It used to be, back in the day, that when I got the newspaper in the morning, the first thing I would read was the comics. Occasionally one would even be funny. My days of newspaper subscriptions are long past, but lately I’ve been starting my day the same way I used to, thanks to the Internet.
The list of comics I check each morning is fairly long — many of them only update once a week, so to get a good bit of comic-reading done each morning requires a large sample. There are a few, however, that give me a special thrill of anticipation when I see a new comic is up. Here, then, is a list of my faves, in no particular order. Check them out!
Girl Genius — A very popular Web comic that takes place in a steam-punk sort of world were there are a few people known as “sparks” — people with a level of mechanical genius that borders on magic. The spark has the unfortunate side effect of driving people mad. Yep, the world is being torn apart by mad scientists. Agatha Clay has a bit of the spark in her, but there seems to be a lot more going on as well. This comic has some darn good storytelling, beautiful artwork, and is overall a slick and professional publication. It’s worth starting from the beginning.
Order of the Stick — From an artistic standpoint, this is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Girl Genuis; the characters are all stick figures. The action takes place in a medieval sword and sorcery world, and the humor is heavily weighted with Dungeons and Dragons references. The characters, for instance, find nothing odd with the idea of making a saving throw during a battle. That’s how combat works, right? If you’re even somewhat familiar with the game (I have only a passing knowledge of it) you will find this comic very funny.
Scary-Go-Round — A very silly modern fantasy. I like it for the completely nutty events, the terrifically odd twists of phrase, and the general Englishness of it. For the last few episodes it’s been filler, so go back a ways if you want to get the real feel of it.
Alien Loves Predator — Although no new episodes have come out in long enough that I think we can declare the comic dead, it’s still worth reading through the archives. It is inspired, I assume, by the movie Alien vs. Predator; this story has the two sharing an apartment in New York. Hijinks ensue. Artistically, this is a great example of a relatively new comic trend; the art is done by photographing action figures.
Dr. McNinja — Off-the-wall ninja humor. I’m not that impressed with the art, but you have to tip your hat to a writer who has a hero who’s a doctor and a ninja, has a gorilla for a receptionist, occasionally rides a velociraptor, and has for a sidekick a boy who grew a big mustache through sheer force of will. His showdown with Ronald McDonald over the McNinja burger was awesome. Recently he just stopped zombies from overrunning the town, although regrettably one was the zombie of Benjamin Franklin’s clone.
Kagerou — Wow. Start with a protagonist with multiple personality disorder who finds himself in a strange fantasy world and go from there. Entire chapters of the story take place inside his head. Who knows? Maybe the whole story is happening in there. This story is packed with interesting characters and is very well-drawn in addition to being well-written.
There are a few more drama-oriented comics I read, but, like American TV series, these seem inevitably to bog down in all the characters being unhappy about who’s dating whom. When characters start to accuse each other of being tedious, maybe it’s time for the writer to figure out that readers are forming the same opinion. Also, with more complicated stories or extended action sequences, updating only once a week doesn’t cut it. A sword fight should take less than a month to conclude. A few comics I’ve shelved until enough new episodes are up that I can read them with some hope of continuity. Some of those have been on the shelf a long time; I suspect I am finished with them.
So those are the ones that popped into my head unbidden. There are some other comics I read that are pretty good, but that list should keep you out of trouble for a little while.