5 Webcomic Shorts for the Novel Weary

Yash Kesanakurthy

Staff Writer

Somewhere between starting her schooling in Saudi Arabia and finishing high school in Singapore, Yash Kesanakurthy realized that she disliked school. It was the fateful move to Vancouver, Canada for a BA in Economics (which, surprise, didn't pan out) that led her to the MA program in Children's Literature at UBC. She had fun immersing herself into the academia of children's literature but nothing beat the joy of writing for The Book Wars, being able to set aside classics and pay attention to the culture of contemporary YA. And now, everything is PB/MG/YA and nothing hurts. Well, some things hurt but nothing her bookshelf can't fix. Currently, she is working on her own YA fantasy novel and an all-ages picturebook. Her life goals include: getting a pet dog, getting published, and presenting you dear readers and Rioters with posts that engage and entertain. (Maybe not in that order?) Blog: The Book Wars Twitter: @SeeYashTweet

Just when I feel like I’m not reading novels so much as inflicting them upon myself, the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival swoops in and reminds me that there is another way: comic shorts are a great way for people to get over reading slumps and also a wonderful way to engage readers who don’t necessarily love lengthy stories.

Personally, I reach for novels more than any other format, but sometimes it feels like the novel is just a wall of words keeping me from diving into the story. This may not be the book’s fault at all, of course. Most of the time, I’m just too tired and brain does that thing where it reads the same line over and over until the words become meaningless sounds and do I even know what language is anymore?! *ahem* It’s for times like these that I have collected five webcomic shorts to engage and inspire the weary reader:

The first is my current favourite—I almost wish I could frame each page and hang it all up in my living room—and it’s Kiku Hughes’ “Gravity Assist”:

Gravity Assist by Kiku Hughes

It’s a sweet story about a girl who is hopelessly in love with someone who is seemingly out of their reach. Camila Ruiz, the crush in question, is a trajectory technician on the spaceship that is the setting for this adorable romance, and something I love about the comic is that the narrator explains Ruiz’ beauty not only in terms of her physical charm, but also in terms of how good she is at her job. I can’t stop re-reading this short story and I simply won’t stop making that squeeing sound every time I see the last panel.

The second short story is Aatmaja Pandya’s “Baker’s Dozen”, which I have long admired for its extensive world-building over the course of just a few panels:

Baker's Dozen by Aatmaja Pandya

Set in a South Asian fantasy world, Radhika’s mundane life of bread-making is interrupted when an aunty reads Radhika’s fortune for her. Or, at least, part of her fortune. The question then is what would Radhika be willing to do in order to find out what the future holds for her? A lovely, coming-of-age story, set in an intriguing world of witches and goddesses, I wouldn’t complain if Pandya ever chose to make this into a novel.

Another long-time love of mine, Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya’s “The Girl with a Skeleton Hand”:

The Girl With A Skeleton Hand by Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya

I cannot begin to describe how much I love this short story. It is, as the title says, the story of a human girl with a skeletal hand and how she came to get that hand. There are many adorable things about this comic, but Panagariya and Ota’s take on Death is the most adorable IMO. I don’t want to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of this story, so suffice it to say that this one might be one of my favourite Deaths. Er. You know what I mean. Oh, and if you liked this short, there’s a little sequel that you can read here.

Katie O’Neill A.K.A Strangely Katie is best known, I think, for her clever and cute Princess Princess comic, but if you don’t feel like doing 40+ pages, you can read one of her lovely comic shorts, including “Don’t Let Go”:

Don't Let Go by StrangelyKatie

I mean, if you thought everything Katie did was in the vein of Princess Princess, you might be taken aback by this one. But that’s also kind of why I enjoy it. Katie’s a versatile story-teller and doesn’t limit herself to one kind of story or one kind of genre. And it’s no mean feat to tell a story in 8 pages, with minimal dialogue, and get readers so attached to the characters that they cry at the end.

The last one is something I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned in passing in a previous post. Most webcomic readers might be familiar with Knight JJ and Al’s on-going urban fantasy/romance Les Normaux, but may have missed JJ’s completed short comic “150 Days”:

150 Days by Knight JJ

“150 Days” is a gorgeous, wordless comic that follows a Chinese prince who loses his way in the Arabian desert and is rescued by a handsome stranger. As their time to part grows closer, their bond grows stronger, and yes, this one—while it does have a happy ending—may have you pawing sadly at your screen at times.

And that’s it! These are my go-to webcomic short stories for when I can’t do novels. Or, you know, whenever I feel like it, because hello, have you read this beauties, yet?!

So, what are your favourite webcomic stories? Please, add to my list!