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Webcomics for the Webcomic Indie

May 27, 2009

One of the badges that graduates a person from ‘I have the internet, I google stuff sometimes’ to ‘I am a casual internet addict’ is getting a webcomic to check on. Luckily for all (three) of our readers out there, I have a crippling internet addiction, and can provide where others have failed. The following are truly old webcomics, some of them rarely or never updated (so as to avoid the daunting Archive Panic), some of them still ongoing.

This post would collapse under the own weight of its hypocrisy if I didn’t provide you with the Worst Case Scenario Comic, Sluggy Freelance. When I say that, don’t let me imply that Sluggy is in any way bad. Pete Abrams is an incredible story crafter, and his comics are part Pop-Culture Lampoon (see story arcs Torg Potter and the Sorcerer’s Nuts) and part genre-hopping funfest. Whatever deficiencies you may find in the ‘comedy’ arena of his comics (none of that Penny Arcade ultraviolence and little swearing), he will happily make up for you in his ability to set up stories, create plot hooks and then reel them in, twist the endings, and create compelling characters that only gather in depth over time. But Jesus Christ, 12 years of nearly-every-day comic updates can be incredibly daunting. In any case, SFW.

If Sluggy Freelance seems too childish for you, a solution exists. You like the genre-hopping, the characterization, but you feel like you’re reading a kid’s cereal box, you say? Then mosy on over to Platinum Grit, a real-life comic that’s posted in Flash-format, making it one of the easiest to read. Trudy Cooper and Dan Murphy are capable of taking a format that is perhaps the least engaging of all non-novel formats and have you chomping at the bit to find out what happens next, the motivations of the main characters, and their history. Reading back through the first all the way up to the current is astonishingly easy to do, and not because there’s a dearth of material. It will also be sort of life-changing if you didn’t realize that you could get compelling characterization and emotive force in a webcomic that also managed to remain hysterical. The bad news? Trudy updates really whenever she can get the time, and it’s updated a chapter at a time, instead of a strip. Longest wait so far: The gap between Ch. 18 and 19 was over a year. Oh, and certainly later on NSFW.

Are you sick, fundamentally disturbed, and lavishing in that fact? Does Far Side strike you as weak, watered-down, and childish? Do you enjoy movies like 12 Monkeys and David Lynch’s offerings? Then let me point you over to one of the darkest, funniest parts of the internet: The Parking Lot Is Full. With its iconic madman face, its sick and twisted dark humor, and its self-awareness, the archives will have you laughing in a way that causes you to doubt your humanity. The bad news is that the comic seppuku’d itself (Now I’ll Never Be A Monk!) in 2003. The good news is that once you finish it, you’re not sure you’d be OK with a world that still had PLIF.

Our last comic is perhaps the middleground of all this: Scary Go Round. SGR is a happy balance of deranged plot lines, occasional British dark humor, fantastic characters, and amazing style and art that’s truly unique. The plots can be a bit schizophrenic at times, but the dialogue and situational comedy are riveting enough to keep bringing you back, as it’s still produced today. John Allison has a number of other sattelite comics that aren’t truly worth mentioning, as SGR is the sub-stellar gas giant around which they all revolve. There’s a comprehensive catalogue, but I’m pretty sure it’s reliably, SFW.

Finally, a very special treat for all you webcomic newbies and ‘vets’ out there. Our good friend Andrew Whitman (who is available for parties and deranged webcomic art) has drawn a Very Special Comic for us, to showcase the wide wide multiverse of serialized art on the Interwebs. I present to you, Types of Webcomics (in F minor):

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