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Second childhood?

I grew up reading comics; but unless you're British and of a certain age, they almost certainly weren't the comics you grew up reading.

I'm British, ~50 years old. The weekly printed-on-crap-newsprint kids' comics market was dominated by D. C. Thompson & Co., rigidly gender-segregated, and on the boys' side of the counter contained plenty of short strips heavy on two-fisted derring-do and schoolboy humour, but not so much on superheroes: comics like The Beano and The Hotspur set the tone. For the more militarily-minded there were Commando comics. And, like a bolt from the blue, 2000 AD arrived in 1977, when I was twelve and just about growing out of the whole comics thing; that probably kept me hooked for an extra year, and I have fond memories of the early tales of Judge Dredd. But then I discovered D&D and that was that.

Stuff I didn't grow up with: that'd be the whole Marvel Comics/DC Comics duopoly. These were expensive foreign imports, printed in colour on paper that didn't bleed or tear if you touched it with sticky fingers, and the comics were typically single-character (or ensemble) series works, one per issue. I stumbled across them by accident, aged ten or eleven, while parked at a school holiday day centre for a few weeks—someone had donated a shoe box full of Spiderman and The Incredible Hulk—but with no social context and no ability to buy them locally on an ongoing basis they glanced off my perception of the world of comics without making much impact. All I remember is bright colours, flashy images, and lots of weird and perplexing alien slang that made no sense whatsoever to a kid growing up in 1970s Yorkshire before the age of cheap trans-Atlantic jet travel.

So I pretty much stopped reading comics by the time I was 14, and there the matter rested. I sort of knew a comics scene existed, and read a couple of graphic novels during the 80s when there was a brief fad for commissioning SF authors like Ian MacDonald to write scripts, and of course I followed the most important newspaper cartoon strip in the world, but I wasn't really interested until the late 1990s when, visiting some London based SF fans, one of them shoved a rather odd-looking comic into my hands and said "I think you'll like this". They were right: if anything could get Accelerando-era me interested in comics again it would have to be an early issue of Transmetropolitan.

Over the following years I began to read more widely. I discovered The Sandman well after the fact, through the medium of the graphic novel collections. I tripped over manga of course, and broke my head on Grant Morrison's oevre (not so much The Invisibles, trippy though they were, as The Filth—the comic that finally hooked me into actually buying it monthly).

And of course, the world wide web changed everything.

We now find ourselves in the year 2015, where there is so much incredibly creative stuff going on in comics that the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story this year reminds me of nothing so much as the retro-Hugo award shortlist for best novel of 1954 (just go and look at that shortlist: about half the best SF novels of the entire decade were published that year). Sure there's a sad puppy zombie on the shortlist, but everything else is beautifully drawn, innovative, slyly funny, and adult in outlook. When the Graphic Story Hugo was introduced, some skeptics pooh-pooh'd the idea that comics as a medium might be a suitable vehicle for intelligent adult SF/F storytelling: I think the track record to date triumphantly proves that comics are anything but "kids stuff", and contain some of the most vibrant, creative, and experimental material in the genre. And the Hugo shortlist is far from the only challenging, interesting graphical work out there. In fact, although I like them all (and nominated the one I'd read at the time), there's a lot of other stuff that deserves to be on the Hugo shortlist, especially from the world of web comics (which don't get as much love as they ought to).

What follows is a list of some of the webcomics I've been reading this year and which I commend for your attention. This isn't a nomination slate and I'll be very unhappy if anyone misinterprets this as such: if you vote in any of the open SF/F awards, what you nominate and vote for should be your own choice, and nobody else's. Nevertheless, I think these may not be as visible as many of the store-distributed glossies, so I thought I'd share them with you.

First up: XKCD

duty calls

I make no apologies for being a Randall Munroe fanboy nerd. From the stick-figure images to the sharp, insightful and slightly skewed geek perspective on the universe, he's my man. (If anything, the lack of art in the, er, art, highlights the content: there's no eyeball candy to boggle at here, so the essential message has to be spot on target if the strip is to work at all.)

At the exact opposite end of the spectrum from XKCD is Kill Six Billion Demons by, um, someone so dementedly talented both at the drawing and the conceptual level that they don't think in human language any more.

Welcome to Hell

As the ABOUT page says, "This is a webcomic! It's graphic novel style and could be considered fantasy, sci-fi, horror, romance, or any other combo of these things." It also comes with an entire pantheon of barkingly strange mythological gods, demons, and angels into which an initially hapless female protagonist called Alison has been precipitated by a bout of unfortunate sex (unfortunate in that it is interrupted by her boyfriend's abduction by demons).

There is much violence, even more theology, and the occasional outbreak of scripture as Alison deals with having a small devil grow out of her skull and being pursued by the entire population of several Hells—the multiverse is run by organized crime—when they learn that the most important magical artefact in the multiverse is embedded in her forehead.

If Kill Six Billion Demons has a hapless female protagonist, the same cannot be said of Strong Female Protagonist, by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag:

SFP image

It's a superhero comic, about a young middle-class American college student with super-strength, invincibility, and a crippling sense of social injustice. Alison (not the same Alison as the Alison of "Kill Six Billion Demons"!) was one of the first wave of people to come down with superpowers in her early teens, Alison joined a superhero team—but her youthful belief in her ability to fix the world's ailments faded as the team fell apart, and now she's at college, trying to pick up the pieces of normal life again. However, history has a habit of not leaving her alone ...

(NB: this is pretty much the anti-sad puppy webcomic. And it's available in graphic novel form.)

Decrypting Rita Is a very different style and approach to graphical storytelling (not to mention having a protagonist called Rita, not Alison), by Egypt Urnash. Very post-singularity, much upload, wow: When her ex drags her outside of reality, the fastest woman ever built has to piece herself together across four timelines! And they run in parallel through the entire comic, which is a side-scrolling web experience that translates oddly well to graphic novel format:

Page from Decrypting Rita 1

(The author comes from the Hollywood animation scene but is here doing her own thing, in a highly stylised and richly overloaded manner—Alas, a single frame doesn't do it justice.)

Finally, where would we be without OGLAF? (Warning: mostly NSFW!)

As with XKCD OGLAF isn't a graphic novel but a series of semi-connected strips by Australian writer/illustrator Trudy Cooper and co-writer Doug Bayne. As it says on the up-front intro, "This comic started out as an attempt to make pornography. It degenerated into sex comedy pretty much immediately ... so if you are a minor, please get a parent or guardian to click the button which says you aren't."

OGLAF frequently consists of one-shot strips, but some of the characters recur intermittently; it's set in much the same sort of abstracted D&D style generic fantasy setting as Rat Queens. However, while Rat Queens is merely intermittently salacious, scatalogical, and suggestive, OGLAF is about 95% 18-certificate rated filth of the best possible kind, camping it up to funny and intermittently pornographic, grotesque, and obscene. Did I mention OGLAF is available in book form? Filth, filth I say, reminiscent of Phil Foglio (before he discovered that Steampunk was rather more marketable than SFnal erotica).

And that, I think, is all for now! If I recover from all this typing, later this week I'll throw down some opinions of print media comics that deserve your attention, from "The Wicked + The Divine" to "Atomic Robo". Meanwhile, what are your favourite webcomics?



You might enjoy Order of the Stick and although I'm older than the characters involved, Girls with Slingshots (which has recently started from the beginning again being recoloured while the artist goes to art school) is fun.


Does Atomic Robo not count as a webcomic these days now that it's going up on before it hits the printers?


Also, Freefall is amusing, as is Girl Genius (which you'll enjoy if you enjoyed Girls with Slingshots, with added steampunk and mad science), PhD comics is excellent if you ever set foot in a grad student's world, and both Vexxarr and the well-known Schlock Mercenary deserve to be on your morning reading list.


Atomic Robo is a web comic just like Girl Genius is a web comic. Which is to say, It's Complicated™. I'm going to make an executive decision to treat it as a Real Comic™ though, because it's available through Comixology and seems to be a business these days ...


As Girl Genius won the Hugo three years in a row I think we can safely say that the Foglio's epic doesn't require any additional signal boosting here, m'kay?


As a slight aside on the DC/Marvel thing, I still occasionally amuse myself by asking US comics fans if they can name the world's 3rd and 4th largest publishers of print comics.


A few recommendations from a random stranger:

  • Scenes From a Multiverse by Jonathan Rosenberg. Unlike his earlier serial Goats, SFAM is a (usually) four-panel gag script, ranging from sledgehammer political/social commentary to pure weirdness.
  • Goblins: Life Through Their Eyes by Tarol Hunt/Stephens features the other residents of a D&D-ish world. The storyline is long and winding; the mood ranges from goofy humor and D&D rule gags to horror and tragedy. You'll never look at snake-women in quite the same way again.
  • Sydney Padua's The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage isn't the most regular comic on the Net, but it treads a fine line between historical accuracy and steampunk indulgence. Her main characters are true to their real-life counterparts in spirit if not in fact, and she definitely does her research.

Honorable mentions to meme-generator Wondermark and slice-of-comic-book-clerk's-life comic Our Valued Customers.


Hey, it won the Hugo three years running because it's just that darn good :P :D


My 16-year-old son swears by Homestuck.


Also on my science fiction webcomic list, though I usually check the others I mentioned above first:

NukeEs - Nuclear engineers and a penguin. What's not to love?

Dresden Codak - Very stylish, nicely done so far, lot of promise but not a huge amount of story down yet.

Drive - Nice vibe to the art, if you remember mimeographs.

Gone with the blastwave - Pure nihilistic humour. You'd swear the artist spent time watching Call of Duty games on twitch and took notes on how depressing the online comments were...

Outsider - Very well drawn, interesting start, not much down yet, but has promise.

Quantum Vibe - The artist has personal politics that just grind the teeth, but there's a good story in there when he can leave his copy of Atlas Shrugged on the bookshelf...

Westward - Convoluted story, interestingly told, takes a while to get to grips with, but so did Primer...


Hmm, I went from one end of the Oglaf archive to the other on Saturday, and don't remember that strip.


Oh. Oh. Of course. That's yesterday's one.

