We stopped subscribing to the daily paper a few years ago, and without that, the days of Sunday morning comic strips have shriveled away. Although, after Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes were discontinued, it wasn’t really something to lament. ANYway, the internet machine stepped in to fill the niche as it so often does with the webcomic. They started out rusty (like the internet when it was still 50% Geocities). But, the years have polished them into something not only readable, but quite addictive. Witness: the Best Damn Comics Online.
There’s no better way to say it than the site’s creator did: Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.
SMBC is a nerdy, often science-based comic with a very, very dark side. It’s equal parts Escher, Einstein and Nabakov with crudely drawn characters to match its often-crude humor. In brief: it’s hilarious. As hilarious as a sport called Grizzly Boom Tennis.
12. Penny Arcade
Penny Arcade has been around for a decade, so we’d be pretty surprised if you haven’t heard of them. If you haven’t, you’ve got a lot of archives to make your way through this comic based mostly around video game culture. If you have, though, what you might not know is that they have a variety of video-game inspired promotional artwork they do as fallout from their very popular comic.
11. Creased Comics
Creased is created and maintained by the guys that brought you the internet-famous George Washington song. If you liked the semi-historical, dark irreverence of this heavy-breathing song, then you’ll likely enjoy the rest of the strip. He’s also got two web series: I Am Baby Cakes and The Professor Brothers, and, somehow, this scribbling cowboy is represented by CAA. Weird.
10. Red Meat
Red Meat can be found in the memory of our editor because it was the one good comic in the independent paper of his home town growing up. You might also have seen it at The Onion for a few years. It’s dark in a conceptual and literal sense as most of the jokes center around some kind of horrible abuse, and it’s all done in grayscale! How appropriate.
Cyanide and Happiness is a web comic created and maintained by Kris Wilson, Rob Denbleyker, Matt Melvin, and Dave McElfatrick. Each of them draws stick figures of slightly-varying styles in purposefully offensive and often NSFW situations. Outstanding. One of the reasons it’s so famous, though, is that Cyannide and Happiness was doing this in 2004 – way before it became cool to be a web comic-er.
Married to the Sea is part of the network of comics created by Drew and Natalie Dee, and it is arguably the only funny one. The other three, Toothpaste for Dinner, Nataliedee, and Superpoop, are all about nothing, food and animals, or funny pictures respectively. All of which have been done before and done better which is why there are no links to them. But Married to the Sea takes weird, antiquey stencils and lithgraphs and applies perfectly ridiculous tags to them. Plus the wrote about bloggers. Yay!
Google “webcomic,” and you’llsee how big and important XKCD is to the world of online illustration. A self-described “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language,” xkcd has inspired so loyal a following that some fans actually recreate the comics in real life.
6. Brandon Bird
Brandon Bird isn’t a comic strip in the way that these other comics are comics. He’s an artist that does primarily paintings and occasionally sketches. But we’ll be damned if every single one of them isn’t a shard of quirky pop culture brilliance jabbed directly into our optical nerves (in a good way). His Christopher Walken Building Optimus Prime is what made him (sort of) internet famous, but go through his archives to experience so much more Brandon than your likely ready to handle.
The Perry Bible Fellowship started at the Daily Orange in at Syracuse University by comic artist Nicholas Gurewitch, and it was parlayed into one of the most famous web comics of all time. It’s characterized by often playful, fantastic, storybook imagery cast into horrific and surreal circumstances. Delicious. It’s currently inactive (last update in July of 2008), but the archive remains for your perusal (which means careful reading not skimming).
Softer World is a collaboration between writer Joey Comeau and photographer Emily Horne. Emily takes the pictures and Joey either ruins or perfects them depending one whether or not you have as brilliant and sensitive nature as these two. From their “about” section: Sometimes the "comic" is sad or harsh. It should be noted that this is in the tradition of George Simenon’s ‘romans durs’ (or ‘hard novels’) and not in the lesser traditions of comics like Peanuts or anything else not French.
Buttersafe is a quietly funny comic perpetrated by Raynato Castro on Tuesdays and Alex Culang on Thursdays. It’s simple, straight-man style will appeal to people that like punch lines of jokes told in library voices. Here’s what Ray and Alex say about themselves:
Raynato Castro: Ray’s lifelong goal is to some day master the one-inch punch. He can perform the two-inch punch. However, the density of air and the distance of the earth from the sun limits its effectiveness in most practical cases (e.g. demolishing buildings, defeating claw-fisted drug lords, knocking on really big doors, aiding choking babies).
In the meantime, Ray spends his days at the foot of a waterfall, training.
Alex Culang: Alex is a rusty button.
Amazing Super Powers has really come into its own as a web comic over its history both artistically and comedically. Compare their early comics to their more recent ones. Still funny and well done. But, clearly, this comic is going to do nothing but improve. One of the best things about Amazing Super Powers is their hidden comics which started about halfway through. Many of the comics on this list have alt text (hover your mouse over their images to receive a pithy one-liner) but Amazing Super Powers has an entire additional comic per comic. Just click the semi-hidden question mark in the upper right of each post.
Best. Comic. Ever. Jeremy and Eric are two Midwestern dudes, and they make Truck Bearing Kibble. How this comic escaped the radar of other “top web comic lists” is not known to us. It’s probably the best-drawn comic online, and it’s just-esoteric-enough humor lets you stare at the comic for a minute before a tidal wave of hilarity tragic-comically drowns you. Below is our favorite of there’s: Fossilwood. Unfortunatly, it has not been updated in some time because Jeremy is focusing on a graphic novel, but hopefully will pick up again soon.