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August 11, 2014 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Guest Comics are as much a part of Webcomic Culture as missed deadlines and hiatuses (but often intended to prevent the other two)*. But occasionally there's a special reason to drag other creators into your webspace. Semi-infamous Penny Arcade artist Mike Krahulik has been featuring his young son (actually named Gabriel after his comic alter-ego) as a plot device, but when the real Little Gabe started asking about "where babies come from", he did what any successful media creator would do: "have a carousel of strangers explain 'the penis' to you while I hide in the basement". And it's an All-Star Carousel of Strangers (by webcomic standards), obviously kinda NSFW, but with NO rapewolves, thankyouverymuch.

Of course, contestants of their "Strip Search" competition show (previously here) were included:

Winner Katie Rice, using characters from the comic she originally pitched on the show, Camp Weedonwantcha (she also has been co-authoring the saga of Skadi for 6 years),

Finalist Abby Howard, currently working on Junior Scientist Power Hour and The Last Halloween,

Tavis Maiden, who, among his other comics, Tenko King and the co-authored Major Tom Jr., does a strip featuring his own family and his own kid, Stranger Danger,

Amy T. Falcone, currently doing the wryly-titled Clique Refresh,

and Erika Moen, who usually does Sex Ed for Grown-ups at Oh Joy Sex Toy (previously here) [what could possibly go wrong?],

And the already-too-big-for-Strip-Search...
Scott Kurtz of PvP fame (previously here and here) and lesser Table Titans fame featuring his most beloved character, Skull the Troll

Kris Straub, whose current endeavors range from the simple-silly-and-random Chainsaw Suit (previously here and here) to the dark-moody-and-scary
Broodhollow (previously here), and whose past endeavors include the sci-fi-goof-turned-saga Starslip,

and one not-a-webcomic-and-barely-a-newspaper-comic-anymore artist, Bill Amend of Foxtrot.

* In other current uses of Guest Comics, Girls With Slingshots has friends doing entire weeks to cover while Danielle Corsetto does a "Slingshot Across America" part vacation/part promotion trip, including David Willis of Dumbing of Age and Shortpacked! (previously here), Lucy Bellwood of Baggywrinkles and other comic projects, Jakface, the pseudonymous artist of the new but artistically impressive WooHoo!, Randy Millholland of Something Positive (featuring Candy, a character who crossovers the two comics) (previously here and here), Bill Ellis and Dani O'Brien, whose own comic, All New Issues, is doing one of those hiatuses, and this week, Lar DeSouza of Least I Could Do and Looking for Group.

And Skin Horse co-creator/artist Shaenon K. Garrity takes a semi-maternity-leave, while she's continuing to co-write with Jeffrey C. Wells but leaving the art to not-usually-webcomics-people including Magazine Cartoonist/Comics Blogger Mike Lynch (previously here and here), Print Ilustrator Justin Hall (previously here), deviantART-ist Brenton “Dazhbug” Loeffelman and Comics Syndicate Editor Tea Fougner.


Everything IS connected ... with online comics.
posted by oneswellfoop (67 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Can this be a webcomics thread? What should I be reading? QC, SMBC, XKCD, and whenever it updates PBF are all on rotation for me but I'm ready for something new.

Also, from a technological standpoint, I'm curious if there are any comics out there that are using GIFs regularly, putting animations in their work instead of just static images.
posted by macrael at 11:48 AM on August 11


I miss White Ninja
posted by jcruelty at 11:50 AM on August 11 [6 favorites]


Abby Howard is awesome.
posted by amtho at 11:52 AM on August 11


I'm kind of impressed by this. Maybe Big Gabe has done a little growing up too?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:52 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Why he doesn't have the Oglaf guy do this? It's right down his alley.
posted by charred husk at 11:52 AM on August 11 [13 favorites]


Webcomics I read daily/as often as they update:

Shortpacked/Dumbing of Age
XKCD
Scandinavia and the World
Something Positive
Girls with Slingshots
Questionable Content
Scenes from a Multiverse
Oglaf
posted by MartinWisse at 11:53 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


oglaf girl, actually
posted by rebent at 11:54 AM on August 11 [26 favorites]


Mine are QC, Girls with Slingshots, and Gunnerkrigg Court.
posted by agress at 11:56 AM on August 11


ChruchHatesTucker if you haven't read Gabe's new year resolution from this year, it's worth a read: http://www.penny-arcade.com/news/post/2014/01/01/resolutions
posted by macrael at 11:58 AM on August 11 [15 favorites]


I still read QC but I'm not sure if it's actually good, just easy to keep reading.

