If I were looking for print comics, Bone or Fables could fit the bill
October 31, 2012 10:19 AM   Subscribe

I need more story-based webcomics (or at least, comics available online)! Ever since I stumbled across Gunnerkrigg Court recently, I've been on a long-form webcomic kick. However, I've now made it through all the archives, and it's going to be cold and rainy here for a while yet - so what else should I be reading?

Primarily, I'm looking for story-based webcomics - ideally fairly epic ones set in a fantasy (or loosely fantasy-based) world - that feature engaging characters and artwork. Some other nice-to-have characteristics would be:
  • Humorous/quirky elements - but I'm not looking for one-shot or gag comics
  • On the flip side, while 'darker' elements or serious plotlines are very welcome, I'd like to avoid things that feature a lot of violence or horror (zombies are right out). I'm not super-interested in adult content, either, but if it's there, that's fine
  • Stories with a fairly extensive archive would be great - I'd love something I could read a lot of at one time
  • Finally, I'm enjoying the female protagonist in Gunnerkrigg (and even better, the increasingly relationshippy dynamic between Annie and Kat) ... this isn't critical, though
I've only gotten into a few webcomics of this nature so far, so anything you can suggest will be welcome. Ones I already enjoy include Digger, Lackadaisy, and The Abominable Charles Christopher (though I do wish the pace were brisker in Abominable). I'm mildly embarrassed to admit that I've also been kind of hooked on ElfQuest lately, so apparently I also have a fairly high tolerance for cheesiness.

So do you have any suggestions that meet some/all of these criteria? Thanks in advance for sharing if you do!
posted by DingoMutt to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
I'm guessing you're already familiar with Girl Genius, but if not you've got about 8 years to catch up on.
posted by bswinburn at 10:25 AM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

Have you tried Looking for Group? It started in 2006 and updates regularly a few days a week.
posted by kimberussell at 10:31 AM on October 31, 2012

Seconding the recommendations so far.

I'll go through my RSS reader this evening or tomorrow, but just to get you through the day while I'm here at work:
  • Have you run into Freak Angels yet? A little bit of gore, but I thought it was a decent arc.
  • And sometimes I think the story is a little simplistic, but I keep Dreamland Chronicles in my regular reads.
  • I'm enojoying the art and the gentle unfolding of The Bean

posted by straw at 10:35 AM on October 31, 2012

+1 for Girl Genius. Sluggy Freelance is also good, one of the longest running webcomics on the 'Net. I have lots more, but That's the top of my reading list.
posted by Fferret at 10:41 AM on October 31, 2012

Nthing Girl Genius and Seconding Sluggy Freelance. Sluggy starts off very "gag of the day" early on, but Pete has definitely matured over the years and it gets into some pretty epic storylines.
posted by Roommate at 10:47 AM on October 31, 2012

Rice Boy is a beautiful completed story and there are currently two more stories in the same universe, Order of Tales (also complete) and Vaatu (still going).
posted by henuani at 10:55 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'll point you to my own comic, The Adventures of Painless Parker which while it does not have a huge archive yet, fulfills the following criteria:

- longform story/continuity
- fairly lighthearted (no violence)
- based loosely on a historical period
- cartoony
posted by overeducated_alligator at 11:10 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bad Machinery
Not a huge archive yet, but lovely art, supernatural elements, quirkiness, and rad female protagonists.
posted by momus_window at 11:14 AM on October 31, 2012

Bite Me is an excellent, definitely quirky webcomic by Dylan Meconis about the adventures of a barmaid-turned-vampire during the French Revolution. It's both smart and funny.
posted by Pwoink at 11:14 AM on October 31, 2012

Best answer: If you don't mind losing a fortnight or more of your life, Homestuck meets all your criteria and is magical. The first little bit can be a slog, but holy cow it gets good and stays that way.
posted by kitarra at 11:29 AM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

The Wormworld Saga
posted by namewithoutwords at 11:43 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check out Erfworld. Long, well-drawn, epic comic about a tabletop gamer who is summoned into a game-like fantasy world to lead their battles. Lots of pop culture references, but it's also plenty funny without them. It's not "about" the humor though. Start reading here.
posted by Vorteks at 11:50 AM on October 31, 2012

I also recommend The Meek, although the update schedule is very slow. Contains nudity (one of the main characters is a sort of "feral" girl who lives naked in the woods), but no sex.
posted by Vorteks at 11:53 AM on October 31, 2012

Oh, and how can I forget? Cucumber Quest is a very pretty story-centric comic which is a sort of parody of fantasy and fairy tales. The characters are anthropomorphized rabbits. Kid-safe content, but enjoyable by adults (Pixar-style). Highly recommended.
posted by Vorteks at 11:56 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Blank It has a fairly large archive. It has all the elements you mentioned.

