Robots? Porn stars? D&D jokes? Sign me up! I began reading webcomics in late high school/early college and I just couldn’t get enough of these quirky and at times subversive comics. As a kid, I grew up on a diet of newspaper funnies, but these webcomics were so much more edgy. I devoured Diesel Sweeties and Order of the Stick and the many others that came along.
I’ve put together a list of 50 webcomics that I wish to share with you all. This list is not comprehensive. In fact, choosing exactly 50 comics was daunting. There are really astonishing number of well-written and well-drawn webcomics out there. I tried to choose the top fifty I liked personally but with an eye to diverse storylines, styles, etc. Some series are ongoing or even new while others have stopped updating. Several webcomics are long form stories, some are single panels, and a few are short story comics. As for the ones that have complete story arcs, I selected ones with free archives. Many have been published into books while others have ongoing campaigns; any book covers are from print collections. I have categorized them into a few areas: Humanities/Science, Animal-based, Slice of Life, and the largest category by far, Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Steampunk/Horror and D&D.
Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophers By Corey Mohler
The comic describes itself as “about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world.” Imagine your favorite philosophers—Immanuel Kant, Jean-Paul Sartre—debating life the universe and everything but in comic form. Updates on Mondays.
Hark! a Vagrant By Kate Beaton
Kate Beaton is one of the best. Hark! a Vagrant is composed of several one-off comics that tackle literature, history (with a special nod to Canadian history), science, and more. There’s a delightful feminist bent to her work. She doesn’t update the comic often since she’s working on other things but her archive is still available.
Hyperallergic By Various
Hyperallergic is an online magazine dedicated to all things art. In addition to many pithy articles about the art world, Hyperallergic has regular comics about the art world by several contributors. Some are tongue in cheek like Jack Sjogren’s “Five Rejected Ideas for Coachella Art Installations” while others deal with heavier themes like CM Campbell’s “Cashing in on your White Privilege Tax Deduction” or Jessica Campbell’s “No Amount of Compliments Can Outweigh the Artist’s Self-Doubt.”
Stick Figure Hamlet By Dan Carroll
Stick Figure Hamlet is the full text of Hamlet but with stick figures. There’s a lot of great gags in this comic. For instance, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Bert and Ernie shaped and the ghost is the Lego ghost. Well-worth checking out if you are a fan of the bard.
xkcd By Randall Munroe
This comic describes itself as “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language.” That’s a pretty apt description. Some of the comics discuss mathematical and scientific principles while others are heart-wrenching panels about love. Also, if you hover your mouse over the comic, there’s a little mouseover text, which is always fun. Updates Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
You’re All Just Jealous of my Jetpack By Tom Gauld
Tom Gauld’s tumblr page shows off his precise wit on a variety of topics including literature, science, and history. Where else would you find a comic comparing ichthyologists and fishmongers?
This category is for webcomics where the main characters are animals. It’s a broad category, I know, but we know the internet is for cat memes.
Adventures of Business Cat By Tom Fonder
Imagine a CEO but as a cat. This comic brings the wide world of business with the eccentricities of cats. It updates most Fridays.
Cat and Girl By Dorothy Gambrell
This long-running series features an anthropomorphized Cat and a Girl who cynically ponder the nature of the universe. Some of the jokes can be esoteric and gives me a hipster feel. The webcomic still updates Tuesday and Thursdays.
Dinosaur Comics By Ryan North
Ryan North is one of my comic heroes. I loved Dinosaur Comics so much that when I heard that Ryan North was writing Squirrel Girl, I had to run out and buy an issue. And the rest is history. Dinosaur Comics uses the same six panels of a T-Rex and other dinosaurs to discuss everything from kissing to the nature of G-d. Intensely humorous. I highly recommend. it
Gronk By Katie Cook
Gronk is about a monster who doesn’t fit in with other monsters. He’s discovered by Dale Wilco, a composer who works in her house. It’s a sweet comic as Gronk learns to live in the human world. Sadly, it looks like the last time the comic was updated was in 2015.