Yeah, regarding Oglaf, I found that an end to end binge actually works quite well, as otherwise one might fail to pick up on something that was previously a minor mention three months earlier.

Yeah, my daily read also includes Schlock.

For the Yorkshire contingent, might I also mention John Allison's Scary Go Round. Not to be confused with previously mentioned Alisons. Not usually particularly science fictional, but one character has ended up as a queen of Hell.


I read (and enjoy) all of these except Decrypting Rita. Good stuff.

The webcomics I follow that you might like are:

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, which is a nerdy joke-of-the-week comic that often makes me laugh aloud.

The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, another joke-of-the-week comic that skewers all sorts of things, including dumb superhero stories.

Last is Order of the Stick, which starts as a slightly narrative-oriented joke-of-the-week D&D parody complete with sitcom character types, but slowly evolves into an addictive narrative with surprising depth. It takes a while, though.

Do you like fumetties like Darths and Droids? I had the idea that I would make one for a while, but the short gag format is tough.


I dropped Strong Female Protagonist recently, this last chapter has drained everything interesting out of it (mainly the ambiguity of it). The latest stuff with Patrick was the last of it, that was the one interesting dynamic it had left, the question of whether he was manipulating her like how he outlined in the Feral chapter and what his goals and motivations were and then it is all wiped away with 8 weeks of talking heads, talking heads that weren't even saying anything interesting.

I heartily recommend Gunnerkrigg Court to everyone, for anyone whom my endorsement alone is insufficient Neil Gaiman is also a fan (

Science, magic, and teenage girl protagonists. It is very good. Also, the last 2 chapters have been a complete catharsis from 50 chapters of buildup


Hmm ... a couple of comics I hadn't heard of; need to go check them out. Here are a few that haven't been mentioned yet.

Dicebox by Jenn Manley Lee. A story about 2 itinerant workers in an interstellar post-scarcity society somewhat reminiscent of Delany's Nova. Complications ensue as their pasts (including exes & enemies) keep popping up.

A Girl And Her Fed by K.B. Spangler. The adventures of a billionaire hacker, an involuntarily cyber-enhanced Federal agent, an oversexed uplifted Koala, and the ghost of Benjamin Frankln. Any fuller and simultaneously coherent description would take several pages, so best just to go check it out. Don't miss the fantasmal glowing green fish.

Also, another vote for Dresden Codak. If you need another reason to look it up, know that the artist, Aaron Diaz, is the inventor of Dungeons & Discourse.


Charlie: you should check out Dresden Codak. It has excellent art, good writing, and transhumanist themes. It varies between telling longer story arcs, and story-on-a-page shorter comics. The current storyline is called Dark Science, and I'd recommend you start there.

Another webcomic I highly recommend would be Sunstone. Yes, it's lesbian BDSM romance that verges on being outright porn in places. It's also really good: both main characters feel like real people, the kink stuff is both important to the story and informed by the author's experience, and the art is amazing.

It's one deviantart gallery per chapter. Start here:


I love Boulet, his illustrations and comics. funny So... I have to draw a monster... Dragon? Werewolf? and contemplative the long journey

Oh Human Star is about Al and his partner and daughter. He dies and wakes up in a robot body. His partner is still alive, and has a teenage daughter that looks like Al.

I love Nimona. It is ...fantasy medieval science punk? It starts off very goofy with a young girl crashing in to the evil lair of a mad scientist demanding to be a minion.


I see a lot of my favorites here, but no one has mentioned Riceboy. For some weird, interesting and beautiful fantasy, it's hard to go wrong with Riceboy.

Otherwise, I look forward to seeing what else comes up here.


Ditto many of the above. I'd also like to point out Gaia to those who like D&D style fantasy. Also has strong female protagonists.


I dropped Strong Female Protagonist recently, this last chapter has drained everything interesting out of it (mainly the ambiguity of it).

Disagree; it's actually recomplicating interestingly at this point. (Just why is Patrick trying to push Alison away? What does he know about the conspiracy that she doesn't ...?)


Manly Guys Doing Manly Things is very entertaining.

Strong Female Protagonist is fucking fantastic, and the Feral storyline is heartbreaking, and complicated and wonderful. It shows how good and interesting superhero fiction can be when it's not tied to a soap-opera universe monthly publishing model.


Also, the MS paint adventures auto-save function is a brilliant idea. It would be great if more webcomics used it.


And then there's Desert Peach, and I am surely spending some time in the Hot Place for laughing at some of the Nazi jokes Ms. Barr left in German (apparently even the Nazis had fun with the slogan 'Strength Through Joy').


While there are lots of great webcomics around, most of which have already been mentioned, I'd like to spend a word in praise of Homestuck, which started as a rather silly parody of text-based adventure games, but then evolved into something for which saying that it stretches and heavily subverts any imaginable storytelling rule, genre and trope can only vaguely start to describe what we are talking about.

BTW, I'm mentioning it precisely because of the ongoing debate about storytelling mediums; Homestuck could be a textbook example of how much unconventional storytelling can become... if it wasn't so unconventional that it couldn't possibly fit into any textbook. It's absurdly long, complex, intricate and medium-blending, it takes a lot of effort to understand what is actually going on (at least until some new development puts everything in a completely different light than previously thought), and after years and almost nearing its finale it's still capable of pulling out shocking revelations about things that seemed completely irrelevant at the time (talk about a Checkov's Gun...). It's either the work of a genius or a madman. Probably both.


Gunnerkrigg Court ( Harry Potter with a female protagonist and much more attention to mythic elements.

PhD Comics ( Dilbert for academic (with more likeable characters, and hasn't jumped the shark yet).

Delilah Dirk ( swashbuckling adventure with a female hero and male sidekick. Not really a webcomic, but you can read half of the book online and decide if you want to buy it. I did, several times (several nieces).

Gaia ( Originally going to be a computer game, then the plot was repurposed to a webcomic (or graphic novel published at the rate of two pages a week). Magic, but more late-18th/early-19th-century than medieval. Quite good.


wait did you just include Rita on your Totally Not A Hugo Graphic Novel Nomination list AAAAAHHHHHH THANK YOUUUUUUUU runs around screaming in delight

K6BD is fucking amazing and insane and I love it.

Nevertheless, I think these may not be as visible as many of the store-distributed glossies, so I thought I'd share them with you.

Yeah, visibility is the big problem for webcomics. We don't have the advertising budgets of the publishing companies. We mostly have to rely on word of mouth.

And speaking of which, let me pimp a few of my friends: Lo's lovely Aquapunk, about the struggle of Atlantean robots for their rights Blue Delliquanti's O Human Star, about a guy who wakes up in a robot body and discovers that his husband already built a robot duplicate of him who is now a girl. Ian Jay's Crossed Wires, a cyberpunk thriller.


Personally, I really don't get on with those webcomics that seem to 'forget' that they're WEBcomics. By this I mean stuff like the above-mentioned Gunnerkrigg Court, which may well have great art and nice writing, but which is like reading someone's novel one paragraph at a time. Some paragraphs are longer than others, but some are really short, and (for me, YMMV) it's both unfulfilling and impossible to follow if you read one page per week.

With that in mind, I have to very strongly recommend Scary-Go-Round, which started out as a kind of whimsical Yorkshire Scooby-Doo but has recently expanded (under a variety of names) to cover multiple ages of participants investigating goings-on between slightly and very paranormal. The author, John Allison, has a great art style and a phenomenal ear for authentic teenager dialogue and concerns, and he somehow manages to update 4-5 times a week in full colour - with a worthwhile punchline or twist on every update. Incredible. It's a true Swallows and Amazons / Famous Five for the present day.

Another great one is Sam and Fuzzy, which has moved from a guy and his talking bear friend to a truly epic story of underground cities, ninja mafia henchmen, robots, clones, robot clones, and the secret committee who rule everything. Beautifully expressive greyscale art, really funny, and some really hilarious ongoing plot arcs and characters.

There's also A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage is Irreversible, which is some great-looking surrealism. Unfortunately it hasn't been updated for ages, but the archives have some real gems.


I grew up in the 60s with Marvel/DC X-men and Spiderman, Dr Strange, The Eagle.., A decade later, Heavy Metal and 2000AD.

From all of which I concluded that being the villain was the most fun.


OGH grew up about a decade or so too late to read Eagle. A much higher quality comic than Hotspur and others of that time.

Dan Dare still remains a favorite of mine for all time, even though it is simple derring-do, and quantum levels below the sophistication of the best of modern web comics.


Is "like a bolt from the blue" a standard idiom in your area? In my area, the stock phrase is "out of the blue", but this is the second place I've read the "bolt" version, thus piquing my interest. (The first was in a video game, "The World Ends with You".)


I love Oglaf so much I'm considering paying shipping from the US to have a hardcopy.

But I love The Young Protectors so very much that I supported the Kickstarter for the first print volume at a fairly high level, in order to get All The Shinies. It's a superhero graphic novel planned to be three print volumes when done, it has a young superhero who's dealing with being gay and closeted, and it starts off looking like standard May/December yaoi and turns into something that asks hard questions about shades of grey and whether the ends justify the means. And I am going to nominate the first volume for the Hugo as soon as it's in print, because I think it's that good.

Other webcomics I read regularly include:

Questionable Content, which apparently some people didn't notice is set in an sf world in spite of the AnthroPC secondary characters, because it's about a bunch of indie music fans who haven't grown up several years after leaving university.

Run Freak Run, a dark fantasy graphic novel set in 17th century Spain about a young nun, Inquisitor 2, whose job it is to hunt witches. Except in this reality, witches are real, they aren't necessarily the bad guys, and Inquisitor 2 isn't entirely human. Very dry and dark humour, and stunning black and white art.

And of course Two Lumps, which or may not count as SF, but definitely has a fannish sensibility. :-)


My exposure to comics started out pretty typical for an American kid reading DC/Marvel Comics in the mid 1960s: Super Man, Bat Man, Iron Man, and the Avengers. Things changed one day in the summer of 1967 while visiting at my best friends house, he took me down into the basement and pulled out a box full of his dad’s EC Comics from the 1950s: Tales From the Crypt, Two Fisted Tales, Shock Suspense Stories, Weird Science Fantasy, even the early MAD comics. The artwork blew me away, but I wasn’t old enough at the time to completely understand the social/political/satirical issues brought up in the stories … I just knew these comics were very different from the Super Hero comics I’d been reading.