I think it's pretty well written. But then again, I write it. Soooooooooo
posted by a47danger at 12:00 PM on October 31, 2012

Piggybacking on kitarra's answer, the previous MS Paint Adventure, Problem Sleuth, would probably also fit your needs. The main differences between Problem Sleuth and Homestuck are:

1.) With Problem Sleuth, there was a lot more direct audience participation. (Each "command" that prompts the next panel is chosen from the audience's responses. Homestuck started out with the same gimick, but abandoned it mid-way throughin favor of better pacing of the plot. The commands are still there, but are all author generated now. The audience still has an indirect influence on the plot though)

2.) Problem Sleuth is both shorter than Homestuck, and a completed story. Homestuck remains a work-in-progress.

There are also two other stories on that site, Jailbreak and Bard Quest, but they're not as good as his later works. Jailbreak suffers from the same audience-submitted-command pacing issues as Problem Sleuth, with the added bonus that instead of the best command out of a group, he simply took the first command that was suggested. Bard Quest was intended to be a choose-your-own-adventure format with multiple endings, but it was never finished.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:03 PM on October 31, 2012

Narbonic is complete, and is the story of a mad scientist and her minions. There are super-intelligent, shape-shifting gerbils, time travel, body swapping, doomsday devices, and a storyline that spans six years of archives. The creator's current comic, Skin Horse is also quite good. They're both more science-fiction-y than High Fantasy, but as a fellow Gunnerkrigg fan, I highly recommend them.
posted by hades at 12:07 PM on October 31, 2012

Best answer: Goblins started out with an emphasis on easy gags but soon developed into a fairly involved and gripping story. It does have a fair amount of violence, though, so you'd have to judge whether it's too violent for your taste. (It's also set in a D&D universe, so if you've never played D&D some of the jokes might fly over your head.)
posted by tdismukes at 12:38 PM on October 31, 2012

I recently discovered Spacetrawler and I love it. It's sci-fi, not fantasy, but it's everything else you're looking for: humorous, story-driven, a touch of darkness here and there, great female (and other) characters, some cartoony, sci-fi violence. It's got a good big archive too.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 12:52 PM on October 31, 2012

Scary Go Round was the long-running (7 years?) precursor to Bad Machinery, which was linked above. It's set in a minor fantasy-universe--think the real world, but more mystery/danger. Caveat: there may be a zombie once or twice. It is very long, and I can't remember. However, I think this would fit pretty much every preference you have, if you stick with it.

Also, Achewood has a massive archive, huge narrative arcs (though one-off strips are not rare, either), and some of the most hilarious writing I've ever been lucky enough to read.

I'd second Riceboy as well.
posted by stresstwig at 1:26 PM on October 31, 2012

Looking through my RSS reader for stuff not mentioned yet...

Completed stories:
Sin Titulo (horror/action/weirdshit)
Sailor Twain (lovely charcoal art, mermaids)
The Phoenix Requiem (kind of cheesy? fantasy with a bit of steampunk flavor)

Dicebox (women-focused far future blue collar space opera)
What Birds Know (fantasy/weirdshit/coming-of-age, looks to be finishing up soon)
Derelict (dystopian future sci-fi with lots of boats)
Nimona (Hipster-style comic about a supervillain and his overeager shapeshifter sidekick)
posted by rivenwanderer at 2:25 PM on October 31, 2012

(A quick note - I liked Problem Sleuth and love Homestuck, but the former has a LOT of comedic violence, and the latter has quite a bit of comedic violence as well.)