Gunnerkrigg Court
Oglaf
Dr. McNinja
Strong Female Protagonist

are the only ones I really read any more. I like the idea of webcomics but often it seems like American sitcoms where 98% of them, regardless of the substance differences, feel like they have very similar tone.
posted by selfnoise at 11:59 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Oh and I forgot, that Katie Rice camp one too... that's been fun and I love her art.
posted by selfnoise at 12:00 PM on August 11


rebent:
oglaf girl, actually
That's even cooler. Couldn't find any info.
posted by charred husk at 12:05 PM on August 11


I'm a fan of Wondermark, myself.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:06 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I'm curious if there are any comics out there that are using GIFs regularly, putting animations in their work instead of just static images.

Diesel Sweeties does this sometimes. The most recent such strip is from just last week, but they're not really all that frequent.
posted by aubilenon at 12:06 PM on August 11


Oglaf is a colab between Trudy Cooper and Doug Bayne, right? So you're both right, right?
posted by bonehead at 12:09 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


If people are asking which webcomics they should be reading, I feel duty-bound to say that they should be reading mine, at least if they have any interest in music or have ever been in a band. If nothing else, it's not like an American sitcom
posted by COBRA! at 12:09 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Poorly Drawn Lines (funny) is one I check out regularly.

Rice Boy (serious business) past work and present is good stuff also.

Extra Fabulous Comics (funny) is another regular for me.
posted by history_denier at 12:13 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I think we've hit Peak Webcomic and the age of webcomics is rapidly diminishing. Just look at this data, taken from Wikipedia's List of Webcomics

Graph shows number of new webcomics per year

1985 x
1986 x
-
1991 x
-
1993 x
1994 xxx
1995 xxxxxx
1996 xxx
1997 xxxxxxxxx
1998 xxxxxxxxxxx
1999 xxxxxxxxxxx
2000 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
2001 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
2002 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
2003 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
2004 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
2005 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
2006 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
2007 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
2008 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
2009 xxxxxxxxxx
2010 xxxxxxx
2011 xxx
2012 xxx
2013 x
2014


ten years ago, I would follow 20 different comics each day. Today, I check in with a few key comics before turning to the reddit front page. I hypothesize that it's because of Tumbler and other image sharing sites that turned image consumption into a bite-size low-effort activity. Based on these numbers, I can't be the only one. Tumblr was founded in 2008, and 2009 saw the Great Recession. Maybe those had a part to play.
posted by rebent at 12:14 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


macrael: I had, but heard little up to now.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:18 PM on August 11


> ChruchHatesTucker if you haven't read Gabe's new year resolution from this year, it's worth a read.

Hope I'm not derailing this post by commenting on that, but thanks for posting it. I honestly got a little misty eyed reading it.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:19 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Graph shows number of new webcomics per year

Graph shows number of new webcomics considered notable enough to warrant their own wikipedia page, and lucky enough that someone remembered to add them to that page.
posted by effbot at 12:20 PM on August 11 [7 favorites]


Run Freak Run is fantastic.
posted by kokaku at 12:21 PM on August 11


Is this where I point out that Perry Bible Fellowship has a new comic up today?

Okay?

PERRY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP HAS A NEW COMIC UP TODAY!!!
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:23 PM on August 11 [8 favorites]


If you have any love of steampunk/gaslamp fantasy/MAD SCIENCE at all you should enjoy Girl Genius.

I only stumbled across Strong Female Protagonist recently, but I like what I've read so far. Pretty new comic, so easy to catch up. The idea of deconstructing the role of superheros in society has certainly been done, but this seems like an interesting take on it. Less gritty 80s Watchmen style and more millenial social justice version of the idea of a protagonist realizing there are darker forces behind the scenes of the media-friendly "good guys vs bad guys" construction.

