Webcomics

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything‚Ķ from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

It may be for a quick laugh, or an extended story, but the comic world totally changed when comics went digital, spawning a wealth of great online comics. This week, we take a look at our top five webcomics.

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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19 Comments

  1. Collin
    February 21, 2014 at 3:35 am — Reply

    (I accidentally lost my entire post when i was almost finished so this is not as enthusiastic as before ;~;)

    5 – Cyanide and happiness: It’s just dumb fun and there isn’t really much i can say about it.

    4 – Stupidfox: This is a webcomic about a stupid fox interacting with various things with his other wild animal friends like the raccoon and the bunny, there’s absolutely no dialogue in the comic but the expressions seem to convey exactly what is meant to be said. There is a lot of breaking the fourth wall where stupid fox plays with the panels and i like it

    3 – xkcd: Honestly there’s nothing i can say about this that hasn’t already been said

    2 – Problem Sleuth: This is the precursor to my #1 and is often over shadowed by it, but i still love Problem Sleuth to death. It starts out with a detective in his office and before you know it one of his co-workers becomes god, the other traumatizes an elf with porn. All of this happens in a text based adventure form, but illustrations to go with it.

    1 – Hoemstuck: in 2010 a friend of mine that I met on a dungeon and dragoning forum told me to go check out this comic, I said sure why not and got about 15 pages in before thinking, “This is so stupid, it’s just some crappily drawn kid wandering around his house.” And for the most part that is what it starts out as. I gave up and the following summer during a family vacation I decided to pick it up again. I got farther this time, and by the time winter came around i had read all 7000 or so pages and read all 80 000 words (roughly). The art style is not amazing but the story just hooked me. and a lot of other people as well, in fact most of my closest friends I met because they were fans of the comic. And that is why Homestuck is my favorite webcomic

    • Collin
      February 21, 2014 at 4:56 am — Reply

      A runner up is not exactly a webcomic since it’s produced by lots of different fan-artists, but polandball is a fun and easy way to learn about history and current events.

  2. Mark Downey
    February 21, 2014 at 4:20 am — Reply

    No Dresden Codak? D: I’m loving the Dark Science series, the art is fantastic and the story is VERY fluid. As well as that the ability to keep up with just a rudimentary grasp of science is a nice boon :3

  3. Charlie
    February 21, 2014 at 11:31 am — Reply

    Love the show guys! Keep it up!

    My top five right now:

    5) Three panel soul: Created by the same guy who did Mac Hall, Ian McConville’s art and sense of humor are all things I greatly enjoy seeing every week.

    4) The Gamer: This is a newer comic created by a Korean artist and can be found on most manga sites. The setting is a normal magical masquerade, but what makes the comic fun is the main character. His powers allow him to see the world as a MMO, complete with level grinding and partying up with ‘higher level’ characters. Most of the gags and jokes come from his interaction with the world, because he is the ONLY one who sees the world as a game, everyone else is in your standard power modern day fantasy manga. A most read for anyone who has fallen down the WOW or Everquest rabbit hole.

    3) xkcd: As is standard with most of the internet. Just go look and see for yourself.

    2) Order of the Stick: A wonderful comic that uses simpler stick figure graphics to tell a wonderfully told story filled with deep and complicated characters. All with the tropes of DnD holding the world aloft.

    1) Penny Arcade/PvP: Is it a cop-out to have these tide for first place? Probably, but I was introduced to these comics at the same time, and both revolve around video games and other such nerdisms.

  4. February 21, 2014 at 12:15 pm — Reply

    5) JL8 Excellent take on DC heroes as elementary school students.

    4) Stand Still Stay Silent. A very new comic but the art is so amazing that I am completely hooked. Check this out and be sucked into this art.

    3) Gunnerkrigg Court: Strange story but a lot of fun.

    2) Looking For Group: Great comic, Great story, Great art.

    1) Questionable Content. I have been reading this for probably 6 years now. It is great.

