Stories For Not-Christmas
We’ve been Christmassy this week, but we don’t want to neglect those of you who aren’t. So we’ve put together a short (but long, really, if you count the pages) list of some of our favourite completed webcomics. In the mood for a story? Check out our recs!
John Allison’s Bad Machinery is one of the best webcomics going at the moment, with one book already out and another coming soon. Grumpy girl detectives! There’s nothing greater. But before Bad Machinery, there was Scary Go Round (and before SGR there was Bobbins, but let’s keep on track). Scary Go Round is set in Tackleford, a small town in one of the nowhere-y bits of England, and revolves around an evolving bunch of pals and acquaintances who all sort of have interesting lives or jobs but not really. There are mysteries, creatures, and charming speech patterns. Allison’s art gets better and better and better–by the end you won’t want to say goodbye. But DON’T cheat and see who’s still around in Bad Machinery or Giant Days before you get there! That’s not cricket!
Warren Ellis , Paul Duffied & Kate Brown
Earlier this year I got to thank artist Paul Duffield, in person, for drawing a flaccid penis as Freakangels’ first instance of nudity. I think he understood where I was coming from. But if you need more than that, it’s a Midwich Cuckoos kind of deal, during- and post-apocalypse. Guess who caused said apocalypse? Whoops. Mentally linked and magnificently powerful twenty-one year old kids, all with their own ideas and ideals, trying to get by in a world that should hate and fear them… but is actually none the wiser. They’re a multi-racial bunch, though they all lack skin pigmentation and have violet eyes. The backgrounds and environmental illustration support the storytelling wonderfully; Duffield’s art and Kate Brown’s colouring make this comic gorgeous. People say things like “I’m going to shit in your dreams”, but it’s probably not as Warren Ellis-y as it could be.
Because she’s just that good. Comparatively short, but full of quiet violence and vitality. Emily Carroll knows better than most how to use the knowledge that her audience will be reading on the internet: what’s that you see moving, out of the corner of your eye? That’s atmosphere. Enjoy!
Faith Erin Hicks
Faith Erin Hicks is one of the earliest and most prolific webcomic artists out there. Demonology 101 is the story of a young girl going to high school who also happens to be a demon. Her adopted family loves her nonetheless, as do her best friends. But she must balance the in-fighting in the demon community against her life with her human family.
The art is black and white, but in no way suffers for lack of color. Hicks’ art is lush with solid inking, a skill for detailed backgrounds I can only admire and envy, and her characters are full of emotive power. While the overarching story is serious with elements of sacrifice and revenge, there are soft and sweet moments in the story, as well as genuinely funny ones.
RPG World is a comic that takes place — mostly — in the world of the RPG being played by a guy named Jim. Most of the characters in the game have no idea they’re in an RPG. But Cherry the elf has just enough Genre Savvy to question some of the weirdness that takes place around her. She’s also not sure whether she loves the unnamed Hero or just wants to smack him upside the head for being a doofus.
RPG World qualifies as technically complete, but the truth is that it ended unfinished. Some of the fans pushed the creator a little too hard, and Ian Jones-Quartey quit when it stopped being fun. Since he has now gone on, quite literally, to better things like producing episodes of Steven Universe, he’s unlikely to get back to wrap the finale. Don’t let that stop you — the art is fun, the satire of epic RPG tropes is amusing, and the archive is a good binge-length for one of those cold winter days.
Little Dee gets separated from her human parents. But kindly bear, dog, vulture (vulture?!) and pudu (among others) look out for her and take care of her. The black and white art is storybook type, and the characters each serve a purpose. The bear is protective, kindly, and loves his sweets. The dog is playful, simple, and sweet. The vulture is the brains, even if he is kind of gloomy and tends toward morbid and gross.
Despite the morbidity, it has a happy ending.