And finally an oldie but a goodie, there's Schlock Mercenary for all your space opera saga needs. Been running for years, it's incredibly reliable with updates (hasn't missed a day in over a decade) but still makes me laugh often enough to keep up with the story. Note that the art has gotten a LOT better over the strip's run, so going back to the early strips can be disorienting.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:23 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Just look at this data, taken from Wikipedia's List of Webcomics

From Wikipedia's "list of notable webcomics," (emphasis mine) -- an alternate hypothesis would be that older webcomics that have been discontinued aren't included (because the audience pool was relatively smaller back in the day) and that newer webcomics aren't sufficiently 'notable' enough to be included. If you look at the history page, there are plenty of deletions for lack of notability/lack of the comic having its own Wikipedia page, and most of those skew towards more recent years.
posted by cjelli at 12:26 PM on August 11


Oh and re: that Wikipedia table I think it says a lot more about how Wikipedia works than it does about webcomics. I'd suggest Stripped to anyone interested in a look at current trends in the newspaper/webcomics industry.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:26 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Today, I check in with a few key comics before turning to the reddit front page. I hypothesize that it's because of Tumbler and other image sharing sites that turned image consumption into a bite-size low-effort activity. Based on these numbers, I can't be the only one. Tumblr was founded in 2008, and 2009 saw the Great Recession. Maybe those had a part to play.

It's more an indication that the Great Deletionist Empire is clamping its manacles ever tighter over at the Wikipedia. The standards of "notability" rocketed upward right around 2007.

But, as to your own experience, comics, in book and strip variety, tend to be something people are intensely into for a while, and slowly drift from. They'll revisit from time to time, but the period of forking out a wad of cash every Wednesday or opening ALL the TABS! every morning isn't eternal for most fans of the medium.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:29 PM on August 11




On the regular: Bad Machinery, Broodhollow/Chainsawsuit, Vattu, Dr. McNinja, Girl Genius, Al'Rashad, Oglaf, False Positive.

Arrggh why won't they update: Achewood, Dresden Codak, Order of the Stick, Lackadaisy. (Perry Bible Fellowship was in this category until eleven minutes ago.)
posted by Iridic at 12:34 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Breaking Cat News
posted by matildaben at 12:36 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


(And might I add that Al'Rashad is written by Mefi's Own Mightygodking? And that it's rocketing to a thrilling conclusion right now? Get in on that!)
posted by Iridic at 12:36 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


My webcomic reading is down to SMBC, XKCD and Questionable Content. I specifically require iron regularity in updates or I can't follow a webcomic. It has to be more than weekly – XKCD is as slow as I can do. What's currently out there that is frequently updated and sticks to its schedule?
posted by graymouser at 12:42 PM on August 11


I have to admire Freefall's ongoing dogged devotion to Web 1.0 aesthetic, even though I haven't read it regularly since ... um.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:46 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Is anybody else going to mention Unsounded because it is very reliably posted (author keeps something like *70 pages* of buffer, takes a month off after each chapter) and gorgeous with deep worldbuilding and characterization and aaaaah I just love it to bits. It also really uses the web comic medium to good effects--the comic routinely bleeds out onto the page at appropriate points, an animation here/there.
posted by foxfirefey at 12:48 PM on August 11 [4 favorites]


Barring only a few interruptions (less than a couple a year), Girl Genius has been doing MWF for 13 or 14 years now. The Foglios are amazingly disciplined.
posted by bonehead at 12:49 PM on August 11


The Draw Play and Too Much Mustard are both really really good if you like football or sports at all. The art has improved on the draw play and he's quite funny. TMM though is classic, the art is meh but his strips are in a league of their own.
posted by Carillon at 12:50 PM on August 11


graymouser, Schlock Mercenary, linked above, updates daily, and has done so, without fail, for over a decade.

Sinfest is also very reliable.
posted by YAMWAK at 12:59 PM on August 11


No Abominable Charles Christopher (which is currently on a guest strip run as well)? For shame... for shame...
posted by PenDevil at 1:02 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Well, Erika Moen's contribution was original, meaningful and sincere, as I'd expect, and the Foxtrot one was the best cartoon by Amend that I have ever seen.

Questionable Content, Girls With Slingshots, Oglaf, Wonderella, Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Bob the Angry Flower, Lulu Eightball, and SMBC and xkcd when I remember.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:08 PM on August 11


and xkcd when I remember.

