Awesome Webcomics of April: Staff Picks

Hotblood by TorilHotblood

Tuesdays & Thursdays at 12:00 AM Eastern Standard Time.

The Wild West with centaurs. Need I say more?

Ok, I will. James Rook, a Civil War veteran with limited options, and Asa Langley, a steel icon, get into wild shenanigans in the year of 1871. There’s violence, sex, profanity, revised American history, and centaurs.

The centaurs are totally normal though. Like, they’re just people with horse bodies, but some people treat them like garbage. The webcomic’s creator, Toril, has answered a ton of questions about the existence of centaurs, which you can read here.

— Al Rosenberg

 Portside Stories - Valerie HallaPortside Stories

Valerie Halla
Twice weekly
NSFW (?)

A recently started webcomic by a transgender lady about, in her own words, “Huggy Gender Dorks.” The main character, Nat Mint, is questioning their own gender, and has done so in their own way for years. Their friend and current roommate Alexandra Stripes has been the source of Nat’s questioning, but also recently their supporter. The comic shows them both as twenty-somethings and as teenagers alternating roles of supporting one another and worrying about one another as they come out to each other. Portside Stories has only recently finished its first chapter and just started up its second. It has lovely pastel colored art, and while the cast is small thus far it’s only going to add more characters with their own perspective on gender.

 Valerie’s stated goal is to tell a nice story for trans people about trans people, since there’s so few non-tragedies involving questioning/trans people in media. Valerie has demonstrated an excellent sense of comedic timing through the pacing of her panels, and I’m quite interested to see where things go in the comic. Alex’s sibling Lark is non-binary, but we’ve only seen them presenting as male in a flashback in the comic thus far. Outside the comic, the artist has portrayed them in a super femme fashion, so I’m definitely curious to see how their story is handled.

Something I enjoy very much about Portside Stories is that there’s more than one person who’s very much not cisgender in the narrative. Most stories have trans people on their own, when friendship with other trans people is typically something very important to our lives. Although the word community is a four letter word to some folks, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone without friends or acquaintances to share support or experience. It can be extremely hard to make it on your own through life without that help, and I’m glad that Valerie’s creating work that reflects the importance of other people.

— Rachel Stevens

Band VS BandBand Vs Band

Kathleen Jacques

Started in late 2010 by Kathleen Jacques, Band Vs Band is a wonderful, colourful, and delightful story about two rival bands and how they keep crossing paths. Following the Candy Hearts, led by the bubbly Honey Hart, and the Sourballs, with lead woman Turpentine, the series is fairly episodic in nature with each new chapter following the trials and tribulations of these two groups. What I love about the comic is how bright and pastel-filled the palette is, yet the subject matter is actually pretty dense. While the visual and story tone is very much a blending together of things like Jem and the Holograms with Josie and the Pussycats and a dash of Archie, Jacques is still able to wrangle issues of uncertainty, love, sexuality, gender, and upbringing.

There are many opportunities where the comic could easily swerve and avoid these kinds of topics, but Jacques prefers to add a little bit or relatable nitty-gritty to the mix and it helps ground this fantasy land of bubblegum pop and punk in an endearing fashion. It’s also refreshing to see more queer and trans characters deal with rent, what comes after school, and labels applied to them. It never drags down the series into entirely gloomy depths, but it adds a nice contrasting savoury to the sweet majority of it.

I also adore just how much Band Vs Band pops. Everything about it is exuberant, from the use of colours, to character designs, even the lettering and speech bubbles are wonderfully ecstatic. With every page and every panel you feel like Jacques is excited for you to read what she’s created, there’s a real pinch of passion that’s special to see, especially with how full-on it is, and damn is that feeling infectious. I’m just so happy something like this exists as a webcomic nowadays, and I absolutely cannot wait to see how much more Jacques will develop her art style and writing, especially as her characters grow and evolve.

— Jules Low

Check PleaseCheck, Please!

Ngozi Ukazu
Sporadic. Last updated on Feb. 20th.
SFW (so far)

I love hockey. I love gay romances. And I love comics. Check, Please! combines all of these things, and when I finally checked it out after several of my friends raved about it, I was immediately drawn into the story.

The comic is mostly (but not exclusively) told from the perspective of Eric Bittle–’Bitty’ to his teammates–a former figure skater turned collegiate hockey player. Yes. You read that right. It’s like a reverse The Cutting Edge and I love it so much. And no, you really don’t need to know anything about hockey to start reading and enjoying it, although as someone hockey-obsessed I can vouch for the fact that it is accurate in terms of its depiction of hockey culture.

