There was a time when I really was not a fan of webcomics. I read an excessive amount of comics on a weekly basis – do I really need another list of things to make sure I remember to keep up with? Even if they’re free? Besides, I like being able to sit and read comics in my hands! What is with all this computer nonsense?
That being said, writing for a comic book website like this obviously ends up changing my thoughts on a number of different things as I am trained to be a bit more critical and intuitive about different elements of the medium. In turn this has led me to begin vigorously following quite a large number of web comics, while desperately wanting to catch up with others. The roads we travel, right?
So given that I just spent a week on vacation away from this website, I found myself spending a good deal of time catching up on web comics, let alone floppies, and it led me to ask myself – what are my favorites? Which has in turn led to the topic of this week’s Countdown after I (apologetically) missed last week’s (due to lack of ideas).
Follow the cut for some thoughts (and prepare in advance to chastise me for not mentioning your favorite webcomic, which I can already assume I’m going to do).
I love pulling out this sentence, but anyone who has read this site for any prolonged period of time will know I am a huge cat fan. It’s not a secret. Why try and hide it? Cats are awesome. And in today’s internet-based era, lolcats are the thing (and if you don’t believe me, check out this month’s issue of Wired).
With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that a few artistically savvy folk might create some humor from the tiny little balls of fluff. This brings us to our first of two ties in this article:
The first option for the #5 spot is Cat Vs. Human, a charming comic by a girl named Yasmine who – surprise, surprise – loves cats. Each entry in the comic offers up the viewpoint of a cat owner, dealing with both the hilarity and the horror that comes with living with these creatures.
What ultimately makes Cat Vs. Human so amazing is that it’s real. The above comic I picked? This has totally happened to me. I have some nice scars to prove it! And there is something to be said about the adorable renditions of kittens and their various forms of mayhem. Yes, I am saying this as the owner of two cats. Yes, I might me a tad bit biased to a degree.
Plus, every now and then Yasmine will bust out a comic of absolute cat-based insanity, and these gems are truly worth following.
Then there is Dr. Cat. This comic from Sarah is rather brand new, and stars a cat, who is also a doctor. Maybe it’s all those years watching Scrubs that causes this cat to appeal to me in a similar fashion to the various exploits of JD and the gang. Or it’s my love of cats. One of the two.
Gingerbread Girl is the story of Annah, a tease (her words, I promise) who is in search of her long lost sister – who is actually a homunculi taken from her brain, leaving Annah the inability to feel pain. We follow her as she she travels around Portland on a date with her gal pal Chili with shifting narrators, which most recently includes a bulldog and has also included a magician, a thug, and a pigeon.
The story is a rather terrific mix of comedy and some quiet/emotional moments, the likes of which have only generally increased since the comic first started being serialized. Annah may be a tease, and kind of a bitch, but she’s also an incredibly tragic character, whose future actions become more and more “understandable” the more we learn about her past from the various narrators. Ginger the sister may or may not exist (based on interpretation, and I assume the end of the story), but the emotions we’ve seen so far do.
So yes, Gingerbread Girl is not a web comic in the traditional sense, but it is still technically a comic being published weekly for free on the internet – and it’s damn good.
And thus we have our second tie. Sometimes you follow a web comic for so long that it just ends up staying with you to the point that you can’t pick it over another that you’ve been following just as long if not more or less so. Things happen, emotional resonances are made, and ties are created. So let’s get on with it a bit:
Here’s that sentence again – anyone who has read this site for any prolonged period of time will know that we are all rather big fans of EmiTown and AxeCop. We love both for obviously different reasons, but that doesn’t stop either from being incredibly noteworthy web comics that everyone and their mother should be reading.
