A small list of good webcomics

I love webcomics for the same reason I love(d) Vine: they’re small and vast and intimate and universal at the same time. So, human scale.

Here are some of my favourites.

Buttercup Festival

My friend Ryan introduced me to Buttercup Festival in college. It’s a little funny, and a little sad, and oddly beautiful. I hadn’t seen a Buttercup Festival comic in years, and stumbled across it again on Twitter yesterday, which is what sparked this post.

I love how the creator draws forests and nature. In a comic with a very small cast, the forest seems like a silent additional character.

Buttercup Festival 3 - 77

False Knees

False Knees is one of my all-time favourite webcomics. It’s laugh out loud funny and the art is absurdly beautiful. It amazes me how much expression the creator is able to communicate in his drawings of animals, especially birds. They clearly put a lot of love into every bird they draw, and this comic helped make me more fond of birds.

I fully intend to one day buy False Knees prints and hang them up on my walls.

False Knees 344
False Knees 334
False Knees 331

The Abominable Charles Christopher

It’s been veeeeery many years since I read The Abominable Charles Christopher but I still think about it often. I remember finding it very funny, but also that it occasionally made me very afraid.

It’s a story about a child-like sasquatch who lives in a forest full of colourful animal characters. Hijinks and comedy ensues. But there is also something monstrous and large coming. Its presence looms over the story in a way that makes me think of this webcomic as pure art.

The Abominable Charles Christopher - Don't freak out
The Abominable Charles Christopher - Bedtime stories
The Abominable Charles Christopher - Rise and fall of the Rupert Empire

Hark! A Vagrant

This one hurts a little.

Hark! A Vagrant was an incredibly funny webcomic by Kate Beaton. Its main thing was witty comics about historical and literary figures.

Hark! A Vagrant 202
Hark! A Vagrant 213

Just as great are these comics Kate draws about her family. Just little funny things about the people in her life. It’s clear she loves her family very much.

Then one day, Kate’s sister got sick.

via Kate Beaton's Twitter

A strange thing happens when you get to know someone and their family through their comics over the course of a long time. It’s difficult to describe this sadness. The grief is a physical weight. This tweet says it best

In her final message on the site, which was dedicated to Becky, Kate wrote:

I didn’t think it would be when I stepped away to work on other projects, but (not to kill the light mood around here) 2016-2018 were very difficult years in a personal sense, and emerging on the other side, I feel like this is a project that has run its course. I am so very grateful for all that this comic and my readers have given me, they have given me a career, joy, and more than I ever dreamed.

…I miss making humour comics, but coming back to them, I will have to figure out what that will look like. These comics go back to my early 20s, and I am a different person. In a sense that’s exciting. I’ll figure it out, and I hope I’ll see you there.

Hark! A Vagrant is really really good. Please read it.

A Softer World

Is A Softer World a comic? There are no illustrations, but it’s images and text arranged in panels so I think it counts.

I was obsessed with this comic in college. Each one is like a sad poem, except it’s a sadness that feels good?

A Softer World 1221

Like a good kind of pain. Like when you pop a pimple?

A Softer World 1193

Does that make sense?

A Softer World 1237

Anyway I don’t recommend reading too much A Softer World in one sitting, but you should still check it out! I think it started out more darkly funny than sad, but in its latter days, it became more the latter than the former, while still retaining a certain painful beauty.

Wondermark

Wondermark is nothing less than a (hilarious) work of art.

Wondermark - #1062; The Terrible Sea Lion

This is how it gets made (from the About page)

Wondermark is created from 19th century woodcuts and engravings, scanned from my personal collection of old books, and also from volumes in the Los Angeles Central Library and the UCLA Rare Books Collection.

Most of the books these images come from are bound volumes of general-interest magazines such as Harper’s, Frank Leslie’s and Punch, but my collection also includes special-interest magazines such as Scientific American, Sears-Roebuck and other catalogs, and children’s storybooks and primers.

I’m always interested in acquiring more source material, so if you find a moldy old book in your attic (from 1860-1922), and it’s full of old drawings, cartoons, or engravings, drop me a line!

It blows my mind how well the whole thing comes together. Don’t be put off by how wordy the panels appear to be. It’s worth it!

Wondermark #1510; Lesser of Recommendation

A few observations after looking at these collectively for the first time.

  • I seem to like comics that are both funny and sad
  • I like comics with nature and animals
  • Almost all of these comics were started between 2000 and 2010. Even the outlier, False Knees, was started in 2013 …now that I think about it, I don’t think I have any favourite webcomics that started within the last two years? Why?