Infrequently-updating webcomics are the best reason to use an RSS reader.
posted by cjelli at 1:11 PM on August 11 [5 favorites]


Wonderella is the best comic ever. The premise is what if Wonder Woman was kind of a dick. It's hilarious.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:13 PM on August 11


obviously kinda NSFW, but with NO rapewolves, thankyouverymuch

Not to derail, but it was dickwolves. [Geek Feminism wiki link]
posted by Chrysostom at 1:15 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


You must check out Cheer Up, Emo Kid.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 1:25 PM on August 11




These are great, thanks for the excellent OP. Abby Howard is my fave.; she is a proper mentalist.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:34 PM on August 11


Yeah, Wonderella is my current fave. Order of the Stick, too, although Burlew seems like a bit of a prick.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:40 PM on August 11


foxfirefey Unsounded is fantastic! How have I never heard of this!?
posted by Wretch729 at 1:41 PM on August 11


Current favourites of high quality that update frequentely:

Ava's Demon
Stand Still Stay Quiet

Such a shame that Outsider actually seems dead now.
posted by Arkki at 2:18 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Order of the Stick, too, although Burlew seems like a bit of a prick.

How so?
posted by COBRA! at 2:20 PM on August 11


It's subjective but some people think Burlew is overly controlling on his forums, and he's been criticized for not sticking to his update schedule and being short with people who complain about it.
posted by Wretch729 at 2:32 PM on August 11


One more recommend for Unsounded, it's probably one of the best comics running right now, period, and even with her maniac pace for the high quality of art I'm still a little mad at the slow speed of three updates every week because it's so damn good and the waiting is crazy.

False Positive! It's basically Twilight Zone, but slightly more horror. It's on break right now, which happens every ~10 stories, but usually updates pretty regularly.

Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, which is a pretty great satire of vidyagame muscle guy, has a few good life lessons sometimes like this ongoing fitness story, and has the best picture on the entire internet

Besides that, uh, Dr McNinja, Nimona, Buttersafe, Basic Instructions, Happle Tea (which is a lot more interesting for the blurbs below the comics and recently started updating again), and a few others in the post and already brought up in the comments. I've got a pretty crowded RSS reader. If you want more, you can scan down the list of sellers on Topatoco (note the metafilter merch). It's all good.

More on topic for the comic, 'Tycho' put up this news post right on the penny arcade front page about a week after the guest posts started. "I am at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and nobody wants to be here. Even as an internationally recognized temple of healing, every inch of it is terror. [...] I am here because the hand sanitizer station at my son’s school began talking to him last week. I won’t tell you everything it said; he might want to be president someday."
posted by sandswipe at 2:48 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]


No one's mentioned Octopus Pie yet? Metafilter, I am disappoint.
posted by supermassive at 3:00 PM on August 11


Erika Moen has done some pretty crappy things in the name of comics, though, from gross trans coding to her infamous "lesbian until graduation" comic.

Bill Amend, though? Wouldn't he be traditional comics, or did Foxtrot move online only when I wasn't looking (not complaining at his inclusion; I enjoy his stuff).
posted by ShawnStruck at 3:13 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


A shout out for Boulet!

And a second for Nimona and Octopus Pie.
posted by alexei at 3:23 PM on August 11


Um, so I guess this would be a good place to mention my own comic? It's called Port Sherry, I've been doing it for quite a while and so far this year I've stuck to a regular schedule. Check it out, hit random, maybe you'll like it.
posted by infinitelives at 3:30 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Wonderella is my current fave. Order of the Stick, too, although Burlew seems like a bit of a prick.

Burlew does not suffer fools well, and his forum is full of young nerds whose socialisation is marginal at best. But I'd call him brusque rather than assholey: he gives short shrift to idiots but is always utterly professional in his dealings.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:32 PM on August 11


It's subjective but some people think Burlew is overly controlling on his forums, and he's been criticized for not sticking to his update schedule and being short with people who complain about it.

