Starting Points: 4 Webcomics (Written by Women) You Should Check Out

Starting Points: 4 Webcomics (Written by Women) You Should Check Out

I know you're in a rush. But—looking for some reading material? How about a space opera military science fiction comic? Or two characters on a road trip from one coast of the U.S. to the other, dealing with adventure, sexuality, political intrigue, pie baking, and more? Allow me to introduce you to some of the

I know you’re in a rush. But—looking for some reading material? How about a space opera military science fiction comic? Or two characters on a road trip from one coast of the U.S. to the other, dealing with adventure, sexuality, political intrigue, pie baking, and more?

Allow me to introduce you to some of the most high-quality, exciting, interesting free webcomics out there created by women. These are some true indie gems that have not yet to hit the mainstream. Over the last five years, webcomics have become the go-to venture for aspiring artists who want to gain a following, experience, and a portfolio to help them get professional work. Tumblr, especially, has become the platform of choice for many new creators as a website with a relatively young audience and an emphasis on graphics. The most famous example is perhaps Noelle Stephenson, whose debut comic Nimona went from being posted on Tumblr to being published by HarperCollins.

All of these options are well-written and well-drawn, if not work-safe, and if you’re not familiar with them yet your life will be improved by giving them a chance.

1. The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E. K. Weaver

What’s it about?

The protagonists are Amal, who has just come out to his Indian-American family and now has to drive cross country to make it to his sister’s wedding, and TJ, a hippie drifter with secrets in his past who’s headed the same way that Amal is. Together they embark on a less-than-epic road trip.

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by EK Weaver

Tell me more!

Since completing the comic in 2014, Weaver’s published various “extras,” including a 45-page comic depicting three different possible futures for her protagonists.

Is it ongoing?

Nope, lucky you, it’s complete! All 500 pages are available for free online and for sale in print.

2. Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

What’s it about?

Bitty, a freshman at the fictional Samwell College, is a former figure skater now playing college hockey. The story is part an exploration of hockey culture and part Bitty’s journey of self-discovery, as he makes friends on the team, finds the best oven to bake pies in, and develops inconvenient feelings for his son-of-a-hockey-star captain.

The comic doesn’t require any prior knowledge of hockey or sports in general.

Tell me more!

Ukazu’s worked very hard to find an audience for her work. The comic is posted on Tumblr, and the creator made the first primer about Check, Please! herself. Partially as a result of this encouragement, there are currently over 600 stories about Check, Please! on the fanfiction website Archive of Our Own alone.

In 2015, Ukazu ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to publish the first volume of the comic (“Check, Please!: Year One”). The campaign reached its official funding goal in less than twenty minutes, eventually raising nearly $75,000—about five times the original ask.

Is it ongoing?

Yes! The comic will eventually cover Bitty’s four years in college, with each year divided into two semesters. Freshman year’s been posted in full, with the current updates taking place in Bitty’s second semester as a sophomore.

3. Starfighter by Hamletmachine

What’s it about?

Starfighter is a science fiction comic set in space, about an aircraft carrier in a dystopian future military. Pilots and navigators are paired up and assigned to a fighter plane and encouraged to work extremely closely together, with few personal boundaries. Even their real names are replaced by call signs at all times.

starfightereclipse

The comic primarily depicts the relationship between Cain, a violent and volatile pilot, and Abel, an inexperienced young navigator. The story contains explicit sexual encounters between the two from very early on, as the system encourages dependency and closeness to improve pilot-navigator communication.

Tell me more!

In March of 2014, the creator took time off from writing the comic to create an online game based on the Starfighter universe. The Kickstarter campaign to fund the venture raised over triple the original funding goal, with a total of over $143,000. This resulted in the game Starfighter: Eclipse, which was launched in June of 2015 (and was reviewed in July by Cathryn Sinjin-Starr).

Is it ongoing?

Yes! Four “chapters” of the comic are planned, with the first three already complete and the fourth currently being posted.

4. The Substitutes by Myisha Haynes

What’s it about?

The official summary for the comic is: “What happens when roommates Freddie, Emilio, and Bianca inherit the magical weapons and responsibilities meant for someone else?”

The story hasn’t had much time to develop yet, as The Substitutes debuted in early September of this year, but existing pages make it very much worth following. Unlike many free, online works, Haynes’ comic has extremely polished and professional-looking art from the very first panel, with detailed backgrounds, a wide color palette and sophisticated character designs. The script is also good so far, with the plot starting with a literal bang.

Tell me more!

Like Ukazu, Haynes chose to use Tumblr as the primary platform for promoting her comic, and in the lead-up to launching The Substitutes created a development blog. She’s continued to update it after launching the comic, sharing bits of inspiration, scenes in development, and other behind-the-scenes stuff.

The Substitutes, by Myisha Haynes

Is it ongoing?

Yes! The comic is currently on a bi-weekly update schedule, with new pages added every Tuesday.

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Marina Berlin
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