Fast forward to “Meanwhile, what are your favorite webcomics?” My favorite webcomics would actually fall into the political comics category and Mark Fiore ( would top the list.


The Oglaf hardcopy collections are indeed sufficiently high quality to be worth having. (Saga, the deluxe first three volume hardcover ... not so much: buy them separately, the binding on the hardcover isn't strong enough to hold all that paper!)

Oh, something I forgot to name-check earlier: Brian Talbot's Grandville series (now up to four graphic novels; I gather #5 rounds out the story arc). Furries meet Victoriana a la Mucha with added noir crime-thriller plots. And badgers. What's not to like?


Stand Still, Stay Silent is the webcomic I most look forward to new pages of right now.


I could live off 'Existential comics' and 'Hark, a vagrant' forever. Big fan of SMBC as well. 'Crossed wish you were here' was a guilty pleasure for a while.


I really, really must urge everyone to read smbc. I'm always tempted to compare it (favorably) with xkcd, but that would be ... inaccurate? Smbc is just very, very smart and funny.

Also, I find it hard to get into new webcomics. the strip a day/week format, I just follow with a handful of stories. I think Schlockmercenary lost me a few times, with arcs spanning well over a year. So did Girl Genius, but I generally find GG interesting enough to reread a chapter now and then.

Also, I really liked "A Miracle of Science:" Mid-near future Earth meets post-scarcity and everything else Mars and theres MAD SCIENCE! This webcomic is finished, by the way.

Regarding offline comics, Joann Sfars the Rabbi's Cat is cool.


Many of my favourites have already been mentioned. (Dicebox! Rice Boy! Scary Go Round! Gunnerkrigg Court! Desert Peach!) One addition:

For those who balk at Homestuck's 7000+ page count, but who would still like to experience Andrew Hussie's daring experiments with webcomics as a storytelling medium, I heartily recommend Problem Sleuth. It's only 1200 pages! g (About two weeks' worth of evening reading, in my case.)

In fact, Problem Sleuth is probably the more experimental of the two, though it contains somewhat less multimedia content than Homestuck. Where Homestuck experiments with adding sound and moving pictures, and occasionally even games, to the webcomic reading experience, Problem Sleuth essentially is a webcomic-as-game. -- Or at least a record of a game that was played between Hussie and his readers, with readers suggesting many of the patently ridiculous things that happened, and Hussie then reacting, usually by working a reader's jokey suggestion into the very foundations of his world, and thus compounding the ridiculousness. To which the readers would respond again, etc. As a result, the "game" of Problem Sleuth has complex, interlocking, in some cases almost fractal running jokes the way more conventional computer games have a physics engine.

The resulting comic is both staggering in its ambition and very, very funny. And, unlike Homestuck (which I do kind of love, but have to admit is nearly unreadable except for those of a very particular mindset), it's a thoroughly complete and satisfying work of art. Seriously, I very highly recommend this. (When I taught comics, I made my students read it. :D)


And as for offline comics (well, some small part of it is online, I think):

Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil.

Finder is all about people living on the boundaries between socially constructed categories - sexgenderclassraceculturetribefamily... there's even some categories that don't exist in our present day, like genetically uniform clans. It's set in a far future (probably; we don't really know); it has a clan full of people who all look like Marlene Dietrich (yes, including the "male" members), talking dinosaurs who teach university classes, pirate farmers who harvest other people's crops with giant travelling combine harvesters, domed cities so full of buildings that the only way to find any space to build anything new is to burrow into what's already there... It's a slice-of-life comic set in the most flabbergastingly complex invented world I have ever encountered. If you're a worldbuilding junkie, it's positively intoxicating. And if you just like following the lives of some really well-written, believable characters, it's pretty damn great, too.


Hi Frank,

Re: Goblins, I had stopped reading it after the illustrator had gone through a nervous breakdown and stopped working on it. Glad he's back working on it.


I liked Second Empire - the story of the first Dalek civil war. Very pretty CGI graphics, lots of in-jokes, and the Doctor doesn't appear in it at all, which I seem to recall is a plus for you.

If you remember the old TV21 comic at all, the art reminded me of that.

Another one I like is Love and Capes, which is basically Lois and Clark with the serial numbers sawn off; a superhero and a normal girl fall in love, it's the story of their love, marriage, etc.

Finally, Flaky Pastry is silly but fun - three women (a cat girl, a goblin, and an elf) share a flat in a city that's a weird mix of high-tech and magic, and have various adventures.


Forgot to say, thanks for reccing Strong Female Protagonist, I hadn't seen it before and I'm enjoying it a lot.


Agreed on Run Freak Run - beautiful artwork, to the extent that I was wondering about buying some. Likewise Questionable Content. My guilty pleasures include Trekker and Perils on Planet X; and I rather enjoyed La Muse.

I was exposed to Marvel/DC through a sackload of comics - literally. It was the mid-1970s in Eastern Europe, and Dad had been posted to the British Embassy; one of the departing US families gave us a burnbag full of Iron Man, Superman, Daredevil, Fantastic Four - sheer heaven for a nine-year-old geek.

Like OGH, I was reading 2000AD from prog 1; and likewise, it dropped away. The other comics circulating around the school slowly metamorphosed from Warlord and Commando, into Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Went to University, and discovered The Science-Fiction Bookshop on West Crosscauseway; but as their graphic stuff expanded, I spent my limited resources on prose rather than graphics.

I'm now trying to recall the name of the early-1990s Sword and Sorcery series where the Hero Protagonist is an Aardvark...


...and twenty seconds with of searching reveals it to be "Cerebus the Aardvark" :)


I tend to disagree on Probleam Sleuth being more experimental than Homestuck. Sure, it's a lot more linear (although some puzzles really are insanely weird) and adheres a lot more strongly to the "webcomic as a game" format typical of MSPA... but when it comes to non-linear, anacronic, multiple-meta-levels storytelling, Homestuck takes all the cakes. All of them.

Lots of things could be said about the quite unusual storytelling that happens in Homestuck, but they would be very spoilery. Let's just say that when not only fourth walls are routinely broken (if they were even there in the first place), but this starts happening to fifth walls too, things are just going to get weirder from there. And while they indeed do, Hussie is still capable to mantain a coherent (though insanely complex) storyline and resolve long-hanging subplots that date back to the first silly jokes, which in hindsight were actually not so silly at all (need I mention a certain puppet?).

Again, this is not a Homestuck advertisement (although I personally enjoy the work immensely, but I am a fan of The Illuminatus Trilogy and Hofstadter, thus I clearly have a penchant for metafiction). But in a discussion about storytelling mediums and the possibilities offered by webcomics, Homestuck truly deserves a mention.


I guess I just feel that Homestuck is metafictiony, but it is so on a content level, mostly, whereas Problem Sleuth has the meta stuff woven into its entire process of creation, which feels slightly more unusual to me. Not saying that Homestuck isn't experimental or remarkable, mind! It definitely is.

(And I do recommend Homestuck to people who are into ... how to put it? ... the storytelling of excess? Mushrooming, burgeoning storytelling and worldbuilding? Storytelling-as-sprawl? There must be a better word, but I'm tired. Just to clarify: I belong to the subset of people who are into that kind of thing, so yes, I do enjoy Homestuck quite a bit - though I do frequently end up deeply confused, and have to go back hundreds or thousands of pages, lol.)


Well, I'll just bookmark this thread for later perusal to maybe add to the scores of webcomics I already read, shall I?

But then, geez, where to begin?

I can't really recommend Christopher Baldwin's Spacetrawler highly enough. Witty, well-drawn, and with probably a harder science fictional veneer than any other webcomic I've read. Plus he did a guest strip at Unshelved in which the characters discuss Alastair Reynolds' Chasm City.

Spacetrawler is complete, as is his follow-up strip One Way. He has two strips going on right now, Yontengu (amusing science fantasy, drawn by another artist) and Anna Galactic, both of which are in fairly early stages. (I'm enjoying the latter more than the former so far.)

Jason Shiga's Demon is, um, horror, suspense, twisted, and very, very clever. I don't want to give anything away - except to caution that it starts with a guy trying to commit suicide, so skip it if that's not your cup of tea - but otherwise I strongly recommend reading the first chapter and seeing if it hooks you. Shiga is not the most flexible artist, but it works pretty well for what he writes.

For more traditional horror, there's Mike Walton's False Positive, which is written as a series of short stories. There's a little loose continuity among some stories, but otherwise it's just very good short shocks of horror.

If high fantasy is your thing, then I recommend Guilded Age, which involves a group of D&D-type adventurers essentially going legit (not entirely unlike the comic Rat Queens, but with a lot less smartass). There's also... something... going on around the edges of the comic, which you don't learn until about 9 chapters in, but again, I don't want to spoil it. (I am generally not that into high fantasy, but I enjoy this strip.)

It looks like no one has yet mentioned Alice Grove by Jeph Jacques (who also does Questionable Content), which is looking like it's some far-future posthuman environment. It's only two chapters in, so presumably there's lots left to be revealed.

My favorite strip that I discovered last year is The Bright Side by Amber Francis. Amazingly it's four hundred plus pages in and I've heard very little buzz about it. It's about a teenaged girl who becomes friends with the personification of death, and they spend most of their time hanging out and talking about stuff (like the nature of the personification of death). It gets a bit wordy at times, but it's really compelling stuff.

And that should be more than enough for now.

If this interests anyone enough that they want to learn about every other webcomic I read, go here for last year's compendium of new additions to my list, with links to the previous five years' entries.


My nomination for awesome SF/F webcomic is Curvy

Warning, contains Oglaf levels of kinky sex.


Never really been a great fan of comics, either the British style, or the American. They always seemed 'off' for me, full of dumb plot contrivances that owed more to the artist/writers' desires than anything. I accept this is a personal view; I've heard they have done quite well in recent years...

