Regular, Syndicated Stuff There used to be a lot more of these but I've pared down quite a lot over the years 'cause the web-only comics are just better. And pretty soon there are going to be even fewer of these, I think. For right now, though, I'm still reading and enjoying. Oh, and I'm just assuming everyone's at least basically familiar with what these are about.
For Better or For Worse -- This has always been one of my favorite comics, and the news that they'll be "freezing" it in time some time this year brings me great dismay. One of the strengths of this comic was always that time passed, the characters aged, things changed. Having everything be the same forever and ever is going to remove one of the strip's major strong points and I don't know how long I'll stick with it after that. For now, though, I'm still here.
Dilbert -- It's been almost twenty years since I worked in an office at a high-tech company but I still love this strip. :D My only gripe here is that United Media has this thing where you have to sign up and log in to read archives. I won't do that -- I'm not giving some company permission to spam my mailbox just so I can read yesterday's comic -- so if I miss a day that's it, it's missed. [shrug] Luckily there aren't very many multi-strip story arcs so it doesn't usually matter.
Foxtrot -- Foxtrot was always a great example of how to do a comic where the characters are always the same age and make it work. Jason's my favorite character (displays inner geek proudly) but everyone's cool, including the various friends of the Fox children. Foxtrot has gone to Sunday-Only status recently, though, and it's just not the same. [sigh] Oh, and this is another comic where you can only read the archives if you sign in. [mutter]
Fifth Wave -- This is a very cool one-frame comic that's often based on computers but wanders around in general science and tech and whatever all else too. Rich Tennant is the guy who did the comics for the "For Dummies" computer books. I have one of his comics on a T-shirt. Very funny. :) Updates Sundays.
Pearls Before Swine -- This is an anthropomorphic comic, but very sharp and snarky in places. It sort of reminds me of Dilbert, but not centered around an office. The crocs are a hoot. :)
Web-Only Comics There's a really wonderful range of comics available on the web and I'm at a point where I avoid checking out new (to me) strips unless they look really cool, just for time considerations. Note that one of the factors in the "range" is drawing style and ability -- some of the web cartoonists really aren't great artists but their humor and storytelling make them worth a read anyway IMO. And the ones who last generally get better (sometimes a LOT better) over the course of the strip; I think it's fun watching someone learn to draw before your eyes. heck, even professional, syndicated cartoonists go through this process if you read from the beginnings of their strips, but the demands of syndication usually (although not always [coughs up at Dilbert]) means that they start out at a certain minimal level. If you run into an artist who makes you squint, though, it's usually worth your while to read six or ten strips and see if maybe the writing doesn't make up for it. :)
Kevin and Kell -- This is an anthropomorphic (animals behaving like people) comic and one of the most successful of that genre. Kevin is a rabbit who's married to Kell, a wolf; they met online in a chat room and only later discovered that they were a predator species and a prey species. No one expected their marriage to last -- everyone assumed Kell would eat Kevin well before their first anniversary -- but they've been around for years and are doing fine. The artist addresses prejudice and pigeonholing here and there, but well mixed with humor. There are short bits and longer story arcs and a lot of really great character development and world-building. Updates every day. Highly recommended.
PvP -- PvP is set at the office of a computer gaming magazine. Aside from the strong gaming thread running through it, it's also part soap opera, part fantasy (one of the main characters is a troll), part whatever the heck the writer thought up today, and a lot of humor. :) Updates every day, but often pretty late.
User Friendly -- One of the ultimate geek comics, this one is set mainly at the office of a local ISP. It has some great characters, including a guy with a cheesy Slavic accent (who acquired the accent early on in the strip's history) who's always working on taking over the world, an AI named Erwin who's been resident in various machines and is currently making time with another AI that developed from the Google network, an animated pile of lint called Dust Puppy, plus a bunch of more normal human characters. The boss is cool, the marketing guy's a very entertaining loser, and the younger staffers spend a lot of time kicking each other's butts over the LAN. It's hard to describe but it's a lot of fun. Updates every day.
