seem to air in late-night reruns. It's easy to identify with these young, self-assured characters (however unlikely that may be), they all have redeeming qualities and friendships, and the stories all have a satisfying wrap-up, with hints of character growth and "just desserts" such as we'd like to see in real life. The art is fabulous, and there's a cat (with unfortunately round pupils, sadly).|
|Stuffed||8/19/04||This breathless and fresh comic by the enigmatic Jewel Bong seems likely to stick around, now past it's 50th comic. It is charming, full of fairy tale characters and fashion. There's a girl who wakes up in a strange world, a talking lion with glasses, mad scientists in a surreal laboratory, and The Secretary for occasional narration.|
|Candi||9/22/04||I love it when my favorite comic strip artists start up a new project as a solution to whatever writer's block is killing them; I like it even better when it works! Starline Hodges, author of Celly's Wings, has a new comic out, that's been updating regularly. It's a "life in college" romp that ranges from addressing Starline's peeves with her professors, to development on some well-formed and increasingly interesting characters. The art is fantastic as usual.|
|Penny and Aggie||9/30/04||It's been a while since I recommended a Modern Tales comic. I try not to do it, since not everybody is going to want to shell out 29 bucks a year. However, this comic alone warrants the cost of a subcription; it's the return of one of the gods of the early webcomic years, Gisele Lagace, creator and artist of the stunning Cool Cat Studio. The writing is the familiar melodrama, probably due to the return of T. Cambell with writing credits, although the plot about two high school girls has a woman's touch all over it. The tag line for the comic is "The prom queen, the class weirdo and the bond between them that neither can explain." It's sort of a "Betty and Veronica" thing, but fortunately the two characters are far from buddies and the characters are far from paper cutouts. They spend as much time in their own separate worlds as when their worlds collide, but of course its those collisions that make all the fun. The material for this setup shows little signs of running out, and the three-panel format hopefully will allow Gisele to keep up the schedule for a long time.|
|A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversable||10/7/04||Move Over, exploding dog, agonizing wistfulness has a new master on the Web. "Lesson" is brand new and generating plenty of buzz. The update rate is sporatic, but that's probably because the comic is painted as much as drawn, and the most recent efforts have been gallery quality. The writing is a terrifying mind-trip, you have to read it slowly, and read it multiple times, savoring each layer and staying up all night talking though the meanings found within. And, if you dare, there's more of the same in the author's comments at the bottom of the page.|
|Punish The Dead||10/14/04||I met the author of this comic at SPX this year, and had the honor of telling him, "Your comic terrifies me". Sorry, I know, it's another Modern Tales comic; I'm not sure if you can get the gist now that the story has been going for a while, but here's a short summary. The comic alternates between a boy in elementary or junior high school, enduring the humiliations and torments of childhood, and a wild-eyed psychotic adult, dragging a 50 gallon drum through the woods for some unknown horrific reason we are about to find out. Is he the boy grown up or someone else? Is he going to blow something up? Is he involved in the occult? Is he somehow going to travel back in time to his earlier self? I have to decide some days if I can handle reading the most recent installment, but if not I'll probably catch up with it the next day. Created with ink and watercolor to a beautiful, reminiscent effect, a swirl of memories and images which create a creepy chill that you might be afraid will reach deeper into your psyche that you would want. When I talked to the author about it, he said that at the current rate he expects the story to conclude in 2006. Now that's planning.|
|Overcompensating||10/28/04||Just a couple of weeks ago, the author of Wigu suddenly began making a new and probably short-run comic at the same time as the currently running comic. OMG, we are getting a chance to watch this guy bleed genius in double time! The character in Overcompensating looks sort of like a grown-up version of the six-year-old Wigu, but the comic features the amphetimine-driven stream-of-consiousness writing that has made Jeff Rowland's Livejournal the most breathtaking reading on the inter-net. Also, the art is twice as awesome, if that can be believed. The comic is presented in "blog" format, and the fact that comics just seem to appear and disappear from the archives is not a good sign, so catch it while you can.|