What’s also great about Check, Please! is the transmedia aspect. The main character has a twitter, and Ukazu regularly interacts with readers and shares alternative POV scenes and other extras. The twitter and other material are good for tiding you over in between updates, since there has not now been nor am I guessing will there ever be a regular posting schedule, but that doesn’t seem to matter to fans of the series.

In the author’s own words from her about page, “It’s a story about hockey and friendship and bros and trying to find yourself during the best 4 years of your life.” Honestly, I think Ukazu undersells it by a lot. For a tumblr webcomic that is less than two years old, it already has a thriving fan community on tumblr and twitter and a growing number of fanfics on Archive of Our Own. Ukazu also recently announced that she was going to have a kickstarter in April, which I hope will be a giant success. Also, look at this incredibly cute primer the creator herself made!

 — Kate Tanski

gunnerkrigg courtGunnerkrigg Court

Tom Siddell
M W F.

Gunnerkrigg Court is long — in May, it will celebrate its 10th year of continuous webcomic goodness. The story follows Antimony Carver, a girl with mysterious powers, mysterious parents, and a profound pragmatism that helps her bridge the gap between the wild, natural world, and the science-minded technical one. The world of Gunnerkrigg Court is inhabited both by familiar mythological figures as well as amazing robots, and the adventures that Antimony and her friends engage with roll out slowly and with much love and care.

Fans of queer comics who read slowly may have to read through a lengthy archive, but the payoff for best friend Kat is so beautifully drawn out that it’s worth your patience and attention. Great female friendships, a lot of diversity, and a very believable magical world means the comic is always interesting. And now that we’re learning more about Antimony’s dad, I am ecstatic every time Tom updates.

Gunnerkrigg Court itself is a boarding school for students who straddle the line between technological and magical. If you miss a Harry Potter-style coming of age story, told almost entirely from the point of view of young women, this webcomic still growing strong and has much more story to tell.

 — Jo Fu

my kitty and old dogMy Kitty and Old Dog


I’ll admit it: I have recently become addicted to webtoons. If I were still commuting by bus daily, I can guarantee you I would fill my time by scrolling down webtoons on my smart phone. I easily become entranced by the vertical format and smooth motion as the images slide up from the bottom of the screen and off the top.

Add My Kitty and Old Dog to the list of cute things on the Internet. As you can guess from the title alone, this webtoon is about an old dog and a kitten. Two of the most adorable things ever, right? The sweet, sensitive renderings are gently humorous and occasionally heart-wrenching. (Lesson: owners, be good to your pets!) It’s not a particularly deep story, but not all stories have to be, right? All told, it fulfills my daily need for an “awwwww” moment, and I suspect it may do the same for you.

— Amanda Vail

Darwin CarmichaelDarwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell

Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan
Updates every Tuesday (but all strips are available for binge-reading)

I have a thing for comics that blend fantasy and reality. I also have a soft spot for dark humor. And I really like the movie Dogma.

Put all those things together and you can see why I love Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell. A laidback, funny, and fantastical look at adulting during the biblical Last Days of Judgment, the webcomic follows Darwin as he tries to save his soul, find love, and generally just live his life without the threat of demons dragging him to hell.

Darwin is a regular dude who lives in Brooklyn. To make gentrification matters worse, his neighborhood has become heavily populated by post-Judgment-Day mythical beings. (‘The demons have taken all the good property in Manhattan,’ reads a line in the synopsis.)

He works a crappy job at a financial aid counseling office, his apartment is constantly infiltrated by stoner angels who refuse to pay rent, and a cute little unicorn who only likes virgins keeps following him around the city. And, oh yeah, he’s totally on his way to hell because of a major karmic deficit involving the Dalai Lama.

His best friend Ella Fitzgerald – the daughter of saints – is helping Darwin rehab his soul, but every day is a struggle. For starters, he keeps locking his 2000-year-old pet manticore Skittles in the closet. Skittles is my favorite character – he’s completely adorable and has the personality of a lovestruck tween. Ella is also bad-ass because she can pretty much do whatever evil she wants due to an overload of good karma inherited from her parents. Good times.

Bookmark this webcomic if you haven’t heard of it already. It’s been around since 2009 and has raised enough money to become a hardcover, full-color, 360-strip book, but I’m late to the party and just recently discovered the awesomeness.

— Lex Fields

Al Rosenberg

Al Rosenberg

Gay weirdo. Talk to them about tiny games, big books, trash, and all things illness.

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