How To Start Your Webcomic Addiction

Webcomics are great. They’re free, accessible, and cover a wider variety of topics than most comic books and graphic novels.

But now it seems like everyone and their mother runs a webcomics, and the internet is a dark and scary place if you don’t know where to look, so diving right into the Wide World of Webcomics can be a bit daunting.

Comic reader Comic Rocket boasts a list of 38,607 webcomics. How do you sift through all that to find the comics that interest you?

What can I expect to find?

There are a few different kinds of webcomics that span just about any genre you can dream of.

First, there are gag strips. These are short comics that update frequently, often several times a week. Characters are typically unnamed and serve the purpose of a joke or observation. The art is usually pretty simple, and stories rarely last longer than one or two strips. Examples: XKCD, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Buttersafe

Next are sitcomics. Like gag strips updates tend to be short and frequent, but these comics feature a recurring cast of characters, though the events of individual strips may be isolated. In this way they read pretty close to traditional newspaper strips. Examples: Diesel Sweeties, Questionable Content

Then we have long form webcomics. These comics focus primarily on story and character rather than getting a laugh, so there’s more emotional investment involved. The art and storytelling tends to be better quality than gag strips or sitcomics, so updates aren’t as frequent. They read like graphic novels, and are sometimes collected in book form as such. Examples: Dresden Codak, String Theory, As the Crow Flies

Finally are diary comics. These are similar to sitcomics, but are at lease loosely based on the creator’s life. The events depicted can range from clever observations to lengthy personal anecdotes or revelations. Length and art style vary widely depending on the creator’s goals for the comic, so the frequency of updates will also vary. Examples: Kate or Die, Wasted Talent, The Devil’s Panties

How do I find a comic I like?

A list like this one from The Mary Sue is a good place to start if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. For something more specific, like a sci-fi action adventure with cats, a quick google search should point you in the right direction. Once you find a couple titles worth checking out, read the about and cast pages if they have them to get a feel for the creator and the comic itself.

From there it’s pretty much trial and error. Find what interests you and stick with it. If a comic doesn’t hook you, or at least mildly interest you in the first 20 pages, it probably won’t 200 pages later.

Once you find a couple comics you like, discovering new ones is simple. Most creators have a list of comics they read, sometimes right on the main page, and what better opinion than that of someone whose work you already enjoy? Many writers and artists also have multiple projects or contribute to other comics that they’ll link to on their site. Some comic readers like Comic Rocket will also make recommendations based on the comics you’ve already bookmarked.

Things to consider before you start reading

You did it! You found that feline sci-fi adventure you’ve been yearning for. But don’t start it just yet — there are some very important questions you need to ask first. Is it still updating? How often? You may make it four chapters into a great comic before learning that it hasn’t updated in two years and has effectively been abandoned by its creators (I’m looking at you Meek).

Even if new pages are still being posted, you should check out the most recent page and take a stroll through the archives to find out how often. It’s hard to transition from binge reading 500 pages in a night to single page updates every two or three weeks.

If you read a lot of comics, you might consider making an update schedule or taking a day to catch up on everything at once. Strips that update daily can be a hassle to keep up with, and I’ve found that a Friday afternoon works pretty nicely for reading up on what I missed during the week.

If you’re one of those people who only watches TV shows after the series finale, try reading comics that have already completed their runs. No waiting for updates, and highly binge-able. Take a look at this list from i09 to get started.

Nuts and Bolts

Follow people on social media. This is a great way to keep up with comics you’re reading, learn about con appearances, discover new content, and politely show your support for the creators you love. Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook are common, and many comic makers keep blogs on their own websites as well or post updates in a feed beneath the most recent strip.

Keep an eye out for the most dreaded word in webcomics: hiatus. Just remember that independent comic makers aren’t made of money, and often devote large amounts of their time to paying projects and self-promoting at cons. As much as it sucks, don’t hold a hiatus against them.

So don’t forget to support your beloved writers and artists! Most will have a link to their shop where you can buy books, prints, and other goodies. These sales and ad revenue are what keep small webcomics afloat.

And that’s it!

Go! Frolic through the internet! Read about space cats to your heart’s content!

If you’re still looking for a starting point, here are the webcomics I read.


Originally published at kmbezner.wordpress.com on June 30, 2014.

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