I’ve been reading some new webcomics recently, to supplement my already fairly long list. In the spirit of sharing, here’s a few that I’ve enjoyed that people may like.
First up is my favourite discovery of 2013: Gunnerkrigg Court. This is a long-form story comic that you really need to read from the beginning. It concerns the school days of one Antimony Carver at the eponymous, and very strange, boarding school. Her life is weird from the start: almost the first thing she does is build a robot to take a living shadow back into the mysterious forest on the other side of the ravine that the students aren’t allowed to enter. I love this comic, have bought the hard copy volumes and spin-offs, but now that I’ve caught up with the archive, limit myself to only reading it every few months, as a chapter is completed: reading it a page at a time (it updates three times a week) is just too frustrating. It’s definitely worth it though, and I’ve nominated the most recent hard copy volume for this year’s Hugo Awards.
Digger is a comic that I discovered by accident, while looking for new comics to read. It’s the slightly odd (to put it mildly) story of a wombat called Digger, who digs her way into a patch of bad swamp gas and as she’s hallucinating, finds herself in a completely unknown land, talking to a multi-armed statue of a god and trying desperately to figure out how to get home. This was a long-form story comic that has now ended, so you can dive in, safe in the knowledge that you’ll not have to wait days for the next page. Digger herself is a marvellous character, as grounded and down to earth as you’d hope for in someone who spends so much of their time underground, where a mine shaft could collapse at any moment. There are a lot of other good characters too, especially Ed, who provides much of the heart and soul of the story.
A Miracle of Science is a manga-flavoured space opera set around the solar system, where the Vorstellen Police try to control a plague of Science Related Memetic Disorder, while the whole system looks on with unease at a colonised Mars that went insular for a while and has returned as a super-intelligent group intelligence. This is a great fun space opera, with lots of mad science, Big Ideas and some really fun artwork. Oh, and this is a completed story as well, so you can read it right through without having to worry about cliffhangers.
Another accidental find, and another completed story, is Spacetrawler. This is a space opera featuring a number of people kidnapped from Earth to help in an interstellar rebellion, featuring some in-depth moralising, slavery, bureaucracy and the rights of of sentient species. But it also features an anime-obsessed girl who gets herself cybernetically enhanced at every opportunity, a Russian who sleeps with everything he’s biologically compatible with and an angry Australian. Veering from hilarious to full-on tragedy and back, this is a great read.
It was Sacha who first introduced me to Girls with Slingshots. This concerns a group of friends living their lives, trying to get by in a recession-laden world, touching issues including unemployment and sexuality . It’s the characters who keep me coming back to this comic. Our ‘protagonist’ is Hazel, who drinks too much, has trouble with relationships and has a talking Irish/Mexican cactus called McPedro. She, along with her best friend Jamie, form the core of the comic. Although there are definitely serious plotlines, the tone is generally quite light-hearted, and I’m very much squeeing over the current storyline involving secondary character Clarice (which I’ll not reveal due to spoilers). GWS updates five times a week.
I came to Darths and Droids after I’d been raving about DM of the Rings to a friend, and he recommended this as it sounded similar. I recommend both (with a caveat) as they’re both hilarious. The caveat is that you’ll get the most out of them if you’re a roleplayer, or have had some roleplaying experience (or roleplaying friends). The idea behind both is that the story in question (Star Wars and Lord of the Rings respectively) are roleplaying campaigns played by your average roleplaying group who basically want to kill things and take their stuff, and the long-suffering GM who has to try and herd these cats. Oh, and the new dialogue is set to screencaps from the films. DM of the Rings is complete, having gone through all three films, while Darths and Droids is currently making its way through The Empire Strikes Back (or The Enemy Let Slip, as they would have it). I love the way that they incorporate the plot of the original story into the group (e.g. in Rings they cope with the splitting of the party at the end of Fellowship by having some of the group decide they can’t be bothered playing the campaign any more, and leaving). Darths is very good at subverting the original story as well, while keeping up its own internal consistency. Darths and Droids updates three times a week.
And last, but by no means least, is Questionable Content. This is a comic with many indie music references I don’t get, but plenty of fun characters (more as it goes on), lots of soap-opera drama, mischievous robots, sentient space stations and superheroes who deliver takeaway. Very silly, in the best way, but with scope for serious plots as well. It feels a bit more soap-opera-y than Girls with Slingshots, although in some ways it’s sort of similar. QC updates five times a week.
I haven’t even mentioned old favourites like Girl Genius, PvP, Order of the Stick and the always awesome XKCD, but if you don’t know them, they’re all worth a look. If you have any webcomics that you’re fond of that I haven’t mentioned, especially long form story-based ones, please let me know in the comments (‘cos it’s not like I’ve still got a huge post-Eastercon book pile or anything).