Phoebe and her Unicorn By Dana Simpson
This work is often compared to Calvin and Hobbes but it really is its own thing. Phoebe meets a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils who gives her one wish. Phoebe asks for her to be her best friend. They get into adventures with other fantasy creatures and Phoebe’s classmates.
Poorly Drawn Lines By Reza Farazmand
Poorly Drawn Lines features a variety of animals including bears and rabbits in often sarcastic standalone comics The comic updates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Slice of Life
These comics are mostly representations of day to day life. Some might feature robots and other figures but the focus is on the day to day. Some are fictional while others are non-fiction.
Addanac City By George Ford
Addanac City is about the wacky people living in a town. Running for ten years, it has the feel of a syndicated newspaper comic. Fun and quirky characters for the win. Posts regularly.
As the Crow Flies By Meredith Gillman
This is the story of Charlie, a queer 13 year old who goes to an all-white, all-Christian summer camp. Charlie’s adventures are beautifully rendered in pencil.
Check Please By Ngozi Ukazu
This comic is about Eric Bittle, a figure skating champion and vlogger, starting his freshman year of college playing hockey. It’s about finding yourself in college and hockey.
Connie to the Wonnie By Connie Sun
Connie Sun describes her comic as “an illustrated status message.” Each post is a beautifully drawn semi-autobiographical exploration of what it means to be a woman living in contemporary life. She tackles issues of the creative process, cultural identity, dating, and much more. Updates regularly.
Diesel Sweeties By Richard Stevens
Another long running comic that features the romance between Maura, a porn star, and Clango, a robot. Other characters include uber-hipster Indie Rock Pete, Metal Mike, and killer Red Robot #C-63. This comic shaped me in my formative years: “It’s fun to use learning for evil.”
Fried Cheese Balls By Arp Laszio
This webcomic talks about life as a second generation Indian American in the U.S. Topics cover food, memory, family history and much more. Beautiful precise drawings of floor plans and much more. I think he’s revamping his website so keep checking back for more content.
Hyperbole and a Half By Allie Brosh
Hyperbole and a Half is a nonfiction webcomic and blog that details Allie’s life. She talks about misadventures as a kid and her challenges with depression as an adult. It’s funny and poignant. Her comic about getting a dinosaur comic as a child is amazing. I’m not sure if she still updates.
Khaos Comix By Tab Kimpton
Khaos Comix is a queer coming of age comic. It’s sweet and angsty, just like one would expect of teenage years. This is one comic series on Kimpton’s Discord comics website. Minority Monsters is another delightful comic where Kimpton uses mythological creatures to explore different aspects of sexuality and identity. Some comics on the site are NSFW.
The Less than Ideal Adventures of TJ and Amal By E.K. Weaver
This webcomic is about Amal who comes out to his parents, calls off his arranged marriage, and goes on all night bender. He wakes up to find TJ in his apartment cooking breakfast. TJ tells him that they drunkenly made a pact to drive cross country. The comic is about their adventures across the U.S.
The Oatmeal By Matthew Inman
Matthew Inman’s webcomic is a combination of informational comics, discussing grammar, etiquette, and animals, and his nonfiction stories, such as his challenges with running. Always worth a look. His comic on the Rainbow shrimp is a personal favorite. He’s also come out with some amazing games including Exploding Kittens, Bears vs. Babies, and the most recent You’ve Got Crabs. Updates periodically.
Q2Q By Steve Younkins
This is a theater tech–themed comic. This is for the folks who live in the theater tech world or who ever worked/volunteered in it. Updates periodically.
Perry Bible Fellowship By Nicholas Gurewitch
This comic is deceptively bright and cheery. Each comic has a dark but humorous twist that resonates deep within my evil soul. Astronauts burning up the atmosphere are mistaken for snowflakes by children. A robot receives a human heart to learn about humanity and begins gleefully killing nature. My cup of tea! Sadly, the series has now ended, but the archive is alive and kicking.
