57 varieties of web comics you should be reading
The Top Ten
Here we are, the big day, the big reveal, the result of all the brouhaha; the big Top Ten. Those that earned a spot in my list of the best web comics have to offer.
But what makes something Top Ten worthy? In my mind it isn’t just the comic, but rather the entire website experience. While I likes me my web comics, commentary, bonus material, news, and more, make me want to linger at that website just a little bit longer. As you’ll see, when you get into the list, there are other sites in the Top 57 that also mimic the delivery of some of these comics, but in my mind these are the ones that do it the best.
More than anything it is the attention to detail, coloring and storytelling that makes Applegeeks one of the first websites I hit (that and my bookmarks open alphabetically). The commentary provided by Hawk and Ananth give readers a glimpse into their lives, and makes me appreciate all they are doing to serve up a free web comic three days a week.
The bonus Applegeeks lite comic provides comic relief to the sometimes “heavy” stories of the regular strip, and I like it when they post their works in progress so those of us with appreciation of art can see a black and white strip one day, and the colored version when it appears.
It’s too bad Scott Johnson has a day job. If he could devote 100% of his time effort and energy into ExtraLife it would be THE geek spot – period. Regardless, Scott is able to create a new comic three days a week that plays on his unique sense of humor and love for all things dorky. What is really interesting about ExtraLife hitting this position is it is one of only two web comics on this entire list that does not rely on an ongoing storyline. Instead ExtraLife is full of quick jokes that make you laugh.
(Word of caution for all you Batman fans. You should probably avoid reading Scott’s take on Batman and Robin during the holidays, unless you have a healthy sense of humor and can take a joke.)
ExtraLife is also populated with daily blog posts pointing readers to items of interest. These are usually game and movie tid-bits, but there is also a plethora of the weird thrown in too. The final bonus that earns ExtraLife a spot in the Top Ten is the weekly ExtraLife Radio podcast, which is often one of the funniest shows I listen to all week.
Note: For those of you who might cry foul (or fowl, take your pick) by having ExtraLife in the Top Ten and also a button link on the sidebar, please note that I was reading and loving ExtraLife looooooong before Scott and I started communicating with one another.
08. Least I Could Do
I do love raunchy humor full of sex, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings references, and characters who are not politically correct.
As I mentioned way back in entry #34, I love the work done by Ryan Sohmer and Lar DeSouza and as far as I know are the only artists to hit two positions in the big countdown. The art is free flowing, and the lines delivered by every character are spot on for their persona. Unlike other comics I have read, each of the characters in LICD has a specific purpose and are never used to just fill space.
What about bonus material? You have to check out the Daily Hottie poll – duh…
While all the material on the site is not always safe for work, LICD keeps it tame enough to get a PG-13 rating. While I would love to see what they could do if they decided to go unrated and hardcore, I’m very happy with what is being served up.
07. Chugworth Academy
I have seen Dave’s unrated and hardcore stuff, and while it didn’t last very long (do a web search), Chugworth Academy is right fun. This is another bawdy strip that those easily offended should avoid. I think the site warning says it best.
It sometimes contains themes such as comedy violence and mild sexual references as well as the liberal use of curse words. As such, if you are offended by such things, do me a favour and don’t enter this website so you can just bitch about it to me afterwards. If, however, you are a liberally minded person who enjoys inane humour, cartoon teenagers doing stupid things and cheese, then click on enter and enjoy the comic.
The updates to Chugworth Academy are spotty at times. Sometimes there are regular updates, while other times several weeks can go by before a posting is made. When that is the case, Dave or Jay will post information on what is going on.
With the exception of those websites that already have an animated version of the website, I would really like to see Chugworth Academy as an animated series. I think the art style would be well suited for that medium.
It should come as no surprise that CAD made my list. I may have mentioned before, but I really don’t like having to wade my way through a bunch of nonsense just to get to the comic. However CAD and Penny Arcade both have posts on the front page that will often give you insight into the strip itself. Some might look at this commentary as having to explain the joke. I say it gives you a greater appreciation of the content.
05. You’ll Have That
Wes Molebash is one of those hidden gems many don’t know about. During the day, he has a typical blue collar job, but at night he shows his fun side by telling tales of Andy and his wife Katie, who are somewhat based on real life people (I’ll let you guess).
I think You’ll Have That will best be appreciated by those who are newly weds, or have a few seasons under their belt. It does rely heavily on the appreciation of “couple” humor, and those single minded types may not care for it as much.
04. Penny Arcade!
Another non-surprise on my list. Why is it here? I’m not much of a gamer (although I do like World of Warcraft as if you couldn’t tell already), but do like Gabe and Tycho’s take on the gaming industry as a whole.
