While paper comics are my first love, since I was a wee Menace in the early ages of the internet I’ve also enjoyed the storytelling bounty that it provides. It’s hard not to when there’s such a wide variety of great tales and art out there, much of it provided for free. Certainly, that very benefit has its downside – often the best artists get jobs that allow them to create AND pay the bills, and that can mean that a story you’ve been invested in doesn’t get finished. But the risk is minimal, the rewards can be great, and you can find some really great tales that you might not see in the comic shop.
So without further ado:
Monster Pulse by Magnolia Porter
Update schedule: M/W/F
Plot: Okay, this is going to sound a little crazy. Monster Pulse is about a group of kids who get exposed to a top-secret chemical that’s been developed by a shadowy government agency. When the chemical comes into contact with a human body, it changes one of that person’s body parts into a monster that can act independently of that person (though they seem to be connected to and protective of them.) The kids team up to fight the shadowy agency and try to prevent any more folks from losing vital organs. I told you it was weird.
Why Read it: Well, for one thing, how can you read that description and not be a least a little bit interested in learning more? But Porter is also a solid storyteller who clearly cares about her characters – and makes you care about them, too. All of the kids have real emotional depth – while they each embody an obvious personality type, there’s more to each of them than meets the eye. The monsters, though incapable of human speech, are also surprisingly touching and expressive. The art is adorable, and the comic is geared to all ages.
Bonus: The monster names! They’re all puns on the body parts from which the monsters originated. I love a good pun.
Skin Deep by Kory Bing
Update schedule: Weekly
Plot: What if all the creatures of myths and legends were real – and hiding in plain sight as regular folks? What if you were one of these creatures – and didn’t even know it? Yes, Skin Deep is another monster comic in a sense – the primary characters are satyrs and bugbears and nixies and the like, disguised as regular humans with the help of magic amulets. What can I say, I like monsters. Skin Deep is broken up into different story arcs with rotating casts, which means that the actual plot changes a bit, but that’s a good thing – you have several fully realized tales from which to choose. I get the strong sense that some of the stories may be returned to one day, but there’s enough closure in each chapter to feel satisfied. Bing’s been at this since 2006, and there’s a marked and steady improvement in her art – from competent at the beginning to quite stunning now.
Bonus: Reader Questions. This might be using the term bonus a bit literally, but in between chapters, Bing takes reader questions and does quick, often humorous sketches to illustrate the answers. There’s nothing that cheers up one’s day quite like a sphinx who’s grumpy about her lack of pants.
Blindsprings by Kadi Fedoruk
Update schedule: T/Th
Plot: A young princess is trapped in a haunted forest by evil spirits, and a young mage hopes to save her. Too bad for him it seems like she doesn’t want to be saved…
This is the newest strip of the three, and the plot is still unfolding, but Fedoruk has already established that things aren’t always what they seem in this fairytale. There are spirits straight out of a Miyazaki film, magic tattoos, and copious amounts of flowing red hair. Fedoruk’s art is lush and gorgeous, and her hints to the deeper mysteries of the story are masterfully laid. Since only chapter one is finished, you have plenty of time to catch up and find out where it’s going.
Bonus: World Building Between chapters Fedoruk is providing “annotations” to the story in the form of newspaper clippings, children’s stories, and sketches. She’s clearly put a lot of thought into the internal logic of her world, and it’s fun to get little glimpses of it beyond the main characters and their tale.
Do you read webcomics? If so which ones? Tell me all about ’em in the comments!