Saturday, April 16, 2005

Web Comics CAN Be Good

Joe Rice wrote a good piece here about the current state of web comics.

He was mostly talking about humor web comics, but still, like I said in reply to him at the time,:

As to the topic at hand, Brian Hibbs (I believe it was him) had an excellent point once about how, since comics are much easier to produce independently than a movie or a TV show or a novel, then there is a much higher probablity that the work is going to be poor.

After all, EVERYone is not going to be a talented comic book maker.

Well, making a webcomic is even EASIER to do than making an actual comic, so the odds are pretty decent that there will be even MORE poor web comics out there than there are poor regular comics (which is to say, A LOT).
While I still think that this is true, I believe it is worthwhile then to look at what web comics out there that I think ARE good (I will limit it to six, as I do not want to overload you was initially five, but I just could not hold myself to five).

1. I recently did a bit on Fred The Clown by Roger Langridge. Well, the only place you can get Fred The Clown goodness is on Langridge's website, Hotel Fred, where he is doing an online strip featuring Fred and other characters.

Hotel Fred is hosted on a good source of other web comics, Modern Tales.

Like the Fred the Clown comic, the online strip is HIGH-larious, with nice art.

2. Like Fred the Clown, the fact that Derek Kirk Kim actually gives us strips for comics to read online for free is, well, pretty darn cool.

Kim's website is called Lowbright, and it has links to a few different Kim comics.

For you to read.


Do you know who won last year's Eisner Award for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition?

Derek Kirk Kim.

For Same Difference.

Which you can read for FREE on his website!

Is this a great world or what?!?!

Same Difference, by the way, is a story about a group of friends who tell stories that usually involve flashbacks (which, by the way, is how normal discussions work with people, as you do not tell people stories that happened NOW or in the FUTURE...hehe). The stories are engaging, the humor is sometimes subtle, sometimes not, but always on target, and the artwork is great.

A great, great book...and you can read it.....(wait for it)....for FREE!!

Plus a bunch of other great Kim strips.

3. First off, let me say that Brandon Hanvey is a pal of mine, so perhaps that may bias me when I say that I really enjoy his strip "The Little Things," but well, I don't think so!

The Little Things is about just what is says, the little things in life. It is basically a comic diary by Brandon (he has stopped updating it, but there is a large archive of strips to read), and if there is a weakness to the strips at all, it could be that Brandon is not a wacky cartoon character, so there is not a lot of "wackiness" in the strips.

However, there is a heartfelt sense of geniality to the strips, which I dig a lot. Still, I guess you could make a decent argument that his writing style is better off on a larger scale, in which case it would be well worth your time to get his first solid comic, "The Stereos" (Click here for an online preview).

In addition, it is really Brandon's art that draws me into the strip, which is quite strong. I dig his style a lot, and it really meshes beautifully with his writing style.

4. Sluggy Freelance, like PVP, is one of the more successful web-comics out there, having published a few print collections.

The two are quite similar in their targets (sci-fi and comic tropes), but the difference between the two, I believe, is that Sluggy has more likeable characters and more things actually HAPPEN in Sluggy Freelance.

Oh, and I also happen to think it is funnier.

The website also hooks up readers with other cartoonists with a similar sense of humor, which is a good use of the internet...unlike spam, which is a bad use of the internet.

5. Speaking of comics about rock bands (which I was...just before...The Stereos. Weren't you paying attention? Oh, for crying out loud!!), a cool comic about a rock band is Acid Keg.

The band leader Clive keeps coming up with goofy ideas, leaving his fellow bandmate Helen to worry a lot.

A lot of funny music references, some good gags, a very funny interview parody and some pretty good art is enough to make Steve Hogan's ongoing strip worth reading.

There are other strips with stories about these characters out there, but damned if I could find them without needing a password to places...which annoys me.

6. Now Vera Brosgol may not be quite up to the level of Derek Kirk Kim or Roger Langridge, but she is pretty damn impressive, so that makes it pretty awesome that we get to read her awesomely entertaining Return to Sender for FREE.

Drawn in a manga-inspired style, Brosgol tells us a story of a normal guy who begins to receive mystic letters....and, well, hilarity ensues.

The art is good, especially if you enjoy the manga style, but the main enjoyment of the strip (as with any good supernatural comedy) is the characterization of the comic's stars.

If you buy into their character, then you experience the trippy stuff through them, and it makes the whole story work.

Brosgol has created, in Often and Colette (and yes, the dude's name is Often..weird, eh?), two best friends who interact so well comically that they just carry you throughout the work.

Great comic.

Okay, so those are my Super Six...feel free to inform me of the web comic classics that I cruelly and ignorantly overlooked!


Blogger Will said...

John Allison's Scary-Go-Round is easily one of the best on the web.

James Kochalka's daily sketchbook diary comic is available on the web at American Elf

Those rascally gamers at Penny Arcade often provide a few insider chuckles to those of us who are into video games.

4/16/2005 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

American Elf lost its spot on the list by being one of those "password-protected" sites.

Which would not be THAT bad, except I believe it also isn't accepting NEW members!!

So it didn't make a lot of sense to me to recommened it to other folk.

4/16/2005 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Ronald Bryan said...

What, nothing on Hutch University? Bad Brian!

4/16/2005 05:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Trevor A said...

My personal fave has to be Stephen Notley's Bob the Angry Flower.

Nicholas Gurewitch's Perry Bible Fellowship has a heck of a knack for turning the cute into the horrific in hillarious fashion.

VG Cats by Scott Ramsoomair is another pretty good video game themed strip.

4/16/2005 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger Shaenon said...

Of course "American Elf" is accepting new subscribers. Actually, if you're subscribed to one of the other Modern Tales sites, you can get American Elf for just a dollar a month. Which is what I do.

Vera Brosgol is totally amazing, and also really young -- I think she's 21 now. If she stays in comics instead of going off to do something that actually makes money, she is going to kick so much ass all over the place forever.

4/16/2005 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

"Those rascally gamers at Penny Arcade often provide a few insider chuckles to those of us who are into video games."

Penny Arcade's the only webcomic I read with any regularity, but yeah, if you aren't in to video games most of the jokes will be lost on you. I used to read Sinfest, PVP, and Road Waffles regularly, but I got bored with all of them.

4/16/2005 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

I do think Something Positive ( deserves some mention, if only because it's the most hateful comic strip I've ever read.

4/16/2005 10:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Benjamin Birdie said...

Achewood. THE funniest and best comic in the web.

4/17/2005 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Weisbrod said...

A library of uber-swank FREE horror-esque comics can be read over at -- highly reccomended for fans of EC Comics and "The Twilight Zone."

We update the site with two new pages of content every Thursday, staring a new self-contained eight-page story the first Thrsday of every month! ;)

Come on by and check it out -- I can guarantee you won't be disappointed. ;)

Best wishes,
Aaron Weisbrod

5/03/2005 03:46:00 PM  
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