As some of you may know, I am a comic creator myself. I’ve been wading through the Webcomics waters for over 12 years, to varying degrees of success, and in many roles. It was then that I fancied myself a critic for the purpose of doing stuff with my time, making my triumphant return to long-windedness here on The Escapist.
While I was a Webcomics Critic, I was reading something like 150 webcomics at the time, just to make sure I had enough material to write on. As I’ve spent more time in the creator camp, that list of comics I’ve followed dwindled down, down, down to a meager dozen at best. Through no fault of the wonderful comics or creators I follow, of course. My appetites changed over time. Now I mostly watch anime and play one of two procedurally generated indie games. But obviously, I still love Webcomics and the people who make them above all other formats. What can I say, I’m biased.
(Further bias to put on the table: Some of the comics I’m about to list are done by people I would consider personal friends. It is just unavoidable when you’ve been doing this crap as long as I have.)
So without further ado… here are the Top Five Webcomics That Are Currently Running That I Am Actively Reading In No Particular Order:
1. Whomp! – Ronnie Filyaw
Some might call this a spiritual successor to KC Green’s Horribleville. Consistently hilarious and self deprecating, it hits the exact sweet spot that keeps an autobiographical comic entertaining: A mixture of material taken from Ronnie’s real life experiences combined with Fuck It, This Is A Comic Strip, Let’s Make With The Yuk-Yuks. The insecurities put on display echo my own so often, I feel a special bond and kinship with the creator, like he’s holding up a funhouse mirror to my very soul.
This might be a weird sentence to read (and I assure you, it’s a weird one to type), but Whomp is one of the most Webcomic-y Webcomics running today. It has so many of the qualities of the old-school Webcomic of my youth – self-insert protagonist, a jerk who exists only to be a jerk, fun with alt text, simple yet high impact jokes – but presents them in ways that still speak to the modern audience. That, or people like me and Ronnie us are just an eternal constant throughout the eons of time that will never go away as a viable audience.
Speaking of which, the embodiment of said audience is distilled into pure gold in Ronnie’s sister series to Whomp!, Otaku Dad. It’s a story-based comic about a young girl’s weeaboo-as-fuck dad who just wants to make the world more kawaii and sugoi. A must-read for metaweebs.
RATING: The Webomic I Wish I Was Making Myself
2. Oglaf – Trudy Cooper & Doug Bayne (Warning: NSFW)
The Australian team that brought you the utterly underrated and underpromoted Platinum Grit brings you Oglaf, the filthiest, raunchiest, most inclusive and sex positive adult humor comic that exists. For many years, when jokingly prompted with the question “What is the best Webcomic?” I would simply respond with no hesitation:
“Oglaf. Oglaf is the best Webcomic.”
I am obviously sharing that title with four other comics in this here list, but I’ll state my case nonetheless: Oglaf is simply uncanny. It has more imagination when it comes to the topic of sex than the sum total of any and all kink scenes I have ever been a part of. It delivers its promised titty & dick jokes in a fleshed out (heh) fantasy universe with consistent characters, ideas, themes, backdrops, and so on.
Oglaf is the comic that walks right up to the claim that XXX material can’t be art and drops a fucking brick right on its chin. Consensually, of course. All the while doing so in a way that includes people of color and LGBTQA types without having to even make a big stink about it. You’re probably reading it already, but if you’re not, you should be. It’s hilarious, it’s sexy, it’s fun, and it updates frequently. What more could you ask for?
RATING: The Webcomic That Breaks All The Molds
3. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal – Zach Weinersmith
I almost *didn’t* put this on my list because of previously confessed biases, as well as the fact that it felt like an “obvious choice” because I’m the kind of asshole who takes toplists way too seriously, like John Cusack in High Fidelity. But the very fact that it is an obvious choice for me is the reason it is on this list. Obviously.
SMBC is easily the longest-running webcomic that I’m still reading after all these years. Updating an impossible seven days a week with consistently good jokes and/or thoughtful concepts that runs from one to a billionty panels in a single strip. No topic is off the table. No joke is too stupid. No hypothesis is too far fetched. I am always excited to see it pop up in my Inbox thanks to Patreon, that’s how much reading this comic is a part of my daily routine.
It’s just a good-ass comic. And the daily delivery combined with all the other crazy shit that Zach gets up to that are extensions of the concepts laid down within, like Single Use Monocles and BAH Fest. There’s no shortage of great stuff that comes from SMBC Productions, so do yourself a favor and check it out if you somehow don’t already.
RATING: The Webcomic Institution Of My Life
4. Octopus Pie – Meredith Gran
Meredith Gran is another alumni of the Webcomics Era That Was and while Skirting Danger was exactly as good as it is impossible to track down anymore, she’s moved on from that project to Octopus Pie, a comic that seamlessly blends the surreal and real while having the best jokes about Millennials that you can get.
And that’s something worth touching on. I’m a Millennial myself (somehow, despite being fucking 30), and our generation gets no shortage of beef from the media et al. And while grampa sits on his kitchen counter pounding out a screed about how “Millennials don’t like to eat cereal because it involves washing bowls and that’s what’s wrong with America” or whatever, Meredith aims a critical lens at Millennials with a familiarity and sincerity that can only come from someone who is either a part of that generation, or living amongst the population on a Jane Goodall level.
The story, now almost 900(!) pages long, follows the lives of a bunch of New York 20-somethings that we all know. Their struggles of living a life of excitement and romance within the confines of the modern gig/weed/organic food economies are depicted honestly and earnestly while peppered with great cartoony bits that I can only describe as “Millennial Magical Realism.” Like Scott Pilgrim, but without the pandering.
And the art is just great, too. Meredith is a master of cartooning, and it shows in her cast’s body language, faces, her use of motion… come to Octopus Pie for the great story, stay for the masterclass in Webcomic Artistry.
RATING: The Webcomic That Hits High Art Points While Still Feeling Novel
5. He Is A Good Boy – KC Green
I’ve been a long time reader of KC Green’s comics. He’s usually the guy whose work I look towards when I entertain the idea (for the 8th time this year) of drawing my own comics again. A constant inspiration to “Do your own thing,” He Is A Good Boy is a really, really out there comic that is always my fastest click when updated.
He Is A Good Boy is in line with the darker storylines of Gun Show, like the now-collected Graveyard Quest. A paranoia-filled spiral of self loathing and supernatural assholes. Crange is a young(?) acorn who has been forced to leave his inert lifestyle within the hollow of his old tree, on a quest to continue living through the doldrums of an ambitionless life and finding brand new ways to never change despite all odds. A seed that refuses to grow.
You’ll find KC’s unique brand of surrealist horror and deeply uncomfortable psychological examination that has been one of the constant voices in his work these many years, and still be driven to laugh at Crange and his all too relatable shortcomings. It’s a young comic still, and a quick catch up, being produced alongside the much more light-heated Back and his illustrated adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio. Anyone who’s a fan of KC’s work will find no shortage of satisfaction in this dark as fuck, yet somehow life-affirming work.
RATING: The Webcomic That Speaks To Me More Than I Care To Admit
Phil Kahn takes a heavily critical eye to sequential art, which is a term that people who think they’re very clever use to say “Comics.” You can follow follow him on Twitter where he also talks about anime a bunch.
Remember to check out The Escapist’s other comic book columns: Speeding Bullets, Space, Spells, and Spandex, and Gutter Mouth!