Say it with Noodles By Shing Yin Khor
This short story comic is so good I had to include it. This comic is a memorial to her grandmother and the power of food to bridge generations and cultures.
Something Positive By R. K. Milholland
Something Positive details the lives of 20-somethings navigating the world of dating, friendships, and more. Sometimes the comic can be quite brutal (and warms my dark heart). Updates regularly.
Truthout By Anne Elizabeth Moore and Various
Okay, so Truthout is not a webcomic per se. It’s a champion of the free and independent press and does incredible investigative reporting. I included it on this list because Anne Elizabeth Moore, social commentator and more, has been working with various cartoonists to create poignant social and political comics based on oral histories Moore has conducted. Some cover food justice, housing, textiles, and so much more.
Welcome to the New World by Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan
This 2018 Eisner-nominated NYTimes limited run comic series follows the life of a Syrian refugee family that arrives to the U.S. on election day. It’s an important story told in a limited palette of blue, white, and black.
Ava’s Demon By Michelle Czajkowski
This comic takes place in a world of multi-planetary travel. Ava is a young woman who has a demon inside of her that has been trying to convince her to kill herself throughout her life. When Ava finally learns the motivations of the demon, they make a pact that will hopefully remove the demon from her body. Not only are the panels painted beautifully, there are occasional animated videos to carry the story along.
Baker’s Dozen By Aatmaja Pandya
This short story comic is about a girl who receives a fortune at a festival that will change her life and those of her people forever. It’s a lovely tale. Pandya has other comics on her site that are worth checking out.
Brothers Bond By Kevin Grevioux and Ryan Benjamin
Just nominated for an Eisner, this beautiful comic is described as “an exiled prince and his two blind samurai protectors set on a dangerous journey to reclaim their kingdom from demonic forces.” When you read it, make sure to have your headphones on to hear appropriately-timed music as you scroll down each page. Updates Wednesdays.
Demon Street By Aliza Layn
Demon Street is about Septimus Maeda who wanders into a street that has been blocked off from the rest of the world. There he meets fantastical people and monsters. Updates Mondays and Thursdays.
Dresden Codak By Aaron Diaz
Aaron Diaz describes the comic as “a celebration of science, death and human folly.” The website has several comics series including Hob and Dark Science. Kimiko Ross is a “Autodidactic Robot-Girl” who has fallen in love with science hardcore. Both comics trace her adventures in a fantastical world filled with time travel and giants.
Girl Genius By Phil and Kaja Foglio
This award winning comic is about aspiring scientist Angela Clay who is the apprentice to a Mad Scientist. While the Foglios call it “gaslamp fantasy,” many would include it it the wild world of steampunk. Wacky, delightful. Updates Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
Gunnerkrigg Court By Tom Siddell
This is another oldie but goodie. After I read Harry Potter, this scratched an itch for magic school stories. This story centers on Antimony Carver who begins school at Gunnerkrigg Court and quickly learns that not everything is above board.
Haunter By Sam Alden
This wordless comic is about a hunter who accidentally wakes up something evil. The drawings are unlike any other comics I’ve seen: full of lush bright colors and a sense of menace and lingering terror.
Hobo Lobo of Hamelin By Stevan Živadinović
This comic is truly unique. You read each page by scrolling over. It’s partially animated. It’s a darker remake of the Pied Piper with significant political overtones.
JL8 By Yale Stewart
This Tumblr comic is a nod to the world of superheroes. Imagine all your favorite superheroes, except they are eight years old. The art, at least in the beginning, has a very serial newspaper quality to it. Nostalgia!
Johnny Wander By writer Ananth Hirsh and illustrator Yuko Ota
Johnny Wander seems to be a catch all site for Hirsh and Ota. Their initial work was more in the realm of slice of life. Their most recent work Barbarous is about a young woman with uncontrollable magic who finds herself down and out of luck. She ends up getting a job managing a property with a super whose a dinosaur. I haven’t gotten too far but it’s very intriguing. Chapter 3 just finished.