However I do have something of a question as to why "webcomics" have become "webCOMICS" rather than "WEBcomics"? Specifically, why do 90% seem to be focused on the panels, speech bubbles, etc. of their print cousins? They are in a dynamic medium where your full range of multimedia is available, so why ape the past? Why not more flash animation/video like "Foamy the Squirrel" than static content? It can't always be a stylistic choice.

I would, of course, echo xkcd as innovative and engaging, particularly "Time" which should have won more than just the Hugo.


I'll also mention Homestuck as "unique", and impossible to describe without spoiling.

Read act one; you should be interested. Read act two; you should be hooked.

If not, stop.

Dinosaur Comics: Aside from variations on a theme, it's the same image every single time. This is a comic that runs on dialog, not art.

Irregular web comics: Starts, seemingly, on a bunch of different threads of different comic strips. For example, there's mythbusters spoof, a D&D game spoof, etc. As well as "real life" comments from the author, and spoofs of death (the character).

But ... well, lets just say it develops a very strange sense of crossovers and plots...

(Just try to keep track of fireballs :-)


Oh -- almost forgot (or, did forget).

Buck Godot. Right up there with Girl Genus, but now finished.


Hugo awards are pretty irrelevant for comics. The real comic awards are the Eisner awards. The Ignatz awards are the ones to look at if you're a fan of independent comics.

As far as webcomic recommendations, let me add another vote for Gunnerkrigg Court, the best long-form webcomic of them all.

I'm also a big fan of a mix of adventure and comedy, so my second favorite is Skin Horse, about a team of shadow government social workers, helping creations of mad science adapt to living in the modern world. The vibe reminds me a lot of the Laundry Files series, although there are a lot more jokes.

Another excellent action/comedy is Dr. McNinja. If you need services of a doctor, or a ninja, Dr. McNinja's office is always open.

Mr. Stross also seems to have affinity for gag webcomics. Two excellent ones are Perry Bible Fellowship, which is unfortunately on hiatus, but browsing its archives is good for many laughs. It's like Far Side, but more twisted. Another one is Hamlet's Danish. The title also describes what kind of humor it is.


Many of the best indie webcomics out there participate in a web-group called The Hiveworks. It is about as good a selection of ongoings as it gets: Stand Still Stay Silent, Guilded Age, Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Atomic Robo (!), SMBC (!) and Girl Genius (!!) are members. Among less known titles, I personally recommend Vibe: a story about voodoo people in modern society, dealing with "bad vibes" in the most physical way. Partly in Jamaican patois (requiring separate dictionary updates), and with artwork often stunning enough to justify the glacial once-a-week update pace.

I also second Gunnerkrigg Court (no recommendations needed) and Dresden Codak (with 48 pages into obviously unfinished Dark Science, it is already one of the best takes on transhumanism I know).

I suppose Warren Ellis's Freakangels do not need any signal boost by now that they are finished (and book version sold out), but it is a really good 800-odd pages postapocalyptic visual novel easily handling the cast of 13 main characters. The topics covered are in a way similar to Strong Female Protagonist; but there is a lot of crazy steampunk-style science too. And half-drowned London.


If you've not checked out Locke & Key, you're doing yourself a disservice. It's one of the best comics I've read, easily up there with the heavy hitters of the form.


The art-work by the one & only Frank Hampson was incredible. The other point(s) of course was the level of technical & other information that "Eagle" supplied. Way ahead of anything else.

Oh, so far, I have seen no mention of Ashley Cole's Unsounded Why not?


I'm a fan of Chew by John Layman & Rob Guillory.

"Tony Chu is a cop with a secret. A weird secret. Tony Chu is Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. It also means he's a hell of a detective, as long as he doesn't mind nibbling on the corpse of a murder victim to figure out whodunit, and why. It`s a dirty job, and Tony has to eat terrible things in the name of justice."

Closer to home, "Rosetta Phone" is a recently commenced trans-Tasman collaboration by Mary Tamblyn and Bethany Hughston (see here for if you're interested in the creative process behind the comic):

"Kez is just some lady who finds herself mysteriously transported to Ancient Egypt, she has no idea what to do, no where to go and no way to get back, but thank god her phone is still working, and god bless her phone provider because the internet is still working. Kez is thrown into the thick of Ancient Egyptian politics and royalty and finds herself the centre of attention and using her phone, quickly becomes hailed as a prophet by the Pharaoh and his entourage. Kez must keep pretending she’s some magic oracle and figure out a way back home or be caught lying and probably most likely fairly certainly be killed on the spot."

Kez is Chinese/Maori stranded in Ancient Egypt, so expect an all PoC cast.


I'm surprised not to see Erfworld mentioned. A world that might be a vast table-top game in our world, with many sly pop-culture references, supporting a strong story and lovely art.

Templar Arizona seems to be almost completely dormant but is worth reading the archives.

Power Nap is picking up steam after a hiatus. I love the art on this one and the story is sufficiently bonkers.


I'd recommend a look at Nawlz ( ) for a happy medium between the two. A lot of it may be flash for the sake of flash, but it does a good job creating the atmosphere he was after.


I'll repeat the nods to O Human Star, QC, SMBC, Scary Go Round/Bad Machinery/Space is the Place, and Dresden Codak, and add ones for Dumbing of Age, a comic about college kids being dysfunctional (, Chris Baldwin's older comic Bruno about one particular college/post-college kid being dysfunctional (, Mare Internum, about dysfunctional Mars colonists (, Alice Grove, a post-post singularity (in the style of Singularity Sky nearly) comic from Jeph Jacques of Questionable Content (, and JL8, the best take on the superhero babies idea I've ever read (


Oh, and Oh Joy Sex Toy, for those who want pink-toned sex toy reviews in your RSS feed.

I'd also like to point out that as a medium, webcomics is amazingly open to women creators, women characters, trans characters, queer characters, and so on. It's like the fanfic community, but perhaps a little more... professional. After all, QC is apparently one of the biggest comics of all, and has a trans woman as a central character, and regularly has far more women, talking about each other and themselves and business and generally not men, on the page than men. Ditto for DoA. And among influential figures there's Danielle Corsetto, Erika Moen, Spike Trotman, Kate Beaton, probably more I'm forgetting... Generally, webcomics seems like it has a lot to teach the rest of us.


I'm going to have to come back to this thread later, far too many comics I've never heard of that I don't have time to look at now.

Most of my favourites have already been mentioned (Schlock Mercenary, Order of the Stick and Erfworld in particular are fantastic, and Freefall is also very good, and hasn't gotten enough love this thread), and Ctrl-Alt-Del doesn't need any pushing from me, given the dude just got more than half a million dollars from a kickstarter to print the back catalog.

But I can't believe we're this many comments in without someone mentioning Sluggy Freelance, another fantastic and long running one (15 years and counting), that I've been following for well over a decade. I have absolutely no idea how to describe it, though. Started out a simple gag-a-day comic and morphed into a series of really good plot arcs interspersed with smaller humour focused arcs and parody arcs. Its moderately odd, and very funny.

Oh, and its also worth mentioning something a little different that I really enjoyed, a couple of screencap comics based on the Lord of the Rings and the Star Wars series respectively. From the first page of DM of the Rings:

"Lord of the Rings is more or less the foundation of modern D&D. The latter rose from the former, although the two are now so estranged that to reunite them would be an act of savage madness. Imagine a gaggle of modern hack-n-slash roleplayers who had somehow never been exposed to the original Tolkien mythos, and then imagine taking those players and trying to introduce them to Tolkien via a D&D campaign."

Darths and Droids was inspired by DM of the Rings, and is the same sort of idea, but applied to the Star Wars films (currently working its way through Return of the Jedi, having started with the prequels).


Never been a huge fan of either DC/Marvel or the indies. And I have not kept up with the web explosion of comics. But I do have nostalgia for Dykes to Watch Out For and the various Amphigoreys.


I follow Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic ( which is drawn by an artist who does storyboards for Hollywood and TV. It's a four-frame 'toon done in a sketchy pencil manner which adds to the flavour. It's your classical cod-medieval fantasy world with gods, bards, dragons, hobbits, elves and orcs but with "intrusions" like the cast of the Dungeon Keeper computer game and even a shout-out to other entertainments like Tremors, Doctor Who and Back to the Future.

Another boost for Boulet who I've nominated for a Hugo in the past ( Probably my favourite SFnal strip of his is this one ( Click on the React button.


While you might enjoy the first one or two collections of Cerebus the Aardvark, don't for the love of Cthulhu dive down the rabbit hole of Dave Sim's subconscious by following it any further. (He apparently went over the edge, quite messily, in a not dissimilar way to John C. Wright.)

64: is still getting going, and I don't know how much a cosplay-based comic will appeal to folks here, but how much have you got to lose by giving it a try?


They are in a dynamic medium where your full range of multimedia is available, so why ape the past? Why not more flash animation/video like "Foamy the Squirrel" than static content?

Because animation is an order of magnitude more labour-intensive!

Most webcomics iterate on a weekly, biweekly, or triweekly tempo. Given that a full-time comics artist working it as the day job can push out maybe half a page to a page of finished artwork per day, I think you can see the time constraint here: you can either update at your standard frequency, or you can play fancy tricks -- and the fancy tricks will not add that much to the reader's experience.

Also, the main monetization strategy for webcomics seems to be to periodically push out high quality printed collections. (Advertising on websites is a piss-poor monetization strategy and usually only just covers the costs of the site, never mind the work involved.) Animations and flash don't run on paper, so if you rely on them too much you actually render your commercial product less attractive.

Despite which, some of the bigger webcomics do periodically use animations; Questionable Content (which I missed out of my initial line-up because I've been following it for over a decade -- one of Jeph's signed numbered prints is on the wall behind my desk -- so it's not exactly a novelty) sometimes uses them for comic effect (for example here).


The recently ended A Softer World, which is "gag"-a-day text over photos and regularly the most affecting thing you'd read that day.

Fifth-or-higher-ing recommendations for all of John Allison's work (Jeph Jacques has acknowledged the huge debt Questionable Content owes to Bobbins), Gunnerkrigg Court, and Dresden Codak.


