Welcome to the Multiversity Year in Review for 2022! We’ve got over 25 categories to get through, so make sure you’re checking out all of the articles by using our 2022 Year in Review tag.
Most comics go through a publishing process where dozens of people influence what we finally get to read. Not so with webcomics, which are often written, illustrated, and published by the same individual. Without having to worry about marketing, conventions, and traditional formatting, webcomics have license to be different from what we read in issues and trades. Some of them release a few pages a week, some of them are like newspaper comic strips; a lot of them are unmistakably unique. Webcomics are where some of the most creative comic book stories are told! Here are our top three webcomics for 2022.
3. Pia and the Little Tiny Things
Those who read our weekly webcomics column may recognize this comic by its previous title “Little Tiny Things.” It’s a quiet tale about Pia, who moves to a new town and is quite lonely before meeting Emile and then Noëlle and the rest of the townsfolk, some of whom are real jerks and others who seem lonely too. In 2022 we learned a bit more about their past, the deep well of sadness inside Emile & Noëlle, and the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly. I wait with baited breath each week for new pages and I am never disappointed.
Clover’s art on “Pia” is such a joy. It’s lively and full of motion, filling frames with a sense of place and character. And with everything in black & white, there is a greater attention to the finer details in their ink & brushwork. It’s also one of the first comics I’ve seen approach the pandemic in a way that’s lived rather than as a reaction to or a diary of. There’s something refreshing about this that kept me going when I started dropping other comics due to my ever busier schedule.
In fact, much of “Pia” was an antidote to my everyday stresses this year. It’s soft, melodic, and yes, melancholic. It’s not purely an uplifting story for down times and that’s what makes it kinda perfect for me. There are struggles baked into it that are only just starting to become apparent and the growing knot in my stomach isn’t unwelcomed because it’s offset by the wonder and joy present elsewhere in the comic.
Rare is the webcomic that has as strong a start as “Pia” and rarer still are ones not rooted in the fantastical or the horrific. That alone won it a spot on my list but it was the rest that clinched it. – Elias Rosner
2. Batman: Wayne Family Adventures
When people think of Batman, “slice of life” isn’t necessarily what comes to mind. But “Wayne Family Adventures” manages to give us a look at the daily lives of the Bat-family that manages to be charming, emotional, and true to the core of the characters.
The webcomic manages to take us through several parts of the lives of the Bat-family, whether it’s the Robins, Batgirls, or Bruce himself. Sometimes we get humorous moments, like everyone trying to tag each other in “paintball assassin” competitions without Batman finding out. Other times we get more emotional, character-driven stories, like Oracle pushing herself too hard or Bruce missing important moments for the rest of the Bat-family because of his own obligations as Batman. In fact, “Wayne Family Adventures” gave us one of the most sympathetic looks at Jason Todd we’ve seen in a while, as we see how the trauma of his death and rebirth can still be triggered, and how the Bat-family supports him to get him through it.
And on occasion we even get characters from the wider DC universe appear, like when Alfred has lunch with the Kent family. So that’s nice too.
It helps that artist StarBrite’s style manages to hit a nice spot between comic book, cartoon, and just a little bit of anime. Between those designs and C.M. Cameron’s bold colors, everything is easy on the eyes and contributes to the more welcoming, wholesome atmosphere. It doesn’t have the same dark shadows and harsh designs of your typical “Batman” comic, but it still maintains clear and recognizable character designs with the typical Bat-family color schemes while sticking to a Webtoon-esque style.Continued below
Sometimes it feels like there’s too many “Batman” comics to keep up with. But each “Wayne Family Adventures” strip just takes a few minutes to read, and brings us a greater understanding and appreciation for these characters and their personal (and interpersonal) lives, so it’s absolutely one worth following. – Robbie Pleasant
1. Lore Olympus
My fellow webcomic wrangler Mel Lake could likely give you a better narrative justification for what “Lore Olympus” did this year that pushed it over the top. I’m a little bit behind on it, but what I’ve read this year by Rachel Smythe has been of the same consistent stylish quality that turned this strip into a webtoon smash in 2018.
What put it over the top this year were two instances that show the growing value and impact of this style of webcomic publishing. The first is more anecdotal but it’s the general mood in my online circles after the publication of episode 190 on Jan 15, 2022, the mid season finale of the second season. The strip wouldn’t return until April and there was a palpable sense of anxious waiting by the readership with each update by Smythe combed through for hints and clues. Even a cursory reading of app store downloads when “Lore Olympus” starts up again this year shows an above average spike in downloads. That is the hard to quantify metric of feelings an engaged audience has. Even if that feeling is the thing Line and every other publisher desperately want to keep and replicate. The second is the November BookScan chart wherein the top 4 of those 20 slots or one fifth of the top selling graphic novels for that month are dedicated to THREE volumes of “Lore Olympus”. That is a real dollars and cents representation of that anxious feeling that is created when this strip isn’t being published every Saturday. To say nothing of how it influences the micro transactions that go on inside the Line Webtoon app itself.
Last year DC came to Webtoon in largely successful fashion. This year “Lore Olympus” came for book publishing and transmedia franchising. In a world where everything needs to be conceived of and understood as IP, “Lore Olympus” is a good example of how digital tools are allowing independent creators to punch above their weight and break into mainstream culture.