an underrated form of visual storytelling

Webcomics offer stories that will stick in your memory for a long time. Image: Sara Wong/The Peak, courtesy of John Allison, Minna Sundburg and EK Weaver

By: Jacob Mattie, Opinion Editor

Under traditional publishers, writers and illustrators are tied to management decisions. This has led to a conservative streak in publishing, limiting comics to what is perceived to be marketable. In contrast, webcomics do not face such prohibitive publishing costs and are often free to explore the author’s most creative ideas. While there are plenty of comics that fall flat, others coalesce into something incredible – joining humor and horror, or tackling topics in directions that, at first glance, seem contradictory.

Many of these comics have been updated for nearly a decade, and not all of them are finished yet. Because of their length, artists’ styles often become more refined over time with plots that diversify. The essence of a comic strip is not necessarily represented by its first pages. Unlike a book, which has a fixed ending, webcomics are like friends you can find whenever you want. Looking to dip your toes into something new to read? I got you covered:

The Less Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by EK Weaver

CW: sex, nudity, drug use

TJ and Amal is as cute a love story as you can imagine. If you love watching two men fall in love on a road trip, then this is the comic to read. This slice-of-life story describes the ups and downs of life, as well as what motivates two strangers to cross the country together. Friendly and occasionally explicit, the comic is delightfully human – full of little moments that fill the adventures and lay the groundwork for a relationship you’ll look forward to.

bad machines by John Allison

bad machines follows the adventures of a few brave young Britons as they tackle coming of age issues, civil issues and the occasional paranormal – often all at once. This comic is somewhat reminiscent of Scooby-Doo, except with better characters, plot, and mystery. It’s hard not to feel affection for the cast of eccentric characters, whose banter is the charm of the comic. The comic is characterized by quirky humor and a delightful portrayal of British pronunciation.

Stand still. keep silent by Minna Sundberg

CW: body horror, plague, blood, disease, guns, death

The world has been destroyed by a disease that turns mammals into aggressive pieces of flesh. The remaining “known world” is the Scandinavian countries, which barely managed to survive. Stand still. keep silent follows the story of a low-budget team assembled to collect books from the remnants of the old world before they are burned in the reclamation process. Sundberg won the Reuben Award for best long-form online comic for his work. This comic stands out for its superb illustrations; whole pages of ruined cities, landscapes, and relevant scenes really make the comic shine.