Oh boy, this is a topic I’ve wanted to dive into for some time!
I consume a lot of media. Movies. Books. Video games. Podcasts. YouTube videos.
But also webcomics, which is a subject I haven’t had too many occasions to touch on despite it being one of my favorites.
The closest I’ve gotten was briefly mentioning my time with Homestuck the day it ended.
That particular comic was a different experience, however. My time with it was more concentrated to high school where updates were exciting events. It was much more of a social, community-driven interest for me.
I spent a good amount of time reading fan theories on Tumblr (recently in the news) and fan fictions on Wattpad (which I was surprised to find out still exists).
I went as Dave Strider to Anime Expo one year.
I even started planning out this big Dungeons and Dragons-esque fan roleplay with my friend Sam.
Found the planning sheet for that when I was cleaning out my old Mac, and I think her reaction to it says everything:
All that doesn’t take away from how excellent the webcomic itself was. Even before it was finished, there were some great think pieces about it — my favorite being from PBS Idea Channel.
Finding out that video is almost seven years old hurt my soul… So let’s move into contemporary subjects.
More of the webcomics I read today are quiet, personal experiences. Super fun and often passionate projects from individual creators and small teams that haven’t reached the scope of something like Homestuck.
The most recent of which, Kid Midnight, being my spark to finally talk about them.
It all started yesterday when I was catching up on a few episodes of the podcast Still Untitled (most notably starring Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame). The usual suspects were discussing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with Ben Acker, who plugged his recent venture with the artist Natalie Nourigat.
His pitch was that the comic is an autobiographical story being drawn by a facsimile of Batman’s sidekick, Robin, as he tries to decide whether he’ll be a superhero or go to art school.
That was enough to sell me, but after reading through the seven current ‘episodes,’ I feel it sells the project short.
Kid Midnight is all about that sidekick dealing with not just career goals, but also the other trappings of adolescence. Love one is too scared to admit, popularity, imposter syndrome…
All guised in an incredibly charming, funny and beautiful comic.
Just go read it. I promise it’s worth the time, and you can bang out what’s there in a half hour tops. When I write this, anyway.
Next on my docket of favorite webcomics to suggest is Erma, by Brandon Santiago.
The elevator pitch for this comic is simple: Imagine if the monster from The Ring was actually a lovely, sociable woman who married a human that writes horror novels.
The comic centers around their young daughter — Erma — as she goes to school, spends time with her friends and does supernatural stuff.
It’s honestly one of the most adorable things I’ve ever read. You get a brilliant contrast between horror tropes and “scary” images that are followed by Erma watching Warrior Unicorn Princess with her babysitter.
The comic begins with one-off stories like you might see on the funny pages. But eventually there are sprawling story arcs — the current one about Erma and her family going to a Yokai village in Japan to meet her Yakuza-esque grandfather.
It’s wonderful to see the passionate community blossom over time, and the author has recently announced plans for spin-off comics being drawn by other artists and a phone app. There’s a lot to love!
For the final stop on my tour, I’m going to go in a bit more of an obtuse direction.
Tales of Elysium is another long-running comic from a team called Sleepless Skink Productions that presents a vision of Pokémon similar to the Mystery Dungeon series.
Except with a far darker tone and narrative.
The story centers around a Riolu named Leon and a Totodile named Vagus as they get sucked into conflict with a demented band of Pokémon and their feral underlings who hope to… Well we don’t totally know yet.
Presumably destroy all of the surviving members of an ancient civilization so they can take over the world.
We just haven’t gotten the full backstory at this point.
The story is quite long with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and there are just as many quiet, enthralling character moments as there are swashbuckling Pokémon battles in a gruesome, more realistic style than you’ve probably ever seen.
I would argue the art direction of Tales of Elysium is its strongest selling point. Every single panel is immaculate — almost TOO good for a project focusing on Pokémon.
Though I wouldn’t say that because I adore Pokémon.
Also because the story and characters that have been created for that world more than justify a beautifully dramatic art style.
So there you are. Three different flavors of comics for your viewing pleasure.
Though I’m still fresh to Kid Midnight, I would definitely say it fits into my pantheon of weekly reads alongside Erma and Tales of Elysium. Catching up on my comics each Friday has become a favorite wind-down activity for me.
However, I’m always looking out for more!
If there are any webcomics out there that you love, please don’t hesitate to let me know about them. I’d love to expand my scope even further.