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A Few of my Favorite Webcomics

By now, I hope you are all familiar with the graphic novel/manga section of your library (and the wonderful subject heading of graphic novels.)  If you’re not, and feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of comics and graphic novels out there, these lists are a good place to start.  But that’s not really what I want to talk about today.  I’d like to talk about the weird and wonderful world of webcomics (WaWWoW) (that’s not a real initialism).

illustration by flickr user opensourceway

When I first stumbled on webcomics RSS feeds were just being invented, so I had to go back to my favorites every day and check to see if they’d been updated.  Since anyone can make and post a webcomic online for not very much money (or free if you don’t use much bandwith and free blogging software), the number of comics was huge and the quality hit or miss. The best way that I found to find new webcomics was to look at the links on the pages of my favorite author/artists.  At a certain point this became recursive, since they all linked to each other.  I still read some of these comics today – they’re still going strong and have gone through who knows how many plotlines and name changes and drawing styles.  That’s one of the great things about webcomics – you can see an artist’s style evolve and become better and better.

Webcomics from the old days of the new millennium!

1. Bad Machinery (formerly Bobbins, then Scary-Go-Round)

The current cast is a group of (British) kids solving mysteries and it’s so good.  John Allison (the writer & artist) is also the reason that I learned about Kate Beaton, history comics funny lady extraordinaire, so he obviously has good taste.

by John Allison

 

2. Questionable Content

This comic is like if Friends were set in hipster post-college Massachusetts and everyone was more awkward.

by Jeph Jacques

 

3. The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

Exactly what it sounds like. You can also get it collected on paper from your library

by Christopher Hastings

 

4. Dinosaur Comics :

Clip-art style dinosaurs being absurd.

by Ryan North

by Ryan North

Of course, nowadays,

it’s easier to find an even vaster variety of comics online.  Comic big-name Warren Ellis serialized his science-fiction story Freakangels, about a group of teenagers whose strange telekinetic powers destroy the UK, for free, online, and published it so it could be bought by people and library systems like our own.

Now there are sites devoted to groups of serialized comics, like Study Group, with indie/underground style artists, Activate Comix, founded by Dean Haspiel, Saturday Morning Webtoons, aimed at younger readers, and ShiftyLook, with more superhero-themed offerings.

yes, it is rad.

Comics veterans like Sam Hurt have uploaded their archives online, while artists of the digital age like Derek Kirk Kim, Hope Larson, Bryan Lee O’MalleyKrystal DiFronzo, Peter Quatch, and Amelia Onorato have a blog or tumblr as a matter of course.

Amelia Onorato

 

Peter Quatch

 

Derek Kirk Kim

 

Comics blogs like the Comics Alliance will link to webcomics of note, like Rigby the Barbarian by Lee Leslie (“Rigby is just another disgruntled archaeology student when she finds a magical sword that provides her with a one way ticket to medieval fantasy camp, and the responsibility of delivering her new neighbors from the clutches of the wizard known only as The Fate-Maker”)

By Lee Leslie

 

Family Man by Dylan Meconin (“Hundreds of miles away, a small University is stranded in the woods along the Bohemian border.  It boasts some impressive assets, including a library fit to stun the neediest scholar.  But amongst the thousands of volumes purporting to provide light and understanding, there are quite a few lingering shadows. Nowhere is it darker than between the University’s benevolent dictator of a Rector and its remarkable and elusive Librarian…except for perhaps in the woods outside, where human nature is forfeit to a much more brutal contract than any philosopher-king could devise.”),

by Dylan Meconin

 

As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman (“a story about Charlie — a queer 13 year old girl who finds herself stranded in a dangerous place: an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp.”)

by Melanie Gillman

 

and Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel (“Step back then, to 1887, and board the steamboat Lorelei for mystery, intrigue and romance on the Hudson in the Gilded Age.”) – a serialization ahead of publication in the vein of Doug TenNapel’s Ratfist and Faith Erin Hicks’ Friends With Boys

by Mark Siegel

 

And if that’s not enough, you can find links of award winning webcomics like Boulet’s Darkness –a funny, originally French story about a manga-level broodingly-attractive man that won the 24-hour comics award. (More info about 24 Hour Comics Day is here.)

by Boulet

 

Or in the Outstanding Online Comic category of the Ignatz Awards which will be decided at the Small Press Expo in Maryland.

Jillian Tamaki’s excellent Supermutant Magic Academy was nominated!

I’ll be attending this year to find new and old favorites, because I can’t get enough. Neither can you? Then start clicking on the links and read on!(All the images will go to the webcomics cited).  There are so many that I’m sure I missed a ton – what’s your favorite?

– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

What don’t your parents get about life online?

Vanessa Van Petten runs a website called RadicalParenting.com, written by teens for their parents. She has a slew of interns ages 13-19, and she recently asked them what they wished their parents understood about life online. She outlines them in this guest post over at NetFamilyNews.org, and I thought they were pretty interesting. You should click over to read the whole thing, but in summary, her interns made the point that, while technology is normal for their life and they expect to have access to it, they sometimes feel like they can’t get away from it — but they often think their parents overreact to the stories about meeting creeps online.

Pittsburgh teens, does this resemble your reality?  Are cell phone bills and Facebook time major sources of fights between you and a parent?  Do you think online sexual predators are a risk that is overblown?  Of course, scary things do really happen.  Do you think your parents trust you enough in your online habits?

The recent cover article for National Geographic about the “beautiful brains” of teenagers, by David Dobbs, argues that even though the brain continues to develop and grow its decision making centers until the mid-20s, teenagers are still responsible and can assess risk — possibly better than adults, who tend to over-assess the risks of certain actions.

There’s even a Risk-Taker Quiz so you can find out what your risk threshold is. (Unsurprisingly, it told me that I was “pretty timid”)

What would you consider the risks that are inherent with the parts of our lives that are stored online?

There are books about just this subject… just imagine what it would be like if your online life took a very wrong turn:

Want to Go Private? / Sarah Darer Littman

Insecure about the changes high school brings, Abby ignores advice from her parents and her only friend to “make an effort” and, instead, withdraws from everyone but with Luke, who she met online.

 

 


Exposed / Susan Vaught

Chan Shealy, a sixteen-year-old baton-twirler and straight-A student, becomes involved with an internet predator, despite strict parental rules and her own beliefs that she knows how to keep herself safe online.

 

 

 

Bad Apple / Laura Ruby

Tola Riley, a high school junior, struggles to tell the truth when she and her art teacher are accused of having an affair.

 

– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

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