Friday, April 22, 2011


The world of webcomics is a rich and growing field. Considering the oppression I feel at the thought of all the books in existence I have yet to read, it is no wonder that I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to discovering and following webcomics.

Nonetheless, there are a few stalwart webcomic-creators whom I follow, checking weekly on their developments for a distraction during an ordinary workday as well as a genuine interest in the material they create.

The first place I check for an update is usually Hark! A vagrant. Kate Beaton, now a superstar cartoonist, has written hundreds of hilarious short comics, mostly history related but touching on everything from autobiographical stories to superheroes. Her style and comedic pacing and sensibility is completely unique, and often laugh out loud brilliant while being intelligent and well-researched as well. Her site is highly recommended, as well as finding her book(s).

Another humorous short-length webcomic is Buttersafe by Raynato Castro and Alex Culang. It is simply drawn, often just with stick figures,though occasionally it goes all out with graphics and color. This site nonetheless succeeds in producing quirky, clever jokes and twists and punchlines, twice a week for as long as I've been following it (and I came in a few years after they started.) It's a staple of my Tuesday and Thursday internet surfing.

One of the most beautiful webcomics out there is Sailor Twain, or A Mermaid in the Hudson, by Mark Siegel. This is an ongoing serial story, published three times a week, and presented in stunning hand-made chalk painted graphics. The story follows Captain Twain and the steamboat Lorelai in the year 1887 as it travels upon the Hudson, encountering mystery among the crew and passengers, drama from the past, and romance with the fantastic (mermaids.) It is truly gorgeous and captivating, and each page has a blog post beneath it with massive amounts of information about the time period, the Hudson, and other related history facts. A truly ambitious work, well worth the read.

Last but not least, and appropriately relevant since a new chapter goes up every Friday, is Freakangels by the famous Warren Ellis. This is a story about 12 English kids born on the same day with the same purple eyes and the same burgeoning superpowers (telekinesis, pyrokinesis, telepathy, teleportation, etc). As teenagers their abilities are discovered and, upon being hunted by the government, they fight back with all their strength, doing something as yet fully unexplained to damage the fabric of the world, creating a huge flood that wipes out most of London and apparently Britain as well, creating a refugee state out of the entire nation. As a gang, dubbed FreakAngels, they move to Whitechapel where they set up a community, protecting civilians, building machinery, and trying somewhat to make amends and survive this new world.

Ellis does a great job introducing us to all the characters, who are somehow all interesting and often hilarious, surprising us often with massive plot twists and telling a story with a fast pace and a clear end being built too. The art by Paul Duffield is perfect and exactly the kind of comic book art I like. Clear, colorful, with readable expressions and differentiated characters, just the right amount of visual information in every panel, and straight up aesthetically pleasing. This story is ending pretty soon, so I suggest starting from the beginning and having a blast catching up. Several graphic novels have been compiled , which is also worth checking out, if only to support the potential financial success of webcomics in general.

Obviously there are many others out there, but these are the ones I'm most familiar with and loyal to. Please feel free to suggest any others. The important thing is to support this innovative medium, a free way in which to enjoy, and create, wonderful stories and intelligent insights and comedy via the comic format we all know and love. So if you're not gonna buy 'em, at least give the sites a chance, help 'em rack up a few more Page Views.

Happy Friday.


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