  5. February 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm — Reply

    Haven’t listened yet (soon…) but i’m a huge fan of webcomics… my top 5 are:

    5. D20 Monkey: as a fan of D&D and a player of the game, this comic really speaks to me; the comic does a great job of blending the lives and adventures of the players with scenes from the games that they play, it showcases not just classic tabletop gaming but also other games/game-styles as well, and even within the “real world” of the comic, there are fun elements of fantasy… i don’t want to spoil anything really, but this comic has a lot of fun with the role of the Dungeon Master and with the character of Santa. And also, i fully agree with a particular sentiment from the comic, which is to say that i too believe that Bards Are Awesome! Final not, this is the only comic i can think of, aside from Daredevil, that has a main character who is blind, and while jokes are made using that particular aspect of the character, that fact about him is not the defining thing about that character, which i think is important.

    4. Erfworld: this comic has been consistently strong from the very start, and despite the fact that the actual artist has changed over time, the art has continued to be spectacular; the story is written extremely well, the characters are both relatable and compelling, the intense action is indeed intense, and the humor is very funny; puns, memes, and tropes are used with expert skill, and as far as ‘world building’ the setting of Erfworld is one of those fantasy worlds that actually feels “real” even when that reality is expressed through the mechanics of different kinds of flying dragons, oh, i’m sorry, i meant dwagons :)

    3. Battlepug: this comic has been around for a while but to me it still feels new and fresh, and i see that as a very good thing; the art is very VERY strong, and the story is fun but serious, the action scenes are exciting but also full of humor, as the monsters are frequently somehow both cute and strange and scary all at once. I mean, really the wonderfulness of this comic can all be summed up in its essential premise ‘a barbarian with a giant sword riding a giant pug’ so need i say anything more? didn’t think so.

    2. Order of the Stick: just read this comic, just read it, all of it, from start to now (and this is a good point to jump on because they just came to the end of an arc, and there won’t really be new updates for a hot minute) but to go into just a little bit of detail: it’s a comic where the art is unquestionably good and yes it is done using stick figures as characters. it is a self-aware comic that has just the right amount of meta/self-reference/4th-wall breaking and yet always maintains its sense of existing in its own world. it’s a D&D (or general fantasy RPG) player’s comic, but it would appeal to anybody who likes a well-composed story and who has a sense of adventure and fun. The only real reason that it’s not my number one is that the updates are inconsistent; there are good reasons for this inconsistency over the years, but i had to take it as a factor when i was making my rankings

    and, drumroll please…

    1. Girl Genius: another one where really the comic can and should speak for itself, or maybe just the sheer number of awards that the comic has earned should do the talking. the artwork is “comic book” caliber, which is to say that it is the work of real professionals, and the story is so well plotted and laid out that, well if i go deeper into that i feel like i’ll end up spoiling something, but suffice it to say that this is a comic where every detail is an important detail and there are a lot of details; the world is exciting and fun, and while it could be considered “steampunk” the comic itself says it best when it calls its genre “gas lamp fantasy” because not only is this more/better/beyond mere steampunk, the story is fantastic.

  6. Ian
    February 21, 2014 at 5:27 pm — Reply

    Saturday morning breakfast cereal
    Cyanide & happiness
    Order of the stick
    Dinosaur comics

  7. cody
    February 21, 2014 at 8:32 pm — Reply

    5. Shifty Look’s Bravo-Man is a constantly funny webcomic based on an old Namco game I’ve never played.

    4. JL8 is based on the superman, batman, wonder woman, flash, green lantern, Martian manhunter, and power girl as grade school kids with both funny and touching stories. Wish DC would hire to do small digital comics.

    3. Brawl in the Family is a Nintendo(Mostly Kirby) themed webcomic that is joke based but have some amazing multi-part episodes as well as great music based episodes.

    2. 8 Bit theater a great story of four of the characters(warrior, thief, red and black mage) from Final Fantasy. All four are great characters and wacky. The stories fantastic and all four characters grow throughout the story. It’s also a finished story. Written by the Brian Clevinger before he started Atomic Robo.

    1. Order of the Stick is a great epic storyline of a team of adventurers bumbling their way to saving the world. There’s plenty of laughs and inside jokes to D&D. If you enjoy fantasy stories I would recommend trying this webcomic.

