Sometimes you’ve had a rough, rough day, and you need the cute. The webcomics I’m reviewing below bring the cute artistically—and sometimes their subject matter is just as serious as real life.
Genre: Inspirational Cuteness
Updates: Usually daily
You can’t get any simpler than positive doodles. These are small, cutely rendered animals telling you encouraging things.
Genre: Anthropomorphized/Slice Of Life/Comedy/Gag-a-Day
Updates: Usually twice a week
In a lovely house, there are three cats: Elvis, Puck, and Lupin. The comic is told from their point of view as reporters, sharing the news they encounter “reporter-on-the-scene” style. Puck is the black one, Elvis is the cranky Siamese, and Lupin is the anchor-cat at the news desk (and those names give away Georgia Dunn’s fandom bona fides). The comics are gag-a-day, and the reports are all about the people who share the cats’ home as told from the cats’ point of view—which means the cats are reporting on things that make no sense to them quite often. This one is a perfect lightweight chuckle for winding down.
Genre: Comedy/Anthro-Human Hijinks
Although currently on hiatus for the summer, Doctor Cat is adorable. It is a manga-esque, cartoony comic about a medical doctor who happens to be a cat. He thinks like a cat, as does Lawyer Cat, but it’s all perfectly ordinary that they interact with humans, whom they address as “human.” Doctor Cat is aware of how cute he is and is threatened when something takes attention away from him. But again, the art is adorable and good for a wind-down after a rough day. The hiatus gives you enough time for an archive binge.
Genre: Adorable cute optimism
Updates: At random, pretty much
Corgi! Ichabod is a Corgi! He’s tiny and orange and white like a stubby-legged little creamsicle. He is always happy and always looking at the bright side of things. The universe seems happy to indulge his optimism. Ichabod trips and falls? Oh, well, nap-time. His happiness is so contagious that even cats are affected by it. Bullies try to give him a hard time about short legs? He invents a happy song about his short legs. It has a tiny little archive, but the cuteness level is dangerously high for every single comic. Perfect for the end of a rough day. Also, Corgi!!!
Genre: Surreal adventure
Come for the winged teacups, stay for the beautiful serenity! The art is just breathtaking. It’s like Miyazaki and Disney got run through a blender with a mix of chamomile tea and valium. It’s so soothing and pretty to look at. The slightly unsaturated dreamy pastel colours. The lettering is built into each page panel, unobtrusive, as if it were whispering gently to the reader on the wind.
But then it takes a gentle, meandering turn into the weird. Glowing, sentient apples and friendly, intelligent, impulsive bread. Mean robots who raid the happy apple village to steal the gifted apples! And one brave, curious, and feisty sour green apple who appears to be trying to figure out who he is and what his place in the world is…and who has a mysterious power he’s just discovering.
Constance’s art is gloriously emotive, to the point where you can’t help but feel for the strange little creatures in the world she’s built. (And to the point I really want a winged teacup. Don’t ask me what I’d do with it. Maybe I’ll cosplay as a winged teacup…) But the whole vibe of the comic, even with the mean robots and—whatever Podgeworth is—is just peaceful for the most part. A good wind-down comic after a rough day.
Genre: Manga style/Politics
Updates: Daily, b/w on weekdays with full color Sundays
Sinfest is a comic that has been running for many, many years, so there’s an enormous backlog. With that must come a warning: the artist’s personal views evolve from the beginning of the comic to the present. When the comic began, it was mainly about the main character, Slick, trying to convince the “It Girl,” Monique, to sleep with him/date him; Slick’s best friend Squigley, the literal male chauvinist pig; and Criminy, their nerdy friend. God used hand puppets to mock the Devil. The Dragon of the East would make appearances as the mellow, laid back mediator. Buddha would swing by on his little flying cloud. Ariel and Ezikiel, the missionaries and God’s fanboys, would appear trying to preach morality to everyone else, but succeeding mostly in annoying everyone. The comic parodied everything without mercy.
After a hiatus, when Ishida came back to the comic, his storytelling approach began to change: the comic’s politics began skewing left, to the point of an Obama avatar showing up named “Barackstar.” Slick was still chasing Monique, but Monique became aware of patriarchy and went androgynous in protest. He introduced the Sisterhood—a group of characters who seek to destroy patriarchy. He began chronicling the relationship of Sam and Libby—the former being a flag-waving warmonger and the latter his beleaguered girlfriend who doesn’t like what her boyfriend is turning into. Slick began to become aware of the menace of capitalism. The jokes about God and the Devil backed off, making the Devil more an all-purpose antagonist whose machinations are the reason patriarchy and all the other evils of the world exist. The art is chibi-cute 95% of the time. 1% of the time, it’s almost photo-realistic. The remaining 4% is more serious manga-style. All are beautiful, and the beauty of such a long archive is that you get to see the progression of the art when you do an archive binge.
So while the art is unmistakably cute, you’ll want to read early strips if you just want cheap laughs, and you’ll want to save more recent ones for when you’re up for incisive political commentary.