Please note: this post uses affiliate links. This means that if you click on certain links and make a purchase then we will—at no additional cost to you—receive a small portion of the funds you spend. Thank you for supporting our blog!
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not really a comic book person. There are some graphic novels that I really enjoy, but for the most part I usually stick to video games, television, and movies. However, I have found that I do enjoy webcomics to an almost absurd degree.
This wasn’t always the case. I used to think they were these chintzy things that were, for the most part, not well done. In fact, I would probably still be avoiding them if a friend of mine hadn’t made some recommendations.
Turns out the joke’s on me. Some of them are pretty awesome. So if you’ve ever wondered about webcomics and are looking for somewhere to start, let me introduce you—in no particular order—to some of my favorites.
The Last Halloween by Abby Howard
This comic is a bit of a weird one, but it’s all the better for it.
The story revolves around Mona, a ten-year-old girl, who finds herself alone on Halloween night. When a giant monster breaks into her house and attacks her, she flees into the night, only to find a monster apocalypse in full swing. Can she survive the night or will it be… her Last Halloween?
There are a couple of things about this comic that I really like.
- The Lore: What starts out as a relatively simple premise eventually gains an amount of breadth and width that gives the story a solid foundation to stand on.
- The Aesthetic/Atmosphere: The comic is done completely in black and white, and the style uses negative space in interesting ways. The artwork is somehow simple, and yet it is also complex in its execution, and sometimes I don’t know if I love it or hate it.
I mean, it’s also funny, and at times actually kinda terrifying, which is a combination that always piques my interest.
The only downside to The Last Halloween is that it is updated very infrequently, so you might have to wait long chunks of time between new pages.
Broodhollow by Kristofer “Kris” Straub
This is probably one of the best iterations of cosmic horror I’ve ever seen. It takes place back when door-to-door salesmen walked the earth. The story focuses on Wadsworth Zane, a down-on-his-luck encyclopedia salesman who receives an inheritance from a distant relative. In order to claim that inheritance, Wadsworth travels to the town of Broodhollow, where all is not as it seems.
What really makes Broodhollow stand out is how the horror is presented. Most of the art in the comic is pretty simplistic and straightforward. However, when an otherworldly horror or misbegotten creature appears, the art style changes completely. The creatures are usually very dark and drawn with a level of detail several orders of magnitude over the normal characters. This juxtaposition of art styles really helps to sell the horror of Broodhollow.
My personal favorite part of Broodhollow is the mystery. You never really get the big picture, nor is a ton of explaining done. So you are left to piece the puzzle together alongside Wadsworth (and a few others who seem to know that something isn’t right).
This is another comic that, unfortunately, sees infrequent updates, but it’s totally worth the wait. So if you’re down for an intriguing mystery with a heap of cosmic horror thrown in for good measure, I recommend you give Broodhollow a shot.
Guilded Age by T Campbell, Erica Henderson, & Phil Kahn
Guilded Age is an amazing webcomic that is hard to describe without ruining certain aspects of it.
It is, ostensibly, about a group of adventurers that form a guild for the financial and social benefits that it provides. Unfortunately for them, their guild quickly rises to infamy and becomes embroiled in the affairs of ancient kingdoms, diabolical wizards, and endless wars.
While this premise sounds like every other high fantasy show/comic/game, I guarantee that Guilded Age will surprise you. I really can’t get into why, because honestly it’s the kind of thing you really need to read for yourself. I will say that the characters are very well written, the overall story is good, and the art is solid throughout (even if it changed artists part way through its run).
Fortunately, Guilded Age is completed, so you’ll never have to wait for additional pages to be available. Unfortunately, once you’ve finished it, you might wish that there was more on the way.
Paranatural by Zack Morrison
Paranatural starts off pretty rough. Not story or character-wise, but art-wise. The beginning is all in black and white with some of the sketchiest artwork I’ve seen in a webcomic. (Sketchy like a sketch… not dubious in any way.) It does, however, get leaps and bounds better, to the point that you would never guess that the current work is from the same comic.
The story follows Max, a kid who has just moved to the town of Mayview. He quickly realizes that something isn’t right in the small town when he starts to see spirits and ghosts. He eventually joins his school’s “Activity” club, which is, of course, full of other kids who can see and interact with the supernatural world.
What I really like about Paranatural, aside from its story, is how it grows as it goes along. I mean, most webcomics grow over time, but Paranatural grows by leaps and bounds as it progresses. Not only does the art improve, as I mentioned earlier, but the way it handles its characters and themes grows as well.
Paranatural has six complete “chapters” and is currently on its seventh. It is generally updated every Tuesday and Friday.
Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener
Atomic Robo is near and dear to my heart. I love pretty much everything about this comic. So just be aware of my bias while reading this.
The comic is about the adventures of Atomic Robo, a sentient robot with an “Automatic Intelligence,” created by Nikola Tesla in 1923. As such, he has been alive for over a century and had many adventures and experiences.
What makes Atomic Robo stand out, to me, is the way in which the story is told: in individual installments, and not necessarily in chronological order.
The first time you meet Robo he is fighting against Nazi Scientist, Dr. Helsingrad, in 1938. The second, he’s fighting giant ants outside of Reno Nevada. From there it just gets nuttier. He fights a time traveling dinosaur with a dubious PhD. He fights a Lovecraftian horror through the better part of a century. And he saves the only human to survive vampire dimension.
While all of that might sound insane, I assure you that it is. It’s crazy, hilarious and will often have me literally laughing out loud. However, it will also sometimes punch you in the gut with subtle, thoughtful, moments that you aren’t expecting. Atomic Robo manages to walk the line between the two extremes beautifully,
Atomic Robo updates at least a couple of times a week, but can have long hiatuses between chapters.
GunnerKrigg Court by Tom Siddell
GunnerKrigg Court has been around since 2005. Back then, it was a quaint little comic that had a decent aesthetic, a serviceable story, and the ability to make me smile. Much like Paranatural, GunnerKrigg grew over the years and has turned into one of the finest webcomics available.
The story follows Antimony “Annie” Carver, a young girl who lives at GunnerKrigg Court (a large industrial complex that also functions as a school). There, she encounters increasingly bizarre and strange phenomena including, but not limited to, ghosts, living shadows, sentient robots, the Minotaur, and a giant crab monster.
To make matters worse… or more interesting… Gillitie Woods, a magical forest where sprites, pixies, and gods dwell, sits across a large chasm from the court.
What’s really striking about Gunnerkrigg Court is how the little details matter. Things that you thought were throwaway jokes or stupid sight gags will almost certainly become very important later on in the story. This means that later chapters are full of references to things that happened previously, but it’s all done in such a way as to be completely unobtrusive.
Gunnerkrigg Court updates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so you’ll never be lacking for content. There are also talks of a TV show in the works for this one, which, I have to say, is probably the best news I got in 2020.
Though, we’ll just have to wait and see if that pans out.