A Guide to Webcomics: Humor and the Absurd, From 'White Ninja' to 'Octopus Pie'
A Guide to: Classics | Humor | Fantasy | Sci Fi & Drama | Superheroes, Horror, Diary
Now that we've schooled you on Webcomics 101, it's time to take a look at what else the Web has to offer. What better place to start than in the virtual funny pages? The majority of webcomics (and many of the earliest ones) are gag strips. After all, we all know the Internet was designed to make us laugh. Although most of the "funny" strips on the Web are anything but, we challenge you to find LOLs as robust as the ones you'll have while reading 'Wondermark.'
Therefore, we've scoured the recesses of the webcomic bin to find enough comedic gold to fulfill any person's tastes, ranging from the unequivocally puerile 'Mocktopus' to the Dadaist levels of absurdity in 'Perry Bible Fellowship.' There is some hilarious stuff out there, and it's some of the funniest work being done on any comics page, printed or screened. In order to unpack all of that funny-page goodness, we've created a handy key (after the jump), letting those who favor a particular brand of hilarity pick their own flavor. (Think 'Insane,' 'Romance' or 'Anthropomorphic' in adorable, helpful icons). Like most art on the Internet, though, be ready for the bizarre, nerdy and fantastical (e.g., 'Garfield Minus Garfield' instead of the original orange furball). Either way, much like the joy of old-school Sunday comics, having a few of these on your feed makes Mondays a bit less dreary.
Perry Bible Fellowship
Nicholas Gurewitch's 'Perry Bible Fellowship' is as dynamically illustrated as it is morbidly hilarious. Gurewitch uses his wonderfully versatile illustrations in darkly comedic multi-panel gags that ridicule the fanciful, fantastic, and childlike. You'll never look at Mario or mythical sea kings the same way again.
When I Am King
demian5's 'When I Am King' is a prime example of the freedoms offered by the webcomic medium. Using an infinite canvas (described as such due to a computer screen's lack of size constraints), 'When I Am King' tells the surreal and goofy tale of a wandering Egyptian king.
Fifteen-year-old Max Huffman's gag strip stars bizarre characters like the emo Sadboy and the duo of Pimp Sloth and Penguin, and delves into Max's own travails as a high school student. Since each episode can stand alone, jumping into the strip at any time is easy. And, as good as the strip is now, we can't wait to see how young Max develops as a cartoonist.
Scott Bevan and Kent Earle's 'White Ninja' chronicles the travails of its not-too-bright star, the titular white ninja. The protagonist not only fails at ninja-ing, but also at lifeguarding, cockfighting, and just about anything else he tries. The deadpan humor is just right for fans of weird non-sequiturs.
Alien Loves Predator
Bernie Hou's 'Alien Loves Predator' presents us with a vision of the all-too-human sci-fi odd couple as they cohabitate in New York. (The alien's name is Abe, and the predator's is Preston.) Starring action figures set against photo backdrops, the strip revolves around the pair's inane adventures, Jesus playing for the Yankees, and the mythical land of Staten Island.
Reading 'Jerkcity' is a journey into absolute, unbridled insanity. Created anonymously with Microsoft's vintage Comic Chat program (which features gorgeous artwork designed by maestro Jim Woodring back in 1996), 'Jerkcity' abandons traditional comic strip tropes, instead offering surreal moments and plenty of expletives.
Beaver and Steve
James Turner's now defunct 'Beaver and Steve' chronicled the bizarrely comedic adventures of its eponymous main characters. Sensible Beaver plays straight man to naive reptilian Steve as they encounter everything from Dracula disguised as the Easter Bunny to ancient monsters with cravings for cupcakes.
Creator Winston Rowntree may be a little too fond of word balloons (as 'Subnormality's' masthead readily acknowledges), but his detailed drawings and cartoonish style make up for his verbosity. Updated weekly, 'Subnormality' casts a mocking spotlight on a variety of topics, from atheism to the (un)glamorous life of a spy.
'Octopus Pie' is a Brooklyn-based, slice-of-life strip written and illustrated by Meredith Gran. It stars the 20-something pair of high-strung Eve Ning and slacker Hannah Thompson as they deal with work, relationships and trying not to kill each other. The indie-flavored art and Brooklyn setting are familiar, and, while the strip won't issue any outright guffaws, Eve's misadventures are certainly charming.
Unspeakable Vault (of Doom)
Francois Launet's webcomic 'Unspeakable Vault (of Doom)' is a cute, cuddly, and comedic take on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. It stars cartoonish versions of Lovecraft's ancient monsters, the Great Old Ones. Minimal knowledge of Lovecraftian lore is required.
Pokey The Penguin
Steve Havelka's 'Pokey the Penguin' is a crude, spastic and surreal tale of penguin life, illustrated in an art style reminiscent of an MS Paint freak out. Try not to think too much about the meaning behind Pokey, and just get carried away on its ice floes of 'Monty Python'-esque absurdity.
Scott Meyer's 'Basic Instructions' is a humorous "How-To" guide for everyday life. With a consistent, four-panel layout, the various episodes explain how to write fan fiction, end a one-sided conversation, better yourself, and create plausible superhero origins -- all in hilariously wrong ways.
Juxtapose Victorian-era illustrations with modern-day comedy, and you have David Malki's 'Wondermark.' Having appeared in The Onion's print edition from 2003 to 2008, the strip continues to be available in its normal Web-based habitat. Jump in anywhere; it's non-linear and always lol-worthy.
Pictures for Sad Children
Featuring simplistic drawings and absurdist writing, John Campbell's 'Pictures for Sad Children' stars a group of existentially wanting marketing gurus, as well as a ghost named Paul, who has been fired from his mundane marketing job (for being a ghost). Droll and dark, this is perfect office fare.
Shaenon K. Garrity's hand-drawn gag strip 'Narbonic' takes place amongst the nerds and evil geniuses of Narbonic Labs. Although the strip has run its course, Garrity has gone back and annotated each episode, creating a 'Director's Cut' for new and old readers alike.