Nodwick -- This is a classic D&D comic that ran in Dragon magazine for a while (and for all I know might still). The title character is a henchman who's always hauling huge loads of gear around and being tossed at monsters and used to trigger traps. Every now and then they switch over to a super hero game scenario but usually it's classic quest fantasy. There are some longer story arcs but a lot of one-shots and I usually get a grin and an eyeroll out of it. There are three player characters in the party, a fighter and a mage who are completely selfish and a cleric who's an incredible goody-two-shoes, but in a really cute way. Updates once a week, usually Wednesdays. I think. :P
Full Frontal Nerdity -- This one's by the same guy who does Nodwick. It's a realworld strip with gamer jokes around the tabletop. I like the guy who tele-games through a webcam because there aren't any other gamers near him in Alaska. [grin]
Bruno the Bandit -- Another gaming-based comic (sense a trend? ;) ) about Bruno who's a rogue-type character with an intelligence and wisdom of around six each. He thinks he's a lot more competent than he really is and he trips into some funny situations; I enjoy snickering at him. :D Updates Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
General Protection Fault -- This is another geek comic set at a high-tech office, but it has strong streaks of spy-adventure and science fiction in some of the plotlines, including the current one, where the whole gang of main characters is stuck in a parallel universe fighting for their lives alongside some of their alternates and against other of their alternates, with aliens invading just to make things fun. The main comic currently updates on Mondays, with bonus features/stories on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Sluggy Freelance -- Sluggy is one of the Grand Old Men of the web comics, long-running and incredibly popular. It started out as a comic about two guys. Torg is a nice guy who's a bit dweeby and not always quick on the uptake. Riff is very cool and invents things that don't always work right. At the beginning of the strip, Torg decided they should have a fluffy, cute animal character, just because all the best strips did, so he got a baby lop rabbit and named him Bun-Bun. Bun-Bun, unfortunately, has the intelligence and mentality of a really good Bond villain and carries a switchblade -- humorous mayhem ensued. This strip goes for long story arcs and definitely moves into fantasy, horror and science fiction, with the occasional pop-culture parody including Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but there's always a strong streak of humor. (Check out the Satanic Kittens arcs -- the prologue of the first one here.) Updates every day. Highly recommended.
Dork Tower -- Another gamer comic, although it wanders around in other topics as well. Basically a bunch of gamer geeks hanging out and having fun. Updates approximately whenever the artist feels like it, usually once or twice a week.
Alien Loves Predator -- This is a strip done with action figures and various props and backgrounds. The scenario is that the Alien (Abe) and the Predator (Preston) are roommates in New York City. It's played more or less straight, sorta. That is, they're just there, dealing with life like any other pair of roommates, and there's usually not a lot of fuss when they, like, go walk around outside, unless one of them actually does something worthy of fuss. [cough] Abe is a serious moron, but in a funny way, and Preston tries to deal with the fallout. Jesus and Bill Clinton have shown up periodically as guest stars -- Jesus was a third roommate for a while. Good stuff. Updates have slowed way down lately while the artist does day-job stuff, but used to be Monday and Thursday.
Girl Genius -- This is the web version of what used to be an independent comic book but is now web-only. It's an incredibly cool comic, a sort of humorous steampunk fantasy set in a world where people with the "spark" -- the talent to build fantastic inventions -- run things and the normal people just sort of duck and try not to be noticed. Agatha is a university student whose inventions never quite work. She gets caught up in the doings of the local Baron, his son, his
The Order of the Stick -- This is, in my opinion, the ultimate gaming comic. :) It's about the characters rather than the gamers, but there are game-mechanics references all through the story. Like once when they were in a dungeon trying to sneak up on some monsters and everyone rolls for stealth -- everyone whispers their results, "Twelve," "Seventeen," "Fourteen," "Eighteen," and the bard bellows out, "I GOT A FOUR!" and the monsters hear him and their ambush is blown. :D If you are or have ever been a gamer, this is great stuff, seriously. I love the characters and the stick-figure artwork is very appropriate and funny and just generally cool. Start this one from the beginning. The link above takes you to Rich Berlew's home page -- click on "Comics" to get Order of the Stick. Updates Monday, Wednesday and Friday, sometimes kinda late-ish. Highly recommended.