Kill Six Billion Demons By Tom Parkinson-Morgan
This comic starts when Allison Ruth and her boyfriend’s intimate moment is interrupted by a horde of orc-like creatures. They kidnap her boyfriend and somehow Allison falls into a portal into a strange new world. Interestingly, the author takes reader suggestions for the plot so the webcomic may go in some interesting places. Updates Tuesday and Friday evenings.
Looking for a Group By Ryan Sohmer and drawn by Lar DeSouza
This comic is about the adventures of Cale’Anon and Richard. While other fantasy adventure comics are about groups trying to do good in the world, this adventuring group is evil. Funny and wicked. http://www.lfg.co/page/1/
MFK By Nilah Magruder
MFK is “about Abbie, who just wants to get to the mountain range called the Potter’s Spine and scatter her mother’s ashes. But the way is filled with sandstorms, wild beasts, and rogues that wield inhuman powers and prey on poor desert dwellers. When one of these rogues threatens the town where Abbie takes refuge, she must choose between running, or unleashing her own hidden power to meet danger head-on.” Updates Fridays.
O Human Star By Blue Delliquanti
O Human Star starts with the reanimation of robotic engineering genius Alastair Sterling. He wakes up to find himself in a robotic body after his death. He has to figure out how to live in his new body, the new world he helped create, and uncover the mystery of his reanimation.
PowerNap By Maritza Campos and Bachan
Powernap takes place in a world where the need for sleep is eliminated by a pill. Except for Drew, who is allergic. However, he’s seen as a freak of nature. The world is a mixture of fantasy and corporate hell. Good times. Updates whenever.
The Rainbow Orchid By Garen Ewig
The Rainbow Orchid is the first adventure of Julius Chancer. This adventure series is about the hunt for the legendary rainbow orchid. The style is very reminiscent of Herge’s Tintin, which is a bonus in my book. The Secrets of the Samurai appears to be a sequel.
Romantically Apocalyptic By Vitaly S. Alexius and various
This astonishing post-apocalyptic by various authors is a multimedia masterpiece including poetry, photography and much more. It’s about Charles Snippy and crazy Zee Captain navigating the post-apocalyptic world.
Templar, Arizona By C. Spike Trotman
Templar, Arizona is the webcomic of C. Spike Trotman, founder of comics powerhouse Iron Circus. I’ve written about her previously here. The comic centers on the strange and wondrous characters in the town of Templar. Chapter 1 starts with recent transplant and hermit Ben Kowalski: “In two months in Templar, his only friendships so far have been forced upon him: The acquaintance of a kindergartener named Zoradysis, and the determined attentions of his overbearing and flamboyantly obscene neighbor, Reagan.” I don’t think it is still updating but it’s still a fun series to check out.
Wormworld Saga By Daniel Lieske
This astonishing beautiful comic is about Jonas Berg, a young daydreamer, who visits his grandmother in the country during the summer with his dad. However, he gets grounded because daydreaming is interfering with his studies. When he accidentally falls into a portal to another world in his grandmother’s house, he has to figure out where he is and how to get home.
Since there two comics dedicated to the wonderful world of D&D, I decided to make a separate category.
The Order of the Stick By Rich Burlew
Rich Burlew’s comic features a roving band of adventurers. The group is led by Roy Greenhilt, a fighter. This strip is based strongly on the world of D&D and will be hilarious to anyone who has or is currently playing. The style is like the name—stick figure-y. While this comic goes back at least a decade, Burlew still publishes new strips. http://www.giantitp.com/comics/ootscast.html
Table Titans By written and drawn by Scott Kurtz and colored by Steve Hamaker
This comic is a combination of the roleplayers and the roleplaying. Players squabble about their characters, gaming conditions, etc. You also get to see their adventures play out. Charming. I also read Scott Kurtz’s PVP back in the day so it’s neat to see more recent work.
That’s just my list of 50. What webcomics do you adore?
Here are two other great BookRiot lists of webcomics: 12 Queer Webcomics You Can Read for Free Right Now and 6 South Asian Webcomics You Should Check Out.