I've never checked out the forums, but my understanding of his update schedule is that he has some medical issues that can cause interruptions with it. Although I might be confusing that with some other webcomic.
posted by nubs at 3:32 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


A finger on Burlew's dominant hand was nearly severed like a year ago, and I believe all update issues he's encountered since then are related to that in some way.
posted by Joviwan at 3:59 PM on August 11


Stuff I like:
Kill Six Billion Demons is a gorgeous tour through an ultra-detailed hellscape.
Cucumber Quest is a fantasy adventure about bunnies rendered in a Golden Book style.
Dumm Comics is the work of several people I know in the animation world, and is where Katie started doing Skadi.
Heavenly Nostrils is on Universal Syndicate's gocomics, but it's by Webcomics Pioneer Dana Simpson.
Homestuck is a fascinating thing pushing against what "comics" are on the web - lots of use of little gif cycles, some crazy formal experiments. Also it is arguably a sprawling giant mess.
O Human Star is about a guy who wakes up as a robot after dying.
Wesslingsaung is a time-twisting alien fantasy.
Spacetrawler is a SF comedy with a surprisingly grim core. Completed, too.
Vattu is a gorgeous fantasy epic in the same worlds as its creator's previous comics, Rice Boy and Order of Tales.

Also I do one called Decrypting Rita about a robot lady with reality problems.
posted by egypturnash at 4:05 PM on August 11 [4 favorites]


Buni!
I also follow The Nib, which features comics from a variety of different writers/artists, including Erika Moen and Zach Weiner (SMBC). It also periodically features longform comic journalism, like the one on Syria's climate conflict. Some of the comics are reprint, while others are new content. (YMMV on the political cartoons, though.)
posted by joethefob at 4:36 PM on August 11


sandswipe: thanks for that, I had missed it and it is moving.
posted by macrael at 5:19 PM on August 11


Lots of great recommendations, most of which I already follow. Back when I had my own blog about comics/cartoons/funstuff, I assembled quite a reading list, between RSS and Comic Rocket, the best web-based comics utility I've found, because it finds updates usually pretty quickly and serves up the site's entire page (with their 'navigation frame' on top). It has damn near everything that calls itself a webcomic in its massive index (good for finding old "whatever happened to" comics), although its index can get broken when a comic does a site redesign, and there are a few that have specifically asked not to be indexed (and they complied).

Of course, I have other recommendations, which I'll get to later.

And the blogpost from Tycho/Jerry Holkins was quite poignant, and helped explain why his kid hasn't appeared in the comic like Gabe/Mike's does. (But would've been a derail in a post that was already reaching textbook-length)
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:40 PM on August 11


And the blogpost from Tycho/Jerry Holkins was quite poignant, and helped explain why his kid hasn't appeared in the comic like Gabe/Mike's does. (But would've been a derail in a post that was already reaching textbook-length)

Here it is. Jerry is a lazy writer in many ways, and a pompous writer in many others, but sometimes he gathers up what is in him and unleashes it DBZ style and hoooooly shit.

I had been in this room with my father before, during the brief window where he wasn’t dying but was instead getting better, and I wasn’t really welcome then. He had another family, and another son in everything but name, and it was a family of his choosing and not the family which long, ungracious living had set against him.

That wasn’t the man I saw this time.

I saw the other one, the one who cried out and needed holding, the one who fell asleep for twenty seconds and then woke up a different person each time. There was a clear part right in the middle of it, a minute or so, where everything was calm before his tour of hell resumed. That was goodbye, even if no one said it.

I don’t think I will ever get “better” after having seen that. I think this is the kind of knowing that stays with you. I can reach into my pocket, now, and find it there.

posted by Sebmojo at 7:06 PM on August 11 [7 favorites]


Chrysostom: Imagine asking a mod to fix the post.

OP: Uh, could you please change 'rapewolves' to 'dickwolves'?
Mod: (face remains motionless for over an hour as mod speechlessly codes a new kind of super-ban)
posted by BiggerJ at 6:37 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


macrael: Thanks for that link to Krahulik's resolution piece.

I'll mention Three Panel Soul here, which updates once a week (mostly) by the creators of the much-mourned Mac Hall. The art is amazing in different styles and it's always very sincere.

(My own list of "when I remember": Questionable Content, XKCD, Scandinavia and the World, and Three Panel Soul.)
posted by seyirci at 7:11 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Nimona is just about to finish and you should start from the beginning now if you haven't been keeping up.
posted by whuppy at 9:07 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I went to school with Abby Howard and she is fucking hilarious. I met her on a paleontology field course and spent the next 2 weeks getting to know her. This was the summer before she was on Strip Search (and The Last Halloween) but she already had some very spooky stuff in her notebooks.

I'm so happy that she's become successful in the comics industry. She definitely deserves it :)
posted by Strass at 12:10 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


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