The BBC will be covering World War One in great detail over the next four years. They've already started, with podcasts, interactive guides, online courses, programs new and old plus much, much more. Perhaps it's best to start at the beginning, with Professor Margaret MacMillan's Countdown to World War One (podcast link) or the account of her fellow historian Christopher Clark, Month of Madness. Of course, how the war started is still contested by historians, as recounted in The Great War of Words. The latter two are also part of the main WWI podcast. Or you can dive into the Music and Culture section, go through an A-Z guide or look at comics drawn by modern cartoonists.
Breaking Cat News is a webcomic by Georgia Dunn about three feline TV journalists who report on such breaking news as the people are building box forts, the vacuum is out, the woman is trying to make the bed and the cat is in the backyard again.
Say It With Sea Otters is a blog where adorable cartoon animals deliver difficult messages. Here are some examples: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. While the sea otter has a well deserved reputation for extreme cuteness, these aquatic weasels engage in behavior that to humans seems truly reprehensible. Of course, we humans haven't exactly treated them well throughout history. Indeed, the first scientist to describe them, George Wilhelm Steller, emphasized their valuable fur in his description of them.
Revolutions is a new weekly podcast by Mike Duncan, who is best known for the History of Rome podcast, though he also writes comics. There are two episodes so far of Revolutions, a short introduction to the series and one on Charles Stuart, king of England.
Blown Covers is a blog by New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly and her daughter Nadja Spiegelman, who is an editor and comics creator herself. The blog focuses on The New Yorker but today has been Maurice Sendak themed with a short comic by Art Spiegelman and Sendak about a conversation they had, a Sendak New Yorker cover, a short Sendak comic called Cereal Baby Keller and an even shorter Sendak comic.
Comiques is a comic about "life's little trivialities" by Anne Emond. Her main subjects are her family, cat, friends, New York City and random musings. It is mostly drawn from life though her work sometimes tends towards the fantastic. Here is a short video interview with her which also features some candid shots of her cat and here's a longer interview on more technical matters. Finally, here are some random favorites: Pug, Celebrity Look-alike Generator, Irrational Rage Comic, Umbrella, Writing a Detective Story?, The Best Karamazov, Ode to the Avocado, Top of the Morning to You and The Day I Realized I've Never Tried to Dress My Cat in People Clothes.
Four Color Process is a blog which reposts magnified details from old comic book panels. The images become semi-abstract and very striking (and surprisingly non-Lichtensteinian). Some favorites: Ruined City, Steranko's Strange Tales, Ghouls, Swirl Lamp, Kirby's Silver Surfer, Romance, Novelty Magic, Ditko's Dr. Strange, Man at Conference Table, Homo Comicus, Easy to Do and finally a comparison of contemporary printing with the old four color process. [via The Front Section]
Tom Humberstone has finished his 100 days of drawing a comic each day. Humberstone, who won an Eagle Award for his How to Date a Girl in Ten Days, offers his debut comic, Art School Scum as a free download. He also has a number of other free comics on his site, including a couple for the 69 Love Songs, Illustrated project. [Humberstone's comic about living with Crohn's Disease has been posted previously to MeFi]
Punch Cartoons has over 8000 cartoons from the pages of Punch, the long-running British satirical magazine. It cast its eye on everything from quintessentially British entertainment to children's books to computer games to optometrists. Punch ran from 1841 to 1992 and was relaunched in 1996 and finally closed shop in 2002. You can read up on the history of the magazine on their website and if you want to read some old issues to see what they were like, Project Gutenberg has quite a few. [Punch previously]
The Zine Library has hundreds of zines in pdf format for your perusal. They are organized into categories ranging from the common political (anarchism, political prisoners & animal liberation) and identity based zines (indigenous, race & gender) to the more esoteric (anarchist history, primitivism & theory) as well as the useful (cooking, DIY & organizing manuals) and arty (art, comics & music). Now, zines are by their very nature hit and miss but there are some real treasures to be found. I recommend these three: [all links pdf] The Rebel's Dark Laughter - The Writings of Bruno Filippi, Barefoot in the Kitchen and Delivery from Below, Resistance from Above - Electricity and the Politics of Struggle in Tembisa, South Africa. Note: Many if not most zines are set up to be printed out and bound together in chapbooks. That requires a bit of going back and forth when reading in pdf-format, but they wouldn't be real zines if they were straightforward to read ;) Don't know what a zine is? A pretty good overview is provided by zine librarian Jenna Freedman in Zines Are Not Blogs: A Not Unbiased Analysis. [This site has been posted previously but was buried deep in the weeds of more inside]
Blotchmen is a short comic by Kevin Cannon that collides Watchmen with children's books. Other short comics by Kevin Cannon can be read on his site under Grab Bag and on his blog, Freshman for Life. His professional work is done through Big Time Attic which he founded with Shad Petosky and not-brother Zander Cannon.
Japes for Owre Tymes is a blog that translates one newspaper comic strip a day into Middle English. "Why? Because it can..." If you want to try reading the translated strips but need a bit of help here's a Middle English dictionary.
The political cartoons of Clifford K. Berryman lampooned American politics from the era of Grover Cleveland to the Truman administration. If he's known today it's mostly for having originated the teddy bear. While some of his cartoons have scant relevance today, many remain surprisingly relevant. Of the many historical events he drew there are women's suffrage, the 1948 election and the 1912 Republican primaries between Taft and Roosevelt.
Crumbling Paper is a collection of old comics. And I mean old, some from the early years of the 20th Century. There are strips from artists such as George Herriman, Rube Goldberg, Basil Wolverton and Gustave Verbeek. It has such strips as Katzenjammer Kids, Little Orphan Annie and Count Screwloose. Warning: Some of these comics feature racial caricatures, as was the unfortunate norm when the strips were drawn. Here is the collector, Steven Stwalley, on Race and Ethnicity in the Early Comics. [via Eddie Campbell]
The Official Marvel Character Bios will clue you in on Marvel characters from the obscure to the world famous. To find out about the really, really obscure you have to visit The Appendix to The Handbook of the Marvel Universe, where you can learn about such characters as Glowworm (a.k.a. Race Killer), Thunderhoof (part of Force Four) and human/amoeba hybrid Half-Man.
American Elf is a daily diary comic by James Kochalka. The latest strip is always free but the archives are subscription only. He also a musician, his most famous song being Hockey Monkey, and he has number of songs up for free on his site. [via Eddie Campbell who says: "Beginning in 1998 Kochalka took the form of daily strip and imbued it with a life that has been missing from it for a long time. Since then he has made sure his daily round is not finished until a strip is done. Another thing I like about it is the way he carefully avoids any taint of 'continuity'. There is no story here, just the eternal incidentalness of life as it is lived."]