There are lots of great web comics on the internet – so many that it can be difficult to know what to read or where to start. This list hopes to offer a brief guide to those interested in checking some out. It's just one of many possible paths into this huge and usually wonderful world.
For the reader who wants to watch the story grow from the beginning:
Necropolis by Jake Wyatt
Necropolis seamlessly weaves together two stories: one about a young girl who strikes a deal with a godlike creature and gets more than she bargained for, and one about a prophetic king and a conquering queen. Both of these tales create the lore and foundation for this fantastical story. Part epic fantasy quest, part mythical fable, Necropolis is fascinating to watch develop and had me hooked from the first page. The amount of detail is incredible; every page has minute parts that add depth to the whole of the background and atmosphere. Also, the writing pulls the reader along so smoothly that once I reached the end of what is available so far, I immediately went back to the start to look at the details I hadn’t caught the first time.
Gutless by Rose Bousamra
Updates: Every other Monday
Gutless follows a genderless mechanical knight named Milo on their journey to navigate a world that isn’t prepared for their existence. In addition to Milo, another primary character is Tesla: a princess that brought Milo to life – her name being a fairly overt reference to the inventor Nikola Tesla. Gutless takes place in a “magical manifestation of North America, called the Realm of the Seven Stars” and is a richly developed world. Each of Milo’s interactions with the world around them and the different characters that they meet along the way are expressive and endearing. Through Milo’s interactions with other characters, Bousamra raises questions of what it means to be human when one is “mechanical” or outside the status quo. This dialogue is what makes Gutless so interesting. It’s a web comic that looks at how we form an understanding of ourselves, as we try to navigate a world both familiar and foreign.
Mimon by Sas Milledge
Mimon begins with the hedgewitch Hester being approached by Ainsley, a young girl who needs to get rid of a poltergeist-type problem. Reluctantly, Hester agrees. Mimon quickly hints at Hester being more of a mystery than she initially appears, and this is what makes Mimon interesting. Milledge’s pacing feels cinematic: the panels add or remove distance to emphasize the breaks in conversation or the beats between actions. Milledge also uses a white outline in the panels, which is an interesting subversion of the usual black outline and one that creates a feeling of “no boundaries” within the comic. For those who love magic and fantasy, Mimon is the perfect addition to your reading list. Hester’s magic is a thrill to read; it’s fascinating to watch how Milledge represents the magic as though Hester is drawing with light. (P.S. Ainsley’s forehead is adorable.)
For the reader who likes to have a backlog to binge read:
Barbarous by Johnny Wander
Updates: Tuesday and Thursday
Johnny Wander team Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsch started a new project in July of last year: Barbarous, which follows Persephone (aka Percy) after an unknown incident changes both her perspective and her living situation. The web comic opens with Percy on the subway, witnessing a theft occur. Like all good anti-heroes, she jumps in to try and rescue the bag but things go awry. Barbarous is both visually and narratively a treat to read. Johnny Wander’s use of negative space, close-up details, and movement highlights the engaging writing, realistic characters, and dynamic art for which they’ve become known. Barbarous makes the reader pay attention to the nuances on each page and panel, revealing characters little by little through conversations and silence. Overall, Johnny Wander’s Barbarous is perfect for any reader who loves to be immersed in an urban fantasy setting chockful of magic and secrets.
The Dreamer by Lora Innes
Updates: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
The Dreamer started in 2007 and since then has become a great example of the potential the internet gives not only to the web comic format, but also to the potential communities that can be created around them. The Dreamer follows Bea Whaley, a teenager who dreams one night that she’s back in 1776, only to realize that she is actually living in that time when she is asleep. Soon, Bea finds herself caught between her modern-day life and the life she lives while she is asleep: one full of the violence and intrigue of the Revolutionary War. Lora Innes has created a web comic so incredibly detailed within The Dreamer. From the cast of characters to the meticulously researched time period, Innes’s work shows how no subject matter is off limits for web comic creation – and just how exciting and accessible history can be. The Dreamer is a great comic for history buffs, or anyone looking to broaden their reading habits. It’s immersive, visually masterful and intriguing. I hope to see this comic still going strong ten years from now and I look forward to seeing how issues cover change over the course of this web comic’s story!
