Are you reading webcomics yet? I dove in during early 2015. Since I’m a science fiction loving gal, the webcomics with spaceships, aliens, and lasers have a special place in my heart. Here’s a first roundup with some of my absolute favorite science fiction webcomics… but I’m sure I’ll be back with more recommendations in the future! (Just to be clear, that means the near future. Not the future with flying cars and space colonies.)
A helpful webcomics reading tip: many creators sell PDFs or hard copies for affordable prices. 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 their sites for buying options.
Dark Science by Aaron Diaz
Status: Ongoing, at about 50 pages
What it’s about: It’s part of a long-running web comic series called Dresden Codak, though exactly how I haven’t figured out yet. It stands on its own, though. Kimiko Ross, daughter of late robotics genius Kaito Kusanagi, must enter the city of Nephilopolis to get a job after her master plan to generate clean energy fails. She discovers a mysterious conspiracy, and a secret war. And some robots.
Why I love it: This story tarts when the bank blows up Kimiko’s house because she can’t pay the mortgage. That’s the kind of ridiculous we’re talking about, and it’s just my style. But that’s mixed with a darker story of mysteries, family secrets, betrayal, and fascism. The artwork looks like high quality animation. Keep an eye out for light shining through windows and reflections, they’re amazing here. And yay, a webcomic with a strong Asian female character in the lead. Diversity FTW!
Drive by Dave Kellett
Status: Ongoing, unsure how many pages, but it’s not overwhelming
What it’s about: “DRIVE tells the story of a second Spanish empire, a galactic empire, and its looming war with a race called “The Continuum of Makers”. Humanity has built their empire using technology stolen from the Makers — and these creatures want it back with an almost religious fervor. In the brewing war, it’s clear that humanity will lose, and lose badly, unless they can find some advantage in battle. That hope arrives in the form of a tiny, mysterious creature who can drive a starship like no one’s ever seen. Now all humanity needs to do…is find 10,000 more pilots just like him. But no one knows where he’s from. We follow the crew of the scout ship Machito (above), who have been press-ganged into a unique mission by an Emperor they despise: Find this mysterious race, or the empire… ends.”
Why I love it: It’s so funny! It’s not a gag comic, and not a joke a minute, but the interactions between some of the characters kill me. The captain is my new favorite tough old broad in comics, and her exasperation is my favorite. Mix in some serious double-crossing, secret identities, and galaxy-wide conspiracies, plus some really touching moments… I’m so there.
Fashion Forward, written by Shawnee Gibbs and Shawnelle Gibbs, and illustrated first by Linda Chung and JM Tolman
Status: On hiatus, about 150 pages
What it’s about: “When Sam, an MIT drop out turned lowly fashion assistant, helps to create a time traveling device, in the form of a stiletto boot, she single handedly threatens to change the future of one of New York’s most prominent industries.”
Why I love it: Ah, time travel. What could possibly go wrong? Especially when you’re using it to get ahead in the backstabbing, dramatic world of top fashion houses. I’m surprised Sam’s gotten this far without blowing up the planet, honestly. It’s a light read but satisfying. I especially appreciate the precision of the black and white illustrations.
Greasy Space Monkeys by Reine Brand and Mark Kestler
Status: Ongoing, about 115 strips
What it’s about: “Greasy Space Monkeys is the adventures of two idiots in a dead end job on a run-down space station. Occasional profanity and frequent absurdity.”
Why I love it: Working class life on a space station, entangled in bureaucracy, instead of the thrilling adventures of the highly trained beautiful people. The art is crisp, the coloring is solid, and it’s a good mix of one-shot jokes with longer storylines. The short commentary under the strips is great, too, so don’t miss that.
Kamikaze by Alan Tupper, Carrie Tupper, and Havana Nguyen
Status: Ongoing, currently in Act 4 of Episode 1
What it’s about: “In a desolate future, feudal corporate houses hoard the last patches of fertile crop land. A young courier is unwittingly thrown into a life or death game of espionage and sabotage from which she might never escape. Kamikaze is a concept for an animated show by Alan Tupper, Carrie Tupper, and Havana Nguyen. With a new update every Wednesday, the comic will follow the vision and story of the animated series as we build towards getting the show on air.”
Why I love it: Huge sci-fi world building! Thrilling action! Woman of color protagonist! I’m not sure what else I could want from this comic. You need to read the commentary under each page, where they expand on various aspects of the world and culture they’ve created. If there is any justice, they’ll achieve their goal of an animated series.