Oh! Also seconding the A Girl And Her Fed recommendation; it's a universe full of very intelligent characters, but - almost uniquely - never has to tell you this fact; it's got all sorts of baroque-sounding stuff (mutant koala! ghost of Ben Franklin! cyborgs!) yet each one is integral to the plot and very cleverly used. The novels are also astoundingly good.


But I can't believe we're this many comments in without someone mentioning Sluggy Freelance

I only just remembered it. Speaking personally I used to love it, but some years ago I just felt very 'Meh' about it. I think the plot just stopped making any sense at all and started feeling 'what can I do today?' to me. At which point I went 'bored now' and dropped it.

Obviously YMMV.

Another one I got bored with but others might like is Sinfest


I heartily concur with the endorsements for Girl Genius, Schlock, Sluggy, Skin Horse, and XKCD. I agree with Mark @10 re: Quantum Vibe - good plot, late Heinlein values of libertarianism. Power Nap is interesting, but the update lag made me drop it. I'm at work, so I don't have my webcomic links saved, but I have several recommendations I'll make with connected back up to my home brain.


I'll second the recommendation for Flaky Pastry and Dumbing of Age. FP just celebrated its tenth anniversary!

I haven't seen anyone recommend Two Guys and Guy yet, but it's pretty darned funny. One of the main characters is a perfect 'mad scientist' type.


So Charlie, which did you read, Beano or Dandy? Or both? As a girl, I got stuck with reading Mandy (lots of stories about orphanages, boarding schools etc.) but always read my brother's Beano, often before he got the chance to. I also joined the Dennis the Menace fan club.


Also, the main monetization strategy for webcomics seems to be to periodically push out high quality printed collections. Animations and flash don't run on paper, so if you rely on them too much you actually render your commercial product less attractive.

Ahh, so the webcomics are in effect only advertising for the conventional dead tree versions? That makes a degree of sense. Although I note that comics of the ilk of Dilbert are essentially mostly computer generated, using glorified clip art for 90% of the visuals.

And one of these days someone is going to have to work out a valid monetization mechanism for online content. One day quite soon at the current rate of transition and ad blocking.


Ahh, so the webcomics are in effect only advertising for the conventional dead tree versions?

Not quite. The creators are creating something in a format that may or may not be dead-tree-able. They may then produce a range of items of merchandise, which may include dead-tree copies of the strips for those people who like such things.

It so happens that quite a lot of people do like the printed copies. But the web versions are the complete version too, so they're not advertising, or even a loss-leader.

(I'm not sure what for example XKCD is doing with those strips which aren't static. One way in which the web stire will be more complete.)

In some cases, the printed version does get added content: the Schlock Mercenary books for example. But that's more 'extra stuff for those kind enough to pay' than 'this advertises that'. YMMV.

And one of these days someone is going to have to work out a valid monetization mechanism for online content

Indeed so. I don't think there's much more advertising spend out there (I'm not an expert, so I may be shown to be entirely wrong). If so, then more and more people are trying to get slices from a finite sized pie. I think you can see just how close to the bottom of the barrel they're getting when you see some sites.

I can see Patreon and KickStarter filling in some of those gaps. And I'd quite happily pay a subscription - I have done so in the past - for ad-free sites and services.


This is truly fascinating. For various reasons, I didn't read comics much as a child, though I read them when I got a chance. I once, briefly, had the Eagle, but was never a huge fan, and tended to favour the Mekon :-) In adulthood, I have always favoured humorous ones, preferably satire or political commentary. But it is clear from the above that Web comics are a very active area, with a very wide range, and I may spend more time looking at them in the future. I don't know how many other people are similarly ignorant, but it's definitely a relevant question.


Oh yeah: User Friendly and Something Positive. The former dropped off my regular list a while back (and I don't know why, I shall have to return it) but the latter is still on it.


I have yet to see another creative product lay out its stall as clearly and quickly as Something Positive; you know whether or not this comic's for you from the first page.


This is weird. 95% of the comics mentioned in this thread are in my RSS reader, and yet I'm pretty sure my political views are significantly different from most people here. Seems to be no correlation.

PS. Romantically Apocalyptic is great.


Breaking Cat News is great. And often cute. It is almost pure cat content!


Second Childhood?

The Clangers are back on the BBC, and that missing comet lander has also turned up.

What a coincidence...

(It feels like what I remember, but it's obviously low-gravity now.)


Sinfest has gotten much more interesting and coherent in the past few years. It went from random fart jokes and fanservice to something a lot deeper.

My Life At War is a mil-SF comic that has a very dinstinctive art style and a fairly original world. It's mostly about a squad of mech pilots (the mechs actually kind of make sense) in the 'First Investment Recovery Battalion, LLC.' They're fighting the first real shooting war in recent memory against a sovereign nation-state. Neither side is particularly heroic or villainous, though some might view the Free Market (the polity that the 1IRB represents) as almost satirical.

If you've ever read "Bite Me!" by Dylan Meconis (which was a hilarious farce about vampires in the French Revolution ("Did you want a three hundred person riot, or a FIVE hundred person riot?") then she's gone on to make Family Man, which has some of the same characters but of a much more serious tone and is utterly gorgeous and has amazingly detailed historical research. She does her homework, and yours, and your history teacher's.


Battlepug ( – a lone Conan-esque barbarian out to avenge the massacre of his tribe with the aid of his gigantic pug companion (and later on a foulmouthed child mage).

Drive ( – founded with the aid of accidentally acquired alien technology, an interstellar Spanish Empire goes to war with the creators of that technology.


A few have made the connection between SMBC and XKCD, and I think the comparison is apt -- both are essentially surrealist thought experiments by nerds with physics backgrounds. On the other hand, it's also clear who puts in more work -- SMBC is updated daily, is typically longer, and is full-color, while XKCD is updated three times a week and is mostly stick figures (although it's clear that they're stick figures by someone who can draw -- see basically any other stick figure webcomic and compare, and it's clear that Munroe's stick figures are better).

I second the recommendation of A Softer World, but I wouldn't call it a gag comic so much as I'd call it a fnording, or a detournment. I pretty strongly associate it with the situationist detournment of newspaper comics in the 60s.

Dresden Codak is interesting. It's absolutely beautiful, but the plot is basically always tangled, and it can go years between updates, although it's more typical that it takes a few months. It's an example of somebody who could make a daily or weekly comic that competed well with SMBC and XKCD on its own turf, but instead attempted to pull a Girl Genius. The last arc had something to do with time-travelling tourists, an electrical generation scheme involving making terrible plays, and spam messages steganographically hidden in DNA; this arc has something to do with an incredibly bureaucratic engineered city and some kind of Ayn-Rand-like figure who has some relationship with The Department of Subversion.

I wouldn't call it a gag comic so much as I'd call it a fnording, or a detournment. I pretty strongly associate it with the situationist detournment of newspaper comics in the 60s.

THANK you. I knew there were apt descriptions, but my brain wouldn't co-operate and deliver one.

Dresden Codak's apparently moved to a regular twice-monthly update cycle since Patreon made it a paying proposition.


A Softer World is done? Sadness. That was a great one to go and binge read whenever you needed cheering up.

I've not followed webcomics as much in the last few years - XKCD, Order of the Stick, occasionally Penny Arcade when I'm not at work and Oglaf when I'm definitely not at work are really about it.

DM of the Rings was really good - the cheating at the siege and Tony Hawk one are some of my favourite images. Shamus also periodically does some really interesting long articles on his blog.

And I really enjoyed 8 Bit Theatre while it lasted. Black Mage is my god.


So a few more comics that may have been missed.

Life with Dragons/ Public Humiliation / Habibah's Song: This is a "universe" of comics. The oldest stories are in LwD (no longer updated); the current ones are in PH and HS. Habibah is a child of Lan; Lan is center stage in PH.

What's the key storyline? Lan is a shapeshifter. "Human" is not his native form. Originally, he tried to be human enough to fit into the human world; now, he doesn't like other Pookas (his actual nature) telling him that he isn't Pooka enough.

The earliest episodes deal with general life, living in an adopted family ("Lan is our son. Whether we gave birth to him or not, he is our son"), growing up, etc. Later episodes deal with adulthood being forced on him, and the struggle for being recognized as an equal.

Habibah is mute. Not deaf, just mute. Her story lines deal with trying to live in a society where other consider her damaged. Again, being accepted as an equal -- but this time by her own kind.

These comics have massive crossovers with Magical Misfits (in fact, the two authors often work together now). MM is ... I'm not sure how to describe it. An ongoing serial/soap opera of many different characters of different races/species and their life in a strongly magic-ified version of earth (PH's universe is a weakly magic-ified version of earth).

The PH group of comics:

Magical Misfits: ... I'm not sure which archive is the most complete/in order, try


I remember reading Donald Duck in Mathemagic Land at about 6.

And you young'uns, missed the good stuff - underground comics of the sixties and seventies. The Fabulous Furry Freak Bros, Fat Freddy's Cat, Wonder Warthog, American Flyer Funnies, lots of sf & fantasy in them, along with sex, drugs and rock&roll.

These days, Questionable Content. SF themes in here - the robots, the young woman whose father is in a space station that he owns.... XKCD, of course Girl Genius Evil, Inc. Dilbert Non Sequitur

and Out There, for no particular reason. And occasionally Doonesbury.


" So Charlie, which did you read, Beano or Dandy? Or both? As a girl, I got stuck with reading Mandy (lots of stories about orphanages, boarding schools etc.) ... "

But you didn't 'read', “BUNTY “Emma? You preferred, “MANDY”

Hum... Interesting.

For the benefit of the Modern Youth of Today, and that they might learn what they have missed about their PLACE in the World as it was seen way back then?

Others of Here and Now might like to know that "Beano or Dandy?” comics were much filled with Sex and Violence! Of course it wasn't called that but, “BASH STREET KIDS "?

