Webcomics Roundup: July 2018

O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti

Welcome to our second month of Webcomics Roundup! This time around, we’re offering more introductions to the wide range of webcomics read regularly by WWAC contributors, from long running sagas, heavy on character development and plot, to comics offering primarily light jokey one-shots. In July, we seemed to be celebrating a lot of growth and maturing, which is nice for our characters and creators both, I am sure.

Boyfriend of the Dead by Ushio Mushi
Updates Tuesdays and Fridays

It’s the zombie apocalypse, and human protagonist Alex finds herself stranded on the opposite side of the globe from her home in the United States. She’s determined to survive, however, and she’s not afraid to use a golf club to do it. Someone else wants to keep her alive, too: N, a zombie who hasn’t yet tasted human flesh and has therefore regained most of his humanity. N must have been a chef in his life, because he recognizes the potential deliciousness of pampered Alex. He’s intent on following his grandmother’s sage advice to keep his livestock on hand for three days before butchering to make sure it’s not infected with anything that might make him ill. The only problem is that somewhere along the way, Alex and N develop genuine feelings for one another.

four people of varying degrees of aliveness and chagrin eat together around a table.
One panel from episode 97 of Boyfriend of the Dead by Ushio Mushi

Boyfriend of the Dead just celebrated both its 100th episode and its one year anniversary, and I hope it celebrates many more. I came for the carnage, but I’ve stayed for the puns and character development.
—Laura Stump

Strong Female Protagonist
Written by Brennan Lee Mulligan and illustrated by Molly Ostertag
Updates on Tuesdays and Fridays

On July 24th, Mulligan and Ostertag kicked off the final chapter of Strong Female Protagonist, a comic I often describe as exploring all the ethical questions we wish superhero comics would consider. Alison Green, one of many young adults who discovered she had superpowers during puberty, used to be Mega Girl—a masked hero who fought villains using her super strength and invulnerability—until a villain pushed her to question the purpose behind such heroics. The comic picks up with Alison in college, seeking a way to better the world without beating villains into submission. Most recently, she has begun building an organization called Valkyrie, with which she hopes to utilize the unique abilities of various superpowered people to assist women’s shelters and related nonprofits.

While Alison has engaged with the ethics of using her abilities through her interactions with her biodynamic friends and in philosophy classes, the comic has specifically looked at domestic violence, sexual assault, and the broken justice system that lets rapists and perpetrators go free. The new chapter that began on the 24th seems like it might focus on how recent events—including Alison helping a friend finally face an abusive past and break away from the possibly still villainous organization he helped create—will affect the larger world. Mulligan and Ostertag have taken great care to explore various characters’ personal decisions about how to help others with their abilities in unique and morally questionable ways, but it feels right for the story to come together with a more expansive exploration into how these personal choices impact society.

I love this comic deeply, and highly recommend reading it from the beginning, either online or in print as the team has successfully Kickstarted two book collections, and both are available via Top Shelf. Now is a perfect time to jump in; it only updates two days a week, and Mulligan and Ostertag take their time with pacing each story, so you’ve definitely got time to catch up and follow along as this incredible comic wraps.
—Alenka Figa

O Human Star
By Blue Delliquanti
Updates Mondays

O Human Star takes place in a near future in which “synthetic” people, AIs housed in robotic bodies, live among humans. The central narrative is one of geniuses navigating interpersonal issues ranging from romantic to familial to professional. There’s a mystery. Someone can fly. There’s a robot butler, and he’s adorable. Basically, this comic has everything I like, and it is a surprise that it took me so long to start reading it.

In fact, I just began reading the archives of O Human Star in the middle of July, starting with the very first page from 2012, and I have now completely caught up to today. Despite accolades from a number of discerning readers, I had put off reading it, because I was daunted by the extent of the archives. Luckily, when I finally dove in I found the experience of catching up to be remarkably smooth both in terms of the website’s mobile navigation (it’s good!) and Delliquanti’s impressive consistency in both story and art quality. The title image for this roundup is one panel from this month of O Human Star. As with Strong Female Protagonist mentioned above, if you would prefer to read the archives on paper you may do so, but whether you read digitally or not, now is the time. The author announced recently that we’ve reached the penultimate chapter. Catch up now and you can emote along with the rest of us as the tale concludes.
—Emily Lauer

Ménage à 3 (NSFW)
By Giz (Gisèle Lagacé) and Dave Zero (David Lumsdon), edited by T Campbell
Updates Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday

Ménage à 3 is a “Rated R (Teen+) HBO-style romantic comedy” that has been running for just over ten years. What started as a slice-of-life story about Gary, a romantically hopeless Anglo nerd living in Montreal, and his two sexy woman roommates Zii and Didi, has transformed over the course of a decade into a rather thoughtful exploration of modern relationships and sex. Gary has gone from having no idea how to approach women or actualize his fantasies to dealing with the problems of being objectified and pursued to finding a fulfilling relationship and figuring out what that actually means. Zii and Didi have become co-protagonists and had their own relationship adventures. Zii is a bisexual rocker and nonconformist who has gone from one hot-but-inadvisable relationship to the next in pursuit of living her truth. Didi, once the ditzy blonde bimbo having sex with every man who wanted her (which was essentially all of them), has come to realize those relationships were unsatisfying, and begun clumsily exploring her sexuality and learning about herself emotionally.

Even though it features nudity and/or sex about every other strip, Ménage à 3 isn’t a comic that’s really focused on being erotic or titillating. It features attractive, well-drawn people being sexy, but the jokes and the stories of self-discovery take the forefront every time. The recent storyline has brought things full circle, in a way, with Gary, Zii, and Didi finally dealing with their feelings toward one another from a place of reasonable self-awareness and maturity. Despite the title of the comic, which is French for “threesome,” the three roommates have never had a threesome together, and most of their multi-partner sexual experiences with other people have been unsatisfying for various reasons. Will we soon see the fulfillment of the comic’s title? Will the three of them find what they’re looking for in one another? Could be!
—Annie Blitzen

Sarah’s Scribbles
By Sarah Andersen
Updates sporadically

Sarah Andersen offers engaging slice of life comics, usually in a four-frame format, that comment on everything from loneliness and relationships to personal grooming techniques. Both her drawing style and her subject matter make me feel that fans who miss Hyperbole and a Half would appreciate her work. I can’t claim to be making a discovery here, however, because Sarah Andersen is extremely popular already, with a range of merchandise available in her recently updated store. Her notes on her comics frequently mention international tours, and her work gets translated into other languages. Excitingly, in July she started sharing short animated videos of her work on YouTube, created with Go Comics. I can’t help but prefer the stationary ones because I am An Old Person, but I’ll bet these videos will introduce her work to a whole new circle of fans, and that’s nice.
—Emily Lauer

Dumbing of Age
By David Willis
Updates daily

Fast approaching its eighth year, Dave Willis’ Dumbing of Age continues to weave a compelling college dramedy, assisted by snappy art, witty dialogue, and a really big cast. For the uninitiated, DoA is a slice-of-life webcomic set on the campus of Indiana University, populated by rebooted versions of characters from Willis’ other webcomics, including Roomies, It’s Walky, and Shortpacked, in a bit of continuity mix-and-match that calls to mind John Allison’s Scary Go Round. Since those comics comprise close to twenty years of history, much of it concurrent, there’s a lot of background here. But never fear: you can start at the beginning of Dumbing of Age without feeling like you are missing anything from Willis’ other work. And if you continue reading, you get to enjoy both the art and characters develop in a comic that, between gag-a-day jokes and the occasional angst bomb, offers a little something for everyone.

A smiling waitress announces pickles are back on the menu
One panel from Dumbing of Age’s July 1 strip, by David Willis

As indicated by the title of the current chapter (“Of Mike and Men”), July’s strips include a focus on Mike Warner’s backstory, fleshing out a notoriously assholish character who till now seemed one-note. Seeing a softer, smilier little Mike in Willis’ blue-toned flashbacks is both intriguing and unnerving. Meanwhile, Joyce, the comic’s most likely candidate for “main character,” is elbow-deep in a storyline that showcases her unlikeable side: she’s romantically pursuing Jacob, who (while hunky and kind) is already in a relationship. She summarizes her motives succinctly: “It’s not stealing a boyfriend if we’re meant to be together!” It’s odd seeing good-girl Joyce argue such an ethically dubious position, but as the comic has shown, she has plenty of room to grow emotionally. Plus, the drama brewing from this potential love triangle is too scrumptious for readers like me to resist.
—Ariel Godwin

After a month like that, with so many characters across our beloved webcomics growing as people, I can only hope August will offer us some extremely poor life decisions from the characters we follow. Will we see new perils for our protagonists, or will they continue this trend of responsibility, talking about their feelings openly and firmly surviving the zombie apocalypse? Only time (and next month’s webcomics roundup) will tell!

Emily Lauer

Emily Lauer

Emily Lauer lives in Manhattan with her husband, daughter and dog. She teaches writing and literature at Suffolk County Community College where she studies comics, kids' books, adaptations and visual culture. She is a former Pubwatch Editor for WWAC, and frankly, there is a lot more gray in her hair than there was when this profile picture was taken.