The Battle for Gobwin Knob -- This one just started running recently on Rich Berlew's site, although he doesn't draw it. It's a wargaming comic about a world where cute little fighting forces slaughter each other gruesomely. Lord Stanley the Plaid's last Warlord (Lord Manpower the Temporary) just got croaked by a crossbow bolt. He calls his Chief Croakamancer -- speaking to her through a magical tome where they talk back and forth in netspeak, like two online gamers using the chat window, and he has her cast a spell to summon the perfect warlord. Said warlord turns out to be a dorky guy from our world who lives and breathes wargames. Lord Stanley's always chosen warlords more for their looks than anything else (which is probably why he's about to get his butt kicked) but is finally convinced that this new guy might be what he needs. Start this one from the beginning -- there's not all that much yet. And hey, how can you resist a comic with gwiffons, dwagons, lookamancers, hippiemancers, tcotchkes, sourmanders, shady elves, woodsy elves, eager elves, luckless elves, shlemiel elves, lofty elves, altruist elves, superfluous elves, and air support riding around on giant marshmallow peeps? And lines like, "When life gives you crap, make Crap Golems." [smirk] To get to this one, click the link above to get to Rich Berlew's site, click on "Comics" which'll take you to Order of the Stick. Read OotS :) then click on "The Battle for Gobwin Knob" on the left to get here. Updates Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The Gods of Arr-Kelaan -- This one's sort of a combination of SF and fantasy. A starliner crashed on an unknown world where magic works and the survivors found that they have godlike powers. The main POV character for most of the story is Ronson, a guy whose wife died shortly before the trip, which they'd always dreamed of taking together. She made him promise to go without her. Ronson became the god of alcohol and apathy, but inexplicably is the most powerful of all the gods. It's fun exploring the world and seeing how the different people from the starliner react to their new home and new abilities. Some are assholes and some are altruists and some just want to deal. I recommend you start this one from the beginning. Usually updates a couple times a week.
Partially Clips -- This one's done with clip art. :) The "artist" takes a piece of clip art, duplicates it three times, and adds captions. It's a lot funnier than it sounds; this is a really good wry-humor, social-commentary sort of comic. Updates approximately whenever the artist feels like it.
Something Positive -- This is a real-life, real-world comic. It's often funny, with a dark, sarcastic edge to it, but sometimes it's just story. Although "just" is the wrong word to use because it's always interesting. Some of the characters are gamers but that's not really the point. The main character, Davan, cares very much about a few people, but he's periodically pretty nasty to just about everyone, and some of his friends are just as bad. It's another one that's hard to explain but it's absorbing and some of the storylines are excellent. Oh, and sometimes (like today and yesterday) the artist and/or his father appear -- yesterday, Valentine's Day, was a crack-up, in a dark and snickery way. Read this one from the beginning or you'll be very confused. Updates every day, sorta, usually.
Penny Arcade -- Another incredibly popular web comic, again with a gaming theme. Tycho and Gabe are obsessed with video games and most of the strips have to do with games and gamers and the gaming industry in some way. I've heard that game companies suck up to the artists massively, sending them free stuff and hoping their games will be mentioned and praying their games won't get flamed. :) The strip is sort of real-world but very much in comic-space, you know? I'm not into console games so I don't always get the jokes, but there's enough good stuff here to keep me going. Updates kinda Monday-Wednesday-Fridayish.
The Noob -- Another gaming comic, this one based on a MMORPG. Continuity-based and worth reading from the beginning. Updates on Sundays.
Family Man -- This is a graphic novel set in 18th century Germany, about a guy who's just come home from university and is trying to fit in with his family again and figure out what he's going to do with his life. Very well drawn and low key but interesting. Read this one from the beginning or you'll be lost. Updates Wednesdays.
The K Chronicles -- This one's a political/social commentary comic. I spent a few days reading through it from the beginning, and while I enjoyed the older pages, it's clear the site has changed its ad layouts and such since the comic started and there's a run where there's a very annoying overlap of an ad over a chunk of the comic itself. :/ That said, there's no continuity so you can easily just back up however far you want, or just start reading from the current page. Updates Wednesdays.
Multiplex -- Another real-world comic about a bunch of young people who work at the local movie theater. Wryly funny with a lot of jokes and snarks about movies and working with the public. Updates Mondays, with occasional mid-week posts.
The Rainbow Orchid -- This is an adventure story set in the late 19th century and feels like reading a 19th century adventure story (Verne, Haggard, Doyle) but with illustrations. This is another one to read from the beginning. Updates approximately whenever the artist feels like it, which isn't all that often, but it's worth checking back on periodically.
DM of the Rings -- What if you could get a bunch of D&D players together who'd never read Lord of the Rings or even heard of it, and run LotR as a game campaign? Shamus uses captured stills from the movies to create his comic pages and dialogue which is familiar to anyone who's ever played a tabletop RPG. The result is hilarious -- check it out. :D Note that this is Shamus's blog and not every entry is a DMotR page, but if you scroll, the comic is always obvious. Click here to get a "Memories" listing of all the comic pages, earliest on top. This is complete -- he did all three movies -- so take a couple of hours and read it. Highly recommended.
