Since the last time I wrote about this subject, about a year ago, I’ve found even more fabulous webcomics that you really ought to be reading, all of them written and drawn by ladies! All three of these are a little over a year old, which is a great time to get into a series – there’s enough in the archive to sink your teeth into and get a feel for where a story is going, but not quite the overwhelming sprawl that a comic that’s been going on for five or ten years can have.
Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu
Update schedule: When they’re ready. But there’s plenty for you to read through.
Plot: Check, Please! is the story of Eric “Bitty” Bittle, vlogger, Southerner, and pie baker extraordinaire. When the comic opens, Bitty is a freshman at Samwell University and a member of the men’s hockey team. He’s pretty good, other than one slight problem – his high school club was co-ed and no contact, so Bitty is scared to death of being checked – not so great in the world of college hockey. Can he get over his fear, stay on the team, and maybe even capture the heart of his crush?
Why Read It: Okay. I don’t care about hockey, I’m fifteen years out of college, and I don’t even care that much about romance. And yet, this comic? It’s incredibly compelling. Partly this is due to Ukazu’s art, which is incredibly adorable and expressive. The personality of the characters comes through in their design and facial expressions. Even more so, however, the writing is great – it sucked me right in from the beginning and made me care about all of that stuff – hockey and feelings, to borrow a phrase coined about a book that we read in Comicazi Book Club (and which you should go read right now.)
Bonus: The social media. Ukazu’s world building reaches far outside of the confines of her comic – she has a character who already graduated in the world of comic who “runs” the Facebook page, and Bitty has his own very entertaining Twitter feed. This makes the time between updates fly by – even when there’s no comic update, there’s plenty of content to explore.
The Last Halloween by Abby Howard
Plot: Mona’s not having a great Halloween. Her dad’s ditched her to go a creepy party in her dead mom’s dress. The TV isn’t working properly. And a giant monster is stalking her every move.
In the world of The Last Halloween, monsters are forced to live in the shadows of human beings, dying when they die – unless the monster can kill his or her corresponding human personally. This allows the monster to live forever. When the balance between the monster and human worlds is disrupted, a grumpy young girl named Mona and her ghoulish friends might be the only thing standing in the way of humanity’s end.
Why Read It: Abby Howard’s scratchy black and white drawings, which appear to be the love child of Quentin Blake and Edward Gorey. Her monster designs, in particular, are creepy and inspired, looking just the way a monster from the deepest depths of one’s imagination should. And yet the story is also quite funny, in its dark and grim little way. Mona spends pretty much the entire comic in mortal terror, but you can’t help but laugh at her facial expressions while doing it.
Bonus: Banjo. There’s a were-opossum in this story, for goodness sake. That makes me laugh, anyway.
Stand Still, Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg
Plot: Ninety years ago, the world as we know it ended. Now the greatly reduced global population lives primarily in Iceland, with small enclaves of survivors scattered throughout the other Nordic countries. These survivors must stick to the Known World – the areas that have been made safe for habitation. The rest of the world is the Silent World, a land of trolls, giants, and incredible danger. One small band of explorers has been chosen to be the first venture into the Silent World in 90 years – but are they up to the task?
Why Read It: Part Norse mythology and part zombie horror tale, Sundberg has created a story unlike any I’ve ever read before, full of dark secrets and indescribable horrors – yet incredibly beautiful as well. She works with a distinctive palette of blues, reds, and sepia tones, adding to the old-fashioned fairy tale feel of her futuristic, post-apocalyptic tale.
Bonus: The gorgeous wood-cut style artwork Sundberg uses for all of the maps and propaganda materials in between chapters. Makes me wish I had more room on my walls.
If you decide to give any of these comics a shot, tell me all about it in the comments! Or tell me what you think I need to be reading.