Think that was an exaggeration? Well, just a bit, perhaps, but an Arts teacher in the British Secondary Modern School that I attended in the mid-1960s once canned an entire class - in those days of very large classes that would have been 44 plus - twice on both hands and then on their bums and HE was reported to have got very excited indeed ..He was invited to leave his post shortly thereafter but never was subject to criminal law for...insert Criminal Charge... as he certainly would be these days.

He was at the extreme end of experience but way back then in the England EVERY teacher had a cane and many would use the same pretty freely to Maintain Discipline. The practice was entirely unexceptional. So much so that when Comprehensive Schools were brought in as the '60s ended and 'corporal punishment ' as it was called was banned we were quite could Discipline be maintained if teachers weren't permitted to Beat Children?

Ah, the Good Old Days ..." Best Days of Their Lives” eh wot?

Funny how many people reflect upon Those Days with variations of ' you would NEVER DARE to talk back to a teacher back then? ' and also ' It Never did us any Harm!’

Way back in the Mistily Happy Days of the 1960s people actually watched T.V. programmes on the very limited public BBC - and even more limited commercial TV channel- like...

" Whack-O! was a British sitcom TV series starring Jimmy Edwards, written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, and broadcast from 1956 to 1960 and 1971 to 1972.

The series (in black and white) ran on the BBC from 1956 to 1960 and (in colour) from 1971 to 1972. Edwards took the part of Professor James Edwards, M.A., the drunken, gambling, devious, cane-swishing headmaster who tyrannised staff and children at Chiselbury public school (described in the opening titles as "for the sons of Gentlefolk"). The Edwards character bore more than a passing resemblance to Sergeant Bilko as he tried to swindle the children out of their pocket money to finance his many schemes.

The first six episodes were subtitled "Six of the Best". In 1959 a film was made based on the show, called Bottoms Up!. The series was revived in colour with updated scripts in 1971-1972, slightly retitled Whacko!. In all, it ran for a total of 60 episodes, with 47 of B&W and 13 colour, of 30 minutes each. There were three special shorts. There was also a radio version, on the Light Programme, 45 episodes of 30 minutes broadcast from May 1961 till July 1963, with Vera Lynn starring as herself in the second episode. Many of these radio episodes were recovered by a BBC archivist from a listener's collection of tapes in 2012.

The front of the historic house of Great Fosters was used in the opening title sequence of the TV comedy series behind the name of the fictional Chiselbury School.[1] "!

It was extremely popular...though not with me, but then I didn't like the even more popular “The Black & White Minstrel Show " that continued until the late 1970s


I suggest that people here and Now who read modern comic/graphic novel/video games just can't begin to understand the precursors of their Comics - on line or in print - unless they look at the social history of Way Back Then and the kind of thing that people once considered to be entertaining in The Dandy and The Beano and also broadcast Television.

Oh, and also? Way back then every night on British Television was packed out with US of American Westerns.

The shape and form of these were heavily influential upon the developing Sci Fiction series that began to appear way back then.

I will admit that I quite liked “Have Gun Will Travel” but that doesn't make me a Bad Person!

How does the popular saying go as attributed to the Drug Culture of the time? “If you can remember the '60s then you weren't there”

Nope...entirely WRONG! I was there and I remember it all too well and I wasn't drugged out of my mind.

Gods but popular culture could be ghastly way back then!

As an antidote to all this prehistoric Gloom? Go watch the remake of " The Clangers "

It’s actually quite good!


Jesus and Mo. Strips rather than stories.


Wot I currently read that hasn't had too many votes yet:

Yet Another Fantasy Game Comic - irregularly published (the author has a day job as an animator) and irreverent take on fantasy tropes, with possibly the dumbest chimera ever created. Wapsi Square - bloody weird supernatural soap opera with a high flesh content. Stand Still, Stay Silent - a post bio-apocalyptic adventure where only some bits of Scandinavia came out well, and there's money to be made scavenging the neighbouring infected areas for books. Just watch out for the trolls. Laager and Limehouse - perpetrated by two reasonably well-known British fen, deals with life, explosives, sentient cheese and just how big an animal you can fit on a barbecue. And that's just the last month or so. The Whiteboard - paintballing, over-caffienated furries. What's not to like?


Not really a comic (although technically there are comics in it) but as long as you've mentioned XKCD, be sure to also check out Munroe's What If pages of science questions, many of which explore areas that are really more like short-form science fiction (E.g. the hair dryer of doom) or things Bob might investigate.


"Stand Still, Stay Silent" by Minna Sundberg is my favorite right now.


I'm a long time fan of Reuben Bolling's "Tom the Dancing Bug", especially his God-man strips (collected at


There are a number of Japanese mangas that now publish chapters online followed later by printed collections to monetise the effort. In other cases web publication of a chapter occurs after regular magazine publication. There's also a move towards ebook publishing of weekly or monthly manga magazines.

Some web manga publishers actively encourage new artists to sign up with them, running their mangas on their website to see if they get any attention from readers and maybe transition to regular paid work and book publication if they seem popular. There doesn't seem to be a Patreon system for this sort of work in Japan though. There are quite a few Korean web manhuas, most of them in full colour but they don't seem to have print publication as an aim.

as long as you've mentioned XKCD, be sure to also check out Munroe's What If pages of science questions,

Oh, gawd, yes ...


As a long time fan of all things Strossian and a friend of the author of Kill Six Billion Demons, you have no idea how happy I was to see it in your list. Abbadon's a hell of a writer and an increasingly fantastic artist and sure as heck deserves everyone's time and attention.


I used to enjoy Sinfest, but at some point it became very one-note, preachy social justice/feminism. I don't mind feminism/social justice messages, and I agree with them, it's just that the comic became a bit monotonous and repetitive, and lost much of the fun that had got me reading in the first place.

Your mileage may vary.


J C W? WTF? I looked that up ... how in the name of Cthulu could someone go that utterly mad?


I started reading comics with the Finnish Donald Duck magazine, like almost all Finnish children. I did read a lot of comics as a child. We did have many good translations in the Eighties, so I read Asterix, Tintin, Judge Dredd, Valerian & Laureline and Marvel comics, in addition to others I don't remember now.

There was some manga translated, but many of the series in the beginning of the Nineties petered out quickly as translations. I think there was only the first fifth or so of Akira translated, which peeved me a lot (the rest of it got translated a couple of decades later).

Now I read many webcomics already mentioned here and got even some new recommendations, but a couple of comics I like haven't been mentioned yet. I quite like Aaron Williams's comics. The PS 238 is about super-powered children, and while I don't like superhero comics that much nowadays, PS 238 has been a good comic.

The Nodwick comic of his is complete, and also a good fantasy trope deconstructor.


Clangers? [ From the original series ] I recommend everyone watch The Tablecloth for a good, child-like ( & very cynical ) laugh. The late, great Oliver Postgate at his best


Subnormality. Not a coherent story; there are some recurring characters, but mostly it's one-offs. Huge ones. Hundreds, thousands of words in a single page. And what the hell, he misses a fair amount of time-- but then he does something like this, which any Laundry fan should appreciate, or a bunch of surprisingly cool humanist sf.


Oh, and on the subject of pornographic web comics: Moon Over June. NSFW at all, a continuing story of a pair of sex mad lesbians.


"... here and Now ... just can't begin to understand ... unless they look at the social history of Way Back Then"

While that is very true, it is critical not to interpret the social history using modern connotations of words (let alone the more insanely politically correct ones). The Black and White Minstrel Show was stereotyping - no more than that - and was MUCH less racist than (say) using 'orientals' as the role models for most of the evil enemies in the 19th and much of the 20th century. People might like to at least try to look dispassionately at what the post-1970 and current equivalents are, and correlate that with some modern problems.


I looked that up ... how in the name of Cthulu could someone go that utterly mad?

It could happen to anyone, really. I believe the sequence of events was something like this:

  • Grow up in a religious family.

  • Hit teens. Read Ayn Rand. Reject religion and go balls-out for Objectivism, Libertarianism's idiot twin ideology.

  • Later: begin writing SF. (Post-singularity SF that receives good reviews, modulo the political ranting.)

  • Hit 50, have a non-fatal but serious heart attack. Undergo a near-death experience that is interpreted as a religious revelation.

  • Realize that Objectivism is Wrong, that there is More In Life ... and promptly hunt down and hug the most intolerant, obnoxiously self-justifying, doctrinally extreme branch of the religion of one's childhood -- one that offers the same non-introspective self-righteous certainty as Objectivism, because God.

  • Note that this particular religious creed (not even remotely mainstream within Catholicism) is neurotically focussed on sexuality (hey, this is a middle-aged man we're talking about here) rather than, say, any of the socially and environmentally positive things the RCC talks about: he's also a sucker for any of the current US republican/right wing ideological talking points (e.g. climate change denial).

  • It'd be funny if it wasn't so sad.


    I got an unexpected eyefull while subjecting myself to the purple lurid potboiler prose of H. William Le Queux for purposes of research. I really cannot recommend anyone follow my example by reading "The Terror of the Air", even though it's chock-full of 1920s pulp imagery -- pirate German seaplane Zeppelin raiding trans-Atlantic airships after the end of the Great War! Evil German count raising funds to buy mustard gas in order to bomb London in revenge!

    It's all fun and games until you run straight into a page describing folks like your grandparents as the teeming oriental masses, breeding in subhuman squalor in the west end of London ("we ought to deport them all back where they came from, or maybe sterilize them").

    Of course we live in more enlightened times (he says, looking hard at the contemporary portrayal of immigrants from muslim nations in western media) ...


    Are you sure this isn't just authors getting an outraged twitter posse to do their PR in a niche fandom market? Such strategies occasionally cross my mind... It is certainly one way of becoming famous very rapidly.


    "... breeding in subhuman squalor in the west end of London"

    That doesn't sound quite as squalid as the east end.


    Ah, thanks, that explains it.

    He didn't COVERT to RC he REVERTED - & as you say to the most extreme form). You almost feel sorry for him, maybe.

    As for your immediate following post what depresses me is that the decryers don't seem to be able to distinguish between an Ismaili & Sufi or Da'esh - lablelling them all as "muslim". As if the Quakers & OSD were identical.