Home on the Strange -- This one's about a group of geeky friends. Sort of like a sit-com, but full of characters who are all into D&D, Star Wars, Buffy, etc. Updates M-W-F.
Will Write for Chocolate -- This is a strip about a writer and blogger and is basically about writing and blogging, plus a few more general strips occasionally. :) She was posting cartoons about NaNoWriMo in November and I found her on the NaNo web site. It's good for a smile. Updates on Wednesdays.
Two Lumps -- A comic about two cats, Ebenezer (Eben) and Snooch. Eben is sleek and intelligent and snotty, as a cat should be, while Snooch is a doofus. A basic cat-comic, but worth a read. :) Updates Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Goblins -- What if the story were about the goblins instead of the humans? What if some goblins figured out how to get actual professions and went out on a quest where the humans (among others) were the bad guys? I'm enjoying this one, despite the fact that I still have a hard time remembering which goblin is which. Another one to read from the beginning. Updates on Saturdays, although as the note at the top says, updates are often late but never skipped."
Evil Inc. -- This is a world where there are superheroes and supervillains, but one of the villains decided to form a corporation and achieve his evil goals legally. It's pretty fun, especially if you were ever a comic book fan. :) Updates every day except Sundays.
Schlock Mercenary -- This is an SF-adventure comic about a group of space mercenaries. Some good jokes and general humor along with adventure and good storytelling and some very interesting world-building and tech development. Updates every day.
Turn Signals on a Land Raider -- Tabletop miniatures wargaming (specifically, Warhammer 40K) from the point of view of some of the miniatures themselves. Note that I've never, ever done tabletop miniatures wargaming but I get enough of what's going on to snicker periodically. :) Updates Monday and Thursday, usually.
Maxwell the Demon -- A demon in a business suit with a mortal girlfriend. In this world, demons can be all horned and scaly or whatever but don't have to be and Max usually isn't. It's sort of like... what if Hell were a business and Max was a middle-manager, sort of thing. Weird but funny. This one hasn't been running very long, so reading from the begining won't take much time. Updates Wednesdays.
Shortpacked -- This is a real-world comic about a bunch of young people who work in a toy store. Most of the interest is around fannish-type toys, action figures and such, but there's a lot of retail humor too. Updates Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
CTRL+ALT+DEL -- Yes, another gaming comic. :) There are a couple of human main characters plus an AI one of them built out of a gaming console, but they switch over into game-world strips periodically, or various meta-humor and -commentary type stuff too. If you're into computer gaming you'll get a sufficient number of grins and eyerolls out of this. Updates Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Sinfest -- This one's funny but hard to describe. It's sort of a wry, humorous take on religion and right and wrong and sin and all that stuff. But funny. You never see God directly, for example, but he uses hand puppets a lot. The Devil has a booth you can go to to sell your soul, which reminds me of Lucy's psychiatry booth in Peanuts. There's a little guy who floats around sitting crosslegged on a cloud; I haven't figured out yet whether he's supposed to be Buddha or a Taoist, or maybe the flying Chinese dragon is the Tao? Anyway, there are some mortal characters too, a couple of which are anthropomorphic, although most of the characters are human. And the pets do some stuff occasionally, but they're clearly pets and not anthropomorphic people-characters. And he takes pot-shots at everyone pretty much equally; he's neither moralizing at "sinners" nor snarking Christianity, but rather does both as the whim takes him. It's weird but a lot of fun. Updates daily.
Looking For Group -- Based on multi-player online RPGs, this one's great for its characters. Cale'anon, the Elven warrior-type is incredibly *GOOD!* and extremely naive. He falls in with three evil characters sort of accidentally. He meets Richard the Evil mage, who's a hoot, when Richard is thinking of killing him and taking his cloak. The way the group interacts, and specifically how the others interact with Cale'anon, is pretty much what keeps me reading. :) Go back to the beginning and read the first page. If you like that, you'll like the rest. It hasn't been around very long so reading the whole thing won't take long. Updates Monday and Thursday.
Atland -- A fantasy comic drawn by someone who's way too focused on humongous tits with miles of bulging cleavage. [eyeroll] That said, it's been amusing enough to keep me coming back, although I've been considering dropping it for a couple of months now, which tells you something. (Seriously, if it weren't for the art it'd be pretty good.) Updates Thursday.
Anyone else have any web comics to share? :D