I usually lean more towards science fiction than fantasy, but WOW, there are some amazing fantasy and magical webcomics. I just started reading webcomics this year, and quickly fell in love. The art! The stories! Reading webcomics on my tablet in the dark in bed when I should really be sleeping! (I know some of you do that too.) Here’s a first batch of my favorites – but let me know in comments if there’s something else I should check out.
A helpful webcomics reading tip: many creators sell PDFs or hard copies for really affordable prices. That can be an easier for long stories or reading without an internet connection. So if you get sucked in, but all the clicking gets tiring, check around for any buying options.
Agents of the Realm by Mildred Louis
Status: Ongoing, started in 2014 and not too far along to catch up
What it’s about: “Shortly after beginning their first year of college at Silvermount University, Five young women discover that they’ve each been chosen to help protect not just our world, but a newly discovered sister dimension as well. As they venture forward through their college years their lives start to take on forms of their own, providing them with new opportunities to learn just how much power they have over them.”
Why I love it: Kick-ass magical girl series FTW! Every girl has her own personality (without being typecast as “the bitch” or “the snob”), her own story, her own look – and they’re not all the model / movie star kind of beautiful. The diverse cast looks like the real world. It’s fun, it’s dramatic, there’s action AND cute crushes, and the art is interesting. I wasn’t familiar with the magical girl genre before starting this, so don’t let unfamiliarity stop you. Go, now, read!
A House Divided by The Pengboom Society, a.k.a. Annelie Wagner, Marius Pawlitza and Haiko Hörnig
Status: Ongoing, about 45 pages
What it’s about: “Henrietta Achilles just inherited an archwizard’s impossible house. And a whole company of treasure-hunting, cannon-firing, quiche-stealing tenants. This housewarming party might get a little messy.”
Why I love it: Henrietta’s a smart girl! She’s not oblivious to the suspicious circumstances around her supposed inheritance, but what does she have to lose… and as she quickly discovers, what secrets are hiding in the house that only she might be able to unlock? This has some great elements: a mystery, magic, and just enough absurdity to keep things entertaining. This one starts with a few 2-page spreads that are a big awkward for reading on desktop or tablet, but stick it out. It’s well worth it.
All Night by B. Sabo
Status: On hiatus indefinitely, about 40 pages
What it’s about: “All Night takes place in a world that has come to a halt. Day and night appear permanently fixed and the seasons never change. Whatever has happened to this world has not ended humanity, however, and on the day side of the planet life continues on. But things from the darkened half of the world have been slowly creeping further into the light, and very few know how to stop it…”
Why I love it: The art in this one is amazing, especially the coloring and the characters’ large, expressive eyes and detailed hair. The story is intruiguing, especially the magic system which our main character has… somewhat mastered. He’s not perfect, either at magic or at relating to people. (He may not even be a very good person. Unclear.) There isn’t much of this webcomic, and given the time passed since the last update, it may not continue. But it’s perfectly enjoyable as a short story right now, albeit one with more questions than answers. Especially if you enjoy seeing people of color leading comics, definitely visit this one.
Amya, written by Savannah Houston-McIntyre and Andrew Hewitt, art by Rebecca Gunter-Ryan
Status: Ongoing, at about 275 pages of story plus some extras
What it’s about: “Amya is a high-fantasy graphic novel following the travels of a mute spell-touched and her unlikely companions as they are dragged into an adventure that is a little beyond them. Ultimately Amya is a story about self sacrifice for the greater good. It is also a story of how far one will go to obtain unearthly power; even if it includes throwing the world into a mythical war between fate and chaos.”
Why I love it: Nobles and villains, dreams foretelling the end of the world, magical duels, all the good stuff! Faye, our main character, is mute and communicates with both writing and magic. Given the lack of characters with disabilities in comics, I loved seeing her in a leading role here. Her chance encounter with a young man on the run sparks an adventure which brings an unlikely group of friends together, which sounds hackneyed, but they’re all so great! Trust me. Let yourself get sucked in, it’s a lot of fun.
A Redtail’s Dream by Minna Sundberg
Status: Completed, 556 pages
What it’s about: “…a webcomic about a young man and his shapeshifting dog on an involuntary journey on the other side of the Bird’s Path in the realm of dreams. They have to rescue their fellow Villagers before their souls pass on to Tuonela, the land of eternal sleep.”