|Spamusment||1/13/2005||He creates primitive line single panel cartoons, using for inspiration evocative sentences emailed to him. No, silly, not explodingdog, I'm talking about Spamusment. Any enemy of spam email will get a chuckle out of the hilarious illustrations of spam subject lines produced (almost) daily by the not-so-bad artist of this comic.|
|Casey and Andy||1/20/2005||Ok, although it didn't look like anything special the first time I looked at it, I admit this comic is worthy of the many accolades that guided me to it in the past month. It has the basic set of characters that any webcomic comes with these days, a couple of mad scientists, Satan, and a girlfriend. Beautifully, however, with the exception of running jokes there is little continuity. The author starts each comic with a blank page and by the end of the comic a situation is worked fearlessly to its inevitable conclusion. The mad scientists are truly mad, world domination is somehow never achieved, and Satan gets to have a lot of fun roaming the earth in the form of a hot redheaded babe.|
|Stabba Stabba||1/27/05||Premise of this comic: a cloud carrying two knives. Poorly drawn. Weirdly funny. Cutting-edge humor, ha ha! You wouldn't think this premise could get stretched far, but it's been going for months and shows no signs of stopping. Sometimes sweet, sometimes perverse. The thing with the word "Cock" on it is supposed to be a soda can.|
|YirMumah||Yirmumah ("Your mamma" for those of us phonetically and humor impaired, or perhaps something more... scatalogical) is a rabid squirrel of a comic. Clearly drawn by a couple of actual professional comic book artists to attack the hands of everybody they don't like, especially those that feed them, this comic is hilarious. Recently transitioning from monthly to daily strips, the characters based on themselves are regularly abused and humiliated, along with celebrities that are unfortunate enough to wander into the field of fire. The link to the left is for the daily comics, the "sunday" comics are posted here, along with links to related earlier work that explains a lot, such as a precursor project and a scathing review of the comic artist's options for work. Really, what more can you say about a comic that has as a semi-main character a tap dancing butt with a top hat?|
|Sarah Zero||2/10/05||Sarah Zero is an out of control hipness fantasy, full of relentlessly abused pop references, frenetic plastic artwork, and improbable video-game-style battles in midair. Yummy, if insubstantial. Running jokes include video gaming references, cell phones that cut off, and Osama Bin Ladin. The artwork jumps into using photographs at the most unexpected, yet brilliant moments. I recommend you start at the beginning.|
|Latex Blue||2/17/05||The author of Latex Blue is a giddy intellectual who is utterly fascinated by the purity of fetishism (at least as I read his well-referenced FAQ). The main characters I've met so far are a cat who is a balloon. She finds a talking disembodied head and against its wishes takes it back to her master. Sex games ensue. This comic has been criticised as being a "furry" comic, but it is really much more interesting and experimental than that. Warning: reading Latex Blue will expand your mind in unexpected directions.|
|The Perry Bible Fellowship||2/24/05||The Perry Bible Fellowship is a pretty scary comic. In archaic "strip" format, looking for all the world like a comic for children with bright colors and busy line work, it will either contain a surreal but uplifting story of human stupidity, poke into the depths of human sexuality, or just splatter gore in a shocking fashion. Dinosaurs, for example, feature prominently, either as prideful creatures who couldn't be bothered with God's tree of Knowledge, or divinely intelligent creatures that telepathically summon the asteroids to end their own era. The archive navigation is a little hard to use, but that's ok because you will need time to digest each comic, and might perhaps want to keep from reading too many at once to prevent from losing your mind.|
|Schlock Mercenary||3/3/2005||Hard SF. Haaaaard SF. But silly too. Not a bunch of in-jokes based on other Science Fiction, just unabashedly technical story lines and jokes. The concept centers around a mercenary unit that travels the galaxy taking whatever job promises money, and when they're not working they still wreak havoc wherever they go. As the comic progresses, the artwork, writing, and our heros' situations improve. They move up to larger and larger ships, with ever-increasing political intrigue and plot complications, while never failing to deliver humor at the expense of either the charaters or the genre, every single day. This comic has been going since 1998, I'm not sure how I missed it until now, but there are now over a thousand comics in the archive.|
|HB Comics Blog||3/10/2005||The HB Comic-Blog is in itself a comic. The author comments on a new comic every day, and elaborates further in text below. An endless source of great comic links. The reviews are the most thoughtful and polite of any I have ever read. The main characters are a pencil and an eraser.|