    I second the Nimona mention, a great online graphical novel. One one hand I'm sad it has ended, but it's a great & complete story.

    Another comic, updating very sporadically, that I'm sure people here will love is The Secret Knots. Best post-modern Lovecraftian weirdness you'll find in comic form.


    I got my ends muxed ip.


    Most of the western Christian churches (including the Roman Catholics and Anglicans) were neurotically focussed on sexuality until very recently, and many of them still are. Northern Ireland is probably the UK's hot-spot for that.

    And, on your Le Queux post, he was far from being an outlier in that respect. Even when young and less experienced at spotting such things, I found the gratuitous bigotry in many of them offensive. I don't read the modern equivalents, but I wouldn't be surprised if it still happens (with Muslims and 'arabs' being the bogey of choice, as you say).


    Hmmm. Well, I've thought for years that there's a lot of fun to be had subverting the racism in, say, Lovecraftian fiction. Guess that's the next book I finish.


    "And, on your Le Queux post, he was far from being an outlier in that respect."

    True enough.

    You will have come across, " Dr. Fu Manchu " ?

    " During its initial release, The Mask of Fu Manchu was criticized by the Chinese government, and the Chinese embassy in Washington launched a formal complaint against the film for its hostile depiction of the Chinese. The speech where Fu Manchu tells his followers to "Kill the white man and take his women!" was singled out for strong criticism. [2]

    Some other critics also objected to the film's depictions of violence and sexuality.[3] The film's re-release in 1972 was met with protest from the Japanese American Citizens League, who stated that "the movie was offensive and demeaning to Asian-Americans." Because of the criticism of the film's racism, the 1992 VHS release of the film removed several scenes containing the most criticized lines of dialogue, such as the "Kill the white man" speech, and the scenes of Myrna Loy in an orgiastic frenzy while witnessing a torture whipping.[3]

    The latest releases on DVD of this movie by Warner Bros have restored the above scenes. "

    The obsession with " The Yellow Peril" has been used in modern satire but it is VERY, VERY difficult to handle ... even in satirical comics.

    " Coined in the late 19th century, the racist term “Yellow Peril” refers to the theory that Asian peoples represent a threat to the West. It was first associated with Chinese labourers, and then applied to the Japanese during World War II.

    More recently, it has been used by humourists to mock fears of an onslaught of immigrants – but, as is often the case, the irony is easily lost in translation or when taken out of context.

    In this case, Fluide Glacial’s aim was to ridicule French clichés about the Chinese, but the irony was lost on many in China.

    Following Charlie Hebdo

    The Global Times, a Chinese daily with close links to the ruling Communist Party, has slammed the cover’s “indecency” in an editorial headlined “Free speech mania may intensify clashes”. "


    Ohh -- Back on topic, comics. I completely forgot about this one (didn't make the transition when my last set of bookmarks exploded).

    Dan and Mab's Furcadius Adventures. DMFA

    ... I won't even try to explain it. Currently in chapter 31, I last read it when chapter 27 was getting started, it has covered a great deal of stuff over the years.

    Lets just say, Dan is an adventurer, almost as sterotypical as it gets, at least at the start. He and his sister operate an inn (yep, they met in an inn :-), and ... well, things kinda go "silly game master" from there.


    Ok, a good place to pick up DMFA if you don't want to start from the beginning is chapter 26 --

    You'll get the main characters, and all the right wrong impressions :-).


    User Friendly and Something Positive. The former dropped off my regular list a while back (and I don't know why Illiad had an attack of real life and stopped updating a while ago, the copyright date on the strips running at the moment is 2004.


    Ah yes, that does explain it. I've now got to the age where I can forget things like that.

    Moon Over June stopped updating for a while, and I've not (since this thread started) been able to determine whether Wocgirl is doing it again regularly or not.


    11 years seems to be enough for me not to remember the strips from their first time round, "current" events mentioned in passing can be confusing now and again though.


    I am a fan of Stand Still. Stay Silent

    From the site: "Stand Still. Stay Silent" is a post apocalyptic webcomic with elements from Nordic mythology, set 90 years in the future. It's mostly a story about friendship and exploring a forgotten world, with some horror, monsters and magic on the side.


    OK, so it took me a while to get back to the blog. Other toons I follow: - Evil, Inc. - the daily activities of supervillains - Exiern - the ongoing adventures of Typhan-knee, a male barbarian who's changed by sorcery to a female - Legend of Bill - a comedic take on a barbarian and his small blue dragon pal who decided on a life of adventure after being fired as bookkeepers - Battlepug - mentioned in @82 above - Tripp (concluded) - an office drone is fed some acid from an evil coworker and begins to see the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe. Subsequently he's kidnapped by alien Amazons and his love interest is transformed by surgery into a sort of She-Hulk. Then it gets weird.


    Oh, and one more: Luci Phurr's Imps (concluded) - a little girl is identified as the future Antichrist and is sent the imps Sorrow, Pain and Misfortune to guide her development. It doesn't work out as planned.


    I don't see it mentioned yet, and this might be one in the "no need to signal-boost further" category, but I'll still casually mention Broodhollow


    Scenes From a Multiverse seemed to have eaten most of my last couple of days...
    The bunnies are cute, but shub shub shub?

    Some comics that haven't been mentioned -

    Lackadaisy, Speakeasies, bootlegging, prohibition, drama, period slang and fashion, and certain amount of violence, all perpetrated by really well-drawn cats.

    Witch Doctor - There are only two volumes of this comic in print - Under The Knife and Mal Practice - but it's such a disturbingly intriguing universe rendered in such style that I really want to see more...


    Some great recommendations here.

    Since the OpEd stated Webcomics, the ones I was going to push don't really count as I take it to mean "online, continued series". (There's some great African themed / esoteric stuff that's light-years from most of these recommendations but mostly limited to print or limited preview, single runs etc).

    However, in case there's people out of the loop here, I'll mention a couple of oldies but goldies (and, hey, XKCD got a mention).

    I've not seen Digger mentioned. Lots of it is available for free, and it won a Hugo an eon ago. Wombats. Mythology. You'll love it.

    Scandinavia and the world is really cute. Watch out for the Icelandic demons. One off strips, usually referencing real world events.

    Electric Sheep Comix Single comics, art style ranges from great to OMG GET OFF THE 3D pre-Adobe rendering. It's interesting, features mushrooms, lots of . If you can get it to load - I've altered the url so it links to the index page, good luck. Note: turns out they do load, but they load all at once (at least, The First World does: hit the page, go make a coffee depending on connection speed).

    Short Comics by Sam Alden - some very nice ones in here, mostly single stories though.


    Good to see Skin Horse got some love. I'd personally recommend going on a binge through the archives of Narbonic as well: a romp in the same universe with mad science, evil genius, time travel, romance, transhumanism, a conspiracy of Daves, super-intelligent gay gerbils... you know, the usual. ...or rather I would, but they appear to be offline just now. Damn. Ah well, with luck Shaenon will get them back up at some point, or you might try punting cash for one of the collections (I think it's worth it, but you may disagree).

    Also worth a look is the now-completed Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire by Michael "Mookie" Terraciano. Starts out as a gag-a-day fantasy strip about the eponymous seer, finishes 3000 pages later as an eschaton-level epic focusing mainly on the quasi-messianic protagonist. Still plenty of humour, and some very well fleshed out characters along the way. I must admit, this is one I re-read at least once a year, and I've kinda adopted Bort as my spirit animal.

    Since finishing Dominic Deegan, Mookie has moved on to a sci-fi project with Garth Graham: Star Power. In premise, it's fairly similar to Green Lantern, but the tone and setting are arguably closer to Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda.

    And a final one from me- Ben Paddon's Jump Leads. Think Sliders meets Red Dwarf and you won't be far off...


    I've not seen Digger mentioned. Lots of it is available for free, and it won a Hugo an eon ago.

    Recommended. I have the hardback compiled Digger, with the pickaxe (foam), badges, fridge magnets, the lot. An example of how to KickStart.


    I loved Digger! Should have remembered to cite that. Ursula Vernon accomplished something special there.


    And the whole thing's free here! The day I found out Digger had moved off GraphicSmash was a very, very happy one.


    " I've not seen Digger mentioned. Lots of it is available for free, and it won a Hugo an eon ago. Wombats. Mythology. You'll love it. "

    I did...No it deserves Capital Letters... I DID, I DO!! No; one more Exclamation Point I think!

    That made me Smile, and This Year that takes some doing I can tell you!!!

    Wombat Girl Power!!!

    I did find that I was compulsively scrolling through the...

    “And the whole thing's free here! "

    As Above...and So Below?

    Until, after awhile, I found that I was going on the commercial web and looking for the HARD Back, and finding that it was madly expensive if Shipped from the US of A - postage costs match Book Cost which is annoying... but maybe available via - yes I know about Amazon ..

    So, not in stock but a Good Excuse to wander into Newcastle Upon Tyne tomorrow to see if they have it tucked away somewhere, if only in Paper /Trade Edition

    In the course of my Search I came across hereafter linked, and so because I KNOW NO SHAME!! ...

    “Uploaded on 14 Jul 2006

    Digger the wombat and her foster mother, Donna. Digger is almost ready to be released back into the Australian bush (wild). Note the 'huff huff' noises that she makes for Donna's affection, but at the same time really wants to be aggressive and bite Donna (just like a teenager?). Digger will eventually become plain aggressive, which will give us a clear indication that she's ready to be released."

    Cuteness Set TO STUN ..

    Oh, a brief mention of my Reading History to the extent that I sort of mirror OGH s experience with comics ..But a few years earlier. So, I am by no means a natural buyer of comic books save for the occasional lock in to Series of Novels and short novella story type things ..No Laundry Files as Graphic Novel Yet?!!

    Hum...some writers are well up to the Wots it called again? Zeitgeist?

    BUT ..OH, look at this ...

    "World's oldest wombat becomes internet sensation after celebrating 29th birthday "


    I'm going to second the Subnormality recommendation and link to one of my favourites, Message 652


    And Also ..