The Last Cowboy by Zoe Coughlin
Status: Ongoing, the first 5 chapters were about 160 pages together, and it’s now on Chapter 9
What it’s about: “In an alternate history, Earth’s first contact with aliens goes horribly wrong: a disease carried by one of the aliens renders nearly everyone on Earth sterile. Very few women are capable of getting pregnant, and those who do tend to have only one child their entire lives. Now Earth’s population is rapidly dwindling with each generation. With no other options, the human race builds a series of schools to teach the aliens as much as they can about human culture before it disappears forever.” (From TVTropes.org)
Why I love it: Such a deep exploration of how being in relationships is hard, especially when you’re in pain. It’s very explicitly about women’s lives and mental health. The context is a deep, layered story about survival and scientific challenges. The cast is diverse. So satisfying! I’m sorry I missed the Kickstarter on this one.
Love Not Found by Gina Biggs
Status: Ongoing, at about 170 pages
What it’s about: “LOVE NOT FOUND is a story about a young woman in time where touching has become outdated. She has recently moved to a new planet and finds that touching might not be such a bad idea.”
Why I love it: Abeille means bee, Miel means honey, so you can see where the two main characters are going. It’s a bit of a stretch to call this science fiction, but it IS set in what appears to be the future of humanity. And it deals with how human relationships are affected by technology. Be warned, it’s very pink. There’s nothing wrong with pink, but I didn’t want you to get hit with it unaware! It’s super sweet, I’m enjoying it, and if you need an “awww” then head on over.
Power Nap by Maritza Campos and Bachan
Status: Ongoing, about 135 pages
What it’s about: “In a world where nobody sleeps, Drew Spencer tries to hold on to a job and his sanity. Drew is unable to use the pills known as “Z-Sup” which let everyone else stay awake 24 hours a day, due to an allergy. Being run ragged by a world without sleep and a society that seems to accept the weirdest of events without question, Drew is also being roped into something sinister going on behind the scenes of this bizarre world.” (From TVTropes.org)
Why I love it: Sucks. you. in. Drew’s life gets more and more bizarre, and you’re along for the roller coaster ride. It’s clearly a satire of modern society, but it’s more of a cautionary tale about societal expectations (and mindless bureaucracy) than moralizing at current people for their perceived excesses. The contrasts are part of the humor – this city has intrusive 3D movie ads, but someone is still employed to staple papers all day? Absolutely top notch, professional quality art and writing here.
Serious Engineering by Roman Jones
Status: Ongoing / being re-formatted, about 165 pages
What it’s about: “Thirty-odd years after the American-Venezuelan war, teenager Corelle Lowell has found herself in an apparently unrelated nasty spot – spots on her hands, that is. Unable to find help from her friends and relatives, she learns about a medical team who promises free service to everyone who signs up with their little family of sorts. Things go from strange to downright bizarre for Corelle the further she digs into the inner workings of the company, which proves to be just a tiny part of something far larger than she ever imagined.”
Why I love it: First, a warning. This comic badly needs to be relettered, especially the narration of the main character’s thoughts. It’s a significant distraction. However, I’m recommending it anyway, because I’m so glad I perservered. Corelle, the main character, is amazing. Gifted, non-neurotypical, young woman of color, with so much bravery. I hope as the story progresses, part of the authors’ plan is that she stops beating herself up so much. Her story is just beginning, so I have hope that good things are in store for her.
Stand Still. Stay Silent. by Minna Sundberg
Status: Ongoing, at about 400 pages
What it’s about: “…a post apocalyptic webcomic with elements from Nordic mythology, set 90 years in the future. It’s mostly a story about friendship and exploring a forgotten world, with some horror, monsters and magic on the side.”
Why I love it: As I said in my post about fantasy webcomics, Minna Sundberg does some of the most beautiful art in comics today. I love post-apocalyptic stories, and this one is fascinating to me because it’s so… not full of grim despair? The team of adventuring characters are fantastically well developed. And for anyone who loves a good ship (imaginary or anticipated pairing of fictional characters), this will be your jam.
Stillwater Springs by Reine Brand
Status: Ongoing, 5 pages
What it’s about: “Stillwater Springs is a post-apocalyptic action comic about greed, community and survival. Set generations after the end in a cold, dry wasteland, the story follows characters connected to the town of Stillwater, an uncommon beacon of civilisation in the otherwise harsh new world.”
Why I love it: Because it just started, so I can get in on the ground floor and look cool later, talking about how I read it before it got huge! Just kidding. Really, I’m loving this baby webcomic because the art and the carefully chosen words so far, telling the story of how the world ended, are so captivating. The birds on page 4 of the intro alone, flying between the past and present! This is going to be a slow one, since Brand is doing it on the side of Greasy Space Monkeys (and, you know, life) but I am convinced it will be worth the wait.