EmiTown is written by the eponymous heroine, Emi Lenox, as she chronicles her day to day life. I mean that in the loosest term, though. Emi doesn’t write a diary, but rather shows us snaps of moments from her day as it evolves. For Emi – the character, not the writer – life does not happen in a strict linear progression, but rather with a series of memories placed out in a unique form and fashion. Some days are more filled than others, and a lot of the comic is wrapped in veils of metaphors and pictorial representation. Do you think Ms. Lenox actually goes to war with cats? No, she doesn’t. But the literal representation isn’t the point, but rather what the cat represents for her. And her almost no-holds barred attitude in regards to writing, in just putting herself out there, has gained her quite a following of both creators and critics alike, to the point that you can now buy a years worth of EmiTown from Image Comics.
And I suppose it doesn’t hurt to boost the ego of the site and note we get mentioned in the book. But I swear that didn’t influence my opinion in any way.
Then we have AxeCop. Who here hasn’t read AxeCop at this point? The comic came online with a whisper and exploded in a matter of minutes. Written by a six-year old and illustrated by his older brother, the comic has been a hit to people of all ages for it’s unreserved creativity and general light-hearted inherent nature. AxeCop is the biggest breakout web comic success of all time, and I say that in an age where the guys behind Penny Arcade throw their own convention on both coasts. AxeCop is a success because we’ve all made our own AxeCop at one time or another. We’ve all been six, we’ve all created implausible stories that don’t make sense but resonate with us because they’re ours – and that’s what AxeCop is. It’s a memory, and a fond one, and it’s always growing and evolving. The comic also reminded us that comics really are for people of all ages, and don’t have to be game-changing with every arc in order to be successful. Sometimes it’s enough to just put mini-guns on a T-rex and a unicorn horn on a baby.Continued below
You can also buy AxeCop in trade from Dark Horse now, and that includes a mini currently being published as well.
At various occasions on this website, I have noted that I am a rather big fan as of late of the writing of one Mr. Jeff Parker. With Thunderbolts and Hulk, as well as the deceased Atlas and Underground, Parker has proven without a doubt to me as a reader that he is a creator worth following. So that’s why when it was announced that he and Erika Moen would be doing a web comic, my interest was definitely. piqued.
Bucko is not Thunderbolts, Hulk, Atlas, or Underground. Or anything else, for that matter. Bucko is an absolutely silly murder mystery in which the eponymous character accidentally finds a dead body while going to the bathroom. He is arrested and is subsequently brought to jail, where he waits for the girl he met last night in a bar and almost had a threesome with to bail him out.
I suppose the description of the premise alone has probably left some thoughts in your brain about the comic. However, I assure you to trust your instincts. If you think the comic sounds ridiculous and hilarious, that’s because it is. Bucko works absolutely fantastic in the traditional strip sense in that it tells a story throughout, yet it always makes sure to end on an individual punch line. Some comics have a habit of ending their panels on “cliffhangers”, or in a way that doesn’t make the individual comic very readable on it’s own (those that tell stories throughout each strip, that is). Bucko has managed to both be an ongoing tale of silliness in Portland, but also an individual collection of jokes and jabs at the youngster community that resides in Portland with a Scott Pilgrim-esque stride and sensibility.
So that’s your pull quote for you. “Bucko does to Portland and murder mysteries what Scott Pilgrim did for Canada and dating.” Enjoy.
I have had an incredibly difficult time writing about this. It’s at my number 1 slot, so obviously I’m not trying to imply anything negative – it’s just hard to write about something so good.
Charles Christopher began as a very unassuming story about an abominable creature abandoned in the wild and attempting to do the best he can with the circumstances life has given him. The story quickly evolved as Charles made friends with the woodland creatures around him, but it became all too real as the “antagonist” was revealed and suddenly the story wasn’t just sunshine and waterfalls. Now, as time goes on, we’re given a mix of strip by strip humor and three separate ongoing stories.
Suffice it to say, anyone who has been following Charles Christopher along will certainly understand the emotional resonance created by the story of the poor creature. Wether it’s reactions about what happened with his foxy friend(s) or the battle against Gilgamesh (pictured above), Charles Christopher is one of those stories that you have to follow from the beginning. While certain elements of it can be read by itself, for the most part this is a story being told gradually over time – and for free, to boot. And when the story is as good as Charles Christopher’s, can you really complain?