    " The best Wombat Movie ever been made!!! "

    " John Kellden Shared on Google+ · 8 months ago (edited) Good Morning Dear Wombat Aficionados

    Oh how the family affections combat Within this heart, and each hour flings a bomb at My burning soul! Neither from owl nor from bat Can peace be gained until I clasp my wombat. -- Dante Gabriel Rossetti via +Dirk Puehl

    :::applause::: "

    I, for one, didn't know that Dante Gabriel Rossetti was fond of wombats.


    It's annoying me that there is apparently yet another vast world of stuff which I cannot possibly have enough time to delve into. I may cherry pick a few things based on the comments here. Thanks for the info.


    I'm not sure how to parse this:

    Passive Aggressive stance that you refuse to read my posts so you're surprised that there wasn't a direct link to the new Digger location?

    Or, Passive Aggressive "We ignore that person because we can't mentally engage with them so here's a repost immediately that our ideologically safe friends will trust"?

    Or, you've employed some kind of block bot where you don't see my posts?

    Yeah. Every Which Way But Loose.

    Pro Tip: American stuff that ignores class / economics is really pissing off the right folks, you pretentious liars.

    Pope is even getting into it.

    Your false consciousness has been noted


    A parsing of "Lots of it is available for free" that interpreted "lots" to mean "not all" - I thought you may have read it back when it was paywalled. Sorry for the misunderstanding.


    Are we still recommending web comics? If so, I'll put in a good word for Scary Go Round. You can find the beginning of the latest story here:


    No worries, a bit of silliness (you're not the [strike]monkey[/strike] ape, I am, with some Dog-Baiting thrown in) because the Pope is burning stars to get a ho-down fight going on.

    Yep, just wanted to note that the Pope's new encyclical is making a stand on the Garden of Eden.


    I just couldn't resist doing a web search for " pope comic book " Theres no lack of choice but my favourite is ..

    " Battle Pope is an independent comic book created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, which was published by their own small press company under the moniker of Funk-O-Tron originally in 2000. The series was reprinted in color by Image Comics in 2005, with plans to possibly continue it with new stories after collecting the original material.

    The book tells the tale of a hard drinking, womanizing Pope, condemned by God for his own evil ways, who is called to action to save Saint Michael, with the help of Jesus H. Christ, becoming mankind's final hope in a world overrun by demons following the Rapture.

    The comic was adapted into an 8-episode animated version that aired on Spike in 2008.[1]"

    Great Cthulhu ! It's amazing the things that I am completly ignorant of.


    I'm a handful of years older than you, Charlie, and grew up ten miles away. It sounds like Batley market had the edge over Leeds. Next to the tripe and elder stall there was a used book stall that carried American comics. You bought an issue at full price, then after reading it sold it back to the stallholder for 6d. The stallholder marked the comic down to half price -literally, in felt pen on the cover - and the new buyer returned it for threppence, or something. Eventually, they got down to the cover price I could afford.

    I loved them, because they really were alien. I couldn't stand DC comics, which were too po-faced for me, but reading Marvel comics entailed trying to parse a foreign tongue, using only speech balloons in superhero panels. And this was the time of Marvel's Not Brand Ecch, so it was largely written in New York Yiddish.

    Anyway, it was better than Bunty, or photo-love stories in Jackie. When 2000AD came out, I devoured it, but had a lot of difficulty with the hasty art. I preferred the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. (I got Gilber Shelton's autograph a couple of years ago and squeed like a teen fangirl.) I did read Viz regularly as it was such a dead-on parody of the comics of my childhood.

    On-topically, I'm still finishing the written Hugo noms, and haven't started on the graphic ones yet. Since I don't read much in the way of modern comics, I'm not looking forward to it.


    I was a child of the 60s rather than the 70s so grew up with a lot of breathless optimism for the white heat of technology. The comic of choice once I grew out of the Eagle, was TV 21 But weirdly, I don't remember it as being so obviously a TV spin-off promotional vehicle. Those shows also had some good toys and especially the rubber band rockets with working parachute that were insanely dangerous. How I didn't take an eye out with a Fireball XL5, I'll never know.

    2001, 2011, TV21, AD2000: Remember when the 21st century was futuristic in popular culture? Where's the stories about the 22nd Century (With a nod to Bruce Sterling)?


    So many of my favorites and daily reads have already been mentioned! Okay then...

    Wapsi Square only came up once but might be worth a look to many people here; it starts out as a gag-a-day comic and levels up several times from there on both story and art quality metrics. (Disclosure: I like Paul Taylor, the artist, so I'm biased.) The tale goes paranormal fairly early and the Calendar Machine is an existential threat Bob and Mo would respect. It's also been going over ten years now so new readers face lots of characters and maybe an archive binge.

    Questionable Content, likewise - though the weirdness isn't hidden and there's no ancient apocalypse. Hardly anyone asks, "What about ordinary slackers living through the Singularity? Would transcendent AI disturb their musical interests and crappy coffee shop jobs?" I'm looking forward to seeing what Jeff Jacques does with Alice Grove as well but it's too early to judge.

    There's Freefall for hard SF. Order of the Stick and Erfworld for a game worlds seen from the inside, complete with explicitly spelled out rules and meta-gaming. I'm sure I'm forgetting several.

    Honorable mention for concept to The Dragon Doctors, which starts out looking like Extruded Fantasy Product before the reader discovers it's actually set in the far future after several well separated apocalypses, one of them literally Earth shattering. Alas, the creator is a better writer than artist.

    For completed webcomics, definitely read A Miracle of Science; you'll remember "Mars likes you." There's always Faans, wherein the protagonists are, well, science fiction fans; it skewers some of our personality quirks all too well. For anyone who hasn't filled up on Phil Foglio from Girl Genius, his old What's New strips from Dragon are still online.


    Lest they be overlooked, honorable mention for decades of distinguished service in the "underground" comix genre must be awarded to Gilbert Hernandez and his brother for their "Love and Rockets" series. At its best, like the story arc where 15 year old geek Herculio gets involved with town hottie La India, it reached levels of high literary complexity. A sort of nostalgic populist view mixed with magic realism and just plain realism, imagine a comic collaborated on by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Borges.


    Some nice recommendations here, thanks to all who posted.

    Alas, the surfeit of superhero comics make me somewhat queasy. I thought this was due to genre overload, but then came across this description of superheroes in David Graeber's recent book of essays:

    They are just ordinary, decent, super-powerful people who inhabit a world in which fascism is the only political possibility. (from The Utopia of Rules, Appendix)

    This explains my nausea at confronting world upon world the creators of which are regurgitating lies from the 1930s. There are other ways to structure society. I will in future avoid polluting my inner landscape with fascist fantasies. Now, where did I put my copy of The Dispossessed?


    Hm, that's an interesting point. I think both fascism and superheros can be avoided, certainly if you're trying to avoid only one.

    Schlock Mercenary, already mentioned, is science fiction with violent military folks - it's about a mercenary company, after all - but while some of the characters aren't very nice people not many of the political groups can reasonably called Fascist. Mass-murdering monsters, yes, at least once...

    Girl Genius and Gunnerkrigg Court have non-fascist autocracies that are even sympathetically portrayed some of the time. Alice Grove may be such a place, at least for the one small down we've seen so far.

    And sometimes powerful people live in worlds without any particular centralized power at all, and yet do not wear silly costumes, adopt code names, or take over the world. That's the case in most RPG themed settings. Examples might be Wapsi Square, Order of the Stick (one would-be world conquerer there), Keychain of Creation, or Oglaf.


    I take issue with the idea of non-fascist autocracies, because an autocracy has no intentional and systematic mechanism for keeping it from slipping into fascism. A benevolent autocracy is benevolent either by accident (because the autocrat just so happens to have a distaste for violence or strong moral positions that align with those he governs) or because the autocrat is in a position precarious enough to prevent him from abusing his power too much (as was the case in european monarchy -- revolts being an ever-present possibility, the monarch had to avoid pissing off anybody who might be able to revolt effectively).

    That Girl Genius portrays some members of nobility is a positive light probably shouldn't be taken as a positive portrayal of nobility as a system -- and I feel like Girl Genius does a good job of being aware of the systemic flaws and failure modes of nobility-based governmental systems.

    In the same way, comic books have at least recently done a pretty good job making it explicit that the difference between a superhero and a supervillian is whether the reader agrees with the character (and some particular books -- Superman: Red Son; Planetary -- have made their focus on this clear); at the same time, having a world politics based on the whims of superempowered individuals is an essentially fascist position. It's the responsibility of responsible writers in the genre to portray the problems of such a society in such a way that it isn't glorified. Probably the easiest cop-out way of doing that is to portray the daily life of someone living in the Marvel Universe as a janitor or retail worker, up until the point where they are accidentally killed by the hero.


    Fascism is a lot more than that. It has reasonably defined features. Stalin was not Fascist, for example.


    " regurgitating lies from the 1930s."

    Michael Chabon won the 2001 Pulitzer, for "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay", exploring that whole epoch in the development of comix and superheros, against the background of anti-fascist struggle. A fun read!


    On-topically, I'm still finishing the written Hugo noms, and haven't started on the graphic ones yet. Since I don't read much in the way of modern comics, I'm not looking forward to it.

    Let's just say you've got a couple of treats in store, in the shape of Ms Marvel and Sex Criminals -- even if you don't like the others. (Rat Queens might/might not work for you, depending on how you like having your D&D tropes subverted; Saga probably won't work unless you read the previous two years -- too much background -- although it's wildly creative. And there's an, ahem, puppy in the corner.)


    In the heroic fantasy video game Dragon Age, there is a mostly off-camera totalitarian socialist state in the same world and the game makes you seriously question whether it isn't a better option than aristocracy/monarchy for the average peasant in the street/field. It would be terrible for the mages, priests and mercenaries who constitute your playable characters, but for the people they are trying to save...


    Yet another reason to like Questionable Content: OGH makes an appearance!

    I meant to ask you Charlie: how was the wedding?


    I'll second Vattu (currently running on as some of the best fantasy webcomic work still being posted.

    My absolute favourite webcomic is Some really great use of art and emotional depth.



    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on June 15, 2015 2:37 PM.

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