Monday, January 24, 2011

Webcomics Are Awesome: Not For Kids Edition

So one of the interesting developments with the rise of webcomics is the fact that these comic strips are not being run in your daily paper.  That means that, while many webcomic artists try to make their strips fun and appropriate for the whole family, they certainly don't have to.  And there are quite a few that don't.

Today I thought I would share with you some of those that choose to break the traditional view that comics are only for kids.  I would rate these M for mature audiences due to language or content or both.  These aren't everyone's cup of tea, to be sure, but I enjoy them. Links in the name of the strip are to the comic's "about" page where available and to the first archived strip where not.

Gutters created by Ryan Sohmer (Art Director:  Lar deSouza, Artist:  various)
Updated:  Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Type:  Non-serial

This strip comes from the guys that created Looking For Group, which I have talked about before.  It is a series of stand alone strips that, as Sohmer describes them, basically amount to "an editorial cartoon targeting comic books."  Here Sohmer pokes fun at not only the comic book industry, but also the characters and stories found within their pages.  It is done lovingly, but with a biting humor that is hard to resist.  While his long-time colleague deSouza is the Art Director for the strip, one of the really nifty hooks of Gutters is that each strip is drawn by a different artist from within the webcomic and comic book industries, which results in a lot of absolutely gorgeous panels to look at.  The strip has only been up and running since last June, so it is an easy one to go back and get caught up on, although it is not necessary to do so since there are no story arcs.  The first strip can be found here

Hijinks Ensue by Joel Watson
Updated:  Monday through Friday
Type:  Non-serial (with the occasional multiple-strip story arc)

This is another webcomic that I decided to subscribe to after being directed to it many times by Whedonesque (the website that keeps track on all articles related to the Whedonverse and people perceived to belong to it).  Basically, this is a comic about geeky things, by geeks, for geeks.  Watson's strips often revolve around the current happenings in television shows, the news, video games, and other things of that sort.  The main characters in the strip are caricaturisations of himself and two of his friends.  The humor is often dark and snarky, in a way that provides an outlet for that nerd rage so many of us often feel.  It has been running since May of 2007 and you can find the first strip here should you wish to, though Watson freely admits that there is no need to start from the beginning, and in fact, the art gets much better the more the strip progresses.  Mostly just one-off jokes about whatever is going on in the world of geeks right now, this is a great strip to just dive right on into. 

Least I Could Do by Ryan Sohmer and Lar deSouza
Updated:  Daily
Type:  Serial (Monday-Saturday)

Huh.  Oh look, it's those guys again.  Yup, this is the "real world" comic by the Looking for Group guys.  It centers around an absolutely ridiculous sex-crazed guy named Rayne and his, um, adventures.  I started reading this because I love Looking for Group and wanted to check out more by this duo.  I'll admit, though, this has kind of become like a train-wreck that I can't look away from.  It's definitely the raciest of the webcomics I read.  There are the occasional nerdy references, of course, and Rayne is surrounded by friends and family who actually seem to be pretty well adjusted, and keep the story grounded.  More or less.  On Sundays the site runs a series of "Beginnings" one-off strips that show Rayne as a kid.  Dennis the Menace had nothing on him, let me tell you.  But it is an enjoyable strip, and it isn't always about sex.  I am not really sure how to describe this one, other than that.  Here I would just have to say, go check it out, read a week or two worth of strips, and see if it is your thing.  It's been running since February of 2003, and the first strip is here.  One day I am going to go back and get caught up on these, and then maybe I'll actually know what the heck is going on.  But that day is not today. 

Our Valued Customers by MRTIM

Updated:  Daily
Type:  Non-serial

Okay, technically, this one is a blog, not a comic.  This blogger works in a comic book store and at some point started doing little sketches of the people that come into his store and the crazy stuff they say.  That's all it is, but it is lovely.  With a few sketched lines and a little bit of dialogue, he manages to paint a picture of these people as clearly as if they were standing right in front of you, just waiting to be smacked.  Seriously, most of them need it.  I don't think it has been running for very long, but it is kind of hard to tell, because I don't see an archive link on the blog, unfortunately.  Thankfully, this is just one you can dive right into though.

Penny Arcade by Gabe and Tycho

Updated:  Frequently
Type:  Non-serial (mostly)

This is a long, long running webcomic.  If you're a gamer, you've probably heard about it.  It is mostly about video games and sometimes about technology or other nerd stuff.  Occasionally they'll get a story and go for a few strips in a row with that.  It is irreverent, and the language is definitely rated R or higher.  I'll admit that I only get about half of the jokes, because these guys are hardcore gamers on a level I know I will never achieve.  But when I do get the joke?  Oh.  My.  God.  HILARIOUS.  That's all I'm saying there.

Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques
Update:  Monday through Friday
Type:  Serial

Not gonna lie, out of the comics listed in today's post, this is my favorite.  It is right up there with Sheldon and Looking for Group as one of my favorite webcomics period.  This is about a group of twenty-somethings who all hang out or work in (or own) a coffee shop called "Coffee of Doom."  But it is nothing like that television show about a bunch of twenty-somethings who all used to work or hang out in a coffee shop, I swear.  Set in a college town (some of the characters work at or are students at the college as well), they are fans of indie music and are just trying to muddle through life trying to relate to each other.  My favorite character is Hannelore, who is super genius and super-OCD, but learning to loosen up a little as time goes by.  There are also AnthroPC characters, which are basically sentient MP3 players or other such like devices.  One of them is a dirty, dirty perv.  It's just a fascinating story and I get excited every single time I see that a new day's comic has been added to my feed reader.  I was, in fact, jumping up and down in excitement when I saw that Jacques had been added to list of artists who will be attending this year's Emerald City Comic Con.  It has been going for quite some time (since 2003), but I think this is a strip that you could jump right into, maybe only needing to go back as far as the current story line.  That's what I did.  I will one day go back and read it all though, so if you want to try that, the first strip is here. Also, this guy is responsible for some of the best t-shirts out there.  I own at least two from the store and have my eyes on several more.

Very Bad Koalas by Nicholas Brendon and Steve Loter
Updated:  Wednesdays
Type:  Serial

Yes, you read that right.  Nicholas Brendon.  This is a brand new strip, it just started at the end of this past September.  It's a weekly strip about two koala bears on the run from the law.  They are wanted for many crimes that they do not remember committing, nor do they seem to know each other, but they have found themselves thrown together on this adventure as they try to figure out just what the heck is going on.  It looks like they are planning for it to only run for a year, and you can start with the first strip here

So.  There you have it.  A little taste of what makes me laugh in the mornings.  Also, perhaps more of a glimpse into my psyche than you wanted.  Hopefully you'll find something here that you can enjoy as well.  There are a few other strips that would qualify as not safe for kids on my regular list, but I think those can each pull their own post, so I will save them for a later date.  For now, go check out a strip or two.  I am a firm believer that we should all start our day off with a few laughs.

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