Do you spend hours in the comic book store rifling through bins and muttering, “read it” until your fingers grow numb? Or, at the other extreme, does the geeky stigma of comic books and over-the-top superfans make you too nervous to visit comic book stores? What if you’re a proud geek at heart and want to be a superfan yourself? Webcomics can be the solution to either side of the coin, but what exactly are Webcomics? They are not fuzzy scans of old Marvel comics posted online. They are actually unique comics created by amateur artists specifically for the Internet. You may be already familiar with some webcomics. Cyanide and Happiness is a famous collection of dark humor comic strips that has its own YouTube channel and merchandise. If you prefer classic comics like Wonder Woman or modern serials like The Walking Dead, you can find similar formats in webcomics as well. For the most part, amateur artists self-publish their webcomics. Webcomics, therefore, have many perks that you can’t get with ordinary print comic books like Wonder Woman or The Walking Dead. These perks include closer relationships with the creators and in-depth access into the creation of your favorite stories. Webcomics are a wonderful addition if you are already a comic book fan. They are also an introduction into the comic book world if you have always hesitated to start. Continue reading to learn the surprising perks of webcomics while getting an introduction to 15 potential webcomics to start binge-reading.
15. It’s Free
This is the best aspect of webcomics. Burgeoning amateurs write webcomics. These artists want readers more than they want money, so their comics are usually free to read. At most, some comics require a fee to continue reading after a certain point. An example is Angeliki’s Salamaliki’s webcomic Monsieur Charlatan. This webcomic set in 1930s Paris and bordering on the film noir genre keeps you clicking to the last page to uncover what happened between melancholic detective Isidore Charlatan and his assistant Magda in their mysterious past. All is revealed in the end, but you have to purchase the full version of the comic to access a special prologue. The full version is always worth it, but you as the reader get to decide if you want to pay or not. Many webcomics have no fees at all.
14. You Don’t Need To Leave The House
Who wants to go out? You have to change out of your sweatpants. Even if you want to leave the house, some small towns don’t have comic book stores or have a limited supply of comics. If you become a member of an online comic or artists website like DeviantArt, you’ll get a steady and readily available supply of reading material. On these websites, you can subscribe to get updates on your favorite comics, so you never miss a new page. Mikiko Ponczeck’s Mini Comic is an example from the website Deviantart. Ponczeck’s publishes her hilarious comic scripts about her daily struggles as a cat-loving freelance artist on an uncertain schedule, but you can find all of her work on her DeviantArt profile.
13. No More Searching
Ever spent frustrating hours looking for a missing issue to your beloved collection of classic comic books? Have you given up browsing through every comic book store you know and resorted to ordering the issue online on Ebay or Amazon? Why don’t you just google a freely available webcomic instead? Holly Land and Drew Dailey’s sci-fi webcomic, Terra, has an archive that is easily accessed on the webcomic’s home page. Every page is divided by issue for your convenience. You’ll never spend hours searching for missing issues or pages again. In addition, archives make it great for when you want to go back to your favorite pages of webcomics. In the case of Terra, this includes fast-paced battle scenes or gritty artwork enhanced by the dark atmosphere of space.
12. Hate It When Friends Lend And Lose Your Comics?
Have you lent an issue of your favorite comic to a friend and still haven’t gotten it back? Or do you get comics returned to you that have pages stuck together with mustard, jam, or something else that you really hope is just food? This isn’t an issue when you read webcomics! Everyone knows that the Internet makes it super easy to share your favorite content with others. This includes webcomics. E. Y. Chan’s Stupid Fox comic strips have already been shared on a number of popular websites including Failblog. Chan’s hilarious comic strips about the antics of, well, a stupid fox, are made in a simple and clear style. The small format of each script is perfect for sharing with friends on Facebook for a quick, fun read.
11. Talk Directly With The Creator
Ever spend hours perfecting a fan letter—or, in this era, email—to your favorite comic book creators only to wonder if it was worth the effort? Famous comic creators like Stan Lee and Frank Miller are celebrities who can feel as distant as the Queen of England. Webcomic creators have tremendous talent, but they aren’t so famous, so they are easier to approach. Moreover, webcomic creators avidly seek feedback on their work, so webcomic creators like Carolina Álvarez make it possible to comment on their work. Álvarez’s webcomic, The Forgotten Sons, is an action-packed fantasy following the outcast Rakan as he attempts to stay out of the war that led to his exile. Want to know how Álvarez created her bold, colorful style? Do you need to know more about the mysterious forest spirits in her comic? Just ask in the comments. Álvarez, and many webcomic creators, actively reply to comments since they value your readership.
10. Be Included In The Process
Are you one of those proud superfans who memorizes every interview done by your favorite comic book creators? Do you have a long wish list on Amazon for concept artbooks by your favorite artists? If you do, webcomics are perfect for you. You don’t just get access to free pages; you also get a look into the webcomic process. If you follow Amelie Hutt’s webcomic, Angels’ Power, you’ll also get access to character development artwork done in Hutt’s beautiful oil paint-like style. In addition, Hutt has recently started creating a new prologue for her comic. Readers feel included by being involved in Hutt’s own creative process as she explores new formats and storylines in her complex but exhilarating webcomic about a warrior angel questioning an ancient, biblical war.
9. Easy Extras
With webcomics, not only do you get to see the behind-the-scenes process, you also get extra content related to your favorite webcomics. You may need to pay for some of the extra content if the webcomic creator uses Patreon. Patreon is like a membership that, for a small fee, gives you extra perks like early pages, spoilers, and updates. Many webcomic artists use Patreon including Laura Hollingsworth, the creator of the comical fantasy webcomic, The Silver Eye. But even many extras are free. Hollingsworth makes additional character details and artwork readily available to her readers. You’ll love these extras because you’ll be desperate to learn more about the deadly family curses and complex political situations in The Silver Eye.