|The Pet Professional||3/24/05||Just started, only a few comics in the archive so far, the theme is "a hitman who takes out pets". The humor behind each installation comes from digging a little deeper into the story, such as why a particular animal got marked for termination, or what the hit man does on his day off. Super-polished art.|
|Building 12||3/31/05||A "crazy anime college" story, based of course on the author's own college. Well executed standard plot with all the requisite anime character elements, quite beautiful art, and it has "12" in its title. The artist is so distinctive, that when I saw his work in Misfile and didn't know it was him, I got an itch to catch up with Building 12.|
|SQ Worm||4/7/05||SQ Worm is a worm because it's easy to draw. And he has a personality like a worm. And it's the author's "thing". Oppressively ironic, this comic is interesting because it is full of experimentation with art and storytelling. It is more or less a weekly side effect of the author's hip blog, so some times you check you might get a comic, some times a rant or seven screenfulls of pictures of his cat. The "Comics" link takes you to a page of earlier work which gives you a fuller taste of where the author has been and where he's going, but as archives go it's a directory listing of a bunch of gifs and you have to click each one.|
|Comiku||4/14/05||Comiku is a webcomic by two catgirls who go to cons. It's only 22 comics long now, but it is delightful to see the art and humor snap into focus from the early strips. They make plenty of jokes about cons and the people they meet there, and it is refreshingly straightforward. I hope I get a chance to meet them someday, as they apparently specialize in doing drawings for people in anime style at the cons.|
|Skirting Danger||What would "Kim Possible" be like once she hit her 20's and realized how banal life really is? I imagine that's the question the author of Not Gonna Take It asked as she got older herself and couldn't keep going with that story as it became increasingly darker and more tragic. The answer is Skirting Danger, a self-absorbed superhero wannabe with a lot of emotional baggage but oblivious to the anguish she inflicts on those around her. There's still an "after school" conclusion to the end of each story, and funny bits, but it's a little like reading "The Watchmen", except with Meredith Gran's beautiful artwork.|
|Striptease||Striptease is lusciously drawn, with an angsty but disposable plot line thrown in to amuse anybody who doesn't just want to look at the pictures. The premise is a bunch of friends who work as comic book artists, and their overlapping relationships. The "industry" background isn't carried off too believably, but many of the characters are rather nice and it's just good to see them doing stuff.|
|Mom's Cancer||This guy made a comic out of his experiences with his family dealing with his mom's cancer. It is well done, educational, emotional, long, and has a real-life surprise at the end. I would like to know more about who the artist is and how he created this comic.|
|Scooterboy1234||Corey Marie is going out with a guy who has a pretty amazing journal comic of his own. He updates it quite reliably, a pleasure since the main journal comics I was following a while ago dried up.|
|Buzzle||Screw Salon! Their popup message ("Want to read the whole article? You have two options: ") when you tried to view comics just rubbed me the wrong way. Of course, you can get This Modern World
|Escapeman||escapeman, which it turns out is pretty funny on its own. Reminds me a little of Intelligent Humor.|
|American Born Chinese||American Born Chinese, a series distinguished by the occasional divergences into the story of the mythological Monkey King, for which the author's geometric style seems particularly suited.|
|It's About Girls||It's About Girls <>, in a sorta bitter way. The author of this comic occasionally shows his characters naked, not in a sexual way, just in a standing-on-the-scale-after-taking-a-shower way, which I find interesting. Also, this is the guy who elevated the art form of complaining about teaching ESL in Korea on the internet to a new popular form; I highly recommend reading his rants although sadly he seems to have edited them slightly since I first found his site.|
|Slow Wave||Slow Wave, where the stories are real dreams sent to the author. I had to wait until today to mention this one because it's been getting so many hits that the bandwidth was exceeded last month for its archives. The counter has been reset for now, catch it quick.|
|Yenny at moderntales
|A sexy girl with giant, balloon-like thighs, and her disney-animated wacky iguana.|
|Nekobox||Basically a hand-drawn sprite comic. Not a format that inspires me to outright laughter, but I read it faithfully anyhow because the women characters in this comic float on tiptoe like terrifying spectres.|
|The Sixth Seal||An unfinished french sci-fi comic. Very interesting and ambitious, you should read it even though you will never learn how it ends.|