  8. Mark
    February 21, 2014 at 11:00 pm — Reply

    Shortpacked!
    Something Positive
    Questionable Content
    Oglaf
    Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

  9. Sam
    February 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm — Reply

    5.) Bear Nuts by Alison Acton- Bear Nuts is the tale of band of wacky care bears and their shenanigans in the Discount Zoo. Each bear represents some specific attribute: Prozac is their leader and is the calm one (if only because of pills), Evil is…. well Evil, Gimp is their medic, Vanity is the… get this.. vain panda with a fashion sense, Tanked is in a constant state of drunkenness, and Lech is a bit of a horn-dog. It is pretty solid and hilarious,and is also the first webcomic I got addicted to. The reason that it is only my number five is that it has fallen off of my radar for a bit, though I do occasionally binge visit it. It tends to be a reference and slap stik palooza of pure delight, so check it out when you have some time. http://www.bearnutscomic.com/

    4.) Cemetery Street by Dale Mettam- Cemetery Street takes cheekiness too a whole new level. A ghost, Frankenstein’s monster, and the swamp thing all live in the same apartment. The comic has this dry wit sense of humor, not necessarily the belly laugh humor, but it consistently amuses. It is the usual dry wit that makes the rare slap stik sections special and awesome, from when the swamp thing turns out to have terrible dandruff, or the times in which they are harassed by a sentient tea bag with an attitude.If you are looking for a solid plot… look elsewhere, because Cemetery Street is brutally aware of the fact that its plots are vague and really only there to give new toys to be cheeky with, and it points this out regularly. Heck, the writer himself shows up a few times, and there is a whole series of strips where the writer’s kids have assaulted the characters with duct tape, further hindering the plot. The strip just came off of a hiatus, so now would be a great time to hop in. http://cemeterystreet.com/

    3.) Life Ain’t No Pony Farm by Sarah Burinni- This German web comic’s strength lies in its small cast with a crap ton of written chemistry. Sarah Burinni is a web comic writer living in an apartment with a jazz loving elephant, a crazy sentient mushroom, and a mute pony named Buttercup, who likely has mafia connections….. Yup, there is even a shot with cute pony holding a tommy gun at one point. It works in small story arcs that occasionally tie back together, with themes varying from Comic Con, copyright politics, social networking, romance, and sometimes just goofiness. Sarah is just trying to keep her and her crazy cohorts safe, while dreaming big and devouring Nutella. It is a truly fun romp.

    2.) Paranatural by Zack Morrison- This is probably the newest strip on this list, and it has quickly been rising through my list. Paranatural follow a young boy who moves to a new town where he discovers that he is one of few that can control spectral powers that allow him to interact with ghosts, and as it turns out, there is a club of kids a school that do that same thing.Each and every character is vibrant and fun, and the comic is endlessly quotable: “I AM THE WIND” and “FRIENDSHIP FUSION” (neither of which involve powers of any sort). These kids are trying to be ghostbusters while still trying to lead normal school lives with all the normal issues, but in a very weird school. Even the minor characters are a hoot, especially Max’s dad whom says many great things, for he has a sense of the dramatic that never leaves him not matter how mundane his current task is. When sending Max off to school on his scooter he says “Ride! Ride to the top of the hill and to your EDUCATION!!”. The art gets better as the strip goes on, and it interesting to watch the author grow as an artist, and by the time you reach to the current strips, you will see that he has gotten quite good. It is a heartfelt, sweet, tense, dramatic, and consistently humorous comic that I cannot recommend highly enough. http://paranatural.net/

    1.) Luci Furr’s Imps by Dale Mettam and Courtney Huddleston- So, what if an Satan decided to send 3 evil imps to assist a man begin the end of the world and wreak chaos? And what if, due to Hell’s poor mailing service, the three imps do not end up going to Lucius Furr (The intended man), but instead to the 10 to 12 year old little Girl Lucy Furr who doesn’t care much for ending the world? It is due to that very mistake that Pain, Misfortune (Now called Alisdair), and Tears are now following a sweet innocent little girl around, helping her sell girl scout cookies, showing her how history actually happened, and other such craziness. The comic is a mixture of story arcs and quick gag arcs, with some arcs (like the Mayan Apocalypse arc, in which Mrs. G and Mrs. D. send an angel and an imp to stop the Mayans from ending the world) that will pick up in between other arcs over the course of an entire year. Three imps are absolutely a blast and the supporting cast is equally funny. Mr. D. (Satan) is always funny, especially when a new shipment of lawyers come in and that means it is time to go have shooting practice. Mr. G….. is blasphemous and hilarious shouting things like “ME DAMMMIT”. The misadventures of Kevin angel are always a nice change of pace from the imps, as well as the voyages of Isobelle and Abby as they trek about to stop the Mayans. These arcs often are entirely separate, but when everything ties back together, it creates some fantastic moments. The strip is not afraid of social commentary and often charges right into it. It is for its irreverence, its light hearted playfulness, and its core of innocence in the form of Lucy that Lucy Furr’s Imps is my number one. http://luciphurrsimps.com/