The planet image that I used for the featured image here is from Stillwater Springs. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
Warp Zone by Ted Lange IV
Status: Chapter 1 has been completed, 42 pages
What it’s about and why I love it: This one is so hard to describe. Greg Burgas reviewed Warp Zone at Comic Book Resources, so I’m just going to send you over there and cosign his piece. And when he says there’s a dragon squirrel, he’s not lying. The only complaint I have is the format, it’s not easy to access like more mainstream webcomics formats. But if you’re looking for diversity, energy, and humor in your webcomics, definitely check this one out.
And here are several of the webcomics I’ve recommended in my “regular” comics posts, because we bought them in printed book form first. But if you haven’t had the pleasure, check them out online!
Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener
Status: 57 issues online as web comics (which is a lot of pages)
What it’s about: Robo is a sentient nuclear-powered robot built by Nikola Tesla in the 1920s. He fought in the second World War and inherited Tesladyne, a corporation devoted to science. Weird science. And occasionally violent science, such as kicking the butt of a walking Egyptian pyramid, or repelling a vampire invasion from another dimension.
Why I love it: It’s like pulp, and monster movies, and that friend who wisecracks so much that you can’t stop laughing and might pass out. Lovecraft and Carl Sagan show up. It’s funny, and it has heart, and Robo fights Nazis. And writes “Steven Hawking is a b—ard” on Mars with rocks. To be fair, Hawking did deserve it.
Dicebox by Jenn Manley Lee
Status: Ongoing, about 420 pages
What it’s about: “…tells the story of an eventful year in the lives of Griffen & Molly who started off as a couple of itinerant factory workers in a space-traveling future.” They bounce from one job to the next. Partners, friends, ex-lovers maybe, non-sexual committed relationship? It doesn’t really matter. They’re together and they understand each other. Molly is the level-headed one, Griffin is the tempestuous one. Molly has strange visions. Griffin has a complicated past that by the end of this book, may be coming back to haunt her.
Why I love it: Lee slowly builds a complex world out of characters of various genders, pasts, and interests. It’s funny and deep and dramatic and complicated. I’m trying so hard to wait until she prints another book, but I may not be able to!
Freakangels by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield
Status: Completed, with 864 pages
What it’s about: “23 years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment. 6 years ago, the world ended. This is the story of what happened next.” And what happened next, basically, is that the Freakangels try to save everyone they can. Well, some of the Freakangels do. Some of them have other ideas.
Why I love it: Warren Ellis is a master storyteller. (He doesn’t always choose to use his powers wisely, but that’s another blog post.) The place and time the Freakangels are trying to live through seem so very real, and the personalities of large cast in this series are always perfectly distinct. C-Man believes this is Ellis’s best work, which is saying a lot because we’re Ellis fanpeople in this house. The end is sweet and sad and happy all at the same time.
O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti
Status: Ongoing, at about 255 pages
What it’s about: “Alastair Sterling was the inventor who sparked the robot revolution. And because of his sudden death, he didn’t see any of it. That is, until he wakes up 16 years later in a robot body that matches his old one exactly. Until he steps outside and finds a world utterly unlike the one he left behind – a world where robots live alongside their human neighbors and coexist in their cities. A world he helped create. Now Al must track down his old partner Brendan to find out who is responsible for Al’s unexpected resurrection, but their reunion raises even more questions. Like who the robot living with Brendan is. And why she looks like Al. And how much of the past should stay in the past…”
Why I love it: It’s a science fiction setting, but at its core, O Human Star is about humans (and robots) doing the best they can to relate to each other. The art is grounded and confident. Humans (and robots) are solid and real. I adore it and I can’t wait for a second volume, since I read this as a physical book and I’m waiting for the next.
The Zombie Hunters by Jenny Romanchuk
Status: Ongoing, 650 pages
What it’s about: “The Zombie Hunters is a new look at an old theme. It is inspired by a post-apocalyptic vision of the future as well as past human history. This story follows a group of zombie hunters as they go though life as survivors of the undead outbreak. The characters reside on an artificial island, the former site of the Argus Research Campus. The hunters, like so many others on the island, are infected – they carry a dormant strain of the undead virus, which will cause them to turn into one of several different types of undead when they die. The infected are marked and segregated from the rest of the inhabitants on the island, making a living by working offshore in the wastes, hunting zombies and collecting salvage, trading their freedom for safety.”
Why I love it: By the end of the book, The Zombie Hunters has built up a fascinating world and a diverse set of intriguing characters trying (and often failing) to co-exist peacefully with each other. What I especially liked about this book was the abundance of female characters. The main character, Jenny, opens the book by screwing up her first mission as leader of a team in the zombie-infested wasteland outside their island compound. Her team is composed of an almost equal number of women and men, as would probably happen in a post-apocalypse where all available human resources are needed to survive. Katie, Sammie, and Maureen aren’t all the same gal, either, they have distinct personalities and appearances. And they kick ass.
And that’s the list of my favorite science fiction webcomics so far!! 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.