Why I love it: Minna Sundberg does some of the most beautiful art in comics today. Not just webcomics. Comics. Don’t let the chill banner fool you, her colors alone are to die for. So much depth and richness. I bought the PDF of this and read it on an airplane ride. I forgot where I was. This comic is an action/adventure mystical quest story, or you can just think of it as a tale about a boy and his dog. I highly recommend you just buy the PDF of A Redtail’s Dream for $14, that’s peanuts for a 600 page book even if it weren’t shockingly good quality. Which it is.
(Aside: what’s going on with all these good webcomics starting with the letter A?)
Bird Boy by Anne Szabla
Status: Volume 1 is complete with 80 pages. Volume 2 is ongoing with about 55 pages.
What it’s about: “Bird Boy follows the story of Bali, a 10 year old Nuru boy, who is desperate to prove his worth to his tribe, despite his small stature. Banned from the ceremony that would make him an adult in the eyes of his people, he takes matters into his own hands. In an attempt to bring proof to his tribe that he is capable of taking care of himself, he stumbles upon a legendary weapon, and must end up fleeing across a dangerous land of gods, men and beasts to keep it from falling into the wrong hands…”
Why I love it: Szabla clearly put in time to nail down the mythology, culture, and world Bali lives in, giving his story an epic feel from the very first pages. The storytelling is slow, but even the pages “without plot” are these gorgeous vistas of snow and ice. She’s leaving room for the story to breathe, getting you completely grounded before things start happening. Bonus: possibly the cutest protagonist in comics ever.
The Firelight Isle by Paul Duffield
Status: Ongoing, hard to estimate length
What it’s about: “The Firelight Isle is an ongoing web and print comic (or physidigicomic if you like) – a tale of coming of age, self-identity and cultural discovery, set in a fantastical civilisation gripped by a mysterious religion. The story follows the lives of Sen and Anlil, two childhood friends about to be parted as they undergo the trials of adulthood, and take their first steps on a journey with an uncertain ending!”
Why I love it: Duffield cites Ursula K. LeGuin and Miyazaki as inspirations for this comic, so there’s your first clue it’s going to be good. He’s the artist behind Freakangels (see my post about post-apocalyptic comics) so I was more than happy to try out his next project. It’s published in “ribbons” which are these extra-long pages where the images blend almost seamlessly from one scene to the next. It’s so cool. The story isn’t very far along yet, but I’m hooked. Things I want to know more about: the culture, the religion, and why these two people who seem so close must be pulled apart. I’m also a little obsessed with the architectural details in this, because they’re amazing.
Fox & Willow by artist Irma ‘Aimo’ Ahmed and author Allison Pang
Status: Ongoing, my estimate is about 300 pages
What it’s about: “…a story about a girl and her fox, and loosely based on a series of contemporary fairy tales.”
Why I love it: It’s as if the girl and the fox are traveling a land where dark fairy tales are taking place, and getting pulled into those stories. The art is muted but crisp, I love the palette. And the friendly but also adversarial relationship between the two adds a bit of humor. Apparently I don’t have a lot of super detailed thoughts about this one, but if you like magic, fantasy, fairy tales, etc. then check it out!
The Ironclad Man by M. Franklin Hance
Status: On hiatus indefinitely, about 100 pages
What it’s about: “The story is essentially about a young woman named Luon, as we follow her journey across a continent in pursuit of the titular Ironclad Man. Along with her is Iacchus ‘Tens’ Khavol, a rather clever ‘wizard’ of low stature, and a severely injured owl. The world around them is aflame with war and a strange plague, and even stranger things are being stirred up as everything falls apart.”
Why I love it: This one is a work in progress, since Hance started re-drawing the comic from the beginning at some point during the run. The difference is tremendous, you can tell they’ve really learned a lot and worked hard. Even when I got past the freshened up art, though, I found the story compelling enough to keep going. It has a dark, creepy ambience with zombie-like creatures, and interesting characters. The artist’s commentary under the pages slays me. That’s not the only reason I like it, clearly, but don’t miss it.
M.F.K. by Nilah Magruder
Status: Ongoing, at about 135 pages
What it’s about: “In a world of sleeping gods, a broken government, and a fragile peace held in the hands of the corrupt, one youth must find the strength to stand up against evil and save humanity. This story is not about that youth. It’s about Abbie, who just wants to get to the mountain range called the Potter’s Spine, scatter her mother’s ashes, and then live out her life in sweet, blissful solitude. Unfortunately, everyone she meets wants to either whine at her about their woes, tag along on her quest, arrest her for no reason, or blow her to bits. Journeys are hard on the social recluses of the world.”
