Author: Greg Ellison
Anyone who spends any amount of time puttering about aimlessly on the Internet (such as myself) has doubtlessly bumped into one or two Web comics during their cyber wanderings. They pop up all the time on various Web sites and are even getting noticed outside the specialized Internet locale of the blogosphere. Web comics are not only becoming more and more prevalent, they are even getting attention in more mainstream publications, such as The New York Times, and it’s not hard to see why. They update nearly everyday, just like comics in newspapers, but unlike newspaper comics, they are completely free.
Most notably, Web comics are free from censorship, and are able to use language that would be blocked from the majority of newspapers. Web sites also typically archive their Web comics so readers are able to read all the way back to the strips’ humble beginnings.
Because of the ease with which one can make a comic and put it on a Web site, there seems to be a glut of mediocre comics with predictable plots and punch lines. With so many out there that aren’t worth reading, it is often hard to find quality comics on the Web. Though this isn’t an all-inclusive catalog, I’ve listed some of my favorite Web comics below for your perusal.
The first Web comic that deserves mention is XKCD. XKCD has been going strong since September of 2005, and has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times and The Guardian.
The author and former NASA consultant Randall Munroe describes it as “a Web comic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language,” on the title of his Web site.
The dialogue and jokes are remarkably clever, and at times the strip becomes emotional and poignant, but (thankfully) never overly so. XKCD serves as a perfect model for all up-and-coming Web comics, showing just how great a comic can be when it is not constrained by the traditional boundaries imposed by newspapers.
Garfield Minus Garfield, another popular Web comic, is constructed in a very different manner. As the name suggests, the comic consists of old, published Garfield comics, from which the eponymous cat has been removed. Basically, this comic involves Jon Arbuckle, the cat’s owner, interacting with himself in a very bizarre fashion, making him seem schizophrenic and depressed. Time Magazine even featured the comic in one of its 2008 issues.
My personal favorite Web comic is Dinosaur Comics, which follows the characters T-Rex, Utahraptor and Dromiceiomimus.
Generally, T-Rex presents various ideas and theories ranging from topics such as philosophy to linguistics, which Utahraptor frequently debunks.
Occasionally, other characters make appearances, such as T-Rex’s neighbors: an unpleasant family of raccoons and God and the Devil, both of whom only T-Rex can hear. Dinosaur Comics is unique in that the same artwork is used in each comic, and only the dialogue changes. Similar to XKCD, Dinosaur Comics often presents interesting and thought-provoking ideas.
So, if you’re ever bored or looking for something to brighten your day, I recommend taking a look at some Web comics. The examples given above are meant merely as a starting point, and are not supposed to be representative of every Web comic out there, so even if you don’t agree with these suggestions, look a little deeper. I guarantee you’ll find one or two that you like. Just like anything else on the internet, there is a Web comic for everyone.
Catch my recommendations for Web comics at http://www.xkcd.com, http://www.garfieldminusgarfield.net, and http://www. qwantz.com.
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