The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn by Tri Vuong
The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn is filled with a fantastically eerie and mysterious atmosphere, which is only furthered by the dark, sweeping brush strokes of Tri Vuong’s work. The web comic, fittingly, follows Oscar Zahn, a well-dressed skeleton. Oscar may not have much of a body, but he definitely makes up for it with his character, humour, and veil of secrets. Vuong combines the historical with the paranormal, a blend that is strong from the first arc of the story, in which Vuong complicates the narrative of the First World War by throwing in paranormal creatures that Oscar and an unlucky Canadian soldier must battle. The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn highlights the violence and sinister quality of war, by depicting the tragedy of World War I through the Canadian soldier’s fragile interpersonal relationships. While dark in subject matter, this comic retains its humour, never straying so far into the shadows that Oscar, as a source of light, can’t illuminate the darkness.
Balderdash by Victoria G. Elliot
Updates: Periodically, next scheduled update is Sept 22
Balderdash is a charming web comic about witches who have decided to set out on their own to fulfill their destinies. The witches, Georgie and Afia, have different goals and different paths but eventually their journeys intersect. Their meeting is wonderfully illustrated, highlighting the importance of the scene with the right amount of weight to the encounter. Elliot’s placement of text around her characters makes the narration follow the story, as though the narrator is watching what Georgie and Afia will do next. This comic is a great all-ages story with fun extras between chapters. One of the most enjoyable parts of reading Balderdash as a long-time reader is watching Elliot’s progression with colour schemes and comic layout. Balderdash has a wonderful, bright palette of colours that started out a bit more muted and has gradually shifted to being more vibrant. There’s a natural flow not only to where the colours become more blocked out, but the panels also become more dynamic. It’s great to watch Elliot evolve in her art style over the last few years, making Balderdash a comic that just keeps getting better.
For the reader who prefers to read something once it’s completed:
Rock and Riot by Chelsey Furedi
Rock and Riot recently wrapped up, and I’m still not over it. Think Grease meets Lumberjanes, and you’ll have a good idea of the fun all-ages comic that Chelsey Furedi has created. Furedi reinvents the setting of a 1950’s high school with a diverse cast of LGBT+ characters and she plays up expected tensions between two rival gangs. However, everything changes when Connie, part of the girl gang, meets Carla, and Connie realizes that her greaser attitude won’t win her any favours in this situation. All the highlights and challenges of a typical rom-com are played out in Connie and Carla’s relationship, and their blossoming love is impeded more by the difficulties surrounding them, rather than their own interpersonal clashes, which is both refreshing and charming. Alongside Connie and Carla, Rock and Riot features a diverse cast of characters, and Furedi develops vivid and distinct personalities for each of them. Overall, Rock and Riot shows how the most important thing is to be who you are and find where you are appreciated. Honestly, reading this comic is a lot of fun, so turn on some 50’s bops and get ready for a hilarious, smile-inducing ride.
Lady of the Shard by Gigi D.G.
If you’re unfamiliar with Gigi D.G., D.G. is the creator of the fantastic, ongoing web comic Cucumber Quest. Last year, she released Lady of the Shard, a comic about an acolyte who falls in love with the goddess that she serves. Lady of the Shard uses a Paint-type art style, scrolling panel set-up, and a minimal colour scheme to create this emotional, sci-fi adventure comic. D.G. juxtaposes the monstrosity of the antagonist’s anger with the protagonist’s humanity and compassion, balancing complex themes through humour and a minimalist design. Through the simplicity of D.G.’s art, the reader can interpret the sequence of events that led to this story and decide the pacing of this story while reading the 22 long panels that comprise Lady of the Shard. One notable design element that I found particularly interesting is how “divine” or “otherworldly” characters are represented in detail, while the acolytes are shown with barely any distinguishing features. This difference emphasizes how the narrating acolyte admires the goddess and “otherworldly” creatures as being “more than” herself. Lady of the Shard is a must-read for anyone who loves discussions of divinity, religion, love, and our place in the universe.
The Groom by Emily Carroll
If you haven’t already heard of Emily Carroll, you are in for an exciting, terror-filled adventure. Carroll has perfected the eerie, campfire vibe into comics that push the boundaries of what is horrifying and terrible. The Groom, in particular, is a recent release that is a great example of the boundary between horror and terror that is present in much of Carroll’s work. Published in 2015, The Groom is a web comic about two children who find a box in the snow. At first it appears to be a fairly harmless wedding photo scene, but the shadow-box is missing the groom. After creating a groom out of pipe cleaners, their game of make-believe quickly turns sinister and unnerving. Carroll’s mastery of this genre is quickly evident in The Groom where the reader has to scroll through a monochromatic landscape of childhood imagination and fear. Within the span of a few pages, Carroll creates a world that blends the usual (families moving away, children playing pretend) with the uneasy (dolls that reappear, shadows in the window). Even the pop of colour added into the story only serves to add further unease until the next terrifying event. The best part? Once you’re done with The Groom there are plenty more comics ready to chill you to the bone.