What is Caitlin Reading: Webcomics!

Ok so I caught a nasty cold this week and didn't do the normal "What is Caitlin reading?" because Caitlin just slept and drank NyQuil a lot.  Instead, I compiled info about all of the webcomics I'm currently reading (and two that are finished that I think you should check out).

While webcomics aren't technically the first comics I ever read, they are near and dear to my heart, and for many years the only comics that blessed my eyeballs.  Needless to say, I read a big slew of them.

Webcomics:

At the moment, I read all of the below comics regularly.  with the exception of xkcd, they all have an overarching plot that means I do check them as they come out, using my webcomic system.

From Der-shing Helmer's The Meek (I spent 20 minutes deciding which panel to use and I'm still not sure I made the right choice because her art is THAT GOOD.)

From Der-shing Helmer's The Meek (I spent 20 minutes deciding which panel to use and I'm still not sure I made the right choice because her art is THAT GOOD.)

  • Agents of the Realm by Mildred Louis - Super queer, college-aged magical girls with real problems and the best fucking facial expressions. Plus magical girl outfits that are cute without being hyper-femme or objectifying.
  • Barbarous by Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh - Flawed female protagonist trying to be an adult...with magic.  As someone who's been following both the creators for...15ish years, Barbarous and Lucky Penny are worth every second spent reading them.
  • Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu - Gay hockey boys in love and the most amazing cast of supportive characters ever.  Super active online fandom community. Cute art, plus pie and hilarious hockey lingo.
  • Dumbing of Age by David Willis - Freshmen at major midwestern university deal with love, assault, bigotry, violence, addiction, and dating.  I swear it's cute and funny, but it's also very socially aware.
  • Eth's Skin by Sfé R. Monster (currently on hiatus) - Queer (and gender non conforming) friendly magic journey with lots of neat animals (a selkie!) and gentle, beautiful art (TREES!).
  • Full Circle by Taneka Stotts and Christianne Goudreau, colored by Genue Revuelta - Epic high fantasy story with siblings and actual people of color and all sorts of breathtaking backgrounds.  Some of the characters have wings, and I'm always fascinated by how humanoids with wings work.  (Are their bones hollow?  Is it all magic??)
  • Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell - Harry Potter but better, about girls and gods, and with technology, too.  Seeing Siddell's art mature and grow is fascinating.
  • Library Comic by Chris Hallbeck - A look behind the curtain of what it's like to work at a library: great jokes, lots of weirdos with a lot of personality.
  • The Lonely Vincent Bellingham by Diana Huh (currently on hiatus?)- This one is really hard to describe, in part because it's pretty short so far.  The posting schedule is a little irregular (creators have lives! they're giving me content for free! I'm blessed!).  So far, think Jane Austen male protagonist runs away and winds up at a witch's house, sorta trapped in the basement.
  • Love Circuits by Taneka Stotts and Genue Revuelta - Adorable love story with ROBOTS.  And cute ROBOT service dog!  Genue's art is just so soft and curvey and I want to touch it all the time. 
  • M.F.K. by Nilah Magruder (currently on hiatus, soon out in print form) - Young woman travels through a sprawling fantasy landscape so she can scatter her mom's ashes. ART SO LUSH. Winner of the 2015 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity (first winner ever!).
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things by Kelly Turnbull - A lot of these comics can be read without the context of the archive, but Turnbull has created a couple beautiful original characters that exist in the middle of a sprawling cast of macho video game protagonists. Beefcake and Mad Max jokes for days. (Turnbull posts the backstory of her main character on her Patreon, which is 100% worth it. Like Ender's Game, but LGBTQ+ friendly and also fuzzy mini velociraptors.)
  • Mare Internum by Der-Shing Helmer - Did you enjoy Moon (that movie with Sam Rockwell that was totally unexpectedly awesome)?  Do you like Alien?  Are you a fan of all sorts of creatures from outer space and also existential dread?  This is 100% the comic for you, plus Der-Shing's art is as fresh and crisp and layered and rich as key lime pie.  I wanna eat it.
  • The Meek by Der-Shing Helmer - So not only does The Meek live up to the art from Mare Internum, it also has a big cast of incredible characters, sprawling political intrigue, amazing world building and a giant freaking tiger god/monster thing?  Just freaking read it so I can shout at you about Soli and Phe.
  • Meaty Yogurt by Rosalarian - I love slice of life comics (and TV shows, and movies) but one of my biggest beefs is when everybody is just nice.  All the time.  And this comic gets me.  The characters aren't cruel to one another for the sake of being cruel, but there is the sort of blind self centeredness that just comes with being human, and a lot of the comic confronts the fallout of that.  Plus a lot of the ladies are drawn thick in a way most artists don't dare.  There's a dry, morbid sense of humor to Meaty Yogurt that I really appreciate.
  • Monster Pulse by Magnolia Porter - All the best parts of Digimon plus some really classic and beautiful YA love stories and evolving art that just continues to get better.  Magnolia's Twitter is also aces and she does fun journal comics sometimes.
  • Not Drunk Enough by Tess Stone - Think Resident Evil meets Parks & Rec, but better.  Tess's art is kinda sketchy, but that makes is super kinetic and really fun to read, because it's all about motion and movement.  These characters are stuck in an office building overrun by evil monsters, and the story of HOW the monsters came to be unfolds slowly and it's unexpectedly emotional and awesome.
  • O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti - I included OHS in my "Best of 2015" list over at the A.V. Club.  It's quite literally some of the best, kindest, most emotional sci fi I've ever read.  There's robots and AI and a love story (that's not always about love) and family affection and it's very queer friendly.  Please read it and come cry with me.
  • Power Nap by Maritza Campos & Bachan - What happens when we stop sleeping?  What if you're one of the few people in the world that can't just stop sleeping when humans push past the need for rest? You get recruited to a team of terrifying weirdos that do amazing (horrible) things in their dreams.
  • Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques - QC is one of the few webcomics that I started reading in college and I'm still sticking with.  It's always been a slice of life story, but as Jeph's talent and interests have shifted, so has the story.  The characters are nuanced and interesting, the stories are at once universal and pretty unique.  It's very bingeable, and it's neat to see how Jeph's art has grown.
  • Saint for Rent by Ru Xu (on prolonged hiatus) - When time travel is possible, there are places that need to be stable, and Saint for Rent is about an inn where time travellers stop to rest before moving on to their next destination.  It's a lot about people, and especially about the people who get left behind.  Plus it's cute.
  • Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida - Full review here.  This one is really hard to explain, in part because it's got over a decade and a half of backmatter.  But ultimately, it's a sprawling cast of characters that are not always good, and what keeps me coming back is the raw, unflinching social commentary tempered with jokes.
  • Sleepless Domain by Mary Cagle - Mary Cagle did a bunch of journal comics called "Let's Speak English!" while she was teaching English in Japan, and I was so charmed by them that I not only backed the Kickstarter to get a printed copy, I also started reading her webcomic.  There are monsters and magical girls and it's very adorable.  I love the way she draws expressions of shock/disbelief in particular.
  • xkcd by Randall Munroe - I really shouldn't have to explain this one.
FLUFFY RAPTORS from Kelly Turnbull's MGDMT

