Unsurprisingly, there are a huge amount of aspiring comic creators out there, your humble narrator included, all hoping to attract the notice of one of the major publishers and secure an elusive paying job in the industry they love. And while they wait for their big break, many of them are honing their skills by creating imaginative and funny webcomics, some taking a satirical look at superheroes and geek culture, some very NSFW erotic work which is refreshingly witty and hillarious and other seemingly random and inventive uses of visual storytelling. Unfortunately, there is no editor for the internet to sort the wheat from the huge amount of chaff. Luckily for you, I’ve done some of that legwork, and can offer you some of what I think are the best webcomics out there at the moment.
Luci Phurr’s Imps
Written by Dale Mettam with art by Courtney Huddleston, Luci Phurr’s Imps takes the age-old story of a Faustian deal with the devil and mines it for comedy gold. Little Luci’s father makes a deal with the devil, and three imps, Pain, Tears and Misfortune are sent to do his nefarious bidding. Unfortunately, they are intercepted by Luci, whose desires are very different from her father’s. She isn’t interested so much in world domination, but rather getting a pony or selling cookies, which wasn’t exactly what the imps were expecting. Most of the strips are three panels long, and as a result, the dialogue is sharp and witty and the comic is colourful and bright. I love the idea that Hell is prone to clerical errors and has out-sourced call centres. Cheerful subversive fun with equal measures of adorable little girls and wickedly funny imps. Check it out here.
This is one of my favourite webcomics at the moment, similar as it is to both Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes but with its own distinctive tone. Eisner nominated Max Overacts is written and drawn by Australian Canaan Grall and, as the title suggets, follows the antics of the precocious Max Fogherty. The characters are surprisingly well-developed with great, expressive faces and the whole thing is a delight to read. There is plenty to love about this charming comic, and there are over 160 strips in the achive to enjoy. Grall is currently trying to raise enough money to print a collection of Max strips, so if you enjoy his work, why not donate a little cash in exchange for awesome goodies to ensure that Max continues overacting. You can read Max Overacts here.
Next Town Over
Written and drawn by Erin Mehlos, Next Town Over is a rare beast: a western comic that avoids cliche and manages to bring something original to a well known genre. It is also relatively rare that you come across a webcomic as beautifully drawn and coloured as this. The comic really is a labour of love, drawn traditionally by hand and coloured digitally, is displays all of Mehlos’ talent, both in art and in storytelling. With steampunk and fantasy elements intertwined with good old-fashioned western settings, this really is a beautifully engrossing story. The pacing and techniques are very different from the immediacy of other webcomics I’ve mentioned, but it really is in a league of its own. Next Town Over is updated every Saturday, and is available to read here.
The Loneliest Astronauts
The eeriely funny story of the only two surviving astronauts of a mission that went wrong, who just happen to hate each other. Written by Kevin Church and drawn by Ming Doyle, the art is the most striking thing about this webcomic. Creepy and dark, with expressionless spacesuits dominating, the hillarious content of the story is somewhat surprising. That’s not to say that The Loneliest Astronauts doesn’t have it’s deep moments of introspection, as it manages to combine both the light and dark of the hopeless situation the astronauts have found themselves in. If you like slightly twisted sci-fi, then this is the comic for you. Take a look here.
A sharply observed webcomic for gamers, Awkward Zombie is written and drawn by Katie Tiedrich. The art may at times be a little simple, but in other areas it shines, and it is clear that Tiedrich refines her style over the course of the comics. Movie references also abound, and the comic neatly picks at little pop culture references. The main focus is on Nintendo characters, and a lot of the strips feature Link from The Legend of Zelda. I’m a sucker for comics that poke fun at beloved characters, so this truly appeals to me, but some of the comedy (though not all) comes from in-jokes that might go over the head of people unfamiliar with the games. Tiedrich has created her own personalities for well-known characters that are easily believable and thankfully avoid being wacky. If you have even a pssing knowledge of Nintendo games though, you’re sure to find humour in Awkward Zombie. Pop over and read it here.
Hounourable mentions go to Let’s Be Friends Again and Comic Critics, which are knowingly funny about the absurd aspects of the comics industry and its fans. The comedy might miss the mark with non-comic reading geeks, but if you love comics these are not to be missed.
Great webcomics are usually found through word of mouth, so if you’ve found a fantastic comic worth reading please let me know in the comments.