Their love for gaming has extended to PAX and the well deserving Child’s Play event in which they raise money and gaming systems for children’s hospitals. While that may make you go “Awwwww”, remember too that they can unleash their fury to the point where they get Jack Thompson more riled up than he already is.
If you get a chance listen to their podcast where you can hear Tycho (Jerry Holkins) and Gabe (Mike Krahulik) as they find the topic for the comic and work their way through the creation process.
03. Joe and Monkey
Joe is a delivery man, Monkey is his talking monkey friend. They have adventures. Kleptobot likes to steal things. Me am laugh and laugh.
Seriously, if I don’t get my Joe and Monkey fix every day I start having fits. This is one of those strips that relies heavily on the Abbot and Costello method of comedy. One person is the straight man, while the other plays the fool. In this case, Monkey is the straight man.
There isn’t a huge supporting cast, and it’s easy enough to jump on board and get into the short story arcs. The style has refined from the first strip (as it does with every artist), and I am really liking where Zach is at the moment.
As you will probably notice, Joe and Monkey is the only strip in the Top Ten that doesn’t have a lot of “other” stuff on the site. The strip itself is more than enough…
PvP is another of those you shouldn’t be surprised that made the Top Ten. What can I say? I like everything Kurtz is doing, from the characters, story, and art. It is that simple.
If you haven’t read PvP or at least heard of it, then you must be living under a really big rock. Without an Internet connection. Or any communication with the rest of the world. And you probably don’t visit your local comic book shop, where PvP is also published monthly by Image Comics. And you probably don’t know how to laugh because that really big rock is on your face.
Scott likes to experiment with PvP, and for the last year or so he has been doing short animations called Blamimation (or something like that). These quick flash shorts didn’t have a lot of production value, but it gave one insight into the mind of the creator. Flash forward to today, and Scott has teamed up with Blind Ferret to create monthly, professionally produced and voiced, animated shorts. CAD and LICD have also teamed with Blind Ferret in this money making venture, and those familiar with the animations from those strips know PvP: The Series will be just as good.
01. Wapsi Square
Not what you expected? Then you need to get over to Wapsi Square and read this strip. I simply love, love, LOVE this web comic.
Monica is a vertically challenged minx who works as a curator in a museum. One night she accidentally unleashes Tepoztecal, the god of alcoholic merriment. He in turn conjures up The Golem Girls, and a once “girls just wanna have fun”/Cheers strip, takes a dark and mysterious turn.
Monica, or course, has her own friends she interacts with and all of their lives have slowly been intertwining with the big picture over the last year.
Paul Taylor really “gets” the web comic as a delivery method and runs with it. Unfortunately, with most web comics, our eyes “accidentally” slip to the last panel or punch line before we have a chance to read the set up. Paul, I think understands this, because in many of the shocking installments, he will purposefully make the strip wider than your screen display so you have to read everything prior to the reveal, then scroll to the right to get the big dramatic moment.
The big dramatic moment often occurs during one of his Friday cliffhangers, where he leaves the audience guessing and dangling until Monday morning. This of course causes the forums to explode with speculation as to what will happen next.
Wapsi Square is not a light read. While there is plenty of joking going on, for the most part the traumatic events of the characters lives is the mystery behind the big picture, and like I found out first hand, you will have to read from the beginning to catch on. When Wapsi was first recommended to me, I tried picking the strip up in the middle and was completely lost. Go to the beginning – trust me.
I keep saying I like the art style of everyone in this list, which isn’t just a random compliment I am throwing out to fill space. Instead, I’d like to think it shows I have an appreciation of the various styles out there and am not close into one particular method. That being said, really like the way Paul draws his characters. I’m not sure it was intentional, but at one point a reader commented on an anatomy issue of on of the characters, and within the next few issues, that quirk was explained.
At the end of the day, I have to put Wapsi Square at the top of my list for the engaging story, interesting characters, and a deep mystery/riddle that does have an ending, we just haven’t gotten there yet.
There you have it, my Top 57 Web Comics list you should consider reading if you aren’t already. Now it is time to turn the tables. I know there are hundreds, nay thousands, or web comics out there that some of you will feel should have been on my list but for whatever reason didn’t make the cut. It’s probably because it A) hasn’t hit my radar yet, B) I tried it out but it didn’t stick, or C) they didn’t pay me the modest fee to be included. Yes, that last one is a joke.
The big question is, “What is on YOUR list?” Give a shout out in comments section below with your Top Three favorites and a paragraph as to why it should be considered. Who knows? Maybe this time next year when it is time to roll out another Top 57 installment, it will make the list.
Also keep in mind everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so no one is right or wrong. Have fun!