8. Promote Young Entrepreneurs
Freelancers and independent entrepreneurs are forging new paths in our overly-bureaucratic and corrupt markets. It is thrilling and fulfilling to watch a startup company grow and expand. This includes webcomics. Pascalle Lepas’ webcomic, Wilde Life, is the creator’s second webcomic and it has become one of the most popular serial webcomics currently being written. Wilde Life has risen to such success because of support through Kickstarter and Patreon. Fans have helped this comic rise to fame for good reason. Lepas demonstrates a mastery of storytelling techniques in her quirky webcomic about a young man who rents a home in a small town that comes with a few too many paranormal surprises. The panel layout and artwork are phenomenal and only improves with growing support from readers like you.
7. Watch The Artist Improve
You don’t just get to promote webcomic creators, you get to watch them improve under your support. This support can come in many different formats. For one, you can help fund the webcomic through websites like Patreon. This allows the artist to make a profit off their work, so they can spend more time producing it for you. Or you can give moral support and advice in the comments. No matter how you support your favorite webcomics, you’ll be able to watch the artist improve. A perfect example is Tracy J. Butler’s Lackadaisy. The wacky but perilous antics of anthropomorphic cats during the prohibition era seems an odd concept for people to support, but they do because this comic is fantastic. Butler’s style started out with a simple sepia-toned lineart, but it has since become dark and rich with color. The long, artful pages perfectly capture the atmosphere of the jazz age and never seem long enough.
6. It’s Not Too Different
All of these unique perks of webcomics are great, but that doesn’t mean they are entirely different from the traditional print comics that you get from the comic book store. Some unique formats can only be done digitally and online. Some webcomic artists, however, are inspired by the traditional formats you may have grown up reading. Do you hesitate to part with print comics because you prefer the classic style of superhero comics? Webcomics are still a perfect fit for you. Maritza Campos and Bachan’s webcomic, Power Nap, is about an unfortunate office worker fighting monsters in his dreams and in real life. The webcomic uses an older style with bright colors, sharp lineart, and shell shading. It reproduces the feeling of reading your favorite Spider-Man or Superman comics.
5. Become A Global Reader
If you buy comics from your local comic book store, you buy from a limited supply. This is not just because your comic book store can only hold so many comics. You’re also getting work published mainly in your home country. Webcomic creators publish their work on the web, as in the world wide web. When you read online, you have access to comics from all over the world. And third parties translate these webcomics into many different languages. Minna Sundberg is the Finnish-Swedish webcomic creator of Stand Still. Stay Silent. The webcomic depicts a mysterious post-apocalyptic world in Scandinavia and follows an expedition into the dangerous, unknown world after years of seclusion. Through the webcomic, you’ll learn about Scandinavian culture while greatly enjoying the webcomic that won the 2015 Rueben award for “best online comic long-form.”
4. There’s An App For That
Well, not exactly, but webcomics are easy to read on cell phones. Many people these days use their phones much more than their computers. Some people opt to have a phone over a laptop. Moreover, these days, many people do their reading on the go and on their phones. The crisp, clean style of K. Lynn Smith’s supernatural western, Plume, appears perfectly on mobile devices. If you read on the bus or have no more storage space for your print comics, having all your favorite webcomics on your phone is easy and compact. Even other key features of the comic are easy to access, including archives. This is great for when you want to share or reread some of your favorite scenes from the humorous, but emotionally charged adventure that is Plume.
3. Creators Have More Control
Most webcomic creators self-publish. This means that the artist has more control over their work. Publishers, though essential for editing and sales, can hinder freedom of expression. When you read self-published material, you can find unique, though peculiar, stories. The webcomic, Asmundr and its sequel Home, actually follows canine characters struggling to understand their world under the mysterious protection of a divine—seemingly extraterrestrial—power. Somehow, the artist Kique manages to create a serious and compelling story that keeps you emotionally invested in the story. The second webcomic, Home, even addresses more serious social issues like patriarchal power and homosexual relationships. These are topics that even print comic creators are still struggling to express and get through publishers today.
2. You Still Get The Comic Book Store Experience
Nearly through the list and ready to start reading webcomics? Hopefully, you have or will start taking a look at the webcomics on this list. But maybe you’ve already binge-read them all, or you’re itching to take a look at what else is out there. Or maybe searching the web seems too daunting? No reason to fret; there are comic book stores online! Top Web Comics is a list of hundreds of webcomics organized by popular vote. The website categorizes by genre for your convenience just like a store. The obscure but intriguing webcomic, The Pale, is found at this website. This classic detective mystery set in the Arizona desert has great detail but is doesn’t have a huge following. It would have been difficult to find without the website, which is a shame because the crisp style and thrilling story is a must-read.
1. Fellow Fans Are At Your Fingertips
Okay, now you’ve found your new favorite thing, webcomics. You’ve binged-read them all, and you desperately need to start telling others about your theories on the white-faced bear in Wilde Life or your love of the art style of Angels’ Power. Problem is, you have been staying inside in your sweatpants reading these comics on your phone. There’s no one around to talk about your newfound love. Well, did you forget you were on the internet? There is already an ample supply of other commenters right there at your fingertips to talk to. Many webcomics like Kooks’ Dishonored, a unique Dragon Age fan fiction story in an even more unique style, has followers readily commenting on the pages and creating fan art. All the fans and fan art are available on the creator’s DeviantArt page, so start talking with others fans about your theories on the comic’s blood magic or the Fade. Then go and talk with the fans of all your other favorite webcomics.