Read This Article in PDF Format! (It has more pictures!)
Have you grown tired of comic strips? Do you find them increasingly bland, unengaging and not worth your time? Don't give up yet - just put down the newspaper! These days, with the explosion of webcomics, chances are you can do much better than a cat who loves lasagna and hates Mondays.
The Internet has brought edgy, tantalizing and thoughtful comics to a worldwide audience. On the Web, free from the constraints of traditional syndicates, cartoonists can positively banish the boundaries of their trade. They can experiment with humor and subject matter that newspapers would never print.
Perhaps most importantly, the ubiquity of the Internet means that every comic, no matter how small its niche, can find an audience. With that in mind, we present a handful of our favorites. We hope you'll enjoy them as much as we do.
Player Vs. Player
You want a strip with some serious characterization and videogame humor even non-gamers can enjoy? Check out Player Vs. Player, made in our very own backyard in Dallas. Robustly drawn and highly stylized, PVP explores the relationships between a gaming magazine's employees and their friends, real and imaginary. PVP is also printed as a comic book - and Mr. Kurtz just snagged an Eisner, the highest award in the comic industry, for Best Digital Comic at this year?s San Diego Comic Convention. -LM
At first glance, this creation of Ryan North seems uninspired: each strip's artwork (of a pixelated T. rex having conversations and stomping on things) is always the same. Upon closer inspection, though, it's an excellent strip that merely defies the convention that a strip's artwork need ever change. The genius of Dinosaur Comics is in the writing: obfuscated, overwritten, and oversaturated with irony. T-Rex and his friends discuss the nature of his stomping things, time travel, pop culture, relationships, and how to deal with a Satan obsessed with
video games. -LM
Fecund minds need an outlet, and that's certainly what Randall Munroe's webcomic XKCD seems to be. With several entries scanned from his sketchbooks, the strip eschews rofessionalism for honesty. XKCD is a refreshing foray into a world ruled by love, irony, and mathematics. Like several of his colleagues, Mr. Munroe is not afraid to let a few colorful words fly - nor to bare emotions clearly close to his heart. -LM
Scary Go Round
Captivating characters, whimsical writing, and breathtaking artwork done alternately in vector and in ink, each and every weekday - what more could one ask for in a webcomic? Add in a bit of 1970s Technicolor flair and loads of British culture, and you've got the inimitable Scary Go Round by John Allison of Manchester, UK. If you value incredibly humorously overwrought dialogue (Peace is the new hitting people with wooden spoons!?), you'll want to crawl into bed with your laptop and a cuppa tea, ready to consume this delectable delight from beginning to end. -LM
Perry Bible Fellowship
You probably wouldn't share this with Grandma. Going well beyond the irony of personal misfortune, PBF is schadenfreude, illustrated. Nicholas Gurewitch's well-crafted artwork often features white-skinned, scantily characterized protagonists to impersonalize their inevitable mishaps. The often edgy, violent and sexual content makes PBF an unlikely choice for newspaper syndication; yet we all flock to it, like a guilty pleasure, to have a well-earned laugh at this exquisite, tragic comedy of errors. -LM
Least I Could Do
If Sex and the City were geared for men, complete with racy humor, endearing but superficial characters, and inexplicably addictive appeal, the result would be something similar to this delightful webcomic. LICD revolves around the life of one Rayne Summers, a narcissistic, politically incorrect twenty-four-year-old. Filled with lots of sex and laughs, this comic has grown from smalltime origins to become a professionally produced masterpiece complete with a spinoff comic book (Braman) and soon-to-be animated series. -BD
"When life gives you lemons," the saying goes, "make lemonade." For Steven Frank, this is a sure-fire recipe for humor: take one of the modern world's most common inconveniences - spam email - and turn it into the inspiration for a hilarious (if slightly self-deprecating) webcomic. Reading Spamusement is an exercise in anticipation, as you can read a comic's title (the subject line from an unwitting bit of spam) before the comic appears. While waiting for "Massive Weiner Action" to load, you can't help but wonder bemusedly, How on earth did he handle this one?... Yet, Mr. Frank consistently serves up tasteful, witty and endearingly freeform Wacom-tablet doodles that are always well worth the read. -LM
Although only one of many comics about college life, there's something about Mac Hall that definitely sets it apart. For one thing, the artwork is fantastic. McConville is an excellent illustrator, and his use of Photoshop to add color and detail goes above and beyond the norm. The strip also has an amazing ability to make the characters feel totally human, to the point of reminding you of some of your friends, while also putting them in situations that are borderline absurd. While never bland, Mac Hall is a comic that almost anyone could - and should - enjoy. -BD