One that hasn't been mentioned is Templar, AZ. It's more alt-history than high fantasy, but still very quirky.
posted by muddgirl at 3:33 PM on October 31, 2012

In addition, Homestuck has some non-comedic violence as well. It's pretty sparing, but just a heads up.
posted by muddgirl at 3:36 PM on October 31, 2012

You might also enjoy Monster Pulse. It's family-friendly, with some darker tones. The characters are very likable.
posted by tickingclock at 3:57 PM on October 31, 2012

Ooh, and also, What Birds Know. Wonderful and mysterious fantasy setting. There is a very large archive that you can lose yourself in.
posted by tickingclock at 4:10 PM on October 31, 2012

I think all my favourites have been covered, with the exception of Dresden Codak. Ticks almost all your boxes: humorous and quirky but always with underlying seriousness; scarcely any serious violence (occasional cartoonish violence); no adult content; compelling female protagonist and other interesting characters of both sexes.

The archive's not as big as most of the others mentioned here, and it started off with a lot of one-shots, but is now well into its second big story. Updates are glacial, but when you see the art you'll understand why.
posted by pont at 4:21 PM on October 31, 2012

Oh, oops, I see that What Birds Know has already been mentioned above. It's really good!
posted by tickingclock at 4:23 PM on October 31, 2012

girls with slingshots is cute and quirky, and the main characters have the same relationship as Kat and Annie. Its a lot of fun. They story is more "slice of life" plot-wise, but GC often relies on that, so you may still like it.

Also, someone upthread suggested Freakangels. I was going to suggest the same-its got a mega awesome plot, fantastic art, and is written in chapters, so its archived like you like. But its violent. They said "a little gore", but I'd place it full-on in the horror genre. Its post-apocalyptic, people get killed frequently, and some of them come back to life while still maimed, though not as zombies. The super-amazing art quality only amplifies it.
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:41 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing Bite Me!, Monster Pulse. Bite Me!'s creator's current comic, Family Man, is also worth following. It is not as quirky as Bite Me!, however, since it is more of a historical drama.

Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether: "The adventures of the Lady Seneca Sabre and those she meets along the way as she travels the Sphere. Who she fights, who she foils, who she befriends. It’s about adventure and romance and excitement and, to paraphrase the great Zaphod Beeblebrox, “really wild things.”"

YU + ME: Fiona meets the girl of her dreams... in her dreams while in a coma. She goes back to find her and keep her. (The art drastically improves as chapters are finished.) Completed. I also recommend the artist's other webcomics, I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space and Meaty Yogurt.

Carpe Chaos: Five alien species must get along and deal with cross-cultural misunderstandings and diplomatic problems.

Cleopatra in Spaaaace!: Just what it says on the tin.

Finder: "Aboriginal science fiction." The print comics are also worth picking up.

Roza: Roza is a girl trying to find someone to undo her curse. Ongoing, though sporadically updated.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant: “In 19th-century Turkey, an officer in the Janissary army must struggle to repay a brash adventuress for saving his life, even though she was the one who endangered it in the first place.” Finished.

Intrepid Girlbot: A wordless comic about a lonely robot determined to be a "good girl" and her part-cyborg raccoon friend. I found this comic via a guest page the Gunnerkrigg Court creator drew for them.
posted by cuculine at 8:55 PM on October 31, 2012

Oh, yes! Enthusiastically seconding the recommendations for Templar, AZ and Finder.
posted by hades at 10:00 PM on October 31, 2012

Forming is pretty amazing, especially if you're an Adventure Time fan.
posted by cthuljew at 10:21 PM on October 31, 2012

Wapsi Square is a long-running story-based comic with excellent female characters (actually there aren't really any main characters that aren't females) and various and sundry silly and sometimes dark things.
posted by that girl at 3:15 AM on November 1, 2012

Response by poster: Wow, I am delightedly overwhelmed at all the great suggestions here - thank you so much, everybody! So excited at having so many new stories to check out. They all sound so good that I've more or less had to shut my eyes and pick one to start with (Rice Boy - okay, my eyes were open and I liked its look), but after that I will be going down the list and checking them all out.

I'm marking this resolved, but if anybody has any other suggestions they'd like to make, by all means please add them. Thanks again (my partner is already calling herself a webcomics widow ... guess I'd better take them in moderation)!
posted by DingoMutt at 10:59 AM on November 1, 2012

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