— This post was expanded with even more comics in November 2018. Happy reading! —
Here’s a roundup of awesome contemporary webcomics in case you have a few spare minutes. Or hours. Or, like, a whole day. I won’t judge. Enjoy!
(Confession: When I said contemporary, I meant real-world, present day, no magic or lasers or whatever. But a werewolf snuck in. SO SORRY!)
Before we jump in, though, here’s a helpful webcomics reading tip: many creators sell PDFs or hard copies too! That can be an easier for long stories and lets you read without an internet connection. So if you get sucked in, but all the clicking gets tiring, check around the site for buying options.
Some of these comics may be on hiatus or abandoned. I don’t remove webcomics from my posts for that reason, though, because some people don’t mind reading a comic without an end, and also, sometimes creators come back to webcomics after extended absences.
Band Vs Band Comix by Kathleen Jacques
What it’s about: A “…retro-cartoon-inspired, queer, handlettering-obsessed comic series about rival girl-fronted rock bands…” (And here’s a handy page about the comic!)
Why I love it: It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read, and it took me a dozen pages or more to get the hang of it. The characters are so funny and the art is so cute that I couldn’t help but fall in love. The turbulent non-relationship between Honey Heart and Turpentine is adorable. The bands are both a riot in their own ways. Children of the 80s, especially, will eat this up.
Bonnie N. Collide, Nine to Five by Monica Gallagher
What it’s about: “The story of Bonnie N. Collide, a roller-girl, and the adventures she has at a humdrum day job. Bonnie’s inability to separate her vibrant roller derby life from her normal working life means she gets to gleefully crash from one aspect of her life into another, seamlessly, and using the same amount of gusto. Oh, and one of her coworkers is a werewolf named Herb.”
Why I love it: Who could resist sweet romance, girl-power derby bonding, office hijinks, and the occasional werewolf humor? Plus, the people are all drawn so cute! Bonnie herself is exuberant and a steadfast friend. There are many queer characters, a significant character who’s a woman of color, and the hot derby girls aren’t all tiny. This is one of the feel-good comics I come back to for comfort, which is why I supported the first book on Kickstarter. PDFs make re-reading so easy!
Breaks by Emma Vieceli and Malin Rydén
What it’s about: “Everyone wears a mask. What we see of people on the surface is so rarely what’s ticking underneath. And, in Cortland Hunt’s case, what he’s hiding might just be more than Ian Tanner is prepared for. Breaks is the story of two young adults coming to terms with who they were, who they are and who they’ll become. It’s a love story… but a little broken.”
Why I love it: Neither of our two heroes is initially that easy to like, but as the story developed, I couldn’t help but hope they’d figure themselves out and find a way to de-complicate everything so they have a chance together. Which will apparently be happening only in a future volume, because teenagers, what can you do? The art style is distinctive, with super clean penciling and a huge variety of paneling styles. I’m definitely looking forward to a next book.
Expecting to Fly by John Allison.
What it’s about: “Something awful has happened to Shelley, Ryan’s dad is ‘fun’ but probably not in a good way, and Tim seems to sail through everything unscathed. Together they’ll make sense of it.”
Why I love it: I know John Allison as a comics writer who loves the goofy and absurd. Here, he goes for the emotional, and he nails it. I can’t even. Mr. Allison, you should warn people that you’re a writer of great depth, and it’s not just all monsters and British wackiness! Love this comic, which I bought as 2 issues from Comixology. If you need something where characters genuinely SEE each other, this is for you.
The Life and Times of Abigail Waller by Kevin Sorrell
What it’s about: Abigail is “[the] star of the series. Smart, polite, witty, optimistic – and sometimes a bit naive. The consummate working girl, Abigail generally finds herself the quieter, sarcastic straight woman against the craziness that surrounds her. A lover, not a fighter…” Her friend Tracy is “[the] fighter. Abby’s best friend and social chameleon, Tracy can schmooze high-powered CEOs one second and cut down trifling lowlifes the next. Everyone needs a goon to have their back when things get messy, and Tracy can be as grimy as they come.”