Why I love it: It’s so pretty. Seriously. And it’s a fantasy adventure starring people of color, which you know I love because #weneeddiversebooks #rightnowplease. I love how Magruder panels. I love Abbie and Jamie, who are so different and so dynamic and so adorable (but don’t tell Abbie I said that.) If this were animation, it might be as good as Avatar: The Last Airbender. Why aren’t you reading it already?!
Missing Monday by Elle Skinner
Status: Ongoing, about 240 pages
What it’s about: “Missing Monday is a coming of age webcomic that follows Foyle Leaf and her growing relationship with Monday Rhodes, a girl from another world who appears one day through a doorway in an abandoned clocktower.”
Why I love it: Two young women falling in love. One of them kind of blowing off her job because she has a crush on a pretty girl and that might not end well but hey, many of us have been there. Mysteries and magic. Soft, hand-drawn panel edges that fit the nostalgic tone of the story. It’s like the soft warm blanket of web comics on a grey, drizzly day. All the heart-related emoticons for this one.
Status: Over The Wall is completed, at 80 pages. Stonebreaker is ongoing.
What it’s about: “The story of Anya, a young girl who enters a mysterious city to save her lost brother.”
Why I love it: We bought Over the Wall in print, not knowing it was a web comic. (See 25 Good Comics for Kids.) Stonebreaker takes place four years later, with Anya still trying to cure her brother and further exploring the demon city. More danger, of course! While Wartman does clean things up for print, I’m reading this online now because I can’t wait to see what happens. Especially with her little helper demon, for whom we’re getting way more backstory now.
Runewriters by Shazzbaa
Status: On hiatus for 2015, at about 150 pages. Planned to resume in January 2016.
What it’s about: “It’s a fantasy webcomic about a mundane deaf girl trying to help her shapechanger friend and a mute necromancer fix some embarrassing magical mistakes.”
Why I love it: This takes place in a super fun fantasy world full of sorcerers, soldiers, and spells gone awry. The two lead characters are both so great: a magic-using man who’s a person of color, and a white deaf woman. Two comics in one post with a character who’s disabled?! No, surely not! Oh wait yes, and hurray for that. I loved how this gal’s communication is portrayed – her friends have learned sign, she’s learned lipreading, and she’s also learned vocal speech for occasional use. Her deafness is occasionally a minor plot point but isn’t the story. Instead, it’s about her goofball best friend who’s managed to turn his arms into tentacles. It happens. Anyway, this is another one where you must read the artist’s commentary under the pages. Look out for the mention of Skeletor.
Spindrift by Elsa Kroese and Charlotte E. English
Status: Ongoing, at about 105 pages
What it’s about: “Spindrift is a weekly updated comic featuring a modern fantasy story about intrigue, warfare, family, love and betrayal.”
Why I love it: There are people with wings and people with horns. Wait, you need more? Okay, the art is this beautiful polished style, and there’s magic, and people double-crossing each other and keeping secrets all over the place. Very dramatic, with some intriguing characters, and some that should be dropped in a hole right now because otherwise they’re liable to cause a whole bunch of trouble. Of course, some characters are in both categories… Did I mention the wings? They’re cool.
Timber by Mittie Paul
Status: Ongoing, at about 20 pages
What it’s about: “When Nathaniel ventured out into the woods for a photography assignment, he didn’t expect to get wrapped up in the affairs of the resident lumberjack. But no one expects to get lost in a magical forest, even in a world filled with mythical creatures…”
Why I love it: Because of all the feels. There’s gonna be some kissing before this is over, I promise you. All the two-leg people reading this should go read it and if you can resist this meet-cute, I don’t understand you.
And those are my favorite magical and fantasy webcomics… so far. Once I started reading webcomics, more of them started finding me, so I’m sure I’ll be back with a followup post in a couple of months. If you’ve also read and enjoyed any of these, please do leave me a comment. It’s always fun to hear from another fan. Or recommend another webcomic I should read. And finally, if you enjoyed this post, I’d appreciate any sharing you could do to help others find it. These webcomics all deserve more readers.