|Can't Sleep, Con Will Eat Me||a comic about con ops <>. Not very regularly updated, but the best art ever applied to jokes of this silliness level.|
|Fallen Angels Used Books||Any comic that Duff likes is guaranteed to be good <>|
|Hey Suburbia||Hey Suburbia is updating again.|
|Found this entertainingly foul comic Tart|
|Zero Sleep Beauty||This discontinued high-school comic, Zero Sleep Beauty is still a pretty neat scary fairy tale complete with block-print inking and fanciful costumes for both the girls and the boys.|
|Jeremy||This is Jeremy, just turned nine, youngest son of Frankenstein. Coolly captures the alienation of childhood in an epic, funny way.|
|Charm Attack||Charm Attack: the top page under comics has some more of that good "comics set to song lyrics". If you hit the "comics archive" link you get a raw directory of gifs of unfinished comics, but this artist is freaking incredible so it's kinda worth it.|
|Get Your War On||Got a taste for pablum? Here's a funny anti-war comic that's still going.|
|Marilth||A new chapter in a long running anime-style smuggler story.|
|Shortpacked||Shortpacked is the story of several cute characters working in a toy store with a megalmaniacal boss. Sort of like Sore Thumbs only funny. A way to get that good It's Walky artwork without the heavy plot.|
|Asylumantics||Asylumantics is a very polished comic redeemed by occasionally lowbrow humor.|
|The Bunny||The Bunny is a single-panel variation on a theme, fortunately with variation in the drawing from day to day. The caption for the cartoon inevitably begins with "The Bunny...". It's sort of like a mad lib.|
|Deep Fried||A maze of dense art, in-jokes, and current events references which I've discovered is actually pretty good.|
|Flat Life||. Flat Life hasn't even been going a month, looks pretty cool with a unique box-less sequential style, but is also unrelentingly raunchy. They thought this would get on TV?|
|Patchuli||Just found this series, which has been going on how long? Has it ended already? Story of a hot high school chick with a perpetually bored look. Not drawn by a horny high school guy.|
|You'll Have That||You'll Have That is nicely drawn and has easily recognizable humor because the author is trying to get syndicated.|
|Keaner||Keaner continues in the footsteps of Small Stories, with short, moving slices of life. A new generation of online artists seems to be experimenting with Derek Kim's trailblazing style, and a new twist you'll see here is stories based on song lyrics. Keaner's artwork and stories will make you smile and weep.|
|Oh My Fantasy Epic||These days, stylishly drawn satires of fantasy magna such as Oh My Fantasy Epic are a dime a dozen. I liked this one in particular for listing the mopey hero's stats as "Blood Type: Sad". Hasn't gone anywhere yet.|
|Squaresville||Syndication formula and art, but sufficiently twisted and funny to get my hearty recommendation. It's been going on Keenpspace for a while, a little shaky at first but now in stride, not to mention color. The scenario: Short "everyman" character finds an apartment deal that's too good to be true, discovers that the apartment is plauged by a demon named Hank. The demon is about the size of a dog, and more obnoxious and rude than terrifying. They end up hanging out together a lot and have wacky adventures. This comic is becoming noticed by other webcomic artists, and is best known for the drawing style of the main character, which is sans neck, sort of like a balloon-like floating head above a body.|
|Nowhere Girl||Don't be fooled by the fact that you can read this on the Web. Nowhere Girl is a ready for print graphic novel in the top reaches of quality. Perhaps it is here to reach the audience who would benefit most from reading it. I first found this comic when it was in the the first issue, but recently I rechecked it and it had just finished the second issue, and you can begin to see how the first issue was not just an isolated story, but rather a chapter in a real life. The way in which the author of this book illustrates the changes that can happen to a person, both inside and outside, by chance or by design, on purpose or without even realizing it, is so realistic that I feel like this story happened to me (which of course it did; major points for references to the Smiths). And that I think is the point, to perhaps provide some insight to those people still living in issue one that there is an issue two, and hopefully an issue three and more after that.|
|Fanfare: Where everything is Rent||It's another self-referential comic by a mindblowingly talented high school artist. The schedule is uneven and the artist is constantly tinkering with either the art or the story. But it's just so great you have to keep checking. You can see the full range of visual styles that have been tried out by reading the archive. She makes it all look easy. The plots are either what's happening that day or earnest shots in the darkness of philosophy and despair. Will there be anything left after the world stops spinning around so crazily for this girl?