  10. Maciej
    February 22, 2014 at 5:55 pm — Reply

    ACHEWOOD,
    ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD:

    1. ACHEWOOD
    2. ACHEWOOD
    3. ACHEWOOD
    4. ACHEWOOD
    5. ACHEWOOD

    ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD, ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD. ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD; ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD – ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD, ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD. ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD.

    ACHEWOOD ACHEWOOD,

    ACHEWOOD

  11. Hannah Jones
    February 23, 2014 at 4:14 pm — Reply

    1. Manly Guys Doing Manly Things… You can find it at thepunchlineismachismo.com which should be reason enough for you to check it out. What I really love about this comic is that it pokes fun at nerd-culture, but unlike many other comics, it does so with love.
    2. Lackadaisy. Which is at http://www.lackadaisycats.com/ . It’s a great prohibition gangster story told with anthropomorphic cats, it’s pretty much awesome, even if it’s updates are irregular at best.
    3. Happle Tea which can be found at http://www.happletea.com/ is a comic about mythology and other stuff. Pretty awesome and kind of weird and dark, but in a good way. And Sasquatch is one of the regular cast members so.. there’s that.
    4. Basic Instructions, the website is http://basicinstructions.net/ and it’s just… just check it out, you’ll see.
    5. Go Get a Roomie! Which is soooo NSFW, but is a stupidly adorable spice-of-life story line.. and lots of boobs, for the over-18 crowd, so.. yeah remember that. You can find it here: http://www.gogetaroomie.com/

    Also rans.. er I really like webcomics so there’s like a million.. Ones everyone should check out if they haven’t.. xkcd, naturally. Family Man, if you can find it. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, and Freak Angels… Sinfest is also pretty awesome, and TOBY: Robot Satan..Or anything by Cory Pandolph.

  12. Baron Bytes
    February 24, 2014 at 8:25 am — Reply

    Maliki – its in french and isn’t updated regularly enough. But those short stories chronicling the life of the author, her adopted daughter, her cats, her cat android and a few other wacky recurring characters like her viking friend are funny and resonate with me. The art is amazing too. Each strip is self contain so that is a bonus.

  13. February 24, 2014 at 12:37 pm — Reply

    This is really a rotating list, as there is a sickening amount of talent making comics out there, I obsess over a given handful at any time and I tend to read chunks of comics, as opposed to daily or weekly visits…These are my current obsessions:

    5. Brain Teaser Comics – by me….Shameless self promotion..The Weird and the mundane hold hands every Monday. I make it largely for my own amusement, but others seem to like it too. Monsters, aliens, cosmic horrors, occasional parody comic covers that never existed. I work on this while I contemplate a solution to my dilemma of resurrecting Major Spoilers Adventures…

    4.Inhuman Relations by Dennis Hyer – Pogo influenced strip about Fred (a fox) and his girlfriend Maureen, and the wacky figures who stumble in and out of thier lives. Really cool, slice of life stuff with very human, inhuman characters.

    3.Maximumble by Chris Hallbeck – my obligatory stick figure comic I guess. Very funny gag-a-day stuff, that often takes a dark turn when you least expect it.

    2.Molly and the Bear by Bob Scott – Classic comic strip approach, the sweet adventures of a Molly, her family…and her bear. Gorgeous traditional, almost retro style art.

    1. Bug Martini by Adam Huber- the funniest comic being done today. Updates 5 days a week, minimalist art, that delivers maximum funny. Observational humor about the stupid world we live in filtered through a handful of Bugs.

    I also want to mention justthefirstframe.com a really great webcomics aggregation site that posts the first panel of hundreds of comics every day that link directly to those sites. Very friendly to creators in that it teases their sites, and sends traffic their way. Easily the best site I’ve seen for discovering new comics.