FLUFFY RAPTORS from Kelly Turnbull's MGDMT

Webtoons:

It took me a while to warm up to Webtoons (the mobile app that allows creators to upload strips and create community).  I'm generally really skeptical of any service that's free to creators and readers and hosts other people's IP, and as Tapastic proved, for good reason.  You can read stuff on Webtoons on a desktop, but it's a much better mobile experience.  90% of what I read there is slice of life or one-and-done joke comics, like the newspaper funny pages.  (Gosh I'm old.)

  • Average Adventures of Average Girl
  • As Per Usual
  • Bluechair
  • Girls Have a Blog
  • Live With Yourself by Shen - A man wakes up to find that his future self is now living alongside him, displaying the long term impacts of his current decision making.  It's great slapstick comedy, plus some fascinating philosophy about the power of choice.
  • Lunarbaboon
  • Lore Olympus by Rachel Smyth - Greek mythology meets Real World.  That's really the best way to describe it.  Like the best modernized Shakespeare, it's funny and ridiculous, and the art is quiet pretty.
  • Murrz
  • My Giant Nerd Boyfriend
  • Safely Endangered
  • Saphie: The One-Eyed Cat
  • The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn by Tri Vuong - An undead supernatural hunter that has to go into what might be purgatory to save souls that are stuck.  And he's a dude with a floating skull.  And it's very Mike Mignola, both in art style and tone.  Kinda steampunky?  It's good, read it.

Occasional comics:

These are a "go and binge a few weeks worth now and then" category, with no real overarching story, but good one-and-done jokes.

  • Our Valued Customers by Tim Chamberlain (currently publishing reruns) - Ridiculous things that comic book customers have said in front of employees.
  • PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper) Comics by Jorge Cham - If you've ever been to grad school, this will make you laugh/cry.  If you haven't, this will convince you that maybe you shouldn't.  Also lots of fascinating science.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weinersmith - Funny and punny pop culture references with sidelong nihilism and philosophy.
  • Three Panel Soul by Matt Boyd and Ian McConville, creators of Mac Hall - I started reading this when Mac Hall ended, and I keep up with it now and then partially out of nostalgia and partially because it's comforting knowing that folks who make stuff I like are going through some of the same adulthood bullshit I am.  Their sense of humor never disappoints.

Patreon or pay-to-read comics:

Deja Brew art by Sara DuVall

Deja Brew art by Sara DuVall

  • Avialae by Lucid (available for free on Tumblr, with delay) - Boy grows wings, boy falls in love with next door neighbor, drama ensues.  NSFW bits.
  • Deja Brew by Taneka Stotts and Sara DuVall (available via Stēla, first chapter free at link) - Eisner nominated!  Tea shop with monsters and adorable LGBTQ+ characters and magic!
  • Neighbor by Slashpalooza (available for free on Tumblr, with delay) - This is pretty much Teen Wolf fanfiction with the serial numbers rubbed off, but i don't care because it's cute and I like high school drama.  It's basically a CW show.  NSFW bits, and translated from author's native Spanish.
  • This Vacant Body by Reapersun - Still too early on this one to know more than "mystery with lotsa violence", but Reapersun's character designs and penchant for angst will suck me in every time.

Finished comics to check out:

  • The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ & Amal by EK Weaver (Full review at The A.V. Club here, also included in the "Best of 2015" list here.) - If I try to explain how good this is, I'm just gonna screech like a pterodactyl at you.  I've literally made significant others read this because if they don't understand it (they don't have to enjoy it) I know we're not going to work out.  It's a road trip not-quite-love-story and EK Weaver is a MASTER at the craft.
  • Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran (Included in the "Best of 2015" list on the A.V. Club here.) - Another "please don't make me articulate my thoughts I'll just cry" title.  Like QC, it's a slice of life comic, but it grew past that?  And Gran's art grew so much since she started, and the characters did, too.  It's what I thought Scott Pilgrim was supposed to be, but better.