Update 1/8/04 I've been meaning to mention for a while that although this comic "ended", the author reorginized the archives very nicely and it is basically an e-book from front to back now with lots of navigation options.
|Nothing Nice To Say||Like many webcomics I find, this one ended shortly after I found it before I could get the review posted. But I have enjoyed NN2S so much that its archives get a review anyhow, and who knows maybe it will start again. NN2S is a comic about about Punk music, a labor of love by an afficianado who is nonetheless continually pissed off by the stupidity of the "scene". The comics are brilliant, with a firm confident drawing style, fun characters and always on topic while making it interesting. However, accompanying each comic (and preserved in the archives) is a "Penny Arcade" style newspost about whatever was on the author's mind, associated with the comic or not, and this was the part I found added a whole other dimension to the reading experience. This newspost was apparently regularly trashed by readers for being too whiny or degenerating into a "blog" or whatever, but I enjoyed the rare opportunity to get to know the artist, especially since he kept his personal life out of the comics themselves. Mitch obviously thinks too much to fit in with a lot of the people who call themselves "Punk", and living on his own he would go through fits of depression trying to make ends meet, etc., so he decided to end the comic. He had a big buildup for the ending but characteristically the last comic was just a normal one about the music. The funniest part about, "Nothing Nice To Say"'s ending is that it will continue as only the personal half of the comic, the part that everyone else hated, in the form of a column in a zine somewhere. However I suspect that we haven't seen the end of Mitch's characters, because his art has just gotten so good over the course of this comic that he has become quite recognizable and sought-out on the Web.|
|Near Life Experience||Rarely updated, I still check this one every once in a while and am occasionally rewarded with a new comic. The stories are apparently autobiographical rememberences of the author's colorful life and times, with plenty of slings and arrows at those who have dissed her and plenty of love for her family. She draws herself with cat ears where emotionally appropriate, and her children always with fairy wings. The storytelling is personal and engaging, and the art polished. NLE is a Moderntales comic, which means that if you don't pay you can still see the "most recent" comic every once in a while at this link.|
|Zwol||Zwol, meaning "Strange and Beautiful", was one of the WWN's words of the day, I believe. I found this comic as it ended, but the archive is long and interesting so my link begins there. Having turned from the black and white comic, the author is currently playing with photos and hosting an amatuer comic contest. I liked the original comic's characters and the unabashed whimsy of the plot line.|
|The Mr. Chuck Show||I wouldn't imagine that a comic of this format, characters standing against a blank background insulting each other, would hold my attention. The stupid mouths on the sides of the heads isn't helping, either. But there's something extra twisted about the author of this comic, something in his sense of humor makes me laugh whenever I check this one. Or maybe it's just Kim.|
|No Pants Tuesday||Here's an alert for a comic now exiting its "embryonic" stage. This happens a lot on the web; unfortunately what often happens is that the artists loses interest after achieving some of his or her artistic goals, so we'll see about this one. It started out normally enough, a guy drawing a comic about himself and his friends to amuse themselves. Then, about a year ago, he began a story line (in progress still) featuring the Devil. This is not an uncommon trick in webcomics, however I feel that the author has created a particularly excellent Devil. The addition of this Deus Ex Machina gave this comic's characters some direction, and plus the art started kicking into high gear, subtly at first but now the author is experimenting with abandoning his earlier cartoonish style completely. It is always a pleasure to see a hobby comic blossom into something polished and possibly marketable. Of course, now that I've written this it has stopped updating, let's hope it starts up again!|
|Awesome Gamerz||Few on-line comics have spawned the wide variety of imitators and parodies that Penny Arcade has; Awesome Gamerz is a particularly viscious jab of the latter type that is on my must-read list solely due to the fact that it seems to be yet another comic by Dave Kelly. He's the closest thing we have to R. Crumb on the web, and in this one Dave lets it all hang out. What started off as possibly a simple parody with clearly recognizable links to the source material has now raced unimpeded through all kinds of taboos and plot twists such that there's no way to predict what I'll see when I come home from work to check this comic every day. This is pretty much what Penny Arcade would come out like if it was written by the guy that doesElftor.|