Why I love it: Because of Tracy. I know Abby’s name is in the title, but it’s Tracy’s antics that get me laughing. Granted, she would be nowhere without Abby to react to, so it’s good they’re a team. This webcomic is about life, love, hair, friendship, all the things women sometimes talk about and deal with. I’m glad Sorrell found a way to get this project out to the world even though a the web series version didn’t work out. I will buy a collection of this in a heartbeat if he ever publishes one.
The Less Than Extraordinary Adventures of TJ and Amal by E.K. Weaver
What it’s about: “In the span of a single day, Amal calls off his arranged marriage, comes out to his conservative parents, promptly gets disowned, goes on a bender… and wakes up the next morning to find TJ, a lanky, dreadlocked vagrant, frying eggs and singing Paul Simon in his kitchen. TJ claims that the two have made a drunken pact to drive all the way from Berkeley to Providence. As it happens, Amal promised his sister he’d be there for her graduation from Brown University. And TJ, well… TJ has his own reasons. The agreement is simple: Amal does the driving; TJ pays the way – but a 3500 mile journey leaves plenty of time for things to get complicated.”
Why I love it: SO MUCH CUTE. So much real, and about finding someone who completely accepts you. Road trip silliness. That feeling of being completely free, if only for a while. Very sexy, in that not safe for work way.
Radio Silence by Vanessa Stefaniuk
What it’s about: “Hitting the road on a journey of self discovery and acceptance, this coming-of-age tale gives a backstage look at friendships and the plights of fame as experienced by a modern British rock band.”
Why I love it: The ensemble diverse rock-and-roll drama of my dreams. The art started out good and has gotten even better in the years it’s been running. Go now, read!
Snow Daze by Leonardo Faierman and Marcus Kwame Anderson.
What it’s about: “Loosely based on Leo’s experiences shoveling snow as a teen in Queens NY, the story concerns enterprising teens of color in a strange suburban land, navigating the bridge between childhood and adulthood. Tales of race and class struggles, family, friendship, conflict, humor and more unfold against the snowy mid-nineties backdrop of the town of Oxenvale, a suburb which is quickly becoming more diverse. Part noir-tale, part silly adolescence, and part coming of age story, Snow Daze is a lavishly illustrated B&W urban pulp-fiction unlike anything else on the shelf.”
Why I love it: I dragged my heels in reading this. I thought “how interesting can a comic about snow shoveling be?” I’M SORRY! I WAS WRONG TO BE SKEPTICAL! It’s fascinating! Not the business of snow shoveling, but the micro-culture and the personalities and the deep personal energy that Faierman and Anderson bring out so clearly for their characters. I was riveted. I honestly don’t care whether this sounds interesting to you. You should read it anyway, to see how good storytelling is done.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…
Here are a few more webcomics I haven’t had time to write up my own thoughts about, but I love them just as much as the ones above. Maybe you will too!
Basement Dwellers by Leland Goodman
What it’s about: “Basement Dwellers is a story about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll except it’s high school and there’s no sex or drugs. It’s a story about circumstantial friendships, short attention-spans, and one girl’s crippling obsession with her guitar. This one goes out to anyone who’s ever felt like an idiot in high school.”
Fascist Friends by Erin Lux
What it’s about: “Fascist Friends follows a boy who wanted to be a fashion major, but got confused and enrolled as a fascist major at a boarding school for young evil dictators.”
Yellow Peril by Jamie Noguchi
What it’s about: “Sure, there are plenty of office humor type comics. And yes, plenty of comics out there star Asian people. But none have been drawn by me… until now!”
And those are some awesome contemporary webcomics to help you use up all that annoying free time! If you enjoyed this post, I’d appreciate any sharing you could do to help others find it. These comics all deserve more readers!