  14. February 26, 2014 at 12:49 am — Reply

    1. Order of the Stick
    2. Goblins – you will come to love and cherish these characters. There is plenty of tragedy though.
    3. d20 Monkey
    4. Table Titans
    5. Questionable Content

  15. February 26, 2014 at 3:08 pm — Reply

    I like most of the ones already mentioned. I’d definitely add Looking For Group (lfgcomic.com) – in the same vein as Order of the Stick but more World of Warcraft-related…

    However, Stephen, you were lamenting the lack of a reader to help with your keeping tabs on webcomics. I highly recommend you check out Comic Rocket at http://www.comic-rocket.com. It has all the features you’d want in a webcomic reader: keeping track of where you are, binge reading from archives, sharing, etc. It also makes sure to maintain the view of the artist’s page so they don’t lose page view and their advertising comes through. It basically loads the webcomic page in a frame with a Comic Rocket nav bar at the top. I really love the implementation and it is the only way I can keep up with more than 3 webcomics and stay current (I’m reading about 10 regularly with it and I don’t really have to think about it). If you’re a webcomic reader or artist, check it out! (Btw, not affiliated with Comic Rocket, just a happy user).

  16. February 28, 2014 at 11:17 am — Reply

    I like a lot of these comics too. So, this is embarrassing, but can I plug my webcomic? It’s violet protocol.com. I swear I listen to the major spoiler master feed and almost everything on it, well except the munchkin land. That’s a lie, I listen to it too. Anyways. Sorry about the random plug, I’m just desperate to get attention for this comic I do :)

  17. Rydrian
    March 10, 2014 at 1:24 pm — Reply

    5) Sluggy Freelance I first read this in a hardcopy anthology a friend of mine loaned me. After reading it I wanted more so went online and started reading. It has high science magic monsters geekery.Though I have stopped reading it in recent times It gets the 5 spot because you always remember your first and it got me to read more webcomics.

    4) Under the Lemon Tree/Goblin Hollow. Before anyone gets on my case Goblin Hollow is the retcon/sequel to Under the Lemon Tree. At some point the artist decided it was time for a change. It is about your average guy on the street who ends up having parts of his consciouness incarnated as little animals who help him out. Lots of laughs and deserving of 4

    3) Girl Genius. This one has high science bordering on magic, laughs, adventure, and really good art. It is well worth a look.

    2) Weregeek. Worker drone finds out he is a geek and discovers his love of all things nerdy. Guided by his new friends they go have their wacky adventures and exploration of their shared loves and diversity. Also Geeks have superpowers Go Read it now.

    1) El Goonish Shiv. High Science MAgic ALiens, Gender bending Clones, Drama, Romance, Martial Arts etc This one has everything in one delicious web comic shaped pie. This one regular has me going between amused, rib cracking laughter, and deep thinking. This is at least for me a must read.

  18. Jason Burham
    January 12, 2015 at 2:12 am — Reply

    5 – The Whiteboard – Kind of niche in the same way Our Valued Customers is. Paintball comic that is good for killing time mostly.
    4 – Looking for Group – Similar to Order of the stick, unfortunately including the updates. But they do have an animated parody of the little mermaid called “slaughter the world” that is fun to break out at karaeoke.
    3 – XKCD – The reasons you guys said, plus it’s the comic I’ve learned the most from.
    2 – Order of the Stick – What they said ^.
    1 – Schlock Mercenary – Honestly I’m shocked this hasn’t been mentioned by ANYONE on this topic, even in the comments. Funny comic that updates daily, tells incredible sci-fi stories and manages to stay family friendly. Think Hitchhikers Guide meets Star Trek. Even has it’s own in universe guide book riffing on the 7 habits books, with such fun guides as “There’s no such thing as overkill, only ‘open fire’ and ‘I have to reload” and “anything is amphibious if you can get it back out of the water.” It’s written by Howard Tayler, who’s done work with Steve Jackson games. (I’d be shocked to find out Rodrigo hasn’t at least checked out the book “XMD”, which Tayler illustrated.) Overall the comic seems right up Steven and Matthew’s alley in particular. Had me from panel 1. You guys should check it out.

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