How the Internet Swallowed Me Whole: My Introduction to Webcomics

I have only one movie to thank (or to blame) for sparking my love of webcomics: This Is Spinal Tap. I saw if for the first time when I was fifteen, and together my brother and I communicated solely through Spinal Tap quotes for months. Upon discovering that other people weren’t familiar with this masterpiece, we would spout all the best scenes of the movie, particularly this one:

It’s basically the best scene in the entire movie.

It was on a search for the above clip that I instead discovered this strip on a website called XKCD:

Randall Munroe, you clever bastard, your strip had me hooked. I spent the rest of the night reading through XKCD, having completely forgotten my duty to enlighten the cinematically deprived.

Of all the charming-but-overpriced shops that filled my suburban neighborhood, what we lacked was a comic book store. Even if we’d had one, I wouldn’t have known where to start (I’m still overwhelmed by the sheer number of titles, particularly from the big two). But the internet had served me up a new obsession just like that — and I hadn’t even asked for it. There were two things that appealed to me about comics on the internet: 1) easy access, and 2) free of charge. I didn’t have to ask my mom to drive me anywhere (I didn’t get my license for another two years when I turned seventeen) and I didn’t have to worry about running into anyone else from school. I now had a near endless supply of comics at my fingertips. And they were free.

XKCD was just the start. At the bottom of the page I found “Comics I Enjoy,” a list of more webcomics. Soon I had a bookmark folder leading to A Softer World, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Buttersafe, Perry Bible Fellowship, Indexed, and others. It became habit for me to check out a creator’s recommended reading list almost immediately after adding them to the folder.

But the best thing about these comics was how down to earth they were. People who make webcomics don’t make a living off them, they make them to express themselves. The comic creators I admired were intelligent without arrogance, a welcome change from most of the people I knew.

Most of the comics I read were gag-a-day strips that updated several times a week. They were clever, intelligent, quick reads; I could catch up on several hundred strips in an hour or so before bed. Years later I started reading long-form comics after my introduction to everyone’s favorite meeting place for crazy fanbases: Tumblr.

Originally published at on June 2, 2014.

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