When future generations look back on life at the beginning of the 21st century, I hope they judge us on our webcomics. While other media have become lazy and stale, this has been the decade of webcomic brilliance. Whether you are looking for touching snippets on everyday life or insight into marginal subcultures, it can all be found in this list. As you may expect, the number of comics online is huge. I spend a lot of time reading webcomics, but I only found out about many new pages while researching this article. Please suggest any of your own faves.
In no particular order…
- Questionable Content
Loosely based around a group of hipsters, their homes, work and lives, with some great non sequitur issues thrown into the mix.
- Cyanide and Happiness
Yes, the humor can be “offensive” at times and is sometimes a bit juvenile, but when it does strike, there are few funnier comics.
- Penny Arcade
Sharp writing and animation, with a healthy dose of gaming references.
“A webcomic of romance, math, sarcasm and language” is how Randall Munroe describes his xkcd comic. Highly recommended.
- 8-bit theater
If you liked Final Fantasy I, you will surely love this comic, where the Light Warriors come across various humorous situations you may not have seen in the game.
Ethan is a fanatic gamer, owns his own game store, but he is an idiot. This idiocy provides the basis for another great gaming comic.
- garfield minus garfield
Like Jesus and Mary Chain, this comic uses one very good trick—removing Garfield from actual Garfield strips so it is just Jon Arbuckle—over and over.
A dark, widely-acclaimed webcomic following two Americans in Tokyo. This has longer and more serious story arcs than most others on this list, though there is a short summary of previous events if you want to catch up quickly.
Similarly to Penny Arcade, this webcomic often culls references and punchlines from developments in the gaming world.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Single panel comic that is at its best when it has a caption beneath.
- The Joy of Tech
Another self-proclaimed comic for the geek in us. Warning: Apple fanboys may take offense. The poll relating to each strip is also a nice touch.
The animated life of Tracy White—from her oh-so-familiar troubled teenage years to the present—with different episodes which are “95% true.”
- Cat and Girl
Following the adventures of a girl, her everyday troubles and her friend, an eight-foot talking cat.
- Stupid Sticks
Short, occasionally dumb but often brilliant at the same time.
- Perry Bible Fellowship
This is maybe my favorite webcomic; the art and story format is widely varying, but the quality remains excellent throughout. Sadly, in July 2008, Nicholas Gurewitch put the comic on indefinite hiatus to focus on other projects.
- Dinosaur Comics
Simple premise: Get one comic strip of dinosaurs, use it as a template and insert new dialogue for each new issue. It works.
Achewood deals with the lives and relationships of a group of animals (stuffed and real), toys and robots in an underground city corresponding to the human city above. With separate blogs from several of the characters, a Twitter page, a radio station and numerous other non-comic features, the Achewood universe can become very addictive if you truly immerse yourself into it.
- A Softer World
Instead of drawn art, A Softer World is filled with dark, grainy photos, with telegram-style text inserted over them. The writing is sometimes bitter, sometimes philosophical and sometimes just funny. The use of photography gives ASW a distinct identity, often making the comic melancholic.
- Motel Art Improvement Service
Bee set out some time ago on a bike journey across America. She got stuck, found a hotel and a curious artist, and her subsequent adventures are recorded here. Brilliant artwork and an endearing lead character, updated every week.
- Toothpaste for Dinner
If you’re looking for a webcomic with insanely good drawing, TFD probably isn’t it. However, while many comics follow a basic graphic style, not as many justify it with writing as witty as this.
- Diesel Sweeties
Diesel Sweeties is what happens when a load of alt-culture stereotypes come together—robots, a porn star, a hipster, goths and otaku girl to name a few—and date, fight and sleep with each other in slightly pixellated form. Now a newspaper strip also, though I’d recommend reading the archives on here instead.